Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snow shoes and spiral staircase

This afternoon, my services were requested out at the little cabin in the woods.  Now get your minds OUT of the gutters, people, it was for photography!  REALLY, now.  Anyway, apparently some of the Mad-Accountants pals in Phillips don't quite believe that he is actually constructing a spiral staircase for the cabin by hand- with no apparent plans or blueprints!  (I know- a spiral staircase in a cabin is a bit like gilding the lily, but it is the result of a space issue!) Just fyi, the staircase is to provide access to the "loft"!  This is where my husband and children will sleep and I hope to heaven don't break their necks when they get up in the middle of the night!  I hope a nice railing is part of the plans up there!

So, I strapped on the snow shoes and set off to the cabin.  Now the snow shoes are getting much easier to walk in, I don't feel pigeon toed anymore, and they feel very comfortable.  Now that I have the hiking poles from Jon and Sarah-Grace, I am really getting a good workout and feeling very balanced and in control walking in them.  The wind was still wicked cold this afternoon, so I was really irritated when I got part of the way back and realized I had left my scarf at home.  Dang.  I had not only my little Canon in my pocket, but had tucked my big Canon in my coat.  That thing is a beast to carry around in the winter with all of those layers of clothing.  I took a couple pictures along the way- the sun was STILL shining and it was lovely.  However I found when I got to the cabin that my memory card was FULL!!  Jeez- louise.  Oh well, my handy little pocket camera to the rescue.

The Mad-Accountant and The Barber were working on the stairs, they are in the process of chiseling out the tenons for the steps to actually fit into.  They have carved out just enough tenon for the stairs to fit into for now and are working on finishing off the holes.  They began the process by making cardboard patterns and duct-taping them into place.  Then they made the steps and marked each one individually.  Now they are doing the tenons, and then in the spring they will be connecting the whole thing together with the railing. #2 Son Greg is going to make metal braces for under the steps- there are rumors of a forge!   The pictures show a lot of extra boards here and there, but they are there for support and other more vague reasons that were never properly explained!  Obviously these boards will be removed at the proper time!

Of course in the winter, you just cannot be at the cabin and not sit by the fire- it is a requirement!!!  You MUST!  So I did!

I attempted to take both pictures that show the structure of the staircase AND some more artistic sorts....  I was laying down on the floor for some of them!  And a nice wooden floor it is!  Hmmmm, I wonder if I start calling the house "the BIG cabin" it would get the same attention that log thing out in the middle of no where is getting.... It is a thought!
They are talking about the ceiling!  


The walk home

Another interesting afternoon in the northwoods!  Where did you find YOUR joy today?

Walkin' on Water- Yikes!

Now I am sure that a bunch of Northwoods natives will get the urge to make fun of me for saying this, but I am REALLY pretty afraid to walk on frozen lakes.  I am from Southern WI, and I never in my life walked on a frozen lake until I was about 20- when I went cross-country skiing with the Mad-Accountant-to-be and some of his friends.  We were somewhere over in the Eau Claire area, and I was a newbie skier.  I had already biffed out on a big (probably tiny) hill and was working HARD to keep up with the rest of them.  And somewhere along the line it was brought to my attention that we were skiing on a lake.

WHAT?????  Are you people freaking nuts???  But, as you know we do stupid things when we are young and trying to impress the nice young man who happened to buy me cross-country skis for Christmas the first year I knew him!  (That is probably the most thought he EVER put into a Christmas present for me, but I digress).

Anyway, I kind of try to avoid actually walking on frozen lakes.  It is sort of unnatural.  Unreasonable.  Unimaginable even. And as far as driving onto a frozen body of water-- now that is kind of insane.  And did you know that people actually build FIRES on the ICE???  But when in the frozen north and you are looking for new subjects to photograph, combined with a need to get a good workout in, you do what you gotta do!  As I said in my earlier post today, it was gorgeously sunny this morning and I needed to be OUT in it.  I just crave the sun during the winter, and when it is shining it calls my name.  Yeah, I know, pretty cool that the sun knows my name!!  So I made a plan to walk down to the boat landing, otherwise known as Smith Creek County Park.

Now, I've lived in this house for 32 years and I have never walked there before.  It is only 1.5 miles from my house to the end of the road- however a year ago I had a different outlook on the distance and time it takes to get there.  1.5 miles in NOTHING for me anymore, after all, yesterday I did go on a 5.5 mile jaunt and did it with little trouble.  So I was babbling away in a similar manner to the Mad-Accountant about my plans, picturing slogging through the snow to get some alternate view points around the area, thinking about how different everything will look now at this time of the year.  Maybe get some shots of ice shacks if I can see them- you know- see what I can find.  And he says to me: "Well you know you have to go out onto the ice and get some reverse shots of the landing!"  Uh yeah, I was thinking the same thing..... GULP.  NOOOOOO!!!!!  RATS!!!  Of course I have to do that, especially since that gauntlet has (unwittingly on his part) been thrown.

On my way down to the end of the road, I sent a quick text to Middle-Son Greg and asked him if there is any place I should AVOID (read where might I accidentally fall in) when walking out on the sketchily frozen lake.  I want you to know, as I already knew, that there is in the neighborhood of 14 inches of ice down on that flowage- and apparently ice can hold 100 pounds per inch.....  Like that makes me feel any better.  So while I was really enjoying my walk, and snapping some pictures, I was thinking about the stupid ice.  That is until I saw the wolf tracks.....

Yes, wolf tracks.  I generally do not go into remote areas alone as there are wolves around and the occasional cougar, but seriously I do not get too worked up about them.  And when I saw the tracks, I figured there was plenty of traffic around, so the animals probably won't be around.  Of course I only saw one truck go by me on the way down.  Thanks a lot, people!!  Regardless, I had other, colder things on my mind.  I was wanting to do a little running, but the road was really snowy and yesterday I had slid a lot on the road.  Don't need to fall and break something!

Meanwhile, why in the heck is #2 son NOT texting me back??  So I get to the boat landing and it is so beautiful!  What a gorgeous, gorgeous day.....  the clouds are big and poofy, the sun is so bright, the snow has barely been disturbed by ugly, nasty deer or large carnivores of any sort!  Lovely.  I get right down to the shore and there I stop.  It is actually plowed!  There is an honest-to-God road on the lake, it shows me right where I can go and avoid any gaping holes that are undoubtedly hidden (really, if you avoid the river channel, apparently there are no gaping holes) beneath the snow.   Okfine.  So I walked out onto that ice and while I was having mini panic attacks and started shivering a bit, I managed to walk a little way out and then turn around.  My fears were distracted by seeing some of the gorgeous trees in reverse.  The massive white pine that guards the landing, the unique white birches that have a gnarled appearance from being perched at the edge of the lake, the trees that are drooping out over the water, seen from a new angle.  This is why I pushed myself out onto the frozen lake- I knew it held some magic that I needed to see.  I went out quite a way- maybe a quarter of a mile or a little more, as every time I looked I saw new things or familiar things in a new way.  There was also a little mini village of fishing huts and an occasional lone shack dotting the ice.  Great photo material!

Whew, well that was fun, time to head BACK to good old terra firma!!  I then walked over to the park area and shot the pavilion and the beach area.  By them time I finished my hands were frozen little ice cubes as those gloves had come off for picture taking somewhere on the ice.  As I was striding back along the driveway towards Omaha Road, all of a sudden there was a car with a dog (that looked like a wolf )next to it!  It was a local woman, who has an adorable husky, and she runs her dog next to the car for exercise.  She has a hard time maneuvering in the winter I think, and so this helps get the dog some much needed time outdoors.  Anyway, I laughed to myself thinking that this whole time it was the Husky tracks I saw and not a wolf!!  A little while later, when she turned her car around and was heading back (Smith Lake is at the end of a dead-end road) she stopped to chat for a moment.  She, of course, then tells me that one of my neighbors had an encounter with a wolf a few weeks before.  The neighbor had a dog with her and the wolf did not back down.  She ended up going to a house down the road to get a ride home!  This is about a quarter mile down the hill from my house.....  sigh.

I got home with out incident, I was aware of my surroundings, but NOT scared of the wolf.  I did however, do a little running on the way home, the gravel portion of Omaha Rd is not slippery right now!  Who knew?  The wind was nasty on the way home- I checked the temp. and it was 8 degrees!  That would explain the frozen fingers.  AND the # 2 son texted me AFTER I got home.  Encouraged me to avoid the river channel and maybe the very edges of the lake....  like I would have a clue where the river channel was, but that's ok- the lake was plowed!  Ha!!

So here are the results of today's adventure... most of the adventure actually took place only in my own imagination!  It was right next to the spot that was full of joy!

The beginning of the walk- our field behind the house

While logging really destroys the beauty, you CAN see a long way!  

Snow mobile trail

White pines guarding the entrance to the lake

Waiting for summer visitors

A road is plowed!

Looking back at shore

Ice shacks

Ice village

Park area

Pavilion patterns

Abstract shadows

Off shore ice shacks

The low winter sun makes some wonderful effects

On the way home

Great hills to walk

And all this before 10 in the morning!!  I hope your Sunday was as joyful as mine....  More to come!

Morning motivation

This morning, I WAS going to just goof around and do some little tasks that need to be done.  A drawer straightened, plants watered, vacuum a little.... some stuff!  So I was going about my usual Sunday morning business- ie:  making pancakes for the Mad-Accountant and I and I looked outside and saw that the clouds were breaking up!  Hmmmm- that is a good sign for a sunny day, which in my book makes for a first class weekend!!  So, maybe I will be rethinking my morning plans....

Because I am always on the look out for an awesome sunrise, I was looking out the window to the south- keeping my eye on the display that might be put on for me.  Lola was looking quite fetching in the morning light- but you know- she always does, which is when I noticed the glints off of her mirror embellishments.  DINGDINGDING- bright light through the clouds- I know what that means!!!  AWESOME sunrise ahead!

So I pulled the MA's first pancake off the heat, pull the robe a little tighter, throw on the crocs and go dashing outside with my "good" camera.  Actually all of my camera's are great, but this is the one that takes up it's own small room with all of it's cases and lenses and tripod and trappings that are part of an SLR system.  The fresh snowfall from yesterday is still pretty undisturbed by the four legged rodents on hooves and it is GOR-JUS outside.... kinda cold, but who the heck notices when you are in the middle of capturing beauty!  I live such an adventuresome life inside my own head!!  hee hee hee

HERE is my morning motivation:

I scrapped all of my plans that involved staying in the house and decided to walk down to the boat landing, actually walk onto the ice and do some photos!

The effects of all this grey, cloudy weather can be negated by a glorious sunny day!

More to come!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Side by side skys

I was looking at my FaceBook album "Winter Wonderland" today and saw these two pictures side by side and noticed that they are virtually the same scene.  A slight variation in cropping, but it is the same view.  The top one is December 31, the bottom January 1.  Kind of cool I thought.  Just a little bit of pretty for your night!

The weather has been a little dull and underwhelming lately, so I had to dive into past pix, that is after my last post!

So easy to look at my pix and find my joy.  Hope you can find yours today, too!

My favorite part of the weekend....

I have been doing a lot of exercise in the past year, it has steadily increased to at LEAST an hour a day!  I feel that it is AS important as my choice of foods.
Triple B!  My home away from home

 I LOVE weight lifting- LOVE LOVE LOVE doing all those reps, learning new things, adding more weight!  It makes me look different than I was before, and makes my life very much easier!  I now go to the gym and lift 4 times a week- one day of chest and triceps, one of back and biceps, one for legs and one for shoulders.  Plus I am doing a killer ab workout at least 3 times a week.  BIG thanks to Laurie and Brian Duba for their assistance and friendship!

I have also been attending both Ballet classes and Dance Fitness classes at Triple B and I find them a wonderful compliment to the weight lifting!  They are a great way to stretch and do cardio during this long winter that we have.  And the complex movements are so challenging and exhilarating!  If I have a free night, I have the elliptical, treadmill and the recumbent bike that can be conquered.

Then I have gotten my awesome snowshoes, which are really helpful to get out and about in the snow.  You know, when it is too dang snowy to do anything else!!

BUT, the best part of my weekend, my favorite activity is to go for my walks....

Walking is how I got to where I am right now, or at least most of the way.  I walked when I began this journey, including walking in place, on the road, at school through the halls, where ever I could get a little exercise in.  I have been walking for exercise for years, but this time, with the help of the Loseit! app and my friends there, it had a different effect.

So last weekend, I took some pictures as I walked my "Head East- long" route (according to my Runkeeper app), because I reached the road after not walking for 2 weeks, at least not here, and I realized how HAPPY I was to be back into the groove.  What a JOY I was feeling to be back in my running shoes, heading down good old Hwy E, seeing my familiar sights, annihilating hills that used to make me huff and puff and limp.
Omaha Road

Weinberger's farm

Hwy E

Tuscobia Trail

Smith Creek

Hilgart farm

HUGE freaking rock!

The MASSIVE rock in Hilgart's field

Waiting for spring

Tracks on Smith creek

The sad thing, visually, is that it looks almost exactly the same this week as last!  I like a little variety when I walk, at least something!  Oh well, so I went the other way this morning and took a few photos going west!  Again, the same basic look, but it was another relaxing, yet energizing, run/walk.  I don't feel like I have done enough now if I don't go at least 4.5 miles!  I'm really looking forward to a slight improvement in road conditions that will get me around the blocks again.

I wish you could see the dropoff of the gravel pit better!  It's a visual joke!

Another visual funny- no small trees to be seen!  :)

Looks like an ancient ruin

Another view of the stone house with it's ghostly companion

Favorite tree, slightly different view
As fun as Thanksgiving and Christmas can be, it is really nice to be back in the groove of regular life!  The comfort of my walking paths and my improving times, speed and health make this year sure to be full of promise and maybe a 5 K run!  We'll see.

Walking gives me time to think, to imagine, to solve problems.  It gives me time when no one is talking to me, the only voice I hear is the artist who is singing on my iPod (and those occasional voices in my head!  LOL!).  I savor this alone time..... it is something I need to have to keep my head on straight.  So no matter if it takes 20 minutes to get ready to go- because of the long underwear, jeans, wind pants, t-shirt, sweatshirt, running coat, wool socks, running shoes, gloves, hat, phone, ear buds (I need new ones) (with a microphone) (and they need to be way sturdier than the cheap pieces of junk I've been buying lately because they are cobalt blue or pink), camera, lip balm, reading glasses, sunglasses, HRM watch and HRM strap or if it is summer and it takes a minute to throw on the shoes and stuff the camera/phone/ bug bomb into the pockets, it is worth every second of preparation.  Because I am worth the time and effort that it takes to take really good care of myself.  And then I will be more able to take care of all the other people that need me!

Do yourself a favor today, go do an activity you really love!  It'll make you feel great, it'll get your heart pumping and improve your fitness, and it will pour some joy through your body.....  and that is the best side effect of all!