Monday, May 31, 2010

The Memorial Day 20-20 Biathlon!

Mark and I were signed up to walk a 10K in West Linn this morning, along the Willamette River, but it was raining pretty hard and we wimped out. I have good rain gear, but his is only water-repellent, and we didn't think it was up to 6 miles of walking in the rain.

Then, just as it was time for the race to start, the rain stopped! Arrgh! We were at home, not ready. We missed it.

Never mind, I said, we'll do a 20-20-20 Triathlon instead.

20 minutes of running - 20 minutes of biking - 20 minutes of swimming.

Good idea, except that the Oregon City Pool was closed for Memorial Day, so we made it a 20-20 Biathlon instead.
 First Mark checked to make sure the tires had plenty of air, and the brakes were good.
Then we went to the middle school track (just down the street from our house) for 20 minutes of jogging and walking. Mostly we ran/jogged the curves and walked the straights.
I'm gradually getting better at running. I'm not very fast, but my knee didn't hurt today. I think I'm finally recovered from Dog Mountain. In the 20 minutes, we "ran" 6 laps - about 1.5 miles.
Then it was time to hurry to the transition area to get ready for our bike ride!
Our neighbor, Terry Lingman, was out walking his dog. He came by just in time to snap a couple of photos for us. Here we go!

We were going to ride over to the nearby pioneer cemetery, since it's Memorial Day, and ride around the loop there several times, but when we arrived there was a Memorial Day flag ceremony with guest speakers and everything. We didn't want to be disrespectful, so we pulled up for a while. (Funny thing - I was wearing my "Team Brad" shirt from the Sarcoma Walk last Saturday - and the man in front of me was also wearing a Team Brad shirt!) We enjoyed the national anthem, comments from the mayor, and talks by the Oregon Speaker of the House and a WWII vet. Then we slipped away to visit our friends, Ken and Dorothy, who live just down the hill from the cemetery.
Dorothy snapped a photo as we rode up the hill, pulling away from their house. Before we went home, we both knew we should go visit our friend Leo Adams, a wonderful WWII vet. What a sweetie...he always gives me a hug and a kiss on the cheek...Mark only gets a handshake...hahaha! We thanked Leo for serving the country, and then we rode home, where we remembered to put the flag out for Memorial Day. We spent much longer than 20 minutes on the bikes because we kept stopping, but it was about 20 minutes' worth of riding. We covered 3 miles.

Now it's pouring hard rain again. So glad we got outdoors for a little while, for what may become the First Annual Memorial Day 20-20 Biathlon! We had a lot of fun - maybe next year we'll plan ahead and make it a family-and-friends event.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Accelerating Change

3 profound changes came into my life on Wednesday this week:

1. My son-in-law, Michael, had a promising phone interview for a new job Wednesday morning. The interviewer went on to schedule a face-to-face interview for this coming Wednesday. Michael is their only candidate, and it looks like he is on track to have a good job in his field. Michael has been unemployed for several months, since being laid off from his job in January. He has sent out countless resumes and applications, and has yet to have a face-to-face interview. He and my daughter, Julia, with their four children, have been living with us for 18 months. Wonderful news! 

The only catch is that the job is in...Delaware. So on Thursday morning, Michael got in his car and began driving. As of this morning, he was just outside of Philadelphia, and he should arrive in Delaware this afternoon. Since Wednesday, he has received calls from two other companies in the same city, so now he has two interviews scheduled for Wednesday, and another phone interview for Tuesday.

This is bittersweet news for me. My house has been crowded for a long time. I would love to be an empty-nester again. But oh, how I will miss my little family if they move so far away.

2. The governor of Oregon released the latest budget calculations on Wednesday, and they are not pretty. The state is implementing 9% budget cuts to all state agencies, including public education, across the board. By Thursday, teachers in my district had already been informed that this school year...the one ending in 3 weeks...will probably be cut short by 3 days. Looks like school will be out in only 2 weeks. 

That translates, of course, to a pay cut for staff. With Mark and me both teaching, it's a double pay cut. I'm not complaining; at least we have jobs, and I get it that the whole world is in a recession right now. We can cope with the pay cut. We'll find out this coming week what the proposals are to balance the district budget for next year. Cutting 3 days right now will help, but it will not come close to solving the entire problem. 

The district already cut nearly 40 teaching positions last year. The new budget reductions would require almost that many teachers cut again, or cutting days of school, or cutting benefits, or all of the above. Our class sizes are already up to 36. Mark has classes scheduled with 39 students next year. We can't even fit that many desks in our classrooms. 

3. Last Sunday we learned in church that we would be getting a new bishop today. The Mormon church is completely staffed by lay leaders and teachers. No one gets paid. Our current bishop works at Parr Lumber during the week. 

Mark has been serving as the group leader for the High Priests, an assignment that has him organizing visits and service to widows and older couples in the ward. On Wednesday night, he was asked to serve as the 2nd Counselor to our new bishop (Tom Carlson, who manages the service department at a car dealership). Mark and the 1st Counselor will assist the bishop running a busy congregation of nearly 200 families. 

For the most part, this isn't a dramatic change for our family. Mark was already fully committed to church service, and I already support him in that. He will have a few more meetings to attend, and the nature of his service will change with this new assignment. He'll be sitting up in front on Sunday, and I'll be sitting in the congregation--I'll miss the companionship of getting to sit next to him, but it's also ok with me to worship independently for that hour.

Henry James wrote an essay in 1910 titled, "A Law of Acceleration." In it, he toys with the notion that the rate of change doubles every 20 years. 

Every age finds itself new and modern. Writing in 1910, he said that, "If science were to go on doubling or quadrupling its complexities every ten years, even mathematics would soon succumb. An average mind had succumbed already in 1850; it could no longer understand the problem in 1900." 

Assuming that the rate holds, he went on to predict that, "At the rate of progress since 1800, every American who lived into the year 2000 would know how to control unlimited power. He would think in complexities unimaginable to an earlier mind. He would deal with problems altogether beyond the range of earlier society."

Have we "succumbed" to the accelerating rate of change? Will we?

The global rate of change is more than I can get my head around. Even here in my own little sphere, the rate of change has been unsettling lately. I am experiencing changes that are profound and permanent. Things will not go back to the way they were. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Play List

Had a long, tedious sewing project today. I'm not big on YouTube, but I started looking up some of my favorite "happy songs" to help pass the time. Finished the project after 4 hours, but the time flew by. As long as I was at it, I made a little "play list" for myself on the side of my blog.

It's right there, on the right-hand side, down below my list of favorite blogs. You're welcome to check it out, and listen in on some good old songs (and a few newer ones). You'll notice that they're upbeat, cheerful songs. Some of the videos/slide shows that accompany them are pretty dorky, so you don't need to tell me that...I already know... If you don't like my taste in music, you're welcome to sigh and shake your head at me, but please don't spoil my fun. :)

I'd welcome any suggestions you have for songs to add to my play list! Hope you're having a happy, upbeat day, too!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Half awake...lying in bed this morning...still dark outside...drowsily moving and stretching as I became more awake...

My hand was on my hip. It pleased me to notice that my muscles are more firm as I've exercised more.

Then I realized that what I was feeling wasn't muscle; it was bone. The outer flare of my pelvis. I've seen my pelvis illustrated in pictures many times, but I had never truly visualized that picture-pelvis as me before. Suddenly, I wasn't sleepy any more.
It jolted me, to think that me is not what I see in the mirror. That's one way to think of me, but what what am I really?

I step out of the shower and see myself in the mirror across the bathroom. Twenty square feet of skin, and of course I'm noticing the places I wish were smaller, or less affected by gravity. I can certainly visualize clumps of fat clinging around my belly (I still remember the fat deposits from dissecting a cat in advanced biology 40 years ago), and I like noticing the way my calf muscles are firmer as I move my leg, and I frequently try to convince myself the the flabby places under my arms ("bat wings"--ha ha) are smaller now than they used to be.

Skin, muscle, fat: I know I'm made of those.

I've always been aware of  some bones. Feet, toes, ankles, knees, fingers, wrists, elbows...these are bones that are difficult to ignore. I broke a small bone in my foot 18 years ago, and I've been conscious of the bones in my feet ever since then. In some vague, general, intellectual way, I know I have bones. I take calcium every day because I don't want to have osteoporosis.

But a skeleton? Me? My mind flashed to those images from archeological digs, the skeletons embedded in ancient graves, and I suddenly realized that there was a skeleton lying right there, in my bed, inside of me!

I have no idea why I was so shocked by that thought. It woke me right up.

Maybe I'm getting old.

Maybe I'm thinking about Nina, my friend. (I went back yesterday afternoon to check in on her, and learned that she had died Saturday night, just a few hours after I visited her.)

Maybe I'm processing some of the ideas in a book I'm reading, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where he talks about different ways to view a motorcycle. You can see it as the thing in front of you, shiny curved metal, tires, etc. Or you can see it as a series of interrelated systems, hierarchies, that function together to create a whole.

Now that I've been awake for an hour or so, my mind is beginning to adjust to this thought. I'd like to pay more attention to my skeleton, get to know her better. When I move or sit or lie in bed, I'd like to remember...and be grateful for...the most inside, intimate part of me. It's not that I have a skeleton. I get that. I am a skeleton. That's a new thought for me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nina, my friend

Yesterday I went to visit my friend, Nina V. Nina is 90-something years old. She lives in a residential care facility here in Oregon City that is wonderful--it is new construction, but it is designed to look like a big, older, rambling house with a couple of dining areas and a living room. Each resident has his or her own sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom, and the married couples have even larger spaces.

I first met Nina in January. I was assigned to be her visiting teacher, something Mormon women do on a regular basis. Each of us is assigned 3 or 4 women to visit each month, so that we can build friendships in a one-on-one way. We check in to see if there are needs and offer each other our friendship.

To be honest, I was a little nervous to visit Nina that first time. I hadn't met her before, and the care facility is tucked back behind another house, so it was difficult to find. I tried one evening and couldn't find it in the dark, and then another time I tried in the daylight. Mark was with me this time, and when we finally found Nina, we fell in love. She is sparkly and gracious. She has a mischievous sense of humor and a darling smile. Her apartment has a large window that looks out on a small garden, where she loves to look for the birds and the flowers. She spoke wistfully of the two small boys who used to live in the house behind hers, who she used to love to watch as they played in their backyard. Then they moved away, and she missed them.

As we chatted with her, she shared bits and pieces about her family. We had a little difficulty following the information, because she was a little confused about names and where people lived, but her joy in her family was evident. Then she mentioned that she had a son named Tony. Tony V? We used to teach with a Tony V! Sure enough, Nina is our friend Tony's mother. In the years we had worked with Tony before he retired, he never mentioned a Mormon connection in his life, but we could see the same joy and sparkle in her eyes that we had known for years in Tony's. Of course they were related - we could see it right away.

When I arrived home after that first visit, I called Tony to let him know that Mark and I had visited his mother, and that we would be doing so at least once a month. The phone call was important to me in two ways: I was glad to reconnect with Tony, who I hadn't seen since his retirement several years earlier, and I was relieved to make a connection with a family member, since I wasn't sure if Nina would be able to explain who we were or why we had visited her. She had been raised as a Mormon girl, but she had married outside of the church, and her main contact over the years had been through various visiting teachers. Tony, naturally protective of his aged mother in regards to proselyting visits, was reassured to know that it was "just us," and that we weren't trying to re-convert her, but just to be friends in these later years of her life.

Tony cautioned me that his mother's health was unpredictable. She had recently rallied, but the family had connected with the local hospice group a while back, to help Nina and the family with her  journey through cancer.

I have tried to always bring a little something for Nina when I have visited. A little flower plant to join the garden outside her window, a Valentines card or a Mother's Day card. When I brought her Mother's Day card to her earlier this month, she was having difficulty walking, and she was more confused than before. She thanked me for the card, then turned to her son, who was visiting, and asked him, "Is my mother still living?"

Yesterday afternoon I felt like I should make an extra visit this month. I stopped by the care facility on my way to do some grocery shopping, and met two more of her sons and a daughter-in-law. They are here from out of state. Another one, the one I met before Mother's Day, also lives out of state, and he is on his way back to Oregon for the second time this month. The family is gathering.

Even though these family members hadn't met me before, the sense of humor in their welcome made it immediately evident that these men, too, were Nina's sons. "I'm the handsome one," one of them chuckled, as he introduced his brother to me. They explained that Nina hadn't been awake yet all day, and I started to excuse myself, not wanting to intrude or be a bother. "Oh, no," the handsome one said. "If you can wake her, that would be a good thing. Go ahead and try."

I slipped into Nina's room, where she was curled on her side in her bed. Someone had tucked the blankets neatly around her, and there was a small towel on her pillow next to her mouth. Her face, lying down, in sleep, without her usual smile, seemed tired and far away. I took her hand and rubbed it softly, and said cheerfully, "Nina, sweetheart, it's Kathy. The flowers outside your window are beautiful, and the sun is shining." No response. I hesitated a moment, then lay her hand back on the covers. Her breathing was light and peaceful as I turned away.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Team Brad

Hop on over to The Skinny for a recap of this morning's "athletic" event. It actually wasn't a bit athletic, but it was fun and it felt good to support a good cancer-research organization and remember a wonderful young man.
Here's a photo of Julia, Mike, me, and Mark, all decked out for "Team Brad." (Maddy is in the stroller.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dog Mountain

Here in the northwest corner of Oregon, we love love love love the Columbia River Gorge. It's an amazing and wonderful place, with tons of beautiful hiking trails, which we take great pride in knowing and conquering. One of the most famous (infamous?) is Dog Mountain, on the Washington side of the Gorge. The trail to the top of Dog Mountain is about 3.5 miles each way, and the trail gains 1000 feet of elevation per mile: STEEP! Why bother? Because Dog Mountain has amazing views and amazing wildflowers in the late spring. Wow-wow-wow-wow! So now you're so curious, and you want to see you go!

Wild roses and lupine


Meadows of arrowleaf balsamroot - the big bright yellow flowers. 
They are in steep meadows on the side of Dog Mountain - I'm pretty sure the meadows are talus slopes that have filled in with windblown dirt so the plants can grow.

Kodak moment with the Columbia River in the background.
It was windy!

Same spot - turned around with the meadow and Dog Mountain in the background.

The balsamroot with some smaller pink and yellow flowers.

This gives a sense of how steep the meadows are.

Steep trail!

This one's for Dorothy.
Not sure what the name is, but they sure were pretty!

Looking toward Oregon. You can see a train down near the river.

More of our beautiful Gorge scenery.

The Outdoor Club from Oregon City High School. 
They were hiking Dog Mountain today, and we met up with them partway up the mountain. 
(We started an hour before they did...
but of course they caught up to us!)

Another photo with the Outdoor Club.
That's Mt. Saint Helens in the background!

You can also see Mt. Hood from the top of Dog Mountain.

Headed back down the mountain. See the trail down there? With people on it?

When we were on the top of the mountain, we felt strong and wonderful - king and queen of the mountain! It was a HUGE job to get to the top, and took a lot of hard work and hard breathing, but we did it! It's funny, but going down was much more difficult than climbing to the top. Our knees were getting really shaky by the time we finally got back to the car. But we made it, and now we're home resting, proud and happy that we conquered Dog Mountain today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Best Birthday in the World

Yesterday I turned 56. I had such a lovely, lovely birthday. I am so grateful to be here on the planet with you!

First of all, we had gorgeous weather yesterday. (It was sunny again today, and it's supposed to continue for a while.) April was a long, gray month, and we've had mostly partly cloudy days in May until now. Sunshine for my birthday! It was wonderful.

Before school started, I had to run into the library to pick up some paper. The choir teacher was there with the a cappella choir, setting up for an impromptu performance in the school library before school started. I stopped to hear what they would sing, and it was this delightful, joyful song. I stood there and listened with tears in my eyes. What a perfect beginning to my work day!

I brought some strawberries and ice cream to school for my students (high school juniors & seniors), and we had a quick little birthday party during first period. While they ate their strawberry sundaes, I put some photos under the document camera to show them that I really was young once! Photos from 1st grade, 4th grade, 8th grade, my high school graduation, working as a stewardess when I was 19...  Then I made them write some sentences about what they hope they will be doing when they are in their 50s. I wanted them to catch the vision that life is so wonderful and joyful, and that becoming middle-aged is something to look forward to.

Mark made a Pineapple Delight cake the night before, and brought it in to work to share with our teacher friends at lunch. One of the teachers brought me a bouquet of flowers, and several had cards. It was so fun to share my birthday lunch with them.

At home there were more cards and gifts to enjoy from family here and far away. Thank you, dear family! After a quick supper, Mark went with me to the Curves gym! It's usually for ladies only, but last night my Curves had a "Sweat with your Sweetie" event, which the husbands were invited to. Mark and I did a workout together. He really was a sweetie to be the first guy there, and do the workout with me with a bunch of gals around.

Back home, I had a project to work on, but I was able to set up a table next to a window and enjoy the fresh air and sounds of the neighborhood while I worked. It was peaceful and lovely the whole time. I can't remember ever having had a happier birthday.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day: My Payday

Caution: This is a long post! I am writing about my children...and there are many of them....

I loved going to parent-teacher conferences when my children were young. I always felt like it was my payday! I loved hearing the teachers tell me how smart, well-behaved, kind, generous, helpful, etc, etc, etc, my children were.

Over the years, I came to understand that my children were doing well because of their own choices, and that it really wasn't my "payday" - it was theirs. (What if they had been little pills? Those would have been their choices, too...)

Well, today, I am going to claim Mother's Day as my payday. I have nine wonderful, intelligent, considerate, generous children, and despite the fact that I can't take much (if any!) credit for how they've turned out, I am certainly grateful for who they are!

Julia is my oldest child. She has had way more than her fair share of challenges in life, but she handles them with grace and courage. She faithfully manages life with her four active children. She delights in serving others, especially when she can do it secretly, and she is a wonderful cook. She doesn't complain about her own physical difficulties. She is relentless in tracking down helps for her youngest daughter, who has a range of medical issues, and she gives her husband, who has been unemployed for the last 3 months, unflagging support and encouragement. I have come to know her and love better than ever in the last couple of years.

Polly got the math and science genes in the family. She taught both subjects in high schools and middle schools until she adopted her first daughter, and since then she has been a stay-at-home mom for her growing family. She's a "can-do" woman who solves problems on her own. When it was time to move the family out of state, but her husband hadn't quite finished his doctorate in chemistry, Polly met the moving truck at their new home, and managed to get it all unloaded, even though her husband was in a different state for another two or three weeks, and the youngest of her three children was only 7 months old. Her crafty blog is followed by people all over the world, and in her "spare" time (haha!) she does online tutoring and scoring for state assessments from all over the U.S. She is a thrifty inspiration to the rest of the family.

Kendra is a talented book artist / bookbinder. She speaks fluent Russian, and has taught English in Russia for 3 different seasons. She will soon be certified to provide foster care to handicapped children. She is upbeat, loyal, loving, and brave. She is a tireless mom to her two active preschoolers, and on top of all that, her house is tidy and organized. What a woman! She has a positive attitude, and a steady faith that helps her cope with the ups and downs of life. She looks for ways to creatively manage her family budget during this season of her life, when her husband is in graduate school.

I will never forget how surprised I was when David was born. That was before the era of having an ultrasound with every pregnancy, so I didn't know I had a boy on the way. All his life he has graciously and patiently endured a houseful of sisters. Now as a husband and a daddy, he continues to be kind and patient and gracious. Sometimes he gets frustrated with himself, but I have watched him learn to either accept himself as he is, or to make positive changes for the better. He graduated college last December, and had a job--in his field--waiting for him when he graduated. I'm not the only one who can see how wonderful David is.

Katie was my baby. As the last one to leave home, she and I had some precious one-on-one time during her teenage years, that I didn't have with her older siblings. She conquered shyness and insecurity to excel in the high school drama program, and those experiences have helped her to approach life with a straightforward and matter-of-fact attitude. She is funny and quick with comebacks that aren't put-downs. She is a poet and a creative writer. She, too, writes a crafty blog that is followed by bloggers around the world, as well as a weight-loss blog with an international following. She is organized, loving, and happy, and her greatest joys are coming into her life now as she is a mother.

Sixteen years ago, my three step-children came into my life. Mark's oldest daughter is Angela. She is outgoing and fun loving, and makes any occasion happier. She brings boundless energy to her busy young family of three--the oldest two are 4-year-old twins!--and has supported her husband on his long journey through medical school, medical residency, and a final year of neurology fellowship study. She is one of the kindest, most non-judgemental people I know.

Joshua is Mark's middle child. He is a talented musician and a very hard worker. He is quiet and unassuming, and always willing to say the kind and loving thing, or to jump in and give service. He, too, is a fun-loving family member who loves to enjoy practical jokes with his siblings. He can focus and work hard, and then he can relax and play hard. He is an adoring daddy, wrapped around his son's little finger.

Nathan is Mark's youngest son. He has the coordinated genes of the family. The first time I met him, he was skateboarding down a hill, and it was like watching music unfold before me. He is sensitive and kind, and a devoted daddy. Nathan has many talents in the construction field, with skills in setting tile and many kinds of building and construction. His gifts include being tall, strong, and unafraid of heights--gifts that have helped us out with many projects on our old two-story house. He is disciplined and he follows through on completing his goals.

Maleena came to me last of all. I first knew her as a freshman in high school, and I have admired her courage and spunk since that first meeting. Then she was roommate with Holly, David's wife, before David and Holly met. As Holly's roommate, Maleena joined the church, and when David and Holly married, Maleena moved in with us. She lived with us for over two years and became part of the family, and since she wasn't part of her birth family any more, we made our connection with her official, by legally adopting her in March 2009. She is brave and loving, and she is a very hard worker. She is a person who really thinks about situations and tries to do the right thing. She will be celebrating her marriage to her sweetheart next month.

I am a wealthy woman. As a girl growing up, I never dreamed that I would be mother of such a large and talented family. Like all families, there are times when some of the members of my family don't see eye-to-eye, and we have stresses and tensions just like anyone else. Some of my children might not agree with everything I have written here about their siblings, but this is how I see each and every one. They are beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, kind, loving, talented people. I have been thinking about each of them today. I love each one, and I am honored to be a mother to them.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's Great to be Eight

My twin granddaughters, Sarah and Kathleen, turned 8 last month, and they were baptized today. Our church believes that children should be baptized when they are old enough (8) to make covenants with Heavenly Father.
Kat and Sarah

Jayesh (dad), Kat, Sarah, Michael (stepdad)
Jayesh baptized Sarah, and Michael baptized Kat

Kat and Sarah check out the cake afterwards.

Friend Lily, Kat, Sarah, Josh

Aunt Cheryl, Cam, Maleena, Uncle Greg, Mark

Friends: Lily, Samantha, Patricia

Jayesh, Josh, friend Chris

It was a very happy event. The girls were so grown up and well-behaved. What a happy celebration!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dreaming about a Mountain

I want to climb Mount St. Helens. The Monitor Ridge Route is a 5-mile climb/hike that gains 4,500 feet.  It's steep all the way, but it's not a technical climb, so it doesn't require specialized climbing gear.

I'd love to climb it in late June, if the trail is clear of snow by then. Later in the summer, it would be more difficult because it would be hotter. I have to decide ahead of time, because I have to get a permit, but then you never know for sure about the weather. Hmmmm...

But over 13,000 people climb it every year! So it's difficult, but not impossible, right?

The website says that it is a strenuous climb that is "suitable for people in good physical condition who are comfortable scrambling on steep, rugged terrain." (Haha - "comfortable"??) The website goes on to say that most climbers complete the round trip in seven to twelve hours.

That's all. It's just something I want to do. Mark isn't sure if he wants to do it with me or not. My son-in-law Eric says he would do it with me. (No surprise. He climbs anything he can--trees, mountains, big rocks, etc.). I wanted to make the climb last summer, but it was just too much to figure out with the family reunion and Mark's surgery. I haven't forgotten about it though. The mountain is still there. And I want to climb it.
Let me know if you want to climb it, too.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Playing in the dirt

Welcome, May! Mark and I spent yesterday afternoon out playing in the dirt--time to plant the garden.

We covered the garden with black plastic all winter, hoping that would allow us to work the soil a little earlier this year.
Wait--why is the plastic bulging like that? I thought maybe Mark had stuck something under it, but no...

It was some eager-beaver potato volunteers How did they turn green under the black plastic? We decided to leave them in place, since they were that gung-ho to grow.

Our hopes about having the soil be easier to work were exceeded - it was wonderful! Loose and friable - all we had to do was rake the surface! We've added truckloads of manure for the last three years, and it has beautifully amended our clayey soil. Yay for the the horsie poop! We only had to dig out three dandelion plants, and we were ready to begin planting.

We bought a few plants already started (tomatoes, zucchini, lemon cucumber), and planted the rest as seeds (pole beans, lettuce, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, green onions, beets). Oh, and I scattered some wildflower seeds around the empty areas. They should look lovely and help keep down the weeds, but we'll see if I hate myself when they re-seed and keep coming back.

(Yes, I know we need to whack the grass around the garden perimeter. We'll get to it soon...)

What did you do to begin the month of May? I'd love to hear from you.