Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Learning to Walk Again

Yesterday marked one month since I had surgery to repair my ACL.  I've been reflecting on the past 30 days and how it has affected me, how I feel, successes and stresses. Coincidentally I put finishing writing this little blog on hold and in the mean time found a poll trending on Facebook, "What's the worst thing about being injured?" Instead of just gathering my "worst things" I've decided to view them as challenges and my anticipated reward having overcome the challenge.

1. The Complainers/Excuse makers

Challenge:  Holding back the urge to point out they are complaining and making excuses.

It's really hard to hear other people complaining about little things. (Am I complaining about complainers?) I have a new perspective about injuries.  There is always, ALWAYS someone who has it worse off than you.  It's even harder to hear people use those complaints as excuses on WHY they don't want to go do something that I would KILL to be doing.  I specifically remember this driving me crazy when I broke my hand in high school during volleyball season.

Result: A renewed sense of passion and drive.

Having the opportunity to see and hear what others, in my perception, are taking for granted only makes me more hungry to get back to those activities and more passionate about the activity itself. I know injuries typically make me more driven than ever to do what I love.  It's not uncommon for athletes to come back from injuries ready to just GET AFTER IT.

2. The Hurries.

Challenge:  Living in a rabbit world when you're a turtle.

I needed to go grab a few items at Target and stop by Safeway.  (I usually say after this "right quick"  Nothing happens for me "right quick" anymore.  And when I used to not worry about planning out my trips now every stop I make is calculated.  I planned out my meals for the next week and a half or so because I REALLY don't want to have to go back.  It's a waste of my time and energy.

Reward:  Slowing down, being selective of how I spend my time and finding comfort in the no-rush.

I hate wasting time and it's crazy how much time (and money)  I waste when I get super busy.  I don't have a chance to think through everything and plan somethings that would help me to ease a bit of my stress.  When life forces you to slow down, sometimes it's for the better.

3.) Physical Therapy

Challenge: Leg Curls.  Ouch.

The gym can be a challenge to go to anyway, let alone when you know you'll hobble around, do your few mundane exercises that take you FOREVER and then at the end you'll be rewarded by swelling and stiffness.  A bit opposite than working out really hard and feeling super proud of yourself.

Reward:  The Return.

If that's not enough, it's a chance to do SOMETHING, and you can practice the virtue of faith.  This will get better.

4.) Rude people.

 Challenge: Not letting comments and looks get to me.  I got this at work the other day, "You'll be back in no time until you hurt your other knee."  I asked a girl for some options of things to do in Ouray that weren't physical  a guy overheard and purposely said, "Go for a run, climb at the park, go ice skating."  No, he didn't  hear wrong.  She pointed it out to him.  He just laughed.

Reward:  The comfort in knowing at the end of the day I'm me and that guy will always be "that guy." Rude people are jerks, period. Be glad for your life that you can find the good in bad, and move on.

5.) Walking.

Challenge:  Dropping the limp

Sure, limping is gangsta but it doesn't do me any good.  It takes a concentrated effort for me to walk without a limp and it's very important that I do so.  It takes time and patience, two things I don't have a ton of.

Reward:  Dropping the limp.  Walking the walk.  A chance to practice that patience stuff.

6.) Mental Games

Challenge:  Not knowing.

I don't know if I'm doing a great job or if I'm behind schedule or if my limp is getting better.  It's not like college athletics where I got constructive criticism every ten seconds.  To some extent, I'm my own coach and I've never played this game before.

Reward: Thinking positively, practicing it, and truly believing in myself.

I will heal.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's Been One Week...

Today I celebrated one week since surgery by getting on my stationary bike for 15 minutes!

I returned to the Orthopedic Center of the Rockies yesterday for some measurements and new exercises, which I desperately needed.  I was getting REALLY tired of every hour on the hour laying for ten minutes with a 5 pound weight on my leg to make it stay in extension.  Extension apparently is the name of the game in this recovery.   My extension was good but my hyperflexion was a little lacking so I'm going to really work on that this week.

I consider myself to be in phase II.  I get to do heel raises, mini squats, one-leg balances and stretch, stretch STRETCH.  Stretching is by far what takes the longest and I'm supposed to be doing one exercise for ten minutes each time four times a day!  I'm definitely staying busy with rehab.  While I feel good about all I've been assigned I feel that is only half the battle right now.  Eating healthy is a must!  I've loaded my refrigerator with foods such as Greek yogurt, spinach, fruit shakes, eggs, and salmon.  Foods that have anti-inflammatory properties.  It's a bit more expensive but not much as my appetite is still lacking.  Finally, I've got to up my water consumption.  I love tea and drink tons of it; green, chamomile, joint-health, bedtime, emergen-c, but my water consumption needs a bit of a kick in the pants.  Beyond exercise and health I continue to compress and ice and rest as much as possible.

My knee is the one and only focus of my life right now but it can't be forever or for much longer for that matter. The rest of the teachers returned to work today.  I don't feel too bad about missing minus having to use a sick day because they were going through iPad training and I have a pretty good grasp on apple products but tomorrow will be a different story.  Thus far I'm taking at least Mon-Wed off, putting my return right at two weeks and post another doctor's appointment. I think I can probably handle Thursday and Friday but I'll make that decision as it gets closer.

Lastly, I'm elated to be in "Phase II" with Larry because that means I have to depend on others less.  I'm an independent person and I have had a hard time mentally watching everyone run circles around me and never knowing where something is because I didn't put it there.  My family was wonderful during my farm stay and Scott has run around for me like crazy since Dec 9 when I tore Larry up, but I can see the added stress it adds to those who love me and I'm ready to take care of myself again. While driving isn't still really in the question, I can move around the house (be it slowly) and at least the money I'm saving in gas can go straight to my doctor bills.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Me and Larry, Larry and Me.

I've named my knee Larry. Actually Larry the Left Knee.  At this point in our relationship, I've learned Larry likes ice, drugs, and sleep and while Larry gets his way most of the time and can be a bit cranky, he's actually done well at his exercises. I'm happy to report that Larry and I have done every single set of exercises assigned to us by my physical therapist, Erica, who worked with the CSU Volleyball team while I was a Ram, which means that I'm suuuuper happy about having her.   I have a few ins with CSU athletics and they've all had great things to say about Erica and from what little time we've worked together, I concur.

Larry and I are kicking it out on the farm for the week.  I've got my trusty laptop and when I find motivation, I've been working on SheJumps, school work, and most recently, trying to find a decent hat pattern to knit.  (It always takes me about as long to make up my mind on what I'm knitting as it does actually get it done.)

I'm saving water too!  I was allowed to shower yesterday but opted not to because I didn't want to deal with wrapping up Larry (he can't get wet) plus my B.O. is still at an accepted level amongst most of my friends so I have a few more days before I have to do something about it for my family.  ;)

Dad somehow worked his magic and before we left "town"  went to Barnes and Noble and got three mountaineering books I had not yet read (I didn't even know there were three I hadn't read!)  So I'm diving into some Ed Viesturs "The Will to Climb" this afternoon.

My SheJumps sisters have continued to be my support system.  I'm amazed at how thoughtful everyone is, I've got calls and comments from all over the United States, even from some girls who I haven't met in person, just from working on different projects with.  I'm so lucky to have such a great family, friends, and coworkers.  With SheJumps, I've gotten all of that in one.  If you can't ski, it's nice to hear "I'll be taking a run for you today, Mel!"  I know I'm there in spirit, even if I can't be there in person.  Perhaps I'll have to get after a SJ project for the injured or disabled.

There are some parts of this that are super annoying.  Here's my complaint list:

1.) My stomach has been jacked and I have a serious lack of appetite.
2.) The exercises are obnoxious!  And sometimes painful!
3.) The drugs make me super groggy.
4.) I have bad boogers.
5.) I miss Scotty.

See everyone?  I'm not doing too bad. Larry sends his love!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Knee Surgery? Check.

As I write this my leg is in a constant moving machine, I'm on pain killers, and I'm excited because I just got out of bed for the first time and peed.  I'm not claiming that this will be the best piece of writing I've ever produced but I'm happy to report that I AM HEALING.  

My care here so far has been phenomenal it put my mind to ease when my preop nurse Kathy told me she and her husband were back country skiers and climbers and have been toying around with the idea of doing a big alpine loop in France. (Thanks Kathy for the book reccommendation!)  My first nurse was a former hard core mountain biker until an injury sidelined her but she still gets out everyday.  I'm in the hands of people who understand me and the best part is my dad's been right by my side, with mom prepping my resort stay on the farm.

I've had a wave of emotions.  I shed some tears when I first got in my room on my bed.  I don't even know where they came from but they needed to come out so they did.  

My pain has been manageable and I'm trying to stay on top of it.  I hate the stupid pain scale they use.  I'm the type that figures 10 is not really achievable but whatever.    My pal Claire called and told me "Tell them to double it up!"  (Digress: I have to tell you I love that woman.  She's out in Alta, Utah cooking her heart out for some orthopedic surgeons right now and she just had knee surgery herself!  Someone should be cooking for her! So if you are sending good thoughts my way or praying for me, please send a few for her too. )  I'm nervous about the journey out to the farm tomorrow.  I don't imagine it will be enjoyable but I had a good warm up the other day when I had the flu and made Scotty chauffeur me back to my house.

This so far has not been as bad as I thought, but it's just begun.  Let's keep hoping that it continues to go smoothly.  I know the mental anguish will be the worst part of the whole thing and I'm brokenhearted about how long it will take, but right now I'm in good spirits because the healing has begun.  

PLUS... IT'S SNOWING OUTSIDE!!!!!  I think that is a very good sign.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

So You Wanted An Adventure...

Adventures come in all shapes and sizes, it'd be nice to think that all of them are wonderful experiences, but where would the "adventure" lie in that?  An adventurous life isn't just all about having fun.  It's about finding your guts, doing things that were once seemingly impossible, conquering not just the beast of life, but the beast of self.

A few weeks ago, I tore my ACL.  With one "pop"  I knew what I'd done and with that, I knew life had changed.

Having broken my ankle just over a year ago playing volleyball, I know what injuries are like and I understand the dark places that they can take you.   But they also teach you a lot about yourself, your passions, your personality, and your ability to adapt. Feeling sorry for yourself does nothing to speed up recovery.  Being angry doesn't change the fact that skiing, climbing, volleyball, SAR missions, hiking 14er's, are all out of the question for right now.  The focus must remain on HEALING.

Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 8:30.  I've been through the surgery routine before.  I'm not looking forward to the pain and the drugs, but I haven't read like I usually do this past year, I've been too busy, and I'll be with my family for a week.  AND I know I'm not alone in this.  Nearly all of my SheJumper friends have called multiple times and talked about what it was like when they did it and all of these girls can rip on skis.

I'm off on a new adventure.  If all goes as planned in 4-6 months I'll be able to function pretty normally, which would put me right at the start (or end) of my summer vacation. Until then, I'll take a nice little stationary trek on my bike for rehab, looking forward to the day I can lace up my climbing shoes, or click into my skis again.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mushroom Risotto

I'm back after a long long absence from writing for my blog!  (I've been spending too much time writing for everyone else!)
Why not kick off my return with a little recipe????
This recipe is derived from Outside Magazine's Recovery Risotto by Uli Steck.

The base recipe:
1. Finely chop one cup of wild or button mushrooms.
2. Bring three cups of water to a boil, and add two chicken bouillon cubes.
3. 3. When the cubes dissolve, bring the water to a simmer and add two cups of Arborio rice and the mushrooms.
4. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Serve when the rice is tender. Top with grated Parmesan.

Mel's twist
1. Finely chop one cup of wild or button mushrooms and some garlic.2. Bring three cups of water to a boil, and add one teaspoon "Better than Bouillon" 3. Bring the water to a simmer and add two cups of Arborio rice4. Heat mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper, in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add to rice.5. Cook for about 25 minutes, stirring often. Serve when the rice is tender. Top with grated Parmesan.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Pallet Project

Today I made a couple shelves (ok, one is a wine rack) out of the two pallets I brought back from the farm LAST SUMMER.

I blame this project on three things. First, Pinterest, because I have finally found away to keep my ideas instead of emailing them to myself which has proven ineffective. Second the desire to eliminate almost everything out of my house, declutter and keep only what really matters to me.  (gifts from family/friends, things to use in the mountains, and things that remind me of the mountains) Finally the fact that I was actually able to build something I think turned out good.

I'm a pretty simple person but my house is not.  It's a hodge-podge of hand-me-down furniture and chincy lamps or decoration, because let's face it.  I'm cheap.  I love my house but I do not love all that is in it and It's time for a change.

 What if I eliminated all my old nasty hand me down furniture and replaced it with things I built with pallets?  I mean this very afternoon I was ACTUALLY able to pull off building what I set out to accomplish today.  AND I could get most of my material for exactly free!

Here's what I'm thinking.  I've found directions for making a couch, coffee table, wall hanging, shelves, even an accent wall out of pallets.  It could all be stained the same and actually match!  The stain I used today was "dark walnut"  mostly because Grandpa Harms used to love walnut and I loved Grandpa Harms.  

I don't think this is a bad idea.  I would just need to start with the small projects and move to the large.  I think the hardest part about it would be finding the pallets and tearing them apart.   Who's got pallets for me?  I'm starting the pallet project and I'll upload photos as I start to succeed in this.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sandcherry Jelly

I'm on a canning kick.  I have a boat load of apricots and sandcherries and I decided that the easiest way to use the sandcherries was to make them into jelly since I didn't want to have to pit them all.  I have about enough juice for two batches and my next batch will get some spice put in it to use on crackers with goat or cream cheese.  I can't decide on jalapenos or chipotle peppers.  Yum I can't wait.

Here is my sandcherry recipe taken from the University of Minnesota extension.

Sandcherry jelly recipe

3 1/2 cups sandcherry juice
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin

Combine juice and pectin. Bring mixture to a hard boil and immediately add sugar and stir. Bring to full, rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim off foam. Pour jelly into hot, sterilized half-pint jars to 1/4 inch of top and seal with two-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 6 minutes (10 minutes for cold, unsterile jars).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

SheJumps is coming to Fort Collins!

I'm helping SheJumps organize a ladies climb night at Inner Strength Gym in Fort Collins on July 12!  

Please help pass the word to any women you think may enjoy a night climbing with like-minded seriously rad ladies!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa Renzelman!

Today was my grandparent's 66 wedding anniversary. THAT deserves a shout out!

I have such an awesome family!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

High Park Fire Information

Hey all this is a work in progress!  If you have something to add please email me and I'll get it added ASAP.

Links to Information!
Larimer County Emergency Information
Facebook "FC Loves High Park Fire Evacuees"


The Red Cross  There is a link on this page to a donation site.  It specifically requests that you do not show up with goodies at the site.  You can also specify which chapter you'd like your donation to go to or you can send it to the disaster relief fund.  The page gives you information about what each of these does.

The Salvation Army lists how you can donate and you can donate directly to this emergency.  They have been providing meals.

The Larimer County United Way has a Relief and Recovery guide that gives great information.  Probably the best that I've seen so far.

  offers a lot of good information on what you can offer.  Unfortunately you cannot offer a room in your home through an organization (You can to someone you know directly!)  The same goes with homebaked goods.

The NoCo Rebuilding Network (NCRN) is collection donations that will be allocated to those whose homes have been significantly impacted by the fire and decide to sustainably rebuild in Larimer County.  Donations can be directed to their community funded site  http://communityfunded.com/projects/nocorebuildingnetwork/high-park-fire-rebuilding-fund/


The Larimer County Humane Society  is housing small pets.  There is a link on their webpage for donations.  they are full on dogs, but are still taking cats and farm animals goat sized and smaller.  They do have plenty of overflow room available at CSU Vet hospital and some other local veterinary clinics.  The are compiling a list of people who could provide housing for animals.  If you are interested in this you can call them and leave a message and say your name, contact information and what you could take, for instance two dogs, etc.

Large animals are being housed at The Ranch in Loveland.  At this time they do not need anymore donations.  See their web announcement here http://treventscomplex.blogspot.com/.

The Wolf Sanctuary.  There was some news on the sanctuary from nine news.  Here's the link: http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/271999/346/Concern-over-wolf-sanctuary More information can be found on their facebook page.

Mel's notes:
We all know people who have lost in this fire...we all HAVE lost in this fire.  My heart right now is specifically with my friends Mark and Leslie Wharton, my friends who built their home with their hands over years of their trade of carpentry.  They had a beautiful home built with love over years of their love for each other. Mark and Leslie ARE Larimer County.  Their presence in this community over the years have helped to make it the great place that it is, both have been serious influences in my "outdoor" life and if' you've done any activities up the Poudre or Rist, probably yours too. They just found out their home is gone.  Sadly, I know they are not the only ones, but happily I know they are safe.   I've set up a donation page for Mark and Leslie if you feel compelled to help financially.

Lastly, there is a reason why I have made Larimer County my home for so long and that is because of the people, like Mark and Leslie who live here and constantly inspire me.  I'm proud to be a member of the community and joining Larimer County Search and Rescue has been one of the prouder moments of my life.  Let's stay strong and with helping hands lift the heavy hearts of our friends, family, and members of our community that are yet to be our friends and family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Curried Egg Salad...I'm Serious.

I was browsing Epicurious.com for a brownie recipe (don't get excited I lost motivation to bake) and some how got distracted enough to stumble over an Curry Egg Salad recipe that was featured on the homepage.  I was curious to the epicth degree so I fashioned up my lunch for the next couple days.

Epicurious.com typically has recipes that are a bit more involved so I dumbed it down to give a go for the first round.


  • four hard boiled eggs
  • as much mayonnaise as you want to use, I use the big spoonful method
  • tablespoon Muchi Curry (I got mine from whole foods, but I'm sure any curry powder will work)
  • a pinch of sugar

I mixed the egg yolks, mayonnaise, sugar and curry together than cut in the eggs whites and mixed it up.  It's pretty tasty and I'm super pumped because my staples get a little boring, but I'm pretty set on keeping eggs in my regular diet because they are cheap, protein rich, and cheap. I envision adding some arugula to these sandwiches at some point, but it's not quite ready from the garden. As my nephew Luker would say, "Try it you'll like it!"  He'd also try to get you to eat a worm, but in this case I think the phrase fits.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rhubarb Crumble

What happens when you have 5 Rhubarb Plants? (I should note these came with the house) You go on a mad search every spring for Rhubarb recipes.

Today I made Rhubarb Crumble.  This is super tasty but super rich - think rhubarb in caramel sauce.  Which is why is went so well with ice cream.  Which is exactly what I'm planning on having for breakfast tomorrow.

I got the recipe from oprah.com/food and then amended...as always

Rhubarb Crumble

  • 2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1  cups flour
  • 1/4 cup instant oatmeal
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • Combine sugar, vanilla, 1/4 cup flour, and rhubarb in pan and set aside.  Work butter into the remaining flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, and brown sugar until it all clumps together, Then sprinkle it over the top of the rhubarb and cook at 375 until the topping is golden brown.


    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Back Off, Spring.

    I should begin by stating that my passion for the outdoors in the winter is driven by one thing and one thing only.


    Maybe the lack of snow in December has left me feeling cheated. Maybe it was the lingering memories of the 2010-2011 dumps. Maybe it was the fact I'm one year older and just love the snow 365 days worth more. I am not ready for spring. The fleetingness of the snow here is indeed part of it, I can feel the end of the season quickly approaching and it gives me some serious anxiety.  There are few activities that I love more than skiing. That's a lie.  Skiing IS my FAVORITE activity.  The mountain climbing/mountaineering thing folks? I want to begin to make my descents on skis.  I know, call me crazy, but at least I've found a passion.

    This year I've continued to take my snow sports to the next level.  I've gotten into the back country, continued to work on avalanche education, built an igloo, skied with some girls that can seriously send it, and essentially put on some big girl pants.   I've become a student to the sport and both my experience and my knowledge has grown exponentially.

    I definitely feel like a late bloomer, but at least I figured it out.  Skiing is something very intimate and personal to me.  I UNDERSTAND how I feel about  it, but I'll never be able to convey those feelings to anyone else, unless they have a similar passion to something. There are a few endeavors that humans take almost a religious zeal to, for instance, cycling, hunting, fishing, climbing.  For me it's skiing.  It just doesn't get any better.

    My favorite skiing clip is off a flim by Matchstick Productions called All.I.Can.  It shows a 75-year-old woman from British Columbia who skis 100 plus days a year with her buddies.  She's my hero.  No, she's not being heli-dropped into big lines in Haines, Alaska, but she's lived her passion for years and just radiates genuine happiness.  This is what I want for myself.  To someday be old, skiing, and talking about how awesome it is.

    I'm sorry for all of you that are ready to wear shorts and run around outside, but back off. I'm still doing my snow dance.  

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    Sur-Pies! Banana Cream Pie Recipe

    We threw my parents a surprise 60th birthday party this weekend.  I was tasked with making some desserts so I chose banana cream pie, a long favorite of my rad dad.  Here is the recipe I used.


    3 eggs
    3 cups of whole milk
    1/3 cup corn starch
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/4 cup butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Directions for filling:

    Combine sugar, starch and salt in a medium sized sauce-pan, whisk in milk and egg yolks over medium-high heat.  Constantly stir until mixture thickens and begins to boil.  Remove the mixture from the heat and add vanilla and butter and stir until butter melts and is mixed in.  Place in refrigerator to completely cool stirring occasionally, around an hour or so.  Place sliced bananas in bottom of prepared and baked crust (use Grandma Renzelman's crust recipe!!!)  layer custard and bananas.  Top with whipped cream!


    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Goodness in Awesome Sauce

    I finally have something to blog about!  (That's not true, I have things but I've had blog block.) 

    I've been sick of food lately.  Seriously.  Eating out sounds disgusting.  Nothing sounds good.  I've been staring at menus lately like I can't read.  I have no motivation to cook. BUT I'm committed to taking my lunch to school, because NOTHING is worse than having to eat the school lunch. (Despite it being $2.50.)  

    Tonight I nailed my dinner and I'll get a tasty lunch for tomorrow.  It was worth the torture of getting up and cooking, rather getting up and making a mess I HAD to clean up. Roomie John even gave it a ten.

    Here are the ingredients:

    Cream of mushroom (since I didn't have any cream of chicken)
    salsa verde (green salsa)
    corn tortillas
    sour cream
    chili powder
    chili flakes
    green chili powder

    Here is the process:

    I fried up the chicken with some onions and garlic powder and while that was cooking I got the sauce going.  In a sauce pan I heated up the cream of mushroom, a can of water, a cup of sour cream, more onions, some chopped cilantro, a cup of verde salsa, and all the spices and warmed it up til it thickened a bit. Next I threw some of the awesome sauce (that is it's official name) in the bottom of the pan, floated some corn tortillas on top, covered them with the chicken and a little cheese, then stacked on more tortillas.  I followed that up by drowning everything in more awesome sauce and piling mounds of shredded cheese to seal the deal.  

    In the oven at 350 degrees it went for about a half hour or more accurately until I couldn't wait any longer to eat.  I dished myself up some cheesy enchilada goodness, answered my mom's phone call, politely told her I'd call her back after I ate, then devoured my meal like the piggy that I am.  

    Full and proud of myself, I called my mom, like everyone should do.  I even got to chat with dad. Solid.


    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Know Snow?

    I have learned that the more I learn about the outdoors, the less I know.  Over the last few months I've put a serious effort into learning about snow and avalanche awareness for those travel in the back country.   Of course I had some informal training but if I were caught in a bad situation like an avalanche, time is of essence and knowing what to do is absolutely critical. So I took the plunge and attended the Summit Country Rescue Group's Avalanche Seminar.  That piqued my interest enough to continue on with an Avalanche 1 course put on by Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol.

     Avalanche victims rely on companions for rescue, NOT RESCUE TEAMS and it's not just back country skiers that need to know how to survive in avalanche territory.  Avalanches have killed climbers, snowshoe enthusiasts, and snowmobilers.  One of the latest avalanche accidents in Colorado that resulted in a fatality involved snowmobilers that triggered an avalanche when they were walking after they got their snowmobiles stuck. 

    Here are some basic things I've learned.

    1.)  Check the weather and avalanche report.  The Colorado Avalanche Information Center posts very accurate forecasts and rates avalanche danger.  If the avalanche danger is high, figure out something else fun to do, go ski at the resort or snowshoe in a park.  The latest warning came on a day where three people died in various parts of the state.  CAIC doesn't put out reports for their safety, they do it for yours.  Read them and often and have a good idea of whats been going on in the area.

    2.) Have some back up plans.  You can (and should) look at a map before you go play. Make a few alternative routes.  This may also be helpful when weather changes on you and avalanche conditions/likelihood changes.

    3.) Look up.  If you think you are safe because you are in a flat open area under a 30 -45 degree slope, you're not safe.  Be sure to stay out of avalanche paths.

    4.)  Always question your motives.  Don't let some fresh powder cloud your judgement.  Look for reasons NOT to go.

    5.) Ski with people who have about the same level of assumed risk as you.  All should agree that they want to ski that area and if one person doesn't keep looking.  It's not worth it to go with people who may get you into trouble by making poor decisions like skiing above you or ignoring set plans.

    It's safe to say that I've become very interested in snow science and the more I know the more interest I have.  After listening to some of the CAIC guys speak I was completely jealous of their jobs.  I had no idea colleges offered degrees in snow science AND they do it right here in Colorado! I was very impressed with all of the instructors both from the Summit County Rescue Group Seminar and the Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol and would highly recommend either group!  Of course it's not just about knowing but also experience.  I'm excited to get out in the back country and put some of my new gained knowledge to use!

    Happy Adventuring!

    A few links to pictures from our Avy 1 class:

    Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol Avy 1 Class
    Facebook link to pictures

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Mel the Mountain Athlete

    Every step I take I feel.  Not because of my ankle, I'm used to that, but because I'm sore.  That's the last complaint about being sore you'll here from me.  I've dedicated January to being sore. It seems harsh but after four months of the "couch workout" I'm out of shape, a bit chunky (a lot chunky), and realizing that in order to do anything this summer that involves climbing, climbing, or climbing I need to get my act together and now.

    I've started the Mountain Athlete workouts.  They are definitely challenging, but I like the fact that I'm not writing my own workouts.  I've discovered that these workouts favor free weights so these aren't your Kardashian fashionista/frat boy type of workouts. (For those in Fort Collins think Miramont NORTH not Miramont Central) It's a three day week schedule which is perfect for me and I think when I get going it will be perfect to throw a active rest day or two of yoga into the mix.  

     Mountain Athlete is "the premier training gym in the world for mountaineers, climbers, big mountain skiers, adventure racers, snowboarders, professional snowmobile racers, explorers and alpinists."  I don't necessarily believe that, but what attracted me to Mountain Athlete was an opportunity to do a training sequence designed for the activities I now want to be good at.  I'm not a track athlete anymore so I shouldn't train like one.  I'd like to get all my workouts from just doing the activity, but in reality I'm a weekend warrior until summer rolls around.  When the sun goes down at 5:30 it's hard to get out and get a hike or a climb in.  I'm a ways away from the ski slopes. Plus I'm coming off a broken ankle  Having something to train for and a workout that's super challenging is just what I needed.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Rainier Reminder

    She's a beauty of a mountain!  Maybe this will be my next adventure up!  I definitely heard Casey say that she wasn't going back without skis!

    The Season 2.19...Mountain of Potential from Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith on Vimeo.

    12 Things for my 2012

    1.) Rehab my ankle. Including complete a periodization of training for base fitness, skiing, then mountaineering.
    2.) Climb Gannett (still)
    3.) Build and sleep in an igloo. (still)
    4.) Give my chickens a cooler home.
    5.) Build a raised bed garden
    6.) Climb 3 14ers and 3 13ers (2 winter ascents)
    7.) obtain my Search 2, Rescue 1 and Snow 1 ratings for SAR
    8.) get my WFR and Avy 1
    9.) check into getting another pup
    10.)Get rid of more than I acquire
    11.) knit 12 hats 2 pair of socks and 1 sweater.
    12.) begin an annual camping weekend for my favorite females. Steph Jess, T, and my mom.

    Ok I thought of a few more... I'd also like to eat my leftovers, ride my bike more, and take my lunch to work everyday, or at least as much as possible.

    Thursday, December 29, 2011


    I have a note on my laptop that reads "Remember to begin again..."  I can't tell you how many times this year I've read that and with a deep breath thought, "Yeah."

    2011 hasn't been my easiest year.  I'm starting to think that's just how it goes, each year gets harder and harder.  The ironic thing is that's because it's so damn easy to complicate life.  Sometimes I complicate things without trying to, blindly.  Sometimes the only options are between complicated and impossible.  Sometimes it's just shit luck.

    My motto for this fall as discussed with my father was attempting to simplify my life.  Spend more time for me.  Spend more time with people that I love most, doing the things I love the most, and in between learning to breath and relax a little bit.

    Then I broke my ankle.
    Then I walked on it for two months.
    Then my dog died.
    And I've struggled with work more than ever.

    And all of that really isn't that much to complain about.  Around me my friends and family have also struggled this year.  Illnesses, breakups, job losses.  I'm not the only one who expected 2011 to be a tad kinder.  But it came and went (almost) and here we are.

     "Remember to begin again..."

    I'm not yet ready to let 2011 go until I address how many firsts I had, how many times I put myself out there, the risks I took to begin again, to achieve that simplicity, to tap into myself just a little deeper, in search of the answers to questions I don't even know. How in one year, I became more experienced at being me.

     I set out.  I turned 30.  I did things I didn't ever have the slightest clue I'd ever do.  I joined search and rescue, I led a climb, I turned down a full-time coaching offer, I got and lost a dog (RIP Reinhold), I went on a bazillion Internet dates. (the book is yet to come) I participated in things we'd all talked about but it didn't seem like the day would ever come such as the many many marriages I was honored to witness.

    I received awe.  Which is what I felt when I woke up in a tent with my mom on a road trip, eased-dropped on a conversation of my four-year-old niece and two-year-old nephew. I stood on the side of Mt. Rainier and watched the sun come up.  Awe in having witnessed my grandparents dance after sixty some years of marriage.

    I can't lie.  I'd like to deeply exhale with the conclusion of 2011, but it's not all a sigh of relief.  The deeper I breath out the more I air I can take in to prepare myself for 2012.  The more ready I will be to begin again.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    RIP Reinhold

    I had a dog.  It breaks my heart to write that my buddy Reinhold was hit by a car last Thursday and was killed.  It took awhile to figure things out but essentially what happened was that the backdoor somehow got open and he jumped the fence and was hit.

    I can't tell you how sad I am.  As of right now I'm planning to spread his ashes in the mountains on a backcountry ski adventure/Reinhold tribute on Sunday.

    For those who didn't get to meet Reinhold he was a delightful dog.  One of my favorite traits he had was that he buried everything.  I used to give him rawhides when I left and I found 3 in my couch and one in my bed.  He was just starting to get along pretty well with my cats and Jack let him sniff him without smacking him last week.  He was definitely a great snuggle buddy, loved snow, and was totally wacky. 

    I'm still not sure what type of dog Reinhold was.  I was told Pyrenees/Malamute but suspected lab/malamute, maybe even lab/Pyrenees.  The more I google search the more I see dogs in each category that look a lot like my best buddy.  He came to me named Gizmo and I promptly gave him a better suited mountain name, named after the greatest mountaineer on the earth, Reinhold Messner.

    I'm going to miss him something awful.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Great Grandpa Gus' Cheesecake Salad

    I've decided to take over a family tradition.  My Grandma Harms has traditionally made this awesome cheesecake salad on our family holidays.  Times have slowly changed.  I'm no longer a kid, going to grandma's house for holidays.  Now my nieces and nephews are going to their grandma's house and while I'm super lucky to still have most of my grandparents around, it's time for grandma to come sit and relax and just be "gg" (great grandma)  

    The bad thing about this is that I'm still in search of the perfect jello mold.  I've made the salad 2-3 times now but I need a traditional jello mold. I hold this salad to such I standards that it needs to be perfect! (Maybe jello molds just aren't as popular as they used to be) I have things to drop off at good will anyway so I'll go check it out.  

    True I've kind of just snatched this torch, but I don't want a tradition to die and my family is pretty stinking important.  Plus, taking a cheesecake salad to dinner is a whole lot easier than a couple kids, which my sister Jessica has going on, Stephanie has been super busy with work (and the last muffins she brought me, one was burnt to a crisp!) and Gus would take hours to find the ingredients in the store (even though his name IS Gus)  So I guess it's my duty!  Maybe Steph can start making Grandma Renzelman's famous rolls...

    Grandpa Gus’ Cheesecake 


    2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
    ½ c. cold water
    ¼ tsp. salt
    2 eggs (separated)
    1 (6oz.) can frozen orange juice concentrate
    1 tsp. grated orange peel
    3 c. creamed cottage cheese
    1 c. heavy cream, whipped (or one small box cool whip)
    1 can mandarin oranges
    1 jar maraschino cherries



    Soften gelatin in water.  Mix ¾ cup sugar and salt in the top of double broiler.  Beat together egg yolk and concentrated orange juice and add that to sugar mixture.  Cook over boiling water stirring constantly until slightly thickened, (about ten minutes)   Remove from heat, add softened gelatin and orange peel.  Cool. Stir in cottage cheese.  Chill stirring occasionally until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon.  Fold in whipped cream.  Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.  Add remaining ¼ cup sugar.  Beat until its very stiff. Fold meringue into cheese mixture.  Turn into a 8” spring foam pan.  

    Let it set overnight.  When removed decorate with oranges and cherries.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Boot Thoughts Day 5

    Have you ever wondered who you would be if you weren't you?  How you pictured your life versus the reality of what it is.  I don't really ever do this during the summer, but I seem to come back to some of the same thoughts as soon as the snow flies. Or maybe I start getting burnt out and feel like,  "Something's got to give." Perhaps it has something to do with being a single woman with limited factors preventing me from changing everything.   I've always been split between wanting to live in a little brick house in the city with hard wood floors, white tile in the bathroom,  artwork on the walls, a fireplace, and drink a lot of red wine, and have a job that involves some travel. Life # 2 has me in a cabin in the mountains so rustic it barely has running water and spend my nights sitting in a rocking chair knitting socks and hats and skiing in and out of this darling little cabin.  In each day dream I my house is tidy and simple. 

    In reality my place isn't anything of either sort, really.  OR maybe it's some of both.  It's definitely not one of those pristine sparkling city places with brick walls and everything old, but clean OR a darling mountain cabin.  I love my house but I have wondered several times, how did I get here?   Lately I've been feeling the need to purge my house of items I don't use much.  LIVE SIMPLY.  I hate the pack rat mentality that I sometimes have.  I have several friends that keep few things around their place and I want to be one of those people.  As I've been going through my house thinking of ditching a bunch of things, I think WHY did I ever think I needed this? 

    I tend to romanticize so many different types of lifestyles.  People and places fascinate me.  The point of this blog is probably just to point out that I'm still not sure what direction I'm headed in, or who exactly I want to be.  Every year that passes that I get older I continue to question these things.  Not to be cliche' but I still haven't found what I'm looking for. I'm not even sure that that I really want to...

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    The Boot Is BACK!

    On August 31, the VERY first night of the fall league for the competitive women's volleyball team that I play on, I came down on a blocker's wayward foot and rolled my ankle.  While I took a sick day the next day and got x-rays I was informed that it was just a bad sprang. 

    As time went on, the swelling was pretty bad and I was still experiencing some pain on the inside of my ankle.  I decided to see a specialist and on Monday (Oct 31) finally got into see him.  As it turns out my ankle WAS broken based off the x-rays from August 31.  I was lucky enough to get a walking air cast but I'll be in this for at least a month.  My physical activity is limited to riding the stationary bike (with the air cast) and doing upper body lifts. 

    A month could be worse.  It could be six or eight weeks and I have a lifetime of activities I want to do, so I need to get this healed.  My uncle Dennis is undergoing treatments for the next month on bone cancer and in a way I can use my boot to remind me to send good thoughts his way rather than feel sorry for myself over a puny ankle.

    As always its not enduring the nuisance of the boot but absorbing the costs of treatment, albeit nothing new to me.  I have a good doctor now helping me out.  Dr. Hecker at Orthopedic Center for the Rockies.  He's come highly recommended to me from Coach Bedard and I also help coach his nephew so I feel like I'm in good hands and I'm going to be vigilant about the things he tells me to do/ not to do which is something I feel wasn't clear to me when I left the ER at MCR.

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Pics from the first SNOW!

    From The Desk Of...

    On occasion I have some assignments I feel are worth sharing.  The handwriting on this one is a little hard to decipher so I have opted to type it.  The assignment was to come up with and deliver a 45 sec to one minute news report on Ancient China...

    "Back in ancient China it has been proven that they had both unicorns and quadricorns.  They have some very distinct differences.  A unicorn has one horn, hence the "uni" prefix.  A quadricorn has four horns.  They also have different magical abilities.  A quadricorn has four times the power of a unicorn.  Another major difference is that a quadricorn stars on commericals whereas unicorns are more practical   Quadricorns can also grow up to be 15 feet tall."

    Final Posting on RMNP Mission

    I feel this article gave good information about what happened.  I'm really glad we found the kid!


    Father of Rescued Branson Hiker Andy Lund Talks About His Condition

    Father of Rescued Branson Hiker Andy Lund Talks About His Condition

    Another article on the rescue mission on Thursday, from the father's perspective.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    ~Personal Wellness Journey~: Motivation To Start!

    ~Personal Wellness Journey~: Motivation To Start!: Ahhh yes...motivation. If it came in a pill Americans couldn't swallow fast enough. However, it comes from within. Over the past few year...

    Friday, October 7, 2011


    I got a dog.  He's a nine month old puppy (ish) that is supposed to be Great Pyrenees/Malamute mix.  He looks a lot like a lab but after doing some Internet research on the breed mix I think they could be right.  (But there may still be some lab)  His name is Reinhold.  Named after Reinhold Messner, perhaps the greatest mountaineer of all time.

    The problem that I'm having now is with him and the cats.  Obviously there has to be some sort of adjustment but being from the farm, and knowing my sister's dog is a cat killer, and that he REALLY wants to chase them, I'm very very wary. 

    There are a lot of benefits to having a dog and I think that I could be a really good owner for one.  I have a big back yard, I love to camp and hike, and my SAR teammates want me to make him into a rescue dog.  (VERY DOUBTFUL, but an avalanche dog could be really cool.)

    So unfortunately, even though I like this dog a whole lot, he may not be making a total permanent home at my house. 

    In the mean time while I'm sorting things out, here is a little reading info on both Messner and Avalanche Rescue Dogs.

    Avalanche Rescue Dogs

    Reinhold Messner

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Sprained Ankle Blues

    I write this post with my foot in a bucket of ice water.

    About three weeks ago I sprained my ankle playing volleyball. I ended up on crutches for a few days followed up by an aircast, and now a really fat ankle (still) The first thing everyone told me was, "You're getting old!"  To which I immediately responded by rolling my eyes.  I landed on a blocker's foot.  Of course like any other injury I've had, it's been a doosey.  I've been pretty much inactive for the last three weeks and of course, it's been driving me crazy.  At this point, I'm not really sure WHEN I'll be able to play volleyball again (I have a few male students that play powder puff volleyball every year that  are very excited that I can't play on the staff team this year during homecoming) I've finally got to the point where I can do some yoga (aka serious stretching) and I've been trying out some podcasts put out by the Yoga Journal instead of going to classes since I'm not sure which activities I can and cannot do as of now.  In addition to yoga, I've finally got out trekking on my bike.  There is a pretty nice little bike/running path about a mile from my house that only took me two years to discover since I got into the habit of running around the lake.

    Mostly I feel like a big whale.  Prior to school I was hiking, camping, climbing, running, all sorts of ings that kept me fit.  (I wasn't eating the school food either)  Now I'm la-id up and la-zy, at least I feel like it and my pants are getting tighter and tighter. I'm really excited to be nearing the point that I'm beginning physical therapy and will most likely over do it the first few times. (You really don't need all legs to climb...I don't use them like I should anyway...)  I'd like to get out camping a few more times before the snow flies, if not for my physical well being, for my mental.  School has been crazy.  I don't think I really get a handle on the storm that is school until after homecoming is over. (Next week, otherwise known as OCTOBER)

    I know that there will probably be good things that come from this, but as of now, I'm a little annoyed.