Category Archives: Miscellaney

Checking In

When I feel at loose ends, sometimes I pull this series of questions out and check in.

Outside my window the street sounds fade. Cool air settles on the grass and patio, bringing a gentleness with it. Distant yips and howls tell me the coyotes are roaming.

I am thinking about what I just heard on the news about the sardine population collapsing, which has prompted a halt on fishing season for them. Officials say over 90% of seal pups died this year because of starvation; they had no sardines to eat. I eat sardines often and feel both guilt and selfish concern about what this will do to price and availability. This news coincides with my having finished a book — captivating and dire — called The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Human activity has triggered enough environmental change that we may be moving into a new epoch, from Holocene to Anthropocene.

I am thankful for ordinary life. My neighborhood cat-who-is-not-quite-my-cat whom I feed and pet; Claire’s marvelous and spirited self; social media connections; quietude; coffee, and books.

I am wearing black jeans and a black shirt, which is unusual for me, and it feels like too much of one color.

I am creating new connections in my brain now that I’m playing more with numbers. I’m also writing poetry, and making a little art.

I am hearing the hum of silence; my laptop hard drive, the refrigerator, a distant car motor, the high pitch of plugged-in electronics. It has a walled-in aspect to it, and is vastly less restful than the silence of camping outdoors.

I am remembering twenty years ago. My father recently sent me letters I’d written to him in 1995, after I moved to Austin. In these letters I talked about the growth of the Internet, and how that would create major change in the world. I was on a search for a new career, and very torn about my varied interests.

I am going to feel some regret in the morning for staying up this late.

I am reading poetry by Lucille Clifton and Gwendolyn Brooks, and I’m about to dive into a novel, The Diamond Lane.

I am hoping to motivate myself to clear my workspace so I can make some more collages.

On my mind is the fact that I’ve committed to co-leading the Project Cornerstone program at school next year, and I have many ideas as to how to increase community awareness and involvement with it.

Noticing that I’ve been avoiding exercise again, and indulging in more food, and forgoing tracking this.

Pondering these words: growth mindset and fixed mindset, coined by Carol Dweck.

One of my favorite things is snuggling in bed with Claire at the end of the day, singing a lullaby to her.

From the kitchen I’ve been cooking a variety of crockpot meals: chicken tortilla soup, pork roast, red beans, pot roast.

Around the house I’ve been culling items that get little use and trying to stanch the flow of paper that floods us weekly. I’m also still unpacking and sorting from the camping trip.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Friday will be an errand day. Saturday I have a SoulCollage® session from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., after which I will take the car to get a smog test. Sunday is church, and then the Mighty Daring Girls will meet to make masks. Then I’ll roll into the next week with training at Project Cornerstone, taking Claire to choir practice, and all the usual routines of the school week.

Here is picture I am sharing of an ATC I recently made.

ATC abstract

More and More

Claire turned 22 months old on the 8th. Each day there is more expression, more knowledge. Watching consciousness bloom is a marvelous thing. Lately she is attracted to the sounds of certain phrases in her story books: “Roo drooped.” “Everyone gasped.” “The bees are suspicious.” “The snow’s so deep.” She loves to make “mouth noises” and silly expressions.

She’s also getting more autonomous. Lately if I kiss her, she sometimes says adamantly, “No kisses!” Sometimes I forget myself and kiss her shortly after she has made this request and she’ll get really mad. Or if I remember, I’ll ask if I can give her a kiss, and sometimes she says no.

When a child grabs a toy from her hand these days, she says, “I can’t share!” meaning she wants the child to give it back. She has never been physical about holding on to items — no grabbing it back, no hitting or shoving — now she uses words, but the other kids don’t understand her yet. Most times a mother is around to mediate and instruct her child to return the toy. Now an interesting development has occurred. The other day at the park we were playing in the sand with her toys, and a little girl joined us. Our practice has been to welcome anyone sharing as long as they don’t wander too far with the toy, but this time Claire said, “I don’t want to share!” Now, I make sure to bring two buckets, two shovels, etc. so that Claire will still have one set and the other can be shared. I explained to her that at the park, the way we make friends is to share our sand toys. She repeated her statement but didn’t get upset. I managed to distract her a little and it didn’t become an issue.

I believe that one can share only when secure in the fact that she possesses something to share. I think it’s a mistake to negate a child’s desire to keep something by saying, “you MUST share” and forcing the toy out of her hands. It is good to share and take turns, but this is a learned behavior that takes time. It’s important to keep reinforcing the message that sharing helps us to have fun.

Here’s another example of the move toward self-direction. Last night, Husband read Go Dog Go to her once, and of course she said, “Again!” He doesn’t like the book, and he asked if they could please read a different book. Her response (exact words): “No, I want to read this book again.” Very determined, this child!

Claire likes to play other games too. The other day, Claire played with her Elmo doll, wrapping him up in a baby blanket and “changing his diaper.” Then she had me lie down on the floor, and she would take the same blanket and say, “I tuck Mommy in, make you cozy.” Then I’d pretend sleep and snore, and she’d “startle” me awake. This is greatly amusing for her for many, many minutes.

The oddest concepts catch her attention. Getting dressed the other day, Husband explained to Claire the image of the Longhorn on one of her t-shirts. (It’s a shirt with the colors of UT Austin and a Longhorn emblem.) He said that he had gone to school in Austin and had been a Longhorn, and this generated a morning’s obsession with Claire saying, “Wanna be a Longhorn, wanna go to school!”

Claire still loves her gym class, where she mostly likes to walk up and down big foam wedges and dance. Her upper body strength is slow to develop; her hands are so delicate and small she can’t get a good grasp on the bars, and she won’t keep a grip. She’s not much for climbing ladders at the park, either. However, Claire can jump straight up and down with two feet, and also off of things, which is a skill that usually develops a bit later. She’s quite the hopper.

Since she was ill recently, she has gotten reluctant to “scooch” down the stairs by herself. She’ll climb up herself, but she wants me to carry her down. We play a game where I stand a step below and open my arms, and she leans forward and falls into my arms, hugging me tight. I don’t mind this regression. I love hugging and holding her, and she won’t be this way forever. Claire is also really good at holding a hand in public, when we’re walking down the sidewalk or at a strip mall. I sometimes wonder if we are too protective in that way. I see other parents letting their children walk by themselves; sometimes Claire wants to also, and we permit her if it’s not a trafficked area. But she often automatically reaches for our hand, and I like the companionability of that.

If the video doesn’t play, go here.

If the video doesn’t play, go here.

taking a nap


And now I must get chores done, and take the birthday cake for Husband out of the oven (he gets officially older tomorrow). Happy weekend!

Please, Tell Me

To my readers who have baby-proofed their home, and in particular have installed cabinet latches — the type that you press down on as you open the door so it doesn’t catch:

How long until I stop forgetting they’re there and attempting to open the door only to have the latch catch and practically rip my nail off?

I feel rather stupid attempting to open my cabinet doors now.

Five Things In My Fridge

Eden tagged me, and I haven’t played a meme in awhile, and so why not?

A Texan’s (and yes, we still consider ourselves as such) diet must include some of this:

5thingsinmyfridge1

Good with carrots and other veggies:

5thingsinmyfridge2

This stuff really is better than boullion. It’s not as good as stock from scratch, but it serves well:

5thingsinmyfridge3

Husband eats the salsa like it’s manna from heaven, and I drink the V8 (an easy way to get some veggies):

5thingsinmyfridge4

Standard fruit supply:

5thingsinmyfridge5

Now it’s my turn to tag five people. How about:
Gerry
Shirley
Donna
Marta
Fran

…and anyone else who wants to play (leave a comment on the post).

Oh Clair

I remember this Gilbert O’Sullivan “two-hit wonder” song from my childhood. It’s a song about an uncle’s affection for his baby niece. (Nothing creepy like Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline). I loved it. Does anyone else? (Remember or love it?)

Perhaps this memory played a part in the process of naming my daughter.


Click here if you can’t see the video on the post.

Lyrics:
Clair. The moment I met you, I swear.
I felt as if something, somewhere,
had happened to me, which I couldn’t see.

And then, the moment I met you, again.
I knew in my heart that we were friends.
It had to be so, it couldn’t be no.

But try as hard as I might do, I don’t know why.
You get to me in a way I can’t describe.

Words mean so little when you look up and smile.
I don’t care what people say, to me you’re more than a child.

Oh Clair. Clair…

Clair. If ever a moment so rare
was captured for all to compare.
That moment is you in all that you do.

But why in spite of our age difference do I cry.
Each time I leave you I feel I could die.

Nothing means more to me than hearing you say,
“I’m going to marry you. Will you marry me? Oh hurray!”

Oh Clair. Clair…

Clair, I’ve told you before “Don’t you dare!”

“Get back into bed.”
“Can’t you see that it’s late.”
“No you can’t have a drink.”
“Oh allright then, but just just wait a minute.”

While I, in an effort to babysit, catch up on my breath,
what there is left of it.

You can be murder at this hour of the day.
But in the morning the sun will see my lifetime away.

Oh Clair. Clair…

Oh Clair.

Halloween Tip

Don’t use a carving knife to carve a pumpkin into a Jack-o’-lantern.

And pay attention to what you’re doing when you do cut into it.

Learn about where the term Jack-o’-lantern originated.

(And no, my thumb did not need stitches. I bled like the proverbial stuck pig, however, and having a half-inch cut on one’s thumb-tip does not help with mothering tasks. I’ve been forbidden to carve any more pumpkins until Pixie is old enough to appreciate it. It probably goes without saying that there isn’t one this year. I didn’t even get the top cut off before I slipped.)

When It’s Too Hot to Cook

This was tasty and easy to make. The smell of frying basil was heavenly.

tomato bean basil salad

Tomato, Bean, and Fried Basil Salad
11 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
14 oz. can of mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves
5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Put the halved tomatoes and rinsed beans in a bowl. Tear the basil leaves and put with the oil in a small pan. Cook gently on medium heat for about a minute, until the basil sizzles and begins to color. Pour the basil and oil over the tomato bean mixture, add salt and pepper, and mix them all together. Cover and leave to marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. You may top with fresh uncooked shredded basil leaves if desired. Serves four to six.

Ten Zen Seconds: An Interview with Eric Maisel

A couple of months ago I was invited to participate in a “blog tour” interviewing Eric Maisel on his latest book. Since I was offered a copy of the book to review and the opportunity to ask a couple of questions tailored to my interests, I decided to join in. (Who can resist a book?) What follows is an introduction to the concepts in Ten Zen Seconds; my questions regarding how these concepts can be utilized during childbirth and in treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are woven into the interview. Enjoy, and may you find this useful!

What is Ten Zen Seconds all about?

EM: It’s actually a very simple but powerful technique for reducing your stress, getting yourself centered, and reminding yourself about how you want to live your life. It can even serve as a complete cognitive, emotional, and existential self-help program built on the single idea of “dropping a useful thought into a deep breath.”

You use a deep breath, five seconds on the inhale and five seconds on the exhale, as a container for important thoughts that aim you in the right direction in life — I describe twelve of these thoughts in the book — and you begin to employ this breathing-and-thinking technique that I call incanting as the primary way to keep yourself on track.

Where did this idea come from?

EM: It comes from two primary sources, cognitive and positive psychology from the West and breath awareness and mindfulness techniques from the East. I’d been working with creative and performing artists for more than twenty years as a therapist and creativity coach and wanted to find a quick, simple technique that would help them deal with the challenges they regularly face — resistance to creating, performance anxiety, negative self-talk about a lack of talent or a lack of connections, stress over a boring day job or competing in the art marketplace, and so on.

Because I have a background in both Western and Eastern ideas, it began to dawn on me that deep breathing, which is one of the best ways to reduce stress and alter thinking, could be used as a cognitive tool if I found just the right phrases to accompany the deep breathing. This started me on a hunt for the most effective phrases that I could find and eventually I landed on twelve of them that I called incantations, each of which serves a different and important purpose.

What sort of hunt did you go on?

EM: First, I tried to figure out what are the most important tasks that we face as human beings, then I came up with what I hoped were resonant phrases, each of which needed to fit well into a deep breath, then, most importantly — which moved this from the theoretical to the empirical — I tested the phrases out on hundreds of folks who agreed to use them and report back on their experiences. That was great fun and eye-opening!

People used these phrases to center themselves before a dental appointment or surgery, to get ready to have a difficult conversation with a teenage child, to bring joy back to their performing career, to carve out time for creative work in an over-busy day — in hundreds of ways that I couldn’t have anticipated. I think that’s what makes the book rich and special: that, as useful as the method and the incantations are, hearing from real people about how they’ve used them “seals the deal.” I’m not much of a fan of self-help books that come entirely from the author’s head; this one has been tested in the crucible of reality.

Which phrases did you settle on?

EM: The following twelve. I think that folks will intuitively get the point of each one (though some of the incantations, like “I expect nothing,” tend to need a little explaining). Naturally each incantation is explained in detail in the book and there are lots of personal reports, so readers get a good sense of how different people interpret and make use of the incantations. Here are the twelve (the parentheses show how the phrase gets “divided up” between the inhale and the exhale:

  1. (I am completely) (stopping)
  2. (I expect) (nothing)
  3. (I am) (doing my work)
  4. (I trust) (my resources)
  5. (I feel) (supported)
  6. (I embrace) (this moment)
  7. (I am free) (of the past)
  8. (I make) (my meaning)
  9. (I am open) (to joy)
  10. (I am equal) (to this challenge)
  11. (I am) (taking action)
  12. (I return) (with strength)

A small note: the third incantation functions differently from the other eleven, in that you name something specific each time you use it, for example “I am writing my novel” or “I am paying the bills.” This helps you bring mindful awareness to each of your activities throughout the day.

Can you use the incantations and this method for any special purposes?

EM: As I mentioned, folks are coming up with all kinds of special uses. One that I especially like is the idea of “book-ending” a period of work, say your morning writing stint or painting stint, by using “I am completely stopping” to ready yourself, center yourself, and stop your mind chatter, and then using “I return with strength” when you’re done so that you return to “the rest of life” with energy and power. Usually we aren’t this mindful in demarcating our activities—and life feels very different when we do.

Here are my specific situational questions.

Situation 1: Labor and birth is a complex, physically demanding experience. There are three stages of labor, but I’ll focus one the first two.

  • Stage one has three parts: early labor, active labor, and transition.
    • During early labor, which can last 8-12 hours, typically the contractions come 5-30 minutes apart and last 30-45 seconds each.
    • Active labor is next, lasting 3-5 hours; the frequency of contractions generally increases to every 3-5 minutes and lasts about 60 seconds.
    • Transition lasts 20 minutes to 2 hours, and contractions will come every 30 seconds to 2 minutes (or they may overlap) and last about 60-90 seconds; during transition a woman may experience hot flashes, chills, nausea, vomiting. This is the point where she may be most exhausted and emotionally depleted, but she’s not finished!
  • The second stage of labor (active pushing and the baby emerging) can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours; contractions come every 3-5 minutes and will last about 45-90 seconds.

1. When contractions are coming fast and furious, is Ten Zen Seconds a sustainable practice to help with pain and energy management?

EM: I have no reports that it is, so I would love to know if it works in that situation! What I do know is that people in similarly stressful, physically demanding, uncentering situations have found the process profoundly valuable, so I think it’s fair to extrapolate and hazard the guess that it might be useful.

Of course, a different sort of breathing is already taught to mothers-to-be as the best way to breathe during the actual delivery, but in the long hours up to delivery I think that using the deep breathing-and-right thinking combination that Ten Zen Seconds teaches might prove of great value.

I would imagine that the most on-point incantations during this period would be incantation 4, “I trust my resources,” incantation 5, “I feel supported,” incantation 9, “I am open to joy,” and incantation 10, “I am equal to this challenge,” though I can imagine how the others might also prove applicable.

2. What incantations would you recommend to a woman to prepare herself before labor and to cope during labor?

EM: That depends in part what specific challenges the mother-to-be is experiencing. If she can’t seem to get herself present and can only think about this being over, she might want to bring herself back to the present and to the power of presence with incantation 6, “I embrace this moment.”

If she is filled with layers of self-doubt, about whether she can stand up to the rigors of delivery and/or the realities of parenting, I think that self-trust might be the most important thing to cultivate and using incantation 4, “I trust my resources,” might make good sense.

If she is having issues with the people around her, like her parents, her in-laws, or her mate, and really needs to table those issues for the moment so as to get on with labor and delivery with a clear mind, then using incantation 7, “I am free of the past,” might prove really valuable.

First you engage in a little self-awareness to help you determine what the issue is that you want to address, then you choose the incantation (or create the incantation) that serves that need.

3. What incantations would you suggest to her birthing coach to help him or her manage?

EM: The main tasks for the coach are to be present and to be helpful. The mother-to-be doesn’t need someone more anxious and more distracted than she is trying to help her, especially if there are some important decisions in the moment that she could use some help with.

Therefore the coach would especially benefit from employing incantation 1, “I am completely stopping,” to remind himself that this is where he needs to be, incantation 3, “I am doing my work,” to remind himself of his duties, incantation 10, “I am equal to this challenge,” to help quiet his nerves and reduce his fear of negative things happening, and incantation 12, “I return with strength,” to help remind him to return to the mother-to-be’s side with a positive, helpful attitude and requisite strength and presence.

Situation 2: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops in response to a traumatic event. People with PTSD often have problems functioning. In general, people with PTSD have more unemployment, divorce or separation, spouse abuse and chance of being fired than people without PTSD. Vietnam veterans with PTSD were found to have many problems with family and other interpersonal relationships, problems with employment, and increased incidents of violence. There are many symptoms to this disorder, and I’d like to ask how TZS might help manage them.

  • For instance, a person might have a flashback resulting from an environmental trigger (such as a noise that reminds him or her of the trauma) and feel intense fear, helplessness, and horror again.
  • Survivors often take pains to avoid situations that may trigger memories of the traumatic event, which limits the fullness of their lives.
  • They may feel emotionally numb and isolated and are often hyper-vigilant and always “on guard” after the traumatic event.
  • These stressful psychological responses can have a deleterious impact on physical health, and they may lead people to self-medicate with substance abuse.

1. How might a survivor use the Ten Zen Seconds to manage symptoms of fear and helplessness?

EM: One of the profound tasks of healing from trauma is being able to remember the trauma without reliving the trauma. Mindfulness in general, and the techniques that I teach in Ten Zen Seconds specifically, help a person have a thought without attaching to that thought or experiencing pain from that thought.

You acquire a certain healthy, healing distance from your thoughts and can examine them objectively. As this practice deepens, you feel less fearlful, anxious, and helpless because you learn that you no longer have to run from your thoughts, as they are no longer producing pain. Even more than any particular incantation, the basic practice of mindfulness, with its orientation toward detachment and freedom, help a person recover from past trauma.

2. How might one use TZS to overcome resistance to new experiences and a tendency to isolate?

EM: There are several different approaches to this. One is to orient toward the possible pleasure that you might get from new experiences, rather than orient toward the risks involved, and for this incantation 9, “I am open to joy,” can prove very useful.

Another is to frame new experiences as necessary challenges that come with healthy, authentic living, and for this frame incantation 10, “I am equal to this challenge,” is a great tool.

A third approach is turn in the direction of trust, of trusting yourself in new situations and of trusting others not to harm you in new situations, and for this orientation incantation 4, “I trust my resources” and incantation 5, “I feel supported” are the incantations of choice.

3. What incantations would you recommend to a survivor to reduce emotional numbness and excessive vigilance?

EM: That excessive vigilance has to do with rapid and continual scanning both of the external world and the internal world of thought and worry. You are noticing things out there that might prove dangerous and also noticing passing internal thoughts about possible danger — thoughts that you could dismiss without even noticing if only you were less vigilant.

The key here is to stop — to stop all that internal and external scanning — and so the most important incantation with respect to this issue is “I am completely stopping,” remembering that embedded in that phrase is the specific idea that what you are stopping is all that scanning and all that vigilance. As you learn to actually stop, that allows room for feelings to return and numbness to lessen, as feelings had no place to land while you were doing all of that scanning.

4. Can TZS help with the involuntary physical responses that can occur, such as waking from a nightmare shaking and sweating, or having a panic attack?

EM: I don’t know the answer to this one and I would love to hear from folks who make use of the Ten Zen Seconds program and learn from them if in fact using this tool will help with these phenomena. I stand ready to learn!

Is there a way to experience this process in “real time?”

EM: By trying it out! But my web master Ron Wheatley has also designed a slide show at the Ten Zen Seconds site (http://www.tenzenseconds.com) that you can use to learn and experience the incantations. The slides that name the twelve incantations are beautiful images provided by the painter Ruth Yasharpour and each slide stays in place for ten seconds. So you can attune your breathing to the slide and really practice the method. The slide show is available at http://www.tenzenseconds.com/test_photo_slide.html.

How can people learn more about Ten Zen Seconds?

EM: The book is the best resource. You can get it at Amazon by visiting here.

Or you can ask for it at your local bookstore. The Ten Zen Seconds website is also an excellent resource: in addition to the slide show that I mentioned, there is a bulletin board where folks can chat, audio interviews that I’ve done discussing the Ten Zen Seconds techniques, and more. It’s also quite a gorgeous site, so you may want to visit it just for the aesthetic experience! I would also recommend that folks check out my main site, http://www.ericmaisel.com, especially if they’re interested in creativity coaching or the artist’s life.

What else are you up to?

Plenty! I have a new book out called Creativity for Life, which is roughly my fifteenth book in the creativity field and which people seem to like a lot. I also have a third new book out, in addition to Ten Zen Seconds and Creativity for Life, called Everyday You, which is a beautiful coffee table book about maintaining daily mindfulness. I’m working on two books for 2008, one called A Writer’s Space and a second called Creative Recovery, about using your innate creativity to help in recovering from addiction.

And I’m keep up with the many other things I do: my monthly column for Art Calendar Magazine, my regular segment for Art of the Song Creativity Radio, the trainings that I offer in creativity coaching, and my work with individual clients. I am happily busy! But my main focus for the year is on getting the word out about Ten Zen Seconds, because I really believe that it’s something special. So I thank you for having me here today!

First Line

Well, Donna did it, so I thought I’d play along. It makes me think I should aim for more auspicious first sentences of my own (some of these are quotes).

January: Answering a question posed by a reader who wanted to know what one of the bulletin board quotes was (it was too blurry)

February: this is the garden: colours come and go,

March: Because of a total absence of information, when I booked my flight, I took the earliest flight because the travel agent had been told we were to arrive by noon Sunday.

April: People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.

May: The crucial differences which distinguish human societies and human beings are not biological.

June: Q: Should we avoid eating meat, since it entails killing?

July: This item was used at the weddings of two sets of friends.

August: This was my mind before I had my massage last week.

September: On Labor Day, Husband and I went out to Henry Coe State Park for a hike.

October: This…made me cry.

November: Last year I joined Kat at Kat’s Paws to make art everyday in November.

December: Well, whatever funk hit me yesterday held off today (or disappeared?).

Five Things You Might Not Know About Me

Dick Richards, the author of Come Gather Round, tagged me for a meme. I’m to write about five things you might not know about me.

  1. Although I go exclusively by the name Kathryn now, everyone called me Kathy for 25 years (unless I was in trouble with my parents). At age 12, I wanted to make my name (and myself) more special, so I changed the spelling to Kathie. In 1980 I was a finalist in a regional poetry contest, and I went to Wells College in Aurora, New York, to spend the weekend learning about poetry from Bruce Bennett and Dan Masterson (who had recently published On Earth As It Is). The workshop was populated by upper class, privately educated girls from Virginia, Georgia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. This was my first opportunity to be away from home alone, so I experimented and introduced myself as Kate. I was Kate for three full days; I liked it, but it didn’t stick. I remained Kathie until my mid-twenties.

    When I was about 24, I gave serious consideration to legally changing my name to Kathie. It was a time in my life where I struggled to define myself; I was working in a job that felt too small, living a life that was too tight, still overly concerned with what others thought of me. I’d read an article arguing that women with names ending in “y” or “ie” might be taken less seriously in their professions, and it made sense. It’s a diminutive. I wanted to be substantial. I came to a conclusion: my name is Kathryn. It is on my birth certificate. It is a lovely name with a particularly pretty spelling. Those with the same spelling know that the pronunciation is slightly different. It’s “Kath-ryn” and not “Kath-er-ine.” So I decided to be the name I was given, and I made this known. My family, bless them, accommodated this. I expected them to be the slowest to change, since those who’ve known you longest have the hardest time changing. But in fairly short order that’s how they referred to me and continue to this day. Sometimes they call me Kath — but never Kathie. And you know what? I’m not a Kathy, however it is spelled. I am Kathryn. It suits me.

    One intense pet peeve is when people, upon meeting a person, ignore the name given and shorten it into a nickname. I will correct people who call me Kathy after I’ve introduced myself as Kathryn. And though I do prefer my spelling, I am forgiving of other versions, as there are about 2,000 ways to spell my name (slight exaggeration).

  2. When I was nine years old, I had a love affair with Christmas — in July! Seriously. One summer I filled a composition book — you know, the one with the black and white marbled cover — with drawing after drawing in pencil of various Christmas-related scenes. I drew a manger, scene. I drew me sitting in my pjs on the sofa by our tree. I drew wreathes, ornaments, and bells. I wrote out a wish list for Santa. And I even, that summer, made Christmas decorations from construction paper. I still have all this packed somewhere in a box. Yep, I’ve loved the Yule season since very early on.
  3. The summer I was five we camped near the Sault Ste. Marie river. My father brought us to the beach. My two older sisters (11 and 12 years old) were in the river farther out. They were jumping up and down and waving at an enormous tanker that was heading for the Soo Locks. That ship created quite an undertow. I was mimicking my sisters, waving madly, and was unaware of the undertow until is swept me into a drop-off. Suddenly I was under water, and I could not swim. Everything happened fast and all is a memory of confusion. I remember the sunlit water, feeling surprised at where I ended up. Maybe I breathed in once. But before long — seconds really — I was yanked up by my eldest sister. The next thing I remember is standing at the edge of the beach crying, feeling scared, wanting my father and mother. Just think… you might never have encountered this here weblog, if my sisters hadn’t noticed what happened. The next summer I learned to swim, and guess what? I learned first by swimming underwater. Most kids fear that and learn it last. But I wanted to control whether I went under water, so I chose to learn underwater so I could do that.
  4. I was raised a Roman Catholic. I was a sincere believer and very diligent in attending church. I even thought about becoming a nun. I wanted to be a priest for about five seconds until I killed that thought, seeing as how it had no chance in coming true. But still, I wanted to be more involved in mass, so I became a lay reader of scripture. In Catholic mass, the lay readings are usually a passage from the Old Testament and one passage from the New Testament, but never a gospel. Gospels are reserved for priests only to read. In any case, at age 14 I was tired of listening to old white men droning as they read. I wanted the scripture to come alive to the listeners. So I became one, and I felt that when I read I made a contribution, however small.
  5. I’ve eaten a dog biscuit. It was a game of truth or dare with three girlfriends. I was in my late 30s and had never played truth or dare. It was a sleep-over with these other women, who were all in their mid-20s. (We’d become friends through work, and not long after we parted ways.) I was a reluctant participant. There was a question asked of me that I felt was just nobody’s business, so I took the dare. Let me tell you this: dog biscuits are dry and tasteless, much as I think sawdust would taste. I ate the whole damn thing and choked down a glass of water, and yes, I kept it down. Ugh. After that I decided I was way too old for such games; give me Trivial Pursuit any day.

And there you have it. Now you know five things you probably didn’t know before. You are welcome to play along if you like. Leave a link in the comments if you do. There are some folks I’d like to know more about, though: Laurel, Shirley, Leah, Gerry, and Donna. But the more the merrier!

As In The Type of Orange?

Just for fun. Via Shirl from the Other Side.

I’m a Mandarin!

You’re an intellectual, and you’ve worked hard to get where you are now. You’re a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world’s problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you’re determined to try.

Talent: 49%
Lifer: 26%
Mandarin: 69%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

Blog Weirdness

There is something very wonky about my layout in Safari (I typically don’t use it) today. It’s entirely green, and the right hand side displays after the posts. I can’t fix it, though, as I still don’t have access to my computer. All my files are on it, and I’m consigned to using a back-up laptop. Soon, I hope, I shall have my little 12 inch friend back.

Is it rendering normally for you? What browser are you using?

Update: User error — I’d forgotten to close a div class correctly in the Day 13 post. All better now.