Entries tagged with “Happy Making”.




Twilight: the good kind

Twilight: the good kind

Today marks the beginning of the multi-part and days-long celebration of a truly momentous occasion; on Monday June 29th my daughter, darling, and light of my life is turning sixteen.

Hodie. Beeps. Goobs. Bitbot. Potty-Bear. BuggaDoo. The Pagoda. Future Crazy Cat Lady.

Hodie. Beeps. Goobs. Bitbot. Pookah. BuggaDoo. The Pagoda. Future Crazy Cat Lady.

Apart from the fact I find it bizarre that I am old enough to have had anything happen to me sixteen years ago, I also find it mystifying that I am the mother of a person who as of this year can:

  1. Tie her shoes the non-weird way
  2. Retain gainful employment
  3. Unabashedly sing with me in public
  4. Independently select and purchase gifts for the adults in her life that they really like
  5. Request I make her a cocktail and enjoy the result
  6. Rationally calculate the cost/benefit ratio of a trip to Disneyland and reject the proposition
  7. Articulate that simultaneously training in ballet and carpentry will make her a total badass
  8. Successfully travel the length and breadth of Portland via public transit
  9. Accept and complete commissions for art projects in a variety of mediums
  10. Autonomously conduct her secondary education with only minimal supervision
  11. Plan, shop for, and prepare a multi-course meal*
  12. Own a bank account and ATM card
  13. Meaningfully deconstruct political theory and successfully identify logical fallacies
  14. Drive a car**
  15. Declare her intent to be a crazy cat lady who also has birds and possibly a hedgehog
  16. Speak authoritatively about her preference for a Vanagon Weekender, rather than a Westfalia

She can also take my breath away with her sweetness, stun me with her insight, and reduce me to tears with her humor. She is unquestionably the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am grateful every day that I get to be her mother and that she still appears to like*** me a lot.

Tonight we leave for her requested birthday activity: camping up in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on the Washougal River with her two best friends. Considering it is one of my favorite places in all the world, and she absolutely my favorite person, I feel like I’m the one on the receiving end of a pretty great gift.


*Guaranteed, said meal includes some combination of potatoes/pasta/cheese

**After a fashion and apparently with much greater confidence and ease than when I am present

*** Most of the time.


  1. Having patches of black and white or of other colors; parti-colored.
  2. Composed of incongruous parts


  1. A piebald animal, especially a horse.


We are none of us promised consistency. In many ways, this is probably for the best. 

The human knack for adaptation being what it is, we pivot at some point between experiencing a comforting reassurance in the face of predictability to a stifling sense of ennui which is the ultimate suffocation and demise of the soul.

So, you know, vive la difference!

I’ve been playing with this notion visually for a while. In the two places I spend the most time I have been creating a graphic representation of outcomes I want to manifest in my life. There is less distinction in the messages, admonitions, and tender reminders I am putting under my notice than I would have predicted.

All The Livelong Day

All The Livelong Day

I see both instances declare happiness is a choice, work is requisite, and compassionate attention most desirable. How they are stitched together, and in what proportion each theme appears differs based on the setting and focus of my visioning, but I find the consistency – with crucial differences – augments my understanding and encourages their integration more thoroughly.

Where The Heart Is

Where The Heart Is

The colors are similar but they ramble and riot each in their own particular way.

I started out no less than 5 times, over the course of the weekend, to run. I knew it would be a challenge – as it always is with the differing elevation and climate in Bend – but I was determined to get some miles under my feet nevertheless. Though the medication I am taking will inevitably make me puffy, I have decided I need not become soft, thereby. Moreover, training for the Blerch and a potential half-marathon in October, I know that running in varying conditions is both good for me generally and imperative to any race since I won’t have the luxury of meticulously curated route selection.

Previous attempts at running in central Oregon had not gone well. Even at times when I was in a good and stable pattern covering decent distances, as soon as I’d set out I’d be forcefully reminded that there is just more air in the air at sea level where I live than there is at 3625 ft. Usually about the middle of my first mile, I’d be stricken with the feeling that my lungs were like to simultaneously explode and collapse and I’d stutter to a halt, ashamed of the ill-founded confidence I’d developed running in Portland where the oxygen rich atmosphere makes a person soft and air greedy.

Couple this with the strong preference to run somewhere scenic which would on its face seem a small thing to ask; literally ringed with mountains, rivers and lakes as Bend is. Instead I was confronted with a surprisingly vexing scenario wherein I set out on what appeared to be a picturesque gently winding trail that would follow the river for miles, but was instead quickly dumped unceremoniously out on the street through neighborhoods I can only describe as “High-Desert-Ant-Farm-Chic”

This time I was armed with a route map for the Deschutes River Trail, and I thought with a clearly marked legend, I’d be able to plan my course such that I needn’t ever hit the street. More, I’d be able to get the lead out in the most scenic possible setting to forestall too much notice of my lungs fighting to extract as much oxygen from the scanty amount present in the air. Assured by my host the trail “totally flat” along the river, I felt that would increase my odds of getting in the extra-long run I was shooting for on Saturday. Having hosted guests, had my long run curtailed earlier in the week, and traveled the previous weekend as well, I was a bit behind on the self-imposed 20 miles a week quota. I knew I wouldn’t make the 12 I needed, but I figured 7 more miles to hit 15 for the week was perfectly reasonable.

Silly, silly me.

For you see, I didn’t realize how atrociously bad I am at reading maps. I started out driving 15 minutes in an attempt to start at the end of the trail that would give me what appeared to be the longest uninterrupted stretch off pavement. What I actually situated myself to do was to try to run north to the south end of the trail, and was totally baffled when the course simply came to a hard stop at the river bank. I ran the length of this section twice before I realized I’d been reading the map backwards.  So, that was a mile, total.

I tried at this point to just turn around and head north. A closer inspection of the legend made it clear that doing so would require me to run over paved roads and surface streets for more or less the entire distance I wanted to cover. Because I was reading the legend backwards, too; blue meant trail while green meant road. Took me about a mile to figure that out here, too.

I decided I needed to give up and start elsewhere. I drove back toward the other end of the trail, which I realized was the unpaved, river parallel portion I had been looking for all along. I got diverted in downtown (thanks Bite of Bend!) and ended up encountering another section of the trail in the meantime.  I thought I’d just start there instead. I was jumpy from having powered down a coffee and wanted to get my legs under me as soon as possible; the dithering was making me cranky. I started off lakeside, but only made it about a ½ mile before the end of park trail and was back out on the street. More or less insane with annoyance at this point, I got back in the car and made my way back over to a trailhead that once and for all seemed to be the starting point I had now spent over an hour trying to find, less than 5 minutes from the house.


Determined to log some distance, particularly after all the false starts, I trotted off riverside. I was struggling for air, taking in noseeums with every gasping breath, and feeling fairly grumpy about the whole effort when I came around a curve and was confronted with what ended up being the death blow for this “run”; a decidedly not-flat section of trail. Sharp enough I could not clearly see the top of the hill, faced with its prospect, I simply turned on my heel and ran the other direction. Mark down a mile, on that attempt.

I figured, if I wanted to start the new week with the right number of miles, I’d have to mount the hill at some point. I reckoned if I tried it with fresh energy and expecting the climb, I’d be able to marshal the resources both physical and mental to make that happen. At this pass, I was beyond my ability to buck up and power through anything. I wanted hollandaise and a hug. Happily, I went back up the hill and was provided with both, before the morning was out.

Sunday, eyes open at just shy of 5 am I climbed out of bed and forced down the handful of Ritz that allow me to take my prednisone without incident. Guts gurgling in more than customary protest, I ignored their exhortations and before 5:30 I was at the trailhead lacing my shoes around my swollen feet trying to remember the last time I’d actually felt like I wanted to run. It had been only the previous Saturday, and I’d logged three runs in the meantime, so though I was disappointed not to be more excited about what is usually one of my favorite things to do, I was grimly satisfied at my perseverance in the face of a dearth of enthusiasm.

Even expecting it, rounding the corner to face the first hill, I was daunted by its pitch. It has become pretty apparent to me over time that what some people consider “flat” may not be in perfect alignment with my own definition of the term. This, however could in no way be construed as anything other than a climb. It was relatively short – no more than several dozen yards – but it was unquestionably steep.

I straggled my ass about halfway up at the best speed I could muster before I realized doing that might push my lungs past a threshold where they would be distressed enough I might struggle to complete the rest of the run. Resigned, I slowed to a trotting walk – which always feels like cheating, and blows my pace all to hell – and mounted the hill as quickly as I could shy of actually running.

Much to my chagrin, immediately thereafter was the other side of the hill and its concomitant downside slope. Turns out the trail climbs and descends again rather quickly to avoid a golf course built more or less right in its path. I was both annoyed that I’d had to make the detour and dismayed I’d have to work my way back up the opposite direction when I’d be considerably more tired. Boo.

Once past this initial obstacle the trail proved to be exactly what I would have asked for. I was surrounded by rimrock, clifftop river views, and vistas of the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Jefferson. I saw bunnies, squirrels, birds of all kinds, and at one point a trio of deer barreling down the path directly for me as they fled from a cyclist coming the other direction. Plenty of charm! Nothing but picturesque!

All The Scenery A Girl Could Want!

All The Scenery A Girl Could Want!

Finally at about mile 2.5 I hit my stride and began to enjoy the run itself. I knew I’d be able to get to my turnaround point feeling I’d allocated my energy such that the rest of the run would occur at a relatively stable pace, and I was feeling like I could relax into the process.

Then again, I saw something decidedly not flat.

Definitely. Definitely a hill. Yeah.

Definitely. Definitely a hill. Yeah.

To a cyclist, or even someone walking, this wouldn’t present much of a concern; such a short distance to cover! As a runner – and one who already struggles more than average with hills of any kind – it was profoundly sad-making. Cue another bout of shuffling semi-trot uphill.

Overall average pace having slowed to the neighborhood of a wounded buffalo, I just kept pressing on. I might not be getting there quickly, but I was going to cover the ground nevertheless. Back to grim determination, me.

At about 3.75 from my starting point, the trail ended out on pavement near the far end of the golf course that had thwarted me near the beginning. I started back calculating the reserves I’d need to deal with the handful of ups and downs I knew were in between, a mild interest in trying to reclaim some speed on the backside to make up for the slowdown on the out, and deciding how much a walk I should take at the end to wind down.

About a ¼ mile from my turn, I saw the first runner I’d encountered that morning. Considering it was even then only just past 6am I wasn’t too surprised to have the trail largely to myself. He offered a cheery “Good morning!” which I pantingly returned. This fella was moving a whole lot faster than I was and I noted with some amusement he’d be lapping me in no time at his current pace.

Sure enough a few short minutes later, I watched as he passed me going the same direction I was headed.

Good Morning!

Good Morning!

And very quickly disappeared from view.

Good Afternoon & Good Night!

Good Afternoon & Good Night!

The backs of other people being the most common view I experience when I run, I found this fairly comforting. He got so far ahead of me I lost him entirely, but it’s still nice to know the members of the early morning running club are by and large a pretty friendly lot.

I didn’t end up gaining as much speed back on my return as I would have hoped and my overall pace – usually between 12:00-12:30 – plummeted to a dismal 13:46. That I could finish a run of that distance, at elevation at all had to be my only consolation. And it was. I was proud of my ability to complete an effort that had always been beyond my capacity before. It was gratifying to feel the difference between coming to a hard halt and pressing on through the resistance to do what I believed I could despite the added opposition.

Suck It Up Buttercup

Suck It Up Buttercup

And though I am not a girl who glitters instead of sweats, I was nevertheless flush with my accomplishment. Though you can’t read it here, my shirt says “Suck It Up Buttercup” I am pleased to say I did.


I’ve been fantasizing a lot lately about 2003. I haven’t been able to say precisely what it is about that year in particular that has been pulling at me, but it’s been going on long enough that I’ve become curious enough to indulge exploring potential reasons.

When I do, I realize 2003 was a temporal fulcrum of sorts in my life. I was emerging from circumstances where it felt like I’d just ended up, and was instead planning a future I intentionally crafted. I was living on my own and single for the first time in my adult life.

Apart from motherhood, which I did not view in terms of its limitations but rather its advantages, there were essentially no constraints on my choices. Laid before me was a landscape of boundless possibility. I was confident and assured that whatever I decided, it would be realized through dint of will and work, with no other outcome seriously weighed.

Just Cause You Feel It Doesn’t Mean It’s There

My visual memory of that year is limned in golden light; I am sitting on the balcony at the Brazen Bean with a lavender martini, dappled sunshine playing across my bare arm. I am driving Datsy to Seattle to see Radiohead with giant sunglasses firmly in place. My sister and I are tromping across the footbridge at Drift Creek Falls during a weekend of campfires and pirate jokes.

I have no doubt whatever that the truth of that year was much more variegated than memory serves. Romantically, I enjoy the version I’ve created in my head rather enough to prefer it over the pesky truth, anyhow.

I do know it was before I made what ended up being some fateful and less-than-completely-well-advised choices about my education. It was before I met the person who would change the course of my life such that unto the very day, most of my social circle is comprised of people met through his offices. It was before I lost the girl I still think of as occupying the role of “never to be replaced love of my life/best friend” It was before I had to reconcile myself to the notion I’d only have one child, may never remarry, and that ultimately my life would turn out looking a lot different than I expected.

I am happier, healthier, and far far wiser now, than I was in 2003. Though I think certain things would be easier if I had made different choices all those years ago; it’s really impossible to say. If I’d pursued a different course of study or attended a different university, how different things would be. Of course in that backcasting “If I knew then what I know now…” lament is something everyone falls prey to from time to time and while I’ll indulge up to a point, I also know it serves no purpose other than to entertain.

To that end, I’m setting aside the wondering and complied a playlist: Chutes Too Narrow, Fever To Tell, Dangerously In Love, Boy In Da Corner, More Parts Per Million, and Hail To The Thief. As far as entertainment goes, that’s been far more definite and much more rewarding.



1. an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.

2. deliverance; rescue.

3. Theology . deliverance from sin; salvation.

4. atonement for guilt.

5. repurchase, as of something sold.

Smart is sexy

Once upon a time, someone wise and compassionate helped me question the path I was on, and for that I am deeply grateful. Unfortunately, once I knew I didn’t want to keep heading the direction I had been pursuing for years, I was utterly at a loss for what to do instead.

Trying to regain my bearings, I changed course, and floundered badly. Once a confident navigatrix, I was suddenly completely lost at sea.

Long years passed where I believed I no longer had the necessary skills to set and follow explicit passage successfully. I suffered a crisis of faith and function; I was robbed of my surety that I would see the other side of the horizon and arrive in good trim.

And then, things changed.

Clouds I forgot had not always obscured my vision rolled away and I could again see the stars by which to set my course. I regained my confidence and my composure. The evidence of my senses and successes all served as independent approbation for my capacity to embrace and execute my vision for the future.

I was reassured and redeemed.

I got straight A’s motherfuckers!






When I took the kids to Pacific in January, I was very pleased with how well we did overall. Seven awards in all, and a fine effort from everyone who attended.

Just today I received the news that we did so well that we earned 2nd place sweepstakes in our division! It’s an incredibly tough challenge, especially for such a young team. I am tremendously proud of everyone for all their efforts.

Plus, trophy.





I was lucky enough to be front row for Neko Case last night. I had originally decided not to attend; between my crowdfear and general distaste for “festival” concerts, I resolved to skip seeing her this time.  Then, as it turned out a friend of mine was  working the show and offered to get me in the side gate and backstage. Obviously I wasn’t going to pass on that chance.

I arrived early and after some consideration, decided to position myself as close to the stage as possible. I knew this would put my dislike for being surrounded on all sides to the test, but happily a Neko crowd isn’t exactly super pushy or aggressive so I had a decent personal space bubble to work with.

 I am pleased to say it went very well, and I was as close as I have ever been to the artist I admire most deeply. In many ways doing so was an act of challenging the limits I have placed on myself both consciously and by default. I am well, and I know that with the reserves of good cheer and mental resilliance I currently possess now is the best possible time to press beyond my boundaries and achieve growth. Getting up next to the stage was an exercise in weighing the value of the reward against the intensity of the anxiety. A good practice for me, in all respects. 

It was a surpassingly beautiful evening, the opening act was fantastic, and Neko was in rare form on her 43rd birthday. It was a priviledge I was most cognizant of to be there to enjoy it.

Her latest album is called “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You”  The record itself doesn’t really dwell that much on the motif, but the title just explicates with such poetry a common theme in so many dysfunctional relationships – certainly some of mine. 

In the past I’ve gotten sucked into believing that the amount of effort expended in a relationship increases its value, rather than that the more valuable the relationship the more worthy of effort it is. It’s a common logical fallacy to think it works both ways… 

I walked away thinking about the greater significance of the moment; my very good fortune to be in the place I am in my life at this moment, the opportunities that have been afforded me of late, and the virtually limitless potential that lies yet ahead.

So, with the sound of her voice echoing in my ears and this sentiment percolating through my mind – here’s to the redoubled efforts to nurture those things that sustain us – and relinquish with grace those that drain us. 

For those of you familiar with Colgate, it has been a long acknowledged fact that his primary (and perhaps sole) redeeming quality was that he was extremely inexpensive to obtain. Back in September of 2010, I found him on Craigslist for $1000 and talked the seller down to $800.

He was kinda beat up, but ran strong. He had some electrical gremlins, but once I took a refresher course in “Ignition switch workaround as effected by application of screwdriver” he always started, got me where I was going, and while utterly unglamourous, was basically quite trusty.

Until about two weeks ago when at a stop light, and for no discernible reason, he stalled. This would have been annoying enough, but paired with the fact that I have to GET OUT OF THE CAR AND GET UNDER THE HOOD TO RESTART HIM it presented an extreme inconvenience at best and a threat to my safety at worst.

At the time, I hoped it was a fluke and carried on with my day. When it happened again earlier this week, I was disconcerted, but still determined to hold out on replacing him until my tax return came in. When it happened again two days later, it was the end of the line for me and the ol’ Toothpastemobile.

So, the scouring of the landscape for my new ride began. I require and demand several important things in an auto; this narrowed the field considerably and immediately:

  • Manual Transmission*: I loathe the automatic transmission. Colgate had one and I almost didn’t buy him on account of it. With the budget I had to work with at the time he was simply too good a deal to pass on, but never in this lifetime will I consent to buy a car without a manual again.
  • Excellent Visibility: Working with only one eye makes the whole problem of a “blind spot” turn into more of a “blind hemisphere.” Most sedans have windows that can be difficult to see out of under the best of circumstances and my wonky eye can hardly be classified as such.
  • Volkswagen: I didn’t even briefly consider another make. I am a enthusiastic adherent to the cult of Volkswagen. Every day since Klaus died I have felt a hollow place inside where my farfegnugen used to be.
  • 2.0 Engine: As much as I loved Klaus, his 1.8 turbo is a notoriously troublesome motor. Talking to my VW guru before purchase, he said the single best thing I could do with the ‘wags is to avoid the turbo.

Only certain models even offer that engine: the Golf, the Jetta, and the Beetle. My first instinct was to try to find a Golf. Apart from the catchy name, it seemed to have a good amount of cargo space and they get excellent mileage. I hadn’t cared for the feel of the Jetta I had driven and worried about the Beetle having enough space to hold my skis.

I went out and drove a Golf and knew almost immediately it wasn’t for me. It handled with disappointing stiffness and lacked the luxurious appointments that I expect from a VW. It also had a shockingly large blind spot. Moving on…

I drove another Jetta, and while it performed better than I recalled, it had a hesitation in the engine that made me nervous. At this point I was curious enough about a Beetle that I wandered the lot looking for one that might suit…

Around the corner; there she was. 



White isn’t naturally a color I would gravitate toward** but somehow she looked sweet tucked back in the corner there. And, she had an all important moon roof. I eyeballed her from a dozen yards away and thought

“There is no way my luck will hold and she’ll be a manual…”

But, oh frabjous day, she was.

We went for a spin and I was immediately taken by the feeling of moving through space in a giant bubble. It was sort of odd, but ultimately pretty enjoyable. More, it was incredibly easy to see out of every angle of this car. It had the handling and appointments I was looking for, and within about ten minutes, I was sure this was the car for me.

My first drive was out Skyline, moon roof open, music blaring, taking corners at speeds much greater than strictly advisable. It was glorious; farfegnugen, regained.

And after some deliberation, her name is Svanja. German, for Swan.



*There is a whole rant in me on this subject, but I’ll save it for another day.

**Unless we are talking about boys, in which case, the pastier the better.

  [lib-er-teen, -tin]  


1.  a person who is morally or sexually unrestrained, a profligate; rake.
2. a freethinker in religious matters.
3. a person freed from slavery in ancient Rome.

For every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners, saints. ~Sympathy For The Devil




I claim with pride my status as a libertine; one liberated of backwards puritanical notions of propriety, rectitude, and integrity. For all that I refuse to accept the bill of goods on offer amidst most religious doctrine that experiencing sensual pleasure in any way undermines human capacity for fidelity to the principles that truly define goodness; decency, compassion, and generosity towards oneself and others.

The devil, after all, is only a cipher for unrestrained indulgence, which is by no means what I advocate; both because of the damage it will inevitably do to the bacchant, but also for the savor it will steal from these pleasures by their constant gratification.

In this season where we strive against the encroaching darkness and aim our attention more pointedly toward the light, it is important to recall that our joy is most often derived from the presence of others and our common experiences of revelry. That what best keeps darkness at bay are throats and ears full of laughter, the warmth of a near heart with open arms, and a satiety that only libation and ailment can truly provide. We are drawn together in these ways, and they are virtuous by that very measure.

And so I raise my glass to these liberties; drink them in!