Friday, October 31, 2008

Reflections on Fall

These last few days, I've had a chance to have some alone time, whether it be baking or walking to the Farmer's Market, it's just been me and my thoughts. Most recently, it was me with a sleeping Isaiah on a drive back from Newport, and my thoughts.
Fall always makes me nostalgic, I'm not quite sure, it's always like a distant memory that I can't quite make out. I begin to think of a simpler time, when things were actually, not so simple. I romanticize small towns, the past, and this always happens during the fall when the leaves start to turn, and the air is just a bit crisper. I think about what it would be like to live in a home with neighbors miles apart, no local cinemas, no cable, no internet. I wonder what I'd be like if I had to bake my own bread, milk my own cow and sew my own clothes. I wouldn't get bored, that's for sure. I wonder how full of imagination my brain would have and if I'd just let it, what amazing stories or art I could come up with. I'd be this obscure writer by night, mommy and school teacher by day. I'd live fantastic and wild adventures in my stories that I'd have dreamt up the night before. I'd take hours to make dinner and another hours making deserts and it would start all over the next day. My children and I would know how to start a fire, track animals, and just enjoy each others' time out in the wilderness. I'd take emotional pictures that National Geographic photographers would be jealous of. People would see my photos and think "man, she is so lucky to have that all in her back yard, what a peaceful life." They'd think what *I* think when I see those photos, that peacefulness that comes with an image of a lone leaf on the side what, of barren trees in the cold, of a single hiking path through the mist. But the reality is, could I do that? Could I give up my tv, my radio, my music and internet to lead that "simple life". Could I go with out date nights, high end shoes, and an arsenal of purses? Could I make bread, dinner, dessert, daily and still have time for my writer night life? I don't know? Probably not, but that's what I've always longed for. I've longed for time to reflect. I miss just being at home and sitting, thinking, and letting ideas and thoughts flow freely from my brain onto my hands. Now, everything is so hectic, so fast, go here, go there, finish school, finish practicing, drive here now. I miss the days when I was younger and I would lull myself to sleep by making up stories in my head while was the protagonist. I miss all that. One of most beautiful drives I found yesterday was hwy 20. Oh my, how beautiful was that? Complete with railroad tracks. I know I'll be revisiting that area more than once.
Not all is lost, however. I see photos of other photographer's adventures and they seem so close I could touch it, so why can't I? What holds me back? Why don't I try? I made this realization that all I've ever longed for is in my own back yard, and obviously, I need to have the drive to want it enough. I can go for weekend drives to take photos, I can make myself have some alone time to just sit and think, if I want it bad enough that is.
So that I will do. As Isaiah and I were driving to Newport yesterday, we had this realization that we just don't go out in nature enough. We appreciate nature tremendously, but we just never venture past the 7-11. I want that to change. I want to push myself and not make excuses any more. I too can take wonderful pictures and inspire people, even if it is just the maple leaf at my own front door.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Run Like Hell 2008

So it was done, the Run Like Hell 5k. And, I improved my time by about 3 minutes. I ran a 9.13 minute mile and came in at 28:37. Yup, last year's time was about 31:03 or so. I remember being sick and bummed that my time had not improved, but I was sick! So this year, I actually felt really good going into it despite the fact that the whole household woke up an hour late! Yup, that was my fault. I had set the alarm for 7:15pm in stead of AM! It could have been disastrous! Luckily, I woke up at 8am sharp and freaked. "Get up!" I yelled at Isaiah, "We have to meet Liz in half an hour, we gotta go!" So up we were. I threw on my costume, slapped on some make up, Dimitri and I gulped down some OJ, I brushed my teeth, and we sprinted out the door. Luckily, we were only about 5 minutes late to meet Liz, but that also meant we had no time to stretch. I pinned Dimitri's number on him. Mom had taken some pretty good shots of the location at Pioneer Place.
My dad and her got there pretty early. She even called me when I was on my way to brush my teeth. "Where are you?" she asked. "I woke up late, gotta brush my teeth" I said frantically. "Well, were already here," she said. "Ok, good. I'll see you soon".

So off Liz, Dimitri and I to the swarm that were the 5kers. There were so many people and a variety of costumes. What did I see? We saw Mario and Luigi, cupcakes, a banana, some people from Star Wars with a baby Chewbaka and more. I was a german beer made and surprisingly enough, it was easy to run in. Also, one of my students was there, so it was nice to see his support. Finally, we all crossed the finish line and were out of breath. Dimitri and I's knees hurt, and Liz was sore (she had also been moving all day on Saturday, but all in all, it was fun!

I love Fall

And what better to commemorate it than with a nice scenic drive to Hood River? We've been so lucky here in Portland lately. There has been rain, yes but it's been few and far between. Currently, we are being blessed with the most reasonable weather: crisp dry air, cool days and chilly nights. On Saturday, my mom and I decided to venture to Hood River for their annual Harvest Fest. We'd never been that far east, so we thought we'd make a day of it. Mom bought us some coffee and yogurt parfaits at Baker and Spice in Hillsdale, and picked me up and off we went. Complete with a printed map and brochure, we took our adventure to I-84. It's one of the most beautiful scenic drives I've been on, but granted, I have been anywhere much =) Unfortunately that day it Portland, it was a bit overcast with rain clouds deep in the horizon, so we were prepared in case we got caught in a down poor. As we passed Multnomah Falls, the clouds parted to reveal a beautiful, but windy half hour drive. Since we'd never been this far up, we didn't quite know where to turn from exit 64, our brochure gave no directions, it just put numbers on a map. For locals, this would be fine, but for out of towners, not so much. We ended up taking a wrong turn and headed to Odell which is on the way to Mt. Hood. It wasn't a horrible detour as my mom got a chance to take some beautiful photos of Mt. Hood on our way up the windy 35. We pulled over and double checked our map and figured out we needed to head in the wrong directions so we turned around on hwy 35 and headed toward Hood River. Alas, the correct location, but again, the map was not explicit enough to tell us how to get out of their down town, but eventually we found it.
The Harvest Fest was fun, but not as impressive as I thought, yet not as overwhelming as I dreaded, so it was a perfect size. There was a tent with live music and beer/wine tasting, out door food stands with hand dipped corn dogs, elephant ears, gyros, burgers, coffee and more. The final tent had the crafts and just outside the entrance was the produce. The setting, however, was magnificent. The area was nestled between the hills and mountains of Hood River. First things first: Food. Mom enjoyed a buffalo burger, and I enjoyed a German Sausage. Since it was so windy outside, we entered one of the tents just to eat standing up! But man, I have not had a hot dog that good in a long time. Next, it was time to shop! We headed to the craft tents where just in two small loops, you were done, which for me, is quite nice. It helped me decide where and what to spend money on. The first item of purchase was honey from Boring, Oregon. I got large jar of Clover honey, and to spice it up a bit, a tiny jar of Wild Flower honey. Next, Isaiah and I are on a cooking kick, so I got us some local Eugene spices: Garlic Lovers, Italian Herb, Salmon, and one other one. We can't wait to try them on our meets and veggies. And finally, the one I'm most excited about, the Soft Toy Barn for baby James (Isaiah's nephew). They are called Soft Toys and are made by Del & Eppie O'Shell from Shelton, WA. Since my family does a Secret Santa every year, it's hard to start shopping this early for each other, but this toy for a baby was perfect. They have all sorts of themes: barns, dinosaurs, doctor, tool kit and are hand made and sewn locally. That way, he can suck and squeeze it to his leisure.
After the crafts, mom and I headed to the produce. We bought local apples, pears, cider, and peppers. I will make it a point to buy local produce. I think if that's one thing that can help our damaged economy, I'll do it. Go farmers!
Finally, we had to head back. I was going to pick up Dimitri for our night out and race once I got home.
Below are some pictures of our drive back.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"You're a good teacher"

That's what one of my students told me yesterday. He had been absent for 2 classes and as much as I didn't take it personally, there was a part of me that wondered. I didn't want to ask why he'd been gone, but one of the other students brought it up. He doesn't have a set work schedule, so he wasn't getting off until about 6:30 each day, so he'd miss class. On Monday, he has his citizenship test, so I wished him luck. I really enjoy this student. He has a soft face, a good sense of humor and most of all, he really wants to learn. He takes constructive criticism well and offers in sight on what it's like not being able to communicate.
I was excited to have him there yesterday, but since I was embarking on a new format, I was a also a little nervous. I don't come across as intellectual to many people, perhaps not even smart. I know I'm looked down upon by others for reading my gossip blogs (I take them with a grain of salt, but I love my bloggers), liking "Legally Blonde" and enjoying top 40 music. I don't discuss politics, religion, or immigration with people unless I'm asked a direct question. I know these are charged topics, so I try to avoid them at any cost. This doesn't, however; mean I don't have an opinion on the matter, I just don't like to argue, or get upset, or heck upset anyone. I'm pleasant, calm, empathetic and open. I like to hear what other's have to say and try to understand why they have that opinion, and what brought them to that conclusion. I don't like being attacked for what I believe and I don't like when someone flat out says I'm wrong, because I wouldn't begin to argue with someone about their beliefs. There are a lot of gray areas in the world, right and wrong are two of the extremes, but I digress.
I was nervous that I'd be looked at as silly, and you know what? I was! And that's ok. I am silly, I can make fun of myself, I can put myself out there and I'm learning to accept that that's who I am but that's not ALL of what I am. Yes, I watch "Ugly Betty", but I also like to watch the History Channel and science shows (even though, perhaps I might not understand it, but I try). I believed that my silly teaching tool was helpful and apparently it was. I asked if I should continue with Ugly Betty or choose something else. The majority vote was something else. Cool. I'm not offended or insulted. I understand that *I* like Betty, but perhaps not everyone does. And that's ok. I'll find something that suits them better. They were accepting and open to a new way of teaching and I was open to hearing about suggestions to make it easier, or more fun. Now, I must look through my dvd collection and find if there's something out there for all . . . maybe this week it will be Heroes.
All in all, I had a good day. How I wish I could do this all day, everyday. I like finding out new ways and new materials for my students, but I know I have a week spot: grammar. I suck at it. I don't understand it one bit. My only saving grace is that I SPEAK English. If I had to learn how, I'd fail! So that's my homework for this week, keep up on my grammar learning. Also, what is the difference between Tell and Say. I propose that to you cuz I'm at a loss on how to *simply* explain it to Spanish speakers. Any help?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

True Calling?

Today I get to go teach ESL and I'm very excited and it makes me wonder, is this my true calling?
From when I was very young, I always enjoyed school. Even before I went to kindergarten, I already had my little backpack ready and full of books. The year later when I actually went to kindergarten in Ms. Sharp's class at Bridlemile, I was in for a shock.

You mean, my mom can't stay? Who are all the strangers? I don't know these kids? Oh a sand pit, Mom, I'm going to play in the sand . . . oh look Mom, there is a play house . . . Mom? . . . MOM?? Where's my mom?

Before I knew it, my mom was gone and I was abandoned with strangers (felt my 5 year old self.) It took me a while to recover. I wouldn't sit on the magic carpet with the other kids, I wouldn't talk, I wouldn't socialize. I was painfully shy. Then one day, Ms. Sharp came to me and told me in a warm but stern voice that it was time I sit with the other kids. So I did. And thus started my love for learning and teachers.
Every year, I found something to love about my teachers so I showered them with drawings of me, of them, of my barbies, of my cabbage patches and they were always so grateful and appreciative. In first grade, Ms. Horowitz taught us where yarn came from and how it was woven. I also remember her favorite phrase was "I'm very disappointed in you" when she'd address the class for being naughty. That always made me feel bad and added an extra burden to my little self to be perfect and never disappoint (wow, interesting how that hasn't changed.) In second grade, we had a split class and Ms. Chung was our teacher. She taught us about Hawaii and we even had a luau in the cafeteria. I loved my teachers because they were so knowledgeable and nice. They made me feel warm and welcome. The students, well that was another thing. I didn't really have that many friends. I was still very shy. Come 3rd grade with Mr. Black, it all changed drastically from few friends to no friends. One of the leaders of our third grade class decided that I was not worth being friends with and turned everyone against me. No one played with me or talked to me, they were forbidden. So during recess, I always found an excuse to stay in class. Mr. Black finally suspected something and asked me why I didn't want to go to recess, holding back tears I told him I just didn't want. I knew that if I told on this person, this girl, I'd have worse reprocutions . . . So I said nothing. The second half of the year of third grade was a very lonely one, but I didn't care because I was moving to Mexico and I'd never have to see them again. Or so I thought.
Fast forward to high school. I had the same mentality I did when I was in 1st grade: impress and never disappoint. I had fantastic teachers, then too, who always adapted to the way I learned. One of my favorites that I had for 2 years was Ms. Wood, my English teacher. Like my 6th and 8th grade teacher back in middle school (Ms. Peizner), she was one of the few teachers that encouraged me to write and made me feel like I had something worth while to say, and that I was actually pretty good. I think my best writing was done in Ms. Woods' classes. Next, out of left field, was Mr. Smith, my senior math teacher. Math? I sucked I math! I even got a C in his class, but it was the best grade I'd gotten cuz I worked so hard for it. You see, I love math, I'm just not good with it and he understood that. At the time, I had noticed I was developing a sort of dyslexia with numbers, I'd keep flipping them, and he adapted to that and gave me credit anyway, even if the answer on the test was wrong. Because I told him of this dyslexia, he paid extra attention on all my work. Now that is a teacher that cares!
So now, here I am. I'm volunteering to each English to adults and I really enjoy it. I've always felt more at home with people that were older than me than my peer group or those that are younger. I feel that being older gives one more patience and understanding and since I have a tendency to be insecure, being around adults makes me feel like they're more willing to over look my faults.
So today, I have (hopefully) a fun class planned. I'm really into pop culture, tv, movies and television and I feel that people can learn a language by listening to what's around them everyday: tv, radio. I also learned from my university professor, Matt Garcia, how the melding of pop culture and history, can be used as a great teaching tool and I plan to always incorporate a bit of that into my teaching.
So today's lesson is in listening. My friend sent me a few of her 10-20 second radio news stories and I have the pilot for Ugly Betty ready to be watched, and listened to. Since most of my students are Latino, I thought it might be helpful and more motivating to see someone on television that looked a bit like them. I know I would have appreciated that. Then, today's homework will be listening to three songs I've burned on a disc for them, reading the lyrics along with the songs and answering questions I pose. It might be overwhelming for them, but in the end, I hope it will be helpful. Unfortunately, since I don't have a formal background, I'm just going on what I think will be fun and useful, but man, I'm so excited for when *I* actually get to take classes for this. I will learn so much and am excited to impart that knowledge to help others!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Halloween Run

So let's keep the theme and the blogging going. This Sunday is the Run Like Hell! run at Pioneer Place. Last year, I invited my nephew to do the Kid's Dash, but much to my dismay, he is WAY too old to be running with 8-12 year olds. He is a teenager now, 13! Where has the time gone? Anyway, this year, him and I are going to race (for realsies) and who ever wins, treats the other to ice cream. It's going to be extra fun cuz not only will he be competing as an adult, I've decided to dress up. I think I will finally retire my german beer maid outfit and get it all sweating running a 5k. It was always my back up costume just in case. It's had a good run, but now it will have an even better one and I've got an even better costume for this year, stay tuned.
Also joining in on the fun this year is my friend Liz (I believe this is her 3rd run since she's started running about a year ago) and Laura, a seasoned runner who has a marathon (or two) under her belt and saved us from disaster during the Rockin' Relay. This year should be fun. So come Saturday, I'll be getting my teeny tiny apartment ready to have a 13 year old sleep over. I'll be picking him up and treating him to (hopefully) a fund day with his Tia Nena before I force us to turn in early (the race is at 8:45am). So I'm excited!
This was us last year. LAST YEAR! Keep an eye on the kid after this weekend, you'll see what a difference a year makes . . .

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Graphic by Kelly Powers

And I don't mean Christmas (even though that comes to a close second/third.) HALLOWEEN! It's my favorite time of year! The leaves begin to turn, Starbucks concocts new and classic ways to get us fat (pumpkin spice lattes anyone?!) The air is crisper, the wind a bit more biting, and people nuzzle into their sweaters and scarves. How I love fall. Not only do I get to wear sweaters, boots and scarves, it's Halloween season and I get to dress up one day of the year and be who ever I want. It's also a good time to proclaim my love for calaveras (or skulls) and not seem like a morbid goth!
This weekend marked the first of many baking sessions. I'd stopped baking after Easter, not much to bake for. Summer is kind of a tough time to want to eat warm goodies and as mentioned, there is something about fall and all of its baking possibilities. So this weekend's excuse? My brother's 39th birthday party. What do you get a person who has and can buy anything they want? Well food of course! In my case, you bake them something yummy! Since my brother has a very soft spot for pumpkin pie (his birthday "cake" every year) I thought I'd make him something along those lines and I found some treats called Pumpkin Whoopies from yumsugar (apparently, they're a Rachel Ray recipe.) I tried to describe them to Isaiah, but all I could think of was little burger sliders, so thus, they became known as Pumpkin Sliders.
Finally come Saturday, my bank filled with payday money, off I went to Trader Joe's. I know Joe's didn't have parchment paper so I decided to skip pass them and head to Fred Meyer. I figured all I'd need from Meyer's was the paper and off for my one stop shop at Joe's, bu that was not the case =( I finally came back to Joe's with the paper and pumpkin spice (just in case they didn't have it at Joe's) and did my shopping: cream cheese-check, confectioner's sugar-check, unsalted butter-check, pumpkin puree-.... pumpkin puree . . . Where is the pumpkin puree (the SOLE ingredient that makes my sliders Pumpkin.) "We haven't received our holiday shipment yet, " a dude at Joe's told me. Well crap! So here I am, a medium sized tiangis bag full of ingredients and no pumpkin puree . . . back to Freddy's I went.
I finally come home and start preparing everything for this day's bake. I like setting everything out so that it's more accessible as I go makes it more streamline. I must say, I totally recommend parchment paper for baking. It's so easy!
Below is the finished product. My Pumpkin Sliders:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Another request

So, I was asked by yet another friend (2/3 people that read this) as to when I was going to write another blog. I've been wondering that myself. As of late, I've been kind of in an emotional rut, paralyzed by insecurity. Pretty heavy stuff, huh? Well, yeah. And painfully enough, it all came bubbling to the top on Sunday. That Sunday, I realized a lot of things about myself that I'd been trying to store away in that heavy oak chest in the back of my brain. But unfortunately, not only did I tuck away my fears and insecurities, I stashed my self-confidence and esteem. Not a good thing. I had a realization that much of my anger came from the fact that I am severely insecure about who I am. Am I social, or a hermit? Am I a risk taker, or take it safe? I don't know. Then, it was me getting mad because I was not this enough or that enough, but really, I threw that anger at someone else, instead of myself, but now I see that. I'm not mad at the world cuz they can't accept me for who I am, I am mad at myself because I can't accept myself for who I am. But here's the real question: Who the HELL am I, and where the F did my confidence go?
So those are a few things I've been going through lately, just trying to explore who I am and who I'm not, and accepting and loving myself for my faults and also for what I do well or for how great I might be. I have a lot of baggage from my childhood that prevents me from many things, including being selfish, and praising myself, and accepting compliments, etc. So that's what my brain has been up to, just so you know. I guess I'm going through a kind of quarter life crisis. But it's ok, it's good to assess things and figure out what you're missing and what you need to add to make you a whole person again. And I'm glad I have friends and loved ones to help me along the way. I promise the next post won't be so heavy.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I was told I haven't posted in a while, and while it is true, there isn't really much to say. I've been busy at work, volunteering, singing, and working out. That's pretty much all I do. I don't have internet at home, or well, not enough to just hop on there and take about few hours to write a blog or ponder life, I just check email, check calendar, look up an address and I'm done.
My job has changed a bit in these last couple weeks which is fine by me. My position (which is about 8 different jobs in one) has been split in two. We have a person come in early in the mornings, part time, and leaves around one during the school year because she has two children in school. In the summer, she's a bit more flexible about covering later shifts, which is cool. So after both her and I getting our barrings, we've split up the duties. She answers phones, deals with clients, schedules and knows more techie things. I deal with more off the accounting part: accounts payable, receivable, invoicing, following up on invoicing, ASCAP submittal, so that has actually kept me pretty busy and away from boardem, which is good for me, bad for my blog writings.
One thing I am looking forward too this month, is like always Halloween, but not just thank BAKING! I'm so excited! I've got a few recipes I've seen in some magazines and websites so I'm just dying to try them out on people and try to get a bit more skill under my belt. I'm a pumpkin JUNKIE so I will be trying out a lot of pumpkin recipes. I'm also going to try to make soup. I wasn't very successful that one time I made Hungarian Mushroom soup, so hopefully a butternut squash or something of that sort will be better. So, that's probably what most of my posts will be about, all the baking I will do. I am excited for this month, cuz I just love fall, the colors and all of it's flavors so probably in about two weeks, stay tuned.