Sunday, June 26, 2011

Some Unfortunate News...

We are very sad to say that our white cat, Axle (aka Buddy), died today. We first met him as a foster cat from the Squamish SPCA. He was sick and needed a home to recuperate in, and we volunteered. Buddy was very affectionate and we quickly decided we couldn't send him back, so we adopted him. That was about eight years ago, and in that time, Elise was born and the two developed a real bond. He was incredibly tolerant of her and she really loved him for it.

Axel was killed by our neighbours dog, and this is the third cat in my family that has perished in this manner. It really saddens us that his life ended this way.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shoulder Update, Mini Metal

Since my last post, I received my MRI results. The scan showed that I had a non-displaced posterior labral tear in the my left shoulder, along with a paralabral cyst, which is pretty common. This wasn't exactly good news, but it did explain my ongoing symptoms and puts to rest any doubt about what's going on. I've had two surgeons look at the results so far and both have had the same opinion - leave it alone. Surgery, they claim, would be too aggressive an approach in my case, as the healing time is long and the outcome is not 100% certain. I'm told I could lose range of motion, and since my joint is currently strong and stable, this would be a bad outcome. If the tear and symptoms got dramatically worse in the coming months or years, I could revisit this option, but for now, I'm told my best bet is to do aggressive physiotherapy to restore joint mobility and carry on with my activities. I'm not sure how I feel about this recommendation. I certainly didn't want surgery, but I did hope for a "fix" for the problem. Now it seems like I've just got to carry on with my current approach, albeit with more information for the therapists to use. My symptoms have been decreasing lately, and I've started climbing again (lightly), but only time will tell...

Elise rode in the "Mini Metal" this weekend (a biking event designed for kids in conjunction with the more famous Test of Metal). We trained for the ride for weeks, but the reality of the event was a little "jarring". She rode a course through the Nester's parking lot along with about 50 other kids, all cheek to jowl. I think the tight quarters unnerved her, and she was hit from behind a few times. After about 6 laps, she rode by in tears, and we decided enough was enough and pulled her out. Her confidence on her bike is still developing, and this might have been a bit much too soon. Regardless, she had lots of fun playing with her friends afterward and I think it was a positive experience overall. Whether she wants to "compete" or not next year will remain to be seen.

Pam's got a couple of weeks of work left before summer vacation, and she's definitely in need of a break. We had a nice time with her brother and his family and were sad to see them go (especially Elise). Here's some pics from the last 10 days...

A day on Whistler mountain with the family. We rode the Peak to Peak gondola...twice. It was cold and there was still an enormous amount of snow in the alpine. We wont' be going up for any summer hiking anytime soon. From left to right: Pam, A.J., Liz, Elena, Elise, Jason and Mike.

The kids on the gondola. They had lots of fun together.

Josie and Elise getting ready for the Mini Metal. I'm sorry to say that grin on Elise's face was replaced by tears about 15 minutes later as the reality of the elb0w-to-elbow riding with dozens of out of control children too-large bikes set in.

Clowning around with her friends after the race. All's well that ends well.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's Been Months...

Apologies for the massive gap between blog postings. Ever since our spring trip to Smith Rock, it's seemed like we've not had time to breathe, let alone sit and write blog entries. We've had an eventful spring and are all looking forward to some downtime this summer. Pam's in the home stretch of the school year and is busy writing report cards, and I'm madly rushing around taking photographs for my next guidebook project, an update to Squamish Select. I'm trying to capitalize on the spring solstice to get light on the northerly walls, but sun has been a rare commodity in the last couple of months. That seems to be changing, thank goodness.

My shoulder injury continues to plague me, despite months of complete rest and rehabilitation. Since summer is bearing down on us and we want (and need) to get away and have a break, we finally decided enough was enough and I bit the bullet and paid for a private MRI scan. This was a tough decision, and we won't know the results for a few days, but the waiting was really creating a lot of stress. We'll see what happens... Fingers crossed.

The highlights of the last few months have definitely centered around Elise, and I'll use the following pictures to tell the stories.

The carnival came to town. Luckily, the rain stopped just long enough for us to have a nice evening out and let Elise do some rides. This merry-go-round was a far cry from riding the bumper cars with Geoff Crieghton in Turkey, but it was fun nonetheless. All of her friends were there and we had lots of fun.

We bought tickets to see Charlotte Diamond, a well-know children's music composer and performer from Vancouver. The evening was eagerly anticipated and the concert did not disappoint. All Elise's favourites songs were performed, and she got an autograph afterward!

We probably skied 20+ days this winter, and Elise's skills continue to improve. She is totally comfortable moving all around both Whistler and Blackcomb, and can ski blue runs very compitently. She has skied a couple of black runs, and enjoys leading me through the trees and trying to ski moguls and powder. Her endurance is impressive, and we decided to invest in a full seasons pass next year to continue her learning and enjoyment. I had lots of fun with her this winter and particularly enjoyed skiing with our friends. Tim and Josie joined us most Thursdays for over a month, and it was a nice ritual (and a good distraction from the shoulder injury). This is Elise posing at the top of Blackcomb, with the Horstman glacier behind her.

Relaxing at home. She really likes the cats...

A fun spring afternoon at Porteau Cove. Always a hit with the kids. Lots of critters lurk under the rocks along the tide line and the girls love to scoop them up and keep them in buckets.

Her friend Eric's birthday party. Eric and Elise used to attend daycare together, and we are friends with his parents, so we stay in touch. I'm not sure exactly what they are doing, but it looks like a little gardening. Fun was had by all!

We had dinner with Scott and Annie in Vancouver and spent the afternoon combing a really nice beach in West Vancouver we'd not been to before. The tide was WAY out and we found lots of shells and critters.

Pam and Elise enjoying a late spring ski day at Whistler. Riding the Peak to Peak gondola is always a highlight of the day for Elise (and for me).

Easter was eagerly anticipated this year. She made quite a haul, and followed the house hunt with another at the Brennan Park Leisure Centre.

Where are the eggs hiding?

Elise and Josie have lots and lots of fun together. They love to dress up, and we've had to control the mayhem to some degree as they have a tendency to absolutely tear Elise's room apart.

Spring skiing! Is that attitude I detect?

An evening hike at Watt's Point near Murrin Park. Squamish has some great coastline, but it's unfortunately mostly industrial and not accessible to the public. We discovered this nice rocky beach not far from the highway, and enjoyed watching seals and looking for shells.

A hike up the Chief with Jack, Shannon, Kaida and Kaian. She loves having company when we hike, and thoroughly enjoyed yammering away as we huffed and puffed up the Chief. I think she's been to the top about 4-6 times now.

The bridge across the creek near the trail. This is a highlight of the hike and we are never allowed to hike past without stopping.

Another hike with me on a trail above Shannon Falls. This was a long one and the trail was rough. She did very well and we enjoyed taking breaks and using the binoculars. Note the horse in the foreground. She insisted on bringing some "toys" on the hike and whipped them out at each stop for a quick session of make-believe.

We could not pass this oddly shaped cedar tree without a sit test.

Josie's fifth birthday party was eagerly anticipated. I had to endure days and days of, "how long 'till Josie's Party, Dad"? The day finally arrived and it was gorgeous. The kids played out back, swam in the little pool and enjoyed cake and presents. Do they look happy?

Finally, Elise has done two multi-pitch climbs now. The first, The Relish Route, was three pitches long near Shannon Falls and went very well. Based on this, we decided to tackle the Apron the next weekend, and all had a great time. No drama. We climbed a route called "Over the Rainbow", which was six pitches long and graded 5.8. I helped hoist Elise through the steep bits, but other than that she climbed about 80% of the route on her own. I tied Pam and Elise to the same end of the rope with Pam in the rear, so she could assist and coach Elise where necessary. Here they are on the first pitch.

Hanging out at one of the belays. No problemo.

On the fourth pitch. The distance to the road below provides a sense of how high we are. Elise climbed the Apron last year, but we did it via the descent route on the cliff's edge. This time, she climbed a proper route, and there were adults above and below us. Needless to say, we got a lot of comments, especially, "How old is she?".

The family back down in the parking lot after a successful climb. What happens after your first trip up the Apron on the Squamish Chief? You go and have a gelato of course. I think she chose bubble gum flavour.

So, we have a few more weeks of school and then Pam's off for the summer holidays. We were hoping to do a big trip in August (South America or Europe), but my shoulder's inability to heal is crimping our plans. We'll likely do something more conservative, and either go to Toulumne Meadows in California, or Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming. Time (and health) will tell. Pam's back full-time this fall at her school and Elise is starting kindergarten. Our long-range plans right now are to take a big chunk of time off in fall 2012 and hopefully go to Australia.

We hope you all are well! I'll post more once we get moving this summer!