Friday, May 22, 2015

Long weekend coming up

Memorial Day weekend is about to arrive, as is graduation and a whole host of other things that goes with it.  I am feeling a tad bit unsettled this Friday morning.

First I have to say that these last few weeks of school are tough on everyone involved.  I saw some sort of twitter post that said something about #100daysofMay and wow that can't be more true.  This past week has been going SO slow.  Today is awards day, the seniors are done- they checked out yesterday. (Some of them checked out about 2 weeks ago, but I digress) Anyway, I have company in the area tomorrow so I am not positive what I will be doing about graduation.  Certainly I will be sending cards out, but I don't think that parties are in the plans.  Parties are such a minefield these days, you will find most of the Chequamegon teachers NOT attending.

So my Mad-Middle son and his lovely family will be up here and staying out at their house.  That is so awesome for them, lots of projects will be in the works, but unfortunately I won't be seeing them as much as I might.  Of course Grandma (and mom) are being very selfish and is mourning the loss of early morning baby and doggie time.  It might be hard to hit that perfect mix of visiting frequently but not being a pest.  :)

I kayaked again last night and found a very disturbing fact- I can't get that kayak on top of my car myself.  I also have to search for some sort of a rack that will hold it on it's side so it doesn't crush my antennae.  Of course is was pointed out to me by a couple of people that I could push it in the back of the car........  sometimes I amaze myself with the fact that I don't always see the easy way to do things.  Like ever.

And along those lines, I should probably have skipped the kayak last night and let my -ahemhealingcough  - arm rest a day.  But I do get caught up in excitement and REEEEEALLLLY wanted to go, and as a result I have a bit of a sore forearm and elbow today.  Ah well.  It was a great paddle.  And I will ignore the fact that it woke me up about 5 times last night.

So my plan tonight is to either bike ride or weed my flower garden.  I might try to get both in actually.  Guess I will have to see what the evening brings.

Writing out these thoughts has helped me pinpoint my little anxieties this morning.  One I know is there is that I will spend the whole weekend alone while everyone else is out doing fun things.  I know that is totally unreasonable and actually untrue.  But that is where my brain is at today.  Sometimes my thought process is a real nuisance.  I really do need summer vacation asap.

Hope your day is looking great and you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend everyone!  Go out there and be the a joy-giver!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


I bought myself a kayak, you guys!!!  YAY to this!!  I am so so excited.
At the dock- first solo!

Anyone who has read my blog for any period of time knows my love of canoeing.  and here (Though I do find it amazing that people read this, and a few have told me that for various reasons they follow along regularly.  A fact that astonishes me, because I feel like I live a fairly mundane life, with a few thrills thrown in along the way....  however, that is pretty cool, so thanks!)  And I continue to love canoeing- but the problem of canoeing is of course that whole issue of having to have another person handy to canoe with.  You would imagine that I have a whole host of these companions, but that isn't exactly true. Getting people's schedules together, and the weather is a consideration, and what to tote the crazy thing around with.... all can get difficult.  Of course the logical person would be the MA, but that is a whole another layer of difficult there.  He is hyper aware of the weather (I don't trust those clouds) and always has a project going on after work- so that doesn't happen often.

This was an amazing paddle

So to solve this issue I have done two things.  The first is to bite the bullet and acquire an SUV type of vehicle (also hand for dragging the bike around!) and of course buy myself a kayak!  I thought about going to a bigger town to buy, but really wanted to stay local.  So I contacted The Crazy Loon in nearby Phillips, WI  and purchased a demo model from them.  They were terrific!  I chatted with the owner by Facebook messenger to get the whole thing going, and then found out they are open on Sundays and I drove down to check it out.  I was going to go and shop a bit and then buy later in the week, but I am so much more compulsive than that.  The one I bought is a Necky Rip 12, it has a SUPER comfy seat and I appreciate the very bright yellow for visibility!  
Sunday afternoon found me very irritated with the weather as it was scattered showering almost all the way to night.  But I managed to get the truck for a few minutes and with the MA driving got my first paddle in late in the afternoon.  The positive here is that I made him take a few pictures too.  HA!  I just wanted to try it out.  ALL I wanted from my Sunday.  :)
My first stop to take a pic. Love having my phone in the dry bag!

So fast forward to Wednesday (this has got to be the longest work week ever- ugh) and while certainly not warm, I loaded up the truck when he got home and drove myself this time down to Smith Lake.  (I plan to work on figuring out the logistics of hoisting that kayak onto my car this weekend.  I will be keeping a step stool thing in the back of the car, as my lack of tallness is going to be an issue me thinks.)  That whole things works out swimmingly, and I got myself down there and unloaded pretty fast.  It really was a perfect night for it, just a light breeze, the mosquitos weren't biting, and I was very comfortable with a sweatshirt and jeans on.  Now granted this wasn't summer weather, but I don't really care.  Of course the stupid clouds came in about a half hour before I wanted to get on the water, but oh well.  The water was chilly, but not Lake Superior cold, so I was fine with that.  And only one truck/trailer parked, so boat traffic was not a problem.
Found some lovely clouds!

I have taken many photos from land here!
I paddled down the Smith creek flowage, which turns very quiet and still the closer you get to the creek.  I did have to work a bit at getting my flow of paddling.  The first 15 minutes or so was a huge learning curve.  But then I got into the still water and I goofed around a little there, turned around a few times. Drifted and took pictures (shocking, I know) and had a nice time.  When I turned around and headed back all of a sudden everything made sense in my brain and arms.  The paddle back, even against the breeze was so much easier and I didn't have to constantly correct my course with some canoe-like  J and C strokes.  YAY!

I wanted a kayak for many reasons and one of them is photography.  I will eventually take my big camera with me, but I need to feel more comfortable with the handling of the boat.  I am able to sit very low in this kayak and it feels very stable and safe.  And for those of you nervous folks out there, I will ALWAYS wear a life jacket.  Never fear.  I wanted to get out on the water this spring so much to be among the loons and ducks and geese, and now I can.

Almost ready to turn around here!
Though many of you know me to be a very social being, and I am, and I need to have others to keep me company- I crave this sort of solitude.  I don't play my music here, just like on the bike.  I listen to what is going on around me, and have my own thoughts to entertain.  After a hard period of time like I had this winter, I am needing this.  I needed to get something that will soothe me and challenge me and give me goals to strive for.  And I needed a change for my picture taking.  This will allow me to get much more easily to other lakes and rivers and I do have friends with kayaks, so the social aspect is there as well.  I love being on the water, a love that was instilled in me as a little girl when we were visiting my grandma and grandpa in the summers.  Speed boats, canoes, rowboats all seem so right.  Sailboats I still need to be convinced.  There is a good chance I might end up on one this summer on Lake Superior, so we will see if I ever stop clinging to the mast!  HA!!  That will make a good clinging to things photo.  I want to continue challenging those things that scare me.  It is something that makes life worth living.
I slept like a ROCK last night.  While it didn't feel like I did a lot, I can definitely detect fatigue in my arms and shoulders and back.... such a good feeling.  I am much more tired than usual this morning and I wanted to stay in bed.  BIG change as I am usually awake and up and at it by 5 with no problem.  I may paddle again tonight!  We will see what the weather brings I think.
Such a lovely night, but my phone did some odd exposures in the weird lighting
Until next time, give out that joy that you find in your day today!

**I will be editing and adding links later- gotta get ready for work!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

St. Peter's Dome in the spring!

The Mad-English teacher and I decided that we really, REALLY needed to hike.  A stress-relieving, muscle-building, worry-erasing, character-building oops, I mean, day-making sort of a hike.  I think we are characters enough!

View from the top of St. Peter's Dome

So the obvious choice was St. Peter's Dome, which is the toughest by a smidge over the Meyers Beach hike (which we we will be walking sometime this summer) that we have done yet.  Sure there was the possibility that we would be too out of shape to comfortably make it there and back (yay!! WE WERE NOT), but we planned for the day and off we went!  YES FOLKS, we remembered to bring the water AND the mosquito repellant with us!

Bottom of Morgan Falls, shot from across the creek.
We began our day with a light breakfast at the good old Pal Cafe in Park Falls, and were treated to interesting conversation by some of the locals.  And btw, we had a very nice breakfast and then  were on our way north.  Finding the Dome again was pretty easy, especially when your navigator has a good memory- I of course would have relied on the GPS, but that was mostly unnecessary.  We arrived at the Dome sometime around 9:30 and we were delighted to find that we were the only ones in the parking lot!  And the MA will be proud to know that we indeed had our pen with us and were good for the parking envelope.**

Morgan Falls

So we began with a stop at the Morgan Falls area, which is just beautiful.  It had a lot of water this spring, more than the last time, which just added to its charm.  Made it a little trickier to fjord the creek, but we did it.  Ok, so, the Mad-English teacher did it, and then talked me through it!  Rocks and I do not always agree on whether my foot can stay on them, and also my legs are not nearly as long as my companion's..... so sometimes I have to have a literal hand to get where he goes.  I have not found my confidence on those mossy rocks yet at all.

After hiking around and snapping a lot of pictures, we began the journey up the hill.  My Runkeeper tells me that the elevation change (with a little refiguring involved since Runkeeper randomly paused after I took a photo along the way to Morgan Falls) to be around 500 feet.  That is a pretty good hill I think!  The hiking trail is full of rocks and moss and roots and there was a big stretch of all mud.  Though there were a ton of mosquitos around, none were really biting, in an odd turn of events.

View from the top

We made our way up and the view from the top was wonderful! The leaves were just beginning to come out, with enough of the birches and aspen leafing out to give some lovely green and the hardwoods were there for some variation of color.  The day was fairly clear and you could see a long way.

Someone goofing around on the edge!

I mentioned in my previous post that though I was terrified, I had a much easier time with the heights than last fall.  I was still uneasy when Adam was looking over the edge, but I didn't have the stomach churning reaction that I did before.  After many photos and a quick drink of water, we began our descent towards the car.  I did find that I was a lot more confident on the way down, picking through the rocks a little easier, however did manage to slip when we were "off-roading" at one point to look at a hidden lil water fall.  No damage was really done, other than the surprise of being on the ground, which seems to be par for the course this year. (The surprise of being on the ground, that is)

Had we had actual phone reception for the majority of this trip- we could only get service while on top of the hill- there were plenty of tweetable moments that went untweeted.  I wish I could remember some of them!  But alas there is that short term memory thing getting in the way again.

While traveling down hill we encountered many more hikers, and were very glad that we beat them all up there.  It was nice to have the view all to ourselves with no sharing necessary.  At least this time there were no crazy people with bare feet or flip flops..... they would have been very uncomfortable!

Our day finished with a trip up to Ashland for lunch at the Black Cat Coffee House (Red pepper hummus sandwich, anyone?), a quick shopping trip at the Coop and a required visit to Lake Superior. It was SO COLD up in Ashland- 51 air temp, but way colder in the wind.

At one of Ashland's beaches

Nice waves today
It was another lovely Saturday to have an adventure!  And that was certainly a joy!  And just think, one more day of the weekend yet!  YAHOO!!

**so the story behind this and other veiled references is this:  When the three of us amigos went to Morgan Falls last summer, we did not have a pen between us to fill in the information on the parking money envelope.  Which by the way, is a totally unstaffed destination.  Remote one might say.  And to add to that, the metal container was stuffed, as in we had to poke the (unmarked) envelope down with a stick, stuffed.  Anyway, later that day when we got back to my place we **may** have been made fun of by the MA for putting the unmarked envelope in the container.  As in, there was no way for any official to have known if we had actually paid as our car license # was no where to be found.  Implying why did we bother!!  We are honest teachers who believe in the State Park system- HONEY- and we had to pay!  Lol.  What can I say, we couldn't help ourselves. 

Clinging to trees in unusual places: Spring edition

And in our newest edition of Clinging to Trees- may I present one stunning view from St. Peter's Dome!!  Beyond that rock you see behind me is apparently another landing, and reportedly there is an overhang, but you know I will never get close enough to see it!  And kids, let me tell you, that is not much of a tree to cling to.  I went out as far as that middle dip in the rock and that was it.  My toes were pressed down inside those hiking boots I think there are permanent indents in the insoles.

Of course the Mad-English teacher was all over the place- looking over the edge, walking on the paths to each side that I could not make myself go over to.....  he's a brave, brave guy.  Maybe next time I go I'll try those paths....  maybe.

Yeah, and it was amazing, because it was actually somewhat easier on me than last fall when I was up there.  So petrified or not, it was a great view and a great hike!  Photos to come!

A  pretty joyful way to spend a Saturday morning, let me tell you!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Self portrait and paths

I came up to the school doors yesterday and saw my reflection in the door.  I got my phone out of my bag and shot this single frame.

The implications of this photo are particularly multifaceted this week.

The pull of the outdoors vs the indoors.  Summer is calling me out of this building.  The building threatens to overtake me and erase who I really am.  Yet I am packed and ready to enter, and by the same token I can just turn and walk away.  But I won't.

The school hallway has made deep inroads into my being: my student's pains and joys fill my soul.  I cannot escape the emotions that they share with me.  I am saddened by their fears and their heartbreaks, I am giddy with their excitement and I am exhausted by their neediness.  Yet, I can't wait to get their everyday and see the growth in their art and their lives.  Students and the adults in my life have no idea how their actions and words affect my emotions of that moment.  I literally take on their feelings and mirror them with mine. 

There are many paths I could have taken and I have chosen this one.  9 months of the year I follow that hall to my room and later to the elementary school.  9 months of the year I teach, take care of, give affection, redirect,  hold my tongue, advise, and commiserate.  9 months of doing what needs to be done.  I give everything I have to them and I leave every night unnecessarily emotional at this time of the year.  I am running out of soul to hand over to them and I need to rebuild.  

My summer path is one that is varied and usually diverse.  I follow paths that scare me sometimes, and this summer will be no different.  I may do more alone traveling, as it seems I might have to get used to hiking alone.  I am going to get a kayak so I can also be on the river alone.  While I always crave the company of others, sometimes I have to have solitude.  This tends to surprise people, but who doesn't need that time to yourself?  It can be really hard for me but being alone is what allows me to discover my best and most authentic self.  Getting out for a bike ride or a walk after school, like right away after school, lets me get centered again and chases the demons of the days away.

So I will be following the interior path yet for a few more weeks.  The emotions are running high right now, the seniors have phoned it in and are mentally done.  The rest of the students' activity level rises with the brightness of the sun, as they can feel the pull of summer as well.  I have friends who will not be working with me next year and that emotional path is something I do not want to travel down yet.... I keep hoping for miracles.  

So, I need to get ready for my day, to follow my path.  Resist the urge to turn around and run to the woods, to the great outdoors, to the road that is calling me. The calls are getting louder.  My summer is awaiting, but my kids need me for now.

I hope your path today is joyful.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day weekend with COMPANY!!


Gramma's morning selfie with Ella

I was absolutely DELIGHTED to find out that the oldest Mad-son and his lovely Sarah and of course that bundle of energy and joy, miss Ella, were coming for Mother's Day this year.  Mother's Day tends to be sort of a sad day for me lately.  Not that I can't get the MA to take me to breakfast or anything, but first of all my mom- as I have discussed is slowly slipping away from us, and second, it is just nice to have all your kiddos around.  At least the elusive Mike is here every year!  :)

Mad-oldest son, Jon, and I
So having another Oswald kid around is pretty awesome, not to mention the other parts of his family, including Mr. Mannington the dog!  We had an enjoyable weekend, and were treated to nice sunny weather.  It wasn't super warm, but at least it was not cloudy.

MIke, Jon, Sarah Grace and Ella

Uncle Mike giving either Ella or his mom the side eye for continued goofiness.  Jon knows to never break his photo smile!

I had the best time with little miss.  She was a hoot and a delight and as her mom said, Gramma had a shadow this weekend.  I held her every chance I got, and we played and smooched and hugged and she made a game of taking my glasses off and on and then I tickled and kissed her belly.  sigh.  It was so much fun.

Oh my heart is stolen
That is one big ole pancake!

I informed everyone that really the only thing I wanted for Mother's Day is breakfast out.  I did NOT want to make pancakes!!  And so we went!

Ella and Papa- you've notice by now that the tongue is a thing right now....

Carrying sticks around the yard 

And finding more sticks.... and pinecones.  
Water and a little tv

There could have been a little silliness going on at times

Ella gives my giant hand a gimme 5!

Always so sad to say goodbye.  But we will see her soon!

We certainly wish Greg and Sarah Jane and little Greggy could have been here, but their turn is coming up here very soon!  

It was such a fast weekend, but it was one to hold in my heart and treasure.  So nice to spend time with Jon and Sarah- even if we FaceTime every week, it is still the best to be face to face.  And of course having a Mikey sighting is pretty spectacular as well.

It was such a joyful weekend! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Birthday to my Seester Rose!

It is Rosie's birthday today and I just wanted to give her a special shoutout!!

Lots of selfies!  :)

I hope you have a fabulous day!

I can't wait until I see you in June!  Just a year and a month until our next big adventure, too, and that is something to be joyful about as well.

She is always making me do stuff.....  ;)

We've been know to share some amazing memories

Rosie and that amazing hubby of hers, right Bill??  :)

Emily and her mom

Sister love forever...
I didn't post all the embarrassing ones- lol.

I hope you have a wonderful day!  See you soon, and love you to pieces sweetie.

You are absolutely one of the premier joys of my life.