Sunday, June 07, 2009

Takin' a Deeeep Breath




Wow! We haven't blogged in like half a year, and there probably aren't any readers anymore, but we'll try to slowly get back up to speed just in case.
The big changes have come, actually THE Big Change as in our daughter, Esther Helen Crane born January 22. There is nothing that anyone said beforehand that fully prepared us for this job called parenthood. Medical school has posed a significant challenge, but it is cake compared to the days when it is just dad and Esther all day together with no breaks. It is the sweetest thing and the toughest thing. It is exhilarating and demanding. It is more fun than biking down the Porcupine Rim trail, yet more frustrating then breaking your chain in the middle of the Slickrock trail. It is more enchanting than hiking through Buckskin Gulch, yet more stressful than being 14000 feet up in the San Juans with storm clouds brewing. Is anyone really truly prepared or cut out for this?
I find it amazing that to do or be anything in this world you must get specific training or schooling, sometimes for many, many years before you are awarded the degree, certificate, or license that will allow you to perform a certain job or wear a certain title. Not so with the title "parent". Any man with a functioning erection can obtain the most important title in the world with no pre-requisites other than the said functioning erection. There are no required parenting schools or licenses or degrees for the most life-changing, society-impacting title. Wow, there are a lot of tangents to go off on here...but at the end of the day I guess we can sum it up by saying it is no big deal to reproduce (in most cases), but one of the biggest deals in the world is trying to truly be and become a parent. We're a long ways from figuring it out and stumbling a lot, but we continue to laugh at our mistakes, cry with joy over the new developments, pray for the future, and cherish every up and down moment because like every person we meet says, "It goes by so fast." Indeed, Esther seems to change daily now, so everyday is an exciting reminder of how awesome life is. We hope yours is awesome as well, and don't worry, not every blog is going to be about Esther. I mean, we love her more than our dogs, they are no longer in the center of the pictures, and that's saying something. But Esther is still not our identity. We have other things to talk about too, like the mountain biking in the valley of the sun, backpacking in the Superstitions, med school ups and downs, Mesa city league softball, our impending move to Flagstaff, our visit to the Rez, and the exciting ending to the Everett Ruess mystery! It's nice to take a deep breath and try to figure out what has happended, try to get caught up, and figure out where to go next.

Monday, January 12, 2009

2009--Changes beyond the two of us

Happy New Year from Mesa! Let me (Tracy) say that while I whined in the summer time about the high desert temps when we first moved here, I understand why most Americans flock to this place in the winter. It has been absolutely beautiful here with mild-warm temperatures and it's very easy to lose track of time. I'm sitting here in my living room with a T-shirt and shorts on with both doors open trying to cool off in the middle of January. You can't beat that for a winter season!!

Jesse and I have been hanging around this crazy city the past 1-2 months as I near my due date: January 24th. It is not our favorite thing to do but we have watched 2 movies at an actual Theater (that's the most I've seen in about 4 years)---Marley and Me/Benjamin Button. Wow...we forgot what it's like to see a movie on a big screen. We have also been blessed to visit with good friends from "up north".

During Jesse's Christmas Break, Ron and Carolyn Lucas (including their dogs Lucky and Lady) were able to spend a few days with us. The last day we went for a 3 mile hike through the Red Mountain Trails north of Mesa. We have known them for our extended time on the Rez and Jesse was a student teacher with Ron during his days in Kayenta. If any of you were at our Wedding in 2003, you would recognize him as the photographer who stood waaaay too close to the edge. (We have another posting from a visit with them in Colorado back in July--see below).
They are family to us!!

Tracy, Ron, Carolyn
December 27, 2008

Just after the New Year we were able to enjoy a cook-out with the Smallcanyons. Mary and Ross were very instrumental in Jesse's teaching career on the reservation and he considers them his "adopted" Navajo family. They have 3 very successful children all attending college here in the city. It was great to have fresh, homemade tortillas that Mary made-----

Mary and Tracy cooking the meat
Can you believe we are having a cookout the beginning of January?

Jesse and Ross at Kiwanis Park in Tempe

2009 brings a huge change in our life---As most of you know our family will expand from just the two of us-----to another. It will be one of the most challenging, rewarding, exciting, humbling and self-sacrificing times of our lives. We thank you all for the support, encouragement and prayers so far....and we just ask that you keep praying for us since we'll need it more after the baby is born, right?

This might be the last posting I will have time for in a very long time.....Hopefully Jesse will have the time and energy to do a posting about the baby when he/she arrives.

Until then.......

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Join Facebook!

Ok, Ok, we were skeptical. Heck, I still don't know what Twitter is, and I have a really rough time using Tracy's Blackberry. I put off Facebook for about a year, but then I was pressured to join for my med school class, and wow, it is pretty cool. It almost feels like I'm living in the same town as a lot of my family and friends, and I only average getting on maybe once a week. I reconnected with a guy that lived down the hall in my dorm during my freshman year in college. I reconnected with a "Mouse" from high school. Most of my good buds are using it, but where are the rest of my family members? Where is Beech, Snow, Greenwood, Doug, and Oliphant? Actually the last one needs to just be introduced to a computer first, baby steps. Tracy got back in touch with friends she had in Germany when she was like 15. You can share photos, good reads, interests, and a whole lot more. It's a good way to go, really. "But who has the time to mess around on Facebook?" you may ask. Hey it's a lot better than watching TV! Unless, of course, you are watching Into the Wild, Gladiator, Braveheart, or Good Will Hunting, which are all on my favorite movies list on Facebook. You would know this, and I would know about yours.

Join and share!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Get Out

I wish author and environmental activist, Edward Abbey, were still around to write a follow-up to his classic Desert Solitaire. He had harsh words for "progress" and society encroaching on wilderness. He called it "the machine". He wanted to outlaw motor vehicles in national parks. His basic assumption was that wilderness is a necessity to civilization. You can't understand that assumption or the thought that most of us are living in a ghastly, artificial, soul-stifling machine unless you get out. Out of the house, out of the car, and out of cell service.
When Abbey was a ranger at Arches National Park in Utah one Labor Day his concern for others and wilderness boiled over (summarizing):

"What can I tell them? Sealed in their metallic shells like molluscs on wheels, how can I pry the people free? The auto as tin can, the park ranger as opener. Look here, I want to say, for godsake folks get out of them there machines....Take off your shoes for a while, unzip your fly, piss hearty, dig your toes in the hot sand, feel that raw and rugged earth, split a couple of big toenails, draw blood...lady roll the window down! You can't see the desert if you can't smell it. Dusty? Of course it's dusty---this is Utah! Get out of that piece of iron and stretch your varicose veins, take off your brassiere and get some hot sun on your old wrinkled dugs! You sir, squinting at the map with your radiator boiling over and your fuel pump vapor-locked, crawl out of that shiny hunk of GM junk and take a walk---yes, leave the old lady and those squawling brats behind for a while, turn your back on them and take a long, quiet walk straight into the canyons, get lost for a while, come back when you damn well feel like it, it'll do you and her and them a world of good. Give the kids a break too, let them out of the car, let them go scrambling over the rocks hunting for rattlesnakes and scorpions and anthills---yes sir, let them out, turn them loose....Yes sir, yes madam, I entreat you, get out of those motorized wheelchairs, get off your foam rubber backsides, stand up straight like men! like women! like human beings! and walk---walk---WALK upon our sweet and blessed land!"

I've been more aware of the machine than ever before by living in a setting I never imagined living in. The machine is way more powerful today than in '89 when Abbey died. I stepped foot in a mall today for the first time since February to get some new running shoes. I felt more out of place than if I were to show up for classes naked. It was a sickening experience just for a pair of running shoes. The machine has a strong pull to the point where things like "Black Friday" are more like a holiday than the real holidays. The machine pulls people in to where a rollercoaster is more appealing than a primo singletrack where you do the work on a bike or by running, and it pulls people in to where a waterpark is more appealing than thrashing around in a creek or lake.

I've been busier than ever, and the machine pulls stronger than ever, but I know I must get out. Fortunately I have gotten out to three great Arizonan destinations over the past month. This keeps me sane and focused, my marriage strong, my mind sharp, and my spirit at least aware.

Click on pics to see full-screen view.

Picacho Peak abruptly rises about 2000 feet from the desert floor and above the machine including the non-native palm trees. The peak is located about half way between Arizona's two largest cities.

Tracy at 32 weeks pregnant still tries to get out if not all the way up. She hiked the lower trails with the dogs while I ran up the peak trail.

It's a beautiful time of year to enjoy the desert. We had rain for two straight days and temperatures in the sixties.

From the top of Picacho Peak, one can see the desert floor stretching in all directions to abrupt mountain ranges termed "Sky-islands" such as the Santa Catalinas north of Tucson. Picacho Peak is more like a "sky-atoll".

A couple weekends ago I got out on my two-wheel drive that costs $0.00 dollars/gallon and did an all day ride around Sedona by linking such trails as Little Horse, Broken Arrow, Huckaby, Jim Thompson, Jordan, and Adonte. It's impossible to choose the best place for mountain biking for sure. Fruita is pure fun. Moab is the mecca. Durango is the capital. But for all-around scenery, challenge, and fun I might lean toward Sedona.

Oak Creek in the fall is a little slice of heaven.

A full moon over Cathedral Rock with no sign of the machine in sight. Cactus Ed would have been proud. I bled several times on this trip and got a bad case of poison ivy.

After my two day final on the musculoskeletal system, I fled the city to one of the coolest canyons I've ever been to---Aravaipa. It is a unique wilderness area 100 miles southeast of Phoenix. It is one of the few places in the desert where you will find a permanent stream.

It was an incredible contrast to hike miles upstream through ankle-deep to knee-deep water all the while seeing saguaro cacti. The soaring cliffs and the giant cottonwoods added to the surreal scene.

I only camped one night in the canyon, but it was a rich, soul-recharging experience. The pure, spring-fed, cold water was much more than just physically refreshing. It again reminded me as to why wilderness is such a necessity.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pregnancy Timeline


30 weeks

27 weeks

21 weeks

18 weeks

13 weeks

Friday, October 10, 2008

"I'm not getting involved with that."

It was MLK Day a couple of years ago. Tracy, Denny, and myself had spent two days of ice climbing at Ouray, but a snowstorm hit so we decided to bail on the third day. We found ourselves at the Lucas' ranch outside of Cortez and out of the storm. In between some heated games of Yahtzee, we decided to grill some steaks. Actually, Ron grilled the steaks as Denny and I watched. I'll never forget the focus in Ron's eyes as he meticulously seared the meat to perfection. I went inside to get an ice cold Corona but came back out with a plate of sliced squash in my other hand that Caroline wanted grilled as well. I stood where Ron could see me but got no response. I placed the plate down in front of him so that he could not ingnore it. "What's this?" he asked with disdain. "Uh, I think your wife wants this grilled too."
He came close to stiff-arming me as he said, "I'm not getting involved with that."
And that was it. I ended up grilling the squash after the steaks were done because he wanted to only be focused on the meat.

I look back now and realize I should have applied that lesson in my life this year. There is plenty of the meat in life to be focused on without getting distracted by the squash of politics. My interest in politics was ignited this past spring by the campaign of Barack Obama. It was new. It was fresh. It was grassroots. It was different. It was exciting to be a part of history. Now I wish the whole election cycle was history. Now both sides are politics as usual. The inconsistencies are maddening. The mudslinging is frustrating. The cynicisim has overshadowed any hope.
Maybe a big part of it is that we view the proceedings through the ridiculous media filter. Nothing is straight or objective. I cannot find one unbiased journalist. Oreilly comes the closest, but he is usually so angry that I tune out. The right and left are so extreme that middle ground is hard to find. It would be impossible to choose which side is more superficial and hateful, the right with the Hannitys and Coulters or the left with the Olbermans and Moores. Our good friend Ken Holmes pointed out astutely one time that historically speaking too far right ends up at Hitler and too far left ends up at Stalin, and both meet with the similar results and consequences.
On one hand you could say that either choice this year is a win-win. Both candidates look better than the Bush regime. I admire McCain's story and Obama's story. But I'd hate to see the right wingers and Hannity gloat if McCain won just as much I'd hate to see the Hollywood elite and Olberman gloat if Obama won. Both seem like good, pleasant individuals but their friends seem less than pleasant. Both seem like they have good intentions, but how much will they be swayed by their cronies?
On the other hand both candidates seem burned out and lost, and the last thing either one is going to be able to do is change anything. Both are pretty much deadbeats at the debates. Both would rather talk about each other than their own message. One, McCain, has spent the last two months talking so much about Obama that I really have no idea what his policies would be. On top of that he chooses a running mate that would make a great neighbor but wouldn't know the first thing about leading a country.
Obama has been more specific, but at the same time he has morphed from a different kind of politician to just another typical one. I really wish that he would not get into the mudslinging game and he would more readily admit when he is wrong or when he changes his mind because there is nothing wrong with either.

With all of that said, I think Obama is the best choice based on three things:
1. Republicans say national security is the top priority. True, but doesn't healthcare and education go hand in hand with national security? And they have no answers to either one of those topics but Obama supposedly does.
2. The Republicans' hypocrisy is now edging out the Democrats' hypocrisy, which is saying something. They yell and scream about too much government in Obama's healthcare plan, yet they definitely want big government when it comes to bailing out wall street. And they most certainly want big government when it comes to our moral decisions. I personally think abortion is an atrocious thing, but do we want a political party deciding morals? I thought they were against government intervention? On top of all that McCain and Palin were both quoted this week with saying, "America is the greatest source of good in the history of the world." What? I thought they both claimed to be people of faith. Any person of faith knows that a man-made country or government does not exactly line up with their quote.
3. Basically my decision is now coming down to what the great political scientist, Adam Oliphant, of Bloomfield, Indiana said back in May. He said, "There's nothing wrong with McCain, but it's time to give the Republicans a rest. Give them a little break for a while. They've been in power too long." I guess that adds another part to the checks and balances. If a party is in the executive branch for eight years, it is time to switch to the other one. Every eight years we make a switch.

There. It's out of my system. The excitement is long gone. I'm no longer getting involved with that. It's time to just focus on the meat.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Family Reunion

I (Tracy) got to travel to Wisconsin to visit immediate and extended family the beginning of August. Every year the Noggles/Chabla families get together at the Pewaukee Lake west of Milwaukee for some summer fun. The last time I got to go was 6 years ago. We had a good time which never changes but the kids are taller and adults a little older...including myself. The weather was absolutely wonderful during the stay up north so I couldn't complain. Jesse, of course, was sweating it out down in Phoenix during his second week of school.

We are settling into a routine down here. He is in full swing of classes....medical skills and tons of studying. I do not envy him at all but I think he enjoys the challenge.

I wish I could post some beautiful picture of a mountain, river or canyon we recently explored but unfortunately the concrete jungle is all we have these days.

Until next time...