Archive for the 'Day to Day' Category

Fungus Amongus!

Posted by Karen in Food, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Monday, August 25th, 2008 at 9:06 pm

I turned the big 31 yesterday!  I’m pretty happy about it actually.  I turned 30 and was pretty sure my entire body was falling apart, but I’m happy to report that at 31 I feel much more held together. 

I pondered several options for celebrating being so well held together.  Nate and I had been hoping to visit my brother in Ghana this October, and when we finally came to the difficult decision that we just couldn’t afford it, we decided instead to make this weekend our one big trip, celebrating not just my birthday but also the one year anniversary of our wedding!!

Nate and I stayed in a little cottage in Grand Marais, and took a class at the North House Folk School in identifying wild mushrooms!  We got to spend the day with Mr. Mushroom, Mike McCall, a fungus expert.  We started out in the classroom going over some boomer basics, then20080825174114_k_shroom.jpg headed out to the Kadunce River section of the Superior Hiking Trail.  That alone was exciting for me – I’ve spent a lot of time on that trail, but had never been north of Grand Marais on it. 

In spite of how dry it had been, we were able to find lots of mushrooms!  Ready… go.  20080825174145_lobster_mushroom.jpg This here is one kind of fungus parasitizing another.  Whoa.  It is some kind of common russula, which normally looks like a regular white capped mushroom, that has been parasitized by a Lobster Hypomyces lactifluorem, which alters the shape and consistency of the original mushroom.  Mike told us that although it’s kind of nasty on it’s own, once it has been parasitized, it is pretty yummy to eat!  20080825174025_coral.jpg

This is a coral mushroom that Nate found!  Coooool.  But is it as cool as this slime mold that I found?  That’s right, I said slime mold!  The thing about mushrooms is that the part you see is just the fruitin20080825174345_slime_mold.jpgg body of a whole mess of stuff below the surface.  In the case of this slime mold, mycelia have been living inside that rotting log, and they just decided conditions were right to send out their… uh… slime wad.  the slime wad then traveled up, up, up as far as it could get on that log to give its spores the best chance of disseminating. So cool, and gross, all at the same time.

Nate was maybe most excited about the chanterelles Mike found, 20080825174049_chanterelle.jpgone of the yummiest of all wild mushrooms!  They supposedly have an apricot scent, but none of us really got that. 

We saw lots and lots of a couple kinds of mushrooms that like to grow on birch trees:the Piptoporus betulinus, or Birch polypore, and the Fomes fomentarius, or Tinder polypore.  I kind of flipped when I read in my guide book that the freaking Iceman had one of each of these kinds of fungi with20080825174449_tinder.jpg him!  The first likely for its antibacterial properties, the second as part of a fire-starting kit (the innards can be used as tinder, or to hold a small flame for a long period of time).

After a couple hours of collecting, we took our spoils back to the classrooom to eat lunch while Mike officially IDed them, to talk more and ask lots of questions.  Mike dispelled a myth that I had thought to be true, that every edible mushroom has a poisonous look-a20080825174242_mike_mccall.jpglike.  He said that there are actually relatively few poisonous mushrooms, and that with even just a bit of training, you can tell at a glance whether a boomer is poisonous or not, with only one exception for this region.  I still feel kind of leery of the whole thing, but not Nate.  He hasn’t stopped mushroom hunting everywhere he’s been since the class, and even identified a mushroom growing in our backyard as soon as we got home, determined it was an edible ash bolete, and though the internets said it wouldn’t be that good, cooked it up and ate it anyway! 
After our class, we had an early dinner at one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, the Angry Trout.  Here was my awesome view:  handsome fella and beautiful, Lake Superior!  Here’s what we con20080825184803_angry_trout_food.jpgsumed: locally caught and smoked herring and lake trout, local cheese, fresh green beans, and blueberries, washed down with a Minnesota raspberry honeywine and a Lake Superior Oatmeal Stout. Mmm. 

We had sto20080825184919_pie.jpgpped on our way up the shore at Betty’s Pies for a birthday pie.  I had been dreaming for days about a banana cream pie, but alas, when we got there, they only had a "French" banana cream pie, made with cream cheese instead of whipped cream.  Blasphemous.   So I was forced to settle for this toffee cream pie, which Nate and I devoured over the next 3 days! 
We had signed up to go sailing on the Folk School’s schooner Hjordis, but because of high winds the trip was canceled.  So instead I made Nate ride the Alpine Slide with me in Lutsen!  It turned out Nate was actually kind of scared of the alpine slide.  So on the incredibly long ski lift ride to the top of the "mountain", I comforted him by telling20080825185007_ski_lift.jpg him how safe it was.  Just then, on the track below us – the slow track, mind you – a dad and his little boy came flying around the corner, flew off the track, flipped around in the air, and crashed horribly.  Those of us on the ski lift just gasped and stared, not being able to do anything, 20 feet above them in the air.  I was certain they were unconscious, if not dead.  But then the kid started wailing and screaming. 20080825184732_alpine_slide.jpg The dad managed to get him back on the sled and continue to the bottom of the hill, and we don’t know what happened then, because we were at the top of the hill, waiting in a long line – for the fast track no less! – for a chance to plummet to our own deaths!  I’m pretty sure Nate rode the brake the whole way down, and I started out that way… until this guy in the slow track started to pass me.  Then I opened her up. 

20080825202316_indian_pipe.jpgWe also stopped at the Cascade Lodge to take a walk around and reminisce about the epic wedding we had there just one year ago.  We hiked around in the woods looking for mushrooms, and found these.  I was very excited to realize it was Indian Pipe, a very unique native plant I’ve been wanting to see!   It lacks chlorophyll, and 20080825194122_sleepy_b_day_girl.jpggets nourishment from a beneficial relationship with mycorrhiza – fungus!

And finally, the true sign of a good fun and food-filled weekend: not being able to stay awake in the car on the ride home!

We survived St. Croix State Park!

Posted by Nate in Travel, Weather.
Sunday, June 29th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

20080629164243_pict0025.jpgThe Solas family went camping this weekend up in the near north: St. Croix State Park, a delightful and huge state park following the St. Croix river as it traces the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I say "delightful" here in the slightly hypothetical, for while in retrospect and from the safety of our truly delightful deck the trip was a success, the park itself over this weekend can be summed up in three words: Full.  Of.  Bugs.

20080629164425_pict0002.jpgWe arrived about 8:30 Friday, ate and played some games, then hit the sack about 10:30, both tired from long weeks.  This was Bruno’s first time in a tent, and we were anxious to see how he would do.  No fool, our dog, he would wait for either of us to sit up to adjust the lantern or grab a book and then quickly lay on the most comfy part of our sleeping bags!  Having none of this we tried a few arrangements for his bed and finally settled between our feet, where he was content to alternate between leaning his full weight against one of us or just resting his head and chest on our feet.  The rain I expected never came, and it was 6:30 (doggie breakfast time) before we knew it.

20080629164412_pict0005.jpgAnticipating bad weather, we got up and ate and decided we should go hit the trails – there was a CCC-built camp a few miles away that looked interesting, and the trail followed the river.  Perfect.

20080629164400_pict0009.jpgAlmost as soon as we got out of our campsite, the mosquitoes began their attack.  We made it to the camp, and I kept telling myself it would get better soon.  We pressed on a bit, thinking we’d come to a lake we saw on the map — surely, it will get better soon.  There’s a breeze, the sun is out, they have to stop swarming sometime, right??

20080629164440_pict0001.jpgNo.  The answer is no.  I’ll spare you the details of my freakout, but as long as there is sweet human (and doggie) flesh anywhere in range, the mosquitoes of St. Croix will rally to the feast.  I don’t know if I’m more sensitive to their bite (I used to get quarter-sized welts that lasted for days, and it’s still pretty bad), or just taste sweeter, but it was Out.  Of.  Control.

20080629164339_pict0016.jpgPerhaps most troubling was the fact that everywhere around us there were happy campers wearing only shorts and T-shirts, sitting around their camp sites with no visible protection.  (This pic of K is in the one hour on Saturday where they calmed down enough we could take one more walk)  How could they survive the onslaught?  Were they hardy midwesterners used to the bugs?  Were they simply tougher, or less tasty?  Why could we not poke our heads our of our sanctuary without being swarmed by the bloodthirsty hordes?  I think the answer is deet, which we were slightly reluctant to slather on ourselves, but saw no such hesitance in our fellow campers.  Not complete fools, we did use some bug spray, but it seems that without a visible sheen it’s just not enough to ward them off.

20080629164350_pict0015.jpgThere were a few highlights: the screen tent 20080629164327_pict0018.jpgwe got from my grandparents (a.k.a. the Sanctuary), the "Pudgy Pie" maker we got from them, and the sweet marshmallow roasting sticks from Karen’s parents (up at the top of the post).  The pie maker produced the most amazing ham and cheese sandwich, tu20080629164304_pict0022.jpgna melt, and finally a bacon, tomato and cheese delight.  Yum.  20080629164230_pict0026.jpgKaren discovered her all-time favorite S’more combo: ginger snap cookie, marshmallow, and mint chocolate.  Whoa.

We also stopped by Taylor’s falls on the way home, a pretty amazing geological site along the river.  K had been out there before, but it was my first time – very cool.  And hey, no bugs!

Yard Sale

Posted by Karen in Day to Day.
Saturday, June 14th, 2008 at 10:47 am

The bad news: We’ve been out here for 2.5 hours and only ma20080614094405_lazy_eye.jpgde $23.75.  And from the looks of this picture I may have just developed a lazy eye. 

The good n20080614094525_yard_sale.jpgews:  Free entertainment in the front yard in the form of an amazing Native American drumming and dancing ceremony!

Other good news: It’s almost noon, which means we can respectably start drinking beer. 

Overdue post: Pirate Shower!

Posted by Nate in Friends, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Home sick today, trying to use my last bit of energy to catch up on the blog.  Or start to, anyway – we’re massively behind.  Here goes…

20080429052936_pirate_cake1.jpgTwo weekends ago we had a shower for our friends Scott and Shannon.  And not just any shower!  They’d alerted us to their plan to decorate the kid’s room with various pirate themed items, including sheets for the crib, so we decided to have a Pirate Shower!  20080429052948_pirate_cake2.jpgKaren took charge of the pirate cake: vanilla with chocolate frosting and a fearsome Jolly Roger flag made with her new decorating kit.  I seem to have missed a shot of the final product, once the icing was smoothed out it was 20080429052914_monster1.jpgawesome!  Continuing my recent bread-baking kick, I whipped up a treasure-chest bread bowl, guarded of course by a creepy olive-eyed sea monster.  Raarrr!

20080429052924_pirate_baby.jpgThere were games, including pin the eyepatch on the pirate baby, Pirate Pictionary, and much fun was had by all!

20080429053000_spread1.jpgIt turns out to be a very good thing we had the shower when we did – they weren’t due for three more weeks, but in the middle of the week after the shower we received an excited text message from Scott: the baby was on its way!!

Welcome to the world, baby Jo!!!

20080429052905_soccer.jpgEven more amazingly, they both showed up for that week’s soccer game, Scott to play, and Shannon and  Jo to cheer.  We’re playing this year on an indoor league, and getting thoroughly beaten every week, but it’s still incredibly fun!

20080429052845_icecream1.jpgLastly, some bonus pictures from a few weeks back when it actually felt like spring:  we went out for ice cream at a local shop, and they had little doggie ice cream packs!  20080429052835_icecream2.jpgI think they said they use half the fat and sugar, and who could pass up one called "Bruno Tracks"???  Not us.  That dog has the best life…

Whew.  Not caught up yet, but at least it’s a start!

Le Biodome, c’est magnifique!

Posted by Karen in Day to Day.
Saturday, April 12th, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Ok so I wasn’t too lazy, and  I did do the cool thing I had planned on doing, which was go to the Biodome!  This place is an environ20080412113259_pict0002.jpgmental museum with four distinct ecosystems:  a tropical rainforest, a Laurentian forest, a St. Lawrence marine ecosystem, and an arctic/antarctic ecosystem.  It is all inside this big dome building next to the Parc Olympique, and was previously used for Olympic cycling events.  Annette accompanied me again, and was extremely patient as I took in every single detail.  I warned her that I would probably take forever, and it was no joke – I think we were there for like 4 hours.

Here’s wh20080412115009_pict0007.jpgat we saw.  First was the tropical rainforest, and the creatures that stood out the most there were definitely the vast herds of screaming school children.  In addition to them, we saw this super cool spoonbill bird, which was hanging out with a capybara.  I had never heard of a capybara before, and it t20080412115220_pict0012.jpgurns out they are the world’s largest rodent.  And yet somehow I still really liked him.  He was swimming back and forth, back and forth, so I wasn’t able to get a very good photo of him, bummer.  But check out these piranhas, eh?  There were lots and lots of birds (Rick and Jack, I’ll send you more pics later!) including some ducks and a scarlet ibis, some little black monkeys, some little orange monkeys, iguanas, caimans, bats, poison dart frogs, an anaconda, and more!  We couldn’t find the two-toed sloth though. 

Then it was on to the Laurentian forest, where there were a couple of river otters20080412122142_pict0017.jpg swimming and playing, a beaver dam that they had a camera inside of so you could see the little guy sleeping in there, more birds and ducks, two Canadian lynx, and a bunch of fish.  They also had some cool endangered plant projects going on, wild leeks and ginseng among them.  This photo is a couple of porcupines sleeping in a tree!  (PS, you weren’t supposed to use a flash, so that’s why a lot of these photos are sub-prime, sorry.)

The St. lawrence marine ecosystem had an aquarium part with lots of cool fish – did you know that flounder and halibut start out like other fish, and then as they get older they turn sideways and their one eye migrates around?  They end up flattened so they can lie on the bottom all camouflaged and have both their eyes looking up, and so they swim sideways.  Weird.  Annette and I were both deeply disturbed at the realization that Flounder from Little Mermaid was apparently not a flounder at all. 

Then you could go upstairs and see the above water part of this ecosystem, with all kinds of sea birds and a tidal pool.  The tida20080412124709_pict0034.jpgl pool was crazy and kind of creepy, all sorts of multi-colored gelatinous-looking things.  And get this.  A woman in New England won a giant lobster (8 kg – it’s claws were as big as my forearms!) at a bar in some kind of Super Bowl drawing this past February.  She couldn’t bear the thought of eating it, so she found it a home at the Biodome!  The birds in this part were really beautiful – common eiders, black guillemots, terns, and black-legged kittiwakes (yes, I did write those down so I could tell you Rick).

And last but not least, the arctic/antarctic.  Here you go Mom: penguins, penguins, penguins!20080412125048_pict0039.jpg It was interesting to read about how birds in the north and south poles share so many characteristics and yet are unrelated, because they evolved in similar environments.  For example, puffins and penguins have similar coloring, because when they are swimming, the black on their backs camouflages them from predators in the air and the white on their tummies camouflages the20080412130526_pict0040.jpgm from predators below them in the water.  Cool stuff.  There were 4 kinds of penguins: gentoons, rockhoppers, macaronis, and king or emperors. They were wildly entertaining, and I could have sat there all day and watched them!  They also had a speaker broadcasting the noises of the penguins, and those crazy guys with the yellow tufts sure were a noisy bunch! 

Ok, enough about the Biodome already.   Nate and Brent had managed to get 20080412131217_pict0043.jpgAnnette and I in to their evening reception, which was held at the Museum of Fine Arts.  So we went, we schmoozed, we drank wine and ate lots of cheese.  Nate was still determined to go to his #1 brewpub of choice, but was convince20080412131922_pict0050.jpgd that it was too far away.  So we went to Brutopia, even t20080412131751_pict0047.jpghough he had already been there for lunch that day.  I think the following photos sum up that experience nicely. 

As soon as Nate is done for the day today we are going to make yet another attempt to get to his #1 brewpub of choice, and hopefully we’ll beat the hockey game rush.  And tomorrow we say "Au revoir Canada!" and begin the long haul home!

And oh yeah – GO WILD!!!!!

I Married MacGyver!!!

Posted by Karen in Bruno, Day to Day, School.
Sunday, March 30th, 2008 at 10:20 am

I totally loved the show MacGyver when I was little and had a monster crush on him (along with then Milwaukee Brewer Paul Molitor and our local news anchor, Mike Gousha).  So I couldn’t be more delighted that I am now married to the real-life version! 

I had set up a work station upstairs for my masters project awhile ago, and last weekend I actually started working on it again (and there was much rejoicing among parents).  I still have a bunch of interviews to transcribe, and that’s a great way to start since I need to refresh myself on the work I did before I can work on my paper.  So I sat down to start transcribing, and the power on the transcriber wouldn’t go on.  It worked fine the last time I used it and has just been sitting there ever since, and I mean I know it’s been awhile but it’s n20080330082459_macgyver.jpgot like it’s been years! Or… uh… not more than 2 years…  anyway… whatever.  So I realized the whole electric outlet wasn’t working, and neither were any of the outlets upstairs.  It wasn’t a fuse, so I was stumped.  Nate came to the rescue of course and fixed it (and I still don’t quite get it).  But the power light on the transcriber still wouldn’t go on.  Nate pulled out his magic power senser thingy and determined that it was the power cord.  So I said ok, I would go buy another one.  But he informed me that I would not likely be able to find one because he had never seen one with an end like that (looked20080330082628_macgyver1.jpg like any old power cord to me…).  Ok.  So he found another cord that had the same voltage, cut them both in half and rewired them back together.  Whoa.  And then it worked.  But the transcriber has a speed control, so you can slow the tapes way down or speed them way up, and now, even the slowest level was pretty fast.  So then Nate took the freaking thing apart, adjusted it, and put it back together!  All is now well in the world of tape transcribing.  But if it weren’t for him, I would still be trying to figure out how to make the outlets work!
Then last night we decided to participate in Earth Hour.  While I was pulling out candles, Nate decided to make his own.  It’s the one on the right, and involves a little bit of vegetable oil in a bowl, and a wick made from paper towel stuffed into a piece of pipe.  Nate decided to take it 20080330084025_lights_out.jpgfurther than just turning off our lights and turned off his computer… and then he got a little lost and confused about his place in the world. So he helped me make another batch of Bruno biscuits by candlelight, how romantic.

On a non-MacGyver note, yesterday we also took Bruno for a hike at Crosby Park, where I will soon be spending quite a bit of time.  We decided it would be a good time to start getting him20080330085314_doggy_backpack.jpg used to his doggy backpack.  We just got a new, bigger tent and can’t wait to take him camping, but dog friend’s gonna have to carry his own food.  Well I’m happy to report that it went quite well.  We put a water bottle in one side and some potatoes in the other, just to balance it out.  He definitely seemed a little extra tired afterwards, but I think he kind of liked having a job. 

And I leave you with a little old school MacGyver.  So dreamy… though I have to say, I selfishly prefer that my MacGyver’s mad skills are applied to household tasks rather than life-threatening confrontations with terrorists and corporate bad guys!

How I Spent My Day

Posted by Karen in Weather, Work.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Mary Jo says:

As for you, what are you going to be doing that you’ll have to be outside all day? You didn’t say, and we know it’s not to pull garlic mustard plants or to do any planting anywhere.

Well I’m glad you asked!

Coordinating today’s tours is pretty much all I’ve worked on for the past couple of weeks.  The subzero temps threatened to ruin everything, but man are Minnesotans a hearty folk!  Not only did almost everyone show up for the overbooked tours, but they were all smiling and laughing and full of enthusiasm and appreciation!  I may have been shivering in my 5 layers of long underwear, but I was full of warm fuzzies.  And I got to spend the day with a bunch of amazing rangers from our local unit of the National Park Service and some great people from the Mill City Museum, and a bunch of my coworkers helped out and did an awesome job.  As if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve already received a bunch of great emails from people saying what a great experience it was and thanking us. 

Tell you more, you say?   Well ok!

A Few of My Favorite Things

Posted by Karen in Bruno, Day to Day, Garden, Home Improvements, Weather.
Tuesday, February 19th, 2008 at 9:56 am

But first, the big news.  Bruno graduated from Doggy Obedience Level II Sunday evening!  Awww.  He can now (sometimes) do all of the following:  sit or lay down and stay while we do whatever the heck we want and make as much of a ruckus as we want, or when someone comes to the door, walk right past huge distractions (dogs, food) while keeping his attention on us, come to us past a huge distraction, sit and look at us while we greet another person with a dog, and more.  The point of this class was mostly to teach him to do things he already knows how to do in a distracted environment, and to igno20080219071848_pict0002_22.jpgre distractions when we want him to, which is pretty freaking hard for our dog friend. 

For him to really get it down Nate and I now have to make it a point to take him into lots of distracting environments just to train him.  That has so not been my favorite thing to do – something about an 85 pound dog pulling your arm off and completely ignoring you…  But now that he’s already come so far and we have a new understanding of how to work with him in those situations I feel more inspired.  Plus, the better he’s able to behave in those situations, the more places we’ll get to take him!  It’s funny though, I think because of his size he has to be so much better behaved, because you can’t just yank him around like a little yappy dog. 

And now for my new favorite things.  Thing #1:  our new citrus juicer.  The last time we made homemade ginger ale, I hand squeezed lik20080219074136_nate_juicer.jpge 30 lemons and limes and then couldn’t open my hands for a week.  I vowed to get some sort of device for the next time.  So we recently picked up this hot little number at one of our favorite stores to browse in, Kitchen Window.  Nate drools over all the pots and pans, I stare at all the different kinds of cupcake sprinkles, and we both sample as many different kinds of gourmet chocolate as possible until they are ready to kick us out.  Anyway, I tend to prefer non-electric appliances when it’s reasonable, both for the reduced energy consumption and the gratification of using your own muscle power.  So amidst all the crazy expensive electric citrus juicers was this bright orange "Retro Hand Juicer", for something like $25!!  We snagged it and have used it almost every day since!  It’s so unbelievably easy and efficient.  We’ve been drinking fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in the morning, and putting fresh squeezed lemon juice in tabouli and hummus, and I can’t wait to make a new keg of ginger ale knowing how much easier it will be! 

Thi20080219075029_spice_rack.jpgng #2:  our new spice rack.  We cook a lot (and by we I mean Nate, let’s be real).  We have 1 spice rack above our stove but still had lots more that couldn’t fit in there.  So we got this one, also at Kitchen Window, and Nate hung it in the little window nook.  And then he got these wee little hooks for measuring spoons and bottle openers (of which we have many).  It makes my brain feel more organized just looking at it. 

Thing #3: this mint plant.  Lime mint to be exact.  We dug it out of our garden at the end of the season last year and 20080219075217_pict0001_28.jpgput it in a little pot in our kitchen.  And then kind of forgot about it.  I mean we watered it and stuff, but never really used it.  It got real leggy and kinda weird.  But then I all of a sudden like had a hankering for some fresh lime in a drink – mandarin vodka and soda water with fresh lime mint – very summer.  But sometimes you need that when it’s -10 degrees outside!  We’ve also been putting it in our salads lately and I’m convinced this little plant is singlehandedly fending off the February Minnesota winter blues!

Speaking of which, I have to be outside all day tomorrow for work.  Do you know what the weather forecast is for 9 a.m., the time I meet the first group?  -9 degrees, but feel like -26 with windchill.  I hate tomorrow so much already.  No amount of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice or fresh lime mint can help me. 

Valentine’s Day

Posted by Nate in Friends, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Saturday, February 16th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

20080216133432_pict0007.jpgFirst, the exciting news:  I’ve been working out this week, and after our Valentine’s Day potluck I seem to have packed on a few pounds of what can only be solid muscle!!


20080216133424_pict0003.jpgThe kegerator was full, we had some wines available, and everyone brought amazing dishes to share.  Karen made a few games to play: Ultimate Crush, and completing the classic poem "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…"  (unfortunately this is a family blog so I’m not going to print the winning lines…  Hee hee.)

20080216133411_pict0002.jpgIt was a fantastic party, and since we we were trying to do it as a sit-down dinner we had to string two extra tables together – basically taking up our entire living / dining room!  Pretty tight quarters, but everyone fit.  Hopefully Cody has a picture of the seats with people in them, somehow I forgot to take pictures for a while there…

We’ve been cleaning in bursts the last two days after the party – doing dishes, taking tables down, putting chairs back in the garage.  Karen just walked by and sighed, "oh, it’s so nice to have the house back to normal…"  Amen.  Now we’re about to go treat ourselves to free beer at Town Hall – we’re members of the Pint Club, don’tcha know, so we drink free on Sat from 4-5.  Ahh.  :)

Dear Diary, (warning – that’s the kind of post this is)

Posted by Karen in Broomball, Day to Day, Family, Tonsillectomy, Weather.
Sunday, February 3rd, 2008 at 10:22 pm

So I realized I have been kind of hating winter.  Winter is so long here that even for fans like me, the thrill of the cold crisp air and the beauty of ice crystals and snow flakes fades after awhile, and then you need things like broomball and snowshoeing to see you through.  Well we haven’t gotten any good snow for like 2 months, and el tonsillectomy caused me to remove myself from the Grim Sweepers for the season.  Everybody wants to be a Sweeper (duh), and I didn’t want to take up a spot on the team just in the hopes of getting well enough in time to get a few games in. 

However, once I started experiencing serious dread every day at dog-walking time just because I SOOOOO didn’t want to go outside, I realized I was in desperate need of some winter fun.  So I decided to go to broomball practice and see how it went.  I had been working on getting myself back in shape, riding our elliptical, jogging little bits with Bruno, so I felt ready.  I thought, I’ll just play goalie, take it easy, it’ll be fun.  It wasn’t fun.  It was terrible. 

I should have seen it coming when I was flooded with sheer terror just walking from the car to the ice.  But at that point I was already committed.  I let 3 goals in a row go past me, and I felt like I just stood there and wa20080203193325_nate_broomball.jpgtched them.  Tears welled up in my eyes and it was all I could do to not have a total meltdown.  Nate, having knocked in 2 of those goals, came up to me to see how I was doing, saw the tears, heard me say "Idon’tlikethisI’mnothavingfunIwannagohome!" and realized he needed to switch teams.  Smart boy.  I took a moment to breathe and reflect, and realized that if I let 3 goals go in, started crying, and went home, I would be THE BIGGEST LOSER EVER.  So I rallied.  Second half was better, and finally we got to go home.  And then I cried. 

I realized with shock that I was terrified of blood shooting out of my throat.  I logically know that I’m out of that window and no longer at risk of that happening again.  But the illogical part of me can’t stop seeing it and thinking it’s happening.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spit into a sink or on the sidewalk, just to check.  But it wasn’t until that practice that I realized it.  So Nate and I talked about it a bunch, and I did a good bit of thinking on it, because I was pretty freaked out about being that freaked out.

And then Tuesday’s Sweepers game came.  They were going to be short girls, so they had asked a girl from our buddy team, the Skraelings, to play, and Nate had asked a girl from his Walker team.  But that afternoon she told him stuff had come up and she’d rather not play.  Meanwhile, the temperature was dropping, the wind was increasing, and we were heading for a roughly -10 degree, windy night, with windchills at about -35. 

Sierra had been frantically chatting Nate and I throughout the day, saying things like, "They’re totally going to cancel it, right?  I mean this is insane!", and " I don’t understand why I am the only one freaking out about this!!!"  It was suddenly very clear to me.  Either Sierra was going to bail and the Sweepers would be really short on girls, o20080203153816_frozen_cody.jpgr she was going to go and face one of her greatest fears (being outside in subzero weather), and the Sweepers would still be a little short.  Either way, how could I not go? 

Sierra did not bail, and her courage gave me the inspiration I needed to face my own fears.  I had to get out there too.  So we went, we froze, we lost.  My heart felt like it was going to pound right out of my chest the whole time, but that probably just helped me stay warm!  In spite of letting in a few goals, I felt like I did ok overall, and was absolutely ecstatic at the end of it, because I DID IT.  I felt like myself again. 

I’ve had a few frighteningly realistic nightmares over the last few weeks involving lots of blood in my mouth, most recently Friday night.  So Saturday morning I went to broomball practice again, and made it a point to only spend about half my time in the goal, and the other half running around on the ice.  I needed to drill it into my brain that I am physically fine, not in quite as good of shape as I was pre-tonsillectomy, but fine.  Now I just need my mind to catch up with my body. 

(If you haven’t already, you HAVE to click on that picture of Cody.  It’s amazing!  Everyone looked some version of that by the end of the game, it was pretty crazy.)