Getting Creative

I've always had an idea in the back of my mind to write once I'm retired.  A travel book about our cycling journeys, a map/trail guide to share the great single-track we encounter, a narrative on going vegan and the hassles/pleasures of the process, or maybe even a look back at my professional career as an engineer/project manager.  Ever since my 1st blog post and committing to writing each week, I look forward to the process and find it relaxing and enjoy the creative challenge.  One of my goals for 2013, is to get back on a weekly schedule and to share more personal stories and opinions.  It is a bit scary to put it all out there, but I figure I'll start small and see how it goes.

Sundance Theme Night
Speaking of creative, Sundance is here.  My parents arrived on Monday and we were finally able to spend more than 15 minutes together this morning over breakfast and a couple games of Scrabble.  They are full-time volunteers plus they try to fit in as many movies and events as possible.  They've stayed out late all week and then are asleep when we leave for work, I guess this is what having teenagers or college students in the basement would be like.  I don't think it is a coincidence that I wrote about them last year during their 1st shift as I write tonight waiting for them to come home and assure me everything went well and they are happy to be back.

Although I'm not working from home this year, I'm trying to make sure to partake in some of the activities.  We purchased locals tickets for the Grand Prize Awards which will show next weekend.  I dressed up for our "Sundance Theme Night" at cycling class and we battled traffic today to go skiing and shopping.  The people watching today was spectacular and will only get better.  My parents receive a few waitlist ticket vouchers as part of their swag, so we may catch a few movies this coming week.

The past couple weeks have been extra hectic due to my work project reaching go-live status.  Long nights and weekends are standard fare, so no surprises there but combined with Terry's bid schedule and other activities & priorities, January is flying by.

The skiing has been decent and although we miss the hiking and steep slopes at Alta, we are enjoying PCMR.  The close drive and ability to combine skiing with errands is very convenient.  There have only been a few instances where the drive is irritating (including today when we couldn't find parking and had to dodge Sundance craziness).  We do like getting to watch all the athletes train, whether it's in the park or thru the gates, we are surrounded by superstars.
PCMR: Super Pipe and Kickers are ready for business

I'm still attending the University of Utah Women's games and have seen Stanford, Cal, and Arizona this month.  Unfortunately, the Utes have had trouble finding a winning recipe against Pac-12 opponents, but tomorrow is Arizona State and I'm hopeful.

Landscaping by Gandolf
Winter Storm Gandolf rolled through last weekend (Thursday-Sunday) bringing snow and very cold temperatures.  The Audi is still in the shop, so I did 3 ugly commutes in the rental car.  I'm finished with physical therapy and my neck and back still need good stretching, but aren't as stiff and I haven't had to stop skiing or cycling.  I am having a harder time than I thought trusting other drivers and have been extra cautious / nervous on the roads.

There was both bad and good news concerning Christian this month.  His 2nd treatment plan of ICE and BEAM wasn't doing its job, so he had to stop.  The good news is his 3rd treatment plan (an antibody drug) sounds very encouraging and doesn't appear to cause the nausea and sickness that ICE did.  He and Corrie continue to keep life as normal as possible for the girls.  If you are interested in contributing toward housecleaning, snowplow, etc to help them out, please click here.

Probably the most entertaining and creative story of the month is  the "Save the Tree" project.  As I reported in early December, we set up a fake Christmas tree for the first time in our lives.  It was nice to have during the holiday and I waited until January before boxing it back up and returning it to Corrie.  A few days later, Terry sends me a text from work asking if we should save the office tree from the landfill.  He hadn't realized it, but each year his office buys an elaborately decorated tree during a charity event but then in January, tears it down and tosses it.  Kudos to Terry for trying to come up with alternatives, but unfortunately the only one that made sense in such short notice, was for us to rescue the tree and bring it home.  Although another one of my goals for 2013, is to minimize and cut down on material objects in our home, I said yes.
"Save the Tree"
The next day, Terry drove home with the 9ft tree in the back of the truck and 6 boxes of ornaments in the back seat.  The tree was reinforced with re-bar and not made to disassemble, so we had our hands full.  We didn't have time to do anything with it during the week, so got it under the porch and moved all the boxes into my parent's soon-to-be bedroom and figured we would come up with a plan by the weekend.

Between work/meetings, skiing, and dinner plans on Saturday, we didn't make any progress.  We woke up Sunday realizing that we only had the day to take care of business.  My parents needed their bedroom and we couldn't have a tree wrapped in plastic sitting in front of the house for much longer.

The original plan was to put everything in the attic, but we weren't sure if 1) we could carry the tree up all our stairs and 2) it would fit in the attic door.  We really had no other option, so we headed to the attic to make space.  We removed a huge selection of boxes that were already empty, but I had kept out of habit since we used to move every year and need them.  While I tore them down for recycling, Terry finished the drywall project the previous owner hadn't, then added the remaining drywall to the recycling pile.
Not what we were expecting
Attic Door
By this point, everything that was staying had been moved thru the closet and bathroom into our bedroom.  This included 4 bike containers for plane travel, lots of luggage, a large container filled with Christmas stuff, and some odds and ends.  Plus the new boxes of ornaments, which luckily was just 6 and not double that since the ladies from the office had taken many home as part or their reward for preparing it for us.

Now for the tree.  We carried it up to the main floor patio and were just able to get it thru the front door.  This was not a good sign since the attic door was so much smaller.  Time for Plan B.  We took the tree back outside and strategized.  Terry and I actually work very well together, which isn't often the case with husband/wife projects.  Maybe it is our shared zodiac sign or both being engineers, but we can really do some good troubleshooting when we have to and have a good time doing it.

Thanks to Gandolf, the temps were hovering around zero so we bundled up and went out for "Save the Tree" Part Deux.  We unwrapped all the plastic and found that the top had been dismantled and was tucked in at the bottom.  In addition, Terry unearthed a forgotten ornament.  This gave us some hope!  We tried to pull the branches up and in to reduce the circumference but the tree was not having it.  So, we put it on its side (branches up) and slowly wrapped it tight with a strong nylon rope.  When we finished, we thought we had a legitimate chance at success.
Maybe we can just leave it on the porch all year?
Tree Top and Hidden Ornament
Terry rides the Tree for 8 seconds!
With Terry's back injury and my neck/back still sore, we were quite the comedy show as we carried the tree across the living room and up the stairs.  I lost it near the top and left a small smudge in the paint but otherwise we made it to our bedroom with no injuries.  This was it, what if the tree didn't fit in the attic door?  We could carry it back down or just set it upright in the corner until next December.  Terry was already talking about purchasing a pulley system from the loft to the living room before we even tried.

We pushed and pulled and twisted and left a trail of glitter, but the tree made it in the attic!  Once in, we had enough room to spin it around to be better positioned to pull it out in 11 months.  We piled in all the ornament boxes, the top, and all the other original attic items and still had room for a future rescue project.  It was almost 5 hours later, but we were so excited and proud of our accomplishment it didn't matter.  Operation "Save the Tree" was successful!
Safely at home in the attic
I have no idea if either of us is creative enough to put all the ornaments back on properly and make it look as beautiful as it did in the office, but I do know it will remind us of a good time for a good cause on a Sunday morning in January.