Thursday, December 30, 2010

May you be safe

"Even though I often give in to the
many fears and warnings of my world,
I still believe deeply that our few years
on this earth are part of a much larger event
that stretches out far beyond
the boundaries of our birth and death.
I think of it as a mission in time,
a mission that is very exhilarating
and even exciting, mostly because
the One who sent me on the mission
is waiting for me to come home
and tell the story of what I have learned."

~ Henri Nouwen

Wishing safe travels to my friends who travel by road, air, sea, sled, and rail this weekend.

Image of NC Wyeth's "In a Strange Land" by Marxchivist

Monday, December 27, 2010

It takes a village to raise a mushing team

Who's head is bigger? EarthDoctorSon or Ginsberg?
The pup is almost 1 year old.

Shortly after the new year begins, Ginsberg will be a yearling. As if to take advantage of his last days of puppyhood, he has been so so sweet of late, plopping himself down next to me on the couch, and resting his big ole head on my lap.

He still greets me at the front door with his paw on the handle (in hopes he can open the door), his ears pulled close to his head, his head thrown back, jaws wide open as if he is shouting with joy. It's so silly, I can't help but laugh, and it's very hard to correct his bad habit of jumping up on me and trying to lead me around with his mouth engulfing my hand. But I digress.

The 44th Street Accidental MicroKennel is coming along quite nicely, thanks to some extraordinary professional help.

Allow me introduce you to members of  the Team :

1. Ace Team Handler
Winterfun begins! L-R: Me, Ace Handler Naomi, Ginsberg, Cora
I've officially designated my friend, Naomi, "Ace Handler" for the 4th Street Accidental Micro Kennel. She's been helping me train Ginsberg since he arrived. And it's no big deal to her. She's a horse wrangler, too, so large mammals don't intimidate her a bit. She also adores cats, but I can live with that. Recently she remarked that Ginsberg's head is the size that he was when I brought him home as a 7-week-old puppy. Who knew? That's my Ace Handler romping with Ginsberg, Cora, and me right after our first big snowfall last month.

2. The Team Surgeon

Happy Knees + TopFlight Knee Surgeon
I have completely healed from my second knee surgery. I'm astounded by the experience of being pain free. Pain is so insidious, isn't it? I realize now that I've had pain for years, and that it most certainly took a toll on my spirit and energy. I am incredibly grateful to TopFlight Knee Surgeon, who is a team physician for multiple professional teams in the Twin Cities, and is just as kind as they come. He willingly posed for a picture of me. Someday I'll have to sign a piece of mushing paraphernalia for him to hang in his offices, along with the authographed jerseys of big-time basketball, football, and hockey teams. Did I mention I'm the best musher he treats (and the only one he treats)?

And how cool is this? I recently discovered that PBS DragonFlyTV featured him in a fun video for kids about Real Scientists. I couldn't find a way to embed it, but I hope you'll have a look! It'll give you a sense of what a great guy he is.

Check this out!

3. The Team Doctor
Smarts + Kindness + Access = Complete AWESOMENESS
(Image by Travis Anderson for MSP Magazine)
One of the best things I ever did for my health was visit this mother tiger of a doctor for the first time (oh my goodness can it possibly be?) about 17 years ago. She was recommended to me by another very fine physician with whom I was working at publishing house. She is Brilliant. BRILLIANT, I tell you. I have worked with hundreds of doctors over the years and I have never ever known a more astute diagnostician. (Watch out Gregory House! She's way better than you, a whole lot nicer, and usually right the first time around!) What's more, she makes me laugh so hard, I feel better just for having spent a minute or two in her company. Which is kind of silly to say, because we rarely get through a visit in a minute or two. Why? Because we're laughing so much. I was so spent after the Year of the Sledgehammer, she highly encouraged me to take a little time off and I did and I'm much better for having done so. She is the first and only doctor who has kept better track of stressors in my life than I do. Oh, and did I mention how much we laugh when I see her. Check out the awesome book she made sure the Team had. I am also the best musher in her practice (and the only one in her practice). 

3. The Team Trainer
I've been sugar-sober since July. I just woke up one day and realized that refined sugar made me a little crazy. No, a LOT crazy. As in addict-kind-of-crazy. So I decided to withdraw from it cold turkey. Can't say it was easy, and sucrose/fructose/whatever-ose seems to be in EVERYTHING!  But it's been well worth the effort. Rather than look at going sugar-sober as some kind of deprivation, I opted to take a "wow, what's out there to eat that I've never tried before" perspective. I've not been a big fruit fan. But I must say I've discovered some pretty fabulous fruit that makes me work at eating it (dehydrated mango strips = lots of chewing; pomegranate = lots of peeling; ruby red grapefruit = even more peeling) and thus prolongs snack-time (more like snack dining than snack scarfing) and makes it much more satisfying.

Uber-Awesome Trainer Alex Stocco
I also purchased 6 sessions with a personal trainer, who I carefully screened (whilst huffing and puffing my way on an eliptical machine at the 24-hour Snap Fitness gym just a few blocks away) for several weeks. See, I tried personal training once at a big gym, and I could barely walk for the next 3 days, while the trainer marched off to an hour-long spinning class, then jogged over to teach bodypump for an 90 minutes. I didn't want another crazy exercise addict putting me through any paces that would set me back from my goal of building the strength and endurance I need for safely mushing. So I set the bar quite high.

Watching Uber-Awesome Trainer Alex work with a couple every Thursday morning (discreetly, out of the corner of my eye) let me scope out the suitability of a match. I was quite impressed with his enthusiasm, attention to his clients, and professionalism. So I sat down with him one morning, told him my limitations and my goals, and he started tailoring a plan for me on the spot. I've been hopping (yes, hopping) out of bed on Tuesday mornings as 5:40 am to meet Alex at 6 am. Come 7 am, I wobble my way back home, but by the next day, I'm just fine, and I am making honest-to-goodness progress. After sledding on Christmas day, I had zero-zippo-zilch-nada soreness or pain. And I credit Alex with helping me get sturdy enough to engage in my beloved winter sport.

4. The Team Transport: SubaRuby Rae
I've been without a car for going on 5 years, and my last car burned waste vegetable oil or biodiesel. But I decided I didn't much care for the politics around biodiesel, so I opted out of car ownership for a spell. I did use Mr. B's on weekends when I really need to run errands that could take hours by bus. Mostly it' was fine, surprisingly fine, actually. But I've yet to figure out how to board a bus with two Huskys (who are most definitely not your traditional "helper dogs") and a rather long sled to travel to a suitable trail for a morning run AND return home in time for Mr. B. to have the car by 6:30 am.

So I made a BIG decision. I let go being car-less and of owning a truck, and I purchased my own car. She's actually a "rescue" -- a 2000 Subaru Forester that was languishing in a salvage yard. She'd been in an accident and needed some body work (who doesn't?) but the price was most definitely right--and she has seat warmers!!! I was able to bring her home without acquiring debt! May I introduce to you: Miss SubaRuby Rae:

Miss SubaRuby Rae, who was christened last month with SNOW!
5. The Long-suffering Team Husband
Ginsberg and Mr. B get acquainted
Dear Mr B. He has put up with many of my crazy notions over 30 years, but I think he'd agree none has taken hold of his "bride" quite like mushing has. (Ok, maybe beading comes close). He's a mighty fine handler, too. And he has been the voice of reason when I've expressed certain intentions related to mushing by, for example, giving me the stink eye and saying: "Are you out of your MIND?"

But this week, when I broke out the the sled, he joined me, running ahead to encourage the pups, and at one point asked: "When do I get a chance to drive?" After about 20 minutes, when I suggested it was my turn again, he complained: "So soon?" I knew at that point,I had him--hook, line, and sinker!

6. The Team Sleds in the Cities
As best I can tell most of the better mushing trails are at least a 30-mile drive from my sweet little village nestled in the southwest corner of Minneapolis. But there are 3 awesome lakes and a creek that totally freeze over during the winter, all of which are in walking distance. Around each lake are separate bike and walking trails. So it hit me! I needed what's called a kick sled, which is like a chair on skis only way cooler. I did TONS of research to find one that would meet my needs and found (via Google images) the perfect little kicksled in Manitoba, Canada. It's only 10 pounds! Sometime, I'll share the story of trying to get a Canadian-made sled across the border in this day of heightened border security and reluctant shippers. But for now, I'll just say that Rob and Tammy at Prairie Dog Supply have practically moved mountains to get this pretty little kick sled 400 miles south to me. Having been roughed up a bit during shipment, my sweet kick sled arrived in need of repair. And the necessary part is on its way. Once we give it a test drive, I'll post some pictures.

7. The Team's Name
Last but not least, The Team comes by its name honestly. We're small -- and we seem to be prone to an accident here and there. Like this one, which was actually hilarious. Only Cora, who was not in lead, maintained her eyes locked on the direction I wanted to go. Charlotte (in lead) and Ginsberg, took a "gee" all of their own accord. No one got hurt, and since Mr. B was the only one watching, no egos were wounded either (Ahem, we have lots of work to do -- and glorious snow in which to do it!)
And I suspect (at least I hope) we'll be laughing all the way, ho, ho, ho.

My most sincere gratitude to all who have made possible
our little Team at the 44th Street Accidental MicroKennel!

A special shout-out to two special Team Cheerleaders

Shannon and Ginsberg
Amanda and Tempo
Shannon Miller of Diamond Dogs Racing Kennel in Ohiomy friend and a terrific musher of Diamond Dogs Racing Kennel who made my dream come true by allowing me to adopt Ginsberg.

And Amanda Stanoszek of Hoof and Howl Farm, whose gentle and wise words got me through the hardest parts of puppyhood (ie, housebreaking) and who adopted Ginsberg's sister, Tempo, who has turned out to be a powerful little sled dog.

And as Shannon likes to say when she signs off from her blog posts:
Mush Love!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


On my sled -- at long last!!!
Cora (l) and Ginsberg (r) in harness; Charlotte running alongside, on leash

 Mr. B's first ride EVER!

And lo and behold, Ms. Charlotte joins in -- as LEAD dog!!!

'. . . and on earth peace to all people'

Winter Child
by David Whyte

Myself at my door
like Blake
at home in his
my own heart opened
by the news
and my face
turned upward
and innocent
toward them.

All the stars
like a great crowd
of creation singing

above the blessed house.

Hyvää Joulua
Merry Christmas
Feliz Navidad

Image by Visit Finland

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And then 'turn the mirror' . . .


we need to look
to those we love and admire
in order to realize what
we value about life.

We can take time to note
what we like about others,
and then turn the mirror
to reflect the light
of those same words
and feelings toward

It can be quite revelation to see ourselves in this nourishing light.

When we can put the energy
that we've been devoting
to a phantom sense of achievement
into the truly satisfying aspects of our lives,
we can restore the balance
between our inner and outer worlds

and experience true joyful peace."

From Dec 6 Daily Om
Image by Samantha Steele (flickr)

*A very special thank you to Uncle KT who sent nourishing light my way Friday.*

Monday, December 13, 2010

A giant 'sand' box


We're digging our way out of a big snow dump. Yesterday, we had near white-out conditions. 

But today . . . well . . . it was heavenly!

And it occurred to me that part of why I adore winter and snow
is that the world turns into one big "sand" box and asks:
 "Can Kathleen come out and play?"

It's always best if I answer,
"Why yes!"

Luminaria lit by the sunlight, spotted on my walk this morning
Sunbathing, Minnesota style
Charlotte's first trip back to the dog park since she broke her leg during The Great Escape.

The pack  breaks trail up a hill: Cora (through muscle), Gins (by leaps and bounds), Charlotte (via pure scrappiness and heart)

Taking the hill in live action!

Surrounded by beauty--and love
Heaven, complete with "angels"
If you find your "sand" box this week, may you, too, decide to answer,
"Why, yes!"

Images by Mr. B

Saturday, December 4, 2010

'Bless you!'

"Claiming our
own blessedness
leads to a
deep desire
to bless others."

~ Henri Nouwen

Image by: priscilla_tonon


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