Recollections of the Macabre, the Furry and the Fat

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Alpine Meadows, home to the Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, is incredibly beautiful. We’ve been coming here for years to stay at the funky “Munchkin” cabin. Miraculously, the owner only charges us a third of what she could get, and Craig makes it a working vacation so we can afford it.

We trek up here in the winter and during other years we visit during the late summer. It has been amazing for this L.A. girl to observe terrain after it has transformed into the winter and summer.

Last time we went to the Munchkin it was wintertime. The owner and her friend were there to briefly greet us. I chatted with him and learned that he was veteran of the ski industry. He recounted several colorful stories about working at the various Tahoe ski resorts.

“I was here in 1982 when the Alpine Meadows avalanche happened,” he said somberly.

Uh, what avalanche?” I replied sheepishly. He suggested I read a book called A Wall of White by Jennifer Woodlief. I wrote the title down on a piece of paper, intending to download a sample on my Kindle when we returned to the world of WiFi, but I lost the paper and forgot all about it.

When we got to the Munchkin last weekend, I was excited to find a copy of A Wall of White: A True Story of Heroism and Survival in the Face of a Deadly Avalanche in the basement, of all places. I began reading it and so did Craig. (We took turns stealing it from one another.) Each of us finished it within two days! A Wall of White was a national bestseller, and I could see why it was a hit– the writing was top-notch, and it was a definite pageturner.

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Although I found the story fascinating (especially the explanations of different forms of snow, and how avalanches are created) I wish I never, ever read A Wall of White. It was such a morbid, vivid, disturbing account that literally happened just a few minutes from our cabin.

One of the avalanche victims was an eleven-year-old girl – my Avonlea’s age. She died because her self-centered, #$%^& father ignored not one, but two warnings not to hike up to Alpine Meadows during a ginormous snowstorm.

Last year before I read A Wall of White, I blithely drove up to the Alpine Meadow’s ski resort’s remodeled entrance area. I wanted to publish a blog post, and since the Munchkin doesn’t have internet, I could tap into Alpine’s free Wifi. While I sat there shivering in my car, skiers stomped and swarmed all around me. I bet most of them were completely oblivious about what had taken place there 33 years ago. 

Last Monday I needed to make an online bill payment, so I drove up to Alpine Meadows with a different mindset than I had last year. I couldn’t help but ponder about how people had hiked up the same road that I drove upon. They could never have imagined that they’d soon be smothered by tons of snow. Ugh. The thought creeped me out, but it also made me feel deeply grateful for being alive.

wp-1471306240991.jpgGrateful I have my furry muse Lucy

and grateful for my precious girls!

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Yesterday we took the gondola headed to the top of Squaw Valley; I was proudly Xanax-free! We didn’t know a thunderstorm was coming our way! This is a shot I took on the way back down, just before the staff closed the gondola for the day:

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I promised last week to write about some adventures. The truth is that this has been atame week. I guess I could make something up, since I can be devious, but to quote the great Annie Lennox, “Would I lie to you, honey?”

Since I don’t have a current adventure to share, I’d like to tell you about the bear sighting I had at the Munchkin four years ago.

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I had just gotten out of the shower and walked into the dining nook. I glanced at the picture window that had a beautiful view of a steep, woodsy hill behind the cabin. Craig was upstairs, and the girls were watching television in the living room next to the nook.

As usual, I was out of it I was extremely depressed, lethargic, and medicated with meds that weren’t working except to give me zombifying side effects. Despite the fact I was in such a gorgeous setting with my family, I couldn’t appreciate anything.

When I looked out that window, I realized it was a different view than what I was accustomed to.

There was a small bear looking at me.

Oh. My. God.

“BEEEEEAAAAAAAR!!!!” I screamed without thinking. (The little book titled Bear Aware has a bunch of information on what to do and not to do when you see a bear. Unfortunately I hadn’t read Bear Aware before I had that ursine moment, so I was clueless.)

The bear looked at me. He/she probably thought something along the lines of’

”You are such a silly human! I could take you out with one of my farts!”

The girls and Craig came running into the room just in the nick of time to catch the incredible sight. With the four of us watching, the bear scampered up the hill to its mom, who was our of sight. (Craig figured out it was definitely a cub due to its size.)

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I know that some of you might think, “So you saw a bear, no big deal!” But please take my word for it when I tell you those ten minutes were a big deal. The rest of that afternoon I felt less zombie-like. Looking into that cub’s eyes permeated the stupefying effects of my meds. I can understand why bears are sacred totem animals.

The most unbelievable part of this adventure was that the cub had not only been outside of the Munchkin cabin. The bold bear had climbed up three steep flights of outdoor wooden stairs, walked through our front door (which was accidentally cracked open…all I can say about that was it wasn’t me) and went into the basement to grab a bag of garbage. The bear headed back down the stairs with its spoils in tow. This happened while we were all in the house, oblivious to our guest! The cunning cub had been silent as the dead, and was only fifteen feet away from the girls while I showered and Craig was upstairs. The bear could have easily explored the rest of the house…

Lesson learned: lock your door in bear country! 😉

 Lose It! Update 

The Lose It! quest continues with my blogging buddy Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear. We encourage one other through Lose It!’s website. If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

The two of us have struggled lately with overeating, but we remain committed to our goals! We know it’s normal to have setbacks – it’s recovering from them that matters. Speakng of Lose It!, I’d like to share my “before and after “shots taken at The Munchkin.

This is my favorite writing spot – the balcony overlooking the back of Squaw Valley:

175 Mama Bear

2013: 170#  

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Yesterday: 125# 

It has felt so goog to be able to walk up the Munchkin’s three flights of stairs without the extra adipose tissue. Hauling the extra weight used to make me huff and puff and almost hyperventilate. Plus my knees were not happy about it either, especially my knee which had ACL reconstruction after I had a basketball injury.   

Birth of a New Brain memoir update

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Almost every morning during this trip, Lucy has woken me up at 5:00 a.m. I’ve fed her & taken her outside to do her thing. (That hasn’t been so bad since I’ve gotten a great view of the stars, something I don’t get at home since the redwoods block the sky.)

Next I made fresh blood, I mean coffee. I headed out to the deck to work on editing the final chapters and appendices/resource section. The manuscript is due October 1st, and I’m nervous as hell, but excited. I feel like I’m at the end of a ten-year-long pregnancy, and a looooong labor looms ahead. (Yes, I’ve worked on this draft since 2007 after Rilla was born.) There are no epidurals for the publishing process – what a bummer! 

I’ll keep you posted on what happens this fall – the good and the bad! (Hopefully more of the former than the later.) I’ll be back next Friday, and I wish you a great week and perhaps a (positive, fun) adventure of your own!

love,

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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26 thoughts on “Recollections of the Macabre, the Furry and the Fat

  1. Very witty post! You’re certainly more courageous than I would be braving the chances of avalanches and bears! I love the pictures here, it must be a beautiful, peaceful place. Keep up the weight loss plan, you look amazing! & Prayers for you, as always, Dyane!

    1. Awwww, many thanks! I love being called witty anytime, day or night, so you made my day.
      I’m so happy you liked the photos….they only hint at the magnificent of the place. We need your sister to take some photos! (She’s the photog., right? 😉 And you’re great at taking beautiful pictures, for that matter!)

      Anyway, I’ve been slipping back into compulsive binging again – going on vaation threw me off as I suspected it would, so please, please send me a powerful prayer! I’m hoping to write about it on Friday. It’s definitely freaking me out; I’ve worked so hard, as you can imagine, but I have hope that I can somehow get through this rough patch. It helps me to know moms like you are out there rooting for me! XoXo

  2. Congrats on the dedicated weight loss! Its outstanding. Be proud of your accomplishment, no matter the occasional slip. I’m on a new weight loss regime. Its called ‘Lamotragine’ and I have no appetite or sugar craving. I’ve lost a dress size. Can’t believe it ;p

    1. Thanks so much, Pieces!
      I’ve been slipping more and more lately; being away from 2 weeks might have been the cause, but I’m trying my best to get back on track.

      Please don’t be mad at me, but your “Lamotrigine Weight Loss Regime” remark made me chuckle – that’s amazing it has erased your sugar craving/appetite. When I took it, it did nothing, like so many of the other meds. Not even weight loss, boo!

      BIG congrats on losing a dress size! I hope that the med is continuing to help you iin other ways too, i.e. with mood stuff! I bet you look awesome! Xo

      1. Dyannnnne! Of course you can laugh =D I’m so happy about losing the weight. But lamotrigine has a scorpion sting – I’m back to having, like every other med lately, one of the more ‘severe’ side effects. My head is itchy. No, seriously, I’m constantly scratching at my head. (you can laugh… it is hilarious. I mean who’da thought) The itch drives me CRAZY. Anyway, I’m not telling my doc because I don’t want to stop my ‘lamotrigine diet’ ;P

  3. Ah, this post made me smile from start to finish. It sounds so lovely where you are, even with the bears roaming about. (Of COURSE you lock your doors! Man, where we lived in the Upper Peninsula of MI, you could end up with bats, cougars, or wolves in our yard…and bears. Not that a door matters much to a bat, but anyway…) How quirky the little fellow did so much climbing and got into your place to check out the garbage! Did you have some tasty morsels from the previous eve? 😛 I am so so SOOOOO excited for you to be completed with your book. You. CAN. DO THIS! I may be several states away, but I’m cheering for you! (Hope you don’t mind, I never made cheerleading in school so my moves are super-awkward, but I’ve got spirit!) Keep up that balance of family time and writing time–oh, and those Lose It! pics? AMAZING! You sassy writer, you! xxxxx

    1. It’s huge praise to read that this post made you smile, and heck, reading your comment made ME smile!
      Hurrah! God, it was gorgeous up there. It was bizarre that Craig of all people left the door open because he knows way better! He has had skirmishes with bears in Yosemite! As far as your area is concerned, WOW – bats – cougars – wolves – oh my!!!!! Yep, lock the door, LOL!

      Keep the cheering going on; of course I don’t mind! I can’t WAIT to get the MS to the publisher because this has been going on for SOOOOOOO long, as you know – almost 1/5 of my life! Whoa! That’s the first time I thought of it that way.
      I’ll keep you posted, and thanks for saying such nice remarks about the Lose It! pictures!

      Sassily yours,
      Lady Dy, Queen of Sass

      p.s. I’m listening to Snatam Kaur as I write – it’s New Age mellow, but the music doesn’t put me to sleep, and Lucy seems to like Snatam’s music too.

      Fun Fact du Jour: Snatam is one of Oprah’s favorite musicians, and sang to her at her surprise birthday party at Oprah’s Hawaii compound. Snatam lives in Santa Cruz, and Rillaand I met her at a yoga studio a couple years ago. The interaction was surreal, funny, and bizarre – to top it off, hand-crafted ice cream was involved, too. I’ll save that tale for another day! XOXOXO

      1. Yay, MORE music! These next few days are going to be full of good stuff for m’ears…. 🙂 And you just keep those words a’comin’, Queen of Sass! That manscript is going to kick some sassy ass! 😀 xxxx

  4. Thanks for painting such a beautiful picture of where you are. We have the ice caves here that form from runoff on mountain snow in the Cascades. Warnings everywhere, yet every year, people go inside and someone doesn’t walk out. Enjoyed your bear story… that is some big totem energy.

    1. Thank you, Debra, for reading this post!

      Ohhhhh – ice caves sound freaky; I can’t imagine going into one to explore, despite the obvious warnings. Those who do venture forth must be missing a few key synapses, methinks!:( It can’t be a good way to go in any case!

      On a (much) brighter note I’m happy you enjoyed reading the bear story. I went hiking in bear country a few times after writing this post, and I was much more paranoid about running into a bear than I had been in the past. As much as I loved the magnificent trail, I felt I was tempting faint (I guess I shouldn’t go off about those ice cavers too much, eh? ) and anyway, I stopped hiking there. I guess next time we’re in Alpine Meadows, I’ll have to recruitr a group to join me. “Bear Aware” said that bear attacks are very rare if one hikes a regular trail with a group (one that stays together, that is preferably avoiding dawn and dusk time when the bears are most active, midday is best. While I appreciate the ursines’ big totem energy from afar, you can imagine that I don’t want it up close & personal 😉 Hope this finds you well, please take care & thanks again for stopping by and writing!!! 🙂

      1. I’m scared of bears HERE! I think in canada they wear bells and there’s also a bear spray – different bears, so don’t know if they are all avoided by clanging bells or not! Thank you for such a nice replay. Blessings – and TAKE CARE! 🙂

    1. Dear Van, I LOVE those regular & koala bear emojis, LOL!!!!!!!
      And I love the trophy and scale too – well done!
      I’m lazy today in terms of emojis, but you know I’ll get back on track with them.

      I’m hoping that you’re having a great Thursday and thanks for the wonderful encouragement as always!
      Xo

  5. Damn you look fabulous Dy!! I’m actually starting to lose weight FINALLY. Hoping to not have a setback. Trying to focus on HIIT and eating healthy. Hopefully I can slowly get rid of some of this adipose tissue that is making me huff and puff.

    That bear story was hilarious. I’m sorry but I found it funny. In all honesty, I would’ve handled it pathetically and cried and screamed and demanded to leave. You handled it well though. I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to nature.

    Take care and keep up the great work!!!!XOXOXO

    1. Thank YOU for what you wrote, girl!!!! I’m STOKED that you’re losing some poundage – cognrats on eating healthier, wooooo hoooo , although after seeing some pics of you, it didn’t look like you needed to lose anything! 😉 You’re stunning!

      I’m happy you thought the bear story was funny because it WAS funny – I know I didn’t emphasize that point, but it truly was and you are 100% right! I left out that I started drinking hard alcohol again that night…but at least I didn’t cry or demand to leave, ha ha ha!

      Any-who – I hope that you’re doing okay and I’m sorry to reply so late – sending you lots of love!!!!! XOXOXOOXO

    1. Thanks so much, Kitt! I just checked out your latest blog post and donated to your awesome NAMI Stigma Busters walk! One good thing about my weight maintenance regime is that I no longer buy fancy triple shot mochas; I just buy purist coffees, and how to learn to appreciate the true flavor of coffee : black and doing that saves me a lot of money LOL!..money that I’d rather donate to super-worthy, stigma-busting causes such as the NAMI event you’re doing! 🙂

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