Drumroll please . . .

It is too cold and snowy to do the silks outdoors. Luckily, I have supportive parents who let me mount them in my room! I feel like Rapunzel from Tangled—I can wake up and start climbing!

The ceiling hasn’t come down yet, so I think we did a good enough job securing it. I’ve been having some great (and warm) climbing fun!

 

Skating in a Winter Wonderland

I have always wanted to ice skate on a pond. Here in Utah, the weather gets cold, but not usually cold enough for safe skating, especially in the valley. After a few days in the teens, this ornamental pond that didn’t quite get drained all the way was frozen enough to take a spin! Even so, the sun had melted the half of the pond that wasn’t in the shade. Luckily, no wet toes.

Outdoor skating is pretty fun. I had the whole pond to myself, and the rocks made a fun obstacle course.

 

Bow with a Bow

It’s time to take a bow to the great summer of fun I’ve had. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I hope you have enjoyed my discoveries and my journey with me. School starts in just a few days, so I won’t have as much time to do magical summery things. I hope I can keep this summer going by keeping playful and creative here and there, though, and I will keep posting the things that extend my summer through the busyness.

One of my last projects has been making a PVC pipe bow. It is really quite simple and cheap, and it shoots as far as the child’s bow I got at Cabella’s. It’s been fun to shoot at a cardboard box and to see how far the arrows can go.

I also made some arrows to go along with it out of dowels and duct tape.

I used the following tutorial to make it. I found the plexiglass rods at Lowes sold as orange reflective stakes.

 

Still Silking

I hung the silks to their full length for the first time yesterday. It was pretty epic. Now my arms are sore.

How did I get the silks hung in that tall tree? you ask. Well, I didn’t use a ladder. It involved researching some rope techniques for safety.

With a few rope tricks, I tied myself a harness and got my brother to belay me as I climbed the tree.  (Don’t try this at home, kids. DAYOR. [Do at Your Own Risk. I think I’ll just put that at the bottom of every climbing post.])

These are the knots I learned in the process of learning single rope technique (SRT):

  • Alpine Butterfly – good for tying a rope on a limb that can take your body weight and that you can pull down from the ground.
  • Swiss seat – easy rope harness
  • Figure 8 – easy, secure knot that can be tied with an end or with a bight (middle of a rope).
  • Blakes hitch – keeps you from falling, can be scooted up. Not the most secure knot.
  • Weight bag and line – use these to get the rope and other things up into the tree.

It’s pretty fun to just tie a Swiss seat, then hook it to a rope over a limb with a figure 8. You can hold your own weight with the other end of the rope and go swinging.

Did you know people competitively climb trees? Wow, there are more eclectic hobbies than I can keep up with.

Here are a few of the best tutorials:

The instructions on this one were hard to follow because the videos are down, but this is a DIYer after my own heart: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-climb-a-tree-using-only-rope-the-funsim/

I couldn’t get this one to work with the rope I have, but looks like an efficient way to climb a tree if you only have one rope:

 

It’s Parkour, Dude

Here is one more idea for a non-boring exercise program: parkour. Many people have never heard of it. It’s also called freerunning. It’s basically like training to be a superhero, running up walls, vaulting over barriers, balancing on railings.

https://www.nytimes.com/video/sports/1194823328659/the-women-of-parkour.html

The stunts some parkour practitioners do look rather dangerous. Also, I highly recommend not doing parkour at great heights, like the top of a skyscraper. However, anyone can do parkour to some extent, at least according to this video:

I gave it a try, and it’s a lot of fun and a quick way to get your heart rate up. The safety roll is a great move to protect yourself from falls. It’s important to get to know your body well, and with careful practice I think parkour can actually reduce instead of increase your risk of injuries.

My Crepuscular Activity

I have now been using the crepuscular hours for silks practice. I just recently tried my first drop, which was scary and exciting, like jumping off the diving board. A drop is when, after preparing the proper wraps, you let go and the silks catch you. My first was successful, I am happy to report.

By now you are probably wondering what I mean by “crepuscular.” It is my new favorite word. It means “pertaining to twilight.” It’s so hot in the day that practicing outside is rather uncomfortable. Evening is just right. I even saw some crepuscular creatures one night: bats.

My second favorite new word is “virga,” which apparently refers to columns of rain that evaporate before hitting the ground. It is quite a pretty meteorological phenomenon. Also, though Wikipedia says the plural of this definition of “virga” can be either “virga” or “virgas,” the Corpus of Contemporary American Usage (or COCA) and a Google search side with the s-less version. If you like words, check out the COCA. It’s free, and if you decide to sign up with your email it won’t spam you.

By the way, the definition of “corpus” in linguistics is a body or collection of real-world text samples. The COCA has samples from fiction, news, spoken language, and academic writing. It’s search functions make it easy to see how people are using a particular word.

The Silks have Arrived

Look at these gorgeous blue aerial silks! Once I learned to climb the rope, I decided it was time to splurge on something new. And this hobby is very new.

Aerial silks are pieces of fabric that are meant for climbing and gymnastic tricks. They’re usually performed in a circus setting. The silks are a lot easier on my hands and feet than the rope. However, it is quite the upper-body workout, and some of the wraps are quite tight. I’ve been working on the tricks demonstrated in this video. I’ve also been oohing and aahing over how easy the experts make it look in videos like this one.

In the photo you can see a pair of old mattresses below me. They are there for safety. Technically, aerial silks should be learned from a trained instructor, since you could injure yourself badly by falling from the silks or by using incorrect form. I invested in secure rigging, and I never practice without someone else around. And I keep my tricks pretty close to the ground.

There are so many wonderful, unique things to try in this world. Pick something that interests you and try it.

“One without a hobby is missing out a lot.” -Anonymous

Hangin’ around

Today has been warm and windy—a perfect day for playing outside. My siblings and I had a great time at the park. I brought along my hammock and slackline, both of which I’ve been enjoying very much this summer.

This was the first time the hammock (cutequeen brand, $12 on Amazon) has been hung up so high. A little wild, but it worked. This hammock has been a good place to read in the shade, a novelty for my nieces and nephews, and a nice place to relax. Earlier this summer I spent the night outside in the hammock. My original plan was to get in a sleeping bag inside the hammock and then wrap another sleeping bag around it for warmth. It was very warm, almost too warm, and extremely squishy. So I decided to just wrap both sleeping bags around the hammock with me in it. I tried several configurations late into the night, until sometime after midnight I was comfortable enough to fall asleep. I woke up very cold and still somewhat squished, but I still had a good time, though I probably won’t try to sleep in it again. I love sleeping under the moon and stars, and to hear the birds in the early morning. Something must change between one and five in the morning, because the mild night gave way to a chill morning.

The slackline is also a recent hobby. I like doing things that I’m good at and that challenge me, and the slackline includes both. It is like a loose, flat tightrope.  It’s exhilarating to finally master it enough to walk from end to end.

The third suspended hobby I have is rope climbing. I didn’t really think I could climb a rope until recently, and with a few YouTube tips I can climb it quite well. The trick is to use your legs more than your arms to propel yourself upward. I got the rope at Lowes (12 feet for about $8) and tied it to a swingset.

Once I went to see a group of acrobatic circus performers. The group stunned me with their strength, balance, and skill. I could tell that they truly were masters of their craft. I appreciated their dedication to the very best. The crowd would have been impressed with feats half as difficult, but the group held themselves to a standard higher than any audience would demand. They performed tricks I thought impossible: for instance, a man jumping high in the air off a teeter-totter, spinning head-down, landing with his hands on a beam of wood stuck through two ladders. Sometimes what limits us are our beliefs that the attainable is unattainable.

Since watching the circus group, I have been interested in aerial silk acrobatics. This is a beautiful, free type of gymnastics that is done by climbing fabric. Since I can climb the rope now, I’m ready to order some silks of my own. Time for some more summer fun!

My Enjoyable Exercise: Yoga

This morning I got up and went to a neighborhood yoga group. I’ve been doing yoga regularly for about a year now, and it has helped and inspired me to not only take better care of my body, but to appreciate it more.

For someone who has never done yoga, the exercise may sound weird and a little silly. (Probably because the media has done a good job of stereotyping it that way.) However, I think yoga is something everyone should try, because of the following:

  1. It’s inexpensive. All you need is some comfy clothes. A yoga mat is very helpful, but not required. I got mine about a year ago for about $12 on Amazon, and it’s still holding up to moderate use. There are some great yoga classes on YouTube, as well as a plethora of soothing soundtracks. You can also go for a nice mat, straps, bolsters, and blocks, or a membership at a yoga studio, but it’s not imperative.
  2. Everyone can do it. Yes. Everyone. Even if you’re in a wheelchair or extremely out of shape, there are types of yoga that involves only sitting or only the breath. When it’s taught at their level, kids love it. I’m sure there are as many kinds of yoga as there are instructors–fast, slow, hot, lukewarm, strengthening, stretching, calming, invigorating. If you promise not to be intimidated, check out this video of one yogi taking it at his level (expert).
  3. Lots of benefits, without the risks. Running is excellent exercise, but it can cause knee problems. In fact, most sports can result in serious injury. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be done, but if your primary goal is to get some exercise, yoga is a pain-free, gain-full way to get it. Yoga offers strength, flexibility, balance, and for quicker practices like ashtanga yoga, even cardio.
  4. It promotes whole-person health. Yoga is helpful for maintaining mental and emotional health. The relaxation exercises and positive self-viewing that are a part of yoga are excellent for preventing and alleviating depression and anxiety, as well as increasing gratitude and contentment.
  5. It’s fun! Not everyone agrees with this last point, but I like yoga because it is challenging, it feels good, and I enjoy doing it with others. I like getting away from the competition and “slimmer is better” attitudes of other exercise forms. There are days I have rolled out of bed onto my mat when I wouldn’t have been willing to hit the pavement, since I love it that much.

I hope I’ve convinced you that yoga is worth a try. It’s an exercise form and a philosophy that has been around for thousands of years, and I’m certainly glad I’ve stumbled upon it. I’m going to keep going to the neighborhood group, and maybe learn to do the splits and an unsupported handstand this summer! I’ll let you know how it goes.