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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tour of Anchorage Goals

View from the top of my run today on Pyramid

The Tour of Anchorage cross country ski race takes place next Sunday, and I'm all ready to race in it. Despite the warm winter I actually got in a lot of training - more than I did in 2009/2010 when I last did the 40K race.  As I said in an earlier post I am going to do the 40K race on classic skis.

In the past, when I've raced in the 25K classic race my pace was around 3 1/2 minutes per kilometer.  At that pace I'd do 40K in around 2:24.  Except I KNOW I could not go at that pace for a full 40K.  So my goals are a bit more modest - I want to average a kilometer every 4 minutes.  That's 5K every 20 minutes, and would get me across the finish line in 2:40.  Even that is a bit ambitious. So I'll be REALLY happy if I break 2:40, and satisfied if I finish in under 3 hours.

Anyway, today was my last day of training.  From now until the race I'll take it easy and save up some energy.  This afternoon I climbed up Pyramid and went downhill skiing.  It was the first time I've been downhill skiing in 3 weeks.  Patrick

The snow conditions were actually pretty good for downhill skiing

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Finding Empty Space

Its been 2 days of incredible winds here in Kodiak...blowing at least 60 mph at times. Weather like this lends itself to fires in the fireplace, reading, movies,  book club and cleaning.

On Saturday, Nora motivated me to do some spring cleaning of a corner which was covered in paper and books. The junk corner of note was  atop a counter in our living room and was becoming quite an eyesore. Stuey kept saying, "Mom, I bet if you clean it off, you'll find money. Maybe $100?"

As I sorted through the odds and ends in the stack, I didn't find $100, but I realized how swamped I really have been the last couple of years. It was so viscerally satisfying to throw old papers away, save old art work from the kids over the years.  Now the counter is now free of anything.

 Empty space- a rare commodity in a house where there is such a big influx and outflux of papers, mail, magazines, etc. An empty counter almost begs to be filled up.

I'm welcoming this empty space into my life. In my house, my mind, my time. To learn, grow, there has to be empty space first. Clear the slate, so to speak.

(And Patrick LOVES this trend of mine! he says, before I met you Zoya, I used to dust the house once a week. And I believe him.)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Believing in Pluto & Free time

As I write this, Stuey just poked his head out of his bedroom door and said, "Mom, I believe in the other planet." 

Today he learned about the names of the planets in school and did a most precious art projects with simple drawings of all the planets. He asked why Pluto isn't a planet and I said it was now considered a "dwarf" planet because it doesn't meet the planet qualifications.  He seemed disappointed in this, like Pluto was somehow left out of the party. I'm right with him...I believe in Pluto, too!

Recently, on a less-celestial topic- I've become a big believer in free time.  Thats right...time with no commitments and no certain plans.  

The past few months I've had a chance to slow down and rediscover who I am and what I like to do in my down time. With the help of a fabulous therapist, Deborah D,  Click here, I've learned the power of not overcommitting and really evaluating what brings me joy and how do I want my free time to be spent. Therapist Deborah has her Masters in Counseling and her Masters in Art Therapy which is a heavenly combination. Never before could I have imagined that my art and drawings could be a venue for my personal growth and healing. 

 For years, I thought it was "normal" to really not have much free time. Between being a business owner, physical therapist, mom, wife, friend, etc...I literally ran out of hours in the day at times. Now, I've reclaimed that very important "me" time. 

"Me" time that is good for reading a book for pleasure, sitting on the couch just looking at a fire, making cookies, watching Patrick cook dinner, watching a movie, writing letters, journaling, etc. True soul food activities. 

I've been going to  Deborah D., for over 2 months now and at my most recent session I asked her, "So since I'm feeling great, how do I ensure that I continue feeling this way? What is the magic recipe?" She kindly smiled and explained to me that maintaining good emotional health is like maintaining good physical health. It takes consistent effort and attention...and isn't something to be just taken for granted. This sounded very similar to exercise or having a healthy relationship. If there isn't regular attention to it, systems start failing. 

Looking at mental health from this angle was a first for me. I've always been a fairly upbeat, happy person and now I know how to help keep that positive, upbeat energy to my life. Deborah helped me find my magic recipe... 


trekking along

Nora and the setting winter sunshine

A quick ski on the lake today after work. My first time skiing in jeans! 

A Stuey-mommy selfie!

Dog Days of Winter

Skiing has continued on lake Gertrude in Ft. Abercrombie, golf course and upper buskin. 

Stuey loves being speedy guy...charging ahead. His little legs kick and glide so effortlessly. I wonder when or how it suddenly happened, but now I have to work a tad bit to keep up with him as he sprints. 

Nora brings up the back of the back as she walks along and tells herself stories. For her, the time outside is decompression time from the busy-ness of the day. Today Patrick hung in the back with her and even towed her along for fun for part of the way. 

 On the lake this afternoon, there was more skiing on big sheets of ice than snow, but it didn't matter. It was about being outside together. 


A random one~On our way home from a friends wedding reception last weekend.... Stuey somehow obtained a pair of beer goggles!

Threats to Archaeological Sites on Kodiak

Tomorrow at noon at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge visitors center downtown I will be giving a talk about the various threats to archaeological sites on Kodiak.  Everything from rising sea levels, puffins, bears, the occasional gardener, cows and much, much more are damaging sites about the archipelago. Hopefully I'll open eyes about the wide variety of sites to be found and what is happening to them.  Here are a few of my slides to whet your appetite.  Patrick

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Snow fun

We finally have a taste of winter here in Kodiak.

The past week the temperatures have been in the teens and low 20's. There is enough snow to ski on and today we headed out to the golf course with  kids, sleds and skis.

Nora and Stuey had their friend Estella along and they had a blast sledding on the one large hill at the golf course. I leisurely skied around the course 2x and thought about how nice it is to ski without the pressure of training for a race. I decided I"m definitely not doing the tour of anchorage this year-primarily because of the lack of snow that there has been to train on.

Patrick would push the kids down the hill, or pull them along on his skis which brought the kids more speed on their way down the hill.

The sun was so bright and it felt good to be out in the cool winter air.


Snow Camera Safari with Stuey

Yesterday Stuey and I took the dogs for a walk into Abercrombie to check the lake ice.  Stuey was super excited to use the new camera he got for his birthday (my old camera).  So off we went on a picture taking safari.  We checked the ice and it was not quite thick enough to be safe, but it should be safe soon.  Stuey can't wait to go skiing on the lake, and it will be convenient to have skiing so close to home.

Before we left the house I turned on the GPS in each of our cameras, and set them to track our route.  When we got back we downloaded the GPS tracks into Google Earth and it was super funny to watch the little triangles side by side toggling through our route.  One triangle represented Stuey's camera and the other my camera.  Where we paused to take pictures or checked the ice the triangles also paused and turned this way and that.

Stuey is getting to be a pretty good photographer.  His pictures are well composed and he is experimenting with exposure, 'zooming in',  and the different 'effects' the camera comes with.  I really like his 'fragmented' picture of Zoya adding air to the tire of her car at the Petro Express.


My version of silhouetted trees

Stuey added a shadow on the lake to his version

My version of sunlight through the tree trunks

Stuey's version of light through the tree trunks - I think it is better than my picture

Stuey took this one Mommy adding air to her tire from his seat in the car

Stuey's picture of tracks on the lake

Our route as tracked by the GPS in my camera - Stuey's tracked the route too, but there was a few gaps on his GPS route

Outside Play

With all the rain and gloom it has been a tough winter.  One of the toughest aspects of the weather has been that no one has wanted to play outside.  It feels like we have all been cooped up together in the house all winter.  But in the last week with the return of cold weather all that has changed for the better.  The kids have been getting home from school and rushing outside to go sledding or build snow forts.  And today since it is the weekend we plan on taking a ski excursion.

The cold weather has created ocean effect snow at our end of town as the humid air off of the ocean cools on land and falls as snow.  Every day we get an inch or so of snow even as the sky stays mostly sunny.  At the other end of town out towards the airport there is very little snow.  Patrick

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Real 'Tour' for the Tour of Anchorage

That's me in the 25K classic race duking it out with a 13 year old in 2012 - to my credit I did beat him at the end.

This evening I signed up for the Tour of Anchorage ski race in Anchorage - my yearly 'force me to get in shape ski race'.  After last year I had decided I wanted to do the 50K classic race this year. I am a better skate (freestyle) skier, but I've been liking classic skiing more and more of late, and I have entered the 25K classic race at the Tour a couple of times.  But 25K just is not all that long.  For a while now, I've been wanting to do a LONG race using the 'classic' cross country ski technique.

For the 50K or 40K Tour of Anchorage races there is no 'classic' category to sign up for, and so for the longer distances you have to sign up for the 'freestyle' category.  'Freestyle' means anything goes, and that means I can classic ski in a 'freestyle' race.  In reality a 'freestyle' race means everyone will be skate skiing, and skate skiing is way faster than classic skiing.  Basically this means that as a classic skiier in the longer races I'll be a slug.  Based on my time it will look like I did badly, and based on the results no one will know that my time was slow because I was doing the race 'classic'.

For years this fear of being a 'slug' has kept me from doing the long distance races classic style.  And then last year at the start of the 50K race I passed an 80 year old+  dude skiing the race classic style, and as I passed I vowed that next year I too would do the race in the way everybody used to cross country ski - classic style.  I also checked the race results and saw that he finished in 4 1/2 hours - not bad for an 80 year-old and AWESOME for an 80 year old not skate skiing. When I am 80 I hope and pray that I am still racing.

So this evening I signed up for the 40K freestyle race and I plan to race it classic style.  It's not the 50K race that I had wanted to do, but this year on Kodiak it has been tough to train.  Without the snow time the extra 10K (and the vertical of the Spencer loop) had me a little scared.  So this year it is the 40K freestyle for me - raced 'classic' of course.  Patrick

This is where I've been training and this (today) is the best snow in ages, and that's pretty pitiful. 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

A kid snapshot in time

A snapshot in time of who Stuey is…

Stuey is a child whom is frequently skipping from one room to the next-a lightness to his spirit. He loves his Archie comic books and has a whole stack that he is plowing through. At bedtime he reads Archie to get to sleep. Stuey's bedtime routine is with Tank curled up under his head and Jake on the dog bed off to the side of the bed.

Stuey frequently loves to annoy Nora, often for no reason. Sometimes when I discipline him with  raised voice, he gets tears of sadness coming down his cheek; he is a mix of a tender soul and a rowdy boy edge.

Stuey is a budding photographer and really loves photo safaris with Patrick. He is quite responsible with his camera and knows how to charge the battery all on his own.

About once a week  in the early morning dark hours, I"ll hear the pattering of Stuey's feet running through the house as he comes into our room. If he's tired enough, he'll crawl into bed and go back to sleep next to me. Or he'll just lay there quietly until its time to awake.

A while back, I heard Stuey laughing in his sleep next to me, and when he awoke he told me of the funny dream he had. I told him that I heard him laughing. It was a fun moment we shared. I'm glad I remembered to blog about it.

Stuey continues to have a hard time with his "r"s and Nora sounds more like "Noah". Anchorage sounds more like "Anchowage".

A snapshot in time of who Nora is….

Nora is my independent, social daughter. She calls her friends on her own, sets up playmates, leaves messages, etc. When she answers the phone, she says, "Nora Saltonstall" which I just love hearing. Now her girlfriends call her up…our phone rings, a soft voice on the other end says, "is Nora there?". Nora leaps for the phone with excitement. I am glad to see her confidence build with phone skills and arranging playdates on her own. I remember the joy that brought in my own childhood.

When Nora is in a good mood, she has a good sense of humor and we find things to be very silly together. She can be very flexible and can handle changes in plans with grace. At other times, she has a very strong, stubborn spirit and doesn't take no for an answer. I try to smile inside my heart, take a deep breath and remember to appreciate this drive, stubbornness. It pays off in the end with her determination and she is a strong, independent spirit. It is not my job to "break" her strong spirit but to help her see when it is good to let go and when it is good to persist on.

Nora loves going to the new library to the children's section and looking at books. I call Nora my Barbara Walters because she has an intuitive and perceptive edge to her.

Nora notices details about the world and life that I sometimes breeze by. Something new in Kodiak, or something which is no longer around-Nora will notice.  She heard the faint hissing of my leaky tire today as she was getting ready to shut the door.


Escaping the Sunday Afternoon Blues

Since I've known Patrick, he and I have both occasionally experienced  the Sunday afternoon blues. This unique case of the blues occurs when Monday is inching closer and the return to work is impending, and you could really use a 3rd weekend day to get all of those extra tasks accomplished.

This afternoon I had a serious case of the Sunday afternoon blues, so I texted a popular babysitter of ours to see if she could come over for a few hours while Patrick and I went to dinner.

We went to the Powerhouse and tried some of their amazing new raw Tuna dishes. The quality of the fish was something else-so delicious and smooth texture.

As Patrick and I  ate and looked at the eagles and sea lions over the channel, Patrick told me about the new trails which were being built along the channel on Near Island. He said, "There is a new trail going right along side the channel in those trees right there. How about after dinner we could go walk it?"

The hike along the channel sounded like a good idea until we stepped outside into the winter air.  The sun was quickly descending behind the mountains in the Southwest. I quickly got into the car and my teeth gave a preliminary chatter as my jacket wasn't designed for winter.
"Brr…I'm cold. Yeah lets not walk. Lets drive somewhere." I suggested.

"Really, Zoya?" Patrick replied, "Lets try this new trail. I think you'll like it. Once we walk you'll warm up. You can wear this hat and gloves".  I skeptically looked up at the sweaty and (potentially) stinky  hat and gloves up on the heating system on the dash…drying from an earlier outing Patrick was on. Little did I know, the gloves were surprisingly dry and warm and I figured I had to at least give the hike a try.

We parked in the North End Parking lot and hiked down to the new trail and it was so fun scouting out the new path. It was marked with white flags and went alongside the channel. As the cars drove over head on the bridge, a large rumbling sound was produced. It was fun to be right under the bridge.

We had moments of short sprints to help warm up and, in the end,  I was so glad we did the hike. Something I love about being married with Patrick is that life is full of so many adventurous moments. Never did I imagine that after dinner we'd be hiking on a new trail alongside the channel on Near Island.

My favorite dates with Patrick are of the outdoor variety.


Stuey's Seven

Yesterday, in the company of a pack of little boys, Stuey turned 7!

Patrick made a huge web of string in our guest space. The kids all attempted to follow their string to the end where there was a prize. Patrick spent about an hour setting it up and it took over an hour for the kids to try to unwind it all. 

Then it was time to enjoy a volcano cake. Stuey has been excited about volcanos since our return from Hawaii.

The cake had a moist strawberry cake filling. So delicious!

Happy Birthday to my Stuey!