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archive


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2008

December 31

I don't know if it's the ever-increasing number of books being published, or that people are further pressed for time every year, but I have had a whole bunch of people ask me to recommend titles for them to read. Specifically (and surprisingly), my friends are asking for Young Adult books. I love it! Those of you who haven't listened to me go on an on about teen lit may not know that books written for teens are often incredibly sophisticated and complex with wonderful characters and satisfying plots, yet they can often be read in just a few hours - a super extra bonus for those of us without a whole lot of extra time. Since my reading log this year will top 275 books by January 23 (when I head to ALA to discuss all these books for BBYA), I feel compelled to share with you (few) readers some of my favorites that I've read so far:


The Last Knight by Hilari Bell. This brilliant piece of historical fiction tells the intertwining tales of Sir Michael, a privileged young man who turns his back on his weathly family to become a knight errant, and a disgruntled and somewhat disreputable partner named Fisk. Their first act of heroism quickly becomes a mess when they realize the "damsel in distress" they freed from a tower was actually a murderess. What I like most about this book is the relationship forged between the two men. They move slowly from distrust and frustration to a tender and loyal friendship, and it's an absolute joy to watch it unfold.


Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve
This alternate telling of the legend of Arthur comes through they eyes of Gwynna, a young girl who loses her home after her village is attacked by Arthur and his men. Although it's a lovely coming of age tale, it is mostly a story about the importance of stories and storytelling, and it offers an interesting perspective on history versus fable.



Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
Set in Ireland in the early 1980's at the height of the "Troubles,", this gorgeously written novel tells two parellel stories. The first of of Fergus and his family as they deal with Fergus' brother, an IRA member who is in jail and on a hunger strike. The second is the imagined life of the child whose body was found in the bog as it is revealed to Fergus through his dreams. A beautiful and lyrical coming of age story.



Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Taylor was abandoned by her mother at a convenience store when she was 11 years old. At 17, she has lived at a boarding school with little adult nurturing for the past six years save for Hannah, a woman who lives on the school grounds. When Hannah disappears, Taylor finds a manuscript she left behind detailing the lives of six teenagers living at the school 22 years before. For those of you who think teen books are "too easy," this is filled with dense and complex relationships with bits and pieces unfolded for the reader only as they need them. Subtle and funny, this is a very satisfying read.


Chalice by Robin McKinley
Marisol is a beekeeper by trade, but when a new Master comes to rule the Willowlands she is appointed as Chalice, the person who is responsible for binding the land to the people and its Master. Fantasy readers rejoice! This book is delightfully unique, filled with unfamiliar details of a world we haven't seen before. A strong heroine and complex world-building make this first-rate fantasy.



The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
When Jenna wakes from a lengthy coma, she struggles to rebuild her life, but things just aren't adding up. Her grandmother will barely speak to her, she can't remember anything from her childhood, they've moved across the country, leaving everything in their previous life behind, yet she's suddenly an expert on American History? A creepy and unsettling view of what our future may hold...



The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Sutter Keely is that guy in high school - you know the one: funny, popular, super blase' party guy that everyone (well, most everyone) thinks is totally awesome. But when wallflower Aimee walks into his life, he suddenly finds himself in a little too deep. Hilarious yet complex contemporary guy fiction with no easy answers.



The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Far in the future, the United States has become Panem, a collection of city states ruled by the Capital. Every year, each state draws two teens by lottery and sends them to the Arena, where they must fight to the death but the last one standing can expect a lifetime of wealth and fame. When her younger sister's name is drawn in the lottery, Katniss volunteers to go in her place. Fantastic characters and incredible tension make this an outstanding survival story as well as a grim dystopian tale.


Graceling by Kristen Cashore
In a world where some people are born with special and often extreme talents called Graces, Katsa is one of the most dangerous. Her Grace is killing, and she is very, very good at it. Forced into servitude by her uncle, Katsa grows tired of doling out punishments and forms a secret council to fight the corrupt powers of those in charge in an effort to balance her powers. When she meets another Graceling with equally strong powers, Katsa is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. Fully realized characters and a complex, surpising plot make for very enjoyable reading, even for those who (think they) don't like fantasy.


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
High school sophomore Frankie is psyched to be dating Matthew, senior hottie and secret member of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hound, but when he refuses to reveal that he belongs to the club or is involved in the pranks they pull off, Frankie decides to infiltrate the order and beat the boys at their own game. Smart, smart contemporary chick lit.



December 30

I am a slow learner. I recently took the plunge into using iGoogle, and only just today I finally, finally set up an aggregator for all my RSS feeds. It's actually kind of embarrassing how slow I have been to adopt some of the easiest ways to streamline all that information, being an actual information professional, but better late than never, I guess.

December 25

Merry Christmas! Here's wishing a lovely holiday to you all.

December 14

I've been moonlighting (daylighting?) as a legitimate, professional blogger as of late. check it out and maybe get some good reading recommendations while you're at it.

December 11

A very belated h A p P y B i R t H d A y!!! to my man, Jeff, who hit the big four-oh on November 30.

In other news, I'm a reading machine! I still have almost 60 books to finish before January 23, but I'm staying on top of it so far and hope to have every last book on the list read by then.

November 26

Today at work an adorable 13 year old girl asked me for information on "how you know if you are pregnant." I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming it's for a school project, even though she was rubbing her belly as she looked at the books I gave her.

November 20

Esquire magazine endorses libraries!

November 17

I've been riding my bike to work as long as the weather holds out. Today was gorgeous and I had a great ride to beautiful Tukwila. It was a bad day for road kill, though: three bunnies and one kitteh on East Marginal Way :(

November 11

Have hardly been at home for the past two weeks, and last week was no exception. Stephen, Jeff and I headed down to PDX for Jeff to participate in the 2nd annual Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships, and I had way more fun than I even thought possible (well, ok, not way more fun, but we had an awesome time). Left super early on Saturday morning to get Jeff to the registration point and to get the details on the super secret squirrel time trial qualifier. Jeff came in a respectable 24th, securing his place in Sunday's race. We headed to the Vanilla Bicycles shop for the after(pre?)-party, where beer and pizza flowed rather generously. Those who didn't qualify in the time trial were given a second chance - alley cat/scavenger hunt around PDX. Racers had to pick up items around town (beer, donut, etc) before heading back to Vanilla where they had to scarf down said items in order to get into Sunday's race. We hit the first pub of the pub crawl, rode around town a bit and then headed back to the hotel for a bit of rest.

Sunday was race day, and the most awesome cycling spectacle I've ever seen. Portland cyclocross puts Seattle to shame - rumor mill has it that over 1300 racers came out to compete. Stephen borrowed Doug's pit bike and raced with the Master C group and finished in the middle of the pack; not bad for his second race! But the real show came at 4:00, when nearly 200 single speeders lined up for a mass start. Nearly every racer was in costume, beer was flowing freely, the Drum Corps was blasting away on the course, and the spectators were screaming like crazy. The noise was incredible and you couldn't help but get totally caught up into the whole scene. All in all, an awesome weekend. Also, here's a shout out to all the Portland people - gracious, very welcoming, and just plain nice. Thanks.

A whole mess of pictures and a few videos are up on flickr, but here are a few of my favorites:


Winner: best costume ever


Stephen bringing it home


Jeff looking stylish and in control on the greasy corner


This bike weighs at least 40 pounds, which probably felt more like 80 the fifth time over the barriers.


Perfect ending to a perfect day

November 2

November 1

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of bringing David Oliver Relin to Foster High School for a presentation about his book, travels, and some highly entertaining antecdotes. (Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you'll know that Relin wrote Three Cups of Tea) He spent a lot of time making some very compelling and non-preachy arguments about the importance of education, both of oneself and others. It was a very inspiring presentation, and I think the normally jaded students were really impressed.



October 28

I generally don't have too many nightmares (well, except those ones where I'm late for work and realize I'm on the bus going the wrong direction), but last night I had probably one of the scariest dreams I've ever had in my entire life. Somehow, I had died, and I was spending my afterlife laying in bed. Every time I had to get up to use the bathroom (because apparently you still have to pee when you are dead) I could feel how much my body had deteriorated since the last time I had gotten out of bed. The first time, I could feel the bones in my shoulders and knees scraping and grinding against each other because all the cartilage had worn away. The second time, my skin and muscles had become droopy and slack, and there was fluid leaking out from different points all over my body from where the skin had dissolved. At this point, I asked Jeff if he could see me and, because he could, I knew (due to some sort of dream-land logistics) I was going to continue being aware/a ghost/still on earth in spirit form, but it was going to take a really long time for my body to completely wear away and I was stuck waiting for it to happen. That's when I woke up totally freaked out. It's been hanging over my head all day long and now that it's closer to bed time, I'm a little freaked out about going to sleep tonight. I don't know where it came from or what it means, but I'm really glad I don't usually have awful dreams.

October 19

Instead of buying birthday presents for each other, Jeff and I have started a new annual tradition of going to Portland for one weekend each autumn and eating ourselves silly. We headed down on the 2:30 train on Friday, getting into town with plenty of time to walk around after dropping our bags at the lovely Hotel Lucia. A tip from a very enthusiastic barista at Stumptown led us to a delicious dinner at masu sushi, and some wandering through the Pearl District helped us work off a bit of dinner before we crashed in our gigantic bed.

Saturday morning, we took a leisurely stroll towards Stumptown's downtown location, where I had the divine pleasure of seeing some members of my favorite cylclocross team, the Gentle Lovers (I actually know nothing of this team - I just love the name and the pink and red jerseys). After morning coffee, we took advantage of Portland's fine public transportation and jumped on a bus to Alberta Street for some window shopping and a stop at Random Order, which Jeff and I had, uh, randomly discovered a couple years back. They have awesome pie. After a fine, fine meal, we decided to wander towards the much-hyped Mississippi Avenue to check it out. What we found was pretty similar to what has been happening in Seattle these last few years; lots of funky and semi-upscale shops in a quickly gentrifying area (picture Ballard Avenue dropped into the middle of the Central District and you get the idea). We were pretty tired at this point, so we didn't do much more that wander up and down the street before heading back to the hotel for a little rest. For dinner, we hopped on another bus to the most delicious place we've found yet in Portland, Ken's Artisan Pizza. The long-ass wait was totally worth it: veggie plate containing what Jeff declared to be "the best squash ever," delicious pizza, and a super thick pumpkin custard for dessert.

Sunday morning, we got up at a leisurely 8:30 am and went for a run along the river. There was some sort of marathon/fundraiser event going on, so we got to see a devil marathoner, a pack of vampires, and a baby Chewbacca in a mini-Millenium Falcon. A final walk through the Pearl District (and a stop at the Pearl Bakery for lunch), and we were out of time, so we picked up our bags and walked back to the train station. All in all, a delightful way to celebrate our combined 78 years...

October 10

Crazy busy with work lately, and there hasn't been much to report besides lots of reading. We did manage to get to the Methow last weekend for the annual mountain bike festival and, as usual, did not attend the festival itself but had a lovely cozy cabin weekend with lots of great food and conversation. Jeff put up some photos here and Stephen's are here.

On Sunday, everyone was moving pretty slow so Jeff and I decided to do our annual Maple Pass hike and see some fall colors. The larches were bright yellow and all the trees and shrubs were fiery oranges and reds, making for a pretty spectacular show. We even got a few snow flakes, proving that the seasons are indeed changing.


It was a little cold for shorts, though.

October 9

Weather was looking good so I hopped on the trusty steed and rode to work. Cold but lovely out, especially along Lake Washington Blvd. It started to rain on the way home, and since I haven't put the fenders on yet, my feet were pretty cold and wet by the time I got there. Ran into Stephen, who was biking his way home as well - always fun to see a fellow sufferer on the road (go, Stephen!).

September 26

Have been feeling super crappy all week and it just doesn't seem to be going away. I always seem to get sick right on my three day weekend, too - o, the unjustice of it all! The flipside is that since I'm stuck at home, I can get a lot of reading done and finish up some projects that have been languishing for a while. My fourth attempt at a sweater has actually reached completion (almost - I anticipate finishing today. very exciting!)

September 23

I blame facebook. I need one location where all my online business happens. That used to be here, but alas... grittykitty does not offer word games or constant voyeuristic updates of all my friends' activities, and so I've been led astray while grittykitty languishes and gathers dust.

I had actually managed to avoid/resist facebook altogether until very recently when I found out some long lost friends were active on the site, and the lure of baby pictures was too much. Now that I've been on facebook for a while, I definitely see the allure, but I'm still a little uneasy about the whole thing. There have been a number of articles in the last year about some of the more troubling aspects of the site: the rather blaseĀ“attitude towards privacy (read conversations between anyone in your network!), the difficulties with deleting your profile, and that little debacle last year when facebook started broadcasting members' purchases. While the open door policy can be a bonus (I like seeing what people are up to, especially people I rarely see or talk to), it's a little freaky to know that any change I make on my profile is automatically broadcast to over 50 people. And yet... I'm still there. Part of it is boredom - no tv means I have a lot of free time for wasting online - but mostly it's the only way I have to keep up on what some people are doing. Because most of my friends aren't blogging, facebook has turned into kind of a one-stop-shopping deal for keeping tabs on those near and far. Plus, it's pretty entertaining when old pictures start popping up, or people from high school send you a message seemingly out of nowhere. The downshide is that the ease of finding people online means you need to keep your nose clean. My facebook page is pretty benign and, while I tend to keep grittykitty fairly clean as well, I am relatively safe in that the only way someone can link me to it is by looking up the domain ownership (something future employers are unlikely to do). No real conclusions here, nor are these thoughts particularly new or uniquely my own, but they are things I have been mulling over the last couple of weeks.

September 10

Jeff put up some pictures of our trip to the Tetons here.

I put up some pictures here of last weekend's First Annual Ladies' Backpack Trip. Earlier in the summer, one of the ladies brought up the idea of doing an all-girl trip, which was finally planned and executed! Good times were had by all (except for Susannah's feet, which were very unahppy for the majority of the trip). Although I knew that a bunch of ladies in the woods was not a common occurance, I was surprised that we actually got some comments from other hikers - is it really so unusual to not have a guy "leading the way"? Apparently so, but at least we got a lot of entertainment working words like "empowerment" into our conversations.

September 2

Finally catching up from a very long week away from home. We loaded up the car on August 22 and headed over to Mazama for a few hours of sleep before getting up well before the crack of dawn for the Cutthroat Classic. It was a fun run, despite breakfast sitting in my stomach like a rock the entire time. I had put myself in Wave 4 (which ended up being combined with Wave 3), so we left about six minutes after the elite runners - thank god, because they were FAST. Even though I'm a fairly slow runner, I passed a whole mess of people at the beginning and during the first climbs, which was kind of exciting, and then we all settled into our own pace to get up to Cutthroat Pass. The thing I like about not being in the elite group is that most of the "just trying to finish" people are really nice and are in it for the fun factor. I actually ended up in conversations with four or five different people throughout the race, which was fun. I would end up chatting with someone for a few mintues before one of us would pick up the pace and pass the other. Right near the end of the race, I started talking with a woman who lives in Mazama about real estate prices and living in the valley, and we ended up crossing the finish line together. My knees were killing me after the 7 mile descent, and I'm not sure if I'll do another one, but I missed my 2 hour goal by a lousy 57 seconds, so I might have to redeem myself next year. We'll see...




my race number

After the race, we hung around for a while, got some food and started the drive to Wyoming. After a very loud evening at a campground right next to I-90 (couldn't find anything else), we finally pulled into Jackson on Sunday afternoon and secured a campsite and hiking permit. Monday morning found us packing and repacking all our supplies and we finally headed out for the Teton Crest Trail on Monday afternoon. We hiked just under 40 miles in 5 days and saw some amazing sights. The Teton range is actually pretty small, so we were able to hike nearly the entire length on our trip. We saw lots of birds that I wasn't able to fully identify, but there was no mistaking all the moose! On our first night, we ran across a mama moose and her baby. He was hiding behind her, so we could only see his ears at first, but then he poked his head up a bit so were able to get a better look. On our last night, we were camped above a river valley and we saw a moose with a huge rack wandering through the bushes getting his dinner. After about an hour of what we called "moose tv," he curled up next to rock and bedded down for the night. He was still there the next morning and another lady moose was wandering around looking for snacks as well. It was amazing to get to watch them for so long. Moose are such weird looking, awkward animals but they are incredibly huge and powerful... I'm glad we didn't run into them on the trail. Overall, the hike was incredible and, despite some wind fatigue and a few bites and sunburns, we had a great time.

After re-entering civilization, we spent some time wandering through Jackson getting food and showers before heading home. We stopped in Boise for the night and stayed with my friend Britt and her husband (Justin) and very cute baby (Violet). I hadn't seen Britt in years, so it was great to catch up and see each other again. A marathon drive on Sunday got us home by 6, and now it's back to reality this morning with plenty of laundry and work in a few hours. Seems like the first day of September has brought the first little whispers of fall with it - an extra blanket on the bed and cold mornings suggest the seasons will be changing pretty quickly.

August 20

This place is lousy with babies! Congratulations to Rebecca and Eric and wee lady Amara Virginia Kavoussi-Koerner, who was born last Friday and is looking pretty cute from the get go. Also, my friend Jen, who looks as if she might explode any minute, is scheduled to get those twins out on Friday. Interested parties may read more here.

Today also markes the beginning of the panicky pre-holiday countdown. I've got a gazillion things to do before we leave on Friday (five loads of laundry are currently going downstairs) and I haven't even started a packing list. Work has also been crazy busy, so there doesn't seem to be much down time between now and Friday evening, but I'm really excited to go and I can't wait to backpack through that lovely Teton range.

August 17

It's just me and Bud today, and I'm looking forward to a quiet lazy day at home. It's been a really busy week with lots of family things going on, culminating in a 60th birthday party for my mom and her two best friends last night (yay, Mom, Sharon and Judy!). Jeff left town well before the crack of dawn this morning to go climbing with TJ, so I'm taking advantage of the empty house to work on some crafty stuff and just lay low. I'm nearing completion of my first sweater, and so far it's looking pretty good. I think I'm going to have to re-knit the cuffs, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it.

August 10

An overdue congratulations to Doug and Ann and their new but still unnamed (as far as I know) wee baby boy! Interested parties can read further here.

August 10

Busy busy! This week has been kind of crazy with a lot of different stuff. I ended up joining facebook so that I could catch up with a few people, and it's been kind of a time suck. But besides that, there's been lots of reading (of course), stupid errands that take up a lot of time, and I've been spending a fair amount of time running and biking. The biking is mostly commuting, but at an hour each way, it eats up a big part of my day. Not that I'm complaining - I feel really lucky that I can bike to work, especially in this economical climate. I've actually cut down my driving to just one day a week. I get a ride home with a coworker on Tuesday nights and, between the shame train and my bike, I've got every day covered except Wednesdays, when I can't avoid getting in the car. I love it.

August 9

OMG OLYMPIC-MANIA! I loves me some Olympics. We even bought a sweet little technological marvel that allows up to watch hd-tv on the imac. We haven't been able to get cable though it yet (needs some troubleshooting) but so far it's been mostly pretty awesome.

August 9

What's old is new again. Penguin Classics has reissued a number of titles with very modern new covers done by different artists known for their own work in graphic novels. It's really wonderful to see this nod to the increasing respect paid to graphic novelists/artist and, as books really are judged by their covers, these new editions may entice a whole new generation of readers. I think Charles Burns' cover art for The Jungle is about the creepiest, most visceral book jacket I've ever seen:

August 3

Just back from a very much needed weekend away from the city. We headed out of town really late on Friday night, but it was worth it. We did some mountain biking on Saturday, and did a 10 mile training run on Sunday. My knees aren't too happy, but I did 10 miles of trails in 1 hour, 47 minutes. I certainly won't be setting any records when we do the Cutthroat Classic, but I'm pretty confident I'll get a decent time and be able to complete the race without barfing and/or collapsing.

July 30, approximately 4:00 pm

Jury duty complete. I ended up on a domestic violence trial, which was infinitely depressing. I'll spare you the details, but the final verdict was "guilty." This was actually a really difficult thing to be involved in and I hope I'm not called again for jury duty any time soon.

July 29, 12:20 pm

Selected! I'm officially on a jury. They expect us to be finished on Thursday. I'll keep you posted.

July 29, 10:40 am

Still is jury selection interviews, which has taken up the entire morning. It's a long, somewhat tedious process that requires answering fairly personal questions in front of a large group so that the lawyers can weed out those unfit to serve. Even if I don't get selected to be on a jury, I'm glad I've been through this much of the process at least. Lord knows I loves me some civic duty.

July 28, 2:40 pm

Selected for jury interview! Unfortunately, this means a lot more sitting around until they finally decide that we won't be interviewed until the following morning, and my group is dismissed for the day.

July 28, 1:40 pm

Well, jury duty is so far rather boring. The slow wi-fi connection kept me occupied for a while, as did my book, but now I'm looking at another three hour block of waiting. On a high note, I'm only a couple of blocks from Jeff's office, so I got to have a rare mid-day lunch with my sweetie.

July 28, 8:30 am

Jury duty. It strikes fear (or at least annoyance) into the hearts of most Americans. After rescheduling twice and having unsuccessfully requested to be excused altogether, this morning finds me sitting in a large windowless room with unflattering light trying desperately to entertain myself. I'm hoping that a computer and three books will be enough. There is a tiny part of me, though, that is kind of excited to be engaging in my civic duty as a citizen. Whether or not this excitement lasts until 5:00 remains to be seen.

July 21

Still dealing with WordPress issues and it's making me annoyed enough to avoid poor grittykitty for a while, so here's a little recap of what I've been up to lately:

Last Friday night we headed over to the Methow for some overdue sun and fun. We left the bikes, skis, and everything else and home and went for a long hike up to Scatter Lake on Saturday after a brief stop at the farmer's market and the Cinnamon Twisp for delicious snacks. Hike was long and kind of hot, but the lake was beautiful. It was also incredibly cold, but we did manage a very quick skinny dip before sitting in the sun for a while. On Sunday, we did a little training mission for our upcoming race. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to run the entire five miles up to Cutthroat Pass, but I guess all my running and gym work is paying off, because I managed to run the entire five miles without really stopping. It took me one hour and 25 minutes to get up to the pass, but we had to cross some snowfields and jump over some downed trees, so I'm hoping to do the climbing section in 75 minutes during the actual race. I was hoping to do the entire thing in under two hours, but I don't think I can do the remaining 7 miles in 45 minutes. We'll see what happens, I guess.


Here's me running real slow during the final few feet up to the top of the pass.

My most expensive fill-up ever ($65 - ouch) has resulted in some serious commuting highs and lows this week: I had an awesome osprey sighting near the Duwamish, but there has been an unusually high number of dried and dessicated squirrel and rabbit carcasses on Marginal Way recently. This morning, a tailwind of magical proportions resulted in my fasted commute time ever (45 minutes from Capital Hill to Tukwila), but the same tailwind becomes a demonic headwind on the way home.

July 14

Yeah, don't update your links. Am currently locked out of WordPress account and requests for automated password reset end with bad link. Furious with WordPress bugs and have resorted to deleting entire new blog database in hopes of reinstalling software but am so far unable to do that either. And while I'm all for open source software, you're royally screwed if you aren't some super techy code whiz. I actually had a similar problem when I tried to move to WordPress a couple of years ago and was never able to resolve it. Overall, it's incredibly frustrating.

July 7

Update your links! grittykitty is going high tech: http://blog.grittykitty.net/.This site will hang around for a while (or as long as it takes to figure out how to redirect traffic to the new address), but updates will start happening at the new blog address as of today. Yay!

July 7

Still one more day to go on my long, lazy weekend. Gas prices and the need for a low key relaxing holiday kept us in town all weekend. Besides being very productive around the house (we cleaned out not one but TWO closets!), we did plenty of fun stuff and had lots of coffee breaks. Yesterday Jeff and I went for a long run through Discovery Park as part of our training for the Cutthroat Classic. I like running, but anything over five miles really starts to feel like work. Since it took my knees about six months to recover after the Rattler half marathon last year, I've been trying to do a slower and kinder training routine. It's working, but it means that I'm doing a lot more mid-length training runs as I try to work up to 11 miles. Yay for me.

After the run, we went to the Ballard Farmer's Market and snapped up about 15 pounds of fruit, much of which we demolished as soon as we got home:



July 2

Back home from California this evening. After 17 hours of BBYA meetings and plenty of time wandering through the exhibit hall, I'm very happy to be home. The committee this year is awesome! I love the new members and we had a great fun discussing all the books so far, and I'm really looking forward to our next meeting in Denver.

On a more entertaining note, after trying to change rooms three times at the noisy noisy Hotel Menage, we finally gave up entirely and moved to the Annabella, which was much quieter and relaxing, plus it had a nicer pool. I was sad to give up the view of the Matterhorn and the nightly Disney fireworks that threatened to shatter the windows, but the Annabella was right next to the convention center and about a billion times better overall. Extra bonus wildlife sightings of feral cats made pool time super special. A few pics are up on my flickr page.

June 27

Just flew in to Anaheim and boy, are my arms tired. But seriously, folks, I knew I was in for concrete hell, but it's actually much worse than I anticipated. There's eight lanes of freeway about 20 feet from our room and nothing but low budget chain restaurants in sight. I think my hopes of a relaxing morning by the pool have been dashed. Here's the lovely view from our room:

Lucky me will be here until Tuesday attending committee meetings and spending some time in the exhibit hall. I've read 92 of the 96 books that have been nominated so far this year and should get a couple more done before I leave. Hopefully I won't be spending much time in my room...

June 19

First blog entry from the new computer! Our poor laptop was so old that it took ages just to do anything - clicking on a link often meant getting a coffee or a magazine to keep you busy while you waited for all the clicking and grinding while the poor computer did its thing. No longer! Now we've got a ginormous screen and so much power I don't even know what to do with myself. Of course, we're $200 overdrawn, even after saving for months, but hey, it's the American way, right?

Finally finished this baby quilt for Roger and Malia. It took ages, but I'm really happy with how it turned out and I think I might even make another.

June 13

Off to Camas today to see Jordan's high school graduation. In preparation for the trip, I filled the tank yesterday and became physically ill when a tank of gas cost just over $60.

June 8

I usually ignore emails from people with a subject line of "sexy librarian," but these librarians seem legit (and they are pretty hot).

June 7

Have been sick all weekend. It sucks. I have been plowing through the books, though, which is good because BBYA nominations closed on June 1 with a total of 96 books for our halfway point. I've got about 30 to read by June 27. I've been strategizine a little better this year and have already read most of the big fat ones, so I should get pretty close to finishing them if I stay the course at two books per day.

June 2

Man, is it really June already? Stayed home for a somewhat lazy weekend - took care of some long overdue chores, slept in both days and read four books. Last night we had Roger, Malia and wee Oliver over for dinner. Despite outweighing the baby by about 13 pounds, Buddy was a little freaked out by Oliver. You could hear the gears in his little brain trying to sort it out: "... cat size, but not cat. squirmy. smells weird." I think he might have been jealous of Oliver's toys, as well.


picture is a little blurry, but Oliver is so cute I had to post.

May 31

Jeff put up some pictures of our Memorial Day weekend camping trip here.

May 27

Jeff and I loaded up the car last Friday morning and headed out of town for a long weekend in the Methow, despite a pretty dismal weather forecast. We got doused a few times, but it was well worth it to spend a few nights in the tent surrounded by tons of flowers and fresh sagebrush. Three days of mountain biking and a long hike means I'm sore and tired this morning, but in a good way. The place was lousy with birds, too - tanagers, mountain bluebirds, yellow rumped warblers. I didn't make a list of everything we saw, but we probably spotted a good 30 species throughout the weekend. Pics to come soon.

May 27

cat

May 22

Today found me on the receiving end of some serious unpleasantness, aka "Career Day at Dimmitt Middle School." I had received a request to be a presenter, which seemed like a good idea at the time, since I already know a lot of the kids at the school and I thought I would be a good opportunity to talk to them about the library profession , etc. The first part of my presentation was an effort to do away with the "librarian is old boring lady" stereotype. My strategy was to compare the words the kids used to describe librarians with the words librarians use to describe themselves. However, I was woefully unprepared for the onslaught that soon came. I was expecting words like 'old,' 'boring,' maybe even 'mean.' What I didn't expect was 'annoying,' 'evil,' and 'racist.' Granted, this was coming from kids who we've had behavior problems with in the library on a fairly regular basis, but have I just been busting my ass at work for the past four years so that kids will think I'm an evil racist bitch? It was one of those days that really made me think I need a career change.

May 20

Nothing to report except that it's nose to the literary grindstone time. We've had 89 BBYA nominations as of today. I've got about 40 of them still to read and about 38 days to do it. readreadread! Looks like I'll be bringing a bag of books when we go camping this weekend...

May 14

More signs of spring in the back yard today: Wilson's Warblers!

May 11

It must truly be spring, because I saw a Western Tanager in the back yard today. I've never seen on in the city before, so it was an absolute delight to such a gorgeous little thing outside my window.

May 7

Last night at work a patron called on the phone and asked "Do you have a book called Gay People? I was actually in the process of looking it up and asking "so... is that the exact title of the book?" when the kid hung up and I realized I had been on the receiving end of a little prank. Is that really the best they can do? "A book called Gay People?" That's pretty lame, even by 13-year-old boy standards.

May 6

New tattoo! I've been meaning to cover up the lame and oh-so-80's sun I had on my right shoulder, and now it's finally done. Picture is a little dark, but you get the general idea...

May 5

The north cascades highway opened last week, so we jumped in the car on Friday night for a weekend of skiing and sunshine with Alan and Rachel. One of my favorite fall hikes is Heather/Maple Pass and I thought it would be really fun to ski it. It was really warm and sunny and we had some great views and a couple of good turns, but the temperatures and lack of consolidation left us with a pretty sketchy return route to the car. Alan and Jeff kicked of some scary big slides of wet heavy snow, so we hightailed it out of there in favor of cold beers at the car.

We decided not to ski on Sunday due to conditions, which meant a rare day of leisure in the Methow. Usually we are trying to cram in so many things when we head east that we rarely get the chance to sit around all day. After a long morning in the campground, Alan and Rachel headed home and Jeff and I wandered around town a bit (coffee and breakfast) and then went to one of my favorite places, Pipestone Canyon, for a little walk and some birdwatching. A few hours in the sun got us some good bird sightings (the place was lousy with yellow-rumped warblers and we had a great view of a Northern Harrier chasing after lunch (aka red-winged blackbirds). It was a great weekend and I've got the sunburn to prove it. Jeff put up a few pictures here.

May 2

Had a lovely day off today after a long and taxing week. Looks like we'll be heading to the north Cascades this evening for some camping and backcountry skiing. The North Cascades highway opened yesterday, and if I'm going to bag the Birthday Tour this year, I'm going to have to do it this weekend. So we're packing up the skis, shoving Buddy through the neighbor's door and hittin' the highway.

April 28

One of the more annoying parts of my job is dealing with the "high maintenance patron." This guy came in yesterday and wanted help finding something on the US immigration web site which, as you can probably imagine, is a huge cluster of pages that can be difficult to navigate. Every time I showed him what link to click on, he would say, "oh, that's not it" and click on something else before throwing his hands up in the air in a dramatic gesture of defeat. Every time he did this I would have to show him why it was the wrong page and then we would start over. I spent about ten minutes listening to this guy tell me how I was doing everything wrong until I got him to the page he needed. At least he said "thanks."

On the brighter side, I rode my bike to work on Saturday and Sunday! With gas at $4 a gallon these days, I can't justify driving to work unless I absolutely have to.

April 22

This morning Buddy barfed twice before taking a huge dump on the floor.

April 20

Wildlife bonus: typing at the kitchen table when I look out the window to see a bald eagle getting dive-bombed by a crow!

April 20

This week's New York Times Magazine is devoted to living green. I live for stuff like this because I can usually anticipate an endless supply appalling facts, like "...if every American spent 30 minutes a day walking or cycling instead of driving, we would collectively cut carbon emissions by 64 million tons and shed more than three billion pounds of excess flab." (Walk the Walk, p. 64) Hard to argue with that.

April 19

Well, be careful what you wish for, I guess, because things got pretty exciting yesterday. Jeff, Stephen, John O. and I headed up to Snoqualmie Pass yesterday for a little backcountry tour in the Commonwealth Basin/Mt. Snoqualmie area. From the time I got up, I had been pretty lackluster about the whole trip and nearly stayed home, but I figured that being out in the mountains was definitely better than being stuck in the city. We saw a lot of variable snow conditions on the way up, which were compounded by brief periods of really warm sun mixed with snow showers. By the time we got half way up Mt. Snoqualmie, I was really tired and unhappy about the snow stability. We agreed to drop down the slope and traverse across the bowl in order to make a loop back into Commonwealth Basin, and that's when things got pretty scary. We were going down a south facing slope, which had been getting hammered by the sun throughout the day. It warmed things up enough that we were kicking off lots of sluff as we were skiing down the steeper slopes, and we saw John let a little slide loose. I was the third person down and made a few nice turns before stopping right above Stephen, who was standing in front of three large trees. Apparently I had loosened enough snow when I was skiing that a good amount of it slid above me. I had unknowingly stopped right in its path and all that snow started pushing me down the slope towards Stephen and the trees. Despite the slow speed, there was so much force from the snow that I was pretty much helpless, and I was carried past Stephen and through the trees where, miraculously, I slid through on my back without hitting anything. I managed to grab onto some branches as I was getting carried through and stopped myself, but Stephen's dog, Marina, was caught up as well and was pushed all the way to the bottom of the slope (about 150 feet) when the top layer of snow slid below us.

So, what did we learn from this? Even after taking a Level 1 Avalanche Preparedness course, we made some poor decisions yesterday: we knew there was a weak layer of snow on top of last week's sun crust that had been getting warmed by the sun (making it weaker), we skiied a south-facing slope that has known stability issues, and I stopped at exactly the wrong spot (above Stephen and below my tracks). Although no one was hurt, it was definitely scary, and it was a really good lesson about how careful you need to be out in the mountains. It was also a good reminder about all the assessments you need to make about snow conditions and terrian, and how you can avoid 99.9% of the danger if you pay attention and play it smart.

April 16

Sorry, kids... nothing too exciting to report. Lots of reading, a bit of skiing (including an awesome sunny spring day at Crystal), but otherwise, not much is going on. Oh, except I'm old.

April 8

Clearly I've been hitting the Nyquil a bit too hard, because these are funny:



April 8

Well, I managed to make it through nearly the entire winter without getting sick, but I think it's finally hit me. I'm home (again) today, feeling quite crappy.

On the bright side, it gives me a little extra time to read. I'm knee deep in books trying to get everything read for the first BBYA session this year. So far, 59 books have been nominated. The list keeps growing and it's hard to keep up. I've already read about 50 books since January, and I still have 39 titles from the list to finish by June 27, but that's do-able as long as I balance my reading.

April 1

It's Tuesday, and I'm still recovering from the MOST AWESOME WEEKEND EVER!!!1!

Friday night found Jeff and I at a small gathering in celebration of my friends Yves and Sienna who moved to Italy nearly 10 years ago. This was the first time I had seen them since they had returned, and it was great to talk and drink wine and do some long overdue catching up. Saturday, Stephen, Jeff and I headed up to Alpental, where Jeff competed in VertFest 2008 while Stephen and I took full advantage of the knee deep powder. Although we did think maybe Jeff was a fool for trudging up the hill on a late season powder day, he showed us up by winning first place in the telemark category (yay, Jeff!). Saturday night found the ladies and I at the Olympus Spa in Lynwood, where I received some much needed pampering in the form of soaking and scrubbing until I shone like a newborn bebeh.

Sunday morning we were up at the crack of dawn again, where Caroline, Dave, Stephen, Jeff and I drove down to Crystal Mountain to do a backcountry tour near Bullion Basin. It was an absolutely amazing day and we skiied so much delicious powder that we were all in a state of exhausted bliss on the way home. Jeff put up a few pictures here, but all you really need to see are these pictures of the ladies reprezentin':


Caroline and her big smile rippin' it up


Me (and my hidden smile) rippin' it up

March 21

OMG ilovepeggle! They finally released a version for the mac, and I just used up my free trial hour. Don't try it unless you have lots of free time...

March 20

Those who know me well know my train-wreck fascination with the American diet and such blatantly life-shortening institutions as the Cheesecake Factory. I've killed plenty of time trawling through websites devoted to exposing the nutritional content of dishes offered by these restaurants and still can't believe how bad some of this stuff is for you. A new book called Eat This, Not That guides readers to make simple choices at chain restaurants that can save them thousands of calories and probably a bazillion grams of fat. The book also lists some of the worst choices you can make, which is (of course) my favorite part:

-Worst Fast Food Meal: McDonald's Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips with creamy ranch sauce. Chicken sounds healthy, but not at 870 calories.
-Worst Drink: Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo'd Power Smoothie. With 166 grams of sugar, you could have had eight servings of Ben & Jerry's.
-Worst Supermarket Meal: Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie. One pie packs 64 grams of fat.
-Worst "Healthy" Burger: Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger. With 1,145 calories, not a very healthy choice.
-Worst Airport Snack: Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll. Packed with 813 hot gooey calories and 5 grams of trans fats.
-Worst Kids' Meal: Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni 'n Cheese. With 62 fat grams, it's the equivalent of 1.5 full boxes of Kraft Mac 'n Cheese.
-Worst Salad: On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef. A salad with 102 grams of fat and 2,410 mg of sodium.
-Worst Dessert: Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream. At 1,600 calories, it's like eating the caloric equivalent of three Big Macs.

March 14

Jeff put up a little gallery of our Wallowa ski trip here.

Here's a couple of pictures from Philadelphia taken by my coworker Rick. Since most of my time in Philly was spent sitting around a table, I didn't get out much, but I did feel the need to document my Rocky pilgrimage:

We also saw this totally awesome promo for an upcoming Star Wars exhibit at the science museum - giant Darth!

March 11

Finally catching up after a very busy few weeks. I've been gone from work so much this winter with conferences and vacations (I know, life's rough) that I've been scrambling to keep up with everything. I'm definitely behind on committee reading and I have about 10 half-finished projects that could really use some attention. Now that I've used up nearly all my vacation hours and am entering a lengthy wasteland of nothing but a busy spring at work, I should have time to get back up to speed.

Before that happens, though, I do need to bask in the glory of my recent mini-vacation. We just got back from an outstanding weekend at the Wallowa Alpine Huts, where we hiked and skiied our little hearts out for four days. We shared the trip with an awesome group of four ladies from Boise who were great fun and kept us entertained with lots of inappropriate comments and some seriously rippin' skiing and boarding. Jeff should be posting a few photos soon.


Here's a picture of me on one of the rare runs where I managed to stay upright.

Many sympathies go to Stephen, who tried to rally despite bone-crushing flu but had to give up the dream when it became clear that he was likely to get much worse if he stayed on. (Stephen, you shall be redeemed!)

March 7

CONGRATULATIONS to Shanti and Alex, who gave birth to wee Lilia Faye Kochis after nine months and two long weeks! Can't wait to meet the little cutie.

February 26

Happy Anniversary to us! Today marks three years of ball and chain wedded bliss.

February 22

Congratulations to Roger and Malia and wee little Oliver Wittmann! We were lucky enough to see the little guy on Sunday morning, and he's a real cutie.

February 19

My 18-day weekend is over and I head back to work this afternoon. My skiing wish came true, though! We headed up to Cabin Creek on Sunday, where Jeff raced in the Kongsberger Stampede while I did some slow, easy laps around the area. Yesterday we went to Crystal for some (early) spring skiing. The day was gorgeous with clear views of all the mountains in the area. Sunny skies and slushy snow made for a great day. Here's a pic Jeff took of me in front of Rainier:

Feburary 16

Well, I made it back in one piece. Guatemala was fantastic, and although it seemed we were gone for a long time while we were there, the two weeks went by really quickly. Some pictures are here if you want to take a look, and I put up a little trip report here. Nerds may click here to go directly to the list of bird species seen on the trip. Glad to be back in the PNW, ready to do a little skiing this weekend before I have to go back to work on Tuesday, and it goes without saying that I missed Jeff and Buddy like crazy, so it's great to be home.

January 31

Off to Guatemala! I'm spending the day doing laundry, packing, double-checking lists and seeing a few friends and family. I will either send some trip reports or get them posted here. Latest check of the weather is reporting 87 degrees in Tikal. Oh yeah...

January 29

Wow, I'm seriously slacking on the blog action. Ok, let's see... this past weekend I was laid up on the couch with a cold, but the weekend before that we did some fantastic skiing! Jeff and I did an easy backcountry tour with Daryl and Nick and a couple of their friends. It was cold but absolutely beautiful out, and we had fatty powder runs all day. Nick put up a few pictures here. We also had a great day skate skiing up at Hyak, but unfortunately someone picked up my skate skis and poles by mistake(?), leaving an almost identical pair in their place. I fear they are sitting in someone's basement never to be seen again. Crap.

I took a week off from reading, but I'm slowly getting back up to speed. It's hard to get excited about another year of getting my ass kicked by teen lit, but I do like the work and the next two conferences are in L.A. and Denver, so it should be good times.

Susannah and I leave for Guatemala this Friday! I'm so incredibly excited to go. I've been wanting to go to Guatemala for about as long as I can remember, and there's so much I want to do. Two weeks is starting to seem woefully inadequate. I'm thinking about getting some new binoculars for the trip, since much of the time we'll be birdwatching and my binocs are about 15 years old and not really performing well. Plus, since I'm financing the whole thing by credit card, I might as well go all the way. Right? GW would be proud at my efforts to stimulate the economy.

January 17

I've been typecast. This week I was sent not one, but two different 'funny cat' websites, plus this video. Is my love of cute really so transparent?

January 17

Yay! Finally back from Philly. I had a great time at the conference, despite working my ass off. The whole committee process was really satisfying and, while I'm looking forward to starting up again, I definitely need to take a break, catch up on some long overdue crafts and read some (gasp!) adult literature for a bit.

I did have time to do a little sightseeing in Philadelphia between all those meetings. I forgot to bring a camera, which is too bad as it's a charming little city. Besides spending hours and hours just wandering around the city, I did make it to the Mütter Museum. It was fascinating, but I did find myself getting a little nauseated after while. One can take in only so many tumors, cojoined twins and babies in jars before becoming ill. My other hidden agenda was to have my picture taken on the Rocky Steps (documentation coming soon). The only disappointing part of the trip was the lack of good eating. I had some serious crap food, including possibly the worst meal I've ever experienced. We decided to go to one of those Chinese vegetarian places that serves fake meat. Jen had read a few good reviews online, both of which recommended the Dim Sum, so I went with that. Inedible is the nicest way I can describe it. I finally threw in the towel when the deep fried fake shrimp came doused in mayonnaise. Ew.

January 9

I'm out of time! Lots going on and no time to even get it up on poor, sad, neglected grittykitty. Off to Philly tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn for six days of librarian conference madness. Although I really love my committee work and find it incredibly satisfying, it's been so much work the last few months and I'm really ready for a break. A full report next week!

January 1, 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Hope everyone had a great holiday. Ours was busy but really nice, with time to see (nearly) everyone. It'll be a tough break to head back to work tomorrow, but it was great to have some time away and forget about all that job stuff for a bit. Busy holidays, skiing, New Year's in Bellingham with friends, reading like mad and trying to stay just a little bit sane has kept me more than occupied. I leave for Philly in just over a week and, with 28 books still to read, I'm pretty much screwed. I spent the last three days slogging through a 400 page fictionalized version of the rise of Genghis Khan, and it was torture the entire way through. Seriously, there is nothing worse than having to read a book you don't like... life's just too short!

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