Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Learning a New Way to Hike

Mark and I hiked to Angels Rest today, in the Columbia River Gorge. What a beautiful hike! The trail is 2.3 miles to the top, with an elevation gain of 1500 feet. This was perfect, as we need to be training on hills for our August hike up Mount St. Helens.

We set out this morning at 10:00 am. The temperature was cool and enjoyable for hiking.  Most of the trail is in the shade, but we enjoyed the sun on the talus slopes.

We took this shot when the trail came out from the trees for a bit. That's Angels Rest up at the top of those rocks! We still have a ways to go.

Back under the trees, we saw this fellow - a Banana Slug as long as my hand! Hooray for the rainy Northwest. :)

Lots of wildflowers in bloom. In addition to this iris, we saw columbine, sweet pea, wild rose, larkspur, white & yellow daisies, penstemon, and tiger lilies.

Stopping for a break - you can see how shady the trail is. Sorry - the angle is a little strange because we set the timer, with the camera on a nearby rock.

Getting closer to the top - that's the Columbia River below us, and Washington across the river.

Here's the top of Angels Rest. We stopped and ate lunch here. We could see Mt. Adams (in Washington) from here, and Mark included it in the photo, but the mountain is kind of mixed in with the clouds because it's high enough to be covered in snow. It's way off there in the upper right-hand corner of the photo. Trust me!

A photo of my handsome hiking buddy, with the river and Washington in the background.

Another shot of us on the top of Angels Rest, looking toward Portland. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can barely see some buildings in the far distance. That's Portland.

I took this photo while we were eating lunch. We had a great perch on the edge! That's the toe of my shoe in the bottom center of the photo, and from there it's a steep 1500' drop down to the river level. The swallows were swooping and diving beneath us, skimming the tops of the Douglas firs below.

After lunch we relaxed a bit, then headed back down the trail. And on the hike down, I learned to do something I have never been good at: hiking downhill!

It's hard to appreciate how cool this is, if you're not a middle-aged hiker with iffy knees. Usually, even though I pick my way carefully down the trail, my knees start hurting before I get to the bottom, and they ache for the next couple of days. It's actually more uncomfortable for me to hike downhill than uphill -- downhill is much harder on the joints.

Until today.

On the way up, Mark mentioned that he had been trying to use his glutes to help with the uphill climb, and I told him I had been doing that, too. From taking yoga, and doing the Curves workouts, I am learning to pay more attention to specific muscle areas in my body.

Well, on the way down, Mark was hiking behind me at one point, and he said, "Use your large muscles." I thought to myself, how can I use my glutes when I'm going downhill?

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I was taking l-o-n-g steps, making sure to use my glute muscles to extend my stride. In order to make that work, I had to suck in my belly button, which shifted my center of gravity just a little.

All of a sudden, going downhill was so much easier! And faster! And because I was taking longer steps, I was taking fewer steps, which meant less wear and tear on my joints! Wow!!!

Three hours later, I'm still not sore. Just a little tired. And I can't wait for my next hike with Mark!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thesis Update: Week 3

Wrote on 5 different days this week. We had a lot going on with Julia and kids moving out, but I am pleased to report that I met my goal for the week. 

Week 3 stats:

Number of words this week: about 7,275
Number of pages this week: 22
Number of total pages this summer: 60

Goal for the coming week: at least 85 pages by the end of the week.
(ie - I need to write 25 pages this week.)

Goal by Sept 1: 200 pages
140 to go!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Relay for Life

Today was the Relay for Life here in Oregon City. Mark and I went to it last year for the first time, just 3 weeks after he had surgery for prostate cancer.

Tonight we went over to see the luminaria lit up around the track. It was very beautiful and moving.

Mark's luminaria says, "Let's go hiking!"
The ones for my aunt and uncle say, "Mary Anne Kenney, beloved aunt," and "Bill Kenney, always irascible." Uncle Bill died about 18 months ago, and Aunt Mary Anne died a year ago last week. They were very dear to me, and I miss them and think of them often.

It was a good feeling to find the luminaria I had made for Mark, Aunt Mary Anne, and Uncle Bill. There were so many of the little paper bag lanterns. They stretched all the way around the track!

Mark and I walked the track a couple of times, and reflected on the past year, and how blessed we are to have him be a cancer survivor, and not a sad statistic.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Got Milk?

Need a chuckle this morning?

Hop on over to my son David's Funny Clean Videos blog and enjoy the Milk Rap.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Tutorial: How to Climb a Tree

Sarah shows her technique for getting started on the oak tree.
Hook legs over a low branch.

Pull your upper body over the branch.

Get vertical!

Kat decides to join the fun.

Come on up, Grandma!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Did I offend...

...with my post about socks?

Please know that if you are a sockless devotee, you have my respect for whatever footwear choices you make. My comments only apply to me.

No one made any comments, so now I'm nervous...

Thesis Update: Week 2

I maintained a fairly steady pace of about 1 hour of writing most days.

This week I wrote on 6 different days.

The stats:

Number of words this week: about 7,275
Number of pages this week: 23.5
Number of total pages this summer: 38

Goal for this week: at least 60 pages by the end of the week.

Goal by Sept 1: 200 pages
Just 161 to go!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Call me a goofball if you like, but there is something so satisfying about matching up socks with their mates, folding the tops down over to marry them into a pair, and tucking them in tidy rows in a drawer. I have heard of people who toss their socks willy-nilly into a drawer without even matching them up, but that person would not be me.

Today I helped my daughter, a busy mother of 4, go through the Orphan Sock Basket and match up long-lost partners. When we were finished, there were still about 25 singletons left--all sizes, from her tiny one-year-old daughter through her school age-kids and up to her 6' + husband--and since she is moving, and all the laundry was current, we decided it was time to let the orphan socks go. (I know there are lots of craft projects one can do with orphan socks, but 1) this daughter isn't crafty, and 2) she's moving, remember.) Still, even though I knew it was hopeless, it made me a little sad to dump them in the trash.

I like socks. I do not hold at all with the current fashion of wearing shoes without socks. It seems so...naked to have bare feet inside shoes. Don't people get sore feet when they eliminate socks? Don't their shoes get all stinky inside?

I especially love love love love good hiking socks. They are comfortable and they keep my feet nice when I'm out hiking. The best feeling in the world is to change socks halfway through a long hike on a hot sweaty day. Ohhhhh.......heavenly! Wearing good socks when I'm out hiking can make the difference between nasty blisters and no blisters. Good socks make my feet happy!

Maybe I would be more flexible about going sockless if I didn't have such bony feet. One time I was snowshoeing with my friend Liberty, who is a physician's assistant. She sees lots of feet, I guess. I stopped halfway through our outing to change my socks (ohhhh....heavenly!) and she noticed my feet. "Oh," she said, "you're one of those people with interesting feet."

She was just being polite. I have a bunion on one foot, hammer toes on both feet, a bone that sticks up too much on the top of one foot. To put it bluntly, I have bony, slightly misshapen feet. But I love them anyway. They take me to such wonderful places! I wear a pedometer every day, and I write my daily steps in my journal every night. I know, that's strange. I don't know why I record my steps every day--maybe because it's concrete evidence that I went somewhere that day under my own power, and did things. In any case, in all the doing and stepping, I prefer to do it with socks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Too Wet!

June is breaking rain records in Portland. I'm ready for sun!!!

But then I guess it's better than what eastern Oregon had today...

Nephite or Lamanite?

Here's Mark, all ready to head out for our stake youth conference, which has a Book of Mormon theme this year. It's set up similar to the Trek experience our youth had 2 summers ago, with the kids organized into families and adult leaders in each group. The rest of the adults are helping out in the kitchen - they are mostly going to stay out of the way of the youth - but they still have to bring costumes for when there will be large crowd scenes. Will Mark be a Nephite or a Lamanite? I guess I'll find out Saturday night.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thesis Update

I started working on my thesis on Wednesday night.

This week I wrote on 4 different days.

The stats:

Number of words this week: about 4,000
Number of pages this week: 14.5
Number of total pages: 14.5

Goal by Sept 1: 200 pages
Just 185.5 to go!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sunshine and Self-Portraits

Our long-awaited sunshine has finally arrived! It's supposed to last for many glorious days.

What am I doing inside on the computer, when I could be outdoors soaking it up??? This will be a quick post.

You have to admit, all that rain did make the yard really green.
And the roses in our yard are right on schedule with Portland's Grand Floral Rose Parade today.
But the garden is a little too soggy. The plants really need the sunshine!
The lavender didn't care - it's popping its flowers right on schedule.
Come on, bees!

This morning over on The Skinny I wrote about 43 goals I've made for the summer. One of them was to learn how to take better self-portraits with my little camera. So as long as I was out taking photos of the sunshine, I decided to try a few self snaps. Before I started shooting, I picked up some tips from this website--funny but good advice.

Hahaha! I'll spare you the 18 dorky shots. But the 19th shot, when I was saying, "Hello Grandkids" to the camera, finally yielded this:
Not bad for a middle-aged grandma!
Hello, grandkids!
Hello, summer!

Last day of school yesterday, sunshine today, starting out on some summer goals...I am really ready for summer!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I got to playing with Blogger's new "design" features this evening.

Like my new summer look? I was ready for a change.

Tomorrow is the last day of school! And we're supposed to have sunshine, starting on Saturday, after weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks of rain.

Oh, I can hardly wait for summer!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

100 Days - Take 2

Last year on June 11 I wrote about setting goals for the next 100 days.

I don't think I accomplished any of them. All of them were in the "nice to do" category, but I never made myself accountable for them.

On the other hand, I have had a more recent, and more successful, goal-setting experience:
It has been 129 days since January 1, 2010. In those 129 days, I have:
     1. Lost 15 pounds - about 3 pounds/month.
     2. Exercised 4x per week. Every week. Some weeks more.
     3. Trained for and completed a half-marathon (walking).
     4. Eaten (mostly) healthy meals.


I was able to accomplish those goals because I was accountable on The Skinny, the blog my daughter and I write to help us with our weight-loss goals.

Now that it's nearly the end of the school year, I'd like to make myself accountable here for some writing goals. I met with my PSU advisor today about the outline for my thesis, which for my nonfiction writing MFA degree, will be a 120-ish page book. I need to be writing on it all summer, so that I have drafts of over 1/2 of it ready to polish at the end of the summer.

I know from experience that to produce 120 pages of polished writing, I will need to initially produce 300-400 pages of drafts. This evening I wrote for almost 90 minutes, and I produced 4 pages of writing (1100 words).

So my goal is to write for 1 hour every day for 100 days. That's dedicated writing time: no internet, no phone calls, no meals, no errands or chores or other distractions. And I plan to be accountable: I'll post my weekly writing totals with a Sunday post here on "Finding My Way" each week. Because for me, accountability works.

I'll keep you posted! What are your plans for the next 100 days?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wedding Bells

Our newest daughter, Maleena, was married to Max Burns on Saturday. After weeks of rain, the sun broke through for a beautiful day! We don't have the photos from the photographer yet, but here are a few informal pics I took. The wedding was simple and beautiful, and the reception turned out just the way she wanted it. It was wonderful to have so many family members join us for the happy, happy day.

The cute little Pioneer Oaks Chapel where they were married in Portland. Sorry for the crooked angle - I was hurrying to cross the street when I snapped it. There's Mark holding Katie's hand in front of me.
Waiting to enter the chapel - holding her train. 
The bridesmaid facing the camera is Maleena's cousin, Amanda.

Nate and Mark. Mark is holding Blake (Nate's son). Blake was one of the ring bearers. The other ring bearer was Landon, Amanda's son. Neither one of them knew they were supposed to walk down the aisle when the time came, even though their mothers were both bridesmaids and beckoning to them. So cute!

Maleena and Max with parents and grandparents after the ceremony.

My mom and me. Don't we look great? 
We didn't even plan to have our dresses so nicely coordinated!

Maleena and Max at the reception. So happy!

David and Polly 

Three dear friends who gave up a sunny Saturday to help in the kitchen! 
Thank you so much Leslee, Bonnie, and Dorothy.

Eric and Polly and their darling children.

We had fun setting up the day before, too...
Grandpa Mark with Blake and Maddy

Kendra flew in all the way from Kansas. 
She was amazing! Thank you, Kendra!

Nate was amazing, too! Great job on the wedding video.

Ashley and Holly - two new babies on the way!

We wore Mark out.

Congratulations, Maleena and Max! We are so happy for you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do we live in a great country or what?

Yesterday was my court appearance for my traffic ticket on April 7. I was feeling nervous because:

1. I am so pathetically well-behaved (or so everyone thinks!) and I almost never get in trouble. I was so ashamed to be in court on the naughty end of the stick. I know that's's only a traffic ticket for a minor violation, but I was edgy because I so did not want to be there.

2. It was in downtown Portland in the middle of the day, I wasn't sure to where to park, was afraid I'd get lost, etc. Again, pathetic. I am 56 years old, and even though I don't drive in Portland every day (thank goodness!), I do know my way around.

So, I did what anyone in my situation would do: dressed extra-nice-and-professional, and then left Oregon City 10 minutes later than I'd planned, so I was anxious the whole way there. So of course then I was driving a little over the speed limit, and thinking how stupid it would be to get another ticket on my way to court for the first one.

My first ticket! In 40 years of driving! Rats.

Didn't get stopped, found a place to park right away, didn't get lost between the parking garage and the courthouse, and then...a line. A long line. We had to get through courthouse security to even get into the building, and I was due on the 6th floor in eight minutes!!

I had visions of running up to the door just as it was being locked, and they wouldn't let me in. All that worry, and it didn't do me any good. Stood there in the long, slow line and worried some more.

Then a guy selling alternative newspapers outside the courthouse door pointed out that there was another entrance open. A few people changed to the new, shorter line. Should I risk it? Only four minutes left, so I switched lines, too. Only to see a sign that marked it as "employee entrance only." Aggh! A few more people joined the line behind me. No one seemed worried about the employee sign. I asked the man in front of me if he was an employee, and he said no. The woman in front of him turned to us and said that they often opened the employee line to the public right after lunch to help ease the crowding as everyone tried to get back into the courthouse. Whew!

Through the line, up to the 6th floor, right exactly on time to the minute.

The door was locked. We waited outside Room 602 for a good five minutes, and then when we were able to enter, we still sat around and waited for nearly half an hour.

I should have brought a book!

All of us naughties were seated in the audience area. No one talked much. Faces pretty serious; we were all a little on edge.

The policemen began coming in - 5 or 6 of them. They were relaxed and joking. I recognized the officer that pulled me over back in April. One of the other officers asked him how he was doing, and my officer replied, "Pretty good, with the little God gave me." He grinned.

Then the officers began calling out names of the naughties. Nothing formal about it, just every few minutes another name was called. My officer called the name of the woman next to me, and asked to see her license. He checked off some paperwork. Then he called my name. I asked if he wanted to see my license, and he said no, just this--pointing to the paperwork in my hand from the "Share the Road" driving class I attended in May.

He took my Share the Road certificate, and told me the charges would be dismissed. All I had to do was wait for the judge to call my name.

More officers called names. Some naughties in their early twenties, one in his 60s, arguing politely with his officer. A couple of attorneys floating around, one of them flirting a little with the smart-looking young woman who turned out to be the Russian translator for a naughty named Sergei.

Finally, at 2:00, the judge came in, and we all rose, and he told us to be seated. He called names. When he got to mine, my officer said "short matter," and then after a couple more names, my officer gave me a wink, and motioned me out the door.

That was it. No one made me feel guilty or stupid. I didn't have to explain why I went straight when I should have turned left. I wasn't embarrassed in front of a bunch of strangers. It wasn't like any courtroom I'd ever seen on tv. No accusations, no drama. It was just...simple.