Author, Author!

April 14, 2017

My son Jon had his first book published yesterday. It is a biography of Ronnie Lee, the founder of the Animal Liberation Front, a direct-action group that works for animal rights.

Jon and I have some different ideas about politics and animals, but I am very, very proud of his persistence and discipline as a writer — and equally proud of his kind heart.

Congratulations to Grandma’s little “Yam-Head”!


Lucy’s Loppet

March 21, 2017

Lucy came home from college for spring break thrilled with the new snow and jumped into Saturday’s big local Loppet ski race, postponed from earlier in the season. Her racing season is over and she is tired. Her coaches have instructed her to rest. Lucy knew if she entered the 25K she would be tempted to race it, but she thought it would be fun to ski the 50K marathon (31+ miles!) simply “for a workout.” (I know, I know.)

Luckily, one of her best friends and training buddies, Nina, was also home from college and wanted to do the same. No pressure to go fast or beat each other. They just wanted to ski.

Lucy packed for this race as if she were going on a long hike.

The race announcer has known both girls since they were children. He surely could see that they were skiing easily side by side. However his job was to drum up suspense. Referring to them by their last names, he would say into the microphone, “Now Lucy is fighting ahead and gaining the lead!” or, “Now Nina pulls away!”

The girls laughed to themselves. They were casually discussing when to stop for water.

In the photo above, Lucy and Nina are emerging from the single-track tunnel under the road.

As planned, the girls crossed the finish line together, holding hands, just as Lucy did years ago with another friend in the 25K. In the automatic timing, Lucy was half a second behind Nina, with 3:27:31.

These days, the girls are so fit, and so few choose to ski a race so long and grueling, that they came in second and third overall!

 

 


Going Out in Style

March 13, 2017

This was the fourth and last time Lucy qualified for the nordic Junior National Championships. In future years she will be in the U23 category and no longer a junior. She has simultaneously aged out of her club ski team. I’m wistful for her, as this local group of boys and girls has been such a friendly, supportive, joking crew.

However, what a way to go out. It’s hard for a non-sports-person like me to comprehend an event like this. There were hundreds of competitors from all over the country, including a huge contingent from Alaska.

In the two distance events Lucy finished in the top ten, qualifying as “All-American” for the second and third time. She skied her leg of the relay with the second-fastest time in her age group. So she has both medals and satisfaction.

Lucy also was chosen to carry the torch to light the cauldron to mark the start of the championships. This honor was something of an error. It was supposed to be a local Olympian who carried the flame. However there was a mix-up and when the time came for the hand-off, this gentleman was nowhere to be seen. The flustered local announcer recognized my girl standing nearby in her jeans and leaned into the microphone:

“And noooooow, Lucy H— will carry the torch to light the cauldron!”

Lucy was startled but happy to oblige.

Yesterday I drove her and some of her friends to catch their ride back to college. The intense week is over.


Junior Nationals

March 7, 2017

Lucy has been home since Friday. Her college professors have given her permission to miss classes. The Nordic Junior Nationals are being held in our town this year, and at night she can sleep in her own bed.

Yesterday was the 5K skate sprint. Lucy came in 9th in her age group, making All-American.

I am a hopeless spectator at these events. I immediately start crying.

 


A Great Finish

January 23, 2017

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On Sunday Lucy had one more race. This was the Harry K. Eldridge Memorial, a race commemorating a former head of our school and tireless promoter of nordic skiing who died in the 1980s at only 50 years old. Lucy was born long after Harry’s death but has grown up hearing about the race and regularly skiing “Harry’s hill.” She also has known Harry’s widow, Betty (on whose fields I pastured my sheep for years), all her life.

Lucy went out fast and kept it up for all 10k. In the end she was beaten by a racer in her mid-20s and came in second. Here she is being interviewed at the finish…

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… and smiling at me. It was her third straight day of racing.

 

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As the top junior (under 20) racer of the weekend, Lucy won the honor of having her name inscribed on the Harry K. Eldridge memorial cup.

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Betty has had serious health problems but was able to be at the ceremony and give Lucy a hug.

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What a weekend!  I was very happy for my girl.

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Home for a Race Weekend

January 22, 2017

On Thursday Lucy came home for a ski race weekend, bringing her college ski team for dinner. It had been a very hectic teaching week for me so arranging to feed sixteen required some fancy footwork and cooking at 5 AM.

I made a big pan of vegetarian chili and a big pan of black beans and rice for burritos, baked two platters of cornbread, prepared a big bowl of salad, and baked two pans of brownies (one with nuts, one without) to go alongside a gallon of ice cream. Lucy was anxious that I’d made too much. I told her calmly that I’d been feeding crowds for thirty years and the worst thing at a party was to have bad food or not enough.

The kids poured into the house.

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In under an hour, every scrap was vacuumed up except a few leaves of lettuce and a lone slice of cornbread.

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I was, of course, teaching on Friday, the first day of the college carnival races. Lucy had a great day in the sprint. She was the top-scoring racer for her team, the St. Lawrence Saints.

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Yesterday I went out to the course to watch her 5k race. In general, I am the behind-the-scenes sherpa for Lucy’s sporting events. I drive carpools, I fix the food. DH drives the hours to attend. However, this race was almost literally in our backyard and I wanted to cheer for my girl.

Here she is, warming up with stretches before her number is called for the start.

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Ready, set…

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“Go, Lulu!” I screamed as she skied off into the woods. I found I had tears in my eyes.

Fifteen minutes later, she flew back into the stadium, skiing hard for the finish. Here she is after surrendering her bib.

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She stopped to speak to her coach, who was pleased.

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Lucy’s secret goal was to finish in the top 20 (out of 130) college racers in the northeast. This is a big reach for a freshman in her first college carnival races.

She did it both days.

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Sports mean little to me. (I did not grow up in a sports-oriented family. I played baseball in neighborhood backyards and tennis at the beach.) However, hard work means a lot — and Lucy has worked and worked.

I am so happy for her.


A Merry Christmas!

December 26, 2016

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Our family had a lovely Christmas weekend. Amanda and Jon arrived Thursday afternoon. Here they are Friday morning after walking Teddy (their dog) and Toby (Lucy’s dog) around the lake.

That afternoon we decorated the tree. Jon, at 6’4″, is always conscripted to hang the star at the top.

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I miss having all my CDs of Christmas carols (packed in storage with all the rest of our belongings) but Lucy found Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole on Spotify.

Gradually the tree came together. Jon likes to put an ornament he made in nursery school front and center. It is a very sad-looking orange dough pumpkin, mysteriously splashed with green paint, hanging on frayed yarn. “So artistic!” He also turned the ornament made by a student at Christmas 1986, which says “Jon” on one side, and “Lucy” on the other (our two choices for baby names when I was pregnant the first time), so that “Jon” was facing out.

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“I’ll put ‘Lucy’ facing out next year,” I said.

“She’ll forget!” Jon teased his sister.

Amanda’s favorite ornament is a tiny framed picture of Jon holding Lucy in the hospital on the day Lucy was born.

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The tree was smaller this year but still pretty.

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img_0989On Saturday, I had planned to drive us all down to the valley for the Christmas Eve candlelight service, but it was snowing, my organizational energy was flagging, and instead I baked homemade pizzas and we stayed in.

Our family has always had early Christmas mornings. DH and I will never forget the year Jon was six and too excited to sleep — we had finished opening presents long before dawn.  Now, though we remain early risers, we shoot for starting no earlier than 6 AM. This bright-eyed morning tradition is a big concession for Amanda, whose family exchanged presents closer to noon.

Lucy’s present to Amanda was a hand-knitted Christmas stocking, to match her own (made in the ’90s) and mine (made in the ’50s). Lucy taught herself how to turn the heel from Youtube videos. I, who have zero crafty skills, was very impressed.

We all put on our new pajamas from Santa: Amanda, Jon, me, and Lucy. Since DH doesn’t wear pajamas, Santa sensibly skipped him.

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Most of our gifts ran to used books. We are suckers for books costing a penny plus $3.99 shipping.

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Jon also gave Amanda a log carrier for their fireplace.

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After presents, while I roasted the turkey, mixed dough for whole wheat buttermilk rolls, and set the table, the kids played their annual Trivial Pursuit board game. This year the theme was Star Wars.

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While I feel pretty good knowing the names of the robots R2-D2 and C-3PO, the kids are all Star Wars devotees. DH, walking through the room, threw in an answer or two…

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… but Jon appeared to me to be the Jedi Master of intergalactic trivia.

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That evening we had a wonderful holiday dinner with our friends Mike, Tom and Alison, and two of their three children, Emily and Stephen. Tom carved the turkey as usual. There were candied sweet potatoes, stuffing, peas, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes with gravy, and whole wheat buttermilk rolls. DH helped me serve the pecan pie and ice cream.

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Though I was missing most of my cooking and serving supplies in storage (I don’t advise roasting a 23-pound turkey on a cookie sheet) it was nevertheless a happy feast.

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Before leaving on Monday, Amanda, Jon, and Lucy went for a ski around the lake. DH arranged them in a “podium shot” before they set out. (I believe Jon is indicating that he is number one, not his sister who skis for her college racing team.)

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On the far side of the lake I caught them again beneath Balanced Rocks, the shoulder of Pitchoff Mountain, which my children have hiked since they were small. It’s a classic short hike. Maybe Jon will take Amanda up next summer.

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This will be our second and last Christmas in this house. Though I cannot wait for a home of my own, watching the kids laughing and joking on the lake filled me with nostalgia already.

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Family times are good times.

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