Sunday, December 30, 2012


It's that time of year when I renew and make new my resolutions for the coming year.  Usually, I have resolutions (or goals if you want to call them that)  related to personal growth, some for health and some for education.  That's not really by design, but it is what I notice I tend to do.  A lot of times, these espouse and advance the values I hold dear.

And no, I don't have any advice involving how to make or keep a New Year's Resolution.  There is no real trick to it- you just think what would I like to accomplish by this time next year? Is that reasonable?  Is it worth working towards? Then you decide if you want to do it or not.  If you want inspiration towards making a reasonable, attainable goal, look here.  Or here.

In long discussion with Grey- without whom I could not do this one- I want to eat vegan twice weekly. Being a vegetarian isn't such a bum deal.  You can still eat ice cream and butter and cheese.  These are a whole food group for me.  But if you resolve to eat vegetarian twice weekly, you'll be doing your body and the planet a real favor.  If I had my way about it, Grey and I would both do a juice fast on Mondays like I used to.  It resets the digestive clock and for me was a way to even out my system.  But the vegan idea is a great one too.  Good for health and great for the environment.  It's easy to eat terribly as a vegetarian or vegan.  After all, all the oil you want is available, as are most candy bars and soda pops.  So the addendum here is healthy vegan.

*****In the interest of honesty, it should be said that I'm an incidental vegetarian.  I don't like meat much, except some seafood.  If you get me around my sister Patti and my brother in law, I'm likely to make myself sick on all the crab meat they give me.  Did I mention that they got a new boat over the holiday?  Super YUM!  But seriously, I don't want to be a hypocrite. I do like some meat and do occasionally eat it.  With butter and lemon.****

I'm going to take a personal enrichment class- at least one.  Either it will be a craft class, painting, cooking (ohhh, there's an idea!) or language.  I could really use a french class.  No reason. It's not like my last name means "God" in french or anything.  Last year Grey and I took a yoga class.  It was a wonderful way to connect with each other, to practice and to share an experience.  And it was fun.  I wonder how dangerous it would be if we both took a cooking class.

I'd also like to be more active in the spiritual part of my life.  We are attending the Unitarian Church here and like it a lot.  In fact, today we sat by Bo and Bee, whose last name also started with a "B".  They celebrated 65 years together this week. Their glasses and hair cuts match stylishly, and their trench coats were coordinated.  They wouldn't stop talking to us during the service but I don't think anyone minded because they are hilarious.  I'm glad to be part of a community which doesn't espouse dogma and which encourages people of faith to share and strengthen that faith.  Incidentally, the UU people also sponsor the vegetarian society in Ellensburg and share space with the Quakers.  In any case, I like the people and think we could do some good in the community.  If you're not familiar with the Unitarians, let's just say that it's a conglomeration of several faiths and those who really don't ascribe to one.  There is no real "preaching", and it's a welcoming community.  The central themes revolve around social justice, equity and freedom.  And drinking coffee.  Coffee is also a vegan beverage.  Two of the leaders in the church are vegan; one is retired and the other is the head of the Computer Science department at Central.  They have a geodesic dome house on a couple of acres.  It's solar panel equipped and mostly self-sustaining.  Ok, I'm committed to walking to work every day (even in the snow!), but I'm not sure I'll ever get to that level of awesome.  I will, however, save a ton of money on gas.

I'm not so sure about my next one, but here goes: I'd like to walk a marathon this year.  My knees and hips won't let me run one, but I could definitely walk 26.2 miles.  My problem is that I need someone to commit to doing this with me, either in person or virtually.  Interested? Email me!

I think that about covers it for this year. I'll stay committed to good health and kindness, working my ass off for causes I believe in and general trying to be a good person, family member and stuff like that.

Do you have something to say about New Year's Resolutions?  Share in the comments- what do you do for resolutions- or what do you dislike about them?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Post Holiday

Yay! Christmas is over!

I'm sure it's at best inappropriate to say that.

But seriously, I am tired and enjoying the after-holiday loveliness that is the time between Christmas and New Years. Before Christmas, I just have too much to do:
Baking all those yummy treats to send to my family and friends
Eating yummy holiday treats
Making and eating holiday meals
Sending packages
Opening packages!
Eating more stuff from packages
Trying to get the cat to eat anything from any package or her food bowl
Drinking gallons of Starbucks Christmas Coffee
Oh Book-mas Tree, Oh Book-mas Tree!

Do Not Disturb Till Christmas!

Beautiful Pueblo Wedding Vase from Charlotte

Pine Street
Merry Xmas!

The Chimpanzee/Human Communications Institute is just up the road.

Golf Course

Yeah, poor me.
On Christmas Eve, I got a text from my friend Lisa asking if I wanted to go cross country skiing.  I haven't been in years and years.  Grey at first decided to go.  As we walked down to the ski shop to rent skis, he realized that he would be supporting a business that makes its employees work on the holiday.  He just couldn't do it, but didn't have any problem with me going. Thank goodness because I had a raging good time.

We went out to the golf course and skied 9 holes.  The course goes past a river and by a pasture with shaggy ponies with long tails and heavy winter coats.  It was lovely, and uh, pastoral.  On the first two downhill slopes I fell first on my butt, then on my face.  It's cool though, because snow is soft and I am fearless.  By the time we were halfway through, I had the hang of it again.  By the time we were done an hour or so later, I was tired.  Lisa looked merely as though she was warmed up.  I sort of squeaked about spending time with my husband on Christmas Eve, and she let me off the hook.  I imagine she spent a few more hours out in the frozen, powdery sunshine before calling it a day.  I remembered how to get up again when on a hill and how to walk uphill in 175cm skis.  Pretty exciting for me.

I was sore the next day, though not particularly in pain.  I love getting out in the world to do active things and spend time with interesting people.  In this case I got my butt kicked my a gentle slope and a lady I am coming to admire greatly.  When I got home, I got warmed up and in the evening, Grey and I had a Yahtzee tournament, some homemade fudge and a glass of Pinot Noir.  Now that was a lovely evening, complete with Christmas jammies.  I took the idea from my sisters, Patti and Mickie, years ago.  On Christmas Eve, they would let their kids open one special present- Christmas jammies. Once they got older, the real surprise wasn't the present, but what design and style they were in.  For years, Patti sent me a pair.  Last year, I got Grey a pair of black jammies and bought my own.  This year was his turn.  I think next year we will try to buy a pair for each other.

In my book, if you really like someone,  you should get them a good pair of jammies to keep them warm on winter nights.  Laugh all you want; that probably means you don't have a pair.

The best part of Christmas for me might have been that we live here in Ellensburg (Eburg, as we locals call it), and it snowed big fat wet flakes from sunup to sundown.  That isn't a particularly big feat as sunup is around 8 and sundown is around 4:30.  But still, it was lovely and welcome and heartening.  Grey and I are well provisioned and we walked around the deserted streets and took pictures and tried not to fall on our asses.  There is ice under the snow, so there are places it's a bit treacherous.  We opened stockings and presents and called and talked to family.  I even Facetimed with Patti and 10 or so of our relatives over there.

And there was food too.  Grey made an olive tapenade - an "oliveade" is the same thing, only without capers.  But since we found capers here in town and the local grocer carries olives in bulk, it was a great idea.  I made a fettuccine alfredo from scratch.  Alfredo is so easy to make and so easy to eat too much of.  There are few ingredients and it always comes out lovely.  Just use a half cup of butter, half pint of heavy whipping cream, several cups of parmesan grated finely and as much garlic as you can stand to sauté.  I used five cloves of garlic in the recipe and we could have eaten the whole batch but we called it off.

Yeah, that's a foot of snow
I do wish we could have been with Grey's family.  They are so nice and called and talked for a long time.  Maybe next year~

I am allergic to garlic.

I was sick yesterday because of my own darn delicious cooking.  Since I didn't eat it raw, it wasn't that awful of a reaction. But I did spend the day in bed, reading a good book.  It was worth it; both the day off and the sick part.  I'm halfway through the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy now.  Right in the middle of "The Two Towers".  I have learned a few things in re-reading the series.  I never get tired of Ents, for one, and for the other, I love that Sir Ian McKellan is now inside of my head, narrating the story for me.  Legolas has a face and Gimli is not the simpering, gaping fool that the movie makes him out to be and my beloved dwarf regains his proper dignity in the book.  Hmpf! I guess the third thing is that Viggo Mortensen is most definitely Aragorn.  Yummy, yummy Aragorn.

The Ellensburg Bull.  He's, uh, anatomically correct. Sorry for telling you.
I always take time to ponder what other people do on religious holidays.  I love the Haunkkah story of the oil and understand a bit of the lighting of the Menorah. And I have several times now celebrated Ramadan, but for the most part, my friends are of the Christian or Christian-compatible religions and as such, they take Christmas off.  And mostly, the spend quiet holidays with friends and family eating too much food, talking shit about Santa, and playing games.  A few observe the Christian concept of Christ's birth and give gifts and do kind deeds to celebrate.  Or if you're Grey, you walk over a mile to the movie theater and catch a double feature.

Anyway, I'm glad it's over for this year.  I have such things planned for my classes next quarter.  Oh yes, indeed.  I'm teaching a writing theory class for graduate students and I'm just up to my neck in reading and writing about it.

One last thing: the thing I want most.

A gym membership/and end to the delicious fudge.

Next post?  New Years Resolutions.  Stay Tuned!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Forgive Me

Lately, I have been in a writing mood.

Just not a blog post writing mood.

First it was the end of the quarter at my little college, then the end of the semester for my online teaching job.  THEN the weather got cold and snowy (yay!) and the holidays sprung themselves upon me. And I got in a baking mood.

It sucks that I'm a good baker.  I'm going to make myself, my husband and anyone else I've been sending yummy treats to as fat as a tick.  Yep.

I have decided to not write about gun control or the massacre in Newton, Ct, or about mental illness for now.  Too many want to make a profit from the media attention given to tragedy.  Know that my thoughts and heart have been with them and I wish there was more I could do.

But anyway, bear with me.  I'm working on a memoir.  I have about 10k words down and hopefully I can finish a good portion prior to the commencement of the next quarter and semester.

Meanwhile, Christmas is coming. I'm in love with winter and reading imaginative fiction.  Life is too short to not love what you're reading.  Or what you're writing.

So happy holidays, or Merry Christmas, or Happy Chalica, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah (a little late) and Boxing Day.

I'll be holed up in my little computer room with a heating pad and a warm cup of something to drink, making stories and hoping I don't butcher it too much.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tell Me

I have a question for my friends here: What is your favorite holiday tradition? Is it holiday baking and cooking? Shopping for presents with a loved one? Sipping hot cocoa and watching films?  Skipping everything and heading on a cruise? 

What do you WISH you could do this Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Chalica? 

Leave me a comment below~

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I am slowly making friends in Ellensburg, Washington.  Don't worry, I haven't forgotten my other friends. We just talk on the phone now more than we used to.  And we FB, and text and send each other pictures.
But I do need fr.  But I do need friends that exist in my own town. And when a fellow English teacher at CWU asked if we wanted to go hiking, I jumped at the chance.  Grey did too. Rather, he almost did. He got sick the day before, with a fever and an aversion to light.  Makes it hard to read.  I made him some warm vegetarian chili, which he used to make frito chili pie (kind of an abomination, if you ask me) and tossed some medicine down his throat.  He took medicine.  That's a sure sign it's not a passing fancy.  If Grey is willing to take medicine, I'm practically ready to call the paramedics.

Anyway, I got up at my usual time.  Did I mention that I'm done teaching at CWU for the quarter? Six thirty in the morning. I have a cat alarm that goes off if you don't feed it and turn the water on for her by 6:45. Made and frosted a couple dozen sugar cookies.  They look terrible- I need a better icing recipe.  Will try a buttercream tomorrow.  They do taste great, so for now I'll just close my eyes and eat them.

Got an entire pot a little coffee in me and cleaned up. Grey slept through the whole thing, right up until 11:30 when I poured a cup and grabbed a few ugly sugar cookies and barged into the bedroom.  Poor guy still wasn't feeling well so I left him to his devices and went to have fun. It was over 40 degrees and the Umtanum Canyon was filled with shadows from a bright day.

We crossed a bridge and made our way up the canyon, talking and telling stories the whole way.
Suspension bridge and the entrance to the Umtanum Canyon

Lisa Norris teaches Creative Writing at CWU and is a wonderful author too.  A good hiker, coffee drinker and teacher of English, lover of books and dogs.  And a great storyteller too.  If I wasn't so busy apparently spilling out my life story, I could listen to her for hours.

Up the canyon, we found what you find in nature: poop.  Lots of poop.  Someone's dog lost it a number of times along the trail and there was poop everywhere. Miles of poop.  Lisa's dog added some of her own to the mix.  Maybe it was a challenge accepted. Welcome to nature.  At least the trail was well marked. There was deer poop too, in places.  And bits of destroyed saplings that a beaver cut down and used to build a dam.

It was about 6 miles, round trip and felt wonderful to get out and stretch my legs.  I will need to invest in some good hiking boots for the next time we go.

Rimrock hundreds of feet tall rimmed the canyon and usually, there are big horn sheep around.  We didn't see any until the drive home, when we spotted a couple dozen on the hillside about 5 miles from our hiking spot.  I just feel bad that Grey missed it.
This time.
We're going again soon! Oh, do I love winter, and stories and friends and getting out of the house.


Babblin' brook

Ignore the squint

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Photo Blog!

I have been very busy lately- finals, Christmas, snow, shopping and did I mention finals? 

Here are a few photos (old and new) of my favorite things.
Flu shot. He was brave (and handsome!) ((Yay, I MARRIED this guy!))

I miss this face

Snowy guy

Every. Single. Morning
Not me- the cat!

They're buddies

If one more student uses "we" or "I"..... 

She loves outside but can't be trusted not to run away

A visual metaphor for our personalities

Much easier to take care of than long hair

Thinking and writing and thinking.... 

This was a wonderful class!

Oh, I love snow.  Wish it would stay longer than a few hours. 

Something healthy and warm for a cold day of shopping

That's snow coming towards us

Eleanor loves sitting inside, watching snow fall

My sister's applesauce reminds me of days not long ago!