Thursday, December 31, 2009

The year end

Home, finally. After many hours of winter driving and frigid, blustery, snow-stormy weather, today I enjoyed a long outdoor run. Never mind that the day was still gray, or that the snow was still melting nearly 2 weeks after falling. Yes, the weather has broken all the rules this year. Snow that overstays its welcome was at the top of my "no way" list when considering places to live. But at least today, I could finally run. In just two layers. And with my face uncovered to better breathe in the fresh air. Ah.

Since this was a longish solitary run, I had time to think about the year's end. One year ago, we spent New Year's Eve in a cabin just around the corner from where we are now building. Back in Pasadena, I made a list titled "Move to Asheville". I made the list to combat the paralysis that set in when I thought about moving lock, stock, and barrel across the country, to a town where we knew no one. One by one, we checked off items on the list. And here we are.

So, though I'm not generally a New Year's resolution type, I find value in reflecting on the year and thinking about what lies ahead. In looking back, I am reminded that one of our top reasons for moving was a latent desire to put down roots. Taking stock, I would say we're firmly grounded, but not really rooted. So perhaps a new list is in order.

Here goes. My list for 2010 -- in no particular order. Since I've shared it, I feel accountable. We'll see how I do.

1. At the top is my need to give more. I started my professional life in a very direct, hands-on, non-profit "do-gooder" way. I moved on I guess, and need to move back. So I resolve to choose 2 causes - one local and one global -- to which I will make a measurable commitment. While cash is always good, I need to do something more. If money is the contribution - something else must go with it.
2. Next is a continued commitment to living lightly. We will be more sustainable. Some of this will be automatic and easy. Our house will be very "green". And we'll start a great big garden, which should produce some of what we consume. But we can do more and consume less.
3. On a personal note -- I've been running now for years. But I think the number of races I've entered is about 5. In order, one marathon (yes, I started backwards), one 10K, one half-marathon, and two trail races. So this year, I will run at least 6 races - exceeding my life-time limit.
4. Following the above, I'm running at least 10 miles at one time in one direction (up!) on the Shut In trail. I'm obsessed with this trail and it's 18-mile race with it's secret selection participant selection process. I'm either running the race, or running enough of the trail to cure my obsession.
5. I will continue to go against my natural personality and aggressively work to make new friends. And I'm hoping that by this time next year, we will have friends here who need us as much as we need them.
6. I'm going to ride that mountain bike. I'd like to say I'll ride Greenslick -- but it may be just a little too much. But soon. Very soon.

I think that's it. If I accomplish these 6 little things, it will be a good year. What will make a good year for you?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it snow

Old man winter is just laughing up his sleeve right about now. He thinks this is so funny. Those Californians watched the weather in Asheville for over a year to be sure it would never get too cold, too wet, or too snowy!

So on top of the 10 or 12 EXTRA inches of rain this year, we now are having the biggest snow storm in nearly 4 decades. And I officially do not like snow. Everyone (and I really do mean everyone) said it never really snows here - just an inch or two for the kids, and then it melts away.


Dexter, upon hearing that this was the biggest storm in years, declared us SO lucky. Kirk, stuck between Charleston and here, didn't agree. I can't decide. Honestly, if this doesn't put you in the mood for Christmas, you're Scrooge. This is just lovely snow. But it would be nice to be able to get out, even just to find a good hill to sled.

Perhaps I'll have to learn how to put those chains on my car after all.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Christmas Forest

Inspired by the hundreds (thousands perhaps) of adolescent white pines on our property, I proposed that this year, we harvest our own trees. To make up for the gangly or perhaps spindly appearance of our pines, I suggested that each child select a tree, and we would choose a third. We would group them, attractively of course, to provide a little fullness. I envisioned an aesthetically pleasing, homespun yet sophisticated gathering of trees, decorated with charming child-crafted paper ornaments. Something slightly scandanavian in effect -- drawing elegance from simplicity. I believe these trees sprouted, in my mind, from rustic burlap covered bags, adorned with a single ribbon. Not Martha Stewart so much as Dwell.

Ah yes. That vision thing. The vision is all "ahh" but the reality -- well, the reality is more "ha!" Our Christmas Forest is funny. And it won't be gracing a magazine cover any time soon.

It started well. The kids were tired, having been at the property while Kirk and I tackled the Oriental Bittersweet. They were ready to go home. A few drops of rain threatened the whole undertaking. But - what's that? -- a fantastic double rainbow appears -- a timely distraction that gets us back on task.

The tree selection goes quickly. Dexter chooses small, Bella picks a mid-size tree. Hatchet at the handy, Dad and Dexter have the trees down in a jiffy. I pick our tree and after a few moments determining whether it is actually on our side of the property line, it comes down as well. We trundle them off, bundle them atop the car, grab a couple empty buckets and some sand and homeward bound.

All's well. Except of course, a tree that appears small in the forest turns out to be a good 15 feet tall. And while spindly, a good 10 feet around. The trees will not be gracefully clustered. They will not stand straight. And the charming burlap-covered buckets? Well, at least the printing on the white plastic construction buckets is red and green.

Right now, the Forest dominates our living room. Kirk and Bella managed to string some lights up the trunks, and we've enthusiastically decorated the bottom third of the trees. We may finish them before Christmas.

Then again, there is always next year.