Saturday, September 29, 2012

Balance and FO: Wine Cowl

Fall thus far has been all about finding a good balance.  I have to spend time lesson planning, grading, helping students, answering emails, and keeping track of the administrative bits as I teach.  Additionally, dance has started up again this year, and I added two classes on to my 3 competition lines.  This alone keeps me exceedingly busy.  
On top of that, my routine has gotten more regimented!  I'm running at least 3 miles 3 days a week, and I'm climbing 3 days a week on the days I'm not running.  It's a lot, but with so much giving to school and dance lately I realized that I have to make time for myself.  Climbing and running have become my "me" time, bringing me reflective time (running) and forcing me to be utterly in the moment (climbing hard).  I've gotten a lot stronger climbing-wise, and I'm attributing a lot of it to adding small workouts to my daily routine and sticking to them!  It also felt good this week to go shopping for new pants, since all this running means I went down an entire pant size!
Knitting has suffered a little in this whole affair- school doesn't allow me much idle time, and all of my other activities are athletically very involved.  Nights are becoming my only time to knit, unless a long car ride gives me a second option!
Despite all the business, I was able to finish another Christmas gift for an unnamed recipient!
Pattern: Lilac Wine, available for free on Ravelry.
Yarn: 3 skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca in sport weight.  It's a beautiful dark wine color- perfect for fall and winter!
Needles: Size 7 in the Denise Interchangable
Time Frame: August 23-September 25.  It really shouldn't have taken that long, but again I haven't had a lot of time for knitting lately.
Modifications: None.  Knit one, purl one for a million years- pretty simple.  I did cast off with Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off; it's one of my favorite ways to end a cowl.
Worst Part: Nothing, really.  Crazy-easy pattern and great wool makes it hard to find a "worst".
Best Part: I LOVE LOVE LOVE the color- this dark wine will go with anything, and it'll be great for the rest of the year!
Fall is in full color up here in Duluth, and there couldn't have been a prettier backdrop for my project pics! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Go go go...

Oh my goodness!
I can't believe it's been so long since I last wrote!
Here's what I've been up to:
An incredible wedding shower thrown by the lady on the left for the lovely lady in the middle:

Heading right into the bachelorette party at the Loring Pasta Bar for some tasty treats:

The next day, I got to see this incredibly talented lady perform her leading role in 42nd Street at the Bloomington Civic Theater:

then hung out with her sweet husband and got breakfast for dinner, along with coffee and milkshakes!

I got to go crazy on celebrating Birthday Week for my guy (because birthdays are SO big they have to be expanded to a week)!

Then we spent the weekend up in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, camping and canoeing and enjoying each other's company without papers and homework and grading and jobs and dance.

Instead, we cuddled by the fire while we watched the sun go down.  In today's fast-paced world, slowing down like this is a must.

Of course, paddling 15 miles isn't too bad of a workout, either.

Back at it this week (and it's already Tuesday!).  I was happy to take Ferris Bueller's advice this last weekend:
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."
True words, Mr. Bueller.

Friday, September 7, 2012

WTF Day 6 & 7: 'bright' and 'now playing'

It's been a crazy last couple of days.  Yesterday I was at school all day teaching, stayed late working hard lesson planning in my office for awhile, then came home to run, work out, and grade.  This morning was more teaching, more organizing for the weekend, a lot more grading, and only now am I feeling mildly prepared for this weekend.
It'll be a great weekend- a shower and bachelorette party for one of my oldest friends tomorrow, thrown by one of my other oldest friends, then seeing college friends on Sunday and (hopefully) a performance!  I don't think I'll be able to post my pictures for the weekend until Sunday night or even Monday, but my challenge photos will eventually get up. :)
Yesterday's photo was 'bright', which I found at work in the copy center!

Today's picture was a lot harder for me.  I went through a few bad pictures, and I'm not exactly happy with the one I took, but it was difficult to capture 'now playing'.

I finally chose our ancient music set-up at the climbing gym.  Covered in chalk and occasionally shorting out, it's been there for a long time, pumping everything from folk tunes to dubstep to country to even a night of "What movie is this theme music from?".  I proceeded to pass out small candy treats to people who could name movies based on their classical scores.  :)
I'm pretty zonked, mentally and physically for the night.
Off to read, wind down, and get ready for a packed weekend.
I'll leave you with a picture of the kittens, about to cause trouble as usual...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WTF Day 5: Flare

When I saw the "What the Focus" word for the day, my first thought was from the movie "Office Space".  Particularily, the scene where the waitress has to wear a certain amount of 'flair' on her work suspenders.  I've been mildly lucky with my jobs- the only one that I had a certain amount of 'flare' I needed was at the climbing gym, when a harness and possible rescue equipment was supposed to be worn at all times.
Today, flare for me came at the end of the day.  Don't get me wrong- I took pictures of my jewelry box in the morning light, of my sweet new climbing shoes that left red dye on my feet, of the bright tape covering the wall I was bouldering on.
But the real moment was as I was winding down, lighting up to boil water for tea.  Even better- boiling enough water for my guy, who was (and is) working hard on homework.

The flare of the warm flame, winding down from today, stretching sore muscles and getting excited for an early morning run before school.
The flare of happiness when I see his smile as I balance a hot cup of tea, pausing the studying for a kiss.
That was my flare for today. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

WTF Day 4: Sweat

I planned on going for a run this morning, but chores and getting to class took up enough time that my only exercise today was biking to meet Scott at the Brewhouse for a bite to eat.
When we came out, the sun was almost down and the air was cool.  It was still humid outside, making the bike ride home almost chilly.  I'm getting more and more excited for that fall air to sweep through the north and begin to turn the leaves.

I'll be climbing tomorrow, but for today's picture- "sweat"- it's pretty laid back. :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

WTF Day 3: Reflection (and Labor Day!)

Labor Day was pretty awesome up here!  I originally was supposed to work, but begged my shift to someone else so I could have the morning to grade my first round of papers.  It was great- lots of coffee, kittens running around me, and the happiness that I'm finally doing what I want to do!

This afternoon, I took a break for a couple of hours to do some climbing at Ely's Peak with Scott and Val.  
It was a slow afternoon, with the heat up near 90 and the humidity causing all of us to climb like sloths and looking to nap between each climb.  Even now I'm feeling the effects, finishing grading at about half the speed as normal.
Today's "what the focus" was "reflection", which I was hoping to get more than just a reflection of myself in a mirror or window.  I really wanted something that was perhaps a reflection of me, or part of me, but instead...
I could blame it on my camera batteries giving out while we were climbing, or the slow way this day has been going, but in the end this was the best "reflection" picture that I got.
This is a learning process... right?
Tonight: salad for dinner with some of our delicious garden goods, and knitting with Gilmore Girls on in the background.  A great way to say "goodbye" to summer and "hello" to fall!
I think I may pick up a pumpkin drink on the way to teach tomorrow... :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

WTF Day 2: Set the bar

A long and tedious day at work left no time for grading, knitting, or even catching my breath.  It did, however, teach me more about patience, as I explained time after time how to do safety checks, how to know what rope to buy, and even explained my training schedule to someone looking to climb harder.  I'm excited for a day off tomorrow, even though my morning is going to consist of coffee and grading.
Luckily, I'll be getting some outside climbing time in at Ely's Peak in the afternoon, as well as helping a friend learn how to place traditional climbing gear!  A climber's first trad climb is always exciting and terrifying- I remember placing a piece every two feet or so on my first climb- a 5.4 crack with giant foot and hand-holds on either side.
Now I'm climbing harder and harder, looking to push my trad climbing into the 5.11 range.  Last year at this time, I led a 5.10b crack called Laceration Jam up at Palisade Head.

I was fresh from climbing in Yosemite, and felt incredibly solid the entire way up.  It was my hardest trad lead yet, and it made me really examine what happens to my brain and my mental state when I enter the world of more difficult trad climbing.
Tonight, while snapping photos around the gym, I thought that this picture best captured today's phrase "Set the Bar".

Route setters put up new routes on Sunday nights, and I get to climb them and tell the setters what I believe they're rated.  In a way, it's really fun for me to get on a completely unrated route, often pushing the limit of my climbing as I set my own goals higher and higher.
I want to set the bar of my climbing high- ultimately, to sport lead 5.12 and trad lead 5.11.  I have to train through days that I'm not necessarily feeling it, which makes the great days even better.
And hopefully tomorrow I'll do more climbing outside as I show a friend the awesomeness that is outdoor traditional climbing.  :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What the Focus: centre & the Exploratory 5K

Lululemon is putting on a 30-day photo challenge in September that they're calling "What the Focus".  Each day, they have one word or a short phrase that you're supposed to interpret when taking a picture.  I've never done one of these before, but I thought it would be a great way to work a bit on my pretty horrendous bad lacking photographic skills.
It would also help my writing by forcing encouraging me post a blog post with the picture every day this month.
Today's word was "centre".  I was working all day, so I wasn't able to really find a chance to take a picture until my bike ride home later at night.  Luckily, an ore boat was just pulling out of the harbor, and was the lone light in the middle of the bay.

I also took a picture of the blue moon (second full moon of the month) in the center of a shot, but it was pretty boring- a blog of light in black.  More like a doctored cheesy "ghost" picture than anything.  The ship at least was interesting, and unique to Duluth. :)
In other news, I had a very interesting 5K run this morning at the Exploratory 5K.
I felt great when I got to the race site- had my banana right before I started the run, had the obligatory "excited" pose with my co-worker Val:

and set off, feeling strong and happy!

A little over a mile in, I was a few feet behind my boss's wife when her knee cap popped out of the socket and didn't slide back in.  She collapsed hard on the trail, screaming and clutching her leg.  I immediately dropped down and started talking to her and helping her to breathe and relax.  I've had both my kneecaps pop out of the socket- one of them twice- and have had to even push it back in place myself before, so I was at least familiar with her predicament.  She did a great job calming down, only occasionally clenching up, but she didn't want to move her leg from the bent position to let her kneecap try to slide back in on its own.  So I stayed with her for almost an hour, telling all the runners passing by to let the volunteers at the aid stations know what was up and send help immediately.  It took awhile to get communication correct, especially since we were over a mile in on a trail run, far away from easy access to roads.  Eventually the race officials, EMTs, and big ambulance guys with their sled made their way back there to carry her out and get her to the ER.  I stayed with her until they carried her away to the ambulance, then ran back to the start of the race just as the awards ceremony was finishing up.
I didn't get to finish my race, but I know Jen pretty well and I knew that in that moment it was much more important for me to stay with her than finish.  There's nothing like having someone you know ready to help you when you're down and in pain- especially far back on a woodsy running trail.
There's always another race I could sign up for.  :)