Walking in a winter wonderland

YES!!! Another hike in our ruby slippers accomplished this weekend. We revisited Mt. Kearsarge (3.1 miles, 2600 ft elevation gain) with snow all around. Being twice the distance of our first hike I feel like we are still learning about what works in terms of layering and what not for us. I definitely started out over dressed but did at one point lose all feeling in my digits. (I only got worried when this happened after the pins and needles of pain…bad sign.) A quick pull off of my gloves and applying a little skin to skin (thank you warm neck!) and I had pins and needles again then full feeling. Still not quite sure what happened to have my hands go cold so quickly when they were perfectly warm before and when they were still in their good gloves but there you have it. Certainly going to keep working on it until we can avoid the problem with different combinations.

Enough! Onto the beautiful pictures!!

Something about snow really appeals to me. It is quiet and peaceful and soft…for me, it is as though it (snow) is trying to soften the edges of a harsh world. The day we hiked was perfect. Mid-30s and blue skies. The higher elevations had snow on the trees, icicles and beauty as far as the eye could see.

Ryan is standing uphill from me. The angle is actually quite acute.

And the view from the fire tower was breath taking.

We didn’t require snowshoes but, as mentioned, we did wear our microspikes. We avoided lugging our snow shoes by the advice of a couple of people finishing the trail as we were pulling into parking. They had spent the night on top. (I’m trying to talk Ryan into doing this too!) Most people had on crampons or spikes like us but we saw 2 people who hiked it in their tennis shoes. Maybe this could go without saying, but I’ll put it out there nonetheless…they were faster humans than me. I don’t know if I’ll ever become a faster hiker. It would be nice though. Think Santa could bring that gift to me for the holiday?

Happy humpday!

S.o.S. RA’s first ugly sweater

Ryan’s workplace is pretty rocking. First a fun Halloween day and now an ugly sweater contest. While Ryan made his own Halloween costume he elected to tap me in on making the ugly sweater. So one trip to the Goodwill followed by the Dollar store… all without any idea of what one wants to do… and we made great things happen.

It was very important for us to limit our spending at the Dollar Store. Otherwise it would be too easy to go really crazy. Total cost for the project ran about 16$ with $10/ sweater and $5/DS accessories.)

Here are the supplies gathered.

The whole process was pretty simple. I just started attaching the accessories in a layered fashion to the sweater with a combination of thread, pins and stubbornness. Of course, the accessories really make it.

I mean, who doesn’t need a leopard print poinsetta?

Or 2 turtle doves?

And you definitely need 9 jingle bells…

topped off with battery powered LED lights.

I don’t know if Ryan can win this contest because the sweater is supposed to be ugly and I find it to be quite cute.

Well, wish him luck!

Thanksgiving Week

What a polarity of a week. A time in which to be thankful for what we have and startling reminders of what is still missing. Two different people posted quotes from two well recognized Americans that I would like to share here. (If you just desire to read about snow and what we ate for Thanksgiving, scroll to the bottom. Look for the line of asterisk.)

The first is the proclamation setting up Thanksgiving by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. (it is lengthy but I didn’t want to crop it for fear of losing the sentiment of the whole.) And the second is a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.’S PERSPECTIVE on rioting and social unrest in the 60s:

“Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

In the first quote we see that Thanksgiving isn’t about Pilgrims and Native Americans. It came about from a nation that had been and continued to suffer and mourn its losses. Growth does not occur effortlessly but comes under struggle and hard work.

In the second quote I don’t know how some attitudes are any different than from the 1950s. There are still great divides of understanding between aspect of our country. So Thanksgiving wasn’t necessarily about Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down together, although maybe it should really be more about the radical concept that really is. Have two different cultures sit down and learn about the struggles of the other. Then maybe we can find joint solutions.

I have been disheartened by people who dismiss the rioting that is occurring. People who have been picking apart one man’s life and saying in absent of actually vocalizing the words that he deserved to die. Or by holding up examples of their “own” people suffering similar treatment to use that as a means of saying “why are we not more protected” or to diminish the experience of the other rather than to hold each other in sympathy.I have heard one friend threaten to “unfriend” people on FB who like or share ignorant opinions. But last I checked, the definition of ignorance dealt with a lack of knowledge to which the only cure it to confront and educate. Education is not always easy or accepted. There are some who believe in willful ignorance in order to remain comfortable in their status quo. But giving the opportunity like to think that people want to understand and their willfulness against it is because they do not have a bridge by which to cross over their ignorance.

A mob mentality or sheep heard mentality can certainly sweep up those individuals who revel in chaos but the original spark that enflames a simmering anguish should not be ignored. And to questions deeply, not superficially, why it simmers is a difficult discussion necessary to be held to create a lasting resolution.

On a daily life line, we spent Thanksgiving with strangers and new friends. A co-worker of mine invited us to share the day with them and their friends and family. We had a wonderful day of eating too much, drinking a little bit, playing a wicked game of Cranium and being grateful for what we have and what we can share. Elsa’s sweet potato casserole made an appearance and was a hit. Someone even requested the recipe. So the modified Virginia-Elsa recipe was shared.
We Facetimed with family in Ohio and talked with family in Kentucky. My twin and I were finishing our versions of the SPC at the same time because we all know that it isn’t a holiday with any lineage of Simpson genetics if there is no SPC.
We also had a lot of snow that started mid-day Wednesday and continued into the night but was done by 3 am. Unfortunately this left quite a few people without electricity and quite a few people who plough for a living working extra. We meandered around the neighborhood the following day and because it is an early snow it was heavy and wet. A lot of trees lost branches, others were sagging dangerously across electrical lines and other cables. But it was beautiful.
Here is a view down the street. (the snow ploughs did a great job clearing the road!) Of wet snow stuck to our fence. And of where I would have liked to eat lunch if not for the inches of snow, the menacing tree and the cold.
Feeling in a giving mood here is my general recipe. Of course, I’m prone to interpretative cooking.
ingredients casserole:
3.5 lbs of sweet potato
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 large eggs (“lightly whisked”
1/2 c milk
1/2 c butter melted
1 c coconut (sweet or unsweet)
1 c brown sugar
1 c chopped pecans
1. boil potatoes till mashable
2. add remainder of ingredients and mix till a consistency you like
3. add to buttered casserole dish
4. mix topping ingredients together. put on top of potatoes in dish.
5. bake uncovered at 350 deg F for 30-35 mins until golden brown

S.o.S. Mt Williard

Today marks our first snow hike in the Whites.

We were smart enough to stop at the local gear shop and get some micro-spikes pre-hike. I’m calling them my ruby slippers.

Click your heels 3 times and…wait, we are already home and we love it here!

The elevation of Mt. Williard is under 3000ft. It is only a 1.5 mile hike up and the elevation gain isn’t too bad. Parking is right at the trail head. All of which makes it a popular hike with locals. We figured it would be a good starter hike to test out our layering/gear/preparedness/etc.

And the views were not bad either. Lots of little waterfalls, streams, and the top view just kept going off into the distance with peaks and peaks of mountains.

Turns out that my warmest hat is one my mom gifted me for Christmas when I was in high school from LLBean.  Maybe I should consider going down the road and getting a new one? Nah, this one works just great.

The micro-spikes were a good addition. We started our hike without them and certainly saw quite a few people hiking without any but once we put them on our footing was noticeably more secure. You could take longer strides. No forward progress was lost by sliding back with each step. Even walking across rocks in the stream felt less precarious.

Who knows, I may make mine daily wear on my walk to work. The sidewalks are so roly-poly around here I can’t imagine a whole lot of effective shoveling once winter hits us in full force.

One thing evident from our hike…I need to wrestle the camera from Ryan more often. Too many pics of me and not enough of him. Ah well…there is always the next adventure.

S.o.S. First snow

Although the first snow of the year first visited all of our relatives in the Midwest, we were able to accumulate a little bit around here. Thank you dear relatives and friends for sharing.

Please remind me if I’m this happy with snow come February or March.

I really do have a special fondness for snowfall.  I can remember working on one particular school project of putting together paper bones to form a dinosaur, looking out the window and seeing the snowfall in the backyard through the small distance the lights from the house penetrated. The weatherman is on the t.v. speculating on accumulation and my brothers and I are speculating if we would be so lucky as to get a snow day. I can remember shocking the socks off the ole hubbo when the day after we had moved him up to Wisconsin for school they had 18 inches of snow and he couldn’t believe that I (who is cold adverse a lot of the time) wanted to wonder and jump into the snow banks. Ryan and I had so much fun snowshoeing in OR last year.  EEECK! It is so exciting. There are memories of snow forts, snowball fights, sledding, snow walks, and just the peaceful beauty of it all that jumbles around my head.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to start a first day of snow tradition/celebration? Something small and maybe not too time consuming given you never know what crazy life activities may befall the first day of snow. Suggestions are welcome. For now I’ll just appreciate a hot cup of coffee and the view out the windowpanes. For now, we’ll just plan on what winter adventures are ahead.

S.o.S. family

It was a family, laughter, and foodie weekend in the American NE.

My brother and his amazing wife had the honor of being our very first visitors in our new home. Their reward? A pretty spiffy air-mattress to sleep on (comes with a night light, a usb port to charge a phone and it “never goes flat”). This is by far an upgrade from when we had them sleeping on thermarests in Milwaukee.

Since it is pretty easy to get out of the “big city” we took them north to Bradbury Mtn State Park to view the last legs of the foliage change and I pulled a classic cameo-camera-dad-action-shot.

As a group we have determined that it would take a long while to exhaust all of the great places to eat around here and they have accepted the challenge to come back and try. Looking forward to potential winter adventures with them and also visiting in Chicago.

To make the momma happy I did make sure to grab a group shot off the top of my car. Pardon the line up feeling of the shot. I am pretty impressed with the photo capabilities of my phone.


Hold up….when did I become the shortest human ever? GARRRRR!!!!!

S.o.S. How sweet it is…

I got a homemade cake and a song for my birthday.

We all know that Ryan can make Indian food but he has never attempted baking before. So my bday request may have been a bit over the top. He was given the option to use a cake mix but the man insisted on doing the whole thing from scratch. First he started with the batter. It was so good our pie-bird tried to jump into the action.

And it baked up perfectly.

Next he attacked the icing. (Please note, I was asked to supervise and I took my duties seriously.)

He added it to the cake (double layer…swoon!)….

Candles lit…

He sang (which I was not allowed to photograph. It was delightful, heartfelt and adorable.) Then we ate! Couldn’t you just practically eat it off of the screen?

The cake was rich and spongy. The icing was chocolatey and smooth. He searched for the recipe from the website just a pinch and chose it by picture. A strategy that worked rather well.  All told a lot of butter and sugar was involved.  We thus would like to extend an open invite for anyone to come over and help us finish it off.

We didn’t grab any pictures of me but I did text Ryan on my bday a little kiss for his cheek. So if you’ve forgotten what I look like the photo is a bit goofy but here it is:

In Maine they say I look like I’m in my mid-20s. Crazy, right? Just further proof that Ryan takes good care of me and has successfully kept scurvy at bay.

We are finally settled in to our new home and even have an air mattress for guests. Our first guests being my brother and his wife next weekend. Yippie!

Today we are being a little lazy and prepping for a nice hike in the Whites tomorrow. The smell of dehydrating apple chips linger in the air. I’m knitting and pretending to make plans for dinner. Likely, we’ll head out for a walk soon as the leaves are changing beautifully.

FALL!!!!!! How we missed you!!!! We are so happy to be experiencing a seasonal change again. All over, pretty darn happy with this move. (You may want to check in on our joy come the end of winter or the beginning of mud season.)

I have quite a few photos from recent hiking adventures and what not. I’ll try to go about posting and talking about some of the scenery around here. I know the blog has been in hiatus for about a year but I hope to keep it up and running again for the near future.

S.o.S. Last Laps?

Well, let’s hope last semester kicked the sense of senioritis out of this household. We are heading into the final semester of this journey. The last “to-do” list is on this white board. The last syllabi are downloaded and digested. Two of my last projects are turned in and the semester doesn’t even start until tomorrow (don’t ask too deep on that one, it was painful getting it done vs being super proactive).

So, if you are hoping for a free place to stay in SWFL then book your tickets soon because we won’t be here for another season!

My parent’s came to visit last weekend. We spent a lovely time at the Naples Botanical Garden. If I lived closer to that green space I would have bought a yearly membership. It is beautifully laid and has perfect nooks for studying in. You in part have to remember that the area is highly landscaped because it has way too much short grass. There is a segment called the River of Grass that lets you walk above and beside what the Everglades looks like. Very pretty and very wet.

(Note to Ryan’s parents: if you are able to visit this year, we should seriously consider giving it a look-see.)

Shortly here we will be heading out to Oregon for our one vacation for the clinical portion of this program. We’ll be visiting friends in Portland and Bend. I was hoping for a couple of job interviews in the time period but no biters yet. They just got a lot of snow that may still be sticking around for our visit. Either way it will be colder than here and apparently we really will need our “puffy” jackets. I don’t see how it can be cold anywhere in the US when it was 81 deg F yesterday but I have been assured by media coverage and photographs that are “not” photoshopped that it is indeed cold and snowy there. Needless to say, I’m very excited! Ryan’s is excited too but he’s bottling it all up and waiting to explode once his feet hit the trails in the mountains.

The end of this semester has a couple of rewards:
1. My brother is getting married!
2. Hopefully I’ll find a job.

And oh-yea,
3. Graduation.

Onwards! Mush, mushy brain, mush!

S.o.S. just throwing this out there

So Ryan and I enjoy going to a local ice-cream establishment that makes all of their deliciousness in house. We’ve gotten to know the owner and his wife in a “I know your face as a semi-regular” sort of way. It had become custom on Ryan’s long training days on Sundays (10+ mile run, 23 mile bike, 3 additional miles running…I’d join in for steps 2 and 3, not 1…) that we’d go there for an afternoon treat. Next door to this ice-cream haven has been an empty restaurant. It has been empty for the 2 years we’ve lived down here and you can see it easily from the local highway. It is pretty amazing.

Figuring that it has been empty this long maybe we could get it for a steal and I could finally open my dream shop, “Yaaaarrrrnnnn Ye Maties.” A combination yarn and book shop. Can’t you see the banner hanging between the masts? Or amazing flags. Given that the building needs some color it could become a fabulously colorful eyesore. Who wants to finance this decision, potential backers just contact me.

In less fictional news, I made a tasty spinach pie recently.

From this recipe: http://www.italianchips.com/spinach-pie. Only I did not make the pie crust which I substituted with some I had some in the freezer. A little homemade tomato sauce would not be a bad addition. And the thing is oh-so-presentation pretty. Minus not making the dough it went together with minimal time in the kitchen.

Sorry for the long absence in posting. I’ve been here, there, and everywhere, plus the holidays, plus an exhausting open-heart rotation, etc etc blah blah blah. The countdown till graduation is at 145 days. I simultaneously get panic attacks and euphoria attacks. Yeah-gack? Ryan is pretty much just euphoric. Hope you and yours are in a place of euphoria as well.

As promised, a little late, Ultra Tri recap

Ryan rocked his first ultra distance triathlon. Why have I come to this conclusion? For many reasons…

but mainly because he ended his race looking like this:

If you can be smiling that well at the end of a race that long (14h43m) then you have done something right.

Also included in why he rocked it are:

1. He finished. 1/3 of the folks who started the race did not finish it.

2. He did not require an IV with fluid resuscitation or ER visit after his race, unlike a fair few other competitors. Translated: his planning and preparation and pacing through the day was really well done. This is Florida after-all and the temperatures still peaked 91 during the day with full on sun.

3. Throughout the entire event (per his report) and every time that I saw him, he had an upbeat attitude. He always had a ready smile. This held true even when in the middle of the marathon portion of the event he said as he was speed-walking past me, “I don’t know if I can run anymore.” (Which ended up not being true but you know, with 14 miles left on the run that was a big statement.)

4. His swim was absolutely awesome and in that portion of the event his training really paid off. He finished the 2.4 mile swim in 1h15m, and he had plenty of energy for the rest of the day. That is a fairly decent time even for folks who do this event regularly.

5. Many a person will acknowledge that the Clermont course is one of the tougher ultra-distances you can do. (Go big or go home, Mr. Ryan?) The course is hilly through out the bike and has multiple hills on the run. Despite being held in October, it is consistently hot. (So much so this year that for the second time in their 30 year history of hosting the event the water couldn’t cool down enough to be wet suit legal. Thank goodness he didn’t buy a wetsuit for an event he couldn’t wear it in!)

One of the great surprises for him before the race was the adorable video posted to Facebook of his niece and nephews cheering him on from Kentucky. Dang if his face didn’t have the biggest grin on it.

So onto the fun part…pictures. I met an extremely nice woman with an awesome camera. We had a similar cheering philosophy which is simple: cheer for everyone because that is a long race and every competitor deserves a cheering section. She took a lot of shots (of which she made sure to catch us in them together) and she emailed me a portion of them. A cd is “in the mail” but I think this is a good sampling of the day.

Ryan exiting the swim. If you look towards the horizon on the right you can see partly how far out the swim went into the lake.

I did the sprint race which only took me 1h27m. (Ie my distances were way shorter!)

The woman with the camera, her husband (who has completed 22 ultra distance triathlons) and their very friendly dog…

The trialthon community at this event was very friendly, very supportive and that made the whole day very nice. I don’t know that we are “addicted” just yet, but we are surely catching a low-grade fever.


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