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Holidays on Nyquil

This time last year I was getting on my finest party togs and heading in to Portland to spend New Year's Eve with two beautiful blonds - one of whom I happened to be happily married to. This year I'm sitting at home in a pile of used tissues in a semi-hallucinatory state brought on by a low grade fever from the head cold Santa saw fit to give me for Christmas, while the aforementioned beautiful blonds went off without me. The hallucinations are worse because of my tendency to consume anything in the medicine cabinet even remotely related to relieving cold symptoms when I get sick. I call it the berserker approach to cold management.  It's left me constipated for the last 4 days and there's a good chance my liver is about to fail from all the acetaminophen I didn't notice I was gulping down in all the expired Dayquil I found in the back of the bathroom closet. It's a good thing I don't get sick very often. Three days of this and I look like I'm in the final days of a nasty heroin addiction.

Except I'm fat from eating all the leftover Christmas stuff.

In the breaks when the meds clear my head and lower my fever enough to think clearly, I've been trying to be useful, taking down the Christmas tree, picking up tissues, that sort of thing. And I've been thinking a bit about how the year ended and what next year will be like.

I would be lying if I said it was a joyous Christmas. Carin's death is still in the forefront of everyone's mind. There was certainly laughter, but it was the kind of laughter that fills the room until you can go home and have a good cry. The edges of the ragged hole that Carin's death left in everyone's life will soften in time, but that's a good way down the road. Right now it's just rough.

In spite of the sadness, there definitely were some high points. I did cheer the Chaves up by arriving at their house Christmas Eve in full leather on my motorcycle. The truck had died, Carolyn was at work with the car so that was the only way to get across the valley to Silverton. I squeaked a bit when I walked around but nobody seemed to mind.

Perhaps the most striking thing that happened to me over the holiday was when I was taking down the Christmas tree. As I was pulling lights and ornaments off, all these paper cranes kept falling out of the tree. Dozens of them. Maddie and Joe had been folding them all through the holiday in memory of Carin. Now I'm finding them all around the house. It's the most touching thing. Almost a material manifestation of how someone creeps into your thoughts.

And like those thoughts, I'm not quite sure what to do with them. For now they live in a tupperware container with the other ornaments.

I think the peak of the holiday, or at least the moment when, for a short time, we stopped measuring the Holiday by loss, was the bike ride we took the morning before my sister's family left to go back to Ashland. Carolyn had to work so it was just the four of us. It wasn't a long ride. Just up to the ridge and over toward the lookout before snow turned us back. The sun had finally come out and we had the mountain to ourselves. The road has several 20% grade sections and was quite muddy and soft so we were all working hard. Joe was just beaming at how strong everyone was. I hung on Maddie's wheel and watched her work the hill like a seasoned veteran. Even she was breathing hard, something I've never seen her do. She's 18 now and is off to Fort Lewis College next year. She'll be riding for their cycling club, one of the best in the nation. I thought of that goofy 14 year old wearing tennis shoes and riding her mom's old bike dragging her fat old uncle up the hill at Spring Thaw in 2008. How far we've come!

On the way back down we stopped at a lookout that had a nice view of the Mill Creek drainage. It was peaceful and we all felt good.

Maddie, Joe and Mallory

A quick, muddy trip down the hill, a few showers and they were on the road, happier for the effort.
It's the first day of 2013 today. I wonder what the year will bring. On the one hand, I'm sorry this time is ending. The racing, the fitness, the close connection to family have been wonderful. The last four years have given Carolyn and me so much. On the other hand, we never would have had that if we didn't break some habits and change some things. So here we go again.  Happy New Year Everyone!


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