Monday, February 28, 2011

Mulligatawny Stew

When we were in Calgary a few weeks ago I ordered Muligatawny Stew at the Limerick Pub while we were discussing Noel's bobsleigh ride.  It's such a wonderful comfort food and has so many variations.  I thought then and there that I would like to find a recipe to make some.  Fast forward to this past weekend.  I was looking through a "Montana Cookbook" that my mother had given to Noel when...lo' and behold, there was a recipe for Mulligatawny Stew.  Although other recipes I've found call for a variety of vegetables and no apples, we found this version to be wonderful...slightly sweet due to the apples and immensely comforting.  Serve it with whole grain bread and pair it with Coldsmoke Scotch ale from the Kettlehouse in Missoula, MT.  Mmmmmmmmm.....

Mulligatawny Stew

1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth
½ cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 3/4 cups chopped and peeled Golden Delicious apples
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
In a large kettle, melt butter.  Add onion, curry powder and garlic; sauté for 3 minutes.  Add chicken and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and broth; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Place flour in a bowl; slowly add milk and stir until blended.  Add flour mixture to soup and cook for 5 minutes or until soup has thickened, stirring constantly.  Add apples and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove kettle from heat and stir in parsley.
(Note:  It certainly would be a quicker recipe with boneless chicken thighs, but I prefer the flavor that the bones add.  I used thighs with the bones in and cooked it for 25 minutes after adding the broth.  I then removed the thighs and pulled the meat off the bones after they were cool enough to handle.  I chopped the chicken, put it back into the stew and continued with the recipe.  I also used Granny Smith apples rather than the Golden Delicious.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Showering Love

In my neck of the woods at this time of the year rain is a grey, ugly presence that would be snow if the temperature was a bit lower.  It often starts slowly and insidiously.  It drizzles and puddles for days.  Rain turns the world into an ugly, sloppy mess melting what snow remains, revealing the brown, dormant grass and stark tree branches.  Rain is not welcome in the midst of a Montana winter. 
But, spring rain showers are a different story.  They move in from the west like a good fairy, sprinkling the earth with nourishment, encouraging green growth and supporting life.  We always feel refreshed from a shower.  We breathe air that is softer and see that after having the dust washed away, the world is brighter and happier.
I’ve been thinking about spring showers lately, in part because I pass several “Think Spring” signs during the course of my day.  I worry about these.  It seems that the more of these signs I see, the more elusive spring remains.  It’s a bit of a paradox, much like the groundhog of Groundhog Day fame.  Doesn’t it seem a bit curious that a groundhog seeing his shadow heralds six more weeks of winter?  Wouldn’t it make sense that if the sun was shining, spring would be on its way?   But then I imagine Mama Groundhog disentangling herself from her babies to peak out of the burrow.  A bit disoriented from a winter’s slumber she crawls a few feet out into the open and squints at the world through teeny slits.  The bright sun glinting off the snow is just too much after a winter’s slumber.  Turning back to her cave, she spots her shadow looming ominously.  It really is all too much to take so she crawls back to her warm bed and her slumbering cubs after pawing blindly at the snooze button several times.  Yep, six more weeks of winter.  This makes total sense to me now as there currently is a blizzard howling outside my window with record lows predicted overnight.  Those “Think Spring” signs continue to worry me.
In the long Montana winters we do try to have as much fun as possible and are ready for a party or celebration of any kind.  And since we don’t yet have spring showers to look forward to, we make our own showers of a different sort.  Last Sunday was niece Rachel’s baby shower and I happily returned to sister Joey’s house (aka “Party Central”) to celebrate the impending arrival of a new member of our clan.  As the babe lay curled in his mama’s belly she was attended to by women friends and family.  When Noel and I arrived he said, “I’ll just drop you off because I’m pretty sure there’s a ‘No Boys Allowed’ sign somewhere.  He was right.  A baby shower is about women and for women. 

Showers give us a chance to eat wonderful food, chat, play senseless games and give gifts.  Joey outdid herself with the scrumptious brunch food.  
And again, we played absurd games involving hanging baby clothes on a clothesline while attending to both a baby and a cell phone conversation.  Cell phones and hanging clothes on a line?  It seems a bit of an anachronism, but who am I to judge?  We cut yarn into lengths to guess the size of Rachel’s growing belly, and the
ice cubes for our Mimosas held tiny frozen baby dolls (I prefer not to even know what that was all about).  But, it was all in good fun (except, I suspect the frozen baby part) and there was laughter and shouts of encouragement and prizes.
But as I often do, I found myself listening to the conversations swirling around me.  Baby showers foster all sorts of reminiscing about childbirth and child rearing.  The ladies recounted the births of their own children.  “I was two weeks overdue.  Those were the longest two years of my life,” said one.  “No labor for me,” said another, “Cesarean section all the way!”  I heard younger women with children in arms discussing the merits of nursing with older women who raised their families during a time when nursing was not in vogue. “We had rules when my kids were little.  I had three children aged three and under.  We had to have rules.” 
 Stories brought forth more stories.  And through it all we validated our own motherhood through our memories and our anecdotes.  We gave advice to Rachel, which I am sure she will find most helpful.  “You know, dear, you really don’t need half of the stuff they sell nowadays. A few blankets, some clothes and diapers and you’re good.”  I always have to tell at least one other person about coming home from the hospital with my newborn son, Joe dressed in borrowed baby clothes.  We laid him in a manger…no, wait…that’s the wrong story.  In reality we put him in a dresser drawer because there was no room at the inn.  No, wait…I’m getting mixed up again.  We had no crib.  I had hand- sewn his diapers and his swaddling clothes (and that’s the truth).  That fact always raises a few eyebrows with the younger set who only know a world of disposable diapers.
And when Rachel opened her gifts we all oohed and ahhed.  That prompted more discussion.  “That sure will come in handy,” was immediately followed by, “What the heck is that?” in reference to a plastic duck that was supposed to announce the optimal bathwater temperature.  In my day we used our hands for such tasks.  How can rearing children have changed so much in thirty years?  Are our needs that much different? 
But, during the whole process I was reminded of my own children when they fit into those tiny garments and I remembered swaddling them in soft flannel and then kissing their downy heads.  But most of all I remembered the awesome responsibility of nourishing this new, fresh bit of life.  I thought about my own baby showers and the women, many of whom are now gone, who came to support me.  They told me their own birth stories, they gave me advice, they played hilarious games and we laughed and we ate and we basked in each others’ company.  I felt nurtured and supported and excited.  I felt as if I was part of a much larger mission. 
Showers are like that.  They leave us refreshed and nourished.  They support growth and newness.  Women hold each other and pass on the wisdom of their own mothers.  They give assurances at a time when a new mother is daunted by the task that lies ahead. There’s something magical about this process.  A gathering of women at a baby shower is quite simply a lovely thing to be part of.
Rachel, dear. May you be uplifted by the circle of women who embraced you last weekend.  May you feel nourished and may you be happy to support the life growing within your body.  Please know that we love you and in watching you bear this lovely child we reaffirm our own motherhood.  We wash the dust off our memories and know that the world is a brighter and happier place for our efforts to bring forth children into this world.  We remember that we are all a part of a much larger purpose.
As Noel and I drove away I was reminded of a toast that goes something like this:  “Strong women:  may we be them; may we know them; may we raise them.” 
Welcome to the world, little one.  We can hardly wait to hold you in our arms and shower you with our love. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened Along the Way

Oh my goodness!  The sun is shining for the first time in days.  The air is crisp and cold, just as it should be in mid-February.  Every person I meet has a smile, a nod, or a friendly wave because it isn’t raining, it isn’t snowing, it isn’t windy, the streets aren’t slick and the snow isn’t melting into huge puddles.  And normally I would enjoy a day like today just fine.  I too, would smile or nod.  I would notice the brilliant, blue sky or the snow covered Mission Mountains.  But, today is not just fine.  It’s a bit better than that. 
You see, a funny thing happened over the past few months.  I decided to blog some of my writings because I thought others would get some measure of enjoyment out of them.  I really haven’t shared many of my rambling writings over the years and finally I got up the guts to put them out there into the world.  It really did take bravery on my part, kind of like watching your five-year-old cross the street to enter his Kindergarten class for the first time.  You silently pray, “Oh world…please take my precious, that which I have bestowed my energy upon, that I have held close to my heart…take this and please be gentle.”  When someone tells me, “Hey, I read what you wrote last night and it really made me think,” it is akin to having a teacher praise your child.  You swell with pride and feel gratified that your progeny is accepted…honored.  It may just be a passing comment, but it means the world.
So, when I decided to post some of my essays I really didn’t think of the unintended benefits.  But, a funny thing happened along the way.  I began to see the world with a sharper focus.  It was as if I had put on a pair of glasses--the perfect prescription--after years of seeing blurred images.  Now, I am more alert to the events in the world around me because I just may want to write about them later.  I listen more intently and hold images closer to my heart so that I can describe them more fully to others.  I’ll admit it. I study conversations, even to the point of eavesdropping, to try and duplicate the rhythm and flow of everyday conversation.  Colors seem to be a bit brighter, emotions a bit deeper; events a bit sharper.  And it occurred to me that just the intention of writing about something helps me be more present in the moment.  I find myself less preoccupied with the past or worried about the future.  This is a way of being that has been elusive to me for my entire life.  I’ve tried meditation, yoga, read numerous self-help books, deep breathing; what-have-you.  But, nothing has helped me stay in the present moment better than the simple thought, “I might want to write about this later.”  Even now as I look at the winter sun as it is low in the sky on this crisp afternoon I feel as though I’ve put on my special prescription glasses. 
So, I guess what I’m really trying to say is, “Thank you to all six of you who read these writings.”  I know that I am not the next Steinbeck or that my opinions or way of seeing is so radically different, but adding to this blog has been gratifying and fun and it’s opened me up in a way that I didn’t think possible.  I figure anything that helps bring clarity is a darned good thing.  I’ve always written in order to make sense of my life, but often would let great opportunities pass me by because I just didn’t take the time to put pencil to paper.  Now, I feel committed.  And when I re-read what I’ve written later it takes me back to the moment I wanted to capture…I view the same scenes, smell the aromas; feel the same emotions.  Maybe a picture is worth a thousand words.  But, as long as you keep reading I’ll keep taking the thousand-word approach, and throw in a few amazing pictures for good measure.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shangarry Bed and Breakfast

I can't let an opportunity pass...I want to tell you about the wonderful B & B we stayed at when we went to Calgary, Alberta for Noel's infamous bobsleigh ride.  When I was researching the options for his birthday trip, I came across a listing of Bed and Breakfasts in the Calgary area.  Shangarry Bed & Breakfast caught my eye and I returned to the website several times before deciding that it was just the one. 

And boy, was I ever right.  We were treated to amazing breakfasts served on fine china and drank out of real Waterford crystal goblets (probably my first).  One of my favorite parts was the tea cozy.  Gotta make one of those.

We spent many happy hours at breakfast and in the evening chatting with Josephine, our hostess and her husband, Raghu.  Josephine is from Ireland and has the legendary Irish gift of storytelling.  I'm smiling as I remember topics ranging from Catholic boarding school to Canadian politics to brutal murders!  However, I think she was matched story for story by Noel.  We felt so at home that we really didn't want to leave, especially since the bed was so comfy and the sheets so soft.
I think we took the snow with us.  When we entered the city on Friday afternoon there was not a bit of snow, but it was just starting to fall.  It didn't stop.  It was still snowing when we left on Sunday at noon.  Here's the lovely view from their living room.

At any rate, I heartily recommend Josephine's Shangarry B & B.  And I just had to copy down her recipe for pumpkin scones.  I've been searching for a good scone recipe that is not dry and crumbly.  Finally found it, so I'll share.  Thanks Josephine!

Pumpkin Spice Scones
2 ½ cups flour
1/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon each, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt
Pinch ground cloves
½ cup cold butter, cubed
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until crumbly.  In separate bowl. Whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla; pour over flour mixture.  Stir with fork to make soft ragged dough.  With lightly floured hands, press dough into ball.  On floured surface, knead gently 10 times.  Pat out into 10 X 7” rectangle; trim edges to straighten.  Cut rectangle into 6 squares, cut each diagonally in half.  Place on pan.  Bake in center of oven at 400 degrees until golden 18- 20 minutes.  (Note:  Josephine cut hers with a biscuit cutter about 1 ½” in diameter.)

Cinnamon icing:  In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  I thinned mine a bit more, put it in a small plastic bag, cut the corner off and drizzled over the scones.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Kind of Style

My friend Kari has an amazing personal style.  She’s quite lovely to begin with, but it’s the way she presents herself that is so memorable.  She loves bold jewelry and bright colors, gorgeous shawls and scarves, flowing tops, florals and geometric prints.  And she wears it all with panache.  If she were a sentence, she would end with an exclamation mark.  She exudes confidence in herself and she’s the kind of woman who enters a room carrying her own positive energy with her.
I adore her.  I admire her.  I want to be like her.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to run out and buy a new wardrobe of orange and pink caftan tops or exchange my tiny earrings for bold, beaded hoops.  It’s her unique style, not mine.  But, I have been thinking lately about my own style.  And you know…I can’t define it.  So, I decided that if I have a hard time figuring it out, then probably no one else can either. 

I am reminded of a birthday card I received from another friend, who also happens to be named Kari.  It says, “For a girl who bases her fashion on what doesn’t itch…you look pretty good.”  Now, in all fairness Kari understands my sensory sensitivities pretty well.  She knows that I have to wear clothing that is soft and comfortable.  No tags, thank you very much.  (I’d just like to meet the ding dong who decided to sew tags into the side seam so it digs into that sensitive area of skin just above your waist.) But, I have to admit that ‘comfortable’ is not exactly a style category.  And you know, I think over the years I’ve gravitated toward things that, although they may be pretty or in style, don’t make me stand out from the crowd.  I’ve not been especially comfortable when I see someone staring at me.  I always think the worst.  I start looking for the toilet paper attached to my shoe or I wonder if they’re thinking, “My God, who would pair that skirt with that blouse?”  I’ve always been my own biggest critic.  But then, I think I’m not alone in that. 
I will say that I’ve always loved clothes from the past.  I am my most confident when wearing my vintage dress from the 40’s or dressing up in Victorian clothing complete with hat and gloves.  I wore my mother’s pink wedding suit from the 50’s as my ‘going away’ dress at my own wedding.  I don’t think most brides even have going away dresses anymore, but they were all the rage in the past.  I have a large collection of retro patterns ready to be made into car coats (another term that is passé), sheaths, house dresses, aprons and ball gowns.  I own flamboyant hats, retro ski pants, velvet capes and pastel gloves from the 60’s.  And it’s all in boxes or hanging in my closet waiting for the next invitation to a garden party, afternoon tea or Cinderella ball.  You know, I don’t get very many of those invitations nowadays. 
So, when Noel and I bought tickets to attend a dinner and dance for the DREAM project (a very worthy organization that helps people with disabilities access the outdoors) I decided, “What the heck, I’m gonna do it up right!”  So, I pulled out one of my ball gown patterns from 1952, unrolled yards of drapery fabric that I bought at an outlet in Boise a couple of years ago and I made myself a proper gown.  And although my mother has been gone for a couple of years now, she helped me adapt the pattern to my fabric.  Honest….every time I get stuck I ask her how to do it right.  I’ve always done this, but I used to have to pick up the telephone.  Now, I often feel her presence near me as I sew, so she’s actually a bit handier. 

For once, my hair cooperated and was coaxed into soft curls and waves.  And the dress turned out.  No one could tell that it was made of three-dollar-a-yard fabric that paired quite nicely with my nine-dollar Wal-Mart shoes. 

 I was the most dressed up person at that dance.  And I was stared at all night long.  Several women came up to ask about my dress and for once, I didn’t care if anyone thought I was overdressed.  I felt great and graceful and confident. I remembered Kari and tried to bring my own positive energy with me.  It all worked and felt so good. 
Noel always says that I was born in the wrong era. 
Well, I think I’m just going to bring the past forward and dress according to how it makes me feel.  I’ll wear my hats if I want to, I’ll sew up those patterns and get those retro clothes out of the boxes.  If not now, then when?  I don’t think that afternoon teas are going to suddenly become the rage in 2011.  Wait for this all to come back into fashion? I don’t think so.  And if people stare, so be it, because I love feeling graceful and confident and comfortable in my body. 
Hey!  Maybe ‘comfortable’ is a style category…
that we should all seek.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Miss M is free!

Yes!  Miss Margot is free from the tether that has been attached since birth....the oxygen tubing!  She is officially off all supplemental oxygen and no longer takes any anti-seizure medications. 

No more neurology appointments. 

No more pulmonology appointments.  

No more oxygen deliveries. 


Mom and Dad are certainly happy that you graduated....and life just got a whole lot easier.
Now, you can just get on with the business of being a baby.

Oh...and preparing for that hat modeling career!

Happy five month re-birth day, little one.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

For the Love of Adrenaline

The advertisement said, “1 professional driver, 5 G’s, 14 turns, 120 Km/hour. 60 seconds you will talk about for the rest of your life.”  In other words it sounded like the perfect gift for Noel, the adrenaline junkie.   Every year for his birthday, I try to give him an “experience gift.”  It seems to me that being born on Christmas is both a blessing and a curse.  At least everyone is celebrating something, so it’s a big party.  But, then…you never get a day just to yourself.  Birthday cakes seem to get forgotten in the rush to make pies around our house.  Birthday gifts are often combined with Christmas gifts.  And everyone’s attention is necessarily divided.  I declared years ago that Christmas officially ended at noon so that his birthday could start.  But, sometimes I feel just a little chagrined that he only gets to celebrate for twelve hours when I honor my birthday for the entire thirty days of November.  I reason that it’s really not my fault and perhaps it was poor planning on his part. He was premature…why the rush, Noel?  Nonetheless I’ve started to give him these experience gifts in order to have some other time in the calendar when he gets to make merry and mark his day of birth. 
So, when sister, Joey suggested a bobsleigh ride at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary I thought it would be just the ticket.  Reaching 120 kilometers per hour and pulling 5 G’s while careening down an ice-covered track in what resembles a tin can on skids?  Just reading the on-line advertisement made my stomach turn and my skin crawl.  But, I knew that Noel’s reaction would be just the opposite.  And it was.  He told everyone about it and that usually led to discussions about some of his other rather daring ventures.  He loves to recount his experiences of hang gliding over Rio de Janeiro a few years ago, diving into the Blue Hole off the coast of Belize, sailing his very small sailboat in lightning storms on Flathead Lake or skiing off cliffs.  I think these all provide the adrenaline rush he loves through what he calls “pucker power.”
One of our first dates, he picked me up on his motorcycle.  When he asked me if I wanted to wear a helmet, I said no because I thought we were going on a leisurely ride around town.  Big mistake.  We ended up half-flying down the interstate at 135 miles per hour.  I could hardly see because my eyes were tearing up so badly, and when I did turn my head to look at something, I couldn’t turn it back.  I sat on the back of that thing, willing myself to hang on.  I promised myself that the minute I got off I would tell him, “Thank you very much for the ride.  And I never want to see you again.”  So much for promises.
Well, he was so excited for this bobsleigh ride this past weekend. I willingly accepted my role of support person.  I made the arrangements for the ride, found a superb bed and breakfast in Calgary (more about that later), and made sure that my camera was charged and ready to go.  As we entered Calgary it started to snow and the temperature began to fall.  The next morning we were amazed to see that eight inches of snow had fallen overnight covering the ground that was perfectly bare when we entered the city.  So, after breakfast we figured we’d better head up to the Olympic Park to make sure that we had enough time before his scheduled ride time.  I figured that there would be just a handful of hardy souls at the starting gate and we would be able to slip in earlier than his appointed time.  But, I was amazed when I opened the door of the warming house to see that about forty pairs of eyes turned to look at me as I entered.  As it happened, most were waiting for their rides and only a few were in my role as chief cheerleader. I couldn’t believe it.  There are this many people in the world who like this sort of stuff?  Men, women, young, old, older…all were waiting patiently for their turn. 
But, as I settled in and surveyed the crowd I noticed that not many folks were talking.  Instead, most gazed at nothing and I wondered if they were mentally preparing.  And yes, there was the unmistakable note of fear in the air.   And as we all waited for the track to be cleared of snow so that the rides could commence, the room got quieter and the tension increased.  Finally Sarah, one of the drivers climbed up on a bench and announced, “Okay gang, we’re ready to start.  I just want to remind everyone that this is not a ride…it’s a sport.  You’re going to go almost as fast as the riders in the Olympics. The person in the back experiences the most G-force and has the wildest ride. There are fourteen turns and I want you to hold on, shrug your shoulders as we go through the turns and try to relax.  And if the sled turns over, you’re still going to end up at the bottom of the hill.  Just try to stay in the sled, because that’s the safest place to be.  Not that we’re going to go over….but, just in case.”  Well, now the fear was palpable.  I looked at another woman whom I knew was going to stay behind like me.  We gave little nods and sly smiles to each other as if to say, “Yep, we’re the smart ones.” 
And then, helmets were fitted and the first group took off for their sixty second ride as the rest of us watched with rapt attention through the window.  But, the track is covered and we could only see for about thirty feet.  After that, they disappear.  After a few groups had gone, the first group and their sled were hauled back up the mountain.  Noel, loves to do what he calls “chatting people up,” so he greeted the group with questions, “How was it?  Did you love it?”  He came back over to where I was sitting and said, “I think something’s wrong.  No one is saying very much.  They look a little dazed.”  And again, I congratulated myself on my sane decision. 
Well, it came Noel’s turn.  Sarah asked who wanted to be in the back, and of course, Noel said, “I do, I do!”  He’s always the first one to take the front seat in the rubber raft to get the most splash, so it wasn’t surprising that he wanted the craziest ride possible here.  And then they all climbed into the tin can like sardines, the pushers did their thing and they were off. 

 I said a silent prayer for his safety and went inside to await his return.  I sat there remembering his hang glide over Rio.  When he got down, he was jubilant.  The wonderful Brazilian men who owned the kite were amazed at his ability to handle it and the way he read the air currents to circle higher and higher.  He had an adrenaline rush that took days to come down from.  I figured this would be the same.
I met him at the door after his ride back uphill expecting a high-five or a “Woo Hoo!”  Nope.  Instead he just took off his helmet and I saw the raspberry on his forehead.  “How’d you get that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said, “my head was snapped back and forth so many times I didn’t know what was happening.  I have a knot on the top of my head, too.  And I think I might throw up.”  Wow.  Fun.
Well, we drove down off the mountain and he drank a little water and started to feel better.  After an eternity of driving on horrible roads (they don’t seem to have snowplows in Calgary) we found the Limerick Pub and pulled in.  He’d been pretty quiet the entire trip. 
I waited until he’d downed about half his beer before I said, “So, I thought you’d be talking non-stop about the ride.  You’ve hardly said anything.”
He took another gulp of beer and said, “Well, it was brutal.  You can hardly lift your head up, the G’s are incredible.  I tried to count the turns, but lost count at…I don’t know…4.  I had to close my eyes at one point because my stomach was in my throat and I thought I was going to lose it.  It started out pretty rough and then got rougher.  It looks so smooth on the Olympics. My head snapped back and forth as we went up the sides of the track and then I thought we were going to turn over, but somehow we didn’t.”
Frankly, I was stunned.  Noel is up for anything.  He loves the adrenaline rush and will take any opportunity to ski fast, dive deep, sail with the rail in the water or make hairpin turns in the speed boat.  So, I wondered at his answer to my next question, “Would you do it again?”
I had been thinking all along that it was about the adrenaline rush.  I thought he would almost be high with excitement and ready to rush up the mountain again and again.  I thought that he would be slapping the backs of the other riders and hugging Sarah, the driver.  I couldn’t quite understand it all.
But, then he said something that made me wonder if it wasn’t just too scary.  He said, “I was sitting there crammed into the back of the bobsleigh saying, ‘I will not be afraid.  I will not be afraid. I will not be afraid’ and then after we got going I thought, “Okay, maybe I should be a little concerned,’” and he chuckled softly as he shook his head.
I thought, “Maybe, this day was all about confronting a fear square on and simply getting through it.” 
But, then he continued in a half whisper, “You know, I really do think I’m invincible.”  He took another sip of beer and again, came the little chuckle.  Then he started recounting his near-death experiences: nearly crashing an Ultralite airplane, flying to Great Falls in his airplane when the engine stalled, almost drowning in the Gulf of Mexico while sailing, skiing and kicking loose an avalanche, just about drowning while whitewater rafting on two different occasions, barely making it out of a do-or-die situation while rock climbing… 
I finally said, “Okay, that’s enough.’ 
But, he continued, “I know on a rational level that I am not invincible, but I’ve lived through so many dangerous times that I think God wants to keep me around for some reason.  So, in my heart of hearts I feel I’m invincible.”
So then, I think I finally understood.  He really did intend that the bobsleigh ride would be another fix of adrenaline.  But somewhere along the way between “the sled may tip over” and turn fourteen he was confronted by the sobering truth of his own mortality.  I had witnessed his reaction to a situation that exceeded even his high threshold for adventure.  No wonder he was subdued; no wonder it took a while to get him to talk about it.
I am reminded of a query I read once:  “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”  The possibilities opened before me with just the thought.  So, I ask myself now, “What would you do if you knew you were invincible?”  Well, I guess I wouldn’t mind careening down the highway at 135 miles per hour or skiing off cliffs.  I wouldn’t hit the brake; only the accelerator.  Just maybe I understand a bit more about his drive to experience the extreme. 
And through it all, I’m very proud of my husband.  When others are kicking back in their Lazy Boy recliners, he’s eager for adventure.  When some are thinking of retiring, he says, “I think I’m just getting good at the game.”  When others slow down, he seems to speed up.  Now, I won’t say that I don’t worry about him and I won’t say that he never gets hurt.  But, he’s alive and he shows it. 
And maybe I should be out there more often myself, but honestly, I think I’m just wired differently.  In my heart of hearts I know that I am mortal and certainly I don’t feel the need to push to extremes to find joy.  So, for now I watch him push his body to the limit, I share in his glory when he makes it to the bottom of the hill without crashing and I rush to his side when he does crash to help pick up the pieces.  And at the end of the day, he often says, “I know sometimes I scare you.  But, admit it, this is why you married me.”  I know he’s right.  I mean, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be married to Superman?