Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Knees, Appts, Creativity.


The knee has not resolved itself at all. I just figured I'd get out and 'walk it off'. I went to CrossFit a few times last week and even did the 22WOD. Eh. That may have been a mistake but I was careful. It felt great to do it with my good friend and partner. She is awesome and strong!

The swelling in the knee is gone. For the first time in my life I can really understand what it feels like to have knee pain. See, I didn't want to acknowledge the injury and just figured it would go away like the other time I smashed it against a boulder.
I'm mad at my knee. It should have gotten better. Really.
If I go outside and pull my pants down and yell at it, will it help?

Okay, bad image, right?

Today is going to be one of 'those' days. Calling the VA Community Care folks to see where the claim from 2018 still stands. The hospital just sent a nasty letter which is normal for them. They are a huge conglomerate and of course all phone calls are handled by a person who is 'not' in charge and 'doesn't' know anything.
These phone calls require at least 20 minutes on hold and many transfers.
I think I need an office assistant just for dealing with appointments and care.

Rich is doing mildly better so that bump is resolved for the moment.

Some fun with editing photos.
Since I am not out hiking at the moment...
I am studying some funky photo effects and editing.

Dispersion Effect:
I really want to nail this down as I think it would be fun. I think instead of 'chunks' of dispersion, I like the birds more. Using bat brushes would be fun too.

Double exposure ~ done in camera:
I need much more experimenting, but it is sort .. of neat!

Pencil sketching skulls:
This is part of my skull collection. I like it, but dislike the white edges that Painter does.

Pencil sketching mixed with the original photo:
I really like this one a...lot. 

Well, off to work. The mules want to eat!

Monday, February 24, 2020

February thaw and?

What a difference a day makes!


I know, slightly different views, but there you are!

and then...

I didn't go very far yesterday, my knee is troubling me. I know I probably shouldn't have done the 22 WOD on Saturday, but it was for a good cause and it was a lot of fun. We had a great turn out at the gym.
I have a bruise of the patella and it makes certain hiking movements a bit difficult in deep snow and ice.
I don't think it is more than that, but we'll see.

Charlie was a champ and hung around close by while I did some long exposure photography.

Friday was another day spent at an ER, but at least we had some more answers than last Friday.
MDD or Major Depression Disorder are the initials of the month. MDD can manifest itself in so many ways.
However we may have come up with another temporary and mild 'fix' for a while.
I must say that the VA nurses and doctors are much more understanding of a veteran who has mental health issues as well as physical issues. Our local ER and doctors are not quite as well versed in this area. Rich's psych doctor was also on hand.

That said, I am spending more time inside right now just doing my monitoring 'thing' for Dr. Schiffman. And I can say there is a slight improvement.

So this is my favorite shot from yesterday. Mossy rocks kissed by a bit of sunlight ... with a little bit of ice on the moss that had not yet melted.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Of This and That

See? I've been playing with my little not Fairy Houses and the little resin squirrels and rabbits.

I wanted to give them a unique look. So I have been watching some tutorials and experimenting on my own.

I'm going to eventually figure out a work flow to make these look quasi painted and sketched as if they were from a children's' book.

In the meantime the weather is fluctuating like crazy. On Thursday the wind chills were dangerously cold. I hiked with a mask and goggles to see some of the creek's frozen beauty.

It was worth the walk. The winds were cold on the ridge, but once I got into the valley felt warm.

I followed the snowmobile trail which is also called 'the ridge road' down into the valley. The shadows were pretty neat.

The creek is always fascinating and changes often with the weather.

This will all melt away today with the temperatures soaring into the high 40's.

I'm wondering if there will be a snow melt...runoff occurring this afternoon. It'll be worth the walk down there to see.

Come Tuesday winter returns and the creek will change itself again.

Friday was a nightmare day. But I'm just going to call it that and leave it be.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Sometimes I wonder about this journey I've embarked on. There are so many unexpected twists and turns.
Things can go smooth and easy like travelling a well paved road.

Other times it is just a rollercoaster ride where the car has flown from the track and you wonder where you will land.

There are hills.

Road blocks. Unexpected dips and joyful highs.

So I just go.

One foot

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Winter Wonderland

Outside Monday:

The mules went to play in the fresh snow. Apparently snow baths are very refreshing.

As is snow sleeping:

We had inches of snow. Beautiful wet heavy snow.

During evening chores I did my usual while the mules were eating. As the temps dropped the top layer of their winter coats had some ice on it.

I pulled back the hair and dug in deep to the skin.
It was nice and fluffy and dry.
Sunshine ignored me as I did this. I check everyone each day as I owe it to these creatures who have taken me safely on rides for nearly 20 years.

The next morning the sun appeared over the trees and dropped into our hollow. The mules ate and sunbathed.

The roads were pretty awful as I made my way to town and to CrossFit. But I decided that I'd take a slow hike after I got back and explore the valley. Just a short walk of course!
The landscape had been turned into a Winter Wonderland.

My short walk became a longer walk as I took extra time to stop and enjoy the skies and the 'icing' on all of the branches above me.

The breeze would blow above us and snow would gently fall down on Charlie and I.
In the shot below you should be able to see the snow cascading down in the right side of the photo. It really added a bit of glitter to the outdoor scene!

I will be curious tomorrow after another subzero night as to how the creek will refreeze.
Yesterday was wet and sloppy. This morning anywhere the sun doesn't hit is iced!

Rich isn't feeling well again so I'll be spending most of my time indoors. I thought it would be fun to work on some Still Life shots of the little houses I created out of sticks and rocks.
I even spent some time watching some YouTube videos on how to make some more miniature plants. I have some more fun ideas to try.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

What if?

If you follow what I write, you will know that I do a lot of solo things. I solo ride, solo hike, snowshoe, ski, and generally do many things by myself.

Now don't feel badly for me. It is fine. I like my adventures, it is something I just have to do. I've been doing this for over 20 years.

Charlie gave me the 'look' yesterday when I got dressed to go see what the 'flash freeze' and -18F temps did to our creek. The temperature was mild and the radical swing to 30F was well...welcoming.

Charlie was a bit tentative at first, but he is learning the difference between thin ice and thick ice.

Here he is walking on wet ice but obviously with a purpose in mind.

Charlie was 'in charge' of course, he is now a hiker dog that is familiar with the walks we take together. He surges ahead and is now even starting to hang around when I stop to take photos or look at something.
Treats keep him close.
That and the collar which was turned off.

Charlie stands and waits for me to get around this tangle of downed trees. I have to wonder what things he can sniff out. His nose is always busy.

As we headed downstream the water was no longer frozen as the morning sunlight and multiple springs kept it open.

Charlie eventually led a way down a trail next to a creek crossing that I am not fond of. I hollered to him to 'come' and then he just stared at me as if I were an idiot.

Oh heck, why not? I'd just be careful after all most everything is frozen and that slippery muddy spot should be fine, right?

Under the 8 inches of snow was slime mud. I was fine until I lost footing and kneeled to catch myself.
The snow covered a nice hard boulder. And my knee connected with it.

I sat in the snow and howled. Charlie stood across the creek and stared at me. He wasn't too concerned.
I cursed the 4 wheeler dudes who had mucked this crossing up...sat and sat...waiting to see if something would happen to the stars flashing before my eyes.
I tucked my head down and concentrated on breathing.

Slowly I stood up and looked around.
Did anybody see that?
He was not impressed.

I wiggled my leg and though it hurt I could move.
It didn't feel like it was bleeding but I was pretty sure that I was going to have a nice bruise of some kind.

"Charlie, that was not a good choice," I remarked and heaved my foot up and out of the muck and snow.
I picked my way carefully around the creek crossing and walked towards the 4 wheeler trail that I knew was pretty solid.
Tsk, tsk, I thought to myself. I can move, but it sort of hurts!

I paused. I was in the valley and trying to scrabble UP hill and across the fields were going to be tough and agonizing.

"Well Mr. Charlie, let's take the easiest trail home, right?"
Charlie trotted up and begged for a treat.
I gave him one.
Good boy.

And then I followed my little dog carefully and slowly enjoying the bird song and the beautiful shadows of the woods.

Despite the ache and bad footing, I went slowly and enjoyed the outing anyway.

Once a friend of mine had asked why I hiked solo and I quipped back, "Am I to wait for someone to go with all of the time? No, I go. I've really been very safe for many years."

"What if you get hurt?"

Indeed, what if?
But if I never go, I will never discover things and enjoy the bright white snow and shadows.
Or the pleasure of having my faithful tiny dog lead me home.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

How to build a stick house for a Fairy Garden

The weather turned down right dangerous with air temps at -18F and who knows what the wind chills were. I bundled up, did the chores and made sure all the equine had plenty of hay and heated water.
Since I had to be outside for a length of time, I dressed for it.
I actually was comfortable doing the chores and hauling hay in the large sled.
Going for a hike was out of the question, if I slipped or started to get cold, I'd be too far from help.

I decided that I'd collect some of the sticks I'd gathered while hiking with Charlie and Sven the other day [when it was mild] and 'create' a new Squirrel House.

I decided to use my cell phone and then write on the photos as I went through each step so here it is:

This is an old sour cream container that I cut a window in. Since it is a squirrel 'house' he/she can climb in and out easily right?
I painted the container black first so that if there were gaps, the sour cream lettering wouldn't show through.

The gorilla two sided tape is weather proof and will hold up to 15 lbs or so the package says. It is so much easier to use the tape and then put the sticks on than trying to glue them in place.

I was fascinated that I could break chunks of bark with lichen on it and press it onto the tape in the gaps ... seems it will stay? Time will tell.

I used hot glue and more scraps to fill in some of the other gaps that didn't have tape on it.

I was going to make a fancy top with some clay or something else but I decided just to go into my scraps area and grab some old bark I'd found laying in the woods. I used Gorilla Tape to hold down a layer of scraps. Hot glue works best on a porous surface so I glued more scraps on top of that to make a roof.

There. But I still had some a few more touches to add.

I think the Squirrel likes the little shack.

I rather like these little projects. This will be fun to put in a section of the new mini flower garden I'll do this spring. I may have to think of something to make the stick house heavier so it will stay put.

The stick houses are a lot of fun to make and cost nothing as I can gather the materials needed when I take a walk.
This was a great little day project to do while the temperatures outside kept me safely indoors.

One of the reasons I liked this project is that it did not have to be perfect. Too many 'Fairy Houses' look perfect. If a person was to do this with a child, it could be just like this.
I think it is still cute in its very non perfect way.

Besides, if a squirrel were to make this?
Well, have you ever seen a squirrel nest?

I rest my case!