Friday, February 25, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. I'm flipping out a little bit right now.  I volunteered to learn a new technique that they want to offer at our clinic.  Then someone else was going to do it.  I was fine with that.  Then that other person backed out, and it's back to me.  The thing is, the May class doesn't work for me, so I'd need to try to make it into the March class... Which is next week!!  That's three intensive days of training, followed by 6 months of logging when I use the technique, followed by a second class within 6 months in order to continue to be qualified.  Yikes!  Still, I need to try to make it happen.  It'll be good for the clinic, and the way our clinic is set up, it will be good for me and building a clientele as well.  Sadly, it also means that I'll have to back out of a fun snowshoe that I was going to do that weekend.

2. I'm ready for Lent.  I'm hoping it'll help knock me out of whatever weird little funk I've been in.  I get bored so easily right now that it's ridiculous.  It's especially ridiculous considering all the stuff I have going on.  Can't figure that one out.  Not even going to try.

3. Unlike most Lents, I'm not quite sure what I'm doing this year.  I love doing prayer buddies, so that's a definite thing.  I know that I want to keep it fairly simple, so we'll see beyond that.  Actually, there is one other thing that I'd like to do and I need your help.  During Advent, I wrote down prayer intentions on pieces of paper and pulled them out one day at a time.  That worked well, so if you have a prayer intention that you'd like me to pray for, let me know at catholicmutt (at) gmail (dot) com.  I need 40 of them, so don't be shy!

4. I think I'm in danger of becoming a gear head.  Maybe not, but it seems like it right now.  Although, true gear heads need have to have all the latest and greatest.  I'm just trying to get the stuff that I think that I need.  After trying to find one backpack in avy class that did not have a beacon in it, I realized that I had to get the beacon, as well as the probe and the shovel.  It was a painful day for the pocketbook, but needed if I want to continue to be outdoors a lot.  I have another class, Wilderness Fundamentals (aka "Wild Fun") coming up next month, and I'm sure that the gear list is going to grow again.

5. By the way, I used to think hiking was a cheap sport.  And it is if you hike in the summer for moderate distances.  However, beware the more that you want to do.  Winter, long distances, the ability to add in technical climbs... All of these things suddenly make it an expensive proposition!  But then again, it makes it a lot of fun, too.  

6. As a side note to the above, I really thought I would have bought furniture for my apartment by now.  But, no.  If you come to visit me, you are welcome, but there is no place to sit.  I find that at this time in my life, I'd rather buy more stuff to help me go outside and do stuff, rather than buy stuff that I can sit on inside.  I don't always love being single, but I do take advantage of it at times like this!

7. I got my hair cut this week.  It was a good thing and desperately needed, but weird.  I think it was the first time in 4 years or so that I had someone new do it.  She did a good job on the cut, but it just wasn't as fun as when a good friend does it.  

Bonus:  Here's a picture that I posted earlier, but I just changed this version to the more "old time-y" look. I loved how it turned out, so here it is.

Stop over at Jen's for more Quick takes!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Avy Class

You guys are awesome!  Loved the comments on the last post, because I feel much better that I am not the only one that is a really cranky hungry person or gets annoyed by something like someone nodding. :)   I think Young Mom's was my favorite, though:

Oh this made me laugh! I worry all the time about EVER sending my 2 year old to school, if she is hungry the whole world ends. She can't even think or talk when she gets like that, and she is to young to understand that she just needs to eat.

Umm, hate to admit it, but I know exactly what her daughter is going through!  I mean, I know I should be better, but the whole world does end when I'm that late for a meal.

The next day was better.  I still didn't have time for a meal, but I had a granola bar and some almonds on the way there, as well as a little something at the break.  And we had a break, so that was a plus!  Not only that, but Nodding Guy was much more toned down the second night.

Okay, so there were a couple of questions about the fact that I was taking an avalanche class (or avy class, as the cool kids call it).  It's really Avalanche Awareness class.  My purpose in taking it was to focus on minimizing exposure (that's the technical term they used- my term was "how to stay far, far away from avalanches").  The first day we learned all about different types of avalanches, what kind of weather to look out for, etc.  The second day was more about terrain that can be a problem and how to minimize risk.  My favorite day was the field day yesterday.  We had to dig snow pits and perform various tests to see what the stability of the snow was.  We learned how to use the beacons, probes and shovels, and then we got to do a couple of simulated rescues.  I am happy to report that all of our "victims" (beacons buried in backpacks) were found, and most of them probably in time to live.  One took us a little too long to find, so I can't guarantee his brain activity, but at least he may have had a chance to live.

The good news is that most of the instructors have never actually had to put their training into use.  It's a little like taking a CPR class.  Extremely good info to have, but it's not like you need to use it much.  I know I learned something, though.  Because of my new knowledge and because I knew some of the mountains west of here got some pretty good snow yesterday, I suspected that the avalanche danger was up today.  I got on the website to test my theory, and sure enough.  Yesterday, we were at level 2 (on a 5 point scale) and today it was up to 4.  Level 2 means you can trigger an avalanche, but it might to be hard to do.  Level 4 means that there were probably a lot of avalanches out there today that were just natural.  It also means that if you're stupid enough to go out in it, you're almost guaranteed to trigger an avalanche.  Luckily, most people do check the forecast and avoid messing around when it gets to that high of danger.

Me? I was taking a nap.  You couldn't pay me to be on a mountain on a day like today. Besides, digging out backpacks at 10,000 feet of elevation is surprisingly hard work.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Confession of a Very Mature Person (NOT!)

Tonight was the first night of avalanche class.  After a full day of work, I drove straight from work to the class.  I got there just as the main bulk of class was starting.  And I say "bulk" because this is a 3 hour session.

Those of you that know me IRL may notice a very important thing missing in that evening timeline.


That's right.  Get me straight from work, with no down time whatsoever, don't feed me, and don't give us any breaks.

I was like a teenage girl PMS'ing during a life-ending break up.  Or a like a 3-year-old having a total meltdown after too much sugar and too little sleep over the holidays.

Not pretty, my friends.  Not pretty at all.

My first indication of a problem is that the guy next to me was nodding and shaking his head in a very annoying manner.  See, you didn't think that was possible did you? I bet you have never been annoyed by nodding in your life.  Further proof that you are a much better person than I.  This man violently agreed with everything that was being said.  Now, he did not simply give an emphatic nod or two to convey active listening.  He just kept going.  The only thing that seemed to slow his nodding momentum is when he had to change directions to shake his head about an awful story or a picture of destruction.  Then he would be back to nodding.  His whole body nodded.  Even his shoulders got in on the action part of the time.  He nodded so loudly that I just wanted to tell him to Shut. Up.

I actually did better than I thought (minus my unreasonable annoyance).  I made it to 8:30 (start time was 6) before I really started to pay attention to the time.  Believe me, the presenter was fantastic and the topic fascinating.  Usually, my attention span doesn't make it past an hour, and I'm getting antsy by 40 minutes.  However, that was it, and my meltdown then commenced in earnest.  The first problem is that that the legs start going up and down.  Then I can't stop thinking about the fact that I have a headache, I'm getting shooting pains in my butt from sitting for 3 hours and I have a freakishly long day at work the next day followed by ANOTHER 3 hour class period.  Pretty soon the legs are going so bad that I'm in danger of falling off the chair.  By this point, even Nodding Guy is holding still, so I'm the only one that can't sit still in the whole classroom.  Ridiculous.

Just as he started to FINALLY wrap it up, people started asking questions.  Pretty soon, it's 10 minutes after 9, and by this time I've worked myself into such a lather that I can barely take it. GET ME OUT.  GET ME OUT RIGHT NOW!!  As he continued to talk and point out other things and people threw out more questions, some people started to get up and leave.  So I got up and found myself practically running out the door.

Yeah.  Not a proud moment for me.  I need to just chill and relax and not get so easily annoyed.  Easier said than done.  I guess I can practice doing better tomorrow, right?  Yikes.  If only my last patient would cancel tomorrow.  That would be fantastic.  I could eat, and that particular patient is one that doesn't even like me.  Of course, if I eat and have even a little down time before class, then what will be my excuse for being too easily annoyed and antsy?

Okay, now you know. This is me.  If you want to stop reading my blog, I don't blame you in the least.

On a side note, has anyone seen the old musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?  Turns out the whole show is built on a fallacy.  Loud noises of any kind cannot start avalanches.  Good to know.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Day in the Life...

The lovely Elizabeth recently posted about an ordinary day in her life.  She invited us to share our own "overly detailed description" of our day, and I thought about it, but then realized it would be boring:

Got up.
Went to work.
Saw a patient.
Saw another patient.

Patient confidentiality and (one would hope) professionalism would prevent me from saying much more than that.  However, I realized today that I could do a Saturday in my life.  I think it will be a fun post to write.  Here's the disclaimer: I take the fullness of the invitation to heart.  It will be overly detailed and therefore long.    If you can stick with it, enjoy!

5:57- Wake up, despite the fact that my alarm has not gone off yet.  Two parts of me start fighting- one part wants to stay put under the covers, and the other part is excited that it's Saturday, and I get to head for the hills!  The second part wins and I get up.

6:10- Get breakfast, check the pinpoint forecast for our hike (sunny and warm, yay!), and the avalanche forecast for the day.  Note that part of the avalanche rose is orange (higher danger) and the rest is yellow (slightly lower danger). Checking the second forecast is only for the practice of doing it.  We're picking a hike that is listed as NO avalanche danger.

6:22- Realize that I haven't charged my camera battery in a while.  Decide that a few minutes charging is better than no minutes, and plug it in quick while I start to find all the clothes and gear that I need for the day.

6:55- Cram my backpack closed, and think about the fact that I need to get a bigger backpack for winter hiking.

7:30- Sit in a parking lot waiting for the friend I'm hiking with.  Realize that she's running late and spend some time praying for the (too many!) friends that I have that are fighting health concerns.  Keep thinking of them often through the day.

7:45- On the road!

9:15- Get stuck in the slow traffic from all the other people that also thought today was a great day to get out of the house.  Note the dark gray clouds and heavy winds with a little concern.

9:45- Stop for gas and a pit stop.  After using the tiny, disgusting bathroom, we discuss that a tree would likely be both more pleasant and more sanitary.

10:15- Find the trailhead.  Note that the clouds seem to be passing over, but the wind continues to be crazy.  Try to remember if the forecast mentioned wind and I blocked it out, or if they neglected to mention that little detail.  Start putting on wind layers and strapping on snowshoes.

(On a hike, I rarely know and barely care what time it is, so your guess is as good as mine on the times).

-Find the first landmark, an old cabin.  Wonder if its inhabitants got to enjoy the beauty of their environment, or if they were too busy trying to survive.

-Walk past numerous homes that are currently only accessible by snowmobile or snowshoe.  Discuss that many of these homes- which at most are summer homes, or maybe only vacation homes- are nicer than what most people can afford as an only home.

-Stop to take some layers off.  Uphill is hot, even in the wind.

-Stop to put some layers on.  The wind is cold, even when you're working hard.

(These steps are repeated A LOT, but I won't keep bringing it up.  You're welcome.)

-Reach an area where we are even less protected from the wind, and start to take snow and ice crystals to the face.  Laugh about how we're doing this for the fun of it.  Then wonder if there's something wrong with us, because it really is fun somehow!

- Reach a trail turn off.  One way is wide, but barely traveled.  The other way seems to be taking most of the traffic.  We're not sure why at the time, but we know which way to go.  Our trail is the wide one.  Take a moment to note a part of the terrain that seemed perfect for an avalanche, but luckily it is not on our trail.  NO avalanche danger on our trail, remember?

-Continue to fight the wind as the trail is more drifted.  Have a eureka moment when I realize that the orange parts of the avalanche rose are likely due to wind loading.  (I'm originally from the Midwest, so I get excited to use the term "wind loading" in a sentence.)

-Work around a HUGE drift and right into the teeth of the wind.  The snow and ice is now painful, and we joke about the free facial we're getting.  Keep in mind that it's still sunny out, and might be warm if the wind weren't 100 mph.  (I don't know what the wind really was.  That's what it felt like.)

-We're almost to the reservoir that we're headed to.  We have to make it to the top, even though there's no wind break up there.

-I may or may not have bumped into a tree while my hands were up to protect my face from the snow and the ice.

-We get up there finally, only we had to keep our backs to the reservoir because of the wind.  I did turn around for about a half second before another gust came across.  Had the following conversation:


Then we stopped talking because we were tired of screaming in the wind.

-Realize that there must also be some dirt particles in this particular windswept area, because I'm pretty sure the grit on my teeth is not ice!

-Retreat behind some rocks for cover and peek around to take some shots, then head back down.  At least our backs are to the wind now, and downhill is much easier.  It amazes me how tiring the wind is.
(There is a beautiful blue sky behind that blowing snow.)

-We head back down.  My friend checks her phone and realizes it's 2:30 already.  Since we haven't eaten yet (most hikes we'd take a break at the top), we decided to stop for a little food.  My peanut butter sandwich is way more amazing on the trail than it would have been if I'd tried to eat it at home.

-My friend and I bond over the fact that we have each just made an exciting new acquisition- humidifiers!  As geeky as that is, you have to realize that with the dry air out here, a humidifier is HUGE in quality of life.

-Drive home, watch the clouds change colors as the sun sets.  Conversation is much more at a lull, given that we are wiped out.

-Before we go our separate ways, we make tentative plans for another hike in the next few weeks.

6:30- Make it back into town, and head to the grocery store, despite my grungy state.

7:00- Finish with the worst kind of grocery shopping ever: no list, no coupons, tired, and hungry.  Good thing it was a QUICK visit to the store, because I realized at the checkout that I spent $3 for every minute that I was in the store.

7:20- Try to figure out how to get a camera, backpack, snowshoes, trekking poles, and two bags of groceries into the house.  Because two trips?  SO not happening.

7:30- Home and can't decide whether to shower first or eat first.  The shower wins out, and as I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I try to forget that I was just seen in public at the grocery store. The wind is such a horrible hair stylist.*

8:00- FOOD!  It didn't sound good at first, but then it was fantastic!  One of the best parts about a good snowshoe- you can eat about anything and not feel guilty.  One of the worst parts is that I'm still hungry, but too tired to get up and get more food.

Then I read blogs while I ate and then started this fascinated and gripping account of my life.  Or I wrote this post, at any rate.  Want to know what I'm doing tomorrow?  Don't worry, it's shorter: 1) Sleeping in. 2) Going to Mass. 3) Alternating between eating and being a blob with some combination of computer, TV, a book and a jigsaw puzzle.

I'm going to finish my day by going to bed very soon, but first I have to see if any of my pictures turned out, and maybe add some to this post.  Thanks again to Elizabeth for the invitation to share way more than you ever wanted to hear! :)

*It's not a bad esthetician, however.  My face really does feel softer!  Whether it's the "facial" we got, or my imagination is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Looking Back

One of the things I love out here in the West is all of the old buildings that are still standing.  They're often boarded up, or crumbling, but they still speak.  They tell the story of those that have come before and lived a hard life in a rugged place.  It's interesting to look at old photographs and consider where they lived:

In this one, you can see the cabin in the bottom right hand corner.  I know I wouldn't make it at a ranch, especially one without modern conveniences, but when I see that setting, I almost would like to try.

Where they went to school:

I love the school bell, don't you?

Or what about where the animals lived?

Kind of makes you wish you could see it all in color, right?

Oh, wait.  So maybe the pictures are just from the other weekend, but the past was still speaking; you just have to ignore the electrical lines you can see in some of the photos.

Friday, February 4, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

I just realized something... I have enough things to say to participate in Quick Takes!  I'm excited about it; I wanted to play last week, but made it to three and realized that I didn't have anything else to say.  For more Quick Takes, head over to Jen's.

1) Here are my two choices for my activities this weekend:
Drive 3 hours to go snowshoeing.  In the email, the trip leader mentioned that we would have to take the snowshoes off to climb the falls, and that we might have to climb on the left instead of the right because if there was fresh snow, it might slide on the right.  Don't forget to bring "traction devices" since it'll be icy.  Oh, yeah.  And I checked the forecast for that day: 20 degrees and "blustery" with a 40% chance of snow. Did I mention it's 9 miles round trip snowshoeing?
I could stay home, sleep in, read books, attempt to get some organization done, and maybe start some online CE classes that I need to get done.
2)  Yeah, I agree.  I'm going with the second choice.  I'm all for getting out there, but it's been so cold this week that I haven't made it out to get in my workouts, so besides risking life and limb, or at least some discomfort, I'd also be holding up the group.  I even volunteered to be available for make up appointments on Saturday since so many people have had to miss their appointments this week.  This means that I can't change my mind, even if I were to go soft in the head sometime between now and then and decide that it was a good idea for some reason.

3) I was proud of myself for a second today.  I saved over $25 with coupons at the grocery store today.  Then I realized that there was a second part to this whole coupon thing, and that's the part that I don't have down yet.  So don't ask me how much I spent overall, mmkay?

4) Can we take a moment to talk about Jelly Bellies?  I'm not sure why, but we never got to have any of these growing up (I'm pretty sure my parents never set out to intentionally deprive us, but we did grow up out in the boonies; we were luck if our stores had any jelly beans at all).  I never understood the draw.  I think if I did have them, I had flavors like grape, cherry and peach.  I thought "Whatever.  They're just jelly beans like any others."  THEN a friend gave me a bag for Christmas with all sorts of different flavors.  It seriously fascinates me to eat them!  How can a jelly bean taste just like buttered popcorn or Dr. Pepper or a margarita?

5) My parents really did love us.  Even though they never got us Legos, either.  They got them for my younger siblings, but my older brother and I did without.

6) I have to tell you about how rough my job is.  Then I'll stand back in case you try to take a whack at me through the computer.  You see, we have 3 massage therapists at the clinic where I work.  If a patient might benefit from a massage, we physical therapists have to refer the patients to whomever might be a good fit.  This means that I need to get to know each of them... By getting a massage from them.  For free.  I got one last week, but the only bad part was that this particular one doesn't work very late, so I had to get it in the middle of the day.  On the one hand, AWESOME midday break.  On the other hand, so very hard to get back to work afterwards. Yep, it's a rough job, but someone has to do it.

7) And finally, I have to leave you with a picture. I was so excited about this picture when I took it.  I loved the rust of the chain, the weathered wood of the seat...

It wasn't until I got it home that I noticed the big old green shed in the middle of my shot.  Stupid shed.  If I wasn't such a rookie, I might have noticed it and changed my angle a little.  But I don't really mind (not too terribly much, anyway). For me, a lot of the fun is taking the picture.  I make a lot of mistakes, but they're all digital and easy to erase.  I won't erase this one.  I still like that swing, even with the shed.