Friday, July 26, 2013

A year past the Boundary Waters

It has been a whole year since my adventure with my sister, niece and 3 strangers who I now will always consider my friends.  It was a highlight of my life so far- not trying to be over dramatic, but it is truth.  Without this special group of people, it just couldn't have been the same.

The Boundary Waters Art Campers - Rose, Emily, Debi, Nathan, Penny, Pat

There are not many times that have so many vivid memories as that canoe and camping trip- it was an instructive, eye-opening, exciting and at times terrorizing event.  I found out how strong I am, how resilient and realized how big of a transition I have made physically and personally. AND it was SO much fun.

I found so many things I CAN do, and I few things that I won't.  Lol- pretending to hang off a cliff is one of them, but I guess eventually I did that, too.  Oy.

I told them that they were all going to hell for making me do this!  They laughed at me
 I still have not totally come to full realization of what those things I will, won't and can't do are- a simple example is a friend suggesting that we bring swim suits next time we hit the beach up at Madeline Island- my immediate reaction was "I can't do that". And then I thought: "why not?".  I still feel that I am not good enough to wear that swimsuit in public, even though I guess I totally can.  In fact, I know I will now that I have seen that glitch in my thinking.  The little things that are roadblocks to living a full and fun life crop up every so often.  First of all, why should we judge ourselves according to the warped sense of beauty that the media, and perhaps society in general hold to be true.  And secondly, you have lost over 70 pounds- girl - get over it.  But so many years of not being a normal weight is a hard mind set to overcome.  So many years of hiding ones self are not something that leaves the basic fabric of your being easily.  It is a fight my brain has been having for over a year now.  Reinvent yourself whenever you get a chance!

She looks sweet but she's evil!  LOL  LOVE that girl!
So I look at this trip to confirm that I can indeed do things I never imagined.  I can sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground and not be a crabby basketcase the next day.  I CAN go without proper bathroom accommodations and not want to die.  I can eat LORDKNOWSHOWMANY calories during a day and indeed not only not gain, but lose weight!  Of course who knows how many calories I burned off- and that was the key. But to be handed 2 TWO! salted nut bars (candy bars!!!) for a morning snack during our trip to Canada???? WHAT???  I can't eat those, but I did and ooooooooh were they good!  There were multitudes of examples of this - Eat, eat, eat, and then paddle paddle paddle.  And I believe I mentioned the way a certain person forced me down the side of a cliff against my will by holding my sweating hand all the way down coughpennyahemcough.  The results were a beauty that was totally worth the terror of descent, and you wouldn't believe how fast I made it back up the side of said cliff! Overcoming the self enforced mental and physical roadblocks has enhanced my life in so many ways- has given me permission to do thing that traditionally Debi did not do!

I want to go back there, but I know I have to skip a few years, as there is no way I will ever take that trip again.  That trip has set an extraordinary standard to which all subsequent ones will be held to and I will need to realize that wonderful group of people, who all experienced this trip and found their own ways to transform and grow,  and that unique time in our lives cannot be repeated.  So I will wait until the time is right and a totally different trip is ready to be taken.

yeah, I took it upside down!  why not!

The scenery and the land was amazing. The weather was pretty much perfect- the bugs were somewhat subdued!  The food was great and the company was outstanding.  It was one surprising, breath-taking moment after another- from the islands, the little bit of wildlife, the petroglyphs, the campfires, the water, the campsites, the art work, the quiet, the laughter, the love. 

We saw virtually no one besides ourselves from Monday to Friday afternoon, and it was an amazing thing.

At some point in your life, step out of your comfort zone and your living room and your regular life and do something different. Do something scary. Do it because you really have to.  Do it for you.

And find your joy there.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

And birthday month marches on...

I am kind of sad that it is already the 25th of July!  My goodness, time flies. 

Birthday month progresses well!  I did get more weeding done,  a walk in and after watering my tomatoes tonight it DID rain a bunch, which we needed (not amused that it came during the END of Project Runway and nearly spoiled the end)

 AND have gotten in some really great workouts!!

For instance:

Back Day (today)

Warm up

then- (all things today were 3 sets of 10, except for the first one,which was 5 sets of 10.
Bent over row- 45, 50 and 55 pound dumb bells
Lat pulldown- crosspull machine 100lb front facing and then 2 sets of 10- 80 lb
lat row- crosspull machine- 110 lb
lat row machine - 50 lb
pullover machine- 100 lb

(I forgot to do the barbell row! Boo)
In between I did some quick practices:

Bench press:
4 sets of 3 @ 95 pounds

4 sets of 6 @ 95 pounds

Then Lori and I did a circuit of 5 squats, 5 pushups and 10 bicycles/abs for 2 sets.  WHEW!  I was wiped out after that! But, I actually could have done more pushups and squats!

Anyway, I went in to the eye doctor recently and today I got contacts.  I lasted 2 hours in them before I had to take them out.  My eyes were so tired I could barely make lunch!  I am really thinking itll be easier tomorrow.  I am trying out mono vision- one contact for reading another (or none) for distance.....  The first day was marginally successful.  I have hope though!

Tomorrow I MUST clean upstairs a bit for my dear SEESTER Rose and Emily who are coming to visit.  Have to spiff and neaten a little. YAY for the adventures yet to come.

I've been thinking about the Boundary Waters- I was there a year ago.  And the memories are clear and vivid and I've been reminiscing a lot this week.  Summer is in full swing, and I am worried that it will suddenly end too quickly and I am trying to savor every moment of birthday month!

And I am very tired now, so off to bed I go, to take a walk and go to the gym and make some food, clean some house, weed some garden and find some joy.  Sweet dreams, y'all!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Birthday month- so far so good!

July has been a good month in an excellent summer (which I have somewhat discussed in my previous post) and I just want to examine that for a moment or two.

The last 2 summers since I began my blog, I have partied hearty during the month of July.  Making sure that I went out for lunch as much as possible, had a lot of little shopping trips and I just generally carried on quite a bit both online and in person.  

So why have I been quieter on my blog this July?

Well, mostly because I have been living a lot of life!  When you start your day by 5 or 5:30, head out for a morning walk 6/7 days, get in a gym workout, gardening, art work, house upkeep, shopping and errands and all the things that you have to do in day to day life (especially prepping all those veggies for meals) has kept me busy!  My best time for writing is early morning, and also later evening, and my computer time has been limited.

I will say that my entire summer has been quite enjoyable.  I began with a trip to Minneapolis to hang out with my seester, Rose and then, a few weeks later,  headed to Janesville to spend a bit of time with my kiddos and of course see and even babysit my baby grandgirlie, Ella.  On to Chicago to meet new/old friends and later visit my mom and brother and see a ball game......  whew!

I've been able to get in some shopping and have some really great food.  I've gone to a dog show, berry picking up in Bayfield, my first trip to Madeline Island and lots and lots of photographs were taken.  Closer to home I have gotten in some canoeing, lots of gym and road time, and even a stint in a juror's box.  I managed to get some cement work finished and have watched the progress of my awesome garden shed, and later this summer my house will be completely resided and that gives me so much joy I can't begin to tell you about it.

So, it has been eventful for sure!

This has been a very different summer for me psychologically and emotionally- it is the first summer that I am not striving to lose weight ever in my life.  I guess accurately, on loseit, I am trying to lose more, but that was something that I did when I was still in maintenance transition.  I think I am going to end that goal.  I have now maintained at this weight- right at 150 - 153 for about 3 months now.  I think my body likes it here.  And other than a little tummy staring me in the face, I am pretty happy.  

So as I look at my life at the almost age of 55, I for the first time in my life am sort of happy with my self.  Somehow that seems tragic and sad, yet I am not sad about it at all.  I absolutely wish I hadn't had to wait until now to be ok with my physical appearance, but actually I am kind of ok with it.  It is what it is!  I can do so much now, I rarely get tired, I can keep going through my day and not really need a lot of rest.  This has added a fantastic dimension to my summer.  And to keep my from killing myself doing stuff, I have developed a touch of arthritis in my knuckle on my hand....  which is the way my body is limiting my time doing one thing for too long.  An hour weeding is all I can do at one time, then  I have to have 2 - 3 days of rest from weight lifting in a row to keep my hand and arms from being numb.  I can mosaic for a few hours and I can canoe about that same length of time.  But I can do ALL of them on one day, so variety is the name of the game.  Of course I am fighting the joint issue with supplements and massage and good old "Vitamin I", but still.  Whatever!

Fitness wise, I am thrilled to be able to zip through 5 - 6 miles with no problem, I am no longer concerned that my knees don't want me to be a runner, and so excited that I can bench press 150 lb,  deadlift 135, and keep up with my ultra-fit friends at the gym.  I plan to keep this going- I'd love to be able to bench MORE than my weight and to do another compound lift, like the clean or clean and press.  I am going to work on that soon.  

So, this summer I am learning about balance.  Balance in my eating habits, and for heavens sakes letting go of all my own personal rules and regulations regarding eating and exercise and the like.  Of course, I do log my food, just to keep an eye on my calorie intake, because that can get out of hand in a heart beat.  But I am attempting to let myself enjoy food, and eat small amounts and mostly just not focus on losing weight every minute.  Balance in my activities and actually balance between being busy and being lazy.  I like being lazy- a LOT!

So, my birthday month is going awesomely, swimmingly well.  I am having a great one, in spite of the fact that I haven't had the time to tell you about it.  I am going to try to sneak in some shorter posts as I get closer to my birthday.  I'll wedge that time in somewhere.  AND if you are one of those people I usually have lunch with, for goodness sakes CALL ME!  You know I will clear my schedule (or at least rearrange it) to include some quality time with my friends.  Mean while, I'm walking, or at the gym, or in the garden, or doing some cement work....... or pining to see my kiddos or my grandgirl.... or hanging out with the MA at the local garden shed in progress....

And I will definitely be searching out some more Birthday Month Joy!

Weather you like it or not ....


Gazing out at the sunrise while drinking coffee in the morning.  Running through the raindrops.  Feeling the sweat roll down your face while getting in your daily cardio.  Breaking through crusted snow while breathing in the ice cold air.  Laying in bed, sleepless, from the humid, close, still air.  Jumping up out of your spot from the loud lightning strike.  Finding your joy in the sun shining on your face.  Smelling the air immediately after a rain storm, and searching for that rainbow....

I began thinking sort of in depth about the weather this morning when I heard this song on the radio:

Age of Aquarius

Talk about a blast from the past.

This was the very first song I ever bought for my brand new record player- it was a 45,  and I played and played and played it, and added eventually about 200 more, plus all the albums.... but I digress.  The second part of that song is called Let the Sunshine In and I ALWAYS loved that part of it!  I remember seeing the 5th Dimension on TV a few times and thought the lead singer, whose name escapes me right now, was the most beautiful and elegant woman. Anywho, it was a beautiful, albeit chilly morning and that song made me so happy!  Which got me started thinking about weather.

I look at weather very differently at this point in my life because of several factors: age, weight, experience, season, photographically, artistically... and of course the sleep consideration.  I am a sun loving, nay, sun CRAVING person. (Someone on the loseit website nicknamed me Sunshine and it stuck!)  I am the one who will fling open all the curtains and turn on all the lights, as I like light.  When my teenagers at school want to keep the room dim, I am one to turn on all the lights much to their despair.  HAHAHAHA.  I can't help myself, I have always been like that.....  but back to my statement at the outset of this paragraph.  I do look at the weather with a different outlook these days, different than say.... the 25, 35 or even 45 year old Mad Art Teacher.

This particular year has been different.  First of all, winter lasted into May and that really sucked.  I do enjoy winter, but that was a bit extreme!  I mean, after all, a snow day in May was ridiculous and disheartening and it became absurd after a while.  All of our plants are delayed, the fruit is late this year, the veggies are just getting going well.  So we here are working on a summer weather deficit.  I have maintained all along that I am still not ready to complain about heat, and in fact I have not. (Ask ANYONE I regularly talk to) I really only was totally relieved when the very humid weather broke so I could sleep well again at night.  When one only sleeps 5 hours a night, that sleep needs to be as good as it can get!  The Mad Family does not have AC, either, and we usually don't really need it, but it gets pretty warm in the bedroom when the winds die down.

And in a cruel twist of "what the hell did I do in a former life to piss off karma" fate, the new ceiling fan in our bedroom does not blow air on me!  SERIOUSLY?!?!? To make a long story short, until we totally remodel the bedroom, the electric service is off to the side of the room- not my side either, and that is where the fan is and the blowing air really does not reach me, much.....  oy.

However, other than these rare over warm nights, I have found one of the unexpected side-effects of losing 70 pounds is not being nearly so hot in the summer.  This is an awesome thing.  There are so many good things about being in shape, but it never occurred to me that being cold would be one of them.    So I view the day so differently in terms of how I plan my wardrobe, not only for the cute factor, but also for the warmth factor!!  It is a regular event for me to walk in a Tshirt, sweatshirt and shorts, and know that the sweatshirt will be tied around my waist by the time I get back home. I switch up my wardrobe as the day passes, as I go to the gym, get warmer and then later get colder, and well, you know the drill.  I have more clothes piled on my floor at the end of the day than seems right.....  Lol, oh well.  I only react to the current conditions in terms of what do I get to do today!

I am in a summer of maintaining and in that realm, I am really learning to appreciate life as it comes.  The weather just happens to be a good metaphor for this process.  I embrace the sun when it appears, being outside virtually every minute of the day.  I enjoy the rain showers and thunderstorms and try to work on indoor projects during those times, along with some simple stand on the deck and smell the fresh air and enjoy the drama being unleashed.  I consider how well the tomatoes are growing with high heat and humidity and am anxiously looking forward to the bounty of the late summer garden.  I absolutely revel in a break in the summer warmth and the chill of a cool July morning.  Appreciating each day as it comes and finding a positive thing to do and a happy moment or two in whatever the day has brought.

However, the mosquitos and horse flies---  I just can't.

I do value the difference in the seasons and indeed in the variance from day to day, because good old Wisconsin gives me a rich palette of colors and light to choose from when I am aiming my camera lens.  I know now what different weather conditions will most likely reveal good sunsets and sunrises, when there will be good shadows, and also when great shots can be found in near shadowless overcast days. I always look forward to seeing what the day is going to bring and if I will be walking around outside early in the morning with my robe on taking sunrise photos.  Or just a selfie with coffee out on my deck!  And you do have to have clouds to make that gorgeous sunset or sunrise picture, even if I prefer the popcorn clouds and the bright sunny day.

The weather often gives a person something to talk about, to break the proverbial ice with a stranger, because if you have nothing in common with someone, you have some sort of connection with them through the norms and abnormalities of the seasons.  Can you think of many other things that can strike both terror in your heart and pure unadulterated joy?  And even more interesting, the same terrorizing weather to one person can be such a joy to another? The weather ebbs and flows and slowly changes, nudging us whether we like it or not, into the next season: maybe a little older, a little wiser, a little more fit or a little heavier, happier or sadder in fits and starts and suddenly another year has passed.  People come and go and relationships change, family evolves: moves, comes back or leaves us forever.  You find your true friends in unexpected places and find that others are but a fleeting part of your life.  You can't change it really, so you can either make yourself miserable or you can embrace it and enjoy it for what it is.  And the days and their tapestry of sun and clouds and rain and cold and wind and warm pull you along in spite of your wishes to do otherwise.

So for the next month, when I am at liberty to be out in the weather as much as I please, I expect to continue my summer as is: walking in the morning, gardening, sculpting and mosaic-ing, canoeing,  traveling, driving, touristing, (even a little school planning), mowing, and always always looking for that next picture that could end up on the weather - just for the fun of it.  I have had a summer that has truly been a full, luxuriously relaxing and satisfying few weeks and it gives me a lot of joy!  I have indeed learned to truly appreciate my days, no matter what the wind blows in, and I have really concentrated on getting as much done on any given day as I can.  It has made me feel like I have gotten a lot from my time in the sun.

I wish all of you all the joy that you can squeeze out of your summer, and all of the seasons.  You never know where it will be- and don't forget to find your local  joy giver. Joy stealers just aren't worth your time!

And if only for a little while- let the Sunshine in!  She probably can make you smile.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Quoth the Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary,
 while I pondered, weak and weary,
 Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— 
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door— "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door— Only this and nothing more." 
excerpt from "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe

- See more at:

I have had a request for a Raven update, so here it is!!  

I am POSITIVE I have more pix of this raven, like during the building stages, but seriously I am too lazy to hunt through my pix to find them.  I until recently was allowing my photos to  be in untitled folders, and that makes things difficult to say the least..... so I have mended my ways and now do a date and at least a hint of what is contained in the folder.  So once in a while I get a wild hair and do some sorting and labeling, but that is not my favorite way to spend my time.  So someday, I may do an update of this when I find the rest of the raven pix, and until that time, this will have to do.  Face it, no one really cares how I got there, the finished project is probably enough!

I wish that these pictures could do justice to this sculpture, but something about the way the camera catches it does not begin to show the really awesome form and feather like shapes of the glass.  I managed to make this a dangerous bird, with glass that sticks out like feathers do at the neck of the raven, which is an interesting dichotomy when you think of the softness and lack of menace in a real birds feathers.  However, the black raven, ever since the days of Edgar Allen Poe, has had the aura of mystery and vague disturbance, so this altered feather state is apropo.

Whew, now wasn't that  a nice bit of abstractness and analysis??  Let it roll around for a while, it is fun to think about.
Black opalescent glass of gorgeousness

I have a few pix that show the progress of the bird from concrete to grouted- including a shot of some of the beautiful opalescent black glass that I found in Minneapolis at JRing Glass.  THAT was a shop full of awesomeness
Concreted form

Needs legs and feet!  Oh GREGORY!!

Tentative beginning

My "Helper"

Beginning the head

All done with attaching the glass- onto the grout

mostly finished

There it's done!
Here are some detail views of the guy!  I may name him "Lenore"

And I learned so much making this little thing!  I will be absolutely making another one or two of them.  The glass is so beautiful it makes me swoon!!  sigh.

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, 
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; 
Not the least obeisance made he; 
not a minute stopped or stayed he;
 But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door— Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door— Perched, and sat, and nothing more. 

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,"
 I said, "art sure no craven,
 Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore— Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven "Nevermore." 

Find your joy!