My mom decided that she wanted to see my house at the very beginning before coming back to see the finished product! I picked her up on a Tuesday afternoon and we had a lovely day shopping in Ouray, having lunch at Timberline Deli, and then taking a little jaunt up Yankee Boy Basin.
The next day, we drove up over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. We made a stop at Ironton ghost town, at the pass and then at Mineral Creek on the way back north.
Back in Ridgway, we hung out at the shed for a bit before going to Colorado Boy for dinner. Mom got to meet so many Ridgway people!
The next day, we had to go up to Montrose to look at window colors and make a few other house like decisions. Once we got back, we relaxed for a bit, had dinner at Provisions, and then went to Ouray for the concert. The main band was awesome and we danced a lot. It was a great way to wrap up Mom’s trip to Ouray County!
There were some tears when I tried to quilt it on my home machine: it was just too big to maneuver and handle and after all the work I’d put in, lackluster workmanship wasn’t acceptable to me. I caved and took it to the quilt shop in Montrose to have it longarm quilted.
Once I brought the quilt home again in late January, I decided I needed to finish binding it before the end of the school year. It had occurred to me that this quilt, in its long 4 year(!!) construction, had really encompassed a period of instability and transition in my life. Somewhere it felt important to wrap it up before moving back to Ridgway for good.
To reach that goal, I immediately attached the binding by machine to the front of the quilt and then tried to make steady progress on hand stitching it to the quilt back.
Finally, a couple weeks ago, after four years and three months in progress, it was done. I carefully photographed it and then packed it away to be used next winter in my very own home. The quilt of my wandering days is done.
Scrolling through my reader this morning, I clicked on a post titled “Sasha DiGiulian’s Mom on Why You Should Let Your Kids Take Big Risks”to see what sage advice Sasha DiGiulian‘s mom could share with moms like mine that worry about their daughters in the outdoors. (Plus, you all know I’m a sucker for posts about women kicking ass outdoors.) The article was great and Sasha’s mom was really cute. Then I read a quote that made me burst in to tears:
“Then, when you started lead climbing, I took the course so I could lead belay, and honestly, I loved it. I loved spending time with you, and I loved going to the climbing competitions with you.”
It’s early spring. This is the time of year I used to spend hanging out with my dad at the batting cages, going to take ground balls on any dry day, and staying up too late talking about the possibilities for my team (and probably the Seattle Mariners too).
Starting just after Christmas, a few days a week, I’d come home from school and my dad would take me to the batting cages. As my teammates would point out to me, I could drive and he would have given me money so I didn’t have to go with him but I liked to. I loved spending that time with my dad. Sometimes my sister would come, which was mostly great because we could rotate in and out of the cage with each other. It certainly wasn’t rare, though, she didn’t want to come choosing friends or television over some extra practice.
I remember a lot of him providing me feedback on my swing but I also remember riding down the hill from our house in his red pickup just talking.
I’m pretty sure more than once we made people laugh at Rainiers games when I was in high school. He’d almost always sit on my right and when we witnessed a gorgeous swing that resulted in a home run or a double we’d turn to each other—a righty and a lefty—and make our best impressions of that swing, exclaiming about how the contact was just right.
There were late April games at Cheney stadium that were so cold I wore snowpants and we carried blankets in; often with a beer or two rolled up in them.I remember Game 4 of the 1995 ALDS, standing on the left field bleachers so that 10 year old me could try to talk to my dad over the rock concert roar of the Kingdome as Edgar Martinez, my favorite player, proved to be the hero
Bottom of the 11th inning got the whole town listening, Swung on and belted the words that started, Joey Cora rounds third Here comes Griffey the throw to the plate’s not in time My oh my the Mariners win it
and I picture my dad chanting, “They’re never going to get Griffey, they’re never going to get Griffey.” 1995 is seared in my memory and family lore, it comes up at family holidays and events because we all have shared, intersecting memories because my Aunt Lori bought two seats that we shared and whoever wasn’t at the games would watch them at our house.
Mostly though, the line “And if mom wasn’t trippin’ come on dad please I swear just one more inning,” is what rings true along with the batting cages, ground balls, and thousands of whiffle ball pitches in the back yard.
Today is a gorgeous early spring day in Colorado. The sky is so so blue that it’s almost heartbreaking. It’s cold and there’s some snow on the ground but my time in Maine made me associate that with the start of softball. It won’t be long before baseball season starts here in Western Colorado for my high school students. The Mariners are down in Arizona getting ready for Opening Day. It’s been almost six years since I got to watch a baseball game with my dad and it’s days like today I miss them most of all.
Sprocket and I made the long haul from southwestern Colorado up to Washington for Christmas. The trip was fairly short to give me some time back in Colorado to unwind (and also to work!) once I got back. While I was there though there was lots of #auntybeth time with my nephew, some Pokemon hunting in downtown Tacoma, and a hike with Andrew (Junior and Will were sick and couldn’t come).
Andrew made sure to snuggle with Aunty Beth as much as possible:
He also tricked me into buying donuts. I tricked him into going inside to get them while I waited with Sprocket.
Then he tried to trick me into buying him a book the day after Christmas. He’s cute but #auntybeth is strong. He did steal my hat though.
Then we went hiking in Pack Forest. It was a little rainy, a little overcast, and really green. Just like winter hiking in Washington should be.
Sprocket did not dig Andrew wanting to lead the pack:
Here’s hoping that on my next trip home all three boys can come!
I know this is belated but honestly, although I try to keep my personal photo files organized, this blog is actually better indexed and it’s easier to find things.
Because we’re lucky, we headed up Red Mountain Pass to find our tree just shy of 12,000′ above sea level. There had been some fresh snow and there was lots of powder around–we hadn’t been snowshoing much so Sprocket and I definitely felt the burn on our ramble around before we selected our tree.
I’ve learned my lesson in the past and was sure to 1) find a tree not too far from the road and to 2) find one uphill of the road. We succeeded this year unlike last year where I learned a quarter mile uphill is a long way if you’re alone and your dog is not willing to be a sled-tree dog.
Alpine trees just have the right look, their branches are strong: they’re the perfect Christmas tree. Don’t you agree?
I get a lot of questions about what my life looks like these days. Most of them go something like “Wait, where do you live?” I get it, my life is a little bit complicated these days. It doesn’t fit into a nice pretty social media package that I can tie a bow on.
During the week, I am a teacher at a rural high school about 40 miles from Ridgway. I have a rental house in that town so I don’t have to commute back and forth everyday; it’ll be worth it from my house but paying Ridgway rents + commuting is just too much! I lease the house with a roommate that is also a teacher at my school. We have another roommate for the winter that teaches skiing at Telluride. Since we’re all sharing the house, this brings costs way down for all of us. We’re all busy with work and traveling on our weekends so it all works out. Sprocket really likes having more people around to love.
During the week, I try to keep up my workout routine, stay on top of grading since I’m a failure at doing it over the weekends, do my laundry, and get enough sleep. I don’t have internet at my house so I’ve been a little bit better about reading books and a little bit worse at running up my cellphone data.
On Thursdays, I pack up the Jeep so that we can leave directly after school on Friday. Friday is the only day of the week that I drive to school; the rest of the week I walk the half mile each way. I hit the road at 3:30 and head for Ouray. I usually have time to make a quick pit stop at the post office in Ridgway and take Sprocket for a quick walk before I start work at 5pm.
Friday and Saturday night routines are similar: I close the shop, go home to the shed and feed Sprocket. Depending on how tired I am, sometimes I will go visit a local establishment for a drink before I retire to the shed.
Saturday and Sunday mornings have gotten a bit more difficult in the winter. I want to make sure Sprocket gets some activity and time to move around since he’s so cooped up while I’m working all the time but it’s also been really cold! I’m taking my cross-country skis back down to Ridgway this weekend so I’m hoping to get in some exercise with him more frequently before I go to work at noon on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday, after we close up the shop, I head back to the town where I teach to do it all over again.
Crazy the things we do in order to make dreams happen, huh?
Maryanne and her husband welcomed me into their home for Thanksgiving again this year. I’m so delighted that this has become a tradition and that I get to be Aunty Beth to their two children in addition to my three nephews. <3
There was lots of Sprocket bossing around by a two year old:
A few baby cuddles, although he really wasn’t too sure about that stranger in his house.
There was lots of food and a sweet sunset hike.
People used to mistake Maryanne and I for sisters, and I suppose with sunglasses on, they still might.
Last New Years Day I drove back from Ridgway to De Beque. The two and a half hour drive home was hard. I walked in the door, made myself a pot of coffee and promptly burst into tears.
And cried some more.
Everything felt so up in the air. I just wanted to be home but teaching positions wouldn’t start being posted for a few months. I realized that I had spent too much and even if I did find myself back in the San Juans I had dug myself a pretty significant hole that I would have to climb out of before I was able to think about building a house. I’d just left a party full of friends and neighbors and now, despite Sprocket’s willingness to let me snot into his fur, I felt alone.
Finally, totally unable to pull myself together, I picked up the phone and called a friend. I tried to explain how I felt so untethered and sad and overwhelmed by the too blank future. After they tried to offer platitudes to calm me down and once I just felt silly for being so unhinged I hung up.
I started to make a plan. I would make a plan to get out of debt. I applied for multiple jobs in Grand Junction that very afternoon. (Fortunately none of them worked out and I wound up starting at Provisions in March, strengthening my connection to Ridgway.) I decided while I was open to staying in De Beque another year that I would chase jobs in the San Juans and that I would chase them hard.
My phone went off: “You will be fine. You’ve got Sprocket. You’ve got Ruth. You have land. You are beautiful.” I have forgotten and remembered this line so many times and I have held it close.
My friends, 2016 has been a debacle in so many ways. I have cried in frustration with my life, with politics, for not climbing more mountains, and out of sheer exhaustion. I’ve had more than a few moments of self consciousness when someone asks me where I live knowing that both the shed, my constant working, and the bouncing back and forth between Norwood and Ridgway is hard to do in an elevator speech.
I’m still here. I know I haven’t posted about a hike, a run, or even a Sunday Sermon in weeks. I’ve been sprinting towards both Thanksgiving Break (yay! it’s here!) and towards actually breaking ground on a house in the spring. The funny thing about being stubborn and wanting to do everything yourself is that you actually have to do everything yourself.
I’ve had just a couple days off since I went exploring in Utah over Labor Day weekend and I can feel it. I hiked Saturday and am still feeling it a little bit on Monday morning (of course it didn’t help that Sprocket and I averaged 19 minute miles for 16 miles on that hike…). Despite trying to keep up a regular running schedule, I’ve had to forsake that much needed run more that I would like to keep up on grading, driving to Ridgway to meet with potential builders, on top of working at the day job (teaching) and being a barista (at Mouse’s).
One of the hardest parts of being an adult is finding balance. Whether that is work-life balance, balance in your workouts (flexiblity? strength? cardio?), sleep-good book balance, or anything else you can think of it’s hard. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much energy in the tank. I know that working out spiced with hikes is key to my happiness but I also know that stressing about where to live in a mountain town also takes a toll. I’m on a path to where that would be less of a concern in the future and that’s probably a great sacrifice to make but it also just sucks when you’re just tired.
I headed out for Saturday’s hike later than I’d like (more on that soon) but I needed to move along the trail quickly. I needed to feel the elevation straining my lungs (which, even though we made it up over 11,000′ wasn’t too bad). I needed to feel my quads and my glutes burn. I needed very desperately to remember that I’m someone who loves hiking and exploring. So we went and we went fast.
But that’s all there was in the tank. Week after week of working 7 days a week caught up with me and yesterday I was tired. So we drove a lot yesterday. We drove roads new to me and just were. Thankfully, the weather gave me a bit of an “out” today and I’m sitting in a coffee ship in Tucson blogging, writing, planning future trips, and shopping for appliances.
Tomorrow I’ll set out on another hike, perhaps taking it a bit slower, looking around and drinking in the scenery.
I’m sure we all know that there are never enough dollars, hours in the day, miles hiked, glasses of rosé consumed, and cuddle piles with friends in life.
Since there’s not enough dollars in my teaching contract to make up some ground on debt and move towards a house, it’s necessitated spending a ton of my hours working instead of playing outside. There’s not enough housing in this town and I need a nice stable place to call mine. It’s been a long time since I had that. Sprocket and I have managed okay although we both have missed our time in the mountains. He’s still oblivious to what’s coming down the pipe, although I’m really psyched about my progress this summer towards the big financial goals in my life.
On the other hand, it has been a summer that has reaffirmed my choice of place. Although work has limited them, there have been a few glorious nights spent watching the mountains turn to alpenglow crowded on outdoor couches with great people and amazing conversation. There have been Thursdays at concerts in the park with picnic dinners and dancing. My shed has been complemented with a patio and garden beds. I’ve woken up in my cozy shed bed to the sun rising behind the Cimarrons.
I go back to school tomorrow and my students will join me next week. It hasn’t been a #summitsummer but it’s been an important summer all the same: it’s been one that is making me incredibly excited for my next steps.