Friday, February 28, 2014

End of Winter contest - When will Lola be free?

Oh honey, spring is on the way!

So I've been doing this goofy thing on Instagram, really by accident, showing a pic of a Lola a day since January 1.  I have done this almost every day, although I may have skipped a weekend day, and that is ok.  I am not obsessive about it, as I don't take the pic from the exact same angle.  I'd like to have done that in theory, but you guys, I just can't.  I have a friend from Madison who is taking a pic on the shore of one of the lakes down there, and it is beautiful and I loved how she was doing it.  So after some thought, Lola was sort of the obvious choice, she is right there!  I am not really doing it to record how the light changes at 7:00am every morning as I zip out the door, but just for the heck of it.  Little did I know I was chronically cataloging how poor Lola has been getting buried!

So as I was leisurely enjoying my coffee this morning, I noticed a piece on Channel 9 about a car dealership in Eau Claire who plunked a car on top of a pile of snow and are having a contest..... So yeah, here it is.  A contest about Lola.  (Also a tip of the hat to Lynn L. who had a competition when her old car would spin over to 200,000 miles.  I realize a small piece of it is that too).

I've had a lot of people ask me about Lola lately.  Besides Instagram, I  have had a pic of Lola on the Channel 9 weather as well - buried of course- and there is a lot of interest about how she was made.  And of course have we ever had this much snow before.

I am sure we used to get this much, but the thing is, between Lola, my digital cameras and the deck that has been put in since those times, I haven't had things to measure the snowfall against.  AND I had little kids and who the heck knew what was going on outside. It all boiled down to - is there school today or not??

Anyway, back to business (this was going to be a short post??) So what's your guess people??  WHEN will I be able to see the bottom of Lola's skirt clear of snow ALL around it?  I will NOT touch that snow, trust me.  I never do.  AND while you are at it, when do you think my first planted daffodil will bloom?  I won't be brushing the snow aside there either.....  really I won't!  It doesn't help anyway, they bloom when they want, I've tried that in the past, too.

What will the winner(s) get??  Uh, I'm not sure.  Cookies?  or I think I have a concrete flower pot that I could mosaic up into something purty, too.  THAT would be fitting if it doesn't cost 100 bucks to ship it!  :)  Pretty sure it weighs less than 40 lbs, so I can UPS it for sure.  My choice.

Leave a message either in the message portion here and because blogger can be twitchy, you can also leave me a message on the facebook post about this "contest" or even text/message me.  This was totally a spontaneous, early morning decision so I may be encountering issues I have no idea are coming.....  Oh well....  **Joy stealers need not apply!

So LOLA- when are you going to be free??  I'd like to say March 15 but we all know that isn't going to happen.  :)

March!  March is THIS WEEKEND!!!  AND during March I get to see all my kiddos again- and ELLA and the grand doggies.  YAY

March is bound to have a whole PILE of snow joy!!!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

More snowy pix

Cue the birds-

And morning has broken and Lola did not become totally covered by the snow....  this children, is a good thing.

This is actually an afternoon pic, but who's to know??

Meanwhile, the Mad-Art Teacher is attempting to get out to her horse and has to shovel Mt Everest out of the way to get to the path that she can again teeter around on and fall up to her knees at least 2 times before she gets to the barn.  By the way, you forgot to remind me to take the shovel out this morning and it was quite the trek to get there.  But you know me I am tenacious!

Shoveled and target is in sight.
 The reason for Mount Everest is of course our truly wonderful snowplow crew who came AGAIN this morning to break through the drifts that formed.  These people are worth their weight in gold this year.  We have a spectacular township when it comes to snow plowing (says the woman whose house is at the beginning of the snowplow route! :) ) Actually though, they do a fantastic job and show up before I am even up in the morning during the week.  Hard working peeps!

Since I have been sitting around for the past 3 days, voiceless, I decided that enough was enough and I had to go for a walk.  A snowshoe session was in order to shake loose the cobwebs and rev up the day. 
A lovely day with scattered clouds and sunshine
 So with scavenged camera in hand (and obsessively checked for everytime I tucked it away in my pocket), I went off on the "trail" that used to be clearly marked.  It was pretty easy to follow once I got into the woods, but it was not easy walking.  It snowed a lot, in case you didn't get the memo!  :)

this is one of those things that looks really cool in person and doesn't quite translate in photo form
So once I got to the edge of the woods, I found the path was actually being used! The deer have their own version of I-90 through the forest. Crazy deer.

Entrance to the woods road
 So even though it looks like the dead of winter, I have seen some signs of spring- or felt them.  I heard the chickadees making some of their spring calls.  They do change their vocalizations as spring gets closer.  Plus I saw the flocks of ravens flying around....  (no pix of that)
I'm sort of obsessed with the shadows on the snow on the trail
 And though it looks like it is -20, the wind felt relatively warm.  I said relatively, this wasn't tropical and I'm grasping at things for the effect of optimism.  Certainly we can all work together to perpetuate this fantasy, right??
Curves in the path is quite enticing- I always want to go around that next turn.
 I headed toward the cabin, stopping to take photos occasionally, listening only to my own thoughts and the wind and the birds and the occasional snowmobile on the nearby Tuscobia Trail.

This was just beautiful framed by the trees and grasses 
This is where the deer decided to stop using the former sled and snowshoe path as a thoroughfare and off I ventured.
LOVE these shadows
The shadows are just amazing at this time of the year under these conditions. I know I have had similar pictures, but they still spark my interest.  I can't not take these shots.

Webs of snow

The cabin shrouded in snow,  no recent tracks or signs of life yet!
 So I made it to the cabin and as I attempted to go one step beyond the trail, down to my knees I sunk in snowshoes.  This was a sign- to turn around!  I obeyed the signs this time!   So off I trudged back home to feed the horse and shovel out in front of the horse barn door.  Not to mention the second Mount Everest that was now piled up in front of the snowpath to the house.
This spot is my favorite snow photography location.  

Kinda cool how you can see the snowshoe tracks and the poles marks!!

It was one of those "If you can't beat them, join them" sort of days.  It snowed, so go snowshoeing.  Or skiing or maybe snowmobiling, but I like the quieter sorts of sports.

And as the forecast calls for some wicked cold coming our way, we are going to have to dig deep to find ways to stay upbeat and joyful as we face some more temps that are well below normal- again- still- yet.

But we Northern Wisconsin types are a persistent lot and we will find our joy!!  Because, you guys, spring IS on it's way!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

And as Lola slowly disappears into the snow drift...

We did get smacked with a bit of the white stuff last night.  And today!  Wow, I am impressed.  We have some crazy big snow piles and drifts.  I miss the kids being here - the would have been out there building forts and and tunneling into the snow plow piles and making little trails.  We haven't had continuous big snow cover like this in many many years.

I had to snow shoe out to Jacpot this morning, as the trail has not only filled in, there is now a gigantic snow pile right by the corner of the driveway to  traverse over now.  Up until this point our awesome snow plow dude has left a little opening for me to walk through, but he ran out of room to move snow. I tell you, I am so tired of picking my way across the path to the barn and suddenly plunge down to  above my knees if I veer off by an inch or two.

I thought for sure we would have to go into school this morning, but fortunately found out before I actually DROVE IN that indeed the inservice had been cancelled.  That really is a good thing, as so many of our staff members live a long way away from here.  Even Glidden is quite  hike in 30 mph winds and blowing snow and nasty roads, not to mention Minocqua and Highbridge and Mercer and Phillips!  Since I had no actual voice yesterday it was good for me to rest it.  I didn't speak basically at all all day long, other than to myself and the cats and the horse, and when the MA got home I lost it in about 10 minutes.  sigh.  Glad I have a few more days to rest it.

Anyway, back to winter.  Even if it I am tired of the snow cover and I am sick of the super cold weather, it really isn't bumming me out.  I keep saying- it is ONLY February and I really believe it.  I still think it is beautiful and I wish that I could get out and walk in the cold winter air more- but the snow or the wind or the temperature is not being cooperative.  So I am going to trudge out on snowshoes tomorrow and see how far I can go.  I'll have to stick to the woods trail, I think the former path around the field is a lost cause.

So I did all sorts of things today.  I played around doing some fun little things that are a secret right now, plus a little laundry, a little cleaning, did some sorting upstairs, did a touch of cooking and a bit of photo taking. One thing that kept me amused is taking pix of my Lola every couple hours. I took a pic this morning early with the phone and then noticed that she was getting more and more buried, so I kept occasionally taking a shot.  Poor Lola is up to her elbows now.  I played around with a collage site online and put one together just for kicks and giggles.

So it appears that we don't have any more big snows in the future, just some nasty cold weather.  After those few warmish days that found our temps above freezing for the first time since November it is sort of upsetting to know that the below zero song is being replayed.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

BATB, Ice Roads and Other Weekend Madness!

I'm sitting here today somewhat exhausted, quite hungry, a little miffed at myself and also TOTALLY exhilarated!

Oh goodness that is a tired looking Mad-Art Teacher
Saturday was an adventure of icy proportions.  On that day Adam: the Mad-English teacher, fellow health-conscious person, and one of my partners in all things Northern Wisconsin adventure
(my other compadre, the Mad Chemistry teacher had been sickish and bowed out of this day, and I don't blame her!!)and I headed north for what turned out to be an ice event squared.

Let the adventure begin

Our primary destination was to participate in the Book Across the Bay in Ashland that headed across the (frozen) Chequamegon Bay to Washburn, WI.  We ended up on a small detour, which turned out to be a short but amazing little excursion across the frozen lake in ADAMS CAR to Madeline Island.  But I digress- since this is my blog, I will be regaling you with a blow by blow description of this day. Because I apparently like to hear myself yak!  :D.  Actually, I had such a good time, I want to record it since we all know how short the memory can be.

Registration central, early in the day
I hopped into Adam's car with a mere 2 bags, a purse and snowshoes shortly after 11 and we headed up north towards Ashland. Plans were made to stop in Ashland first to pick up our race bag with Tshirt and race bib, then go to the Chequamegon Co-op and the bakery across the street!  We had to park the car up in Washburn, then take a shuttle bus down to Ashland then we'd snow shoe  back to the car.  So, detailed plans were worked out- HA.  Who are we kidding, we wanted to get the Ashland stuff out of the way so we could go eat at Coco's ASAP!!!  The race Tshirt is pretty cool, and was designed by one of the students up north (in Washburn??  I don't remember, but if there is a competition, I might see if any of my kids would like to enter it next year), and we got right in and out with our business there.  there was a little food for sale and music and it looked like a cool place to hang out, but we had other things on the agenda.  We saw the place the race started, the bon fire pile, the little trees that were planted into the snow on the ice, etc.  Really cool!

Ahhh Coco's
And I want you to know that the BATB was really a good excuse to get up to Coco's, because people it IS all about the food and ambience of Washburn and Bayfield.  Seriously.  You have no idea what a food desert we live in in Price County- there are a couple nice little places to eat, but the lack of creative and delicious vegetarian food is sad and pathetic.  I do not kid.  If I win that 400 million in the Powerball on Wednesday, there will be a new restaurant opening soon.....


Anyway, I digress, after our fun little errands were finished (the parmesan pepper bread from the bakery is just DIVINE!) we headed up - ravenous!!- to Coco's.  We had such good food- I had a Seitan gyro and sweet potato and pecan salad and of course Big Water Coffee.  YYYYUUUUUMMMMM  I made sure not to have too much what with the whole trying to find a bathroom with 8 million layers of clothes, snow shoes etc. Always a consideration at this kind of event and portapotties and I are not on speaking terms, so there is that.

We had another errand up in Bayfield after a leisurely lunch was had, and that was to visit Big Water Coffee Roasters for some bags of coffee and a new coffee mug for Debi!  woo HOO!!  I mean if you are that close, Bayfield NEEDS to be visited.  It was interesting looking down at the docks and seeing where the ferry and tour boats usually are, and  to see the top of the Bayfield Inn where we had Margaritas on the upper deck overlooking the bay and knowing that in a few months we WILL be there again enjoying said drinks and who knows what adventure!  There HAS been talk (yeah that would be me and Adam) about going on a boat to an island and hiking for the day!!  I am so IN.  Whilst leisurely (we had planned lots of goofing off time) sipping our respective mochas and  hot chocolates, Adam broached a subject that I had on my mind but was trying to block out.  The ice road to Madeline Island.

Adam: so do you want to go on the Ice Road?
Debi:  (eyes big- terror filled heart) uhhhhhhh

Adam: we won't go if you don't want to
Debi: UHHHHHHHHHH, well I won't jump out of the car if you happen to accidentally drive on it I guess

Adam: Do you think Laurie will be mad if we go without her?
Debi: I think she'll be fine, she'd still go if one of us were not with!  Lol

Adam: Maybe we better not
Debi:  Ok (whew)

20 minutes later:
Adam: We're driving on that road
Debi: **gulp**  yeah, I know **mommy!**

Ice Road!

So with Debi shrieking as we began driving across, while fumbling for her phone and camera, taking mad pictures and shrieking some more, over we went.  I think it is about 4 or 5 miles out there, and you literally drive right out on the ice from a beach.  It was a bit snowy, so you couldn't see the actual ice (whew) and it was quite a rush!

I did not grow up in northern Wisconsin, I was a southern WI girl.  My family was not a sportsman type family really.  My dad loved to fish, but only up in Minnesota at my Grandma and Grandpa's.  He did not ice fish.  I never even stood on a frozen lake until I was in college when I was cross country skiing with the MA and some other accountant types and their wives and someone at one point informed me we were skiing on a lake (EEEEEEEEEK).  SO therefore, I have never been comfortable on frozen bodies of water, though my children have been ice fishing with their dad and others since they were toddlers, or during tax season visiting others who ice fish, you get the idea... So walking on frozen water is not my cup of tea, as a rule and DAMN I am not driving on that shit.  Are you people all crazy up here????  Yes they are and now I am apparently one of the crazed.  Like I wasn't before.... never mind, shut up!

So as referenced here, I was terrified TERRIFIED!!!! of walking on lakes.  The Book Across the Bay registration filled me with a horrified excitement and I just flatly refused to consider the Ice Road when we were up there a few weeks ago.  BUT what really helped was the fantastic trip we made to the Ice Caves- we began the journey on the beach path, and then eased into walking on the water near the shore and I was distracted by all the ice (ooooooo- shiny things.......) and so that was GOOD.  So suddenly the snowshoe thing was not so horrifying and I allowed that of course one of those crazy friends of mine were going to drive me across that ice road even if I was hiding under a blanket in the back seat.  So fortunately, I didn't even have to be sedated and I was fully in the front seat, shrieking and laughing as we drove over to Madeline Island.  It was so cool and we got to go all over the place.  We didn't explore as much as we wanted, as we had to get to the parking area and the shuttle bus for the race.  We have BIG plans to rent a scooter over there in the summer  and scooter around and drink at Tom's Burned Down cafe...  well, I plan to drink, I don't know about those other two!  :)
Looking at Bayfield

Sort of roughly the same area

Basically I have conquered two facets of one fear.  I am so proud of myself.  Overcoming fears that are true and deep (I joke about this, but it is (was) a major terror of mine) are exhilarating.  I seriously have had to stop myself from running as fast as I can to get off of 2 feet of ice down at the boat landing at the end of our road, because it just seems somehow wrong to be doing that.  I am such a chicken, seriously.

Hehehe, no kidding

Hard to believe this is the same spot as the next pic

Ah summer- this is what we remember so fondly...

So after taking a few pictures at a beach that we had visited last summer, we hopped back in the car and headed back to Washburn. We found the parking area easily and were fortunate to not have to walk very far at ALL to catch the school bus shuttle to Ashland.  Now that makes the whole thing sounds so simple, but we spent at least 20 minutes changing into our appropriate winter clothing, gathering our race bib and all that, stuffing some snacks into our pockets (we did not eat again after lunch, except for a granola bar  on the ice and then a vegan muffin in the car- no wonder I was hungry this morning) and making sure we had everything needed.

This is the approximate route taken, it varies depending on the ice conditions apparently.  I think we were a lot closer to shore  south of Vandevinter Bay

View of the start area in the early afternoon

We headed into the tent for a few minutes and immediately saw people we knew!  We chit chatted for a few minutes and headed over to Walgreens to get a couple little things and I needed a place to adjust my sock/boot/toe warmer issues, attache the race bib to the coat,  use the not-a-portapotty and generally prepare to snowshoe. Toe warmers are something that I am going to stock up on, because they rock my world.  I can put up with anything if my toes are warm.

The start line area in the early afternoon- there is the bonfire and you can see the little trees and all that mark the trail

It was a hoot to be in that warming tent at the beginning, with all the THOUSANDS of people heading into the tent, I see people!  I saw in passing Judy and Wendy from Park Falls, like first thing when we were picking up our bibs, and then we saw Scott and Sherri- Scott works at school!  It was fun talking with them- then I spot Cecelia Hutte who graduated with the Mad-oldest son, who lives over in Rice Lake. We had such a good visit! And then while talking with her, behind her I see a familiar face that took me a minute to place and it was a man and his wife who used to live in Park Falls!  Bill and Caroline Yanke moved to Marshfield many years ago, Caroline and I did lots of things together when they lived here and her oldest was close in age to Greg!  I haven't seen her in at least 10 years.  Such a hoot! Fred sees Bill every year (tax season of course), but I don't see them myself.  FUN!

RIGHT before the start- the fast people are WAAAY up at the top.

It was then time to head down to the lake and get ready- isn't this crowd astounding?? It was all very exciting- so many people SO MANY SKIS!! So many different sorts of snowshoes, it was really something.  There were luminaries all along the course, and there were "stops" at every K except for the the first K.  The stops were assistance tents plus water- and later there were some snacks, and eventually there was liquor!  hahaha, and there was a fire breathing dragon, and the last stop they were giving out chapstick, granola bars and bottles of water-- it was just fun.

skis and more skis
So the bad part?  I lost my little camera.  The pix here are either from my phone (which by the way died  about 3:30 and my car charger didn't work in Adam's car) or Adam's camera.  His camera gave him a lot of blurry night pix, which is understandable, but I have some nifty ones on mine.  Boo.  I really do believe I will get it back, actually.  I was never too much in a panic about it, and even if it is toast, I still want the SD card!  If I don't get it though, most of the pix on it are on my computer. So, yeah, what happened?  Idk, either I stuck it into my inside pocket and it slid through, or I put it in my outer pocket at one point and it fell out.  THAT is the only issue I have with this running jacket is the lack of zippers on the pockets and I will never let that happen again.  This one the zipper is going, and I will replace it this year.  AND my camera was having some issues as well, irritatingly enough, so it was probably about to be replaced too.  This may have accelerated that process.

Ice dragon in full roar

We did really well during the race for the most part, we passed people like nobodies business.  It was crowded at the beginning, but people stretched out and the trek was pretty good.  The water was greatly appreciated as was the snack of a cookie and the granola bar.  But it is tough snowshoeing that far- there was loose snow and it was good footing, but wow did my feet and lower legs get tired.  About 8k we were both ready for someone to offer us a ride!  Lol.  But we kept going, there were things all along to capture your interest and there were fireworks in Washburn, and the bon fires at every K stop..... just a fun, happy, party atmosphere!  There was a massive warming tent at the end and we got through the course in 2 hours and 27 minutes.  10k, which I believe is 6.3 miles??  something like that.  We were going to get some food, but it was all just too much effort and so we went to the car, which was a bit of a hike, but no more than a mile.  It was SO NICE to sit down.  And of course once you got back down south farther, it was snowing again and indeed we got 4 inches of snow in Park Falls, so the roads were a bit dicey.  We attempted talk to keep Adam awake, but the radio needed to help out.

The glow of Ashland from the trail- this fire was not on the ice, but up higher- like a trough- for hand warming

It was a good, tiring, cold, exciting thing to do.  Will I do it again?  Yes, but not if it is below zero- the temps were about 10 - 15 degrees and that was fine, but the wind made it nippy.  If it was much colder I would NOT have wanted to be out there.  Next year I will put in more treadmill time if the weather is as cold and nasty as this year, which prevented me from putting on miles outside.  I did plenty of snowshoeing, but the terrain is way different on the lake.

The people involved in this event were stellar and it was REALLY well done.  To orchestrate such a huge event is difficult to say the least and I give them Mad Props for their organization and entertainment skills.  Job well done!!!

**And this just in- a video clip of me walking like a penguin so I don't step on the skis in front of me!
If you end up having to search it put in either Deb Oswald or 1135 But it should work- there are some skiiers first and then I have on a maroon/red hat and of course grey/black coat and pants.  My feet were so tired!!**

So last night I came home, plugged in my phone to tell my sister and a friend or two I was home, put a couple things away, hung up some soggy outerwear and flung myself into bed, told the MA all about it and he fell right asleep and I did not.  LOL, that figures. I am not sore but am fatigued today- just plain old wiped out.  I am so happy I have no sore knees or anything like that.  YAY.  The gym however, will not be happening today!  I'll save myself for tomorrow.

So fast forward to today, I emailed the BATB people about my camera, I made coffee, pancakes and threw a load in the washer and have blogged.  I think it has been a productive day and now time for a nap!  It is already 11 am after all!

Seriously, that won't happen.  What a great day I had, just goes to show if you need to or want to bad enough, you can overcome all sorts of oddball and random fears.  I have a lot to go, though!  Adam is such a fabulous traveling companion and partner in crime- we were missing our 3rd buddy, but next time!

Looking forward to a lower-key kind of joy today!  Hope you find some quiet joy today yourself!

**THANK you Adam for allowing me to steal your pictures!