Category Archives: x-country skiing

The burgermeister

They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family, however that hasn’t been my experience. When you don’t meet your first relative (other than your mother and brother) until you’re 22 years-old, having family is very much a choice. With complete honesty, I can say that finding and getting to know my family has been without exception the most personally gratifying and fulfilling decision I have ever made. I think that’s why I’m so devastated by the loss of my uncle, the man I’ll always think of as the burgermeister

From the very first time we met, me an undergraduate student and the daughter of one of his oldest sisters kicking around Europe, he, in his midthirties and a father to two young children, he always made me know I was family. There was never an instant that wasn’t apparent in the subsequent years and the times we shared.
Between that initial introduction and his recent death we probably were together on a dozen different occasions. He and his wife visited Albany, we met in NYC on the very day my own cancer was determined to require additional treatment, we traveled together in Europe. Three of my last four trips to Europe involved spending time with him and those are some memories that I’ll take out and shine until they gleam gold.

We stayed in the town where he lived twice in recent years and it was truly wonderful to witness the affection with which he was greeted everywhere we went. It was so obvious that he was a beloved member of his community – from the bakery to the Italian restaurant where he still occasionally worked when they needed a hand, he was met with humor and warmth and I was honored to claim him as my uncle. I always felt safe with him and I’m convinced there was nothing in this world with which he couldn’t contend. Except cancer.

As I was proud of him, he was proud of the life he had created. He had been a competitive athlete representing his country in the biathlon. Since learning that part of his history, I’ve loved cross country skiing even more, like it’s our family’s sport. During our visit in April he shared the medals he had won and his unabating love for winter sports was apparent. His home actually overlooks a ski jump used in international competitions, (which he helped with, of course) and we toured a local museum dedicated to the history of Nordic skiing.

My uncle, the unofficial burgermeister, was a great man and the loss of him, despite the thousands of miles between us, feels almost unbearable. How incredibly lucky was I to have seen him so recently? How kind of the universe to have cooperated by putting so much of my family in one place to celebrate Easter just two months ago. I know the ache in my heart will dull and the tears will dry but I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him. As the marker on his final resting place states, he was a gift from Heaven.

Hug your dads, uncles, husbands and sons and know how fortunate you are.

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Filed under aging, cancer, Europe, family, Germany, love, Uncategorized, x-country skiing

6 days of skiing

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Sleeping like a baby, post-ski.

After a couple of lackluster seasons of cross country skiing, March has been redemptive and the timing couldn’t have been better. For me, that is. On Sunday, March 10, I ran a half marathon under challenging conditions.  The next day I recovered with a 90 minute massage and the day after that we received 20″ of snow. I haven’t run since, choosing instead to step into my skis and explore Capital Hills with Jeter. It’s been phenomenal.

Skiing the golf course is one of my favorite ways to spend a couple of hours and I’m pretty confident that I know that land better than a lot of people. Over the years I’ve explored much of the course and have some favorite trails. I’ve also learned which parts of the course get the most sun at different times of the day and know to expect icy conditions under the evergreens. I think of Capital Hills as my winter backyard and I just love it.

The skiing last week was epic. While the depth of the snow immediately following the storm prevented Jeter and I from going too far, as the week went on, we began to extend our treks. Thanks to the clock change, daylight extended into the evening and Jeter and I enjoyed the outdoors until nearly 7 p.m. The wooded trails have been particularly scenic and I found it completely possible to forget that I was in a city as I glided through the untouched forest solo. Magical.

Jeter loves the snow, but it was so very deep that I was concerned about him overexerting himself on our first couple of outings. As the snow became more packed over the week, we began stretching our loops out covering more ground. There was a new trail that beckoned, a number of comical falls and more than a few moments of absolute exhilaration. The almost spring sun made the snow sparkle and glitter, dazzling me into near blindness.

There wasn’t a single second that I wished I was anywhere else. While I welcome spring, I’m going to miss winter.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, Exercise, favorites, Local, Normanskill, skiing, snow, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Snowverwhelmed!

We got a lot of snow last week, more snow than I’ve seen in a few years. As I got ready for bed more than 48 hours after the snow first began, I could still hear snow removal happening – blowers and plows and trucks battling the nearly two feet of powdery whiteness. It was truly awesome.

On Tuesday evening, the first night of the storm, when I cross-country skied from the DelSo to Center Square, it was much more quiet. There were few cars on the road and I was able to ski right down Delaware Avenue, switching from side to side as the occasional vehicle approached. The skiing was great. The powdery snow offered no resistance and the wind failed to live up to its reputation. I was smiling at least as much as the people I encountered along my way. For some reason folks always seem amused by the sight of a person cross-country skiing on city streets.

Less amused were the drivers of the cars (and buses) that were stuck along my way.  I’ve never seen so many vehicles stuck – it was unbelievable.  Without exaggeration, there more than a half dozen cars being pushed on Lark Street alone.  It was a mess.

There have been a lot of complaints about the snow removal, or lack thereof. As a city resident who lives on a street that seems to fall pretty low on list of priorities, I understand the frustration. Arcadia Avenue was barely plowed and even now, nearly a week later, parking is compromised and we’re voluntarily still leaving our cars on a single side of the street.

There are claims that some streets were given preferential treatment, I understand there’s even a video supporting that claim. I don’t know.  There was a lot of snow. No matter how many plows there were, there weren’t enough. People worked really hard. The snow was relentless. It was definitely snowverwhelming.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Who are you?

Yeah, you. My reader. It’s been more than 7 years, 2 domains and a divorce since DelSo was born. Over the years I’ve shared a lot of my life and self here, in print. You, as a reader, have come to know me on some level from my words. What makes you return here (assuming you’re not new around these parts) and read what I write? Let me remind you of some of what I’ve related to you in the hope that you might feel inclined to share with me – who you are, reader? Why are you here?

There have been so many miles – more plane rides than I could have ever imagined, along with  runs and races and road trips. I’ve  explored cities with my boys and my girlfriends and solo. My feet have run in a half dozen different countries and probably about the same number of states.

My home has evolved from a house with two full-time parents to one of three part-time children. There have been physical improvements, rooms repurposed and painted, new rugs and furniture rearranged. It feels different. After a refinance or two, I know it’s mine.

I’ve written about books I’ve read and movies and concerts I’ve seen. Increasingly, politics and my dismay with our current leadership have been topics I’ve felt compelled to write about.

My children and the challenges of being a parent frequently provide fodder for posts. While the joys outweigh the frustrations, parenthood remains a roller coaster ride that keeps me on the edge of my seat with a scream threatening to escape. It’s a heart racing ride.

Sometimes I cook or bake and post recipes and photos of the fruits of my labors. Food and wine are a big part of my life and I’ve happily shared my experiences with you.  Oh – and there’s that wine bar that I own.

There have been times when I wrote with sadness or anger, but I think I mostly write from a place of understanding and acceptance. Balance and moderation are woven throughout much of what I write.

Health and wellness have been covered and the miracle of menopause has been mentioned.  The heartbreak of addiction and the threat of cancer have been present. I’ve learned to ski and have found bliss in pigeon pose in a room heated to 100+ degrees.

It’s all here – my life.  Not perfect, not necessarily what I ever imagined it to be, but a life that I feel grateful for in a city that I have come to love.

Will you tell me why you visit my life?

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Weather or not

imageIt’s hard to deny that spring has sprung now that I’ve got two colors of crocus creating a riot of color in my front garden.  I can’t say I’m unhappy about the premature arrival of what is typically the most fickle of seasons, but I can admit that I am more than a little uncomfortable with how quickly windows have been thrown open and bare legs have been exposed.  I’m still waiting for winter.

For the first time in my 20 years of teaching, I didn’t have a single delayed start or cancelation to school this winter.  Yes, I said 20 years.  That is remarkable.  Also absent from this year’s “winter” was any opportunity to cross-country ski locally, sleigh ride or build a snowman.  I can count on one ungloved hand the number of days which were bitter cold and I’m glad that I didn’t invest in new winter gear for any of my children.

I miss the sound of cottony silence that comes from a good snowstorm and the camaraderie of neighbors coming together to dig cars out of mounds of snow and shovel sidewalks. There’s something magical about waking up in the morning to find one’s front steps buried in white, fluffy powder.  It adds a sense of adventure to an otherwise typical day.

All that being said, I didn’t miss white knuckled driving or needing to repeatedly fill my wiper fluid reservoir.  My skis may not have come out of their off season home in the basement, but I was able to explore areas of the golf course on foot that I’d only ever experienced before on skis.  Running the golf course for 4 or 5 months has been both a real treat and a workout and Jeter and I are both going to miss it.

This premature El Niño spring feels a bit like a reward not earned, but let’s enjoy it, along with e.e. cummings’ words, anyway.

“sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”

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Filed under beauty, favorites, Flowers, Local, Normanskill, Observations, running, skiing, Spring, upstate New York, x-country skiing

Hips don’t lie…

…but sometimes they do cry. As I transition from a season of x-country skiing to being back on the pavement, my hips are screaming in protest. They really do prefer the glide of skis on powder to the pounding of feet on sidewalks.  It’s going to be a long spring/summer/fall if the hips and I can’t find a way to get along.  Maybe you have some tips to share?  

image: http://images.ethicalocean.com

Before we get to that, let me tell you what I’ve been doing to make friends with my ever-so-important hips:

  • Intense massage with active stretches
  • Yoga – at least one 75 minute class a week.  Last weekend I got lucky and took a class with The Hot Yoga Spot‘s Aaron.  He introduced the theme as “Hips: heaven or hell.”  Perfect!!  It really was just what I needed.
  • Lots of pigeon pose
  • Alleve
  • Slow-paced runs
  • Hot baths (with bubbles and sometimes a glass of wine)

So – what have you got?  Am I missing something?  What else can I do to loosen up these damn hips?

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Filed under Exercise, running, Uncategorized, x-country skiing, zaftig

Shoulder season

imageIf you’re an outdoors exerciser, you’ll probably agree that we’ve arrived at shoulder season – or, as I like to call it, ass season. As in, falling on your ass if you’re not cautious because it’s so damn icy. We’re somewhere between skiing and running/cycling season and each day brings the question of which activity will be best attempted in conditions that seem to vary daily.

The golf course has deteriorated into an icy landscape, complete with bare spots and piles of dog poop. I skied it Friday and it was treacherous. After walking it on Saturday, I reluctantly concluded that ski season was over. I consoled myself with my first run in weeks – 5 slow, wet and slick miles. My quads are screaming today, so I guess I guess we can call this shoulder, ass and quads season to be accurate.

This morning, there was an unexpected (to me) period of snow. Fluffy flakes quickly accumulated and frosted the icy snow changing my prospects for the day. A ski it would be.

Work last night, an obscenely early soccer game (7:30), and the time change had combined to kick my ass, confirming the appropriateness of my naming the season after the gluteal region. After a nap between fresh flannel sheets, I felt prepared to attempt the golf course, hoping that the trails would be improved. It proved to be beyond my expectations.

The sun had softened the snow’s crust and the newly fallen flakes had filled in the worst of the divots. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds and the ski was sublime. Although I am generally conscious of being present in the moment, I focused even harder on experiencing this ski, imagining it as being my last of the winter.

The interior trails, particularly the Coca-Cola, were beautiful and easily negotiated. Jeter and I explored a new path or two and when we completed our long loop it seemed we both felt pleasantly fatigued.  Regardless of which part of my body feels sore, that soulful place inside me feels satisfied.  Time for a glass of wine.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, running, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing