Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five: Fork in the Road

Singing Owl writes: I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

Here are 5 of mine...

1. My parents chose this first fork: moving from a small town in North Dakota to Helena, Montana during the middle of my junior year in high school. Since I had been with my classmates since kindergarten, it was a challenging time to move. But it turned out well. I ultimately ended up doing my undergraduate work at Carroll College in Helena -- which was a great experience.

2. While at Carroll I faced this fork in the road: English major or biology major? I went with biology which is part of why I am now an optometrist. (The other fork at Carroll was "stay with K. or break up with K." Hubby's first initial is "M." so you know how that fork went.)

3. Hubby and I had practiced in Colorado for about 5 years when an opportunity presented in Washington state. The fork: Stay in Colorado or make the move? We gave up having Rocky Mountain National Park in our backyard, but now have Mount St. Helens in our backyard. Offsprings #1&2 were both born in the Pacific NW and love it -- so I think we took the right fork.

4. Church: In or Out? We were members of our local Presbyterian church for many years. To make a very long story short, after an awesome pastor was called, congregants decided to star in their own reality show: Church Members Behaving Badly. That awesome pastor now lives elsewhere and we opted out. Right now my church is hiking, revgals, and reading.

5. I had a minor fork moment last night: Should I order that Hillary Clinton book in print or on my (drum roll please........) brand new Kindle? Hooray! I got a Kindle for Christmas and it was backordered until now (I got a Kindle 2 so it was worth the wait). Not surprisingly I ordered it on my Kindle, so I am officially off and running on the "saving trees" path.

googled all pics

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

tuesdays with tumnus

What's that? You haven't seen a picture of Mr. Tumnus in over 2 weeks?! Well, I'll take care of that right away. Here you go...

(Mr. Tumnus likes to give his input on the day's menu.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009


My grandmother (my personal hero) had many qualities I admired. She was unfailingly kind and even-tempered. She always took a stand on ethical issues and stated her opinions in a low-key way. Actually, I think she mastered the art of the understatement, but she always got her point across.

So I couldn't help but smile and think of my grandma when I recently heard Hillary issue a warning to the North Koreans. She said, "The possible missile launch that North Korea is talking about would be very unhelpful..."
I love that -- very unhelpful. Clear message; no saber rattling.

Here's the youtube clip:

But speaking of unhelpful... I am a bit embarrassed to report on Garbage Puff's job performance. You probably noticed he was nowhere to be seen on the clip. He was late for the press conference because he was hitting the tourist traps. Here he is seen trying on some Kim Jong-il souvenir glasses:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Five: Taking a Break

Songbird asks, Tell us how you would spend:

1. a 15 minute break
I would meet Dust Bunny at the Red Rooster Bakery for toast and coffee.
(Don't bother clicking on the link... That darn Dust Bunny still has her blog in mothballs.)

2. an afternoon off
I would drive up to Edmonds and have a leisurely lunch with Rev SS at Anthony's HomePort. We would watch the ferryboats glide across Puget Sound while eating seafood and enjoying a glass of Hefeweizen.

3. an unexpected free day

I would hop on a plane and set out in search of Hot Cup. Sadly, I only have a vague idea of where she lives, so it would probably be an exercise in futility.

4. a week's vacation
Ah, this is easy. I would head for NYC and visit Processing Counselor. (I would take my family along or they would be jealous.) We would go to plays, museums, etc. She would even get us tickets for the Colbert Report.

5. a sabbatical
An entire sabbatical? For me??? Imagine the crazy, madcap fun Presbyterian Gal and I could have.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

spirituality of place

I'm currently reading (and enjoying) Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia. I think this little blurb from Amazon describes the book quite well:

Envied by people around the world, Cascadia - which includes British Columbia, Washington and Oregon - is remarkable for its mountains, evergreens, eagles, beaches, and liveable cities. Cascadia is also home to the least institutionally religious people in the continent. Despite their unusual resistance to old ways of doing religion, this book argues that most of the 14 million residents of this rugged land are often deeply spiritual, gaining their sense of the sacred through the land. The contributors, who include leading historians, economists, poets and more from both sides of the border, explain how the Pacific Northwest is nurturing a unique 'spirituality of place', which could become a model for the planet.

I do like the idea of 'spirituality of place'. And last weekend, Hubby and I "got some churchin'" as we checked out Oxbow Regional Park in the Portland area. I think it would be fairly crowded in the summer months, but (since it was mid-February) we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

One of the trails takes you by the Sandy River...

Another trail takes you into a forest...

The book quotes John Mikes as saying: "We don't have the galleries and cathedrals of Europe here. We have wilderness..."

Actually I think these trees are rather cathedralesque:

(Hmm... they also look a bit Dr. Seuss-ish, but that's veering off topic...)

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Reader (vs. The Sleeper)

I am usually a sound sleeper, but I woke up in the middle of Sunday night (I guess around 4:00 a.m.) and had trouble going back to sleep. Weirdly, the problem was The Reader. We saw it at the Kelso Theater Pub Sunday night. I only knew a couple of things going into it: (a) Kate Winslet was in it and (b) it had something to do with the Holocaust.

To address those points first off: (a) Kate Winslet does an amazing job and (b) the film approaches the Holocaust from an unusual (and effective) angle.

There are jumps in time throughout the movie, but the main part of the story begins in Germany in 1958 when 15 year old Michael Berg (David Kross) falls ill and is helped by an older --as in probably around age 30-- Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet). When he returns later to thank her they begin an affair, and part of their time together includes Michael reading books such as Homer's The Odyssey and Chekhov's The Lady with the Little Dog to Hanna.

Have you seen those t-shirts and bumper stickers that say "Reading is Sexy"? This film takes that slogan to a whooooooooole new level.

Anyway, I won't go any further into the plot details, but as the story unfolds many layers of moral complexity are revealed. The story is haunting...

And this takes me back to 4:00 a.m.

I awoke thinking about things such as secrets, pride, group vs. individual guilt, and redemption. I also started thinking that choosing The Odyssey was no accident, as there was a parallel (at least to some degree) between Michael and Odysseus.

I've always said that the mark of a good film is if it rattles around in my brain for a while. So this film must be grrrreat if it woke me up from a sound sleep.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

we're in good hands

For those of you who have been wondering what Garbage Puff has been up to...

That's right. He has been training for a high level State Department job. In fact, he will be joining Hillary Clinton as she sets off today on her first foreign trip as Secretary of State. Clinton and Puff will be visiting four Asian capitals and will attend talks on the economic crisis, climate change, and the North Korean nuclear threat. The picture above is of Hillary briefing the press on the crucial role Garbage Puff will play during the eight-day mission.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a renewed sense of optimism.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy valentines day

OK, the original wording of this vintage valentine (from here) was "Love me and the World is mine", but that just seemed a bit much! (Hmmm... well, now that I think about it, "Love my blog and the world is mine" seems a little over-the-top too.)

Anyway, hope everyone has a great day. The weather is supposed to cooperate, so Hubby and I are going on a hike. (We'll pack a lunch and it should be fun!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five: Pets

Revgal Sophia is worried about the health of her son's pet lizard, Elf. She writes: "Others in the ring have also been worried about beloved pets this week. And, in the saddest news of all, Songbird has had to bid farewell to her precious Molly... So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known. "

I've previously posted about Marble and the amazing Mr. Tumnus (some might say ad nauseum). So here are memorable animals who haven't gotten much 'press' from me.

1. My first pet was a black cat named Katze. I went through some old photographs, and, while I didn't find a picture of Katze, I did find one of my childhood friend, Debbie D. She and I played with Katze for hours. This picture was taken at Debbie's house on her birthday. (Debbie is on the right.) I'm not sure why we felt compelled to feed each other her birthday cake...

2. Chumley, my first and only dog (a Boston Terrier). He had a cute little nose and a cheery personality. Here he is on his favorite loveseat (which he sort of chewed up).

3. Kitty Carlisle -- which I think is an awesome name for a cat. Hubby and I got him shortly after we got married. He was a really sweet kitty:

4. Leroy the Bug. The best bug-as-a-pet ever. Just like Lassie, there were several Leroys, but shhhhh... don't tell Offsprings #1&2.

(picture from here)

5. Licorice -- I still miss that cute little kitty. Here he was playing some Tchaikovsky.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

as seen in one of our local weeklies...

Umm... I'll just take the candy. (And I don't really even like candy that much.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

two nights; two films; one theme

It has been a movie-watching kind of weekend. We'll skip any discussion of the Friday night Netflix fare -- 10,000 B.C., a Hubby request. It was, umm... not so good. (Hubby's cute so it's ok.)

But last night we watched Sideways, a wonderful film from 2004 about two middle-age men who take a road trip through California wine country just before one is to get married. The two friends have very different personalities and very different agendas which leads to, shall we say, complications.

And tonight we went to the Kelso Theater Pub -- where you can eat pizza and have a glass of beer or wine while watching the movie which is cool -- and saw Revolutionary Road, the film version of the Richard Yates novel of the same name. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play a 1950's American couple who, feeling trapped in suburbia, make plans to move to Paris. Difficulties ensue.

Both films grapple with the "big picture" issue of living life to the fullest -- and the cost of taking and/or not taking risks. Yet the approaches have little in common: Sideways interjects quirky humor along the way, and Revolutionary Road sticks with the pathos.

I think it's important to ponder the Big Questions in life, and Sideways and Revolutionary Road both get 'thumbs up' from me. But I'll admit when I ponder I do prefer the inclusion of a little humor...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

hiking the hills

I was reading in USA Today that Mount Rushmore National Memorial is in the process of taking public comments on the environmental impact of adding 10 miles of backcountry hiking trails in the Black Hills. These trails would include scenic overlooks, and the project would fit in with a National Park Service program in 2016 to celebrate 100 years of national parks.

Since I grew up in the Dakotas and have been to the Black Hills many, many (did I mention many?) times, I read this story with great interest. I think the addition of new, well-marked hiking trails would be great, because the last time Hubby and I went hiking around Mount Rushmore we used an unofficial trail. We had some problems.

First Hubby took a wrong turn:

Then I slipped on the rocks:

It just seemed to go from bad to worse...

So hopefully the plan for the new trails will be approved.

googled the North by Northwest pictures
(Love that movie!)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Five: My Favorite Things

Songbird writes: In a week of wondering how various things in our family life will unfold, I found myself thinking of the way Maria comforted the Von Trapp children in one of my favorite movies. Frightened by a thunder storm, the children descend upon her, and she sings to them about her favorite things, taking their minds off the storm.

So, let's encourage ourselves. Share with us five of your favorite things. Use words or pictures, whatever expresses it best.

Yay! I love Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music, and Maria's list was pretty darn good so it gets incorporated into mine.

1. Raindrops on roses. Actually, raindrops seen on any plants while hiking are fine -- I live in the Pacific NW after all! (Here's Hubby and me hiking in the rain:)

2. Whiskers on kittens. Especially if that kitten is Mr. Tumnus.

3. Brown paper packages tied up with strings (or packing tape) -- especially if the package is from Amazon or Powell's and contains a book! Yeah, books are great!

4. Schnitzel with noodles. I gotta admit I love German food (especially if my grandma made it!)

5. Silver white winters that melt into springs. I love snow too! This picture (featuring Offsprings #1&2) was taken last winter break (i.e. a year ago) when we went snowshoeing.

OK, time to head out for the day -- and hope there are no dog bites or bee stings. I know, I know. I'm carrying the lyrics too far.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

mid-week movie break!

I went to see Gran Torino with my mom tonight. I'd heard good things about it, but having seen the previews (and because it's Clint Eastwood!), I was worried about it being Dirty Harryish. However, it's less "make my day" and more about (to quote movie critic Roger Ebert) "the belated flowering of a man's better nature. And it's about Americans of different races growing more open to one another in the new century."

I was surprised at how much I liked it. Worth seeing.

That is all. Time for bed.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Prognosticating Animals

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning and predicted six more weeks of winter.

Mr. Tumnus shredded the toilet paper this evening and predicted a reprimand.

groundhog picture from here; picture of mr. tumnus by offspring #1

Sunday, February 1, 2009

cheating: in the news and on the stage

Looks like Treasury Secretary Geithner has company in the 'tax trouble club'. Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle is in the news for tax issues of his own -- and also regarding money he earned from interests in the health care industry. Of course, the main question being raised right now with Daschle is: Will this affect his confirmation? (I'd say the answer is probably 'no' -- he will likely be confirmed.) Addendum 2/4/09: Oops! Guess I got THAT wrong! Daschle is toast.

But for me, the more interesting question is: How pervasive is cheating? Maybe all these tax mistakes were 'innocent', but I must say I have my doubts. (And Hubby says that it looks like the best way to get people to pay their taxes is to nominate them for an important post!)

Part of why I'm pondering the pervasiveness of cheating is that on Friday night I attended the play Cheat (in which Offspring #1 was involved) at WWU. The play focused on cheating in relationships, business, and sports, and it was designed to raise questions rather than give answers.

One of the really cool things about this play is that it is a "devised" work. According to the playbill, "Devising is the creation of a new theatrical work where the artists who collaborate to create the piece also perform it." Using David Callahan's book The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead for inspiration, the students wrote the script, did the stage design, music, costumes, etc. Everything was done 'from scratch' and it was impressive! My mind is still reeling over the amount of work involved! (As an aside, the stage was designed so that the majority of the audience was standing several feet above the actors during the entire production -- which was an interesting perspective!)

Offspring #1 and her boyfriend Doug were excellent in their roles involving the relationship aspect of the topic. Their performances were both rock solid, and their chemistry on stage was (probably not surprisingly!) wonderful.

Here they are:
[photo by Hailey Tucker, which appeared in 'The Western Front' online edition]

This play provided lots of food for thought, and I plan on reading Callahan's book as a follow up.

re: the other photos:
I googled the top 'tax' photo, and I took the picture of the 'Cheat' poster at Bandito's Burritos!