Saturday, April 6, 2013

Adventures for 2013: On Your Mark

I really, truly dislike grey, cloudy, cold, windy, nasty, winter!!!  I can't wait until Mr. C and I are both retired and can take to the road as we have planned and be away from Illinois in the winter.  Our basic plan is to take off in our Big Sky (40 ft fifth wheel)
and see this beautiful United States of America we are fortunate to live in.  People ask, how could you live in a trailer, full-time?  Our answer, with big smiles, it's easy, it's the nicest home we've ever owned, it's like a 1 bedroom condominium on wheels.  We have a bedroom with a king sized bed, a bathroom with shower and flush toilet, a kitchen with a double refrigerator/freezer, double sink, microwave/convection oven, regular oven and stovetop, a built in washer and dryer, 2 television sets, one in the living room and one in the bedroom, it even has a fireplace, and, on top of that, it's easy to keep clean.  What more could we want.  We still don't have our plans finalized; for example:  we still haven't decided whether to keep our sticks and bricks home as a "home base" or whether to just get rid of everything and take off unencumbered.  I am already "retired" at least from a "go to work" kind of job.  I am a self employed Polymer Clay Artist and have a mini studio in our Fifth Wheel, so it goes where I go.  We still have a couple years for Mr. C to join the ranks of the retired.  So for now, we just practice:  Mr. C gets 30 days vacation a year, 4 floating holidays, as well as 4 day weekends every 6 weeks, so we've been practicing by taking 2 month long trips each year (he can only be gone from his workplace for 30 days at a time or he loses his security clearance, so we're stuck with month long trips, for now).  Unfortunately, we can't quite get out of IL for the winter on our schedule, as it would mean winterizing and unwinterizing  the trailer during bad/cold weather and who knows is we could get in or out of our driveway to come or go if we went during the winter.  We aim for spring and fall trips to avoid the crowds of out of school families during the main part of summer.  In the past we've always gone to the East, as our kids were stationed (military families) in the East, but this year it's a bit different and we've decided to head slightly West.

But first, before we head West, I have an adventure of my own to experience.  I am doing something so far out of my comfort zone, something I've never done before and I'm scared, but excited and the main adventure, I'm sure, will be worth it.  I am going to attend a 6 day Polymer Clay Intensive Caning Workshop/Retreat with Carol Simmons.  Carol makes the most beautiful kaleidoscope canes:
Carol has a wonderful knowledge of color and how to use it and that's the main thing I'm hoping to get out of this workshop.  Now, you may be wondering why I say this is out of my comfort zone and why I'm a bit nervous?  You are correct, the use of Polymer Clay is definitely NOT out of my comfort zone.  I feel I need more education regarding color use, but that's still not out of my comfort zone.  What is out of my comfort zone is that I've never gone on a trip like this by myself.  I'll be driving to Racine, WI, by myself (and I hate to drive, as those who know me well are aware of), staying in a strange place, by myself, eating unknown meals (and I'll admit I'm a picky eater, I have a ton of food allergies, I may be gluten intolerant--we're testing that at the moment), I'm a bit phobic about public restrooms and bathing facilities (which is why we purchased the Fifth Wheel in the first place, rather than just traveling and staying at motels, LOL) and the rooms share a bathroom "down the hall", spending intense time with people I've never met before, and I'm a very private, introverted, shy person, and I have Fibromyalgia (although at present, even on a very windy day I'm feeling pretty good, more on that later, too). . . so that's why it's out of my comfort zone.  That all said, it will probably be very good for me to do this, but I am very anxious about it.  
So why is this title "On Your Mark"?  Remember races when you were a kid?  On Your Mark, Get Set, Go?  This is On Your Mark, as I prepare for this workshop and as we prepare for our first RV adventure of 2013, as I have only 1 day, yes, that's ONE DAY between getting home from this workshop to taking off on our month long trip Westward.  So I'm preparing for both at the same time.  I am now packed up and ready for the workshop:  My clay bag is packed with my D.R.E.A.M. Machine.  That was an adventure in itself and a bit of a comedy of errors.  When I tried to remove the motor so it would fit in my bag, the head of the screw stripped and I couldn't get it off.  So, my hero, Mr. C took it, set it on its end and finally managed to get that screw out so I could take the silly thing apart.  All well and good, we could get a replacement screw, no problem, except that when he gave it back to me, the thickness knob no longer worked.  So with my eyes getting big with panic (I need it for this workshop I'm going to. . .) I returned it to Mr. C and we both looked at it while I explained to him how it is "supposed" to work.  It has two little pieces that stick out of the knob and when you pull out the knob and rotate it and let it back in, those two little pieces go into two matching holes holding it in place for whatever thickness you have dialed the knob to.  Both those little pieces were now missing, but I realized I could hear something rattling in the end of the machine.  So, Mr. C carefully removed the knob, no help.  He carefully removed the plate behind the knob and Eureka, there is one of those little pieces loose behind the plate, but where is the second one?  Whew, finally found it stuck in a corner between the edge of the machine and the built in nut for one of the screws.  So we have both the little pieces that stick out and Mr. C places them back in the knob and they just fall out again, hmmm, what do we do now?  We finally decide they have to stay in there somehow, so a teeny tiny drop of Zap a Gap (instant glue) is placed in each hole and each little piece is put in place.  We wait for it to dry and then put the whole thing back together and it appears to be fine (just in case, I'm taking along a back up Atlas Pasta Machine, LOL).  Mr. C is once again shaking his head at me, wondering why I love my D.R.E.A.M. Machine enough that I have an order in for a back up for the future, LOL.  I'm afraid only someone who has or has used a D.R.E.A.M. Machine would understand.
So, my clay is sheeted out ready to go (more about that below).
My Tools, Supplies, and Materials are packed up and ready to go.  

My suitcase is packed ready to go, except for my "shower bag" that is waiting for last minute medications and toothbrush is ready to go.  I think I've got everything I'll possibly  need. 

I have my notebook, my written Streets and Trips trip planner papers, my GPS with written instructions on how to use it, LOL, and of course my Kindle Fire all ready to go:  
So, part one for "On Your Mark" is ready.  

Oh, I mentioned the sheeted clay would be explained:  Carol had us each pick a picture from a bunch she had on-line or we could choose our own with her approval.  I happened to find a shirt that just blew me away color wise.  I doubt I would ever wear it, as it has mesh sleeves and they and the back are bright, bright orange, but I just loved the design and it seemed ideal for this class.  I sent a picture to Carol and she said yes, Problem is the picture doesn't really do justice to the actual colors in the shirt, I don't know why, but I just couldn't get the picture right.  I decided I'd bring the shirt along, in addition to the picture.  Carol also wrote a couple days ago telling me to bring the shirt, LOL.

Carol took our choices and came up with a color palette for each of to use and gave us a list of how much polymer clay of each particular color in our palette we needed to prepare.  We needed to roll it out in sheets and leach it, if needed, which all of mine did to be sure it was of the correct stiffness to use for her method of caning.   Carol uses only Primary colors and mixes her secondary or tertiary colors for her cane work, rather than just working straight out of the packs of clay.  So, for my particular picture/shirt, I needed roughly 7 lbs of clay, so this workshop uses a LOT of clay, LOL.  This is my palette, except the Cadmium Yellow was changed to Zinc Yellow.  

I mentioned that in spite of my Fibromyalgia and it being very windy today (which usually causes very painful days) I am feeling pretty good and I can only attribute it to one thing.  A couple weeks ago I started a new diet.  Well, it isn't really new, back in 1991, when I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and border line Lupus, it was discovered that I also had a systemic (body wide) yeast infection, as well as many food allergies.  The Drs treated me for that and put me on an "anti-yeast" , anti allergen diet.  I could have meat, veges, and limited amounts of fruit.  No sugars, no breads, no pasta, and I got a lot better.  But like all weak people, after 2 years, I started slipping up and eventually went back to eating whatever I wanted.  Not surprisingly, looking back on it, my Fibro got worse.  I have been very unhappy with my weight and size and inability to do all the things I want to do for awhile now, but obviously not enough to do anything about it.  A Polymer Clay and Face Book friend mentioned that she had hit a plateau with her own weight loss efforts and decided to try something different to budge those last few pounds off.  She started talking about Protein Power a High Protein/Low Carbohydrate diet plan by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades.  They say about their program:  "We’ve spent the last twenty plus years helping our readers, patients, and viewers lose weight and solve their weight related health problems.".  I know when I was younger a High Protein Diet always worked best for me, a step sister of mine with Fibro was put on a High Protein Diet by her Dr., I want to avoid the high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes that run in my family, so after researching this diet plan, I purchased their "simple" book (without all the science, just the how to version, LOL) The 30 Day Low Carb Diet Solution and decided to try it.  I eat meat, veges, and fruit, like the diet my Drs put me on back in the 90s.  
The results:  I lost 10 lbs in 2 weeks, I seem stalled this week, but I am apparently losing inches; clothes are getting baggy and I've already gone down a size in one clothing item, and my saggy belly (which is the part of me I hate the most) is disappearing. I've dragged Mr. C along with me (although he isn't being as strict as I am) and his belly is disappearing, his shirts no longer gape between the buttons.  
I can stay on this as long as I want (not just the 30 days mentioned), but I also want to get their new book, The Six Week Cure for the Middle Aged Middle.  Their website says, "Despite twenty years of researching and refining the science of weight loss, the Drs. Eades fell victim to the middle-aged middle themselves. Although otherwise fit and healthy, they lost the flat belly that signals youth. With a looming filming deadline for their television series, they needed to restore their more youthful physiques and they had just 6-weeks to do it. They did it and now, they show you how you can do it, too.".  Since we fall into that middle aged group, I want to see how it is different than their 30 day plan.  
The most interesting thing to me, is that my Fibromyalgia pain is less, my FibroFog is less, even today, a VERY windy day (which wind is one of my Fibro triggers) I am functioning normally.  I am happy.  However, the question comes up that with eliminating breads and pastas from my diet, is there something in them that is aggravating my Fibromyalgia?  Am I perhaps Gluten intolerant?  An interesting thought that I am researching.  It doesn't really matter, for now, this is working and I will continue doing it as long as I can.  I don't know if I can do it forever, I love breads of all kinds, but for now, I'm trying.  I know during our vacation, I may not always have the ability to follow this 100%, but I will do the best I can and if I still feel good and don't gain weight during our trips, I will be satisfied.  

So, On My Mark, I am ready for the first part of our adventures of 2013.  
While getting ready for my solo adventure to Racine, WI, we've also been preparing the truck, trailer, and home for our big trip out West.  I think this is long enough for now, though, so I"ll put that info in the next blog post.  Wish me luck.  Hope you'll come back and follow along, Smiles, Sue C


  1. Interesting. Have a great trip and clay experience. LY

  2. I'm getting excited to see how classes go and how the trip goes. Having extreme faith in you, I am sure all will go well, and you will have a good time. LY Gail

  3. You'll have so much fun!!! I'm jealous. Also, good luck on the new lifesyle eating plan. You've inspired me to get back on mine. Low carb has always worked for me as well. Can't wait to hear about the trip.