In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff


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Retreat Reminiscing

IMG_1290This past weekend I brought one of my favorite yoga teachers to town.  This marks the third year Thomas Fortel has visited our area and it’s been a real treat every single time. 

We’d originally planned to meet at OTC so we wouldn’t disrupt our meditation group that meets on Saturday mornings.  But I had a last minute change of heart.  Our group was smaller this year and the space at OTC was gigantic.  And we didn’t just have one space reserved over there, we had two.  The other space was reserved for our catered lunch. 

We moved to the studio with no regrets.  The feeling at the studio was amazing and everyone agreed.  We settled in on Friday evening with pranayama, soft spinal twisting and restorative postures.  That evening pretty much set the tone for the rest of the weekend, which was slow, steady and quiet.

On Saturday we enjoyed over a full hour of meditation and breathing.  This is the total treat of the whole weekend.  The quiet and the focus that happens when meditating in a group field is amazing.  When the lights come up, everyone is so relaxed.  Eyes are wet and black with mascara that’s left the lashes and bed hair is abundant.  And the best part is that no one cares that they look this way.  After that we eased into an active asana practice for a couple of hours.  We took in some partner work, inversions and vinyasas. 

 After our active practice we enjoyed a catered and extremely healthy lunch.  Candi Davis, caterer extraordinairre, served us some wonderful yogi wraps, quinoa salad, white beans with butternut squash and fruit with an assortment of hot teas.  We took in gluten free brownies and raspberry oatmeal bars with our tea as our after lunch sweet.  She brought all glass dishes, cloth napkins and real silverware and carted it away afterwards.  It felt very good knowing we had no trash or extra clean up on our part.  I have her number if you want it.  She really puts her heart in the meal and you can taste it. 

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On Sunday we all arrived at the studio happy and a bit sad to know this was our last day together.  We engaged in that quiet group field again for over an hour.  After that Thomas stepped it up a notch with a very active practice including inversions followed by a much shorter relaxation.  As always, there were a couple of people that showed up that I’d never met and that’s always really cool.  It’s work getting all of this together and happening.  It takes more than just me and I am so thankful for the help that I receive in order to make this event and others happen.  View more photos here.

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There’s something about really diving in for more than an hour or two that soothes the soul.  I’m still receiving positive feedback and I would really like to thank those that chose to spend their weekend in this way.  Thanks Thomas, for giving us a wonderful retreat and we know we’ll see you next year if not before.

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Kirsten and Thomas on Sunday at the end of the retreat.


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Walnuts And Wind In My Hair

walnutvilleSo far this fall the weather has been really crappy for picking up walnuts.  But at the same time too much rain followed by a cold snap and a couple of warm days, allowed for me to gather a decent crop.  The bad news is that by the time I got our walnuts picked up and sold on Wednesday the price had dropped to a whopping $6.  That’s the lowest I’ve ever seen it.  They usually start off the month of October with a price of $13 or $11 for 100 lbs., then it usually moves to $8 later in the month.

The weather was amazing.  Nice and warm and dry with an awesome breeze.  I was able to soak up some much needed vitamin D since we hadn’t seen the sun for like 10 days!  After these walnuts were hulled, they weighed in at 954 lbs. and I received a check for a whopping $57.24.  Not so great.  Someone asked me the other day how many walnuts they’d have to pick up to make $20.  I told them an awful lot.  I picked all of these up (pictured) from our yard and from one tree next door on Sunday and again on Tuesday.  The bad news is our largest tree still hasn’t let go of her walnuts and the last day to sell is the 31st.

If you don’t really like to do manual labor outside and if you don’t like to get dirty, I highly recommend that you don’t pick up walnuts.  It can be a pretty nasty job.  But I don’t mind.  In our case it’s not just the selling them, it’s a matter of safety.  We have several trees and cannot mow or walk the dog unless they’re cleaned up.  I actually find the whole process to be very meditative. 

On another outdoor note, we did dig our sweet potatoes and the shallots before the big rain.  For having too much rain, a garden without enough sun and planting them a bit late, we didn’t fair too bad.  They’re really good too.   Mama Jean’s, eat your heart out.

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Our green beans also went totally crazy and so did our peppers of all varieties.  I’ve never had so many peppers in my life.  I’ve given away quart bags full and there are still a ton of green ones out there.  I have a nice bunch hanging to dry.  Chili peppers anyone?

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Our broccoli didn’t do anything at all.  It got tall, it got flowers and nice thick stalks but never produced anything worth clipping off.  Not enough sun, too many walnut trees.  Our asparagus produced one stalk and by next year, we should have a bunch.  The squirrels and raccoons pretty much destroyed most of our tomatoes, but all of my herbs faired very well.  Hopefully the mint will come back next year.  My sage is also loving this cooler, wet weather as it’s grown really tall the last few weeks.  I’ve clipped a bunch of herbs and given them away as well.  I had no idea that two Basil plants in the garden would get so big.  I usually grow the herbs on our deck.  I brought in some oregano and rosemary and potted them in a big pot.  Then I placed it in our bathroom.  It smells really nice when you get out of the shower now.  How did your garden grow?


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Headin’ North

Sometimes, you just have to get out town.  School was out last Friday, October 2nd so I grabbed my kid and headed to Centerview, Missouri (KC) to visit my dad and Rhonda.  I think she’s not that much older than I am.  But guess what?  My mom is married to someone who’s only 11 years older than me.  Age.  Makes no difference.  Everyone’s happy and that’s all that matters.  They live in the sticks on 8 acres and it’s pretty relaxing to just go up and hang.  Of course, if you have to go someplace, it’s a trek. 

I’ve wanted a Volvo S70 since 1998 when they came out.  Of course in 1998 they were a fairly expensive car.  And guess what?  I could’ve afforded one back then easily.  But I didn’t break down and buy one, though I should have!  I found a great one in Nixa.  But as soon as you find one, someone else nabs it.  Same story in KC.  I called about one and it was being sold as I asked questions about it.  We looked at one in Lee’s Summit.  Huge dent in the door, and another in Independence, only to find super high miles, mismatched wheels and bad interior.  I’m over trading my van.  I’ll keep it.  That is, until the right Volvo S70 presents itself to me.  And in time, the universe will reveal it.   End of car story.

We drove in to Raytown on Friday night.  Hit a place called Funhouse Pizza.  I will say the pizza there was incredible.  If you can stand a bar atmosphere, go.  If you can’t take those things, then definitely get take out!  I’m talking people smoking while they eat pizza, pitchers of beer being balanced and live karaoke all the way.  Some good and some really bad.   Before we left, this one girl (black chick) got up and belted her heart out.  I almost cried. It was awesome!  Here’s a photo of my dad, Lauren and their dog Jack on their back porch swing.  Don’t tell me I look like him, I already know that!

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Thanks for a super great and very relaxing weekend guys!  Love you both!


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Secret Lake

My husband has access to a secret lake not too far away.  Today was a beautiful day so after I got home from teaching my yoga class, he asked me if I wanted to go shooting.  I always laugh as he knows I don’t really care for guns.  I said, “No thanks” and he replied with, “I meant you and  your camera.”  I grabbed my camera and he loaded several guns (for himself to shoot) and off we went.  The gate at the property is locked with a giant padlock.  My husband and others use this land to hunt, fish and shoot guns.  There’s a good sized lake out there as well.  It was built in the 50’s.  None of this can be seen from the road.  One has to have a four wheel drive to even think about entering.  It’s awful.  Awful like your head bounces up to hit the headliner in the truck.  More than once.  Big ruts, crevices and steep hills with the added crossing of a creek all before you hit the lake.  Then you arrive.

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I don’t know who built this chair, but I love it.  It’s sturdy and stuck into the ground.

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While he was shooting his assortment of ammunition that he’d reloaded himself, I took a huge hike.  Some people have built little shacks with smokers and what not for hunting in the cold weather.  Some people have just brought in sheds (I would’ve liked to have seen how that happened on this type of terrain) and some people went all out and have sweet little house like cabins with docks and the whole bit.

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I think there’s like 180 acres out there, it’s quite a large space. 

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My husband said this is called Goldenrod and supposedly it means there will be frost six weeks from when it blooms.  To that, I say duh.  It will be October.  Might be a chance of frost ya think?  Old timers are interesting. 

 

  

I spent lots of time looking for different kinds of insects, flowers and wildlife.  Got some great shots of funky spiders and webs.  I saw lots of flowers, but not much in the way of wildlife.  I wonder if the noise from the shooting of guns had anything to do with that?  I think so.IMG_0694

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All in all, a perfect end to August.

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Yoga In The Morning, Boating In The Afternoon

We’ve been experiencing unusually odd temps for July in our area here lately.   Bright, clear blue skies, no humidity and low 80’s during the day and low 60’s in the evenings.  I’m enjoying the windows open, and frankly, so are the cats.

Yesterday morning I led a yoga birthday party at the studio.  What a great idea for a 14 year old.  She showed with her mom and 7 girlfriends.  None of the girls had ever taken a yoga class so it was a real eye opener for them.  The birthday girl left the studio with a free eye pillow and a Tees For Change tank top.  I had so much fun doing this.  Here’s a snapshot of our fun group.  I hope I turned a few of them on to yoga.  Perhaps I’ll see them again at our studio, or at another.  The main idea here was to get them interested no matter where they choose to practice.  I think they left wanting more.

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As soon as I got home Frank had the boat loaded and ready to go.  This would be my second time to hit the water this week.  We went to Stockton on Thursday and were on the water approximately 20 minutes when a gigantic storm materialized out of nowhere putting us in blinding rain, wind and thunder.  Needless to say we caught 16 crappie quick-like before we pulled the boat out of the water and headed home.  All in all that wasn’t a total wasted trip as we got a nice catch.  Yesterday we didn’t catch any fish that were worth keeping, but we did enjoy the beautiful sunshine, cooler temps and blue sky.  The water was smooth and the boats were minimal.  Actually there were around 12 trucks at the boat launch this time, the most I’ve ever seen at Stockton.  But it was a Saturday.  On Mondays when we go we rarely see another boat on the water.  I don’t care if I ever go to Table Rock again.  We spent a couple of hours in a nice little cove where I floated on an air mattress and looked for fossils.  Here’s a sampling of what I found.  I like to press my clay into some of these fossils, then pull it out to see them in a different view.  I found these at the High Point area of the lake.

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Today the weather is lovely once again, but this will be a work around here day.  I leave for Florida on Tuesday and I’ve been working on getting our daughter’s room in order.  It’s a disaster area.  I’m pulling her door off today and taking it outside and painting a chalkboard on the front.  She’d wanted one painted on her wall, like in our kitchen, but her room is full of windows, doors and a built-in desk (which I wanted to paint white while she was away) made of knotty pine.  It’s pretty wood, but it also makes for a dark alcove in a blue room with white trim.  Our son’s entire room is knotty pine.  He loves it, very cave-like.

Update – I finished Lauren’s door!

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Enjoy the day.


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Travelin’ Fool

I came home from Eureka Springs on Wednesday only to leave again on Friday.

This time it was to the exciting town of Bolivar, Missouri for the Kukal Family Reunion.  This shin dig only happens once every two years for my father-in-law’s side.  My mother-in-law on the other hand, has a family reunion every single year, in the same big town of  Bolivar.  I’d never been to Bolivar before I met Frank.  Several of his relatives live on farms so that’s always on the agenda.

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I didn’t grow up on a farm nor did I ever spend any time on or around a farming community.  Frank’s aunt has a lovely, huge garden where she grows the best sweet corn ever.  Of  course she grows all the other good stuff too.  Sporadically throughout her garden she’s planted beautiful flowers.  I just got a new camera and this was my first venture with it.  I had a great time with the macro option.IMG_0121  I took all these with the auto settings.  Need to read up on the manual stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

  

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For lunch we met at a church.  Around the church, I looked for things to take pictures of.  I found a wasp nest, a bunny and some baby birds. 

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I spent a lot of time playing with my new camera and reading a book.  I’m not an anti-social person.  But, I am five years new to this family and when every one has known every one since they day they were born…..well, you get the idea.  I will miss the next reunion the end of this month as I’ll be in Florida.  Hopefully taking lots of great photos with my new camera that I will have learned much more about.  Until then, it’s back to the regular grind until July 21st.


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It’s Getting Hot In Here

bikramWe had unusually warm temperatures for a few days this last week, which meant when the rain came it brought a cold front.  Since I was missing those warmer temperatures (and a good friend invited me) I ventured out to the new Sumit Hot Yoga Studio that opened in our city yesterday.  I’d never been to a hot yoga class before.  In fact, we didn’t even have a hot yoga studio in our town until yesterday.  Bikram (pictured left) is responsible for starting the “hot yoga craze.”  When I mean hot, I mean the room is heated with artificial heat to around 110 degrees.  He franchises out, so one cannot just open a hot yoga place and use the word Bikram or even his series of postures.  In turn, just “hot yoga” has pretty much been running like wildfire.  I was reluctant to go as I was busy preparing for garage sale hell, and I also thought that if I went that I might die.  But my friend convinced me that she’s 66 (I’m 42) and she was still alive after attending the class yesterday. I decided I would try yoga hell instead.

I’ve taken a yoga class in Florida where the back door was open and it was stiffling hot!  But that was a more natural, humid, jungle type of heat.  The class was Ashtanga-like and I loved it.  But, there was not a thermometer on the wall, so I don’t know how hot it actually was in the studio that day.  All I know is I felt totally cleansed when I left, kind of like today.

The new center is located in a shopping center and is inviting to the eye once you enter.  I only brought one bottle of water and a small towel and my own mat of course.  I wore bermuda length yoga shorts and a tank.  As soon as I entered the yoga room, I could feel the warm, dry heat.  The space is heated with 6 heaters, two on each wall close to the ceiling.  Tip:  If you go, get a place closer to the wall, under the heaters, that way they won’t be blowing directly on you.  I figured that out half way through the class.  He uses music.  Some I liked some I didn’t but I wasn’t paying that much attention to it.  I was too busy focusing on the different names he had for each pose.  One thing I couldn’t get myself to do was to lock my knees.  My knees do not like that and I don’t feel it’s that safe, but maybe it is when the room is 109 degrees.  And it was, 109.  The thermometer was right behind me, in big digital numbers I could read it.  I also noticed some flashing light every now and then and I began to wonder if the iPod mounted on the wall, was shooting pictures and how scary that will be if and when those surface.

We started right off into postures and I don’t remember what ones.  We did mostly standing stuff, lots of Warriors, lots of balances and lots of sideways bending.  I have a partial fallen arch in my right foot, so I had to surrender and come out when it hurt.  Towards the end, we took several mini shavasanas (relaxation on our backs) for like 20 seconds, eyes open, arms close to the body.  Then, we had to pull ourselves up with our hands reaching our toes working our core.  Then we’d stand back up again, flow or do standing postures or both, then back down again, mini shavasna time.  It will take a getting used to, the stand up lie down part for sure.  In most yoga classes, you start off with meditation or breathing, or both.  Then you do standing work, the class peaks and you return to the floor.  Not at hot yoga.  No meditation, no pranayama, not at all.  I left the class feeling totally cleansed.  My face feels soft and my body feels good as of right now.  I stopped at the health food store on the way home and grabbed a couple Kombucha’s to hydrate and picked up some quinoa for a new salad I saw in a magazine.

I like yoga.  All of it.  In the world today, there are people offering wine and yoga, chocolate and yoga, yoga on a slackline and yoga with your dog.  You name it, it’s out there.  I know people who will never try this hot yoga because they feel it’s wrong, or unsafe.  I say try it and if you don’t like it, don’t go back.  I don’t do a lot of cardio and I know it’s good to get your heart rate up  and sweat for at least an hour every single day.  I don’t like aerobics and I hate to run.   All I know is this.  Hot yoga will be a nice compliment to my already steady yoga practice and perhaps a substitute for exercise that I should do, but won’t do.  After all, you might as well be doing something that you love or you’re probably not going to do it.

The weather is amazingly lovely today, so much that I’m posting from my deck.  But it’s time to slam this Kombucha and descend back into garage sale hell.  Wish me luck.