Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I love Portland!

So this week I decided to escape to Portland and fell in love with the city all over again. I have been here less than 24 hours, and already I am hooked. I am staying with Ruthann in a lovely house in Northeast Portland, which is painted in the most cheerful bright colors, with cool windows and hardwood floors. I am more than a little jealous when I think of my own tiny cinder block dormesque apartment back in Yakima.

Yesterday we had breakfast at the Tin Shed, which is one of my favorite Portland breakfast places. Another amazing thing about this city is that it is incredibly easy to eat gluten-free here. Every menu has tons of options and clearly states their ingredients. I am currently sitting in a little coffee shop waiting to meet my friend Elizabeth for lunch. I miss being able to meet up with people in the middle of the day to chat and catch up and find weird and delicious foods.

I went to Powells this morning and stayed within my 30 dollar budget, which I was more than a little proud of.

2011-2012 is going to be the year of adventures, I can just feel it. I've already been to San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans...I am getting a traveling itch just in time to head back to the East Coast and visit family and friends. I'll try to post a few more of my travels as I make them.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I feel like spring is the time when dreams come true. A week ago I got a part in the chorus of The Music Man. I am so excited! The shows are in July, so for the next six to eight weeks I am in rehearsals four nights a week. This is literally one of the dreams of my life! I am so excited! I have always wanted to be in a musical, and The Music Man is by far one of my favorites. I cannot believe how lucky I am. Another great thing about the whole situation is that I am meeting new people, which I am sure will make next year a lot more pleasant here in the Palm Springs of Washington.

Last night I made my first foray into the world of cooking fish. For Willie's birthday I made ahi tuna steaks with spinach and edamame salad and wasabi mashed potatoes. Not only was it completely delicious, but it looked pretty and I realized that I want to experiment with more ingredients that I don't usually use. It can actually be affordable when you are only cooking for one person.

We have only two more weeks of school to go! I am so excited to be done for the summer. This will be the first time in five years that I haven't been in school for the summer. I may look for some tutoring jobs to make a little extra cash, but for the most part I am looking forward to reading lots of books and writing and singing. I am hoping to go home to New Jersey for a while in August...so NJ friends, let me know what you are up to then!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Religious musings

Last week I had the honor of hearing Sr. Helen Prejean speak at an NCEA conference. If you ever get to hear her speak...DO IT. She wrote Dead Man Walking, which was later adapted into a movie starring Sean Penn and Susan Saradon. It is her mission to end the Death Penalty in the United States. Now, I have always considered myself staunchly prolife, and it has always seemed to me that we can't have it both ways. Why spend so much time protecting innocent life if we don't also protect guilty life? After hearing her speak, I came back to my religion class prep full of new zeal to include even more information about the death penalty in my classroom.

And that's when I got really upset. After checking numerous Catholic websites and finding tons of information on abortion, including resources for kids and lesson plans, I found maybe 2 paragraphs about the death penalty. Most sites didn't mention it at all. On one website I took the time to write out a lengthy question about where to find such resources and posted it in the life issues forum. Yesterday I got an email back saying that it didn't fit in the life issues forum and to post it somewhere else. How is the death penalty not a life issue? This was a MAJOR Catholic media site for the USA.

In the midst of all this, Pope John Paul II was beatified. I had been following the story with interest and even drove out to the farm to watch some of the news coverage with Willie. In religion class, I tried to engage my students in the discussion, but all they could talk about was the death of Osama Bin Laden. I wondered what the Pope would have said if he had been alive to see this day. For some reason, the rejoicing in Bin Laden's death made me very uncomfortable. I think that the spokesman for the Vatican said it best:

"In the face of a man's death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred." - Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican Spokesman, May 2, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I am sore. Very sore.

So, in a moment of mental weakness, I signed up for another half marathon in Seattle this summer. Two days ago I went for my first run of the warm weather season, and I am still recovering. I know that tomorrow is another running day, but I am really out of shape. I have to say though, I forgot how good I feel after a nice long run. It really clears the head after a long day of work, and it seems like those are all I'm getting these days.:)

In more exciting news, I get a nice long weekend this week and Willie and I are heading to the beach. Some friends are coming up from Portland too, and I am just so glad for a weekend of reading and relaxing. I have two murder mysteries, two young adult books and my journal all ready to go. Add a pina colada, some extra sleep, and long walks on sand... I am ready.

For those of my friends and family who are the praying type, please keep my friend's baby in your prayers. He is only four months old, and today he had his third or fourth major surgery to reconnect his intestines to his colon. Unfortunately they had to remove more of his colon in this surgery. They are a very amazing little family, and this is their first child.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nothing is certain but death and....

Taxes. For those of you who can already see where this is going and are fleeing from the impending rant, I don't blame you. For the last two years I have worked for literally NO pay and this is the second year that I have totally screwed by my one attempt to something to give back.

If anyone knows a mysterious way to deduct the income that comes from an AmeriCorps award, I would really appreciate it. Right now I have 6,212 dollars of mysterious income that I never saw that supposedly came from our government. (The actual amount of the award is MUCH smaller.) Unfortunately, even though I never actually got to do anything with this money, I have to pay through the nose for it. To add insult to injury, I can't even claim it as an educational expense, at least not from what I can tell.

I am really stressed out about this. I didn't really have a place in my budget for huge taxes that come from spending TWO years as a VOLUNTEER!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why don't adults write book reports?

This week each of my students had to hand in a portfolio of their strengths as a student. In their masterpieces they had to tell me what kind of assignments they enjoy the most and why. The response was both typical and overwhelming. Many of them couldn't think of a single assignment they enjoyed. :) A few told me that I was only steps away from being the perfect teacher...if I would just never give homework. But many of the more reflective 12 year-olds believed that book reports were the most fun and also the most interesting assignments.

Of course this got me thinking: why don't adults write book reports? I remember in middle and high school, the highest recommendation a book could receive was that your friends liked it. I remember when Laura Provinsal's mom bought her a series of Christian romances, we all read them. When Liz and I got hooked on Harry Potter, everyone wanted to borrow the books when we were done. My students are the same way- those who "hate" reading will pick up almost any book recommended by their peers.

I actually miss writing book reports. My solution to this is easy- the next time I assign one, I will simply make one of my own. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm sure there are others out there who miss talking about a good read, or somehow presenting your book and creativity to a larger audience. I know I do.:)

Any suggestions for a good book to start with?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


One of my resolutions this year was to write more. So far it's been a slow process, but between sporadic journaling, dusting off the books and revisiting the blogs, I'm doing my best to get on my writing feet again.

I was at a meeting last night of Catholic women sharing faith. By far the youngest at the event, I realized that part of the reason I struggle with making faith-filled friends is because we are so wary of really sharing our stories with one another. Last night I learned so much about myself from listening to two women answer a short series of questions about their own struggles and joys in faith. It made me think that there are so many stories out there, so many inspiring men and women who could teach us so much.

But these voices don't all have to have the wisdom that comes with age. I wish that my peers in their twenties would come and tell their stories too. What are your struggles with your faith? Where do you find joy? What is a scripture reading that inspires and guides your actions? What is a piece of wisdom you would share?

If you are reading this, please let me know your answer to at least one of these questions. I think you'd be surprised at how inspiring you really are. :)