Monday, January 26, 2009


Life is strange. Back in early September of 2008 (so like almost 5 months ago), Jesper was night riding and hit a branch with his face. Hit it hard. His face bled a lot, but the guys he was with bandaged it up good enough for him to finish the ride and enjoy dinner and a beer at Oskar's Blues. Clearly, boys do not go to the emergency room if the injured rider can walk. I awoke the next morning to a shock; Jesper had a large hole in his cheek!

Over the course of the next few days, the left side of Jesper's face swelled up, like he'd had his wisdom tooth out. This picture is from when the swelling had just begun; you can see it pushing his mouth down funny on his left side. His face got MUCH MUCHbigger, all the way down his neck. I felt so bad for him, I couldn't even take a picture of him in that state.

The facial swelling finally went down after more than a week. The wound would seem to get better, and then it would get all nasty again. It would ooze pus. Then it would get all blocked up and form a giant pustule (come on - how often have you wanted to use the word pustule for real in a sentence?!?!?!). Once again, I refrained from taking pictures because I felt so bad for Jesper.

Jesper even found a small piece of what looked like wood in the wound one day when he was cleaning it. We began to think there might be more foreign material in there, so Jesper went to see the doctor. I think he went to the doctor twice. The doc palpated it, poked sharp objects in the cavernous hole and even took an x-ray. He proclaimed that there was nothing in there and that it would just take time to heal.

Time passed and the wound would get better and then get infected again, over and over. Something was not right and I can vouch that Jesper kept the wound very clean.

We went off to Denmark for Christmas, almost 4 months after the incident and the wound was still not healed. Jesper had to explain to everybody what he'd done, which I'm sure got old. Although you can clearly see the wound, the hole in his cheek did not stop us from having a great time and enjoying some good Danish beers!

After Christmas, Jesper went back to the doctor. This time, the doctor poked around inside the hole and pulled out some tissue for testing. He gave Jesper new cleaning instructions; alcohol and polysporin (ouch on the alcohol!). The lab tests came back with nothing (good news), so Jesper kept cleaning what was now an even bigger cavern in his cheek.

Then what appeared to be a hard scab began to form in the hole. It rose out at an angle, like one of the flatirons. Jesper could see it just by looking down. Sorry - once again no pictures. We went skiing and the poor guy suffered through wearing his goggles that pressed right on the new protuberance (once again, a word I've been dying to use in a sentence!). Not comfortable!

Jesper was hesitant to try to remove what we thought was a scab. What if new, healthy tissue would be ripped out with it? But this morning, when cleaning the wound, the protruding object became loose and he gently pulled on it. It started to move and then just kept coming and coming! Imagine his complete surprise when he realized that he had removed a large chuck of WOOD from his face!!!!

This thing had been in his cheek for almost half a year! No wonder the wound would not heal!!

We are somewhat disappointed that his doctor could not figure this out. But we are finally optimistic that this never-ending injury will soon heal and be a thing of the past.

Like I said, life is strange.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tragedy in the Mountains and a New Beginning

You may be wondering what adventures Flat Ben has been up to, since I haven't written about him in a week. Flat Ben had quite the weekend, starting with sushi at a surprise birthday party on Friday night. Flat Ben even picked out his own dinner.

Jason, the birthday boy, was very happy that Flat Ben could make it to his party! Tracy seems to like Flat Ben too.

On Sunday, Jesper and I took Flat Ben up to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area for a snow shoe hike with the dog. It was cold and as we climbed higher in elevation, it got windier and windier. In the shadows of Mount Audubon and Paiute Peak, I took Flat Ben out of the pack for a photo opportunity.

photo courtesy Jesper

That's when tragedy struck. A gust of wind picked Flat Ben up and carried him away, so fast I couldn't even see him. Jesper and I searched in the cold and the wind for a LONG LONG time, to no avail. He was gone.

Truth be told, I was completely frantic and devastated. How was I going to tell my little nephew that I had irresponsibly lost his precious gift? We finished the hike, but my heart wasn't into it anymore. Jesper tried to make me feel better, figuring out ways to make this whole episode a fun story for the real Ben. However, not even a yummy Oatmeal Stout and a Pork Ned Mess with Cole Slaw and Sweet Potato Fries could cheer me up (although that lunch was pretty darn good!). I dreaded telling my sister what had happened....

I finally told her that I had lost Flat Ben. She was so completely understanding and felt that telling the real Ben the complete truth was the best thing to do. I wondered how he would react; you know how funny kids can be. I feared he would be super upset about Flat Ben.

WRONG!!!! When my sister told Ben that Flat Ben had perished on the top of a mountain, he laughed! He thought it was funny; very Mr. Bill. Ben told his teacher and they had a Memorial Service at school for Flat Ben. Then, my nephew made a Flat Ben Jr., which he is Fed Exing to me today!

I can't wait to meet the little guy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hot Tub

After over a year in the making, our amazing hot tub finally became operational this past weekend. I don't want to steal Jesper's thunder, since he will probably (hopefully) write a post that tells the whole story of the building of our little lagoon of hot bubbly water. However, it's already become such a feature of our life style, I simply cannot wait to write a little about it.

First, to whet your appetite, here's what it looks like now.

We envisioned a hot tub in our yard before we bought this house, while we were renting it. We were inspired by my friend Kathleen Kingma's hot tub. It is a significant feature of her life style - wake up, hot tub, ride bikes, hot tub, sleep (food and beer thrown in as necessary). I realize Kathleen also works, but not usually when she has visitors. Kathleen's hot tub is sunken in, a nice aspect that changes the experience of the user in a way Jesper I both liked. Then we visited Gold Lake Spa, with its recessed stone hot tubs, organic in shape and evocative of mountain lakes. Ahhhh... that's the look we wanted. But how?

Brilliant Jesper to the rescue. He decide to build a hot tub completely from scratch! No pre-fab mold, no pre-made plumbing and electrical. Completely from scratch! Clearly, Jesper also lives by the motto "Go Big or Stay at Home"! Jesper found a manual for how to build a custom hot tub and he proceeded to design something better and fancier than what the author of the manual had ever contemplated! It's difficult to convey how complicated this project was, although I am hopeful Jesper's story and pictures from the beginning-to-now will help.

Jesper started the project in the late summer of 2007. Yes - I said 2007. The first order of business was to obtain a permit from Boulder County. This took awhile, since they had never seen anything like our proposed hot tub. Once permitted, Jesper dug a very large hole (something like 14x17x4 feet). Why so big, you ask? The hot tub needs space around it to house the piping and to pull air from, so it is surrounded by a vault large enough for us to enter to fix any leaks or other problems. Jesper dug this hole completely by hand, encountering a fair bit of asphalt fill in our nice little suburban back yard. He is an animal! Then he placed rebar and insulation upon which we poured a 6 inch slab of concrete.

Next up, building the walls of the vault. This got delayed until the spring of 2008 due to weather. Colorado has a very narrow window of opportunity for temperature-sensitive construction work; things like mortaring cement, gluing pipes, painting on waterproof sealants, etc. These activities can't be done if it's too hot (above 90) or too cold (below freezing). Out here in Boulder, that leaves about 3 months. So, in 2007, old man winter shut us down. Having learned this, Jesper started back up again in 2008 in earnest as soon as it was warm enough. He worked his hiney off, forgoing many bike rides and other fun things to get the hot tub done. I helped where I could (painting, grouting, mixing cement), but Jesper did the vast majority of the work.

We got delayed from time-to-time due to the extreme summer temps, well above 90. But in between the hot days, Jesper constructed the vault walls, then moved on to the actual hot tub walls, which required holes to be drilled in all the right places to allow piping in to the hot tub for water and air (bubbles!). Then he constructed all the plumbing himself and followed up with the electrical. Finally, Jesper constructed the decking to go on top and laid the beautiful Colorado Buff flagstone on top.

This all makes it sound easy, which it certainly was not. All along, Jesper had to learn how to do the next thing. The last few steps were only feasible due to some unusually warm winter weather in late 2008 and early 2009. On January 16, 2009, everything essential to the operation of the hot tub was complete and we filled it up with water. Once full, we turned it on, hopeful that all the electrical devices would work properly and that there would be no leaks. It was so exciting!!! We let it heat up and then next morning, January 17, 2009, Jesper opened the cover to a magical poof of steam!

The control panel read 104 degrees F. The hot tub was finally ready for us dip our toes in.

We still have all the landscaping to complete this spring (we have some fantastic ideas), but we have been using the hot tub a couple times a day. We've changed our morning routine to get up earlier so we can have a dip before work and we hop in before we go to bed. We both feel like we are on permanent vacation!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Meet Flat Ben!

This is my youngest nephew Ben. He's 8, almost 9. Isn't he adorable?

Ben lives in Ohio. He sent me this letter the other day:

So, without further ado, I introduce Flat Ben!

I am super excited that Ben chose me, of all people, to take Flat Ben around and show him a good time! This little dude is going to have a fantastic few weeks! First, I think I need to clothe Flat Ben in some waterproof gear so he doesn't get all wet and mushy. I thought I'd just put him in a zip loc bag, but he looked like he was stuffed in, well, a zip loc bag. Plus, he didn't fit. Not such a good look for a guy who's going to be a super model in Colorado.

So I made Flat Ben a custom waterproof uni-suit! He's a bit shiny and crinkly, but now he's set for some adventures!

First up, a run against the backdrop of the Continental Divide. Flat Ben and I grabbed the dog and drove up Flagstaff Road all the way to the start of the Tenderfoot Trail.

There, we ran along sweet singletrack trail through patches of snow as the sun set beyond the mountains.

I think Flat Ben had a pretty good start to his visit. I can't wait to see what adventures tomorrow brings him!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Colorado Routine

Routine Item #1 - Skiing on the weekends.

Routine Item #2 - Lots of sleep.

Routine Item #3 - Oatmeal for breakfast.


We went skiing both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a resort day at Copper. Jesper and I met up with Sue and found some mighty good snow.

Jesper in Copper Bowl Saturday

Sunday was epic! We got up early (5:00 am) to meet up with friends (Megan and Ryan) and meet some new friends (Sue and Nancee) for a back country outing at Berthoud Pass.

Gear waiting to be donned

Located near Winter Park resort but unlike the resort, this back country area is not patrolled or avalanche controlled. There is no chair lift. Back country enthusiasts get up in elevation by their own two feet. Our group was all skiers, so we used skins on the bottoms of our skis to gain traction as we "skinned" up. This is a lot of work.

Jesper, Megan and Nancee contemplating where to skin up

Because back country areas are not bombed for avalanche control, back country skiers must be very aware of the potential avalanche dangers. All six of us had beacons, shovels and probes. We had avalanche safety training. We took care to avoid more avalanche prone areas and stick to safer slopes. When we did have to travel on more avalanche prone slopes, we crossed or skied one at a time, carefully watching each skier progress down until he/she reached safety. We were fortunate that the avalanche danger for the day at Berthoud was low to moderate.

Avalanche Rose for Saturday from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center - Yellow is moderate and green is low

It was cold and windy, something like 10 below with the wind chill, so cold we wore our helmets, goggles and hoods when skinning up! Skinning up gets you really warm, so wearing all that meant it was pretty cold.

Nancee and Jesper skinning up in the blowing snow and NOT getting warm

What did we get from all that cold hard work? POWDER, and lots of it!

Jesper hitting the POW through the trees

Sue making turns in the POW down a gully

Run after run, we hit bottomless powder and hardly saw any other people. Big smiles filled our faces; the frigid, blowing wind on the multiple ascents was worth it!

We finished the day with a beer at Southern Sun, tired but happy. Routine Item #1 satisfied completely!

After dinner, Jesper and I went to bed at 8:15!! We slept until 6:45, so we certainly got lots of sleep. Routine Item #2 satisfied completely!

This morning, after ten and a half hours of sleep, I got to enjoy a fabulous bowl of oatmeal. I ate it so fast, I forgot to take a picture of it! Routine Item #3 satisfied completely!

Yesiree - I am back into my routine!

More Berthoud Pics here.

Jesper's pics and write up here.

I'm wearing a grey jacket and a white helmet and Jesper has on an orange jacket with a black helmet.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Year

It's 2009! Holy crap! Time kinda flies.

I have been trying very hard to resume my "normal" routine after the holidays:
  • Get lots of sleep in my own bed
  • Wake up at 6:45
  • Eat Oatmeal for Breakfast
  • Work from home reasonable hours (not too much and not too little)
  • Ski a lot
  • Get out most days for a run or ride
However, much to my disappointment, my life right now is not letting me slide back into my routine.
  • Get lots of sleep in my own bed - Even though I'm finally getting to sleep in my own bed, I'm not exactly getting "lots of sleep". I'm waking up every few hours and sometimes can't go back to sleep after 4:30 am. What the heck happened??? Just last month I was able to sleep soundly for 9 hours straight! I attribute this change in sleeping patterns to:
  1. A wacky sleep schedule since we returned from Denmark (crazy 40+ hours to get back to the US of A, NYE and such).
  2. Jet lag from Denmark, which is lingering due to the aforementioned wacky schedule.
  3. WORK! This is probably the biggest culprit to my sleeping problems. My work has vacillated between "Hurry up and do an impossible amount of work in too few hours" and "Drop everything, the project is on hold!" I'm either stressed from too much work or stressed wondering if I'll have work. No wonder I can't sleep!
  • Wake up at 6:45 - See above.
  • Eat Oatmeal for Breakfast - Ahhh... I'm finally getting back on track with this, now that we have restocked the fridge after almost 2 weeks out of the country. So here's how I make it: Use real oats (none of that instant crap), use milk and soy milk instead of water; add some ground flax seed and sliced bananas and cook. Serve chopped walnuts on top. Yum!!! Now don't get me wrong, I loved the traditional Danish breakfast we had every day in Denmark (NO - we did not eat any danishes!). And then we had family visit so we did big egg breakfast stuff. But I like my Oatmeal routine.
  • Work from home reasonable hours (not too much and not too little) - My work has been rather crazy, either feast or famine. One day I'll have too little work and then next day, the project will be ON again and I'll work 13 hours straight. In addition, I haven't known what type of day it will be in advance, so I've been unable to make other plans to do anything else.
  • Ski a lot - Although Denmark was great, we missed a lot of skiing while we were there. Then, when we returned, we were so tired from our sojourn home that we had to pass on skiing new year's day! Then I had family in town and we couldn't ski last Saturday because my nephew broke his wrist! Hopefully we get back into the ski routine soon.
  • Get out most days for a run or ride - Since my work has been so crazy (and changing upon the hour), it's been tough to get out to run/ride consistently. I'm not sure where work sits right now, but maybe I just need to get my butt outside and run. It's a good routine for me and the dog.
I'm looking forward to that Oatmeal tomorrow morning!