We’re deep into the NHL Season now with the Stanley Cup just around the corner. I think it’s time to return to what’s most important in hockey–great flow. And by flow, of course, I mean salad. And by that I mean hair. Here’s a video of some of the best hair in hockey. Enjoy.
“Early” is a relative word. In our household, we divide ski seasons along a very defined line. If we open before Thanksgiving weekend, it’s an early start. After–even by a single day–and it’s a late start. Either you ski/ride on this long weekend, or you don’t. I’m still holding out for an early season. But the clock is ticking.
It’s getting to be that time of year when “talking about the weather” is about the most real conversation in our house. As my husband likes to say, “everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
Maybe it’s high time we did something about it. That’s where I need your help. If you all follow this little recipe, we might just have hope.
My weather forecasting is a little like a cocktail recipe:
- One part GFS model (preferably the extended model, because who wants to rely on the more accurate short-term forecast when you can dream about the cold storms lining up more than a week out?)
- Two parts superstition
- Three parts wishful thinking
First, let’s talk about the superstition. Just Google up, “how to make it snow,” and you’ll find heaps of information. This is something you can all do right now. Go ahead. I’ll wait right here.
The most common tips you’ll find include wearing your pajamas inside out/backward as well as flushing ice cubes down the toilet.
My husband says he’s not going to shave until we open. I’m not sure where he got that one, but I don’t want to monkey with his superstition. I’d hate to convince him this half-beard has to go only to see a blocking high set up off the coast. I just hope he gets to shave soon. His mother in law might also prefer him to shave before Thanksgiving so our family photos aren’t marred by “the guy with half a beard.”
My favorite snow superstition, however, is the legend of Heikki Lunta. Heikki is the Finnish god of snow, but really came into his own in the 1970’s in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A local radio host, David Riutta created the “Heikki Lunta Song”, which asked the god for snow in time for an upcoming snowmobile race. The snow fell so hard and for so long, Riutta created a separate track titled, “Heikki Lunta Go Away.” Below is the original.
There’s a lot of wishful thinking that goes into snow rituals. Sleeping with a frozen spoon under your pillow is supposed to make you dream of snow, which in turn awakens the snow gods. Others recommend stacking pennies on your windowsill. Each penny translates to an inch of snow that will fall overnight.
I’ve been watching plenty of ski movies the past few weeks, and those are a very potent form of wishful thinking. Speaking of which, Warren Miller’s No Turning Back plays this weekend in Seattle. There’s nothing like watching a little ski porn on a big screen in a packed stadium to max out on wishful thinking. I’m pretty sure several hundred friends hoping for snow simultaneously will bring a few cold storms our way. It’s practically guaranteed actually, when you really think about it. So, if you do nothing else, go to this ski movie, sit in the stadium and wish really hard that you will soon be schussing through the deep stuff.
Then there’s this little thing called “the weather forecast.” Some people believe in it, others are skeptics. Disciples claim that meteorologists use “scientific models” to forecast the weather. They can even look far into the future to predict the weather. I prefer these extended forecasts. I figure that if you don’t like the weather, you can just look far enough ahead until you see something you like.
Then you fixate on that.
Fixating on a cold storm ten days off is my specialty.
The UW Atmospheric Sciences models are optimized for our terrain. If you’re a forecast disciple, you should really bookmark this page. Here’s a screenshot of their 24 Hour snow forecast for 4pm Sunday night. Looks like we are in the 10″ range at Crystal, while Baker is sitting pretty in the 16-20″ range (lucky bastards).
Whatever the case may be, we will all be skiing and riding soon. That’s especially true if we all ban together and start doing something about this weather. So, if you don’t have something else going on tonight, could you please wear those pajamas inside out and backward?
While the ski season is right around the corner, it’s still no where in sight. It’s mid-October, the weather forecast is hinting at an Atmospheric River event next week and the mountains are still brown. So what’s a girl to do? Certainly there are some fun ski porn premieres to attend. And the Snow Angels event fired up the season stoke. There’s even another ski patrol fundraiser aimed specifically at Crystal Mountain’s avalanche dogs coming next month if you missed it.
These events are fun, but they aren’t the same as skiing.
So, instead it might be time to bring back one of the best online viral videos of a few years ago. Why? Because you never really can get enough of Jian Sword Dancing. It’s not skiing, but maybe it’s the next best thing. You’re welcome.
I’m not much of a long term planner. I’m more of a winger. Or a wingnutter. Or, as I like to say, a spontaneity buff.
And when I (or we, because my husband is nearly as guilty as I am of this) do make plans for the future–broad notions that may or may not require a zip code change–they usually don’t last long. These plans don’t stick. One minute we think we’re ready to pick up stakes and move to Montana, and then we look at each other and say, “Who are we kidding?”
It’s sort of like trying on a million bikinis to see if there’s just one that doesn’t make you look fat. But at the very least, we get to entertain some interesting life plans. And, we get to travel well.
Travel plans are made last minute around our house. It’s dumping snow in Japan? We’re on a plane to Niseko in 24 hours. Need some beach time to dry out our cold, wet winter bones? We book a trip for the following week to Aitutaki, an island in the middle of a turquoise lagoon in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
So even with this spontaneity-fueled planning strategy, I’m making plans anyways. Can you see me? Here I am making a plan. A real-life, honest-to-God plan for the future. Ready?
I’m planning on getting accidentally stranded on a deserted island.
I realize this begs the question: how can you plan to accidentally do anything? I don’t have an answer for that. But what I do know is that the right deserted island could be a great place to spend, oh I don’t know, a month, a year, the rest of our life.
Of course not just any deserted island will work for me. It’s going to need a few essentials. Number one, my husband has to make the journey with me. It worries me a little because every time I mention this new plan, he sort of cocks his head like he didn’t hear me quite right.
Him: Where is this again?
Me: On our deserted island. Remember?
Him: Oh. Yeah.
Me: Anyways, it will definitely need coconuts, I think. Lots so them.
Me: And maybe some limes. I think limes are important.
Me: For the margaritas. and the ika mata*. That way we don’t have to rely on matches and fire. In case it rains. Which, hopefully it does rain some. For drinking water.
That’s when John just looks at me funny. Then he says, “What was this for again?”
I don’t think John realizes how serious I am. Because I’ve really thought this one through. Just look at coconuts for example. You can pretty much survive on coconuts. The green ones are full of coconut water, which is like regular water on steroids. And the brown ones are full of delicious coconut flesh. Is that what it’s called? Coconut flesh? That seems weird. But coconut meat isn’t any better. It’s just coconut. But it’s amazing. The trunks are wrapped in a sort of cloth that could be great for making shelter for when it rains (and rain is kind of important on an island that doesn’t have a lake, or a stream, or creek, or anything other than sandy beach.) And in case I decide I need to wear clothes on our deserted island those discarded coconuts make a great bra. Plus, Cook Islanders have found a way to turn the palm branches into an excellent broom. So, with the coconut alone, we could have most of our needs met. I’m pretty sure that the hierarchy of needs goes something like this: Water, food, shelter, cleanliness. And then maybe wine. And the Internet.
But we probably won’t have the Internet on our island. And that’s okay. I’m willing to make some sacrifices here. Wine though? That would be harder to give up.
Maybe some swashbuckling Johnny Depp-type pirates left a case of rum buried in the sand of our deserted island (because let’s face it, who doesn’t want a little Johnny Depp on their island?) That would be okay. I could work with rum. It goes well with coconut. And lime.
Truth be told, I actually have found my perfect deserted island. It’s a motu just off Aitutaki. It’s called Honeymoon Island, and it’s a favorite with the newlywed set. And with kiteboarders. And tevake birds. They nest here and seem to have no fear of humans, as if they don’t have a care in the world. Which is important on a deserted island. You can’t really worry about all the Internet and peanut M&Ms that you’re missing.
And I’d be perfectly happy with this island. Especially if we also had a few kites, say a 5 meter for those days when the trades are cranking and say a 9 meter for the rest of the days when the trades are still kind of cranking. Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about? Don’t let it fool you. I owe it all to a few Aitutaki locals who are teaching us this elusive sport of kiteboarding while we fantasize about ways to claim this island for our own.
Come to think of it, kiteboarding is a crazy sport. It’s the latest thing. The new SUP, the cooler version of windsurfing, the less hostile version of surfing, the current sport, the fastest-growing-watersport-etc, etc, etc. But after a few days it seems like a more difficult version of wakeboarding. Because you’re also flying a kite at the same time. But it’s fun in that sort of how-many-sports-can-I-simultaneously-do-at-once-while-making-it-appear-absolutely-effortless sort of way. It’s frustrating enough to make you want to keep doing it, just to prove to yourself that you can.
Maybe I will revise my aforementioned future plan just a tick. Perhaps John and I can make an annual pilgrimage to our deserted island once a year and play with these kites and boards and pretend that we are taking up this challenging new sport, when in reality we just want to come back to our deserted island and pretend that we live on coconuts and rum. Maybe that’s what we’ll do.
See? That’s why I love you people. Because you help me focus on the truly important things.
*The Cook Islands version of ceviche or poisson cru, a raw, lime-cured tuna concoction served in coconut milk that is so good it should probably have a sin tax on it.
Lately I’ve been seeing turds everywhere. I’m not referring here to “turds” in the abstract sense of angry commuters taking it out on other drivers just trying to get to work or even too-busy mothers yanking their kids through the cereal aisle.
I’m talking about real, live turds. The human excrement kind.
Recently I saw a frozen one on the floor of a gondola cabin. I was beside myself with disgust. There it was, smooshed into the diamond plate, hidden (almost) behind the seat, as if someone just thought it would be okay to lay a douce while being whisked to the top of the mountain in a cabin that cost more than a new Chevy truck.
I couldn’t believe it. Some people. I mean really.
Then yesterday, after being out of town, I got a little surprise at my front door. What at first sight appeared to be a red rag like the kind you get in bulk at a service station turned out to be a pair of maroon panties. With a turd in them.
I didn’t know what to think. Were people really crapping their pants and leaving it on my front door step? I immediately wondered if this was something personal. Was someone trying to send me or my husband a message here? That’s so out of bounds I don’t know where to start.
Later that day I was talking to Scott, the Mountain Manager at Crystal. He said, “remember when you texted me about the turd in the gondi cabin?”
How could I forget? I was so disgusted. You’ll never guess what I found in cabin 8, I’d texted. A turd. F***ing people.
Scott laughed. “Turns out it was a rolled up towel.”
“Someone crapped in a towel and left it in the gondola cabin?”
“No.” He smiled. “It was just a brown paper towel. All rolled up and shredded.”
I was relieved to hear this news. A flood of relaxing fluid flowed briefly through my body. Then I remembered the present I’d found at my door that morning.
As it turned out my neighbor was standing nearby. I recounted the latest turd news to both of them. I told them about the maroon panties with black lace, how I’d thought at first it was one of those cloth rags used to wipe a dipstick, how I realized with shock and horror that in fact that wasn’t just dirt encrusting those panties, how I wondered if maybe I should be taking this personally.
My neighbor nodded. “Nala.”
He nodded again. “She’s disgusting.”
Turns out Nala had been eating his girlfriend’s underwear, and sometimes he didn’t know about it until the evidence went through her entire digestive tract. It had become quite a problem. Nala had chewed and eaten most of his girlfriend’s underwear and they’d recently had to make a trip to Victoria’s Secret to restock.
Needless to say, that might be a problem for Nala, but I was quite relieved.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe when you suddenly see turds everywhere you have to stop and take a good, hard look at yourself and wonder if maybe its time to put those rose-colored glasses back on.
Or perhaps I’m just ready for some good old spring skiing. This isn’t anything that slush bumps and perfect corn can’t fix. The forecast for the next few days looks perfect for continuing the current corn cycle. In fact, I think its about time to get out there and sample the goods.
On Saturday the line at the bottom of High Campbell chair was long enough that I couldn’t justify riding it alone. I hollered out, “Single!” and quickly found a partner to ride the old double chair that accesses expert-only terrain. The conditions were less than ideal.
The front side was breakable crust over a foot of guanch and the the Powder Bowl side was chalky but firm. A few patches of crust still lay hidden, and a fall there could mean a long slide. Still it was the best skiing on the mountain. And the sun was out. And the crust was warming up. And it was my day off. And there was barely a line on this busiest day of the year.
On the chair I struck up a conversation with the guy I’d found in line. It was my day off, and I really didn’t need to be critiquing this guy’s skiing ability. But sometimes intermediate skiers get on this lift thinking it will take them to the Summit House Restaurant and end up staring down a step chute at the top. These people usually need to download the chair, which is a bit of an ordeal in itself. The first step in making that happen is identifying them in the first place.
This guy looked like an intermediate.
“So have you skied this chair today?” I asked.
He nodded as a way of answering my question, then said. “This is the worst day ever.”
“I mean it’s sunny and all that. But the crowds. And there’s no powder.”
“Well,” I started. I was about to give him my any-day-on-the-slopes-is-better-than-a-day-at-work spiel.
“Have you skied this yet?” He asked, finally looking at me. “I mean, it’s pretty difficult. Powder Bowl is okay, but you wouldn’t want to, er, fall.”
“No you wouldn’t.”
“I mean, it’s not easy.” He said. “You wouldn’t want to fall.” He looked at me pointedly.
“You’re right about that.”
He stared straight ahead, not even looking at me. “I come up here every weekend. My kids are in ski school. While they’re in their lessons, I try to make some laps on this chair.”
I held my lips together and breathed.
“The skiing’s pretty tough though today,” he said again. “I mean, there’s no easy way down. You know that, right?”
This guy thought I couldn’t ski. Maybe it was the bota bag. I had to give him that. But if you ever want to see the Bad Kim come out, just make an assumption that I can’t ski. She loves that. She eats that up. It’s like swinging the doors wide open and saying, “Come out and play Bad Kim. This guy needs to learn a lesson and you’re just the gal that can do it.”
I (or the Bad Kim, rather, but how would he know that?) looked at him through my mirrored lenses. His too-thick helmet sat far enough back on his head that it revealed a two-inch gap between it and his goggles. His jacket looked like it might be a better sponge than a technical piece of clothing. And his boots were vintage.
His skis, on the other hand, looked pretty legit–K2 Sidestashes. But still. He was an intermediate skier at best trying to school me. That just wouldn’t do.
“I just took a lap out South,” I said snottily. Again, the Bad Kim was at the helm. The Good Kim would have bitten her lip. But what can you do?
Gaper Gap Guy raised his eyebrows and swiveled his head around to the left to look at Avalanche Basin. “You went out there?”
“I skied Brain Damage.” I was laying it on thick. I can be such a brat.
“You walked all the way to Brain Damage?” The patch of skin above his goggles wiggled, mirroring the action of his eyebrows. After a moment he cleared his throat. “I only go out there when there’s powder. I mean today? Not even worth it. I mean, was there any good skiing out there at all?” His laugh came out a little shrill. He was making fun of me. He was deriding me, putting me down, actually. Bad Kim didn’t like it one bit.
I sighed. “I go out there every day. I call it Crystal Mountain’s 20 Minute Workout.” I smiled, but my eyes didn’t crinkle up at the edge. It was that evil Bad Kim smile.
“20 Minutes? 20 minutes! It only takes you 20 minutes to hike out there?” He paused then shrugged. “That’s not bad. I guess.”
I swung my skis back and forth a tick. The Bad Kim was tired of this guy. “I like the sun.” I said. It was lame, but better than antagonizing him any further. “I like to think I’m stocking up on Vitamin D. Did you know that it’s foggy in town?”
“Yeah. And it’s sunny up here. Isn’t that great?” I was gathering momentum for my great-day-on-the-slopes lecture. But the top was getting close. We’d have to unload soon. Bad Kim had simmered down, and the Good Kim, the Real Kim, wanted to make it up to this guy.
“So are you getting off to the left?” He asked.
“Er, yeah.” I thought it was an odd question because one of the expert elements of this chair was that the off-load ramp was actually a wall. You had to literally jump off at the top to the left and get out of the way. There wasn’t any other option.
“I’m getting off to the right, so I’ll let you go left then I’ll go behind you.”
I should have said something. I should have told him that we all have to hop off left, then you can go right after the chair has passed. But Vintage Boots was pretty sure he knew the ropes around here and Bad Kim wasn’t going to let him off that easily. So I just said, “Have a nice run,” fake grins and sighs of relief all around.
I got off left and watched it unfold in the eyes of the patroller standing in front of me. He was looking back at the chair and yelled, “Watch out. Move. Get out of the way!”
I turned back just in time to watch Seasoned High Campbell Skier get stuck in the off-load ramp, the chair we’d just exited arcing back behind him at a 90º angle.
As hard as it was to do, I tucked Bad Kim back into her hiding place and buttoned my lip. When I dropped into Powder Bowl a few moments later I made myself not watch him ski a few chutes over to my right. Instead, I remembered my own unspoken advice about how any day on the slopes is better than the alternative.
All I can say for myself is that I have weaknesses. We all have them. The first step is admitting you have a problem. That and I’m also hoping that Oblivious Guy didn’t even notice that a Bad Kim had entered the conversation. It’s entirely possible.
I have only myself to blame, really. Tucker, the black and white cat I picked up at the Humane Society in a moment of animal weakness a year ago, has been cheating on us. I had thought he was just catting about. I assumed he was hunting the neighborhood for mice, a cat on the prowl, a man about town. I worried, sometimes, when he didn’t come home after
dark. Our closest neighbor feeds the raccoons and keeps his own cat, Weed, in the house. But Tucker always made it home in the morning. I figured he expertly kept his distance from the raccoons and eagles, scurrying beneath the rose bushes and rhododendrons. I assumed he made a bed of dried ferns, piling up last year’s dead leaves, sleeping soundly in his little cat nest.
Sometimes he would come home only to be fed, meowing at the back door moments after he’d finished his Fancy Feast Savory Classic Salmon. This should have been a sign. I should have paid more attention. But I trusted him. I thought he just wanted to go out and play. I assumed he loved our family, imagining that even though it had been I that pointed to his little checkered face behind the bars, telling the overwhelmed Humane Society employee that I wanted that one and no other, that somehow Tucker had chosen me. That he wanted to be with our family above all others. That he would never want to live with another family.
I was wrong. I realize that now.
Our neighbors two doors down also have a cat–a short haired female with yellow eyes named Sophie. Sometimes, when I called Tucker, shaking dried food in his metal bowl (a last ditch effort I’d begun to use more and more) he’d come running from Sophie’s direction. A mere infatuation, I figured. A summer fling. It was Sophie, not her family of humans, that held his attention, I convinced myself.
After all, Sophie was a member of his own species. And so what if they touched noses in the lush grass in front of her human’s house? It wasn’t like he’d taken a liking to her humans?
Tucker has gained weight. I can’t deny it any longer. Even though I have carefully measured his food, following the Vet’s guidelines of “one mouse-sized portion” in the morning and one at night, no longer letting the fiend self-feed like the heady days of last summer, still he packed on the pounds. And still, it never dawned on me. Not once did I assume the worst. Not once did I admit the obvious: someone else, some other family, was feeding my cat.
So Saturday, sitting on the dock, with Tucker asleep under the lawn chair, we watched Sophie’s family get on their boat. Anyone living on the lake feels the end is nigh. Any sunny afternoon could be the last chance to take a cruise around the bay. People will start pulling their boats out of the water for the winter any day now.
We waved at our neighbors, talking about the weather and the kids’ first week of school, and the imminent change towards colder days. Their boat drifted towards us as we talked. One of the kids noticed Tucker, his eyes bulged open and he blurted out, “Your cat! Is the checkered cat your cat?”
I smiled and told them yes, figuring they must have seen Tucker courting their Sophie in the grass. Boys will be boys, after all. I shook my head and crossed my arms. Those darn cats.
Our neighbors all begin speaking at once. My eyes widened. Had I heard them right? They had assumed he was a stray. He came in their house? Like he was the King of the castle? The boys fed him saucers of milk? Something inside me just stopped. A ringing in my ears blotted out other sounds. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and yet there was no denying it. The evidence was all there. I smiled automatically as our neighbors took off; I think I waved before turning back to the cat.
He yawned and stretched his paw out at my foot, claiming me as his own. I shook him off. He wasn’t fooling me. I wasn’t born yesterday. No sirree. One part of me wanted to shoo him away. To tell him to go find Weed or Sophie or that dried leaf kitty nest I’d once imagined he frequented. Obviously he didn’t need me. He didn’t need us. All those mornings we’d spent together–me at my computer, him trying to sleep on my keyboard. I’d thought we had shared something. I thought what we had was special. But apparently not. Apparently what we had could be gotten anywhere. If I hadn’t plucked him from behind those kitty bars at the pound, he wouldn’t have been euthanized. Some other family would have chosen him.
But another part of me, that romantic side–the soft (call it feminine) part of myself that cries at Coke commercials and Obama speeches–wanted to believe in what we had. That part of me wanted to pick him up and hold him tight. To open a can of tuna and pour the entire contents in his bowl. To pour him saucer after saucer of milk warmed just enough to satisfy the deepest, most primal thirst for domestic kitty love on the planet.
Tucker looked up at me and meowed. Reading my thoughts no doubt. He jumped into my lap and purred. My heart melted a little. He pressed his head into my palm so I had to pet him. He started to drool, pieces of fur came loose and floated away on the breeze. He had cheated, and I would forgive him. The heart is a lonely place, sometimes.
- I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats (chroniclebooks.com)