Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Hallow-Na-Blo-Po-Mo!

That's right, blog friends. Since today is Halloween, that means that tomorrow is the start of Na-Blo-Po-Mo!

(Translation: National Blog Posting Month, where bloggers post every day during the month of November).

Bloggers, are you ready? Rev your keyboards...are you with me? Looking forward to lots of good blog reading this next month!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Prayers and Thank you

The rest of the here. It made me remember my days as an assistant scoutmaster. I used to tell the boys before every hike that our goal was to not get our names in the paper!

2:45 pm - The boys are safe. Info here and here. Thank you for your faith and prayers. I can't stop crying now that I know they are ok. I have been so worried about them. Maybe it's been more intense for me because I am a hiker and I know how easy it is to get turned around in the woods, and how dangerous it is to be unprotected in the wind and rain. I am so thankful that they are ok!

There is an update on the search for the boys here. Still not found as of 10:30 am today.

Please keep these boys in your prayers. I am friends with one of their grandmothers. It is an awful time of year to be lost in the woods. I will post updates as we have more news. And please keep the searchers / rescuers in your prayers, too.

A big thank-you to my oldest daughter, Julia, who posted a lovely essay about me (!) on her blog today. You can read it here. (And I hope you will.)   :)

Prayers for the people on the east coast today, too.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Introducing...Kathleen Haynie, M.F.A. (that's me!)

My thesis is finished. Done.

I met with my thesis committee yesterday. The oral examination lasted for an hour. I already knew all three of the committee members, as I've taken classes from all of them while I've been in the Creative Writing program. The chair of the committee was my advisor, Michael McGregor, with whom I've been working on the thesis for going on 3 years now. He knows me and this piece of writing waaaay too well.

Anyway, here's how it went.

Friday midday. A few pigeons greeted me as I walked across the PSU campus. They were more interested in the scraps near the food carts than in me hurrying to my VIM (Very Important Meeting). It was a lovely autumn day.

How many times have I climbed these stairs (4 flights!) to get to the English department? I know it seems silly, but I will miss the feeling of anticipation I had every time. I guess I'm pretty nerdy - I love taking classes. (Even if I whine about them at the time.)

 The conference room where we met. Since I arrived first, I positioned myself on the side of the table that looked out into the beautiful autumn trees. It was a calming view. Not that I needed a lot of calming down. Their questions about my writing were kind, they gave me a number of generous suggestions for future revision work, and while the whole experience was definitely academic, it was also fairly informal.

This photo was taken shortly after they told me "congratulations." That's my advisor, Michael McGregor, on the left. Then me, then Diana Abu-Jaber via skype. (She is on sabbatical in Florida - during the meeting we could see palm trees blowing around - she was sitting in front of a window - Hurricane (storm?) Sandy was blowing through during my thesis defense.) On the right is the third member of the committee, Paul Collins.

After the meeting concluded I went to the graduate computer lab and used their software to finish formatting the thesis for its electronic submission. I had heard that the formatting could be a real bear. The trickiest part is the page numbering. (No page numbers for the first few pages, then a section with lower-case Roman numerals, and then the bulk of the thesis in regular Arabic numbers. Microsoft Word is not a fan. I had to create three separate PDF documents and then use the on-campus version of Adobe Professional to combine them into one long document.)  Before I drove home I had all of the final paperwork turned in, and my PDF'd version of the thesis ready to electronically submit, which I did later that night.

I arrived home to lovely roses from Mark, and a salmon dinner underway. Mmmmmm...

I'm not planning to walk through graduation. I've already done that three times (Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts in Teaching). Plus Mark and I help out every year with the high school graduation, where we wear our university gowns with the "hood" for the masters degree.

How to celebrate this Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing? I'd like to host a party where I read excerpts from the thesis and we eat yummy food. Maybe I'll wear a graduation gown and the hood for PSU - I can probably rent one from Jostens. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

News flash: Switzerland will soon be overrun with fabric balls...

Thank goodness for Google Translate! Today I received a comment (all in German) on this post, but I was able to copy/paste the comment to Google figure out that  Brigitte at KB Design had kindly sent the link to the photo of her fabric ball. You can admire it here.

(She used a slightly different pattern from mine. Her pattern uses less fabric, and the balls have more a little more slack than balls made from my pattern.)

Does everyone in Switzerland knit? Both she and Lily have so many examples of beautiful knitting projects on their blogs. If you love yarn crafts, be sure to spend some time poking around Brigitte's blog to appreciate her many beautiful creations.

I also enjoyed reading about some of Brigitte's recent hikes (you know me...).

Hello to friends across the globe.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Good Morning

Beautiful morning skies. They make me feel like I can look right up to heaven. 

Here's a rambly blog post on a Sunday morning in October - a little bit of this and that rattling around my brain.

Thesis update - I submitted the last bit of thesis work on Friday. Once the manuscript is submitted (which I did two weeks ago, you may recall), then the thesis committee gives the author two or three questions to answer. The response is expected to be around 10 pages.

I knew the questions were coming, and I thought I would have two weeks to compose my articulate and intelligent response. Wrong. I had 1 week. The response was due in seven short days, the same day I was scheduled to present another in-service segment to my staff of 100 teachers (which also demands a bunch of prep time). Arrgh.

Just what were these questions, you ask?

"Your thesis is a memoir set a significant number of years in the past. Please explain how you see the current narrating voice and consciousness interacting with the voice and consciousness of the you that is a character in past scenes and events. How does the present voice/consciousness control the narrative and shape a reader's understanding in a memoir of this kind? In answering these questions, please refer to the books, classes and other sources that have shaped your understanding or provided models for you to work from."

Bleh. When I first read them, I felt like I was starting out on a 30-mile hike. One step at a time, my friends. One sentence at a time.

I stressed and grumped, but 12 pages later, it's all just a memory now. The response is submitted, the presentation to my colleagues is complete.

This coming Friday (October 26), I will meet with my thesis committee at noon for the defense of my thesis. Seriously, I can't wait.

In other news, the garden is all tucked in and ready for winter. We managed to get a good 6" of maple leaves spread and covered with black plastic before the autumn rains began in earnest. The worms can work on the leaves all winter, and the plastic will keep the weeds from growing, as well as prevent the winter rains from thoroughly compacting our clay soil. Sweet dreams, little garden!

We left the kale plants bravely standing. For as much kale as I planted in the garden this year--at least eight plants in two different varieties--you would think I was passionately in love with kale. I'm not. At least, not yet. I keep hoping I will come to love this sturdy vegetable. I know it's loaded with calcium and vitamins and anti-oxidants. I truly want to love kale. So please...if you have a yummy kale recipe DO send it my way. I'm working on it. (And Dorothy, yes, you are welcome to come enjoy the kale as often as you like!)

And speaking of kale and other things that make you healthy...

The number on this scale will not tell you
- How kind you are
- How smart and talented you are
- How much you are loved

Ugh. I've regained 12 pounds since last spring. (Haha - I'm sure part of that was muscle over the summer, with all the hiking and camping, right? Ummm...probably not. I'm not seeing any muscle-y looking arms when I look in the mirror.) My clothes are getting tight, I feel bloated, and I'm craving sweets. Yesterday the scale hit my trigger point, and it was time to get into action.

Here's the plan. If I share it with you, I'm more likely to stick with it, so I'll be sending out little updates from time to time.

1. Cut out the sugar. No sweets till Christmas.
Really? Really. If I allow myself a little bit here and a little bit there, I am right back on that slippery slope. Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies, pre-Christmas holiday parties--get thee hence. There are other ways to have a good time besides putting over-processed forms of sucrose into my mouth. (And taste buds, you can just shut up and quit whining. I know you like your sugar, but seriously, my jiggly places are not thanking you. Enough all ready.)

2. Exercise every day
Since school started, my only exercise has been our Monday night yoga group and an occasional walk. All well and good, but not enough. Katie has inspired me with her instagram comments about Jillian's thirty day Shred DVD. I'm kind of whining in the corner and feeling afraid, but I went ahead and put the DVD on hold at the library. And if it's just too much, maybe I can do part of Jillian, and then some more yoga. Or a walk. We'll see. No matter what I do, it will be better than what I've been doing, which is (practically) nothing.
3. Eat better / eat less
More inspiration from Katie: salad in a jar. Whoa. Make up a week's worth of salads on Saturday. Easy to take to work for lunch. SO awesome. I made up a bunch yesterday from this recipe, although I also included an ounce of roasted chicken in each jar. (If you're interested, just google "salad in a jar" - there are a lot of different versions out there.) 
I'm also making one or two of the "liquid meals" (smoothies and soups) from Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D. I bought the book last year and Mark and I did a two-week cleanse following his plan. I'm not doing the full elimination diet or cleanse, just using some of the principles and recipes. Trying to find some things that feel sustainable for me. 
I'm also recording what I eat on the Weight Watchers eTools again. It worked well for me when I lost weight last year, but I've let it slide since last there a correlation here?

4. Be accountable
About this time last year, I joined Katie's "healthy challenge." It works for me. I wish I was the kind of woman who could just naturally discipline myself, but I know that I do better when I am tracking my healthy choices. For the next eight weeks I'll be tracking my exercise along with my food and water consumption. Anyone want to join in? I'm committed to doing this, even if it's solo, but it's always more  fun with a buddy. The tracking forms and other information are here

And that's all for today! Have a lovely autumn Sunday, wherever you are.
(Unless you live in the southern hemisphere, in which case you're heading into spring!)   :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

This little fabric ball lives in Switzerland

I received a charming email from Lily in Switzerland today. She wrote to thank me for the fabric ball tutorial. In her email Lily mentioned that she usually makes knitted baby gifts, but for her husband's first little godson, she decided to branch out.

"That ball, I had to make it," she told me.

You can see a photo of her darling ball here.

I discovered that I could go to google translate, where I could put the url for her blog post into the window, giving me a rough translation. Whoa! The internet is so amazing.

I love that Lily referred to the fabric balls as a "gripper ball" and a "cross ball" (because the design makes little cross-shaped geometrics all over).

Thank you, Lily! It was fun to connect with you today. Best wishes to little Cedric with his beautiful new ball!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My 80-year-old dad and a 90-year-old bridge

My dad will be 80 years young tomorrow. He and Mom came to visit us for a few days. What a treat! It's hard for Mark and me to travel to him on his birthday, because it always happens during our teaching time.

 On Friday we took them out to lunch at Bob's Red Mill. Yes, they needed their hats. It's finally raining here in Oregon City. We went almost 4 months with no measurable precipitation!!

 Is it just me, or are these the cutest great-grandparents you've seen lately? I adore my parents. (Except for that day my dad spanked me when I was 16...of course I was being a brat that day! But we're not going there. Water under the bridge.) Like I said, I adore these two.

 Speaking of water under the bridge, the Oregon City-West Linn Bridge reopened this weekend! Cars will be able to drive over it again beginning tomorrow. It's been closed for 15 l-o-n-g months. Really made us appreciate our bridge in these parts. So the community held a 3-day celebration because we are sooooo happy about our bridge reopening! We all went to check it out yesterday. Dad was glad to see that something older than him was looking so good.

 But it's better than just getting our bridge back. Along with all the structural stuff they had to do to keep a 90-year-old as strong as new, the Department of Transportation spiffed it up a bit, too. Like adding these cool lights along the way.

 It's on the National Historic Register, so they couldn't really change these railings, even though a small child could fall through. But they could add the steel loops between the uprights to make it safe and historic. Win-win. Plus it looks like you could maybe attach your bicycle to the steep loops.

The weather was forecast for rain, but it was a beautiful autumn day. This view from the bridge is looking upstream (south) toward Willamette Falls. Paddlers in the foreground.

 Looking up through the overhead arch.

Another upstream view - Willamette Falls in the background, with paper mills in between. (The mill on the left, on the OC side, is closed and will be dismantled. Wonder what kind of cool park or tourist destination will be there in a few years...)

My hunk, contemplating the downstream view.

Partway back across the bridge, my mom pulled into this little alcove. No one seemed to know what it was for. (I later read on Wikipedia (under "history" at the link) that it was to give space for a stairway to a lower level restroom. The restrooms were removed years ago due to vandalism, so now it's just a little alcove with a wall that seems a little high for viewing the river below.)

 Dad found a great use for the alcove!
 Granddaughter Kat had joined us for the outing. She and Nana are almost back to the elevator (vertical structure in the background).

One last moment on the bridge with Kat. (Did you notice that she's borrowing the sweatshirt I always wear?) Welcome back to our daily lives, dear Oregon City-West Linn Bridge!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Celebrating great news!

Wow. What a weekend.

First of all...drum roll please...I submitted my thesis today!!!!

I will meet with my thesis committee on October 26 for their final feedback. My advisor tells me he thinks I'm in good shape. He's a demanding teacher, so that makes me feel pretty good.

After six years of night classes, the final product is 12 chapters, 146 pages long...what an amazing process it has been to write this book!

(In case you haven't been following my thesis updates over the years, I'm working on a degree of Master of Fine Arts [MFA] through Portland State University. My thesis is a memoir. It's set in the late 1980s, a period when I became very involved as a Boy Scout leader, and learned a lot about myself in the process.)

I serve as the Young Women's President in my ward. (A ward is a Mormon congregation.) I get to work with the 12-18 -year-old girls on Sundays and Wednesday nights.

This weekend was the Mormon Church's General (worldwide) Conference, and some very exciting announcements were made for the Young Women.

First of all, the missionary age for women was changed from age 21 to age 19. (The missionary age for men was also changed from 19 to 18.) This is a wonderful development. Mormon women are not expected to go on missions they way the men are, but when they do go, the "sister missionaries" are famous for being excellent missionaries. Not only that, but serving a mission is a powerful, life-changing experience for Mormon women. I think many more young women will serve now that they can do so just a year after graduating from high school, instead of having to wait until they are 21. I am thrilled for the change in emphasis this will bring to the work I do with the 12-18-year-old young women.

And speaking of a change in emphasis...the incredibly antiquated somewhat dated Young Women lesson manuals have just been replaced! I have been anxious for new teaching materials ever since I started working with the Young Women a year ago. The new lessons are up-to-date and focused on Christ, and they will have the girls helping to teach and testify to each other. I can't wait!

My dear friend Dorothy is in Korea visiting her son Andrew and his family. It's probably already past her birthday 1/2-way around the world right now, but I'm humming "happy birthday" to her anyway. We have had so many adventures together over the last 30+ years, including raising our children together, going on girls-only backpacking trips, many many good outings with our sweet husbands along, and supporting each other through joy and heartbreak. Happy Birthday to you, dear friend! I am thankful for you.