Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wolf Creek Ski Report

We made a family ski trip this past weekend. This is one of those things that sounds a little like a Beautiful People activity when you casually mention it, that feels like an exercise in exhaustion and forced toleration while you're in it, and when you're home, washed and rested, seems like the kind of thing that Makes Life Worthwhile.

I'm still waiting to get fully rested. Also, our ski gear is still "airing out" all over the bedroom floor. So we haven't reached stage three yet. But we're headed there.

The Beautiful People part was not just the ski aspect - skiing can sometimes feel like just another soccer game death march, what with the rush-hour-style drive up I-70, full parking lots, endless schlepping of gear, squished peanut butter sandwiches in the locker by the ski school, and the regular running into people we know on the slopes (figuratively. Not literally. Yet.) It was the getaway part - we made the long haul down south to one of my favorite parts of the state, to a distant ski area in a place without lines (I'm pretty sure unicorns can be found in the San Juans too), without the brassy me-too glitz of the centrally located ski scene. We went to Wolf Creek, which is a holy combination of legendary snow and low-key digs. Wolf Creek is the kind of place the ski guys go, the young men with nothing better to do than drive half the night for consistently awesome powder. It's not really a place that suburban Denver families go - except that it works for us, too, in all the same ways.

However, I'm still kind of stuck in the exhaustion stage: I'm remembering in a full-body way how we left straight after work on Friday - after a week of cramming in laundry and snack-buying and gassing up between all the usual tasks, we threw the stuff in the car, fed the birdies and headed south. We got up early both days and spent all the nonskiing hours hopping from bed to bed in the motel room so we wouldn't step in all the chunks of tracked-in snow on the floor. We were cold pretty much eight hours a day for two days straight. We spent over fourteen hours in the car. I didn't get my usual weekend run; Silas basically insisted on skin-to-skin contact with his personal electronic devices every minute that he wasn't actually wearing skis and I was too exhausted to urge a better path, despite how much it bothered me. To the enjoyment of everyone, it turned out I was *not* too exhausted to nag.

Both children are wearing skis.

So: will it turn out to have been a trip that Makes Life Worthwhile? Definitely. Just knowing that this part of world is a place we can go in the midst of a regular working month makes it feel already like we have an escape hatch. As we drove across the long dark vastness of the San Luis valley on Friday night I leaned forward into the windshield and watched the stars; even through the reflection of the dashboard lights I could see more than I ever can back in the suburbs. I wanted to stop the car and stand in the freezing night air and really look at them; I didn't, because I wanted to get to the motel even more, but the fact that I was that close and I could have has made returning to the cramped routines of daily life feel more open, like there's air getting in.

It's not a new fact to me, that this is what I need. Some people need spa weekends and pampering and luxury (or cooking, or shopping, or reading) to make them feel like the universe has room for them; I need space, and I don't really get that in the life I've made now. What I'm not sure about yet is if the Wolf Creek trip filled that hole or made it deeper.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger or At Least Makes Good Blog Fodder, Part 1

1. We had an uncarved pumpkin left over from Halloween and an unused pie crust left over from Christmas in the freezer. I will make a pie, I thought; I am an empty-the-pantry genius. Waste not, want not!

2. What kind of pumpkin do we have, besides a long-lasting-at-room-temperature one? Well. A "small pumpkin" according to the label on the squash. Very helpful. I remember that I got it from one of the big bins outside and not from the small stand of pie pumpkins in the produce section; but that shouldn't matter, right? Not really? A pumpkin is a pumpkin, after all.

3. Slice open the pumpkin: clean and fresh inside. Scoop out seeds; bake. (Face down in a tray of water for an hour and fifteen minutes at 350 degrees, for those of you following along at home, which [foreshadowing] I do not recommend.)

4. Scrape out the baked flesh. It sure peels off the skin in long easy strips. Maybe a little too easy. Also a little too strippy. Like spaghetti squash. Hmm. Blend; put in double boiler and add 3 beaten eggs, 3/4 cup of sugar, salt and cinnamon-ginger-cloves. Oh, and 3/4 cup cream. Only I don't have cream, so I put in half and half. Bake pie shell.

5. Hmm. It sure looks kind of...separate. Like I'm mixing chocolate milk with squash chunks.

6. Now it looks more like crumbled brown sugar mixed with squash chunks, with water poured over.

7. Pour off water. Blend the remains. Still oddly separate. Hmm. Sometimes homemade is a little less than picture-perfect, right? It's part of the charm. Pour/ scrape slightly sticky pumpkin custard (somehow custard is not the first thing that comes to mind, here) into baked pie crust. Hmm. Put in still-warm oven for fifteen minutes just...because. Because an additional step seems called for. Because right now the pie looks like I soaked cat kibble in milk overnight and poured it into a pie crust.

8. Well, it will still taste good, right?

9. Verdict: no.

10. If you must know, it tastes like I tried to make a pie with the slimy goop that the seeds come in. Blech.

11. Am still empty-the-pantry genius, only in the directly-to-trash, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars sense.