Raindrops On Roses…

and whiskers on kittens.

Our pre-Shammies dinner back in March. The first reunion of each season is something I look forward to when the hint of spring is in the air.

Our pre-Shammies dinner back in March. The first reunion of each season is something I look forward to as soon as the hint of spring is in the air.

As happy as my body is that the Highland Games season is over, I’m finally letting my heart take it in. It was an amazing year and yes, I realize that I say that after each season. How do the years surpass each other in the fun we have; the love we share; the experiences we, errr, experience, and the throws (OY THE THROWS) we’ve witnessed. Oh sure, I’ll take a day each week and get back to the field. When it’s 70+ degrees in October in Wisconsin, you throw. The day is coming where inside drills is all I’ll have and any hopes of releasing implements will be on the Games field in 2016. But my mind has already moved on to goals in other areas of my life.

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Before I completely leave 2015 behind me; however; I want to take it in.

Throwing in Hawaii was something that, while I joked how much fun it would be, never really thought it would happen. That it did, and I got to throw with Michaela and Petra of Germany, and share Hawaii with my daughter and her best friend were far beyond my dreams. It is probably the most relaxed I have ever been in my life (and my numbers at the Games showed it, heh) and I treasure that trip. Seeing Zandra and Mayce run around without a care in the world was so rewarding. These girls work hard for everything they have and while I won’t use the “deserved” word which is so frequently thrown around by mommies who think their stupid adult children are entitled to whatever they want, it brought me much happiness to watch them enjoy themselves.

The Sunrise of Hawaii is nearly as beautiful as the sunsets but the quiet of the morning; sitting on the rocks and drinking coffee and watching the Island come alive...what a gift.

The Sunrise of Hawaii is nearly as beautiful as the sunsets but the quiet of the morning; sitting on the rocks’ drinking coffee and watching the Island come alive…what a gift.

Jason Clevenger’s backyard Games in April has quickly become a tradition in throwing in (hopefully) the worst conditions of the year. Heh. We are almost guaranteed cold, possibly snow; rain, possibly a couple of inches of hail; and enough wind that the Caber toss just really isn’t happening. But it’s the home team and they even cater in hot food for us and we always have a blast but I just said to Matt the other day, ‘I may be getting old enough that if the forecast is brrrr and wet, I’m out.’ Heh. I’m getting soft in my old age, I’m not afraid to admit it.

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It’s guaranteed; however; that when we head to Rockford to practice it will be one of the hottest mornings of the summer. Heh.

Brown paper packages tied up with strings;

these are a few of my favorite things.

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We took a break in May and skipped out on the Cherry Valley May Games thrown by Merl Lawless and crew. I hate to miss a ‘Merl’ Games but we knew we’d be seeing him again in September at Master’s Worlds. The WWII Re-enactment in Indiana was Oz’s birthday prize from us and, as I mentioned before, seeing him riding up top of the Sherman during the battle, knowing what it meant to him, brought this mom to tears. The happy news is that next year, Master’s World Championships are in August so we’ll be in town for a huge re-enactment that happens in Rockford in September and (universe willing) we’ll make sure Oz is here to take it in.

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels…

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…doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles;

While we DID see the famous Icelandic ponies and replaced apple strudel with Skyr desert (I’m jonesing right now for Skry dessert, I think that’s happening this weekend), the entire trip to Iceland encompasses everything incredible about competing in Highland Games. The people; the throwing; the beauty and the toughness of Iceland was something beautiful to behold. I am so thankful for this opportunity and while I’m selfish enough to hope it’s not our last time throwing for Petur, I will accept if it is, that it is indeed one of the greatest thrills of my lifetime. I will also say, that when we left Petur and Elisabet’s home for the last time, Petur looked up at me and said, “You impressed me Juli” that I teared up. Those words, from that person, meant more to me than anything anyone (other than my husband) has ever said to me. I’ve worked hard to improve some things I struggled with while throwing in Iceland and I have a lot more work to do, but I’m hoping to be able to show Petur some good things from his advice and lots of practice. Time will tell.

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;

these are a few of my favorite things!

We enjoyed a bit of a break after Iceland and gave some attention to matters at home before our west coast trip. This is the trip I look forward to each year. It enables me to connect with my family and spend some quality time with them. It gives us a chance to spend bits of time with our west coast throwing friends and even get to know them a bit better. And, I’ll be honest, it gives me a chance to watch the best of the best (Men AND Ladies) do their thang on the field. Time. It’s precious and it’s something I don’t take for granted. This is the trip that highlights that belief. I don’t care if it’s a quick dinner at a food truck court (which was AMAZING) or eating WAY too much BBQ in Enumclaw, that hour or so of quiet time we get to spend with new friends and family is a treasure. That I was able to spend an entire week with my family in-between Games was such a treat. I can hope the same works out for next year but also know that we have some lofty travel opportunities plus a family wedding down in Florida that will cut into the Games fun budget, so while it’s not a given, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

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The orange glow of fire surrounded Lake Tapps and much of the Washington Landscape. Lives were lost, as were homes. We are very thankful that our friends and family came through it mostly unscathed and give honor to those who weren’t as fortunate.

August was a whirlwind of practices, Games, and real life. The Wisconsin State Championships, thrown by Jason Clevenger, in LaCrosse is always a great time and to be able to spend some time with the nearly newlywed couple of Katie and Luke Crowley is always a good day on the field. It was my last chance to hit my goal distance with the heavy weight of 28# since my remaining Games would include the 21# as the WOB and HWD. My first throw was money and I hit 40 feet and some change. To say I was stoked is an understatement. I think I have more with the big dawg but I need to dial in some technique first, that’s what off-season is for. I hope.

I know this picture is a bit fuzzy but I love it so much. Luke and Katie are a very special couple and we wish them Congratulations and best wishes as they start their "legal" life together. heehee

I know this picture is a bit fuzzy but I love it so much. Luke and Katie are a very special couple and we wish them Congratulations and best wishes as they start their “legal” life together. heehee

While Matt threw at Jason’s Throwing for the Cure event, I knew I needed a little rest before Pleasanton and sat that one out. Luckily, they had beautiful weather (last year we threw in pouring rain…allllllllll day) and the Games were a great success.

When the dog bites; when the bee stings; when I’m feeling sad…

I'd almost forgotten my Minnesota Ren Fare Games!!! There was some good there; throwing with Brian Hare, Josh Roslik and the rest of the MN crew; meeting Kevin Dupuis and HIS crew; the very cool prizes and spending the weekend with the Oz Man there was some bad. I'd tweaked my back a few days before the trip and it was apparent in my throwing. The ugly, well, the ugly was the ren fare. I'm just not cut out for this environment. When people honestly believe they ARE who they're dressed up to be, well, I just can't. Sorry not sorry.

I’d almost forgotten my Minnesota Ren Fare Games!!! There was some good there; throwing with Brian Hare, Josh Roslik and the rest of the MN crew; meeting Kevin Dupuis and HIS crew; the very cool prizes and spending the weekend with the Oz Man. There was some bad; I’d tweaked my back a few days before the trip and it was apparent in my throwing. The ugly, well, the ugly was the ren fare. I’m just not cut out for this environment. When people honestly believe they ARE who they’re dressed up to be, well, I just can’t. Sorry not sorry.

I simply remember my favorite things;

and then I don’t feel so bad!

And then there’s Pleasanton and that’s just WOW. It is by far the biggest Games I’d been around; the star factor of throwers is the best it can get, and the fun times with friends was beyond our hopes and expectations.

It's hard to pick a picture from Pleasanton. It was such an amazing Games and I was able to meet so many legends of the Games and strength world and see some of my favorite Pro's (mens and womens) in action. But this one sums it up. This is what makes the Highland Games the best; the friendships cross borders; age groups and skill but the end of the day all that matters is that they are FRIENDSHIPS.

It’s hard to pick a picture from Pleasanton. It was such an amazing Games and I was able to meet so many legends of the strength world and see some of my favorite Pro’s (men and women) in action. But this one sums it up. This is what makes the Highland Games the best; the friendships cross borders; age groups and skill but the end of the day all that matters is that they are FRIENDSHIPS.

While I had a very good Games, I didn’t finish strong and that really annoys me. There were multiple windows left open for me to take home a win (along with a helluva lucky Caber toss) and I didn’t finish it. This happened again at Masters World Championships and will be the most important factor addressed in this off-season. But Ooooooo, what a weekend! Our fancy dinners (that’s sarcasm in case you didn’t know) with Big Daddy Jay O’Neil and Bret ‘Hoss’ Lathrop and our new friend Tim Timm was the icing on the cake. The gathering of the bands on Saturday evening, just everything. From A-Z, Pleasanton was everything we envisioned.

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KO & Craig Smith get ready to read.

OH! We’ll detour a bit here and talk about something else. As some of you may know, I had asked as many people as I could muster the courage to read from the book, “Goodnight Moon.” The reason for this is long and will be detailed when I have the video’s put together. As the season has gone on, I’ve tried to get at least one video per Games. There are some amazing video’s and when you get a 2-time Olympian reading the story in Icelandic…well, I could have just stopped there and dropped the mic. However, I was in Pleasanton with the biggest names in our Games in attendance. I’ll be honest, at first I chickened out. But on Sunday afternoon, after I made sure he was all done with his competition, I found Dan McKim hanging oot all by himself and I took my chances. I explained the “why” to him and asked if he’d let me video his reading. Now, don’t think I missed the “what the heck” (I’m pretty sure Dan McKim says ‘heck’ so I’ll put that there) look pass across his face but he smiled and said, “sure.” He did a great job and gave me some non-liquid courage to go for more. And boy did I. I think it’s safe to say that World Champion Beth Burton’s reading to the Elite ladies is probably the funniest thing out there. It was after this reading that I said to myself, ‘this is going to take more than one video.’ There’s just too much good stuff here to throw on one. From there, I inched my way over to Matt Vincent’s stall (not the bathroom kind) and I told him I had a favor to ask. His reply? “Do you want me to read a book?”  Ummmmm, ya, WHO TOLD HIM!!!? From there I got Andy Vincent and it’s a toss up which brother did best (I bet they’ve NEVER heard that;) Heh. There were a couple that I chickened out of asking;  David Webster and Scott Rider. Of course now I regret it, I mean really, they could just say no and walk away thinking I’m a crazy old lady and I’d never be the wiser. But I didn’t. Damn. Big Daddy and Hoss did a great job at dinner Sunday night and even pulled in the big dogs Mike Zolkiewicz and Berger Lambrechts (who had NO idea what was going on) for some cameo appearances. Overall, the whole Pleasanton experience gave me some of the best video. So much more than I thought I’d have when I started this little endeavor. In fact, it’s enough to know that I need to get some good help to do these video’s justice instead of trying to figure it out on my own.

Anyways.What were we talking about??? Oh ya, Highland Games.

Pleasanton quickly rolled by and we geared up for the biggie, Masters World Championships. Now, I’ve written enough about Worlds. It was amazing and disappointing (in myself) all wrapped up in awesome. I am so very thankful for the experience and I need to give props to our Ghillie.

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In Scotland last year with a real Ghillie.

When we were in Scotland, Stephanie Lathrop and I were on our way to the competition field when we came upon this nice man. We asked what he was doing and he explained that he was a Ghillie. His job was to assist the fisherman in anyway necessary or to help them if they ran into trouble. It was a job he was very proud of and from that point on, we told Matt and Hoss that they were OUR Ghillie’s. Heh.

Well, fast forward a year to St.Louis. Max and Yvonne Sadtler, even though Max was also competing, were such amazing Ghillie’s (without even knowing) that I am still in awe. From the moment we hit the hotel until the morning we all left (sorry we missed out on bye bye hugs…I’m sure you understand;) the time we shared with them was a treasure. Yvonne would find places to eat dinner, make a reservation and make sure we all got there. On Friday after a much needed dip in the pool, she made steaks and potatoes (and most importantly wine) appear from nowhere for me and Matt and we didn’t have a need in the world that wasn’t met. Our nightcaps were special as we got some quiet time together and I just feel like I’m getting an enormous hug just thinking of all the things they did for us (field beers; field cookies; trying to herd us together for Sushi Saturday night when all of us were all over the place. She has the patience that has never existed in my world.) They both have giving hearts that have touched us and we are so very thankful to you both. Aloha friends.

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Bigg and I, Max and Yvone, and Victoria and Mark. Though a few good friends were missing, this was the perfect way to end a World Championship Games.

And lastly, Indy. Finishing in Indy has been tons of fun for us. It includes a trip to 3 Floyds Brewery in Indiana which is a favorite of Matt’s and the food and beer are a great kickoff to the trip. Spending one last field day with friends, even a warm sunny one, is a great send off to any season.

Randy Winter's dinner picture cracks me up. Tracey looks like she's finally lost her mind after helping throw a huge Games; Sue is nice and calm; Maria is ready for bed; Dawn's energy knows no bounds, and me and Sue are talking story. The perfect end of year dinner (or would have been had my back not tightened up.)

Randy Winter’s dinner picture cracks me up. Tracey looks like she’s finally lost her mind after helping throw a huge Games; Sue is nice and calm; Maria is ready for bed; Dawn’s energy knows no bounds, and me and Sue are talking story. The perfect end of year dinner (or would have been had my back not tightened up.)

And that’s all folks. 2015 in a nutshell. I want to take one last opportunity to thank all of the Athletic Directors; Kevin Rogers; Highland Games associations that make it all happen for us; friends; family; my daughter back home for taking care of the house and furry family while we’re away; all of the Pro’s who are willing to share a nugget of knowledge with this elder to improve my throwing; the prizes, and most of all, this guy…

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Without him, none of this would be happening. He is my biggest cheerleader and the first to say how proud of me he is. He works hard so we get to go play and I’m so thankful for him. Yo Bigg, you da man. (MY man actually;)

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

Meister Eckhart

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About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. jep6095@gmail.com tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. Juli has been coaching teams and athletes for over 20 years. She grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. She is a 2-time Master's Amercian Weightlifting Champion and holds six Master's American records. She is a Master's Weightlifting National Champion and holds three National records. She is a Master's Weightlifting World Championships Silver Medalist in 2016. Juli is also a Masters Highland Games World Champion and holds three World Records in the Braemar Stone; Heavy Weight for Distance, and Light Weight for Distance in the 45-49 class. Her 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe has honed her coaching skills to be a top choice for you to reach your strength and conditioning goals. Juli will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However; tosabarbell is also for those who just wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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