Monthly Archives: January 2020

Riding log day 8

English saddle and snaffle today. A snow squall blew in while we were riding, which got the other horses in the field wound up and running a little bit toward the end.

Mocha came to me from quite a ways off–still working on making that consistent, because there are times when she just stares at me when I call. Today I called from the gate while undoing her halter, and she started walking in even before I entered the field. She still had moments of stopping and thinking about coming, but I didn’t have to walk too far out there to catch her. That’s happening more and more these days. Geez, this is her fifth winter in this situation and it’s taken until now? Sigh.

I used the weight tape on her because I was curious about weight gain since I’ve had to let the English girth out one notch on one side, and no, I’m not imagining it–she’s up to about 1050-1060 lbs, from about 950-975 last fall after moving back to the ranch. Good hay, and less intensive works, I guess. It’ll come off in the spring once we start building up mileage on the roads.

This was the kind of day that I got my chinks for. Wet, sloppy snowfall that would have made my jeans uncomfortably damp, coupled with a wind that could cut through to the bone even with my old ski base layers on. I was happy to have them on. And I noticed that even though Mocha was working up a sweat toward the end of our work, the flakes that fell on her neck and mane didn’t melt. She was cool once I was done riding.

It was pretty much the same work as last time, the serpentines and two tracks with zigzag alternating haunches and forehand turns. We did a little more trotting than before. But she was eager to run, and while she caught her foot on something (probably a frozen mound of poop) a couple of times, recovery was easy since I was balanced in my stirrups and could brace my hands on her withers to steady her. At one point we backed through a figure eight because she was just a wee bit too eager to run. While she alerted when the herd did a short run, she listened to me and didn’t take off to try to join them.

What is really nice this winter is that she is focused on me and not so much on the herd. That’s a change from the past winters here, and good to see. Looks like I’m doing the right things.

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December trip

One of the things on my to-do list was to blog about the December trip to the West Side–but sickness intervened and then other things so here I am, a month or so later, finally getting caught up.

These days going to the West Side is much less frequent and much more busy for Reasons. We no longer share a garden with our friend, and there’s not a lot of other reasons other than visiting friends and family to go down twice a month like we were doing for a while. Plus now we need to stay in hotels (yes, friends have offered space, but between our restless sleeping habits and allergies to house pets, those really aren’t options except for the one friend). So when we do go to Portland, there’s a lot that needs to happen–and that was very true for this trip. Amongst other things, I needed to replace a lost cell phone, stock up on the goat and sheep cheese and yogurt I can eat, wheat-free bread, and more. We were also invited to a friend’s Christmas party, and since a lot of the husband’s friends from work would be there, we wanted to go there.

The phone happened in The Dalles, along with our first night’s stay. Originally we’d planned to go crabbing in Newport with a friend, but weather and other issues interfered. We might have adjusted our trip time, but getting the phone replaced was a big deal, so that happened first. The events while picking up the phone provided the overall mood of that night. It was early dark, and while I was getting things set up on my new phone (iPhone 7), a couple of weird events were happening simultaneously. One involved a family wanting to add a new line for (apparently) a boyfriend. The other was a crazy-eyed woman looking for a new phone charger that could be used in the car (instead of the wall charger she had). When she charged in the door, the tension level doubled amongst the young staff. I went on alert as she spoke quickly, then paced back and forth until she got her new charger. I have my suspicions.

Then we checked into the cheap motel That Shall Remain Nameless (but is a part of a cheap motel chain). From the very start I got a strong vibe of “weird motel” with the heightened security above what I’m used to, the stark fluorescent lighting, and the funky carpet and paint job. The room stunk of smoke cleaning product and we had to air it out for a while. Dinner at the Denny’s had us next to a group of older men who were apparently local Democrats given the topics discussed. All the same, we had a quiet night with no problems.

The next two days were at our friend’s place. I wrote and made jam while the skies opened up and deluged everything.

After that began the glam portion of the trip. Because our friend’s place is in the Pearl District, we decided that maybe we would stay in a nearby hotel–the Marriott Residence Inn. First sign of the ritzy section was when we realized that the expensive valet parking was most likely our best option, especially since we weren’t planning to drive around. The elevators required a key card to operate, and we went up to a very nice studio room with a weird and trendy shower design. No sliding door in the shower, controls at one end, shower head at the other. It worked, but was quite different. Dinner was at a nice sports bar, and we found a lovely dairy-free ice cream store with lots of stuff that I could eat. I stuck to the ice cream, but oh, the temptation.

The next day, we wandered around a little bit. The free hotel breakfast was limited given what I could eat, so I was glad I had options in the room. We walked by Title Nine, and I can report that I was a Good Girl and did not go shopping. We did indulge at Powell’s, though. Pho for lunch at another excellent shop, and then back to the room to rest up for the evening event. I remembered why I went through pants so quickly on the West Side–all that walking around in wet weather. The deluge had eased a little bit, but not much.

On the way to the party we encountered others who were going, and joined the parade of folks heading up to the penthouse. Yes, it was that kind of party, and a revisit of the world of corporate life. Good food, good drinks, and lots of conversation while looking out at the city (the picture above is from the party). It was a microcosm of a certain type of Portland circle, not with the biggest names but the younger attendees could be characterized as potential movers and shakers (I overheard several discussions about whether So-and-So was going to run for office, and if so, when–including encouraging a couple of attendees to think about it).

After a while, we got tired and went back to our room. It was nice not having to deal with parking in the Pearl, much less driving.

The next day was family. We checked out, visited for a while with the son and girlfriend and kids, then checked into the less expensive hotel. After that, we went to Chinese dinner, then did Peacock Lane and presents.

The next morning was a quick stop to finish up shopping, and then we were back to Enterprise, just ahead of some weather. A few days later I got sick, and was flat on my back for much of two weeks.

It doesn’t sound as exciting now, but oh well. The visit and hanging out in the Pearl confirmed our opinion that this life was just not for us. It’s okay to visit, but–I asked hubby if he regretted that we hadn’t bought a downtown condo at one point. He snorted and said he liked our current life much better–and I have to agree. I do prefer the quieter life, for sure.

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Riding log day 7

Snaffle and English saddle today. Sunny, temps in 30s. Snow still in pasture.

After the last ride, I figured I’d better bring the saddle and let Mocha canter/extend a little bit. The problem with cantering in the bareback pad in snow for very long is that I worry about slipping a little more than with the English saddle, where I can get up in the stirrups and off her back, and have a more stable and balanced position.

It worked. Besides the usual serpentines and two-tracking, I added in zigzag trot with a mix of forehand and haunches turns. It’s an attention drill, except of course Miss Mocha knows just about every drill by the book these days. On the other hand, it’s also good for trot departs and when the footing gets better, we’ll do it as a canter exercise. Plus the haunches and forehand turns are good schooling.

She extended nicely when we cantered. Like before, she eased up after the first length of canter to catch her breath, then was much more energetic for the next three lengths. Then we did the chain forehand and haunches turns, as well as backing in a figure 8. Up to three spins in each direction as well.

I had a moment out there when I was thinking “62 years old and tearing across snowy fields on a mare that’s going to be 20 years old in a couple of months.” That said, Mocha is doing well this winter. I think she’s at her highest weight of the last ten years. I’ll have to bring out the weight tape and see what it says, but I think she’s a wee bit over 1000 lbs right now. She doesn’t quite have a divot in her hindquarters where her spine is, but…it’s almost that much. Which would put her at the heaviest she’s been for a while. She certainly seems to be happy and content these days, which is good.

And fun to boot. I still love galloping across a field on a sure-footed horse that listens to her rider.

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Riding log day 6

Riding log day 6. Snaffle and bareback pad. 3-12 inches of snow, depending on drifts.

This riding day should have happened yesterday, but the weather had a different opinion. Late on Wednesday afternoon the wind kicked up hard, to the degree that the road by the barn was closed due to drifting snow. The winds continued for a good part of Thursday, to the degree that the barn owner posted she couldn’t feed hay to the big field yet for fear it would blow away. So I went down to the gym instead and worked out.

This afternoon, though, was clear and after some obligations in the morning, I went out and rode. It was Mocha’s Adequan injection day (for arthritis) so she got her monthly shot, and then a ride. I did notice that her neck is muscling up nicely. The current work is paying off.

We did the usual serpentines and two-tracking, then after a quick check of our usual canter area, four lengths of canter—um, well, it turned out to be gallop. The first length was subdued as she checked out the footing and asked to pull up to catch her breath. But after she caught her breath, she wanted to run. Would not have been so bad in the saddle but in the bareback pad? I’m not there yet. Still, we did three more lengths, albeit a bit faster than perhaps I would have wanted them to be. Think I’m going to take the saddle out next time. Finished up with the chained haunches and forehand turns, except that I added another set of 360 degree turns. I just read something talking about how forehand turns can be useful for building up the shoulder. Then, stopped about partway to the gate to do two spins in each direction. She was stiff spinning to the left and not quite into it, but lengthened her neck, stuck her nose out, flattened her ears, and gave me a good pair of spins to the right.

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Riding log day 5

1/14/2020

Snowy day but not as snowy as day four. There’s six inches or so on the ground in the field right now. Because I didn’t feel like being ambitious, I rode in the bareback pad, plus I figured we’d get hit with a squall at some point, which we did by the end of the ride.

We still schooled serpentine, two-track, and the chained 180 forehand and haunches turns, with full 360s at the end of one side for both haunches and forehand.

Mocha feels more confident with the additional snow. We did some loping but not a lot as I’m still getting myself legged up after being sick.

The yearlings were in a playful mood, running and bucking with their tails flagged. The palomino, Colt, snuck into the barnyard when I was leading Mocha into the field. Fortunately, he followed her right back into the pasture, the little stinker. Meanwhile, the two bay geldings were playing bitey-face, kick and chase. One of the other yearlings, Magnum, hung around them and was nipping at butts when he could. He started to follow me and Mocha when we went further into the field, but as we picked up a trot he decided it was more fun to follow along with the big boys. His nickname is “little man” because last spring he was hanging out with his sire when Chex was in the field with the broodmares. He’s shown an interest in hanging out with the adult geldings for some time, just following along and learning. But like the rest of this batch of yearlings, he’s also very curious when I climb up on Mocha.

We also kicked up a pair of whitetails. They’re funny because they are much more spooky about a horse and rider than mule deer are. They’ll spook up even when I’m riding on the other side of the 50 acre field.

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Keeping a riding log–days 1-4

One of the things I’m seeing the kewl kids doing right now is keeping track of how many days they ride their horse(s) during the year. I remember the year I did this with skiing–got some great blogs out of it and rather enjoyed going back later and seeing what I had done. While I did keep a log when I was training Mocha, I never specifically tracked the days. I don’t know how good a job I’ll be doing with this now, but I’m going to try. It’s going to be interesting, plus it would be nice to see just how many days I am riding. And it’s a good way to get back into the blogging habit!

So. Here we go.

Day Four–1/11/2020

English tack. I’m riding mostly English this winter, because I’m finding it easier to get up off Mocha’s back at trot and canter for extended periods, and I prefer to do that with winter footing. Plus it’s easier to carry around in ice and snow. We’re not doing much in the way of hills, where I want that back cinch, nor are we doing road riding or long rides. Right now it’s light schooling in the pasture.

Today we did the usual bending work in serpentines, first with inside bend, then alternating inside and outside bend. I’m finding that doing this work consistently really seems to help keep her shoulders and neck loose. The other thing I’ve discovered is that since she’s living in pasture 24/7 and grazing, it’s easier to ask her to come on the bit right away. No need for stretching out after a period of stall confinement! In any case, the serpentines were accented by blowing wind and snow, along with the herd getting fed hay. Mocha nickered a couple of times as if to say “don’t eat it all before I get there!” Not a chance of that happening, of course.

After the serpentines, we did two-tracking, then rode to the pasture section that’s best for cantering/galloping. We did a length on each lead, but then the wind came up, blowing snow so hard at times that we could barely see the herd eating, much less the ranch buildings. Mocha jumped once when the wind hit her haunches just right. But there was enough snow for a good extended canter, and if it hadn’t been blowing so hard, and me still recovering from being sick, we would have gone longer.

Also, today she walked 50 yards to meet me in the field, with a slight diversion to make mare face and lunge at a new gelding in the field who thought he would be getting treats too. That’s a big change for a little mare who has previously been at the bottom of the herd hierarchy. But I’ve noticed this winter that she has become more assertive about her space. In her case, it’s something that needed to happen.

Day Three–1/9/2020

Bareback pad and snaffle. Light ride, to get her loosened up before the farrier came. Clear and cold, light snow in the small right-of-way we rode on. She wanted to do more and go–was full of herself this morning, complete with disapproving grunts at having to come onto the bit and WORK when she wanted to GO.

Day Two–1/7/2020

English tack. First regular schooling ride of the year where we went out of a walk. After schooling serpentines and two-tracking, we cantered the long length of the field, twice on each lead, then ended up with chained 180 haunches and forehand turns, 8 of those in each direction, then one 360 of forehand and haunch turns, in each direction.

Day One–1/4/2020

English tack. First day of riding after being down sick for a week. I did not feel very ambitious, so we did serpentines and then a walk around the field. Did not feel like I had the energy to trot or lope. But hey, I got out and I rode, even if I was wiped out afterward!

Okay. So that’s a start. We’ll see if I keep it up…

 

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Ten years, 2010 to 2020–teaching, writing, skiing, and other things

I reviewed my 2010 blog for the previous entry, and boy was it an eye-opener to see where I was ten years ago. Lots of changes have happened since then. A look at things, topic by topic.

Teaching

First of all, it was the beginning of the end of my teaching career. Serious cuts due to budget issues significantly impacted my little mountain school, and that was the first of three years where we went through a lot of principals in the building. My left foot developed capsulitis in a metatarsal joint, which has left an ongoing legacy of arthritis there. My hours were reduced to part-time from full-time. I ended up unofficially retiring from teaching except for substitute work in 2014, after applying at a lot of other schools. I suspect ageism but (except for a couple of interviews where it was blatant) could never prove it. Changes in teacher evaluation meant that as a special education teacher, I was penalized for poor student performance on high stakes assessment scores when it really wasn’t their fault. It was pretty darn obvious when I looked at my evals. Dropping caseloads also meant that if I tried to keep working for this district after that year, I’d be traveling to other schools–a miserable prospect when one considers that there were 20-30 miles between buildings.

So I retired in 2014. 18 months later, the district called me back, first to fill in by doing special education evaluations, then to work quarter-time online as a PE and Health teacher as a long-term sub. The eval work lasted for six months, the long-term sub for two years. It was the third time I’d been asked to help with evals beyond my caseload. The long-term sub made renewing my license easier, but I’m going to let it expire in the fall of 2021. I’ve done some substitute work in Wallowa County, but not enough to justify the hassle or renewal expense, especially since I’ll be 64 years old by then.

I’d also signed up for tutor work through a private company, but except for one client, nothing ever came of it. I enjoyed working with that student and clearly turned his writing around, which was a joy in itself.

I’d had hopes for more–perhaps research, perhaps consulting, but none of the prospects ever came together. Oh well. It has landed me some editing work, and I’m happy with that.

Writing

In 2010, I was almost at the point of having 20 stories out and circulating. I’d earned placements in Writers of the Future and another contest, I’d written several books that I was shopping around to publishers, and was exploring the prospect of writing blogs about teaching. That didn’t go anywhere. However, in 2011 I started self-publishing. After one fling with a now-defunct micropublisher, I kept my books and published them myself. I now have the Netwalk series completed, the Goddess’s Honor series almost completed (last book out at the end of January), and a couple of standalone books out. One of the books that I fought to get my rights back to, Pledges of Honor, is the “little book that could.” It keeps on selling, and in 2018 was a Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off semifinalist. That makes me very happy. So that’s about 13-14 books I have out right now (depending on how you count a couple of compilations).

The upcoming book, The Ruby Project, is probably one that I’ll ship out to see if there’s any interest. It’s sufficiently different that I have hopes it will catch the interest of a regional press, if the first one I queried isn’t into it. I am excited about it because it’s a near-future agripunk story that has some interesting elements in it.

I’ve yet to break into any big short story markets but at this point I’m kind of “meh” about the prospect. I’m an old white lady who doesn’t necessarily write what is currently popular–and honestly, I’m not into arm-wrestling with 40-something white male writers who beat their chest and whine about being pushed out of the market, so they target older white ladies as easy prey to shove out. Short stories aren’t exciting me right now, anyway–I’ve got lots of things to think about on the novel front and that’s where my energy is going right now. I’ve gotten a couple of professional-level payments but I’m not beating down the door to get into SFWA. At this time, I use short stories as a world-building tool. That may change but right now I don’t have a compelling reason to divert my attention from book projects.

I’m going to keep writing but at this point I’m rather cynical that I’ll be anything but a small fish. I’ve gotten praise for my work, including from a New York Times bestselling author that I workshopped with, but praise is nothing new and it’s not earned me a damn thing except misery over rejections afterward until I get my head back on straight. It will take a stroke of lightning and sheer luck for me to make it big in writing, and I’ve somewhat resigned myself to the prospect that I’m one of those “almost made it” types. Now I focus on telling good stories, not selling to the big markets or trying to land an agent. If it happens, it happens. Perhaps if I hadn’t had those last horrible years of teaching where I lacked significant energy to put into writing things might have been different. I’ll never know, and it’s not worth crying over what might have been.

Skiing

I don’t think I’m going to be skiing any more. My last year of a full season of skiing was 2014. 2015 was a low snow year and we were moving to Enterprise. I struggled with the foot and hip issues, and just could never get the rhythm going again. Last year we bought snowshoes and got some snowshoeing in. I’m sad, but one knee catches unpredictably, and I don’t trust it.

Horse

This almost deserves an entire post in itself. By 2010, Mocha’s training was to the point where I felt comfortable showing her. She responded positively to show life, and we had several great years with limited showing in the metro area until she developed a severe case of white line disease in January of 2014. That essentially took her out of commission until we moved her to NE Oregon in May of 2015. By then she was in significant pain from hock fusion, hoof issues, and the trauma of a drastically different change in life set her back for a while. She went from 24/7 stall life to living outside 24/7 and it was quite a shock to her. But between excellent pasture boarding care, excellent veterinary work, and excellent farrier work, she got past the pain and adapted. One discovery we made was that she needed a drastic change in shoeing because what looked to be the correct angle was in fact causing her pain, which we didn’t know until we x-rayed her feet. After a year of corrective farriery and several years of slow conditioning work, she’s now back to what she was in 2010-13.

We don’t do any shows beyond a local schooling show that’s a 4H fundraiser, but in 2018 they had Ranch Horse classes and we ended up as Ranch Horse Champions. Last year we were Reserve Adult Champions. She’s proven to be a good trail horse and road horse, even if she does silly stuff like adopting an elk calf as her baby. At almost 20, she lives in a big pasture 24/7 with a herd, and has no desire to go back to stall life (something she’s shown us several times). Heaven forbid I approach her with a blanket (she who used to be the Blanket Queen!) unless we’re prepping for a show and I want to keep her clean. The good grass she has here has put weight back on her and she’s happy.

We may take up barrel racing this year–it all depends on what happens with her soundness. At 20, you don’t take that for granted. But especially after reading my 2010 training blogs, where I see the seeds of her later problems, I think that with careful management she’ll be rideable for a few years more.

I’ve lusted after several young horses that have been raised at the ranch, but to date haven’t bought a replacement, simply because of expense. If the books sold better, that might make a difference. I have no idea how long we have together. She could drop dead tomorrow or she could keep on being a good riding horse for another 5-8 years if managed carefully. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have thought it likely, but life on pasture with good grass really has made a difference with her.

Other

We had several tough years, family-wise and life-wise. I’m not going to talk about some of it because it’s private. 2012 was a particularly difficult year, because we lost several close friends, the son’s Crohn’s Disease progressed to significant surgery, the husband had problems with his blood pressure medications, and I was fighting with some difficult work situations. I was the skinniest I ever had been but it wasn’t a healthy loss. Once the stressors disappeared I gained weight.

One result of the tough times was buying the house in Enterprise, where we spend a lot of our time these days. We had dreamed of returning to this small community that we lived in briefly during 1981-82, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2013 that it even seemed possible. We found a nice small house in town with a mountain view, and spent a year fixing it up before hubby retired. The timing was perfect as we bought at the bottom of the market and before all the local contractors got busy.

We cultivated a garden with a friend in Clatskanie for four years, until the back and forth (6+ hours) became too much.

The son has a serious relationship with a woman who has two kids. She and her daughter now live with him in the Portland house, and we’re really happy about that. Plus suddenly we’re kinda grandparents and that’s fun. I sell books, quilted goods, and jewelry at some local bazaars. Both of us participate in local volunteer work and enjoy it.

That’s pretty much it. In ten years, I’ll be 72. If I make it to that age, I’ll have outlived my mother and will be approaching my father’s age. Who knows what will happen? In 2010 I was very aware that at 52, my mother had 17 more years left.

I don’t count like that any more.

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Looking back ten years to 2010–writing, skiing, horse, and so on

Well, it’s the first of the year, and considering that the decade digit has flipped, a lot of folks are doing a retrospective of the last ten years (I’m not going to get into an argument about whether this is the 20s or not). So I went back to old blogs to get a better feel for what was going on, because as I’ve tried to remember things, I’m discovering that I have to think harder about what year it is. Age, or just a lot of stuff going on?

Ten years ago, I was having a gut attack but not so bad that I couldn’t join hubby at a New Year’s Eve concert, Railroad Earth.

I had bought the iMac I’m now using (which has outlived the printer I bought at the same time). I was also determined that I was going to do something with my writing. I was going to buckle down and get things done. Back then, I was convinced I couldn’t write a sf teaching story as well as Zenna Henderson. Still not sure about it, but Klone’s Stronghold was a solid attempt. I also attempted to write some blog content and teaching articles, but that fell by the wayside. Nonfiction is not where my heart lies. But I was writing short stories like crazy, and was on track for my goal to have 20 stories circulating. I was also working on Netwalk and sending it out for submission–not quite ready to take the leap into self-pub, which happened the next year.

Midway through my special education career, I was starting to detach myself from the label. The previous September was also the beginning of the three bad years of teaching, where we went through six principals in that time. But I was having good moments, especially (to my surprise, since I am notnotnot a math person) my Resource Math class. That class was actually at a higher level than previous classes I’d taught, so I was learning new things. It was, however, the year I was reduced to part time work starting in the fall. For some reason I thought I worked five years part time–no, only four. But my Resource English kids did well in their reading AND writing statewide assessments in the spring. Then the fall was the beginning of the really problematic period. At this time I was horribly burned out, taking coursework in interpersonal neurobiology/relational psychology and hoping to parley the combination of training in this field and special education certification into something more (which never really unfolded, in part because I was dealing with the work crap).

Mocha was favoring her right side and while her hock issues had been identified, I still had no idea about the issues with her front foot issues. But it was the beginning of the four years that I kept her barefoot, in hopes that would improve her hoof walls and overall hoof conditioning (which ended with the white line disease). I was working with her shoulders and starting to get a good floaty trot out of her. At that time she would arch her neck and raise her back to stretch when I started to put on her leg boots. I had started to introduce her to road riding (perfect location, with a 20 foot shoulder, the only way I would have done that on a road populated with homicidal cyclists in training, partying drunks racing between river parks, and general idiots). She had demonstrated her unflappableness by being one of the few horses not to freak out when a tree was fallen outside of the barn, and was also showing a lot of energy. I was clearly the high point of her day when she lived in a stall, though we are starting to get back to that now (working on it, probably will have a setback due to being sick and away from her for over a week). She went to her first big horse show and earned blues (and one red) in Dressage Suitability against more experienced horses, earning positive comments for her big gaits, along with mutters about “that reiner mare.” This was the show where she showed her competitive nature and focus, as well as her enjoyment of performance. We were finally figuring out training and she was settling into a groove.

2010 was one of my big skiing years, though I was fighting foot pain and cramping in between euphoric moments. That was the year I got cortisone shots in my left foot because of an inflamed metatarsal joint (I still feel that ache pretty regularly these days, a lovely teaching legacy–NOT). But I ended up buying boots that worked for me in February, which did well by me until I packed out the liners a couple of years later and started having problems again. This was also the year I saw the singing Scandinavian singer–from the blog, “Early on, there was one guy cruising down the Mile, singing at the top of his lungs as he danced with the flow of gravity. A respectable baritone, but the language most definitely was not English. It sounded Scandanavian, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if that were the case. Of course, Swedish and Norwegian ghosts probably stride those slopes; if not haunts, then memories from the early days of Timberline and European exiles wandering on Hood’s slopes. I heard the singing guy twice–once when he went down, the second, while I was skiing down and he was on the chair lift. Not hymns; not contemporary song, either. Not a drinking song. It was strong and rhythmic, matching the flow of gravity, celebratory in a marching way but not a militaristic tune, either. Whatever it was, it matched the setting. It was a skiing song, singing the snow and the sky and the clouds.” Still one of my favorite ski memories. That fall I got to ski on my late October birthday, which started the epic year where I got over 60 ski days in.

Beside the foot problem, this was the year that the zero-to-sixty UTIs in 2 hours started appearing. Several blogs about going into the ER at unpredictable intervals. I had dropped a lot of weight very quickly (probably tied to the UTIs and a long-term antibiotic I was taking).

This was the year that we started a four-year period of camping near the Oregon Country Fair and rediscovering our hippie selves–as well as going to several concerts at venues such as Red Rocks and Bob’s Ranch near Marcola. I was still a practicing Catholic, and confident enough to engage in faith discussions online.

Interesting to look back at those days. I’ll summarize what has happened over the last ten years in the next post.

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