Sunday, October 31, 2010


Goodness gracious, November is almost upon us, which means it's time to get busy writing!

I loved National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) last November, and I'm excited to post every day for a month in November 2010.

But then I got to thinking...maybe it's time for a new November writing challenge!

So if you, like me, have been slacking on writing your thesis, have I got a deal for you. I hereby declare November to be National Thesis Writing Month (NaTheWriMo). Hooray!!

Yes, I commit to writing 3 pages a day (rough draft) on my thesis in November. Just learned this week that I'll be able to take a thesis class Winter term at PSU, and (hopefully) whip all those rough draft pages into shape. I wrote 200 pages of rough draft last summer, and adding another 90-ish draft pages in November will have me poised to launch into the class in January.

How, you ask, will I be able to write a daily blog post PLUS crank out the thesis writing?
I have a sneaky little weekly plan for the blog...
Sundays I'll write something thoughtful that I learn from preparing my Sunday School lesson.
Mondays I'll write about a "typical" day at work - haha - no two days are ever the same.
On Tech Tuesdays I'll write about technology for writing and won't be what you're expecting.
Wednesdays I'll post a poem - maybe a new one, or maybe an old favorite.
Thursdays will be random, Fridays I'll post a recipe, and Saturdays I'll post an update to keep me accountable on the thesis writing, and then it will be time for Sunday again.


PS: If you want to write a novel, this month, go ahead! Check out National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This one is the granddaddy of the crazy writing challenges that November brings out in us.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spiders on the Menu

Once upon a time, on a busy Halloween afternoon, a harried mama (me) pulled some hotdogs out of the refrigerator to boil up for a quick Halloween supper before the kids headed out on their candy hunt.

On a moment's inspiration, I remembered hearing somewhere that if you cut a hotdog like this

and this...on both ends...

(just be sure to leave the middle uncut)

and then boil them up, the little "legs" curl up like an octopus...or a SPIDER!

I grabbed a marking pen and a piece of paper, and made a quick menu, which I taped to the lamp above the dining table:

Spiders with Blood
Ghost Soup
Transylvanian Trees
Invisible Juice

Just that quickly, a tradition was born, and we've been eating hotdogs with ketchup, clam chowder, broccoli, crackers, and water on Halloween ever since.

This year, I've decorated the front door with a cute little Halloween banner that I got for free here.

This was really easy. I made it in 20 minutes this morning. I printed mine on card stock.

We'll go over to the church tonight for the "Trunk or Treat" in the church parking lot. Everyone parks their cars--trunks in--in a big circle. We decorate our trunks and hand out candy to the little ones who make the rounds.

Tomorrow night we'll give candy to any ghosts and ghouls who come our way, along with "pass-along "cards to their parents, with a toll-free number to call and get a free DVD on how to have more fun with the family. If you'd like the DVD but you can't come to my house for candy, you can click here or call 1-888-537-3377.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aw, Gee...

Someone in my school district posted the nicest thing on the district web page.

It's about me!

I was really touched. They said such nice things.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Favorite Son

I always told David he was my favorite son. Of course, he was my only son until I remarried and gained 2 awesome stepsons and then my daughters all married and I gained 6 fabulous sons-in-law.

Still, David has a special place in my heart, and I just want to commemorate that special moment, 27 years ago today, when I looked down at his tiny, slippery, brand-new body and said...

"It's a boy???"

In those pre-ultrasound days, I just assumed, after 3 wonderful daughters, that another sister was coming to join the family. Nope. It was a boy!!!

Boys are different, in their own wonderful way. David was my one and only chance to get that figured out, and he made sure to teach me how to raise a boy right from the very beginning.

Now he is a dad, and I love watching David with his son and daughter. He and Holly definitely share the parenting duties with their two adorable kids, and it's obvious that David loves it. It's a wonderful thing to watch your own baby take care of his babies.

So, to my once-upon-a-time favorite son: Happy Birthday! I love you and I am so proud of you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gluten Free - a great new resource

My stepdaughter has started a new blog to let others benefit from her gluten-free wisdom.

She has 4-year-old twins, both of whom cannot eat anything with gluten, due to celiac disease.

Her blog is informative and friendly. Check it out here, and be sure to share the link with anyone you know who is living the gluten-free lifestyle!

One thing I love about this blog is the emphasis on helping families live gluten-free without feeling "deprived." Hop on over and join my sweet grandchildren and their parents on their healthy gluten-free journey!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Trail

Hiking the east end of the Salmon River Trail this afternoon...

Math lesson: If you hike for 2 hours, and take nearly 10,000 steps, how far will you hike?
Answer: about 4 miles

The air smelled so fresh it made me smile to be out there. I had to take my own (slightly dorky) photo because I was hiking solo this afternoon. That's ok. You can see that I'm happy to be hiking.
To "fun guy" had to stay home and grade papers. Progress report grades are due by Monday.

(Get it? Fungi?? What a tired old joke that one is!)

4 creek crossings...
...x 2 on the way back to the trailhead.

This was the only one with a little bridge.

Sometimes I splashed daintily across the creeks like this:

Oh, the lovely
   lovely autumn colors...

I like to hike fast fast fast through the bracken ferns.

So much you feel like you are out on the trail with me?

I was solitary and quiet. The only sounds were the wind in the trees, the rushing creeks, and the chirpings and flutterings of the winged folk. 


I saw lots of trees that host pileated woodpeckers.

Never saw the woodpeckers, just their tidy square holes.

Time to head home...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coming Up For Air

Just a short post. This is one of those weeks where I can hardly take time to breathe. I'm getting better about saying "no" to too many commitments, but this week...


It's just the October vortex, I guess.

Today the Statistics teacher told me this interesting factoid:
October 2010 will have...
...5 Fridays
...5 Saturdays
...5 Sundays
And this configuration only happens in October once every 823 years!

I'm sure that explains this week. I'm presenting 5 different trainings to teachers this week. That's five different topics to prepare, and I spend 2-3 times as more time on the prep than on the presentation itself. I'm also attending a 3-hour regional meeting in Portland one afternoon, and administering the state reading test to 75 kids on the very day that the state opens up the test website...hope the test system doesn't have any bugs this year...

It's way too much to cram into one week, but there are good reasons why they all had to happen this week, and they're all part of my job description. None of them are weekly, and only one of them is a monthly commitment, so it's just a coincidence that they're all happening in the same week. (I wonder what the odds are? How many more years before these particular events line up like this again?)

I'm not complaining. I love my job. This week, I'm just paddling as hard as I can to keep my head above water, swimming hard, trying to keep my head above the vortex.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wacky Wednesday

Friday night is the Homecoming Game at Oregon City High School, which means that this week is..... Spirit Week! Oh boy! How do you show that you are true to your school? By dressing strangely all week, of course.

Today was Wacky Wednesday. Mr. Haynie and I were in the spirit of things.
And...we weren't the only fun-loving, spirited teachers. Oh, my, no. Here are a few more wacky colleagues from our office area.

Mr. Kline may not look so wacky to you, dear readers, but if you understand that he is wearing one of Mr. Haynie's vests from Guatemala--hahahaha--then you can understand just how truly "out of the box" Mr. Kline was today. Yesirree, they don't come much wackier than the teachers in Office B200.

The funniest reactions I got all day were from people noticing my socks. It was funny to watch their faces. They would see me and give me a little grin, and then their eyes would go down towards my feet, and they would get this flicker of an odd expression on their faces. Like...Really?? She's wearing that?? Made me realize that people probably scan me from head to toe all the time, but because I usually look "put together," there isn't that swift glance of scorn that crosses their faces...

It also made me realize how much we do try to look "put together" every day, and what a funny spoof it is on life to have a wacky dress-up day, where we deliberately break the codes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Stitch at a Time...

Once upon a time, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, I bought a set of pillow cases to embroider. When I was a girl, these were a common item to purchase, available at any dime store. (That would be back in the day when dime stores were common, too, and when they actually sold things that cost a dime...) It turned out that I had to do quite a bit of looking to find my pillow cases. They aren't such a popular thing to make any more, I guess. I finally found a pair, stamped with a cross-stitch rose pattern, and I thought they would be a lovely thing to keep my hands busy in front of the television. I purchased the embroidery floss and tucked them into a craft bag next to the sofa.

But if you know me, you know that I don't watch very much television. There are all kinds of mind-numbing reasons why I don't enjoy most of what is offered, but it's not all the TV's fault; I, too, am partly to blame. Although I can sit and read or sew or write for a length of time, I get restless quickly in front of the TV. I am almost never "sucked in" to shows or movies. As you can imagine, progress on the pillow cases has been slow.

In fact, the only time I regularly work on those pillow cases is during General Conferences of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. During the first weekend of April and October, unlike any other weekend of the year, I sit and watch eight hours of television. I am glued to the TV those weekends, as the church leaders, who I sustain as divinely inspired and called as modern-day prophets, come into my living room and bless my life with words that sustain and nourish me. I wouldn't miss it for anything.

But I'm still me, and so, having the handwork of the pillow cases keeps me a little more focused as I sit and soak up their words of life and truth. Just today, I read an email from one of my daughters, who wrote to me saying, "I hope that you are having a great weekend and are enjoying conference...are you working on your pillow case this weekend, the one that you work on every conference? That is what you are doing, right?" Ahh, they know me so well. Yes, honey, that's right.

This afternoon I will finally finish the first pillow case in the set. I have no idea how many hours it has taken, but I think it's lovely, and perhaps, in another five years or so, I will have the pair of them on my bed, to remind me of the joy in making lovely things. And even more than that, to remind me of the joy of hearing living words of nurture in faith, right here in my own home, a gift and blessing from God.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Squirrel Story

Here's a little story from my solo backpacking trip back in 2008. I composed it this week to use as a writing example with my high school literature class. I hope you enjoy it!
Kathy Creek - Jackpot Meadow

Coming Home to Kathy Creek

            “Oh, come one—I’m just trying to hang my food bag,” I coaxed the squirrel. His beady eyes glared down at me, and he cussed me out again for throwing a rock at his tree. Standing there beneath that tall cedar tree at the edge of Jackpot Meadow, I started to aim again for the branch, but a sudden glint of light caught my eye, and I took a step closer, peering carefully through the bushy undergrowth at the tree’s base.
I had left Timothy Lake about 10:00 that morning, hiking all day without talking to another human. About noon I had reached the trail junction that pulled me off the Pacific Crest Trail, over a small ridge to Jackpot Meadow. Now, a little after 3:00 in the afternoon, standing in a campsite at the side of the meadow, my feet hurt. I had hiked nearly 40 miles in four days by this time, and I needed to rest. I dropped my 40-pound backpack and surveyed the site.
            According to the topographic map, the nearest creek was about a mile away, and my water bottles were nearly empty. I dreaded having to hike another mile—and one more back to camp—for water, but told myself the sooner I got the water, the sooner I’d be done with the chore. At least I didn’t have to haul my full backpack with me, as long as I hung the food bag in a tree to keep it away from any critters that might drop by while I was down at the creek.
            Which brought me to the cranky squirrel. To hang a food bag, you tie one end of a line to the bag, and the other end of the line around a fist-sized rock, and then you throw the rock over a tree branch and haul the bag up to the branch. It’s easy if you can throw a rock, which I can’t, but so what? I had nothing else to do all afternoon. Across the campsite from where my tent was pitched, a tall cedar tree promised to be the perfect spot to hang the food.
            Or so I thought. But the lively, noisy squirrel disagreed with me. I am sure he was cursing me in squirrel language. That cedar tree was his tree, and he did not want me throwing my rock at his branch! I tried assuring him that I was a trustworthy, loyal scout, but he wasn’t buying it. He continued to fuss and scold, and it was while I was standing there, peering up and through the branches of cedar, toward the meadow beyond, that I caught a sudden, sparkling glint off the meadow.
            I peered more intently through the branches, where I saw, right next to my campsite, a tiny little trickle of stream, sparkling and clear, but so small it didn’t even make a gurgle as it wound its way through the green grasses of the meadow. Water!
            Laughing, I thanked the irritable squirrel, and pulled the water filtering pump out of my backpack. The water was fresh, cold, and delicious, and I didn’t have to take a step out of my camping area. I filled my water bottles, thankful that I didn’t have to hike another mile or two for water that afternoon.
            That tiny creek didn’t have a name—it wasn’t even marked on my map!—so I named it Kathy Creek. That was my last night alone in the woods, but I felt safe and loved. It’s a big world, and my family was far away, but I had the stars and a spunky squirrel to keep watch through the night. That night, I lay alone in my tent, out there in the woods at Jackpot Meadow, miles away from any other human. I was solitary, but not lonely; on my own, but not afraid. I breathed deeply and drifted into sleep, at home in the woods next to Kathy Creek.