…and whiskers on kittens.
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.
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.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
these are a few of my favorite things.
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…
…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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.