Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing


January 2011

Love letter to my boys

Here it is again.  Gayle’s writing another post about the kids.  We, your readers, get it:   your kids are great, gifted, talented, open-minded, smart, funny, blahblahblah.  Too bad, says I, you gotta read it again!

My kids are grown and out of the house.  They are in various stages of their educations, in different regions of the world and country, and I occasionally get the opportunity to go visit them in their worlds.  This weekend was one of those times.

Sons Ben and Sam are in Beaver Creek, Colorado.  Ben has been in Colorado for 7 years, and in Beaver Creek for 4.  He’s a server at a restaurant in the Village, a backcountry powder skier, and student at Colorado Mountain College.  Sam graduated from UT in December and immediately came out to work for the resort for the season.  They both have, one each, a hand-me-down camper van from their Grandpa, although Ben also has an apartment.  Ben’s is a 1985 VW Vanagon, and Sam’s is a 1990 Airstream B-van.  They are named, respectively, Gertie and Aunt Bea.

gear-prep ritual
pre-ski music

My little trip out here started with a 2:30am alarm on Friday, for a 5:30 flight to Atlanta, and another leg to Eagle/Vail airport.  The boys, and Ben’s girl Kirsten, architecture graduate student at UC Denver and in town for the weekend as well, picked me up at the airport in Aunt Bea.  After a delayed Christmas gift exchange, we headed out for an evening of food and fun.

Ben and Kirsten
obligatory food porn

Sam’s resort job is being a sleigh host for Beano’s restaurant on the slope.  The only way to reach the restaurant is by skis or CAT.  After the lifts close at 4, the CAT/sleigh combo begins taking customers up from the village to the restaurant, a 15-minute outdoor ride.  Sam, in his duster and cowboy hat, loads visitors on the sleigh, tucks warm blankets around them, and entertains them on the short, cold ride up the hill.  Last night I got to be one of the guests.  I also got to see first-hand why Sam is the Employee of the Month, first rookie to ever be selected to that title, according to the restaurant manager.

Very very cold ride up the slope
cowboy sleigh host

Sam started playing banjo in October.  2010.  His sisters and I gave him a guitar for his birthday in September, and he immediately added the banjo to his repertoire.  Being the recent UT alum, as I mentioned, the first song he picked up?  Absolutely.  Rocky Top.  He has an affinity for bluegrass, and he is really enjoying his new pasttime.

On the sled on the way up he played 8 More Miles to Louisville and Rocky Top.  He also introduced Ben and me to his load of about 20 sled guests, and told them my turning-50-Ironman milestone.  As we waited in the restaurant in front of the beautiful stone fireplace, I spoke with what felt like was every one of those 20 guests as they told me how enjoyable Sam made that very cold ride up the mountain.

Beano's restaurant (you have to ride the sleigh up to know why that name)

The next day both boys were off work and the 4 of us spent the day on the slopes at Beaver Creek.  As much as I enjoy skiing, I have never really taken to it like the rest of my family has.  Maybe it’s because I only ski about 4 days a year, maybe it’s because I don’t push myself to get better since I do so much of that in my other training.  Whatever the reason, each year my resident instructor, Ben, has to give me remedial lessons in the fundamentals.  Each year he does it with such patience and good humor and makes me so proud he’s my son.  He and Sam and Kirsten also had to give up a day in the backcountry skiing in the out-of-bounds area in the deep powder.

Kirsten and Ben and me
Kirsten and me, post-slope

So, here it is Sunday night and I have 2 more days with my boys.  Ben’s working tomorrow, but Sam and I will go out and do something.  I cooked a giant mom meal tonight of pork roast, scalloped potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, yeast rolls, and apple crisp.  (That’s after last night’s banana pudding).  I love taking care of the guys and just marinating in their boyness.  I am so proud of the men they are becoming, and I love their aggressive spirit of adventure.  I know I say that each time I blog about one of the kids, but it’s always at the forefront of what I love about them!

Thanks for reading, and especially thanks for letting me ramble on about my kids!

Three parties

I am not a social animal, but I’ve gotten to go to three parties in the last 5 days.

First, on Saturday afternoon, with both my college girls home, we went to a get-together at friends Amy and Cary’s house.  They are the parents of Sarge, a Wiemaraner, and Barley, a standard poodle puppy.  Amy and Cary are homebrewers, and I will tell you they had the absolute BEST homebrew I’ve ever tasted.  It’s their winter blend and I was so impressed!  The company was terrific and the food was delicious.

host Cary, and friends Joey and Karissa (and baby Judah)
feast and friends

We hated to leave early, but we had the opportunity to go to B.B. King’s Jazz Club in Nashville with the Moss family to celebrate Robert’s 21st birthday.  The whole family was there, plus some, AND the future Baby Boy Moss!

Lee and Suzy
Khaki and Laura
The girls trying the "fishbowl"

A good time was had by all – the girls even got Big Jesse out on the dance floor!  Happy Day Bobby – we miss you and love you.

Then tonight, I got to go to John Potts’ birthday celebration at Maple Street Grill.  He hit the big 27, and Emily pulled together a little group of besties for food, drink, and laughs.  My girl Steen was my date (and the other token oldie) and we had such a good time!

Send me the pic from your phone, Suzie, and I'll switch it with this one - it's the only one I took with you in it!
Beautiful children
Em and Mere

So three parties in five days.  Good friends and good times, and I am so grateful for everyone.  I love my eclectic bunch of funny, warm, sweet friends!

Thanks for reading!

Polar Bear Plunge 2011

Ahhhh, now I don’t have to think about it again til next January.

Today was the 9th annual Murfreesboro Polar Bear Plunge.  Amy and I started doing this when she was in middle school, and except for last year, when we were in Colorado with the family for Christmas, we haven’t missed a Plunge.

We have had a narrow range of weather, typical for Middle Tennessee, but I do believe today was a first.  It was about 28 degrees, snowing, and windy.  Water temp was about 38 degrees, I heard, but that’s about normal.

as cold as it looks

It’s kind of a love-hate thing we have with this event.  Never have we ever regretted having done it, but it’s awfully hard to get out of a warm bed on a cold, blowy, snowy morning to put on a swimsuit knowing you’re going to plunge into icy waters!

The plunge itself is a feeling like no other.  In the early years, there were 25 or so jumpers; I bet this year there were upwards of 300-400.  After some festivities in the gym, we go en masse out to the pool and line the perimeter.  Murfreesboro has redone the outdoor pool, so there was a lot more perimeter this year, and we had to re-establish our “leaping spot”.  We absolutely had to jump into the deep end, because if immersion is the goal, and it is, there is almost NO possibility of my dunking my head under in an additional motion after having jumped in.  It’s full immersion or nothing, as far as I see it.  My friend Bernie Steen called this event Mass Baptism, so I guess the debate could rage on parallel to the religious world about sprinkling or immersion.

This plunge, like others I’m assuming, begins its countdown after everyone is assembled around the pool, and they make it a quick one, because we’re all out there in a minimum of clothing.  At the number 10, I quickly take off my sweat pants, the hoodie comes off at about 7, shoes at 4, then 3, 2, 1, big breath…

Amy describes it as jumping into needles.  I describe it as jumping into acid.  Every skin cell you own goes into instant shock, and even if your head was not under water you could not breathe.  I Googled an explanation of the physiological response you have in cold water, and found that these pretty obvious things happen:

  • you have immediate constriction of blood vessels in your extremities, forcing blood volume into your core, raising your blood pressure
  • your body reacts with a shot of adrenaline as it puts you into “fight or flight” mode to take care of you
  • you can become disorientated immediately because of the instant change in environment to all of your senses

Over the years I have tried to focus specifically on the moments following the leap, because invariably I cannot remember getting out of the pool.  This year I have a little stronger memory of it.  My friend Michael thinks that the cold air temperature made the water feel less drastic – he was already numb by the time we hit the water – maybe he’s right.


I need to say a final word about our support posse:  Megan and Emily did a valiant job of TRYING to Plunge.  They dressed in costume, they got to the gym on time, they registered and even had on their registration bracelets, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to hurl their tender bodies into the soup.  However, they did a fabulous job of cheering us on and even digitally recording our leap, AND they made a commitment to try again next year – you just can’t ask for more than that!

The leapers and the cheerers

Oh yes, they’re wearing onesies.

Thanks for reading!

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