Wednesday, June 14, 2017

An Adventure...A Bucket List item...A Personal Challenge

Last week at this time I was hiking the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.  I can't say I loved it, but I can't say I hated it either.  At times, as evidenced by my text messages to Kevin, I absolutely hated it, but time blurs those memories.  Right?

A couple of years ago, while day hiking in the Wichita Mountains with the Herron Girls, Kim and Bailey, our conversation turned to a curiosity about hiking the Appalachian Trail.  We decided we needed to give it a go.  We didn't set a date at that time, but we started talking about making it a Girls Only trip and giving it a try.  We decided to start at the beginning. Over time, we committed and picked last week to go.  So I started gathering my "tools."  I bought a backpack--a cheap one.  I bought new hiking shoes and got them 1/2 size bigger as advised.  I started gathering dehydrated foods.  I read.  I read guides on hiking the AT.  I read peoples memoirs.  I tried to absorb as much as I could.  I upped my workouts at the gym, walking more, raising the incline, coming in with the packed backpack and working out with it on.  I even walked home from town several times to get used to walking on real terrain.  ( if the Kansas prairie can ever prepare you for hiking in the mountains of Georgia!)

I'm not an experienced backpacker or even hiker.  I've hiked three times in Colorado.  I've "hiked" here in Kansas some.  I've never backpacked. I've camped and cooked over a fire, I've slept in a tent.  I just haven't hauled everything in a backpack and relied only on what was in my backpack.  So this was going to be an adventure.

I'm 53.  Kim is 43.  Bailey is 23.  We tried to convince Miss Kat to join us, but the thought of no showers for a week turned her off and she declined.  On June 2, the three of us left for Georgia.

We decided to hike from Springer Mt. to Unicoi Gap.  A distance of 53ish miles.  We had a week.  We figured we could make 10 miles a day but would aim for 7 for the first couple of days, as recommended in the AT Guide.

So on a rainy Sunday morning, we began.  We hired a shuttle driver to meet us at Unicoi and drive us to Springer.  We started hiking at 10:30 in the rain.

And it rained for two days.

At first, I didn't mind the rain or the walking.  For the most part, Springer is an easy climb and it stayed that way for the first 4-5 miles.  The rain was cooling, it was a gentle rain.  We quickly shed our rain gear because it was just too hot.  About mile 6, I hit a wall.  I was exhausted and probably hadn't snacked or drank enough.  I happened to have a Gatorade (which I HATE).  It tasted wonderful and gave me some much needed energy.  Our backpacks weighed between 25 and 30 lbs.  We didn't weigh them because we really didn't want to know how much weight we were carrying.  My biggest problem I think, was I was carrying the big bear canister in a backpack that was really to small for it.  That first night, we did some switching around and Kim took the bear canister and I traded her for the tent and the snack food which was in a bag.  That stopped the canister from digging into my shoulders and hips. (I found some chafing marks later from the canister on my back.)

Day two was a long day with hiking up Sassafrass Mountain.  It had rained during the night, so not much sleep was had by any in our tent.  My feet started to be a real issue on day two along with the rain that continued.

Shoes:  it's recommended that mountain hikers get their shoes 1/2 size to 1 full size larger than their regular shoe size.  You need this space because your feet slide in your shoes as you go downhill and your toes can slam into the end of your shoe leaving your toes bloody and you can and will lose toenails. I'd bought new shoes 1/2 size larger, but I didn't get good shoes, just normal over the counter shoes.  BIG mistake.  My feet hurt horribly by day two and all you can do is keep walking. There's only so may places you can get off the trail, so I kept walking, every step painful.  Every step UP and every step DOWN.

I tried not to let my misery show, but I failed.  Kim and Bailey knew I was hurting and knew I was miserable.  And it kept raining.  In fact, while on Sassafrass, it poured.  It rained so hard we had streams pouring down the trail ankle deep.  It rained that way for over an hour.  Just made everyone miserable.  Add that to my foot problem, and I was ready to quit.

At times, I had to walk on alone because I knew I wasn't fit company and I will admit, I told the girls if there was a way out, I'd probably take it. I tried to talk them into stopping at Neels Gap, but they were enjoying the adventure and wouldn't give in to my not-so-subtle hints. (good for them because it made me keep going too.)

Day three was better.  WE took a two hour break at Woody Gap and dried everything out.  It was paved, so the asphalt was warm and dried everything.  That two hour break allowed me to rest my feet.  The walk from there while still painful, was a nice walk.  I started to enjoy the trip a bit more.

Day four found us ready to go up Blood Mountain.  We ran into a south-bound hiker with his son who suggested we take the trail around the mountain, Freedman trail, because he was seeing hikers come across Blood Mt. with cuts, and bruises and bleeding.  We took Freedman.  Which was our toughest hike.  It's all climbing boulders and rocks.  It seemed never ending.  But once we made it back to the mail trail, it was a relatively easy walk down to Neels.  Where I bought new shoes.

Lord what a difference a new pair of shoes made.  My toes didn't hurt anymore and I had more support for the remainder of my feet which made such a difference!  And Pizza!  We had a pizza.  It was the best frozen Red Baron's Pizza ever made.  Ambrosia wouldn't taste any better than that pizza did.  With my shoes, we continued on for another 4 miles.

Day five, we hiked 15 miles!  We had an illusion that we could make the remaining 3 miles and get out a day early, but it was pretty rough headed up to Blue Mt. Shelter, so we camped.

Day six was a short day, around 3 miles to Unicoi.  We were up early, broke camp quickly and were on the trail by 7:30.  About an hour in our hike, we came upon 3 bear cubs--who we saw climb a tree.  Worried about Mama Bear, we slowly backed up, bunched together, and made lots of noise.  We then watched the cubs climb down the tree and head down the mountain to Mama.  We gave them plenty of time, then continued our hike down the mountain.  Two miles downhill.  It was rough.  We'd decided early on that climbing sucks, but going downhill hurts. It's just hard on your knees.  That two mile hike down was the worst as we knew we were on our last downhill trek.  We were at the car by 10:00.  Foot sore, knee sore, tired, and so happy, proud, sweaty, and very dirty and smelly.

I'm glad I didn't give in to my disillusionment and quit.  I'm glad I finished our set section.  But I don't think I'll do any more hiking on the AT.  Camping didn't bother me.  The rain?  Maybe it affected me more than I thought.  What I really think got to me is the fact that all you do on the AT is walk.  It's up and it's down. and down.  It was work.  Not hard work, but work.  And it does take it's toll on knees, ankles and feet.  Somehow it just wasn't was spiritually fulfilling as I wanted it to be.  It is that for others, but for me it just wasn't.

Part of me says to try it again and now that I have good shoes, I'll do better.  But I've been home 4 days now and my knees still hurt.  I don't like that!  It wasn't fun enough that I want to go back.  It's just not my cup of tea.  I'm rather sad about that.  I want to love it.  I want to feel awe or inspired or something.  But I don't.

I told Kev that I wanted to do this to see if I could.

I got my answer.  I can do it, but for me I guess I discovered CAN isn't fulfilling.  I want to want to do it...and I don't.

I guess that's OK.  Trying something new is about self-discovery, and I did discover things about myself. It's OK to discover you don't enjoy something.  It's probably as important as discovering you DO enjoy something it's just not as much fun.

I did it.  I set a goal and I met it.  I didn't give up when I so desperately wanted to. I hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Reading list

Passenger Alexandra Bracken
The Secret Chord Geraldine Brooks
The Nazi Officer's Wife Edith H Beer
Jeremy Poldark Winston Graham
The Dirt on Ninth Grave Darynda Jones
Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
Eva's story Eva Schloss
Ruins of Gorlan John Flanagan
Traveler Arwen Elys Dayton
The Last Midwife Sandra Dallas
Brotherhood in death JD Robb
Glass Crown Victoria Aveyard
The Great Influenza John Barry
The 5th Wave Rick Yancey
Rose: My life in Service to Lady Astor Rosina Harrison
My name is Mahtob Mahtob Mahmoody
Wild Cheryl Strayer
Kardashian dynasty: controversial rise of … Ian Halperin
A walk in the Woods Bill Bryson
The Obsession Nora Roberts
Game of Crowns Christopher Andersen
First Dads Joshua Kendall
The Infinite Sea Rick Yancey
The Last Star Rick Yancey
In the heart of the Sea Nathaniel Philbrick
Return of the Witch Paula Brackston
Bay of Sighs Nora Roberts
The Dark Horse Craig Johnson
As the Crow Flies Craig Johnson
The Curse of Tenth Grave Dryandra Jones
Schindlers List
It Wasn't Always Like This Joy Preble
The Cold Dish Craig Johnson
Roots Alex Haley
The Virgin's War Laura Andersen
Harry Potter and the cursed child John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
Bonk: the curious coupling of science and sex Mary Roach
Prayers the Devil answers Sharon McCrumb
Messenger Craig Johnson
Spirit of Steamboat Craig Johnson
Divorce Horse Craig Johnson
Hell is Empty Craig Johnson
Jesus before the Gospels Bart D. Ehrman
Grunt Mary Roach
Death without Company Craig Johnson
Junkyard Dogs Craig Johnson
Any other Name Craig Johnson
The Silent Sister Diane Chamberlain
Apprentice in Death JD Robb
The Mother Tongue Bill Bryson
Notes from a Small Island Bill Bryson
The Road to Little Dribbling Bill Bryson
The Highwayman Craig Johnson
Another Man's Moccasins Craig Johnson
Dry Bones Craig Johnson
Kindness Goes Unpunished Craig Johnson
Serpent's Tooth Craig Johnson
I am number Four Pittacus Lore
The Fall of Five Pittacus Lore
The Revenge of Seven Pittacus Lore
The Last Days of Lorien Pittacus Lore
I am Number Four: The forgotten Ones Pittacus Lore
I am Number Four: Legacies reborn Pittacus Lore
I am Number Four: Nine's legacy Pittacus Lore
I am Number Four: The fallen legacies Pittacus Lore
I am Number Four: Six's Legacy Pittacus Lore
The Rise of Nine Pittacus Lore
The Power of Six Pittacus Lore
The Fate of Ten Pittacus Lore
United as One Pittacus Lore
An Obvious Fact Craig Johnson
Turbo Twenty-three Janet Evanovich
The  Chemist Stephanie Meyer
The Undesirables Chad Thuman

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2015 reading list

I didn't post my list of books last year and was asked about it in, oh, July or so.  Because at least ONE person had asked, I decided to list books this year.  Now, looking at the list, there's only 60 some titles on it.  Which makes me wonder if I just didn't do a good job of writing titles down!  On the other hand, this year, I had a need to re-read several series.  I re-read the entire JD Robb "In Death" series (30+ titles) as well as Anne McCaffrey's Pern books.  McCaffrey's titles are listed below, Robb's aren't.  The Only Robb titles you'll see are the new releases.  I also re-read the Outlander series and they aren't listed.

One of the nice parts of reading ebooks is I can check my reading history.  But for titles I read in print, if I didn't remember to list them, they didn't get listed.  That is what I think has happened to me here.  I'll try to do better this year!

My favorite first reads of the year?   The Red Queen it's a fantasy/young-adult title but very well done.  Favorite non-fiction reads are harder to pick.  One that has inspired me to reduce the sugar I eat (knowingly and unknowingly), A year of No Sugar.  One that was fun?  Pioneer Girl: the annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder.   The most moving and disturbing?  Born Survivors.  

So, without further ado, here's my reading list from 2015.

A year of No Sugar Eve Schaub
Return from Gap Creek Robert Morgan
Carnal Desire Crystal Jordan
The Wilder Life Wendy McClure
Bound by Flame Jeaniene Frost
Tempted by Midnight Lara Adrian
The miniaturist Jessie Burton
Transcendence Shay Savage
Gap Creek Robert Morgan
Clockwork Angel Cassandra Clare
Pioneer Girl:  the annotated autobiography
A 50 year silence: love, war, and a ruined house in France Miranda RichmondMouillot
There was a little girl Brooke Shields
Obsession in Death JD Robb
As You Wish Cary Elwes
Sweet Poison David Gillespie
The Glass Arrow Kristen Simmons
Red Queen Victoria Aveyard
Seeker Arwen Elys Dayton
To Marry an English Lord Gail MacColl & Carol McD. Wallace
The Liar Nora Roberts
Dragonseye Anne McCaffrey
Dragonsdawn Anne McCaffrey
Renegades of Pern Anne McCaffrey
Masterharper of Pern Anne McCaffrey
Dolphins of Pern Anne McCaffrey
Dragon's Kin Anne McCaffrey
Dragonflight Anne McCaffrey
Dragonquest Anne McCaffrey
White Dragon Anne McCaffrey
Skies of Pern Anne McCaffrey
Dragon's Fire Todd McCaffrey
Dragon Fire Todd McCaffrey
Dragon Heart Todd McCaffrey
A Desperate Fortune Susanna Kearsley
Whose Names are Unknown Sanora Babb
After the Red Rain Barry Lyga et al
Bound to Darkness Lara Adrian
Virgin's Daughter Laura Andresen
The Dragon War Daniel Arensen
One year After William R. Forstchen
Devoted in Death JD Robb
The Perfect Nazi Martin Davidson
The Winter Witch Paula Brackston
The Midnight Witch Paula Brackston
A Name of her own Jane Kirkpatrick
Death on the Western Frontier Eugene D. Fleharty & Gary Hulett
How to be a Victorian Ruth Goodman
Outlander series again :)
tis herself Maureen O'Hara
Lights out Ted Koppel
Underground in Berlin Marie Jalowicz Simon
Tricky Twenty Two Janet Evanovich
Stars of Fortune Nora Roberts
Born Survivors: 3 young mothers and their story… Wendy Holden
The Heir Kiera Cass
Tournament at Gorlan John Flanagan
Pack Jeaniene Frost
Droughts and Dreams Glenn Beck & Matt Redhawk
The Virgin's Spy Laura Andersen
Brighter than the Sun Darynda Jones
Silver Witch Paula Brackston
Eragon Christopher Paolini
Eldest Christopher Paolini
Brisinger Christopher Paolini
Inheritance Christopher Paolini

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The Dish cabinet.

One of the things that I like to do is to restore furniture.  Specifically furniture that I will use and that has belonged to someone else in the family.  I've done a dresser, a library table, the Hoosier, and others that aren't coming to mind right now.  This most recent project is exactly like all the rest, it was a piece of furniture that belonged to the family.  I really thought I'd taken a picture of it "before", but I can't find it now.  Maybe I never did take that picture, but always thought I should take it.  That would be completely in character!

Sitting in the garage, ready for its new home!
 This cabinet belonged to Grandma and Grandad Woodruff.  Before the tornado, it sat in the kitchen, right inside the kitchen door, to the right hand side.  It's a solid black walnut cabinet, probably homemade.  There aren't any shippers marks or makers marks anywhere on the piece.  Grandma didn't have a "modern" kitchen, she had this cabinet and the Hoosier and I think the sink had a few cabinets under it.  This cabinet was the home of her dishes.  Silverware went in the drawers.  Under the drawers, she kept those dishes she didn't need as often. Boxes of cereal were kept on top. On the south end of the cabinet (or left side as you look at it), they kept a wire hanger that had been un-twisted.  Then they'd stick all their receipts on that wire.  Sometimes, it was behind the cabinet, but later in the year, it would stick out to the side.

After the tornado, Grandma and Grandad moved to town and left this cabinet in the basement. (Which was covered by a metal roof to protect everything they left at the farm.)  About 3 years ago, I finally convinced Kevin to bring this cabinet home for us to restore.  It sat in the garage until this October when we finally decided to get it restored and to give it to Andy.   So, we washed it and assessed its condition.

We knew there was some termite damage.  Everything stored in the basement suffered in varying degrees with terminate damage.  (The termites were discovered and eradicated during the 80's, after Grandad died.)  So, Kevin looked at the cabinet to decide what he would have to do.  I thought all the termite tracks could simply be filled in with wood putty, but Kev disagreed.  He took the back off, which was a walnut tongue and groove.  It was so brittle that it splintered when he tried to remove it.

One of the shelves was too far gone, so Kev pulled it out and replaced it.  Fortunately, he had an old piece of wood that was exactly the right dimensions.  One other shelf he could simply fill in the few tracks with putty.  One front edge, we just sanded the remaining tracks down until they were stable and left it.  One of the lower cabinet shelves had a knot hole about 3 inches in diameter.  The knot had long ago disappeared.  We left the hole.  We also left the spot where mice had chewed into the bottom corner.  There were huge gouges in the top.  Several deep dings in the sides  One of the sides still showed the saw marks. We left it all for character, and because, well, it is an old, beat up cabinet. It had survived at least 7 children and 20 some grandchildren and a tornado.  It's old and it's a survivor.  We wanted those scars to be a part of its story.

We bought some new tongue and groove car siding and replaced the back with new wood.  The top of the cabinet wasn't centered.  One edge was flush with the side of the cabinet, so we pulled it off and centered it.  We had to replace one of the pieces of glass.  All the hardware was sanded to remove rust, but we didn't remove it from the piece because we were afraid of losing screws or stripping them out and we wanted to retain the original as much as possible.

We wanted to keep the character, but we just didn't think staining and refinishing was the answer.  So, I convinced Kev to let me paint it with chalk paint.
 I'd been wanting to use chalk paint on something, and this became my first project.  Andy wanted it to be black.  I chose Rustoleum new line of chalk paint. The inside is painted in Aged Grey and the outside is called Charcoal.  I wasn't sure how we were going to like it once I had it painted, but then I sanded it and distressed it a bit.  And once we got the top coat on, I really quite liked it.  It looks old and rustic, and yet the paint gives it new life.
We took it over to Andy on Thanksgiving day.  My folks helped us deliver and set it up.  Dad thinks his grandad, (Harvey Woodruff) made it for his Grandma.  I wouldn't be surprised.  It had been built using square nails, finish nails,  and 16 penny nails--in other words, whatever was handy and available.  It had been varnished, or waxed, and stained, but not touched in a very long time, so not much of the original finish was left.  I'm not sure if the latch on the bottom doors is original, as there were tiny nail holes right above this latch that looked like it was for a latch.  But, then again, maybe he started to put the latch there and realized it wasn't centered, so moved it down.

I sure wish someone was around who knew the origins of this piece just so I would know and could pass that history on down with it.  It doesn't really matter though.  I'm  very happy we could save it.  I'm even more happy that one of my kids wanted it.  That Andy wanted this part of his roots means a great deal to me.  He never knew my grandparents.  He never knew the farm as it was when they lived there, and yet he wanted a piece of them.  Hopefully, this piece of them will live on for a very long time.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Yoga thoughts

I went to a yoga class on Thursday night and again on Saturday morning.  It was the perfect class for me, it was small.  There were 6 of us each time.  I knew all but two of the ladies.  (Since I'm still a "foreigner" in Bucklin, knowing this many ladies was comforting!)  And, we were all "older", the youngest is in her late 30's.  None of us are without tummy rolls either, which is comforting too!

I had a nice time, enjoyed the work out.  And had these reflections:

1.  I'm more flexible than I thought I was.

2.  My balance isn't what it should be!

3.  I do more yoga poses when I stretch than I ever knew I did!

4.  I know some folks who won't do Yoga because it's a false religion.  So, I enjoyed the irony as we worked out to Christian music.

5.  It all felt really good and I didn't think I worked that hard until I got home and realized that i was tired!