Saturday, April 14, 2012

OC Chili Winter Trail Run Series 2012

The Last of Three 5-Mile Trail Runs
in the
OC Chili Winter Trail Run Series

My Super-Cool medal
for completing all Three
5-Mile Runs in the Book That Event OC Chili Winter Trail Run Series.

There had been a lot of rain the day prior to the run so the trails were closed. Instead of hitting the trails, the course was altered and was run along the interior roads of the park. Even though I prefer trails, the scenery was fantastic, the air was crisp and fresh, and the dusting of snow on the surrounding mountains was an extra-special treat.

Perfect day for a 5 mile hilly run!

Crisp clean air!
Low temps.
Views of the snow-dusted mountains.
Loved it!

Got a chance to see Amy Smith before the run!

It was her first 5 mile trail run!
Too bad it wasn’t on the trails, but she at least got a taste of some pretty good hills.
She looked great out there!

With Amy Smith & Christopher Lenihan before the run
Chris did all 3 runs in the series too!
With Chris L. after the run
We got the super-cool medal for completing all 3 runs in the series.
I chose the medal as a necklace; Chris chose a super-neat magnet.

Enjoying some post-run chili

We came prepared!
I’m all snuggled up in my sleeping bag and bivy
Christopher Lenihan lounges on his comfy blanket while enjoying his 2nd helping of chili!
It was a great way to start the day.

Can't wait to do this series again next year!

Wishing y'all a Happy and Healthy Day!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Her Last Breath Happened to Me

Her Last Breath

L: Gloria C Lastra
R: Melissa Adylia Gutierrez

The last warm breath to leave her body left me cold. In all its sadness, and grizzly frailty, the last warm breath to leave her body was powerful. Her last warm breath changed me.
Her name was Gloria C. Lastra. The year she was born still escapes me. I don’t want to do the math. I refuse to do the math. It was hard enough, last year, when I finally forced myself to do the math. I’ve deliberately chosen to forget again. So, if I need to tell you, I’ll have to look it up, but I prefer not to. However, I can tell you, she was born on January 9th, just after 5am.  
She was born 45 years prior to the day, the date, and the hour when the last warm breath left her body. Unlike the day she was born, when she took her last breath, her mother was not there. Her brother chose to spare their mother from the event, or perhaps he was trying to spare himself.  I can’t blame him. Who would want to deal with waking their mother, in the middle of the night, only to explain that her youngest child was about to die? It was bad enough he had to pick up his niece, and take her to watch his sister die.
The day before Gloria’s birthday, I had gone to dinner with my uncle. We had just visited her in the hospital. I told him “she’s not gonna wanna be in the hospital on her birthday.” He assured me “I know. We’ll take her for a walk when we see her tomorrow.” What he didn’t understand is that I knew she was going to die.
I had known Gloria all my life. As much as I knew how weak and unpredictable she could be, I also knew how much she loved me and my brother. I had a feeling she would choose to leave us on her birthday to spare us from having to remember her life and death on two separate days each year.
At 4am on January 9th, my uncle finally called to tell me he was on his way. I was right. My mother was about to die.
No one is really prepared to watch someone they love die. Once I hung up, it was as if everything in me unraveled. I exploded into convulsive whaling, and then, just as quickly, I collapsed. By the time my uncle arrived, I was so still, so quiet, and so frightened. I was not as scared of witnessing her death, as I was frightened of how I was going to react, so I didn’t. I become numb for the entire ride to the hospital. I have no memory of what went through my mind while we drove to watch my Mom die.
Though her last warm breath belonged to her, it happened to me. I vividly remember everything that happened once we arrived at the hospital. The attending physician pulled me and my brother aside. He informed us how my mother had changed her mind that morning about the DNR, but wanted to leave the final decision up to us.
Our mother had raised us to respect the process of life and death, and had always said she would never want to be put on life support. We chose to let her go. I remember when we were children, her saying “A parent never leaves their child until the child can handle it.”
I was holding one of her hands and my brother was holding the other one. My uncle had his arms around me. Everything was so quiet and still, until the breathing started. Sporadic, gasping, and unforgiving breathes, with very long pauses between each inhale and exhalation.  She had always told us about the “death rattle.”
There is nothing graceful or beautiful about death when I call upon my memories of this moment, until I really step back. As she got closer to her final breaths, my Mom began contorting her body into strange positions while she slowly and laboriously gasped for air. Near the end, she had gotten into a position similar to a birthing position. Halfway reclined, knees high, pulled in close to the chest with her feet resting on the bed and fists clutching the sheets.
It was at this time, during each long moment of silence I had the most vivid memories of my mom telling me about the day I was born. She used to tell me how different it was on the day she was born, compared to what it was like on the day I was born. I looked at the clock. It was almost 5am. I knew when she was born. I knew she would leave soon. It was storming out. It was storming when she was born. She used to tell me how sunny and hot it was when I was born. I knew I would never hear her tell me these stories again.
She looked as if she was about to give birth. She took her last breath.
It has taken over 15 year for me to begin to thaw from that moment and begin to embrace that memory. I have kept it frozen within me for so long. Now I am finally able to see the beauty and the grace of her death. I am so fortunate to have been able to witness such in intensely intimate moment. It was as if I witnessed my Mother give birth to herself.
When the last warm breath left my Mother’s body, she became the powerful, influential, and respected woman she had always wanted to be. I was not able to see that until the day I began to warm to her memory. Her life, as much as her death, has made me the woman I am today.
Gloria C. Lastra
Melissa Adylia Gutierrez

Gloria C Lastra
Melissa Adylia Gutierez
December 1972

Gloria C Lastra
Melissa Adylia Gutierrez
Glendale, CA
Gloria Lastra
Melissa Adylia Gutierez

Melissa Adylia Gutierrez
NaPali Coast
8 mile Plateau
Melissa Adylia Gutierrez
Newport Bay
Newport Beach, CA
Melissa Adylia Gutierrez
Glendale, CA
NYE 2011
Melissa Adylia Gutierrez and Andrew Calasanz
NYE 2011
Mr. & Mrs. Calasanz

L: Gloria C Lastra
R: Melissa Adylia Gutierrez

Written for LEAP WFLA
LPP4: Personal and Public
Read Seilsopour essay. His life was affected by the revolution in Iran, but not in the expected way. What historical event affected you in some way: a social movement, civil unrest or economic conditions, a natural disaster, politics, etc. Choose something that affected your family, way of life, or way of thinking, even if in some oblique way. What was the historical event and how did you experience it? What followed? How has your life been affected by that event? What meaning do you make of it?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In Search of: The Best Meat, Fish, and Poultry in Orange County

Amazing Meals Begin with the Best Ingredients

My Regular Weekly Catch from
McCall's Meat and Fish Company
before I moved to Orange County 

When I have the opportunity to cook with the freshest ingredients, I do not have to work hard to make the meal amazing. All I usually have to do is add a little heat, maybe a little salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs; assemble on a plate with a nice assortment of fresh veggies, and a delicious complex carb; breakfast/lunch/dinner is served!  
Sadly, since I moved to Anaheim, CA aka “The OC” I no longer have instant access to my favorite butcher, McCall’s Meat and Fish Co.
From McCall's Meat and Fish Company's Website
 I am finding it impossible to get a good cut of meat, a super-fresh piece of fish, or poultry here in Orange County.
If anyone has a suggestion of a place that can compare to McCalls, please let me know.
-Melissa Adylia Calasanz

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Simple Soup

Simple Soup with Poached Egg

Yellow Onions, Garlic, Celery, Parsley, Kale, Purple and Gold Fingerling Potatoes, Salt, and Pepper...Throw it all in a pot with's that simple.
Delicious and nutritious food is easy.
Use fresh ingredients, a little time, some imagination... heat, sniff, touch, and taste till satisfied.
-Melissa Adylia Calasanz