OHSU vs. the VA

If you ever have a chance to walk across the Sky Bridge at Portland's Oregon Health and Sciences University, you'll find yourself walking into a completely different dimension. See, there's apparently a big difference, visually, between OHSU's crisp and clean appearance and that of the classic Federal Government-run VA Hospital next door. As I crossed the bridge this morning, hoping to find some fingernail polish at the VA Retail Store (my mother is awaiting surgery and I noticed her poor toenails could use a little TLC) I found myself stepping feeling classically annoyed. Old, dingy walls. Government-issued information posters. Long lines waiting at the information desk. Toothless, staggering veterans, preparing to leave with their newly polished molars. Dreary old furniture, classic nylon, filled with heavy-set Americans sitting in silence.

I realized something. I realized that there are times I am relieved I am not and never will be reliant on a government-run medical program. I'm willing to pay a significant amount of my limited income to keep myself out.


Options for a Professional Educator...

...when a 5-year old runs from you when recess is over;
1. Keep yelling his name.
2. Hunt him down like a wild oxen.
3. Pay other children 25 cents to chase and tackle him.
4. Ignore him, closing the door and pretending you don't notice he's gone.
5. Yell out, "There's a kidnapper on the loose in the neighborhood. Good luck with using the 'safety yell!'"
6. Call his mother or father at work and say, "I'm not being paid enough to deal with psychos. Can you come and get your psy...er...I mean, son?"
7. Give up and just let everyone from the entire classroom run away like wild animals...and forget about teaching, altogether...


If, Freakin', Only!

Laying back is so much better. I wasted too many years stressed out. I still occasionally waste some time on it, but if only...


Searching for Old Friends and Wishing

We've all done this, yet we hate when it creeps in! We begin wondering what happened to folks from our pasts!

Nowadays, we have options for finding folks in a way which our grandparents could neer imagine! My favorite quick search site is www.zabasearch.com

Tonight, I'm looking for a friend...but she has remarried and I DO NOT KNOW HER NEW LAST NAME! I've started to even feel a bit of desperation. I know her first name. I know what school district she used to work for. I know her husband works/manages a grocery store. I know she has 1 child of her own with this man and that he had 3 boys from a previous marriage. However, without a last name, it's almost impossible!

I'll keep trying, however, just out of ...
wait! wait! wait!
I just remembered something! I'm reaching for my old address book! YES! THERE IT IS! I have her last name...and I found it with an outdated and low-tech system!
Bye...gotta find her online!


Havin' a Hell of a Time...

But, not necessarily in the "this is such a great vacation...we're having a hell of a time," manner.
This is my first summer to basically be kidless. The 19-year-old is establising her own life, living in Colorado. She works. She's going to school full-time and maintaining excellent grades. She's got friends. She climbs mountains on her days off. The 17-year-old is off working far, far away for the summer- for OMSI as a camp counselor in Fossil and throughout the eastern parts of Oregon.

I'm proud of them both. For the first week, it was novel. For all of the other moms out there, I'm sure you'll understand what I mean when I say it's pretty nice to know you can just cook an Eggo Waffle for dinner and call it good. You'll know what I mean when I say that there are no clothes lying about...nor dirty dishes...nor ringing cell phones...nor new dents in our cars...

But, right now, I'm missing all of those things. Seriously, at this very minute, I wish my son was walking in the door, dropping his shoes and sweatshirt right in the entryway. I wish my daughter were coming in late, past curfew, as that's her schtick (is that how it's spelled?). I actually miss the arguments at 12:13 a.m. I'd even like to wake up in the morning and find a new ding on the driver's side door of my Accord...and have to wonder, "What now?"

I love my husband dearly. However, I'm picking on him pretty constantly...about everything! I know it's because I have a longing that cannot be met through quiet, peaceful dinners nor red-hot romantic sex in the living room. (You actually get to DO those things when there are no kids around!!!) He's older and much more settled than me at this time of life. I'm having a massive period right this minute that serves absolutely no purpose...and that really pisses me off! My face breaks out. My hair is a little flat. My boobs absolutely sag and seem somehow deflated. My heels are dry and cracking.

And, my house is messier than it ever was with children about.

Yep...having a hell of a time.
(Coincidentally, while searching for an "empty nest" photo, I found this blog...


A Perplexion...is that a word?

I want to truly find a way to maintain the lifestyle I live when school is out for summer. Low, low stress, time to complete jobs that have meaning for me, and the luxury of occasionally napping. When school begins, my life, as I know it to truly be, ends. For 24 years I've dreaded the end of August...knowing it was coming. Knowing that everything that is about "me" pretty much comes to an end. This is especially true with this upcoming year, as I'll be back teaching in the classroom. For the past 2 years I've been fortunate to "escape" that realm and spend some time really developing professionally as an ESL teacher and Literacy Coach. There were times during the school day where I could actually get things done; truly completed! That never happens when you are a classroom teacher. It's continuous movement and needs.

I also know that my anxiety level increases so drastically that I sort of lose it for a bit in early September. My family has adjusted to this routine. I am blessed for them!


My Most Recent Creation

I began building these about 3 years ago. I only have time to work on such projects when school is out and when I neglect all of my other life responsibilities...


On My Mind

Gay marriage should be legal.
There are no arguments out there that can justify NOT allowing gay couples to wed.

This topic has been on my mind a LOT lately. I am not quite sure why, but I think it has to do with the fact that, of all of the injustices being committed around out beautiful planet, this one is so stinkin' easy to solve that it blows my mind that it's still an issue!



I read this and I agreed with everything written. That's rare for me...

Losing my religion. Why I recently walked away from Christianity. By theBEattitude
I was planning to write up a detailed story about my Christian life and the recent rejection of my faith. But my goal is not to build a case to prove I believed in God or to demonstrate how good of a Christian I was. I did truly believe in God for most of my life and worshiped and prayed to him daily. I believed he was at work in my life at all times and using me to touch other people’s lives.
So you might be wondering what changed.
The change was a culmination of things that I could no longer ignore. Faith is belief in the unseen and unprovable, but still requires a foundation for that faith. With the countless religions of the world, I began to question why the god of the Bible is more believable than all other gods worshiped on earth. With the mountain of evidence staring me in the face, my faith began to die.
Last fall, I finally moved past guilt and admitted to myself that I no longer believe in Jesus or the god of the Bible. Surprisingly it was a relief. Not because I wanted to run wild and sin freely, but because I no longer felt the weight a Christian carries. The weight of guilt, unworthiness and fear of god’s judgement. I continue to spend my days striving to be a good husband, father and son. I help others in need around me as often as I can. The big difference is I do these things today because it brings me joy, not because I believe it brings an imaginary god joy.
For those wondering, here is a condensed “Top 20 List” of the things that led to my rejection of Christianity.
God is wrathful, jealous, hateful, and kills nations of people like it is a bodily function. He is certainly not just or “holy” in nature.
The act of throwing people into infinite torture and punishment for not believing a Jewish guy from 2,000 years ago was God’s son, or unknowingly worshiping the wrong god, is extremely cruel and sadistic.
The statements, “God works in mysterious ways,” or “It will all make sense in heaven,” are little more than irrational cop outs. This God allows horrible atrocities to be committed against innocent men, women and children every day.
Bloody animal and human sacrifices are illogical demands by a divine god as payment for petty wrong doings. These actions are no different than the rituals of archaic pagan religions. Not to mention the bizarre ritual of symbolically drinking human blood and eating human flesh.
If God loves us and wants us to know and believe in him, why be so completely invisible? What is the purpose of being so illusive to those who believe and worship him?
God never manifests himself or performs miracles as he regularly did for the Israelites in Old Testament stories.
Prayers are never answered. Certainly not in the way Jesus described. Prayer has absolutely no affect on the world around us.
Jesus did not fulfill major Old Testament prophesies or even fulfill his own promises and predictions.
The authors of much of the Bible are unknown. And of these unknown authors, the men who wrote the gospels likely never even met Jesus considering they were written 40-70 years after his death. A far cry from reliable testimony.
The Bible is repeatedly contradictory with itself, reality, and the laws of morality. Couldn’t God inspire a less poorly written book?
The Bible is open to interpretation. Everyone interprets it in the way that suits them best or serves their purposes.
Throughout history, Christians have justified horrific actions by the Bible and its teaching.
The Bible promotes hate and persecution against women, homosexuals and those who worship other gods or no god at all.
According to the Bible, nearly 70% percent of the people in the world will burn in hell because they don’t believe Jesus was the son of God.
The only reason I was a Christian was because I was indoctrinated into the religion as a child as a result of the culture and region of the world in which I was born.
Christianity has no more rational or factual foundation than any other religion on earth that I openly reject.
The Christian church is disjointed and can’t even agree with one another.
Christians are not at all ethically or morally different from non-Christians.
Today, powerful church leaders steal, lie and molest young children. The church repeatedly attempts to cover up these atrocities, only to reluctantly apologize as a last resort.
It is absolutely irrational to continue to believe archaic teaching with the amount of knowledge we’ve gained through science and technology. The Bible reads like a book of primitive folklore, not divinely inspired insight into our true reason for existence.



I did a quick search to see if I'd ever written about her. You have to scroll down the page a bit to see my reference to her when submitting a "hush puppies" recipe.

Dorothy Pearl Gilmore is one tough mo-fo.

She's my grandmother. Born April 14, 1919 in Oklahoma.

Lived through a lot of hard times.

Raised 4 kids, basically on her own.

At one time 6 grandchildren ran through her house. Later, 4 more joined ranks.

She was crass and crazy. She was lovnig and mean. She had a good heart.

Today, her good heart is failing.

She was sent home from the hospital to be comfortable. Her doctor is either a prick or a saint...I'm not sure which. Hopefully, she'll be pain-free.

Should I go back to help? I don't know. It will only bring on extreme stress and pain.

If I don't go, will I regret it? I don't know.

I feel very guilty about everything involving this horrid, bitter, mentally-ill woman. I have geared my own life toward NOT becoming her...including taking DAILY medication in order to make sure I sleep and don't suffer anxiety attacks such as those I had thorughout my 20's and early 30's. I was very ill during those times...just like she is ALL of the time.

She would take long walks at 3:30 a.m., peering into neighbors' windows to get a look inside at their decor. She would find pennies on the roadway and mail them to my young son, so he could save money for his next visit out to see her.

She began gluing magazine cut-outs on the exterior of her home about 8 years ago and has managed to cover the entire front of her house. Windows, doors, siding...it's all covered. I was embarrassed and amazed, all at the same time. Whenever I assign any collage word as a teacher, it is her I see in my mind's eye. Whenever I feel like picking up a rubber boot and hurling it through a window, (well, I've actually followed through on this act), it was her I saw.

I know her voice. It talked with me about sewing, shared horrible stories about other family members, made fun of me for gaining weight, laughed a little too loud at gatherings, forgot to say "thank you" for gifts, rode my mother for all of her shortcomings, and told me I was special. Her hands taught me to crochet. She made me clothes, quilts, blankets, rugs, and clothespin holders. She bought me a pack of gum and then took it away from me before I could open it, because I "wasn't as nice as she thought I should be." She asked if we wanted a Dilly Bar from Dq...and then drove us out to the highway to collect enough bottles to return for the deposit so we could buy our own bars.
NEXT MORNING UPDATE: Dorothy P. White-Gilmore passed away on May 12, 2209.


Venting...like an Alaskan Volcano

"Never plan ahead more than, oh, 6 months."
"Okay, sounds like a plan."

"Training will cost us, oh, roughly $13,000 for that one teacher."

"It'll be worth it. She'll be a powerhouse for us, moving mountains and setting interventions into play that will rock the frickin' educational world. The people she will have to deal with may be difficult, but she'll manage to find a way to get things rolling..."

Fast forward approximately 2 years:

"You seem unhappy with your job, so we want to move you somewhere you'll be happy."

"I'm not unhappy. What makes you think that?"

"Well, you said things aren't going well in several areas at your school."

"I'm not unhappy. I am looking for support."

"Yes, that's why we're moving you..."



Springing Spring Springs to Life!

The Galaxy Magnolia goes insane! The False Spirea is crazy bloomin'!
The front bed is exploding with joy!
The camillia is bursting out of its Winter darkness.


5K Fun Run for Kids

Man, was it chilly on Saturday! I joined a group of co-workers from one of the schools I work at to help Corvallis Public Schools Foundation earn a little much-needed cash! The Fun Run for Kids was a blast! Of course, for me it was the fun "trot" and fun "fast-walk." It was great to get out and burn a few calories with a bunch of local-yocals!Me and my peeps!
A couple of great teaching buddies!

Folks from my school!
Local tagging. Not exactly as fancy as the big-city gets, but very effective in deliving a clear message.


Holding in Being Pissed-Off

The title says it all. I read in a "How to Get Karma" book last week that it is important to quit apologizing. So, no apology for anyone offended b the title.

I am sick of so many things. I smile as I walk through my days. I laugh as often as possible, tease my son and husband, pet the dogs, read, write, help people, and try to leave places cleaner than when I arrived.

Today, I was approached by someone who told me our custodian was "upset" because I asked him to please sweep our floor. Mind you, the floor hadn't been swept in 2 weeks and, as I work in a multp-purpose room, was FILTHY! The level of dust, alone, made me ill.

I work with a bonehead who says the most insecure, self-centered, idiotic things. I smile and walk away, knowing I cannot have a positive impact on this person. But, inside, I WANT TO SCREAM!

My family....ah, nevermind.

My weight? Well, all that was good is beginning to go bad. I have to get going, but, since I'm wasting a lot of time smiling instead of screaming, cookies and ice cream call my name!

I am almost certain that it is very unhealthy to hold it in. I know it is...we all do. However, I decided to do a little "google" research on the topic. Here's what I've found:

**“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” --Buddha WHO CARES!!!???

**http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/09/980925024527.htm Women Who Hold In Anger At Risk For Atherosclerosis
ScienceDaily (Sep. 25, 1998) — Women who are hostile, hold in their anger, and feel self-conscious in public show greater thickness of their carotid arteries, an early marker for the development of atherosclerosis throughout their bodies, new research shows. Now, this is more like it! I'll save my life by being pissed! I'll start expressing my piss-offed-ness!

**http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000501081252.htm Hostility, Anger Linked To Chemical That May Cause Heart Disease
ScienceDaily (May 1, 2000) — COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A new study has identified one possible reason that people who show high levels of hostility and anger are more likely to develop heart disease. Yes, yes, yes! THAT'S what I'm talkin' 'bout!

**http://www.collegenet.com/elect/app/app?service=external/Forum&sp=15017 mzsmith850
Vote for this candidate!
Joined: Jul 13, 2008Location: Midway, FLPosts: 171 show all posts
Holding Anger In......
I can walk around here wit my head up instead of down...laugh with you all the time but little do you know how I feel on the inside!! I happen to be one that can hide my feelings really good.But I think now im learning now to release some stress off of me cuz when it steady builds up you gonna release it in a massive way then it's gonna seem like all hell breaking loose. Im not to good at explaining stuff like this. I wish I really knew how to go to someone and talk to them about how I feel at times other than GOD even though he's the best one to go to. But everyone need someone on earth to talk to!!!Ughhh any tips on how to release stress that have built up on me over a period of time....from school down to family problems???
You say it, Sister!

**http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-1422888_ITM BOSTON--Blowing off steam may be one way to ease chronic headache pain. The extent to which headache sufferers hold in their anger is a significant predictor of headache-related disability, even after controlling for factors such as headache frequency and intensity, trait anger, and depression, according to a study from St. Louis University. DAMMIT! I need to blow off steam...and I wat to blow it off inappropriately! Totally!

Give me a bottle to throw against a brick wall!

Give me a bullhorn to yell through!

Let me kick someone!

Let me tell a few people what I REALLY think!



Last Day of the Races!

After a long season of driving up into the Cascades, XC racing has come to a close for high schools in Oregon! This past weekend, we were in Bend on Mt. Bachelor for the 2009 OHSNO State Championship Nordic Races! The photos will tell so much more! In this shot (one of many I took during the melee) kids from different teams are attacking one another. The mass snowball fight lasted more than 45 minutes, involving more than 100 skiers!
My handsome husband, George, and I rarely have photos of us together. We scored on this one!

My view after a hard day out, on my way back up to the lodge. Mt. Bachelor ahead...

My son and his friend. Erin and Collin have been competing together for several years.


Night Races and Hot Pursuit

Last Thursday, we sped up into the mountains, again, after school. It was "Night Races" time at Hoodoo! My son and 11 other kiddos bucked up, scrambled to finish homework during the drive up, and braved a cold night to race against some of Oregon's best XC skiers in the dark. It was magic. Last year, the course was blinding. There was a blizzard, with snowbanks 19-23 feet high. We couldn't even see the lower windows of the lodge. This year...cold, but no wind nor snowfall.
Start of the boys' race. Lined up and ready!
The lodge glows at night. Brad and my son, Collin (right) after the race. Yeah, so the "Valley Kids" can't really compete with those boys who started skiing at the age of 2, but it's so fun!
Hot Pursuit!
A Hot Pursuit Race is spectacular. Racers have a mass-start, beginning on Classic-Style XC Skis. They race for approximately 2K on these skis, up a mountainside, essentially. On the slope of the mountain, they'll come across their "Skate Skis," stop, take off their classics, put on the skates, and continue on the course for another 3K. We were at Teacup Lake Nordic Ski Area on the edge of Mt. Hood. BEAUTIFUL!!! Our 4th trip here this year and it was THE BEST! Snow began falling just after the race ended and we relaxed in a warm, woodstove-heated cabin!
The race started at 11:00 a.m. The kids had to stand at the line for almost 15 minutes, which caused many of them to "meltdown" and get cold.
Here is my son, coming off of "Wahoo!" From this angle, you really can't tell how tall the hill is. I had to ski through the backcountry to get to the hill so I could catch some shots. He zipped by quickly!

Lunch in the lodge, but a warm fire. It's pretty primative, relatively speaking. No running water or restrooms. There are smelly outhouses outside that the kids try to avoid for as long as possible.


Another Skate Race Under His Belt

Drove another load of kids up to the Cascades today! We left at 6 a.m. and made it to Mt. Hood by around 8:45. Freezing fog was a big issue during the drive. As the sun rose, we came across this view...Here's Collin (my son) during the "transition"section of his race. It's uphill at this point, which requires an excellent skate stride. He zoomed by, heading downhill, much faster than I could imagine going. Ah, youth...
And, finally, here we are..."The Moms." We provided food for over 200 people! It was only 18 degrees out, so we were, at times, a little miserable.


I Wanted One. I Bought One.

It's a classic, too!
Leather seat.
Leather hand-grips.
Solid steel fenders. My New Trek Allant.
Came with a pre-installed rack!

I love it! Even though the temp. will only be around 34 degrees in the a.m., I'm riding this bike to work tomorrow!


The Differences Between My Son and My Daughter...

Similarities first:
1. Extremely intelligent
2. Very friendly and well-received by others
3. Thoughtful
4. Never said a mean word to anybody...outside of this house, that it.
5. Organized beyond belief
6. Creative and multi-dimensional
7. Handsome and beautiful
8. Excellent students and community members.
9. Able to handle change with a snap
10. Able to cook and bake like pros.
11. Both are very musical, playing multiple instruments and having huge music collections.
12. Both are stellar athletes
13. Both LOVE being outdoors, hiking, skiing, camping, backpacking, boating, flying, jumping, swimming, and more!

1. She's chatty, he's not
2. She's demonstrative, he's not.
3. She argues, he rarely speaks.
4. She was involved with boys much earlier than he is involved with girls, in terms of "relationships."
5. She's very emotional and psychological, he's not.
6. She NEVER made curfew, he does.
7. She lives far away, he's here.
8. She still comes over to sit with me and hug, he won't.
9. She is all over the place, he's stable.
10.She would study for 6 hours each night in high school, he only studies for 5.
11. She frustrates me, and...hmmm...so does he.

I love them both to death.


Signed up for a Master's Program

After many long years of working my tail off to achieve success as a teacher in my school district...and raising 2 successful teenagers, I'm finally going back to finish that Master's Degree! I've decided to jump onto the "Read Oregon" program, which will also allow me to receive a Reading Endorsement from TSPC (Teacher Standards and Practices Commission). I won't receive any extra pay/incentives for completing this program, but I will feel stronger.

I figure I have at least 12-14 more years of a career in education. I'll never recover the cost of this program, but I better do it before my brain cells begin decreasing at an ever-increasing rate!

Go, Beavs!

A little late in posting this, but I am just so proud of the OSU Beavers!


Teacup Lakes Nordic Ski Area

We spent the last day of Winter Vacation skiing on Mt. Hood! The drive was uneventful, although we did have to take the "long route" in order to avoid the closure on Hwy. 26, due to slides. We left Corvallis at 6:00 a.m. and we out skiing on the trail by 9:30. My son and daughter were there! It was great to meet up with them on the mountain. They'd been in Antelope and had spent Saturday at Smith Rocks, participating in the Audubon Winter Bird Count.
I'm so happy Malory actually agreed to have a photo taken with me!

Hubby and I had so much fun together! He learned to XC ski in just one lesson! What a great guy!