Category Archives: ski bum life

Breaking in the boots

So last year was another hellish Year of The Boots in ski world. I’d skied enough days in my trusty Atomic 80s to pack out the liners. Some people can get away with cruddy footwear but I’m not one of them–for me, boots that are too loose lead to lots of falls and lack of control. But the counter is that I’m hard to fit. I need room in the toe box with a snug heel. That means boots with a last designed for a woman’s foot. Add to that the reality that I wanted to move up a level in responsiveness–that meant a stiffer boot. The 80 in my previous boot’s name reflected a measure of boot stiffness called flex–most beginners ski a 60 or lower flex. I wanted a bit more control.

So I went out to buy a new boot in April. Ski boot buying in April, in my size, sucks. I had a spare pair of boots around the house I tried to make work but they were too big, didn’t fit my arch, hurt my feet horribly and made me trip on the stupidest inclines. A short spell in rental boots in the right size pointed that need out sharply. But when I went shopping around PDX, I literally could only find five pairs of boots in my size, with the requisite stiffness, in the local shops. REI had pulled their stock for the summer and–well, given my foot issues, I’m not about to buy boots online. Nor was I going to forfeit six more weeks of ski season.

Ergo, the Dalbello Electras. I kinda sorta got used to them, but the crappy thing for me in buying boots toward the end of the season is that they usually don’t work well. If my feet are already unhappy in boots, they want to stay unhappy, and while I could feel the potential in the Electras, the reality was that I’d upgraded a level of stiffness in a ski year that already sucked due to packed out boots, a bum hip, and lousy May weather. I packed the boots away for the summer in June, planning to take them into the shop this fall to get some adjustments made to the fit.

I still haven’t done that. Part of my rationale goes back to carefully thinking through the process. The Electra is not only a stiffer boot by level (90), but they were on the stiffer end of a 90. They’re a higher skill level boot, so, instead of merrily pulling them on and going skiing, or hauling them off to the shop, I decided to suck it up and dedicate my Thanksgiving furlough break to breaking in the boots (and acclamating my feet to the dang thing). I look at it as being like a version of breaking in high-quality riding field boots–the more time I spend breaking the boots in and conditioning them, the better fit they’ll have. Rather than try to break them in and ski with them simultaneously, maybe it’s better to spend some time clomping around the house and doing stuff to break them in.

After all, there’s only two feet of snow at Timberline. No precip in sight. It’s close to ski time but not there–and no way am I going up with levels this low. My character Melanie would, but she’s also a hell of a lot better skier than I’ll ever be (and much more obsessed).

Last night I made it to an hour after wrenching the boots on. They came on easily tonight, and I did a light weight workout wearing them and I’m at two hours. One thing I’m figuring out is that perhaps I don’t need the heavier socks I’d started wearing in the Atomics (ulp, perhaps that was a sign of upcoming liner packing out). I’m starting to get the ball of the foot to spread out in the toe box for optimal ski tip control (it’s how I visualize the control) and the heel cup in the liner, while tight on my heels, is about the only dang thing I’ve run into that nails down my wandering heels hard and keeps them from wandering.

This could work.

Hmm. Maybe tomorrow night I’ll move beyond working out and clean tack while wearing ski boots.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking snow in probably one of the few places in the US that isn’t wet and snowy right now….which is unusual for us. And that makes me nervous in various other ways.

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Conquering the ski boot issue and writing process stuff

I think I’m finally getting this boot thing back under control. It’s been freaking annoying, really, because I’ve spent this ski season fighting my boots, my goggles, um, what haven’t I been fighting? Oh, yeah, the skis.

Anyway. After crashing in a stupid spot last Sunday, I went boot shopping and ended up with a pair of high level boots at a major, major discount (Dalbello Electras, for those who want to know). They’re as stiff as stone, but I feel the fit adjusting with each turn I take in them…and as I get used to these little darlings, I grow to like them even more. I’ve had three days on them now and today, they finally started softening up. Of course, I’ve been sticking them on boot warmers before I put them on, which I think is also helping…but learning how to best buckle these boots has also been a help. My feet are reluctantly relearning the proper ski form after being able to caper as they please in the other boots. They’ll still need a few more days to reset the bad habits, but…given that we had a huge dump of very nice, crispy snow up on Hood, and that I’m mostly through a lot of my extra paperwork sessions at work…I think I can work in a few ski days before work.

No Palmer this year, though. Not in condition for it, still working through the hip and leg issues as well as the boots.

It was a lovely snowy spring day, as well. Spring snowstorms can be cold and crispy but not as cold as winter–or they can be icy and sloppy and wet. This was a cold and crispy day, which produced nice fresh powder, lighter than our usual stuff. DH and I did three turns on the Jeff Flood runs before bagging out and heading for Norman. Flood was getting hit heavily and chopped up. Norman, on the other hand, was less popular (most folks riding that lift head for the terrain parks, not the run) so it was pretty nice skiing. We got four runs in on Norman, then got our sack lunch and ate in the lodge.

Then we did errands on our way home, chores, and then I finally got into writing. It’s been a while since I’ve been using the laptop instead of the desktop to write, so I pulled the laptop out and sprawled in bed. That ended up being a pretty good place to work so I got a major chunk of my rewrite started. Problem is, this was supposed to be a light edit before we put it up as the first freebie in the Netwalk: Foundations series. It’s a story I wrote sometime around 2000, before I really even knew much about Netwalk, about Kathy Miller. What I wanted to do was throw it out there to show a little bit of writer worldbuilding in process (which is what the Foundations series is going to be about; putting up bits and pieces of the world as I write sketches and stories to share how things fit together).

Four days after I first started, it’s turning into a major rewrite. Some of that is due to changes in the worldbuilding since the story was originally written. After all, I’ve had thirteen years to think about it, off and on. And yet the bones of the Netwalk Sequence are in it, as solid now as they were then.

But it’s not really a commercial story, it’s a worldbuilding story. Ergo, I’m figuring out some character development that will become important in the next piece of the Sequence (family interactions, family interactions, a big chunk of the Sequence rests on the conception that these people form a dynasty based on some significant dysfunctional elements…plus space! Family dysfunction in Spaaaaace!. Just not space quite yet. Getting there).

That said, I’m trying to make it entertaining infodump.

More later as it develops. For now, happy ski girl needs to go crash…to rest up for what looks to be a very busy week.

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Whew. Landing

Various things got resolved today.

Talked out issues of frustration.

And ended up buying new ski boots. It was a gorgeous stormy day at Timberline. Good soft powder, lovely ol’ Cascade concrete, stuff I usually gobble up and enjoy the heck out of.

But I was fighting it and frustrated halfway through my first run down Kruser.


I had no control over my tips. Or my tails. It felt like my first fighting sessions on skis. It felt wrong. I was breaking into tears halfway down the first run.

“Rent boots,” DH said on our way back up.

“Maybe I just need to warm up,” I said back. I’ve already put money into fixing these damn boots.

We pushed off from the chair, and I ended up falling halfway down a simple baby cat track. Ski popped off, I plopped down. Nothing bad or spectacular this time, just going down.

Rent boots,” DH repeated as I stomped back uphill to retrieve my ski, sinking 18 inches down with each step.

“Damn right I’m renting boots,” I grumbled back.

Long story short, it took a while and trials of two pairs plus a binding release test before I was back on the slope. But it didn’t take but three turns to tell the issue.  The boots I owned were a half size too big–and it was enough to affect my control.  I didn’t like those rental boots–but the difference in effort and control was obvious.

DH and I talked about the possibilities of renting vs buying on the way down the hill. We stopped by the ski shop I prefer because he had a boot issue, and I tried on what they had in my preferred size–a high end version of the boot I didn’t like,  and a beginner boot that the boot fitter looked at me and said “You won’t like it. It’s a beginner boot that is way below what you’re doing now.”

I didn’t like the high end boot any better than the rental, so when we got home, I called two other shops. Long story short, I got new boots for just a little over what it would cost me to rent boots for the rest of this season. It’s a brand I’ve skied before and I like. Problem is, from calling around, I’m in a size that’s fairly popular so there’s not much left at the end of the season. So this should work out well..and it’s from my second favorite local shop.

Yay. Maybe if I can ski again…..

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The joys of spring skiing





Yeah.  Bluebird Saturday skiing.  A wee bit of wind up on the Mile, but after one run in the icy slopes in the trees, we saw folks going up on the Mile and went for it.  Timberline left the chairs on overnight, so it didn’t take long to get it going.

Temps went from around 26 F to around 40 F by the time we left.  Nice crisp snow though, especially up high on the Mile.  We got in five runs on the Mile, six all told, and probably would have been more except I’m still reteaching my muscles about skiing correctly without flopping around in my boots.

Verdict from today is that the Boot Wars may be on their way to resolution.  I played around with buckle tension, and ended up having good control plus less muscle fatigue–though that clobbered me hard toward the end of our ski day.  The Lange boots are stiffer and more reactive than my old Atomic boots.  But putting in the heel lifts seems to have helped get me just that little bit more forward in the boot, and I’m committing to being more aggressive in manipulating and controlling the boot.  I had good spread in the ball of my feet and what started hanging me up was more in the tightness of the hip flexors rather than the foot flailing around inside the boot.  I even got a bit of spring going in shifting from ski to ski, and when I hit the chopped up, chundered snow I was able to cut right through it instead of wobbling around and fighting.

Now it’s just a question of feet in boots, boots on skis.  Turns on the Mountain.  Building up stamina and strength, retraining muscles out of bad habits.  And rehabbing these damned hips.

Once we were done skiing, we bought tea and coffee and sat on the day lodge’s upstairs deck.IMG_7776




Nice thing to be doing, sitting outside the day lodge on a sunny day, watching other people ski.

Yeah. Gotta love Saturday spring skiing.

Then we came home and my crocus are blooming.  Yay!







Had time to do some household chores, and then spend some time putting together a unit on Manifest Destiny.  Like the concept, the unit is starting to get pretty grandiose.  Let’s see how many different ways the technology can blow up THIS coming week (last week: laptop showed PowerPoint, document camera would not.  Document camera would independently work.  Next day, different laptop, PowerPoints run just fine…with no sound.  Fix that, can play YouTube videos with sound, and the next day?  Laptop cannot read CD-ROM.  That contains the perfect intro videos for Manifest Destiny.  That are not available on YouTube, and everything else I’ve found so far sucks.  Oy.  There Are Reasons I Still Use Paper Resources).

Oh, and nice quiet ride on horse last night.  More on that another time.

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!?@!@!! Boots !!?!@!?!@!*>*

So the Boot Wars continue.  Today I rode the Lange Exclusives for the first time in something like four years.

I didn’t die.  Nor did I fall down.

But the experience was…definitely annoying. For one thing, it’s blatantly clear that I’ve picked up some bad foot movement habits from the previous boots.  The feet want to twist and turn in ways they aren’t supposed to twist and turn.  But…the Langes want to throw me into a deeper squat than I find comfortable.  I’m not forward enough and I still have wobble.  That said, I also got the solid feel of a boot that fits and had to spend a lot of time working on scaling down my control, because I was overcontrolling the ski. It was promising, though, to figure out that the foot part probably will work, because that was the problem before.  Now if we can just work on the angles…stopped by the bootfitter and got some heel lifts put in.

Despite the fact that I was working waay too hard, feeling the ol’ thigh burn, and all that good stuff, it was a good ski day.  I took some pictures but not a lot.  Hood itself was clear but the clouds surrounded everything around the Mountain.  There were a couple of moments up on top of the Mile where we spotted Mt. Jefferson, but for the most part, Timberline was a sunny outpost in a sea of clouds.

Damn, I hope I get this boot stuff figured out soon.  I’m tired of fighting my equipment.  I just want to ski….

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More busyness and a ski day, too

Busy, busy, busy.  I’m still hoping to get Netwalker Uprising out by March 1st, but damn, this has been the Book From Hell to get out.  Hopefully things will get better…but this has been One.  Tough.  Book.  And then I have to write another one to top it.  Netwalk’s Children should be fun, but OMG, this is one book I plan to plot, plot, plot.

Hopefully the  readers like Uprising.  There’s a lot of tie-ins to current events and I feel like I’m running just ahead of the latest neuroscience…getting to be a bit of a mad race.

Meanwhile, in other affairs, Riding Has Proceeded Along.  Miss Mocha has been quite energetic and switching to a Pelham has had interesting effects–we’re swapping leads quite nicely although a bit on the fast side.  Nonetheless, counter-canter! Comfortably! And two-track on the diagonal at the lope!  Granted, it ain’t purty.  Yet.  But first we have to hit Willing Suspension of Disbelief In Latest Movement Request, Human!

And then today was a sweet bluebird skiing day.  First day back after my fall, with the new helmet.  I’d decided to switch back to the glasses I’d used for a while, and they work better.  The new helmet is comfy and I like it better.  But….

The boots.  Damn it.  Boots!  I had a hard time controlling the skis and it was a midski wiggle.  I’ve put in over 160–maybe even as many as 200–days on the slopes with these boots.  I stopped to talk with the bootfitter on the way home and he pretty much confirmed that those boot liners are packed out.  Either new custom liners or new boots.

Or….I still have the Lange Exclusive boots that got too tight for me.  I talked with the bootfitter about them.  His comment was “I can make a boot bigger, I really can’t do much to make it smaller.”  So I’m going to see if I can use those boots.  After all, they skied well the first few months I had them…but I was heavier, and then had all those injuries to my feet that may have made my feet swell.  I put my custom footbeds in the Langes and tried them on with my ski setup, and they seem to be plenty roomy.  Just need to have my bindings adjusted (half size larger) and we’re good to go.

It wasn’t all problematic on the slope, either.  Lovely snow day, dry crispy snow.  That made the boot issue even more annoying.  Went down the pitch that threw me with no problems, and figured out why I fell–combination of leaning too far forward and a momentary midski wobble.  I skied much slower than usual because I had to overcontrol my skis.  Not fun at all in some respects, but it was so absofuckinglutely gorgeous that I didn’t care.

We got four runs in on Flood before going up to the Mile for two runs.  I stopped halfway down on the Mile and tightened up my boots–definite improvement but still not enough.  The second Mile run, I hit one stretch where it was steep, the tired leg didn’t want to turn right, and I had to force the turns.  Too much fighting the boot, and it meant my hips didn’t want to work right, either.  Or something.  I just knew that lovely as the conditions were, once turns stop working consistently, it’s time to get off the slope.

Nonetheless, it was a lovely ski day.  Second ride up on the Mile, I spotted two ravens together where one raven had been on our first loop.  And that lovely, squeaky, crispy snow!


Damn boots anyway.  Of course, it would help if I were a better skier.

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Out with the old, in with the new….helmet, that is.

Six days ago, I took a hard fall when skiing.  It wasn’t on a black diamond or even a difficult blue slope; the slope’s own name, Kruser, testifies to the reality that it’s a pretty easy run with a few sharp drops that are more fun than anything else.  Nonetheless, I caught an edge, weighted my downhill ski wrong, and flipped to land hard on my back and shoulder.  During the tuck and roll, my head hit hard on the packed powder snow.








That was the helmet on my head during that fall…and that crack, right where you see the harness in the full picture, was the result.

I had a wee bit of whiplash from that fall, but I suspect that without the helmet, things could have been much worse.

And, per all helmet advisories, that helmet has served its time and is now in the trash.  It’s been replaced.






And am I a helmet advocate?  Oh hell yes.  The only time you’ll find me on horseback without a helmet is during a Western show.  On skis or on a bicycle…never.  Helmet.  Always.

Didn’t need this to make me a believer, though.

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Ski days 5 and 6–yard sale!

Sunday was one of those absolutely gorgeous ski days.  Foggy and moody at home, but up on the Mountain it was crisp, bright and clear.  Driving up, we spotted snow whirls way up top and worried that they meant wind, but it was still at Timberline.  The snow was crisp and sharp underneath, and we got three runs in on the Flood chair before moving up to the Magic Mile.

Four runs on the Mile, two on an older section with a couple of interesting drops.  Sunny, sunny day, gorgeous time.

Today was mist and half-rain, half-snow.  Crisp, icy snow underfoot and a fresh wax job.  Both DH and I are still feeling our early season conditioning muscles, so we weren’t pushing it.  Kruser was a nice run so we did it three times.

But the second time, I took a fall. A real yard sale of a fall, as we call it in skiing, with both skis popping off and poles flying.  Not sure how or why I fell, really, just caught an edge on a little halfpipeish V curve that really isn’t that difficult, except…something caught.  I found myself overbalancing and going down, twisting in midair to catch the fall just behind my right shoulder joint, popping out of my bindings (good, I was thinking as that happened, I so do not want to feel that pain), and landing hard on my back.  My head thumped but the helmet absorbed the shock and my roll had me ending up half on my left side.  DH took a slow, careful fall, I was half-up by the time he was done.  We checked in with each other, then I stumped up the hill to retrieve my first ski and we snapped back in.  The snow was actually pretty forgiving; not hardpack, enough to have some give.  Less snow or a fall like that on hard ground would have hurt more.

So far, there doesn’t appear to be much going on other than sore muscles.  The abs I’ve been working as part of my Pilates program are achy tonight, which suggests to me that I subconsciously engaged them as I fell, my shoulder is sore, my hip is sore.  But I’ve had worse.  As a result, though, I got chilled and wet to the skin (not just that, some other stuff), and ended up feeling wiped out for the day.  Not surprising.

We did three more runs after my fall, and then called it quits.  By then the weather was an icy, sleety, snowy mix.  I was chilled enough that I had problems bagging my skis in the wind and needed help.  But once in the car and warmed up, all was well.

I keep thinking over the fall sequence, though.  Not from fear, rather, from thinking about how to describe it.  One thing I have noticed in falling from skis or from a horse is that I seem to have the same experience of intense focus and looking around for a place to fall.  I never seem to be able to do that if I trip while walking, but skiing or riding, I can.  It was odd because I had the same sensation of picking my spot to fall–there–and working with it.  Ski pops off here, I land here, other ski pops off here, head bonks here, roll onto side and stop.  Very clearly delineated.

The only thing I can’t account for is how my pole got bent.  Not bad, but clearly bent, enough that it was catching a little bit annoyingly.  I’ve got a spare, so that’s taken care of.

Anyway, that was interesting.  This year’s skiing is definitely less aggressive, mainly due to illness and to working my way back from last year’s hip injury/long term hip maintenance.  Getting back into shape.  It’s coming along.

ETA–looking back, these were ski days 5 and 6….

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Ski day # 2





Today I remembered to bring the camera.  Lots of dry, fluffy snow, and alternating sun and clouds, especially up higher.  I even got to see a snowbow (pictured above).

DH didn’t ski today because his knee is still bugging him.  Timberline was hopping from the beginning.  I did a warmup run down Pucci–still don’t have my ski muscles back up and in line yet.  But a day like today helps.  A quick two runs down Pucci, and I continued on down to the bottom of Jeff Flood–where I decided I wasn’t ready to go yet.  So I moved over to Stormin’ Norman and stayed there the rest of the ski session, watching as the lifties worked to get the Magic Mile up and running.  It was still covered with rime ice from the last storm, and man, the snow depth is amazing for December.





I got in five runs on Norman, which isn’t too bad given the crowds later on and all.  About eleven the slopes started getting really chopped up, and I didn’t want to push my luck for the Mile today.  I didn’t start to see skiers on the Mile until after I’d taken my gear off.  Oh well.  It’s only the beginning of the season.  We’ll see what the end brings.  There’ll be plenty of good ski time.  Just getting my legs back.

And in the end, to be rewarded with this view….







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A thank you, and first ski day of the season

For those of you who’ve responded to my post about teachers and guns, thank you for your thoughtful responses.  I appreciate every one of them.

Sadly, there are folks out there (but only two that I know of, thankfully) who’ve accused me of either overreacting or being afraid to use a gun.  Sigh.  As far as I’m concerned, they’re following talking points, knowingly or not.  And so far, none of them have any actual classroom or teaching experience in a K-12 setting.  Nor do they show signs of having thought through the force decision steps in that setting.  Sigh.  That’s all I’m going to say.

On to more cheerful things…sort of.  The first day out wasn’t the greatest this year, while not being the worst.  DH wrenched his bad knee when he got into deep, heavy, wet powder and was out for the day.  My bad, because 1.) I didn’t insist we stay on Pucci and 2.) I didn’t scout it first.  My skis handle powder better than his.  So he’s out for a couple of weeks, but thankfully no long-term harm done.

The conditions were tough.  Heavy, wet powder on a base that hadn’t really had time to build.  Pucci was in pretty good shape early in the day; Pucci as I like it with the high sloping banks that make me think of pinball bumpers as I ricochet off of them.  Even at that, it took me three runs to get the rhythm of shifting weight from ski to ski smoothly.  And I’m tight in the hips, not in a good way.

I finished off with a check it out run down Uncle Jon’s band.  Still pretty low snow and as a result, lots of choppy moguls on the slopes.  I opted out of the last steep drop because I saw a little tree emerging from the snow at the top and figured it was lower than I wanted to ski.  I went around, and was happy I did when I looked up from the bottom.  Not only is more snow needed but it needs to have about a week of grooming and packing for best results–at least for what this old lady likes to do.  Given the forecast, however, I think things will be great by next week.

I found my condition lacking in a couple of areas.  Not surprising, considering my usual modus operendi is to ski Pucci and build up my strength before moving on to the longer runs.  Definitely in beginning of season condition.  Which means caution, listening to the ol’ bod, and doing some drills.

And squats and lunges at home.  Ah well, it was a beginning, and I started tapping into the flow.  We’ll see how things go from here.

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