Lamont and Dude Discuss Skiing

Doop doop doo doo looking out my backdoor.

“Dude! Creedence?”

“It happens.”

“Were you even around? I was barely around.”

“Saw The Big Lebowski last night. Great film.”

“Definitely. You heading out?”

“Smilodon duty.”

“How’s that going?”

“It’s getting a little old.”

“Ha ha.”

“No, seriously. The Smilodon gig for the kiddies, I dunno. But I never tire of seeing our old haunts, and the scene of one of my greatest hunting triumphs back in the day.”

“Just have to rub it in, don’t you.”

“I don’t see what the big deal is. Sometimes you’re the Smilodon, sometimes you’re the Wooly Mammoth. As you’ve said before, maybe even thousands of times, reincarnation is a crap shoot. Where are you off to?”

“Big Bear.”

“Oh for some downhill ice skating?”

“It soften ups around 11.”

~~~

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/01/23/ragtag-daily-prompt-thursday-looking-out-of-my-backdoor/

Langlauf Update

Another beautiful day on skis. The snow was less great than the other day but the way I see it, the snow doesn’t owe me anything. If I’m going to engage with it, I’m the one who has to adapt. I have no problem AT ALL surrendering to the imperatives of snow. I’m honored to have the chance.

I had to break trail today and learned that my skis, which are named “back country,” seem to be mostly designed for groomed trails — but that could be my lack of skill at this moment. As I skied from snow to ice to some small patches of grass to deep drifts to the lanes I skied on Saturday, I thought about that a lot. I thought about all the skis I’ve owned and when, sometime back in the mists of time, I switched from “fish-scale” — waxless — to skis that needed to be waxed, I never looked back. Sometime I learned back then the advantage of skis whose grip I control.

Groomed trails are nice — you don’t slide sideways, you can predict the surface beneath your skis because it’s been packed and prepared. Breaking trail is often not skiing at all. I had forgotten that, even though in California when I had the chance to Langlauf, I always had to break trail — again, with different skis than I have now. Sometimes that was hilarious as it could mean navigating through low manzanita bushes. Once I skied up Mt. Palomar with the dream of seeing those beautiful white observatory domes in the snow. It’s a five mile trail, all uphill, and some of the trail is bushy and all of it is narrow. It was still fun. The reward came coming down the unplowed road, though. It was wide, snowy, steep — fun. As we whizzed past a family who’d driven there from LA to “Visit the snow” a kid yelled, “Mom, that’s what we should do!”

They’d gone to the snow with a beach umbrella, beach chairs and a cooler. They looked very disoriented. A boogie board would have been a good thing to bring, but they didn’t have that.

Langlauf tracks heading toward Garnet Peak in the Laguna Mountains, San Diego County, 2004. My painting. Not my tracks. 🙂 A fire came through that fall (The Cedar Fire) and burned down all the manzanita making a good trail for Langlauf.

Today I also thought how — last year — we didn’t get significant snow until January, and then we got A LOT. The San Juan Nordic Club went around grooming everything in sight — even the driving range! The temps stayed below freezing for a couple of months, so the groomed tracks stayed in nearly pristine condition — the only kicker (ha ha) was waiting until the highest sun of the day (1 pm or so) when any ice that had formed in the night would have surrendered.

It’s doubtful that I will switch back to waxable skis; it will depend how ambitious I end up being and how skillful. For now and maybe forever the waxless skis I own now are fine. It’s a poor workman who blames his tools, anyway.

The other “iffy” tool is “the foot,” but it held up again today, only mildly painful when we were in motion. The thing is, I realized, after nearly 3 months of not being asked to support my weight continually, it’s a little out of shape. It’s only been these last few weeks that I’ve expected it to hold me up for a whole day while I painted, or to keep me upright walking Bear as she checks her messages.

As I did my happy loop of the local golf course I thought, “The cool thing about this is I can get better, more skillful, stronger and as that happens, I will learn more and, I hope, take on a bigger challenge.” The golf course is — right now — all I can contend with. I’m so lucky to have it.

Now we just need another good snowfall. ❤

School Guidance Counseling Fail

My main regret in life is that I didn’t stay at Head Ski back in 1975.

It started like this. I got my BA in English in the summer of 1974. I had to find a job tout suite. I was married (it was a very very very bad marriage), he was still a student and part of our income had been my government grant from my Dad’s GI Bill, awarded to children of disabled veterans. I went to the local paper and got turned down (didn’t type fast enough). I went everywhere. Then there was an ad in the Daily Camera saying Head Ski (then headquartered out on Valmont Road) was hiring line workers. I went and applied. I started the next day which was lucky as we’d just been turned down for food stamps. It was work on the ski production line leading up to Christmas.

For a month or so I cleaned and painted the sides of Head Skis. This involved Naptha, black paint, and pumice to get the rust off of the metal edges. I worked swing shift (which I ended up liking). I had a partner across the table from me, a tall, bosomy blond my age (22) who was contemplating cheating on her husband. We talked a lot about infidelity during those evenings. I’d already cheated on mine, but, in fact, he deserved it. Still and all, I didn’t want to do it again. It hadn’t helped or solved anything. It just made it worse. I should have left, but…

Turned out I have a great work ethic and this was observed by the floor manager. He promoted me to burning serial numbers on the edges of skis, measuring their flex and putting them in net bags for shipping. That’s a pretty responsible job. It was less smelly than the job cleaning the edges and some of my co-workers wondered why I got the promotion and not them. Life on the factory floor is kind of weird. The job I really wanted was silk-screening the Head logo on the bottoms of the skis. I envied that guy.

Head had gone from the classic all black, all blue, or all red ski (on which Jean Claude Killy skied ❤ ) with the small, tasteful “HEAD” on the toe to brightly colored skis with the word “HEAD” part of the design. The Yahoo (featured image) was the new ski, and it was shorter than other skis with a deeper side cut.

Howard Head was a ski innovator, designing the first commercially successful aluminum laminate skis. He was also a really nice guy. Anyway, the skis we were making were beautiful and I didn’t think I would ever, in my life, afford a pair. I had a pair of Harts I’d bought with my first $100 from working two years at the A&W in Colorado Springs in high school…

Around Thanksgiving we got the skis all done. Although I didn’t notice (numbering, measuring and bagging skis is a solitary job), some of my co-workers had already been laid off. I wasn’t even aware I had a seasonal job, so being oblivious and alone had advantages. We were moved over to filing the throats of Head Tennis Rackets, a supernally boring job for which we all got high in the parking lot. Weed back then was cheap Mexi so don’t go all thinking we were having some wild drug experience. All it did was slow down time and make us care less about being bored. It made us better at filing the tennis rackets, though. In that state, one could become actually INTERESTED in the throat of a tennis racket.

Then…we all got laid off. We were told at “lunch” (8 pm). “Thanks for your work, Head Ski really appreciates it. You’ll find your final pay in your locker.” As soon as we need workers, you will be the first we call back.” Of course we were all angry and went out to smoke weed and resolved not to file many tennis racket throats when we got back. Down with the man. Screw the system…

I quickly found a Christmas job at a toy store.

Fast forward many incredibly interesting stories to the January day I got the phone call, “We’d like to hire you back to work in the mail room.”

I was so young, so ignorant, I didn’t realized that I’d been lifted out of the plant and placed in the office. Everyone’s dream. It wasn’t a dream, though. It was real, and life in the mail room was bizarre — that’s another post for another day. Over time, I caught the eye of Howard Head. What happened was I rebuilt a table top offset printer I found in the mailroom and got it running so we didn’t have to send memo head and other internal stationary out to be printed, saving the company money. Mr. Head called me in, gave me a bonus check and dinner in a fancy restaurant on the company.

I was tried out in a couple of departments offices and the plan was I would “float” where help was needed until I found my niche. I worked in cost accounting and marketing. Things were going well in Marketing. I did a painting that the company used as a poster (you could see it on Mork and Mindy in Mindy’s house, on her wall). I liked it and the marketing team liked me. Then…

The plant went on strike. My friends from the old days were on strike. Most of us in the office went back to the plant to keep production going. We did finish work, the last stuff to get the product out there. I wrapped leather grips on tennis racket handles…

After a few weeks of crossing the picket lines (all that happened to me was my friends shouted out, “Hey Martha! How’s it going? You wanna’ grab a beer some time?”) I decided I was too smart to work at Head Ski. After all, I had a BA in English (never mind I’d been thrown out of one school and graduated, ultimately, with a humble 2.7 though a 3.9 in my major), I was the intellectual god, and I needed to go to grad school (from which I was more or less ejected, though given the option to go ahead and write my thesis, if I was able to write it, which all but my thesis advisor doubted).

It wasn’t until I was living in San Diego, was 35, and a student from Geneva said, “I live for ski” that I realized that was my story, too. It wasn’t until I moved back to Colorado five years ago that I properly appreciated that fateful decision to return to school. Maybe it took forty years for me to know myself (possible). If I’d stayed at Head Ski I’d have had free skis for life and possibly traveled the world doing marketing for the company.

It’s kind of weird how things turn out. The best and most consistent teaching job in my career was teaching business communication at the university level, not literature, not poetry, not writing, but business communication. Maybe we should say to kids, “Not all smart people are academics, sweet cheeks. Follow your bliss. You don’t know what that is? Give yourself some time. Believe it when you find it. Pay attention to the people around you. If you are encouraged, accepted and respected, you might be home.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/11/01/rdp-friday-regret/

Chionophile

Feeling like a total freak mourning winter’s passing while everyone around cheers the arrival of spring, I was stunned to see a word posted by a Facebook friend, a noun, for creatures like me (and my big white dog). Chionophile. OK, Chionophiles are mostly animals who live high up in the mountains or on either of the poles, but why not Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog and me?

There are also people who suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in spring and summer rather than in fall and winter. It’s rare, but the symptoms are anxiety, insomnia and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Funny that’s how summer makes me feel. People all around are all excited about what they’re doing in summer. I try, but for me, summer is a trial. I just try to make the best of it as I wait for it to end. Back in the day, I taught almost every summer. The money was great, but also I didn’t notice summer as much.

In doing my research into this yesterday, I discovered that Norwegians and Icelanders don’t suffer from winter SAD. Either they are incredibly stoical about the cold and dark, or they (as every article stated) like it. They even have a Norse god and goddess who represent winter and winter survival skills. Skadi (Goddess) and Ullur (God) live in the highest mountains, are expert hunters and go everywhere on skis.

I’m good with Skadi. She’s depicted on Nordic skis, hunting in the high, snowy mountains with a blue-eyed white wolf. It seems to me that getting through the seasons ahead will depend on training for the Birkebeiner and, maybe, getting a 4×4 car.

Skied Again

Some people don’t consider Cross Country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, to be skiing. That’s OK with me. I’ve seen guys strap skins on their down hill skis, climb up a mountain, take off the skins and ski down, and I mean a big mountain. That was 30+ years ago and now the two sports have moved closer together. I know that from the skis I just bought. Like downhill skis, they are “cut in” on the sides and they are comparatively short. They are different, as I’m learning from taking them out, twice now. I can tell from the few little knolls I’ve skied down that they would really like more hills than my golf course offers, but I had to tell them, “Guys, listen. I don’t really remember how to turn.”

“Sure you do,” they said, “just keep at it.”

They’re probably right.

Maybe what I should worry about is having conversations with my skis.

I had the golf-course to myself. Someone was there this morning — the skater guy, I think, from the tracks. In the meantime — night before last — we had a sweet fluff of light snow. It was followed by a warm temps (40 F/4C) yesterday and a bitter wind, bitter enough to make slanted icicles as the day cooled and the melted snow on the roof-lines froze.

I knew this morning I wanted to get out there, but I waited to see what was going to happen with the temperature. If it got to freezing — or a little above, I would go. I knew there would be a crust of ice under drifts, and in shady spots, it was kind of icy, but, overall, I’ve skied on much worse.

I fell — that’s the best thing that happened. I found out that I can get up from a fall and how I would do it. There are a couple of positions I’m not supposed to get myself into, and one of them could be the result of getting up from a fall. It was wonderful to know I can get up.

It was a dazzling blue-sky day. Not many animal tracks and no sign of “my” deer, so I didn’t feel so guilty about having walked the dogs at the high school before going out to “our” place.

Happy Day!!!

Monday I couldn’t stand it any more. I saw people X-country skiing on my golf course when Dusty, Bear and I went for Dr. Zhivagoesque walk on Sunday. So, I drove to Alamosa and went into the store I have avoided since I moved here, Kristi Mountain Sports. I knew the store would be wonderful (it is), but I have just felt like an old crippled up lady who had no business in a store like that.

I went in. The kid at the counter asked if he could help. I said, “I need cross country skis and boots. I just can’t stand it any more.”

“Ready for new equipment, huh?”

I heard that in a lot of different ways but I thought, “I got the important new equipment. Now I want to use it,” thinking of my hip joint.

“Yeah.”

“Let me find someone who knows more than I do.”

“OK.”

Another kid came out and damn, he spoke my language. I’ve lived a really long time without anyone speaking that vernacular of my language. He set me up with just what I wanted. I left it there for him to put on the bindings and tune the skis. They didn’t even ask for a down payment. I got a very good deal on the boots. ❤

The next morning, a frost in the air,, hoarfrost on the trees, beautiful blue sky low fog morning with occasional blusters of snow flurries, I returned and picked up my skis. They were almost the same price as my tax refund will be. “It was meant to be,” said the girl who helped me when I told her that.

But then I didn’t ski. For two days I’ve had the skis and didn’t ski. I tried to figure that out and it hit me this afternoon when I was walking Bear and Dusty. I was afraid I wouldn’t know how any more. I am no longer afraid of falling. I’ve fallen several times in the snow and gotten up. Those falls were a big clue that I should get the skis. Being able to fall and get up in snow is one of skiing’s most important skills.

This afternoon I skied for 3/4 of a mile. It was wonderful. At first I was afraid I wouldn’t figure out the bindings, but they were a cinch (ha ha), and they are great. My first few “steps” on the snow were awkward, and I nearly fell, but instincts that might have been dead after all this time kicked in, and said, “Go to the snow. Get off this beaten-down, icy shit. You’ll be fine.” That happened several times as I went around the groomed track.

It was spectacular. I loved it as much as ever. I have retained a lot of skill, and some things remain to be tested. And I live only ONE BLOCK from one of the most amazing places I’ve ever had the chance to ski. Once I get what the girl in the store called my “ski legs,” there are mountains.

The last time I cross-country skied was with my dog, Molly (Malamute/Aussie) in 2000. That’s almost 20 years ago. There was a huge dump of snow in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego. I rented skis, ditched work, and Molly and I skied for a whole afternoon, all by ourselves, not another human in sight. It was really amazing. Today was amazing.

Thank you…

I really appreciate all the care and support while I’ve been having my existential melt down. It helped a lot to write it down, it helped a lot to “hear” what you all had to say, your experiences, your take on it.

It actually helped me figure it out.

Five years ago I saw the handwriting on the wall. My job was being “outsourced” to another department at the university and no one was going to tell us. There were five of us who had 3 year contracts to teach Business Communication. I had a year left. I had every intention of finishing my contact before retiring, but I ended up without the choice. An “under-the-table” deal was made and, since no one went to the union to complain until I did at the last minute, it was, essentially, a fait accompli. But in English. Looking at most of my income gone, I had to retire and leave. OK. Psychologically I was ready. Physically? I was already showing signs of the hip arthritis I had remedied in 2018.

My move to Colorado was great. I’m happy to be back, but it was a little freaky that — though a native — I didn’t know how to live here any more. It all came back, but there was a long period of adjusting both to retirement and life in a very small town I’d only visited once.

This blog helped me a lot as did the one I wrote specially about my move. That blog is gone, but it was good for me to write.

The first thing I did when I moved here was get an Airdyne. I knew I was overweight and in terrible physical condition. I wanted to be able to hike in the mountains and do things I wasn’t able to do. I wasn’t me, but I’d had to work so much the last few years I lived in California that there was nothing in my life but driving, teaching and all the things connected with teaching — grading, prepping, meetings, etc. When I finally moved into my house, the dogs and I began walking on the golf course and going 1/2 mile was difficult for me (and for Mindy T. Dog ❤ ) but we got better. The Airdyne was good, I did get in better shape, I was able to do yoga again (meaning getting down onto and up from the floor) and I did lose a little weight.

Still, the struggle to regain my body took so much longer than I imagined it could. I didn’t even realize until the end of 2017 WHAT my mobility problem was. Then came the search for a surgeon.

Meanwhile, I wrote. I arrived in Colorado with a work in progress, The Brothers Path. In 2017 I finished an important book — My Everest which is about my time in California hiking with my dogs. It was a total labor of love to put that book together. Then I sucked it up and finished The Price which was very difficult to write for numerous reasons I’ve already written about. The surgery worked and my pre-op training and post-op training have returned to me a body with abilities I haven’t had in a decade. I still can’t run. Maybe I won’t ever run — I do try, though.

I’m grateful and lucky. But at this point in time there is also the feeling that another shoe WILL fall. I will be 67 this coming Monday.

We always say we want to have no regrets, but I don’t think anyone can reach this point in life without regrets. I’m surprised at what mine are. I wrote about that, and last night a friend said, “Lots of people say they want to write books but they never do. You’ve written 3 (actually 6 1/2 but who’s counting?)…can’t you look at writing them the way you look at all your hikes? You never thought about point B; you just went.” He is absolutely right. That’s exactly how I can look at my books and writing itself. Everything, maybe.

This morning I read Cara Sue Achterberg’s blog post, on “My Life in Paragraphs.” She writes about how she and her husband are figuring out together what they want the next step in their lives to be. They’re about to be “empty-nesters” and they’re addressing this question with colored Post-It Notes on which they each write something they want in their future or want their future to be. Cara ultimately asks, “What do you want?” and my first thought was, “A marriage like yours, but that ship has sailed.” ❤

As I read, I thought about the different transitions — the late-40’s transition and the late-60’s transition. I didn’t notice the late 40’s one because the usual late 40’s physical stuff happened to me a lot earlier. Looking back, the time between 47 and 54 were really great years for me and, thankfully, most of the time I knew it. Physical debility and a bad love relationship set the “tone” for the next decade, neither of which I could possibly have seen coming. I thought, “I had the house I wanted. I lived in the mountains. I had great dogs. I hiked with awesome human companions, too. I had the job I wanted. I had all I wanted and then…”

It’s always a balancing act between what we want and what we get, I guess.

Yesterday I wanted Cross Country Skis. I texted the local outdoor store — Kristi Mountain Sports — and asked the appropriate questions. Today I got an answer. As it happens, I had written things down on a Post-It note.


Basically, what Kristi Mountain Sports has for sale is exactly what I want.

Today I want $550. It’s right there! It’s even on a Post-It Note! 😀 But I also want to know that if I buy the skis (which means more debt until the tax refund) I’ll actually use them. I have this big white dog and she doesn’t ski.

Anyway, I realized that I if I were to continue with the Post-It Notes, that what I want is a new adventure. I feel a little nervous even saying that — let alone committing it to an actual Post-It Note — because the universe might go, “You want adventure? Ha! I’ll give you adventure.” No, universe, this time let me find my own. ❤

Ski!!!

Through this whole thing — moving back to Colorado and having hip surgery — there’s been one thing glowing in the back of my mind.

Can I ski?

In my 3 month appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, the doc said, “No restrictions. Maybe I’ll see you on the slopes. Where will you ski?”

There’s only one rational answer to that, “Where there’s snow.”

Wolf Creek, the closest ski area to Monte Vista, is 1 hour away on THIS side of Wolf Creek pass. It offers classes for people over 50. I’m going to do the March class, thinking there will be more snow (we get most of our snow in March) and the days will be longer.

That’ll also give me time to practice my moves and practice getting up from a fall. I figure if I can improve those things, I’ll be in good shape for this BIG moment.

I love skiing more than anything, and I haven’t been downhill skiing since I went with a Swiss student to Big Bear in California sometime in 1991. It was horrible. It was my first experience skiing on ice, and I went backwards down the hill from the chair lift. Very embarrassing. Anyway, during the afternoon when the ice had turned to something resembling snow, I got a lesson. He was a ski instructor, and it was a great lesson full of useful things that I have never had the chance to try out a second time.

All I need are pants and goggles… 😀

Olden Days

I just saw this trailer for a film coming out this fall, and I want to see it.

I learned to ski on the “back” side of Pikes Peak. When I left Colorado in the mid-eighties, there were copious ski areas. The morning ski report was long. When I look at a ski area map now, it’s not like that. It shows the “mega” resorts that remain.

These ski areas weren’t resorts at all, many of them. They were places you could go in a day. Pikes Peak Ski Area was right off the Pikes Peak Highway — easy access. It was small, some rope tows, a poma and a chair lift. The snow was usually pretty good because it was on the north side of Pikes Peak — it was high, shaded and fairly well sheltered from the wind.

skipikespeak_cam

Pikes Peak Ski Area

These ski areas often didn’t have many runs or amenities — no fancy hotel to spend the night, no shopping, food was often burgers cooked on the mountain on oil-drum grills and eaten standing up, but with season passes that cost $25 for a family, they made the sport accessible. The focus was on skiing.

Back then, too, there was a little reverse snobbery. Real Coloradans didn’t wear fancy ski clothes because skiing was part of who they were, an every day thing, nothing to get dressed up for. Fancy ski clothes revealed that the skier was from Chicago — or worse — Texas. For a while it was popular to ski in bibbed overalls. I didn’t; but I did ski in jeans. When I started X-country skiing, I wore those clothes to the down hill ski areas because there was political contention over “skinny skiers” using downhill slopes. I had to make my point, right?

Andy and Me, A-Basin, 1982

A friend and I at Arapaho Basin, 1982. I’m wearing knickers, high wool socks and layers.

Some of the small ski areas have grown up — Arapaho Basin back in the day was smallish and funky, but now it’s expanded and appears to be more closly linked to its neighbor, Keystone. I can’t say for sure; I haven’t been back.

Right now the local ski area — Wolf Creek — is the center of a big fight between conservationists and a rich Texan who wants to develop it into a resort. A ski resort would pretty much destroy the vibe that Wolf Creek wants to maintain and that the people here are comitted to. It’s a tense and murky situation since the economy of Southern Colorado is depressed and a ski resort would help, but, at the same time, it would put “our” ski area out of the reach of most people who actually live here.

I like the idea of small, local ski mountains, but economically, I can see they stopped being viable. Climate change has made the snowfall less dependable than it was when I was a young woman. Maybe there’s no connection between thousands more people driving into the mountains every weekend from Denver to Vail, Aspen, etc. than there were thirty years ago and the fact that we have less snow. No idea.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/rdp-monday-copious/

“You’re Going to Ski???!?”

image_540507666909509

 

See the blue skis with the word “Wax” on them? I bought them today for $30. They’re nearly 40 years old. I owned a pair just like them in a faraway land known as Denver. I skied on them a lot AND (here’s the madness) I took them with me to the People’s Republic of China. Yeah. OK that “might” not be totally insane (I think it is), but I was living on the Tropic of Cancer.

After a year in the tropics, the skis came back to Denver in time for one of the snowiest winters in history, a winter so snowy that Colfax Avenue, one of the biggest main streets in America, was carved into two lanes with a wall of snow between them. There were days when X-country skis were the one sure way to get around town. The mayor at the time — Peña — was taking flack from everyone over his apparent inability to get the snow plows out.

The skis moved with me to California where they had some pretty decent adventures. Once was with a bunch of colleagues. Everything California was alien and the 18 inches that had landed in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego gave me a chance to be myself. Back then I was “Ms. Ski Wax America,” and I was very proud of my back-country skis. My colleagues had skis but waxless, fish-scale, skis (like the prettier, narrower, slightly newer ones in the photo). I could have taken my fish scale skis (simpler) but I brought my back-country skis because I loved them, partly, and partly for the overall coolness effect.

One of my colleagues, a very overweight know-it-all type with fish-scale skis that were too short for his weight, borrowed some wax from me — red wax. First you don’t wax fish-scale skis. Second, red wax wouldn’t make his skis faster; it’s sticky; it’s good for climbing hills. When he was “ready,” he pointed his skis down the steep hill and didn’t move at all. Those skis had been conditioned to HOLD ON to the mountain. That was fun to watch, and he was a good sport about it. I helped him clean off his skis and things went a little better for him; not much, though. His weight pushed the fish scales down so hard they were gripping the snow. We went up and down a decent hill and then came home.

On those skis, I skied around the back side of Cuyamaca Peak where I saw cougar tracks for the first time. They skied up Mt. Palomar and back down again. It was really something to see the great, white telescope domes in the snow. As we skied down the unplowed road (a lot easier than it had been skiing five miles up the manzanita plagued trail) we passed a family who’d come up to “see the snow” a California family with a beach umbrella, beach chairs, a cooler. As we whooped our way down, a kid called out, “Hey mom! That’s what we should do!”

They skied up the PCT to the Garnet Peak Trail (no way to ski up the Garnet Peak Trail itself), accepting the constant challenge of close hedges of manzanita scrub on both sides.

And then… Life changed and the skis went to the Goodwill.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to lunch with friends then — as an adventure — we visited the flea market, and I saw these skis in the back room. My heart skipped several beats. Of course they’re not “my” skis, but they are my skis. Without thinking I reached for them and cradled them against my shoulder like old friends. My friend Elizabeth looked at me with so much compassion, “Are you going to ski, Martha?” she asked.

I told them I once had skis just like them, and put them back against the wall. Of course I’ve thought about them for the past two weeks. Today, I went to look at them. Thirty bucks. I put them together and carried them to the cash register. The couple that mans one of the shops in the flea market looked at me and said, “You’re going to SKI?” The couple is around my age, I guess. And of course I limp and often use a cane.

I explained I used to have a pair of skis just like them. And I said, “Yep. I’m going to ski. Maybe not this year, but, yeah.”

“Watch out for avalanches,” said the wife.

“Yeah, well, I think it’ll just be the golf course.” I really have no illusions about this.

“The golf course?” she looked at me bewildered.

“Yeah,” I said. “When there’s enough snow they groom it for cross country skiing. It’s beautiful. And I live right beside it.”

“It’s good exercise,” she said. I nodded. It’s more than that, but that’s fine. It is. “You need poles.”

“I have poles at home.”

“Good luck!” they both called out as I left the store.

“Thanks,” I said, “and thanks for the moral support.”

“We hope you do it,” said the husband, a former alcoholic whose life story I became familiar with on my second visit there. My little heart glowed.

“I’ll let you know.”

You can see in the featured photo that one of them (the bottom one) is pretty badly delaminated; the other one only slightly at the tip. That made me relate to them even more. I’m delaminated. When I got home, and had looked them over good, seeing that it didn’t seem hopeless, I called the local ski store. I told them I’d bought a pair of old cross-country skis that were somewhat delaminated, and asked if they could repair them. I’ll have to take them in; maybe yes, maybe no. Either way, the skis are here and I’m glad.

I also did a little research yesterday when I was so down about things. This is what I learned in a professional paper about skiing after total hip replacement. It made me a lot more hopeful about everything.

“2 groups of 50 patients each, matched for age, weight, height, gender and type of implant, were clinically and radiographically examined after THR (total hip replacement). Group A regularly carried out alpine skiing and/or cross-country skiing, while group B did no winter sports. At 5 years, no signs of loosening were found in group A, whereas 5/60 implants in group B had signs of loosening, mostly of the femoral component (p < 0.05). At 10 years, 30 patients remained in group A and 27 in group B. No new cases of loosening were found in group B, but 2/30 cases in group A. There was a higher (p < 0.05) average wear rate in group A (2.1 mm) than in group B (1.5 mm). The wear rate was particularly high (3-4 mm) in physically very active patients in group A with localized osteolysis at the interface. It seems likely that in an even longer follow-up, the number of cases of aseptic loosening would be greater in group A than group B. Our findings, combined with the results of previously-published biomechanical studies, do not provide any evidence that controlled alpine and/ or cross-country skiing has a negative effect on the acetabular or femoral component of hip replacements. The results of the biomechanical studies indicate, however, that it is advantageous to avoid short-radius turns on steep slopes or moguls.”
PMID: 10919294 DOI: 10.1080/000164700317411825 

Since I’ve never done short-radius turns on steep slopes or skied moguls, this is good news.

There’s also the question, “What’s the point of life?” I’ve actually figured out the answer.

The point of life is to have a good time.