Celebrate Me Home

I’ve been feeling rather Grinchy about Christmas this year. Stuck in house limbo with balmy temperatures more suited to San Diego than 7000′ in Colorado with finals impending I just couldn’t muster my usual enthusiasm for Christmas music, twinkly lights, Christmas trees, presents and gift wrap.

Christmas 2011; Mullan, Idaho

And then suddenly, on Monday, I had a house deadline: an actual three day range in which I can expect to get my certificate of occupancy and move in. I briefly had a little tantrum and decided I wasn’t going to have a Christmas tree. I was going to do my best to move in and then I’d sort out Christmas later. There I sat, behind my usual pace on Christmas presents, threatening to basically skip Christmas traditions, and begrudge the entire trip to Tacoma to celebrate with my family.

Home for the holiday,
I believe I’ve missed each and every face,
Come on and play my music,
Let’s turn on every love light in the place.

Tuesday, I took a look at my list of gifts I had left to purchase. Somehow my icy feelings towards the holiday melted all at once. I started placeing orders on gifts that I’d been procrastinating on ordering, simply going for the gifts I knew I wanted to buy those people love. Somehow my list got longer as I reconsidered a couple people I wasn’t going to purchase for and I did it anyway. I know it’s in vogue to simplify and cut your list these days but that’s just not my style. 

As a kid, Christmas at my house was magical. My mom and dad went out of their way to make the holiday special for us as kids. There was a never ending string of traditions that lead us from our viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” late Thanksgiving night to doing a puzzle to the background of college football bowl games between Christmas and New Years. Throughout high school and college I never was ashamed of my absurd love for the joyousness of the Christmas holiday. In high school I wore giant gift bows on my head unapologetically. Once I even found a battery pack set of mini lights and wore them in my hair (OMG… with LEDs I might have to get on this again). In college, I introduced more than a few friends to the cannon of Christmas movies.

In my young adult life, however, things wavered. Even during the two Christmas I spent mobile, I decorated the van and camper. The sparkle had dimmed and I kind of started to think that I’d lost my love for the season.

It’s time I found myself
Totally surrounded in your circles
Whoa, my friends.

After making a list and checking it twice, I put it on my list for next week to go get a Christmas tree permit—damn it, a tree was going to be the first thing in the house after a bed. I’m nothing if not stubborn and I wasn’t going to let this be the first time I could have a tree and not do it.

As I’m sure all of the lovely people in my life can attest, my affect around questions about the house has been mellow and sinking. It occupies my thoughts a lot but I don’t really have control so I’ve just settled into a holding pattern. It feels disappointing to me and I just can’t decide whether I should show excitement for the people who are so excited for me or whether I should retreat to my safe non-emotional space. I always choose the latter.

Please, celebrate me home,
Give me a number
Please, celebrate me home

Tonight though, on the way home from my side hustle chocolate shop job, I decided to play some Christmas music. I went to the little amount of Christmas music on my phone. In a hurry to get home to Sprocket, I put it on shuffle and the first song was Kenny Loggins “Celebrate Me Home.”

My first solo Christmas tree, 2014

Immediately I froze. Tears welled in my eyes. Suddenly, it all seemed real. I was going to give myself the best present ever just before the holiday. I realized there could be little better than wrapping presents in the glow of Christmas lights on a tree cut at 12,000′ with the warmth of a woodstove warming me in my own home even before I get the rest of my possessions moved in the house.

Play me one more song
That I’ll always remember
And I can recall
Whenever I find myself too all alone
I can sing me home.

“Celebrate Me Home” was my dad’s favorite Christmas song. He would play it repeatedly. He would always take every opportunity to do just one extra Christmas thing but every single year, Christmas night he would remark, “Aren’t we so lucky to have so much family to spend Christmas with?”

Maybe it’s because Dad latched on to “Celebrate Me Home” while I was in college when I started traveling for the holiday, but “Celebrate Me Home” has always felt like the journey into the holiday to me and I’m just going to hold it as the anthem in my heart right now. My journey towards bringing myself home is coming to a close but it’s time to start really putting the pieces together of living my life. 

Uneasy highway
Traveling where the Western winds can fly
Somebody tried to tell me
But the men forgot to tell me why

This was the thread I’d lost somewhere. I’d been surviving for so long that there was so little space for traditions and time to relish the beauty of the holiday season that I really just wasn’t fully appreciating it. Being far from family at the holidays had changed things but I am so lucky to have a place I love living like Ridgway and a family back in Washington still carrying on the traditions that I had always loved so much.

NYE 2014: The Night Was Dark but FULL of Sparkles

The familiar melody flooded me with feeling. Who am I to be a Scrooge? In the space of three weeks, I will celebrate my new home with myself, Sprocket and a Christmas tree. I’ll celebrate Christmas with my family in Washington then return to settle into the house and celebrate New Years with Ridgway. Then, to put the icing on the cake, I get to welcome my Ridgway family to my new home.

I gotta count on being gone,
Come on home, come on daddy,
Be what you want from me,
I’m this strong, I’ll be weak

Which all brings me here to this moment, I’ve got a honey whiskey spiked peppermint tea propped in the crook of one arm that I can’t reach because Sprocket’s head is propped on the other shoulder begrudgingly letting me type my feelings out here. I dug out the charger for my speaker so I could bathe the shed in Christmas music. The tears keep coming. I know the next weeks are going to be hard, sweet, stressful, exciting, and exhausting. 

Ruth XJ; Red Mountain Pass, 2016.

I can hardly picture what living in a house will actually feel like but I can see myself adapting Clark Grizwold to fit our situation: “Sprocket, we’re kicking off our fun old-fashioned family Christmas by heading up Red Mountain in our 4-wheel drive sleigh…” Back home, I’ll wrestle the tree into the stand, laughing about how small alpine tree trunks are, and trim it with lights, my grandmother’s Shiny Brite ornaments, and tinsel.

Please, celebrate me home,
Give me a number,
Please, celebrate me home
Play me one more song,
That I’ll always remember,
I can recall,
Whenever I feel too all alone,
I can make believe I’ve never been gone
I never* know where I belong
Sing me home.

Tree cutting snowshoe; Grand Mesa, 2015

*How lucky am I to have a place to belong? ♥

Lyrics of “Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins and Bob James

Out of Bed.

My headlight bounces in the dark and I suddenly notice some glowing eyes on the concrete path in front of me. The deer seem as shocked as I am to see someone running down the path in the chill October night. My breath puffs a steamy cloud in front of my face and I trundle down the path.

I’m not sure what propelled me out of my warm bed with Sprocket curled up against me. I felt required to put down my excellent book, don shorts and headlamp and run. The relatable prose had somehow pulled me in so far it has pushed me out and demanded I live, right now at this minute. Life has impeded these moments of clarity and running—or rather, I’ve let my excuses get in the way of exercising. No one blames you for not working up a sweat when you lack shower facilities. No one gives it a second thought when you say, “But I work seven days a week.” No one, that is but the yourself as you feel continually less fit, less confident, less whole.

I reach the old railroad bridge and hear rustling in the bushes near the river. It could be a bear or a skunk, it is likely more deer, and in a worst case, could be a mountain lion. There is nothing to be done about the creature minding their own business out of sight and I run on. The bridge looks like the set of a Halloween movie and I attempt to capture it in a photo because I find it so ridiculous. I fail, as I knew I would.

A mile from my house, I force myself to turn around. I haven’t been running and I didn’t warm up and it’s cold. There is no need to risk injury more than I already have and I really should get to sleep. As I cross the bridge again on the return trip, I can feel my mood rise a little bit like the mist off the Uncompahgre. “I need to do this everyday,” I tell myself.

The impossibility of that looms before me; even just this week I have evening work commitments and I question how realistic it is that I’ll sort out how not to smell at work. Part of me, a big part of me, doesn’t care though. I want to feel strong again. I’ve started rediscovering social parts of myself but this, the part of me that can agree to any hike and is ready for new challenges has been in hiding. Perhaps I’ll try to reclaim that part in the dark where no one can see a bit longer; I know that’s better than not reclaiming it at all.

Running past my appliances in my yard, I glance at the house before I go into the shed. That’s mine. That’s why I’ve sacrificed the feeling of the chill on my legs and the hours for words to enter my eyes and also to exit my fingers onto the screen.

I’ve been feeling like there’s some moral to my story, the larger story, not just this run or the house or processing of lots of old feelings I’ve ignored but I can’t put my finger on it. I need to write about it more, both publicly and privately. I need to move my feet to ruminate on it more. Back in the shed, I pulled off my clothes before I could really start sweating in the warmth of my tiny home. Baby wipe basics done, I crawled in bed, pulled my pup to my chest, finished the page I’d been reading and wondered if this is what it feels like to have the pieces come together.

Mariners: Edgar Martinez Number Retirement

I’ve written before about my memories of my family and baseball. Most of my summer trips back to Washington wind up featuring a Rainiers game. Baseball is just part of how my family functions.

Last winter when the Mariners announced that they would be retiring Edgar Martinez’s #11, I knew that I had to make it happen. I talked to my sister and to some family members and then nothing really happened. Just before school got out for summer, I started to organize. And as a family, we ended up purchasing 13 tickets.

I am so glad this all came together. It was a fantastic day. We made a whole day of it which was fantastic! First thing in the morning, I boarded a bus to Seattle along with my mom, my sister, my aunt and uncle, my godmother, and a cousin. When we arrived in Seattle, we grabbed coffee and headed to the Mariners team store because neither my mom or I owned any Mariners gear. (I was okay with this, no one else was.)

We did a bit of touristing at Pike Place Market but our group was a bit too large to maneuver the crowds and we quickly ended up at Pike Brewing for some food and catching up.

Once we reached the stadium district we rendezvoused with the rest of our group and hung out at Pyramid Brewing. There was lots of beer and some nachos, I started a round of “What’s your favorite Edgar memory?” and we hopefully didn’t drive our nice server too nuts.

Inside the stadium, I only cried a little bit during the ceremony. But my cousins jumped in as family does and made sure to tease me a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a game and watched so little of it; living so far away this was a great time to catch up with people!

Thanks family. This was definitely the event worth planning my summer Washington trip around.

Mom Came To Visit!

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!

English Paper Piecing Quilt, Part 5: The Finale

I finished it.

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.

 

When Parents Are There: My Dad & Baseball

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.

My dad and I: blue circle. Where the 3-run HR landed: Red circle. Dad always regretted not using his long arms to catch it for me. ♥

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

Macklemore’s song “My Oh My” makes me cry each and every time from the moment that he sings

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.

Tacoma: Christmas & #auntybeth Adventuring

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!

Christmas Tree 2016

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?

A Week In The Life of Hustle

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?

Thanksgiving in Scottsdale

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.