Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Adventures in Indianapolis

I just returned from a jaunt to Indianapolis, a pleasant city which I'd never before visited. We stayed at one of may high-rise hotels in the compact downtown and walked each day down a pleasant tree-lined path, crossing canals and dodging runners, to get to the famed IUPUI Natatorium. FINA, the international body that governs swimming, held a fall series of World Cup swim meets where top swimmers from all over the world competed for cash prizes, and Indy was the last stop. As swim-fans and sport-nerds, a friend and I grabbed the chance to buy cheap plane tickets and watch some of the best and most beautiful swimmers in the world compete.

We went early each day to grab the best seats (like Southwest, swim meets almost always have open seating) and watch warm ups. Swimmers glided up and down the clear 25M pool like airplanes, seemingly unaffected by the heaviness of water and the resistance of friction. With beautiful technique they flew up and down the lanes, stopping to jump out of the pool and stroll along the pool deck like Greek gods and goddesses, solid and strong but spare, without an ounce of extra flotation on them. On the second day of the meet we witnessed three new World Junior Records with an excited crowd. One young athlete broke two (in two different races) within a span of 13 minutes. Katie Ledecky set a new World Record while we were on the plane home, breaking yet another standard in the 800 M free.

My companion, the head coach of our high school girls' team, knows many coaches, assistants and athletes from her years in the sport and generously introduced me to the head of USA Swimming, gold-medal winner Cullen Jones, national team member Gabi Albiero, and others. I felt not in awe but greatly appreciative, noticing how many years of hard work and dedication sculpted the broad shoulders and narrow hips of both men and women, how swimming fame isn't widespread or invasive enough to build big egos but instead makes our athletes open to meeting fans, to signing kickboards of the young children who lined up in the hallway outside the pool deck.

Adventures can fuel the soul and a change of scenery opens up new possibilities. Coach and I worked for hours each day on plans for the upcoming girls' season and plowed through to-do lists like nothing could stand in our way. The opportunity to shake off routine and pursue passions doesn't come along too frequently in these days of pandemic, and I am grateful for the trip and freedom to take it. Next stop, Olympic Trials 2024 at Indiapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium? We just may have to go back.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Family Football

CU Boulder hosts a parent weekend every October, like many other universities across the country. Yesterday was Aden's last one as an undergraduate, and we made the most of the crisp fall weather, glorious mountain backdrop and fan-full football stadium. Starting with an early morning arrival at the crack of 9:30, we invaded William's apartment with prosecco and orange juice, bagels and lox, fruit salad and cream. William had just emerged from the shower and had to beg Aden to bring plates; he apparently has none, which leaves me to wonder how he's been eating dinner.

Brunch was consumed in short order, prosecco bottle duly emptied, and off to the tailgates we went. The parents of William's roommate hosted a tailgate just outside the stadium and we chatted and consumed beverages with them for a while. I stuck to caffeine, hoping to make it through the afternoon on still-shaky, post-COVID legs, while Aden and William downed hard selzers. We were dutifully wearing white t-shirts, to follow the brief of "white out" requested by CU, which looked great until William shot-gunned a selzer all over the front of his shirt.

From there to the stadium we went, eager to watch the countdown toward Ralphie's run. If you aren't familiar with CU, let me explain: the mascot is a buffalo (a real one!) always named Ralphie, and the buffalo runs - with it's madly scrambling handlers - around the field before and at the halftime of every game. The Ralphie we have now is a "baby" female which only requires four handlers, while the Ralphie before her was a giant requiring six. Before each game the countdown highlights a video of all things Ralphie, including interviews with former football players and handlers who describe the buffalo in loving terms. I always cry, either because I was deprived of a mascot while at Harvard or because Ralphie is just so dang cute.

We didn't have high hopes for the actual game because CU was the last team in the NCAA to get a win, the sole fanbase without one. But the day was fine, the stands were full, the white-out working to best effect - and Cal, our opponent, was also ranked poorly. After a full afternoon of good defense, halting offense and bonding both with our family and with everyone in the stands around us, CU pulled out a win in overtime. Our three kids joined the hordes on the field as Boulder officials scrambled to get the goalposts down and out of the way before the students could tear them down and abscond with them (a la Tennessee). Parents in the stands with us danced, sang, took photos and generally lost their minds over a 1 and 5 record. What can I say? Coloradans know how to celebrate the small things.

At the end of the day the kids seemed shocked that we'd had so much fun. William mused "I've never had so much fun at a game, and I wasn't even sitting with friends!" I laughed and he tried to backtrack, saying "But family of course is the best, Mom." On this occasion, as on so many others, I have to agree.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Fall Milestones

I'm relieved that leaf-peeping season came a little late this year. When I finally emerged from the house after ten days of isolating in the bedroom, the maples and the cottonwoods were still green and only the ashes had started to turn, at least at this elevation. On Sunday, Daniel drove us up to Evergreen in the foothills  (two more hours toward the 50 he needs for his license!) and we saw a few aspen trees waving golden boughs. I know in the high country they're lit up like thousands of bright candles, and hopefully we will still get to peep this coming weekend on another of Daniel's drives.

COVID really hit me like a Mack truck; I even fell asleep once while reading, my head in my hand, balanced on my side and one elbow. Somehow I napped in this position for an hour, unmoving. Scary stuff, and yet because I didn't require the hospital or breathing assistance, it qualifies as only a moderate case. If you haven't had your fall booster yet, I definitely hope you get one.

While stuck in my room I missed a girls' weekend in the mountains and a national conference for SwimLabs. Yesterday morning I received multiple congratulatory texts from co-workers about a national award I won for swim instruction; they sent photos of the big screen, the award, and a video of my boss's kind speech. I'm touched, semi-relieved and semi-sad that I wasn't there to see it go down in person, and also surprised (still!) that my career has turned in this direction. Not what my father had in mind when he paid for Harvard, I think. Life takes many unexpected turns.

But fall (like every season) is a season of change, and continually offers a jolt of surprise. Leaves morph into vivid flame, the rain falls, and our children continually grow and experience new things away at school. I love watching as their sweaters and jackets emerge in Snapchat photos, and hearing their new challenges when they call to celebrate milestones and to vent frustrations. My hope is to keep changing, too, to heal and restore strength as well as to take on new adventures and appreciate the beautiful changes that string us along through life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A "Moderate" case

COVID, how you crush me.  From my first flippant blog entry about the home test kits finally working, to now, you have laid me low. In a fit of optimism, I wore my Apple watch for the first few days, despite my inability to stand or move; I just wanted to stay connected to everyone via the updates. Alas, you did not give me just a "light case," a "bad cold," - you wanted to teach me a lesson. Off with the Apple watch! Wipe clean the calendar! I mock your short-term plans and theories of self-determination!

I have really begun imagining COVID as a figure, one I'm fighting each day, even as the terms of battle change. Not the rapid progress I was expecting, but more macabre; from chills and sweats one night to shadowboxing with the sheets the next; from horrid wet coughs to racking dry ones, from rare flashes of hunger to longer stages of nausea. Thank goodness I have had all my shots, or this would be much scarier.

The night of boxing was the weirdest experience I've ever had - I woke myself up thrashing around, kicking the covers off and punching the pillows with both hands I tried to calm down and hold my limbs unmoving but could not keep them still. Every now and then my hands would shoot forward, fingers extended or balled into fists, and I couldn't stop them! My body was dueling with its imaginary foe, with or without my mental participation.

Friends have been so kind, dropping flowers, soup, broth, and tea off at the door. I appreciate them and also calls and texts from my family. I especially appreciate Rob and all that he's doing to keep the household running - and me hydrated. Lots of very sick people around the world are lacking all of these resources. 

I can't get a booster shot now for 4 - 6 months, though hopefully my own antibodies will protect me. My last shot was almost 6 months ago; I should have renewed it earlier. Hope everyone gets boosted -soon and stays away from this plan-smashing, schedule-wrecking, and highly potent illness. It won't beat me, but it will have me under its thumb for a few more days.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

At long last, COVID

When the at-home test registered a positive result yesterday, I was shocked. We've self-tested so many times over the past two and a half years, and never had the second line show up. Rob and I doubted that the test would ever work, but sure enough, it does.  I must have caught the virus at the Marcus Mumford concert I attended with friends last week. Few people in the (indoor) crowd wore one, but I've been lulled into a false sense of security over the years and didn't think twice about the risk. I seem to be the only one in our ten-person party to have fallen ill, which is (another) positive.

I told my sister that the concert was worth it - though I can't state that with any certainty until I'm through the illness without life-changing side effects. I've had as many shots and boosters as the doctors allow, and I'm healthy aside from the illness, but you never know with COVID. My sister has a friend who has celiac (like me) and COVID attacked her stomach and digestive tract, essentially freezing it. I'm trying to nibble on food to keep mine moving, so it doesn't forget how to work.

My daughter said this could be a well-needed break, which indicates to me that I'm either complaining too much about my packed schedule, doing too many things, or both. It's true that being forced to quarantine will give me time to catch up on the blog, on other computer tasks that need doing, but it's a solid bummer to have to stay in my room and miss work and all social things for five (or more) days. I have two trips coming up next weekend and I'm not sure if I can attend either. 

But many millions of people have been down this same road - or a much more serious version of it - and I can't complain. Our house is a not-so-bad place to quarantine and I'm only awake for limited sections of each day, so it's not so hard to fill the time. My heart goes out to those sick and quarantining in much worse circumstances, and I hope everyone gets on the fast track to recovery.