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Month: December 2017

2017. just ok.

2017. just ok.

  1. longstanding resolution: TAKE MORE PICS. i’m excited for my august photoshoot i’m a part of! it should be fantastic and fun!
  2. another longstanding resolution: get a garden in! i’m torn on where to put it, and i think keeping the riffraff out (aka the deer and bunnies) will be a challenge, but it should be super duper fun.
  3. get a compost pile going! like, a real one.
  4. consider a chicken
  5. consider bees
  6. since my trip resolution worked out so well last year, i’d kind of like to put another trip resolution in her in case it makes it
  7. i’m not sure what to do on the running front. maybe i can just say, resolve to run as much as i comfortably can and do a couple races. there’s a relay half marathon in la crosse in early may that might be a possibility liz and i decided to run the earth day half marathon here in st. cloud. bring it on (i guess).
  8. do something interesting with nate. i don’t know if this is in conjunction with resolution 6, but i’d like to do an out-of-the-house activity with nate
  9. i like last year’s be happy resolution. i think this year, i want to scale back on connectivity ALL. THE. TIME. i was just listening to npr this afternoon, and they were talking about “ambient news” – you know what’s happening all the time because you’re checking your social media all the time, and you’re getting blasted with everything, ALL.THE.TIME. it’s agitating, kind of nerve-wracking, and constant. i’ll be informed! i just won’t be immediately informed. and possibly fake informed. this would require some adjustments; i’d have to get a dumb phone. i’d keep my iphone, but i’d use it for running tracking mostly. and mobile bank deposits. i’d keep my extra sim card in it so i wouldn’t be tempted. so no more emojis and no more camera on me all the time. it’d be weird, but i think, ultimately, it’d be really good for mental health. now i just have to find a dumb phone. if anyone has one that works with at&t or tmobile, let me know.

 

  1. Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 2.10.38 PMFAIL EPIC FAIL. the photoshoot fell through. although… i did SEE the perfect shot. i didn’t have my camera, or even ability to get my dumb phone out to take the pic. i was mowing the lawn one late summer evening, and the sun was just setting over the field behind my house that’s in CRP. dust motes floating in the air, purple and yellow wildflowers abounding, the sun rays just reaching across the native grasses, …and a DEER stood in the middle of this, looking at me. and i’m chasing a lawn mower across the yard with sweaty fingers and a sweaty phone that i can’t get out of my pocket. 
  2. epic win! i have a 36’x18′ plot in my yard, and i planted so much stuff. my pickle game this year was ON POINT. 
  3. compost pile has been piled. not sure if it’s going to yield any good compost, but it’s there and i put food waste in it all last summer.
  4.  considered it
  5. considered it
  6. trip? well yes, i did go on a trip! it was for work, but it was still some place that needed a plane ride to get to and it was a place i’d never been! i went to washington dc for a conference and checked out the sights while i was there. 
  7. for someone who didn’t know what she was going to do on the running front, 2017 sure did provide some…interesting…running opportunities. liz and i completed the earth day half marathon, even though her training sucked majorly. i was able to train on the lake woebegone trail in march and april, which is possibly my favorite running trail. it’s so smooth and flat! one day i ran from avon to albany and back. (that was a 13-mile day.) our time during the half was kind of lacking compared the half we did in 2016, but we finished eventually. 
    ***********
    THEN. liz convinced me to do ragnar trail. i have such conflicting feelings about it. i trained really diligently for it, running on the trails in the st. john’s woods. in the dark. through mud. in the rain. in the cold. i bought trail shoes. i got a headlamp and hand lamps. I WAS READY. but nothing could prepare me for the HEAT. and the overall treacherousness that was that trail! omg. the heat beat me down on the four mile, which should’ve been my jam. then on the 8 mile, i fell within the first 5 minutes and ran the rest of the trail on a bum ankle, which put me out of running for two weeks after ragnar.  so, i guess i definitely ran in 2017.
  8. i think the most interesting thing i did with nate in 2017 was eat at the new mexican restaurant in sartell. *eyeroll*
  9. at the beginning of 2017, i got a motorola razr off ebay and used it for three months. i turned off the iphone so i didn’t have news at my fingertips. but i ended up using my laptop a lot more, and no one ever called or texted me, so i was like, what’s the point of the razr? then, after using the razr for a while, i lost service in my house. no bars. so that was the end of that. but i crafted my social feeds to not be constant news, and i think that after a while, a person just becomes immune to the insanity that is the government now. so i’m back to being just as connected, but i’m less angry now. i don’t know if that’s good or bad. 
    **********
    speaking to the happy part of this, know what made me happy? my paddleboard. i bought an inflatable SUP, and about once a week throughout the summer, i was out at st. john’s floating around the lake. how utterly wonderful. 

a few things of note happened in 2017. my sisters and i started saving to buy a cabin in probably wisconsin northwoods. we figured it was about time we just set our minds to this and did it. we think in maybe three years, after liz is done paying for childcare, we should have enough for a decent downpayment.
my family also decided to not do christmas presents this year and are going to try a trip instead. we decided to go to wisconsin dells in late may or early june. 
oh! and i went with charlie to my first musical concert in close to 10 years! we went to see everclear, fastball, and vertical horizon while they were at treasure island. AND I SHOOK ART’S HAND. note: always wear the old-school band t-shirt, and don’t be afraid to be “that guy.” 
on sad news, nate and i had to put chasey down. she was not doing well: not eating, having trouble walking, etc. my poor chasey cat, who’d been with me for 15 years. 
but with sad news comes some happy cat news: a fluffy black blob showed up in my garage one day, and now we are back to three kitties. stan’s a pest, but his fluffy tail is worth keeping around. 
(note: i did not touch on much politically in this post, because i feel like it shouldn’t affect my personal life as much as it does, and it requires a block of text on its own. there was just SO MUCH, that at this point, nothing surprises me. although i do have my sign at the ready in case i need to protest again.)
2018 resolutions to come!

follow-up: st. simeon

follow-up: st. simeon

st. simeon. the original performance artist? hmmmm.
690px-MHS_Szymon_Slupnik_XVI_w_Kostarowce_pwhen i read the initial description of st. simeon in the 12 days of christmas, i thought maybe he was banished to a platform as punishment. but no. he seeked it out.
so here’s what happened with sim. (can i call him sim? i’ll call him sim.) sim was the son of a shepherd, born in present-day turkey. he became enthralled with christianity at the age of 13 after reading the beatitudes and entered a monastery before the age of 16. he was so obsessed and extravagant that the monks deemed him unsuited to community life and kicked him out.
so he shut himself up in a hut for a year and a half and spent the whole of lent without eating or drinking. (i find this hard to believe.) he came out and it was hailed a miracle. (miracle or not, 40 days with no drink or food=death.) then, from that point forward, he decided he would only stand as long as his legs would support him. no sitting for this diehard.
sim wanted some more extremes, so he decided to live on a narrow rocky outcrop on a mountain, but crowds of people sought him out to ask advice and for his prayers, which annoyed him because he couldn’t pray. so he decided to run away.
he found a pillar in modern-day syria and placed a small platform on top of it. local boys would climb up the pillar with flatbreads and goats milk. 
now of course some monastics wanted to know if he was doing this out of actual humility or out of pride. if he obeyed an order to come down, they decided that he was humble and would leave him on the pillar. he obeyed, so he got to stay. 
the first pillar he was on was about nine feet high, and the last one he was on was more than 50 feet off the ground. his platform was believed to be about a meter square (a little bit longer than 3’x3′) and surrounded by a railing. 
Uttanasana-Standing-Forward-Fold-Pose
sim stayed there day and night, summer and winter, standing or doing a yogic forward fold. and people still came to him. he decided to be available each afternoon to talk with visitors who climbed a ladder to speaking distance. he wrote letters and preached against profanity and high-interest loans. (??????)
people were so enthralled that a double wall was built to keep the crowds at bay, and women were not allowed within the wall. not even his own mother. except when she died. sim decided then that he could look at the coffin and say goodbye to her dead body. (can i roll my eyes any more at this? no. no i cannot.)
he died in 459. a disciple found him stooped over in his forward fold, and the buried him by a pillar. a look

happy christmas! have some birds.

happy christmas! have some birds.

happy 2nd day of christmas! know what i can’t understand? people who take their christmas decorations down the day after christmas. don’t they realize that the christmas season has just begun??
so here’s the deal. the 12 days of christmas? no, it’s not a marketing ploy to rack up sales 12 days before christmas. it’s the liturgical christmas season between dec. 25 and jan. 6, the epiphany (you know, when the three kings* visited the baby jesus in bethlehem).  unfortunately, all the hype for christmas happens a month before christmas, and the season itself is practically forgotten. 
so, let’s take a look at how the christmas season plays out. before dec. 25? it’s actually advent, the time of waiting and preparing your heart for jesus. each sunday we get to light an additional candle on the advent wreath, purple, purple, pink, and purple, until christmas arrives. my friend melissa, a liturgist at a catholic church and sponsor of this post**, actually runs purple and pink ribbons on her tree until christmas, when she decorates it. i remember growing up on the tree farm and having one family come out on christmas eve to cut down their tree. 
so what happens during the 12 days of christmas besides a very rich lover sending you a bunch of birds? here’s what we’ve got for the 12 days of christmas:
12days
The first day  is Christmas, the celebration of baby jesus’ birth. it’s also a day you traditionally give your loved one a partridge in a pear tree.
The second day is Boxing Day and is also known as St Stephen’s Day. he was the first christian martyr. and two turtle doves.
The third day celebrates St John the Apostle. three calling birds.
The fourth day is the Feast Of The Holy Innocents – the day when people remember all of the baby boys who were killed by King Herod in his search to kill the Baby Jesus. four french hens!
The fifth day is remembering St Thomas Becket – he was the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th Century and was killed on December 29 1170 for challenging the King’s authority over the church. fiiiiiive goooooldeeeeen riiiiiiiings
The sixth day remembers St Egwin of Worcester, who died on December 30 717. he was known as the protector of orphans and the widowed. six swans a swimming.
The seventh day (New Year’s Eve) celebrates Pope Sylvester I. In some eastern European countries New Year’s Eve is still known as Silvester. seven geese a laying.
The eighth day (New Year’s Day) celebrates Mary the Mother of Jesus. (this is also a holy day of obligation, which TOTALLY BLOWS when you’re up all night revelrying. eight maids a milking.
The ninth day honors St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nazianzen – two important fourth century Christians. nine ladies dancing.
The tenth day is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus – this marks the day Jesus was named in the Jewish Temple. ten lords a leaping.
The eleventh day  celebrates the Feast of Saint Simeon Stylites who spent 37 years living on a small platform on top of a pillar in Aleppo. (WHAT ON EARTH. this might need some more research.) eleven pipers.
The twelfth day, January 5, is also known as Epiphany Eve – it’s the day before January 6 which is known as the Epiphany. 12 drummers drumming.
many countries in europe still celebrate the 12 days, but in the US it’s practically forgotten. once dec. 25 rolls around, it’s sayanora christmas.
what i’d like to start doing? i wouldn’t mind celebrating christmas like hannukah is celebrated. each night get a small present or do something fun, with the big party on ephiphany (which makes total sense since that’s when the kings came with their GIFTS).  OR, for those families who have multiple christmas parties and people to exchange gifts with, why not do it during the 12 days FOLLOWING christmas, during the actual season? 
i know that the retail marketing has got us all hyped up and wound up and grabbed by our wallets, but it wouldn’t take much to make the christmas season part of how we celebrate christmas. and i’ve said it before: i wouldn’t mind seeing more off-color christmas celebrations become more mainstream. like actual caroling, or something equivalent to trick or treating. or krampus  (hee heeeee!). i feel like christmas has gotten too ooey gooey and blown out of proportion and saccharine. 
*or two, if you’re the kings at my mom’s house. one got beheaded for coming out of the closet (hannah was playing “kissy kissy” with two kings, and being ceramic, one broke.)
**(she says not to take her too seriously. i had to school her on what the triduum*** was her first year as a liturgist.)
*** the three days before easter: holy thursday, good friday, and holy saturday. 

meh

meh

welp, i’ve watched almost all my christmas movies. i made a couple batches of cookies (not as many as i normally do). wrapped the few presents i needed to wrap. i guess christmas is here. 
i don’t know what’s going on, but i’m not too excited about christmas this year. i wasn’t too excited last year, either, so who knows. 
not much other news! though i did get a seed catalog in the mail today. that’s a little exciting, though i’ll probably be happier about that in about three months when i can start seeds. 
hmmm. i’m out. 

silent night

silent night

the lady normally held court at the pole, but once a year – during the busiest time – she left her station for a night. 
people thought she was just a figure, a counterpart. most thought her most important role was to make sure the man in red (partner in business, life, love) ate. (her best business venture had been when she hired the cook. she hated cooking and everyone agreed that her food was bland. she never understood how she had been tasked with that to begin with.) she was much better at keeping the books and overseeing the network of seers. and by the 20th, her work was mostly done.
so once a year, she left the pole, the work, the hectic scene, to embrace the dark. 
it was always cold the night before the light ritual, and she always took the head reindeer. the past couple years it was blitz. after the herd had been destroyed by the vampire, she had a hard time coming to terms with the new crew, but she thought this year she could fully trust blitz. 
the lady slipped through the heavy front doors, spilling a beam of yellow-gold light onto the white snow, and hurried down the stone steps to the outbuildings where she knew blitz was waiting. 
her long leather skirts swished as she quickly opened the door to the herd’s housing, and blitz was there. they stepped into the night, where the lady rummaged in her pocket for the chocolate nut balls she shoved in there, pushing aside the peppermints and silver dagger she carried with her these days. the vampires were rampant this year for some reason, and after the episode mariah had with the other, she wasn’t taking any chances. 
fittingly, the sky was cloudy, shrouding them from the stars and moon that might provide some light. blitz’s hooves were silent in the snow, occasionally catching purchase on a stone. while blitz didn’t talk, she did understand what the lady was saying, and her eyes always seemed to convey whatever it was she wanted the lady to know. the lady, used to being behind the scenes, was ok with little conversation. 
tonight they walked in complete silence. 
tonight they walked far.
but it was never enough time to prepare. 
blitz snorted puffy white breaths and stopped mid-stride. the lady felt it too. he was here. 
the wind briefly whipped around her, and suddenly he showed himself. arawn, master of underworld, sleep, the night god. it was so cold that the lady had to blink hard to keep tears from leaking down her cheeks and freezing. she put her mittened hand over her mouth and caught her breath. 
“maire.”
of the three people who knew her name, he was the only one who ever said it out loud. she breathed and let him in. 
*****
after, blitz knelt beside her lady and patiently waited until she rested her hand on her back and pulled herself to standing. together they walked back, slowly, carefully. the lady’s hand never left blitz’s  back until they reached the tall doors of the house at the pole. even now, in the dark, early hours of the morning, the lights were still ablaze and everyone hard at work. no one knew the lady left this night every year.
the lady stroked blitz’s nose and smiled a satisfied smile. she knew blitz wouldn’t tell a soul. it was a necessary darkness, the start of the ritual to bring back the light.

a cautionary tale in 3 parts

a cautionary tale in 3 parts

part 1:

2 years ago i went to watch hannah after i saw craig being born (that in itself is a cautionary tale, but one for a different blog post. or a never happening blog post. anyway.) hannah was almost three and, being a three-year-old, was kind of a pain in the butt when it came to getting stuff done. to get her to do anything, i learned to threaten her with leaving without her. so we were together for an overnight and into the next day. 

part 2:

so, being a three-year-old, hannah took about five hours to get ready for bed. she changed (finally). she brushed her teeth (eventually). she crawled into bed and i read her book (i was quick at least). and i turned off the light and went to go watch a movie – inside out (poor bing bong!!!). hannah came out not long after. she needed a drink. ok, get a drink. back to bed. 15 minutes later – kate! kate! come here! what?? blanket needed adjusting. ok, fine. you need to sleep, ok? no more. bye. 10 minutes. kate! kate! kate! kate! kate! kate! kate! UUUGGHHH, WHAT. there’s something making noise. 

part 3:

noise? i took my chance. it was early december, after all. 
“you know what that noise is, hannah?” tiniest of head shakes. “that’s santa’s elves outside your window, watching you to make sure you’re good.” eyes widen. “so you’d better be on your best behavior. otherwise…NO PRESENTS.” silence and nodding nodding nodding. 
silent night.

krampennacht

krampennacht

silver bullets clinked against each other as mariah searched her pockets for a piece of peppermint. her throat was hurting after yesterday, a long day out in the cold prepping the deer for the trip. too much happened at this time of year. there was the annual light-bringing, then she needed to make sure the deer were ready for the trip. 
but first there was the first visit. 
sure, the man in red had his part under control, but the other, well…he was a different matter. he didn’t seem to think there was a line. red got the good; he got the bad. but he wanted both and someone needed to remind him every year. 
turns out that in addition to deer herder, mariah was deemed lead communicator at the pole. the elves were too busy, red was prepping, and the lady was too busy maintaining the massive database. thank gods they got that cook a while back; no one was eating, and red had an image to uphold.
sighing, mariah sucked on her peppermint, donned her snow gear, and headed out to talk to the other. he made her uncomfortable and was hard to get to, but he listened to her for some reason. 
whistling softly, she headed out into the woods toward where she thought he lived. he moved every year, but there were signs throughout the year – mostly dead plantlife and lack of songbirds – that let her know where he shacked up for the warmer months. (not that it got that much warmer here, but the other liked it cold.)
it wasn’t long before she got to the upheaval in the earth where a small opening indicated a cave. he generally didn’t stray too far from the man in red. they worked together, despite what the other thought. 
she crouched down and looked at the small crevice that led into his lair, scrunching her nose. it smelled of dirt and rot. she dropped the small pack she brought onto the ground outside the entrance, pulled a flare from one of its outer pockets, and stuck it into the ground. she’d learned early on to set one so she could easily find her way out. she grabbed another flare and got on her belly to crawl inside cave. 
this one was tight for a few feet, then opened up so she could at least stand on her feet and crouch. then the descent began.
every year it was the same, and mariah began to dread the conversation she’d have to have. but the man in red counted on her, and so did thousands of the littles who were too good to be taken by the other. so she picked up her pace. the sooner she got there, the sooner she could leave. if only the other were as easy to deal with as vampire deer.
soon, too soon, the floor evened out and there was his door – a golden-handled, wooden monstrosity that had carvings of wood switches hashed over it. she had no idea how he transported these between his different dwellings. 
mariah knocked twice, once, three times, then grabbed the handle. it glowed briefly, warming her hand. she dropped her flare and pulled the door open. 
he sat low on the ground on a wooden stump, his cloven and human feet stretched out, a small fire in the middle of the room. he never talked, just stared at her with his tongue hanging out, glistening. 
she found that if she walked with confidence and got her part over with, he generally didn’t object.
“you know why i’m here. tonight is the night, and the man in red has sent me to make sure you’re on the same page.” she wished she had another peppermint. her throat was still hoarse.
“tonight you and he will go visit the littles. he’s got the really good ones, the somewhat good ones, and the okay ones. you get the bad ones. and you know which ones they are; you should’ve gotten a list from the lady the other day.” how the lady sent this list, mariah didn’t know. she was just glad she didn’t have to haul that with her during her visit. 
“the man wants to remind you, again, that you just. get. the. bad. ones. no others.” mariah dug around in her pocket searching for a peppermint. the other still stared at her. his cloven foot jiggled slightly but that was the only movement from him. “and you can use your switches, put them in your bag, and hang them from the tall tree, but you CANNOT eat them. we’ve been over this.” he used to eat the bad ones on the solstice, but the committee had put a stop to that when they realized that it was interfering with the ritual. 
“then the next morning, you let them go. that should scare them. any repeat offenders, you can hold two nights.” ah! she found her peppermint. she popped it into her mouth. sweet relief. 
“do we have an understanding?”
the other stared, blinked slowly, and then nodded once. mariah nodded. 
“then we’ll see you tonight. sundown sharp – the man in red will be ready. and don’t forget your list.” 
the other nodded again. then again and again, much too quickly for a beast like him to be able to do, and mariah stepped back in alarm. she had never seen this before. she glanced behind her for the door, then back toward the fire, and he was right in front of her. she could smell his rotted breath, see the strands of fur on his face, the saliva on his tongue. she scrunched her nose and did the only thing she could think of – she spat her peppermint out of her mouth directly onto his slimy tongue. 
he screamed and jumped back. his tongue seemed to be smoking. mariah widened her eyes, then took her chance. she leaped backward to the door, got out, and slammed the door shut. her flare was still there, so she grabbed it and ran. she didn’t think he would follow. 
the trip out seemed much quicker, and she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the matching flare sparking at the narrow exit. she crawled out of the cave and stood up, brushing dirt and leaves off before putting her pack on and heading back to the pole. she took the knife from her boot and held it, just in case. 
this would need to be reported to the man. and she needed to add peppermints to her list of essentials. 
prior
and prior

alt cake

alt cake

i made a carrot cake today with almond flour, craisins, and almonds. turned out decent! i think i would put a tad more sugar in it next time. i also made a half batch so it was just one 9″ pan of cake.
carrot-cake
slice

hello december

hello december

whew. made it through kablpomo.
after every kablpomo, i’m all fired up to do a ton of blogging. OF COURSE i’ll blog every day. OF COURSE it will be great content. OF COURSE….i fall off the bandwagon and it just gets lost. 
i don’t know what to do about this. 
(i think if i got paid to do this, i probably would blog more.)
but i digress!! december is upon us. somehow, june has flittered away and the year is at its end. i’m not sure how that happened. i’m seriously still stuck in a june mindset. maybe i want it to be sprummer all year long. 
this weekend i pack up the autumnal decor and sit in a plain house for a week before the christmas explosion happens. no worries; it will be here way before i’m ready for it. 
in other news, i’m celebrating 12 years of marriage on sunday. WHO KNEW. XD