Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Iknitarod. The toughest.....knit?....on earth!


(click pic to go to the ravelry group page)
Owl jammies? Check. Taco Bell dinner consumed? Check *burp*. Neck therapy pillow microwaved and seeping blissful warmth into my achy neck? Checkety check check. It must be time to write. And ooooohhhh, there are SO many things I want to write about! My pet escapades recently, the crafting I've been doing and will be doing, musings about life in general and the meaning of everything, pretty much a hodgepodge of everything. But unless you have ADD like me, I doubt any sane person could follow along with my chaotic course of thoughts. Except my best friend Morgan. She could always somehow follow along perfectly, even if I spouted something totally random. Cabbage! And magically, she'd understand that I was probably thinking about a movie I watched last night, that had that one actor, who has a weird name that sounded like a food. Mmm...food. Dinner tonight. I should make something for dinner. What about the crock pot? Stews do well in crock pots. What kind of stew should I make? Beef? That sounds good. What else should go in it? I know! Cabbage! She'd be right there with me. Bless you, Morgan.

See? That's exactly what I'm talking about! I have the attention span of a hummingbird! Well, I don't know that for sure. Hummingbirds might have incredible attention spans for all I know. I'll have to ask the next one I see.

Back to the ONE topic I wanted to write about tonight. The Iknitarod. Last february, I was bemoaning the fact that I had not joined in the Ravelympics. For you non-fiber junkies out there, the Ravelympics comes around with the Olympics. The online knitting/crochet/spinning community Ravelry organized this as a fun "challenge yourself" event. The idea is to pick a project that will challenge you. A new technique, a larger-than-usual project, whatever is going to make you stretch your skills. You cast on during the opening ceremonies, and then work away at your project while watching the games. Hopefully, by the time the closing ceremonies come around, you're finished with your own olympic -sized project. I didn't sign up because I didn't feel inclined to commit to something like that, and feeling guilty if I didn't feel like knitting, and crapped out altogether. Granted, there's no knitting Guido who's going to come bust your kneecaps if you don't finish, but still. I didn't really feel like participating. But when the olympics were in full swing, I did indeed feel like knitting, and felt like I was missing out on all the fun.

While at work one day, my mind was wandering (me? NO!) while I was elbow-deep in a client's rhomboids. The train of thought went something like this:

I really wish I'd signed up for the ravelympics. I could use something to push me a bit more into doing something bigger, more complicated. Not taking forever to finish a dishcloth. Maybe I'll knit a lot this weekend. Weekend. I should take the dogs mushing this weekend, they need the exercise. Hey, the Iditarod is coming up soon, isn't it? I should follow that online since there's no tv coverage. Hey, wouldn't it be fun if there was something like the ravelympics for the Iditarod? That'd be cool. Cast on at the start, finish by the time the last musher comes in. I should do that! Maybe I'll start a group on Ravelry. What would I call it? Iditarod...Iditarod..knit...hmmm...I KNOW!! I shall call it The Iknitarod!! And lo, angels sang and I was bursting at the seams to go home and start the group. I was also trying not to bust a gut laughing out loud at the cleverness of the name. I doubt the client would have taken kindly to me cracking up while giving them a massage.

I watched as the numbers kept growing and growing. Holy cow, people really like this idea! I think it was only a matter of a couple of days before I had something like 200+ people signed up. Wow! I had no idea people would be this interested! The message boards were humming, and I was happier than a bee in a flower. Pretty soon, I was contacted by a girl who goes by "smokeyblue" who wondered if it would be alright if she took the logo from the Iknitarod (featuring my handsome bubba Loki) and opened up a cafepress shop to sell Iknitarod items. Heck yeah! Run with it! She's also the one who generated this logo:





Unfortunately, not much sold, but that was mainly because it was a bit late in the game at that point. This year, I'm hoping we'll do a bit better. Soon after, I was contacted by Bobbi Daniels, of Raven Frog Fibers. She owns a fiber business in Sitka, Alaska, and has a background in marketing and promotions. She wondered if I was interested in turning it into a bigger charity-type event, which I was completely bowled over by. Her idea was to create a special yarn colorway and pattern, and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Iditarod. With her background in marketing, I had every faith she would be awesome. I wanted to help in any way I could, but if I'm completely honest with myself, I'm pretty useless. I wasn't even that great of a moderator. I tend to be a bit of a lurker on message boards, so I wasn't terribly "present" all the time. There was one girl, however, who was right there greeting everybody, jumping into a lot of discussion, basically being the moderator I could never be. So, I contacted her and asked if she wanted to be my co-mod. Her username? Shewhodoestoomuch, appropriately enough. LOL! She continued all year round to be a warm, friendly presence on the message boards, even long after the Iknitarod was over.

I signed up for the Iditarod Insider package, which allowed me to track mushers' progress on GPS and watch live videos at some check-in points. I updated the message boards with current standings, and we'd chat excitedly about which musher was in the lead versus who was falling behind, etc. My favorite posts were from the people who actually live along the trail in the villages. They'd post pictures of them in their chairs, right there in the snow and knitting as the mushers went by with their teams. During the whole process, I was constantly amazed at this little idea that grew into something so wonderful.

So flash forward to Iknitarod, year two. Bobbi did indeed contact a bunch of yarn shops, who have pre-ordered her gorgeous yarn in the "Alaska Husky" colorway.









She's creating a stitch pattern that looks like paw prints with sled runner tracks on either side. The interest she's generated is truly awesome. Our cafepress superstar, smokeyblue, created her own colorway called "alaska sunset".




SOOO pretty! If I wasn't so poor, and seriously smarting from an emergency vet bill (tomorrow's post, I promise), I'd be ordering both Iknitarod colorways in bulk! What's my contribution? Ummm....the idea. That's about it. So this week, I'll be getting off my lazy duff and creating a few more logo ideas to hopefully generate more interest and sales from the cafepress shop. It's really humbling to see these talented and energetic people taking the Iknitarod to heights I hadn't dreamed of. Maybe next year will be even bigger! Well, bigger than Loki's ego from being our spokesdog.

Even if you're not a musher, don't own dogs, have never been to Alaska (hey, I haven't!), feel free to join in. It's a great opportunity to knit along with some wonderful, fun people and challenge yourself to learn something new or complete that project that's been nagging at you. It's a blast! I promise! The Iditarod ceremonial start is March 5th, so there's plenty of time to join in and find a project you've always wanted to do. And I promise, I won't send Guido to bust your kneecaps if you don't finish.

Edited to add: I originally deleted this comment that was left, because I'm terrible in debates and arguments, and the LAST thing I want is to turn my blog into a flame-war venue. I'm going to post the comment here, because a few of you are curious as to what was said. For the record, no I don't agree (obviously), and I beg you guys PLEASE don't start a flame war over this. Just read and agree or disagree, however you feel. I'm just a knitter who loves the sport and follows along and knits with the event. Not an activist. That said, here's the comment:

Sled Dog Action Coalition has left a new comment on your post "Iknitarod. The toughest.....knit?....on earth!":

For the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. What happens to the dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer's team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds.

During training runs, Iditarod dogs have been killed by moose, snowmachines, and various motor vehicles, including a semi tractor and an ATV. They have died from drowning, heart attacks and being strangled in harnesses. Dogs have also been injured while training. They have been gashed, quilled by porcupines, bitten in dog fights, and had broken bones, and torn muscles and tendons. Most dog deaths and injuries during training aren't even reported.

Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. "Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses......" wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper.

Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers..."

Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, "He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death."

During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running. The Iditarod's chief veterinarian, Stu Nelson, is an employee of the Iditarod Trail Committee. They are the ones who sign his paycheck. So, do you expect that he's going to say anything negative about the Iditarod?

The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.

Margery Glickman
Director
Sled Dog Action Coalition, http://www.helpsleddogs.org



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Run, Bonnie! Er..Forrest, RUN!!

At work, I've been using my iPad to stream Pandora for background music. One can only listen to the same new-agey cd's so many times before you want to join a cult, shave off all your hair, and worship the great flying spaghetti monster in the sky. People expect new-agey spaghetti monster worshipping music during a massage, so I created a station based off of Enya. I know, I know. I'm embarrassed to admit that I went through an Enya stage in high school and lived in my own little candle-lit, incense-burning world. It does however create the sort of music vibe that people expect from a massage.

On a super-quick side note, I hope No Strings (that new Ashton Kutcher movie) goes away very fast. If there's anything worse than an ad coming on during a quiet massage, it's one that has dialogue like "we're going to go out tonight and GET LAID!!" and "We're sluts! Dirty dirty sluts!", and mentions the word "sex" a bajillion times. I've never tolerated the jokes about "massage" very well, and this is the LAST thing I want playing while I'm working on someone. When I go out to a bar or a club (when the moon rises in the house of cancer every 10 years), and a guy chats me up (every 20 years when Haley's comet goes by), I don't even tell them what I do for a living. I just say "I'm in physical therapy." Which isn't a lie, by the way. I don't do light, fluffy, full body massages at my job. I do "elbow in your back and laugh at you while you scream in pain" massage. I'm kidding, but only a little bit. What I do walks a very fine line between massage therapy and physical therapy. If I ever mention the fact that I'm a massage therapist, I get one of two responses.

Response #1: Oooooh, really? Can you work on my shoulders here for a minute? They're so tight! (or) I can be your new boyfriend/best friend and you can work on me ALL THE TIME!!

Response #2: Oh, REALLY!! *smarmy tone of voice* *nudge nudge wink wink*

Either response makes me want to get violent extremely quickly.

But I digress. While listening to the spaghetti monster worshipping woo-woo music, the occasional movie soundtrack song plays. Today, the main theme from Forrest Gump came on. I promptly started sweating, broke out in hives, and developed an acid hole in my stomach. Here's why.

I've been a musician my entire life. When I was 6, I started taking piano lessons after spending hours plunking around my grandparents' organ at their ranch in New Mexico. Grandmom thought I had a natural talent, so asked if I wanted to take lessons. I said yes. At 7, my elementary school forced us to choose an instrument to learn, and I vaguely remembered my Mom saying something about "wouldn't it be nice to have a cello around the house?"...although she doesn't remember ever saying such a thing. I took to the cello like a house on fire, and it remained my main instrument to this day. Junior high and high school added percussion and drumline, but that has nothing to do with this story. Piano was okay, but I HATED practicing. I'd get so angry at my Mom for forcing me to practice that I would purposely bang furiously and discordantly at the piano in the hopes that it tortured her. My rage was uncontainable. I was an angry child. But cello? I was very good, and a very natural talent (if I do say so myself). Cello and I were bff's.

My music teacher in Jr. High was convinced that I had perfect pitch and was a musical prodigy. He even gave me all the solos from Dances With Wolves that were written for violin, and had me transpose them into cello parts. It gave me a ginormous head. That carried over into high school, mainly because I was unbeatable and held first chair like my ass was welded to it. I think it was my sophomore year (maybe junior) that our director decided to do a movie program, which included the Forrest Gump suite. You know the one, super sappy, supposed to bring a tear to your eye. He asked me if I would be willing to take the piano solo that features throughout the entire piece. Hell yeah I would! I'm a god! I can do anything! Remember when I said I hated practicing more than anything? Yeeeaaahhh.....I didn't practice it.

Then, the concert came around. I was a little bit freaked out, but I don't remember obsessing about it too much and having every faith I'd be just fine. Everybody clapped as I laid my cello down on the stage next to the first chair position and took a seat at the keyboard. Mr. M raised his baton and we began. It started off okay, because the initial piano part isn't too difficult. Soon though, it splits off into fifths and more complicated parts, and I am NOT a good sight reader. I fumbled. Badly. Loudly. My face turned beet red, and there were a few titters from the audience. Mr. M shot me a look like "get your shit together!", and my face turned purple. I soldiered onward, with notes that were so wrong, they couldn't get any more wrong. More titters from the audience, worse dark looks from Mr. M. Oh dear. Soon, I gave up the left hand part altogether and tried my best to follow the right hand part. VERY badly. Mr. M didn't look at me anymore and his baton movements got markedly more sharp and abrupt. I think his face even got a bit red at that point. I felt like throwing up and wished the stage would randomly develop a trap door and swallow me whole. What the hell do you do? You can't run, you can't hide under your own concert dress, so I did the only thing I could do. I stopped. Just stopped playing and gave up. Mr. M started looking over at me again and gave sharp, jagged downbeat signals, thinking maybe I had just lost my place in the sheet music or something. Why am I not being eaten by a rabid tyrannosaurus? How am I still sitting here, enduring this complete and utter mortification? I think that was the final death of my pride. And it was my own damn fault. WHY had I not practiced more? WHY had I told Mr. M I would take this extremely featured solo?

At the end of the piece, I joined back in for the final few phrases, bravely pretending I'd been on top of it the whole time. Was my face glowing neon red/purple? It certainly felt like it. People clapped (probably thrilled this squirm-in-your-seat train wreck was over), and I think I stood and bowed like I was supposed to. Mr. M wouldn't look at me, but gestured his hand over in my direction like a conductor with a featured soloist is supposed to do. I think his neck veins were bulging and his jaw muscles were bunching.

I honestly can't remember what happened after that point. I must have blocked it out (like a bazillion other humiliating memories), but I still break out in a rash every time I hear the Forrest Gump suite. My stomach does that imploding, cringe thing and I visibly wince every. Single. Time. I'm so sorry, Mr. M. I have tons of wince-worthy, stomach-imploding memories that humiliate me anew every time I think of them (oooohhh, lordy, do I ever...) but that one definitely ranks in the top five. And so, dear reader, I share my embarrassment with you. I hope you get a bit of a chuckle, or a sympathy cringe from it.

Run, Forrest, run! *sigh*.......if only I could have........

Monday, January 17, 2011

Keeping up with.......who, exactly?

This past weekend something shifted. I don't know what it is, or at what point it happened, but I'm happier. It's like there was this foggy cloud of oppressive tension and stress and general unhappiness. I wasn't moping around, constantly miserable, but each day kinda felt like something to "get through". Interpersonal problems seemed "very present", "very now". Maybe it finally got through to my core that *I don't have to fix this right now*. You can torture yourself with all the things that need fixing in any personal relationship (friends, family, spouse, whatever), and you want to fix it RIGHT NOW. Or even if you can't fix it RIGHT NOW, you agonize over it and keep all those icky, bad feelings in a tight wad in your stomach. Stress, anxiety, tension, all bad. I was talking with a friend recently who had a very bad year, and is asking herself a pretty big question that is eating at her. I said something to the effect of "well, you don't have to decide RIGHT NOW. Things are okay for the moment, so just try to let it go and relax a bit. You'll deal with it when you're ready to." I talk a good game, and sound very wise and all.....maybe it comes with being a massage therapist for nearly 13 years. Comes with the territory. I've been telling myself this one a lot lately, and it was a huge leap in personal growth when I realized and then really *felt* it. When there's something going on that you want to address *right now*, and it really truly isn't the time. Pick your battles, pick your times. And who knows? After some time passes, you might feel completely differently about the situation.

Before the holidays, when there was SO much I needed to get done, it just wasn't getting done. I would procrastinate, tell myself I needed to relax, so I would not do anything instead, all the name of relaxing. That's so stupid! Even when I was "relaxing", it wasn't relaxing at all because I was so worried about getting everything done! There was that constant yucky ball of anxiety and guilt setting up house in my tummy. I'm done with anxiety, I'm done with guilt. Whoosh! There they go out the window! It took a little while to settle into the "shiny fresh new year" feeling, but it's there now. I spent all weekend slowly organizing, cleaning, brushing the dogs, etc. There was also a whole lot of lounging in my comfy chair by the window box of pretty plants, sun streaming in, mug of tea in hand, reading blogs online and listening to music from the 20's, 30's, and 40's. And I felt happy. Content. I wasn't beating myself up trying to get everything done as fast as possible, and NO feeling guilty about it. Stuff was getting done, just in a very slow and relaxed, lazy manner. Aside from a little doggy mishap on friday night (more on that in a future post), it was a wonderfully relaxing weekend. It was a shift in mental well-being that was badly needed. Oh, THERE you are, Bonnie! I've missed you!

In more news in the personal growth department, I'm embarking on an endeavor. For the rest of January, and all of February, I'm not shopping, online or otherwise. Of course I have to buy groceries, and dog food, and gas, etc., but nothing else. I was inspired to do this by Laurie Perry (of Crazy Aunt Purl fame, and my personal idol), who did this for six months. And you know what? She did it. After getting a divorce and suddenly having to stand on her own two feet, she got herself completely out of debt and into a pretty damn good life. I'm starting small with a month and a half, because six months seems a bit daunting. I'm not a shopaholic, but stuff adds up. For example, there's a new line of yarn out from knitpicks called "chroma". It's the most beautiful variegated colorways I've ever seen. I wanted to place a big ol' order. I still do, in the worst way. But you know what? I have lots of yarn! I have BEAUTIFUL yarn! My first instinct was to snatch up some of that chroma before the best colorways sold out (and oh my, do they ever! Case in point: the rainbow colorway of the felici sock yarn. Can't get it for love or money). Even now, I can see it in my head, taunting me with its pretty blurry transitions into different colors. But no. No no no no no. There will always be more beautiful yarn in the future. I've got enough gorgeous stuff stashed up to keep me busy for the next several years.

Really, truly, I have everything I need. There is nothing out there worth getting myself further into debt for. I cannot buy myself a better, happier life. I'm actually pretty excited about this! I'm looking forward to using all the lotions and smelly-goods in my bathroom until they're all gone. I'm looking forward to actually using the yarn I've stashed up. I have plenty of fabric to keep my etsy shop going. Well, that one's a tricky one. Sometimes I run out of a basic staple (apparently I use black and white polka dots in EVERYTHING), and it's kind of necessary. Or I'll get a commission that requires fabric I really don't have. I haven't quite decided what to do about that, but I have a feeling it might be an endeavor within an endeavor. Wouldn't it be kind of fun to try and make things with ONLY what I've got already? Hmmm... pondering to do on that one.

Something Laurie (Crazy Aunt Purl) did was write down whatever it was she wanted to buy in a notebook she always kept with her (she's a notebook addict), so when she reached her goal she could go buy whatever it was she wanted at the time. She was surprised to discover that when she went back and looked at the things she wrote down, she didn't want them or didn't need them anymore. I'm going to do that too. I'll keep you updated on how it goes, so I can be held accountable if I fall off the wagon. I'm sick and tired of consumerism, and living in Orange County, California is the worst for that. Everybody feels the need to keep up with everybody else, and there's always something nicer than what you have. You can buy a Coach purse, but then your arch nemesis has the bigger one. Or the newer one in a different color. Suddenly, that $500 bag you bought doesn't seem so shiny anymore. I personally don't own any bags like that (well, I spent just under $200 on a Lucky bag, but that's because it's well made and I TRULY TRULY love it, and wouldn't consider switching it for anything else), but you catch my drift.

Edited to add: this is the bag I HAD to have. It's soft and squishy, and looks like Indiana Jones carried it for twenty years. SO me.

When the new iPad comes out, I might drool a bit, depending on what features it has, but I love my iPad. I scraped together money from pet-sitting, a birthday check from Brandon, and early Christmas money from my Mom to get it. I don't regret it one little bit. I use it every second of every day, and I certainly can't afford to get the new one when it comes out, so I'm going to concentrate on how much I love mine.

I guess that's pretty much what it comes down to. Loving what you've got, and being grateful for it. Theme for the new year: gratitude, happiness, relaxation.

Speaking of gratitude, happiness, and relaxation, I'll share something I'm grateful for. I'm grateful for puppies who are more than happy to spoon with you on a chilly morning with their 70 lbs of soft fuzzy warmth. Cost? Food and love. Definitely not an extraneous expense.




Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where my peeps at?

I started this blog as a way to pay a bit more attention to life, to not let it slip by as quickly as it seems to. It's also a great way to gain perspective on things, organize thoughts, even maybe motivate me to "get out there" more and make a good story out of experiences. I tell myself it doesn't matter if nobody's reading, I'm doing this for me. If I'm completely honest with myself, that's a load of malarky. I'm THRILLED if people are reading. Every comment that gets left gives me a zing of happiness, shows me someone is interested in what I'm writing. It's early days, yes, but it encourages me to keep writing religiously and entertainingly. Which is why it gives me such incredible glee to see this:



All these different countries! Even if it's just a quick click, someone from Germany, or Russia, or even Finland has taken a peek and maybe read a word or two. It sends my imagination spinning off, wondering "who are these people? What brought them here? Did they stick around to read? Did they get a chuckle out of anything I wrote?" Totally makes my day. So if you're one of these wonderful people from a mysterious, faraway country, leave a message! I would love to hear from you. Holla!! (Yes, I'm very down with the slang here in orange county)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to turn your fabric stash into a fabric library!

I honestly can't remember where I came across this a few years ago. It's genius. I wanted to share it with those of you who might have an unruly stash of fabric plotting to eat you in your sleep. Fabric should be put in its place! *whip crack* All you need are comic book back boards (available at your local comic book store!) and T pins. They really do work best.

I tilted the front row down so you can see the Ikea shelving allows two rows ! Lots of storage!


Here we go:

This works best with at least half a yard. Anything smaller can go with your fat quarters or scraps. I'm working on a better fat quarter storage system, I'll keep ya posted.

Fold your fabric selvedge to selvedge





Next, take your comic book backer board and place it at the edge, folding the fabric around it in thirds like so:






Fold it all til you reach the end of your yardage!









Dogear the corners, then pin with a T pin. Watch out, those suckers hurt like a mofo!! Ask me how I know.....















Repeat...repeat....repeat...repeat.... *get a biiiiig glass of wine* repeat...repeat...repeat.....







There you go! You now have a beautiful, inspiring library of fabric you can peruse at a glance!







Oooooh.......aaaaaahhhh......

First things first

Since I got back from Pennsylvania, there's been a generalized blue funk hanging over me. A low-level anxiety that feels like "sh*t needs to get sorted, and it needs it NOW". Projects left undone, personal issues happening, etc. But something I CAN control is my environment. In the crazy, crazy rush before my trip, I left a bazillion pieces of fabric laying around, and a bunch of crap pretty much all over the place. My sewing desk is a complete and utter nightmare. It saps all of my creative energy and pretty much makes me an unhappy Bonnie.

I SHOULD be knitting, I SHOULD be sewing, I SHOULD be doing an unbelievable amount of other things. But instead I'm laying down a ground rule for myself that this sh*t will be organized before I even consider reopening my shop and getting busy with the sewing again. My room is a depressing nightmare and it's dragging me down like the "Beast" in Peter Benchley's novel.

So that's what I'm doing. The bed is currently stripped of linens for laundry, and there's a scary pile of fabric I'm about to tackle with folding and sorting. In order to preserve that teeeeeeeny tiny shred of dignity I have left (use a microscope, put it on 1000x magnification, and you'll see it!) I'm not going to post a before picture. Sorry. But there will be after pictures! Okay, just one before picture because it's so hilarious. Queen Rowan wouldn't even move for the Mount Vesuvius of fabric.



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The super exciting Lost in La Pine story! At last!

I've procrastinated enough on writing the "lost in La Pine" story. No more procrastination! See? Look at me go on my new years resolutions! It's the 11th, and I'm doing better already. Just don't ask about everything else that's needed to be done, or my other resolutions. It's a process. I'm sure you understand. I have a bit of a break between clients at work, so I figured I'd use my time productively instead of zoning out and watching another episode of Weeds on netflix.

On that note, I'm about a quarter of the way into the 5th season. I started watching it because I have a serious addiction to plowing through tv series' in their entirety. Instead of waiting every week (let alone the break between seasons!), I get to immerse completely into this other world and get instant gratification on "what happens next?! Next week? I can't wait till next week!". Even if I'm anti-drug, the characters are fun and likable (or hateable, in that "love to hate" sort of way) and the writing is witty and well thought-out. Now that I'm on season 5, I find it's giving me that icky "this isn't fun anymore" feeling. Don't get me wrong, it's still an amazing show. It's just that Nancy and some of the other characters have gotten in so far over their heads that there's no way out. Nancy's gradual spiral into losing total control over her life makes me sad. Little by little, she compromises her moral standpoints until she degrades into someone I wouldn't want to know in real life. It's like when you realize that a dear friend has headed down a path you can't (or won't) follow for whatever reason, and that icky feeling that comes over you when you finally accept that you have to let that person go. Well, I'm not willing to let this show go, because I have every faith that Nancy will pull herself up by her bootstraps and take control of her life again and smack her kids back into order. That's also sad. Especially her youngest son. He was such a sweet (but strange) kid, and to see what he's turning into is just terrible. ANYWAY. Talk about procrastinating! Enough about Weeds. On with La Pine.

Isn't that ironic? My client just showed up early! Just as I was about to dive into writing about La Pine. Fear not, dear reader (there's at least one of you, right?) I SWEAR I will continue when I get home. Pinky swear.

Okey dokey. Where were we? Oh yes. La Pine. A hobby-sport I participate in is urban mushing. I have two huskies who are.....well...not the most focused or athletic dogs. But they have fun and get exercise, and it's a bonding experience for me and my fur-kids. In November, our "group" from southern california was invited to come up to La Pine, Oregon for a mushing weekend in the national forest. I haven't been able to go in the past, and this time there was no way in hell I was going to miss it. ESPECIALLY since I was going to be staying with my friend Chris and her husband and daughter in Bend. Chris is one of my favorite people EVAR, and is a professional positive reinforcement dog trainer and fellow musher. She's been a wealth of information about training, and I looked forward to the chance to stay with her and pick up some more pointers for dealing with my dogs' "personality quirks". She writes a fantastically educational and entertaining blog The Dexter Diaries . Bend isn't far at all from La Pine national forest, so the plan was to stay with Chris and drive to the forest to go mushing every day. It worked out perfectly. UNTIL.......

..........


sigh.


Saturday. Friday had been awesome and totally inspiring. Friday morning I rode on the back of an ATV with Liz Parrish, who is a tiny yet strong-as-an-ox woman who ran the Iditarod as a 50th birthday present to herself. She ran a 14 dog team who followed her every command beautifully. Witness the short video.















I loaned Rowan out to a friend who ran with their team, and apparently did very well. Loki had to stay behind though, tied out to the back of my car. Don't call the ASPCA just yet, there were lots of people around (friends) and he was just fine. Well, aside from the scratches all over my poor Element from when he freaked out when I left with Liz. See: personality quirks. My bubbas has codependency issues and loves his mama very much. We'll leave it at that. Later that evening, a small group of us decided to take our dogs out for a sunset run. Our wonderful group leader, Barb, used it as a training opportunity for me and mine to practice "on-by". For you non-mushing types, "on by" is a command for your dogs to ignore whatever they're coming up on, or whatever is coming up on them and just keep going. Loki especially is terrible at this because he's a bit insecure and doesn't like to be snuck up on. He also pays a leeeeettle bit too much attention to other dogs, and that gets troublesome. Anyway. They did great, it was awesome, totally revived my love of the sport and my faith in the community of mushers.

We had a potluck on saturday, with fantastic food and great company. Since we had such a great evening run the previous evening, we decided to do it again. I probably should have passed on that one, because my dogs had a decent run that morning and they're not as physically conditioned as the other mushers' teams. But behold! The power of wine and camaraderie! One glass of wine, people. Give me a little credit. We started out okay, keeping up with the other teams, although both Loki and Rowan were very distracted by every little thing we came across. Oh look! Pine needles! Oh look! Snow! What's that? A bush? oooohhh interesting.... I persevered because both Barb and Liz (who co-teach mushing clinics and workshops) assured me that they were just stalling, and they had it in them. It was just a matter of mental focus and training. They're right, I'm sure, but that's a bit difficult when it's just the two dog team and myself, trying to keep up with everybody else. So when we pulled up to a curve and stopped to make sure everybody was caught up and doing okay (there were maybe.....I dunno....5, 6 people?), I was ready to pack it in. Keeping them focused an on-task was challenging, and I thought they were still worn out from the previous day and that morning.

Barb: "Everybody here? Everyone okay? Bonnie? Your dogs okay?"

Me: *shrugs* Not really, they're kinda done. I think they're tired."

Barb: " Okay, well if you want to turn around and start heading back, we're just going to loop around up here and we'll catch up to you in just a few minutes."
Me: "Alrighty!"








......................

Let me pause for a second here. It's a long running joke that I have no sense of direction. I'm not exaggerating. My best friend once kept me on the phone while we were driving for 20 minutes (we were driving from the same place, just keeping each other company on the phone) before telling me "Uh, love....you DO know you're heading the wrong direction, right?" When I asked her "why in the hell didn't you tell me?!" she said (laughing her ass off) "I wanted to see how long it would take you to notice!"

See? No sense of direction. At all. I'll blame it on the Turner's Syndrome (poor spatial recognition, blah blah blah, very common in Turner's girls). We'll go with that.

back to the story
.........................

I got the dogs turned around and headed back the way we came. It was pretty much a straight shot back to our base camp starting point, so I paid more attention to training my dogs than the surroundings. At one point, I looked forward down the loooooooong trail, patches of snow and trees on either side, and thought "this isn't right.....that trail is way too long." I stopped the dogs, thought about what to do for a moment, then continued on the way I was headed. That's when the thought occurred to me "they should have caught up to me by now. They all had bigger teams and faster dogs, where the hell are they?" So I turned around. After a while, I came to a trail that turned off to my left. Did we come from this way? I see dog and ATV tracks, but those could be from this morning. They don't look terribly fresh. Oh well, what do I have to lose? We took a "haw" (that's left, for all you non-mushers..look at me with the lingo! You'd think I was all professional or something! not) but it soon became very apparent that trail didn't look familiar either. Crap. One happy thought I had at the moment though, as I was intensely surveying my surroundings, was that my dogs were doing great. Plodding steadily onward, not getting distracted, they were truly on task. That's fantastic, because it freed me up to worry about bigger things. Like spending the night in a huge national forest in Oregon, and getting eaten by bears and raccoons. As soon as I realized this wasn't the right trail either, I turned around to go back to the trail intersection I started at.

All the while, the sun was going down. Luckily, my friend Henning had let me borrow his head lamp, so I at least had a bit of light. Lemme tell ya, darkness in the forest in the middle of nowhere is NO JOKE. It was also cloudy, so no moon. Back at the intersection, I started to truly worry. I'd kept my cool until that point, besides mumbling and cursing out loud to myself about what an f*'n idiot I was, I should have known better. I was starting to let go of the idea that I could retain any dignity and claim I had just taken a detour to keep training my dogs. Riiiiiiight. That was the hardest part. Accepting that I had really fucked up and needed to be rescued, and all the heckling that would come with it forevermore. Of COURSE Bonnie got lost. She's Bridget Jones, remember? I may not have any dignity left, but it doesn't mean I always enjoy the taste of humble pie. Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a walking parody of myself.

There I stood, alternating between bending over in frustration yelling "fuck! Godfuckingdammit!!" and yelling at the top of my lungs "HELLLOOOOOO!!!!!" then listening for anything at all. Nothing. Just the wind in the trees. It actually got kind of pathetic. "HELLLOOOOOOOOOooanybody....." with the "anybody" getting kind of sad and warbly sounding. Take a second and ask yourself if you've ever been in a situation where you were able to yell as LOUD AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. I mean, no-holds-barred, top of your lungs, give it more volume, yell. It was the first time in my life I could yell like that. People say primal screaming is therapeutic, but I don't know about that. It seemed to break down a floodgate, and the tears started. I'm an anger/frustration crier. Sadness? Nope. Happiness? Nope. Pure frustration and anger? Yep. Floodworks. Loki was sprawled upside down in the snow, but Rowan was looking at me as if she knew something was wrong. I bent down to snuggle her, and reassure her we'd be alright, and she tried to crawl into my lap. This is NOT typical Rowan behavior.







AT&T sucks, but at least I had one tiny little bar of service. Isn't that something? I don't get a good signal in my own house, but I get a bar in the middle of a forest? To quote Cee-Lo Green, "ain't that some shit"? I tried to call Barb, and may or may not have left a slightly tearful message about being lost, please come find me. I didn't have anybody else's number, so I was kind of up shit creek. My boyfriend and I were sort of.....um...having problems at that time, so I was reluctant to call him. I did though, and had to leave a voicemail. Definitely tearful and full of "I'm lost, and I'm scared and I don't know where I am!!". No callback. Text message *I'm lost and scared*. Instant call.

Brandon (ever the Marine): "Calm down, you're okay..."
Me: "I know, I'm alright. Just a fucking dumb ass!!"
Brandon: "Just stay put. Don't go anywhere."
Me: "Of course I'm not going anywhere!! I'll get just my dumb self more lost!"
Brandon: "Okay. Let's work this out. Which direction did the sun go down?"
Me: "IDON'TKNOWWHICHDIRECTIONTHESUNWENTDOWNI'MNOTAFUCKINGBOYSCOUT!"
Brandon: "Okay! Okay! Hmmm...let me think. Any landmarks you passed and recognize? Anything like that?"
Me: "TREES! FUCKING TREES! IT'S A GODDAMN NATIONAL FOREST!! IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME, OKAY? (really, I'm not normally such a potty mouth)
Brandon: "Alright, calm down. What road did you come in on?"
Me: "There ARE no road names. It's a national forest."
Brandon: "What about closer to camp? What's that road called?"
Me: "There. Are. No. Road. Names."
Brandon: *tortured sigh* "Ooookay."
Me: "There's no way to know where I am, sweetie. I'm just kind of scared and wanted to talk to you."
Brandon: *typing on his computer* "I'm trying to bring up a map of La Pine"
Me: "Hang on...I'm going to yell again. HEELLLLOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! *listens* nothing."

This goes on for a while, yelling, listening, Brandon trying to be helpful. Finally, I heard the rumble of an ATV, followed by lights through the trees.

Me: "I hear an ATV! There's lights! GottagoI'llcallyouinabitbye!"

Saved! I was saved! We weren't going to be eaten by rabid raccoons after all!

The ATV pulled to a stop, and the guy (who I didn't recognize) said "Are you Bonnie?"
No, I'm the other lost musher. I said "Yes! Thank goodness you found me!"
He said there were a lot of people out looking for me, which made me feel even dumber. Honestly, I thought he was forest service or something, but he was a fellow musher I hadn't met before. His name is Bino (short for Bambino, a family nickname), and he's the nicest man ever. He asked if I was alright, and I told him I felt more stupid than anything else. I'll never forget what he said.

"No, sweetie. Don't feel stupid at all. These trails are super technical, and super confusing. Especially in the winter, everything all looks the same. I've been mushing these trails for a LOT of years, and even I still get lost once in a while. Don't feel stupid AT ALL."

My response: "Yeah, but it HAD to be me. You don't understand. I'll never live this down!"

New musher friend Chuck pulled up just seconds after Bino in his ATV also. They asked if my dogs would make it back, and I really didn't think so. I wish I'd gotten pictures of how the setup went. Scooter maneuvered onto the back of Chuck's ATV, Rowan sprawled in a very undignified way across Chuck's lap. Loki is much, much bigger. Bino stood to the side of his ATV, driving, and I sat side-saddle on the other side, Loki sprawled across me, the seat, and probably some of Bino.

Well, all's well that ends in wine, and it totally did. Nobody heckled me, just hugs and "I'm so glad we found you!". We all headed back to the common cabin, and I think it was Thomas who promptly poured me some wine. When I got back to Chris's house, there was more wine, hugs, then bed. I felt terrible that they had called Chris and her husband, they must have been so worried!

Seriously, though. It's a fun story, but it wasn't as dramatic as all that. The absolute worst case scenario would have been to snuggle up with my dogs under a tree (temperatures weren't all THAT cold. I wouldn't have died. Unless a bear got us.) and wait till morning when the trails would be crawling with lots of mushers. Just embarrassing. Very, very embarrassing.








So there you have it! That's the super anti-climactic story of how I got lost in La Pine national forest for a whole two hours! I can think of a million funny little things to add to this, but I'd be surprised if you read this far. Go ahead and laugh, it's okay. I have no pride left anyway. *wink*

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's the simple things.

Hot neck warmer pillow? Check. Huskies warming my feet and legs? Check check. Late night snack? Checkety check check. Hot sleepy time tea? Yep. Gettysburg on DVD? (Nostalgic for Pennsylvania? Me? Naaaah.) That too. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, I'll catch up with you tomorrow.




Sunday, January 2, 2011

No, darling. Of course not.

Disclaimer: This story has mild nudity and references to drugs and alcomahol.
Second Disclaimer: If you're expecting a super duper mortifying, incredible story, prepare to be disappointed. I've lead a mild, trouble free existence.

So far, it appears the awkwardness on this blog has been minimal to nonexistent. To kick off the new year, I'm going to share a story with you all. This goes back approximately 9 years, to when I had verrrry little experience with drinking. Like I said, I've always been a cautious kid, not taking risks (or what I perceived as risks), for fear of getting hurt, in trouble, or a combination of the two. I was raised on after school specials, warning of the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and also with family words echoing in my ears about alcohol being a scary, dangerous thing that past members of our family have enjoyed a bit too much. I was ANTI. Anti-drug, anti-alcohol, anti-everything.

I'll never forget the New Year's party at a friend's house. We'll call her R for the purpose of this story. I must have been about 16, and a very naive 16 at that. Her room was attached to the rest of the house, but still slightly separate. She lived with her Dad at the time, a very cool guy who could cook better than anyone I ever knew. He even owned a restaurant at one time. He also like to smoke pot. We headed into the main house to the kitchen, passing her Dad hanging out on the couch watching tv. Smoking pot. When we were back in R's room, I said "umm...you guys? What was that smell?"...........laughter. Uproarious, tears-rolling-down-the-face laughter. R, my big sister figure, put her hand on my shoulder and said in a gentle voice "sweetie, that's pot." How was I to know?! I had never smelled it in my life! Maybe a faint whiff at the Renaissance Faire, with my friends chiming all at once "thaaaat's not patchoooouli!!" but I had never come into direct contact with it or knew anyone who had. That I knew of. Like I said, completely naive. This isn't the embarrassing New Year's story, (thought my friends still give me grief for that one once in a while...I love my friends) but I wanted to paint a picture for you of the how's and why's of my inexperienced, self-sheltered naivete.

Moving on. Fast forward to when I'm actually 21 (maybe 22, I have a poor concept of time). Mind you, I had never been drunk yet. Ever. My friend Carolyn lived with her boyfriend-at-the-time Chris, and they threw the best parties. They had a pool, jacuzzi, and always a very well stocked collection of alcohol. It was common practice to bring blankets and pillows to crash out on their floor or couch, mostly to be safe and not drive, but also because there was ALWAYS the group IHOP breakfast run the next morning. Amongst the party-goers were my best friend Morgan, and the ever-fabulous Pourya. Pourya is a very handsome, very charismatic, VERY fun individual. We used to say "instant party! Just add Pourya!" The guy knew more jokes than Robin Williams. He's also a gentleman. Polite, smooth, you couldn't help but adore him. We were just friends, though he was an incurable flirt.

That sets the scene (bored yet? You'd think I was setting this up to be the greatest story ever! Try not to be disappointed). Morgan had recently been introduced to the finer things in life, such as Chopin vodka. Like all of our great discoveries, she was excited to share this one with me as well. The problem is, I had already had one or two jello shots. I wouldn't even say I was "affected" at this point, but young, naive Bonnie didn't know anything about "waiting a bit until it hits you". Morgan poured a shot of Chopin, which I tentatively tasted and went BLECH! "Wait a sec, let me add a little cranberry juice". Mmm... okay, that's not terrible. That wasn't so bad! So she poured another. And I think another. I honestly don't know how much I had. It was almost ten years ago! Gimme a break! Anyway, I DO remember sitting on the couch with Morgan, she and I pointing at each other and laughing ridiculously. "Aaaaahahahahaha you'resodrunk!! AAAAHAHAHAHA!" It was great fun. Until I laid down with my pillow and blanket on the floor. The world tilted upwards, then downwards, then swirled all kinds of directions. Suddenly it wasn't so fun anymore. Oooohhhh, I don't feel so good. And I think I have to pee. I don't even know how I made it to the bathroom without breaking anything or myself. I sat down to go pee, resting my forehead in my hands, willing myself NOT to be sick. In a moment, it became very apparently that being sick was exactly what was going to happen. I flipped around, and promptly hurled. Repeatedly. Bare ass exposed, puking up pale red jello shots and vodka with cranberry. At least I felt better after that! (Hey, full disclosure, man. I told you I have no pride left)

Here's the potentially embarrassing part. It will remain one of life's great mysteries. After rinsing my mouth out in the sink, washing my hands and splashing my face, I opened the door to leave the teeny-tiny bathroom. I hadn't locked the door. Standing RIGHT there, startling me, was Pourya holding a glass of water.

"Are you alright, darling?" (He can get away with pet names like this, because he has the most beautiful Persian/European mix accent. It's gorgeous.)

"Yeah, I'm fine now. Ummm.....did you come in to check on me?"

"What?"

"Did you, like, open the door and come in to check on me?"

".......noooo....? I thought you might need some water though."

Pourya escorted me back to my sleeping spot and tucked me in.

"Thanks, Pourya, you're awesome."

"You're very welcome, darling. Let me know if you need anything else."

About thirty seconds passes. "Pourya?"

"Yes, darling?"

"I'm going to be sick again."

"H'okay! Up we go! Let's go!"

Surprisingly, I wasn't hung over the next day at all. We all went to IHOP, had a great breakfast, and rehashed the previous night's party. Morgan was lucky enough NOT to be sick, but I do remember that she laid down for a bit by the pool, dabbing her face with the cool water. That's so Morgan. Dignity always intact, always elegant somehow. Lordy there were times I wanted to hate her. For years now, she's called me "Bridget Jones", and I've had to reluctantly agree that there are some parallels. That scene where she slides down the fireman's pole and squashes the camera with her exposed bum? That would SO happen to me.

For years, I maintained that Pourya had opened that door to see my exposed hiney pointed skyward while my body rejected all that alcomahol, then politely closed the door. And OF COURSE, Pourya being Pourya, would never ever EVER let me know if he actually had. This might not sound so mortifying to you all, and I'm sure there are FAAARRR wose stories you could share with me (please do! That's what the comments section is for!) but that's the story of the very first time I got drunk. I was incredibly body self-conscious, and the idea that somebody like Pourya, who is always so smooth and charismatic, would see me like that was enough to make me cringe and turn my face red for YEARS.

If you're curious, I'm still friends with Pourya. We lost touch for a little while, but stumbled into each other when I joined up with the IVC orchestra while Brandon was deployed to Iraq. Oh yes, Pourya is also a very accomplished violinist. Of course he is. We caught up on old times, went for tea on a regular basis, and I FINALLY asked him the burning question that had been haunting me for nearly a decade. Did he in fact open that door?

His answer?

........................................................

"No, darling. Of course not."



Saturday, January 1, 2011

You know you're getting old when......




You know you're getting old when a day of skiing completely wipes you out. Ugh. I only managed to take one HUGELY SPECTACULAR fall, so yay me! Brandon, his Dad Bill and I were headed down an intermediate slope that was rather mushy and chunky. Moguls too. In the process of trying to avoid other skiers, snowboarders, stray children, etc, I started going waaaay too fast. I couldn't turn enough because of the chunky snow and not wanting to become a human battering ram, and soon enough I was talking to myself out loud "oh Sh*&^!! Oh F*&$%!!!" over and over. Then, my hat slipped down over my eyes. Oh yes, yes it did. That did it. I hit a chunky mogul (not to be confused with a chunky mongol. Atilla the snow-hun.), my right foot flew up, my ski caught, and I FLEW. Literally. Both Brandon and Bill turned around *just* in time to see me pinwheel through the air, one ski flying off in one direction, my poles going who knows where, everything in my pockets flying every which way (including Brandon's new camera), and even my hat wound up back on the slope somewhere.

All I remember is thinking "ooohhhh shiiiiiiiiiiiii*WHAM*". Face-ish first, I think. My teeth cracked together, stunning me, and my right ribcage slammed painfully into the ground. Whoever says snow is soft is lying. LYING!! I laid there for a minute, then Brandon asked if I was okay. I said "give me a sec", and he started laughing. What an awesome boyfriend. He said "Hey! I asked if you were okay first!" Seriously, I needed a minute to self-assess and see if there was any major damage. It completely knocked the wind out of me, and for a moment I thought there might actually be damage to my ribs. It was the kind of stunned where you almost want to cry, like a little kid. You know, where you've been hit so hard, the tears just about come up on their own? But no, I didn't cry. I moaned. "ooooowwwww..." while Brandon unstrapped his snowboard and gathered my things. Bill was trying not to laugh, I know. That's just the way his family works. You fall, you get snow plowed on you coupled with laughter. I adore that about Brandon's family. Fun, tough people. I have no pride left anyway, and learned to laugh at myself long, long ago. I get lost, I fall down, anything that makes me look like a doofus happens on a regular basis. So yes, go ahead and laugh at me. It's okay.


At one point, later in the day, Bill made a point of lagging behind me SPECIFICALLY so he could snowplow me if I fell. He said "Bonnie's gettin' tired! She's gotta fall sometime!" I totally knew it. A couple of times I did actually momentarily lose my balance or hit chunky snow and pinwheel a little bit. I didn't fall though, so Bill zoomed on by, certainly disappointed at the lost opportunity.

Anyway, that was pretty much the most exciting thing about today. The rest of it was awesome skiing, good company, great trails, and a tasty dinner at a local sports bar.



By the way, the embarrassing story I promised deserves only the very best writing, so that will be posted tomorrow. I know, I lied and said I'd write it tonight, but I'm tiiiiiiired! The shower and bed is calling my name, and it's nearly 11pm. Gimme a break. I'm old. ;)


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