Friday, October 31, 2014

The Circle

Yesterday, Karen and I went to an art show.

There I was reacquainted with a good friend whom I hadn't seen in 6 years.  She's now a farm girl living only three miles away.  
After the Frank'n'Stein (hot dogs and beer, get it?), we stopped by another friend's house to introduce Karen.  Now that two of my dearest friends have met, the circle of friendship has grown.  No better way to spend an evening.    

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Hallowe'en

Last Sunday, I happened to be at an old factory.

I happened to be wearing a blue shirt.

I had a red kerchief in my car.


Rosie the Riveter. I couldn't resist...

I hope to never be too old to be silly and play dress up.  
Now, where's my candy?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dispatch From the Loony Bin


8:20 PM drawing up water from the well to water the garden.

8:40 PM my head lantern catches two glowing eyes in the lotus pond.

Can it be???

WILBUR!!!  Can it be?

8:41 PM stop watering and begin catching bugs.

8:42 PM confirmation that it is Wilbur, he let me hand feed him a moth.

9:05 PM set up night light to attract more moths above his pond.

His months long disappearance had been blamed on the snake, but now it appears he was away making baby Wilburs.

Tonight, all is right in the world again.  Nite, nite.

Back to School

My first idea was to go through our local college to get my Personal Trainer certificate.  The sequence of classes, my partial credit for past university classes, ect, ect, I was looking to graduate in a year and a half. 
Ike said that was malarkey. "Go directly through the American College of Sports Medicine", he offered.  OK. We found an online class that begins Nov 6.  I bought all my textbooks and they are in transit to me as I type.  I'm so excited!
The only caveat was the prerequisite of being certified for First Aid, CPR and AED by the Red Cross.  Once again, luck was on my side:  a class was being held only two hours away this past Sunday.  I had three days to complete 8 hours of online classwork before Sunday.  I was sweating it:  I haven't studied since graduating from Auburn back in 2000 and computers hate me.  
I stressed out for nothing.  Easy Peasy.
Back when I was 14, I had taken a similar certification class in Canada...many, many moons ago.
I still have my 1970's St. John's Ambulance book.  Apparently, the Sylvester method of CPR is no longer practiced!
Tell that to Mr. Bean.  This is my favorite clip and so a propos.
But seriously, this was the second Red Cross class I have taken.  The first was a Dog First Aid class three years ago.
Cole didn't appreciate my practice rescue breaths (reminiscent of kisses and he hates those).
Tip of the hat to those Red Cross volunteers who teach the classes: devoted, knowledgeable and hilarious.  The Iraq war veteran teaching the dog first aid class was a big man with an equally big heart.  He strayed off topic to teach us how to perform CPR on squirrels. (I was choking back tears of laughter on that one). If you happen to see a Vin Diesel looking character on the side of an Auburn road, squeezing a varmint's chest between his fingers, it's probably him. 
So there you have it.  I hope to be prepared for the certification test by January 1st.  My first client is already booked (thank you Dr, Kjar for your support!).  The long range plan is the take some classes from the local college for a year, then take those and my credits from my bachelor of Science and transfer back to Auburn University's School of Kinesiology.  As I said:  long range...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Back to Abnormal

10 days since my return from vacationing and I'm almost caught up on work and chores around the farm.  I found my lawn under its blanket of leaves.  The livestock have been groomed and hooves trimmed.

Four of them queued up on Saturday.

Few things as beautiful as a well groomed ox.

One sight that wasn't so pretty to behold last week:
A hawk flew through my window, dropped feathers in my dining room and busted out a screen to escape.
A few years back, it would only take me a couple days to catch up after a holiday.  Now, it takes weeks.  I hate getting old.  A wise friend told me that I needed to learn the art of acceptance in order to make my life easier.  Never.  I would rather wear out than rust out, until death ends my struggle.  I don't know why I go to extremes, why it makes me happy to push myself to the breaking point. 
On the 3rd day of my holiday, I bashed my big toe running in Ohio.  I lose little toe nails regularly, but the big toe is apparently a different animal.  It blackened, but wouldn't fall off. Then came the canoe trip were my feet remained cold and wet for four days and I burned my only running shoes at the campfire, shrinking the toe box. I kept running because the throbbing pain was NOT going to mar my vacation nor get in the way of catching up on work when I got home. The perfect storm in the makings... By Wednesday of last week, I cried Uncle. My regular doctor asked me if I had tried to get trench foot on purpose and referred me to a podiatrist.
Less than a day later, $390, three hours in the clinic, my toenail had been surgically removed along with all the infected tissue debrided.  
Whenever I'm in Canada, I get quizzed on the American health care system and gun control.  The American system is flawed, but so is the Canadian's.  What works in one country wouldn't necessarily work in its neighbor's.  It became very clear to me when I immigrated here that Canada and the States are very different culturally. 
I staunchly believe that I am not the government's dependent.  I am responsible for my own health care and its costs.  I agree that all citizens need insurance because what moron doesn't realize we all get sick and die.  And yes it sucks that it's so expensive and that people lose their homes paying for it.  I'll not be apologetic for my opinion because I lost my farm, but I'm still alive and kicking.  What is the price for life?
Back to the podiatrist visit. 
I have pictures of the before and after, but I don't want to ruin anyone's lunch.  When I look down at my bare toe now, I see a little old bald man staring back up at me.  
I tried to follow doctor's orders, but the antibiotics tore me up. I regretted refusing the two prescriptions for pain killers after my foot thawed out. And I tried to wear the Frankenstein shoe.
A better idea:
The melted shoes have one last purpose.
I even tried to abide by his orders not to run for two weeks.  Cole and I tippy toed around the pasture for 3 miles yesterday and it felt good!  I am that worst patient.
The new shoes my mother gave me for my birthday are calling me.
Mark my word, I will be wearing them by this weekend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Back in the USA

I left Canada on Friday and was back at work by Sunday night.  Much was crammed in between.
First on the agenda:  trail run with Cole in New York.  I'd chosen Chenango Forks State Park in Southern NY. 
5 miler along a historic canal and through the woods.

The sun even made an appearance-- what a novelty!
Next up was a run in the state of New Jersey.  The traffic, especially construction traffic during this trip gobbled up at least 5 hours of my time-- and daylight.
I pulled into Stokes State Park at dusk.  Half of the run was done in the dark, by head lantern.
We did only 4 miles or so.  I stopped my Garmin to talk to a park ranger and forgot to turn it back on when I'd resumed the run.  The ranger didn't like us running around in the dark, seems it's not safe or something, whatever dude.  I promised to head back to the car, but then I passed it and kept on going...
We're pros at getting in trouble!
And staying in trouble.
The result of raccoon versus Hyundai.  Both lost.  I'll be able to Jerry-rig some wires and carefully hidden bolts to reattach the trim piece and the rest of the bumper that snapped on one side.  My car may get 43 MPG, but it's not even a tin can,it's as sturdy as a pop bottle.
 The next day, we woke up in Pennsylvania.  Handy...the last state on my list.  On this trip, we added four more states to our tally.  Only five in the Northwest and five in the Northeast to go and we'll have trail runs in all contiguous states.  
Cole reading the signs before takeoff at Cowans Gap State Park.
"We're going up there, kiddo."  "Why? It's nice and flat down here."
Ahhh, the path less traveled.  The mountain trails were more like deer trails than hiking trails.
Or bear trails.  I had my hunter orange on, but bells for bears now appeared to be more relevant!  
"Ma, why you so slow?"  Because it's rocky and slippery and I burned my running shoes over a campfire, shrinking the toe box and my big toe nail is black, that's why.
High speed game of hopscotch most of the way.
My Garmin's battery died during the run, pity as it was a good one, 700 feet of straight climbing up the mountain.  Technology and I, not a symbiotic relationship.  Even my cell phone that I use to take all my pictures had rebelled against me in Canada.  I thought I had figured out how to send all my pictures to my email account using free wifi.  Wrong.  Verizon, wisely, shut down most of my phone's capabilities after I'd crested over $300 of data and roaming charges.  So much for keeping this trip under $1000. Live and learn.
The entire PA run was done in a shroud of mist and rain.  Eerie and ethereal.
Back on the road, I had some shunpiking to do.
If I could do all my traveling on secondary roads, I would.
You don't see sights like this on the freeways.
Nor do you get the chance to paint a pony.  I had happened upon a small fair.
Amish families were serving up free breakfast.  I devoured the pancake, Cole inhaled the sausage.  
Farm country in Southern Pennsylvania is spectacular. 
I'm barn crazy anyway, but these had me on Cloud 9.

And these are only of one style of architecture. 
I overnighted at my client's mountain home in North Carolina, my favorite home away from home.  I hesitated to leave the next morning because of all the storms. Mistake.  I hit traffic from 50 miles outside of Atlanta all the way through to the Southern side.
Sunday afternoon.  Why would anyone choose to live here??? This is insanity.
Getting home to happy faces made it all OK.
My Morel.
I walked into a nice clean house and promptly destroyed it.
Hours of cleaning, washing, drying all my gear.  Even my binocular case had to be washed, everything smelled bad from being wet for day after day.

It was all worth it. What a grand trip this was.  My family stocked me up on The God's Elixir (maple syrup).
Over a dozen cans...that ought to last me a while.
That will go well with the pecans that have begun falling.  Oh, happy days.
On this trip, I also learned that my idea of setting up a camera on Cole's harness is one I should relinquish, unless I want to keep buying new cameras every time he bashes one into a tree.

We'll be back up to Canada again soon.  I miss it already.

I'll be back.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Making my Rounds

After a week of camping and a four day canoe trip, I returned to my hometown of Ottawa and made a concerted effort to act civilized. 

 Three days, how difficult can that be?
Uh oh.
To start, I arrived around midnight at my mother's house and proceeded to do laundry until noon of the next day, all the while junking up her foyer with all my wet camping gear.  Nice, eh? No pictures of the siege.  I should have taken more pictures on this trip, I'm mooching all sorts of pics from friends and family!
My stepdad and I took our dogs for a ramble in Gatineau Park, in the rain... it's a recurring theme on this trip. 

Next, the Southern Barbarians descended upon my cousin Phil's house.  Cole had to be taught how to descend steep stairs.

However, lounging on the couch is a task he has already mastered.
Phil, his mom and girlfriend treated me to a feast.  In true viking fashion, I showed thanks to my host by attacking him, repeatedly.  Even if I had the photos, I probably wouldn't share because it was beyond embarrassing. What prompted me to think that my few classes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu could help me overwhelm a much stronger opponent with years of martial art training? It wasn't pretty.
What happens when two Redneck cousins get together?  They stay outside until 11 PM throwing knives.
Phil sent them with me to Alabama because I definitely need to add knife skills to my repertoire (seeing as My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu needs backup).
He also sent me home with a pair of snow shoes.
The odds are not in favor of a major snow squall hitting me in Alabama, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared!
I even got a good run in at the Experimental Farm and National Arboretum.
For lunch, I migrated over to my cousin Mona's house.  Another feast and great company.
Notice the adorable pointer.  Cole wanted nothing to do with his canine cousin, Sushi.
Unfortunately, Cole and I had to leave in order to make it over to my cousin Fabien's house for supper.  
He and his wife, Kate, put on a spread... which is what my midsection will do with all this grazing across the Ottawa Valley.  You only live once and can I have a second serving of Moroccan Lamb Stew? It was a treat to spend time with my Uncle Bob and Mary, who had driven in for the occasion.
The next morning, we managed to wrangle my little cousins before they ran off to school.

Shortly after, I ran off to my Uncle John's farm for lunch.  When he's in the kitchen, it's serious business.
Phil and I did the mandatory run and play in the barn.
Then John and I loaded a box up with a bunch of his homemade preserves before I sped off to another dinner date.  This time with long time family friends, Doug and Gloria.  The duo had the most delicious homemade pizzas cooking when I arrived.  Yeah, my life is pretty rough.  
The next morning, I crossed back into the USA-- without incident.  Which totally shocked me as my previous reentries into the US have been very stressful due to another person with my name being on the most wanted list.  When the sirens didn't go off and the officer handed me back my ID, I wanted to ask if I was finally therefore off the No Fly List, but I decided not to press my luck and slink away.