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Posts Tagged ‘loose the stress’

Life has been a bit crazy lately hasn’t it? Illness, cancelations, anger, fear and no shortage of bad news. There’s definitely been ups and downs but my Mom taught me to look for the positive and I have to admit that when I sit down and tally it up my blessings have always out numbered my problems. Like everyone, I’ve missed out on some important things this year. I was supposed to compete in the National Arena Curling Championship last April – for pity sake! I was going to be the Skip of Team Stearns! I coulda been a contender!!! We bought snazzy red jackets and stretchy black pants. I even ordered real curling shoes (which I still can’t stand up on) but instead of playing on championship quality ice for the first time in my life we didn’t even get to finish our regular season. I was bummed.

Then there was the article I wrote for DUN Magazine, my all-time favorite fly fishing magazine for women. It’s a beautiful magazine! The kind of magazine you can’t throw away because it’s a work of art you wish you could hang on the wall. Yes! They were going to print my article for all the world to see and better yet – they were going to use my photographs too! Pictures I actually took would be spread across pages and pages of glossy, color-rich, high-quality paper. I couldn’t wait to see it!!! I’d probably have to order a case of them to hand out to everyone I know. But then Covid-19 hit and the printing presses stopped. There would be no new issues for awhile – maybe never. I was bummed again.

The hits kept coming – camping trips with the Sisters on the Fly fell through the cracks like a handful of change, parties and get togethers ceased to exist. Quilt retreats, community education classes and even Longmire Days were cancelled. I was really bummed.

But… it helps to stay busy, especially in stressful times. So, I took up a new hobby or two. I ‘shopped’ in my sewing room and started a few new projects. Heck, I even pulled out some UFO’s (Un Finished Objects) and finished them. And I decided to finally do some of the things I’d always wanted to do but never had the time. With no club meetings or appointments to rush to I suddenly realized I had nothing but time.

What a great feeling.

Suddenly I had time for guilt-free tatting in my recliner in front of the TV. I’ve been stashing tatting shuttles and beautiful threads for years preparing for just such an apocalypse so I pulled out those treasures and started tatting. My biggest achievement was to finish the incredible ‘MONSTER DOILY’ that I have been drooling over for years. It was designed by a Polish gentleman named Jan Stawasz. The pattern was published only once in a magazine named Moje Robotki in 2007. It’s hard to find but if you’re lucky (and stubborn as hell) they can be bought if you watch places like Etsy and never give up. Once I decided on the threads to use I was a woman possessed. I ate, dreamed and lived tatting! Mr Stawasz has always been known for the accuracy of his designs and this one was no exception. On April 16th I posted this on the Monster Doily Facebook page (yes – there is a page dedicated exclusively to this doily).

I can’t believe it! 8:00 pm tonight I finished it. The Monster Doily took me 84 days from start to finish. It is made with Lizbeth size 20 threads – colors #601 Snow White, #188 Coral Splash and #706 Sunkist Coral. The finished doily measures 26″ across. So much has happened since I started it and I have been thankful for this project to keep my hands busy and my mind calm. Thank goodness for tatting shuttles and a bit of beautiful thread!”

I love it! But what could I do now?

I moved on to the cedar strip kayak I had started last fall. My Dad was in assisted living at the time and his huge shop where he restored vintage aircraft was just sitting there – unused. Filled with tools and big enough to build a 14′ long boat it’s the perfect place. It was also a great motivation to drive the 32 miles to regularly check on his place and then stop and visit him. I would tell him everything I had done, what I had problems with and get some advice or just sit with him remembering. But that was last winter – he passed away New Year’s Eve. Suddenly, I was too sad and too busy to work on a kayak. I stopped visiting his shop. I stopped sawing, and gluing and sanding that beautiful wooden boat. Then Covid hit and we stayed home until I realized working in a shop by myself was the perfect excuse to get out of the house and still be alone. So I worked on my kayak and I wasn’t quite so bummed.

Sawdust is good for the soul.

It took lots of time just to build the jig (form) to build the boat on and even longer to cut and fit each strip of wood. It’s still not finished but I was making progress. The decorative stripe was a problem because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I struggled with different ideas then the perfect solution came to me one day. Dad was a Ham Radio operator his whole life. What if I used Morse Code to write a message on my kayak? I grew up to the sound of code playing over the airways. This could be a salute to my father. So I Googled ‘Morse Code’ and the first thing that popped up was a Bible verse someone had converted to code. It was Genesis 1:26 – the perfect verse but it was way too long so I shortened and adapted it to this:

“Let mankind have dominion over the fish of the sea,

birds of the air and all creatures upon the earth.”

The dots were easy – the dashes not so much until I figured out I could use the router to cut a pocket and glue a fluted dowel inside (these are used to join boards together for table tops, etc.). Once the glue was dry I used a hand plane to shave off the top half (side) of the dowel and poof! A perfect dash. I have to admit I had a blast working on that part even though I nearly drove myself to drink double checking every single word and letter so I didn’t misspell anything. But it’s perfect.

Then it was June and I returned to work at Jewel Cave National Monument and the kayak had to wait. After 2 weeks of online training from home it was good to be back to work even though my job duties were very different this year. There were no tours as it’s hard to practice social distancing in an elevator. So instead of selling tickets I got to work in new areas. My favorite was the Historic Area. Just a mile west of the Visitor Center there is a sweet little log cabin that was built in 1935 by the CCC. It was where our very first park ranger – Ranger Elwood Wolf lived with his wife and 4 kids. He sold tickets out of the front room of the cabin for .25 cents each and then shut the door and lead the tour.

A hiking trail passes in front of the cabin and continues down around the backside of the mountain to the historic entrance of the cave. Although they don’t really have proof that this is the entrance that Frank & Albert Michaud found in 1900 it is where the tours entered the cave in 1941.

Self portrait of a park ranger.

You can’t beat this for an office.

It is a lovely spot and with our numbers down it was quiet enough that the bighorn sheep visited me several times. I love that little cabin in the woods and think I could happily live there if only they would let me.

Besides the Historic Area I also worked the front desk and also a canopy set up next to the parking lot where we greeted visitors and answered questions. For the most part people understood why we weren’t giving tours but is was a strange year. Hopefully next year will be better. I’ve been finishing up the season working at the Admin Office revamping the central files. It’s a chance to make order out of chaos which is something that’s not so easy to do anymore.

Summer flew by and there’s still anger, fear and the never ending bad news but I have changed. I shut off the news and set down the phone. I’ve taking up walking every day – usually walking 5-7 miles a day. I’ve found ways to release the stress and I’m taking better care of me.

My mother used to say, “I’ve never lost a beauty pageant.” Then she’d stop and smile before adding “Of course, I’ve never entered one but still, I’ve never lost one.” I used to think it was just a joke but now I realize it’s much more than that. It’s a reminder to change your perspective and to look for the good in your life instead of focusing on the bad. It’s true that my article never made it to print in a beautiful magazine but this week it was published digitally. My words and photos are out there for even more people to see and I’ve gotten lots of kind comments on it. You can check it out here if you like: https://dunmagazine.com/posts/trout-trollop

Life has been crazy lately but even in all the chaos there’s still one important thing to remember. We may never get back everything we lost this year but there will be new adventures and for a little while longer I can still say:

“I’ve never lost a National Curling Championship!”

#PUREGOLDCEO #PROMO

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