Friday, January 29, 2010

family: ... i've been waiting in the hall....

... 'cause I mith you daddy!

L has started at Miss Ronda's one day a week. This is the same place K went for one day a week, to get her into the swing of being at "school" as well as to expose her to some other kids and to buy M some time to get some work done.

So far, things seem to be going well. L can be shy and clingy, and I'm not sure she was quite herself last week (her first time). But this week when I picked her up, Ronda said "She's starting to get comfortable," and I said "Ah, so she's talking?" and Ronda laughed and said "She's very vocal" and I added "She doesn't stop, does she?" Ronda just laughed again.

There was a turtle there, a new turtle that Miss Ronda got, and because K was with me (and knew Miss Ronda) she had the opportunity to go and touch the turtle's shell. L on the other hand, just wanted to be held by me. Apparently I was the last parent there, and she had some concern that I wasn't coming. It's the same situation I once had with K. The sad thing is, K and I were early and had spent 20 minutes sitting in the van, K buckling and unbuckling the front seat belt, enjoying being in the "big people's" seats up front. And experimenting with sliding backward in the fabric seat so that her tights were pulled down off her "bumbum."

The formula for afternoon giggles:
  1. buckle seatbelt (w/ daddy's help)
  2. scoot forward, shifting your maryjane-covered feet toward the dashboard
  3. scoot backward in the seat, beginning to giggle
  4. turn and lift your jumper to show daddy how you've now got plumber's butt
Classic father-daughter times! I thought it was funny the first couple of times. Then I started watching my watch. Or rather my cellphone. (more on this in a future rant.)

So the irony is, we could have gone in and gotten L sooner.

But it's probably good for her to suffer some, right? Right? Especially as we were having such quality time there in the van.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

photo thursday: how come you taste so good?

Tasty contradiction irony.

A billboard posted immediately above a preschool playground in downtown Seattle. Taken on my walk from the bus to work early one January morning.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

family: ... wonderful feeling...

M took L and Lucy out for a walk yesterday and they came back singing.

M: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah
L: zip-dee-ay
M: Mr. Bluebird...
L: ...on shoulder, ith act-u-al, ith satith-actual
wonderful feeling, wonderful feeling...

Oh, you can say that again!

paddling: take me to hawaii nei...

The big news for our outrigger club is that we're planning on doing the Na Pali Challenge (Kauai) this August.

Hawaiian water (though not Na Pali)
Looking north to central Maui from Kaho'olawe

This race won't be like anything I have ever done before. It should be fun, with a bit of "oh shit" thrown in. The conditions aren't what we're used to here in the Pacific NW: north shore tropical lumpy. Some folks (Sabine, the Dougs) have experience in open-ocean Hawaiian waters (Molokai Hoe, etc.) but I'd guess most of us don't. I've sailed between Maui and Oahu in rough seas, and spent a fair amount of time in winter shore break, but paddling a canoe in swells is something I just haven't done. There's a need to coordinate as a team, both to keep moving forward, and to keep upright. We need to be in sync and in shape and working smoothly together. The only thing that's going to allow us to do all that is to spend time in the boat as a group. Boat time is key!

(I should point out here that I'm a tad nervous, if that isn't obvious already, and that this nervousness is at least partly due to my experience at the Gorge last year. I recently looked at photos from that day and just seeing the setting again drove a spike of adrenaline through my system. In retrospect, I think we shouldn't have been out there, at least not in the group we had. Until I manage to finish that race, it's going to weigh on me. Unfortunately, due to family plans, I won't be able to do the Gorge this summer. But I've got my sights on it for next year....)

In any case, I've got nothing but confidence in the folks I know are committed to Na Pali, so I don't think we'll have anything to worry about. Rob and I are the least experienced, and we're both comfortable in the water. The race should serve as a motivator to get us all out and paddling early and often this spring and even winter. After all, why do a race like that if you're not ready for it and in shape for it?!? At the moment we've got nearly a full men's crew (and, I believe, a women's crew as well). And the crew is a good one.

The course runs along the Na Pali coast, so it's not technically an open ocean paddle. But it is on the north shore, and if there's any kind of swell coming from the N, we'll be dealing with it. The great thing is, DougM (who'll be steering) knows how to surf the swells, and he's a good teacher, so unless things don't line up properly we should be able to take advantage of swells. It's gorgeous out there, though I've not seen it from the water. I've done the hike into Kalalau twice and enjoyed it both times, but that was a long time ago and entirely different circumstances. I feel like this is a real treat, a wonderful opportunity.

I'm excited, thinking about the strong crew we'll have for Na Pali. It's a unique race in that each team uses a 6-man and a 6-woman crew, and the crews swap every 1/2 hour. So the changeouts are the entire crew, rather than 2 or 3 paddlers at a time. We'll be using spray skirts (another reminder of the Gorge) and may have to do our changes with paddles, given that the men are likely to be using longer ones than the women. One more complication!

miles: 13.39
time: 1.57

Speaking of "shape," we had a good paddle last Thursday night, a surprising paddle, given that there were 5 of us in an OC6, and I had been on a liquid diet for 2 days. The conditions were beautiful, smooth almost glassy water under us and a crescent moon overhead... gorgeous. It was almost balmy, for a January in Seattle. And because of the nice conditions we were able to head out onto Lake Washington.

Our set: 1off/3on/1off/6on/1off/9on x 5

The 5 of us made it down to the I-90 bridge and back in under 2 hours. 13.39 miles in 1:57. Wow! Our average speed just missed 7mpg (6.9) and things felt good. DougN sat in #1 and I was in #2 behind him, with Zachary and Jack behind me, and DougM steering. If you look at the image below one thing you'll notice is just how freaking straight Doug's steering was. Pretty amazing.

We were nearing the 1/2 point but were still a few minutes north of the bridge when we had to decide: turn around or go for the bridge. We went for the bridge! Later I told Doug I would have cried if we'd turned around without getting there. I mean, why not?!?

I like how we're paddling these days: strong and in sync. There's still plenty of work to do, but it feels so much better than, say, last year. Which makes me realize that I haven't yet been paddling for even an entire year (started last May), but things are feeling better and better.

Warm salt water. Sunshine. 38 miles!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

other: where we live

(starting something new -- scattered photos of our surroundings)

Alki Beach Seawall -- June, 2005

Monday, January 25, 2010

family: ... dangerouth?

L (reaching up to the knife drawer): Daddy, thith dwawer dangerouth?
me: Yes it is dangerous
L: Why?
me: Because we keep knives in there and the knives are sharp.
L: Daddy, why sharp?
me: Well, because we use them to cut things.
L: Why cut thingth?
me: Uh... to separate them.
L: It dangerouth.
me: Yes.
L: (holding out her sister's watch for fastening): Daddy, pea you do this for me?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

family: ... oh, brother...

wearing cousin Kevin's headphones*

kitchen, with horses.
me, making dinner.
K grooming Patches (nee: Cobalt).
L working on "project" at the table.

L (singing to herself): Where is chaka? Door-me-view, door-me-view, door-me-view...
me: Morning bells are ringing
L: morning bells ringing. Ding dong doiiing
me&L (together): Ding dong doiing!

The family that sings together, dings together!

*they aren't plugged in, but I love how she looks as though she's in the studio, listening to a playback of her own vocals

Thursday, January 21, 2010

photo thursday: look into your eyes...

L, with tongue

One thing I dislike about this time of year (winter) in this area of the country (Pacific NW) is that it's often so freakin' dark.

I've pushed this picture as far as I was able, and it still looks pretty damn dim. But I love her expression. I may have just mentioned that she had something on her face. Or she might have just been taking a brief break from her generally non-stop chatter/singing/questions....

(Dress by Aunt Becca.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

family: see what's become of me...

Timeline extract from last weekend's solo parenting fun:

12a - I finally fall asleep after lying in awake for 2 hours.

2.01a - L wakes up screaming, her back is cold/hurting and she wants to go downstairs/upstairs/into my bed
2.02a - 2.14a - we go downstairs, put lotion on her back, change her shirt, get water, go back upstairs
2.15a - we "settle" down in my bed and L falls asleep
4.16a - K comes in b/c her diaper is loose and then joins me and her sister in bed.
4.20a-4.50a - K tosses and turns while L sleeps and I lie awake.
4.51a - I tell K that she needs to either go to sleep or go back to her bed. She opts for her bed. L wakes up and, screaming, explains she "needs" to go out with me when I tuck K back in.
4.55a - L and I return to bed where we manage somehow to fall asleep.

9a - Spotting a blueish bit out the window in the otherwise gray sky, I suggest a jaunt down to the beach at Alki. "Yeah!" "Yeth Daddy!!"
9.01a-9.35a - Preparing for beach trip, including packing bars/satsumas/water bottles etc. Also dressing the girls and getting spare pants for when they (inevitably) get them wet/sandy.
9.40a - head off to the beach, forgetting the spare pants on couch.
9.50a-9.55a - The girls have fun ("K having fun Daddy!" "I having fun Daddy!") running in their boots in the sand.

10a - L gets cold ("I too cold Daddy!"). I carry her from this point on.
10.01a - 10.30a - K plays in the sand, L snuggles against me ("I cold!") and we walk into the winter breeze.
10.31a - K, sandy now, gets cold.
10.32a - we start the trek back toward the van, motivated by the promise of bars/oranges/dry pants. Surprisingly, it's not nearly as far away as I had expected.

11.35a - 12.15p - K and I watch Saddle Club while L naps.

3p - I find and put away the peanut butter I left out at breakfast.
K: Why putting in frigerator?
me: Because I'm not going to use it now.
K: Why not use it now?
me: Because I was going to put it on toast but I forgot.
K: Daddy, you forgot spare pants!
me: Yeah, I did.

7.35p - 8.30p - I clean the kitchen
8.50p - I find my toast in the toaster as I'm putting the toaster away. And I eat it. Without peanut butter.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

family: I may have been only 3 but I was...

... writing my name:

"me" by K

(I know, I know, your kids are geniuses too.)

This weekend K wrote her name. By herself. At 3.5yo. Without any help from me or anyone else.

So there.

Monday, January 18, 2010

family: trapped...

Ok, it's in the blood, this horsey thing. I think we're screwed. And here's some photographic proof from my side of the family:

(note: M's mother also loved horses, rode, and had a horse of her own until he had to be left behind on a move from Tennessee (?) to Florida)

1) Grandpa Biddle -- joined the cavalry at ~16yo after lying about his age and knowing how to ride. He learned:
somewhere out west -- doesn't
look like a kid from the slums
of Philly, does he?

2) Grandma Biddle -- had an uncle who was alleged to have led several wagon trains west from somewhere like Missouri to California in the 1800s. Family lore has it that he once escaped from an attacking band of Indians by riding hard and jumping a creek or riverbed, but only after at least one arrow passed through his flying coattail. No word on the fate of the folks in the wagons (assuming this happened while he was on the job). No photo available.

3) Mom -- loved horses (ok, and dogs and sailing) as a girl, and rode frequently until she left Hawaii for college at Mills, at which point her riding was done at the generosity of other, better off students, and done English. I think she mostly rode western as a girl.

somewhere in Kaimuki
(ok, it's not a horse, but it's the closest thing I've got at hand.)

4) me and my sisters -- we all took riding lessons as kids, and explored the pastures of Haleakala Ranch, loving it. Also spent numerous Fourth of July weekends at the Makawao Rodeo. Also also loved our spring-mounted horses (I'm a little miffed that Karol is the one who got to ride in this picture!):
in green pastures of our living room, Puunene

5) our niece -- my sister's daughter has a horse and has been riding since she was a little girl. She's also looked up to with awe by my 2 wannabe horsewomen, and since she's a pretty awesome kid, they could do much worse for role models:

Ohso/Maggie, somewhere at Thurston County Fair, 2007

6) our girls -- in love with their horses and with Saddle Club.

K, racing the sunlight

L, looking slightly uncertain
about the reliability of her mount

So, even though the Saddle Club story lines seem to pass right over K's head, I'm afraid we may be in for it....

(Proof that K is missing the nuanced presentations of S.C.:

This weekend we twice watched an episode in which the girls find a lost/abandoned mystery horse and Stevie decides to keep her. She makes the front page of the local newspaper (courtesy of Max's cute journalist girlfriend who's not at all a horsey type and was added to the cast, I'm convinced, to keep us Dads watching).

Final scene of this, part 1 of 2 parts: unknown woman reading the paper and saying aloud "so that's where you've got to." To be continued....

Here's the thing: K has no interest in part 2! I tried to convince her (twice) that we should watch it, but nope, no dice. Instead we watched a different episode (twice), a fine episode, but does Stevie get to keep Belle or not?!? And what about Max and Debbie?.

I've been tempted to sneak down to the basement and watch part 2 on my own.... and I swear it's not (entirely) because of the cute journalist! But that feels like cheating on K (not to mention M). So I'm resisting! I'm resisting!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

photo thursday: we are riding....

L is on a horse named "L" (oddly, her dollies all share that same name!)

K is on a horse originally named "Veronica Stevie Patches Cobalt" (all characters or horses from The Saddle Club) but now shortened to "Cobalt." That would be Veronica's horse. And Veronica would be the spoiled, nasty girl nemesis of the Saddle Club girls. She would also be K's favorite, which strikes me as not a particularly positive sign....

Riding the green pastures of... the kitchen

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

other: do you, don't you...?

(moral quandary)

Important facts:
  • It's raining again so traffic is f'ed up real good.
    We had a window of a couple of days without rain, but it's soggy out there, the streets shining and slick and So buses are running late.
  • Monday was L's first day at "Miss Ronda's."
    This is the daycare we sent K to for one day a week. Now K is in preschool and L is old enough to go to Miss Ronda's and M can work all day Monday. Which means:
  • I'm on an early schedule, 5.30a bus in to work, 2.10p bus home so I can hurry down to pick up L by 3.30p.
  • Sunday was a long night because we made L stay in her crib and "cry it out" (meaning, she screamed and hyperventilated because we wouldn't bring her into our bed, and she was going to be a mess in the morning).
I waited for my home-bound bus in the rain, shifting from foot to foot, trying to ignore the couple nearby who were acting like 17yo lovers at a junior prom. Except they weren't in evening wear, and it wasn't a dark dance floor. I'd seen them before, noticed them because the man was wearing a bright white hat in the darkness of Seattle December, and he had attitude. Like he wanted people to notice him so he could look them in the eye and say "Yeah? What're you looking at?" He was all over his girlfriend the first time I saw them, and he was again on Monday. But she was with him, smiling, laughing, even when she pushed him away after the 5th or 10th deep kiss, speaking to him in Spanish, holding his hand. I found it annoying, but who were they bothering, really.

The bus came (late) and we climbed on, dripping. It was more crowded than usual, probably due to the weather. It moved forward, one stop, another. I'm checking my watch. I don't want to be late to pick up L. I'd been late to pick K up at Miss Ronda's once, and she was the last kid there, acting like she thought she'd been abandoned. I didn't want that on L's first day.

We came to another stop, this one in Pioneer Square. And the bus stopped. And sat. And sat. The rain rattled on the metal roof over our heads. People got restless. No word from the driver, who was sitting silently at her wheel. I checked my watch more than once, beginning to really stress.

Then two cops came onto the bus, one up front, one through the back door. They scanned the passengers, looking, walking, then paused. "No woman being molested?"

We looked around. Nope, not that we knew about.

They got off the back entrance, then back on again, moving to the back of the bus. I realized they were going to talk to the couple I'd seen. They asked them to get off the bus. He looked about 18 or 20, she about 17. They went with the cops who separated them and talked to them individually out on the sidewalk. I heard the woman tell her cop that the man didn't speak English. The man had his hands on his head now, was being frisked by the policeman.

I wanted to gogogo! I needed to pick up L. I didn't want to be late!

But as the police told the driver she could drive on, I realized that I could get out, tell them that as far as I could see there'd been no molesting going on. Some serious Public Display of Affection, but having witnessed this last month as well, I was fairly certain that the woman wasn't being forced to do anything.

Yet the doors closed with their hiss of compressed air, and we started off and I checked my watch again and wondered if my being on time to pick up L was worth the man's possibly being taken into the police station.

I didn't know. I still don't know.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

double-definition tuesday: gath / call

gath - noun: colorless substance usually accompanied by a noisy bppp, sometimes having strong odor.

K: Daddy, L has poopy diaper.
L: No! Gath!
me (sniffing): Gas?
L (running): No!
me (chasing): Do you have a poopy diaper?
L: Yeah. No! (laughing) Gath Daddy. Gath!
me (scooping her up to sniff her bottom): Hmm...
L: Gath Daddy! Gath!

call - verb: to talk on the phone
(phone rings, I answer, talk, hang up)
K: Daddy, who you calling?
L: Who you calling?
me: That was your mom.
K: Daddy, why?
L (arms up in the air to be picked up): Why Daddy? Why?
me: She wanted to know if you girls were still awake.
K: Why?
L: Why?
me: ExACtly!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

paddling: fourteen on the right....

How it looked to the birds

Yesterday (Saturday) we had a hard, wonderful paddle:
  • 15 miles
  • 2+ hours
  • In the sun
  • Wow!

It was calm, gray at the beach at Water Way 18. Enough paddlers showed up to fill the 12, and both OC6s. 24 paddlers on a Saturday in January!

My boat had Sabine in #1, me in 2, Kristi in 3, Jocelyn in 4, DougM in 5 and DougN steering. It was a good group, and I knew we were going to work hard, but I was also a bit nervous because DougM said up front that we were all going to swap with the seat in front of us 1/2 through the workout. So I'd be stroking for at least part of the time. The last time I paddled in 1 I actually enjoyed myself, but that wasn't with Sabine right behind me or both Dougs further back, so the pressure was on!

We headed out toward Montlake Cut with Sabine setting a good pace, and as we warmed up the canoe felt good, moving well through the water. Then, coming out on the east side of the cut, the sun slid up out of the low clouds surrounding the lake and light was flashing off the water. Sunshine in January! On Lake Washington! Oh yeah, it was going to be a great morning.

Our workout: 1min off/1mile on. How many?

"We're going to do a bunch of them" DougN said. And laughed his crazy laugh.

So we started, and it didn't take long to reach the 520 bridge. We cruised under it and headed south toward the I-90 bridge. The water was smooth, the sun sharp in my eyes. I loved it! With the misty air in the distance, it felt like photos I've seen of autumn lakes taken from duck blinds, quiet, peaceful, still.

The paddling was hard but oh, it was good. I felt it a bit in my back but did my best to just keep up with Sabine.

Here's one thing I love about paddling in an OC6: it's hard to ease up and slack off when things are going right. When the timing is there and everyone is focused, the boat leaps out from under you with each stroke and it actually feels like you're not working as hard as you are. It also feels like everyone else is working harder than you are, and you just can't quit. When that's happening I get a rush and then paddling hard seems easy. It's almost harder to not paddle hard.

We moved through the sets, the rest minutes passing much too quickly, and I lost track of how many we'd done. How many 1mile-on sections? Who knew? We kept pushing. I squinted happily the sunlight and we made the I-90 bridge, then went under it and turned east to finish our current 1mile-on segment.

Then, at last, a break. "Paddles up!" We stopped. Calm water, with the bridge off to our left, a few cars moving east and west over it. The canoe bobbed quietly. Everyone grabbed water and cooled off and each pair of seats swapped.

Now I was going to be setting the pace. In spite of being a little nervous (I never want to do poorly, especially in front of people I respect) I was almost looking forward to this. My focus would be on keeping a regular pace, with a long reach up front. For the most part I think I managed ok. No one complained at least.

I'd run out of water before we stopped, so I had none on the return paddle, but I didn't miss it too much. Later I felt dehydrated, but at the time I was too busy working on doing as well as I could.

The lake's smoothness was disturbed only by the splashes of water birds and the (very) occasional wake of a distant, passing boat. The foggy areas over land in the distance just made the sunshine on us that much better. When the water is that calm, the canoe can feel easy to move, sliding across the surface in a deceptively smooth motion. At least when everyone is in sync. And the crew we had were awesome, strong and keeping together and it all just felt like it was clicking. We paddled north and across to the west end of the 520 bridge and then back to the cut and home.

By the time we reached the beach again, we'd gone 15 miles and over 2 hours and I was beat, but in the best possible way.

One of the most satisfying aspects of the morning is that our speed kept up (more or less) for the entire workout. Which means our conditioning is improving. (Sabine mentioned that getting to I-90 for a workout used to be the exception, that the team only did it a few times a year, in preparation for big races. Now (when the weather allows) it's more the rule!

What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

More stats for the stat-obsessed

Saturday, January 9, 2010

family: rock-a-bye, sweet L. J.....

Music is important to me. Both my parents sang and played ukulele, and M's mother has a nice singing voice as well. I love music and at one point played guitar for hours daily. We've sung to the girls regularly since they were born, and as explained earlier, K never took to it quite like L has.

At some point some months ago, I started singing while dressing the girls after a diaper change: "One leg at a time, we put our pants on one leg at a time." M dubbed me "Opera Man," a name the girls took to.

me (getting L back into her leggings, post-change): How do we do this?
L: One leg at time!
me: Yes. One leg at a time, we put them on one leg at a time!
L: It's Opera Man!!

Small pleasures.

Lately L has taken to singing to herself as she plays, something that always makes me smile. She'll be working on a project at the small table she and K share, drawing on scrap paper as she sings: "Rue-dof with your nose bright, you guide my sleigh night."

And a couple of nights ago, as I started in with the standard "Baa Baa Black Sheep" as I laid her in her crib, she shook her head.

L: Not sing that!
me (slightly sad, slightly relieved): No?
L: No. Sing cowboy song.
me (pleased): There is a young cowboy who lives on the range...

When I reach the part about singing out a song that is soft but is clear, L generally raises her pacifier if she's not too tired and says "I have clear one," and I say "Yes you do, but that one is light blue" and she tucks it back into her mouth and looks up and listens while I finish. She's never asked about the "dreaming about women and beer" line.

K, she's never wanted to deviate from "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Jingle Bells."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

photo thursday (bonus): i'm working so hard....

(from the "shameless commerce division" of my blog, here's a photo taken near the finish line of last saturday's race (and stolen from someone's facebook account)):

Catching up....

Things not evident: my 4 layers on top, the wind we'd been in, my sore okole and numb foot, my thrill at making it to the end....

photo thursday: memories of west maui...

During the years we worked at the botanical gardens at Kapalua, the Honolua Store was one of our regular stopping places. Plate lunch for maybe $5. And so ono too! I don't know if it's gone now or just turned into a tourist shop.

This shows a surprisingly quiet moment out front. Possibly on a Sunday....

March, 1983

It's odd now to think that we ever lived on the west side (this, in spite of the fact that my parents spent several months in Lahaina while during the HC&S intern program).

I think of myself as such an East Maui kind of guy. I have never been much for the nightlife or the crowds of the tourist areas, but for a few years there while I was taking time off from college, the West Side was my home. I did a fair amount of bodysurfing at the old Stable Beach (now David Fleming Park). And a lot of snorkeling off Kapalua.

I saw the spinner dolphins moving along the coast in their large group, and regularly watched as a couple of windsurfers tore out across the channel, heading to Molokai and back over the afternoon-metal ocean. They had long thin banners streaming off the tops of their masts like medieval jousters (I imagine) and I've speculated that they might have been Jenna Severson and her husband. I'm not sure when he was lost at sea, but I think the timing is about right for these to be them. Or perhaps it was her father, John. These were good, experienced sailors, fast and unfazed by the regularly bumpy conditions of the tradewind-swept water.

We worked early at the garden, starting at 6.30a and then at 6, finishing by 2.30 or 3p, thus making it easy to get in a session of bodysurfing afterwards. It was only by the kindness and generosity of Colin/Margaret that we were able to live in their condo (21v-2 I think was the number... curious that it pops into my brain). They pretty much underwrote our life there, the biggest expense being food and utilities.

After I traveled in Europe and came home again, I worked in Lahaina on a noon-9pm shift, which meant I could spend my mornings snorkeling and taking pictures while the tourist world was still waking up (one of the things I've always loved about agricultural Maui is the early start to the day -- by 6.30a there were people out and about, working, heading to work, busy in the cool part of the day).

And though it feels like a divergence from the norm, it was a good time living with Kim and working outside in the tropical climate, free to spend time in the water, listening to music, being in our early 20s.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

single-definition wednesday: bolly-ball

bolly-ball - noun: a game played using a bolly-ball (duh) and a net on a warm sandy beach.


me: L, look at this. This is what you and K are going to do, play volleyball as a pair and go to Stanford on a free ride and then to the Olympics and we won't have to pay for your college but we'll get to go watch you winning.
L: Mama, bolly-ball!
M: Hmm... yeah.
me: They won't have to wear those short-shorts!
M: Right, you'll tell them not to and they'll listen to you.
me: Right.
K: Actually, it's volleyball.
L: Bolly-ball!
K: No! Volleyball!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

family: motion pictures on my tv screen....

So I (or rather, Santa) bought K the first season of Saddle Club for Christmas. This is an Australian horsey-girl show that K and I used to watch every Sunday morning as a father-daughter bonding experience because we're both so horsey and girl and we've not seen it since the switch to digital because:
  1. we don't have cable/satellite/radar TV
  2. we don't get PBS

But Christmas morning K found the complete first season of Saddle Club in her stocking, and we've been watching 2 episodes a day since 12/25.

Which is a lot of Saddle Club and a lot of TV and I'm not sure how to reduce the amount except as a punishment when she loses "privileges" which happened 2 days ago:

(a bunch of stuff happens that leads to...)
me: If you don't lie down quietly, you'll lose the privilege of Saddle Club tomorrow.
K (failing to lie down quietly)
me: No Saddle Club tomorrow.
K: No! (wails loudly enough to wake her sister, which is one of the main reasons she was being threatened in the first place) Sob sob sob.
me (wishing maybe I'd come up with another lost privilege instead): now lie quietly (right!).

Nice parenting, dude!

So the next day, instead of Saddle Club, we watch 2 episodes of Curious George taking the sting out of the consequences such that it probably was a waste of both our time/energy except that it gives her one more thing to talk to her therapist about in 20 years.

But here's the deal -- We don't like to expose either girl to too much TV. We rarely watch, so it's down in our basement and not often on. Except during Saddle Club. And 2 episodes every day seems like a lot to me.

I also am finding several issues with Saddle Club:
  1. The season we were watching on PBS was the 3rd season (apparently)
  2. The actors all changed after the 2nd season, so there's the "who is that?" question each time someone appears
  3. The plots are frequently over K's head, and always over L's entire little toddler body
  4. The plots are more often than expected quite scary (lightening storm leading to young girl horse riders falling over cliff, snake biting young girl horse rider's leg, uninsured racehorse with hurt leg being threatened with falling over cliff snake bite being sent to the glue factory)
So you can imagine the conversations that come as a result of each episode.

K: Why stealing horse?
K: Why snake?
K: Why mean dogs?
L: Wha?
me: uh... uh.... want to watch another one?
L: Horsie!

The problem is, 2 episodes of Saddle Club means upwards of 40 minutes of uninterrupted time for at least one of us parental types (minus time spent sitting with K&L, explaining things like wild dogs and mean racehorse owners).

Damn that Santa! Damn that insidious Australian mega-corporation intent on ruining my girls' minds!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

paddling: running on... empty? (warning - long)

Yesterday (1/2/10) I participated in my first OC1 (single person outrigger canoe) race. This was notable for:
  1. being my first OC1 race
  2. being my longest time in an OC1 (other time - about 30 minutes during a practice)
  3. being my longest distance in an OC1 (6.5 - 7 miles)
  4. being in quite gusty weather
  5. being in January in Seattle

I guess the water was around 42 degrees. I'm glad I didn't know that until afterwards. The winds were ~12-15 knots, with gusts over 20, coming from the SW. The weather was cool and fairly dry (at least one squall came through just as we were launching, kicking up more wind and dropping some rain).

The race ran from just off the SOCC beach (Waterway 18) on Lake Union to Sand Point at the north end of Magnuson Park. So, out under the I-5 bridge, the University Bridge, through the Montlake Cut and under the Montlake Bridge, then out onto Lake Washington and out to Webster point, at which point we were running before the southerly winds along the west shore of Lake Washington.

The gathering beforehand was pretty cool, with lots of OC1s, a few OC2s, a handmade bamboo OC2 that was designed after traditional Hawaiian fishing canoes and paddled by a neat couple, 3 OC6s, a couple of racing shells including at least on 8 and one 2, and 2 dragon boats, which are Chinese in origin and seat 12 or something, plus a steersperson and a drummer -- they look crazy because they look like they've got about 280 people crowded into them and they're brightly colored and I never would have taken one out in the weather we had. Oh yeah, there were a few SUP folks and at least one paddleboard, along with some surfskis.

I was a bit tentative at the beginning, feeling the wobbly-ness of the boat and trying to get a sense of how tender it was going to be. Most of the boats went south, figuring they'd blow north to the start. I hung out at the start, waiting for the horn that was our "go" signal.

When it came, the masses charged forward and I followed, paddling carefully, still working on getting acclimated to the canoe and conditions and warming up slowly. Speaking of warmed up, I was wearing neoprene shorts under neoprene long pants, with 4 layers of shirt above, topped by my PFD. I didn't want to go into the water,but I wanted to be able to handle it if/when I did huli. And I had some neoprene booties on my feet, with plenty of water in them from launching the canoe.

I followed folks out under the first 2 bridges and then across to Montlake Cut, after which it seemed like everyone took off. I was near a couple of women in OC1s, the couple in the bamboo OC2, a paddleboard, and an OC6 that looked to me like fairly inexperienced women. Melissa, who was doing the race too, was close behind me, though I didn't spend a ton of time looking back after I reached Lake Washington.

I was nervous about the wind (I'd woken up several times during the night, hearing it in our trees and wondering just how crazy I was to be doing this race with my lack of experience), but it wasn't bad through the cut and even out to Webster Point.

Then, starting downwind to the north, I was paddling with the wind swells and most of my energy went to keeping myself from getting tossed. There were times when I was able to think about pushing my stroke, but those were rare. The paddleboard slowly dropped back (I think). The OC2 quickly pulled ahead. I found myself paddling for many many strokes on one side (usually the left, ama side), and had to consciously switch over. The one woman near me (Wendy was her name) continued to be close for about 2 miles before she pulled ahead too. We even chatted for a bit as we both moved north. Then she was ahead and as I neared Magnuson Park, another woman in an OC1 (Kristen) came quickly past, surprising me. I figured she probably started late and would blow past others ahead as well.

When I considered what I was doing I realized I was spending a lot of energy putting on the brakes. Larger (2 foot?) swells would come from behind, lifting the stern up and skewing me one way or another. I found I sometimes mis-steered, pressing the wrong pedal and exacerbating the swing. If I'd known what I was doing I would have been able to surf the "bumps," but instead, given the high likelihood of flipping and then needing to deal with being soaked and out of the boat in the wind and swells, I was focused on keeping upright by regularly digging my paddle into the water to let the waves pass under me. I think I was mostly under control, but I was moving slowly.

And there was a complication: I'd been losing feeling in my left toes through the first 1/2 of the race. I'd gotten a fair amount of water into my booties as I launched (there's no way around this with short booties), and by the time we reached roughly halfway in the race I had a wooden foot and no feeling up to my knee. This made steering quite difficult, and there were times when I wondered if I could/should finish the race. It certainly added to my caution as I fought the swells and mostly drifted north.

But once I rounded that north point, the water was protected and flat and I could focus on paddling hard.

The 2 women in OC1s were within reach, so I set my goal to catch them. The first (Kristen) I caught fairly quickly (I learned later that she was a good paddler and experienced in surfing canoes, but hadn't been training much on the water). The second, Wendy, the one I had been keeping pace with until we reached the downwind run, was harder to catch. I slowly gained on her as we approached the finish, and then DougN happened by, heading back to the start (he was going to paddle back to the start, meaning upwind, after doing the race -- he's a bit nuts and an awesome paddler) and he yelled some encouragement and reminders to stretch and work the forward part of my stroke. That helped a lot, focusing me on really powering the front of my stroke.

The last 500 yards were a race, and I slowly crept up on Wendy, gaining, gaining, while she kept paddling hard and well and staying out ahead and to my right. With maybe 50 yards to go I was a couple of feet behind her, overlapping her canoe, and I stuck to paddling on my left side simply because I didn't want to lose any momentum by switching over to my right. We raced down toward the dock that marked the finish, and at some point as we crossed in what seemed like a dead tie, I heard someone say "number 5 is first" and a horn. I was #5!

It took me some time to catch my breath, and I really didn't care as much about having beaten Wendy as I did about having caught her. Later she told me she'd though we were both over the finish so she stopped paddling. Which is a shame, because if she was even with me, she should have been noted as even.

Melissa came in shortly after, having spent her downwind time working on learning to surf the wind bumps. It's something I need to learn, and something that she'll benefit from having done, but I just couldn't bring myself to risk a dump in the water and a struggle to get back on the boat. Maybe in April, but not in January. I'm a wimp! She ended up catching some good ones and was pretty pleased about that.

And Rob and Naomi were there to greet us! Nice to have well-wishers at the finish line.

All in all, I'm happy with the race and the experience. It was a little nerve racking, but I think I was able to get away with doing it because I'm fairly comfortable in water. Not that it means I can do well in wind and swells, but I survived.

And Melissa's rule of thumb is:
  1. finish the race
  2. don't huli
  3. don't finish last
  • Accomplish any 2 and it's a good day.
  • Do all 3 and it's a great day.
  • So, we both had a great day. And a January 2 paddle in Seattle.
Oh yeah, by the time I finished I'd regained my feeling in my leg (I forgot completely about it during my race to the finish), so I suspect it was mostly due to my leaning left toward the ama during the bumpy windy section. The push at the end probably helped forced blood back into my leg as well.

And I heard from Rob that one of the dragon boats hulied. Not my idea of a good time, landing in the water with 279 of my closest buddies, all with paddles! I guess they got to the shore fine.

Updated: Just got the results:
  • I came in 37th out of 59 finishers (13th OC1 at 74:53.59)
    (one double shell and one dragonboat didn't finish)
  • First OC1 in was Alan Goto (8th at 57:26.45)
  • DougN was the 3rd OC1 (16th at 61:20.15)
  • Melissa was 43rd (79:33.32).
  • Winning boat was a single racing shell (51:06.94)
  • And it looks like the bamboo OC2 came in one spot (and less than a minute) ahead of me (74:07.40)

Friday, January 1, 2010

family: dance to the music...

me: I got some chocolate milk. You girls can have some if you like.
K: Actually, I had some chocolate cookie.
L (dancing in excitement): Choco milk!
me: K, you can still have some chocolate milk.
L (dancing faster, harder): Choco Milk!!
me: Yes, I'll get you some L.
L: In hippopotamus cup. I need hippopotamus cup.
me: Uh, that one is broken. I've got elephant and monkey and giraffe....
K: I had chocolate cookie. 2 pieces of chocolate cookie. It was really chocolate.
me: Really? Was it good?
L: I need hippopotamus cup.
K: Yeah, it was.
me: Elephant or monkey, monkey?
L (pointing at the elephant cup): That one.
me: K, you can have chocolate milk too.
K: Ok.