Dusting off my gardening skills

The house we have rented in Columbus has a large backyard, including a couple of raised garden beds (one neglected, one more recently tended, but still overgrown). I am SO EXCITED to start gardening! Given that we moved in in late May and had a bunch of unpacking to do, my attempts this year have been both quite late and pretty haphazard, but I’m still enjoying them.

First I weeded the raised bed that was in better shape. It’s about 3′ x 4′, and I was really pleased with how many lovely worms there were in the soil! Then I bought several tomato plants of different varieties from a local grower, and some chili pepper seeds and sweet pea seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange, and some sunflower seeds…

Little tomato plants
Continue reading “Dusting off my gardening skills”

Some things have happened

The last time I posted, in August 2020, the most interesting thing happening in my life was my new interest in soap-making.

Well, it’s now May 2021, and… some things have happened.

September 2020: road-tripped down to Texas to see my granddad (socially distantly)

October 2020: drove back up to Seattle, stopping at a few National Parks along the way… and got engaged on a hike in Grand Teton National Park!

A happy moment at the base of the Middle Teton, the turnaround point of our long hike along the Garnet Canyon Trail

January 2021: B was offered, and accepted, an assistant professorship with the Ohio State University

Continue reading “Some things have happened”


I very nearly signed up for a second half-marathon that is taking place two weeks after the one I’m doing this month. I like the idea of doing another – of having another impetus to keep doing some modicum of training/regular running – but the $100 entrance fee made me pause. Do I really need to spend $100 for, essentially, a bit of bling?

No, of course not. But the idea of having regular races to spur me is still a good one. So, taking inspiration from P and T and their ridiculous/awesome Picnic, I’m going to try to do something myself.

My new plan: run a half-marathon at least once a month this summer.

By which I mean I will commit to doing at least one 13.1-mile run every month. I don’t really intend to worry too much about time or anything like that – I don’t for organized races, so why should I for mine? – but that may change. ::shrug:: I don’t know! Maybe I’ll need to introduce a time focus to make up for the fact that otherwise these are just long runs. Who knows?

This will be a good way to get me to keep running, and to get in better shape overall. I want to try to do the Timberline Trail over Labor Day weekend, and might cap off the other end of the Summer of Halves (title is a work in progress) by signing up for an organized half-marathon in September. Again, we’ll see!

When the stick no longer works

Back in January, I did what I periodically do, and decided that I needed to sign up for some sort of arbitrary timed event (read: race) to get me to add running back into my regular rotation of exercise. So I signed up for the Stumptown Trail Half-Marathon, which is happening at the end of this month in Forest Park in Portland. I knew I didn’t want to do another full marathon (I’ve done three, and that seems to be holding strong as “enough”), and I knew that I much prefer trail running to road running. So a half-marathon (this will be my… hm, fifth or sixth?) on the lovely trails of my favorite park seemed ideal. And with five months to go before the race, I had visions of the lean, mean running machine I’d be by the race.

Except that seems to be too far in advance to be an effective prod, now. Because I know that I can procrastinate and not really train and still finish half-marathons – and full marathons, and the occasional self-imposed ultra – on mostly just willpower. Continue reading “When the stick no longer works”

New environs

Early this year, I moved up to Seattle from Portland. And late last month, B and I moved in together (officially), into an apartment in the Fremont neighborhood. Much as I liked the area we were in before, I’m feeling at home in Fremont in a way that I wasn’t there. Maybe it’s because here I actually am actual a real tenant, with (more of) my own stuff in the place, rather than unofficially crashing with B in his studio apartment. (Which was generous and kind of him – but still, we both acknowledge it was a bit tight!)

Or maybe it’s because Fremont’s such an interesting neighborhood. It reminds me a little of what the Hawthorne district in Portland used to be – a mixture of artsy/hip boutiques, glass shops, scruffy bars, awesome brewpubs, tasty restaurants, and funky public art. I enjoy looking over towards the Queen Anne hill looming across the waterway, and sometimes seeing the top of a mast peeking out above the trees as someone sails up or down the Cut. We don’t have easy views of the Cascades or Olympics anymore, like we did in our old neighborhood, but if I want that, all I have to do is haul myself about fifteen blocks up the hill from the apartment – which I should do more often anyway, since I’m “running” a half-marathon in Forest Park at the end of this month. Access to downtown is easy, and there’s a good grocery store a five-minute walk away, and a triumverate of Fred Meyer-New Seasons-Trader Joe’s about a mile in the other direction, along the mixed-use path that runs near the apartment. There’s even a Sunday Market craft fair with food stalls!

It’s going to be a good home.

Busy summer

The summer’s gone by so quickly! But it’s been a good one. Went backpacking in North Cascades National Park (more on that later), took a quick trip down to Yachats, got my first 7 at the climbing gym, and did a highball problem outdoors (Beach Slab (V1) at Leavenworth)! Not bad at all. Now I’m looking forward to an autumn of climbing and exploring, and enjoying it not being so dang hot and smoky.

Beginning (-ish) a new year

{Editor’s note: I wrote this entry in the first few days of January, but am only just now posting it a few days before the end of the month. Fortunately, I was not so silly as to have made a “be more prompt with my blog entries” resolution or anything like that.}

So we made it through 2017. What a year of extremes!

On the one hand, I have spent much of the year dreading doing things like opening the news in the morning or going onto social media, because inevitably I end up actually nauseated by what I see. 2017 has had far too much of the feelings of rage, dread, helplessness, and horror for my preference. On many occasions, I have almost given up, almost lost the will to fight anymore. When my nation is ostensibly led by an egomaniac with a raging inferiority complex, no filter between brain and mouth (or Twitter fingers), and, seemingly, the urge to wreck anything good – and then stand proudly in the ruins proclaiming himself the king of the playground – well, it’s hard to keep up optimism and energy.

On the other hand, I have also been happier this year than I have for a while. I accomplished some big things – climbed my first mountain! walked Wildwood Trail end-to-end! learned to ski! learned to lead climb! – that I can be proud of. And I got to go back to France and to the UK for the first time in years, and thrill to having my French be as good as it ever was. But it’s the personal things, more than any accomplishments, that have made me happy. Continue reading “Beginning (-ish) a new year”

…no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

So, apparently it’s been six months since I last wrote in here. That’s both surprising and not. Surprising, because I’m still finding it hard to believe that we’re in June already, not surprising because I have tried to write multiple times and have found it too complicated to continue. (As evidenced by the fact that I rewrote those last five words about eight times, even just now.)

However, following my friend A’s conclusion that “Done is better than perfect,” I’m just going to try to brain-dump some.

It was a hard winter. Meteorologically, it seemed to go on forever – I only just put away my winter sweaters last weekend, and that was in despite of the forecast calling for highs in the low 60s later this week. Politically, it was…challenging. Psychologically/emotionally, it was hard – my grandfather died in early October. Physically, it was discouraging, and continues to be – seems like every time I think I’m finally moving forward, past the injuries of the past couple of years, I’ll retwist my ankle stepping on ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON A FLAT TRAIL, or twist my knee on a green slope wipeout while learning to ski, or do something wonky to my wrist while climbing in Leavenworth. I’m struggling with the idea that this is the new normal for me – having to be careful about one joint or another, and constantly having to gauge whether the ache/pain I feel is enough to justify holding off on physical activity for x amount of time more, or if I should just work through it. Because the other problem is that since I have been a lot less generally physically active in the last eight months than I would otherwise have been, I am less fit than I’ve been in years, and it’s getting me down.

Three weeks ago, two men were killed and another was badly injured at the Hollywood Transit Center here in Portland. They had stepped in to try to stop a guy who was shouting racial/religious/ethnic hate speech at two teenage girls, one wearing a hijab, the other black. The guy turned and stabbed/slashed at the three men, fatally wounding two of them. The two men who died were Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namki Meche. Mr. Best was a father of four and a Veteran; Mr. Meche was a fellow Reedie, freshly graduated and out to save the world. (Among his last words, apparently, were “Tell everyone on this train that I love them.”) The man who survived, Micah Fletcher, is a PSU student and poet.

Memorials at the Hollywood Transit Center

I started crying when I happened to go through the transit center a couple of days ago for an unrelated errand and saw all the memorials. I don’t have a coherent narrative for what I (along with all of Portland) am trying to process. There’s the grief for the victims and their families, swallowed up in an instant by loss that should not have had this place in their lives. There’s sorrow and heartache for the girls, who did not deserve to be targets in the first place and now have the additional psychological burden of the consequences. There is vertigo, of sorts, a reeling incomprehension. (How could the attacker have done this, any of this? Reading the narratives, seeing the warning signs in his past actions and avowed beliefs, brings me no closer to comprehension.) There is second-guessing. (What if I had been there and been the one to step in? Would he have attacked a woman? What if the people who’d stepped in had found a different way to intervene – would he still have attacked? What else am I missing about the city that I love and call home?) And there’s fear: fear for what this will mean for the future. Fear that this will mean that people – that *I* – won’t act as Best, Meche, and Fletcher did when it is next needed, fear that fear will keep me and others from trying to save the world in the small ways that are all that 98% of us will ever have the opportunity to effect.

All that being said, the winter wasn’t all bad, and things are getting better. Continue reading “…no, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

A few thousand small steps for a woman…

Hydrangea 2016-06-01

I walked home from work yesterday. 4.2 miles in about an hour and fifteen minutes may not seem like much. But since I fell and broke my right ankle (and badly sprained the other) in late February, this was a small but significant achievement! I’d walked some of the distance from work to home before this, but never the whole distance. And, even more pleasingly, I’m not actually all that sore today. My ankles are a little stiff, but not actually painful. So, when I get cranky about not being able to do all the activities I was doing before I fell – bouldering, trail running, walking down stairs easily, etc. – I need to think of this and remember how far I’ve come in just over three months.