Thursday, January 30, 2020


This is the map of part of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. I took the map of the southwestern topographic map and overlayed it onto the Tromp and Chomp running route that KVR put together.
The trail run can be an 8 mile run or a 13.1 mile run. I can say I am not a fan of half marathons so I won't even try it in a trail run.

It has been so many years since I even attempted something like this. But one of my CrossFit pals was talking about it and I decided a goal for Spring would be a good idea.

Now this sounds totally insane for me right? I went out the other day for a 'run'. Let's just say it wasn't a run like 7 or even 8 minute miles. That train left MY station a very long time ago. I left any devices that could record my 'time' at home and went out to see if I could still enjoy a 'run'.
Funny thing is. I followed my son's advice and I ran, toddled, jogged, moved...whatever you'd like to call it for 2.5 miles. When I struggled hard on a hill, I slowed to a hard fast walk and recovered to go again.

When I reached our mailbox, I felt really quite good inside and outside. My feet still felt light my legs were not heavy. Nothing was broken!

Okay, two miles and a half won't get me down an 8 mile trail run will it? So I ran again yesterday. Only a mile, as our CrossFit workout in the morning was a killer workout.
The first half of the mile was a struggle, like jogging/running through soup. The last half was light and easy.
I picked up the mail and headed down the slippery driveway thanking my ancestors for good knees.

My son Eddie, has done many trail runs and he is advising me on how to approach this goal. Run a bit, walk a bit because the terrain won't allow you to actually run when you are going over boulders, roots, and through mud.
And I have hiked these trails over and over that are on the map. I agree. Parts of Little Canada can be beastly and require my hiking skills.

These are some photos from a past winter hike...I was incredibly amused by the trail markers...
Horses upside down and broken bikes. Does this mean it is a really difficult trail?

A swift hiker can do well in a trail 'race'. But my goal is NOT a race against others. It is a goal of can I do it?
Can I get set this goal and achieve it just before I turn 64.
I like challenges and goals.
That is how I live my life.

No runs today or tomorrow. Perhaps on Saturday or Sunday. Unless I can get to KVR and hike this trail again. It is a fun one.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Finishing touches Fairy house...

This was the gnarly tree I was working on...

I think I may leave it just about like this. I used Spanish Moss to 'embellish'.

I wanted a rock walk way and those tiny pebbles are settled into a bed of Elmer's Glue. It worked! The little stepping 'stones' are some Crayola Air Dry 'clay' material that is really easy to work with.

So here we are... done. I even made a little bed out of felt for LIL Bear to sleep in. For fun, I added a tiny light string.

Here is the tiny table near the back door. The little pinecone house was a purchase from the dollar store along with a the tiny bench. Those items will surely go outside when the spring/summer finally comes around for a short visit.

The original house was an experiment. I'm going to try again to make another one. After all, practice makes perfect.

In the mean time? The weather is dreary. We haven't seen the sun in what feels like ages. I will have my sunglasses near for when it does make an appearance.

Sorting must be something that is on everyone's mind lately. I got some items in the mail from my brother. He found an old windbreaker jacket of mine! Now normally one would not get excited about that.
However this was my Northbrook Softball League Championship jacket from 1977! Eek gads! I was 21 when our team won!
I was looking for a jacket just that weight and size...

And there it appeared in the mail.
My brother was cleaning up things and sorting. I imagine it was in my father's things.

Monday, January 27, 2020

He said...

"Why don't you take a day off?"

My husband was sitting in front of the TV while I was looking out the window at the mules I'd just got back in from feeding.
Charlie was buried in blankets on the couch.

"What a good idea!" I answered. "I'm going to the Ice Caves, do you mind?"

I got that look that sort of said he DID mind. Then I asked if he wished to come along. He gave me another look.
I then asked if he wanted me to stay home and watch him watch TV?

He shrugged and replied, "You are going to go anyway."

That was sort of a snub I guess. So I thought about it for a bit. I didn't want to make him feel bad. But he was able to get up and move around if his brain would let him, but I think his brain won't at this time. I ask him to go places with me and have lunch and he decides he'd rather sit at home. Socialization is very important for him. Yet he avoids it like the plague.

"Yes, you are right. I am going anyway because I cannot sit around all day." I am honest with him and he knows I hike or walk every single day when not shoveling or doing chores.

So I packed my backpack with my usual gear and headed out.

I'm so glad I did.

I enjoyed a beautiful hike exploring the Ice Formations near Wiester Creek in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.
Saturday the Reserve had a paid guided tour  and the folks that had walked made a nicely packed trail which made the hike much easier.

View from above the first 'ice caves'.

Inside the 'caves'.

The footing was a bit tricky, but I'd planned ahead with my YakTraks so it wasn't too bad.

The second ice formations. Inside and outside.

It was eerie listening to the water drip from the rocks through the ice formations.

I continued on towards a good view of Wiester Creek and the tiny bluff where more ice formed.

I noted that the guided tour ended there and circled back, but I knew about the old equine trail that went up and over those ice formations to another one that is usually not seen by anyone.

My hike ended at the Orange Ice.

Charlie and I had come to this same spot on the 4th of January and it had changed!

I headed home after talking with a group of people in the parking area that were headed out. They'd asked if the hike was worth it.

"Oh yes."

And it was.

Three hours to myself was very helpful. I felt refreshed.

All was quiet when I got home.
Rich was taking his usual nap.

He complained of not feeling well after supper and went to bed.
I worked on the gnarly tree and the Fairy House project until I felt ready to go to bed.

Let's see what Monday will bring us.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Keeping busy

Not the best of photos, but here is the peanut butter jar house after I painted it. The tree came from Amazon and I'll use that in a summer project. I'm considering trying my hand at making a 'fairy garden'.
I'm not sure about the little house, I will most likely have to spray it with a fixative to see if it can withstand the weather.

The little 'hut' is perfect for the toy dachshund that Allison gave me!
And there is Mr. Morris too.

I have this over my kitchen sink at the moment. Just to make me smile while I do dishes.

So I watched a few more videos and decided to try some more projects.

I put a bottom on a 'mushroom' I'd made with a toothpick in it...

Then I thought I'd try using foil to make a gnarly tree.

I know the clay I was using would crack but I didn't mind as I'd use Elmer's Glue and repair it with a bit of more clay. I think the little cracks make it more interesting.

This is after I patched it in places. Now I have to let it dry and do some magic with moss and paint!

These were experimental mushrooms. When the material is not put over cardboard or foil, it doesn't seem to crack!

Those same little mushrooms now with the bottoms and the tops attached with some glue and clay. I set them upside down in a 'possum skull to dry for the day.

I decided to try another form of Fairy House...made out of things I could find in the woods.

Allison and I gathered some branches and cardboard. Then we had a bit of fun spreading everything over the floor first and then picking out pieces to 'do' something with.

Since I didn't know what I was really doing ... I just winged it. Allison said she kept having new ideas and I let her flow with it.

I was aiming for some sort of little wooden house/hut.
It certainly wasn't as cute as what I'd seen on line.


It is sort of fun and cute!

I have a bit more work to do with some moss and final touches.

On these dreary days, I love to try new things.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dear Dad

Thank you so much for those skis you gave to me before you moved to Virginia.
I set them to the side in the large shed to 'do' something with them after I got a pair of proper cross country ski boots.

Well, a few years went by and I sort of forgot all about those yellow skis. Then my interest in cross country skiing peaked again and I grabbed those skis and had new bindings put on. I'd purchased some back country skis that were shorter and wider for breaking trails.
But somehow they didn't satisfy my want for those long strides and glides.

Those Epoke 1000's did the trick.
Today I did my first long trek in years. And nothing beats a pair of good ol' fashioned Nordic skis. In fact...Vintage Skies!

Dad you would have laughed when I decided I could go down a hill and make a quick turn and go over a culvert. Um. I ended up on my ass in the snow on the other side of the culvert. The Vintage skis don't have the edges for turning like the newer ones. But I didn't mind as I was never great at that anyway and I wouldn't trade these skis in for anything.

I finally got on a good track and then those skis really performed. Long strides, long glides, lots of boot slapping lift. Just me, blue skies, puffy clouds, and the swish of skis through the bright afternoon.

I had the place to myself which allowed me to comment aloud to you how cool this was and how you would like the trail. And... how much I missed you.
Glide glide glide...slide.

All that beautiful snow and 9 miles of groomed trails.

"Dad you would like this place. We could go skiing on a full moon night like that time we went around Half Moon Lake." 

I stopped at Star Valley. My 'map my walk app' had told me I'd gone about a mile and a half.
I still had to keep track of my time. My goal was to do about 6 miles, but my legs were telling me that 4 would be good.

"Look at that Dad! Wouldn't we love to take this and break our own trail?"
That was not Dad's favorite thing to do, but I would have gone first.

"Dang it. I miss you. And I think you would absolutely love this place in the winter."

I doubled back and headed out towards the partially built dam. I know the ski trail went around it and rejoined the Old 131 Trail.

The 'tick tock' of the clock said I needed to get home and get ready for chores and make supper.
I took a side trip through the woods and then stopped in my tracks.

I simply was enjoying myself too much.

Vintage yellow skis
Memories of my father
Trails of fond places

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Snow Day, Snow Play

Justine came down with his tractor and cleared the driveway and the little turn around. He said his wife and kids were going skiing.
I thanked him and ran inside to change my clothes and grab my dad's old skies.

I did a very quick change and re-dressed from doing chores into a face hoody thingy, goggles, knit gloves, and snow pants!

I got up to the ridge and put on my father's old skies and took off across the crop field. I caught up to Lauren and the kids out in the wide open.
By the way, Dad's skies were awesome. I literally felt like I was flying. I guess I can't help but smile knowing that I am using his skies. Feels like he is with me in a way.

I suggested we go up towards the woods where we could get out of the wicked winds that had Sno-nadoes whipping up all around us.
Lauren agreed and then stopped for a moment.

"I have an Up-day Gift for you!" she said reaching down inside of her coat.
I smiled at that. Up-Day was giving someone a gift for reason other than making them feel 'Up'.
She handed me a package of extra long socks that had little wiener dogs on them! The package had three sets of socks. The socks will go up to my knees and are thin enough to wear under a pair of my wooly socks.

We played for a while and then headed back to our places.

I can say that my neighbor's kids are no strangers to outdoor activities. They take cross country ski lessons in the winter and do indoor soccer.

I did some indoor crafts yesterday. I experimented with polymer clay. I've never worked with the stuff before, but decided to have some fun. I watched some tutorials on making a fairy house and little mini mushrooms and thought I'd try it with the air dry stuff before actually making the home made material I'd seen being used in the videos.

These can be painted after they dry.
I tried making a fairy house which used things I had around the house.

Don't laugh:
Peanut butter jar
craft sticks

So. Overnight the tiny 'mushrooms' I made have dried out nicely. The lady in the video I watched had said that air dry clay would crack as it dried if used on the project she was doing.

Um. Yep, she was right. This morning I have a cracked up gnome looking house.

I don't see it as a failure as I can let it dry and then fill in the cracks....or I can leave the cracks and paint it so it looks cracked and gnarly!

The materials for making a air dry paper mache clay with household items is pretty neat. It involves toilet paper, oil, glue, and patching plaster. Who knew?
I can see making that and trying it on one of these wicked awful cold and blustery days.

Then again.  I would probably have to take a walk to the creek to see what has frozen over also.

Oh. One last thing. I was feeling so crafty the other day I bought some felt pieces. When we were kids we made clothes for our trolls out of felt.

I made LIL Bear a jacket, hat, and scarf. After all, LIL Bear needs to be protected in this cold weather too!

One must bundle up properly while walking your dog!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Mule Attitude

So the big snow is occurring. I don't think it is going to be a 5 to 10 inch snowfall here, however ... the 'event' is not supposed to end until this evening.

I added bedding and hay to Sven's indoor pen. I considered shutting the door to his pen but the other day when I did have it closed he 'locked' himself out. He has access to a rather large area outside and spends most sunny days observing his Kingdom from a mound.

Here Charlie is checking for yummy goat poo.

I loaded a huge hay net for Mica and Sunshine to put in the large stall I built.

Suffice to say that Mica turned into an evil beast when I put her in the stall and put Sunshine in with her for company. She kicked at Sunshine and shoved her around.
I think a few factors entered into this. Mica has a paddock next to the shed and I separated her about a month ago from the others. She has Sven on one side of her and Little Richard on the other. I've been giving her a bit of sweet feed twice a day.
One: Mica wasn't in Sunshine's herd anymore.
Two: Mica preferred Little Richard and Sven to Sunshine's company
Three: Sweet Feed has helped her maintain her weight but has not helped her attitude.

Hmm. I may have to start thinking about using some beet pulp.

Anyway, I got them calmed down and dumped the hay out of the net and separated it into the far corners of the large stall.
Meanwhile, the storm did rage on outside with high winds and blowing snow.

The other mules huddled around their piles of snow and then disappeared into the woods to get out of the stinging winds and snow.


Sundance says good morning!

Fred. No good morning.
Get my breakfast!
Fred is 33 yrs old.

Siera and 15
These two are nearly inseparable.

The Breakfast Club

This morning it was obvious that Mica feuded with Sunshine all night. Sunshine was dry as a bone and calm. Mica was sweaty and high strung. I had to tie Mica up in order to take Sunshine back out to the pasture.

Sunshine met up with her herd mates, and walked calmly into the bigger pasture and took a snow bath.

I brushed Mica and fluffed her coat. I walked her quite a bit in the shed to cool her off and at times she wanted nothing to do with me. Once I put her out in her paddock she went and stood by where she gets her morning sweet feed and paced the hot wire.
I ignored her and put out hay.

I'm happy to report that she is back to her peaceful self. I'm guessing the old saying that sometimes when you try to be super nice to a mule, it backfires on you.