Category Archives: Michigan

Michigan

Skiing

“I don’t really need to do it.”

As soon as I thought those words, I knew I had no other option.  If it wasn’t for Do I Really Need To that I wrote in January, I wouldn’t have been looking down the steep face of a Black Diamond run. (Perhaps I should stop reading my own blog posts?)  I was confident, on the whole, that it would be a successful run.  After all, I was in middle school when my best friend, Kim, and I skied down Hemlock for this first time.  So, I didn’t really need to do it.  Or, did I? 

In middle school, Kim and I, along with just about everyone from our school, were members of a ski club. We spent every Friday night fighting off frostbite resulting from refusing to compromise our ski bunny looks.  It wasn’t cool to zip up your coat or wear a hat at a ski resort in the 80’s.  Being a ski bunny didn’t confine us to the bunny hill though, we raced, jumped, did tricks, took illegal trails and did our best to do whatever the boys did. 

However, up until three years ago, I hadn’t skied since 1997 when I lived near the Pocono Mountains.  I’d even forgotten I owned skies. We had shoved them into the attic for storage when we moved to Illinois in 2004.  By the time we rediscovered them, they were deformed and delaminated.  Luckily, I’ve been able to accompany my son on the Boy Scout annual skiing trip for the last three years.  I’ve gone from a weekly skier to a yearly skier, on rentals no less. Let’s just say 12 year old me can ski circles around the 42 year old me. 

Yet, 42 year old me had an advantage. I already knew I could ski this black diamond.  And, this time, skiing the black diamond wasn’t to impress 6th grade hottie, Dave Scalpone.  It was to impress upon myself that life is still full of opportunities that I won’t regret pulling off.  

At the end of the night, after skiing the black diamond several times, racing from one ski run to the next and traversing the icy hill at eye watering speeds, I gushed to another parent, 

“I am 50% exhausted and 50% exhilarated!”

That’s why I really did need to do it. 

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Filed under Michigan, snow, Uncategorized

I am an American

I married into a strong Latvian family and community. When I get asked about my ancestry, I say I’m about as American as you can get. I don’t think the Latvians really understand what I mean. While I greatly enjoy my husband’s connection to his culture and heritage, I’d like to take the opportunity to flex my American muscle.

Thank you, Scott Rose for all your hard work on Ancestry.com so that I can brag a little.

1. On two lines, I am the 14th generation born in America (or what would one day be America). Scarily enough, these two lines lead back to the same woman which means a couple of distant cousins married at one point. Things were different back in the colonial days.

2. Four times, I am the 13th generation. Nine times each, I am the 12th and 11th generation born in America. No cousins were involved in these lines.

3. There are a couple dozen times where there are more than seven generations between me and a European born ancestor.

4. The closest I get to a generation born in Europe was one time, three generations ago.

5. I’m not just American, I’m a Michigander. On my dad’s side, I was the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 5th generation to be born in Michigan. On my mom’s side, I was the 4th, 4th, 5th and 5th generation to be born in Michigan.

I’m proud to be an American. One day, I’ll be a Michigander again.

P.S. Thanks, Kristine for asking me if I am distantly related to Kelly Clarkson. You opened a can of worms!

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Six Steps Celebrating Jani: A Beginners Guide To PseudoLatvianism

Jani: A midsummer’s celebration that is like celebrating New Year’s Eve only it makes New Year’s Eve look like Groundhog’s Day. (Note: Reasons for celebrating Jani will be covered under PseudoLatvian Novice : Transitioning from Light-Weight to Mid-Weight.

1. Build a bonfire by the lake.

2. Build a bonfire so big that it could be seen 10 miles away. Since you’ll need to be in the country side for this bonfire to avoid being arrested for arson, it helps to follow number 1 so “could be seen” will change to “can be seen”.

3. Put a bonfire up on a pole. Lighting this bonfire can be tricky. The old tradition is to have a young man with the proper skills light it with an arrow. However, one missed shot in the wrong location could lead to a wildfire that can be viewed 10 miles away which is not the way to complete number 2.

4. Adorn your head and the head of everyone else with a crown of flowers or leaves depending upon gender, preference, or availability of materials.

5. Eat cheese. If it doesn’t have seeds in it, you’ve got the wrong cheese.

6. Sing and dance all night until the sun comes up. What else are you going to do while you wait for that “10 mile” bonfire to burn out?

To sum it up, enjoy the fires, accessorize with organics, and forget that you need singing and dancing lessons. Or, go to Garezers where you can be indoctrinated into PseudoLatvianism in one night.

20140623-114322-42202165.jpg2013 Jani Bonfire in forefront and pole bonfire in the distance.

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Filed under Michigan, PseudoLatvianism

A Different Point Of View

My breath was coming out in short, loud huffs. I wanted to look at the runners next to me to see of they thought I was about to collapse but I was too busy focusing on not collapsing. My sister would later ask me how it went. My reply would be that the only thing I did right was show up. I didn’t train, wasn’t eating right, hadn’t gone to bed before midnight all week, de-hydrated, and still weighed 15 pounds more than my last racing weight.

With the huffs, the heavy knees, and questioning my choice of foot ware, it was time for a mantra…

Focus on what you can do.

Repeat.

Focus on what you can do.

(Cue the music)
What could I do?
What could I do?
I got all choked up and threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son
And I came away with a different point of view…

Yes, I started singing A Boy Named Sue, although, only in my head because singing out loud would have required precious and in short supply breathing.

I came away with a different point of view…

Instead of looking at how poorly I was doing I had to take a new view. Ok, I was in poor shape but I was running. As bad as it felt, it felt good.

Running. It gives me a different point of view, especially about myself. I think it’s true for so many that come into running a little later in life. They think they know themselves. Too lazy. Too fat. Too slow. Too old. I ran and found out that what I thought either wasn’t true or it didn’t matter. I could run.

2 – 5K races completed in 5 days. 30:50 and 29:51 (right in the middle of my age group)
11 days until the next one. Training goal- 5 runs. Time goal sub-29 minutes.

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Filed under exercise, Michigan, racing, running

Snow

Do you ever think you forgot to pack your running gear because that was what you were supposed to do?

Mežotne is a home nuzzled between tree coated hills. At the present, both the trees and the hills are hooded with snow.

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I may not have had running gear but I was armed with hiking boots, water proof gear, and my iPhone camera. I said, “Let’s go hike. We don’t even have to leave the back yard.”

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People don’t understand why I like snow so much. I don’t understand why they don’t want to view the world under a whole new setting.

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Although, at this point, I was wondering why I kept choosing to climb the hills.

It was a thrilling day in the beauty wood.

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Filed under exercise, Michigan, snow

This One Time, At Band Camp

The other night, the hubs and I were watching the Olympic high platform diving. NBC was demonstrating how their dive camera conveyed the speed at which those ridiculously high dives took place. I turned to the the hubs and said, “This one time, in band camp… I jumped off the high platform.”

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A few years after band camp, the hubs and I fostered a long standing friendship with Dave and Elisabeth. We became best friends with them when we lived four blocks apart and we’d show up at their house every Sunday (or Friday or Tuesday) with a bucket of beer. Not one of those puny restaurant buckets, mind you, this was a plastic five gallon bucket of beer.

At the time, Dave and I worked for the same company. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent sharing stories around the water cooler between fighting “fires” at work. My stories almost always started with “Once, in band camp…”

So, can you imagine how hysterical we were when American Pie came out?

Just to be clear, none of my stories included a flute. After all, I played the flag. (Only the color guard will get that)

Still, to this day, Dave and other non-band geeks don’t understand band camp. Band camp was awesome. I only spent one week out of my Sophomore to Senior summers at Central Michigan University band camp but I came away with a lifetime of memories. I’ll never play the flag (or clarinet) professionally but when the Olympic divers get on the high dive platform, I know what it is like to stand there and look down at that teeny, tiny pool below and still have the guts to jump.

Oh, and this one time, at band camp…oh, you’ll just have to wait until next time to find out.

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Filed under Lessons learned, Michigan, music, swimming

Buckets of Fun

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What seemed like at first, a boy causing trouble turned into a twenty minute stretch of giggles, smiles, and bonding. Big buckets, small buckets, each gave as good as they got.

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Filed under family, Michigan