Happy Solstice – The Return of the Light

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Up here in the North, the skies are dark even at mid day.  Clouds and rain add to the gloom. [update]  How dark is it?  My dusk to dawn lights came on before noon.

But that is all about to change (albeit slowly) for tonight is the longest darkest night, and the light will begin to return.

Happy Winter Solstice! (Of course, it is only Winter Solstice for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere; happy Summer Solstice to our friends South of the equator)

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Winter Solstice is the promise of new life; we really won’t notice the days getting longer until closer to Candlemas/Brigid/Ground Hog’s Day.

Tonight, a group of friends and loved ones will gather in my back yard for a bonfire (we may need rain gear this year). We will write down what we want to leave in the darkness as well as what we want to bring with us into the light and put those into the fire (which was of course, the yule log) The smoke from that fire will send our wishes to the heavens. (in a wish lantern, weather permitting)  We will then, “pass the light”, candle to candle whilst listening to (and in many cases, signing) Dar Williams, “The Christians and the Pagans”. We then all sang along to “Here Comes The Sun” a Solstice classic. We will then share food, drink and merriment through the darkest night.

It doesn’t matter what religion you are or aren’t. It doesn’t matter what you believe. The Solstice is an astronomical event that draws everyone together at this time of year to celebrate light, love and hope.

Each year, I love to post the Northern Exposure video to the story Raven Steals the Light being told (I’ve used it for the children’s story at Solstice rituals in years past)

It is a traditional story from the Northwest Coast and Alaska.

I like this Northern Exposure version.

Not everyone knows this, but the town of ‘Cicily Alaska” is about an hour and a half from where I live, and is in fact Roslyn Washington (yes, I’ve been to The Brick)

and here’s another wonderful story of light in a magical part of the world (the Great Pacific Northwest)…

And of course, my traditional Solstice post/greeting…

On this night, around 3,000 years BC, a very special event unfolds at a place we now call Newgrange. A group gathers around a large circular stone structure. A drumbeat resounds across the mist-shrouded hills of ancient Ireland, bump bump… bump bump… bump bump…; The heartbeat of mother earth. The scent of incense mingles with moss, moist earth and the burning torches. All gaze hopefully towards the eastern horizon. After what seems like an eternity, it happens, the rising sun begins its ascent. Once again all attention is turned to the structure with great anticipation. Suddenly an intense shaft of light pierces the innermost chamber of the structure, illuminating a stone basin adorned with carvings of spirals, eyes, solar disks, and other sacred symbols. A joyful sound rises from the crowd, who then begin to dance ecstatically. For the darkest darkness of winter has passed, and the light has returned. Soon: the hills will be covered in fresh green grasses and wildflowers, trees will bloom and set fruit, animals will give birth, the songs of birds will fill the skies. The cycle of life will continue. The world, once again, has been reborn.

Tonight we celebrate an event, which predates our modern religious celebrations, an event as old as time its self. Just as events like this were observed at Newgrange Ireland, we find similar ancient architectural wonders based on solstices and equinoxes all across Europe, Asia, The Americas, Indonesia and the Middle East. Thousands of years ago, these monolithic structures were built and elaborate ceremonies held, out of reverence for the cycle of life, and perhaps the fear that without human intervention, the sun would not return.

At the winter solstice, the tilt of the earth on its axis, is such that our hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun, our days are shortest and the sun is at the lowest arc in the sky. For thousands of years, our ancestors honored the cycles of life: solstices, equinoxes, harvests and plantings. The winter solstice is perhaps the most sacred of these celebrations. So sacred in fact, that modern religious observations all over the world take place on or near the time of the solstice. Solstice observance is not a celebration that excludes or dismisses any other religious celebration; rather it is the common bond of many modern and not so modern religions.

The time of the winter solstice represents death and rebirth, just as corn stalks wither and die in the fields in the fall, so does the symbolic god give his body to nourish the earth, only to be reborn of the goddess again on this darkest night. The original divine birth. Is it any wonder then: that the Christian church chose this sacred time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Hebrew people to celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Native Americans and other aboriginal peoples to celebrate their sacred events?

Solstice is not only a time to celebrate the retreat of darkness and the return of the light, but it is a time to look inward, at the darkness within ourselves and to embrace it. For without darkness, there would be no light. Without challenge, there would be no triumph. It is a time to celebrate the death of old habits, thought patterns, and difficulties, a time to celebrate a spiritual renewal. The darkness gives us all a chance to embrace and work through our own darkness, so that like the earth, we may also be renewed.

L. Lisa Lawrence
Copyright 1998

Here’s our observance from 2007 (the video is just too much fun!)

Here’s one from two years ago, in my back yard. For the last several years, the weather has cooperated for a bonfire even when the forecast is for a 100% chance of rain. Last night, the howling winds stopped just before we were ready to move outside.

Here are the songs from the video, my favorite Winter Solstice songs…

“The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams

Amber called her uncle, said, “We’re up here for the holiday,
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay.”
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree,
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
He told his niece, “It’s Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style,”
She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it’s been a while.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, “Is it true that you’re a witch?”
His mom jumped up and said, “The pies are burning,” and she hit the kitchen,
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, “It’s true, you’re cousin’s not a Christian,
But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And where does magic come from , I think magic’s in the learning,
‘Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, “Really, no, don’t bother.”
Amber’s uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.
He thought about his brother, how they hadn’t spoken in a year,
He thought he’d call him up and say, “It’s Christmas and your daughter’s here.”
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve,
Saying, “Can I be a Pagan?” Dad said, “We’ll discuss it when they leave.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old,
And making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold…

And of course, the required Solstice tune…

“Here comes the sun” by the Beatles

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
It’s all right…

Just now, it just now… happened…

Blessed Solstice all, let’s look to the light.

~L



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New Year Reflections, slide show and holiday card/letter

Happy New Year friends, family and chosen family.

While I don’t normally do “resolutions” (and if I do, I usually do them at the begging of the “Celtic” New year at Samhain in early November), I am ready to kick 2014 to the curb and look forward to 2015 being a new and awesome year.

2014 seems to have been a year filled with more challenge, tragedy, illness, death and trauma for just about everyone I know than any years in recent memory.  (as I write this, one of you is in surgery having a large, rare and malignant tumor removed from around your iliac vein and artery and another also with cancer is planning your own memorial)

Without offering up platitudes which those who are still struggling/grieving may not appreciate, I will just say that for me, that pesky phoenix metaphor holds true.  While just about every area of my life went up in flames (all at once) last year and it seemed overwhelming for a time, it is allowing me a fresh start on a lot of levels.

I enter 2015 in a much better place career wise-I love my job and have benefits again.  Small business, which contributes to society in a meaningful way seems to be my sweet spot between working for a soulless corporation for benefits and working for a non-profit with no competent leadership and no benefits.

While I’m pretty sure the debacle with the scummy mortgage servicer took a year or so off of my life, I ended up in a better position in a modified mortgage which has left me with a 1.25% decrease in interest rate and a 25% decrease in monthly payment.

While I very much appreciate (you’ll never how much that meant to me) those of you who offered to help, it was something I needed to do on my own and the end result was much better than if I had accepted help and tried to deal with the status quo.  It also helped me learn to navigate a corrupt system that is designed to victimize hard working people and reward the worst of the worst 1%.  I am using that knowledge to write a guide to help others who are in the same situation.  I have already been able to use my experience to advise others.

I extricated myself from a “relationship” which made me feel bad about myself every single day (and Yikes! Did I ever wait far too long).  While I still have work to do on myself and my habit of putting my own wants/needs/self-esteem aside in favor of others’ I feel that I am stronger for it and can only hope that moving forward, I am able to make healthier choices for myself.

So yeah, I’m still decompressing from it all, but looking forward, things look pretty darn good.  I managed to “rise from the ashes” once again and sooner or later the scent of singed tail feathers will dissipate.

I plan on filling my life with more friendship, love, hiking, cycling, running, backpacking, music, art and dance.

I wish all of you a happy, healthy, 2015!

I put together my annual year end slide show, which those of you not on Facebook haven’t seen yet.

It just goes to show you that 2014 had a lot of high points despite the challenges, and most of them involved you, my friends and chosen family (a lot of you are in it)

Book update 
I’m still waiting on proofs from the book; I ordered a bit too close to the holiday rush.  I will let you know as soon as they are ready.

New Years Eve – First Night!

Don’t forget First Night on New Year’s eve.  The forecast is for clear and  no snow so once the indoor venues close at 11:30 and everyone moves to the square for our fiery countdown to midnight, it will be comfortable (if you’re dressed warmly, unlike we performers)

My fire siren friends and I will be in the parade with our LED toys as well as in the fire spectacle at midnight.  It’s going to be awesome this year!

An article on first night was just posted in last Friday’s Trib

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/12/26/3554861_fire-food-spectacle-and-music.htm

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For those who didn’t see it on Facebook or receive it by email or snail mail, here is the holiday card and BadKitty’s sarcastic letter.

holiday card 2014

holiday letter 2014

Family, Love, Loss and Magic at Christmas

Tis the season.

The season of love, joy and family.

It is the season of shared traditions.

For many, it is the season of melancholy.

Many (far too many this year) are spending their first holiday without a parent, loved one, beloved pet or child who has passed from this earth (losing a child to an early, unfair death or suicide… I can’t even imagine)

I was reading a Facebook post of a friend of mine today who asked if she was the only one who felt melancholy at this time of year.

She mentioned that she wished she had known as a child how precious those holidays with family were despite the fact that even though they were Jewish, they gathered at Christmas when they were free from work and school obligations and spent quality time together.

As many of us are wont to say, “Hug your loved ones; tell them that you love them, for you never know when it will be the very last time.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I do my best to distract myself from the fact that I have no immediate family (I do have some cousins in other states) and that due to my own abusive, dysfunctional, upbringing in an alcoholic household, I have been unable, as an adult to form a lasting functional romantic relationship/partnership (Wow, do I ever “pick wrong”)

I host holiday gatherings with chosen family (which in cases of severe dysfunction, neglect or abuse can be preferable to and healthier/safer than blood family)

I try to make sure that anyone who finds themselves alone at this often emotionally challenging time of year for whatever reason, knows that they have somewhere to go.

I cook, bake, decorate, send out cards and letters and try to give back to my community.

But in the end, there is still, always, that sense of aloneness, of being different-not in that cool, quirky, creative way, but in that “there is something wrong with me kind of way”.

Tonight, I will be cooking a holiday feast for friends/chosen from all walks of life, relationship statuses and faiths (or lack thereof)

I am going to hug them and let them know that I love and appreciate them, because we never know what someone else may be going through inside and because we never know when it will be the last time we have the chance.

I encourage everyone to do the same.

Family eating Christmas dinner

And just to end this rather serious reflection on a positive note, I offer up one of my favorite, past Christmas experiences.

“One Perfect Christmas Moment in Tacoma”

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Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.

I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.
I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

One Christmas morning, many years ago whilst living in Tacoma’s Stadium District, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.
Music, bells, magic.

Stadium is an historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cars to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.

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Of Turkeys and Gratitude

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In place of my annual Black Friday rant about corporate greed, bad behavior and misplaced priorities, which now extends to Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to take a more positive route and talk about why I, and many others feel so strongly about this holiday.

While we all know that the story we were taught in school about the friendly pilgrims and indigenous peoples isn’t how the first Thanksgiving really went down, it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth celebrating.

OK, this clip from the Addams Family movie isn’t accurate either, it’s hilarious and I just love to watch it every year.

All kidding aside, the ideas behind Thanksgiving, gratitude and sharing are pretty darn awesome.

Oh yeah… and FOOD! Who doesn’t like food?

But what about that first thanksgiving and should we really be playing into it?

In a recent article published by Indian Country Today Media Network, Ramona Peters, the historical preservation officer for the Wampanoag Nation dispelled some myths about that first Thanksgiving.

When asked if she considers Thanksgiving a positive thing, she replied, “As a concept, a heartfelt Thanksgiving is very important to me as a person. It’s important that we give thanks. For me, it’s a state of being. You want to live in a state of thanksgiving, meaning that you use the creativity that the Creator gave you. You use your talents. You find out what those are and you cultivate them and that gives thanks in action.“

And yes, she celebrates it.

Thanksgiving, unlike less secular holidays doesn’t bring up a bunch of religious debate. There’s no “war on Thanksgiving” (see comments from a descendant of those who were there above) there’s no requirement to go into debt and spend stupid amounts of money on items people don’t need in order to impress the neighbors.

We all eat, and sharing a meal makes it even better. Thanksgiving meals need not be expensive. If you like traditional fare, turkey is actually pretty cheap as are the side dishes. (and if you’re against turkey genocide, there’s tofurkey)

The focus on family, friends and gratitude it what draws me to this holiday.

It is far too easy to get caught up in the sadness, stress and challenges of our daily lives and the world beyond.

It is far too easy to forget what is good in our lives.

It is far too easy to forget to tell people how much they mean to us.

Thanksgiving is a chance to remember and celebrate the good.

We all have our own memories of the Thanksgivings we celebrated growing up. Oddly enough, in the dysfunctional house I grew up in, holidays were actually happy and not stressful unlike most of the rest of the year.

Thanksgiving in the early 70’s involved laying around after eating too much and watching the Twilight Zone Marathon. (you millennials can google that if you need to) It also involved me getting a few sips of champagne and getting yelled at for putting the olives on my fingers. I remember learning how to make the lead crystal glasses “sing” by dipping my finger in water and running it along the rim. I have those glasses (I still stick olives on my fingers too)

To this day, it still involves tuning in to a local radio station at noon to listen to Alice’s Restaurant.

and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without revisiting the now classic WKRP in Cincinnati “Turkey Drop”

As we grow older, move away from or lose our families, we begin to create our own traditions.

An increasingly popular trend is “Friendsgiving” either before, after or on the actual date. I have hosted my “Day After Thanksgiving Feast/Anti Black Friday Protest” for the last twelve years. I love doing it on Friday so more people can come. It also gives me the day of to “party hop” at other people’s events.

It is a commonly held belief that the expression of gratitude can boost one’s mood and outlook on life. That’s a good thing, especially up here in the cold, dark Pacific Northwest where seasonal affective disorder begins to manifest at this time of year.

For me, cooking a meal and sharing it with friends and chosen family is a show of gratitude for them being in my life, it’s a small way to give back. It’s a positive, happy thing; don’t we all need a bit more of that in our lives?

woodstock thanksgiving



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BadKitty’s Holiday Letter – Finally (OK, so it’s for the Lunar (Chinese) New Year)

~OK Humans,

Every year I ask for help with my out of control human, and every year my pleas are ignored. What am I going to have to do to get some help here? Come barf up hairballs in your shoes? Don’t tempt me, I’m that pissed off and desperate.

Let me tell you just how bad it’s been…

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She is more out of control than ever (yeah, I know I say that every year, but her insanity far outreaches imagination) So much so, that I couldn’t get her to sit still long enough to let me dictate the holiday letter until the Lunar (Chinese) New Year… Seriously? It’s the year of the snake. I don’t like snakes (or rats, or monkeys, or dogs or any of those other weird animals they use to celebrate)

The beginning of the year was fine, she was recovering from the 2nd surgery she had which included getting fixed “while they were already in there”. It’s about time, everyone should spay or neuter their human, there are far too many of them running around and they breed like rabbits, especially the stupid ones.There was some celebration about not having cancer; that’s a good thing. Someone’s got to feed me.

After that, we had a wicked ice storm which made it impossible to safely drive anywhere, so she was home a lot to pet the kitty which was perfect. She was super stressed when the huge tree in the back yard bent over and touched the ground (and laid on the house, the grape arbor, the greenhouse and the neighbor’s yard) but it sprung back to life after the big thaw. (she now calls it “the magic tree” what a weirdo)

Then she went back to work which really pissed me off. She’s working for an environmental non profit running the internship program and managing a farmers market. Do you think her farmer friends ever send anything home for the kitty? NO! Jerks! She’s still writing and photographing for that magazine too which is an acceptable activity since the writing part keeps her home where I can yowl for attention and lay on her keyboard.

She’s still bellydancing which just looks silly, although I do enjoy napping on her fluffy skits and batting around her jingly things. She’s still fire dancing too (which she actually gets paid to do. Seriously?) I secretly laugh when she burns herself. She’s also found a new way to burn herself, blowing glass… For some reason, dipping a long pipe into 2100 degree (f) molten glass and blowing into it is a big deal in this city… something about a madman with an eye patch named Chihuly who grew up here. Some people are actually silly enough to buy the stuff she makes. She’s also still playing with clay which she then glazes and fires. Seriously, what is it with this woman and fire?

She did another triathlon which really ticks me off because that means she’s spending way too much time out of the house running, cycling and swimming when she should be home petting the kitty.

She’s still playing that stupid violin too. I hate that thing. Even worse… she has friends that play instruments and they come over to the house. There was even a [gasp] accordion here the other night. She met these weirdos contra dancing. I don’t know what that is, but when accordions start showing up (the next thing you know, it will be a banjo), you know your human is hanging out in the wrong circles…

She’s still hiking, backpacking and finding any excuse she can to wear a tutu… (they are nice to lay on)

Oh, my human turned 50 in October, isn’t that super old for a human?

Shouldn’t she be slowing down? I mean really, 50 is practically dead right?

Oh, you can buy some of her glass or ceramic work by visiting her website at http://wildcelticrose.net/ (you can also read her dumb blog there) she has a facebook page too, but it’s pretty lame

You would do better to check out my facebook page

Since she was too lazy (and broke) to send out cards this year, she made a video slide show recapping 2012 with obnoxious music.

It’s badly done, there isn’t even a picture of her gorgeous feline in it.

Someone please talk some sense into my human… Please?

Don’t make me come barf in your shoe.

Happy Holidays/Lunar New Year (whatever…)

~BK (THE BadKitty)



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Winter Solstice Dreams – 2013

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Happy Winter Solstice! (Of course, it is only Winter Solstice for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere; happy Summer Solstice to our friends South of the equator)

Winter Solstice 039

The days will slowly get longer again. For those of us in the far dark, frozen North, this is a big BIG deal!

Winter Solstice is the promise of new life; we really won’t notice the days getting longer until closer to Candlemas/Brigid/Ground Hog’s Day.

Last night, a group of friends gathered in my back yard for a bonfire. We wrote down what we want to leave in the darkness as well as what we want to bring with us into the light and put those into the fire (which was of course, the yule log) The smoke from that fire filled a wish lantern, which sent our wishes to the heavens. We then, passed the light, candle to candle whilst listening to (and in many cases, signing) Dar Williams, “The Christians and the Pagans”. We then all sang along to “Here Comes The Sun” a Solstice classic.

It doesn’t matter what religion you are or aren’t. It doesn’t matter what you believe. The Solstice is an astronomical event that draws everyone together at this time of year to celebrate light, love and hope.

Each year, I love to post the Northern Exposure video to the story Raven Steals the Light being told (I’ve used it for the children’s story at Solstice rituals in years past)

It is a traditional story from the Northwest Coast and Alaska.

I like this Northern Exposure version.

Not everyone knows this, but the town of ‘Cicily Alaska” is about an hour and a half from where I live, and is in fact Roslyn Washington (yes, I’ve been to The Brick)

and here’s another wonderful story of light in a magical part of the world (the Great Pacific Northwest)…

And of course, my traditional Solstice post/greeting…

On this night, around 3,000 years BC, a very special event unfolds at a place we now call Newgrange. A group gathers around a large circular stone structure. A drumbeat resounds across the mist-shrouded hills of ancient Ireland, bump bump… bump bump… bump bump…; The heartbeat of mother earth. The scent of incense mingles with moss, moist earth and the burning torches. All gaze hopefully towards the eastern horizon. After what seems like an eternity, it happens, the rising sun begins its ascent. Once again all attention is turned to the structure with great anticipation. Suddenly an intense shaft of light pierces the innermost chamber of the structure, illuminating a stone basin adorned with carvings of spirals, eyes, solar disks, and other sacred symbols. A joyful sound rises from the crowd, who then begin to dance ecstatically. For the darkest darkness of winter has passed, and the light has returned. Soon: the hills will be covered in fresh green grasses and wildflowers, trees will bloom and set fruit, animals will give birth, the songs of birds will fill the skies. The cycle of life will continue. The world, once again, has been reborn.

Tonight we celebrate an event, which predates our modern religious celebrations, an event as old as time its self. Just as events like this were observed at Newgrange Ireland, we find similar ancient architectural wonders based on solstices and equinoxes all across Europe, Asia, The Americas, Indonesia and the Middle East. Thousands of years ago, these monolithic structures were built and elaborate ceremonies held, out of reverence for the cycle of life, and perhaps the fear that without human intervention, the sun would not return.

At the winter solstice, the tilt of the earth on its axis, is such that our hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun, our days are shortest and the sun is at the lowest arc in the sky. For thousands of years, our ancestors honored the cycles of life: solstices, equinoxes, harvests and plantings. The winter solstice is perhaps the most sacred of these celebrations. So sacred in fact, that modern religious observations all over the world take place on or near the time of the solstice. Solstice observance is not a celebration that excludes or dismisses any other religious celebration; rather it is the common bond of many modern and not so modern religions.

The time of the winter solstice represents death and rebirth, just as corn stalks wither and die in the fields in the fall, so does the symbolic god give his body to nourish the earth, only to be reborn of the goddess again on this darkest night. The original divine birth. Is it any wonder then: that the Christian church chose this sacred time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Hebrew people to celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Native Americans and other aboriginal peoples to celebrate their sacred events?

Solstice is not only a time to celebrate the retreat of darkness and the return of the light, but it is a time to look inward, at the darkness within ourselves and to embrace it. For without darkness, there would be no light. Without challenge, there would be no triumph. It is a time to celebrate the death of old habits, thought patterns, and difficulties, a time to celebrate a spiritual renewal. The darkness gives us all a chance to embrace and work through our own darkness, so that like the earth, we may also be renewed.

L. Lisa Lawrence
Copyright 1998

Here’s our observance from 2007 (the video is just too much fun!)

Here’s one from two years ago, in my back yard. For the last several years, the weather has cooperated for a bonfire even when the forecast is for a 100% chance of rain. Last night, the howling winds stopped just before we were ready to move outside.

Here are the songs from the video, my favorite Winter Solstice songs…

“The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams

Amber called her uncle, said, “We’re up here for the holiday,
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay.”
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree,
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
He told his niece, “It’s Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style,”
She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it’s been a while.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, “Is it true that you’re a witch?”
His mom jumped up and said, “The pies are burning,” and she hit the kitchen,
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, “It’s true, you’re cousin’s not a Christian,
But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And where does magic come from , I think magic’s in the learning,
‘Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, “Really, no, don’t bother.”
Amber’s uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.
He thought about his brother, how they hadn’t spoken in a year,
He thought he’d call him up and say, “It’s Christmas and your daughter’s here.”
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve,
Saying, “Can I be a Pagan?” Dad said, “We’ll discuss it when they leave.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old,
And making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold…

And of course, the required Solstice tune…

“Here comes the sun” by the Beatles

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
It’s all right…

Just now, it just now… happened…

Blessed Solstice all, let’s look to the light.

~L



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I hate you hill! I’ve hated you for ten years and today I’m making you my BITCH!

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My plan to make my triumphant return to the Seattle Marathon, ten years later didn’t happen.

Seattle was my first full marathon. I ran it to celebrate turning 40 as well as the five year anniversary of learning how to walk again after the accident that fractured my spine and pelvis.

Little did I know when I signed up that it was a bad first marathon; the combination of almost the entire course being joint pounding concrete (versus asphalt which believe it or not is much easier on the body) the hills, the worst of which come in the 2nd have of the race when glycogen stores are depleted, legs are wobbly and lactic acid is built up and foul weather (snow, ice, rain, freezing rain, sleet, hail, frigid wind whipped waves crashing over the I-90 floating bridge) make this one of the most difficult marathons in the country (even the Kenyans don’t generally run it)

Since that first painful marathon, I have done two other fulls, and have returned to the Seattle to do the half many times over the last ten years (it’s a hard half, but lovely and fun) but have avoided doing it as a full for the sake of avoiding injury.

Despite that, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 50, not having cancer and taking huge risks to rebuild my life back to the way I wanted it than returning to the “scene of the crime” ten years later to run the full again (the pain/memory does fade eventually)

A combination of injury taking me off training and not being able to take time off work to prep and rest made it impossible for me to consider it without risking serious injury, so I decided to bag it. I might have tried to waddle an easier course like Portland or Victoria, but not this course. (DNS = Did Not Start = Did Nothing Stupid)

Then my friend Lynne who was also off training for various reasons decided to go ahead and do the half marathon as a walk/run without pushing. I told her I’d do it with her. Then my friend Julie who was getting ready to sell her registration because she hadn’t been training, decided to join us for a fun day of acting silly and hanging out with our running friends.

This was perhaps the best weather I’ve had for a Seattle Marathon (full or half) in the ten years I’ve been doing these. No snow, ice, freezing rain, hail, sleet or icy crashing waves. Yes, it was cold, but quite bearable.

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very Unlike in 2006 when Knut and I stood in the snow, shivering in black trashbags at the start…


Since it was going to be more walking than running, Julie and I decided to go in costume. Seriously, there are just not enough good opportunities for grown women to wear tutus and tiaras, so we create our own.

In our colorful costumes, including a pink wig for Julie and my green/black “green fairy” wig, we hit the streets of downtown Seattle for some no stress, no injury fun.

This is the first race where I had absolutely no worries about time. I didn’t care, I was just there to see friends and have fun. I’m lucky I was with folks who wanted/need to walk part of it, as I would have pushed myself too hard had I been alone (that’s how I ended up injured in the first place)

When we saw the traffic control folks holding the sign that said “SLOW” we knew it was the perfect photo op for us so we stopped.

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Kevin put his bike in his truck and drove us down the hill from Julie’s house to drop us off at the start line. He was going to go for a nice long ride, but decided to hang with us on the parts of the course he could get away with riding on and take photos for us.

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Here’s a shot of me getting a shot of Kevin getting a shot of us…

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When we were on the express lanes of I-90, the marathon runners caught up to us. Julie was like a cheerleader on speed yelling and cheering them on as they went past.

I had been lamenting about not bringing a fleece vest and instead having a really uncomfortable, non breathable jacket, when there it was… sitting on the Jersey barrier along the interstate express lanes, a nice windblock fleece vest, in a color that matched my outfit no less (runners often bring old or thrift store sweatshirts/jackets/vests to start out in and then ditch when they get warmed up. Julie picked it up and said, “Do you want it?” I asked her what size it was, certain that it would be an extra large (I can’t stand wearing stuff that flops around when I’m running or biking) and lo and behold, it was an X-Small L.L. Bean windblock vest, and a perfect fit. SCORE!

By the time we got down to the lake and up to Leschi Beach we couldn’t feel our fingers (and my tushie was freezing as well) so we stopped off at Starbucks (how typical Seattle was this move eh?) We had lots of fun chatting up the cyclists that were in there, getting caffeinated and warming up. This whole not running for time thing was pretty fun.

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It was beautiful down on mist shrouded Lake Washington, very reminiscent of the way to Avalon. As a lone kayaked paddled by through the mists, I wonder what he was thinking when he saw two tutu and tiara clad women running past. “We are the fairies of the lake!” I shouted. At least no one tired to hand him a sword 😉

All lovely runs along the lake must end as we approached my (and pretty much everyone else’s) “huckleberry” frikking Galer St.

For those not from here this area was carved by glaciers and volcanoes; there is no flat ground and many of the hills are crazy steep.

Galer is a brutal, vomit worthy hill that comes at the worst possible point in the course for physical performance/recovery. I have always hated that hill which turns more runners into walkers than not. (note, I’ve never walked it, but have slowed way down and felt like crap)

Julie had already been running the downhills, which my injured hip and hamstring were not going to tolerate, so I decided that the best way to stay together was to run the uphills, starting with this, my nemesis. The hill I hate more than just about any hill anywhere else (yes, even worse than biking up the 25th St hill in Tacoma)

So there I was, in my tutu and tiara, yelling, “I hate you hill! I’ve hated you for ten years and today I’m making you my BITCH!”

Off I went, full speed ahead, no break in stride, no giving into the angry quads, burning lungs (frigid air and fireplace smoke don’t help) up that hill passing people right and left to the sound of cheers from bystanders until I was to the top where I turned around defiantly and soaked it all in. Yes, I’d made Galer my bitch (whilst dressed like a fairy princess).

Lynne said as the crowd at the bottom was watching me attack this thing, one woman turned to her and said, “Wow, she was really angry.” Lynne had fun with that one for the rest of the day.

The arboretum was another opportunity to stretch out my legs and get some actual running in. My favorite part of this course is running across the top of Interlaken Drive

Is this not a gorgeous marathon course?

as if the road its self wasn’t stunning, check out the view…

Fall colours in Interlaken Park.

As we came down the other side, downtown came into view (for those who are not local, the Space Needle is at the Seattle Center where the race ends, so the goal is to head towards it)

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At the last water stop before the drop downtown, I got a nice surprise hug from my Tacoma Runners friend Doug who was working the water stop.

an amazing thing happened as we headed back down the other side… the SUN came out (seriously folks, this is BIG news up here in November)

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At mile 25 for the full marathon (around mile 12 for the half) we had to stop for the obligatory “God Save The Queen” shot… for those who aren’t aware of this tradition and that the original marathon wasn’t 26.2 miles, you can click here for the real story of how modern marathon distance came to be and why we yell “God Save The Queen” at mile 25

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We had a warm, sunny finish at Memorial Stadium (which I am so glad has not been torn down yet, the marathon finish will never be the same once it is)

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Just after this photo was taken by Kevin, we had to sprint the rest of the way across the field to hit the actual finish line. We may not have been running this for time, but by golly, you make a show with a big sprint to the finish for the crowds. It was a bit like being in a parade as everyone loved the costumes so Julie and I were doing our prom queen waves for the crowds.

Then, I saw her…

About 100 yards before the finish, Lynne decided to open up the throttle, and was gone like a shot. “OH HELL NO!” I yelled and sprinted after her as hard as I could, catching her just as we crossed the final timing mat together. I’m sure that was a hilarious sight in the tutu. I can’t wait to see those photos.

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We all got our shiny things and I got the best thing I ever spent money on, a sports recovery massage. Then we headed back up to Queen Anne and enjoyed some well deserved pizza and beer.

~L



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Dawg Dash

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On Sunday, I ran my last race in the 45-49 age group and Carmel raced her first 10K where she didn’t do a run walk combo, she ran the whole way!

They had a “pack run” (a mini dawg dash) here in Tacoma, but they didn’t offer a 10K option, so we left Tacoma at 0′ Dark Ugly to get up there to find parking (always a “joy” in the U District) and pick up our packets. There’s nothing worse than rushing at the last minute so we got there early and relaxed at a local coffee shop (heat and indoor plumbing are big wins on race morning)

Just for fun, we decided to take our photo before we got all sweaty and gross…

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*note for those who are not local, “Dawgs” are the nickname for the University of Washington Huskies; this race is part of UW’s homecoming celebration.

The race started on Memorial Way on the upper campus and the post dash bash was in Red Square. UW does have a truly beautiful campus.

It was super cold at the start (41 degrees) so it was a challenge to stay warm.

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I started dancing around to the music and found myself with a dancer partner. He had some hot moves.

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It was a super slow start due to the sheer volume of runners on the typically narrow Seattle streets. Since I was still recovering from a 15 mile long run, had been pushing super hard, had not had a rest day in a week and needed to run ten more miles that day for a total of 16, I decided to take it easy. (not like I had a choice at that point) but it sure would have been nice to break an hour for the first time since all the mom dying, house buying, medical and surgery stuff took me “out of the running” over three years ago.

At one point on the course I saw a woman who appeared to be about ten years older than me and thought to myself, “Look at her go! I’ll be back here doing this again when I’m turning 60.” She was tall and fit, had a long silver pony tail and was dressed just like me down to the running shoes. I was tempted to ask her how old she was, but didn’t know how that would be received, so I didn’t.

We ran up through Ravenna Park, on the Burke Gilman Trail and then headed back to campus to the the circuitous loop that comprised the 5K race.

When we got to the fountain the UW Alumni band was playing Louie Louie (*the unofficial state song)

at about 5 ½ miles (when the course was pretty much all incline) I was torn, I wanted to pick up the pace and come in under an hour because I was so close.

Alas, my right hip and hamstring (three of the four pelvic fractures I sustained in the accident were on the right side) began to complain about the pounding they’d taken all week with no rest and my heart rate spiked as well (a result over training and being stupid and having caffeine that morning) so I had to back down.

I managed a weak sprint at the finish and came in at 1:01:10 which is five minutes faster than my Iron Girl time (and this was a harder course) so I’ll take it.

I tried to do a slow easy ten miles to make it my long run when I got home, but after less than a mile of pathetic hobbling, it was apparent that my hip and hamstring would not allow it and that I would badly injure myself if I tried to push.

Yesterday was a forced recovery day.

I’m riding my bike to work and bellydancing tonight, so today won’t be total rest, but my hamstring (which is quite a bit better) is still cranky and needs another day off of running. I can’t afford an injury this close to the Seattle Marathon, so I’m going to behave myself.

I also don’t want to be limping around pathetically on my birthday run with the Tacoma Runners on Thursday night.

Next 10K, I’m breaking that hour mark and walking away without limping (because I’ll quit being a moron and over training and will take some rest days)

~L



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Octoberfest – Crazy Runners With Beer Steins Invade Puyallup

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Why do so many of my blog posts of late involve crazy people invading a town/area and running (or cycling) amok in the streets?

As part of the Octoberfest celebration at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, the TCMA (Tacoma City Marathon Association) organized the first annual Stein Dash.

The dash was a 5K that started and ended near the beer garden (root beer was available for those who are too young or for other reasons chose not to imbibe_

One caveat for this race was that you had to carry your beer stein during the entire race. Luckily, they were lightweight plastic.

I was meeting Carmel, as well as Eric and Rhiannon from Tacoma Runners there. I wanted to get there early enough to pick up my packet, get stuff I didn’t need (like the long sleeve shirt I left the house in) back to the truck and not be rushed.

It’s a good thing I didn’t try to get there too early as I hear that packet pickup opened way late. I’m not sure what was up with this race, TCMA is normally super organized when it comes to this sort of thing, but this one was just chaos. Once you got through the long line into the packet pickup area there were no signs to tell you which way to go (to the left for registration/packet pickup/shirts and to the left for the beer stein. The registration/packet pickup table wasn’t signed either, so we had no idea what line to be in. I guess everyone is entitled to one bad day when they are usually super organized. (yes, they advised people to pick up their packet a day early, but some of us work on Saturdays and/or have no desire to waste fuel/time to drive to another town the day before an event)

I was bound and determined to run easy and according to how I felt rather than try to beat a specific time. I was recovering from back to back half marathons I wasn’t fully trained up for and needed to crank up my long run distance for the Seattle Marathon and didn’t need to aggravate or create any injuries.

I hit my lap button at mile one and discovered that I was on pace to finish this in under 30 minutes (a goal I had on this long road to come back) with a 9-something time for the first mile. All common sense then flew out the window and I decided to keep that pace even though I was pretty sure I’d gone out too fast.

We looped through the ride area of the fairgrounds and then hit the streets of Puyallup. What a sight we must have been to the residents, all of us carrying beer steins. Some wearing beer hats, others wearing lederhosen and dirndl (note to self, acquire dirndl before next year)

It was unseasonably warm and I was beginning to feel it (also, this race started later than most, 11:30 PM, versus many 7-8:00am starts) Did the organizers really think runners had any compunction regarding morning beer consumption? Someone was also burning wood which wasn’t fun on the lungs sinuses, so I slowed down a bit on the second mile.

I stretched it out in the last mile, with just enough left for a sprint at the finish…

Why yes… I am carrying a beer stein and I am happy to see you

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Even though I had told myself time didn’t matter on this one (half marathon recovery so that I could get through my marathon training is my primary goal right now) I was so disappointed when the clock had just ticked past 30 minute as I crossed the finish line.

But wait! That was clock time, not chip time and it had taken me a while to get to get to and cross the starting mat. My Garmin (and the official results) said that I did it under 30 minutes (just barely, but I’ll take it)

Here’s the Garmin track.

The official results show that I averaged a 9:40 pace (not bad for a woman recovering from surgery who couldn’t even take her trash out to the back alley 8 months ago) and that I was 7th out of 32 in my age group, 95th out of 296 females, and 210th out of 520 overall. At 29:57, I was well ahead of the average finish time of 35:04.

I may not be back to where I was, but I’m making marked improvement and that makes me happy.

I cheered Carmel across the line for her 5K PR and then we met Eric and Rhiannon (who also rocked it and PRd her 5K) in the beer garden.

I had a (yes, only ONE, I was a good girl) Snoqualmie Falls Harvest Moon Ale which was quite tasty. I might have had another if I hadn’t been so overscheduled that day.

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I can’t wait to do this one next year. In costume!

Here’s a pretty hilarious video of the event… (I want the sheep that gal is riding)

~L



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Kitsap Color Classic (Raging Lunatics on Bikes Invade the Peninsula)

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Since I had to miss Chilly Hilly, Flying Wheels and STP due to surgery recovery and only got to ride the last few miles of RAPSody, I was not about to miss an opportunity to spend some quality bike time with my biker scum crazy cylcist friends.

The Kitsap Color Classic was last Sunday, so I rushed around like mad that morning (after a 12 hour work day the day before) and got out the door 15 minutes later than I had planned, and crossed the Narrows Bridge into the hilly wilds of the Kitsap Peninsula.

My cycling buddy Bill who I haven’t seen in longer than I can remember also decided to join us and rode over on the Ferry from Edmonds where he spent the previous night.

This ride has two starts; one at the Edmonds Ferry dock and another in Kingston at the other end of the run. About 2/3 of our little group were coming over from the Seattle side, so we arranged a meeting place at a little crepe shop just up from the ferry dock on the Kingston side.

In addition to leaving the house way too late, I realized almost immediately upon crossing the bridge I hadn’t been paying attention to my fuel tank. With the red “check gauge” light glaring at me, daring me (“Do you feel lucky? DO YOU?) to go just one more exit for a better price/easier access, I finally pulled over in Silverdale.

Looking at the clock I realized I was going to be seriously late after having to stop for gas.

When I got back on the highway, I realized that I had absolutely no idea where the Kingston Ferry Terminal is, more or less the registration area/food stop which was two miles up the road.

I managed to take the correct exit and catch the left turn that took me towards Kingston/Port Gamble and away from the wrong ferry (seriously, this place is lousy with them)

Once I got close to Kingston, I could tell that the ferry had just unloaded as there was a stream of cyclists descending on the unwary inhabitants of this normally quiet area.

I noticed one particular rider, a hairy legged guy wearing a festive autumn inspired tutu… I knew Kevin had made it on the ferry. (he looks pretty manly in this thing if you ask me)

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I found the crepe place easily, parked and walked across the street to see my friends gleefully stuffing their faces.

I hadn’t seen Julie in far too long and we stood in the middle of the street in a long embrace. Mind you, this embrace was quite interesting to behold as we were both wearing bike gear and brightly colored, sparkling tutus… I can hear the locals now, “Earl, just look at that shameful display… Those must be some of those heathen naked cyclists that hang out in Fremont.”

Since I was so late, I didn’t want to delay the group by ordering, so no crepes for me this trip. I got back in my truck and headed up to packet pickup. Due to barriers down near the ferry dock, I had to take a back road, got turned around and realized that I was hopelessly lost in Kitsap (as long as I didn’t hear banjos, I’d be OK)

I finally found my way to the registration tent and arrived about the time Bill did. He hadn’t seen me since I lost all the weight from the medical surgery stuff, so he looked at me and said, “You don’t have any boobs”.

“I never had boobs Bill, now I’m just skinny again and don’t have boobs.” What a gentleman eh?

Seriously… Who’s “the boob”? 😉

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Of course, Leo made an equally appalling social faux paux and actually lifted my tutu… (I guess that’s the male version of a woman lifting a man’s kilt?)

What a scoundrel eh?

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After the obligatory shenanigans at the start line, we (Leo, Julie, Bill, Eric, Paula, Ann, Mike, Lynn, John and myself) headed out on the Hainsville Loop. We were actually shooting for the longer and less painfully hilly Port Gamble loop but were so busy talking and laughing we missed the Dan Henry for that turnoff (this ride has three loops of varying degrees of quad destroying hills and mileages allowing you to customize your ride with any combination of loops).

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The first couple of miles was a hill (there is no flat ground out there, it’s even worse than Tacoma in the hill department)

After some ups, downs, twists and turns, we made the descent into Hainsville… (and yes, the climb back up and out was a bitch)

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We found a lovely little scenic view spot and pulled over (well, all except for bill who never slowed down at the base of the screaming hill and never knew we pulled over)

Mt Baker is in the background here somewhere, I suspect that Leo’s butt is blocking it. We look like we’re on a day pass from the asylum don’t we?

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This particular shot has been described as “the worst super hero team photo ever” (Leo has been dubbed “Sani Can Man”)

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Lynn didn’t have a tutu, but she was quite festive in her Irn Bru jersey (she’s from Scotland)

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We started the long and ugly climb out of Hainsville after Leo finally yelled at us enough to quit with all the flitting around, socializing and picture taking. This is where I taught Ann the “bike butt dance” which is even better with a tutu to shake; she will have one on the next ride.

There were many more wonderful, scenic back roads and lots of laughter. The weather was absolutely perfect and we were talking about how days like this will be the memories we talk about later in life (you know… when Julie and I are crazy cat ladies knitting… Oh wait…)

Then the hills started back up in earnest.

Leo backtracked and yelled at us (as if he hadn’t been yelling at us to quit yacking, get in our big rings and ride like we meant it-I don’t think he knows what to do with himself when he’s not a ride ref) SHIFT DOWN INTO YOUR LOWEST GEAR!!! DO IT NOW!!!

I don’t see him get like that often, so I did it.

The hill did come up suddenly on a blind corner and is probably the equivalent of McCurthchen Hill on the Tour De Pierce and Daffodil Classic rides, but it was nowhere near the 22% grade we had been hearing about, nor the stair step half mile long 12-14% grade that has also been described.

I gave him “the look”. He said, “That was it.” I knew it wasn’t and told him (and everyone else so) and of course, I stayed on the small ring.

Another couple of miles down the road was another sharp turn away from the water, and there it was… The monster, 22% of evil, chain dropping, quad burning, vomit inducing hill from hell. I dropped down through the rest of my gears and dodged those who were wobbling , stopping and walking.

No way in hell was I giving Leo (who was now smirking like a lunatic) the satisfaction of “walking the dog” aka “the walk of shame”. I made it up that hill on pedal power (which can’t be said for a large number of people) just to spite him.

Leo and I have ridden together for years as Cascade volunteers (he as a ride ref, myself as a medical support rider and as a ride ref) on all the big rides, we’ve faced a lot of inclement conditions, interesting things, danger, injuries and bonks together and always have each others’ backs. We can say pretty much whatever we want to each other (harassing each other for over 100 miles at a time is “our thing”) but if someone else crosses the line with one of us, they have hell to pay from the other.

Why do I tell you this? Because after all of these years, and hundreds (no, at this point it’s into the thousands) of miles we’ve ridden together, this was the day that I finally dropped the F-bomb on him.

We re-grouped at the top of the hill and gave everyone a chance to catch up, catch their breath and drink water.

This hill may not look that bad on first glance, until you look again and realize that we were down by the water when we started the climb.

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Once back at the food tent, some folks went back out to ride part of the Port Gamble loop and Bill, Lynn and I opted for food and beverage overlooking the water. As undertrained as I was this year, I wanted to finish the ride on a positive note, feeling good.

We ate at “The Filling Station”. Lynn and I had what can only be described as “food porn”. Roasted garlic and goat cheese with toasted baguette.

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It was a lovely afternoon to sit on the deck (and it’s amazing how tiny the Space Needle is from there)

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It was the perfect day, with the perfect (albeit batshit crazy) fiends….

The End 😉

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~L


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