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March 5, 2018

At the time of this writing, I will have been alive for 38 years, 11 months, 5 days and 3 hours.

I think.

Honestly, I’m not sure if that math is right.

But an easier way to look at it is that I’ve been alive for nearly 14,235 days.

“That’s it?” I said outloud to my empty house.

It does not feel like it’s been that long. It feels a lot longer.

At the time of this writing, at about 10:20 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, March 5, 2018, in about 21 hours (figuring in the time difference for living on the West Coast, but being born in Louisville, Kentucky at 10:09 p.m. on March 6, 1979), I will turn 39.

As the day worn on today, the thought of the ticker turning became a bit more… heavy. I don’t know why. Maybe because Sarah, my work sister, is leaving this week. Maybe because it’s been blah and gray here lately and definitely the time of year when cabin fever and the gray hits me (and the rest of the northwest) pretty hard. Also, Monday.

I also get kinda glum around my birthday, especially if I don’t have something planned. And I don’t really.

Well, that’s not necessarily true. I always try and plan something on the weekend closest to my birthday, whether it’s a long getaway or just a one-day event. KG indulged me on Sunday and went with me to Musselfest in Coupeville, where we sampled 8 types of mussel chowder, did a fair sampling of the wine beer and garden, ate our way through the Paella and BBQ food trucks, tried to get on a boat to see a mussel farm, and then drove alllll the way back around to the mainland, with a stop at the Skagit Valley Co-op for our weekly groceries, before popping on to the Kingston-Edmonds Ferry and zipping back down to Bremerton.

Or, maybe because I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be feeling at age 39.

It’s like going through puberty for the 4th time in your life. You’re not quite a kid but you’re not quite an adult.

I’m not married. I don’t have kids. But I own a house, have a pretty good job, am surrounded by a strong supportive community and certainly don’t sit around twiddling my thumbs with nothing to do.

So, is this it? Why does it feel like something is missing?

I’ve been feeling like this for a few years now, and expressed it to a friend recently, who is a slightly older version of me by a few years (not married, no kids, owns her house, has a solid career):

“Yeah, I went through that. And then, you suddenly realize,  you’re OK with it. And you’re happy. And you do what you want.”

That worked for a while. But it’s hanging over my head again. (I really think it’s the gray. And not enough outside time. I was never this cranky when I was hiking/skiing on a  regular basis.)

I’m not much of a long term planner, more of a short term, “get things done because I wanted them down yesterday” kinda of person when I feel passionate about a project – both in my professional and volunteer careers. I mean, when you find something good, why move on? I’ve never been super career driven, just something stable, I guess. I wasn’t even sure out of college what I wanted. Honestly, the magazine industry scared the daylights out of me and newspapers were the only other option for my skill set (aside from going back to college). I knew I always liked promotions/public relations when I dabbled in it in college. Promoting the tribes’ treaty rights wasn’t ever something I’d considered as a job but well, it’s surprising what people will pay you to do these days. It was also made clear to me that I’d likely work for the tribes after I sent home reports about how much I enjoyed covering them as a reporter.

It’s supposed to be sunny on March 6, 2018. I certainly hope so. I need that sun. I notice it helps considerably with being able to survive out here. I’ll work part of the day, then go for a run, clean up, and ferry into the city for a stroll to absorb the energy, then meet KG for dinner in Pioneer Square. And I know I’ll feel better by then.

The New Year Resolutions.

The List.

What I’m Going To Do in 2017.

How I’m Going To Make Myself Better.

How to Stop Making Excuses.

I’ve been making these lists the past few years and posting them here. Then later I publicly flog myself for not doing the 20 million things I want to do.

I stepped back the other day and thought, well, why HAVEN’T I done those things?

I’d realized I’d set myself up for failure. I wasn’t planning. That and I was wanting to do too much, which turned out to be overwhelming so I’d just go back to scrolling through Facebook and Instagram.

Stuff doesn’t just happen. While I prefer that it just does, I know in reality, depending on what it is, it just doesn’t.

Other than committing myself to things that involve other people relying on me (Group vacations or athletic events, OMR trainings/meetings), I hadn’t followed through with the first step that I tell myself every year – print out a paper calendar, tape it to the wall, each month side by side so I can see it daily, and write in all the stuff I want to do this year.

That’s all fine and great but it’s like a brainstorming session – you can come up with a million ideas but who is going to do the follow through?

Looking back at my  previous lists, as well as my ongoing internal list of things I want to do all the time, there’s a lot. And how much of it is reasonable?

I want to play all the time – yoga, ride, trail run, scramble, get back to indoor rock climbing, try out water sports.

I want to garden all the time – make my backyard a sanctuary, do manual labor and put some much-needed sweat equity into the house.

I want to work on personal development – read those self-help books that help me look a little deeper and help open my perspective on life at almost 38, with no kids, not married, GREAT job and yet still frustratingly wonder “WTF am I doing with my life?”

Frankly, I feel like I should be traveling the world as a vagabond, not trying to Martha Stewart the shit out of my cozy 2 bedroom, 1 bath little house, with a 9-5 job. (at the same time, as I wrote that out, I realized that sounds kinda fun too – SEE! TOO MANY WANTS).

(This also brings to mind a Gloria Steinem quote from an interview in 2015 on Fresh Air about her latest book, and is pinned to my wall – “I think in general, as a culture, we tend to think there are two choices: settling down or traveling. And actually you need both … birds need a nest and they still fly. It took me a while (to understand) that it wasn’t either/or – it was both.”)

I’ve recently gotten into professional development – I want to take classes – certified or not – on digital marketing and social media, help develop my skill set to help my current job and see where that takes me. Put those skills into practice. As the world knows, I’m terribly bored with my current skills.

I want to bring more creativity into my life – sewing a little bit last year helped that, and dating someone these days who thinks outside the box, thus leading to some very imaginative conversations, has me excited too. Take drawing classes, finish up a few of those woodworking projects, hell, even paint the house different colors. I want to write and read more.

But all these things take time. And I could pick one of them and focus on it the entire year, neglecting the others. But how is that balanced?

After last year’s insanity, in which I became the absolutely most busiest I’ve ever been in my entire life (which is hard to believe since I seem to be busy all the time, but when you’re eating out three times a day for 2-3 months straight because you have no time to cook for yourself because of work and volunteer activities and bike training, that’s the extreme end of busy for me), I finally was forced to step back and take stock of my mental, emotional and physical capacity in early August.

Relinquishing a lot of that “I must do this and that” because that’s who I am or who I USED to be was a huge relief. I just wanted to “be.”

But that’s a key question – who I USED to be. Life changes. There are no constants. I need to be accepting of that. Except tea. There’s always tea.

I’m in mountain rescue but I haven’t climbed a damn mountain in three years – am I still interested in this work? I am, because I love the concept of SAR and participating in it when I can. And I want to use OMR as a way to practice communication strategy and public outreach. But again, that requires sitting down, time and focus.

I like to plan and pay for events (i.e. organized trail runs and bike rides) so I have something to look forward to, and it forces me to commit to it, but then it hurts when I have to say no to something else when it comes up and conflicts with my original plans. I hate saying no. As cliche and millennial as it is, I DO live that life of Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). I also question why I don’t just go out and do it every weekend like everyone else (run, ski, etc) and realize I always have something else going on. So it’s not like I’m at home sitting around watching TV all the time. I take pride in knowing I DON’T do that but I also wonder, then what AM I doing?

KG and I have had several conversations about the FOMO effect recently. We’re both pretty independent people who need “me” time to take care of stuff. We get in a funk if we don’t have that “me” time. We struggle to give each other that space yet want to spend time with each other so not to miss out on experiencing things together. Thankfully, we talk about it, rather than me wringing my hands at home going, “oh god, am I giving him enough space? And yet I can’t be afraid to tell him no for my space. We both have major projects we’d like to complete on our own, how do we do it and see each other and yet support each other but also have fun like we’ve been doing the past few months …”

(Which, I’ll admit, I still feel this at times. This is old anti-communication Tiffany speaking. She’s continually working hard to break through those barriers. She’s still realizing that relationships go through evolutions and development and not everything is sparkly and hearts and unicorns and rainbows all the time, despite how much she wants it to be).

KG made another good point too. He has developed a list of governing values – a set of overall rules, values, moral codes that he lives by. And he makes most of his decisions measured against these values. He said that should be my first step, which will help guide me toward the things I REALLY want to do (and not what I feel I should do or what I THINK I want to do just because it’s been like that in the past) and add value to my life. Not take away value (i.e. time management, enjoyment, etc).

I’m also realizing that while I’m a people person in most capacities, in the past year I’ve discovered I REALLY like being alone too. When it comes to learning/education – I enjoy in-person environments the best, networking, sharing ideas, brainstorming, being creative together. Call me old school that way, I guess.

At home, in the evenings, especially lately since I’ve been sick, I’ve been enjoying being at home with an online course, a book, even editing for work (and snuggled under that amazing blanket I got from KG for Christmas).

So, all this rambling – what’s the result?

I FINALLY printed out all 12 months of 2017 and they are taped to the utility closet door, so I see them every. single. time. I pass by it on my way to the bedroom and kitchen and bathroom. I keep a pencil nearby to update each day with whatever fun activity I’ve done that day. Kind of like a daily journal. DONE.

My 2017 “resolutions”: (initially laid out early Jan 2017, with updates early Feb 2017)



Regular yoga (Start with just Wednesday nights, my favorite yoga class at the YMCA – that’s ME time). No one gets in the way of these, not friends, KG, dinner, work, anything. Someone must be dying, bleeding or throwing up for me to give up this. (UPDATE: So I’ve yet to go to that specific class – even though KG pushes me to go it when I mention I have other options on the table-  but I discovered YouTube has a ton of yoga videos, and I found a pretty good 30 day series that I’ve been sticking with, so, progress!). 

Regular cycling – weekends, as they get nicer. I have a nice regular group of cycling friends now to rely on. Sign up for STP again? (Update: talks with friends point more toward RSVP and/or the week long bike tour of Oregon in the summer)

Creativity (classes) (still working on this – thinking more of the yard and interior of the house right now – hitting up the sewing machine may be a good start though)

Professional development (UPDATE: UW social media course was cancelled so, do a social media marketing online course via coursera; then sign up for the digital marketing course at UW in March!)

Personal development (take those books on your shelf, make those dark week nights your reading nights)

Get back into mountaineering shape – this will happen in time as the season gets warmer. If I set a goal to climb Baker (FINALLY) that will help get my butt in gear. Use the Melissa Arnot plan. Or shoot – train for another triathlon! oooohhhhh I wonder who i could get to do that with me!!! 

This post feels a lot like the previous ones, but this has more awareness and energy behind it. More external moral support instead of just my brain. more intention with ideas of how to move forward. And the list is not nearly as long and overwhelming. And it will be printed out and posted next to that calendar. OOOOOHHHH – corkboard with command hooks for the wall. That’s enticing.

Another concept I came across the other day too – living a life that is meaningful versus finding ways to be happy.

SO many buzzwords and phrases – finding your passion in life. finding happiness. What does happiness look like? Working to live, not living to work. make your job not feel like work. Another post for another day.




I’ll be the first to admit – I’m not politically active.

They bore me, they confuse me. For my professional life, I was trained to be objective, unbiased, and I carried that in to my personal life. I don’t debate because I know I don’t know all sides of the story. I don’t like arguing, I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like being told I’m wrong. Some call that lazy or ignorant.

But I have a job. I pay my bills. I try to adult as best as possible. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I have food on my table and a roof over my head. Stay the course and all will be fine.

I kept my ear kinda open this election season, but not too much because it all turned into white noise. I tried to listen to the debates but my brain just shut down and absorbed nothing. I just followed the wrap up stories afterward for highlights.

My general view on politicians is not the person themselves, but the people they choose to advise them. That’s what scares me.

I unfollowed as many of my FB friends as I could who were posting political stuff 24-7. I didn’t see my first old-fashioned presidential candidate TV commercial until the night of Game 7 of the World Series, seven days before the election.

I was going to write in myself, vote for Gary Johnson or Hillary. Regardless of where I filled in my little dot, it still felt weird, hard, confusing, heartbreaking. I couldn’t figure out why though. I asked myself, “Why do you care so much?”

And now, I’m experiencing feelings I did not know I had about politics. Or the future of our country.

I, like others, felt decent that Trump was not going to take the presidency. I tried to avoid FB all day on Tuesday, and didn’t really check any results until just before I went to a meeting at 7 p.m.

At 8:15 p.m., Lana and I leaned over her phone. Trump was winning. 209 – 168 or something ridiculous. We stared at each other in disbelief.

My stomach dropped. And didn’t stop. It still hasn’t stopped. I knew that despite what happened Tuesday night, we’d all wake up, still with jobs, families, values, morals.

But I know it’s what’s down the road that scares everyone.

I get it. We need turnover in political environment. Break the elitism. Were these the two to do it? We all constantly heard no, and was sorely disappointed that our country of more than 300 million people couldn’t have had better popular candidates.

Do we need someone with political experience, familiar with that realm, environment, and is diplomatic? Can reach across the aisle? Yes.

Do we need someone with business and financial know-how to help run the business of government, which, as someone who works for a government agency, knows it is ALL ABOUT managing finances to get the right things done? Yes.

Are these the two to do it? Despite whatever horrible things they’ve done, said, portrayed, pontificated?

These two have zero reality of the majority of the American population. They are SO out of touch.

I only watched and read about an hour of the results before I turned it off. In a situation when a majority is upset and freaking out, my gut reaction is to play Devil’s Advocate – Sure, he’s said all these horrible things and can’t talk his way properly out of a paper bag, but let’s look at …

Then I think, yikes. NO. No way.

Then the commentators this morning started reviewing his campaign promises. From what it sounded like to me, he will be UNDOING EVERYTHING EVERY PRESIDENT BEFORE HIM HAS DONE, DESPITE POLITICAL LEANING.

Things that have led us to where we are today.

Now, of course, many will argue that those things have led us to current state of greatness or current state of disaster. So, there’s no trying to debate that.

A commentator this morning put Paul Ryan and Trump side by side and ticked off all the things they disagree on, despite being from the same “side.”



My father.

For the past 18 months, he’s been saying, “Don’t underestimate Trump.”

Whenever my father makes a declaratory statement, and my gut knows he’s probably right but my heart wants to doubt him, he always turns out right.

For the love of America, I hope you’re bloody right, Dad. Jesus Fucking Christ, I hope you’re right and he proves us all wrong. I can only hope that someone comes in and sedates him, putting to sleep his horribleness as a person and pulls out whatever teeny tiny business sense he does have to balance a government budget. That is absolutely the best I can even possibly muster for finding something positive out of this entire situation. But even that’s a tiny sliver of hope that my gut is not happy with.

The only other positive takeaway is listening to my sister tell me how her 5-year-old son has been listening, paying attention, absorbing information and making his own decisions the past few months. He and his mother both voted for different candidates. Neither of their candidates may not have won, but I could not be more proud of them and especially, him.

I don’t know how to start this one. All I know is that I want to write down everything about this weekend (and this season) because I’m in the post-event funk and don’t want to forget anything. And it’s faster for me to type than to handwrite in a journal.

And, should I do this again in the future, remember what to do and what not to do.

Training (i.e. How To Get Your Friends To Train With You):

For the time I had, I think I did the best I could. Beth brought up the idea in January, and I signed up in March. Between supporting a conference, making two trips to the East Coast, making two quilts, helping manage a film project, ending a relationship and completing some major work projects, then pumping out at least one or two short rides a week (sorta) and one long ride a weekend, (with some spin classes thrown in for good measure, so I thought) every little bit helped.

Doing a variety of rides on the Olympic Peninsula, in Kitsap, and in Seattle, and having a variety of training partners (even if I did have to bribe most of them with beer and food) kept rides interesting.

But by end of April, I was already burned out on training, especially the weekday rides. They just weren’t fun. I was by myself, exhausted after a day of work and stressed about getting in miles/time on the seat. Plus I was doing spin classes, again just to get more time on the seat. I lost a ton of weight quickly and was eating all the time, which was great, but I also was dealing with sore hips and knees, which wasn’t great. I dialed it all back a bit, dropped the spin classes and focused on developing fun long rides for folks to join and things got a little easier. Plus, with all of Kitsap’s hills, I learned the correct direction to ride the county, so I wasn’t climbing ALL the time.

Training took me to different parts of Washington I’d never normally get out and explore, such as the countryside north of Seattle, the Key Peninsula and the Olympic Discovery Trail between Sequim and Port Angeles. Some of these included the occasional fun supported rides where, frankly, you ride for the free food, with the benefits of beautiful views.

I learned how shop rides can be full of jerks, how riding with your friends is way more fun, how it is possible to find fun riders who aren’t jerks and who become your friends, and how friends you hang out with already can become bike partners.

Also, fun names for every training ride is required: Crazy Train; Flying Guinea Pigs; Four Dudes and A Lady; Suck It Up Buttercup and Ride; Taco Pizza Cat, Animal and Hot Pants; Sea2Issy; Sea2Issy: The Ladies Ride; The Bakery Tour of Kitsap (Bikes, Beers and Baked Goods)… I know I’m missing a few.

Sometimes, a solo ride WAS cathartic, such as on an early beautiful weekend morning, before traffic gets crazy in Silverdale and you’re done with 20 miles by 9:30 a.m., and the whole day is still ahead of you.

I learned how to retape my bars, adjust my brakes, ride without a seat bag and with only minimal gear, how my front derailleur works and how much mine sucks, and that I really need to build a bike stand in my garage so I can do maintenance.

I definitely felt myself get stronger (most the time). Hills get me excited (mostly) but so do long fast flats. Riding in the most powerful gear on my granny ring got easier and easier over the season. When my big chain ring worked, that was even more fun.

Don, who has been teaching me to ride road and mountain bikes on and off again for 13 years now, was most appreciated. I kept his advice in my head throughout the training season.


Kind bars. Gels. Cliff Shots. Vitalyte is the only electrolyte drink I should stick with. Everything else is horrible. Why and how Nuun works, I have no idea. It reminds me of diet soda, which is terrible in the first place. And Gatorade. Only in a pinch. That stuff is disgusting unless your body is shutting down and literally needs liquid sugar. Stepfanie’s Calorie Bomb cookies were dense but great on the road.

Beer mid-ride is fun. Homemade cookies 10 miles down the road after said beer is more fun. Beer and burger post-ride is the best.


SO, the weekend comes. July 16-17. Our original team, Beth, Joe, Matthew, Margo and myself, changed bodies a few times. Matthew and Margo weren’t able to ride, so we found Chris and Kristen. At the last second, Chris and Kristen aren’t able to ride, so it was down to the original three. However, at lunch on Day 1, we pick up Greg, so a nice little team of 4.

Logistics for the day before the ride and getting to the start line took on a life of their own for months before finally being narrowed down. I wound up going into Seattle Friday night at 7:45 p.m., being picked up by Beth at the ferry, going to UW to drop off our overnight bags, picking up pasta and salads from Olympic Pizza III, making a breakfast quiche for the next morning while Beth picked up Joe from the airport, then me going down the block to Reba’s to spend the night at 11 p.m.

Up at 5:15 a.m., at Beth’s by 5:35 a.m., inhaled aforementioned quiche, biked from Capitol Hill to the start line at the E-1 parking lot at University of Washington and dashing from the start line at 7 a.m.

The idea of 100 miles in a day was still a bit daunting, so I broke it down mentally by segments of 25 miles. That’s do-able. 25 miles is a piece of cake.

The route took us along Lake Washington for several miles, which was lovely. Then it dumped us into the industrial complexes for the next 20 miles south of Seattle, before our first major rest stop, sponsored by REI. We’d heard the REI stop was legendary, so we were excited to check it out.

Nope. Sorely disappointed. Not sure what I was expecting (Maybe something along the lines of what Flying Wheels event did for food, which was every possible type of carb in the form of sandwiches, bars, muffins, cookies and candy) but it was only bananas, oranges and tortillas. Granted, it WAS the first stop of the day after only 25 miles. Oh and Clif Bars was handing out pouches of basically liquified oatmeal. I do not know anyone who actually enjoyed them. I refuse to eat liquified oatmeal. I have a hard time with the concept of oatmeal in general.

But we kept our spirits and hopes high for the next stop.

We rode for another 25 miles, which included the infamous Puyallup Hill (the first of two major hills on the entire ride), which wasn’t necessarily steep, just long. I thought it was fun. Otherwise, the ride was pretty mild and flat on Day 1.

Our next stop was in Spanaway for lunch (50 miles-ish). I figured after we got out of the industrial area, the route would be prettier, and it was. The group of bikes didn’t thin out as much as I thought it would though.

Spanaway/Lunch was in a high school football field. Turkey sandwiches, hummus, pretzels, cookies, bars, fruit and resting. Not a bad combo. Picked up Greg here.

The section after Spanaway was the best part of the ride. We got to bike on a closed road through the military base (Joint Base Lewis-McCord) for a good bit, a few more streets, then the route took us for 14 miles on the Tenino-Yelm bike trail. This was such a nice reprieve from street riding with cars and stoplights.

By the time of the Clif Bar Mini Stop, at 88 miles, it was greatly welcomed, but not for the Clif Bar freebies (wretched liquified oatmeal). No, the Tenino High School Basketball Team was madly handing out popsicles, watermelon and other fruit, while keeping the water jugs filled and a soundsystem pumping music. It was hard to leave, but only 20 miles to go for the rest of the day sounded pretty sweet.

Bums were starting to get sore during these last couple miles, and we were stoked to cross the city limits into Centralia, the event’s official Half Way Point, where camping, food trucks, live music and a beer garden awaited riders. Located on the Centralia College campus, tents were lined up back-to-back on every possible patch of grass available. Kristen drove from Port Orchard to join us and give us any support we needed. We met up in the beer garden for some congratulatory beverages for an hour or so before riding our final six miles of the day to Chehalis/Recreation Park. This is where we met our hosts, The Pattens.

Biking through Chehalis around 8 p.m. was interesting… a quiet little town, completely shut down, even though 10,000 riders were invading the region. It reminded me a lot of Athens, Ohio, where Beth and I went to college.

Instead of camping, and since every hotel in the region was sold out before March, we took our chances and paid the local chamber of commerce to find us a place to sleep. The organization has a program where local families open their houses to riders to crash for the night. Our hosts, Matt and Paige Patten, were known for hosting about 15-18 people each year and was rumored to be one of the best private hosts in town. We quickly found out why – huge house with room to spread out our stuff, a real shower, meet other riders over dinner, comfy couches to crash on, and a large spread of food, including homemade spaghetti sauce and pie and ice cream and then pancakes and eggs and sausage for breakfast… we could not thank them enough. They even hauled our overnight bags to and from the park for us.

Refreshed and full, we left Sunday morning, bombed down the hill from their house and got back on route.

Now, at this point, getting back on the bike is supposed to be the hardest part of the entire trip. I was told multiple times that training for STP isn’t so much putting miles on the legs as it is putting miles on the seat, to train the butt for the time on the saddle.

I have say, I was pleasantly surprised how much it didn’t hurt, but I can’t say that there wasn’t some noticeable soreness. I was surprised a little bit around mile 120 when my quads started to make noise. Nope, 80 miles to go, you can’t quit on me now.

The next 50 miles or so were some of the prettiest of the entire ride. We started around 8 a.m. under overcast skies, but the clouds soon burned off and we were cruising on roads that meandered around farms and old houses, with some rolling hills thrown in for good measure. Then we got to the hill that was the “other” rumored hill on the ride, but I didn’t realize it until we were at the top and large yellow signs told us that Free Banana Bread was ahead! We were told about this stop by the Pattens, where a family greeted everyone with free banana bread at the top of the big hill, of which we heartily engaged. I THINK this was Napavine.

The Winlock stop was interesting, as you had the scent of fried onions in the air at 10 a.m. from a burger stand. We did not stop to engage in the fried onions.

The ride between there and Lexington, our lunch stop, wasn’t much to remember, other than lots of rolling hills. The training in Kitsap finally paid off.

We spent an hour in Lexington, with similar food from the day before, and we all actually sprawled on the ground to take a quick nap, as it was common to see bodies spread out all over the place doing the same. It was another tip I’d heard about – definitely rest at the stops, don’t just eat and go.

This was around noon, at which I turned on my music on my phone, bluetoothed it to a little portable speaker I borrowed from a co-worker, turned it up and stuck it in my jersey pocket so everyone could hear it. I did this the day before as well and it played a big part in getting to the end of the day when everything is stiff and sore but the only thing to do is pedal. So I sang and danced on my bike.

Bikes started crowding up again as we got closer to the Lewis and Clark Bridge, which meant crossing the border from Washington to Oregon! I queued with my team while we waited for volunteers to stop the southbound traffic so Goldwing riders could escort us onto the bridge. As we started climbing (it wasn’t just a flat bridge across, it was a definite very tall up-and-over bridge with a fantastic view of the Columbia River), Beth just took off like a bat out of hell, so I chased her to keep up.

And that girl passed EVERYONE on that damn bridge. I was so impressed – this city slicker girlfriend of mine who I’ve known for almost 20 years and has embraced the mountains and biking just in the past few years totally kicked it up a notch and continually impressed me with her outdoor badassery. Later, she said, “I just wanted to get off that bridge! I did NOT like riding on it!”

After we got into Oregon, roads started to get a little dicey, as shoulders were non-existent in some places, and bikes were lined up front to back, with cars screaming by. The route eventually put us on Highway 30, which was a four-lane highway with fantastically wide shoulders but went on for MILES – for 41.2 miles to be exact.

At one point when I really was in a groove with a flat section, I shifted to my front big ring and within two seconds, the damn chain fell off. The guy behind told me my chain fell off while I’m muttering expletives and yelling back at him, yeah, I know. So I just yelled out I was slowing, so people would slow down and not crash into me.

I eventually came to a stop, tossed the bike and myself over the guardrail and started to put the chain back on. Joe and Beth stopped to help, which was great when we got it back on, so there were two extra pairs of hands to hold the bike and shift gears while I ran the pedals so we could make sure the chain shifted properly. So, once again, no Front Chain Ring for me. (I may have shifted it into too hard a gear. Still a newbie at this).

So, back on the road, along the highway, stopped at a few more stops to rest our bums (St. Helens for a good long stop until 3ish, I think, and then Scappoose by 5 p.m., where we were told we only had 16 miles to go, but the finish line closed at 7 p.m.!) and eat some food and coach each other through the next few sections. The last hour or so of the ride I was starting to get nauseous but I think it was from the pain from the saddle sores because I was definitely well hydrated and fed but not TOO much. So I thought anyway. I stayed away from the terrible electrolytes and stuck with water, spacing out the Vitalyte I did have with me.

Then suddenly I heard whoops and hollers … we’d just crossed the city limits into Portland – 13 miles to go! At that point, I passed a dad and his kid who was probably 9 years old. I’d been watching him and two other kids around his age pump out the miles the past two days like it was their job. It was the coolest thing to watch. I got the sense that the parents were confident their kid could do it but still pretty cautious, and giving lots of words of encouragement. As I passed the dad and his son, I told them both, “Your son is amazing. I am super impressed!”

So, Portland! Cardboard signs were posted along the side of the road, telling us how many more miles to go, starting with 10 miles. We crossed another up-and-over bridge that gave us a sprawling view of the city to the west and I was thinking, “Oh man, we’re almost DONE. We’re almost THERE.” And I was kind of sad. All the fun was almost over.

After the bridge, the route took us through very urban Northwesty-type neighborhoods, filled with older Craftsman-style homes lush with gardens, past University of Portland, along Willamette Blvd. and eventually into downtown Portland. Because Portland doesn’t provide police support, we had to stop at every. single. stoplight. on the way to the finish line, so there was a massive group of bikes at each stop.

Then all of a sudden, we’re in downtown, the cowbells get louder, the crowds get bigger, we turn the corner and there’s the big green inflatable Finish Line arch! We zoom through it and into the chute, where we’re handed our STP Finishers patch. When I biked past Greg’s cheering family, my eyes got a little misty because it hit me that it was all finally over. But I didn’t have time to cry because otherwise I would have crashed into the bikes in front of me. Heads up, Royal.

I regrouped with my team and we high-fived and took pictures. We indulged in our free Meal Of Choice (a very loaded burrito from a food truck), a beer and then talked the massage people into a quick 15 minute massage since they were closing soon. Grabbed our souvenirs (a choice of hat, shirt or a water bottle), our overnight bags that were shuttled from Chehalis to PDX for us, and then gingerly biked another mile to our AirBnB for the night, where we promptly showered and then did not move the rest of the night.


Frankly, I’d do it again. I wouldn’t say it was easy but it wasn’t the hardest thing either.

Key things to remember for next time:

Chamois butter – It’s supposed to prevent chafing but I swear it also helped stave off the saddle sores.

The right electrolytes – riding with a bloated stomach and belching all the way to Portland is not fun (even as much as I like to burp).

Music via loud speaker – definitely helped get through the drag of the second half of the day.

Have a team – I could not imagine doing this alone.

Even if you’re spending the night past the beer garden, stop for a beer or two and a piece of pizza.













However, when one’s life is pretty much just working and working out daily for knee rehab, there’s not a lot of time for other things.

My gardens definitely were ignored. I was lucky to get plants in the ground and harvest tomatoes and cucumbers this summer. I realized too that I couldn’t do intensive yardwork so not to strain the knee, nor could I kneel or squat very well.

Once I got the go-ahead to start going to the gym in spring, sewing was tucked away in a corner (I consider sewing a winter activity anyway).

I’d say the most productive thing I did around the house this year was learning about “KonMari-ing” or as Brian puts it, buying a book on “How To Throw Sh*t Away.”

Regardless what it’s called and who believes in it or not, it worked. I have a much more organized house. The only categories left to clean are the garage and the momentos/personal items, which I keep putting off the latter for obvious reasons.

Just as I decided to start putting some money into the house in late summer (took out a few trees), I spontaneously decided I needed a real vacation and headed to Ireland for 2 weeks. Best decision ever.

Then my tenants moved out around the same time and I’ve been dragging my feet on cleaning/upgrading/modifying the apartment since mid-October. But it’s 99.999999% done now and I hope to have a renter in there within the next two weeks.

Also, there was that whole No Hot Water For Three Weeks that put a delay on things. Hooray for new hot water tank (Tankless/on demand)!

But now as I move away from physical-therapyish daily workouts and into more normal-person workouts, as well as test knee/quad strength in the field, I hope PLAN ON 2016 being full of more creativity, more outdoors and more yard time.

It’s a bit early, but I’ve been assessing the year and thinking about next year. A quick list:

  • Start trail running on a regular basis – Thinking back over what sports and movements I’ve participated in the past 20 years, and what really makes me feel alive, trailing running really does it, more so than backpacking, climbing, hiking and snow sports. It’s equivalent to that one amazing ski run of the day, where the snow is perfect and your form is perfect and the sky is blue and that run made you feel like you are THE BEST SKIER IN THE WORLD. Trail running gives me that same feeling, but on a more consistent basis. And you get filthy and muddy in the process. And get snacks on trail. And less chance of tearing knee ligaments. And less wear and tear on knees compared to pounding cement. And WAY less gear.
  • Also, more yoga. Turns out YOU CAN get a yoga body by doing it 3-5x a week. And it’s helped considerably with rehab.
  • Get to North Carolina in May to run a race with my Emers, drink beer with Tiger, and snuggle with their girls.
  • Get those sewing projects done (quilts, chair cover, mend some clothing).
  • Finish two woodworking projects – mirror frame for the bathroom and tree stump-turned-coffeetable for living room.
  • Climb Mt. Baker: Once I can successfully climb a volcano again, and sustain the endurance that it takes to do so, then I believe I will be strong enough to go back into the field for mountain rescue. Maybe even get up Mt. St. Helens in a dress on Mother’s Day.
  • Crank out another section of the backyard landscape project. Three down, about 3 or 4 to go. This year: plants in the middle garden and save money for new patio construction.
  • KonMari that damn garage and momentos pile (which will actually be the most amazing feeling in the world when finally done. Like trail running).




It’s Saturday with little on the docket for the weekend. Knee workout, weed the backyard and maybe finish that quilt and start that dress. (OH and I was just informed we’re having Easter dinner tomorrow. I can’t remember the last time I had Easter dinner. I’m just in charge of bringing the candied pecans for the salad.)

But first – the workout. Get it out of the way. As I laid in bed going over the day in my head, I took a small sigh.

I’m kinda getting tired of my “workout.” It’s nice that I can do it at the gym and feel like a real person again, but …. eh…. I’m getting bored. It takes an hour. I have to do it every single day. The full workout at least once, then a shorter version too, so I’m doing exercises twice a day. My PT and I change up the exercises when I get bored of them and we just put together a new program the other day.

None of it is cardio intensive right now, but I’m slowly getting there. I think that may be what’s making me a bit restless.

Also, I’m actually jealous of the people who take the Zumba classes. I despise those classes but oh how I wish I could move like them without any consequences.

Then I remembered my PT and PTA and I talked about yoga. They said I could pretty much try whatever exercise I wanted (within reason of course) and just listen to my knee and body and see what happens. And what’s great about yoga is that I can modify any of the poses.

So, when I showed up at the gym, I wandered over to the printed schedules of classes.

There was a yoga class at 10:15. It was 10:14.  Read the rest of this entry »

I discovered Doe Bay Fest a few years ago after I saw videos of the sweet acoustic sets of what seemed to be spontaneous jams on the beach at Doe Bay. The one I remember was The Head and The Heart.

Through that video, you could feel that intimacy of a private acoustic session, something that most people don’t get to experience often. So the idea of experiencing it in an environment not unlike a friend’s backyard drew interest in possibly making the trek to three-day Doe Bay Fest.

But  – it’s in the San Juans Islands, which takes a good half day to get to, plus the cost and prep and who can you rally to go with you? And tickets to this very tiny but popular festival are impossible to get (until the last year or two where you now have to physically visit the resort throughout the year and stay the night, then put your name on a list for the festival when you check out, thus your ticket. Pretty clever, actually.).

And I’d given up on music festivals. Sasquatch, Bumbershoot, massive amphitheaters with thousands and thousands and thousands of people. Acoustics are good but you’re typically a 1/4 mile away from the stage, lest you want to stand in a crowd while trying to get as close as possible to the stage, with the chance of not seeing anything but the tall drunk dude in front of you (a big risk I take, being not even 5′ tall).

I’d gotten old the past few years, preferring to lay out a picnic blanket on the grassy banks and enjoy the afternoon sets, where I’d discovered some amazing music  and taken in some of the evening sets (such as a rare live performance of The Postal Service). But I’m not crazy about the massive parking lot camping and wondering if and what the dude next door is going to blare at 7 a.m. (no joke, this happened, Sasquatch 2005? I think he was playing Metallica or Linkin Park or something really loud. I’m surprised he made it out of the lot alive.).

When Beth suggested going to Doe Bay this year for my birthday in March so we could get tickets, I thought why not. One of those bucket list items to tick off and I didn’t have any plans for No. 35 anyway.

My initial impression of Doe Bay (mind you, in March and pouring rain) was not mind blowing. Quiet cabins, couples, small groups of friends, spa – all very quiet and relaxing things but I didn’t get the “magical feeling” that people talk about when they talk about Doe Bay and get all sparkly-eyed.

So when August approached with Doe Bay Fest around the corner, I wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be. However, making plans for an all-woman’s camping trip, with a mix of my close Seattle friends and Kitsap friends and a camping menu of homemade pizzas, veggie burritos, BBQ, a massive breakfast, sangria, bloody marys, salads and marshmallow/Nutella/peanut butter cookie s’mores, I was looking forward to the overall experience. And if I walked away with some new music to check out, cool.

Oh, but how the universe, once again, kicked my ass.

My first “Doe Bay Moment” was on the way to the bathroom to get ready for bed Thursday night around 10:30 p.m., after a long day of traveling. I kept hearing a banjo though, so I followed the sound to The Busking Station, where whomever could set up on a wooden platform tucked away in a little alcove of bushes, just off the main trail that connected the stages, the cafe, beach, spa and camp sites. I came upon a group of about 30 people standing around Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners, a Portland band of young guys plucking out swing/ragtime/dixieland music on a banjo, an upright bass, a washboard and a guitar.

Seriously? Seriously. And who’s standing over there watching them? Friday night’s headliner Cody ChestnuTT tapping his toes. Oh and Don Slack (a favorite KEXP DJ of mine) was there hanging out. I found out later I had several friends from Seattle who were also standing around watching this. Oh and that big guy with the beard and backpack standing next to me with the radio who looks like a college sophomore? That’s one of the organizers of this entire weekend. I swear, every time I turned around during the festival, he was sitting near us.

But in Doe Bay – none of that matters. And that’s what so sweet about the festival. It’s not a place to hobnob with musicians. You’re just going to stand next to them like your friends and take in those Doe Bay Moments. And then the next day, you’re going watch those musicians and make more Moments with other folks, whether it be:

dancing at the front of the main stage with least one foot of space between you and everyone else (blissful)

or see small kids with oversized ear protection squeeze in at the edge of the stage, intently studying the musicians and tapping their toes

or watch a three-year-old drum out on his dad’s back, keeping to the beat of the music

or danced like you haven’t danced in years to that DJ who rocked the Yoga Studio that night with all your favorite songs from college

or pass those pre-teen kids who opened the festival with their unbelievable guitar work and folk songs and you’ll call out as you pass by them in the crowds the next day, “hey, great job guys” and the youngest one will turn around and say, “hey, thanks!”

or you’ll share The Stranger newspaper with that guy sitting next to your blanket and get into a discussion about The Book of Mormon while waiting for the next band to start

or you’ll develop an intense crush on that experimental jazz band’s drummer and go up to him after and ask where he’s playing next, then watch him drum in the reggae band later in the day and then read about him in The Stranger and see how he’s deservedly up and coming in Seattle

or you’ll wander around the property after the headliner has finished and follow your ear, only to find that one band you heard this morning, which you weren’t impressed with on stage, is spectacular around the campfire and bring on happy tears

or you’ll wander down the the beach in hopes of finding something and are immediately handed a sparkler and the guy playing the guitar is leading the group of 30 or so in old gospel sing-alongs

or you’ll make your way up to The Apple Tree, where one night you’ll find a slightly inebriated guitarist whose music is too soft for your liking but his banter is hilarious, and his two buddies, one of which is piano player playing a uke, are belting out John Prine tunes.

or the next night under the Apple Tree, between the two oil lamp torches, you’ll find the lead singers from four bands who played this year and last year, taking turns to share songs from their own format (alt-rock, ragtime, spoken word and folk), but the upright bassist from the experimental jazz band is backing up each of them on the spot (I’m waiting for these sessions to be recorded and then posted online as “The Apple Tree Sessions” but that takes away the mystique of the late night sessions, so I hope no one does).

or you’ll develop girl crushes on every female musician who takes to the stage

or you’ll sit on the beach, waiting for your very, very late water taxi to take you back to The Real World and a guy with a guitar will walk down to the beach and entertain the very tired but relaxed crowd, then a clarinetist will join him, adding a rich undertone to the sound and after a few songs, you’ll hear the two musicians finally introduce themselves to each other.

or you’ll be dancing next to the head organizer of the festival Joe, who created this event for this reason alone: to share amazing music with 1,000 of his friends.

So, yeah… Doe Bay is like that.


I just got back from a three-day backpacking trip over Labor Day weekend with friends, two of which I went on a five-day all-women backpacking trip in July 2013. As I was cleaning out files and emails today, I found this trip report that I never posted and it reminded me of the good times we had. I thought I’d finally share. Forewarning, it’s long. 

August 2013

“Who needs to pump?”

This was a question often asked during my five-day backpacking trip in the North Cascades National Park recently. It was an all-ladies trip, and while none of us were anywhere near nursing babies, for some reason I couldn’t help but think, “Breast pump?”

(“Pumping” was for filtering water out of streams to prevent bacteria in our drinking water).

Ah, the all woman-trip. This was my very first one (unless you count the Mt. Rainier climb, which was just another beast in itself) and it was more than I expected but also less than I expected but in a very good way.

It’d been a pretty crazy few months prior to this trip, so busy that I felt like I couldn’t catch a breath. I needed some serious solo time so badly I was contemplating bagging out of the trip a week prior and just doing a road trip down the West Coast for five days. But, I’d made the commitment months ago and it was on a weekend that (shockingly) didn’t involve training or volunteering or family commitments.

Once I started packing, I felt much better. I had a goal. I had deadlines. I had to think about the various elements we’d be in (rain/snow/cold was minimal but always considered) and what food to bring (stuff that needed hot water only). Group gear to share with the others, did I really need to bring a baggie of electrolytes, shelf bra-shirt vs shirt & sports bra, shorts or capris, hiking boots or mountaineering boots, do I really need gloves, which hat, etc.

The dinners were an issue though. I usually carry in fresh food for overnight trips, which is heavy but I don’t mind. But this was my first multi-day trip in years, so weight was an issue. My digestive system doesn’t like the huge portions in the dehydrated backpacking meals from the camping food sections at the store but in the end, due to time, that’s what I had to go with. For some reason, my head was so determined that those meals had to be cooked in the foil pouches they come in, it wasn’t until 10 miles into the trip at our first camp site that I realized I could dump them out, divide them in half for separate meals. I did just that and, imagine that, my stomach wasn’t upset after eating half a package.

The itinerary – start at Hannegan Pass trailhead near Mt. Baker, hike 17 miles (over two days) to Whatcom Pass. Spend two nights there, attempt Whatcom Peak and/or visit Taptos Lakes, then hike out the 17 miles (over two days) to the car. Total mileage was about 35-40 miles with total elevation gained and lost, 10,000-12,000 feet.

The group consisted of five women, ages ranging from 30s to 70s. Some of us hiked faster than others, some of us enjoyed the destination more than the trek, some of us preferred climbing straight up instead of switchbacking, some of us liked to hike solo. At the end of the day, none of these things mattered as we sat around the camp stove sharing stories, advice (on both outdoor and non-outdoor experiences) and laughing at each other (like my 5 lbs. bag of oatmeal, which, ironically, I despise).

My favorite moment of the entire trip was the last night, after we’d set up the tents at Copper Creek Camp but weren’t ready for dinner. We were sitting by the creek, passing around the last of the pomegranate liquor. The trees were far-reaching into the cloudless sky, the creekbed was wide, but the rushing water wasn’t deafening. The water temperature was perfect for a quick bath and soaking our worn feet. I was thinking how a portion of civilization wishes they were doing this right now. It hit me how fortunate I was to have the strength, health and opportunity to be in this environment at this moment. I was in the company of some incredibly strong female mountaineers whose accomplishments I admired. Yet, at the same time, it was just five women hanging out as comfortably as we would in the backyard of someone’s house.

Highlights of the trip:

Hiking speed – yeah, I’m one of those who likes to zoom up the hill. After spending seven years of trying to keep up with 6′ tall guys, you kinda learn to step it up a bit, no matter the weight on the back. But this trip had no guys. And it had no speed. And we all got to the same place at the same time, no matter how fast any of us went. Some of us could have jumped ahead and said, see ya at camp, but what’s the fun in that? You miss out on conversations, laughter and learning from each other. I also used the opportunity to do what one should on a vacation (since this pretty much WAS my summer vacation) – slow down and purposefully wander toward camp.

Cable Car Crossing – Between U.S. Cabin and Graybeal Camp, the creek is too big to ford, so a cable car system has been set up to haul yourself and your pack a couple hundred feet above and across the creek.

Whatcom Peak – one of the “To Do” items on the itinerary was to climb Whatcom Peak, at the most northern end of the Picket Range, which has a reputation for being a beautiful area but difficult to access. As we hiked in and Whatcom Peak loomed above us, all I saw was the north side of the peak – a knife-edge ridge with thousands of feet of exposure. The idea was to climb it while roped up, using flukes for running belays on the snow and webbing and slings to hook around rocks as we climbed. I had an idea about the techniques but had never done this “hook around rocks” type of climbing before and was a little nervous. The whole time I had that north side of the peak in my view, I kept thinking, “Oh god, I hope we’re not climbing that and that we’re climbing the snow ramp on the south side of the peak.”

The night before the climb, we pulled out maps and explored our options: climb that knife-edge ridge or do the traverse around the peak to the south side, which involved climbing the Challenger Glacier, the latter of which I was definitely more comfortable.

When we started out the next morning, we decided to try the traverse first, but as we got closer to the glacier, the only safe place to cross it was completely crevassed. So we turned around and headed toward the knife ridge. My stomach started to drop. The hike up to the base of the peak was lovely, fun rock scrambling and a little snow travel. But the last half-hour toward our decision point, my stomach kept dropping. We finally stopped at the base of the peak, dropped our packs and stared upward.

Fay, the 70-something mountaineer who is regionally famous for being a bad-ass climber, looked at me and said, “Tiffany, tell me what you think, honestly.”

“Fay, for the past 30 minutes, I’ve been scared shitless.”

“Oh, good, then I wasn’t the only one.”

After a good 20 minutes of solid contemplation, what-ifs, if-onlys, and I-wasn’t-expecting-that-much-exposure discussions, we decided to call it and turn around. Beth joined Maria at Taptos Lakes, Fay and I climbed to an unnamed high point, after which I decided to call it a day and headed back down to the lakes (lunch, nap and lake time sounded awesome) while Fay joined Eileen on Red Face Mountain for a quick summit.

Then the five of us spent the rest of the afternoon napping at the lake until about 6 p.m., when we decided the black flies/mosquitos/no-see-ums at camp would have tapered down a little.

At that point, I decided that this trip qualified for the perfect vacation:


Good food

Good beverages

Good company

Unique locale with amazing views

Away from home

Perfect weather


Very little money spent

I later blurted out this list to Maria in the car and she said, “What? Where? Sign me up!”

“You just had that vacation.”

10:05 a.m. February 10, 2014

For the first time in four weeks, I didn’t leave Bremerton to go skiing. With the unexpected snow fall that hit Kitsap Saturday night, and the uncertainty of how Lucille would do without chains on the mountain passes on the way to a trailhead, I decided to call it Saturday night and stick to Kitsap Sunday. But not without taking a page out of Kevin’s book and did an hour-long night ski around Bremerton with my XC skis. I’ve always wanted to do that. I went up 11th, over the Manette Bridge, did a couple laps up and down the main drag in Manette, much to the delight of the folks out and the bar-goers, as I slowly “skied” downhill in an Olympic fashion. Then chugged my way back to my house. It was exhilarating. And apologies to my tenant for clomping around in my boots at 11:30 p.m. when I got back. 

It was a delight to sleep in Sunday morning, but I also had this nagging feeling that Don and his pup Jerry The Springer (yes, that was intentional, he’s that kinda guy) would show up knocking on my door step at 9 a.m. Whenever it snows (which is rare) I can always count on those two coming by to ask if I can come outside and play. Thankfully, the kind sir waited until 10 a.m. to call, called me a lazy bum for still being in bed and then we made plans for 11:30 a.m. Off to Theler Wetlands to check out the trails and new estuary restoration and give him a chance to play with his new camera and do some duck sight seeing. It was such a nice way to get out without actually any effort. I needed it. Followed up with some good ol’ fashioned Mexican food and then off to drop in on some friends Joe and Marlene and their kids who have a beautiful home and property overlooking Hood Canal while taking the backroads of Kitsap that I’d surprisingly never been on. 

(this is the most boring 15 Minutes EVER but for a monday morning, it’s really just a writing warm up for me. you know, like in third grade, when we’d be given a prompt and you had 10 minutes to write anything stemming from that prompt. I remember struggling with that one some days and then kinda going crazy with the imagination on other days, then i’d be too embarrassed to share it. The teacher was always amused though). 

what else what else… made tortilla soup last night, which i’d been craving for a week. Made it paleo-style, which just means no cheese and sour cream and tortilla strips and it is still unbelievably delicious. It’s one of those days when lunch can’t come soon enough. 

six more minutes six more minutes

this week should be relatively low key, compared to last week’s Boldt decision celebration. I’m looking forward to cranking things off my to-do list and ending the week with a long weekend of Valentine’s Day cocktails with a few of my favorite Seattle Valentines, going hiking, skiing, maybe do an OMR patrol at Hurricane Ridge. Most definitely ski – the rain this week is going to bring on some amazing powder! I’ve been so good this year focusing on becoming a better skier with my mantra to ski EVERY WEEKEND POSSIBLE for as long as the snow is good or until I get burned out. I’m alternating between resort and backcountry (and that fun little XC outing), took a lesson, focusing on my body position and giving up a little fear on the whole control thing. or more like learning how to better ski with a little more speed but with control. that’s my biggest fear is getting out of control and then I go ass-over-tea-kettle and yard sale. I’m really learning that it comes down to body positioning. It’d also be cool to shoot for a straight year of Turns All Year – where you ski at least once a month for a year, which is completely do-able out here. Although with the low snow pack we’ve had this season, we’ll see, It’d be rough in August and September. But I know folks who have gone up those months, found a long finger of snow and bam, it totally counts. 

Just like I counted XC on Saturday night toward my weekly ski outing. 

Let’s see… need to vote, i have a terribly ripe banana next to me, my right shoulder is tweaked (boo, no TRX or boot camp, so that just means lots of cardio, which I need anyway b/c I gained 7 lbs over Xmas yay oreo cookies) and my smart phone is slowing down but that’s probably because I drop it and abuse and ask more of it that i should but it’s damn computer practically, much more than a a phone. 

10:20 a.m.


The desktop wallpaper on my computer is a picture of my 2.5 year old nephew, Nipote, that my sister sent to me recently. He’s on the floor of my mother’s kitchen, looking up and cocking his head to the left a little while making his “Cheese” smile at the camera, while pushing his new little wooden train, filled with little wooden people and his Brutus, the OSU mascot doll. It was taken the day after I’d left Ohio, where I had spent 10 days visiting for the holidays, mostly as a result of moving my sister and Nipote from Washington State to Ohio, right after Christmas.

My sister lived in Kitsap County for just more than a year. She and I hadn’t lived within driving distance of each other for years. The last time I remember sharing a living environment with her was 1998. That made it 15 years since we’d lived in an area where we saw each other on a regular basis, much less the same house.

Bottomline: After living in the PNW for 10.5 years with no family nearby, I spent 2013 with my sister and her family. Aside from work, mountain rescue training and missions, and the occasional social gathering, I saw the family 2-3x a week. A lot of people thought that was excessive. I thought it’s what you do when family lives close, especially when you know that they are only here temporarily. And it was no secret that I struggled with that balance. That said, I don’t regret a second I spent with them, and probably regret a few times I didn’t spend with them, but life isn’t about regrets.

I exposed them to my friends, my forests, my foods, my hobbies, my lifestyle, my choices. I tried to brainstorm things we could do that involved a toddler (it was hard at first but I think I got better over time). Not everything took (I didn’t expect it to)  but it did two things: 1) it further proved to my sister I was a definite treehugger in her eyes and 2) we found some social commonalities. It was lots of fun to reconnect and realize how much we are similar (sense of humor, cooking) and different (hobbies, problem solving). It was awesome to be a part of Nipote’s life and watch him develop from a scrambling 1.5 year old babe-in-arms to 2.5 year old sprinting toddler. He and I became best buds – we colored, cooked, built forts, danced, learned to read, learned to say Zia, walked the dog, played in the sandbox, went on hikes, learned how to make the sound of every animal imaginable, and found just about every tractor and train ride we could in Kitsap County. I saw the world through different eyes – and learned that I’m a lot like a toddler. I like to do stuff and always be doing stuff.

But now we’re in 2014 and life feels like it’s come to a shuttering halt. Kinda like when Nipote doesn’t want us to do something or we need him to stop, we yell “RED LIGHT!” at each other and throw out an open hand, much like we’re stopping traffic. 

RED LIGHT, indeed, 2014.

I suddenly find myself back to my selfish single hippie, homemade granola eating, jumping the ferry whenever, carseat-less life. My weeks are open to play in the mountains for six weeks in a row or work on the house for six weeks in a row. I already have a few things lined up for this first week I’m back, but my calendar, it seems, is blank for the first time in a long time. I’m not saying it’s a good or bad thing. It’s just a little sad to know that there’s no longer a highly energetic 2.5 year old in Silverdale waiting for his Zia to come over and play. So, I don’t know, I guess I feel kinda empty inside. 

I think I just feel the need to bring my life back up to where it was in 2012, before The Year of Family. But when I look back on that year and the year before it, and the year before it, it all goes back to my March 2013 post

I was pretty busy. And pretty tired. And pretty tired of being pretty busy.

I need to find some focus in 2014. I need to narrow down goals. I have areas I want to explore and things I want to do. At the same time, there are some areas of my life that need some desperate motivation and new energy.

I guess this is a New Year’s Resolution post. At least a place to write down The List, but also remember to give myself a RED LIGHT when needed. Some things are huge, some are small, some are vague, some are specific. But my friend at The Wandering Gourmand made a good point – make them achievable. 

Learn to play the ukulele

Make the big mirror frame and coffee table.

Make/Buy a vanity for the bathroom. 

Take a weeklong road trip down the 101. 

Climb Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak.

Dedicate a week in May to mountain rescue training. 

Finish another component of my yard.

Buy a calendar to plan all this.