Where does the time go?

Last weekend I was sitting in a tree stand with my bow thinking I should write a blog about this… A couple days later when I looked, it’s been a year since I wrote anything.  A whole year?!?

Where has the time gone?!

Then I started thinking about how the past year of chaos has been spent… Absorbed with good friends, the stress and chaos of loosing the house I was renting and buying a place of my own, moving, work, learning how to be a homeowner and all the oddities that have gone into the first 6 months, the beginning and end of a couple romantic relationships, white tail bow hunting for the first time…. Yea, it’s been a busy 300 and some odd days.

Now I’m sitting at my kitchen table… I have room for a kitchen table!!  With the 4 new to me chairs I just purchased yesterday morning, looking out the slider door over my deck and backyard.  The late October Michigan sky is overcast of blues and grey, we had freezing rain yesterday and a little snow last night -the first of the season.  My heart is so in love with my life.

In late August or maybe early September, not really sure which, hell maybe it was even July…while hosting a bonfire at my house with friends; I decided I was going to host this year’s holiday party with friends.  Wait, whaaatttt…. I’m hosting the holiday party!?!!!  I have not hosted one since 2006, the same year as my divorce.  I’ve gone to a friends house once or twice for Christmas, but in the past 10+ years I have not willingly done much for the holidays.  In fact last year’s plans fell through because my friends’ kids were sick, so instead I barricaded myself in my tiny rental with a rotisserie chicken and pie, then decided to paint my bedroom. The year before I spent Christmas day with my phones (work included) turned off and snowshoeing.

Now this year, I am planning the Yule dinner with friends -yes it is going include a bonfire!  …and I am so excited about all of it.  Yesterday I was in Hobby Lobby and of course the Christmas decorations were 40% off, I bought a new tree topper and some bulbs, a table runner and I was smiling the whole time. Let that sink in, I bought Christmas stuff in October!  Me!!  The one who has been boycotting anything to do with the holidays the past 10 years.  Now mentally I am running over in my head how I want to set the house up, the feeling I want the home to give off with the decorations and oh crap I want to buy this or that… I need this…. I want to replace these for those….

Last year I talked about the emotional healing I felt I had gone through and that I had come to be in a better place.  Clearly what started last year has continued into this year like a snowball rolling down a steep cliff.  Proof of this can be seen in the smile on my face when I fill my house with the loud laughter of my friends.  The calmness in my soul on an overcast Sunday morning as I enjoy my morning coffee curled up in my oversized chair with my two dogs laying on my feet.

I still eat animal crackers with my coffee on a lazy weekend morning, some things will never change.

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i need more coffee

It’s Sunday morning, a slow lazy morning sleeping in as late as my dogs would allow, today that’s 8am.  I’ve spent the past 45 minutes, surfing a few blogs, getting caught up on  a few that I enjoy, but now I need more coffee.

Taking the dogs outside this morning, the temperature is not as breath-robbing-fridged as yesterday’s blistering windy 18 degrees, but it’s still cold.  There’s no snow to justify our temperatures; in fact, it has been a very bizarre and wacky winter.  We’ve had a few random snow falls, a lot of ran, our temperatures have ranged from single digits to upper 60s in February.  The internet joke is that winter is drunk.  I think Mother Nature cannot make up her mind what she is doing.  A week or so ago I saw a picture of Picture Rocks on  Lake Superior, there is almost no ice….just a little bit at the shore line and even that is broken and chunky.  Usually the Coast Guard is taking the Ice Breaker ships through to keep the shipping lanes open and every one is talking how thick the ice is.  Not this year.  Two weeks ago, I noticed that I have lilies popping up out of the ground.

This winter has been weird to say the very least.  I bought new snowshoes last December when we had a couple feet on the ground, then everyone was predicting one of the snowiest winters on record…. Well that proved to a be a load of crap.  The snowshoes sit, in their storage bag on my shelf with other gear, used once this year.  I’m not going to lie, I’m disappointed.

So now here it is March 12th and I’ve managed one short day of hiking, more a nature walk on a 60 degree day, since early January.  I also have not accomplished much around my house.  I had told myself in early January that I would set a winter goal to cut down on junk in this house.  I swear no matter how much stuff I donate to the Goodwill, it seems like it has not changed.

I guess I am just feeling frustrated; by this house, the winter, things at work…. Even this past week in the gym, I felt like it was just a crap week of lifting.  Don’t get me wrong, I was hitting decent numbers (especially only a month back into heavy lifting), so I should be content with that, for now.  Just with everything else, inside I feel something things to break.  Something needs to give.  I need to get back on track with all the things I had planned in my head back in January…all the things I had wanted to do or accomplish by April.

….and then I realize I totally forgot about the time change last night.  Ugh… it’s not 9am, it’s 10.  I truly despise daylight savings time.

I need more coffee.

she lives to run

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I had taken two weeks off from work, what we call the last of my ‘use or loose leave,’ before the first pay-period of 2017.  My sister came to town a couple of days post Christmas, of course this was two days into a weird winter warm up.  The good two feet of snow that had still been on the ground Christmas day was gone along with any further plans of snowshoeing while she was here.

I should back up and say that my middle sister is a fellow adventure and contained gypsies soul.  Twelve years active duty Navy has afforded her the new scenery and constant moving around every few years, and I dare say each of her locations has been pretty amazing… California (3 duty stations), Florida, Italy…

So one of the things we had talked about was going rock climbing.  I have never been, my sister has been doing this a couple of years now, both at indoor gyms and outside.  Frankly.  This scares the crap outta me.

fear:
ˈfir/

noun
1.
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

verb
1.
be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.

Somewhere as an adult, I cannot remember exactly when, but I developed some stupid fear of heights.  I remember one night on patrol over ten years ago, my partner and I were standing on top of a 8 story building.  He walked right up to the edge and peered over.  I walked up ….woah…. and back peddled a few steps fast!

Recently, I decided this was stupid and it was time to get rid of it.  So in some wild hair idea, I decided rock climbing was the answer.  It is something I have expressed interest in for a few years. A few of the guys I have dated over the years all said they wanted to go or would take me, but the actions always fell short.  My sister on the other hand, saying I wanted to go and that there are two indoor rock climbing gyms here in Grand Rapids, there was no back peddling now.  Of course I also did not tell her about this stupid fear of heights I had developed, like the asshole that I am.

We decided on a week day evening to go, of course we get to the gym about an hour after it opened and it is packed.  My nerves are at an all time high, I can feel the adrenaline running and I am doing my best outwardly to remain calm.  What the fuck am I do.  I’m listening and paying close attention to the individual teaching me how to put the harness on, how to tie in for climbing, then how to belay…. all while I can hear my own blood pumping in my ears.  Get it together woman, you were a paratrooper, get your shit together…

My sister does the first climb while I belay her.  fuck she moves almost faster than I can keep up with her.  But she comes down with a beaming smile upon her face and my instructor smiles and says have fun ladies  My sister looks to me and says, “alright your turn.”

Deep breath.  We switch, my hands are sweating and I can feel my heart racing inside my chest.

My first climb is kind of a blur, I remember looking for hand holds and just going up, refusing to look down. But I survived.  I didn’t fall to my death.  In fact, I absolutely loved it, but I still want to hide in the corner of the gym with the easier climbs and hopefully none of these insane climbers will notice the obvious newb in the corner.

Two more climbs on the beginner routes and I feel a bit more confident. img_0786 Confident enough to move up a level.  The holds are spread out a little more, my amazon height is a glorious help here.  Before I started this climb, two other seasoned climbers have moved into the little corner I’ve been wanting to hide in and we had made social with them before I started.  Now as I am climbing I can hear pointers being called out and it is openly welcomed.  In fact a few holds before the top, I missed a grip and slipped a little.  In the half a heartbeat my mind flashed, I hope she has the rope.  A split second later I felt the tug of the rope and I just hung there.

I can hear my sister call how she has me.  I can feel the fatigue in my fingers and grip.  I shake my hands out at the same time my sister calls for me to collect myself before trying again and how she isn’t letting me down the wall until I reach the top.  Bitch, I laugh to myself.  She knows exactly the encouragement I need, at this point I had already fessed up to doing this to kill my fear of heights.  She knows now that the first climb my heart was racing wildly.

I take a few moments to shake out my hands, take a could of deep breaths all while staring at the wall above me looking at the holds.  The roof and final grip seems so far away, but in truth it’s not.  It’s all in my head and I know it.  I mentally tell myself I’m not coming down until I reach that final stupid rock on the wall.

What felt like an eternity to me was probably less than 20 seconds reality.  I shook my hands out, chalked my fingers and re-set myself.  I had 3 or 4 rocks to reach and each one I could feel the pull in my forearms and finger tips, taking my time, I remember telling myself to keep my own head together…nothing out loud, everything in my head.  I’m pretty sure I resorted to my yoga breathing when I’m trying to hold some pose and my limbs are burning or balance when I’m trying not to fall over and introduce my face to the floor.  I felt extremely proud of myself when this breathing kicked in naturally to keep myself focused.  Next thing I realized, both my hands were on the final rock and my sister was calling that she had me.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

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After 4 climbs, my sister took me over to teach/work on bouldering.  My heart was already soaring and my soul happy.  We each took a handful of turns working on a route we had picked out and not deciding to call it quits or the day until we had reached the top.

To many, the routes or climbs I did that evening would be very easy.  To me, it was about learning something new and conquering a fear that had taken seed and I no longer had room for it in my life.

Christmas Day

My furkids have let me sleep in the past couple of days, being on vacation it is rather awesome, on Christmas Day that sleep lasted until about 8:45 when some friend with little kids decided to text message me.  Probably because he has been up since 5am.  The ding of my iPhone was echoed through my Bluetooth speaker and then the buzzing of my watch.  I groaned.  Feeling a slight twinge of a headache from the bottle and a half of shared wine the evening before. Ten minutes later another baby crazy friend sends me a text message…. At 9:15, after a trip outside for the boys, the boys’ breakfast and settling down with coffee, I still have not answered the first two text messages.  Why?  Well according to my brother I get weird about the holidays.
Now wait to the bombardment of “Merry Christmas” text messages from people I barely hear from the rest of the year… Could we not?

So back to this “she gets weird around the holidays.”

I grew up in what I consider a large family, I’m one of 4 kids.  Christmas was every bit the insane sugar spun Hallmark card.  So when I got married at the way too young age of 21, I had every intention of recreating that family life.  In fact I use to joke that my family was the truly dysfunctional family.  Yes my siblings and I all beat the crap out of each other growing up, but moving into adult hood we were thick as thieves.  My parents were still married and loved each other.. Or so I thought.  A few years later my youngest sister discovers that my father has a girlfriend, it turns out a girlfriend the past 5 years.  After that, my parents marriage quickly falls apart.  My mother is served divorce papers at work on what would have been her 25th wedding anniversary.  At this point I’ve been married 3 years, it’s ok, but we spend so much time working or deployed with the military that we are truly unable to settle into a true married life.  Until we exit the military.  Fast forward a few years, a child, and a miserable life, a verbally abusive marriage.  I’ve already posted a blog discussing this…. me too  …..so I’m not going to dive back into it.  My first Christmas post divorce was an attempt at normalcy.  Myself and several friends got together and did a big happy dinner, it was truly wonderful.  But a year later we would all be moved to different states, myself living in Connecticut at the time, could not get the time off so I ended up spending Christmas alone.  This would not be the first or the last Christmas spent working and alone.  Mind you, I am in law enforcement, working Christmas is not exactly uncommon. However, I have lost count of how many Christmas’s my brother and father have spent with my ex-husband and the daughter he refuses to let travel to Michigan.  Oh, there have been other holidays too, like Thanksgiving.  They never tell me ahead of time, I usually find out because pictures have been posted on social media or like last year.  When my brother called our mom, who was with me, in the evening and after talking for about 10 minutes put my then 11 year old daughter on the phone.  You can imagine my upset.  Another year, I arrived at my father’s house middle of Christmas Day because due to weather and work, it was the earliest I could start out on the 11-12 hour road trip.  I found out two days later that my ex had been there for several days and only left when I was a few hours out.  So yea, maybe I get a little draw inward and disappointed in my own blood about the holidays.

Fast forward 9 years, another Christmas, by this point the flavor is lost.  I’m not moved by societies expectations of how I should be spending it re-married, with extended family and spending way too much money sinking myself into a temporary debt.  I enjoyed a friend’s extended family dinner last night and today, despite the warm ups Michigan has seen the past 5 days, I plan on heading out to one of the State Parks and breaking in my snowshoes… it’s 35 degrees outside at 9am, I might as well wear shorts!  Kidding…

Ok, I really didn’t mean to ramble about my family for 700 words, I did try to keep it brief.  I want this blog to be more about the new traditions I am setting for myself and ways that I refuse to feel holiday blues or disappointment anymore….and frankly, this year, listening to my boys wrestle in the dinning room in the mid morning low light of a Michigan December, I am happy, I am content.  The past several months has seen an even bigger change than the past 5 years and I am enjoying every bit of it.  I attribute this to my ‘get out and do more, be more’ plan.

I actually started contemplating what I was going to do for Christmas this year, back in October.  I had been invited back in July to spend Christmas in Dallas with friends and bring my boys, but I wasn’t 100% about making that drive.  The friend who had invited me, pretty much knows there is very little reasons I will board my boys, in fact it’s borderline in saying I’d rather stay home than go somewhere without them.  Work and camping are the only two reasons right now, camping because Reese is kind of an asshole who doesn’t listen well.  It’s gonna take some work to turn him into a camping companion.  Work, well, I think that is a fairly obvious reason.

So I had tossed around a few ideas in my head, the one I loved the most…renting a Winnebago and either taking off and just driving anywhere for a week or renting a camp site on one of our amazing lakes and just disappearing off the grid for a couple days to a week… Either option was not in my budget this year.  Don’t rule this out for next Christmas thou.

I had been planning on buying snowshoes for this winter since late summer.  Turning off my phone and going snowshoeing was as appealing and means that I can continue to save money for two possible trips in the works for this summer.

Soooo….

I’ve put the Do Not Disturb mode on, on my iPhone.  I’ve already pulled the new Osprey pack I spoiled myself with, out.  Pulled my hammock out and put it in the pack, hey you never know.  Grabbed my water resistant hiking pants, a thick pair of wool socks, it might be 35 degrees outside but I’m thinking the thicker hiking socks are the better idea.  Added one of my base layer SmartWool shirts to the pile.  My snowshoes are sitting in the front room just waiting to get outside…

Two cups of coffee and I’m awake and excited to start another solo adventure.

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A few hours and five miles later, not bad for the first trip to break in my new snowshoes.  The temperature hung right above freezing, a few degrees cooler than it has been the past couple of days but not as down right cold as it was the previous two weeks.  I ended up snowshoeing in my hiking pants, the SmartWool top and vest with a beanie and gloves.  I had started out with my Loeka mountain biking jacket on, but after a mile it was too warm.  I knew this was going to happen, but getting started it was just to cold to go without it.

Heading home a little before dark, I am one happy gal.  Spending Christmas late morning and afternoon in nature with no one else in sight.  It was all mine for a change.  It was beautiful.

I cannot wait to go again, Michigan we need more snow.

 

-Inked Amazon

a very muddy Christmas?

Sunday I ordered snowshoes from REI, Tuesday the weather began to warm up.
Go figure (laughing).
After two weeks of temps in the single digits and teens, plus a week and a half of snow showers; it is now supposed to be 50 this weekend with rain on Christmas day (Sunday).


You’re welcome Michigan….🙄

 

-Inked Amazon

winter is coming

Winter has hit western Michigan like a speeding mac truck.

It’s 21 degrees (Fahrenheit) here in Grand Rapids on this very snow filled Saturday morning.  In fact, this is the warmest it has been all week and only the second time the sun has poked out to say hello….. It’s only December 17th, we’re in for a very snow filled winter if what they are saying is true.  The Great Lakes are extremely warm for this time of year, which only means the ‘lake effect snow’ will be bad. Layman’s terms for lake effect snow: we’re gonna get snow, how much is really anyone’s guess but be prepared to get clobbered.

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My neighbor, bless him, has run his snowblower over my sidewalks and driveway three times this week.  He has done this on heavy snow falls for the past 4 or 5 winters and my gratitude is endless; I try to bake a couple times for him and give him gas for the snowblower any time I stop at a gas station.  He saves me the headache of clearing a driveway that runs the length of my old house, I only have to clear a 15×10 foot area between my backyard fence and my garage.

One thing I forgot about the start of winter, how it can drain on the body.  It was a steady week at work and with the constant snow, by the end of my working day Friday I was so drained I could have fallen asleep at my desk.  I just wanted to get home to my pups and flannel pj pants with a sweatshirt.

Close to leaving for the day, I received a text message from my supervisor, “good job today, go enjoy a beer.”  Little things like this, my boss doesn’t even know what it means.  He has only been my immediate supervisor since May 1st, but the difference he has made in our office is tremendous. I’ll admit, I have been actively working on my own attitude, trying not to be as quick to respond to things that upset or bother me, trying not to let the little thing effect me as easily as they had in the past.  From my boss’s response, it sounds like I have been pretty successful and that makes me smile on the inside…and outside.

I decided early fall, as the days started to grow shorter, I was not going to let this fall be like years past.  I was not going to allow the change in seasons to creep in on me like a wet blanket.  I was going to actively work to keep my mood up and not stay hidden in the house like a hermit. I got a wild hair up my bumm, that I wanted to try snowshoeing… Now I have never done this before, I have never had any inclination to get involved in any winter sports in Michigan or any other snowy state.  In years past I have just hidden indoors and gripped about the cold.  Not this year.  This year I am going to change that.  Ok, so I still haven’t gone and purchased snowshoes, yet, but it’s going to happen.  Heck, last weekend was the first snow fall to hit us and actually stick.  Previous ones the ground was still way to warm for it to last more than a few hours.

I need more coffee, I must be insane, laughing, I’m telling myself I am going to try snowshoeing, love it and love being out in temps below thirty degrees.  Yep.  I’ve lost my marbles.  But I’m still smiling over the idea of this.  Something that still gets me out in nature, it may not be warm, green and leafy nature, but it’s just another form of her beauty and living in Michigan it almost feels like it should be considered some form of sacrilege, failing to get out and enjoy the beauty of winter.

Of course this is all said while I am sitting in my flannel pjs and old beat up thin sweatshirt drinking my coffee on my bed….. But it’s almost been a month since I was able to enjoy a hike, the last one being with my sister the Friday after Thanksgiving.  The idea of waiting until April when the snow has ended, well, that’s just no good.

I guess it’s time to go buy those snowshoes.

 

-Inked Amazon 💋💀

muddy adventures begin

Last weekend’s camping trip….

“…my dreams are tangled in images of stars and clouds and firelight – we go camping at night – it’s my lucid dream of being with you…”
-John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

Earlier in the week showed chances of possible rain for Saturday and Sunday. Well. We decided screw it. We’ve been trying to plan this weekend all summer and with our busy lives, between work, competitions, friends weddings, family reunions, work trips…. It’s actually kind of amazing just how difficult it can be for 3 women to make a weekend work.

So what happens? Friday, one hour before I’m supposed to leave, the skies open up and rain down the beginning of doomsday and The country just south of me goes into a tornado warning.  After a short debate and several weather checks. Feeling frustrated and disappointed because my furbabies were already at the vet for the weekend. The gals and I decided we had what appeared to be a two hour break in the rain. Screw it. Heading out and let’s see what happens.
Of course Bee asks Brogan, “your tent has a rainfly, right?”
Me: 😳 fuck
Brogan, “I’m not sure. I haven’t put it up in a while.” In all fairness. It is her parents tent.
“I will buy a new fucking tent. Fuck it.”

So basically I bought a new tent and set it up for the first time on the site in between down pours and then attempted to get a fire going. This is not exactly a smart thing, but at that point I was willing to take my chances with a brand-new unknown tent, than a “I’m not sure…”

While we had been setting up our tent, one of the neighbors yells how we need to make sure the rainfly is good and tight because there is forecasted rain. However this came across garbled to my two friends. I’m not sure if it was my time in the south or what that I fully understood him.

Camping with redneck neighbors and this isn’t the good kind. This isn’t Darrel Dixon, who ya want in a zombie apocalypse. This is a handful of single wide trailers are empty, was that even English they’re mumbling and holy fuck… Yes he’s wearing jean shorts with white tube socks and drinking from a two leader of Mountain Dew.  Wait, is that a damn near life-sized pink My Little Pony in the front seat of that rusted out Jeep Liberty?  Why yes, yes it is…

Next up, Bee is one heck of a fire goddess but even this ended up involving a little intervention from our neighbors on the first night; and when I say a little help I’m talking a half bottle of lighter fluid.  The wood was damp, extremely damp to borderline soaked from the humidity in the air. Then again everything was soaked but no one really wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. So eventually the fire gets going and hot enough to cook. We sit around enjoying a childhood tradition of frank N’ beans (baked beans and hotdogs).

It’s still muggy as a mofo, just setting the tent up had is literally dripping in sweat. But we made it. We made it out and the tent was up, dinner made and the rain hadn’t started back up again, yet.

Around 1:30 to 2am I was woke up by the not so gentle sounds of an utter downpour on the tent. I felt around my sleeping bag, seemed good. Rolled over and tried to sleep more. Most of my night would go this way, in the morning I made a mental note to pack earplugs for future rainstorms. By 6am I’m done. I can’t sleep anymore the rain is coming down in driving sheets. I’ve checked the inside of the tent a couple of very small puddles but nothing to cause alarm. No body’s stuff got wet. Unlike we would later learn of our neighbors, who pretty much needed up with miniature lakes in each of their tents.

I listened to this until a little after 6am, I couldn’t sleep… I gave up the attempts and told my two camping partners that I was running into town (20 minutes away) to get charcoal and more lighter fluid, I also brought back a few munchies and some coffee to make due until we got a good fire going and breakfast.  Little did any of us realize that this would take close to three hours… To get a fire hot enough for coffee accompanied by bacon and eggs.

I couldn’t complain too much, considering this whole time it was off and on sprinkling and smouldering humidity.  When the clouds cleared as we started out on our hike, the humidity only got worse.  Which made for a very interesting and challenging almost 9 miles, but at least we were well fed!

dear god it is so freakin muggy out here, it’s like walking through a sauna

beautiful view of Lake Ovid while on our hike

Early evening with Brogan on deck for cooking dinner, kabobs and beer, made for a very awesome post hike dinner!  Even better with the rain completely gone from the forecast and a cooler night predicted.

The cooler temps, and when I say cooler, I’m talking about 65 degrees.  Not exactly ‘cooler’ by a lot of people’s standards, but when your average over night temps have been 75 with 80% humidity.  65 with about 50% humidity felt pretty good.
I even tried to sleep in by pulling the hoodie of my thin sweat shirt over my eyes.  It didn’t work (lol) and no I wasn’t sleeping in my sleeping bag, but rather on top of it with my (Army poncho liner) woobie.  If you’ve never experienced the amazing-ness of a woobie, you have no idea what you are missing out on.

Sunday morning was spent stoking up a final fire to enjoy some coffee with cooler August morning, already talking about how none of us want to leave and return to reality.  Making suggestions and tossing ideas for our next camping trip in October and just enjoying each others company.

All in all it was a much needed and far too short weekend spent with two amazing friends.  I left our campsite with a happy soul and a full heart.  I look forward to our next trip with as much, if not more enthusiasm as I had this trip.


-Inked Amazon 💋💀 Warrior