Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Catching My Limit

People close to me know my parents were both raised in West Texas. Therefore, on occasion, and despite being raised in Oregon myself, I find I frequently use a phrase unique to being raised in their home. Slang, but nonetheless, part and parcel of my one an only personality. Catching my limit, in my families vernacular, means reaching the height of your capability, and finishing like a champ anyway.

In the early fall of this year, I reached this pinnacle, humbled, tired but nonetheless determined to make it all happen as promised. And, we did. If you have not attempted to "catch your own limit", I highly recommend you embrace the opportunity on occasion. You will be amazed at how much you can do well, when you simply decide to do it. 

Fort Stanton Camporee was the beginning of this phase for me and we had a wonderful time. I taught a Fitness and Nutrition Round Robin (five times) and really enjoyed spending time with Scouts from around the area. Eric managed all the games for the Scouts, including tire flipping, pumpkin rolling and human pyramids. The weather by day was warm, but by evening we froze our keesters off! Gavin sang songs, did a campfire skit and talked for weeks about the time we had at the nearby historical monument. The weekend had a lasting effect on him.

Onto event two of this phase: the Cub Scout AspenFest Parade Float. I had no idea what Chairing this task would involve and it truly ate my shorts! I loved every minute of it and the float received Third Place out of more than 40 floats entered. The best thing? The icing on the cake? The Cubs and their families were very involved in all the implementation. Truly, it was the Cubs float. And, yes, I have a learning disorder, and will Chair this again next year provided Eric agrees to be my Construction Manager again!

Tommy Four Guns & Zetta
Next on deck: Gavin's annual Gospel Sing-the BIG fundraiser for his itty, bitty school of less than 100 kidlets. My teammate and I were tasked with soliciting local businesses for upscale dessert donations. The schools goal was to raise $10K. We raised nearly $15,000! So many engaged, loving families, we are blessed to have the little school, in the basement of the big old Baptist Church on the hill. 
We did not have the bandwidth for our annual blowout Halloween Party (I cannot imagine why) so we decided on a very upscale murder mystery party with a few dames and gangsters. Our friends brought many provisions and gourmet food, we setup the bar and used all the crystal, china and silver we own. Seriously, we all agreed, it was a blast. The prohibition/speakeasy theme nearly prevented the solving of the murder (to many 1920's cocktail experiments), but I was the murderer and our friend Cody was the victim! Definitely, doing another one next year.

Halloween was celebrated for nearly two weeks, with parties, trick or treating and festivities. Gavin as an Evil Warlock, Eric appearing as a Proctologist, Dr. Ben Dover, and me the Bandita or fem-fa-tale Zorro. Gavin stayed with friends on this evening and we tore up the town dancing for hours with many new faces at a friends home in town. Thank gosh for the Dollar CAB!

I send gratitude to all for encouraging me during these busy weeks, making me laugh and giving me plenty of energy to, as my 87 year-old client says,  "Go Make IT Happen." 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chaco, Camping & Commerce!

Me, in a very narrow crevice on a long hike above the Canyon floor.
Leah, ready to roll!
Summer has been ONE HUGE ADVENTURE filled with travel, camping and friends. My recent exploration took me to Chaco Canyon with a friend of nearly 20-years, Leah (below). A Chaco Veteran and Master Naturalist, in training, she was the perfect Guide. Chaco is in the middle of nowhere near Cuba so we pitched our tents, set up a rain canopy, the camp stove and disc then enjoyed living in the Canyon for three nights and four days. If you are interested in ancient pueblo civilizations you must visit this astonishing place. Peaceful, impeccably maintained and extraordinarily GREEN due to all the rain.

Jon, chill'n.
Kiva at Chaco

Other adventures this summer have included getting our moneys' worth from our Coyote Camper! We took it everywhere with friends and their kiddos! Our latest stint took us to Bluff Springs and Waterfall in Cloudcroft, which was gorgeous, and a rare sight in New Mexico.

Pratt and Gavin Goofing Off
Rainbow @ Bluff Springs

  • Both of our Corporations are BOOMING! I am receiving referrals nearly everyday and can barely keep up! Eric is set with regular cash flow from a two-year FEMA project designed to move the Villages' sewer lines from the Ruidoso River bed, where it currently resides.
  • Gavin is thriving at school with his streak of straight A's. He is really enjoying his piano lessons and Cub Scouts is keeping us all busier than one-armed jugglers. (Especially, me, the new, green, naive Cub Master!) 
  • Free time, when it occurs, is spent either running, mountain biking or in Eric's case, golfing.
  • Gavin and I placed in The Run for The Beach 5K and Eric was thrilled to finish. I set a personal record and my foot felt great! Next race? November in Las Cruces where Gavin will run another 5K and I will run the 10K.
    Ness 1st Place Womens/Gavin 3rd Place Kids
  • We are super busy this month with school fundraising, acting as Chairperson(s) for the Boy Scouts of America District Float and prepping for the Annual Fort Stanton Camporee where we are both in roles! Wild.
  • We have been immensely healthy and grateful for all the work God keeps passing our way. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We Get Around...

Ethen and I back-packing the Eagle Caps
geographically speaking! My trip to Oregon was incredible, filled with adventure and the chance to revisit my old stomping grounds, dear friends and family who spoiled me rotten. Eric and Gavin's adventures in Canada were equally exciting and full of laughter as they spent an entire two weeks with literally dozens of Cousins, plus GG, Great-Grandmother, who is still cruising right along at age 97! Rather than write a journal of all things done, seen and experienced we have chosen to issue the following highlights for your enjoyment.

Oregon Ala Ness
  • Getting less than 30 yards from a bear who was intently grazing on wild raspberries (it is berry season in Oregon and Washington.)
  • Watching Ethen's face when he saw the bear...priceless.
  • 2 a.m. hunt for my headlamp in our tent to find out what the hell was sniffing my hair...believe it was another bear.
  • Traditional Swedish Dance.
  • Watching Ethen hang his first bear-bag, at my request, after we had shared a few nips from his flask...hilarious.
  • Four Generations!
  • Consuming fresh salmon, oysters, micro brew and berries around the clock.
  • Going tinkle at dusk and realizing the mosquito's would attack the only flesh on my body not covered in DEET! Quickest pottie break of my life!

  • Eric and the Minions who make camp happen.
  • The beauty and solitude of this Wilderness area was a winning combo I have not found in Glacier or Yellowstone, particularly during the busy summer months. You GOTTA go! 
Canada Ala Eric
  • Golfing with my Cousin Scott and barley being able to swing my club at the 18th hole! Nice Balls Scott! 
  • Using a skidster to remove bras from the camp flagpole.
  • As unofficial camp photographer taking more than 1500 of pictures for the Vasa Camp Slide show.
  • My amazement in my 97 year-old Grandmother: still crushing us at card games, telling incredible stories and physically fit!
  • Ben, Gavin and Alec.

*Visiting with my Uncle Jim and being in awe of his courage and humor in the face of cancer while realizing how very much I have missed him. You'll beat it Jim!

Friday, June 28, 2013

H2o Is On Tap

Perfecting the belly flop is humbling.

White on Rice.
Homo-sapiens appear so evolved but at the end of the day it is often pure instinct driving us onward. The persistence of the drought in the Southwest and frankly the brown grass and dead trees spanning for miles near our home, has me yearning for water and mountain meadows with knee high GREEN grass. Eric and Gavin, similarly evolved, although slightly less than their savvy female housemate, wife and Mother, are also urged North toward the same end: water, green trees, flowers in bloom and Swedish family gathered around the small circumference of Pigeon Lake in Alberta Canada. Yes, we continue to evolve, but their is nothing like a primal URGE to get you moving toward water, lots and lots of water.
Ness Working Her Guns.

Believe he will be a circus tightrope walker.

Eric and Gavin departed today for two  weeks of Canadian adventures, first in the City of Edmonton and then onto Vasa Camp with literally dozens of welcoming relatives. Gavin, will eat, craft, sing and live Sweden for one week, learning about the culture defining the maternal side of Eric's family. We felt fortunate to be able to send him again this year in an annual attempt to keep him grounded in his roots and lineage. 
Similarly, I am returning to my roots, as I embark on a ten-day tour of Oregon to backpack, mountain bike, visit our most precious neighbors and a few of Portland's breweries. I have not been home in many years' and it is far overdue. My Brother, Phil, and likely one of his sons' are accompanying me into the Eagle Cap Wilderness, which abounds with mountain goats, elk and you guessed it WATER....lakes...(there are more than 50!) Expect pictures from both of these excellent adventures and enjoy the ones taking below of our first taste of lake water at Bottomless Lakes. Suffice to say, we highly recommend it and will definitely return. (See tips below.)

Hiking the bluffs above Lea Lake. Pretty.
Eric hogging the tube.
Bottomless Lakes is a spring fed lake supplied by our aquifer, which is filled by the Sacramento mountain range. Clean, filled with fish and turtles, Lea Lake is exclusively for swimming, paddle boats and boards, (available to rent). Tent site and trailer hookups go fast so get there before Friday. Perfect for kids of all ages. The State Park was very clean as were the showers, bathrooms etc. If you want to fish you must visit one of the other 11 lakes down the road. All this just 25 minutes outside of Roswell. Tips: Bring your own shade so you can have more privacy off the beach, bring tubes or floats of some type, make reservations online early or plan to arrive on Thursday and take advantage of one of the 15 sites that are not first come first serve. We used our new disc and Camp Chef Stove all weekend due to fire restrictions.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Trails, Tails & Training

Until now, the men in the house have never ventured onto the trails, I frequent. Alas, Gavin is old enough now to hang with the crew (for a few miles) and Eric finally parted with his more than 20 year-old Specialized mountain bike in exchange for a brand new Giant. Both guys are working on their endurance and I am enjoying playing trail guide. Since we are surrounded by trails it is fun, healthy entertainment. 

My training business was officially launched this month including professional photos, corporate filing with the State, waivers, a logo, blog site, client packets and more training for me. ( I have just begun marketing but believe most if not all, of my clients will come from word of mouth. Each day I wake up at 5:15 a.m. and take care of breakfast before heading out to clients homes with customized workouts. Clients are very pleased and I am enjoying every single minute of it. Since this is my sole job as of June, I plan to build a good, repeatable customer base and get CrossFit Coach certified by year-end. (Course designed by a Doctor of Physical Therapy). Such fun and I get paid! WHOOO! Eric has had an above average year but it could always be a little busier (and more stressful) or so he says!

Grandma Collins' was up for a brief visit and Eric took this great shot of she and Gavin. The three of them are leaving for Alberta shortly to see extended family. I am headed to Oregon for some wilderness time, hoping to see some of my family, backpack and mountain bike while also squeezing in a training class for myself. Old Gordie will be with the pet sitter for much of July but he is happy and doing well despite his age! I am not sure who has more arthritis, the dog or Eric! NSAIDS anyone?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Loop D' Loop

Neighborhood, Granbury, Texas
Spring was filled with tremendous highs and lows, ebbs and flows, which seem to be part and parcel, of the beauty encompassing everyday life. However, once in a rare, frightening while, you get stuck at the top of the Loop D' Loop, briefly suspended, insecure and scared breathless as you wait for the inevitable conclusion: the ride commences again. The analogy symbolizes last week in our home as we awaited word of my parents safety, following and EF-4 tornado hit to their home and near devastation to their neighborhood.

Warren House May 17th, 2013
After a very long night we heard from my Sister and BIL: Defeating all odds my parents were unharmed and safely hidden away in my Dads' closet.
Six people were killed and 97 out of 110 homes were leveled. My parents' are very industrious and innovative, having less than 10 minutes to take cover before it hit their home. Once they assessed and then were evacuated from their neighborhood, my family went to the most relaxing place they could find: the bar! Their future is uncertain as they dwell in a hotel and await the churning processes of insurance, contractors and clean-up. We (the kids) have begun to prepare for a Warren-Work-Camp to assist in re-building and laugh ourselves to tears' as we enjoy the comedic relief only our clan can muster. We know one thing, my parents will always have us, united in caring for them, in any actionable way required. Gratitude to my sister and her husband who respond with immediacy, care and attention to every last detail. You two are Rock Stars!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

ACT II, Engagement & Action

Alas! A moment to finish and share the Pinewood Derby story, chat about helping others and demonstrating love and support through action-rather than lip service. Ness' Word of Wisdom: Demonstrate your love for parents and siblings-it beats the hell out of talking about it.
The Pinewood Derby Championships were held in Roswell in mid April and in order to get Gavin and his car there he and I had to bust hump back from Texas where we celebrated Spring Break. In between the race in Ruidoso and the one in Roswell, Gavin and his fellow Cubs raced their cars for fun and Gavin's was involved in a fairly serious crash, which we would later determine, undermined performance.

The race was held at the local Roswell Ford Dealership and was teaming with anxious boys and competitive parents who were looking to have a great afternoon. Gavin received First place (again) in his age group/den and brought home Third Place overall with a time of 2.6 seconds. We never could get the little buggy to run at 2.4 as it did in Ruidoso and frankly, it did not matter: we had fun watching these boys race a car they had created themselves. Ice cream, a trip to the park and lunch rounded out the day. Little did we know the Third Place trophy would be this large!


Our volunteering plate is always full: Eric with Rotary, Ness with school, Scouts and now Soccer, which was not on the agenda, but became necessary. The volunteer coach needed help and the kids needed planned practices/drills and direction to grow. So, we dove in head first-me with the athletic training, Eric with his soccer skills. Seriously, we cannot believe how much the kids have learned about soccer and the parents about constructive engagement versus complaining. We told Gavin "anybody can complain but an individual with character will always ENGAGE!"

My training business is taking off so it is consuming more of my time as word of mouth spreads. My blog should be up by month-end, business cards ordered, business license renewed and additional training for myself planned. I am having such a ball-it does not seem like work, and my clients are very pleased. Two have signed up for the remainder of the year and I am enjoying watching them grow and change in many ways.

Time to put the ole house on the market again so we have been clearing closets, removing personal pictures and items and grooming the very large front and back yard. Looking good and hope to get her re-listed in June. After she sells I (we) am/are buying a box in Cedar Creek to live in with little maintenance or square footage, right next to the trails, so we can run, bike and hike as we see fit. I am tired of keeping up such an enormous casa!

In closing, we have 9 days of school left and several trips and camps planned for this summer: Eric and Gavin to Alberta in July, Ness to Oregon (solo) for a backpacking/mountain biking trip. Tentative plans for Austin with the Warrens' for my Nephews wedding, a week at Philmont Scout Ranch and Ness to Chaco Canyon with her best bud and Maid of Honor Leah.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gavin Takes PineWood Derby District Championship!

Gavins' car is second from right, purple with orange stripe.
The plot begins with a block of wood, four wheels/axle's and two eager men. The stage is set for the design, the plan and the engineering required. Shortly after, the purchases begin: A Pinewood Derby "How-To" magazine, bottles of paint, weights, graphite and sandpaper. Ultimately, many hours of calm and patient work in the shop. Alas, the climax: Eric and Gavin each raced this Saturday at the Sierra Blanca Pinewood Derby, in Ruidoso. Gavin took 1st Place overall, out of more than 40 cars, by a hair. (Think in the thousands of seconds.) Memories were made and we observe our intermission before driving to Regionals in Roswell where the end of this story will be unveiled.

Erics' car is on far left, red with Lego Driver.