October 29, 2009

hadn't thought of this

I might have to rethink my frozen fruit smoothie habit -either that or turn on the heater. Brrr. I keep forgetting that you can actually get cold in California.

October 27, 2009

because life is good

You know one thing that makes me feel competent? Homemade biscuits! To me biscuits symbolize pretty much everything awesome about home life. There's winter sunshine streaming in through the windows, the sooty, metallic scent of the wood stove, soft doggy paws clicking over the floor, and fresh out of the oven biscuits with their hot flaky insides just waiting. Any pan where I didn't burn my mouth (and my fingers) on their moments from the oven goodness I just wasn't paying attention. There is nothing to compare. I know I'd had a few things to say about my home life on this blog, but those mornings will always remain for me a delightful memory.

Anyway, this evening Allen and I were having breakfast for supper -sausage, scrambled eggs, cooked apples, and perfectly flaky biscuits with golden brown crusts. While we were eating I was thinking that this is what I want to do when I'm old and (Lord willing) have grandkids. I want to invite folks over for weekends and holidays and sit in my kitchen eating hot biscuits with butter while outside the wind stirs the bare branches and inside a wood fire crackles and glows. Then, while the kids play cards or run in out and out of doors we adults will sit there with our coffee and cider discussing the good things in life. Maybe later we'll go for a walk or play in the leaves with kids. It's a good dream I think.

October 25, 2009

Out and about

Took our bikes off to the library today and came home with panniers full. Kind of interesting when you go run your errands on a bike. Walked out of the store with this huge duffle bag we bought to replace the one we lost around Moab and for a moment we weren't sure if we could get both it and the library books home. However, bike bungie cord cargo rack doohicky to the rescue! Got all the books, the duffle bag (yuppy plaid, but hey it's what they had), cookies, the water bottles, and tomorrow's sausage home all in one piece.

October 23, 2009

odd evolution of a new pasta sauce

Sometimes I just have to wonder at myself. I was going to make one of those dead easy one skillet pasta and hamburger meals. However, after I had my onion, hamburger, spinach, and tomato sauce in the pan and was contemplating whether or not I had room for the pasta to cook in the skillet instinct took over, and I started mixing in milk, wine, cheese, and basil. Welcome to the world new pasta sauce. For being an accident it actually compares quite favorably to the bolognese recipe I've been using.

The recipe is amazingly simple:

2 cans tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce (will use crushed or dice tomatoes next time)
1 1/2 lb ground beef
2 med onions
1 package frozen spinach
1 bunch basil minced
approx 1c red wine
approx 1c milk
1c shredded mozzarella
salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper to taste.

Just simmer together until all the flavors are developed and onion is translucent.

October 20, 2009

grief apart

Recently found out the fiancee of someone in Allen's programming circle has been hospitalized with (as I heard it) pretty much zero hope of ever leaving it. He told Allen that they were getting married this evening. It's one of those situations where you don't know what to do and it feels like every possible course of action is wrong. We're planning to get them a wedding gift as soon as we can figure out what to get them. A nice vase or some crystal candle sticks seems pretty silly and useless when you know the marriage is going to be all too short, but giving them a new mixer just emphasizes the disparity between what is and what they wanted. It really doesn't help any that they're atheists. Death and hope in the face of death are pretty hard subjects for Christians and atheists to grapple with over a hospital bed. All the old sticks about love being eternal ring pretty hollow when you're talking about people who don't believe in God or heaven. I'm really trying hard not to think about the alternatives here. It's kind of ripping me up inside that there are two people who love each other and are standing by each other through one of them more horrific things two lovers can experience, and I'm over here praying desperately "Lord, have mercy." I truly believe that love is the ultimate defiance of death because love is the only thing is this miserable, fallen love that's large enough to reach eternity. As the Bible says, "and the greatest of these is love." "Love never fails." Love existed before creation, and it will exist after this heaven and earth have faded away. To Christians going through pain this can be a comfort. I know for a certainty that if either Allen or I died tomorrow we would be with each other again. Can't say that either of us would really feel like living through that reality, but it would still be real. Atheists don't know this. It's not the way their world works. When you give up the sacrifice at the cross you give up its hope too. I wish God would look into this couple's lives and make the pain stop. I wish God would "prove" Himself, but the fact of the matter is that the Bible says He already has. God gets to decide what constitutes evidence -not us. I can't say I blame Him either. Jesus said that people who didn't understand Jesus and His mission from the Law and Prophets wouldn't believe even if someone where raised from the dead. Well you had Lazarus, and you had Jesus. These events didn't take place in some little backwater town where no one knew what was going on either. Here you have Jesus and Lazarus walking around talking to people and people who should have known still didn't believe. We ask God to prove Himself and forget how many times He already has proven Himself to a people intent on going their own way. This includes me. The reality of God is sitting there in front of us, and we can't even see it. Our lives are filled with pain. With defiant eyes we raise our futile hands to the sky and condemn the Maker we hate for not giving us parents that loved us or life instead of sickness. The only difference between me and the rest of them is that I'm searching for, waiting for the God who loves me not just enough to die for me but to put up with my sloppiness, my temper, and my inattention. And I desperately wish I could give hope to people going through these kinds of situations. How do you give hope, though, to someone saying "God, if you're real, you can make it stop, and if you could make it stop but you don't then you're no kind of God at all." I don't know what to say. I've asked time and again "God, why does it have to hurt so much?" I still don't have an answer, but I do have hope that one day I'll be beyond all this hurt and sorrow.

So enough with all this rambling. What am I going to do? Well someone closer to this couple has offered to get some information for us about suitable wedding gifts, and I'm going to pray really hard that God has mercy. It's the only damn hope any of us have.

October 17, 2009

Some lists re camping (edit Oct 19th)

Ok, here are some camping lists. I need a place to put them, and this will do as well as anything.

Backpacking -a tentative list:

Tent: two options here A. rent from REI then buy -primary candidates being either a Eureka Pinnacle 2 (advantages: $100-150 less and more durable) or the Tarptent Squall 2 (fully 2lbs less but less more expensive and less durable) B. given price and return policy buy something like the Eureka Pinnacle -saving the money both on rental and a Tarptent and put the money into other gear.

Bags: TNF Cat's Meow 20 degree (5lb combined). Given time, budget, and opportunity might do something like make/buy a 40 degree double wide quilt. This will give us a low weight summer bag that we can layer over our 20 degree bags if we're sleeping in very cold conditions. (est. 1-1 1/2lbs for a summer quilt + $100-150)

Pads: BA Insulated Aircore -supplement with emergency blanket and/or thin close cell foam pad as needed (3lb combined)

Packs: Two plans, A. rent from REI and buy later, B. depending on price and return policy buy packs from REI. Either way try to find low weight packs (ie Granite Gear)


(Moving) Base layer, fleece, wind shirt, nylon pants, socks (wool+liner), hat, gloves w/ liners
(Camp) lightweight flannel/wool shirt, pants, and socks for sleeping. May be layered into day wear if needed.

(Moving) wicking shirt/pants, socks (2 liners/liner+hiker), wind shirt, broad hat
(Camp) lightweight shirt/pants + flip flops if needed

Personal Kit:

Toothbrush/toothpaste, hand san, wipes and/or tp, sunblock, deo, Bonners soap, lotion, tea tree oil, fem hygiene as needed, lip balm, lotion, trash bag, trowel, comb, hair band, bandanna -items repackaged and shared as needed/practical

Smaller Band-aids (4-6), gauze roll, med tape, butterfly bandage (2-3), Rescue Remedy, activated charcoal (~12), Advil (1-2 indiv packs), calendula, arnica, tweezers, nail clippers, silver shield, stomach comfort (~6), astringent herb (need to look this up)

Safety/repair -
Whistle, emergency blanket, water filter, compass/map (learn how to use), duct tape, needle/thread, id, safety pins

Kitchen kit: Probably will only use for hot drinks/cereal.
Esbit stove and tablets
2 mugs
pot w/ lid
outsak/food sack
cord and carabiner
trash sack
(use bandannas as pot lifters and mug insulators)

Meal ideas:

Breakfast - oatmeal/rice with dried fruit and cinnamon/sugar + turkey jerky
Snacks - chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, pretzels
Lunch - PB on pita (me), (Allen?)
Supper - sandwiches + hot drink (winter) + desert (ie cookies)

Luxury items -
Cards, DSi, camera, frisbee, book

Misc for car camping/winter playing:
Cheap down coat for Yosemite in the winter?
Pie Iron for breakfast fun?
Non-cotton clothing (because cot won't dry very easily when went)

Need/want to acquire:

Marmot Ion wind shirt
Buff multi-configurable hat (they're pretty cool)
lighter tent (rent or check Campmor)
non-cotton shirt and pants for Allen and I (check for bargains)
Ebit stove (should be able to make one)
mugs for cooking/drinking

What am I going to do with all of this?

Backpack at Point Reyes National Seashore,
Go snowshoeing (and maybe learn to cross country ski) at Yosemite,
Hike around Henry Coe State Park,
Cook Thanksgiving Dinner among the Ponderosas,
and someday I'm going to watch the early sun splashing over the Sierra Nevada range with cup of hot tea in my hand and my pack on my back.

Oh a camping we will go....

I have been something of a gear head this past week as Allen and I gear up for camping season. Yeah, I know. That was summer. However, since it's pretty hard to camp here without a reservation (and reservations are snapped up months in advance through the summer months) I've been looking forward to winter for a while. Just now we've got a trip to Yosemite in the offing and another one that's still somewhat tentative but probably to King's Canyon down near Mt Whitney. The other thing I'm looking forward to is the snow. Even though this area isn't exactly known for it's snow there's plenty of it up around Yosemite, and I find that I suddenly have a passionate desire to go snowshoeing through it's beautiful forests. They even have full moon snowshoe hikes there. I told Allen, that's it we're going. I really thing we're going to have a blast this winter.

That's not all though! Once we get some gear together and find a time we're going to try some backpacking. It's something I've been interested in trying, and Allen says he's game for it. We just have to get our gear together now and find a time and place. That's probably not going to be until maybe January sometime though. Still, some exciting times coming up for us.

October 16, 2009

Equal in skincare

I just thought of something kind of funny. Think how the majority of people today seem to buy into all this "equality" rhetoric and then look at all the products marketed just for "a woman's skin" or "your unique needs." Now I think real equality is a completely silly idea, but if you look in my bathroom you'll see that Allen and I pretty much use the same shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and (occasionally) lotion. Silly? Yes. Funny? I think so.

October 15, 2009

stuffed feelings don't shout in your face

The past few weeks have really been a time of very intense processing for me. I've realized that in the past I've had trouble voicing my feelings, desires, and hurts. So many times when I thought I was expressing my feelings (like on this blog) I was either making intellectual statements (ie "I think") or making excuses for other people (ie "they didn't realize"). So rarely do I ever say simply "this hurts." If you put a huge pile of guilt and perfectionism on top of that you sort of have my everyday life. Pretty exhausting. And it plays out in the strangest ways. For instance, lately I've been thinking it would be all kinds of fun to try backpacking for a few nights. Allen says he's up for it, so away I go researching lightweight sleeping pads, wind/rain shells, water filtration systems..... the whole kit and caboodle. At first it's fun. "Hey look, REI has their BA insulated air core pads on sale right now -let's sit down and have a talk about how we see ourselves camping in the future." In a way research kind of appeals to me. But then I find myself spending five or more hours a day (yes I said a day) trying to find the perfect wind/rain jacket that's breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, etc. I need to get this right. Things will be very wrong if I don't get this right. Because of various influences I can be highly tempted to point of being absolutely compelled to sit down at the computer and painstakingly research water filters or vacation destinations while dishes and laundry pile up around me. By the time I tear myself away I'm stuck feeling lethargic and guilty with a huge pile of work that I am now mentally ill-quipped to handle. It's no fun. And now that I'm trying to express my feelings and really work though some of this junk I feel sort of like a roller coaster that's lost it's brakes. For instance, I often feel very apologetic about stuff like having a bad day or wanting to do something, and I hate feeling the need to compulsively apologize for stupid things. I really, really hate it. Lately I've found myself apologizing for stupid things and then feeling resentful about it. And if my counselor is right about anger often masking unhealed wounds then I' guessing this will only stop once we've gotten to the festering, bleeding core of things. I thought I had gotten the anger out of my system a long time ago, and here it is coming back. It's like picking at a scab that won't quite heal. I don't like feeling this way. Of course this is where my counselor would be asking "feeling what way?" Anger and resentment are pretty ugly emotions. I suppose I would say that I don't want to be feeling my feelings. And then we get back to where I was when I started going to counseling. It seems like I have to feel the feelings to get through all this and become the stronger Natalie that I hope to be one day. It's just that this stretch of the road is kind of bumpy right now.

October 6, 2009

Happy birthday to me

More later - Allen is just back with the candles, and it's now birthday cake time!