Friday, October 26, 2007

Omelets at Elk Camp

My beloved has been out tromping through the hills for the past couple days trying to murder an elk. He saw some in the distance, but was never able to get close enough to shoot one. But it sounds like he and his three buddies that were hunting together had a pretty good time just hangin' out in nature shooting stories. Besides, he came back with a great new recipe. Who would have guessed?

Put eggbeaters, (or whipped real eggs if you are a purist), cheese, cut up ham and whatever else you like in omelets (tomatoes? peppers? onion? Whatever!) all into a heavy duty zip lock bag. Put bag in pan of boiling water ....cook however long it takes to get to the consistency you like - soft and mushy or hard as rubber.

Pour out of zip lock onto plate and yummy yummy - elk camp omelets! Sounds good enough to try at home. No mess, no fuss, and don't have to do a dance turning the thing.

The other thing zip locks are good for is mixing up the egg yolks and mayonnaise for Deviled Eggs. Squeeze till sufficiently mushy then cut of the tip of the bag and squirt into the eggs. No pan to wash and it makes pretty good looking eggs.

Yeah - I know, using all that petroleum based plastic just to toss it out is wasteful and bad for the planet. I admit it, I'm a lazy American blissfully sucking resources for my own convenience. I make no excuses. I pick and choose the areas where I conserve and do try to use things responsibly, but I'm a sucker for the many uses of good old zip locks!

Using Citations


That is the sound of me banging my head on my desk.

I have spent the past two hours grading papers for my online Sociology class. It has been PAINFUL to see how many of these students are missing a key piece - properly using citations.

How is it that people can get all the way through high school and never have to learn this stuff?? MANY have said "well, I never had to do that before so I wasn't sure what you wanted." I understand and accept that. So the very first week of class I go over this again and again. I give them a specific assignment with very explicit directions and examples to show them what a citation is and explain when and why to use it. I give them all sorts of resources to refer back to. Still, here we are in the 5th week of class and they just aren't getting it. SIGH.

For anyone out there who is not clear on how to use a citation - I offer up the following resources:

"You Quote It, You Note It" - Vaughn Memorial Library

Research & Documentation Online by Diana Hackerman

The Owl at Purdue

Now I have to go back and figure out how I will respond to my student who wrote in her comments "I did not use a citation because I was quoting myself." or the one who said "Nothing I wrote was related to the chapters in our book."

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Podcasting Made Simple - AKA - Michael Pollock is My New Hero!!

Many of you know that my day job is as "Learning Specialist" at a small community college in Oregon. One of the things I do in that role is encourage the Luddites on campus to experiment with new technology. I coordinate a weekly seminar called "Technology Tuesday" and am in the process of putting together a series of online modules to give them tips and tutorials for using the various tools we have here (Everything from starboards to clickers to Elmo to who knows what.)

My latest project has been to focus on Podcasting - keeping in mind some of the folks I am working with are so leery of technology they won't use a mechanical pencil. So I began wading through DOZENS of websites and read way more stuff about podcasting than I ever wanted to. I looked at or listened to a phenomenal amount of information until my eyes were going glassy and I just wanted to go sit in a quiet room. Just when I was ready to run shrieking down the hallways and join the ranks of the Luddites out of sheer self preservation, I stumbled upon Michael Pollocks work: The Podsnapper Beginner's Guide to Podcasting.

This is a CLEAR, CONCISE, very easy to understand overview of what podcasting is, what tools are required, and just enough depth to walk the balance between not overwhelming the newbie while still offering some meat for those who are already a bit more familiar. It's visually appealing - nice bright pics, plenty of white space and manageable chunks of text. Pollock NEVER gets condescending or overly technical but he also doesn't write as if he's speaking to idiots. His tone is engaging and informative, with enough personal examples of his own experience learning how to do podcasting to make it seem vey genuine. Honestly - this little guide is PERFECT for what I am trying to accomplish.

So I will still type up my list of other resources that I sorted out, grouping them by categories of:
Tutorials and "How To" Articles
Products and Services
General Information
Directories and Search Engines

But at the TOP of that I will have a box with the following text:

For the best overall summary of what podcasting is and how to get started, go to Podsnapper Guide by Michael Pollock. If you only read ONE resource, make sure this is the one you read. It will give you clear information to understand what podcasting is and how to get started. If you want further information after that, then you can refer to the resources below.

Thank you ever so much Michael. If you lived close I'd bring you a pan of my killer good enchiladas or bake you cookies. But since you don't, you'll just have to accept my undying appreciation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Coping With Grief

Today's Woman to Woman topic is on Coping With Grief. I have sorta dropped off the map with this writing challenge of late...too many other irons in the fire. When I knew that grief would be this week's topic I resolved to get back in the saddle and say a few things. But now that it comes time to post I find my feelings regarding more recent losses are simply too raw for public consumption. So instead I'll post a piece I wrote many years back. This was originally published in the journal Thanatos in 1996 under the title "Giving Sorrow Voice." (Fall 1996. Vol. 21/ No 3)Maybe at some point I will write of other things. But for now, this will have to do.

What am I supposed to do with this reawakened aching? How can I put on the expected smiles when I see my older brother taking vows with his new bride? My brother’s first wife, Donna, died two years ago. She was only thirty-four. With her death, my illusions of safety in the world were completely ripped apart.

I felt so ambivalent when we first lost her. I was relieved to finally see her set free from months of cancer’s anguish. Yet, I was simultaneously outraged that she had been taken away. Donna was more than my “sister-in-law.” She was my friend. She was maid of honor at my own wedding. She was my confidant more times than I could count. We used to joking say that her husband (my brother) was okay, but the real reason I savored my relationship with their family was because of the fun I had with her. Since we lived several states apart, we didn’t see each other often. But through letters, phone calls and occasional visits, we kept the torch of friendship burning bright.

Then she got sick. The illness took her inch by painful inch. It was excruciating. There were days of bitterness, weeks of fury, months of pain beyond words. I hated that I was so far away and could not help her. I felt helpless and impotent. Yet, beyond that, what I hated even more was that there seemed to be no clear role for those of us on the periphery of the grief. While everyone rallied around Donna and my brother, no one ever saw how much I was hurting, too. In fact, I was expected to be one of the ones being strong and kind, always available to listen. I didn’t know who to turn to when my own breaking heart needed some listening to.

So I played the role that seemed laid out for me. My sorrow bubbled quietly inside when the final call came, saying it was time. I remained “strong“ as the family converged in Idaho to say goodbye, to witness Donna’s death, and to attend the memorial. As I went through the motions of assisting with the necessary arrangements, the hurt camped out in my soul like a bewildered vagrant, having no clear clue of where to go. In the weeks after the funeral, that same hurt would catch in my throat every time someone would ask “How’s Andy doing? We were so sad to hear about Donna’s death.” No one ever asked how I was doing. No one ever seemed to realize that part of my world had been shattered too.

When time marched on, and my brother found a new love in his life, the whole family was thrilled, myself included. He had been through so much anguish. It was wonderful to see him embracing life again. And yet, when the gilt-edged announcement of his wedding came in the afternoon mail, I suddenly felt the wind knocked out of me. Granted, it had been two years. Still, holding the invitation in my hand opened up the old wound all over again. Some corner of my brain started howling when, finally, I was forced to admit all the way to my bones that Donna truly is gone. Two years worth of stuffed feelings came rushing out with a vengeance. Every scrap of my being throbbed as tears streamed down my face.

I will attend my brother’s wedding, sincerely happy that his new life is blooming with abundance. But I’ve also come to realize I need to listen to and nurture my own aching heart. I loved Donna keenly. And love, by its very nature, is savage business. It leaves our hearts open and vulnerable to pain. Just because I was not the one to lose a spouse does not minimize the very real hurt that losing a dear friend brought me. I thought I was done with grief and mourning. Now I see how much I still need to address the emotions which have festered down deep for all this time. I need to bind up those wounds, but to do so I must first give them voice and validation. Only then can I truly move on and fully heal.

I will honor my memory of my sister-in-law and cherished friend with a wreath of Queen Anne’s lace which I know she treasured. Then I will begin talking about this with folks who’ve proven their grit by supporting me over and through other serious hurts. I will never forget Donna’s musical machine-gun laugh, her love of Christmas, or her passion for her cats. But I will come to terms with the loss of her more fully by genuinely confronting the impact that loss has caused in my life. I will no longer cripple my heartache by denying its legitimacy. It does not matter how long ago her heart stopped beating. Healing seldom fits into carefully laid out timetables. I wasn’t ready before. Today I am. Finally, I begin to fully grieve.


To read what others have had to say on this topic, go to
My Many Colored Days and/or Seeds From My Garden.

What a difference a year makes

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity a)has too much free time and b) knows one of my favorite blogger pals is the infamous overall clad man in Buffalo - Jaquandor over at Byzantium's Shores.

I skip over the sports nonsense and a few other things that hold no interest for me, but there is MUCH about his blog I adore. One of my favorite things he shares is called "Sentential Links". Basically, he explores the blogosphere and shares bits and pieces of posting he found worthwhile. He's honored me there more than once which is always flattering, but even better than that he has introduced me to some top notch writing.

Well anyway, all that is a long preamble to saying one of the links Kelly recently posted was THIS ONE which came at a time when I really needed to read it.

Yes indeed, what a difference a year makes. I need to remember this.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Playing Catch Up

Today I went back to work after over a week out on vacation. OH MY. There were piles upon piles of things to do, problems to solve and fires to put out. All day long felt like one crazy ride. It's going to take me a while to catch up. I guess I'll just take it one day at a time till I can dig out from under. For right now I'm off to go soak in a bubble bath and regroup for a while.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Geocache Kid Break 100!

I got to do a couple days of desert geocaching while visiting my friend Jenni Sunshine down in Tucson. With her help I found (and surpassed) my 100th find!

We had a great time, and brought home a couple traveling geocoins to place in some of the hiding places here.

Meanwhile, a few folks have started finding my latest hide, "Earth and Sky" which is a three stage multi-cache out at Walla Walla Roastery. On average it is taking most people three attempts before they find it. It's sneaky!

I've recently purchased a new GPS. This time I went with a Garmin eTrex Legend Cx. It was a bit more spendy than my old Magellan, but I really like the bright color display and it seems to pick up satellites WAY faster.

So the hunt for treasure continues. I really enjoy geocaching. It's a great way to find interesting sights and gives my hikes a bit of an intriguing purpose. So far I've found hides in Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Just 43 states left to go~!

Halloween Dogs

I have never dressed up a dog. No cute little sweaters for my pooch. I don't even tie a bandana around her neck. I also don't carry a canine in a purse. Dogs are dogs. I've never understood the point. But now I've discovered something new. I was reading Tristi Pinkston's blog and discovered the wild, wacky world of dog Halloween costumes.

Apparently all sorts of stores from PetSmart to Target are carrying them. Who knew?

I don't thing Morgan dog would stand for it. She'd be way too embarrassed.

To see more silly dog costumes - check out these links:



And if you MUST dress up your pet - be sure to review these 10 Safety Tips for costuming your canine.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Naming the Perpetrator

While on vacation I read the book "A Random Act" by Cindi Broddus. The story is her true account of a horrific crime - some person tossed a gallon of sulphuric acid off an overpass in the wee hours of the morning just as she and a friend were driving by on the freeway below. The bottle of acid came hurling through the windshield, splashed all over Cindi's face, arms and torso, burning her beyond recognition. She required many surgeries and years of recovery therapy and remains physically disfigured. How she coped with those events and the meaning she gave to it is the focus of her book.

I've been mentally comparing this book to Terri Jent'z account of her late night attack in an Oregon campground. For no apparent reason, an unknown assailant drove his truck up on top of the pup tent Terri and her roommate were sleeping in, then got out of the truck and proceeded to attack them both with an ax. Miraculously, both girls survived, even though their injuries were severe. Terri's book Strange Piece of Paradise tells of her years of investigation to identify the perpetrator who so brutally harmed her.

In BOTH cases it was a random act by a stranger that brought unimaginable damage to these women who seemed to have done nothing to bring them into harm's way more than merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In both cases, the perpetrators were never arrested or held accountable for their crimes. The similarities stop there.

Without question, Jent'z book is better written. Strange Piece of Paradise is filled with striking word images and powerful prose that give evidence to her Yale training. Broddus, on the other hand, is not a writer by profession. In fact, she parnters with someone else to get her story laid out. Evenso, at times her book comes off as too sappy. I acknowledge that from the outset the intent of the two books are entirely different. Jentz aims to speak the truth of what happened to her in the face of a social and political climate that seemed determined to look the other way and sweep all that unpleasantness under the rug. Broddus, on the other hand, deliberately sets out to be inspirational/ uplifting. Her message is of forgiveness and choosing to focus on the kindnesses of those who supported her through the nightmare rather than on the horror or the pain.

Broddus states in several passages that catching the criminal or knowing his specific identity were never a priority for her. Instead, she focuses on "pay it forward" style efforts to make something good come out of the terrible. Jentz, on the other hand, describes feeling driven to find out who did this bad thing. Naming the perpetrator takes on almost a compulsion for her and seems to be a catalyst for her healing (although she uses a pseudonym in the book for the man she is convinced did the assault, she has discussed his real identity with law enforcement officials and given information which substantially incriminates him - if not entirely proves he did the crime. They chose not to follow up because he could not be prosecuted due to expiration of statute of limitations.)

What reading both of these books has got me wondering about is what I believe is the most healthy or most appropriate response to trauma and harm.

While most people will never have to face events of this magnitude, EVERY one of us will face some bad in this world. It is the nature of our mortal existence. When the bad comes, how will I respond? What meaning will I give to the utterly wrong, unfair heartaches that come my way?

Does it matter what the context is?

In the book Too Scared to Cry by Dr. Lenore Terr comparison is made between the effects of ONE isolated terrible awful event that happens to the consequences of enduring prolonged, ongoing trauma. I heard Dr. Terr speak at a conference once shortly after the book came out. She described her research comparing a group of school children who had been kidnapped and buried in their school bus, a young girl who was attacked by a lion at a zoo, and several other "ONE time harmed kids" with a group of young people who had lived in war zones or endured years of abuse. It was a fascinating study of the long-term consequences of what happens when children are forced to live in fear.

But I can't help but wonder what different outcomes might be if we could somehow measure the variable of how individuals DEFINE the bad things that happened to them rather than how much or how long those bad things had to be endured.

The meaning we give to the events of our life has tremendous power. What meaning will I give to my blessings? What meaning will I give to my harms?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Anticipation & Ambivalence

One of my favorite things about being on vacation is having some unstructured time to do nothing more than just curl up with a good book.

Today I read a big chunk of Nothing to Regret by Tristi Pinkston. It is a historical novel having to do with a Japanese American young man caught up in world events following the Pearl Harbor attack. The part I'm at right now is taunt with suspense. Part of me wants to keep turning the pages and part of me wants to PUT IT DOWN just to prolong the time I have to be with this book. I always feel such a moment of let down when I finish a good read. So I toy with myself, savoring the pages, second guessing TP to wonder if it will have the obvious, expected ended or whether there may yet be some twists or turns that will catch me by surprise.

It took me a while to get into the story. But after the first fifty pages or so the pace really begins to pick up. I've had the feeling of being on a raft riding along on a lazy, meandering stream that suddenly transforms to quicker current. Now I'm in the rapids. Is there a drop off or dangerous rock up ahead? Can't wait to find out. I'd love to draw it out and make it last longer, but just like biting down on my hard candy instead of licking it to get to the yummy centers, I guess I'll just go for it all at once.

Home Turf

These past few days of tromping all over Arizona have been a revelation for me. I moved away from the Southwest in 1981 and pretty much never looked back. I have loved the Pacific northwest and never really thought I'd want to leave it. However, there is no denying there is a deep connection in my spirit to this arid land. It is very different from the lush green and deep woods I have savored other places. But Arizona definitely has a rich beauty all it's own.

My man and I have been having some long, serious talks about the possibility of us moving back here permanently. It may take a year or more to get all the pieces in place to make that a reality. But I strongly suspect it is the direction we will go.

Who'd have thunk it?

If we stay living where we are now we would have lots more money (keeping husband's job as well as my own.) If we move, it is highly unlikely that at age 62 my husband will be getting another professional job. But if the only thing that mattered was money, we'd all be drug dealers. Our needs are fairly simple. He supported me for a good many years while I was raising our boys. There is no reason I can't be the breadwinner for the next 15 years.

Hard to say what the future will hold. But we are talking a lot about what it means to craft a life, not just earn a living. We're talking about where we want to be as we age and what we want those years to be like. A lot will depend on where I can get a good job. But the ones I'm looking at now are southward. So we'll just throw the possibility out to the Universe, and see what unfolds.

Gigabites Are A Girl's Best Friend

Marilyn Monroe may have thought that Diamonds were a girl's best friend, but I just don't buy it.

For my recent birthday my husband wanted to buy me a gorgeous set of diamond stud earrings. The were pretty. Sparkly bling bling is a nice thing, I suppose. But I really didn't want them.

So I struggled with the ethical dilemma of just graciously accepting the pricey gift from my man to make him feel good or coming out and telling him "please don't." I opted for the latter. I explained that I really did appreciate his thoughtfulness and wanting to do something nice for me. But I did not want diamonds. What I REALLY wanted was a new portable hard drive.

He was baffled by my priorities. But thankfully he did not get offended that I was not interested in what HE thought would be a great gift. He went right out to Circuit City and got me a new
Seagate 250GB external hard drive. It just plugs in to the USB port and GOES. Now I can put all my photos and important documents in ONE place instead of having them saved to various disks and CD's, and I can EASILY transfer any file I have to any other computer by plugging in to a USB. I can preserve not only the programs that are on my home PC, but the appearance of my desk top to take with me to do work where ever I may find myself. Yeah, this is a good thing. Sparkles are nice. But I'll take extra Gigabites any day.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik Baby Gets Creamed

My big brother Andy and me getting ready to do the deed with my Happy PieHere it Comes! Messy Face!

Fifty years ago today Sputnik, the first ever earth satellite, was launched into space. Fifty years ago today I was launched onto this earth. Today I celebrated with my usual tradition - by getting a pie in the face.

I have had a few different people ask me why I pie. It's sort of a long story. But it's something fun that keeps me from taking myself too seriously. My 50 year pie was particularly yummy - with a Nilla Vanilla cookie crust and fruit on top! What didn't go splat all over my face got eaten with mangos, blueberries and papaya.

As far as sharing a birthday with Sputnik goes, it has been an intriguing adventure coming of age during a time on this planet of break through science and all sorts of inventions. Communications, travel, and data processing have shifted exponentially during my lifetime. I well recall the days when a computer with equivalent processing power to what I am using right now on my trusty laptop (Dell Inspiron 9200) would take up a whole room. Tomorrow I will fly from Boise to Phoenix in just a few hours - something that these days is considered common place. I can share ideas of all this within minutes to people all over the world by posting it to this silly little blog.

I cannot help but ponder what sort of changes and shifts in the world will happen over the NEXT fifty years. What sort of planet will my grandchildren have to grow up in?

I'm pretty satisfied with my life at aged fifty. I am blessed to be in reasonably good health and have enough material abundance to not have to worry about how I will meet my needs. I live in a country that despite many problems is relatively safe and abounding in freedom. I am married to a man who even after nearly 26 years still makes me go weak in the knees with his smile. Life is good. I have just enough problems to keep me awake and paying attention, sufficient adversity to keep me from taking how good I really have it all for granted.

I've had a good birthday. Now I better go wash the whip cream out of my hair.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I'm scrambling like a maniac to get out the door for my trip to Arizona. The last couple weeks have been a mad dash trying to get caught up on several important projects to make room for this time away.

This impending vacation has me feeling excited and apprehensive all at the same time.

I am remembering the time when I was a little kid when my father took all us kids to the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Baily three ring circus. From what I heard, all the other kids had a super time. Not me. I hated it. If I looked at the clowns I missed the dancing horses. If I looked at the dancing horses I missed the elephant standing on a barrel. If I looked at the elephant standing on a barrel I missed the trapeze ladies. If I looked at the trapeze ladies I missed the juggling man with the funny mustache. If I looked at the juggling man.... oh you get the idea. No matter WHAT I did, there seemed to be so much I was missing out on. It couldn't stand it. So I just cried in frustration and went to sleep to avoid the whole mess.

I find myself battling some of that same anxiety as I get ready to take off for this trip. There are so many different people who all would like to connect while I am there. There are so many gorgeous places we could see, things we could do. Somewhere, somehow, some choices will have to be made. My fear is that I will feel overwhelmed by all that I will miss. So I am trying my best to go in with clear intention to PACE MYSELF and acknowledge that there is just no way to do it all. I am trying to let go of any specific expectations of how I want things to be and just let myself be present to whatever IS, trusting the universe to let it all unfold as it should.

I don't know for sure who I will see when... Tonight we drive to Boise, where we will spend some time with my brother and do some things like go to LDS temple, shop at Costco, and generally unwind/recharge in prep for the MAIN leg of our vacation. On Friday we fly to Arizona. We will pick up our rental car in Phoenix and then head north for Oak Creek Canyon. The weekend will be spent with LOTS of family. Then Monday my beloved and I take our Hot Air Balloon ride over Sedona. Wahoo!

After that - who knows? We have tentative plans for Tucson, Casa Grand and Maricopa to see certain people. I am going to try to get together with a couple old buddies from high school days. I want to get a few good hikes in.

But mostly I want to BREATHE DEEPLY and RELAX.

I'll have my computer with me since I have to keep up with my online classes. Don't know if I'll make anytime for the blogosphere while I'm gone...depends on how much I am sleeping I suppose. I'm taking my new script for Rozarem with me, so if you don't hear from me till I get back, that means the medicine worked!

I've been kinda quiet of late, but still lurking on sites of the usual cast of characters. Know you will be in my thoughts while I'm gone. Be well.

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