Thursday, December 26, 2013


Christmas was yesterday and passed rather quietly.  I missed snow. I love a white Christmas and almost asked G to drive us up a mountain pass so I could see it.  We went for a walk instead.  Mind you, it's cold enough for snow. It's been lingering in the 20s and 30s for weeks now. We just don't get precipitation here.  If we did, it'd be snowy here in a flash and for a long time.  I think our best Christmas tradition is taking a walk together.  We did that, we made a lovely meal, opened presents, called our families, watched "The Lion in Winter" and fed the cat some tuna for a Christmas meal.  She is so spoiled, even my husband's sister sent her a gift!

I think we're going to head to Seattle this weekend.  My friend E and her family are heading home from the holidays, back to San Diego from our hometown.  We're going to meet up for brunch before their flight.  Her son is growing up- he's a about 14 months old now- and I've never met her husband. But E and I go way back. Our families go way back. Her grandpa was the doctor who delivered my mom. Our parents went to school together, even in the same grade. E and I also graduated together in the same class.

E is smarter than I am, and really classy. She's a life-long equestrian with beautiful mediterranean skin and hair and warm eyes. She should be one of the Onassis family members if you ask me.  I like her a lot too. She's one of the few classmates I've stayed in contact with after high school.  We both went into teaching and our lives paralleled in many ways and we find qualities in each other to admire.  We are both teachers, though she teaches physics and I teach English.  That should tell you a lot right there.  I like her restraint and her ability to plan and execute and make sound decisions using stuff like data and reason.  She admires my ability to tell people what I think and have them thank me for it, and my impetuousness that sometimes pays off.  Next to her, it's easy to feel like a frumpy version of Anna Nicole Smith, except that we get along so well. We come from the same community and despite our differences, experienced many of the same childhood traumas- just from different perspectives.  Oh, and also, E can and does drive a combine from time to time to help out with harvest.  I'll be sure to post a few photos.  Hopefully, we can get them to meet us at the 5 Spot, a popular and delicious brunch spot on Queen Anne Hill.

I guess the other news is about my job.  I can't really go into detail in an online forum, but my contract has been extended through June 30th.  That's great news! I was pretty upset but getting to a place where I could enjoy only teaching 4 classes.  After accepting the overload (3 is full time here), I found out I'd also be working 3/4 time.  Instead of working three days a week, I'm going to be putting in about 55 hours a week between teaching and work.  But it's only for the next quarter; ten weeks. Then I'll drop to two classes and go up to full time, which is what I've been doing all along.  Wish me luck!

I hope you all had a great Christmas, with peace and joy and a few presents shared among those you care for, enough to eat and a warm place to lay your head.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Break

I'm trying to think of something to say, something witty and worthy of a blog post.

The fact is that I'm still recovering.  Instead of saying anything overly brilliant, I thought I'd just let some pictures speak for themselves.

G and I are enjoying spending time together and I even have time to pursue a small hobby.

Around Town
G and I went shopping around town on Saturday.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and we wanted to enjoy the sunshine.  I don't think there was anything we were shopping for, but it was fun to tramp around our little town. We shopped, we had lunch, we had a great time. 

There are tons of cool signs painted in alleyways around town

This is the Ellensburg Bull.  He's famous. 

We were Christmas shopping downtown and an impromptu parade broke out. I missed a picture of Santa driving a wagon. Pretty awesome!

Beet and pear salad at our favorite Ellensburg venue, The Valley Cafe

I just liked this shot.

More neat older signs

One of the things I swore I'd do once I finished my doctorate was to pursue my own artistic interests again.  So I am. Now that the quarter is over, turning my brains to something a little creative makes me really happy. It's nice to unplug and lose myself in details. 

This guy is in progress- He'll be a pencil holder in my office

Unpainted birdhouse

base coats

I'm going with Scandinavian designs on this one

I like how the front came out

Almost done

I think I'd like to move on to other projects: painting furniture.  The small projects are nice but I have neat stencils and designs I'd like to make bigger.  There are also a couple of unpainted furniture stores in Yakima that we'll go check out.  I've done some staining and have rehabbed old furniture, but I'd like to take a stab at working with new or newer stuff. So readers, what are your thoughts/suggestions for painted furniture? I really do want to know!

Finally, I think I'm going to grow my hair out a bit. I've loved having it short and G strongly prefers it that way. However, I've almost always been able to put it in a ponytail and I think I'll get it at least that long again. A year is long enough for a cute, short 'do.

I say that now, but in six months I'll be sick of it and will cut it off again...

It's already longer

It snowed for something like four minutes last Friday.  I had to snap a shot. 
Merry Christmas, everyone.  I hope your holiday is peaceful, warm, and filled with people you love.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Quick post today. Maybe I'll get to write more tomorrow.

I have a small reprieve at my job.  I can't go into details but my position has been extended through June 30th.  That's nice. Very nice.  The only downside is that I'll be working full time on top of teaching full time.  It's ok though, I've done 60 hour weeks before. I can do this.

All I need is lots of this:
Owl Cup Holds Lots of Java!
Oh, wait. I can't have very much coffee at all. I use this guy (an amazing gift from Meghan and Dyllan, who I met over the course of last quarter) primarily for tea and to make me smile.  Works every time.

Boo for less coffee!

But yay for having a job!

It's a temporary reprieve, but will buy me the time to find something permanent.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Keeping Quiet

It's the end of the quarter, thank goodness.

I am tired!  We have finals this week so I've been grading. I'm about halfway done. I'm doing some of it from home; we ordered a new bed and it's coming in two pieces. The first arrived on Monday; the second was delivered just an hour ago.  There are a million things going on. I'm trying to wrap and send gifts and do these other things. G is Amazoning his eyeballs out.  He's really adept at online shopping whereas I am still a novice.  And we work out every weekday. Eleanor isn't feeling well so we both are keeping an extra eye on her- she goes to the veterinarian on Friday for more bloodwork.  Poor kitty.

So I'm tired and busy and stressed. Sometimes I feel like I need a time out.

I will really miss my English 250 class. There are only 11 students, and we've become quite the close-knit group.  We talked this morning, I gave back some papers and then I talked about how we never have time - never make time- to just sit and be quiet for awhile.  As you can see, that applies to me too.  Our phones were buzzing and ringing and everyone turned theirs down.  I dimmed the lights and asked everyone, including my writing tutor and co-teacher, to put their heads on the desk. That's probably not something they've done since 5th grade.  Then I read them a poem by Pablo Neruda called "Keeping Quiet".  Here it is:

Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda. (trans. Alastair Reid.)
And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still. 
For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much. 
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness. 
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands. 
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing. 
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death. 
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive. 

Now I'll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Afterwards, I left them in silence in the darkened room for maybe 3 minutes.  Nobody seemed to need to move. Nobody shifted or surreptitiously packed their bags.  Just quiet and friends and a few moments to ourselves as a group.  I was pretty touched.  We all hugged each other on the way out the door.  No doubt we will see each other again, but not in this way, not in this context.  

Here's hoping you have a few quiet moments of your own. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wednesday (Friday) Hodgpoge

This week has been a little bit exhausting.  I thought I'd take yet another page out of Nonnie's blog-book and post a Friday version of the Wednesday hodgepodge. Just so you know, Nonnie is a friend of my sweet MIL and she took the Hodgepoge from "Joyce From This Side of The Pond "  So there you go.

Feel free to read and comment- and if you re-blog, just give credit to the original poster, Joyce.

1.  According to Oxford Dictionaries, the 2013 word of the year is 'selfie'. Your thoughts? When did you last take a selfie? Do you post them online somewhere? Do you prefer to be in front of the camera or behind the lens?

I take selfie's mostly to see if my makeup/hair/clothing looks ok.  It's my 21st century mirror.  I post them infrequently, but I do post them. Mostly on my Instagram.  I'm way more comfortable behind the camera, though I'm sure people get tired of my landscape/cat/handsome husband pictures. 
My sister and I last summer, out on the boat. I just noticed we have the same crookedness to our smiles! 

2.  Will you send out Christmas Cards this year? If so, are they ready to go? If not, are you glad or sad about leaving that tradition behind?

I hope to get my ducks in a row and send more Christmas cards this year.  My problem is that school gets cra-zzzy until the end of the term, then it's all over.  However, it's all over around December 19th.  Cum-see, cum-saw.  

3.  Do you trust easily?

That would be no. Not at all.  It's probably just my nature.  I didn't grow up with a whole lot of cushion and while I like to be trustworthy,  it's not something I bestow lightly.  That said, if I trust you, I trust you with everything.  Lots of people are trustworthy; some just aren't. 

4. Pine-cinnamon-peppermint-vanilla (as in sugar cookie)...of those listed, which one is your favorite December scent?

Pine. I love pine trees.  They're not just for Christmas in our neck of the woods! I remember these pine trees my grandpa planted when I was little.  My cousin Ryan was just a bit taller than the tree when she was 6.  They had to cut both of them down 25 years later because of the roots growing under the house.  The trees had grown to over 30 feet tall.

Pine trees AND G! 

Pine trees + sunshine

The top of the world

Meandering canyon

5.  Did you do more talking or more listening yesterday?  Was that by choice or by necessity?

I did a lot more listening than talking.  It was a non-teaching day yesterday.  It's almost always my choice to not talk overly much.  Talking too much to others makes me tired. Especially in groups.  Man, I must sound like an old grumpy lady, but I promise I do like people. Just not in groups. 

6.  What's the last song that got stuck in your head?  Sorry if it's back there now :  )

Something by MIA.  I love the Arabic sounds mixed with rap.  I'm not a rap fan; I'm an MIA fan. 

7.  Which world explorer (in the whole history of the world) would you most like to have traveled with, and why?

I think I'd like to travel with the Vikings.  I guess they ate pretty well.  For me, good travel is all about good food. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

It's been a rough week.  G and I just have a lot going on and some realities we don't like dealing with. I'm really glad it's Friday and we can spend the very windy and cold weekend snuggled in our little house.  Maybe we'll write out some Christmas cards or finish our Christmas shopping!  Tonight we're heading out to see a movie- Catching Fire.  Something you may not know about me: I was given a 35# recurve bow when I was 11 years old.  I used that thing for a long, long time, bruising the snot out of my left arm, shooting into hay bales and generally being wild.  I don't know what happened to it but it was a good part of my childhood.  Also, I'm glad I never had to enter a Hunger Games. :) If I did, I'd win. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I love travel.  I also hate travel.  Do you ever feel this way?

I love to be places and I get excited about experiencing new cultures, sights, history and especially foods.  What I hate is getting there, especially if I am traveling alone.  I don't like flying to be specific.  It's like voluntarily loading onto a flying cattle car, paying to pack ourselves tightly in with germy, snotty, farty humans with no health screening.  And me. I'm the grumpy cat of flying.  I look bored, unamused and ready to bite at a moment's notice. I will too.  Thank goodness for Dramamine- I tend to sleep the entire way.  I was on a plane for 7 hours each way and lost an entire day in traveling.

Driving is a different story.  I love driving, especially across the country.  I love the changing landscapes, the wild open expanses of fields and hills and the bustling cities I zoom around on my way to somewhere else.  I'm all like "out of the way, I have important stuff do to!" and I beep beep my way on into the sunrise.  It's awesome.

I had a presentation proposal accepted for the National Council of Teachers of English this year in Boston, Ma.  I love doing teaching presentations, and I really love doing the national ones. It's a great way to meet people and talk about teaching English. At NCTE I get to reconnect with my old grad school friends and this year, both of my dissertation advisers.  My friend Kimberly Stormer let me crash at her hotel because I was poorly funded by my university this year.
At Boston Common

We took almost all of our classes together in doctor college, wrote our general exams together and have remained pretty good friends through the years.  I appreciate her for her wit and silliness and also for her passionate care of students who need to learn to read and write in order to have a chance at success in life.  She's pretty awesome.

I got to hang out with Cathy and Jackie too. I'm sure you know all about my friend Cathy- she and Charlotte pretty much threw my wedding.  She read a Shakespearean sonnet at my wedding and currently lives in our house in Oklahoma.  She picked the house out for me in 2005.  I started planting an orchard in 2006. She brought me six apples from the trees. Four made it home.  What a kind gesture!
Here we are at a pub having dinner.  The bouncer- a huge man with a handlebar mustache- waxed philosophical about the virtues of teachers in a thick Boston accent. 

Jackie (On left) is seven months pregnant- what an adventurous soul! She teaches Social Studies with Cathy and they did a presentation on cross-curriculum collaboration.  It was us four for the most part all through the conference.  

My advisers, Baines and Angelotti, have always been close to me.  Baines was Kimberly and mys copresenter (along with Anthony Kunkel) and he came up with the proposal.
Me and Baines

Me and Angelotti. He's my academic dad.
It wasn't all work and no play though.  There were dinners and a trip with my amigas to Little Italy in Boston to see Paul Revere's house, to eat at Legal Seafood and to visit Mike's Pastries.  Mike's was packed but we managed to find one of the 6 tables in the joint.  Next to us was an older man with a raincoat and hat, placidly eating a pastry and watching the tourists.  He found out we were English teachers and recited Shakespearean sonnets- including the one Cathy read at my wedding- from memory.  I sort of felling love with him on the spot and told him that's what Cathy had read.  When we left, I thanked him and he shook my hand and told me to tell my husband that he has excellent taste. It was a little surreal, but hey, Boston right? 

There were other sights: 
Flying into JFK on my first flight 

Decorations outside of Hynds Convention Center

I love NWP!

Jackie, Cathy and Johanna presenting

Boston Public Library

Close up of Trinity Church


Paul Revere's House

Boston Terriers in Boston

George Washington wearing a Red Sox jersey


A tree in Boston Common

And a Willow

The Frog Pond

Library statue

Trinity Chapel 

These are all doors at Trinity 

Trinity from afar

A seeker of knowledge outside of the Library 

I think this is Franklin's grave

John Hancock's grave

Paul Revere's grave.  He's a big deal.

I can't remember the name of this church. 

I got to see Temple Grandin speak at the conference.  I video'd the first 8 minutes and put it up on Youtube.  She has Asperger's Syndrome and is so brilliant. I was blown away.  She may not have social graces but she is an engaging, enlightening and hilarious public speaker.  Here is the link. Sorry for the poor quality, but it's my iphone. And I was excited!

I made it home just fine; left the hotel at 3:30 a.m. and got into Seattle at 1 p.m. local time- so 4 p.m. Boston time. I slept on the plane a lot.  I was freezing on my last flight. I put on my hat, coat and scarf and was still shivering. But I was being quiet and trying to sleep.  We were in the exit row, and the middle seat was the only one not taken on the plane.  The man sitting opposite me obviously took pity on me.  He called over the flight attendant and quietly asked her (presumably so I wouldn't hear) to turn up the heat so that I didn't freeze to death.  She did and it got much better.  He's a good example of what a small kindness can do for someone's soul.

I'm glad to be home with G and Eleanor.  I guess they got along nicely, though I was told of an...incident. G was sleeping when he suddenly had a dream of dogs biting his chin.  He woke to a small kitty gently but firmly pressing her claws into his chin to get him to wake up.  I guess it was time to snuggle/play/eat/wake up!  In any case, I think that was the worst consequence.  We are off tomorrow for adventures in Thanksgiving.  Wish us luck!