The cat is currently coned because her stitches in her front leg haven’t totally healed yet. I have to monitor her while she eats since I uncone her for food and a little bit of grooming time and she can do an impressive amount of damage in very little time if she gets to grooming that wound.

I’ve been putting water directly in her food bowl with the kibble to make sure she’s getting enough water, and I top it with some fish oil to entice her to her bowl. (Kibble-water-gruel sounds pretty terrible, you know?)

I fed her and watched her eat this morning while I had my morning coffee, but since the dog was also requiring my attention, I put the cone back on Miu. As I started Hayden’s short training session, I heard the “hurrrk hurrrrrk” of an impending vomit. I found her and grabbed her, but I couldn’t get the cone off in time, so she vomited fish-oil-water, most of it staying in her cone. She freaked out because the vomit started to seep down around the collar and wet her neck, so she gave a mighty shake of her head and body and sprayed fish-oil-water everywhere, especially onto me.

I managed to keep my grip on her and carried the clawing, dripping, yowling mess to the hall closet where I grabbed a towel, wiped her down, carried her to the bathroom where I unceremoniously deposited her onto the floor, washed her cone out, re-coned her despite her mighty protests, and hopped in the shower for my second shower of the morning.

That is why I’m late to work today. And I will not take my cat’s usual independence for granted again.


I woke up yesterday morning to the news of a deadly rockfall on El Cap during the height of Yosemite’s climbing season, right as I’m planning my own outdoor trips for the fall. Someone had commented to the tune of “The idea that I could do everything right and still die doing it is terrifying.”

But that’s what life is about, isn’t it? There are no guarantees. If being in biology research has taught me anything, it’s this as a fact of life. Some people with amazing genes will smoke like chimneys and live well into their 90s and some people with an unlucky mix of genes will live the most non-smokingest, healthiest-eatingest lives and develop lung cancer in their 30s. Say it with me: There are no guarantees.

According to a park geologist, 15 people have died in rock falls in Yosemite in the past 150 years. These numbers cover the entirety of the park, not only climbers, so considering the amount of foot traffic in Yosemite (millions annually), I consider this an acceptable risk.

According to motorcycling statistics, riders are at a much higher fatality risk per mile travelled compared to drivers, but there are several definitive things we can do to significantly mitigate that risk. I’ve taken the precautions that I can and for now, I also consider this an acceptable risk.

At the end of the day, we choose for ourselves what is acceptable and what is not. Living freely is about recognizing and accepting both the risks and the rewards. My practice enables me to find where these two are in balance without excessive hand-wringing so that from that point, I can commit to my decisions. The more I practice, the more intuitive this becomes, and I know for a fact that this skill has saved my ass at least a couple of times. As long as I’ve done my best to clean my side of the street, address how much failure I’m willing to live (or die) with, the rest has always taken care of itself.

TR 12a[12b stem](11b)
L 11a(11a)
B 3/4(3/4)

I’m getting better at on-sighting the low-11s and V3/4s, but I’m still plateaued because crimps and I love my hands uninjured. I’m working on endurance and whole-body strength more than anything else because I think that’s more important for leading outdoors than pure crimp strength.

There I was, sitting in my car in my garage, held hostage by the third dead car battery in a year, getting scolded by the local AAA-contracted towing people (just a rueful shake of the head, honestly): “Cars are designed to be driven, miss.”

Yes, yes, my reliable little hatchback might need to be driven regularly, but my motorcycle is meant to be ridden as often as possible. If you knew how much more fun it is to sweep around an on-ramp on two wheels, if you knew the thrill of being on two wheels that you can feel in your guts, you wouldn’t blame me for naming my car “Pickles” and neglecting her for weeks at a time. Pickles is designed to haul a week’s worth of groceries and 50lbs bags of dog food and 70lbs of dog, to patiently wait for those all-too-rare too-icky-to-ride days.

Because I just want to ride my motorsickle.

(I’ll try to be better.)

This is my favorite Hayden-face, the face that he makes when he’s really, really focused on something he wants and doesn’t realize his lips are stuck. It betrays his ridiculous personality that’s usually all hidden away in the regal GSD packaging. And the cat judges him for it.

I’ve definitely hit a high-11s-low-12s plateau in the gym, but I’m pretty complacent about it since at this level, there are still plenty of route options and enjoyment to be had outside. My first priority is to stay uninjured and my second is to develop and maintain mental strength for outdoor climbing, so I’m well-able to work on both of those goals without pushing myself to try higher and higher grades where I risk blowing out my fingers if I don’t back it up with appropriate drills.

I’m sure I’ll still continue to slowly develop strength, but taking my body type and age into account, I probably can’t count on gaining 16-year-old-phenom strength. Lately, I’ve been focusing on technique starting with my footwork, particularly in utilizing small chips with the toes and developing trust and familiarity with those sensations. At some point, I’ll probably also start training my hands more, working specifically on finger and open hand strength, but I’m having plenty of fun already and I hate training drills enough that I can’t be bothered to start that just yet. Once I get sick of being stuck, I’ll look into mounting a campus board somewhere in the house.

I’ve always valued grace and efficiency in movement and I’ve even been criticized for being overly slothy (sorry young-climber-dude-coach, I don’t need to start dyno-ing at this point in my life since I love my shoulders intact in their respective sockets, thankyouverymuch), but after today’s session, I found that I had a smattering of small bruises around my left knee. The fact that I don’t know when I got them speaks volumes — I still have a lot of room for improving my body awareness and proprioception. Honing the mental strength should help that and that brings me back to my daily practice.

But of course it does. I feel like everything brings me back to my daily practice. I love that my studies give me the choice and power to improve myself, but at the same time, I’m really frickin’ lazy and I just want to go be horizontal (which is my absolute favorite state of existence) while filling my brain with all the external stuff life has to offer. My inner struggle with immaturity continues…

m: I don’t want to climb today because I’m achy and sore from riding for four hours yesterday.
[Two hours later, meeting her for lunch]
N: You’re on your bike?? I thought you were sore!
m: Well… It’s still worth it.

I woke up this morning feeling like I was coming out of rigor mortis, especially in my hips, but when I had to choose between the car and the bike… There was no contest. Even when I’m following the law to a t, nothing compares to the freedom of being on the bike. I twist the throttle, grin in my helmet, pat my girl on the tank, and it’s like yesterday never happened.

I just can’t help it. I can’t break this habit yet.