Saturday, October 11, 2014

Finished, But Not Home - Yet

Yes, Kari and her friend, Andrea, finished the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike in just over 12 hours!  I talked with her last evening and her first description of the endeavor was, ". . .The hardest thing I've ever done in my life! . ."  I'll drive to the Sacramento airport to pick her up (or scoop her up!) this evening at 8.  We'll see how she feels after 24 hours of "recovery;" I use the term recovery loosely as she predicts that day 2 will be worse than the first 24-hour period.

Hopefully, she'll have a few photos to share; although, she already indicated she didn't take anywhere near what she thought she would because the hike was just too darn hard.  Remember I said it was 26 miles; she said that about 13 of that distance was uphill!!!  The final 6 miles, climbing up to the south rim from the canyon floor took an hour per mile!  At one point she said her whole body 'seized' and she couldn't move for several minutes; the cause was dehydration and sodium depletion.  She took extra salt tablets and drank about a quart of water over around 15 minutes and felt better.  At the time we spoke (about 6pm) she said several hikers were still a long way from the finish.

And, finally she said, "This is my first AND MY LAST Grand Canyon Rim to Rim."

I just thank God she finished with what appears to be no serious or terminal injuries.  Ironman Cozumel will be much more "sane," that's the term I'll use to describe any / all of these extreme athletic events my kids seem to be addicted to conquering!

I'm off to get a little exercise myself; then I'll commence the chief cook and bottle washer duties for a fractured family dinner tonight, before I head to the airport to pick Kari up . . . More (with pix) later.

Friday, October 10, 2014

El Dorado Hills and Lots of Activity

Lacy, Eleanor and I came down I-5 to El Dorado Hills on Wednesday, about 180 miles south of Redding.  I'd volunteered to 'babysit' the triplets, 15 in November, for a few days.  Their dad, David, was in Las Vegas for a business convention until last night. And, their mom, my daughter Kari, and her business partner were left Wednesday afternoon to fly to Arizona, where they are doing another spectacular feat of exercise:  a 26-mile hike beginning on the north rim down to, and across, the canyon floor and Colorado River; then up the walls to the south rim.
Grand Canyon - North Rim (left), canyon floor and Colorado River, South 
This hike used to be a yearly event; but, it's no longer legal due to the number of rescues the Park Service had to make each year.  In order to accomplish this feat, Kari and her friend Andrea, had to apply for a Special Use Permit from Grand Canyon National Park.  As I've mentioned so often in my posts, Kari is an incredible athlete.  She's considering this hike as a long training day in preparation for her Ironman event that will take place in Cozumel, Mexico on November 30th.

Kari and Andrea are now, as I write, hopefully past the half-way mark in this endeavor.  I'll have to post how they've done - when I find out!  I believe they began their trek at about 5 this morning an hope to complete the challenge by sunset this evening.  As I recall they were to begin at an elevation of about 8,000 feet, hike down to the Colorado River, at about 2,000 feet, cross the river and canyon bottom and then hike up to the south rim, which is about a 6,000 foot climb.

Life in their household continues at full tilt, parents here or not.  I feel that babysitting for three almost 15-year old high school Freshmen is more labor-intensive than when they were ten!  They're all very active in sports and extracurricular activities, as well as taking full loads of subjects in school.  And, although they're triplets, they have three different schedules for class hours, etc.  The driving taxi service that I'm providing is very close to a full-time position.  Since Wednesday I've driven close to 200 miles just back and forth to school and activities.  Thank goodness each kid is responsible for his own laundry; I haven't done any.  But, cooking for three voracious appetites, is also almost full-time work; it seems like they're eating non-stop - because they are eating non-stop! Kari and David have always believed that if they keep their kids very busy they won't have time to head down a wrong path; so far, it's worked wonderfully with the three older girls, all of whom are either on their own completely, or in college and living in a dorm.  Certainly as far as I know, there have been no teen problems other than the occasional heart breaks, moodiness and melt-downs that happen to us all inn getting through those teen years!

Earlier today I made a huge pot of minestrone and a large apple crisp. My son, Jeff, and my twin granddaughters, Malia and Samantha, will arrive from Cottonwood this evening to spend the weekend here.  The twins have a soccer game tomorrow in Elk Grove, about 30 miles from here.  Then Jeff and Kari, if she lives through today's hike, will do a long training bike ride on Sunday.  Remember, it's the two of them who will compete in Cozumel - together.  I'm so looking forward to that; all 'my' family will be there, even my ex-husband and his wife are planning to be in the cheering gallery for the brother-sister team.

I am really enjoying the kids and am amazed at how fast they grow up. It just goes by so fast, but other than when all five of the now 14-year olds were still in diapers, they're a really fun group of kids and I'm thrilled to be their Mimi.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Memories of a Special Birthday

I think it was my 4th birthday when an unexpected gift became one of those hallmarks of my life providing interest, practice, and love for literature and music.

As I recall, I opened the package wondering, 'Just what could this be?'  It didn't conform to the perceived measurements of any item on my wish list, at least that I could remember.  But, even at that age, I was beginning to realize that those 'mystery' gifts could be more exciting and satisfying than anything I'd thought I needed,wanted, or just had to have.  In this world, there are some people who possess a special talent for choosing just the right gift you never knew you wanted and hadn't thought of, yet!  My mom had that 'gift;' it started with picking a toy I wasn't even aware of, like my Toodles doll, who could drink from her toy baby bottle - and then tinkle (as Mom called it) into her diaper, giving me the opportunity to be the mother of that plastic daughter.  Those special and unexpected gifts flowed from my mother's thoughtfulness and empathy during all of my childhood - and adulthood, throughout her life.  I love you, Mom.

Birthdays were very important days to me, probably the most anticipated of holidays, after Christmas, that is.  My special day, February 3rd, I shared every year with the wedding anniversary of my parents.  I, the eldest, was born on their 9th anniversary, a fact that didn't mean much to me as a young child, except that I was always aware of the fact that I'd been a 'gift' for them as they'd wanted children from the day they married in 1934.  Military life with the inherent separations, the War, and other unforeseen obstacles had not made procreation possible - until I came along, right smack-dab in the middle of WWII.

Back to that #4 birthday.  Just what was in this flat, square and prettily wrapped package?  It took only seconds to get through the paper and what did I see?  A record album: a group of 78-RPM records, four of them, each tucked into its own cardboard folder (with a circular cutout in the middle to be able to identify each individual disc) for protection of both sides of each record.  And, as the album was opened, there was also a story and picture book attached as an actual part of the album that, I was to discover, coordinated with each of the records.

It was "Peter and the Wolf," Op. 67, a composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 in the USSR. It's a children's story, with both music and text by Prokofiev, spoken by a narrator accompaniment of a symphony orchestra.  I was familiar with the story, as Mom and Dad had read it to me and my brother, Jimmy, previously.  What could be so special about this album? Well, it didn't take long to find out.

I was directed to the combination radio and 'automatic' record player in the living room.  Dad taught me how to insert the 78rpm record into the record slot on the lower portion of the front of the machine.  You had to be careful to insert it exactly in the center from left and right, or the hole in the record center would be cattywampus, not lining up with the little popup that held the disc in place making the needle on the player arm unable to locate itself correctly for playing the music.

Well, I inserted the first of the four records and heard the narrator, i.e. conductor, begin the entertainment by telling the audience, i.e. me, that each of the characters in the story would be played by a certain instrument.  I lay down on the floor in front of the record player and followed along in the attached picture book as the conductor and the symphony orchestra took me on that first magical ride.

I probably played that series of records hundreds of times over the next few years.  I think going along with the story helped me learn to read.  And, most of all, the experience made me aware of the instruments in a symphony orchestra and develop a love of music of all kinds that has remained throughout my life.

Well, I can't say what ultimately happened to that album; I know it was well-worn and loved.  Perhaps it went to another 4 year old girl or boy to enjoy as much as I had.  I went on to take music lessons and play flute in the school band and cello in the school orchestra.   I also took some piano lessons along the way.  I'm sorry that I've not kept up on my instruments; however, I have my flute here in the RV with me and still intend to take it out and practice.

Here is a YouTube video to give you an idea of how wonderful my "Peter and the Wolf" indoctrination into the world of classical music was . . .


I hope, if you've not seen it before, you enjoy a bit of this symphony.

PS:  I've tried to correct the type-spacing error; so far I can't figure out how to do it.  Any words of wisdom will be appreciated.