Sunday, May 22, 2022

What’s This?


        I have been in a weird place with everything lately. I have not made a secret of it. Teaching goes through major mood swings weekly, if not daily. There are days the classes are so awful, and they make me feel so awful, that I can't even imagine bringing myself to go back and do it for another day, let alone another several weeks. There are also days that go so well, where the kids behave themselves, and the foolish thought comes into my head that I could do this again (NO! I won't do it again!). But no matter if the day has been good or bad, it's fairly universal that I will not have the energy, or desire, to work on dolls when I get home. Teaching has been mentally and physically draining, and I often can't manage to do anything when I am home.
     By the weekend I am pretty much completely drained. Saturdays I have been spending a lot of time doing nothing. That being about the level of energy I have fairly often. I spend a couple of hours on the computer, maybe emailing, maybe just wasting time, possibly catching up on blog reading I have not had time for during the week. Then I might have the motivation to take a nap. Then maybe read some. I do sometimes do things on Saturdays, but I usually really have to push myself to get out and be functional. It's been kind of hard lately. 
     Recently I was talking to Joan Yount and she mentioned this doll she found. It's an Yvonne-type doll... but 6 inches! We were not even sure if it actually was a small Yvonne or just a stock photo used in place and the doll would be less good. We both ordered one and guess what? It really is a small Yvonne! I was actually excited about the doll! Until her legs wouldn't stay on and I could not find a small head to put on her. But then yesterday Joan texted me a fix she worked out that seemed to be working. So I tried a similar fix, with a different twist (even when we share things we never do things exactly like the other does them) and I had a doll with legs that stayed on. And while it IS a bit oversized, the original Yvonne head is not grotesquely oversized for the smaller doll. I was excited for the smaller doll again. 
    So excited that this happened. 

     That was the youth doll I have been repairing for months. I have really had little to no interest in working on her. I have remade her legs twice, and they keep on being wrong. So I decided to steal her clothes. Having an outfit, or part of an outfit, already finished that fit the smaller Yvonne went a long way in keeping me motivated to keep going. The shirt and coat fit the smaller Yvonne really nicely. The breeches were a bit baggy, so I decided to remake those. 
     For most of this time I was on the phone with Crystal. Which was awesome. We have not had a good long chat in a while, and it was way overdue. So we chatted, caught up on each other's news, and I worked away on this smaller doll. Even though I should not have spent that much doll time at the kitchen table. My back does not appreciate it!
     So the new breeches got cut out and sewn, and looked so much nicer than the baggy youth doll ones. The tiny hands actually paint up very well, so I had the gloves in the works. Things were progressing very well with this little doll. And I was weirdly happy about her. Doing things that are new and different are fun, and definitely a little bit exciting. Even if the new is just something a little bit different. 
      In the end I had had a nice, long conversation with Crystal, and I had a finished little Yvonne dressed in hunt seat attire. Here is a quick comparison between her and a nearly normal sized Yvonne doll. The western side saddle doll is actually a very tiny bit shorter than a regular Yvonne doll. But she was the one that was handy for this comparison photo. I realized when I was just about finished dressing Little Yvonne that I had forgotten to dremel the doll at all. Oops. That would likely improve a doll who is already pretty great. 
     So what did I end up with? I ended up with a smaller Yvonne doll, who actually stands incredibly well, even better than the original Yvonne dolls. She also is an excellent rider, just like her taller sister. I also had just what I have been looking for. 
      I have a really nice doll that fits very well on my pony saddle. Which now means I have an absolute perfect rider for Astrid. I am definitely excited about this! I know that a lot of people have complained about Astrid for a variety of reasons. Some feel she is closer to classic scale, or that they are being ripped off because she is not "true traditional scale". But you know what? Fjords are not huge horses. And horses come in different sizes. And now doll-people do as well. 
      I am still a little iffy about how this set-up looks. I kind of want to try again with my even smaller saddle, if the stirrups are adjustable. Which I am pretty sure they are. Little Yvonne works so nicely on Astrid but the saddle isn't quite working for her. I definitely might try this again with my smaller saddle. 
     Overall, I am pretty excited for this smaller Yvonne option. I would love a slightly smaller head option, but currently that is still something I am searching for. I can't say that this doll has me excited to show again, she doesn't. But I was excited to make her. And now I have a smaller doll that works well with smaller horses. I imagine she will look excellent on my CM Stone pony as well. And now I really want to try that! Just like everything with my doll making, this is an evolving thing that will likely change over time. And while it didn't bring back the spark for showing, I do find her to be a pretty exciting option. And I want to make myself a western one now.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Western Side Saddle

     It is really easy to not blog. It saves a lot of space in my head not thinking about what to write about all the time. It's actually making me a little bit less tired to have one less thing to do every day. Since I am still super busy at school, I also haven't had much time to work on dolls. Or really, much energy. I get home and I am just so done. But Jennifer needed a western side saddle doll to go with her pink rose set from Darleen Stoddard. It took me so much longer than it should have, but I did finally finish the doll. 
    Yes, she is barefoot. Even though I find it weird to send out a doll with no boots, Jennifer likes to make her own. And since I know she is not going to do a shoddy job of it, I am OK with that. I am actually very curious to see what Jennifer does with them. 
     This week has been the usual mix of good and bad. I have been getting a good amount of work done at school. I now have environmental science and chemistry totally planned out for the rest of the school year. I am super close on biology. I think I need to come up with one more lesson, maybe 2, and a final, and I will be done. Yesterday I got a whole lot more algebra figured out as well. I think I am down to needing 3 or 4 lessons. I will likely make them, they will be review for the final, and the final. So I am making progress. The finish line is in sight!
     I also managed to get a bunch of the photocopying done for the rest of the year. Which is fantastic! There are 17 more days of school (holy cow!) and I only have students on 15 of those days, unless someone misses a final and has to come on the last day to make it up. I have weird mixed feelings about it. This year has been bad, there is no denying that. It has been bad across the board. We were all expecting that being back in person would be so much better. But somehow, it hasn't been. It's been really rough, in so many ways. For myself, I definitely prefer in person to remote or hybrid. But this has been a really tough year. 
    I have a couple of movies planned in environmental science and chemistry. I would do some for bio, but we have to prep for the bio MCAS, so we really don't have time. But we are going to watch a couple of things in environmental science (Deepwater Horizon and Wall-E) and in chemistry (Hidden Figures and The Martian... as long as I watch that last one first to make sure it's OK for school). Those classes have definitely earned some movies. They also fit in with the subjects. The math classes have asked for movies and I challenged them to tell me a math movie. They have not yet (though Hidden Figures would actually work as a math movie, a physics movie, a chemistry movie, a history movie...)
     I am thinking about working the summer program again. I double checked with the director that it would, again, be OK to come in "late". It's never a good idea to assume after all. But I really loved working in IAP last summer (intensive autism) and I think I would like to do it again. Those kids made me so happy. The people I worked with made me super happy too. So it is definitely something I am considering. 
     This weekend is supposed to have temps in the high 90's. I have no idea what the expected humidity is. I hope it is low, but I have a feeling I am not that lucky. It was 58 degrees the other day, and then after this weekend it will drop down to the mid-70's again for at least a week. Silly weather. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

I knew This Would Happen

      It's happened. What I was pretty sure would happen but was kind of hoping would not happen. I stopped posting daily, which has turned out to be an excellent life choice, and now posting is not really even on my radar. I am not stressing about what to talk about, or potentially forgetting to post, but now it is just so easy to not do it. So I may have to make the smallest of efforts to make a schedule for myself. But also be lenient if I miss a specific day of posting. All of this is a work in progress. 
     Like this western side saddle doll I could not talk myself into making. Western side saddle dolls are not the hardest dolls out there, for sure, but they also do take some extra work. These days I don't really want to work on dolls at all. I just don't have the space in my head for it. 
     I still really enjoy when a doll comes together, but I have been struggling with mental and physical burnout. Even the good days at school leave me so drained that I can barely function when I get home. We are getting on to the end of the school year, there are just something like 20 days left (or maybe it's 20 days with students) and I am tired. Very very tired. 
     But last week I managed to talk myself into a bit of work. And it really was a struggle. But I got the thighs of an Yvonne-type doll remade so they are a teeny bit shorter and can more easily sit in a side saddle. I also got the clothes cut out, and then even managed the sewing. 
     The last step I managed was to get most of the base outfit onto the doll. She still obviously needs a lot of work, but she is started and progress has been made. There is no reason a doll of this type should be 3 days in and still only at this point. But I guess some progress is better than no progress. Maybe I can get her done this week. Time will tell.
    In non-doll news, the other night Ethan asked me if I wanted to go out and shoot. Since I have not done any archery since middle school (30 years for the curious), and he finally had a bow light enough for me to pull, I decided to give it a try. Since it has been so long he gave me a quick rundown of things I should do. I listed to all the things, watched him shoot, listened to all the other things and gave it a try. My shot was total garbage but Ethan said since I actually hit the target, it was not. And it was fun, just like I thought it would be. So I shot a bunch more. My second to last shot was super bad (but still in the target) so I said I had to try again because we can't end on such a bad note. But the bow, while I can pull it, is a bit heavy for me so I can't draw and take a whole lot of time to think about all of the places all of my parts need to be so everything comes together properly. And I am not anywhere near the muscle memory to just do it without thinking about it. But I tried just one more shot, the one in the photo below, and while it's not in the bullseye, it's pretty much where I was aiming, if just a bit low. I told Ethan I would fling pointed sticks with him again if he happened to get a bow that I could pull. Though I did say it should be super cheap since I am likely to not have much time to do it, or lose interest quickly. But it was fun, and different. 
     We have had some really excellent weather the last several days. Temps in the 80's with moderate humidity. Not the super low humidity I was hoping for (and excited for) but it was not too bad. Friday, Travis and I spent some time out in the yard barefoot. It was wonderful. We need more days like that. 
     Yesterday, we decided to go out to the Brimfield flea market. I haven't been in awhile, and haven't seen Yvonne and Deb for a while. So Travis, Ethan, and I headed out there. Just like everything else, the cost to park has gone up. It really is cool that many of the people who live close to the flea market let people park on their lawns. Sure, they make some good money that way, but they also have to be out there to tell people where to park and so on. It is definitely work for them. I know there are places where people cringe at the idea of anyone parking on grass. In Massachusetts, we don't worry about that. The grass here is not delicate. Anyway, I appreciate that we can park fairly close to the flea market, near the end where Yvonne and Deb have their booth. I always stop in to see them first and then again as we are leaving. Yesterday, I was not looking for anything in particular, which makes it a lot harder to find, but Ethan was hunting for long bows and turkey calls. So I looked at things here and there, but mostly just walked with my guys. And walked and walked. I wasn't wearing my Fitbit so I have no idea how many miles we walked. I know it was 3 and a half hours, so even poking along that is a good amount of walking. My ankle feels the miles today. But it was fun. I didn't buy anything for myself, neither did Ethan, but Travis found a Batman that he had to have. He then carried it for the rest of our very long walk, and got several compliments from people on his Batman. It's funny to me the different attitudes of people in different places when it comes to someone who is different in any way. I always LOVED bringing the kids to carnivals when they were little. My experience has been, at least at the carnivals we attended, that all of the carnies were basically family, and they not only looked out for each other, but all the kids, especially kids with special needs. The flea market seems to have quite a lot of the same type of people. Seeing a grown man carrying a Batman, brought out pleasant comments. They told him he found a really good one. One guy was reminded of Batman from the 60's and started humming the theme song. 
     This weekend has been great. Lots of good weather, walking, being outside, and just generally a nice weekend. I am tired today, maybe from all the walking yesterday, maybe from the clouds and rain (because it was bound to rain again) but I am feeling good. Back to school tomorrow, MCAS Tuesday and Wednesday (meh) and closer and closer to the end of the year. Maybe then I will be able to shake some of this major mental fatigue and get back to proper doll making. 
 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Weird Things Make Me Happy


          I have been thoroughly enjoying the less-stress of not feeling I need to put up a post every single day. It has been a huge burden lifted. Sure, writing a post usually only takes about 20 minutes, but I also need to have an idea-- and 20 minutes when I don't have something else I need to be doing. My days really are very full. 

         While I was working on lesson plans yesterday, I realized that, for some of the classes, I only have to come up with about 19 more lessons. That's pretty awesome. I am starting on DNA in biology, and we might be able to get through that before we have to start MCAS prep. I don't know if we will get to genetics, which sucks, I love teaching genetics. But I got started with this class in second term, so I really lost a lot of time. But I think, at least for some, I have managed to teach them some things. Anyway, we're getting there. There are only 26 more days of school with kids. It's a little bit weird that it is so close to the end now. It seemed so far when I first took over. 
      
         So not only is the less-stress about blogging making me happy, but Skinnygirl Merlot Grape preserve is making me happy. Just yesterday I was telling Angelique how much I love peanut butter (which I know grosses Jennifer out!) and I was saying I really wish I could have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Because I basically want to eat like a little kid. I want a peanut butter sandwich, with grape jelly, on white bread (not that my mother EVER fed me white bread when I was a little kid, lol). Yesterday, when Travis and I were at Big Y, I decided to take a look at the jelly shelf, since we were walking by it. I didn't think there was really any reason to even look. But then I saw Skinnygirl. And I know that brand. So I read it... 1 gram of net carbs! Holy cow! So I figured I would give it a try. And you know what? It's really tasty. So now because of Aldi Keto bread, Skippy Natural (I know, it has sugar, just LESS sugar), and Skinnygirl Merlot Grape preserve, I can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And it makes me happy. If I could have a glass of milk (that didn't taste gross) I would be incredibly content. See? Weird things make me happy.

       Another thing I found out yesterday, Sunshine Village is literally 3 minutes away from my house! I always think of Chicopee as Memorial Drive or Groton Street (roughly 20 minutes away). But really, Chicopee is also actually right around the corner from me. And I always forget that the town line is right there. So when I got the email saying Travis's pickup time was 8:50 I was like, how can anyone get to Chicopee that fast? But I talked to the bus driver (they know where everything is!) and she told me exactly how to get there. So Travis and I swung by on the way home from school. It really and truly is that close to me. There is even a small sign, which I am sure I have read hundreds of times, that points down the side street you need to take to get there. I have just never really registered it. Or I didn't make the connection at least. I got to also surprise Ethan with that news. He has also seen the sign and not thought anything of it. It is nice to know how close to home Travis will be. Plus there is a HUGE park right next door. That is going to be amazing. 

      So that's all my news for now. I have been having a decent week so far and the weather is getting nicer. Not putting pressure on myself to post every day has been liberating. This post was brought to you by Skinnygirl preserves and the weird things that make me happy. Like low humidity. At the time I am writing this (8:05 pm) it is usually pretty high humidity, since the humidity goes up when the sun starts to go down. But we are at 11%. Which means the daytime humidity should also be super low. Which means the days in the mid 80s coming later this week are going to be absolutely glorious!

     Also, Elecktra turned 24 today. How did she get so old???

Friday, May 6, 2022

Spring... Into Summer

         I grabbed this screenshot the other day of the 10 day forecast because it was so... weird. Though this back and forth with the temperatures in entirely normal for New England. I can vouch for the fact that Thursday was in fact in the low 70s. Though the rest of the 10 day has shifted a bit since I snagged this. We will have a chilly, cloudy weekend. And mid-80s are now just going to be 80 (and now some of them back up to mid-80's. It changes by the hour). But it looks like we are getting the usual. That is, a bit of Spring and then right into Summer. Which means the last two weeks of school could very possibly end up getting hot, and of course, humid. Not looking forward to that. There is no AC in my room and the kids complain so much. 
     This week has actually gone by very quickly. I had a couple of minor issues here and there, but mostly everything was just fine. And it went fast. I was super busy from the moment I got in, right up until the end of the day. I did take time out of my craziness to talk to students when they needed it. Several needed to talk this week. That's totally fine with me. The grading can wait, needing to talk can't. That was what I always liked best about being a para. Being able to take the time to listen to the kids, get to know them, help them deal with their emotions and life issues, so I could then help them learn. I can do that as a teacher too, but sometimes I don't have enough time. There is never enough time. 
    Speaking of that, I realized something yesterday chatting with a friend of mine. I need to cut back. I can't let the blog cause me stress, and that is what has been happening. When I don't have something to talk about every single day, I get stressed about it. I have posted daily for 2+ years (I think. I lost track) and right now, it's too much. So I think I am going to actually cut back now. I know, I know, so many of you have told me over and over to do it. I'm finally going to listen. I am sure I will need some sort of schedule, or I won't post at all, or it will be so sporadic that it will be like I am not posting at all. And I don't want to do that. So maybe I will aim for 3 times a week. That way it will give me more days to get photos, since I feel I MUST have a photo in every post. And with less pressure on myself to post daily, I might have time (just a bit) to get some other things done. Maybe. This was definitely a decision I have been struggling with, for months, but I am there now. 
     I was working on lesson plans and was realizing I really don't have to do an insane amount more that I need to do. I haven't written it all in my plan book yet, but I have roughly 17 lessons ready for environmental science. I have at least one movie I plan on showing, which is likely going to take 3 days. So that gets me up to 20... I don't need that much more. I am not there yet with chemistry, but I am working on it. Same with bio. I have so much material I should try to get to with bio, but we need to work on that test prep for the MCAS as well. Anyway, I am getting there. And once I have the planning done... I will have even more time I can take to talk to the kids when they need it. Which sounds good to me. 
 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Symbiosis

     The other day, instead of doing doll work like I probably should have been, I decided to watch a movie. While looking at it. Who does these things? Anyway, I watched Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Originally, when I put it in my watch list, I thought I had already seen it. Nope. I saw Venom and I saw Venom 2. I enjoyed both. 
    So me, being me, later on in the day I started thinking about symbiosis. Venom and Eddie started their symbiotic relationship and it was kind of commensalism. In some ways it could have even been considered parasitism (sort of). Eventually though, they definitely had a relationship based on mutualism. These are things I think about.  

     This guy is not Venom, it's Carnage, and was one of the most detailed and amazingly well done cosplay outfits we saw at the Brooklyn Comicon in 2019.  I like superheroes, but I don't think I would have ever gone to Comic Con if it wasn't for a doll. This doll to be precise. 
     My friend Roberto asked me to hair some doll heads and make some pencil skirts, for a Barbara Gordon doll he was working on. I could have made the entire doll, but all of his dioramas, including all the dolls and details, were made by him. 
     No matter the original reason for going, I went to Comic Con, I had a good time, and I got a ton of really amazing photos. I like to only use photos I have taken, or photos people have sent me (or allowed me to take) that I have permission to use. I was glad to have photos of a symbiote to use to talk about the weird thoughts I have while watching movies. 
     Speaking of science movies (not that I watched Venom with science in mind, it just went that way). I was looking up what movies are out there that have to do with Chemistry. There are several on Marie Curie, one of which I plan on showing in class. After I watch it to make sure it doesn't completely suck and is in fact school appropriate. But then I don't know what else we can watch. Most of the movies about chemistry are about drug dealers. Those are right out. 
     So I am trying to find some more interesting things to do in my classes. We are getting close to the end of the year and I think everyone could use a bit of a break. Though for biology, we just might not have time to watch anything at all. We need to sort of hustle and get in as much material as possible, while still repeating it over and over, because MCAS (state testing) is coming. And those kids need to take the biology MCAS. So we will have to start doing some MCAS prep... soon? I don't know exactly when, I need to figure it out. I am trying to get some materials together. 
    Environmental science is actually pretty easy. I have a book, I know a whole ton of environmental related documentaries and movies, so I should be all set for that class. Biology I have some material from my amazing friend Laura, and can find some extra things to supplement it. Chemistry is a bit iffier, since I am not at all confident with the subject matter and they need to understand it, but I am getting close. If I could find some movies, or something, that I can use to fill some classes, that would be excellent. 
    Math is trickier. I am still working on reinforcing all of the skills we have been working on, and adding more, with reminders of the things we did often. Teaching 4 subjects is definitely tricky. But I am getting there. And I think the kids have actually learned some things. I have had a few tell me that I am their favorite teacher, and I said really? (in a very incredulous way. Half the time I feel like I am literally making things up as I go along). And they said yeah, you are a really good teacher. Hmm, maybe it's because I break things down so they understand. Maybe because I do a refresher of previous stuff that we learned at the beginning of most of the lessons. I don't know. But it was a little bit of appreciation during teacher appreciation week. I'll take it. 
 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Stablemate Club

      Last year, I was all in with Breyer. I joined the Premier Club and the stablemate club, attended virtual Breyerfest, entered the Best Customs Contest, and more. At the end of the year I re-joined the Premier Club and the Stablemate club. Now that I am continuing on in the I-want-less-stuff mode, which usually has ended by this time of the year, I am stuck. 
     I can't remember who the first club stablemate model was this year, the little fighting stallion maybe, I still have him, in his box, for sale. I almost missed buying Phineas (that is this guy, isn't it?) because I didn't get the email that they were available and thought of it, luckily, 2 days before I had to purchase or lose out on the rest of the year. This is a really nice mold. I also don't need this model, so this one is also for sale. 
      I am for sure in a weird place as far as collecting. Just the other day (yesterday maybe) I was scrolling Facebook instead of working on dolls, and I saw a traditional scale Lola for sale. And I wanted her. And then I remembered that not only do I want to own less stuff, an unpainted model is a weird commitment. Either a commitment to have this unpainted model hanging out, giving you dirty looks about not getting it painted, or a commitment to prep and paint the model (lol, nope!) or send it out to be painted. Then it becomes a commitment not only to spend the money on the unpainted piece, but also on the finish work. Currently, I want to have less stuff, but more money. It just seems like the right thing to do, right at this time. 
     So I mentioned in the last paragraph that I was time-wasting on Facebook instead of working on dolls. I did actually intend to come home, have the smallest of timed naps, and then get to work on a doll. Then I scrolled for a while, napped for a bit, came on here to do a blog post... and then decided that I was NOT going to work on dolls. And that I was going to be OK with it. I also decided Tuesday was not a doll work day. So now, if I can talk myself into it, I will work today on dolls. And that is likely it since Travis and I usually go out and do things on Fridays these days. 
     That leads me to another struggle. If I am not making dolls, which I seem to do very little of these days, what am I supposed to talk about? This is my doll making blog, lol. Sure, I talk about other things as well, but I don't always have things to talk about, photos to use, and I definitely don't have time to put together posts that require research. I am in a weird place, kind of with everything. But I am working on working maybe a bit less. Which I think is good for me. 
 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Give Me a “T”

In honor of Karen Crossley, a Canadian hobbyist and active blogger who passed away in 2020. Lynn Isenbarger, Jennifer Buxton, and I are finishing Karen's alphabetical tour of her collection. Today's letter is T. 

     This is not the first time I have talked about Time Lord. When I bought Time Lord, a bunch of years ago, he was the most expensive resin I had ever purchased. But I love this model. I had him for a year or so, and had him repainted by Liesl Dalpe. He then went from a model that I really liked the mold of, to a model that I loved everything about. In my opinion, a nice dark bay is the best horse color. 
     In 2018 I sold Time Lord, and a lot of other things. It was a little hard, but he went to my friend Iva, and I knew he would have a good home. Somehow it's easier to let go of your favorites if you know they will go to someone who appreciates them. In 2020 I was thinking about him, missing him, and I contacted Iva to see if she still had him and would sell him back to me. She did and she did. 
    Time Lord came home and I decided to put him to work. He got nice outdoor halter photos, but the portrait feature on my iPhone doesn't always blur evenly, so people thought I used photoshop. Since I had my new arena, with my new lights, I got him a nice indoor halter photo. And I actually like it a lot. 
     I had always wanted to use an Indian Silver in performance, I have seen it done a few times, and he seemed perfect for the Mares in Black Spooktacular 2 show. It was a traditional class list with a spooky twist, so I made all of my performance photos to match the spooky theme. 
    And while I do think these work nicely as regular performance show photos, they aren't quite traditional. Though I do think they are fun. 

      Recently, I got a beautiful Arabian tack set from my friend Terri Wright. I still have not gotten really nice photos of the set, or made the matching doll, but I am still enjoying it quite a bit. And I am enjoying Time Lord. He was a model I wanted for a long time, found, bought, upgraded, sold, and repurchased. During my current purging I have considered selling him, again, but he is still here, hanging out and looking pretty. And he makes me happy. He also reminds me of several friends when I look at him. He has a lot of connections for me. Now maybe eventually I need to add a traditional scale Scarlett to my collection. She is another one I have been after for years. We'll see. 

Monday, May 2, 2022

International Food Fair

       Last week, I bent my eating rules and went to the International Food fair that was held by one of the cooking classes. I had a small bit of several things I normally don't eat, so I could help gives critiques. There were small shot glasses of a beet soup, which was quite good. I love beets. I miss beets. Beets are basically sugar. 
    I don't remember exactly what this dish was, but I couldn't eat it since it has cherries in it. Cherries and I don't get along. But the documentation was beautiful and I appreciated how well done this all was. 
     These almond tarts tasted store bought (the kids swear they were home made). I commented that anything with almost extract is easy to overdo, but they were perfect. It was very well balanced in flavor. After reading the ingredients I also realized it would not be at all hard to alter the recipe to make it low carb. And I taught the guys that almond flour is a thing. 
     These were burgers, just like they look like, and they were full of bacon, among other things. They were quite good and the small bit of bread I ate probably won't kill me (hasn't yet). 
      Strawberries are actually something I can eat a bit of. Not soaked in sugar, but still. The whipped cream had sugar, and the waffles had sugar, but I only had a bite (this bite). I was told the "secret" ingredient in the waffles was cinnamon. Even with the fruit and cream you could taste it, but it wasn't overpowering. It was very nice. 
     I can't remember at all what these were called, though I can say this would be an interesting vegetarian alternative to a meat dish. I have forgotten most of what is in them, along with the name, but I know there were lentils and... something. They were very flavorful and the presentation was nice too. 
      This should have been where I hung out the whole time. The dip is a dill yogurt dip and was very delicious. My comments were that it was nothing like a typical American dip (meaning, it didn't have any sweetness to it, like Ranch and almost everything else American). It reminded me a bit of a spinach dip, but it had it's own flavor, which was quite good. Dill is another ingredient that can be incredibly overpowering, but this was light and tasty. This could be a great low carb dip option for parties. I also would totally put it on salmon.
     On top of being able to eat some delicious things that are normally off limits to me (in my defense, I had a only a very tiny bit of it) I really enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm of the cooks. So many people of all ages can't cook at all these days so seeing these young people (boy does that make me sound old) putting together dishes from all over the world was really fun. It was also a nice little break from my normal school day. It was definitely worth it. 
 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Beautiful Day

     After doing the 5K on Saturday, I woke up sore yesterday. Which was a surprise to no one. When you do a 5K, a lot of it uphill in the woods, with extra challenges, and you didn't train for it, you hurt the next day. Actually, you might hurt the next day anyway. But yesterday was a beautiful day, like an absolutely perfect day to be outside. It was a high in the low 70's, sunny, and a bit of a breeze once in a while, but not the crazy wind we have been having so much of. It's like it's actually Spring finally (a perfect Beltane). So when Ethan wanted to go explore a new-to-him place in Belchertown, I said I was up for it. 
     Just look at all that blue sky! This field was inviting me to run. My super sore muscles laughed at me and said no. 
     Technically, we were scouting for turkeys. This being a wildlife management area. Ethan taught me a lot of things I didn't know about turkeys while we walked. Apparently they like to roost in old growth pine trees near big open fields. There is no hunting on Sundays in Massachusetts so we just walked and looked for signs of turkeys. I found something in the field that may have been some turkey feathers. Not sure. 
     We had to cross this little stream, which would have been much simpler without sore legs. Ethan and Travis both ended up stepping in the water (log rolled) but Ethan gave me a hand to help me cross and I got to keep my feet dry. 
      There is a lot of forest clearing going on, both by people and by beavers. So there are piles of logs everywhere. Mostly though, this was a fairly easy walk, not many steep hills, mostly even footing (my bad ankle was really thankful for that!) and did I mention it was perfect weather?
     We did lose the trail at one point (no, not lost) and ended up having to walk back to the car on the road. Which was hillier than the woods, lol. It was definitely a nice day to be outside and to have another hike. Though when I got home and settled for a while I was extra sore. There will be as much stretching today as I can manage. And hopefully I can get out for hikes much more often now that the weather is better. I would really love to go for a hike without being half-crippled for a couple of days after. 
 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Sgt. Joshua Deforge Challenge

       In May of 2010, Joshua Desforges was killed in action in Afghanistan. Josh was a Ludlow resident and a graduate of Ludlow High school. When Josh was killed I got a phone call from the principal of Travis's school. That was because Josh's mom was Travis's para. Even though I had never met Josh, Arlene is family, and it was devastating news. 
       Yesterday, was the annual Sgt. Joshua Desforges walk/run challenge. It is a 5K run/walk with watered down marine obstacles. I have thought about doing it for years and the date (always the end of April) never worked out. This year it did. Right before the race we had the opening ceremonies. There were a couple of speeches and it was really nice. This is at the Sgt. Joshua Desforges memorial, which is in the back of Ludlow High School. I have eaten lunch on that bench quite a lot. 
       Travis and I got a pre-race selfie and were ready to run. Or he was ready to run and I was ready to try really hard to make it to the end. 
    Once the starting pistol went off, we ran down the back parking lot of the school, down next to the baseball diamond, and up into the cross country trails in the woods. Travis and I chose to run up the first hill. Or, we started to. That hill just kept going up and up. I forgot how steep (and endless) some of the hills are back there. I was really pleased that Travis stayed right next to me the whole time we were running. Usually, he liked to bolt ahead, since he is so much faster. But he stayed right with me. Maybe we can start running together again. Now that "running together" would actually mean running together. That could be fun. 
     The first stop was pushups when we got up the first endless hill. I am really bad at pushups, but I did them. The next obstacle was squats. I am actually really good at squats, but they are tricky when you have just gone up an endless hill and have jelly legs. We also had to crawl under a net, through a drainage pipe (not a gross one, lol), carry sand pails up and down a hill, climb over different heights of logs (Travis hopped over them like they were ground poles!), through the tire obstacle, up and down the stadium stairs, and also pulling a heavy tire to the top of a backstop with a rope. I had to wrap the rope around me to use my body weight to pull the tire up. Travis grabbed the end of his rope and just hauled the thing up like it was nothing. That guy is amazing. 
     In the end we did not have a great finishing time. Travis and I finished in an hour and 15 minutes. But we did not skip any of the challenges or obstacles. We also didn't throw up at all (which can't be said for all the race participants). Arlene said Josh would have been proud of us. I was proud of us. It was a hard race but I am really glad we did it. It was an honor to honor a hero's memory doing a small bit of something he loved. And that water we were handed at the end was an amazing prize!
 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Your Surroundings Matter

     Your surroundings matter, which is why it feels so good to have a freshly cleaned house. Not that I necessarily enjoy the cleaning, I usually don't, but having everything put away properly, and the clutter, decluttered, is a really good feeling. 
     The other morning I went into my friend Angelique's classroom, made some tea, made some tea for her and went to write her a note saying I already put honey in it (I usually just leave it in the microwave. But I noticed how clean her desk was, so the first thing I put in the note was "how is your desk so clean?" And she told me later on, that she was reading/heard something (I can't remember which) that your surroundings effect your mood. I know this but when it's said to you it's different. And with the way school is for the last couple of years, having anything to help elevate the mood is a good thing. 
     Anyway, the other day I was having a crazy day and this is how my desk looked before lunch. It was covered in papers, and was basically a chaos of grading. 
     Before I left for the day, I made sure to organize my surroundings. The papers were all graded and sorted by class so they can (eventually) get handed back. There is still a stack of papers that I need to go through, but things were a lot better. I try to leave things organized. There are days when that just does not work. 
     Like yesterday. I did make sure to sort the papers that needed grading by class, but there is a stack of papers that need grading on my desk. And you know what? I am OK with that. It is a little organized, but the reason I left so much undone was because I was helping kids. They were asking for help, it made me incredibly happy, and I was running from one to the other explaining everything that were confused on. And you know what? A kid that always says they hate math, don't understand math, and often put in little to no effort got a 100% on the quiz we took. And I didn't give a single answer. That is not how I help. I did re-explain everything I have been teaching for more than a week, one step at a time, but honestly, I do that every day. 
     So last Monday, right at the end of the day, I had that one annoying spot, which then stuck with me and irritated me for hours (and into the next day). But really, I had an excellent week. I am hoping I can keep having excellent weeks until the end of the year. That would be awesome. 

 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Vaulting

     I don't remember why I asked Jennifer Buxton to make me vaulting tack, but I did. And I have gotten a big kick out of showing my vaulting set. I even branched out with it and use it for my jester scene. It's different and fun.
    At this point I think I have made 5 or 6 vaulting dolls. Which in the grand scheme of 16 years and 1400+ dolls (I have no idea and really need to do an updated count!) that is not very many. The newest one was made for Hannah Clark. Hannah sent me some really great photos and is allowing me to share them here. 
     I can just see this doll getting ready to hoist herself up in a way I could never even imagine myself being able to do. The strength and control is amazing. 
     This is a pose I could possibly pull off with one of my setups, though it is harder than it looks to make the doll stay on in this position. 
     I don't love having to use acrylic rods in setups, but this really does make this extra cool! The dolls just couldn't do something cool like this without being held up in some way. 
     I'm not sure where the vaulter is going with this pose, but I love how bored the handler looks. He's upset that there was not enough room to do a set-up where he could be involved. Don't pout suit-dude! There will be work for you soon enough. 
     As always, if you have photos of dolls I have made, from shows or just from fun set-ups, I would love to share them. Send me an email at fieldofdolls@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.