Saturday, July 25, 2009

July Adventures

You know the band Blues Traveler? I babysat their kids a few weeks back when they played a show at the Belly Up. The band is friends with JG, my boss from the winter whose kids I watch a lot, so I had a house full that night.
I went cliff jumping (I'd call it 'cliff diving' because it sounds so much cooler, but that would be lying) at the Devil's Punchbowl outside Aspen a couple of weeks ago. It looks like this:
and of course that's not me jumping, but you get an idea of what it was like. I was a little scared, but it seemed safe enough. (I let about 10 guys go before me, and when none of them got hurt I decided to take a stab at it.)
I'm playing softball for two teams - my own, a rec team that plays in Snowmass on Tuesday nights, and my buddy JM's team, which is significantly more competitive. I love that sport! My "coaches" have put me at 3rd, where I used to play, and I can bat better than I ever could when I was a kid. Now if only I could stop making so many errors on the field...
I hiked La Plata Peak with RS and FL, a friend from work. It was a gorgeous hike and it kicked all three of our relatively-in-shape asses. The trail is just over 10 miles long round-trip, but there's more than 4,000' of elevation gain between the trailhead and the summit, so it's like walking up more than five miles of stairs...with 30 pounds on your back. (How and why do I always end up with such a heavy pack?) We took some pretty pictures:
Cape Cod was amazing! I was only there for five days (as opposed to Courto & Dad's six, Jefe's eight and Mom's 10) but I had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the right coast. Some highlights:
-Courto and Jeff and I landed at Logan late Thursday night, and the next morning I had a coffee date with NG, a friend-of-a-friend from high school. We're Facebook buddies, and last week we deduced - by way of status updates - that we'd be passing through at about the same time, and hey, why not get together? We talked for about an hour and it was one of the most fun random encounters I've ever had.
-I witnessed Grampy eat a whole lobster and then pieces of about six more in ONE MEAL
-Mom, Dad, Jefe, Courto, Brenda, Chris and Kerry and I spent an afternoon on Nausett Beach, which will forever be one of my ultimate happy places
-Dad and I went for a bunch of runs along the streets in New Seabury (where Brenda lives), all of which were AWESOME - running at sea level is amazing!
-Mom, Dad, Courto and I took a ferry to Martha's Vineyard and rode bikes all along the island, then split a bottle of wine (one of BS's wines) on a beach near Vineyard Haven
-For Grampy's birthday, the whole family was together for a whole afternoon - Rolfe, Carol, Grammy and Grampy, Bob, Brenda and Chris and Kerry, and us - and we ate and swam in the pool and drank Sam Adams
Courto, Dad, Mom and I on Martha's Vineyard
One More Unexpected Spark:
-On the bus home the other day, a mother and her little girl were sitting a few seats away from me. The little girl said something like, "I would love to be handicapped, because then I could just sit in my wheelchair all day!" Of course my ears pricked, and no sooner could I think Use people-first language, kiddo! than her mother scolded her for thinking that, saying something like "Oh hunny, you're so wrong - if you were handicapped, you couldn't run, you couldn't play soccer, you couldn't swim, you couldn't go to the playground..." and it went on like this for what felt like five minutes. I was shocked at how many "you coudln't"s this mother came up with! Of course you know what I was thinking - Jeez, lady, you don't have a clue - but then I thought, cheers for growing up in a family where we figured that out.

Grandma's 80th Birthday Party

I figured that at least once I should keep my promise to write an additional entry on a certain topic when I declare that I will. Grandma's birthday was May 31st, and all of the Schleuseners (I don't think we were missing a single person...?) celebrated together the weekend prior. I'm gonna let some pictures do most of the talking:
As it was Mom's birthday too, and as she will only eat Whole Foods' berry chantilly cake for her birthday, and as there is no Whole Foods anywhere near South Dakota, and as her progeny are especially crafty, the Dad-Kelseroo-Courto team concocted a plan to smuggle TWO cakes to the party and surprise Mom with it. It wasn't easy, but we pulled it off. I ordered, picked up, and packed the cakes in the car without her having any idea, and the look on her face when we pulled them out to sing to her was priceless. The picture above: our gigantic cooler under a bunch of pillows in the back of the Yukon XL.Meet Moose, our cousins' new dog. Adorable, right? He held my attention for most of the weekend.Rick had a baseball game on Thursday afternoon, right as we pulled into Rapid.On Friday, we golfed. Rando organized a scramble (is that what we'd call it?) at a course just outside Rapid; Courto and Amy and Katie and I, Aunt Kathy and Susie, Michael, Tom and all the uncles played. Poor Kathy and Susie got stuck playing with us four girls, which I'm sure was a huge drag because a) they're really good and b) we'd never played. Ever. We didn't suck that badly, but we also didn't take it seriously for even a minute. And on the whole it was way more fun to drive the carts around than actually hit the ball.Like Babe Ruth, but for golf. And I nailed this shot. I think it's all thanks to that horrible yellow polo shirt.
Then on Saturday, Katie and I hosted "Grandma's Birthday Fun Run," a family road race born from our desire to run a half marathon that weekend. Since there wasn't one in Rapid, we made one: we plotted a course, printed and laminated signs to post mileage, hopped on our bikes at the crack of dawn Saturday to post them, then ran 10 miles. (Turns out, we couldn't really safely run a full 13 on that edge of Rapid.) Almost all 50-some odd Schleuseners ran/walked/biked at least part of the course. Our tagline, "You can't pick your family, but you can pick your distance!", was on the back of our teeshirts (Karen headed that project). I think that was my favorite part of the weekend.
After the race, Katie, Courto, Mom, Amy, Karen and I had a mojito party on Rando and Karen's deck. And then we napped, showered, and had Grandma's birthday dinner, followed (of course) by Big Jefe's movie.
Sunday was church and brunch, then departures. I cried when everyone left. I like having everyone together, and I don't know when we'll all be back under one roof again, and it makes me sad.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I never thought it would take me until the middle of July to pen an update, but, well, here we are, and here goes...
The off season was so phenomenal. (Actually, almost everything I've experienced in the last several months has been "phenomenal," so prepare yourself to hear that adjective many times in the next several paragraphs.) I'll do my best to make the synopsis concise, as I value your readership and don't want to bore you to death, but three months of intentional adventurous living doesn't lend itself to summary in a few short sentences.
I screwed up my wall pretty badly, but only lost $20 of my damage deposit!
It didn't take long to re-remember how to live at Mom and Dad's, and before I knew it the ski season felt totally behind me. I spent most of my days kicking around the house, cleaning up my stuff, running, and trying to earn my keep (picking up Christian in Longmont, mowing the lawn, etc), and most of my evenings with friends. (One really fun night I ran into 19 friends from college in Old Town. Yes, I made a list.) As I was dead broke - and remained dead broke through the beginning of July - I got creative with my time and money, and survived in large part thanks to my parents' generous pledge to not charge me for rent or food. Thanks, guys. :)
Dinner with Mom and Courto
The end of April and beginning of May, I drove to South Dakota to spend a few days with Grandma, Grandpa, my aunts/uncles/cousins and a few friends who live in Rapid. Beth was confirmed on Sunday, but I wanted a little extra time with the family all by myself. It was such a great trip - I played cards with Grandma until the middle of the night, had lunch with Tom two days in a row, got to see both Beth and Tom perform, had coffee with Wanda (she's close enough to family to get her name mentioned instead of just her initials), went for a long run with Rando, and helped Karen and Grandma cook dinner for 400+ people at church.
I worked at camp for three weeks with AJS, GW, CM and two new girls (whom I totally loved - camp is in good hands this summer!). Aside from being wholly necessary to keep me busy and provide a teensy bit of spending money, it was refreshing and healthy and fun to be back at camp. I was so thankful to get to catch up with AJS, breathe some fresh air, have regular Bible studies and teach some punk little private school third graders.
Making a "Welcome to Sky Ranch!" sign for the kids. As is probably obvious, it didn't turn out so well.
With AP, one of the new girls at camp
CM playing with fire
Three of my favorites from camp - TM, ZW & AW
On the weekends, we celebrated Dad's birthday (53's gonna be a good year for him - that was in the cards a long time ago, as 53 is Rando's old football number), ZH's college graduation (such a hilarious hick party), PS & MS's high school graduation, and then finally Grandma's 80th birthday. That last one will get its own post.
I moved up to Snowmass on June 7th to take a job as a hostess at a restaurant, the name of which rhymes with "Schmage." As I'm about to detail, the job ended up being such a terrible experience - and I'm going to deride it so much - that I don't want the actual name listed in my blog in case these negative comments are someday discovered. Anyhow, the position was awful from Day 1. The management was perpetually stressed out (which rubbed off on me in a big way); the hours were terrible; the money was terrible; I had to take my nose ring out; I wasn't allowed to drink coffee before work (HAH, as if they could stop me from that). As I complained about it, RS succinctly put the last nail in the proverbial coffin by saying, "I think you're a little overqualified to lead sheep to their feed." Now I realize that every job is an opportunity, so I found myself a new job and, like a responsible adult, gave my two weeks' notice at the Schmage and worked my BUTT off for two weeks (80+ hours between the two) before my last day a couple of weeks back.
And about the new job: I now work at Aspen's premier outdoor outfitter, the Ute Mountaineer. I cannot be emphatic enough about how much I love this job. The people are fabulous; we sell the COOLEST gear and clothes; I work just over 40 hours in 4 days, so I have 3-day weekends every week; it's located right next to the bus stop, so I don't need to drive to work. It's a lot like working at Outpost, only bigger and much busier. It has already made my summer completely fantastic.
July, thus far:
I'm settling in.
Work has only been fun so far, and because I've started to really explore Aspen and the trails surrounding the city, I'm getting more comfortable with giving customers advice on where to go and what to do. A group of people from work are coming with me (I organized it!) hiking La Plata Peak tomorrow, which should be a lot of fun.
My living situation is brilliant. I have three roommates: a) UP, a 51-year-old Peruvian who works in housekeeping at the Ritz-Carlton and brings home bags full of the things her wealthy clients leave behind when they check out of their room; b) JVH, a 31-year-old Chilean who works the childcare program at The Snowmass Club and speaks hardly any English, so we're teaching each other our native languages; and c) ES, a 21-year-old Romanian who works as a waitress at the pool at The Snowmass Club and is sweet as pie. She is perpetually boiling potatoes and is fluent in Spanish, so that is the language we speak in our house. (Guess who's learning?) Our apartment is part of an employee housing complex in Snowmass, so we're surrounded with other people our age. It's like the post-college dorms, and I love it. I'm two floors away from RS, who is yet again my go-to friend in Snowmass, and several other buddies from the winter who are always available to play frisbee or share dinner or hang out on the hammock and listen to the Thursday night concerts. My room is covered in pictures; I'm growing tomatoes on my patio. Really, really, life is good.
Hanging Lake, just outside Glenwood Springs
Other Unexpected Sparks from Pretirement:
- Following Amy, Katie, Courto, and Aunt Karen on Twitter
- Remembering how much I love running, and finally getting to run at least 10 miles at a time
- Finding $9 jeans at the Gap
- Being away from Facebook for about two months. It was liberating.
Great Quotes from Pretirement:
- "It was like, you could play Snake, or you could call someone. Or you could check what day it was." - EW, on having a cell phone in 10th grade
- "It was kind of...the writing was on the wall, Nebukannezer-style, because we were months behind on our rent." - EW again, on the close of his restaurant in Windsor
- "I know it's ironic, but I'm jealous of that Bible." - Katie, on the Lutheran Bible Beth received for Confirmation
- "He's probably dreaming about where he can't go." - my cousin Rick, on watching his yellow lab, Zeke, stare out at the Black Hills from within the confines of his electric-fenced yard
- "What's that over there? That looks like the thing that Jesus got tortured on." - A third grader from a private school in Fort Collins, on a cross in a worship site at camp
- "There's efficiency, and then there's theft." - AJS, on a teacher from said private school who walked off with another staff member's backpack
- "Gladiator is just a pissing contest with a lot of money." - RT on watching 'Gladiator' on TV at the Stonehouse one night
- "Yes, but you can buy a dog. I can't BUY a baby." - my roommate JVH on which of us wants it more
On the docket for the rest of the summer:
- A trip to Cape Cod for Grampy's 80th birthday this Thursday through Tuesday, July 21
- Backpacking east of Independence Pass with Jeff either late July or early August
- Amy, Katie, Courto and my annual Cousin Trip, this time to San Francisco, August 14-18
- A raft/float trip down the Niobrara River in Nebraska sometime late August (I'm still planning this one, and if you're reading this, you're invited - it's gonna be a BLAST)
- KH & SD's wedding in Salt Lake City over Labor Day weekend
I'm so glad to be alive.