Monday, January 25, 2010

A Snow Globe Type of Day

Yesterday the Boyfriend and I headed up to Banner Ridge for some snowshoeing on what turned out to be the perfect day. We went a couple weeks ago, and although it's always fun to get out, the sky was gray, the snow was packed down, and the place was crowded. The last of these complaints is entirely our fault--or the dogs, depending on how you look at it. We didn't get up to the parking area at Whoop-em-up until way too late in the day, mostly because we had to wait for the pet store to open so we could buy coats for our dogs. There, I said it. We bought coats for the dogs. They really help them last longer in the snow. Apollo's keeps her warm, and Kira's just keeps her from getting baseball-sized snowballs on her belly and legs. Yeah, it's kind of (ok, really) embarrassing, but it makes it so much more fun for them and I don't feel like a bad parent. Anyway, back to yesterday . . .

We made it up to Banner Ridge relatively early. Although we weren't the first people there, I think most of the other people were on the groomed trails, where dog people like us aren't allowed. You never know what kind of snow you're going to get, but yesterday's was perfect. There was already a trail, but it still had a good six to eight inches of fluffy powder on top. Even better, the sun was shining in full force, providing vibrant blue skies as the backdrop for our snowy stroll. The combination of the sun and the powder resulted in pixie dust snow--you know, that really fine, light, glittery snow. I felt like Wendy from Peter Pan being showered with fairy dust as the snow blew off the tree tops. Then Kira stepped on the back of the Boyfriend's snowshoe and his cursing brought me back to reality.

Reality was better than daydreams yesterday, however--cursing and clumsy dogs included. We plodded slowly upwards toward Banner Ridge, met with gorgeous views all the way. Along the ridge, the Boyfriend ran into an old friend and we chatted for a while. (Yes, Idaho is a small place.) We walked along the ridge line for a bit before winding back into the trees and downhill. As we were coming down a long, straight stretch of the trail, I had a wonderful moment where my brain just went blank, totally quiet. I wasn't thinking about what we would have for dinner, if I was going to have any work this week, what form of melted cheese sounded the best, if I had paid my credit card bill, or whether Sasquatch would need snowshoes (yes, this was a debate earlier in the hike). All I could hear was the crunch, crunch of my snowshoes on the trail and the whooshing of my poles as they skimmed over the snow, my arms too tired to lift them high enough to clear the tall plateaus of snow on either side of the trail. These moments are few and far between for me, but they're worth the wait. The quiet and the peace and the stillness are absolutely cathartic. I snapped out of my moment rejuvenated, thankful, and energized as my thoughts returned to melted cheese.

It was a perfect day--a perfect, beautiful day in one of those gorgeous places that make me thankful to live where I do and have someone to enjoy those places with. And yes, we had grilled cheese sandwiches when we got home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The past week has finally seen some real preparations for the garden and spring time. Good thing, you're thinking, because it's already . . . mid-January, I know. But it's fun to start dreaming about the garden and I almost guarantee the Boyfriend and I will plant too early, which we do every year but this year for sure since it's our first spring in the new house. In any case, we browsed through the Second Chance Building Materials store (very cool) a couple weeks ago looking for old windows and returned on Monday to pick up a couple. I think they're perfect. The boyfriend is going to turn them into, um, I don't know what they're called--essentially little green houses where we can start our seeds this spring. I think he read about it in Coop by Michael Perry. This system promises to be much more effective than last year's strategy of lining up soggy egg carton starts on the ironing board in front of a window. At least the ironing board got some good use. On a related note, I also finally ordered my seed catalog a week or two ago and am checking the mail eagerly each day.

I'm also trying to decide where to add a new raised bed or two. I proposed to the Boyfriend that I could buy some wood and he could build some more of his beautiful raised beds. He accepted, which is further proof that he's great. So now I have to settle on where, since the dimensions will be dependent on the space.

While the picture shows a straight-forward corner with nice clean right angles, there is one big unknown in this planning process: dog attack patterns. This corner is often the meeting place of six dogs, with an occasional unfortunate squirrel thrown in (actually above) the mix on certain days. A huge battle often breaks out in this corner, with none of the parties apparently deterred by the unmoving fence and lack of resolution. Let me introduce you to the contenders:

Along the fence in the right side of the picture are two chihuahuas. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned them before. Their noses make frequent visits across the fence, but luckily (for them) they weigh about 2 ounces too much to actually fit through the slats of the fence. How they have kept their noses attached to their scrawny little emaciated faces is beyond me and not for lack of effort on Apollo and Kira's part. On the left side of the fence there are actually two other yards that are close to the corner. They each have dogs and to tell you the truth I have no clue what kind. One is named Mr. Giles, but beyond that, they're both small and like to bark, which kind of makes them all the same to me. In any case, our dogs and these dogs often meet at the corner for these mock dog fights that involve serious barking, mild fence scratching, and neurotic running up and down the fence line. How this will all play out with garden planning is yet to be determined. The optimist in me thinks the raised beds will act as a deterrent. The realist in me knows that it will result in squashed squashes. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The End of an Era

During any given week, there are at least a couple days where I consciously think about how glad I am to be back in Boise, close to my roots, settled in a place that I love, and surrounded by the people that mean the most to me and tolerate me quite patiently and kindly. Yesterday, in particular, was one of those days.

I was lucky to go through Boise's public school system and have an all-around great experience. I know I received a great education in the classroom, but when I think back on those junior and senior high years, I often find myself reminiscing about the stuff out of the classroom. I loved playing sports and being part of a team (my, how that has changed . . . college group projects, and group grades, will do that to a person), especially in junior high. At the younger level, sports were about developing character, learning the fundamentals, playing as a team, and working hard. In high school, I suppose it was about some of those things, but it was also about politics, pressures, and expectations. In any case, I had a great set of coaches in junior high, and one in particular that I've kept in touch with. I think he expected great things from me, but somehow I never feel like he's disappointed by the rather average output of my adult life to date. He's been supportive during times I needed it most and always reminds me to be my best self.

I meant to get to one of his team's basketball games last winter, but just never got around to it. This fall, I saw an article in the paper about him and another coach coaching their last football game, since both would be retiring. I promised myself I would make it to a basketball game this winter, assuming it would be his last season on the hardwood as well. I put it off and put it off, not having the schedule and being busy with work. I finally emailed him last week and got the schedule and headed to a game last night. It turned out, it was his last game.

They lost quite badly, although they worked hard, played good defense, and worked as a team. He coached until the last second, still trying to get them to set the half-court trap just right. The end was unceremonious. The game wasn't at home. You wouldn't have known it was the end of a decades-long tradition at Hillside Junior High, and perhaps to many people it wouldn't have mattered, but it mattered to me. Those were some of my favorite years and my favorite teams. Those were years I learned a lot about hard work, respect, and pride.

I didn't necessarily set out to be there for his last game--my planning, or lack thereof, was just dumb luck. But it was perfect and made me thankful again to be here in Boise, where my roots run deep, where I spent those formative years that start shaping you into the adult you'll become, where I can show up to a junior high basketball game and be reminded of the important things that matter most in this world. Some teachers never stop teaching.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy New Year!

So the holidays have come and gone, and my head might still be spinning from the 6 weeks or so between Thanksgiving and New Years. In other years I might have complained that I was so busy with work during the holidays, but this year I would be a fool to even consider it. However, I'm enjoying the general slow down that comes after ringing in the new year, watching the last bowl game, and eating the last of the sweets that have transformed me into a manic, headache-riddled, sugar addict. The produce section and I are looking forward to getting reacquainted.

I always look forward to the new year, but perhaps never as much as this year. I'm looking forward to so many knowns and am positive that the unknowns will hold even more excitement. I can't wait to spend a whole calendar year and four seasons in the new house. The Boyfriend has a great idea for a little mini greenhouse for us to start some seeds in and I just ordered my seed catalog online this week. I have this theory that once the new year comes, spring is just right around the corner. This little belief of mine is probably what makes the actual coming of spring seem so long and what makes me start planting things in March way before it makes any logical sense to do so. Hey, I have lots of friends in the plant industry who depend on people like me to do stupid things like that. These same people buy me beers every once in a while, so really, the money comes right back to me, right? In any case, I'll be looking forward to spring every day from now until the first crocus appears. Shoot, I didn't get my crocus planted. Ugh.

The new year also brings the promise of the regular semi-resolutions: eating healthier, being more active, calling my friends more, staying more organized, etc. We'll see how it goes. My progress so far has amounted to buying a file cabinet and going to the gym. I guess I'm easing into it. Oh yeah, I ate a salad the other day too. We're also hoping to plan a couple trips this year, perhaps to Tucson for the Tour de Tucson bike race and Washington DC for the Boise State vs. Virginia Tech football game. Now that I think about it, saving money should probably be in the resolutions too. I'm also hoping to do a lot more writing in 2010, both here and elsewhere. Here's to hoping the world will be as supportive of my writing as the friends and family that stop by here every once in a while!

Besides the big things, here are a few other mini-resolutions for 2010:
  • send cards for birthdays, anniversaries, and no reason at all (Note to self: This is largely dependent on being more organized--yikes.)
  • hand write letters, because I think my hand writing is regressing to post-elementary school levels
  • return library books on time, because I hate having to wait for something I really want on the waiting list
  • deal with the mail every day, instead of stacking it nicely in an ever-growing pile
  • print out pictures, because if my hard drive crashes I'll have no life history
  • try to hate doing laundry less

Ugh, I'm getting overwhelmed, so we'll just stop there for now.

Here's to 2010 and great possibilities.