Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The End

Tonight is the end of NaBloPoMo 2011. It will be nice to blog at a more leisurely pace again, but I will miss some blog friends who post at a really leisurely pace for 11 months out of the year... (Anna, you know who I'm talking about.)

One of the fun things about committing to post every day for a month is discovering the topics for posts as you go along. Mark and I were chatting about this the other day, and I told him it was a good reminder to me to trust in stories. The stories are all around us. Why do people like to read blogs? Because we like stories. Commitments like NaBloPoMo force me to pay more attention to the everyday stories that happen every day, to be a closer observer of life.

Also, tomorrow night will be THE END of my PSU classes! It's the last class of the last class!

I will still have to finish my thesis (maybe by June???) for the MFA in Writing, but no more weekly drives into Portland for 4-hour classes. I've been taking the night classes almost every term for six years, so I'm feeling rather jolly about this milestone.

I'm trying to think of something else to write in this post, but I'm distracted by 1) the term paper I need to finish before tomorrow night's class and 2) my eyelids that keep heading south.

So goodnight, dear blog friends.

The End.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to (Almost) Write a Chapter

I feel really lucky that my literature professor at PSU allows students to write  a creative piece that ties into the literature in some way for our final paper. This is as opposed to a traditional literary analysis paper. I met with her a couple of weeks ago to talk through ways that some of my thesis writing might work for this final project. Classic way to kill two birds with one stone. (Sorry, birds.)

I haven't posted a thesis update here in a long time. I've been stuck on the thesis for several months, but this end-of-term for my literature class is a great motivation. I hope this will help me push through my writer's block so I can get going againg.

Have I mentioned before how daunting it is to write in "the long form"? (Not that essays, short stories, and poems aren't also daunting, but a 120-page thesis is, well, longer. And harder.  At least for me.)

Several days ago I went back through some old drafts for ideas, and realized that I really liked a lot of what was in the old drafts. I started printing out pages to see what I could pull from the older drafts for this newer draft. Then I cut the sections apart in the older drafts. Then I pinned each section on the wall to see what I had. Like this:
So far what I could see was a lot of different little pieces of the story. I had hoped that the writing fairy would "prang" me on the head at this point, and that the chapter organization would suddenly become clear, but it didn't.

I carried all the pieces around for a couple of days. Reread them. Wondered what I was going to do with them.

This morning I woke up extra-early. Thought of some lines in the middle of the mish-mash that might serve as a starting place. Came downstairs and started laying the pieces out on the table.

Low and behold, the mish-mash jigsaw puzzle resolved itself into three columns plus some left-over sections off to the right there, which I'll save for later or eventually recycle.

Then the three sections, plus a couple of transitions between them, morphed into one l-o-o-o-n-g piece. It took up the entire diagonal length of the living room!

Woo hoo! A structure! Maybe. Now I'm going through refining, fine-tuning, deleting a paragraph here and a paragraph there. Some of the sections have big (writing) gaps between them. They need some transition work. Maybe. Maybe they're beyond hope.

Can I get it finished in time for Thursday night's class? Plus a page or so of analysis and comparison to the literature we read for the course? Hmmm...time (not much of it left) will tell...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Goals Update

Last week I set some goals for myself. If you're interested in an update, read on!

Write 1 page of thesis per day: So-so. I wrote 3 pages. Better than 0.

10 minutes of weight-lifting: So-so. Yes on 3 days. But I did feel stronger at my yoga class tonight.

20 minutes on the exercise bike: I only got on the exercise bike for 20 minutes one day, and 10 minutes the next. So it was kind of a fail. But I also went to yoga once, walked a mile with Mark through Singer Creek Park (hilly terrain), worked in the garden for an hour, and did the Huff and Puff Before You Stuff. So overall, I think it's fair to say that I met this goal.

Kiss Mark and least 3 times per day: Believe it or not, I was so-so on this one, too. Some days there was more romance in the air, but other days were pretty much the same as back before I set the goal. It surprised me that this goal was difficult to meet. I mean, I love this guy, and I spend a lot of time with him! However, just setting the goal was definitely a WIN. For one thing, Mark and I had several good chuckles, and that's always a plus. For another, we DO kiss more often now, and we mean it more when we kiss. So setting this as a goal has had a good influence on helping me get out of my rut.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mormon grandma in a hip Portland cafe

Tonight I went to the once-a-month literary reading for students in Portland State University's MFA (master of fine arts) program. It's held at a cafe in NW Portland. Called "Backspace." Pretty literary, huh?
I borrowed this cool sketch of Backspace Cafe from this website.

When you get inside the cafe, it's all cool and hip and Portlandish, with a low stage area and a microphone. I was too intimidated to look around to see if there was anyone else in the 57ish age range. Everyone around me was early 30-something. Dressed in hip, cool, Portlandish fashion. Sleek jeans and boots with high heels and bulky sweaters. I was still wearing my church dress with nylons and a little freshwater pearl necklace. Get the picture?

Can you say out of place?

Who cares?

For once, not me, at least not much. I was determined to do this.

I signed up two weeks ago via email to read. I had my 6 pages of thesis manuscript printed out, ready to go. And I had already decided, while driving the 30 minutes into Portland, that I didn't care if I looked like a middle-aged Mormon grandma. That's what I am.

Before I left, Mark asked me why I wanted to read. It's hard to put into words. It's not about attention. It's not about gaining respect from a group of writing peers. Everyone else there was in the Fiction MFA program, and I quite likely will not see them again (unless I go to more of these readings). For me, this reading was more about using my voice to articulate the hard things I am trying to write with my thesis. To say it.

Mark listened to me read my pages last night. Tonight he was tired and opted to stay home, which was fine, because I kind of needed to just go and do this thing on my own. It was raining really hard all the way into Portland. Dark. About halfway there, I started crying. I don't know--it was a mixture of feeling brave and vulnerable and determined and awkward all at the same time. I gave myself a little talking-to and kept driving.

Funny moment - when I found the cafe and a nearby parallel parking spot on the street and managed to slip into it very nicely, thank you, I realized that the parking meters do still work at that time on night on Sunday evenings. Oops. I had exactly 60¢ change with me. I put all my change in the meter and it flashed "23 minutes" at me. For a two-hour reading. In a 90-minute parking zone. I threw caution to the winds and hoped the parking meter goddess would be kind. Do the meter readers really give tickets on rainy Sunday evenings?

I don't remember anything from the first two readings. I was the third one. Yes, the experience validated something within me, something about raising my voice, sharing my voice. I didn't care that no one else was wearing a dress that came below their knees, with nylon stockings. I didn't care that everyone else was reading fiction. I didn't care that I wasn't in on the inside jokes among all the Fiction MFA people who have class together all the time. I was just me, and that was fine.

After I sat down, I was able to enjoy the other readings. There were some fine pieces, stories that are still resonating in my this evening. I am glad I was able to share in their stories. I hope they were glad to share in mine.

And a lovely treat - during the intermission, a former classmate (from a nonfiction writing class) came and chatted with me for the entire intermission. I had a friend in the audience I hadn't even known about!

The event broke up a little before 7:00 pm. The rain had stopped. And I didn't have a parking ticket.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fat Albert's Christmas Star

This is Fat Albert. I didn't make up his name. That's what his tag said when we bought him at the nursery in spring of 2007. (He's the fat little evergreen on the left.)

Fat Albert has grown a lot! 
Here is a photo of Fat Albert today, 4 1/2 years after he began his sojourn in our yard on Laurel Lane.

This morning I noticed that Fat Albert is getting into the Christmas spirit. 
He's added a maple leaf star to the top. He's quite the festive yard resident.
Happy Holiday season to everyone, from Fat Albert!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cornish game hens

Here's a little excerpt from some of my recent thesis-writing attempts. It is set in the spring of 1990, when I was still fairly new as an Assistant Scoutmaster for the 11-year-old Boy Scouts at my church. As a Mormon woman, I wasn't really supposed to go on the overnight campouts, but no one had specifically forbidden me to come along...and so I did...

            The BSA rules were clear: “two-deep leadership” was required at all times, even for our weekly meetings at the church, and especially when we were out in the woods. But since BSA had only recently made it possible for women to serve as Assistant Scoutmasters, there were no gender rules yet about who those “two-deep” people had to be. The Church, however, did have rules about gender. While the handbook, at that time, did not specifically forbid women from camping with the Scouts (a more recent edition of the Mormon church’s Scouting Handbook does state that only men may camp with the Scouts), there was a general assumption that men would be the ones out camping with the boys.
            I squeaked in under the radar. In those early days of women holding leadership positions in Boy Scout troops, the Mormon Scouting rules were just vague enough to let a cagey woman slip through. Of course I always had two-deep leadership. But I always made sure that I was one of the leaders, even on the overnighters. After all, I had to go out with my boys. I was highly trained from Wood Badge, and my eleven-year-olds knew my rules and expectations. They always behaved better with me. Even more importantly, if someone else took them out into the woods, then I would still be stuck at home. And there were so many ways to creatively circumvent the rules.

            The district camporee is always held in the spring. Scout troops from all over the county join for a big campout where competitions are interwoven with ways to advance in rank. To a Boy Scout troop, going to the annual camporee is a big deal. I began talking it up with my eleven-year-olds in April; the camporee was scheduled at Metzler Park in May. They had to help plan the menus and then cook the food for part of their advancement.
            “Let’s have top ramen,” one of boys suggested. “That’s easy. I can cook it.”
            “No ramen,” I said.
            The boys looked at me, shocked. “Why not?” one of them asked.
            I had three scouts at the time. David F, Chris R, and Matthew L. Matthew was really in the other ward, but it’s no fun to have a Scout patrol with only one boy. The other Bishop had called my good friend, Lynne, to be the Assistant Scoutmaster over eleven-year-olds in her ward, so she and I combined our groups, which took care of two-deep leadership.
            “Ramen is too easy,” I said. “Not nutritious enough. Let’s cook something really good on the camporee.”
            They looked interested at this. Eleven-year-old boys are foodies, but their range is limited.
            “Macaroni and cheese?” one of the other boys suggested, to general assent.
            I rolled my eyes. “Are you kidding me?” I asked them. “You can eat macaroni and cheese anytime. Listen, I’m bringing my Dutch oven. You can use the Dutch oven and cook almost anything.”
            “Anything?” David asked.
            “Almost anything,” I said. I was thinking of camping staples: chili, stew, hamburgers…
            “Cornish game hens,” David said decisively. “With this sauce my mom makes with brown sugar and orange juice. And…”
            “Uh, I’m not sure we have a budget for Cornish game hens, David,” I hedged. This was suddenly out of my league. I had heard of Cornish game hens, but I had never made acquaintance with one in my own kitchen.
            “My mom has some in the freezer that we can use,” David said. He looked around at the other two boys in the patrol. He had their attention. “And I’ll get my mom’s recipe for the sauce.”
All three boys turned to Lynne and me. Lynne shrugged. “Well,” she said to me, “it can’t be that different from roasting a little chicken.”

On Friday afternoon Lynne and I and our three eleven-year-olds piled into the Vanagon for the drive out to Metzler Park for the camporee. Our troop--the whole group, including the twelve-to-sixteen-year-olds--were assigned a campsite together. Lynne and I had our boys set up their tent outside the main group of boys, and we pitched our tent just beyond theirs. 
We acted as if we were supposed to be there, and none of the male troop leaders said anything to us about our presence. A few other troops had women camped with them, too, but they were the non-Mormon troops. Maybe the men from our troop hadn’t read the manual. Probably they thought the Bishop had given us permission to be there, but Lynne and I were operating under the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy.
As soon as the tents were set up, I showed the boys how to start the briquettes for the Dutch oven. All around us, troops were heating up cans of soup or macaroni and cheese or top ramen. Our boys were very serious and solemn about tending the charcoal briquettes for the Dutch oven. David mixed his mother's brown-sugar-and-orange sauce
The only thing that drew any attention to us being there was the Dutch oven full of Cornish game hens. The scent of roasting poultry wafted through the evening air as dusk wrapped the campsites in a blanket of boy voices and wood smoke. When it was time for the Patrol Leader’s Council—an evening logistics meeting of the boy leaders and an adult to back them up—David took his mess kit with him, full of our savory meal. The Dutch oven had taken a little longer to heat up than I had planned, and he hadn’t finished his meal in time for the meeting. One of the older boys at the PLC asked him what he was eating, and when David told him, he earned admiring nods and comments from the seated group. I said nothing. It was fully dark now, and I doubt that anyone noticed my grin.

(If you have any feedback or suggestions for me, I would welcome your thoughts!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving on Laurel Lane

This morning I had to run to the store to pick up a few last-minute ingredients. I was intrigued to see what other people were buying on Thanksgiving morning. I saw people with bread and milk, roasting pans, things you would expect on a last-minute shopping trip on the biggest feasting day of the year.

But then I saw a guy walking out of the story carrying a...curtain rod? Hmmm...I guessed he and his wife were hosting Thanksgiving dinner and they had a bunch of people coming over and she made some new curtains that she wanted to have hung before everyone got there. Right? Why else would he have been walking out of the store with a curtain rod on Thanksgiving morning?

And then there was the guy in front of us in the checkout line. He was buying a steering wheel cover and floor mats for a car??? On Thanksgiving morning??? Was his car looking a little too cruddy...and maybe he had to transport someone picky, like maybe his mother, to Thanksgiving dinner somewhere, and he wanted his car to look a little better? Holly and Maleena both had a better idea (when I told them about this later)--they said he probably was on his way to a gathering where he would see someone that he was supposed to give a gift to, maybe a 16-year-old kid who just got his license or something. Sure, that made lots more sense.

So much for my shopping trip!

Mark and I joined up with the Jenson-May clan for their annual "Huff and Puff Before You Stuff" event at Clackamas Community College this morning. Here are a few photos. You can see a shot of the entire group on Dorothy's blog.

 I love Dorothy's new hat - she's been busy with her crochet hook lately!

My best hiking buddy ever.

Back at the house, we were pulling together all our different recipes for our special meal. Mixed results.

The turkey recipe with the apricot glaze was delicious. It was the best of the recipes we tried. And the roasted asparagus was yummy, but we've enjoyed that recipe several times before. 

On the other hand...
The dressing was good, but a little dry. The cranberry chutney was a little, um, strange. The bread pudding was runny, and the baklava...sadly...was soggy. 

Ah, me...

But the company was wonderful, and we had a happy Thanksgiving anyway. Arora started feeling better and made darling turkey handprint place mats for us. Mark and I were able to make visits to Maleena, Max, and Hunter in the afternoon, and then we went to see Julia and Scott in the evening. 

We had a happy day, and I hope that you did, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Random bits and pieces from the day...

Mark and I went for a walk. In the rain. Inside our cool rain gear. We LOVE rain gear. Came home wet on the outside and dry on the inside. Ahhhhhh...

Yellow leaves everywhere on the ground--a carpet of gold. The leaves are so pretty this year! We noticed that the sound of the rain is louder on the leaves than on the grass. That's if the leaves haven't started decomposing yet--if they're fresh leaves, then the rain sounds really cool on them.

Mark pointed out that the gold on the ground is last summer's sunshine. So true. Leaves and plants do such amazing things with sunlight! The studs and rafters and joists of my home--the bones of my house--are made out of sunshine. I live in a sunshine house.

Speaking of the rain, speaking of the house...we have a leak. Ugh. Same place as always, right alongside the skylight in the downstairs bathroom. Mark and I have agreed that the skylight has to go. And we can already tell that it's going to turn into one of those projects that is even more complicated than we think it's going to be ahead of time. Double ugh. We're hoping we can make it work until the weather is better...but we don't want the roofing timbers to rot in the meantime...ugh.

Remember a couple of days ago when I wrote about the simple little Thanksgiving meal Mark and I were going to have here at home, with just the two of us? Hahahaha. Yesterday at work, whenever someone asked me if we were hosting a big meal this year (they know we have a big family), I would say "We think it's just the two of us, but with our family, sometimes things change at the last minute." Ah, I know my family. This afternoon Arora started throwing up, so David and Holly will be staying here with the kids rather than going to Holly's parents' Thanksgiving gathering. We don't mind a bit, and it will seem more festive to have a celebration together...although I hope Arora is finished with her festive puking by the time we serve up Thanksgiving dinner. But do I know my family, or what?

I'm finished with my grading. Mark is getting close. (He teaches more classes than I do, so it always takes him longer.) Here's a funny comment I found on one of the finals I was grading. It's a writing class, and the question was something about reflecting on their writing over the term:

"Commas have always been the death of high school students."

Bwahahahahahahahaha...makes me laugh every time. Those poor dead high school students, stabbed by commas, bleeding on the classroom floor.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


When you search for "trimester" images on Google, you get hundreds of photos of pregnant bellies.

Ummm...that wasn't quite what I had in mind.

I teach at a high school on a trimester schedule. Instead of two 18-week semesters every year, there are three 12-week trimesters. The class periods are a little longer (70 minutes for trimester, 50 minutes for semester), so students have the same amount of instructional time for a given course in two trimesters that they would get in two semesters.

On a trimester schedule, students take 5 classes every day, and teachers teach 4 classes + a prep period. At a semester high school, students usually complete 6 credits per year. At a trimester high school, students complete 7 1/2 credits per year, which allows them to take more electives or make up classes if they fail something.

Gee, I'd like to be funny or clever, but I'm too tired. It's the end of the trimester. We gave finals yesterday and today. Tomorrow is our grading day. Hooray for the Thanksgiving holiday almost here! On Monday we'll go back to new students...aggghhhh!!!

So at the big blue house on Laurel Lane, here's what the end of the trimester looks like.

And because things look like this tonight...this is all I'm going to write!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ghost of Christmas Past

My lovely relative Anna posted some childhood photos today, which inspired me to give you...gems from Kathy's Childhood Christmases!

Christmas 1955, at my Jenkins grandparents' home in Sacramento.

The gal on the left is my mother (age 20), and on the far right is her sister-in-law, my Aunt Pat. My paternal grandmother, Grandma Jenkins, is in the middle.

What a cheery trio!

The baby on the left is me (age 18 months), and the toddler on the right is my cousin Marilyn, age 2.

Whew! That dizzy-making braided rug was all the rage in the early 50s.

Ride 'em, cowgirl! Here's me on Christmas morning in 1957, age 3 1/2.

Maybe it's a stretch, but don't you think I look just a little bit like my granddaughter, Olivia?

Check out those stylin' boots!

And the classy fit on the droopy-drawer jammies!

My mom is in the background, ignoring her darling daughter. Looks like she's ready to rip into another gift.

Check out the old-style carpet with the floral pattern. My family lived in an older home at the time...that carpet was pretty "old fashioned" for 1957. Wish I could have it in my house now!

I know many of you appreciate fine family photos for your Christmas cards. Here's a photo my parents took of my brother and me in 1957. (Still age 3 1/2 - same year as the cowgirl photo above.)

This is a darling photo, but it's made me mad for years. Who looks taller? My angelic little 2-year-old brother, Maury, of course. He's really shorter than me, but I'm cuddling the bear on my lap (note the bear's silk skirt). I'm not sure why I have the bear and Maury has the girl doll.

Check out Maury's shoelace shoes! No, velcro had not been invented yet. Can you imagine how many hours my mother spent tying shoes?'s a classic! My gentle maternal grandmother, Nana Holman, made matching Christmas pajamas for the cousins!  

The photo was taken Christmas 1958, when I was four years old, at my cousins' house in Alameda.

L to R: My cousins Mike (age 3), Karen (age 4), me (age 4), and my brother Maury (age 3).

No, Karen and I are not little devils. Those were kangaroo pajamas, thank you very much. They had a pouch in the front with a baby stuffed kangaroo inside. Mike and Maury had bunny rabbit jammies with a stuffed carrot attached. You can see the carrot on Mike's left chest. I don't remember how the carrots attached.

More about the bunny and kangaroo hats in a minute.

Actually, both of these pajama designs make me think of Max in Where the Wild Things Are.

Speaking of Christmas cards, here is a vintage 1959 DIY photo Christmas card. You bought these cards, and they had slots inside for sticking the photo into the card. This was the card my parents sent out the year I was five years old.

Here's the inside of the card. I think my parents chose this one because the cover illustration (kind of) matched the photo they were using. Get it?

My dad loved Jeeps. As in, old school Jeeps, not the SUV-Jeeps you see nowadays. No, we were hard core. We didn't bother with roofs, doors, seat belts, or even seats in the back.

Have adventure, will travel! Most of the time, the Jeeps kind of drove my mother a little crazy. But she's putting on a good smile for the Christmas card this year. She really is a good sport about a lot of things. Because she was (and is) nutso in love with my dad. He can aggravate her and charm her all in the same breath. And he wouldn't last more than about eight minutes without her. The greatest love story I know!

Here's another angle on the Jeep Christmas photo, where you can see our faces a little better. Don't you wish you could wear a hat like my mom and me? They had these scarf-tie things attached, to cover your ears and tie the hat on. Pretty neat. And pretty essential in an open Jeep.
And finally, these last three photos have the pajama-hat followup I promised you earlier. Remember the kangaroo pajamas? Well, this photo was taken in 1963--I am now nine years old--and I am still wearing the kangaroo pajama hat from 1958, when I was 4.

Mind you, I am wearing it perfectly nonchalantly, with my 9-year-old friends, as if sitting around and practicing the French horn in a kangaroo hat is a completely normal thing for a 9-year-old to do. I guess my head didn't grow much.
You'll want to note my mom and the family dog in the background of that first photo. She's bending over to do something, and the dog is taking advantage of her back being turned to check out what's on the table...

Don't you love the perky kangaroo ears? Don't you love these long braids? These were my two best friends in 4th grade. They were probably my only friends in 4th grade. I was kind of a loner. Kim Henzgen and Cindy Robertson. The 3 of us were practicing a trio to play at a school band concert.

And speaking of pajama hats, here's my brother...and the family dog again, hahaha! ...and he's still wearing his bunny hat, too. Man, we really loved those pajama hats. Take note, moms and grandmas, and make sure every child on your list has a pajama hat this year! Anyway, this is photo was taken in the same era, so he would have been about 8 years old.

And now, dear blog friends, it is getting late, so I leave you with this inspired image of my sweet little brother...who will always be my little brother, no matter how many birthdays he has! ...and wish you all sweet dreams, too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Three Kisses

I am in a rut.

It's not a bad rut.

I've joined Weight Watchers, which is going well. I am losing weight in a gradual, healthy way--which feels great--and the plan is pretty easy to follow. But I'm not getting enough exercise, and with colder weather on the way, I know my exercise-motivation-quotient is headed down the drain.

I am piddling around with my thesis. Pretending to accomplish something, but not really making much headway. And no one is bothering me about that, at least for now. But I have a 16-20 page chunk due the week after Thanksgiving, and I know I have to get serious about this.

And Mark and I are happy and contented middle-aged people. We get along fine, and life just keeps going along.

Like I say, I'm in a rut.

So yesterday I set some goals for this week.

Exercise: Ride the exercise bike for 20 minutes a day. Lift weights for 10 minutes a day.
This is do-able. I'm not committing to do it for a month, or the rest of the year, or the rest of my life.
Just one week. I started yesterday, and it felt so good to get my heart rate going and use my muscles. Of course, I'm giving myself a day off today since it's Sunday, but tomorrow I'm back on it again! (I was tempted to excuse myself from the exercising tomorrow since I have yoga class tomorrow night, but I don't want to let myself think I can make up an excuse for every day. So every day--except Sunday--it is.

Thesis: Write one page a day.
Again, this is do-able. It's not a chapter a day. It's not forever. I wrote a page yesterday. And I'll be writing another one today.

Relationship: Kiss Mark three (or more) times a day.
Haha! Does that sound silly? I set this goal because I realized that we had drifted into a pattern of just giving each other a good-night kiss on many days. It seems a little strange to think about because we are together ALL the time. We both teach at the same high school, we are assigned to the same teacher office, and some terms we even share the same classroom! (I teach in Mark's room during his prep period.) So you'd think we'd be plenty close enough. And we are, on an intellectual/thinking level. But you know, life just goes along, and before you realize it, you haven't checked in to make sure you're giving your sweetheart the attention he deserves. Did I meet the goal yesterday? Am I on track for today? Hahaha--are there bears in the woods?

So I made a little chart for myself and hung it up on my bedroom wall. I didn't mention it to Mark. But then a couple of hours later he found me in the kitchen and said, "You have a goal for kissing me?" And I said, "Sure, why not? We're in a rut. I think we need to kiss more often."

And he looked at me like I was nuts.

And then he kissed me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu

Plans have changed again for the kids who live nearby, and it looks like everyone will be in other places doing other things on Thanksgiving. Am I sad and blue about having a peaceful Thanksgiving celebration with just my sweetie and me?

Not on your life! I was excited to look through the recipes on the Weight Watchers website and find some delicious recipes for us to enjoy on Thursday. Here's the menu plan:

Apricot Glazed Turkey and Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Apple-Raisin Sourdough Stuffing
Pumpkin Cookies
Apple Pie Bread Pudding


Friday, November 18, 2011



Today is my 400th blog post!

Wow...that is so cool...let me just say that again...

Today is my 400th blog post!!!

In honor of this amazing milestone, I thought I'd offer a little mouse-click down memory lane. Here to make you oh-so-happy are a baker's dozen of my favorite posts since January 2009. They are in chronological order, from most recent to oldest...because (duh) that's how blogs work.

Thank you, Blogger, for a world where ordinary people can speak about the mundane and the miraculous. (And can I say it again, just for fun? 400 posts!!)

Sept 3, 2011

August 3, 2011

July 15, 2011

May 4, 2011

March 30, 2011

Nov 30, 2010

August 25, 2010

May 23, 2010

March 28, 2010

Feb 21, 2010

Nov 22, 2009

July 16, 2009

January 2, 2009

I don't know if any readers will care to click back through some of these older posts, but I sure had a lot of fun looking back through the archives! Happy Friday, dear blog friends.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


...I am losing both of my big toenails.

Again. Sigh.

This time it's from a hike back in June, when Mark and I hiked Eagle Creek with our friends Liberty and Jason.

Mark and Jason hiked to Punchbowl Falls and back. They relaxed and read back at the car while Liberty and I hustled all the way to Tunnel Falls and back.

Whew! Twelve miles roundtrip at a fast clip. I loved every minute of it.

I felt my toenails catch inside my boots when Liberty and I were hiking downhill.

Sure enough, last week my big toenails were both halfway off.

It doesn't hurt, although it sure isn't pretty.

And you know what? I'd do that hike again in a heartbeat, toenails or no.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Hi, I'm Kathy
I'm a wife, mother, and grandmother. I'm a teacher at my local high school. I love waking up every morning. I'm a Mormon.

Want to know more? Check out my profile at

I posted it a couple of months ago, and it just came live a week or so ago. I'm excited! It's fun to read the profiles of so many different, interesting people. It's easy to click from one profile to another.

I've noticed a bit more traffic here on the blog lately. I wonder if people are linking to me from

Is my profile too long and wordy? What do you think? Let me know!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Self Portrait

This week's homework for my PSU class: 
Look in the mirror and write a self-portrait. Try to include some nuance or essence of self.

I never did wear braces. My brother’s teeth were worse—his two front teeth met at a 45-degree angle smack in the middle of his grin—and my parents could only afford one contract with the orthodontist. I never minded much, especially after I watched my own children suffer through gouged lips, tender gums, and aching jaws. I am a little self-conscious about my teeth sometimes, but if you ask me, I will always deny it.

My father used to call me an ankle-biter. He said I wasn’t tall enough to reach much higher, but I was spunky enough to bite. I’m not that short. For years I said I was 5’2” to go with the song, “Five foot two, eyes of blue, hoochy koochy koochy koo, has anybody seen my gal?” But I’m really almost 5’3”, and since the extra inch tips the BMI calculator slightly in my favor, I claim it nowadays. As I balance on the teeter-totter middle point of middle age, I need every inch. My mother, after all, is beginning to grow shorter. It could happen to me someday, too.

I don’t like my knees. As a kid growing up, they were always too bony. I wanted dainty, petite knees, but mine stuck out, all knobby and unladylike. In 2005, I injured my right knee when I fell off a stepstool on the front porch, when Mark and I were remodeling the house and I was demolishing the front door frame that afternoon. Stupid stepstool. Most of the time that knee doesn’t hurt, but I can’t do poses at yoga class that make my knees flex a lot, like that one where I have to squat on my heels and put my elbows inside my thighs. I always end up quitting halfway down.

Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and pretend I’ve had a facelift. I put my fingertips along my jaw line and pull the skin up toward my ears. That jowly saggy spots at the corners of my chin disappear and my face regains the oval shape I took for granted as a teenager.

I would never really get a facelift, for so many reasons: vanity, expense, pain, self-consciousness, and the good that could be done with the money instead. I don’t plan to ever dye my hair either, but for different reasons. I think I’m the only teacher at my high school that lets her gray hair show, and sometimes I wonder what other people think of me. But I know myself. I wouldn’t keep up with the touchups, and I think that gray roots look waaaay worse than hair that is naturally gray. So I call the gray hair “my wisdom,” and I pretend to be proud of it. My hairdresser flatters that me I’m going gray attractively, “unlike so many other women,” but I’m never quite sure whether to believe her. But then, what reason would she have to lie? She could make more money if she convinced me to cover the gray. At age seven the hair was white-blonde, at age seventeen it was honey-brown, and at age fifty-seven I pretend that the lighter patch over my left forehead is a blonde streak. I know it’s really gray but this is one of those helpful deceptions.

The eyes haven’t changed. Hazel, green-gray, friendly, steady. At least that’s what I say. They are the same eyes that look out of the photo of me, taken 40 years ago at age 17, the eyes that look back at me every morning from my dresser.

Photo on the dresser: me, age 17

Self-portrait taken while backpacking: me, age 54.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fungus Among Us

On our hike last Friday, I was fascinated by all the mushrooms and other fungus forms we saw in the woods. I stopped to snap photos of a few of them. So many different colors and shapes!

 This one had to be a good 6" in diameter.

 Classic mushroom shape - I love the lacy effect.

 Growing out of the end of a log - so delicate and white.

 A whole family of brown mushrooms.

 This one looked like it wanted to be a golf ball. Just that size and shape.

 Another classic toadstool - smooth and shiny brown.

 These were tiny and delicate - growing out of a log.

 More log-growers - even smaller than before.

 And these were the tiniest log-growers of all! Still in the classic mushroom shape.

 We included Mark's book in this photo to give a sense of scale.
Did some critter take a couple of chomps out of this bad boy? 

 This one looked like white broccoli.

 This one had tipped over, but the colors were beautiful.
Was that a part of decomposition for this guy?

 More of the white broccoli fungi.

 Aren't these cute? Little acorn hats.

 More of the delicate little white ones on a log.

 White mushrooms, white was all so pretty.

 Another still-life...conk on the log + a maple leaf.

Almost back to the car, we saw this one. It's very black and upside down.
It's bigger than my boot.
It wants to take over Portland.

The moral of the story, dear careful!
There are fungus among us!

(Sorry, I couldn't resist saying that again. I've been wanting to say that ever since the hike on Friday. But truly...isn't it amazing that we so so many different kinds of musher-folk in just 4 miles of trail? I was impressed, and I hope that you are, too.