7 miles, 32 degrees

, Monday, February 25, 2008 0 comments

I don't know remember the last time I ran in 30-degree weather. Spring feels like it's on the way. It's not the kind of spring weather where the birds are singing and the grass is getting green, but the kind where a glaze of ice covers the streets between huge cold puddles. Still, I'll take it.

Today's outfit was an Arc'Teryx short sleeve shirt covered by a Marmot Driclime Windshirt. On the bottom I wore lightweight capilene bottoms with Montbell windpants. OR Airfoil gloves were enough by themselves today, as was my trusty Marmot hat and summer weight wool socks.

Aren't you glad you asked?

Falling In Love

, Sunday, February 24, 2008 0 comments

Sometimes you just get lucky.

There are times in my life when I start second-guessing my choices. Times when I take stock of my priorities and want to bump them around. Times when I feel restless and discontent. I’ve written about these times before.

Moving to Winona ten years ago was a great way to begin my life as a CRNA. We wanted a small town for raising the kids. The river valley is picturesque. Margaret wanted to be close to her family. It was a good choice. But still, in the light of all the possible places to live in the world, other things have been sacrificed.

I love the fact that I can run to work everyday. Or ride my bike if I’m feeling lazy. And I can do so in a remarkable location, beneath the bluffs and around the lake. But if I want to buy a pair of running shoes I can’t buy them from somebody who knows anything about running. I might as well buy them online unless I need to try them on first. We just don’t have those resources. Other “big city” stuff is missing, too; a selection of restaurants for instance. What tempts me elsewhere the most though, is mountain wilderness. There’s none of that around here.

There have been some interesting twists to life in Winona recently. The annual Great River Shakespeare Festival is a great attraction and has given a lot of focus to Elizabeth’s summers. She has made new friends and created new dreams. The acting is superb, the surrounding events are entertaining; it's an all-around good time.

Add to that the new Beethoven Festival and summers are getting pretty fun. Listening to the Minnesota Orchestra at their home venue in their Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis is one thing, but walking a couple of blocks to the park and listening to them play while the sun sets behind the bluffs adds a thrilling dimension you can’t get in the big city. Joshua Bell is coming to this year's event.

Last winter I got to see Greg Mortenson give a presentation at our annual Frozen River Film Festival. As a climber and international do-gooder, Greg is one of my heroes. He stood a few feet in front of me. His mom, who turned 90 that day, sat right behind me. Again, this was just blocks from my house.

Last night A Prairie Home Companion came to town. I’ve listened to that show since I was in high school. Before the show Andy Stein gave a master class to Elizabeth’s high school fiddler’s group. Now that’s big city stuff!

I saw one performance of APHC in St. Paul at the Fitzgerald Theater a few years ago, and thought this performance in the WSU gymnasium would pale in comparison. I was wrong, though; the performance was great. Seeing my friends there and seeing Garrison mix with the crowd made me feel like I live in a special place. When Kathryn Slusher presented a memoir of her years attending WSU, tears ran down my face. It helped me fall in love with my town again. I may still want to leave sometimes, for the mountains and the other things I’ve sacrificed to live here, but I also know that I'll want to come back.

And that makes me fell pretty lucky.

5 miles, 5 degrees

, Saturday, February 23, 2008 1 comments

My winter running log is pretty pathetic. For the first time in about 5 years I've had a hard time motivating myself to get to work without a car. We've had quite a number of below zero mornings, with some in the double-digits below zero. Add a brisk wind and my thermometer just reads, "You don't want to know." So I've been catching extra winks and in some ways have enjoyed being a little lazier. But daylight is getting noticeably longer in late February, and I've learned to cope with the cold weather, so now I'm making more of an effort.

Staying warm isn't too hard most days; all you need to do is pile on the layers. I do see people out running with their bulky winter coats on. But feeling like the Michelin Man when you run isn't much fun. Don't let his happy face fool you - he just doesn't know any better. Besides, wearing a bunch of bulky layers only works for short runs. On longer runs, it is hard to hit that happy medium where you're tolerably warm in the first 10 minutes, and tolerably cool for the rest of the run.

So here's the outfit I ran in this morning. It was a 5 mile run in 5 degree (Fahrenheit) sunny weather. I like wearing 2 pair of gloves so I can strip down during the run if I want. One is a thin windproof pair and the other is a thin insulating pair. I also brought 2 hats so I could switch to a thinner one after warming up. I wore medium weight Smartwool ski socks and expedition weight long underwear tops and bottoms. Topped it off with lightweight shell layers, this system works pretty darn well.


, Tuesday, February 19, 2008 3 comments

Sometimes I wonder if my life is being monitored like Jim Carrey's in The Truman Show. Last summer I was complaining because whenever we walk Marco, we end up walking right on busy Huff street. I always wish out loud that they had put a sidewalk in when they revised the rest of the street. Well, at the end of the summer they started construction for that sidewalk.

I also complained since August that a tree in the park across the street that was damaged in our big flood was never removed. It just lay splintered and dead for months. Until one day it was removed.

I think Margaret's life is monitored also, and this time I have some proof. On Saturday we were chatting around the dinner table. We were celebrating Byron's birthday, so I had my camera and took some video footage. Take a look at this. Here's a  video of Margaret talking about the process of canonizing saints:

And now in today's news, the pope cracks down on the process. Could it be a coincidence? I don't think so!

Pictures from our week

, Sunday, February 17, 2008 0 comments


Friday, February 15, 2008 0 comments


Paper or Plastic

, Tuesday, February 5, 2008 3 comments

I've always thought that the hardest part of grocery shopping comes at the end. Maybe that's just the exhaustion from all of the accumulated effort of planning meals, compiling a list, and shopping for the items.

When Elizabeth was a baby I used to shop with her hanging off the front of my body in one of those fabric baby carrier things.  One time as I was getting in line to pay, I realized that I had forgotten my checkbook. Back then grocery stores didn't take credit cards, so I had to leave my basket, pack the baby back into the car seat, drive back home, run in for my checkbook (do I leave the baby in the car, or take her in with me?), and get back to the store before my frozen food melted or the clerks put the food away. My cart was still waiting when I got back, and as I entered the line I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker; "Congratulations to the customer who is just entering line 3, you have won a free basket of groceries!" I was that lucky customer and I thought, "How ironic that I don't even need my checkbook anymore."

But they didn't mean that the grocery basket full of food I had selected for myself was free; what they meant was that they had their own selection of generic pork 'n bean, styrofoam-looking bread and nearly outdated food that was going to end up in the dumpster that night if they hadn't decided to make a fanfare out of giving it away.

By the time I get home I'll have moved each item more than half a dozen times - from shelf to cart, cart to belt, belt to bag, bag to cart, cart to trunk, trunk to floor, floor to counter and finally counter to cabinet or fridge. I've already decided whether to buy the regular bananas or organic, regular eggs or free range; I've compared name brand with generic, looked for sales, contemplated whether the item listed as "2 for $3.99" will be $2 if I only buy a single, and by the time I reach the checkout I'm tired of making decisions.

I miss the good ol' days when they bagged your groceries for you, no questions asked. But these days they have to give you one more choice; "Do you want paper or plastic." I always want to say, "Just stick it in a bag however it makes sense to you." But usually I act contemplative by taking a moment to decide and reply, "Plastic is good." I want the checker to think I made a good decision. 

Tonight I had a glimpse of those days when the checker never asked. The bagger put some things in paper, and some things in plastic, which is the way I think it should be done anyway but I'm never given that option. Relieving me of my decision making was liberating, and I had extra brain power to be witty with the bagger. "Do you work out at the Y," she asked? "No," I answered, "but if you saw somebody really buff there I can see why you were confused."

How are we supposed to make an informed decision about bagging, anyway? I don't know how much energy it takes to make a paper bag versus a plastic one. I don't know which is more recyclable. Thankfully, I've stumbled onto a list of relevant questions to help me make a more informed decision:

  1. Which bag is approved by an official council?
  2. Which bag is safe for infants and children?
  3. How many items can I put in each bag?
  4. Which bag comes with clear instructions for use?
  5. Which bag is handcrafted with pride?

If the bagger gets irritated by these questions, I can just point to the bottom of the bags, where the answers are clearly printed. Then we can both make a more informed decision.


Sunday, February 3, 2008 0 comments

Maybe I would have liked the high school dances if I was a girl. Girls have fun before the dance even starts.

, Saturday, February 2, 2008 0 comments

I've decided to stop talking to Margaret. It's not that I don't like her anymore, it's just that talking is getting too hard. Besides, who needs to talk when you have a blog? Keeping a blog obligates you to make entries and I can't really make relevant entries and relevant conversation concurrently, so talking has to go.

I was helping Anne with the layout of her blog after I got home from doing an emergency case on call. Margaret tried to tell me what the plans for the evening were but my mind couldn't absorb both tasks at once. The plans involved various people going various places, but my Neaderthal brain could only interperet grunts, so nothing sank in. When Francis called for Elizabeth I was confused because I thought she was already on her way to a lesson with him. When Chris called for Danielle, I thought Margaret was already on her way to Chris' house to drop off Danielle.

So from now on, I'm only talking through my blog; that way everything will be written down. Margaret likes reading blogs. She has read Willa's Journal for years. I think we can have a pretty lively discussion that way. I'll post something like, "We need some milk." And when I get home she'll be like, "Why didn't you pick up any milk?" I'll stare at her with near incomprehension and the next day I'll post, "Because it wouldn't fit in my fanny pack."

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What about those critical, time-sensitive conversations that have to happen immediately?" Well, that's what text messaging is for.