Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Winter Walk


Up until this winter, the coldest thermometer reading I've ever seen is -19. Once. On December 30th, the thermometer read -27 and it got worse from there. We've had 4 days off of school due to the cold (I enjoyed those!) plus 2 more for snow, and I've been in wind chills in the -40s. There have been more days below zero this year than above. Some days, the high was negative. The high! I now know that I could survive winter in Alaska, because at a certain point, you stop caring what the temperature is and just keep putting coats on. 

With the weather the way it's been, we haven't done many things outside. Getting the snowmobiles running has been low on the list, somewhere behind plow the driveway, keep the wood stove going, and avoid frostbite, so today the weather was a little warmer, and we wanted to do something to take advantage of it. Not to mention do something that would wear the puppy out. So, we decided to showshoe!

The fella has had a pair of snowshoes for a few years, and a few weeks ago we went on a candlelight snowshoe walk with a local rod and gun club. I had to borrow a pair, and it was the first time I had ever used them. It's way easier than it seems, and even a klutz like me was able to walk upright (I can't say the same for this walk, but that's fine). First of all, the candlelight walk was one of the coolest things that I've done. It was on one of the rare nights this year that the temperature was in the 20s, the light from the battery operated candles lit a path through the snow-covered woods, and a friend brought glow sticks, so we walked with the faint glow of greens, blues, and purples from our wrists.

Today, we set out for the family farm after playing around the yard with Daisy.

I love when she flips the Frisbee up and the snow flies in her face!

After some Frisbee throwing and an attempted snow angel (mine, not Daisy's), we set off on our adventure. 

The fella took the lead first as we followed the snowmobile trail to the spot where we veered off and took on the woods.

Once we left the trail, walking became a little more difficult, so we took turns breaking trail, which is harder than it looks. The snowshoes are awkward as it is, add high-stepping into calf deep snow and enter thigh pain. The fella's trail was much better than mine which looked like "Sasquatch got drunk." His words, not mine!

A beautiful cloudless sky :)
Once we got to the tent that we have set up and knocked off all of the accumulated snow, we headed back home. On the way back, we used the snowmobile trail which made for much easier, not to mention downhill, walking. Winter's not so bad when there are things to do besides wasting away inside!

Now, I'm going to go put on another sweater...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Garden Preparation

In order to survive the bitterly cold winter we've been having looking towards spring is an invaluable survival technique. I have been looking forward to having a real garden for years, but our situation-renting and/or moving-made it nearly impossible to start on-time or be around to reap the benefits of our labor. This is the first time that we'll be ready to start a garden in the spring and be in the same place to harvest. I can't wait!

Vegetables from our first garden when we lived in Wisconsin 2 years ago. The green pepper plant moved with us to Idaho only to be killed by my brown thumb :(

This year, I have time to plan and start seeds and lovingly tend, and I am thrilled. I started doing research in earnest today, because as a novice when it comes to anything beyond throwing seeds in the ground, maybe watering a few times, and plucking weeds here and there, I've pretty much just waited and kept my fingers crossed. This year will be different.

Part of the research I'm doing is about what plants to start inside and when. We have an office that's horribly cluttered with things we haven't found a place for, but once it gets cleaned out will be a perfect place to start seeds since it's south-west facing and gets tons of sun throughout the day. We've been saving egg cartons as a place to start the seeds, but I'm considering just buying a starter kit, for this year at least. Starter kits come with seed trays, a water reservoir, self-watering mat, and other features, including a greenhouse top to hold in humidity while the seeds germinate (I didn't know this this morning. It's amazing what a little internet research will do!)

I'll keep updating as we go through the process of planting and watering and watching and harvesting. I have big dreams of creating a wildflower garden (to use at our wedding reception), too. I tend to jump into things head first with no regard to how much work it will be. No baby steps for me (unless you're talking about Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Plan and then baby steps it is!). In my head, I see beautiful gardens surrounding the house and a porch to be envied with chairs and tables I've made from pallets (that don't exist yet) and bright pots full of easily accessible herbs for cooking and tea. I want to can salsa and pickle zucchini and beans. I want to go the summer and into fall without buying vegetables and maybe have enough preserved to last through winter. Now I just have to wait for the snow to melt and for the temperatures to accommodate human life again!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Random Thoughts

So, I haven't posted on here in about forever, but I have some random thoughts and an empty classroom...

1. I had a conversation with a student this morning that went like this:
*Student sidles up to me in the hall
Me: Hey there.
Student: Hey.........................................
......................Bill (name changed) looks creepy with no hair.
Me: Huh. How are you?
Student: Sick
Me: Sick, huh?
Student: No.
Me: *staring, obviously confused*
Student: I feel like I'm going to throw up.
*Student walks away leaving me staring at him as he walks down the hall.

This happens a lot. Kids say things, I stare.

2. Watermelon is delicious, and I'm glad it's coming back in season.

3. I sewed a yoga mat bag yesterday. It's awesome!

4. I went on a walk at lunch today, and I think rather than putting my heels back on I'm going to wear my workout shoes the rest of the day.  The students will be impressed.

5. Remember the chipmunk from this post.  Well, he's alive an well and in another teacher's room and is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen.  One day he stretched. It was amazing.

6. T-minus 2 months until we move back to Wisconsin. So much to do!

That is all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Confessions Link-Up

I tell myself I'm going to do this each week, and I don't.  So, I'm writing the post now, on Saturday, and will try to schedule it to post on Wednesday.
*I did not post this last Wednesday, but I am this Wednesday!

I confess that I'm a lazy, lazy bum on weekends, and just don't want to do anything!

I confess that I have been obsessively counting calories on and have been doing very well! Also, it seems to be working.  I know this because...

I confess that I weigh myself every morning on our wildly inaccurate bathroom scale.  It's good to keep an eye on things!

I confess that I'm almost as excited for all the takeout that I get to eat over our Christmas vacation as I am about seeing family and friends....almost. Hey, I get to talk to family and friends and tell them I miss them. I do not get to talk to Chipotle and tell the burritos how much I miss them.  That's normal, right?

I confess I am counting the days until Christmas Break (when you read this, there will be 9 (correction: 6!!!) school days)!!!!!

I confess I am hard on my students because I want them to succeed and start taking responsibility for themselves.

I confess that the above confession is making a lot more work for me and driving me to frustration and exhaustion on a daily basis.  I'm starting to understand why some teacher run off worksheets and fill their days with that, but I won't, and I hope it's worth it.

I confess that I love when I have my room full of students getting help for their work, but some days, I need the room to myself during prep and I kick most out.  Though that's very rare.

I confess that I just ate a bunch of homemade potato chips, and I want more.  It's just baked potato slices and the dip is made with greek yogurt so there's no fat.  Maybe I'll make more....(this is happening on Saturday).

Whew! I just kept thinking of stuff.  All done!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hunting...From a City Girl's Perspective

"As a little girl, did you ever think you be hunting deer in a snow storm in Idaho?" the fella asked.

"Not even once," I replied.

I grew up in a medium sized city in Ohio with parents who are neither hunters nor fishers.  Our idea of outdoors was the creek down the street from my house.  I grew up on store bought meat, as most people do, and never knew there was another way.  I always thought guns were cool, and when we visited my Virginia family I got my first taste of shooting.  Still, I never saw myself owning a gun or hunting for my food. 

When I moved to Virginia and spent more time with my family who are avid hunters, I started to think it might be something I'd be into.  I had shot more guns and eaten venison by then, and I started to think why not. I had also met the fella, a born and bred Wisconsin country boy who grew up hunting.  It sounded pretty cool.  That summer, I took my hunter's safety course and got my license.  I got a few strange looks since the only other girls there were with their dads or boyfriends.  There I sat attentively listening to the rules, techniques, and history and trying to commit it all to memory.

I saw no deer during my first hunting excursion with my uncle.  But he did give me my first gun as a graduation present.
I was a tad excited.
  I didn't get to go the year after since we had just moved to Idaho and didn't want to buy non-resident (read: expensive) tags.  I eagerly waited for this year so I could see if I had what it took to be a hunter.  It can take a lot of time walking quietly in the cold before you get one and I'm not a huge fan of quiet or cold. 

Here are 4 things I learned in my 4 days of hunting:

1. Watching hunters together is fascinating.  It's like they have this connection between their brains that makes everyone know what the other is thinking without many words.  As a novice, it's incredible to watch.  I'd hear a few hushed whispers between the fella and the friend we went with and before I knew it, a plan was hatched and we were walking to the determined location that I wouldn't have been able to find with a detailed map.  The directions sound something like this: 

Hunter 1: Remember that stump we walked by yesterday where that branch was broken.

Hunter 2: Where we saw those tracks? Yep.

Hunter 1: Walk to that spot and then circle over the ridge and meet us on that knob where we glassed the field.

Hunter 2: Gotcha.

I stand there trying desperately to remember all the stumps that I've walked by and tracks I've seen.  My eyes start to cross and when asked if I know where we're going I say, "Of course, lead the way."

2. Walking is usually very simple.  Unless you're hunting. There are lots of things to think about while you walk.  For instance:

-Don't drag your feet.  Meaning pick up your foot and set it down softly yet deliberately in front of you.  Sounds simple.  Now add  work boots, two layers of pants, 4 layers of shirts, a fleece, a jacket, gloves, and a gun you've never really handled.
-When you pick your feet up in the aforementioned way, your legs will get sore.  Seriously, put on all that stuff and march around.  It's quite a workout.
-Keep your head up while not dragging your feet and walking over rocky, unknown terrain.
-Look for deer.  Look for deer while picking your feet up, wearing a million layers, and not making noise on crunchy leaves.

3. You and your gun will become one.

Weird right.  But seriously, the first day I carried the gun, my arms hurt, my shoulders hurt, my hands hurt.  It was weird.  Following all of the above steps for walking (no pun intended! Wait. I intend that pun.) while carrying a loaded weapon (safety on of course) makes you really aware of your actions and how much you use your arms while walking in unfamiliar territory.

By today, before I did anything I thought, "Where should the gun be." Whether crossing through barbed wire (yes, I did get my pants caught once and almost fell on my face.  Thank you for asking), tight-roping across a fallen tree to cross a creek, or climbing a hill, the first thought was always about where the gun should be.

***If you don't like hearing of animals killed for sustenance, STOP READING!

4. When the deer is in your sights you shake, badly.  It's also hard to breathe.

I don't remember the last time I had a reaction like that.  Maybe when I saw the helgramites. No, this was worse.  The fella and I crept to the wooden fence between me and the deer, and I got set to shoot.  I pulled the hammer back while watching the four does that were in the field in front of me.  I got one in my sights and waited as she took a few steps away from the tree she had been standing behind. And then I started to shake.  Oh, did I shake.  The fella said the gun was rattling against the fence I was using for a rest, but I don't believe him! My breath was in short huffs.  When I pulled the trigger, I saw a flash of light and barely heard the shot.  I'll spare you the details of the rest, but I got my deer.  One shot.

No, when I was a little girl I did not see myself doing this.  I didn't see myself getting excited because now we have two deer in the freezer to get us through the winter and we don't have to buy meat on our meager grocery budget.  I didn't see myself traipsing around Idaho woods and fields carrying a muzzle loader that I'm a pretty good shot with.  I didn't see myself already thinking about next deer season and what I can do better. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Not a Reaction I Expected

Do you know what a helgramite is? Neither did I until yesterday.

Let's back up for a sec.  I have a completely irrational fear of cockroaches.  Like I won't even touch a dead one. I won't let one be flushed down the toilet-even if it's dead.  If I see one, I run screaming to the other side of the room, trembling until someone takes care of the situation.  I have yet to be alone with one, and I imagine  a moment like that would look something like a crying, shaking heap in a corner. Ridiculous.

So yesterday, the fella comes home from work and says, "Oh, I almost forgot, I have helgramites in my lunch box.  I found them at work, they're in a water bottle. I can use them for bait when I fish."

"Huh. Well that's neat.  Now you don't have to buy them."

He brought them over to me and held up the bottle.  He was very proud of his find.  I had a realization.  Helgramites look like skinny cockroaches.  I backed up to the counter, eyes wide, breathing heavily, voice shaking as I said, "Oh, that's so great. Uh huh. Awesome."

And then I started crying.

Not sobbing or anything, but eyes brimming with tears while the fella stared at me.  At one point I said, "I don't know what's happening. This is not the reaction I expected."  The fella said that he did not expect that reaction either-and really who would-and backed slowly away from the crazy person and put his little friends in the garage.

THEN, I decided that it was ridiculous for a grown woman to have such a strong and, frankly, insane reaction to a bug (well, bugs) trapped in a bottle.  So, I tip-toed out to the garage, crept around the 4-wheeler, and looked down at the bottle sitting by the tires.  I slowly lowered myself to the garage floor and looked at them.  I even poked the bottle to see if they would move.  I named one Helga and decided she's their leader.

True story.

Friday's Letters

I haven't done a Friday's Letter Link-Up for quite awhile (I just realized that my "Q" key sticks a little), so since I'm sitting in yoga pants (because I will work out eventually) watching Live with Kelly and Michael-did NOT know Michael Strahan was the new co-host!-I'd get back in the swing o' things-this first paragraph had a lot of interjections, and I'm ok with that.  And the fella says that sometimes he can't follow my train of thought, psh.

Dear Fella, sorry I'm not always clear about what I'm talking about and that I jump around when I tell stories, and then think you're not listening when you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm working on it.

Dear Pilates, I love you. I'm going today, especially since I skipped out on yoga yesterday in favor or a glass of wine.

Dear Fox Montana Station Manager, thanks for sending a nice, informative reply to my emotionally wrought letter of distress when you didn't play the Packer game last week. This week is a bye so you're off the hook, but PLEASE play it next week!!!

Dear Breaking Dawn Part 2, I'm excited to see you, but I'm super sad there won't be any more.  I should just re-read the books I think.

Dear Work, I suppose I'll go do some now.  Not because I want to, but because the battery on my computer is almost dead, and I figure this will be the best time to go to work.

Dear New iPad, I think I like you. I really like iMessage and because it's on the iPad, I feel like It's professional to message other teachers in between classes.  I also like Facetime.

Dear Thanksgiving/Holiday Season, I'M SO EXCITED!!!! There are only 6.5 workdays until Thanksgiving Break.  I'm getting super excited to head back east for Christmas Break, too!!!!

Dear Fella, I think it's amazing that you do dishes while I cook so we can hang out in the kitchen.  I also think it's amazing that after parent/teacher conferences and a 13+ hour workday, I came home to a roast, potatoes, and carrots.  Not all guys do stuff like that, and I consider myself very lucky :)

That's all!