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Author: kate

let’s go west!

let’s go west!

i just got back from a visit over to ND to see melissa.

stopped on my way out to take a pic of a storm to the north and sun to the west.

when i left this morning, i wanted to keep on heading west. the sky was summertime blue with not a cloud in the sky and the temp was 70ish. great traveling weather (well, i would be traveling, but toward home, not toward the west).

something about the big wide open skies and the endless horizon makes me want to go to the mountains.

but instead i headed southeast and now i’m at home withe my lakes and kitties and nate!

in defense of car camping

in defense of car camping

it recently came to my attention that my childhood camping expeditions were not instigated by my dad, as i assumed, but by my mom. (the long days in the van, on the other hand, were definitely instigated by my dad.)

that aside, let’s talk about the benefits of car camping. first, spending a week in your RV or pull-behind is not camping. that is glamping. you may be in a “campground” but there is nothing about the RV that says roughing it.

so you’ve got to have a tent and a sleeping bag at the very least. i don’t know anyone who doesn’t have some sort of sleeping pad. and there are some tenters who would argue that the only way to tent is by hiking it in. but i would disagree!

here’s what’s great about car camping.

  1. you can throw everything in one vehicle, head out without something on a hitch, and not worry about hauling stuff around on your back. (if you’re specifically planning a hike or canoe trip, that’s a different matter.)
  2. you’ve got your car with you – you can set up camp and then drive to various places to explore.
  3. in case of emergency or severe weather in the night, you can wait it out and see what happens.
  4. you don’t have to super duper rough it. just moderately rough it. because you’re hauling in your car, you can sleep on an air mattress or cot and not have to worry about weight you have to carry around.
  5. you can go either way: set up in a campground right next to the loud, obnoxious RVs or do a cart in site or carry-in site (generally all tents there, and your car is right down the lane in a parking spot).
  6. it’s a pretty inexpensive way to travel if you want it to be. getting a middle of the road tent is just fine (no keltys for me – i’m fine with coleman hahaha), and it’ll last you a while. sure, there’s some up front cost with the gear – cot, sleeping bag, stove, etc., but it’s a much less expensive up-front cost than an RV or staying in a hotel for 6 nights.
  7. people are impressed when you tell them that camping is tenting for you. and you don’t know why, because you think everyone should be tenting when they go camping. (like i said, RVs are glamping, not camping.)
  8. it’s probably much better for the environment. (gotta do the research.)
  9. it builds character. nothing builds character like having to pop a squat behind your tent because the bathrooms are half a mile away. also, brushing your teeth outdoors is liberating.
  10. it’s fun. just do it!
let it gooo

let it gooo

i have an eyetwitch. i think i’ve had it for about a month or so, maybe two. last time i had an eyetwitch was during the website move back in 2017, and that was a legit reason to have an eyetwitch. now? i’m not sure. but here’s the rub: i seem to get it mostly around my officemate.

so i am trying to unpack what is going on that is causing my eye to twitch. he thought it was because he was negative there for a while, but i don’t think that’s it, because i’m negative a lot of the time too. then i wondered if it was because he does bring up the same thing quite a bit (emails for prospective students hahaha) and he’s just preaching to the choir, which might be a little bit of it. then it’s bad news that he points out – he thought that was it today and thought just keeping me out of the loop was a good idea, but no! i want to know!

then i thought about this bad news (or rather, frustrating news is more like it). i don’t think it was the fact that it was frustrating, or the news itself, or what it pertained to. i think it was because i read the same exact email a couple days ago and didn’t even register it. his level of paying attention to minutiae on the everyday things we deal with is overwhelming sometimes, and it makes me feel idiotic that i didn’t notice (which is ridiculous because i have a million other things to think about at work). he just pays attention to different things than i do, and i have to realize that hey, that’s ok.

(seriously, my eye is twitching right now just writing this down.)

generally speaking, i’m not the big ideas person at work. i’m not the person who has amazing thoughts about a subject or comes up with the funnest thing ever (i have had two moments, but other than that, nada). i am the details person. this is happening, how are we getting it done? my followthrough is stupid fast and sometimes too fast because the thing just isn’t going to happen (i’ve gotten ahead of myself).

so when officemate finds these things that are big things that i’ve glossed over, yeah. i feel kinda dumb for missing them. or dismissing them. (or sometimes i just don’t care about them. yeah, i said it!) plus he’s a whiz at a bunch of digital stuff that i a) don’t want to really learn about cuz it’s not on my plate and b) sometimes also don’t care about, even though i should. (there’s the kicker.) so when he talks to me about these, my eye twitches. because, well, i’ve got stuff to do and i want to get on with it.


also, there’s a small sense of the stuff i care about isn’t that important in the long run, but what he cares about affects the college in a bigger way.

so maybe a feeling of what i care about is inadequate compared to what he cares about (not that it’s bad to deal with different things; it’s just annoying to myself that i don’t see the problems and frustrating that i should care about them more than i do).

i think i need to come to terms that we see our work through completely different lenses and that’s ultimately a good thing because we notice more as a department (yes, we are a department of 2). i don’t have to do everything! my type A really can be annoying a lot of the time. rrrrr.

i don’t have any solutions right now, just ramblings and a pretty twitchy eye. maybe yoga over my lunch break will help.

a little late

a little late

i was going to write a long blog post the day before my birthday about the decades flying by, but i was too busy… (how ironic).

so 40 came and went a couple weeks ago. it was a good week: jenee and john came to visit me and have lunch and brought presents, i got a masterclass subscription from my sisters, went to itasca directly after the birthday, and overall had a decent time. much better than turning 30, though i couldn’t tell you why i wasn’t feeling turning 30. overall, i’d have to give my 30s a high five for the effort that i went though!

  1. i started running at 32. i was tired of being uncomfortable, and i felt a bit of a challenge with the running. i’m actually really impressed with myself for doing it continuously for 8 years! sure, there were a couple times when i was out for 2 weeks due to injury, but overall i have been a running maniac.
  2. oh man, i owned 3 houses in my 30s!! what a time to be alive.
  3. decided to a chance on a job in rochester and moved down there for that.
  4. decided the job was good, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and apparently it wants lakes. so back to central mn!
  5. said goodbye to chasey cat 🙁 but acquired 3 others in the past decade!
  6. i have so many tattoos now.
  7. somewhere along the line, i became a traveling fool. i’ve been on a plane more in the past 5 years than i had in all the years previous to then. hope that continues!
  8. somewhere along the line, i think i became more comfortable with myself and what life is. i’ve become more certain about things and able to see something in myself and just let it be. now, granted, most days i still feel like i’m 8 years old and i wonder why on earth people think i know what i’m doing. but i’m getting better at that.
  9. i still use a ps3 for watching everything. i think that’s slightly weird. my technology has stayed the same for the past 11 years. (i’m like, half luddite at this point. my phone is small, my laptops are old, i refuse to get an ereader, my TV is a plasma. hmmm.)
  10. let’s round this out with 10 to make it equal a decade. i’ve become a more active practitioner of yoga in the past 10 years (i dabbled in it before then), and maybe that’s contributing to #8. but it’s helped me relax and become less anxious about things. that a definite plus.

OK 40 LET’S DO THIS! it can only go uphill from here, right??? plans for 40: travel more. run more. yoga more. just be.

itasca: revisted

itasca: revisted

i think i need to amend my top ten state parks list and make itasca 1 AND 2. i just spent five days there with my family and want to rave about this park even more.

i think it says a lot that the time i spent at the headwaters was minimal and didn’t make much of an impression on me. what made an impression? the trees, the bike paths, the hiking path, the big trees.

oh, and the BEAR i saw.

my sibs and i were biking to the swimming beach, when some bikers whooshed past us telling us there was a bear with cubs ahead. well, jane wanted to turn around, but dang if i wasn’t going to at least see a bear, amirite? so we slowly biked until we saw the bear, then turned around.

we also took the wilderness drive and saw the state’s largest white pine and state’s former largest red pine (it was the victim of a wind storm. the largest is now in the lost forty).

the tree was so big that my mom held onto her head with amazement. that same day we also checked out preacher’s grove where a bunch of old-growth red pines are, along with a bunch of pines that had blown over in some sort of wind storm that twisted them.

(my mom and aunt rae discussing weather patterns that may have caused the twisting.)

i tried out supping, but forgot my fin so it was no fun. then i went for a hike along the brower trail, which is GREAT. this was the sort of trail i was looking for in the black hills but couldn’t find.

some yellow ladyslippers just bloomed while i was out on the trail.

and other flora!

the bike trail was also great for running if you want to do hillwork (i did need to work on that, i guess. i prefer flat, but i couldn’t resist running in itasca). i went out for a 6-mile run on sunday night.

we stayed at bearpaw cabins/campground, which was between the headwaters and the lodge, so it was a nice, bikeable distance to both. we ate supper at the lodge a couple times, had breakfast there once, and had ice cream a couple times at the headwaters cafe.

i could’ve stayed another couple days at itasca and hiked some of the spurs and trails that were on the wilderness drive, biked some more, looked for more bears, put the fin on my SUP and really done some good paddling, gone for another hilly run.

still enamored by itasca!

a haiku – wait nope. wait yes.

a haiku – wait nope. wait yes.

i was going to write you a springtime haiku to go along with a photo i took today, but wordpress isn’t letting me upload the photo.

instead, i’ll tell you about my brilliantly productive memorial day weekend so far.


  1. pulled all the minitrees and weeds out of my flower bed. this took 3-4 hours.
  2. sprayed the weeds around my house.
  3. cleaned up around the edging near my entry way.
  4. cut down the dying shrubbery trees out of my flower bed
  5. supervised as nate yanked the stumps out with the truck
  6. clapped in delight when it worked
  7. spread 20 bags of mulch in the flowerbed
  8. took brush, trees, and stumps to the avon compost site
  9. went to walmart and bought 2 hydrangeas to replace the gross (now dead) shrubs
  10. planted them
  11. admired my work. i was out there from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. with a lunch and supper break!
  12. watched john wick


  1. went for a 3 mile run at 10 a.m. (i know; surprisingly early!)
  2. picked up a geranium on the way to pick up mom from st. johns
  3. met rae at the cemetery and visited grandma and grandpa
  4. went to red lobster for lunch
  5. went to target with mom
  6. dropped off mom at st. john’s
  7. took a nap
  8. mowed the lawn
  9. went SUPping
  10. stalked a loon
  11. went for a 2nd 3-mile run (training for ragnar sunset)
  12. drank a margarita while i tried to get a fire going. it didn’t go.
  13. now it’s too late to watch john wick II. maybe tomorrow

tomorrow i clean the house (it’s supposed to rain) and make some millionaire shortbread.

well, whaddya know! my image uploaded. took this on my run this evening.

light reflected back

no crops yet; but frogs and birds

ruts hold the story

40’s looming!

40’s looming!

in a surprising turn of anticipated events, i’m feeling good about 40. much better than i was about 30! i don’t know if i’m entering the “i don’t give a hoot” stage of life and not caring is more of the norm than previously thought, but who cares! this might be ok.

the birthday week (NEXT WEEK) is already shaping up to be a nice one! jenee is coming to visit me for lunch on tuesday and bringing a surprise guest (OMG i can hardly wait for this visit! WHO IS THE SURPRISE GUEST and JENEE IS ONE OF MY FAVE PEEPS!). on wednesday and thursday i’ll be at a system office conference for work, but that should be ok (and informative!). when i get back on thursday (THE BIG DAY), nate and i are going out someplace fancy for supper. after that? not sure what’s going to happen!

then on the weekend, i’ll see my family for a trip to itasca, where i’ll get to spend time among the big trees and lakes and listen to springtime birds and frogs. i’ll bring chocolate cake and have birthday tea on my paddleboard out on the water.

all in all, i’d say i’m pretty happy with how things have turned out thus far. sure, life throws curveballs now and then, and you can’t be happy all the time. in fact, i’d argue that maybe we aren’t happy a lot of the time. but if you’re satisfied and okay a lot of the time, well, you’ve got a pretty decent life. happy, joyful moments make it just that much better.

LET’S DO IT, 40.

all hail the book nerd

all hail the book nerd

i did a cool thing today! the local libraries exchange was on campus to record 5-minute book reviews for their podcast, and i did TWO books! (unfortunately, i was the only one who signed up, so i guess it was a good thing i brought a second book!)

i had listened to a few of their podcasts before i headed into this foray, and i was worried about being able to spend enough time talking about my books. well, after i rambled on and on about the first book (“the dreamers”), the interviewer said that it was almost exactly 5 minutes. i was worried i wouldn’t be able to talk about it enough!

then i talked about “a walk in the woods” which one of the interviewers had also read (and loved the author), so we almost tag-teamed on the interview, and that one was really fun. hey, if you haven’t read that one and you enjoy memoirs and humor, this is the book for you.

THEN they invited me to come to their space over the summer sometime when they’re recording podcasts about specific genres of books! OMG. i asked if harry potter was considered a genre, and then we got excited about a podcast talking about HP.

book nerds are great.

stranger danger

stranger danger

when i run, i tend to stick to well populated places for the most part. it takes me two miles of running from my house to get to any sort of solitude. even then, on the lake wobegon trail, there are other runners and bikers, dog walkers, couples out for their evening stroll.

there is no regular vehicle traffic, which is nice.

when i go for trail runs, i drive to st john’s then take off on the dirt logging roads that wind through the woods. i rarely run across people, and when i do, it’s normally in the fall and in the first half mile or so of the trail. the back 40 of the trail is mine alone for many runs. (this is sometimes disconcerting because i wonder what would happen if i fell or hurt myself. i do have the security number in my phone, so don’t worry, mom.)

i enjoy the solitude while i’m running; the introvert’s life longs toward not meeting anyone on the trail. but i’m often warned or reminded through the media about what could happen. kidnappings, assaults, attacks of women who are out on a run. i do have pepper spray. i don’t bring it with me. is this foolish? i’m not sure. the chance of being murdered out on a run? 1 in 35,000. i have a better chance of dying in a car crash. and in rural mn? i feel like the chances are even slimmer. (harassment while out on a run is a different matter.)

let me tell you about two incidences.

one was last fall when i was training for ragnar trail out in the woods. i had to try at least one night run out in the woods so i was prepared for constant vigilance on the trail. i don’t generally run in the dark because it freaks me out, but i needed to do one. i was out for a 4-mile run at about 8:30 p.m., and i saw a light up in the distance, like it was another runner  or someone with a flashlight. i listened closely for anything that might be weird or out of place, but didn’t. eventually, it went away. then i saw another one. (know what this tells me? i wasn’t watching my feet very closely.)

after a few more instances of this, i realized my headlamp was reflecting animals’ eyes. i probably freaked out more than one deer or raccoon that evening.

more recently:

i was running a long run on the lake wobegon trail. it was a dreary day, mid 40s. i did not want to be out there, but i needed to be if i was going to be ready for my half marathon. i was huffing along at my relatively slow, mediocre pace, when i saw someone come toward me, maybe 1/4-1/3 mile down the trail. then i turned around and headed the same way i was heading, at just about the same pace i was going.

he was a little bit slower because i gradually, sort of caught up to him. finally, he slowed down and started running backwards, telling me that he thought i would have overtaken him by now. i laughed and said slow and steady runs the race.

he was an older gentleman, a retired newspaper columnist from new york who was also a vietnam vet. he told me about his life while we ran the next four miles together. it never once crossed my mind that he might be an attacker.

the weekend following this, i went to visit relatives, where my aunt asked if i ran alone and what would happen if i were attacked and i had to be careful. i relayed this story. she seemed to have an “i told you so what would have happened if he’d been bad” moment. but i think it’s the opposite – you have to hope for the best in people, and this is a perfect example of camaraderie among runners. if i’d turned around, that would’ve been giving in to fear; you can’t be afraid of everything – we can’t live lives of complete fear*.

* i do have a more heightened sense of what’s around me while i’m running trails (paved and dirt) than when i’m running on the road. (well, a different sense of what’s around me. i need to know what’s going on with the cars.) please don’t worry about me 🙂  also, read this article about running while female.

grey is women, black is men.

some info on the green new deal and a video for you

some info on the green new deal and a video for you

if you, like me, are somewhat concerned about the climate and how humans are shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to that, you may have heard some rumblings about the green new deal. and you, like me, may want to know more but haven’t really dug deep into it.

well, this post is for you! i’m going to read about it and summarize what we know.

the green new deal isn’t new. it’s been thrown around since 2006 to move the US toward 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 (solar, wind, geothermal, etc). how to do this? carbon taxes, jobs guarantees, free college, single-payer healthcare, and utilizing public programs.

(before you get all in a huff about the social programs part of this, please for a moment think about how social security is socialism. it’s even in the name *shocker* [yes, you pay into it. so does everyone else. and it gets distributed. that’s how socialism works. roads, police, schools, libraries, firefighters. all socialism. embrace it.])

it’s recently gotten a resurgence from the current congress, after AOC assembled a committee to nail this down. the committee was tasked with providing a “’detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan’ capable of making the U.S. economy ‘carbon neutral’ while promoting ‘economic and environmental justice and equality.'”

what does this mean? well, after working on a resolution, here’s what will happen over a 10-year national mobilization:

  1. guaranteeing jobs with sustainable wages, vacation, retirement security, medical leave
  2. providing all peeps with health care, adequate housing, access to clean water, clean air, food, nature
  3. providing post-secondary training (whether college, trade school, etc) to all people
  4. 100% of power demand is through clean, renewable, zero-emission energy
  5. repair and upgrade to the US infrastructure (eliminating pollution and emissions from these )
  6. building upgraded, efficient power grids
  7. new building would be energy efficient
  8. invest in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing, clean and accessible public transportation
  9. spurring growth in clean manufacturing
  10. working with farmers and ranchers to eliminate pollution as much as feasible

why is health care and wage info in there? well, i guess it would gain more support if those are included, but i think separating them out would help this gain more traction. i do think the social aspects of this are important, but i don’t think they should be a part of a green initiative. it needs to be able to stand on its own.

so in march, republicans in the senate called for an early vote on the GND without discussion or expert testimony. so that was great. it failed 100% (dems voted no in a protest i guess).

will this go anywhere? i’m not sure. i think we are at a crossroads. on the one hand, people would love it if coal came back, because it means jobs. but those jobs are dwindling even with a return of coal. instead of wallowing in self pity about a loss of an industry, how about celebrating and learning how to have a career in the new industries of renewable energy? we have a robotics/energy program at my college where students graduate directly into a $35/hr job. learning is cool.

more and more energy companies are using renewable energy options. i actually get 100% wind energy through excel, and i’m working on being a part of a solar farm.

new homes ARE more energy efficient. windows are triple paned or have insulating gas in between the panes. more homes use geothermal energy. people don’t want to spend a lot of money on their utilities.

and that’s the rub: if the public starts to DEMAND the items on this list, it will happen. if we start to notice that the coral reefs are dying, that our weather in MN is probably at the forefront of climate change in this country (i wish i could find this article), the extreme weather we have is a result, the drought in the west, the hurricanes in the south. pay attention to something, and the public outcry usually results in a change in business practices.

[case in point: check out the current organic/gluten free/healthy foods front compared to even 10 years ago. people demand things and companies respond.]

the thing is, we’re so short sighted. if americans don’t see something in front of our face, it’s out of sight out of mind. i’m not sure if this is due to our constant, inexplicable need for 100% autonomy on everything, or that our history only goes back 225 years (compared to europe, africa, asia, that’s not long), or that we’re just stupid. but if it’s not a problem now, then it’s not a problem.

i think that this needs to become a more pressing global issue with leaders and people earthwide becoming involved and loud about how we’re just plotting our own demise if we do nothing.

so, i leave you with this video about a very scary graph and the hope that some semblance of a green new deal, even just environment related, is pushed forward.