Monday, August 07, 2006

Off topic: Another Finny Secret

I've let you in on some of my Secrets before; my love affair with shoes (and consequently, my obsession with every member of the cucurbit family, magazines , the San Francisco Giants, etc. Some of them may have come as a surprise (to everyone except Hubby who knows how bizarre I can really be), but I daresay none of my secret obsessions is more surprising (based on the collective reactions from numerous friends and acquaintances) than my deep-seated interest in the Iditarod.

This probably came from my parents - a mom who loves EVERY sport and a dad who loves huskies. Combined, this meant that we always had a husky (whether it be Fang, Blossom or Teaka) roaming our 3.5 acres and the first Saturday of March we scoured the news for any footage of the Iditarod start in Anchorage.

Being the sport of few that it was (and still kinda is), coverage was hard to come by back then before the blessed days of the Internet, but we looked our eyes to the bone regardless. My mom would cut out articles buried deep in the sports section and tape the news on every channel so we could get our eyes on whatever was out there.

When I was in my early teens my mom gave me, what would become, my favorite book of all time: "Winterdance" by Gary Paulson. This is, IMHO, the funniest, most entertaining and most intoxicating book written on the topic of the Iditarod that I've come across. And I have all the books. In fact, since reading Winterdance, I've been on a life long mission to find another Iditarod book that brings back the starry-eyed, laugh till you honk, first-time-high kind of buzz that I got from Winterdance. I've read this book no less than a dozen times.

I've told you all that to tell you this; on Saturday a great hero of mine passed away.

Susan Butcher, four time winner of the Iditarod and great inspiration to men and women the world over, died of leukemia at the age of 51.

For anyone who's followed the sport of mushing, or even glanced at the title "My Lead Dog was a Lesbian" (Brian Patrick O'Donoghue) with a raised eyebrow in a bookstore, it is likely that you've at least been touched by the world of sled dog racing, heard the name Butcher and come to understand (even a little bit) the monstrous impact she had on the world of mushing. This woman, in a phrase, rocked it's foundation.

I won't go all laundry list on you and detail all of her accomplishments or get all on my soapbox about her dedication to the dogs, the kennel or the race. What I will do, however, is say that the determination and bullish steadfastness that this woman showed throughout her life and career has been a constant inspiration for me.

I mean, really, if she can move from Massachusetts to the Alaskan Interior, to live by herself in subzero temperatures and train up a team of sled dogs to win the Last Great Race -- what's a little overtime, right? And to think, I bitch about having to commute in the rain. How about across the tundra, at 40 below, behind a team of 15 dogs disappearing into the ever approaching storm - for 1150 miles? Now that's a commute.

For those of you interested in getting more formally acquainted with this Fine Madness (as Gary Paulson would say), do some eyeball stretches (you'll thank me when they get into the part about the hair-raising conditions these teams go through), do a little reading up and get back to me when you need reading suggestions or want to plan a trip to Anchorage for the race start. I've always wanted to go and it's one of those things on The List.


  1. And I will give it to you - it's my favorite book to gift :)

  2. I've just started to read your blog. In 3rd grade I did my first research paper on Susan Butcher. And she had CML the same lovely cancer my hubby has--thankfully he is responding to treatment.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.