Saturday, November 23, 2013


I spent most of today thinking about 50 years ago.

I remember leafing through my mother's "year" books, each one the size of an encyclopedia, each one a tome of history for that year. I often turned to 1963 and read of the assassination. I looked through the black and white pictures of the tragedy. And I thought of how long ago that was. 

Today, I realized that '63 was only 14 years before my birth. Not that long ago. And I realized how the course of events over 14 years can change the world.

I often compose these posts in my mind as I travel home from the ice arena. And while I wanted to write about JFK, my mind shifted to other things.

Tonight, I worked with several close friends. They always ask about my family. They always ask about my mother. As I started the night, it was with a light heart and I was focused on the task ahead. Post game, as I looked through my email, things changed.

Mom is fighting again. Not that she ever stopped. Her body has fought, the drugs have fought and the science has found different ways to make things work. That has changed once again. Her cancer has moved into her shoulder, her neck and is active again in her liver.

With this comes a great deal of emotion. Fear. Love. 

I know she will once again pick up her gauntlet and fight. I know we will stand beside her, our friends will stand beside us and strangers we have never known will help her through.

As I walked out, a second friend asked how my family was and my answer had changed.

My drive home was lifted by music. My eyes were wet but my soul was strong. Songs of old, memories in black and white sifted through my mind and guided me to my door.

And now, here we go again.

"Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war..."

Mom, we will all cast aside those ensigns of peace. We too shall carry this gauntlet with you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So close, so far

Another late night drive home. An evening of reffing before retreating to my home.

As I cruise home on a lonely highway, I can see the mountains outlined to my west. Tiny house lights scattered across the slope, they look like fire flies sparkling in the night sky.



A sparkle, according to my daughter, is what little girls are before they are born and after they die. Twinkles are little boys. My daughter's explanation to the creation and passing of life. An explanation so simple yet so creative. And far deeper and wiser than her few years should allow. May she remain so as she grows.

This thought of my daughter causes me to turn my head from the west. Before me lies the sleeping shadow of North Table Mountain. And to the east? Out over the suburban glow of Denver. Out into the plains through Kansas. Out to Missouri where my wife, my love, first attended college and I once visited.

My wife, the trooper. Trucking our family across this vast nation by herself. Manning the helm whilst entertaining the children, feeding them, consoling them and watching over them. 

Missouri where my family lies asleep at the Lake of the Ozarks. So close...I feel I could reach them across the plains through the inky darkness tonight. Hold them in my arms as they sleep. far. Still two days of traveling before the return home to Colorado.

I want them here now. To crack the doors as I return home and check on each sleeping love. And to slip silently into bed beside my wife as I retire from the day. 

Safe travels.

Enjoy the visits.

See you soon.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Time - Part Deux

I received a message from my brother-in-law yesterday. Which means he is home. Safe. A welcome relief always.

Beyond the safe return of one of my best friends, my brother, this also marks a changing of the guard, if you will. This morning, I went to my armoire, pulled out a different watch, wiped off the dust and briefly shook it to wind it up.

Wearing a watch has become a daily routine. Losing my watch, asking the kids where it may be and finding it is all part of said routine. Often, the conversation with Emi is simply, "Emi, have you seen my black watch?" The answer is almost always, "Yes, I put it somewhere safe."

The safe place often changes. But my watch is almost always there. Sometimes the watches go missing for a bit longer only to show up in a sock drawer months down the road. It's all part of the fun.

While I was in Boston, my dear friend Fibby asked about the watch on my wrist. Commented that she had not seen it before. It made me smile before I answered.

It was quite some time ago that I wrote this post regarding my new watch. I still have this watch. I still wear it every game day when I have to put on a suit. There are several watches in my armoire now. Each one tells a story, has a purpose, each may even be a talisman. I'll save most of those stories for another time and simply tell the story of two.

There is a silver Seiko I have which is part of a set purchased for all the men in my family several Christmases ago. Each of us have the same watch. Hopefully, it gives each of us a connection every morning when we wake up and put on our watch...that each of us is doing the same thing at one moment, even thousands of miles apart. This Seiko connection goes further back to my Grandfather, my Dad's Dad, as he had a gold Seiko he wore every day.

This is the watch I pulled out this morning. Dusted off. Wound up. Reset. With thoughts of my father, my two brothers and my Grandfather. But it isn't the watch Fibby had asked about in Boston.

The watch I was wearing in Boston was a gift to me from my brother-in-law who so recently returned. It is a watch he was given, a gift from the army during a competition. When he generously handed it to me, I began wearing whenever I rode his motorcycle, since, in my mind, the two seemed to go together. When I purchased my bike, I continued to wear his watch whenever I climbed on the bike. It just seemed right. Whether it is a good luck thing or purely a habit, it is certainly a talisman.

And then, when he deployed, I began wearing it every day. As a reminder of his service to our country. As a reminder that our country is still fighting a war abroad. As a reminder that he is in harm's way.

But he is back now. His watch goes into my armoire, only to be pulled out for motorcycle rides. And I wear a reminder of my family on my wrist.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Daddy, come help me fix it....

There should have been a picture. Winn and my legs poking out from underneath. Us hammering away on the broken pieces.

I was lying in bed on vacation and Winn was busy playing on the bedroom floor. He had migrated beneath the cot that Emi had been sleeping in. Every now and again, he would roll out from under the cot, grab another toy and head back under. Me? I was playing sudoku on my phone.

After a while, he called to me. "Daddy, come help me fix it." I set my phone aside and moved to the edge of the bed and watched his feet poking out from under the cot. Again, there was a call. "Daddy, come help me fix it."

So I rolled off the bed, laid my sore bones down on the floor and wiggled beneath the cot. He was busy hammering away with a puzzle piece on a spring on the side of the cot. There was a pile of toys next to him. His cuddle blanket. He was intent on fixing the spring.

He handed me a puzzle piece. "Here's a screw driver. Help me fix it." I looked up at the green canvas of the cot and saw it transform into the under belly of my Land Rover. I saw the various greasy pieces he was working on. And I helped him pry, hammer and screw all the broken pieces. 
As our vacation progressed, he would often call me to help come fix the broken pieces. Every time I obliged. Every time, I saw that plain cot transform into a magnificent machine needing attention.
I saw his world and, for just a moment, I got to play with him. Work with him. And revel in the joy of his young eyes and creative mind.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

First Ride in the Dirt

The family is far away right now, all the way back in Maine. I've done my best to stay out of trouble by filling up my days and nights with work. All day at the office, all night at the rink. Most of the time, it seems to work. Yesterday, well, yesterday was an exception.
Yesterday was easily one of the toughest days I have spent on the moto. I put more aggressive tires on and found a way to attach the tank bag to the frame with old hockey laces (everything in my house gets fixed with hockey laces and hockey tape, just ask the in, "Mommy, get some hockey tape so Daddy can fix it). I pulled the hard panniers off my bike to avoid catching my foot/ankle between the ground and the pannier itself when off road. I met up with one of my friends and a buddy of his and we headed southwest down 285 into Grant. From there, we rode up Handcart Gulch toward Webster Pass. 

Lower Handcart Gulch Trail
The approach was challenging. At one point, we were riding through about 150 meters of stream on top of loose and, of course, wet rocks. Trying to keep the 425 pound (plus) BMW upright was a challenge as it was all over the place. This really was my first test and I did my best to simply stay centered and hoped to stay upright. Did it without even dabbing my feet!


Once we got above tree line, the shelf road became super loose with gravel and loose baby head rocks. Had a couple of puckering moments as the bike would often steer itself and I would find myself getting super close to the steep drop. I had to overcome my gut reaction to simply grab the clutch as I wasn't about to try to wrestle the bike from tipping off the edge of the shelf road. I kept it in first gear and would blip the throttle in hopes that the bike would come back around to the proper heading with a little body English. Sure enough, it did every time. 

Upper Handcart Gulch Trail

We stopped one switchback below the pass as it was covered with a 20 foot drift/cornice. You can see the shelf road as it runs up to the drift in one of the pictures. The shelf road itself was super narrow as in it would have been tight even in the land rover. I took the time to eat a little food and recover my nerves. I was super nervous about the upcoming descent/retreat. 

Webster Pass

I turned my ABS off and flipped the bike around with a seven point turn. As I did, I wondered what I would have done if I had been in the Rover as there was no place to turn around. 
The descent, while loose, was actually not as bad as I had anticipated. I found that when I stood up, the bike became less skittish. I turned my toes in on the pegs which caused my knees and legs to grab more at the faux-gas tank and suddenly, it all started coming together. The ride down through the stream was cold but gravity was pulling me down the hill so I had less holy shit moments than on the way up as my rear tire wasn't constantly spinning off wet rocks. 

As my confidence continued to build, I began to ride a bit faster. As rocks flew up from my front tire, I began to hear a metallic sound as they pinged off my flimsy skid plate. We rode out to 285, up and over Kenosha Pass and then turned in toward Georgia Pass as we hit the next town. 

The ascent up Georgia was tame in comparison. An easy ride to the top on a super dusty but smooth trail. We sat for a moment at the top and realized just how hungry we were. We had left Yeti and 9 in the morning and it was now 1:30. We headed up a trail that looked promising as it went in the direction of Breckenridge. That was our first mistake.

Georgia Pass
The trail suddenly began to climb. And it became super gnarly. Rutted. Rooted. Boulders were exposed. I got a good ways up when the BMW stalled on an obstacle. I wrestled to keep it upright. And promptly strained whatever rib/muscle injury I have in my chest from a fall several weeks back. 

Several near frantic tries to get the bike moving resulted in greater strain and pain. With the rear tire spinning and the engine maxed, I finally pulled forward far enough to pull out of the trail and into a grassy section. Steep grassy section. I was across the fall line and wondering how the hell I could get turned around and pointed down the hill. Kind of like committing to your first turn at the top of Tuckerman's Ravine when you are looking straight down into the bowl below. Only here I had rocks and trees to contend with. And that 425 pound motorcycle. I don't recall having a 425 pound pack at the top of Tuckerman's.

So I started rolling. And turned into the fall line. And panicked. As the bike shifted from leaning up the hill to leaning down, I decided, quickly, that there was no way I could keep it upright. She tipped. I jumped off. A couple of quick steps later, I looked back to see that she wasn't chasing me down the hill. Pretty much stopped right where I had let go. Still running. I ran up the hill and shut it down. 

I was now trying to figure out how to get it upright. She was pointed the wrong way down so I needed to lift it from the lower side of the hill, making it all the more difficult. One deep breath, one full squat and now I had the bike upright. And more pain on the left side of my chest. I will point out here not to panic. This story doesn't result in a heart attack, med-evac or anything of the like. This was pretty much the most trouble I would find myself in all day long and that trouble mostly revolved around my level of inexperience.

But the challenge remained. How to get the damn thing across the fall line. I stayed on the downhill side of the bike. Left the engine off. Grabbed the clutch and front brake and hossed the bike around as it tried to roll past me. I was now pointed back toward the trail but was coming in at too square of an angle. I wasn't going to be able to turn in gradually and was nervous about another wreck. I hopped on, rode across the trail and  into the woods on the far side. I bushwhacked through the trees until I was turned around again and met up with the trail further down. 

It wasn't easier yet. All the crap I had climbed up I now needed to descend. First gear, a feathered rear brake, a whole lot of pucker and hanging on and I was back down. Mind you, this trail would have been an axle twister in the Rover. Doable, but holy crap. 
We headed down the next trail in hopes that it would bring us closer to food. This was steep and loose as well. One of our crew was in front of me on a KLR (similar to mine in many ways, including weight and engine size). He had his rear wheel locked and was sliding the entire way down these trails. I was feathering front and rear and using the engine to slow me and in far more control than him. Puckered. But feeling super confident considering the crap I had just rolled down without incident. I gave him some more space and rolled down this portion of the trail, bottoming my fork on a couple of occasions at the bottom of a couple particularly steep inclines. 

No more falls. Less puckering. Way fun. Like riding a super heavy downhill bike and not needing to pedal. We reached the bottom and came out where we had camped for the Breckenridge Tribe Gathering. Memories of camping with Emiko rushed back. Staying up late with her and staring at the stars. She fell asleep in my arms as Robbie and Rabbit and I talked quietly. Such a good night. 

We ended up at a pizza place in Breck. The same place Emi and I had eaten lunch after camping. After super slow service, we headed out on pavement, over Loveland Pass and down I-70 toward home. We joined up with a group of Harley riders on the interstate and rode in a pack about twelve strong down the hill. 

I rolled into home at 5. Exhausted. The final portion of the ride through Golden was spent reminding myself, out loud in my helmet, not to get lackadaisical. To focus on the road, the cars, everything else and not daydream about the couch I had not yet reached. That kind of exhausted. 
I'm still a rookie at this. A newbie. But I got a lot of firsts out of the way. And it was a good day. I got into all sorts of trouble and back out again. And I'm ready for more.

Handcart Gulch Trail...what a view

A Return to Colorado

This was written as my plane landed on June simply has taken me this long to sit down and transpose the notes from my phone to the computer. Sad, isn't it? I have all the time in the world as my family is in Maine yet I could not find time until now.
I am watching the farmer's giant circular crops slip past my window. And I see the highway which carried us so far far East away from home.
Our home.

I am confused on so many levels as to where home truly is. When I am here in Colorado, home is always in the state where I was born. Our house in Mercer. My parents. Home.

But when I visit Maine, home is that very distant and mountainous state which I have adopted. We have adopted. I convinced Hope to move to Colorado. I somehow tricked her into marrying me (she got the short end of that stick). And we continue to live here even though our parents, now our children's grandparents, are so very far away.

This return to Colorado leaves me far from my family. My children looked so forlorn as I pulled away from home this morning. And now I return to an empty house with scattered reminders of my children and my wife who are oh so far away.

But I return to work. To our family dog, Gibson. He keeps an eye on me, keeps me company, keeps me in the familiar routines that dogs are able to maintain for their owners. And Gibson? He always knows exactly where home is. Home is anywhere as long as you are with those who love you the most.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lesson Learned

The last time my parents came to Colorado to visit, I found myself in a very grumpy mood. Not that they were here at my house but that I was constantly on the go. At work. Home briefly. And then flying off to work a hockey game.

But that is my life these days. Constantly on the go, looking for ways to keep my family afloat fiscally. And I'm ok with that because that means my wife gets to be at home with the kids. Always. 

But that meant I wasn't getting to spend any time with my Mom or Dad while they were visiting. I was looking in on them but not really having the opportunity to hang out.

When my parents left the last time, Emiko was bawling. I've never seen her cry so much over having someone walk out the door. And that's when it really hit me.

Everything I do now, I'm doing for the benefit of my kids. Every chance I have to help them create good memories, I leap at. Every little adventure I get to accompany them on, I find a way to do so.

And that's just it. 

I have my memories with my parents. Years upon years of experiences. Stories. Long standing jokes. All things I will cherish and hold on to for the rest of my life.

But right now is an opportunity for my children to create memories with those same people I know and love. And every chance I can find where they can spend time together...quality time together...I will leap at that opportunity so that Emiko and Winslow will be able to look back at their childhood, years down the road, and truly know who their grandparents are. They will be able to conjure up memories, experiences and laughs. And my parents will always live on, not only in my memories but in the memories of my children.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Everything I learned...

I learned from Calvin and Hobbes.

And when my kids wonder why I screw with them so much, let this be their lesson.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cancer Sucks Game #18

On the ice at 7:20 this morning

Cancer Sucks Game #17

Working a fundraiser for cancer this weekend.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Streets of Heaven

Yesterday was undoubtedly a tough day for all of us to get through. Text messages and calls to make sure family and friends were safe. The emotions welling up for those murdered and injured. Anger at the injustice of it all.

We live in a society of volunteers who readily accept that they will be in harm's way. I am proud to say my two brothers-in-law have served in the military. I have friends who serve as police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel. Yesterday, we saw those in uniform running toward the blasts. We also saw race volunteers joining them. Tearing down barriers. Helping those injured. 

Standing in harm's way.

I am struck by the enormity of their heroism and bravery in the face of such tragedy and terrorism. I hope that we, as a society, can stand with the same bravery in the face of all the adversity we handle on a daily basis. Terrorism. Gun violence. The list goes on and on.

And finally, as I watched a raw video of those who ran to help, I am reminded of this scene from a favorite show:

Godspeed to those we lost yesterday.


It's hard to suggest an aside to this. But as I was looking for the clip above, I found the following clip. Certainly a line stolen from the speaker to be used in a script. And this speaker was talking about another topic which has always been close to my heart as well.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cancer Sucks Game #14

Game #14 - Round 2 AHA Playoffs - Canisius vs Air Force

Cancer Sucks Game #13

Game #13 - Round 2 AHA Playoffs - Canisius v Air Force