Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Morgul Bismack Road Race - Hitting "The Wall"

(Ya' gotta notice Ellie's shoes, or well, her slippers, they were of interest to many of the bikers who wanted some for themselves. Can you imagine the tough men on podium with soft ducky slippers? It made us laugh to think of it. )

If you lived in Colorado in the 1970-late 1990's you probably heard of the Morgul Bismark Road Race. It was a world famous race with teams from all over the world competing. The race was featured in biking films such as "American Flyers" and "Breaking Away." Part of what it is famous for, or rather it is infamous for, is "The Wall," a grueling mile long 12% grade hill. Perhaps some of the photos of some of the boys on our team will convince you about its difficulty.

Ellie has been doing this race for a few years. She is always good at hills, though they are not her favorite. This morning she awoke with a head ache, feeling pukey and a bit dizzy. I kind of suggested that we could stay home if she was not feeling all that well, but I think she mostly ignored me as she practically pushed me out of the door and to the car. (She always wants to arrive at least an hour early.) I thought she might feel better after having some breakfast, but no such luck. I had to simply trust her to know her self, but felt better knowing that she had her phone with her and that friends were driving the sag wagon.

Even as the skies were threatening to spit, drizzle and maybe even rain, they lined up. Her heart was racing as there was serious competition at this race. Off they went, starting at the base of the dreaded "Wall" and out around HWY 93. They raced on. This year she had only to do a single 13.4 mile loop. Next year it will be two loops. I hitched a ride to the finish at the top of "The Wall" and anxiously awaited her arrival. I took time to visit with our friend Greg who is always wonderful about coming to the races and cheering for our kids. I chatted it up with biking friends, took photos and encouraged many who passed by. I saw her competition go by so I knew she would be showing up soon.

As she got near I could see that she was giving it her all. Her red, exhausted face told that story. My heart swelled with pride for her. She has such tenacity. Her friend, Ariana, zoomed by making it look easy.

In the end Ellie placed third and seemed pretty happy with that standing. The girl in first place is a national champion mountain bike racer who seems like a nice girl. Katie, whom Ellie goes to battle with at many races, placed second. That made sense to Ellie since Katie is so small, having less to pull up the mountain.

While we awaited results postings and podium, the girls cheered on the pro racers. Buddy kept them company. He is such a good dog. The girls made plans for the summer and concluded the day with a sleep over.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

All Good Things Must End...

This is the season for endings, good-byes and changes for my boy. He embraces those endings, appreciates the place those people and activities have held in his life, and marches confidently in the new, largely unknown future. I have less grace with these endings than he does. I am sentimental and a little sad - after all, my boy is just about grown up.

We've known for a while that Ethan's scoutmaster,Gary, would be stepping down at the end of May from leading the troop. He has struggled with the apathy of some of the scouts and their parents who look at scouting as a place to drop off their boys, instead of a place to enrich the lives of their boys and help them grow into strong, resourceful men. He has struggled to find a balance of time with a boy in college out of state, another starting at an out of state college in the fall, a younger boy and his wife. I guess I had assumed that we would end with an honor ceremony or some sort of special event. I had even hoped to put together a picnic or BBQ to honor Gary and Frank, who started the troop. But my life got caught up in working 1.5 jobs, being a mom and a wife. My life is a blurr for about 8 weeks in the spring. It was more intense than usual this year and so the end of May snuck up on me. So the boys had their last meeting on Monday. They talked about who would find another troop, took a trip for treats over at Dairy Queen, shook hands and said good-bye. And like that, it was done. Ethan says they may get together for one last camp out and he likes my BBQ idea, but we will have to see what actually occurs. We will at least give Gary some token of appreciation from ourselves.

Ethan has also said good-bye to some friends that have graduated from the school. Rhi, Lisa and Ethan have been at AVS their entire schooling careers. Arie has been part of his school life for about six years, as have Jamie and Kennedy.They will be missed, too. But Ethan is ready to step into those shoes. In many ways I think he had already been standing there. He says it will be a little different to be at school without them.

Ethan is also not doing any bike racing this year. He is simply too busy with other things like work and new activities. Even as we were spending so much time at races together, I knew it was a gift to both of us - that time, that bond, that way to show support. But still, now that it is a reality, I miss his not being there. Just taking Ellie to races is a very different (though still very enjoyable) way to do that.

I am already beginning to miss him, though he still goes to school, still lives at home, still argues with his sister over chores (and often hassles her into agreeing to outrageous deals). I miss that part where I knew what he was doing, could enjoy those quiet moments of anticipation, of being part of what brings him joy. I am now on the sidelines, where I do belong. After all, we have raised him to be the wonderful, resourceful, responsibility young man he is. It is right that he is charging ahead with full steam, mostly on his own.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Small Adventure

I had planned to write about the weekend with the AVS crew at Snow Mountain Ranch. It is an annual event that the kids look forward to even as we are driving away on Sunday. However, that plan was eclipsed when my van would not start after our detour at Safeway in Fraiser, 70 miles from home. I am pretty sure it is my fuel pump as it was making strange noises.

Larr had gone home on Saturday night as he was tired from a recent trip to another SVS school. Ethan was with Brett and Doug since he wanted to go to Bojou's and I did not. That left Ellie, our friend Buffy and I in the van. We called AAA and ordered a flat bed tow truck. There was not room for us in the truck, so the driver had us stay in the van. He said we would notice things we had not noticed before since we would be sitting up so high.

Ellie was thrilled. Larr, back at home, was not so sure. The driver assured us that it was safe since the road were clean. We just sat back and relaxed. It was odd sitting in the driver's seat of a moving van and yet, I was not driving.

The trip was bouncy. It certainly tested my level of dealing with feeling car sick, though what could I do since I could not pull over? It was fun, too. The ride home seemed to go quickly.

Larr was happy to see us back home and safe.

Ellie was happy to go home and attempt to work on her tan. That seemed a funny contrast to the snow on the pass.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

And New a Word From Ethan

Ethan has an incredible ability to take in information that he has heard. He also loves videos. He can see a video one or two times and have most, if not all, of it memorized. Ellie is pretty good at this, too. When we are driving together they two of them will begin to verbally recreate some of their favorite videos. Here's a recent one that is really quite funny:

Ethan also wanted me to share the following recipe. He had this at a party and really enjoyed it.

Goldenrod Eggs
from: The Alford Family

For four servings:

Hard boil 8 to 10 eggs. (About 12 minutes at this altitude) Cool immediately in cold water.

Peel cooled eggs, then separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl, and chop the egg whites into small pieces.

Make a white sauce out of:

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup flour
(melt & whisk these together before adding milk)
about 2 cups milk (add it bit by bit)

and season it with:
2 to 3 tsp. powdered mustard
a dash or two of white pepper (if you don't have it, you can use black pepper)
salt to taste
1 - 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Whisk and cook until thick and smooth. Taste it and adjust the seasonings. Add chopped egg whites and keep warm on low heat, stirring occasionally.

In separate bowl, break up egg yolks and stir with a clean, dry whisk to crumble finely.

Serve over buttered toast strips: first sauce, then yolks, then paprika lightly sprinkled over the top.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Small Joys on a Saturday Morning

It is a wonderful morning here in Edgewater. I awoke to the chorus of birds that strike up conversation every morning - what a cheerful sound to be bathed in. After lounging and chatting with my husband we got up to get breakfast out. I pass by the stove that was quietly cleaned for me by my husband as part of a Mother's Day gift for. (It is such a nice thing to cook on a clean stove.)

The clouds hung low and the air was cool, whispering a promise for rain later in the day, as we walked to the garage. To the side I admire the sound of my tiny pond as it gurgles away. It too was cleaned out and brought into season by my husband who knows how much I love those little things (and dread the stinky clean up of the thing.) We headed out to Starbuck with a gift card my sister had given to me. We had to scoot as a 5k fundraiser run will be taking place in our neighborhood. The streets and alley entrances were due to be closed very soon.

With breakfast sandwiches and warm drinks in hand we pick up the conversation from earlier in the morning. Larr is preparing to go to Maryland on Sunday to be part of the thesis defense panels at school similar to ours. I talk about the challenge of gathering eight images that I will put in the class folder for the art workshop I will be attending this summer. With such a vast cache of image types and images, how to I choose? Across the way we gaze upon crews of volunteers who are planting at least fifty new trees. My hand rests on the brand new Fleet Foxes CD, "Helplessness Blues." I am pleased because I know Ethan will be happy to hear it. Just the other night we had been wondering when the Fleet Foxes would come out with new music.

Our weekend mornings are usually early and busy. It is nice to have a more calm pace to set off the weekend. The busiest and most stressful part of the school year is nearly behind up and I am ready to embrace a new cadence for how I spend my time. Summer break is just a few weeks away.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Interesting Videos Ethan Found

My kids enjoy the website. It is a great time waster, but a lot of fun, too. Here are a few that we thought were interesting:

Ethan has a funny bit of narration that he adds to this one. Watching him watch the video is as much fun as watching the video itself. We love that little kitten.
This is another fun cat video.

We are both impressed with this young man's dancing skills.

And finally, a really weird one that is worth watching to the end...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fingerless Gloves for Marodi

Marodi is one of Ellie's dance teachers. She is one of those lovely, petite women who have a hard time finding things to fit.

Earlier in the year I had been knitting fingerless gloves for Ellie. When Marodi noticed what I was making she struck up a conversation that began with how she simply could not learn to knit, but would make some fingerless gloves if she could. I was nearing the end of my project and thinking about what would be my next endeavor. That conversation solved that problem. It is wonderful for a knitter to have someone who would love to have something that they would love to make.

So the quest was on to find something fitting for Marodi who is both graceful, intense, commanding and fun - all at once. Her style is also very classic. After a long search I elected to do the Shi bui pattern. I had to do a good bit of math and needle swatching to figure how to downsize the pattern so that it would fit her. I also had to change the yarn size. I wanted something classic, durable and super soft. In the end I elected to use double strands of lace yarn that is alpaca, cashmere and silk. Oh what a joy it was to work with. I fretted over possibly having enough, but in the end it was okay. I have a tiny bit left of each color.

Making the gloves match was an entirely different story. The first one went well once I got the gauge down correctly. Knitting the second one was a bit of a trick I got it 2/3rds done twice only to find that it was not right and frogged (ripped or undid) it twice. Third time was close enough to what I wanted and I was tired of starting over. Luckily Marodi didn't seem to notice. She was simply thrilled to receive the gift.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Fiber Market & Wheels of Thunder Race

Today we went to the races. This time it was the Wheels of Thunder criterium. It is a 1.6 mile course with 3 hills. The kids did about 9 laps.

Ellie was in fine form. She jumped up from the Jr. 13-14 to the Jr. 15-16 group by the second lap. I am proud of her.

Earlier in the morning I spent a brief bit of time at the fiber market my local knitting store, The Recycled Lamb, was holding.

I think Jane was my favorite. She is only a few months old and was happy to let me pet her for as long as I would like to.

These guys were not so happy, but still cute to look at. They will be sheered tomorrow.

I also wanted to pet the cashmire bunny, but he would have none of that. Don't you love the ears?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Pulling Things Together for the Colorado DanceSports Ball

The kids in Ellie's dance classes will be competing in formation dances for Rhythm and Smooth at the Colorado DanceSport Ball in June. They've learned the dances, now they just have to perfect them.

This is the dress they will be wearing, though their dresses will be black.

Here are the songs they will be dancing to:
"I'm Into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits

"Sing" by Glee (Chemical Romance cover)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Art Show at Denver Water

My mother works for Denver Water and there is a group of people there who love to through parties, do good things for kids and their employees. They celebrate who they are as people, not just as employees who do a specific task. One way to celebrate them is the art show and contest that they host from time to time. The show is open to the employees and their families. Pam, the woman who puts this event together asked my mother to make sure that my kids submitted something for the show and this is what we put together.

We have the metal art that Ethan did a while ago. I love this piece. It makes me happy. Someone already wanted to buy it, but I don't want him to sell it. I am pretty sure he gave it to me the year he made it. It makes me smile both for the silly face it has and for the memory of how happy he was when he created it.

Ellie took this one. I think it is her best photo of those she is submitting. You can't tell here, but in real life you can see Moxy's fur in great detail. I love that cat!

If you love dogs, you gotta love this one. You can see what a sweet heart our dog has just by looking at this photo by Ellie.

I wish this had photographed for this purpose better, but I've shown most of those photos here before. This one makes me think of summer. I love how she has used filters to shift the colors a bit.

We hope to be able to go down and see the exhibit. That would be a thrill!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Whole Lotta Bikin' -The Good and the Bad

Ellie had four races this weekend so that is how we spent most of our time. Friday's race was a time trial (her favorite kind of racing) at Bear Creek Lake Park. She was simply not in the groove that day. She was doing okay until three giant diesel truck pulled onto the road. I think they did not have much experience with driving new cyclists and so they slowed way down, stopping often. Racers piled up behind them, changing how they finished. Many were mad. It was a bummer, but that is life. If you tango with a truck, the truck will win. Saturday morning we roused ourselves early and were at Look Out Mountain for a hill climb only to find it had been canceled. I was a little bummed, but Ellie was fine with it. I wished that we could have gotten to sleep in instead of getting up so early. That afternoon we had a crit. at the same place we practice. Ellie was hot off the line for three laps but suffered a chain and derailer problem which eventually caused her to drop out of the race. Brett from Sports Optical tried to help and Corky, the owner of Green Mountain Sports, fixed it a bit more. We will need to replace the chain soon, but it had to be good enough for the weekend. Sunday we were up bright and early again. This time we were off to the frost Koppenberg race in Louiseville. It is a very short but technical race with lots of dirt roads and a steep dirt, sometimes rutty, hill. That race was exciting. She was off in a flash, doing well and staying with the front peloton until a boy crashed in front of her. By the time she got around him she had to scramble to catch up. She got them on the next hill. Ellie was neck to neck with Kate, picked up some speed on a down hill and then she dropped her chain. It took what must have felt like forever to get it back on. She was pedaling like a madwoman until she realized it was doing no good. She fixed the problem, clipped back in and looked back. That is when she saw that Kate was fast on her heels. This caused her to sprint hard, winning the race by a big gap. We celebrated by having a casual lunch with team mates at Pannera Bread.