February 8th, 2006

duke-injured

Fishies Come Home

I am not a very good fish-mom. I realize this, and I try to be better.... but the thing is, fish never ask me to feed them or clean their tank. This is the problem I have with plants too: they rarely mention it when they're thirsty.

I am usually busy and distracted, and my life is complex enough that I don't keep to a regular schedule. I don't mean to, but I forget about them. Basically my plants and fish live in a Darwinian environment where only the strongest survive.

That said, I was quite surprised a couple of weeks ago when I looked in my tank and couldn't find any fish. Well, except for my sucky fish, who is unbreakable. I'd had five little tetras that proved themselves quite sturdy indeed, and they'd lasted forever. I didn't see any fish carcasses either. How could they all just vanish? It hadn't been all that long since I'd last looked in on them. I kept looking through the plants where they like to hide, looking along the bottom, but no fish. None! It was most puzzling.

So I was quite pleased on monday when I happened to glance into the tank. Everyone was back, and swimming around happily! I don't know what happened.... perhaps they were on vacation? After all who knows what pets do when we're not around?

Maybe they went to visit their original owner, because they'd heard she was in the hospital. I think that's what happened in Snoopy Come Home, from my vague memory of the movie. Whatever the reason, I'm just glad they're home again.
duke-ski

Ski Weekend

It's been a weird winter. In December, we got tons of snow -- way more than usual. I think I shoveled large accumulations of snow at least three times before Christmas! Unfortunately, it was December. Between work, travel, shopping, and the holidays, I had no time to get away for some skiing.

This is especially sad, since during the summer I bought new skis! I was eager to give them a try!

In January, Spring mysteriously sprang. It was all very weird -- warm weather, damp sidewalks, grass showing, no snow anywhere. It didn't even feel like January, and it certainly didn't feel like ski season.

My friends and I had planned to go skiing in January, but between various illnesses, the warm weather, and ConFusion, we didn't make it out. Not even once! It was all terribly sad, at least it was sad whenever I turned my thoughts away from daffodils enough to think about winter.

When the first weekend in February was coming near, we knew -- we had to go up North. No matter what the weather looked like, even if we saw flowers blooming and bees buzzing, we were going skiing! I dug out all my cold-weather gear, and Friday night four of us hopped into a jeep and headed for snow.

RW has a little cabin in Grayling. As we drove further and further North, I kept scrutinizing the grass out the window. It was dark out, but was that a patch of white? A dusting, maybe? Finally we'd gone far enough that we could see snow for sure. At his cabin, there was a solid coat of white on the ground. It was winter again!

We got a slow start Saturday morning. F made us all breakfast, and we lazed around enjoying one another's company for awhile. Eventually we got suited up and hit the road for Nubs Nob.

It was "kinda" snowing. It was cold, and there was definite snow-like precipitation, but it was a weird spitting combination of snow and water. Not the nicest of weather, but at least there was snow on the ground. And Nubs had been manufacturing snow all season too, so the base was fairly decent. Much less wet than I'd feared, not at all slushy, so that was good.

It was fun! We got pretty wet, and had to constantly clean the water droplets off our goggles, but we still all had a wonderful time. It felt great to be skiing again, even though I took it easy as my body tried to remember all it had learned last year. By the end of the day I was cheerfully skiing down blue runs, having a great time.

After skiing, we had our traditional lattes at the lodge and warmed up by the fire for awhile. That night we met up with several more friends for fancy pizza. It was good pizza, good friends, and excellent conversation -- a perfect Saturday night!

Sunday morning we'd hoped to get an earlier start, but we didn't really. There was snoozing, and cabin-cleaning, and general slow-movingness. Eventually we gathered up all of our ski clothes which we'd scattered all over the cabin to dry off, and hit the road again.

This time, the road was covered in fresh snow! And more big puffy flakes were falling from the sky! Now this is more what snow should look like. For day two, we headed to Boyne Mountain.

The skiing felt very different on Sunday. The snow was thick, fluffy, and almost sticky. And more kept coming down out of the sky, covering our tracks almost as soon as we'd made them. It felt so weird! SG asked, "What's with this strange sticky stuff?"

"It's fresh new snow," said RW cheerfully. "Isn't it great?" She and I just shook our heads though. We weren't used to skiing on brand new snow like this; we're used to older and/or manmade stuff.

After awhile to get used to the snow, I grew to like it. Except for a few times when I foundered in particularly deep patches, so deep that they stopped me in my tracks! Then I had use all my strength to side-step my way out of the heavy snow and back onto a more beaten path.

It was snowy and very windy -- so windy that often it slowed us down, or even threatened to stop us. But it wasn't watery snow, so we didn't get as wet. That was nice.

It was actually very beautiful. Every tiny little tree branch and twig was weighed down with its own coat of snow, and the scenery and mountain were just gorgeous. Perfect to ski thru.

I gained confidence as the day progressed. We even skied down one black hill! Although truth be told, I didn't like it a whole lot. The spot we'd selected hadn't had a lot of traffic yet, and the powder was so deep, I nearly buried myself a few times trying to slide through it. Still, I'm glad to know we did one.

I had a lot of fun with the other hills, especially shooting through side-passes in the trees. And taking some of the green slopes as fast as my skis would carry me, knees bent low, with my poles tucked under my arms. Much fun!

Eventually it was time to head back home. We cleaned up the cabin, grabbed our stuff, and headed South. SG and I played dueling DJs while I premiered Radio Rennie with my new iTrip. It made the road trip fly by, and eventually we were home.

Much to my surprise, we brought the snow back with us! I kept looking out the window, expecting the snow to thin out and the grass to reappear. It never did; when I arrived there were a couple of inches of snow on my car, with some lovely ice frozen underneath. Scraping all that off wasn't really much fun.

Oh well, I'm glad it's winter again. Not because I like the cold, which I don't.... but darn it, I need to do some more skiing!