Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hope is not an emotion

I have had a really busy few weeks, and I tell you getting everything in that I want to, PLUS doing all the things that I have to, is sometimes a daunting task.  Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed I fall face first into a bag of chocolate and play stupid Candy Soda Crush (shhhhhhh, I do not, that is a rumor) until I run out of lives and then sit glassy-eyed staring at my not-free TV stations.  THAT has been my week.  Some weeks are  like that, and that is actually fine for a few days.  I shook myself loose last night and did some things that might be deemed "constructive" to other members of the household, but I am not overly concerned about that either. HAHA!!

I have managed to get in 3 gym sessions and a walk this week, plus, had a fantastic live tweeting session with my tweeter friend over an episode of Project Runway.  And half of that conversation is on the IM section of it; we are hilarious on Thursday nights, even if only to each other....  So anyway, I do eke out some time for reading as well, as my internet habits, along with said weight lifting sessions (I am getting so close to regaining all of my past strength- crushing those weights.  I am so pleased that my muscle memory is coming back, just like I have been reminded again and again.... lol) have reignited the carpal tunnel thing, that also seems to be manifesting itself in some extreme fatigue in my injured tendons of certain areas of my limbs that were smushed at one point.  So yes, my hand is numb in the morning, so I need to do some heavy duty resting of it!

So (bear with me, I am connecting these dots in my circuitous way) I belong to an internet book club that is hosted by my life coach- Anne-Sophie- and we are reading BrenĂ© Brown's book: The Gifts of Imperfection.  The book's subtitle is: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  It is about Wholehearted living, which really is sort of my gig these days, you know?  This book makes sense to me on a soul level.  In preparation for a group call, we were reading the next set of guideposts- Cultivating gratitude and joy, Cultivating Intuition and Cultivating Creativity- so SO up my alley.  :)

The thing is, as I am wont to do, I skipped a bunch of things, read what I was supposed to and then started going backwards (now, no one is surprised by this, right?) through the book (this is not a very long book, short chapters and packs a powerful message and things to consider in each section) to the previous chapter entitled Cultivating a Resilient Spirit.  Now I do consider myself resilient, and there were emboldened subtitles that caught my interest, yet I "paged" backwards on the kindle app to the beginning of the chapter where they began with a discussion of hope and hopelessness. And it begins by saying hope is not an emotion....  wut?

Now raise your hand if you thought that hope was an emotion- I would have probably raised my hand tentatively.  When you start thinking about it, it makes sense that it is not.  You know what you feel like inside when you are experiencing either of these, hope or hopelessess, but it isn't really an emotion.  I do agree.  It is a learned behavior (this is research based), a way of thinking and has a simple framework for how it works.  People who have hope  have the ability to set realistic goals, are able to  figure out how to attain the goals, using flexibility and alternatives if necessary, and believe in themselves and that they can do it.  What ever it is.

This is certainly a way that I think and a context that I understand.  I am almost always able to accomplish things that I want, except when I attempt something that I knew darn well I shouldn't.  Like when I was going through my period of killing myself with exercise and I imagined myself a "runner" when my heart of hearts knew I was not.  Yeah, so one totally messed up knee later, I did not achieve that goal, though I did once run almost 6 miles..... and it almost wrecked my trip to the boundary waters, so not smart.  I really REALLY need to always trust my intuition (which is indeed in the book) and it  (intuition) was trying hard to remind me that I am not of that body type.

Anyway, while I was reading this about hope and hopelessness, in the context of resilience, I had these flashes of recognition of truths about me and my family.  In this case, the family I grew up in.  Let me preface this by saying I am not trying to either denigrate nor commend either of my sets of grandparents or my parents.  It just IS the way things were as I see it.  These moments of comprehension came to me so fast and in a way I felt before I could put it into words.

I am an optimistic person by nature, and sometimes I feel the need to apologize.  Which is totally insane, but I sometimes feel that way.  This world seems to be less than optimistic except for the occasional inspirational meme on a kitty picture.  I come by this honestly, as my mom was (and may still be on good days) one of the most positive people I know.  She always just looked for the good in things and really didn't try to bring a person down. Now I do recognize that she was avoiding confrontation, which I also inherited from her, and while this is good sometimes, it does add a lot of unnecessary angst and self doubt into life.  My father, on the other hand, while not horrible, was decidedly not so optimistic.  I look at the personalities of my mom and dad and wonder how the heck that ever happened.  I think my dad needed the love for life my mom had and my mom needed my dad to get her out of her parent's house.  Again, no judgements are being made here.  My mom chafed under the religious household of her parents and she needed out.  My dad needed someone who was reliable and upbeat.  So it was.

I look at the parents of my parents and it is so interesting to see the differences as I know them and to, I think, correctly translate their overall outlooks on life through the lens of hope.  I can not and do not imagine myself to have insight into what their life was really like, but I can make a solid guess.  First off, I loved my grandparents on both sides, but in different ways.  My Grandma Kutz (Grandpa died when I was 4) loved me in a powerful way and she lived nearby.  I saw her a lot and saw her whole personality for good and bad.  My dad's mom was not necessarily a hopeful person.  I know there were a lot of struggles in her life, and I can see her influence on the personality of my father.  He tended to be gruff (and who knows what made that true) and not particularly overtly affectionate.  We knew he loved us, but sometimes it was hard to prove.  I, as a girl, had a bit of an easier time than the boys did as he proved to be difficult to deal with as they got older.

My mom came from a quite religious family and Grandma and Grandpa Oberley were people I only saw once or twice a year.  They lived 9 hours away from us and it just wasn't something we did much was visit them- except for that glorious summer vacation time.  OH I loved being there and being with them.  They were not super huggy, but definitely more outwardly affectonate than the other side of the family.  And as a kid I saw the best of them during that time.  Even though mom didn't appreciate the restrictions of their religion, the basic feeling of belonging and the family structure was much more hopeful and accepting.  They knew the Lord would provide and all that, so they were more settled.  I had the vibe that all was well, where my Grandma Kutz was a bit more volatile and a tad more self centered.

Again, I am not judging, that is what they all knew and the circumstances were they way they were and all that.  As much as I adored my mom's mom and dad, my Grandma, who was quite a trip so to speak, was  uniquely and unabashedly herself.  She was Grandma, she didn't try to change and that was that....  I miss her so much.

Anyway, I think that is a grandparent thing that is separate from this discussion.  Back to book club, I told Anne-Sophie about these revelations about hope.  I am ,in retrospect, so happy that the majority of time I spent in childhood was with a parent who had hope.  While I do not dislike the time spent with my dad, and in fact the short times he was around (he was a farmer) were pretty fun.  But as fast as the fun began, it could also end.  You just never knew what was going to happen, when he would retreat into himself.  Like he couldn't allow too much levity to take place without losing himself.  The man suffered from a bipolar type of personality, I truly believe, and fought depression (well, no, he didn't fight the depression, it engulfed him) as well.  So my mom, though she had a tough way to live when we were little as far as being pretty damn dirt poor, and having 4 little kids less than 5 years apart from beginning to end, and I can't imagine how she kept that overall optimistic outlook on life when she was living with a man who had not a lot of hope.  He set goals, but could not imagine how to reach them if things didn't go the way he planned.  My father was neither particularly resilient and absolutely not flexible.  He got a lot of shit done, though, man.  It's just if life threw him some curve balls, he was a broken soul.

Why am I writing about this? As I write about this I realize that there is a lot of contradiction in people and in situations and I know little about my mom and dads childhood.  I can just see how through nature, nurture or both I have ended up with what it turns out is a resilient self.  A self that has the tools to be hopeful.  And the background to appreciate the people who are not.  The difficulties my father faced internally must have been paralyzing at times, and in fact I know that they were.  But that is for another time.  But I can see the affect they had on him, and I recognize it in others.  And I have so so much empathy.  I want to give those people some of my hope.

I see hope and resilience in my children too.  Their father can be a bit on the pessimistic side at times, but generally the MA can see the bright side, especially if I hold it in front of his face and insist that he look at it.  Lol.  Doesn't always work, but he has a mind open enough to consider it, even if I am "wrong".  hahaha  which I am not.  I see the boys as people who wake up and expect things in general to go well, to not imagine that every woe in the world will befall them any time soon, or that everyone is out to get them.  I am so glad that hope, a learned behavior, has been passed along.  And I think that is one of the greatest things I could have taught or modeled for them.  Even if I didn't know I was doing it.  I have no lesson, no moral, nothing except seeing how in my situation how learning or not learning about being hopeful has affected my small group of people.  A definite aha moment that was meant for me. And maybe you can see this in you too....

And that is one joyful thing I have discovered about myself this very busy week!  And now where is the chocolate??  ;)

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I have not put up a picture post for a while.  I have a bunch of them to edit from yesterday, but here we go anyway.

From my last kayak- Flambeau River
I had a nice walk with the Mad_English Teacher last weekend, not so sure he did as he was a little on the sickish side.  But there was some decent enough color up in Bayfield, but wow I wish that I had been there this weekend.  Oh well.  I have to stay home once in a while, right?  Especially since I will be gone a few days this week.

My poor sick friend :(
Anyway, here are a few recent photos that found their way onto one of my cameras....

Favorite tree- this is one of my favorite shots of the year.

Mute swan on the Chequamegon Bay in Ashland

Poor favorite tree

Meyers Beach, Cornucopia, WI

Meyers Beach

From above the sea caves

Almost fall

Houghton Falls, Washburn, WI

Morning visitors

Another of my favorite shots from this year

The board walk above the seas caves

The road just past the entrance to Meyers Beach, Washburn

Lake Superior

Some of our very short lived fall color

Brilliant morning

I hope these photos give you a small amount of joy this very cold morning.  (23*)  But the sun is out and I am ready to go ON to a new adventure, right away!! 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Bully, the Shy Girl, and the Sun

I have recently come to the realization (there is more to this, but I will leave that part of the story go for now) that no matter how together someone appears, they are just a mass of insecurity like all the rest of us. Some of us hide it well.  Others of us hide it well in public and and tell only a few. Still others blog about it, or whine so loudly that everyone in the vicinity has no doubt that you are indeed just a bit "fragile".  Lol.  I will not be projecting which category any one person will be putting me into, because I am just now getting past caring what most other people think of me.  It is still an area of insecurity in some ways, but I have found that for the most part their opinion just doesn't matter.  Outside of my family, there are about 4 people whose opinion matters to me- people I trust and will consider their thoughts on any given matter seriously.  Beyond that, I have to go with my own instincts and trust myself.  I am working on this, and it is a good thing.

Most of you understand that I tend to yak on about things when they are bothering me or if I feel like a little tiny stone is in my shoe as I walk through my life.  This is one of those posts.....  if you don't want to hear about one of these moments in time, now is the moment to close this window and pretend you never saw this.  Do it now.  No really, right now..... this is your chance.  Ok, be warned that I will be saying things that could make some people perhaps uncomfortable with my propensity for over-sharing.........  and because there is a foul mouthed fairy who is always on my shoulder and when it comes to my blog, she is always ready to speak.  And no one wants that particular little lady to open her mouth, now do they?  :)

So after that awkward introduction, I can get into what I did today.  This is a LOVELY Saturday, though a bit cold - to the point that I had to wear tights under my jeans when I walked today- and oh yes, I went for a walk.  Some times I listen to my play lists (I need more music) and sometimes I listen to podcasts.  I never used to think of myself as a podcast person, but if you find the right ones, they are pretty cool.  You  all know, I think, as a "group"  (probably a group of 2 or 3 haha) that I get occasional life coaching from Anne-Sophie Reinhardt and I do follow a few blogger/coaches and such and one of them is Summer Innanen.  Now Summer would be my second choice as a coach as she is pretty rocking cool.  Anyway, she has a great podcast called Fearless Rebelle Radio and I catch up on it ever couple months.

Today I was listening to  her interview a life coach who's tagline is "Daring to Suck".  This is really compelling as, though I am a free spirit sort of girl, there is a strong tendency towards perfectionism and competitiveness that is hard for me to squelch.  This remarkable and very interesting woman was talking about, among other things  giving up being overly concerned with the outcome of things you do in your life.  Not that you don't CARE about the things your are doing, just that- in my words- the process is frequently more important that the product.  A thing I say to my kids about art ALL.THE.TIME.  With varying degrees of success.  But as things frequently work, walking the walk is harder than talking the talk.  And if I didn't use that particular phrase correctly- see the above fairy comment.

Anyway, the podcast was an  hour long and it just had point after point in it that resonated with me.  But the biggest connection was when she discussed having a conversation with 3 different and seemingly conflicting and unrelated parts of ones' internal self.  I heard some things here that were so profoundly my truth.  I immediately began identifying those things, processing them and knew that I had to blog about this.  While I did journal it, there is something about composing for blogspot that makes me really think through and synthesize what I have experienced.

I totally have bought into the idea that the more difficult parts of one's personality are things that protect you from the meaner and nastier parts of the world and perhaps yourself.  For instance, there is a reason for emotional eating, as it is alerting you to the fact that something is UP in your life that is disturbing you and you need to discover what that is.  Another example, trying to always be happy or joyful when you just cannot be that all the time- the crash comes and it can be evil, but it is a reset you need..... You get the idea.

Which leads me to the Bully, the Shy girl and the Sun.  I noticed when I last wrote something about my broken elbows that I am repeating a lot of the same feelings and thoughts.  It really bothered me, as I don't want to turn into a person who is blathering on about the same exact thing all the time.  However, each time I wrote about it, it was on my mind in a slightly different way.  The point being, I had not come to terms with it or settled the uneasiness I felt or totally resolved the whole event in my mind.  So today on the podcast, this woman was talking about having a conversation with these parts of herself.  She used different names as it was a totally different situation, but the idea was sound.  And it made total sense to me by the time I got home from my 6ish mile jaunt.  So I had a talk with my girls....

My so called "bully" is the voice inside me who insisted that I was not hurt.  That voice represents the part of me that until that day felt invincible, though the whole Lymes thing threw me for a major loop.  The part didn't want to let anyone down, or show weakness or vulnerability.  That part told me to listen to the people who said how lucky I was that I didn't have to have a cast, how much worse I could have been, secretly implied that I couldn't even properly break a bone.  It was the voice that said I should go ahead and do all the things I needed to do, though I was in no way ready for it. What was this voice trying to do?  Maybe trying to give me confidence to keep going when really I wanted to hide at home and never go out again.  That aggressive part of me was PISSED that she couldn't relieve her anxiety and conflict through exercise, she knows how much better I do when I can leave my anger and frustrations on the gym floor or the road behind me.  She didn't know how I would ever recover and feel good about myself when I had finally hit my stride and understood that while weight is not a way I will be judging myself, I need to have my strength, both physical and mental, to be my best.  She knew I had to make a come back and is always there to make me get up and move.  She is on me, and when I gave her a voice I felt different.

The Shy girl is the one that wanted to stop everything.  Everyone thinks that she is not really part of me, but she is, no  matter how outgoing I appear.  That voice wants me to be so careful, to watch out for everything, to listen to all people- because obviously I can't be trusted to even walk on a road. She is the one who broke down when no one was looking, when others had to carry things for me, help me pour my coffee, remind me to be careful, be careful, don't over do it, be careful. She wanted to stop living that brave life that has been thrust on her in the last 3 or 4 years.  She is afraid of heights, of closed spaces, of snakes, of people not liking me.  She is so protective and she tries so hard to please everyone and do everything right.  And she cries when no one is looking.  She feels deeply, is really the brave girl who will go back out and do things even if she wants to stay home.  It is so good to give time to the part of you who is constantly suppressed because being vulnerable is not valued in our world.

The Sun- I chose this manifestation for the last voice, as it is the one that observes- sees what is going on detached in some ways. I have seen from my writings how I've had these conflicts within myself, and didn't quite know what to do about it.  The sun- hanging out and seeing it all unfold- just doesn't do much to alleviate any feelings that don't make sense and doesn't seem to favor one voice or the other.  But it does try to balance my life.  It will be the voice of reason if the Bully gets too aggressive or if the shy girl is ready to hibernate.  The voice of the sun, oddly, does it's best work at night.  Before I go to sleep I can usually hear the logic in the voice and by morning I tend to be somewhat settled.  Sometimes not, but for the most part yes.  That sunny part of me wants to be happy and balanced and content, and does a really good job of it, and it was really pleased to be finally acknowledged.

 I have never thought about any of this in this way before, and while it isn't a perfect analogy, having these conversations was extremely helpful.  I really feel like talking with these voices instead of suppressing them and trying to negate their effects did a lot to diffuse their power.  It is like I feel reassured that I am making progress towards a goal of total self acceptance and really embracing the things in my life that make me happy.  And one of the things that I had to do was get past my worry that I cannot trust myself to do the things I love.  It isn't about weight, you guys.  It never really was.  It is about facing your issues, and feeling the feels that go with them, and then pushing on.  It isn't easy and it really isn't pleasant, but looking hard at how you deal with the tough stuff actually is the best thing you can do for yourself.  Eating has little to do with it.  I began this transformation journey by looking at my weight and what I eat, I have now gone on to looking at what I am afraid of and starting to pinpoint where some of my most pervasive irrational thoughts have come from and it is quite surprising.  Hard work, frequently sad work, but it feels good when you have made those changes in your life.  And some AMAZING things happen that you never would have guessed in a million years 4 years ago.  And that is the awesomeness of joy in your life, and letting it in when it comes to you, even if you don't recognize it right away.

Friday, October 9, 2015

And fall-

Alright, I am trying to not get to work an entire HOUR before I need to be- even more than an hour.  I am ready right MEOW to leave.  It is inservice day.  I don't have to leave yet, but being a creature of habit....  yeah.

Just had a discussion about daylight savings....  that is coming QUICKLY.  I can't even.  In denial!

I just this morning turned my thermostat on to run the heating schedule.  Up until now, in spite of 30- degree lows, I have been turning it up when I'm cold....  more denial.

I just received my Yaktrax yesterday!  I ordered them the other day in anticipation of hiking- there will be no FALLing this year, dammit.  for those of you who don't know- they are nonslip attachments to the bottom of ones shoes.... so lets see if I use them.  :D  denial happens.

I am going to go HIKING up north tomorrow and Sunday!!!   ALLLLL the yeses to that- no denial in that one!!  It is nice to do something reminiscent of summer, to remind us that fall isn't all getting ready for winter, there is a lot of awesome in that season alone.

It is almost the middle of October you all!!  I can't believe it, seriously October just started and now it is the 9th???  What in the ever living heck.  I just posted week 6 of my kid's grades and that means it is very close to the end of the quarter.... that much closer to kayaking a good friend keeps telling me....

I am not a person to deny fall.  I love the change, I love the color, and I am very grateful the leaves are hanging on for dear life this year.  It makes the stark, albeit beautiful, winter a little shorter.  However, I am having a hard time letting summer go.  So bear with me, as my autumn transition will be more complete after taking some good fall color pictures has been accomplished.  And that should happen in the next few days! The MAD ENGLISH TEACHER will be in the house!!  Or at least in the area.  :)  And that is going to give me a lot of joy!

Happy Friday everyone....  xox

Monday, October 5, 2015

Half way through

Progress reports are due this morning- which means we are half way through the first quarter already.  If this is any indication of the school year, I will be out kayaking next week sometime. Wowza.

Homecoming is over, and now we are looking forward to the quarter being done by the end of the month. Whoa.  AND it is actually time for me to start working with the littlest kids on their absolute favorite project of the year and that would be the Haunted House book with the scraffito picture- yes Halloween pictures already.  If any of you had me for art, you know what I mean- or ask your children. I have a cult following. Lol.  I'll post a link for that book someday.  It is a pop up book and if I had to replace it, it would cost something ridiculous like $50.

I do wish that my art teacher convention was on actual Halloween weekend like it typically is, but no.  Lol.  I do get to hang out with the other (new) art teacher at convention this year, which is so awesome.  This has never happened before.  No one has ever gone to convention with me.  It will be nice to have some time to discuss teaching things with an actual art teacher type colleague person! YAY

Anyway, I better go get ready for school.  I have a bunch of stuff to do, as per usual.  Including nabbing a bunch of leaves for the kinderkids for their printing project today!  And that is just one of the many oddball things I do each year.  I wouldn't have it any other way.....  it does give me joy.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I'll miss you Miss Sunshine- but just for a while

I was a happy and sad girl yesterday evening- I kayaked the Flambeau probably for the last time of the season.  It was a nice trip, I was dying to get on the river to take some autumn tree pictures, and last weekend I was a bit busy.  In retrospect, it is just fine, because I would have been HIGHLY disappointed as the trees are only now starting to really change.  The color this year is not the brilliant, fiery, warm colors of 2014.  And they are about 2 weeks behind in the change as well.  That is actually ok, that means we have an additional few weeks of actual leaves on the trees.  We like leaves here.

Next weekend I will hopefully be spending  time up in the greater Bayfield area with the Mad-English teacher and the Mad-Science teacher, so there will be no kayaking. (The other factor in all of this is that the MA will be busy elsewhere on weekends, so the kayak mode of transport is gone) The M-ET and I will hike probably twice, because we are like that..... and we enjoy being so tired we can't move on Mondays, it just is our gig.  HA!

Yesterday, as I was loading the kayak in the back of the truck, I again noticed how easy it was for me to tote that thing around.  When I began my kayak adventures in May, it was far far more difficult to do that.  I didn't realize that in May, everything was still difficult.  It was better than in, say, February and March, but I recall really struggling to get the boat into and off of the truck.  Carrying it any distance was a real problem, and it really affected my confidence.  But, I kept at it, as I am a determined little thing - there are those who will testify to that fact.  :)

It seems like life likes to throw little things at you to let you know that you are indeed not really in charge at all.  People, events, situations occur and appear that you never would have invited in at the time that they happen.  Or you may have welcomed them, but you had no idea the real impact they would make.  Some of these events- let's say broken joints- might have given you a chance to truly heal from injuries that have been subtle and insidious, always there and waking you up several times a night.  Or it might have given you a chance to rekindle friendships, allow you time and space to get to know yourself again, or really understand how important your ability to be active really is.  I think the whole - don't take life for granted - was really the lesson I learned.

So I went on many adventures with Miss Sunshine, and she was certainly instrumental in my healing and getting my groove back.  While I did the majority of my physical healing in the winter (wow was that good timing) and was pampered, and fussed over, and watched by many, many, MANY people near and far - I had to find my self confidence again.  Getting this kayak was certainly the right thing at the right time in my life.  I had so many adventures, overcame more fears than any of you can imagine* and had so much fun.  I have my friend Adam to thank for tagging along, and helping me hoist that thing around when I really couldn't do it very well, and enjoying some of the best experiences I've had, ever.  And certainly it was one of the best, if not the best so far, summers of my life.  I have never before thrown all shoulds and shouldn'ts to the wind and just DID.  I regret only a few adventures that didn't happen, but you just never know....

First solo extended kayak- do you detect fear??  ;)

I am all about the feeties in the sun
Kayaking for me has been the best therapy ever.  The motion is gentle, yet you have to dig in when the waters get rough.  The repetition is what strengthens the muscles and the tendons and the bones, but it is easy to stop and rest and "stump" for a moment to take photos and send text messages. So many private little joys.   It gave me a workout in the best possible way in all the places that I needed the recovery.  It provided me a way to become stronger without the use of dumbbells or barbells, which I was not ready for yet. When I tried to begin that too soon, I was just frustrated beyond belief by the amount of strength I had lost.  When I went again in August, after a summer of being on the water, it went much better and I continue to make quick gains.  The physical recovery is matched though, by the recovery I needed in all other areas of my psyche.


Kayaking is a solitary sport, but it is really nice when shared with people.  I did a lot of that this summer, shared my enthusiasm with my friends, both on the water and in photos.  To go with another person, or people but do all the work yourself is just about perfect.  I am so glad I had my #HaveAnAdventure friend with me while we did all of those crazy things- mostly involving waves and large lakes.  We are NOT experienced and we know it, right Adam??  Lol.  Lately, though, I have had to go on the water as I began- by myself.  I needed to gain that confidence of being able to venture out solo.

kayaking friends

So cut to last night- I pulled my bright yellow buddy off the lake.  It was cold.  I know what is coming. I captured a few amazing shots and lots of mediocre ones.  I plunked my stuff on the dock and again got out of the boat without getting my feet wet.  I could stand up without any effort and didn't fall over in the boat (yes that happened.  HAHA)  The change from my first quick paddle around the dock area of Smith Lake- the day I bought the boat- came to mind and I marveled at the changes.  I feel so free on the water, so strong and confident now.  So different than when I started off.  Then it was an effort to keep the kayak going in the right direction, now I have a whole set up for my camera and finally figured out the right settings for these pictures.  Before I was afraid to go far from shore, and now the middle is my favored position- at least in the river.  I can channel Jen and paddle with my feet up on the deck for miles.  I can maneuver around like someone who knows what they are doing.  I still feel like an impostor sometimes, I never would have thought of myself as someone who does a kayak.  I was always a little afraid of the water, though I love being on boats.  I worried about being that low in the river, but am so grateful for the POV when I am taking photos.  I have gone places I have never been before, or seen those places in different ways, and to think the real impetus for this purchase was broken elbows....  amazing.
First time in the water- May 17

I actually shed a few tears, mourning the end of my summer last night, as I drove back home- regretting the end on one of the first days of October.  I think I did a good job of stretching it out as far as I could.  I will wait a few weeks before putting Miss Sunshine away, but I am not anticipating another trip.  I will substitute other adventures for my wavy outings, but I will be thinking of next year, when new and exciting things will be happening.

Some things I will have planned, some things will be spontaneous, some things I am sure will be unexpected, but I will be there to find some joy and be open to the things the universe wants me to know- I can't even imagine, but I can't wait to find out.

*Besides a slight over cautious feeling when I am on water, I also feared dropping my phone/camera/lens/paddle AND after reading the book "Bird Box" there was a whole other dimension to kayaking.....  Lol.... fortunately that didn't last too long.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Roasted tomato sauce

We have a school garden right outside of the art room, and it is a cool thing as far as I am concerned.  I have been watching it this September and spied some pretty nice tomatoes out there.  When no one had picked many of them right before that first heavy frost of the season, I decided to do something about it.  We were all over that- I wish I had a pic of little Greggy picking tomatoes with us.  But I don't, so you just have to use your imagination.

The Mad-Science teacher did some research and told me about this roasted tomato sauce.  It basically involves tomatoes, a few aromatics and some herbs/salt/pepper.

The process is simple: choose the size of pan according to the amount of tomatoes you have.  I really didn't have that many, so I used a cake pan....  Some of us were able to use a turkey roasting pan because we have so many tomatoes.....  That will be me next year.  Plans are being made.  Anywho,  after you core and maybe if you are feeling ambitious, cut up the tomatoes, add in a chopped onion, a handful of partially smushed and completely peeled garlics, a pour of olive oil and a bunch of fresh basil.
Spray Pam on the pan!!  
I used a combo of full size and cherry tomatoes- these tomatoes were so sweet that the sauce is pretty sweet too!  Bake the veggies for about 3 hours at 375.  Or until the water has pretty much cooked out and reduced to a thick sauce.  
Still needs some reducing- I put salt and pepper on  it at about this point

After it has cooked down, you can remove some of the skins.  I probably took out half of them, but you really don't notice.  You can also use a food processor or immersion blender and make the sauce smooth if you want, but that isn't what I care to do.  I like it less processed.  When you stir it up the garlic and onion sort of melts.  

This is the chilled and finished sauce
As I said above, the sauce was sweet, so I put a little chopped kalamata olive in it when I reheated it, which added a salty and tangy note to it.  This would probably be less sweet with more traditional tomatoes, but I used the heritage tomatoes that were in the garden.  A super dark paste type and a few very dark (maybe Cherokee purple??) larger tomatoes and a whole bunch of yellow sungold cherry tomatoes.  Goodness!  You could throw in some fresh thyme or oregano too- and maybe a little bit of cayenne???

Pasta, the sauce with olives and some parmesan
It has been discussed that we could saute a bunch of veggies (peppers, zucchini, carrots, broccoli) and throw those in there as well.....  could add lots of things.  ALSO, Laurie freezes hers in bags, so they stack flat.  This was truly one of the best things I have eaten all summer.  Well, all fall too I guess.  Oh summer, come back to me....  that will be for the next post, though.

This is some serious good!  And it gave me a whole lot of joy!

Friday, October 2, 2015

A joyful curve ball

October!  How did this happen, and what ever happened to September?  How can this be half way through the first quarter and how can it be 10 days or more since I blogged??

Ok, we know how fast the weeks go when you are at work, so there went September.  School has been going pretty well, the kids have been good and I will be grateful to have homecoming week finished for the year.  Craziness.

As for the last question, things have been rocking and rolling here. I am now the proud new Gramma of another Grandgirl!  YA HOO!  Little Ruth was born last Friday and is a whole week old already.  So Gramma Debi was on duty for little Greg.  What a little sweetie he is and we had a very good few days together.  Lots of adventures with him- you guys- watching a 1.5 yo is exhausting!  He is such a good natured little guy and I don't think he cried a little more than once or twice. And so I was gone from school for a while and this week I felt like I was behind, behind, behind. I am all caught up there, and I believe a trip to see them is in order sometime this weekend. It is nice that the trip will take about 10 minutes instead of a number of hours!

So during this time period I was supposed to go up to Bayfield and hike with the Mad-English and Science teachers!  I felt REALLY horrible about myself having that conflict in my mind all Saturday, but I would never have traded my time with the little guy for going north for the weekend.  I also didn't get in any actual exercise, though I certainly was tired at the end of each day!  So this little joyful curve ball that was thrown into my life certainly points out that I/we are definitely not in control, so why get worked up about it?  Well, if you know me at all, you know I was a little worked up, mostly because I was wishing I could be in two places at once.....  lol, it is trying to be me at times.

HOWEVER, wow did I have a good time with my Grandboy.  We played in the house, on the deck, we all (including Grandpa) went and picked apples in the yard, we patted Jacpot, he watched for the cat and never caught her, lol. He took amazingly good naps and he slept through the night like a champ!  We sent lots of photos to mom and dad.  It was a good good weekend.

Anyway, I need to get myself ready for FRIDAY!  May all the curveballs thrown into YOUR life be as joyful as this one was for me!