52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 27: Volunteering at Ironman Lake Placid

This is the first time since starting 52 Projects that I was not able to post my project on Sunday. But for good reason. Breen and I have been in Lake Placid, NY volunteering for the Ironman Lake Placid which took place on Sunday, July 25th. We volunteered this year because Breen will be doing the race next year and if you volunteer the year before your race, you can sign up for the following year.

So our time here has been spent like this:

We arrived on Friday evening.

On Saturday morning, we grabbed some breakfast and headed over to the center of Lake Placid to meet our team captain for our volunteer work at the finish line. We checked out the vendor expo. All I can say is that the sport of triathlon is a very expensive sport. Everything from racks of $6,000 tri bikes to custom running shoes. The Ironman merchandise is ridiculously overpriced.

While Breen stayed in Lake Placid for the afternoon to get a long ride and a run in, I hit the area for shopping and some scenic enjoyment. I stopped at a quilt shop on my way back to the motel. Low and behold the owner (15 years older than me) grew up one street away from where I did and she even worked at the same swim club that I did growing up as a teenager. We knew mutual neighbors. It was really crazy. I think we were both blown away by our chance encounter.

Sunday morning was race morning. We woke up at 5am and headed in to town. The open water swim started at the lake at 7am. There were close to 3000 competitors in the water waiting for the start horn to go off. It was an amazing sight to see that many people at once start off for the swim.

In Ironman, you have to complete the 2.4 mile swim portion within 2 hours 20 minutes, otherwise you get disqualified and can't go on to the next portion of the race (bike). One woman did not make the cut off and it was sad to see her and her family crying because she had come so far to do this race. Breen and I noticed that there was a stack of timing chips that other athletes had turned in during the swim which meant that they voluntarily quit the race because they couldn't go on and finish the swim. At $500 to enter the race, it is an expensive learning lesson.

The bike portion came after the swim. When you get out of the water you have to run to the transition area, get on your bike and pedal 112 miles. We stood at various places around the course to cheer athletes on. After riding 112 miles on the bike, you finish the Ironman by running a marathon distance of 26.4 miles. I was really laughing at two guys in obscene Speedo banana hammocks with pom poms cheering people on.

By 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Breen and I headed over to the finish line area to report for duty where we stayed until midnight when the race was officially over. The elite pro athletes can finish the race in 9 hours or so. But it can also take 17 hours for others. I started out in the finish line area as a "catcher" for the athletes crossing the finish line. After being in movement like that for all those hours you can imagine that some finishers nearly collapsed while others were still full of energy. I assisted a few to the medical tent. By the time we finished our shift at midnight, we had been at the race site for 17 hours. I don't think an Ironman race could be successful without the help of 3,500 volunteers helping out with every aspect of the race.

I loved my experience as a volunteer at the finish line. I'm hoping to do it again next year. I think it would be amazing to be right there when Breen crosses the finish line and put the medal around his neck. I've been to quite a few triathlons with Breen but nothing like the experience of an Ironman. I think it also gave Breen a sense of appreciation for the hours of waiting around the course by the families and friends of the athletes for them to finish. The road to Ironman is paved with endless hours of disciplined training. There's a reason why they call us "the triathlon widows" but I wouldn't change any of it. Being supportive and involved at this level has really been live changing.

PS: I'm still in Lake Placid and can't, for the life of me, remember my password for Mr. Linky which is bookmarked on my home computer. If you'd like to share your project this week, leave a comment here in the comment section.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Week 26: Thanks Jim Carey, now I'm an F@#KING actress!

Raise your hand if you saw Yes Man with Jim Carey. I loved that movie! In case you didn't see it, the basic premise of the movie is that Jim Carey's character goes to a seminar with a friend who is a follower of a group of people who say Yes to everything. The idea being that you never know where life will take you unless you say Yes to every opportunity that comes your way.

A few months ago I was outside on my front porch when our neighbor Steve walked by and asked if I knew any actors. I told him my husband is an actor. Steve, an old white haired pony tail toting hippy with a local jazz band told me that he wrote the outline for a play called Hard Blues in the City of Love and that it would be performed in the fall at a bar and restaurant in the city. A very laid back play that would be performed one night only, he told me. In fact, the dialogue would be made up by the actors in two get together sessions before the play. He asked me if I acted and I said "Absolutely not but I'm sure Breen would find it to be a fun little project." He asked me if I would be willing to just sit at the bar and pretend to be a fan of the band. No speaking involved. I could handle that. Breen was signed up to be the bar owner.

Fast forward to yesterday. We met at one o'clock at Marilyn's house (another member of "the cast") for a laid back meeting so that we could all meet each other. When Breen and I arrived and took our seats on the couch we quickly realized that there were stacks of scripts on the coffee table and the "A word" (audition) was being thrown around faster than one dollar bills at a stripper convention. Shit. Steve never said anything about auditioning. Of course Breen was in his element since he's had quite a bit of experience in the theater community. I, on the other hand, was in need of a pair of Depends because I was about to soil myself. I've never read a line from a script in my life. My heart was beating out of my chest. Did I mention that I've had a recurring dream since childhood that I'm standing on a stage to act and suddenly I freeze like a deer in the headlights? So I protested at first. I made it very clear that I was there to be a NON SPEAKING support role at the bar. But they asked if I would help out and read some lines so that they could get a feel for every one's speaking voices. So I did. It was awkward, especially being in the presence of my husband who has acted with some seriously talented women. To add to the fun little surprises, Steve hired a director for the play. Apparently I didn't do too badly because I had at least four people looking at me and telling me I was a natural for the role of Lindsey, the 1950's drugged out, sex crazed band groupie. PLEASE, you have to do it! That's when Breen leaned over to me and whispered, "Say Yes. Remember Yes Man." I knew in that moment that if I said NO that I would never overcome my fear of public speaking. Perhaps there was a reason why Yes Man popped in to my head out of nowhere last week. Perhaps there is something to learn here and an opportunity to grow.

Thanks a lot Jim Carey. This week's project was supposed to be making dill pickles. Now I'm a fucking actress.

What did you do this week?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week 25: learning Power Point

This week I decided it's high time to dive in to some programs that I know are important to learn: Outlook, Word, Excel and Power Point. I've used Excel, Word and Outlook but not to an extent where I used them every day. I decided to jump in with Power Point first. I already had the material to work with: my art work. So off I went in to Power Point to organize slides for my art. I made categories for collage, journals, altered landscapes (photography), recycled aluminum pins, jewelry, aprons and some miscellaneous mixed media projects. It gave me a chance to think about how I create and what I wanted to highlight.

Throughout the process I learned that my photos are not as well organized as I thought they were. I was disappointed that I had no decent photos of any hand painted furniture. Sadly, I couldn't feature it in the slides and that's a shame since it seems to be such an important voice for my creative expression. Now I know that I need to find the time to photograph some of my best pieces of furniture and incorporate them in to the Power Point presentation.

Over the past few years I've thought about how important it is to make my art more visible and accessible on-line and in my community. I am absolutely technically challenged but I'm intelligent enough to know that marketing on several different levels is crucial to my art work's well being. Etsy simply doesn't cut it anymore. Eventually I'd like to have my own website but for now I am taking steps to learn more and more until I get there.

Since I'm so technically challenged, I had no idea how to embed my Power Point presentation in this post. But if you want me to e-mail the presentation as an attachment, I'd be happy to do so. At this point in time it's still a very basic presentation. There are plenty of bells and whistles to learn but I'm proud of my efforts just the same!

What did you do this week?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week 24: making my own herbal tea

In the beginning of the summer I purchased a chocolate mint herb plant. How could I resist? When I rubbed the leaves, it smelled just like a York Peppermint Pattie. So off I went with my candy scented herb and took it home to be planted in my big herb tub with sage and basil. Here's the wonderful thing about mint: it grows like gangbusters and it's incredibly hardy.

This week I decided it would be fun to pick the mint, dry it out and make my own herbal tea. I Googled and found several different methods for drying:

1. microwave method (this just seems wrong and unhealthy)
2. oven method
3. hang it in bunches upside down in a cool dry place for a few weeks
4. put it on the dashboard of your car on a paper towel and let the heat do its thing

I opted for the oven method and boy was it simple! Here is the basic process:

1. Go out to the garden and cut a few bunches of mint.

2. Heat the oven to 180 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. According to my research the herbs should never be baked directly on metal.

3. Keeping the leaves attached to the stems, arrange them in a single layer on the cookie sheet.

4. Put the cookie sheet in the oven with the over door cracked open just a smidge (I wedged a wooden cooking spoon in the door)

5. Keep a frequent eye on the herbs. Mine took about 45 minutes to an hour to fully dry.

6. Remove from oven and remove the leaves from the stems. This will be very easy to do. Whatever you have left can be stored in an air tight container and stored in a cabinet. Crumble the mint and put it in to a tea ball. Pour boiling water in and let it steep for as long as you like.


What did you do this week?