Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Really Living, Room

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“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” ~Etty Hillesum

As a child, growing up in a typical, suburban neighborhood and Southern Baptist home, we had a living room.

That rarely lived.
My mother used to laughingly refer to it as a place for the preacher, the insurance man and the Christmas Tree.

Saturday mornings would find me, just as it did years prior for my sisters, dusting flawless cherry end tables, a pair of small ceramic quail, brass antiques, the giant family bible and many other strategically placed collectibles; all lit by the morning sun filtering through the perfectly pleated off white sheers.

I used to think “Why would my mother put so much effort into this room when nobody really gets to use it?”

Like so many things, that make more sense to me as I age…I now understand Why –a little bit more.

When you have a house full of family that uses “Go big or go Home” as their own group mantra along with a dog, numerous activities in process- from artwork, insect taxidermy and college homework to learning the guitar…the house gets cluttered.

Very cluttered.

It seems like every surface has a backpack, a half empty glass or a granola bar wrapper taking up residence. At times, our first floor is ready for company, other times…not so much. In fact, if the doorbell rings unexpectedly…you will find me running in a panic picking up rogue bras and half folded baskets of clothes and empty yogurt cups.

Which is where the living room sanctuary comes in very….handy.

When we built our new home, we had never really had a living area that was extra, other than a finished basement which we found use for immediately with childrens toys, a spare bed and art supplies. However, with this build we had a sitting area that really didn’t have any idea what it was meant to be.

It never told us it’s purpose, so we waited.

I tossed a couch in there, but nobody ever really went in there to sit, because the kids as well as myself, found it boring.

And then one day, my husband Dave had an epiphany.
Why not create a room that feels like an escape?

A retreat.

A place where we don’t have to stare at a television as big as the kitchen table and we could focus on the art of conversation or read a book or listen to songs on vinyl. A place to reconnect ourselves with the past and in that, find a happy new place.

A place for the grown folk.

We would create a room where you could go for music, reading and a cocktail.
A room where Dan Draper might even be found with his feet up exposing his gold toe socks.

A room where you could shake off the afternoon work day and slip into your easy chair with nothing but the sound of ice cubes settling into a bath of bourbon. All this while Frank Sinatra or Deep Purple played across a disc of ebony black.

So we did that.

We created our version of a mid century modern escape.
A work that is always in progress but has achieved enough of it’s own personality that its purpose, and it’s pride,  is evident.

And we go there.

A lot.
Life doesn’t always call for a cocktail. Although, for myself, a well made Manhattan is one of life’s kindest rewards… Sometimes, just kicking back in a flax seed toned recliner and perusing the collected artwork, dated periodicals and escape in a modern day time machine is just what the doctor ordered. And I love it.

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There aren’t any preachers coming or insurance salesmen, but I did have a Christmas Tree in there this year and it is nice to know if those fellas do show up unexpectedly, I won’t be caught showing my granola wrappers.

So, like a lot of things I am figuring out, my Mama was right.
Again.
It is nice having a space that I rarely have to clean and that is always tidy and ready for company.

While hers was more the taste of American antiques and collectibles, we truly are enjoying our martini flavored lounge.

Cheers!

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A few short years…

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Just a few short years ago, I was an avid runner/hiker/trekker.
Then, like the saying goes; “Life happened”.
I put away my running shoes, my boots, my layered tops and leggings and expeditiously put on the near 65 pounds I had lost, in just under 6 months.

Then, recently I lost 25 pounds without really thinking about it.
Because Life, was happening again. Except this time it was joy with a touch of chaos and not life altering grief, building a new house, selling a house, starting a brand new business and finding out we were scheduled to move out of state by 2020.

This was new.
This was busy.
This was mid life calling.

Loudly, on a bull horn.

“Find your place Margie! All in or all out.”

So I started thinking about my own needs again, eating better, finding time to decompress and then I got sick. Really sick. With a side car of Steroids. Twice. And put on 10 pounds.

But Winter is here. My very favorite time of the year to be outdoors.
I love the colder weather.
I love that nobody else does.
Because that means, just about wherever I hike or trek, I am flying solo or with just a partner or two and that is a pretty rare thing if you are accustomed to a large family most of the time.

But Winter is here.
Just like it always is.
I have new boots.
I have a new schedule so I can find my way again and I am only working three days at the gallery. My time for discovery of my trekking legs is here again and I am going out on this roller coaster for another ride.

I may fail.
I may find myself too tired to even complete what I used to do, but I have my ticket, new boots and some XXXL leggings and layers.

It is all good.
I have these pictures of my past adventures to make me smile and keep me motivated too.
Enjoy what makes you feel best about you. Find your smile. Find your way to you.

And create something when you can.
It’s good for you.

5K race

me after the 5K. Cold but happy.

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Mr. Seasoned

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Big Foot lives.

Winter run

In or Out…just keep moving

Lydia pre run

Enjoy your day. 

HUG YOUR PEOPLE.

 

 

My Toast is “toast”

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I’m not a fan of white bread. But on occasion it makes its way into the house.
I toasted a few slices for the kids breakfasts one morning and had a piece leftover.
So I threw it outside for the birds.
It seemed like a good idea.

When I was little, my dad would throw leftover cornbread outside for the birds and they loved it. Since it’s winter, I figured the sparrows in the fields outside our house just might appreciate the free meal.

It’s been over three weeks.
It’s still there.
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It has been rained on, Snowed on, lost it’s toasty color but it is still in the same shape, same place and has not had a nibble.

Now we live in an area with coyotes, foxes, wild turkeys, deer, birds of all types, mice, cats, hawks and squirrels.
NOTHING has chosen this bread. Even in conditions where the birds are just off the new sod eating the grass seed, they are not tempted by this square meal.

To give you an idea of the vast area behind our house that holds all these would-be diners here’s an expanded pic.
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I find it interesting that nothing, out there, wants this piece of bread.
Not even a possum or skunk or raccoon and they will eat ANYTHING.

So it makes me wonder, if maybe they don’t recognize it as food. If there are so many changes in commercially processed bread that maybe it’s not even on the menu anymore for any other species except humans.

So I looked up some things about white bread on the internet. I’m listing a link I liked below in case you’re interested in reading.

http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/scary-ingredients-used-in-bread-manufacturing

That doesn’t necessarily mean these are completely true, just because I read it online, but I still found it interesting to read. And that is just a bit of the information available out there. Research for yourself and see what you think.

Maybe we should all think a bit more about the bread we are eating, and maybe even make it ourselves if we have time. I found a lot of great recipes out there. I’m definitely going to cut out the occasional purchase of white bread, and if nothing else read the labels and buy whole grain bread that has fewer ingredients for our family.

And I guess when Spring comes, I’ll have to remove the white bread slice so we can mow.

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Hope Springs “internal”…

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Rise and walk in the Newness of Life“…I can still hear Brother Brown’s words ringing in my ears as I left the sanctuary Baptismal pool…
resurfacing from a full immersion in the cleansing waters of Baptism.

I was nearly 18 years old.

I remember my water soaked gown growing heavier, stretching and dragging the ground as I made my way up the ramp to the helping hand of a stranger pulling me up and then out with my bare feet slipping on sanctified water left on the cold tile from the newly baptized that made their way ahead of me.

There was a moment there, between standing on one side of the pool dry and emerging wet on the other that life changed for me…

Not because of Baptism, itself. But because of the faith that I had within it. A belief that there was purpose to the event. Feeling God was there with me, surrounding me and releasing the things that didn’t sit well with my spirit.

It cleansed me.
From the inside out.

I’m not sure if everyone remembers the day that they were Baptized because so many make that step very young.

I always thought there must be something wrong with me, because I fought the urge to go before my church with such deliberateness for years before.

I remember when they would have the call to come forward for Profession of Faith. I would be holding on so tightly to the back of the pew in front of me that it felt like the Lord almighty might just have to drag me and the thousand pound pew up the aisle and deliver us both straight onto the pulpit.

It was hard to fight that battle every Sunday.

Me, against God.

A battle against what I knew in my heart was right but could not be compelled to fight the fear of actually moving myself away from the security of my seat nestled between my loving parents. I liked it there. I was always so relieved when they would sing the final stanzas of the closing hymn, I would breathe a sigh of relief because I knew I had gained another week of not giving in to the fear of surrender.

My parents  never pushed, coerced or nagged me about my reluctance to go forward. Even though my two sisters had been baptized in elementary school.  I never even discussed my fears or my steadfastedness at remaining pew bound during the last 5 minutes of church with them, but I am sure they could see it. Having been a very nervous and oftentimes unwell child due to anxieties, they knew my limitations.

Often times, in an effort to avoid the pains of battle, I would convince my mind to wander so I would not have to pay attention to my spirit trying desperately for me to reunite me with the Lord, in his house. Counting windows of stained glass, counting how many rows we were back or trying to peek and see if anyone was sleeping or nodding off in the self appointed “elderly section” located to my left without actually fully turning my head.

Then, one Sunday in April out of the blue, it caught me off guard.

Relaxation and acceptance.

I could fight it no more and at the opening lines to “Just as I am” I left my seat, excused myself along the sets of dress shoes and scattered purses along the crimson carpet and made my way down the aisle.

Weightless.
Free.
Ready.
It was very matter of fact.

And just like that, There I was, Just as I was. Professing my faith and feeling forgiven for all my detours and delays.
It was well, with my soul.

So I sit here today, thinking back on that April Sunday. Reminded of the anxieties fought by a younger version of myself and the sweet victory after surrender.

And it is Spring once again, in my heart.
Enjoy your day.
Rise and walk in your own newness of life.
Because life is short.
Live it in peace.

Hiking pants for the Big Girl

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“If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.  Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.”  ~Raymond Inmon

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I don’t know how my fashionista training began, but for me, leggings and running shorts are the only thing I need to go out into the world of hiking, walking or trailblazing. I had not paid much attention to them because I’m wearing them and not looking at them. But after viewing photos of my black fox legs, I think for some it can look a bit silly.

But I really don’t mind. I don’t even care, because inside, my happiness meter on comfort is flat out peaking at the highest point of comfortness.

But in an effort to look more “professional” against my wooded backdrop, I just ordered my very first pair of TravelSmith Hiking pants. They should be here next week sometime. I’m not a fan of ordering pants online but it was such a good deal compared to their normal price that I jumped on them at their “new without tags” (which really means, “Hey, I wore these and they didn’t fit but I had already taken off the tags and I think you may think they are new and I can get my money back”) and I’m okay with it as long as its reduced a bt and makes sense.

So, having said that, I sent my husband a link to order them for me from his computer at work since it has incomparable virus protection and I’m chicken using my card online.

Tomorrow I’m hiking with my good friend Lee and I know she could care less what I’m wearing but it would be nice to be in pants better equipped for the weather we are in now, which is cold wind, snow and occasional rain. But unfortunately she will have to see me once again in my stretchy finery. So I am hoping for dryer conditions than the snow I see wafting down to the earth and melting, because a fall in the hiking pants onto a spongey path is not as wet as a fall in cotton inspired leggings and shorts. They are way less forgiving.

However, I’m hopeful.

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I’m looking forward to a good fit and happy thighs in my new Big Girl pants, but part of me wonders if anything is as comfortable as elastic waisted leggings of cottony softness and wick away nylon shorts that protect my arse from the cold wind.
Because honestly I wish I could wear them everywhere. They just suit me. They are like hugs all day around my legs with the ability to flex that you can not find in a pair of jeans. No way.

My name is Margie and I hate jeans.

I never understood their glory. They are stiff and dig into my waist when I sit down, even as a much thinner version of m’self in the past, they just feel so rigid. I have a thousand pairs over the years from the stretchy Mom jeans to the more traditional cut and even some lower cut ones that make me feel like I need to hike them up past my hips but they have a low rise and refuse to surrender to the launch. So I end up feeling like I am having a mental tug of war as well as a physical one when I wear them.

But I will gear up and hope for the best tomorrow morning in my traditional legging attire and it may be my last time until warmer weather that I get to wear them, but then again, who knows?

“If it works, it ain’t broke”, right? So their attributes remain to be seen.

Hoping for some glorious photos tomorrow and a reduced waistline in a week or two. Glad that hunting season is over so I can get back to the deep woods and not fear for my life as a tagged and mounted wall trophy.

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If you’ve got plans to get moving, keep them.
You are worth the effort.
Remember any movement is movement.
Keep moving!

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A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. “ ~Paul Dudley White

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Finnegan Begin again…

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Early this morning, walking the dog in the quiet start of a new year…I stood there with that cool wind blowing against my hoodie and it felt so good to be alive.

To be in the moment of existing.

Just standing in my yard in my mismatched shoes and sweat pants with a wee dog doing her business I had this huge epiphany about where I am in my own life.

A huge flying V formation of Canadian geese flew over me and they all were honking at one another, ignoring me altogether and it was glorious and simple.

A cold morning.
A relieved dog.
A clear view.

A wonderful beginning.

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Boot Scoot Boogie….Wet Weather Trail Running has its Hazards!

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Got Rain?  No problem. Let's go!

Got Rain?
No problem. Let’s go!

 

Today I knew as soon as my feet hit the first slippery incline I had worn the wrong shoes.

Evidently in my dazed morning gear up I had absentmindedly put on my Asics Equation shoes Instead of my Asics Trail runners.
Believe it or not, the shoe can make or break a good trail run.

I was really excited I suppose because of yesterdays glorious fog run/walk (I’ll post about it soon) I could not wait to get back out there, even though it was raining this morning I had the gear to make it happen and I was going to keep on schedule. The temperature was awesome a nice cool but comfortable 59* and very little or no wind, so the falling rain, even though it can be bothersome really didn’t affect me at all since I had a waterproof rain jacket and hood.

Not going to win any awards for fashion, but I'm dry.

Not going to win any awards for fashion, but I’m dry.

I find the best way to combat wet glasses is to wear a hood and then a baseball cap. That kind of holds the hood on and it doesn’t blow off when you take off running. Because nothing is worse than trying to put your hood back on while you are running and trying to pay attention to where you’re going.

Well actually that’s not true, there are worse things…and I found them today.

Hazards are a part of any run. Whether you are in the city, on asphalt, concrete, the track at the gym, the park or woodland treks like the one I was on today. They all have their pitfalls, some of them are natural and some of them are manmade.

While I avoided the cracked sidewalk/baby stroller/loose dog urban hazards, today I was privy to the Mole/puddle/loose mulch/slippery surface/can’t see because my glasses are wet hazards.

I despise Moles. I’m a fairly tolerant gal of most of the critters but Moles just can’t seem to stay in their proper places. They break the rules and once those rules are broken it’s hard to get them to change their path. They love mulch, soft ground and trails that stay irrigated and loose. It helps their little near sighted selves navigate easier thru the clay and rocks that abound in this terrain. In my county, limestone shelves reside about 5 inches below all the land here. So finding an easy path to burrow is what the Mole is all about.
However, his tunnels and paths really provide a sketchy foot path for the unwary runner.
I have had over 500 miles in this particular wooded area and I still fell victim to this dastardly devil this morning and nearly cracked my ankle in half by not keeping my eye on the trail and instead surveying the area for wildlife.
That was my mistake.
You just can’t take your eyes off of the trail when it is this soft. It’s just asking for an injury or at the very least a twisted ankle and a dirty knee or two.

This seems harmless but a softened hollow in the earth of three inches can do a lot of damage to a knee or ankle.

This seems harmless but a softened hollow in the earth of three inches can do a lot of damage to a knee or ankle.

 

Learning to recognize Mole trails and tunnels is easy once you recognize the pattern in the earth. If you see a path or stretch of ground that has raised “vein – like” dark spots from exposed dirt or debris, slow down and take a look. It could save you injury and pain.  Just look for raised earth patterns, small mounds, exposed crevices and disturbed leaves on the surface if nothing else…and then test it with your feet. If it breaks thru easily and there are soft patches, you’ve hit a Mole haven. And they aren’t leaving anytime soon. Although in the Winter they have a tendency to settle in and leave the traveling behind…with Spring and throughout the rest of the year, if they have arrived, until something eats them for lunch…they aren’t leaving. So learn to run around them if you can.

Raised areas of earth indicate a Mole presence. Avoid running on these soft surfaces if possible.

Raised areas of earth indicate a Mole presence. Avoid running on these soft surfaces if possible.

 

 

Just a gentle push down with you shoe will let you know immediately what you're dealing with. Since uneven earth is also a normal phenomenon, if its soft that is the difference between the mole trail and natural ground swelling.

Just a gentle push down with you shoe will let you know immediately what you’re dealing with. Since uneven earth is also a normal phenomenon, if its soft that is the difference between the mole trail and natural ground swelling.

Another hazard for me was the “slippery surface” hazard. You never think of having to contend with manmade surfaces in the woods but often you run into bridges, crosswalks, asphalt etc…and you go quickly from mulch and grass to a hard slippery surface and find yourself slipping or completely loosing your footing. I’ve done this on several occasions nad until I bought my Asics Scram I had no idea how much better it could be.

Bridge over not-so-troubled waters...

Bridge over not-so-troubled waters…

But back to the trek and the troubles…Which brings me to the puddles…Clever little puddles. Sometimes you see ’em sometimes you don’t. But thankfully, aside from a wet shoe, they aren’t as tricky as the Mole dips. Unless they are super muddy and then you’re toast.

Puddles can be obvious or well hidden under floating leaves. Learned this the hard way.

Puddles can be obvious or well hidden under floating leaves. Learned this the hard way.

All in all, the best defense is a good offense. Do your homework, find a great water resistant hoodie that you can toss on your running gear, Keep an extra hat in the car and a pair old shoes to put on after you undoubtedly baptize your running shoes in some sneaky watering hole. But be careful, be smart and enjoy yourself.
In all weather.

For me, that is key. Having a good time. Enjoying the clothes I’m in, the place I’m at and the thoughts running through my head. Don’t bring work with you to the woods, problems or annoying work issues, for that moment in time, be good to your spirit and your body. Don’t worry about how you look when you run or who is watching you or if someone else has better timing or a body of steel.

You do you the best you can.
Enjoy the body you are in.
Be good to yourself and just be thankful for having the time to get out there and let off some steam.
Don’t compare yourself to others or push yourself to do things that are not comfortable for you yet.
Maybe you are just beginning to run. Build up your strength in your legs and ankles by taking walks and taking on inclines in good and proper shoes.
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You don’t start out running.
Run in spurts. Run. Walk. Run. Walk…before you know it, you’re running more than you are walking.
Or just enjoy the fast paced walk and get your groove on that way.

Whatever works for you.
Whatever gets you out of the car and out of the house.

Do that.
Because that is pretty awesome.
But be careful as the weather changes, because you don’t want a set back.
Prepare. Be smart and keep your eyes on the road…

Happy Trails.

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Sometimes there is a good time to get lost…

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I was giddy.
I had my pink boots waiting with my hiking socks inside them for three days.
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Then today when I woke up and saw the cloud cover, I was a bit disappointed…but then I realized I wouldn’t melt, I used to run in the rain, snow and colder weather last year and quite enjoyed myself. It was time to (wo)man up!

I called my occasional fellow hiker, Lee- and we decided to forego our shorts, put on pants, long socks and tied our bandannas on our necks for any rainfall that may pop up on us after our boots hit the dirt.

Since most of the time I hike in a wildlife management area, I’ve learned to keep an eye on the sportsmans schedule. Right now it’s bow hunting season now and creeping up on us in a few weeks its going to be official deer hunting season, it’s super important to wear bright colors and hunters orange if you have it and NO WHITE bandannas or shirts if possible, that flash of white is way too similar to the backside of Bambi and you don’t want a near sighted Jethro squeezing off a round in your direction.

So for Lee and I- we sported our best unnatural green and fluorescent orange and set off for a new hiking trail called “Skullcracker” and were dismayed when we trekked the half mile to the trail head only to find that it was closed for some Police Training; which we think probably had to do with some tracking dogs because being the adventurous types we did venture in a bit to see what was going on and heard the baying of some seriously persistent beagles and bloodhounds on the scent of something along the ridge. We were just hoping it wasn’t us and we decided to head back to the car and start over again Even though we had just plugged in our first 3/4 mile to nowhere.
It began to sprinkle, but we were not going to stop.

Hiker Babes.
Freedom Finders.
Sweat Seekers.

So up to Rogers Gap and the Veterans Memorial Wildlife Management Area…A ten minute drive to the back of the road and then we would set out on what would turn into the longest hike I’ve done all year. Six long miles, two miles of which were rocky road that winded up and down some pretty twisty hills. A six mile hike really wasn’t what we were looking for, but in the end, I think we were both cool with the mileage, the views, the vistas, the photo ops and our triumphant return to the car at the end.
Dusty boots.
Dry camel packs.
Rumbling Bellies.
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In hindsight, I suppose having just 140 calories for breakfast is definitely something I wish I could have improved on. But I was so excited about a hike in a new place I could barely eat and I was already focused on my morning ritual of glucosamine, b12, a Synthroid tablet, a baby aspirin and two nostril sprays of Flonase and because it was Wednesday- a hormone patch change.  Plus I was excited to spend time with my friend Lee. She gets me. No stress, no chaos, no high weirdness.
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Lee.
She’s determined.
Independent.
Capable and when in crisis- a real badass.

So there’s no worries when we are deep in the woods on a hike together.
Pepper spray, knife, compass, bear spray, plenty of hydration and trusty bandannas.
I love a good trek.
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After findind a Coyotes cache of bones, antlers and a giant turtle shell, we took off up the road as the rain started to fall. Determined to keep going we pretended it wasn’t really raining until our glasses became streaked with raindrops and we were forced to seek a few minutes refuge up under a cedar tree.  We stepped up on the higher ground and just as we stopped moving two does crossed the dirt road and stood silent in the center with their ears poised and then in one single motion disappeared into the thicket without even breaking a blade of grass.
I love deer.
Even though they are common here.
They are spectacular.
Sharing a space with them is an honor.
I realize they need thinning on occasion, but I do love their majestic beauty.
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We came up on a really cool barn and went inside…shotgun shells, an empty bottle of moonshine and a huge Groundhog den. That Groundhog sure knows how to party.
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Photo ops were everywhere!
I think I took more photos on this rainy afternoon than any of my hikes.
Maybe it was the way the colors seemed to change from the cloud coverage, but everything seemed a bit more beautiful than usual.

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We took routes we had never taken.
We explored roads we had no idea where they ended.
It was a glorious, wonderful road to anywhere.
And by the time we were done we had clocked in over 6 miles.
We stopped for a while at the barn and still managed around a 15 minute mile.
Which if you know anything about hiking in terrain, ain’t too bad considering we had some stops along the way…

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So we arrived back at the car, our feet tired, our bellies screaming for food and our camel packs completely empty.
It was a great day to be there.
I’m glad the first hike didn’t work out, because it was my longest hike and I learned a lot more about the area I love.
A fun trip to spend under a cloudy sky getting my hair wet and my boots dirty.
And my lunch tasted better than usual!
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My boots are damp, but they will be dry by next week.
When I plan on doing it all again.
But in a new place, getting lost in the beauty of Kentucky.

Rain or shine.

Big Foot Returns. A pictorial woodland post de’ jour.

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I did it.

I have returned to the rocky road.
The insect filled trail.
The pollenated path.

And it feels great.

Big Foot lives.

Big Foot lives.

This past Thursday I put my new pink hiking boots at the front door with my hiking socks tucked inside.
Just a reminder to myself on Friday that “THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN”.
Regardless.
And it did.

I felt a huge surge of excitement when I laced up my boots and told the kids it was time to head to school. I knew after I dropped off Lydia at middle school I would be heading out to Rogers Gap to get my boots dirty. I think I may have been born in the wrong time period sometimes because I get the biggest thrill and kick out of stuff that would make some people cringe or turn up their noses. I am so glad I have a husband and kids that appreciate the outdoors as much as I do.
It had been a while since I had trekked. And recently I had a pretty big fall in the bathroom that has left me with a badly bruised elbow to the bone. I really figured it was broken it hurts so much, but after xrays it came up to just a badly bruised ego and elbow that hurts like heck and is really annoying me…

A tale of "Ow"

A tale of “Ow”

But enough of me and my slippery linoleum, back to the woods.

The road at the wildlife management area has been recently improved, so my low profile Scion makes the trip all the way back to the end, which is about a 2 mile drive that I used to have to hike from the parking lot.  A nice walk, but not really my idea of a “hike” since it used to be just rocks and gravel and huge ruts in the road filled with water and tadpoles.
Being able to drive past that and to the back made me feel like I was finally sitting at the grown up table!

Good boots Rock, especially on rocks.

Good boots Rock, especially on rocks.

I will be honest, there are times when I am hiking alone, that I kind of get nervous. Not that I think I am going to get killed or attacked, but more of a “What’s watching me?” Kind of feeling comes over me and I realize it is just  a deer or critter that has turned statuesque as I pass by to camouflage itself.

But it’s kind of creepy.

Tall grass always reminds me of "The Ghose and the Darkness"...which is ridiculous...but I do it anyway.

Tall grass always reminds me of “The Ghost and the Darkness”…which is ridiculous…but I do it anyway.

Raised by a hunter, fisherman and avid outdoorsman…I know the drill. I come into the woods protected: against insects and two legged critters as well. I would definitely be a force to reckon with if you were to come up on me unannounced, so announce yourself. With a bear sighting recently in the areas I hike in, my friend Lee- a lady I adore that I sometimes hike with- and I are usually carrying a Bear spray or some form of peppery repellent. Which as silly as it sounds is a great deterrent. Just do a little research and you’ll find that it is safer for the hiker than just about anything else. While the bears that are finally returning here are primarily vegetarians, they are omnivores and can smell a granola bar so I don’t pack in any foods, only water. Opportunistic feeders are hungry most of the time. A healthy ecosystem needs balance, so I don’t blame them. If you conduct yourself properly, make a bit of noise, they will leave your area and give you space.

This trip was really inspiring, the coolness of the morning was still lingering in the air so the insects were mostly still hopping, crawling and not flying. Which gave me a freedom I wasn’t used to since late Winter. No bugs in my face or trying to fly around my ears. It was lovely. Usually there is a horsefly buzzing me constantly to the point where it sounds like there’s a chainsaw on my head.

The road less traveled...is best.

The road less traveled…is best.

I walked in about 1.5 miles, I spotted a red tailed hawk that flew from tree to tree welcoming me back and then a Peregrine falcon swooped down into the brush and made something scatter. Although I didn’t see any, there was a Tom Turkey that was searching desperately for a mate down in the valley that piqued my interest but after battling some high grass and sketchy vines I doubled back headed to the car. I figured 3 miles was a great start back. I had on my camel pack and sipping the occasional drip of water had me hydrated and quite honestly I was feeling really good. I was taking a few photos and then looked up and saw a fellow hiker heading towards me, a seasoned fella with two aluminum walking sticks.

He took his hike much more seriously than I did.

Mr. Seasoned

Mr. Seasoned

We stopped and talked about hiking trails around the area and he really had some interesting news and some tips for me with regards to hiking and alerting me that my white bandana I had around my neck really did look like the backside of a deer through the woods and since bow season for whitetail just began, and then regular hunting season is soon I might want to switch to hunters orange or bright pink. I was very appreciative since I like living and everything.

There is something really cool about meeting someone in the woods, in the quiet and stillness and having a conversation. It almost feels like you are back in time, passing a hunter/gatherer in the woods and sharing some news from the neighboring village. He was really a nice man. I took this photo as he passed on down the road. I forget his name, but he was worth talking to. I hope I run into him again.
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I finished my trek and as the sun started to reach higher in the sky the deer flies came out and attacked me before I reached my car.
They were back.
In full force.
I tried to run, but the road was just way too rocky, I already had a nearly broken arm, the last thing I needed was a twisted ankle, so I just swatted and flittled about until I reached my silver toaster.

Those deer flies were ferocious, bouncing off my car windows so hard I felt like I was in the Stephen King Movie, “The Mist” and prehistoric creatures were going to eat me alive. One stayed on my car window and was determined to get a taste of middle aged mother. But thanks to the long ride out he gave up and headed into the woods for some deer flesh.

Mr. Hateful

Mr. Hateful

I felt so good after my hike.
I had done it.
On my own.
As the sun began to rise high enough in the sky to cast shadows, I stopped the car for a moment in the road and took in my journey.
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I was so elated.
It was officially here.

Me.
Part II.

And I am going to Bring it.

Eat…Drink and Be Scary

Standard

Well, after nearly two years or longer my family and I made it back to a Big name Chain buffet here in town. We stopped going there years ago because the food quality was not up to par and we ate too much…but because of a birthday party my daughter was invited to, we decided to give it a try and eat dinner there while she partied with her friends.

What a mistake.

I should have known we needed to turn back when I saw the ad for the “cotton candy and chocolate fountain” at the front door. Those are not key words for nutrition.
But we went on in, fought the crowded line, paid for our buffets (12 bucks each) and settled into our booth. Amid approximately 150 other people that had the same idea. But judging from their affection for the food, they were regulars.
Our server came by and told us we could go to the buffet whenever we wanted.
Having said that, if I could turn back time, I would. Its three days later and my lower intestine is still angry with me; and I tried hard to keep my choices at 1-4 ingredient recipes as much as possible.
But my system and my families systems are just not geared for processed foodstuffs of this magnitude anymore.
Every item was awash in butter, sauce or salt.
OR all three.
Overcooked vegetables floating in margarine and watery baths. I was so shocked at the food quality that I was thinking of running for the door. I really should have. I should have never gone. I should have told my daughter we would give the girl her present somewhere else or seen what I could do regarding her admittance and having her not eat from the buffet.

But hindsight is 50/50.

I have never seen so many people in sweat pants and pajama bottoms eating in a public place before. It almost looked as if 25% of the population had undergone some type of surgery and we were in the hospital cafeteria.

My son Benjamin looked at me and realizing our entrance fee to this culinary circus was nearly fifty dollars, said, “Mom, I am surprised some of these people can afford to eat here. It was difficult for us and we own our own pants!”

I was really saddened by the food choices. I have never seen so much processed food in my life and I think what made me the saddest is that nobody else seemed affected by it. While my husband was at the salad bar, which was a ghost town, my son and i tried to find foods we recognized.

I watched patrons pass by me with towers of fried chicken, gravies, sauces and bread and plates that were so amass with food I wondered if they thought they were charging per plate.

One woman next to us had to enlist the help of her kids to help move the table so she could get in. I was shocked that as a society we are getting so big in the waistline that it is common to see someone weigh over three hundred pounds.

We don’t even bat an eye anymore if we see a couple that weighs over 700 pounds. Yet, if you look back at photos of the 60s and 70s it was really uncommon to see someone of that stature and mass. In fact, anyone that large would have to have their clothes made because they didn’t manufacture clothing for people that obese.

I am so concerned at our culture of gluttony. What is good in small amounts seems to be even better in large. One scoop of icecream won’t do, let’s do three and put it in a cone as big as a hat while we’re at it.

No wonder our children are increasingly fighting more and more childhood obesity and diabetes. We are setting them up for failure when we approve of buffets that cater to processed foods and low quality food stuffs that are over cooked and under nutritionalized.

I am still what I consider and the National guidelines consider “obese” at 210 pounds.

I know I am still on the side of issues with my health, but at some point I realized I needed to step away from the grocery store shelves and get moving and prolong my life. Losing 50 pounds saved me from weighing 300 pounds which is where I believe I would have been by now if I had not stepped into some running shoes.

Our acceptance of high calorie foods and our lazy lifestyles have led us to being one of the most overweight countries in the world, if not THE most overweight country. Clothes are made for women and men that keep getting larger and larger and as a society we are okay with force feeding ourselves in order to feel better.

Next time, we will just send a gift card and show up for a slice of cake.