Monthly Archives: January 2023

Crystal Sunday

I took the girls skiing again today, while H stayed home with S.  As usual, it was equal parts wonderful and incredible hassle.  It was beautiful, but a beautiful day on a January weekend means crowds, and wow were there a lot of people.  The interesting thing is that with one or two brief exceptions, the slopes didn’t feel at all crowded.  The following photo wasn’t staged or delayed – I just took it randomly, and you can see there are few people on the mountain.

However, there were lines on the road to park, lines for the shuttle, lines at the bathroom, lines in the cafeteria, and lines at the lifts.  (I ended up eating with strangers because there was no free table.)  The lift lines actually weren’t too bad but Crystal rarely has any kind of meaningful lines.  Or maybe I just usually go in bad weather.  The cafeteria was a nightmare, though.  In the morning until midday, temps were in the mid teens at the bottom and 5 degrees at the summit.  This is very cold for WA, so everyone wanted to get indoors.  I’m guessing people who ski regularly in Maine or Vermont have gear for those kind of temperatures, but Washingtonians do not.  The kids and I had a hodge-podge of extra layers to stay warm, and for me, it didn’t really do the job.  My biggest problem was my toes.  They were frozen, especially my big toe.  The rest of me was OK.  I have hand warmers (which I didn’t need) but I learned you can buy foot warmers as well.  The kids loved the hand warmers, though.

Obligatory lift video below.  Yes, it truly was beautiful.

I took a long lunch, and I think it warmed up a bit, because I had a great afternoon.  On my last trip I skied with the girls, so we stayed on greens.  On the previous trip, I had two bad falls on my last two blue runs, so I was feeling a little gun-shy.  Between that, the cold, and lift lines on the top of the mountain, I skied greens on the bottom of the mountain in the morning.  Skiing easy greens makes me feel like Mikaela Shif.frin, just because I feel so in control and coordinated on a wide, flat slope.  Anyway, in the afternoon, I decided it was time to face the hill that felled me before, and I went down Downhill three times.  Overall it went well.  I did take one minor fall but otherwise skied pretty well.  I feel like I’m not really making any progress, but I do enjoy skiing the greens and blues I’m skilled enough to handle.  It just frustrates me that most of the mountain is off-limits due to my skill level.

another ski day

I took L and B skiing today, and as usual, it was a bit of an existential struggle.  Well, perhaps just tiring . . . but oh so tiring!  But also as usual, I’m glad we went.

B has the green pants, and L has the bright orange/pink pants and blue coat.

Usually when we go to Crystal, I put the girls in lessons, as they have a wonderful lesson program, in contrast to the other local resort we go to.  However, it’s expensive, and they’ve definitely reached a point where we can ski together.   It was about 30 degrees at the base, maybe 25 degrees at mid mountain.  Lift lines were longer than usual, probably due to MLK weekend, so we mostly skied the bottom half of the mountain where they were shorter, but we sadly didn’t get to ski as much on the powder on the top half.  25-30 degrees seems quite warm for skiing but perhaps because it was snowing steadily the whole time, the girls and I were very chilled by the time we left and might have stayed longer otherwise.  For my part, the girls were skiing much more slowly than I usually do, and as a result, I wasn’t getting as much exercise or getting my heart rate up as much as usual, and I think that contributed to being cold.

We stuck to the green runs as I didn’t want to have to try and rescue them if they had a bad fall on a blue run.  It was actually really fun to ski runs all day that I could ski confidently and without any stress at all.

Life has been stressful and will continue to be so for a while yet.  So many decisions, so much uncertainty, so many logistics to be attended to, and trips coming up.  Oh the logistics!  We’re in the thick of things.  My parents are at the other end.  I’m grateful for my relative youth and all that is in my life, even if it’s beyond exhausting at times.  One day at a time.

The year in strength and stretching

My goal for last year was to do at least 52 strength workouts – one for every week.  I was surprised to see that I actually achieved this.  I did 74 Peloton strength workouts.  It’s possible / probable that I may also have done a few more on my own.  I stopped all strength while I was struggling with my IT band injury as I thought the strength was possibly exacerbating my injury, so I thought perhaps I wouldn’t make my goal.  I also didn’t do any strength workouts during our month in Virginia.  However, I guess I must have been more enthusiastic than I remembered the rest of the time.  At $17 / month, I’m paying $2.50 per workout, which I’d call an excellent deal.  As we age, strength and flexibility deteriorate without active maintenance.  As someone who is neither naturally particularly strong nor flexible, I figure it’s worth a little effort and money to attempt to slow the decline.

I also had a goal to do 26 stretching workouts, or one every other week.  I did 8 Peloton stretching workouts.  I also stretched 15 more times, for a total of 23 stretching workouts.  My goal of 26 was very modest, and I didn’t even manage to achieve that.  Still – 23 is better than nothing!  I truly despise stretching and doing it even 23 times was pretty torturous.

What about this year?  I think my strength goal was reasonable – 52 weeks, 52 strength workouts.  I did my first one tonight; 51 to go.  After 74 strength workouts last year, I don’t feel particularly strong.  I suppose if I hadn’t done them, I’d be even weaker.

I’m going to up the ante and attempt 52 stretching workouts.  I feel ridiculously inflexible, and I think it’s not healthy.  It’s bad for running, bad for skiing, bad for basic function, increases risk of injury.   Sitting all day is just not ideal.  But there’s nothing stopping me from doing a quick 10 minute Peloton stretching session a couple times a week.  So here’s to 52+ times stretching in ’23.  My lack of flexibility stands in stark contrast to L’s extreme flexibility.  She is not really naturally flexible and is walking talking evidence that hard work works on just about everything, flexibility being no exception.

the books of 22

Thanks to Goodreads, I can report that I read 75 books and 28573 pages in 2022.  That includes some kids books that I read or listened to with the girls.  That’s fewer books than last year but a few more pages.  Interestingly, 2020 is my all-time biggest reading year.  I guess the pandemic was good for something.   In any case, the shortest book I read was The Cay, a kids’ book about castaways I read to B.  The longest book was The Stand by Stephen King.  I never love King but I always like his books.  He’s a great writer, and he’s entertaining, but he just lacks  . . . something  . . . for me.

The most popular book I read was The Midnight Library which I did not love and did not hate.  I don’t recommend it, but it’s not terrible.  The least popular book was Mighty Moe, a running book about a former marathon world record holder, a 13 year old girl.   The girl deserved to have her accomplishments documented, but it wasn’t particularly well written.

The highest rated book I read was Last Witnesses, first person accounts from Soviet children who survived German occupation during WW2.  I strongly recommend it, but it’s not an easy read.

5 star books – adults:

The Secret River by Kate Grenville.  This one is about the interaction of early “settlers” (ie convicts) with native Australians.  High recommended.

In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn.  This one’s about people who get in an accident in the winter in the snow.  It’s an easy entertaining read, definition of a page-turner.  “This is a great beach read but thought-provoking at the same time. It’s like smoked salmon – extremely tasty but also kind of good for you.”

Last Witnesses by Svetlana Alexievich.  See above.

5 stars books – kids:

I am always easier on kids books.  Perhaps my expectations are lower?  I’m honestly not sure.  I feel like I’m always overrating kids books and giving them all 5 stars.  Or maybe there are just a lot of great kids books.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  I think I loved this one because it gave a picture of childhood in a time long past.  Also Twain is a very good storyteller and seems to me to be ahead of his time.  I’d love to get his take on 2023.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.  The girls and I listened to the audiobook, and it was extremely well done.

Watership Down by Richard Adams.  This is a kids book but also an adults book.  I think it’s an ideal book to share with your late-elementary aged kids.  L and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it together.

The Cay by Theodore Taylor.  What can I say – I am a sucker for castaway tales.

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson.  About a boy with anxiety and OCD and agoraphobia.  I loved it.

4 stars – adults

There were an awful lot of fabulous books this year that I just didn’t quite give the 5 star rating too.  All of them are nonetheless excellent reads.  Here are a few that stick out in my mind:

  • Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
  • Bewilderment by Richard Powers (I kind of loved this one.  It stuck with me, and I’m tempted to bump it up to give stars.  “a beautiful book with interesting characters and lots of interesting reflections on the world, the brain, and the universe.”)
  • The Discomfort of Evening  by Marieke Rijneveld
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (author of All the Light We Cannot See)

The Worst of the Year

  • We Are All the Same In the Dark by Julia Heaberlin – terrible whodunit
  • A Novel Obsession by Caitlin Barasch
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    • “What makes a great book? Make me laugh, or give me beautiful writing, or keep me in suspense so I can’t put it down without knowing the ending, or just make me relish every page. I don’t need all of those things, but at least one, please.”
  • Survive the Night by Riley Sager
  • Full by Julia Spiro
    • “I found this entire book eye-roll worthy and hopelessly predictable.”

New Years ski days

After two days of skiing, I’m utterly exhausted.  We are going to Utah to ski for a week in February; I’m not sure I’ll be up for it.  The thing about living close to skiing is that you go once a week, not once a winter for a week.  I remember, now that I think about it, how when I’d go skiing in grad school or whatever for a few days, I’d be incredibly sore after the first day.  These days, I’m never sore after skiing, presumably because I do it regularly.

Saturday, I went alone to Snoqualmie.  It was my first solo trip skiing this year, and I just got up early and headed over there with plans to be home by early afternoon.  I ended up getting home before 2 PM having skied for nearly 4 hours.  Yes, close is convenient for sure.  Snoqualmie is 45 minutes away, and once you park (which is generally pretty easy), you’re on the lift less than 10 minutes after you lock your car door.  And vice versa – back in your car less than 10 minutes after finishing your last run of the day.  But it is just not beautiful not Crystal.  And Saturday, it was precipitating – a kind of wintry mix.  Plenty of rain, some ice / sleet and a bit of something snow-like.  The worst part of that was that my goggles don’t have windshield wipers, and I could see about as well as you could see through your windshield in the rain without wipers.

Snoqualmie is divided into four major areas, and I went to Summit east for the first time Saturday.  After warming up on a couple greens, I tried a blue run and found it infinitely easier than the blues at Crystal.  Crystal is just a steep mountain and the runs there are not easy.  In any case, this blue did have a large tree in an inconvenient location but otherwise was not particularly difficult to deal with.  It just wasn’t all that steep.  I felt a bit uncomfortable to start, but I did that blue run 12 or 13 times and felt great (but tired) by the end.  I just felt really comfortable and in control.

The run I did repeatedly was on the back side of the mountain.  The lifts and Snoqualmie are always snow and annoying.  This particular lift was brand new . . . and still annoying.  As a solo rider I rode with some other “singles” and enjoyed chatting with some other skiers.  It felt like a good thing to be skiing on the last day of the year.

On the first, I headed to Crystal with L and B. They did fantastic and skied their first blue at Crystal.  L had skied a blue at Snoqualmie but this was a bit harder, and it was B’s first blue.  B is still very much in snowplow mode and I can’t figure out how she does so well on all these steep runs.  She doesn’t really go up on her edges much that I’ve noticed, just kind of snowplows back and forth, no poles.  But she always seems in control and sort of merrily weaves her way down the mountain, unlike my frantic, on the edge of disaster approach to skiing.

B gets so tired after a day of skiing, she can barely function.  It’s quite cute.

Bluebird day:

It was cloudy in Seattle but all blue skies at Crystal.  I skied the Downhill, the “easiest blue” several times and felt good overall.  I had one fall on the steepest part that ended with me sliding downhill head first, but it wasn’t a big deal.  Then I had a second fall on a totally benign part of the run.  I’m not sure if someone perhaps clipped my ski or if I just caught an edge.  This was a rather nasty fall.  I hit my head (glad I had a helmet) and was spinning a bit as I slid down the mountain, snow in my mittens and shirt and jacket and down my neck.  It was the worst fall I’ve had since I started skiing again last year.  I was a bit shaken up but unhurt.  It was definitely my “fallingest” outing in a while; perhaps I was simply tired from the day before?  Nevertheless, the girls and I had a great day.  Beyond the skiing, it always brings me joy to see the beauty of Crystal and Rainier covered in snow.


A couple runs after a very late lunch:

I’m out of town next weekend, so I’ll probably be rusty and starting again in a couple weeks.