Friday, December 12, 2014

Dear William (64 months)

Dear William,

Today you are 64 months old!

Probably the biggest thing we did this month was Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving dinner

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You were already in the Christmas spirit, so we went and got a tree, Fort Collins style.

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You helped me decorate it.  I think it turned out really well.  It might just be our best tree ever.

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We put some decorations around the rest of the house too.

Randy lay there like a slug


You watched some Christmas movies with your dad.

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Then fell asleep.

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Santa Claus came to town.  We watched him ride in, on a bike.

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You were kind of like,”Meh."

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You ate a tiny apple.  And despite the horrible look on your face, you said it was really yummy.

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You wished some family members happy birthday.  (Okay, Uncle Andy’s birthday was last month, but I didn’t get the picture in time).

Andy's birthday

Happy Birthday Grandpa


You continued to go bouldering.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place Insert requisite comment about “rock and hard place” here.



You helped me bake Star Wars themed vegan gingersnaps.  You learned that Darth Vader could not eat with his mask on.

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You are *very* excited about Christmas, which will be here before you know it.

Can’t wait :)



Monday, December 1, 2014

November 2014 Mileage: In which I finally put the stress fracture/tendon injury behind me, again. Maybe. Also, snow.

November 2014.

Sometimes you can’t tell the sky from the reservoir.

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The blue skies got a little bit colder this month.

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It snowed.

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Then it got a lot colder.

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I didn’t even mind the cold and the snow because for the first time in a long time, my possible stress fracture/tendon injury/ankle/calf did not hurt.

 Rob made my old Altras into Screw Shoes so I wouldn’t slip on the ice.

IMG 4390Why did I wait 35 years to do this?

Right after that first snowfall, Rob and I went on an impromptu lunch-break trail run at Horsetooth Mountain.  

IMG 4352Snowy mountains on the way to the trail.

I have never liked snow, which is why I was surprised that I thought this was so beautiful.

Meli on South Ridge Blue dot = me.

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In the past 6 months I’ve run dozens and dozens (maybe hundreds?) of miles on the surrounding valley trails at Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, but I had never actually run up Horsetooth itself.

It was so beautiful I decided I wanted to do this run every day.

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I didn’t go all the way to the top, though. At this point in my life, I am fine not having rock climbing be a part of my trail runs.  The terrain and footing are difficult enough for me as-is.

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While I love, love, love, love, love running uphill, flying down that mountain (with my screw shoes) and reaching (for me) break-necking pace, was hell of fun.

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I went back to Horsetooth myself as soon as I had a chance, on a day that was even more spectacularly beautiful than when I’d been there with Rob.


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I saw this guy, which was a surprise.

IMG 4406Luckily he was friendly.  And not a mountain lion or bear.

People here say that we do get a lot of snow in the winter (60 inches is the average), but it’s not that bad because it’s a powdery snow, and it doesn’t linger.

Two weeks after our first snowfall, there was still ice on the ground though.  I’d call that lingering.

Thank goodness for the screw shoes.

Rob took the whole week of Thanksgiving off from work.  On Monday, while Will was in school, Rob and I drove out to Greyrock Mountain in Poudre Canyon to “run.” The trail was so icy that even with the screw shoes, it was impossible to run in a lot of places. And also: rocks.  They don’t call these mountains “rocky” for nothing.  The most I was capable of was kind of a glorified hike.

Meli at Grayrock

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IMG 4434 Trail running with @ragfield is not for the faint of heart.

Near the top of Greyrock, it got even more dicey, and we even lost the trail a couple times.  The clock was ticking.  We had to make it back to town in time to pick up Will from school.  We didn’t have cell reception, so I couldn’t even call one of my emergency contacts to see if they could take care of him for a while.

Frozen Poudre

We made it, with 2 minutes to spare.

Soon, it was time for Thanksgiving.

I knew that a busy day of cooking was ahead of me, so I got up early and went back to Horsetooth.  I was not disappointed.

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I finished out the month with a slightly longer run (my first double-digit run since my back to back ultras in October) at Horsetooth again, this time connecting some of the other trails I had never been on.  The sunrise was really pretty that day.

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132.61 miles run in November. 1328.47 year to date.  So tantalizingly close to the arbitrary figure of 1500, which when I started keeping track of miles (before I had an injury), seemed like it should be no problem for me to reach.

That would mean running 171.5 miles in December.

Not completely out of the realm of possibility.  I ran 200 miles in July, after all.  But when I look back at this year, I find that going 150 or above is what triggers my tibia to start hurting again.  

But that 1500 milestone is hanging in front of me.  It would mean 5 miles every day in December, or 38 miles (plus a little change) every week.  It might mean that I carry this tibia injury into 2015.  

I probably need someone to talk me out of it.  1450 would be okay.  There’s always next year, right?  

Thanks for reading.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

You're Vegan, What Do You Eat? Thanksgiving Redux

We stayed at home for Thanksgiving this year, which was nice.

Technically, this was our second Thanksgiving in Fort Collins.  Last year, we drove to Colorado in what was basically a panic, because I had to see this place one more time before I quit my job and we uprooted our lives to move here.  But now this is really where we live, and when I think about how far we have come and how much everything has changed since that terrible, terrible time one year ago, I still kind of can’t believe it.

My parents had been hoping to come out and visit us, but they ended up unable to make the trip, so it was just the three of us.  I tried to re-create the magical Thanksgiving dinner I made in St. Louis in 2012, though with much less success.  Mom, Dad, don’t feel bad about not joining us this time; you didn’t miss my best culinary endeavor.

The whole thing started out when William and I made a pumpkin pie on Wednesday (he is still a difficult eater, but he does love to help bake).  I used this recipe for crust and this recipe for the pie filling.  I chose these recipes because of their simplicity: instead of tofu and soy cream cheese (the latter of which I always forget to buy), the pie filling took coconut milk and cornstarch, which I already had on hand.  It all came together very easily.

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On Thanksgiving morning, I got up early and ran at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, something I sincerely hope becomes a tradition.

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IMG 44462.5 miles up this mountain (and back down again) was way, way better than choosing to do the local Turkey Trot.

Basically as soon as I got home and took a shower, I started cooking our Thanksgiving dinner.  Simplicity was the theme, so I really didn’t think it was going take that long to put together, but as these things often do, it took much longer than I was expecting.

I had bought a real, actual Tofurky because that was the only vegan, holiday kind of thing Whole Foods had when I went shopping, and at the time I was not feeling creative enough to come up with a fancy Thanksgiving dish on my own.  I figured it would be a lot like the “roast beast” we had 2 years ago when I did this in St. Louis, and that had been pretty good.

While the oven pre-heated, I sliced potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts to roast.  The Tofurky was a lot rounder than the “roast beast” of 2012, so not as many vegetables fit in the roasting pan with it.  I decided to roast the brussels sprouts separately.

Our internet randomly stopped working, so I couldn’t look up my blog to see how I had made the baste last time.  Winging it, I mixed together some melted Earth Balance, garlic powder, and a dash of soy sauce.  (**Note to self: for future reference, leave out the soy sauce.  Add fresh sage**).  I put the non-brussel sprout vegetables in with the (thawed) Tofurky and covered them with the baste so the whole thing could start cooking.  Then I made some gravy—also winging it, with no internet to look up a recipe.  I used vegetable broth, more garlic powder, nutritional yeast, and flour.  I may have added some corn starch (and possibly a few other things) too, I’m not sure.  

Then it was time to start the dinner rolls.  I had found this recipe a few days earlier, but totally didn’t realize it took an egg.  I usually use ground flax seeds as egg replacers; this works really well for things like brownies, but I did not know if it was the best option for dinner rolls.  It was my only option at the time, though, so I decided to try it.

While the dinner rolls were (hopefully) rising, I put the brussels sprouts in the oven and then began the stuffing.  The Tofurky actually had stuffing in the center, but I knew from 2012 that it wasn’t going to be very much, and Rob really likes stuffing, so I wanted to make sure we had enough to make this a celebration.  I had bought some packaged stuffing at Whole Foods.  It had the word “vegan” on the label and all you did was add water (and some oil) to it, so I figured how hard could it be.

The dinner rolls seemed to be rising quite fine, which was a relief considering 1) high altitude -and- 2) flax seed egg.  I put them in the oven and wondered how long it would take everything to finish cooking 1) at high altitude -and- 2) with 3 different things in the oven all at once.

I sort of managed to get the kitchen cleaned up, and then it was showtime.  Only about 45 minutes later than I’d estimated.

Deeply engrossed in some sort of train game, Rob and Will grudgingly came to the dinner table (mainly, it was Will who was grudging).  Will took one glance at the motley assortment of Thanksgiving dishes and said, “That looks disgusting, I don’t want to eat it.”  

Will eventually conceded to have a dinner roll and some raw broccoli, and I think I fixed him some apple slices too.

Thanksgiving dinner

Rob and I sat down to the rest of the meal.  It was… meh.

The Tofurky was kind of tough and dry, despite all the basting I’d done, and the stuffing had weird tiny hard bits in it that I didn’t care for.  The vegetables were kind of bland, and I forgot, I still don’t like sweet potatoes (thanks, hyperemesis!) even if they’re purple.  The dinner rolls were a bit too sweet for my liking, and the gravy tasted like it was missing something.  The brussels sprouts were good though.

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Rob said he liked the dinner, and he and Will were both big fans of the rolls, so maybe I will be making those again.  We didn’t actually have as many leftovers as I’d been expecting, but the next day when I ate some of the roasted vegetables, I thought they tasted even better than they had for our Thanksgiving dinner.  Maybe I had just been too tired from my jaunt up Horsetooth and the subsequent hours in the kitchen to enjoy it, although I'd have thought that would make me enjoy it more.  I don’t know.

We waited several hours before eating the pumpkin pie later in the day.  Will was actually pretty excited about this, I think because some of the kids at school had been talking about pumpkin pie and he got caught up in it.  Also, once when he was 2 he ate pumpkin pie at daycare and I was told he really liked it.

Pumpkin pie

The pumpkin pie was… okay.  Rob and I are both not really “pie” people, but Rob bravely tried some and managed to get through a slice.  I do have a greater pie tolerance than Rob, but this pie was not my favorite.  It occurred to me as I took my first bite, that I do not really like coconut milk (the kind that comes in a can) and that was one of like 3 ingredients of the pie.  I had thought that the pumpkin and the spice would cover up the coconut flavor, but… you could definitely still taste coconut.  Which is great if you like coconut, I suppose.

On the bright side, Will did actually eat a piece of the pie.  With his hands.

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Pro-tip: I discovered later that the pie becomes amazingly fantastic if you warm it up (12 seconds in the microwave for a slice) and then put (vegan) chocolate chips on top.  Chocolate makes everything better.

We finished out the weekend with some light bouldering...

Stuck between a rock and a hard place


… a few great sunrises...

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… some movie watching...

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… and a trip to get a Christmas tree at the unceremonious location of a Do-It Hardware store near our house.  

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The proximity of the store did, however, allow us to revive a Ragfield Family Tradition that we haven’t done since sometime before Will was born, when we lived in Urbana.

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Will and I decorated the tree together while Rob went running that evening.  It turned out pretty nice, I think.  And Will was a great help.

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Next year, I promise I’ll get the Tofurky figured out, so hopefully you can enjoy it with us, Mom and Dad.

Thanks for reading.

IMG 4493A white butterfly for you, Jackson.  Love, Auntie M.