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Sunday, May 31, 2009

If you don't like the Weather...

Just wait a minute... literally...

Vermont has some pretty extreme weather, and it often changes rather quickly, but I have never experienced such a radical fluctuation in one afternoon. So far today I have experienced three hail storms, thunder, lightning, down pouring rain, wind, bright sunshine, warmth, and cold. Most of these all at the same time.

When I arrived home it was nice and sunny... then seconds later, the minute I needed to exit my car to get into my house, it began to hail, and hail is quite unenjoyable on the skin.

The hail wasn't very large, thank goodness. Shawn left the mustang parked right out in the yard and I don't even want to imagine what would happen if it were dented by hail (or the money we'd have to spend repairing it!)

Seconds later the sun appeared. It looked almost heavenly, but it was still hailing and raining at an unnecessary rate. The sun didn't last long, though, and straight rain returned. But rain is good, makes things grow. They don't call them the Green Mountains for nothing.

Sometimes I wonder if God has ADD when it comes to afternoons like this, or perhaps he cannot make up his mind, which would be more beneficial, rain or sunshine... heck, why not both at the same time! Its still spring, anything goes when new life is blooming.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary...

How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells... what the hell is a cockle shell??

Well my vegetable garden is still bare as a bone after a two weeks worth of time in the ground. I am still optimistic that something will sprout. But in the meanwhile I decided to add some color to the yard. Just a little bit of color. I went out and purchased a few flower plants.

Now I know NOTHING about flowers. I still don't even know the difference between perennial and annual, but I went through a large green house and came out with a few plants that seemed hearty and pretty. I was going to try and stick to a color theme, blue and white, but there really aren't that many types of blue flowers, so I branched out into purple and then into pink. So much for a theme...

So I had one flower bed in particular I wanted to tackle. It was full of weeds, not like the beds on either side that flourished with tiger lilies and daisies on their own. I really had no idea what I was doing other than removing all the weeds and then digging a hole and putting the plants in their respective holes. Is there really anything more to do?

It was rather easy except for the multitudes of rocks that were in the way. That is the one thing I hate the most about our yard.

After a few minutes of toil the plants were in the ground in a nice little circular pattern. Nothing special, but hey, it's better than weeds!

And I added some left over plants in front of the rock at the end of our driveway too. The previous owners of the house stenciled a cute little scene on it. I plan on trying to touch it up someday.

Now I am not sure what exactly I planted, but they at least look pretty! I am just hoping that they come back next year so I don't have to buy more and maybe, just maybe, I will add a few more flowers to my yard.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exhausted but not Defeated

I've been getting back to 100% the past couple of days. My body took quite the beating. There are bruises in unusual places and I am not exactly sure how they got there. I am not complaining, though. The aches and bruises are from one of the coolest experiences of my life... the Burn Building.

The culmination of my firefighter class was a trip to the state fire academy to experience "live fire situations". It wasn't exactly the real thing, but we definitely saw smoke, fire, and felt the heat! We did everything from put out a car fire, ventilate a roof, and perform search and rescue.

Boy, don't we look defeated? But to the contrary we actually just successfully completed search and rescue. Four bodies were recovered on three different floors and dragged to safety.

These are the "bodies". They are a little lighter than an actual person, but a pretty close and accurate feeling to dead weight.

I was actually more nervous than I had ever been before...except for possibly my wedding day. My stomach was in knots and I was wondering if I had what it took to face the pitch black rooms with searing heat and embers. I didn't know if I was going to be able to haul a hoze up flights of stairs, operate the nozzle how I was suppose to and when it mattered. And I didn't know if I would freak out while facing all that. Let me tell you... there is A LOT of mind over matter when it comes to things like that. But when it came down too it, myself, and my fellow classmates, were all able to rise to the challenge and come out smelling of smoke and sweat. At the end of the day we were all tired and cranky, but stronger, mentally and physically. Now I can only hope I am ready for the real thing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Signs Are Optional

Sometimes there is just no good reason for a sign, especially in Northern Vermont, in the middle of nowhere, deterring one from discovering a perfect view of the lake. In fact, it should be a crime on the sign poster's part, but perhaps he or she was just overly protective of the old boat shed with a canoe inside it.

My husband was on a mission to fish and I was on a mission to pretend to fish whilst playing photographer. Nothing makes Shawn relax more than fishing and nothing makes me relax more than watching my husband do what he loves to do. The site is enough to make me smile, and snap a few photographs.

Unfortunately for Shawn I am cursed by the fishing Gods and tagging me along would mean that he would get a single bite. I never catch fish, ever... EVER... never. Ok, I've caught THREE in my entire life and I have done a good bit of fishing over the years. No matter what I do, what rod or bait I use, or where I fish, I never seem to be able to catch a single thing, not a bite. Nothing. And last night my luck definitely rubbed off on Shawn, but he didn't seem to mind.

Once I surrendered to the pond and the black gnats that were finding every bare inch of skin and feasting on it I was able to wander freely with my camera. Photography is to me what fishing is to my husband.
...content sigh.

And best of all, both my husband and I got to relax on the lake shore and watch a wonderful sunset across the water with the town in silhouette together. Sometimes when you ignore the signs and tred where you are forbidden great things come of it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sentimental about Fire

For the past seven months I have been dedicating one or two days a week to learning how to become a firefighter, a certified, proboard, level I firefighter. When most people see me they don't think of me as a firefighter. I figure that when people see the firefighter stickers and tags on my vehicle that they assume that my husband is the firefighter not me (not both of us!). But I am. I sort of smile at the humbleness in it, as if it is a secret. Yes I am a petite, young woman, but yes I can do the same job as those big and strong men and no one suspects a thing. Now that the class is almost over I almost feel as if I learned something, actually, a lot. I learned how to put mind over matter, how to push myself physically, and what my limits are. I've learned how to use tools, ladders, tie knots, deal with all sorts of emergencies from fires to car accidents to HazMat, and of course, rescue people. Its probably been one of the most dedicated and intense experience I've ever had, and its only been seven months.

And through this whole experience I have captured some great pictures, maybe not photographic masterpieces, but photos that mean a lot to me. One part of my love of photography is capturing magnificent scenes, while the other part is capturing moments that I know will be valued years from now. Some day, when I have kids and have to be the mom before a firefighter, I want to show my children pictures so they can see that "not just daddy is a firefighter"! Even more so, when I am ninety five years old, surrounded by generations of my family, I can pull out some old photos from my firefighting class and tell stories about what it was like to be a "female firefighter" back in the beginning of the century. How cool would that be? Someone has to think about the future and what we share to those who follow us. And I want to have LOTS of stories.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Those Damn Lipids...

When I first found out I had high cholesterol when I was seventeen I was shocked. Such a diagnosis is usually reserved for the severely inactive and obese, of which I am neither. My doctor informed me that it was nothing to worry about yet.... it was 210...just a little higher than what is considered acceptable. She assured me that is was hereditary and it turns out that is probably the case... my father has extremely high cholesterol that is now controlled with medication.

This past week I had my blood drawn again to recheck my cholesterol, something I do every year or two. In the past it had stayed exactly the same, no matter what my lifestyle or diet. And when I was seventeen I ate HORRIBLE. My freshman year in college I had a rough diet too. Lots a soda, spaghetti O's and candy. Somehow over the years I have managed to pretty much completely kick my candy habit (where I literally used to always carry around BAGS of candy and eat it constantly) and have traded it for carrot sticks and raisins. My self consciousness over the years has gotten the better of me and now I have a well formed exercise habit where I run, walk, or do some form of cardio activity four to six days a week. I've also talked openly with many doctors over the years about my cholesterol. None seemed concerned and it never waivered... until this week.

I got my results yesterday... Total cholesterol is 246 and my LDLs are 178! In case you know nothing about cholesterol normal total cholesterol is suppose to be below 200 and LDLs are suppose to be below 100. LDLs are the "bad" lipids that clog the arteries and cause all the health concerns. But there is some good news. My HDLs, the "good" cholesterol, is 64, which is high, but that still doesn't negate the fact that my bad cholesterol is just too damn high. For my cholesterol to rise so much in a year and a half is a huge concern and frankly, it scares me.... the last thing I want is to end up taking medication at my age. Cholesterol medication can cause a lot of side effects and also can be extremely harmful if you hope to ever have children (depending on which medication you take).

Instead, I am going to try and make some SERIOUS changes. I have a fairly healthy lifestyle compared to most people to begin with, but there is still room for improvement. Instead of just counting calories I am going to watch what exactly makes up those calories. Exercising more won't be hard because, to begin with, exercising is a huge stress releiver for me. I love being active! But giving up white bread, ice cream, butter, pastas, red meats and...well... its easier to mention what I CAN eat than can't. I'm going to have to get used to eating mostly fruit, vegetables, wheat, and ...cringe... soy bean products. Oh how I am going to miss take out pizza with my husband and hamburgers on the grill! I technically could eat those things occassionally, but I am going to try not to. Also, the amount of stress I endure is probably on the extreme side, which certainly't help. I am going to have to figure out ways to reduce it...

My goal is to see if I follow medical direction as closely as I can if it makes a difference. I don't want to have any excuse or any reason to wonder whether I did enough when I get my levels rechecked at the end of the summer... I'm going to do everything I can. I even started by eating a whole wheat sub with turkey, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, and lettuce yesterday from Subway! ...Yuck... My taste buds have a long way to go, but for my heart and arteries its worth it!

So be ready... in the coming months I am sure you will see some posts where I experiment with heart healthy food options, exercise, and stress reducers for my crazy lifestyle so my heart and arteries will match my age. I'm too young for this! ack!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lion's Lunch

While waiting for my mother to use the facilities I stood near the lion exhibit. (yes I went to the zoo with my mother. It was a nice trip... and so was getting lost in inner-city Baltimore. ugh.) So anyway... as I was waiting near the lion exhibit I noticed two guys trying to tease the lions. They were crouching down and popping their heads up to lure the lion to the window.

They thought it was pretty funny to have the lion stalk them... good thing there was a doubled paned window protecting them or they would have been lunch. It was close to feeding time...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Border Jumper

I have always been one to do impromptu, usually viewed as retarded and pointless, things. And those things are usually the best part of life, the random little things you make spontaneously come up with. I am all about spontaneity and pointless adventures or missions. Personally I think its a charm about me... others think its what makes me a pain in the ass.

The other day we were driving IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE... literally... in far northern New Hampshire. We were actually trying to locate a piece of land that was for sale for a decent price. The only description we had was the road it was on and a picture of it, but of course the picture was just of a bunch of trees. It is damn near impossible to compare a picture of trees on the internet to countless trees along the road side. So we were driving down this long and rural road in hopes of seeing a "for sale" sign placed on the land. No such luck. Shawn was frustrated in having driven all the way out there and found nothing and I was sulking because my husband was being a bum and not enjoying a wonderful spring drive, regardless of our failure in locating the land.


Then I had one of my spontaneously wonderful ideas. I spotted a granite marker in the middle of a marshy field. I immediately knew what it was, having seen them before, it was a US/Canada border marker! There was no border patrol around, no other signification that one country ended and another began. The field just kept on going. I had only been to Canada once before, and it was in a car, on accident, because I had no idea where I was going and just drove right across the border without noticing (weird that you can even do that huh?). So then I couldn't relish in the fact that I was had crossed international borders because I needed to figure out how to get back into the United States (which I did... and did not meet or stop at any border. Hmmm?). This time was going to be different... I was going to be a rebel. I was going to RUN... JUMP across the border... into Canada...take a couple of photos as proof, and then run back into the United States. No passport required. Ok, so technically is that illegal? maybe? Or maybe its just me running around in a field, smiling, with my camera, being spontaneously childish, and annoying my husband who waiting in the truck laughing at my antics.

Technically, I ran across the border, into Canada, back into the United States, and neither country was none-the-wiser. Just me, and my husband, who is still wondering if he married a mentally deficient, crazy, woman (don't answer that!), were the only ones who knew. Sometimes it is those little stupid ideas that make the day fun and change the entire mood... and sometimes I like to think that that's why I am around.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Summer Vacation??

In just a few days I will be taking a "Spring Vacation" back home. I am wrapping Father's Day and Mother's Day into one weekend. Saturday will be my Dad's day and Sunday will be my Mom's day. My sisters and I are planning something special for my mom, but for my dad I am hoping to have a day of just him and I... maybe some golfing, maybe some kayaking, or maybe just doing nothing in particular. I am also hoping to make some time to see my grandmothers. And maybe, just maybe, an impromptu trip to the ocean... but there really is so much to fit in in two or three days. The little break is MUCH NEEDED as I prepare to sit back, buckle-up, and hold on for the craziness that will become my life for the next 12 months.

Today I have applied for my summer courses. In three weeks I will be taking classes again! EEEEK! And next Tuesday my EMT course starts. I still have NO idea how I am going to fit 20 people inside the small training room, at least with tables, but that is a puzzle for next week...

And until yesterday I thought I would have NO vacation after this weekend in the foreseeable future, but then my mother called... She mentioned that she has rented a condo for a week in Ocean City, MD and the week she happened to rent it is just after my EMT course and summer classes end and one week before my nursing program begins. That just happens to be the only break I have this entire summer. Even more perfect is that the weekend they have it rented for Shawn is off from work. So I may be able to have a couple of days at the ocean with my husband this summer! My mother has also offered to pay for our airfare as she knows we are spending an exorbitant amount of money on my school this year. How perfect?! I just have to finalize things with the other half before happily mark it on my calendar.