Monday, November 05, 2012

Two Letters

Dear Uterus,

I was home all day yesterday doing nothing. I watched movies, read a book, drank hot tea, wrote a bit on my NaNoWriMo story, and napped. You couldn't have done this yesterday???

Now I have to go to work and teach all day with you all cramped up and trying to kill me from the inside. I get to be cheerful and energetic and stand and walk a lot amongst a lot of 8th graders and around co-workers while my guts are trying to twist themselves into Celtic knots!

You suck.

No love,


Dear Ibuprophen,

Please start working soon.


Sunday, September 23, 2012


A November sunset (taken somewhere around 2003-05)

Autumn on (the college) campus (taken somewhere around 2003-05)

I'm looking forward to:

-yellow fluttering leaves
-scarves, hats, armwarmers (all knit by me)
-apple cider
-knee socks and tights*
-hot chocolate at any hour of the day or night
-the smell of frost in the morning
-the general feeling of coziness and wanting to stay indoors
-being toasty warm under lots of layers with just my face cold in the air
-making soup
-reading spooky things**
-colors: brown, pumpkin, moss, candy apple, gold, grey, cream
-blankets--more on the bed and snuggled up on the couch

 *I have an awesome collection of both
**I just finished a graphic novel of Frankenstein and am going to read/re-read some Edgar Allan Poe short stories

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bike riding

Last Spring, I posted about a bike ride. Here's another one.

Sune, my little Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, likes getting to go with me. She sits in the basket on the front of my bike (named Mabel, a pic of her here) and makes almost everyone we pass smile or giggle, seeing her in there with her nose twitching to take in all the smells, her big, bright, black, anime character eyes watching for bunnies and lizards. If she sees them soon enough, she gives an obligatory growl so I know she would protect me, if the need arose.

A couple of weeks ago, we got to the end of the ride and turned around to go home. Wondering if she would be more comfortable if she was lying down, I smooshed her gently into the bottom of the basket. She seemed to like that all right, but she couldn't see out because of the basket liner I sewed; it was in her way. So she raised her chin, pushed the liner down a bit with it, and poked her nose out between the bars of the basket so she could still see and smell.

As soon as her harness comes out of the drawer before a ride, Sune starts doing a happy dance. She stays very still while I buckle her in, though. If I put on her harness last thing before we go out the door, she starts getting excited just seeing me lace up my tennis shoes. She knows what it means when Mama gets the bike out. Adventures! Sunshine! Smells!

Here was my view going East on my ride tonight. You can see Grand Mesa in the distance dappled with sunlight and shadows from the clouds high above. More clouds are piled up over the top of it. There are some industrial buildings on the other side of this field, and up close, a barbed wire fence to separate it from the riverfront trail we ride on.

Heading West on the way back home, the clouds ahead were all shades of white and grey and even blue. The sun shone through and around them in turns, a picture no human could ever fully capture with paintbrush or camera. You just had to be there.

We passed a woman walking her dog, a calm brown Boxer, and just as I called from behind them, "On your left!" I passed through a swarm of gnats. I think only one or two of them hit the back of my throat; the rest bounced harmlessly off my cheeks, neck, and sunglasses.

Over the empty ditch, back through the streets of semi-run-down houses, roll through the stop sign, and swerve into my little rectangle of town homes. A mommy and her baby were saying high to a friend in an open-top Jeep in the parking lot; they laughed to see us, and the friend tried to direct the baby's attention to the "little doggie" in the basket.

Hop off the bike, let the dog down onto the ground. Struggle to keep the screen door open and get the bike inside at the same time, all while not running over the dog or letting the cat, escape artist that she (thinks she) is, dash out. Basket off, plastic bag over the seat, steer it through the sliding glass door into the back yard to park it. Inside, Sune and I both get a drink of water.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Faux Mousse

I made up a dessert the other day. I decided to call it Faux Mousse because it's not made like actual mousse, but does contain cream. If you have a better idea for a name, please leave it in the comments! What follows is sort of a recipe. I didn't measure or write anything down, so these are my best guesses.

Aren't they cute? I didn't have any special little glass dishes made for holding Faux Mousse desserts, so I used punch cups that go with a lovely cut-glass punch bowl I never use. We have three flavors: Bailey's Irish Cream, Chocolate, and Strawberry.


First I crushed 6 graham crackers (the whole thing, the rectangle shape just as it comes out of the package) using the food processor. I microwaved about 2 Tbs of butter, stirred in the graham crackers, and spooned the mixture into the punch cups evenly. Once these were refrigerated, the butter got cold again and made it pretty hard for you to get your spoon through it until it had thawed a bit. I would recommend a thinner layer of graham cracker crust. These were almost an inch thick because of how narrow the bottom of the cups is, so maybe half an inch would be better. I smooshed the mixture down with the bottom of a measuring cup so it would be compacted.

I microwaved about a quarter of a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips next, stirring it every thirty seconds. To get it a little smoother, I added just a tiny blop of olive oil. You could use another oil of your choice here or just skip it all together. I just didn't think the chocolate would spread nicely enough on its own. Again, I divided it (more or less) evenly between the cups and smoothed it out with a small spatula.

Here are my flavors all ready to go along with the whipped cream. I ended up using maybe 1 3/4 a cup of heavy whipping cream and just a splash of vanilla extract, then using a hand mixer until it formed stiff peaks. (I whipped it a little too long, actually, until it almost started to turn into butter! Don't do that. I added a little more cream, though, and that softened it back up.)

I took about eight or ten whole frozen strawberries, thawed (in the microwave--I didn't plan well enough ahead to set them out beforehand) and pureed those in the food processor. Then I plopped in about an equal amount of whipped cream and blended it gently together with a spatula.

I did the same for the chocolate flavored Faux Mousse--this was about a cup of chocolate pudding leftover from the previous night's dessert.

As for the Bailey's Irish Cream, I simply poured 3 or 4 Tbs into the remaining whipped cream and gave it another quick blend with the hand mixer.

Using a regular table spoon, I plopped the whipped cream mixtures into the punch cups. Miraculously, there was just enough to fill two each even though I'd done nothing but guess at measurements! I garnished the Bailey's with a little sprinkle of a Holiday Spice Mix I made for Christmas, but you could use cinnamon, nutmeg, crushed candy cane.... whatever you think would go well with Bailey's. For the chocolate, I drizzled chocolate syrup on top, and I'd reserved about a tablespoon of the strawberry puree to top the strawberry Faux Mousse.

Next: spend the rest of the afternoon doing dishes! (Or put most of them in the dishwasher, huzzah!)

And there you have it! Six little individually-sized desserts in three flavors. Great for a dinner party, I think. The strawberry was rather tart, especially with the puree on top, so unless you like that sort of thing, you might add a teaspoon or so of sugar to the puree before you mix it with the whipped cream. The chocolate was delicious. I also liked the Bailey's, though because it wasn't mixed with anything besides just the whipped cream, it was very.... fluffy. 

These kept fine in the fridge for a day after I made them, but on the second day they started to get a bit of a skin on top. It wasn't nasty or anything, just not idea. I recommend making these, chilling them for about an hour (or until they're needed), and serving them that same night.


If you are the sort of person who likes real measurements, here's the best I can do:

Faux Mousse--
-1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream + splash of vanilla extract -- whip and divide by 3
-8-10 whole frozen strawberries
-1 cup chocolate pudding
-3-4 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
-1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
-6 whole graham crackers + 2 Tablespoons melted butter

Thursday, July 12, 2012


It is now slightly more than halfway through the year. (Cue flailing and shock.) How am I doing with my not-resolutions from the beginning of the year?

I will spend less time on the computer and more time reading books.

Um, sort of. I still probably spend way too much time on the computer, but I have read 21 books so far this year! I've finished a total of 2 (TWO) books since school got out. You know, a month ago? Oy. I did a lot better with this when I got 20 minutes of reading time with my students times three classes a day. I didn't read the whole 20 minutes every class every day, but even with just 20 minutes a day, period, I made a lot of progress. If I wasn't suddenly hooked on the Supernatural DVDs a friend is loaning me, I would probably be getting more reading done.

But hey! 21 books in just over 6 months! Not bad, I think. If I push it, I might make 50 by the end of the year, and that would be awesome! 
I will purge useless/broken/unwanted/unused stuff from the house.

I had a yard sale a few weeks ago. We got rid of the queen bed in the guest room (and replaced it with a futon which takes up way less space), a little table, some speakers, the bean bag chair we never used, and our old bookcase. We now have room for two NEW bookcases (which are jam packed full! and now there are NO books in stacks on the floor in my office), and we shifted some things around the dining area so it's more open and, I think, looks nicer. Anything not sold at the yard sale was carted off to Goodwill. Yay! We also cleaned up the guest room a little, got rid of an embarrassing amount of trash, I even managed to part with some wardrobe items I never wore. 

I will write at night in my Book of Days planner/journal at least a few lines about that day.

I've been pretty good about this. What usually happens is I'll space it for a while, then do two or three or four days at a time, but that still works. (Sometimes I look at my Facebook activity to remind myself what I did!) It will be really cool to look back on this in a few years, or even a few months. However, it's not exactly something I'll want to pass on to my children and grandchildren. There's some really really personal stuff in there. It's a just-for-me treasure. 

I will be a better housekeeper (which will hopefully be easier to do with less Stuff).

After the yard sale, the house was a wreck for a while as we moved things around, waited until we had money to buy bookcases, put them together, organized books, etc. etc. Ugh, I hated it! Since we got all of that squared away, however, it's still looking pretty nice. The piles of books on the floor of my office have a place now, freeing up floor space so there's only a very small pile o' stuff in there now. For the most part, dishes are being washed and then put away in a reasonable amount of time, mail gets sorted as soon as it comes in, the laundry is under control(ish), and you can usually see the surface of both the coffee table and the dining table! 

I will be a better listener and not an interrupter or a wait-until-you're-done-talking-so-I-can-say-what-I-wanted-to-say-er.

I think I am getting better at this. Although with some friends, sometimes, the only way to get a word in edgewise is to interrupt! ;)

I will pray more.

This still isn't happening as much or as often as I'd like it to or it should be, but what I have been doing is when I tell someone "I'll pray for you," whether it's on a Facebook post or in a letter or a text, I pray right then. There at my desk, in the car, wherever, just a quick prayer for them and their situation. That way I don't forget about it by putting it off until "the right time." It's always the right time for prayer.

I will write more--more letters, more blog posts, more journal entries, more stories, more poems.

Not so much with the blog posts, eh? I did, however, participate in Camp NaNo this June. It's just like NaNoWriMo in November, only they do two sessions in the summer: one in June and one in August. I wrote 50,138(ish) words in 30 days. The quick way to describe the story is "1920's carnival time-travel romance." I really like the story and I have the next at least 20-30 pages fairly well plotted out. Past that, I have more vague ideas, but I do have ideas! I thought I might have enough for a Book Two, but now I'm thinking it'll probably just be Part Two of the same book. I haven't written anything since June 30th (that's 11 days now), and I really need and want to go back to it. I'm actually not totally sick to death of the story, and I have IDEAS! This is a big deal. I've done NaNoWriMo 7 years in a row and have never finished any of those stories. I did continue to write on a couple of them past November, but then those, too, petered out to nothing. It would be a really great step for me to FINISH a story!

I've also tinkered with a couple of short stories, and of course I've done my usual geeky RPG writing with a couple of friends on IM. (I bet between the three of us, we easily do 50,000 words a month.) And I wrote three letters just today!

I will find a lesson plan format that works for me and I will plan in advance as well as I am able.

This was mandated by my school. After a lot of fussing and asking questions and "what if"ing and discussing, we finally got a template that, I think, works pretty well. It's not overwhelming, but it communicates to the teacher (me) and any administrators that happen to walk in generally what we are/should be doing that day. It's good. I just print out a few at a time and fill them in with pencil, usually for anywhere between 2-5 days at a time.

I will remember that I am not teaching Language Arts, I am teaching people.

(This is turning into a really long post, sorry.) This isn't an exact response to the not-resolution, but stick with me. During the Midsummer Night's Dream/Summer Solstice party I helped to host and throw last month, we did a neat little ritual I read about online. Everyone wrote down one or two or a few things they wanted to let go of, then we threw the scraps of paper into a fire as a symbolic gesture of watching them float away as smoke. I wrote down "anger" as one of mine. Certainly my students, individually and as a group, would really get on my nerves sometimes, especially the last month or so of school. Too often, I came to realize, I would react in anger instead of rationally and calmly. I realized I even do it at home to my husband sometimes, even to my pets! I've been trying to be conscious of that, and when I feel that anger rising up in me, I remember (or attempt to, as much as I can) that I'm speaking to a person (or an animal) and that 99% of the time, what they're doing is not to personally upset or attack me. They're just being themselves. I need to chill out, breathe, and handle the situation appropriately. Little by little little, I'm getting a bit better at this. 

I will not dwell on the past any more than I can absolutely help.

This is hard. I miscarried my second child in February, and this is the thing that comes up to bother me the most. The most often and the most strongly. It seems like sometimes when I think I'm doing really well, almost to the point of being smug about it--"I can look at this friend's baby pictures on Facebook and not cry!" "I can have a conversation about childbirth with a friend!" "I can talk about our 'someday' nursery or parenting skills with my husband!"--that's when I get slammed the hardest. I literally feel sick and my body feels heavy. I don't know how healthy this is, but the only thing I can do, right now at least, is to push it away into the back corner of my mind and make myself focus on something else. Usually this is after I've given into the feelings for a while and cried, sometimes alone, sometimes with a person I love. I might write about it, or just compose an imaginary blog post or letter in my head because I deal with things in words. And then I have to put it away, because otherwise I can't function and have a happy life. If I dwell on it, I just can't. So I guess I'll just continue to struggle with this... I don't know how long. It won't disappear when I finally hold my own baby in my arms, but maybe, hopefully, it will lessen. I just want to be pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby so, so badly. If you pray, please pray for my husband and I.

I will Skype loved ones that live far away.

I have not done this. I should.

I will love this year.

Yeah, for the most part, I have.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Why do people feel the need to *talk* so much?  

"I'm home!" when you come through the door. Well, obviously. I heard the door open, I heard you clomp inside in your boots, heard the dog yap and run toward you. It's fairly obvious that you are no longer out there but here. Thanks, got it.

"I'm so mad right now!" Really? I couldn't tell. Smoke is practically pouring from your ears, you're red in the face, eyes scrunched up in frustration, the muscles of your neck and arms tight, your hands in fists. Thank you for telling me you're mad, otherwise I wouldn't have picked up on it.

"Are you hurt?" I stood up right beneath that shelf and you almost heard my teeth rattle from the impact. I'm clutching my head and tears have sprung to my eyes. But did I hurt myself? You just want to make sure before you start comforting me.

This isn't directed to or from any one person, just... people. I'm not frustrated or angry about this. Just sort of bemusedly exasperated at the weirdness of humans. Aren't we weird?

"I love you." I know. I know you do. I can see it in your eyes, I hear it in the way you speak to me. I feel it with the way your arms wrap around me and your legs tangle with mine, and I know you love me because you tease me and pick on me text me stupid things to make me laugh and think about me when you see a website or a movie I might like. You don't have to say it for me to know. You don't have to say it.

But I like hearing it. I like knowing that yes, you're human just like I'm human, and when you say "I love you" or "I'm home" or ask "Are you hurt?" you're reinforcing that what I know, what I feel, is valid, that you know and feel it too. That we're both people together, spewing out utterly pointless words just to keep feeling human.

So maybe the words aren't totally pointless.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mad Men

Last night I dreamed about two mad men. One with a blue box, one on a ship.

At first, The Doctor (Tenth) was with a bunch of people trying to get them to safety. It was like I was there among them, but also watching the show, like you do in dreams. There was an awful lot of running involved... seriously, a lot. He had on his blue suit and red Converse, my favorite look for him. (No coat, though.) I don't remember much else than that.

Then, the way dreams do, things changed a little and The Doctor was suddenly Captain Jack Sparrow. His is a somewhat different style of running, but now we/they were fleeing a big building, a great big old hotel. I think it was burning down or being attacked or something? We ended up on the beach between the sea grass that led up to the hotel and the waves. It was night.

That was all, really. Two of my favorite fictional characters, two of my heroes. Both quite mad. Brilliant at times, but very, very daft at others. (Texting and scones.) And since there was really no point to this post at all, here are two videos about my darlings running.

Captain Jack Sparrow's signature panicked run:

And a whole song about how much running is involved for The Doctor's companion:

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

In 2011:

I turned a quarter of a century old 26 OHMYGOSH why can't I remember how old I am???
I finished my first year of teaching -- 8th grade Language Arts.
I spent my first summer completely free from any job or obligations... and it was wonderful.
I built a blanket-and-pillow fort in my living room and spent the whole day in it--twice.
I dyed my hair purple for a while. Then black, to cover up the purple and be an adult again.
I hosted a Harry Potter party, a Star Wars party, and co-hosted another HP party and a beautiful candlelit Edgar Allan Poe party.
I sewed things.
I knit things.
I crocheted things.
I wrote 50,000 words of a novel for the 7th year in a row during November's NaNoWriMo challenge.
I had a couple of outdoor tea parties with my wonderful knitting group, Weekly Fiber.
I rode my bicycle, Mabel (although not as much as I would have liked to).
I wandered the Farmer's Market several times, although I only ever bought peaches and a delicious ham and cheese crepe.
I lived on almost nothing but Ramen and beans for a week at a time, several times.
I got a cat, and we slowly got used to one another.
I spent way too much time on Facebook and Pinterest (which probably contributed to the minimal blogging).
I spent a fantastic weekend in Denver with my husband, who whisked me away for a birthday getaway of rich food, a funny play, lots of walking, and even a little history.
I had some really spectacular fails as a teacher, but some really great wins, too.
I became obsessed with 1920's fashion, hair, makeup, and music.
I helped plant grass in our tiny back yard.
I spent my fourth Christmas without my little brother, Logan. Miss him every day.
I became very discouraged about ever getting pregnant after a heartbreaking miscarriage in 2010, then angry with God, then resigned, then at peace that everything will happen in his perfect timing.
I said goodbye to some wonderful 8th graders, and was holding the door wide open for others to leave.
I welcomed a new crop of 8th graders, who seemed so small and strange at the beginning of the year, and how are now just "my kids" (although they are still certainly strange).
I grew a little more distant from some friends and a little closer with others.
I read a lot of really good books and a few crummy ones.
I hosted a nice little New Year's Eve party last night with board games, snacks, and good friends.

Goodbye, 2011! You were a good year, a hard year, a memorable year.

In 2012:

I will spend less time on the computer and more time reading books.
I will purge useless/broken/unwanted/unused stuff from the house.
I will write at night in my Book of Days planner/journal at least a few lines about that day.
I will be a better housekeeper (which will hopefully be easier to do with less Stuff).
I will be a better listener and not an interrupter or a wait-until-you're-done-talking-so-I-can-say-what-I-wanted-to-say-er.
I will pray more.
I will write more--more letters, more blog posts, more journal entries, more stories, more poems.
I will find a lesson plan format that works for me and I will plan in advance as well as I am able.
I will remember that I am not teaching Language Arts, I am teaching people.
I will not dwell on the past any more than I can absolutely help.
I will Skype loved ones that live far away.
I will love this year.

Welcome, 2012!