Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Woman, A Trail, A Probable Knee Replacement: Wildwood

The Wildwood Trail is the backbone of Portland, Oregon's Forest Park. It zig zags through the Tualatin Mountains for 30.2 miles from the Vietnam Memorial in Washington Park to the surprisingly unassuming terminus at Newberry Road.

At some point in the last year, I started thinking about hiking the whole Wildwood in a day. Had anyone done it before? Was it even possible?

A quick internet search revealed the answers to those questions as yes and yes.

I had hiked parts of the Wildwood Trail before. It was generally pretty level and I thought, "how hard can it be to walk for nine hours?"

My plan was to hike in the summer, when I could start around 6am and finish before dinnertime. But I never got around to it. Then, in January, my good friend and neighbor, I-Shuan, said she'd like to hike it with me, and why don't we just go for it, and, you know, hike 30 miles next week.

But her husband, an occasional marathoner and someone who likes to ride 60 miles on his bike just for fun suggested we work up to it.


We started slow, with a Newberry to Germantown Road hike on January 26th that logged in at 6.4 miles and took us just under an hour and 40 minutes. It was a great hike that was just the tiniest bit challenging towards the end. It felt great. I could have gone farther, but was happy to stop.

The next week we upped the distance to 12.74 miles by hiking from Germantown to Saltzman Road. This took us just under three hours and resulted in a pain in my right hip and knee along my IT band. The end of the hike required a steep, one-mile trek up a fire lane to the Saltzman Road parking spot. It was most definitely not my favorite way to end a hike. I thought I was going to die.

The next week we planed for a 17-miler, but the weather was nasty and we decided to shorten. It was a good decision because this turned out to be the hardest hike yet. We started at Cornell Road, near the Audubon Society and hiked back towards Saltzman Road. I thought to suggest we start at Saltzman and walk DOWN that nasty fire lane instead of end with the the hike UP. I  regretted not saying anything later. It rained the entire time and despite my wicking clothes and Columbia jacket, I was soaked by the end. The wind was blowing and at one point, we heard a loud CRACK and a large tree branch came down right behind us. The trail was muddy and the going was tough. It turned out to be 12.48 miles and it took us a thoroughly miserable 3 hours and 58 minutes to complete. There were blisters involved and it took a long, hot shower to stop shivering.

Next up was a short hike on President's Day. We started at the Veteran's Memorial and hiked just 5 short, but beautiful miles down to the Cornell Road trailhead near the Audubon Society. The weather could not have been better and the view from Pittock Mansion was gorgeous. After finishing that hike, I-Shuan and I had hiked—in sections—the whole Wildwood trail.

Now it was time to step up our mileage and work towards the elusive 30.2 miles. On February 20th, we started at the Saltzman trailhead and walked down hill (we're finally learning) to the Wildwood Trail and hiked 15 miles to Newberry. That took us a whopping 4 hours and 41 minutes. I got blisters in new places, became acutely aware of my knees and promised myself I would take some pre-emptive Advil before our next hike. 

Unfortunately, by the next week, I'd forgotten all about the pre-emptive Advil. We started at 8am and hiked 20.58 miles in 6 hours, 37 minutes from the trailhead at 53rd all the way to Newberry. The last five miles were difficult. My knees protested with every step down even the slightest of inclines. My feet were burning with new blisters on top of old blisters. And my fingers had swelled up like little sausages making any attempt at manual dexterity laughable. At least I-Shuan and I still felt like laughing. 

Now, separated from that hike by a day, a long, hot shower and some Advil, I realize my desire to hike the whole Wildwood in a day was naive at best. Thirty point two miles feels ridiculous, possibly dangerous. But almost more than that, these hikes are knocking out almost a whole day. The question isn't "am I going to do the whole 30.2" but, "can I just get it over with next week?" 

I'm ready to be done with this challenge.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On Gardening and God

Today I hoed furrows into the garden bed so I could plant peas. I turned on the hose and let water run at a trickle down the row so there would be a nice wet place for my peas to germinate. I stood with the hoe, ready to clear out any blockages that kept that stream of water from making it to the end of the row.

I watched the water work it's way down, shearing the walls of the furrow as it went, pooling in places before breaking through obstacles and rushing onward. I watched, god-like, over this micro-erosion event and imagined the power this trickle of water and I wielded.

I wondered if this is what God felt like as the Grand Canyon was being created, as He watched the walls shape and form, and the canyon deepen. Did he marvel at the snaking course the water took through the path of least resistance? Did he get a thrill when the power of the water caused large boulders to break away, changing the face of the landscape in a moment? Did he ever feel the urge to reach down with his hoe and reshape things for the best possible outcome, or did he just let everything take its course?

Watching this process was a bit of a rush.

But instead of lasting millions of years, it only lasted a few minutes. Then, I planted the seeds, covered them with soil and went inside.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

If Everying I Did Today Was a Click-bait Headline

Even when I'm aware of the tricks marketers are using to get me to buy stuff, I sometimes fall for them anyway—willingly even. If a salesperson pretends she thinks I'm ten years younger than I really am, I will buy almost anything she's selling. I have at least a thousand of those little cookbooks they put next to the People and US magazines, that I've bought while waiting in the grocery check-out line. Once I even purchased six gallons of ice cream at one time because I saved a few cents—but only if I bought six.

The evil practice of clickbait, however, is one marketing scheme I will not fall for. Whenever I encounter a vague headline promising something unbelievable or intriguing, I refuse to so much as acknowledge its existence. Clickbait is the lowest form of marketing, designed only to garner clicks resulting in sub-par content which then translates into increased revenue for the website. I never click on clickbait.

Well . . . almost never.

Today, after clicking to find out the amazing thing one woman does with crayons that will change my life (she makes her own lipstick), I wondered how much more exciting my average day would sound if it was made up of clickbait-style headlines.

I Slept Until 8:13am and When You See What I Did Next, Oh My Gosh!

It's Saturday, so I slept in. I didn't have anything forcing me out of bed, so I checked Facebook. I even updated my status, all before getting out of bed. Can you believe it?

I Opened the Dryer and What I found? This Was Seriously Cool!

When I looked in the dryer, I found my clean workout clothes. I picked what I needed for my Pilates DVD, dressed and was ready in minutes. You know how cool it is that I remembered to put the wet clothes in the dryer before I went to bed so I wouldn't have to fish out stinky, sweaty clothes from the laundry basket to wear? That's right: Seriously Cool.

It Looks Like I'm Cooking Eggs and Turkey Bacon But What I'm Really Doing? Pure Genius!

I'm not always this efficient, but today while my bacon and eggs were cooking, I unloaded the dishwasher at the same time. By the time I was done making and eating my meal, I could put all my dirty dishes right into the empty dishwasher. They should give me a Nobel Prize.

You Won't Believe Why I'm Putting On Makeup This Morning. The Answer is Astounding!

I plan to head downtown to a trendy little boutique to buy some shoes, but I don't think the sales person will take me seriously if I don't look cute, so I'm accessorizing and wearing make-up. I can't believe I'm caving to societal norms like a sheep. Baa!

These Look Like Normal Jeans, but When You Find Out Where I Got Them, Unreal!

Part of my cute outfit requires me to wear my favorite jeans. But my favorite jeans are not folded up, neatly, in a drawer. They're at the bottom of my laundry basket. I take them out, sniff them, and put them on anyway. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders by admitting this.

When I Checked the Mail, I Never Expected to Find This. My Brain Hurts!

After I got home from buying shoes (suede booties, thank you very much), I checked the mail. There were quite a few things in the mailbox, including a package from China. But the piece of mail that really made my head hurt was the 1099 Tax Form for "miscellaneous income" or in other words, the trip to Hawaii I won back in March. Ouch.

I Looked in The Fridge to Find Something For Dinner. What I Saw Left Me Mortified!

I thought we'd have left over curried cauliflower soup for dinner tonight, but when I looked in the fridge, I saw there wasn't enough for everyone to have some. This means I have to figure out something else for dinner. Shoot me now.

When I Saw What Was On The Floor of the Kids' Bathroom, No Way!

The day is done. The kids are in bed and the doors are locked. Now it's just time to turn out the lights and hit the sack. But when I went to the boys' bathroom, I found the floor littered with dirty clothes and wet towels left there after showers. I can't even . . .

The take-away, you must agree, is that if you are ever discouraged by your normal life, try spicing things up by describing it with clickbait headlines. It will turn your day from average and boring, to soap opera-exciting. Language is a powerful thing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Every Time You Make Salad in a Jar, a Kitten Dies

Using canning jars for things other than canning is a hot trend. With a little electrical wiring knowledge you can turn canning jars into pendant lights for your farmhouse-style kitchen. In the bathroom your jar can become a soap dispenser. You can paint them and put candles in them and bake little cakes in them and even drink out of them because looking like a Hillbilly is also a hot trend.

I'm a purist and think that canning jars should be used for their intended purpose: Canning. Every so often I will use one to hold some homemade salad dressing or spice mix, but for the most part, I use canning jars only for canning, the way the Good Lord intended.

I will not lie—these "cute" canning jar crafts get me a little riled, but there is one use of a canning jar that just puts me over the edge. It is the salad-in-a-jar.

(Oh boy . . . here I go!)

Salad does not belong in a canning jar. Period.

Salad needs to be tossed and mixed and when you jam pack a jar right up to the top with salad ingredients, tossing and mixing become impossible. This is why for hundreds of years, people have eaten salads in bowls. We even have bowls just for eating salad. They're called Salad Bowls. You can buy them in sets or one at a time. You can get a big bowl for a big salad, or little bowls for small salads. The structure of the bowl allows for tossing and mixing so all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Sometimes you might want to take a salad with you to work or a picnic. For these occasions, we have bowls with lids. It's a clever idea and very convenient for portable salad making.

My second, and probably most important salad-in-a-jar gripe, is the fork to jar ratio. I assume that if you go to the trouble of making a salad in a jar, and then follow that up with photographing your salad in a jar, you probably intend to EAT your salad in a jar. But standard sized fork will be just about as tall as your Ball quart. So while your first few bites of misguided jar salad could be easily attainable, your mid-level bites will become awkward and messy as fork holding area gets smaller and smaller.

By the time you are at the remaining bites of salad, which, by the looks of any salad-in-a-jar picture on the internet, will be the only ones with salad dressing, your fingers will only be able to grip the very tip of the fork handle as you try and fish out the chunks of cucumber, radish or chicken. Your hand can not fit in the jar, so there is no way you can dig deeper in that jar than the length of the fork will allow you to go.

I concede that some may use the salad-in-a-jar folly as a clever way to store individual salads and when eating time arrives, they get dumped in a bowl. Friends, this just creates extra dishes to wash. Grab yourself the bowl you plan to eat the salad out of, make your salad in that bowl, and cover it with a lid. I've just saved you one jar to wash.

You're welcome.

I realize it is fun to make our food look adorable, and putting salad in a jar is undeniably adorable. Google Images is filled with hundreds of thousands of pictures of everyone's attempt at making salad in a jar. But what you don't see on google images is anyone eating salad in a jar. Or at least not down to the bottom of the jar.

This leads me to believe that people who make and eat salad-in-a-jar are so embarrassed by their participation in this utterly inefficient hot trend, that they are not speaking out for fear of looking like a fool whose common sense is blinded by adorable hot trends.

People, please stop making salad in jars. Use a bowl and we will never mention this shameful period of hot trend history again.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ten Things I Want My Teenage Son (and everyone on the internet) To Know

As the mother of a teenage son, I'm experiencing things I'm pretty sure no one has ever experienced before. You know, stuff like slamming my foot on the invisible passenger side brake during driving lessons; giving constant reminders to pick dirty clothes off the floor . . . every day for the last thirteen years; figuring out how to get an apple or a glass of milk into the stomach of a kid who makes daily passes through the Taco Bell drive-through.

I'm basically a pioneer.

As a ground breaker, it's my responsibility to impart the wisdom that comes from being a parent for 16 year and 10 months, so when you reach these milestones, you will know what to expect and be prepared for the feelings and emotions that no one else has ever had before you.

These are the ten things I want my teenage son to know, and that I'm pretty sure you will want your teenage son to know too.

1. Never seek answers from a numbered list. Life is not that simple or succinct.

2. Beware of click bait that promises quick and easy reading. They're always selling something.

3. You are not the first person ever to feel the way you are feeling. About anything. Use that knowledge to be compassionate towards others.

4. When you are pretty sure you know everything, you definitely don't.

5. When you are pretty sure you know nothing, you probably know more than you're giving yourself credit for.

6. Sometimes, it's okay for lists to only have six items.

7. But if you need a seventh thing, use your imagination. I'm sure you can come up with something.

8. If you need to communicate important information to someone, writing it out and posting it on the world wide web is never preferable to, you know, just talking.

9. Always leave room for something completely frivolous.

10. No matter what you do in life, there will always be nasty trolls trying to tear you down with their comments. They are miserable people who deserve our pity.

There you have it! If your son knows these ten things, he's pretty much guaranteed to turn out to be a strong, confident young man. But not stronger or more confidant than your daughter. He will be exactly or slightly less strong and confident than your daughter. Because this world is only big enough for one gender to be strong and confident at a time.

That's how it works, right?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I have been in a cranky mood today. My plethora of peeves are like a series of little earthquakes releasing pressure along a California fault line to avoid "the big one." I've tried to spread my complaining around, so as not to overwhelm any one person, all along thinking, if only I had a creative outlet to get this all out in one fell swoop. And then I remembered my blog. Which is public, but no one reads blogs anymore, right?

So I'm sure that I will offend no one by offering the following things that I find tiresome and annoying.

1. Starting a sentence with "that awkward moment when . . . "
2. Referring to ones female offspring as "girl child."
3. People posting pictures of their feet on PDX's iconic ugly carpet on social media.
4. Making the heart sign with your fingers, natch. (I thought this trend would have slipped into the nether by now.)
5. Death knellers on Facebook who seem to love being the first to post celebrity death RIP's.
6. My back hurts
7. Waning laptop battery. (RIP laptop battery)
8. The seemingly overnight increase of real estate in my belly area.
9. Miscommunication.
10. Me overreacting to miscommunication and making my boy child sad.
11. People not calling my cell phone when there is a miscommunication.
12. The Kardashians.
13. Starting the Christmas countdown in August (or anytime before December 15th).
14. Bitstrips
15. Procrastination via means of blog post kvetch session.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Hidden Message in "The Lego Movie"

When I heard Fandango's Harry Medved, on the radio, say The Lego Movie was going into its third week as the number one movie, I knew it was because there was probably a secret agenda that was being promoted that everyone who loved the movie was just too confused to recognize. So I decided to see it for myself, uncover the secret agenda, and publicize it to the world. You're welcome.

I shamefully admit that I loved The Lego Movie. But right away, the secret agenda became as clear as Kragle oozing from its tube. The Lego Movie secret hidden agenda message promotes dangerous experimental animal hybridization. I believe they are doing this to normalize experimental animal hybrids and confuse the upcoming generation into thinking animal hybrids are acceptable.

In The Lego Movie, animal hybrid UniKitty is presented as an adorable, big-eyed cross between a unicorn and a kitty. UniKitty is fun and up for any adventure, but it quickly becomes obvious something is not right with UniKitty. Bubbling beneath UniKitty's sweet-as pie personality is dark violence, a trait that is neither present in the majestic unicorn or the independent, but clever kitty.

Taking things one step further, the movie portrays UniKitty's dark, Berserker-like violence in a positive, almost heroic light. If there is one thing kids do not need mainstreamed, it's the idea that going berserk is okay.

In real life, the kind of animal hybridization that created UniKitty would be considered abuse and never tolerated. There would be protests, sit-ins and PETA would throw blood on people! Yet small children, unable to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, will most likely attempt their own hybridization experiments. Before we know it, the world will be overrun with CatDogs, HamsterBunnies, and GeckoGoldfish. Admittedly, HamsterBunnies (patent pending) would be irresistible. But what evil leaning lies beneath the surface of the cuddly HamsterBunny?

HamsterBunny (Patent Pending)

I don't think the world is ready for the answer.

I also have issues with The Lego Movie's hidden secret message that Batman is suitable boyfriend material, the promotion of the "old blind men with long beards are wise" stereotype, and the mainstreaming of cat memes. I will save those arguments for another time.