"Avy Savvy..."

One of the forecasters used that term last night. I can't believe I never thought of it. Savvy, after all, is one of my favorite words.

Ed and I went to the FUAC Board meeting last evening, which only made me more excited to go skiing. It also reminded me, though, that last season I committed to once a week beacon drills. I kept that commitment, like, twice. Even in our lean snow year, it was too hard to give up a weekend day, and on weeknights, I just, well, didn't do them.

I'm saying this now, on the record: this year, I will do beacon drills once a week, either at a beacon park or the schoolyard down the street. Preferably with someone screaming at me and throwing snow at me and making the situation super tense, because chances are, if I ever have to really search for someone, I won't be sauntering about with a gimlet in my hand.


Up Up up.

It's definitely getting colder, growing dark earlier and there's snow on the peaks. I'm so happy. As you all know by now, I'm not much of a warm-weather person. Really, though, more than the weather, I'm just excited about skiing. We're very lucky, in Salt Lake, to have almost immediate access to the backcountry, and last night, Ed and I were talking about the dozens of absolutely wonderful ski partners in this town. Here's an image from a day, two years ago, when Brad, Ed, Bill B., Anna R., Matt T., Dylan F. and I skied Bonkers, one of my favorites.

Dylan must have taken that picture, because he was ahead of us most of the day...it could have been Bill, though...so the credit goes to one of them. I should be careful to give Bill the credit he deserves, because as you can see, he's not one to tangle with:

I remember the day getting off to a rocky start. I forgot my boots and didn't realize it till I was at the trailhead, so I was 30 minutes behind the group (see what I mean about easy access, though? I drove home, got my boots and was on the trail skinning in just half an hour). Brad came with me, so I felt bad about cutting into his ski time (and thus became Katie the Mean, or rather, Katie the Guilt-Ridden). It was so beautiful, though, such good snow and such great people, that my standard, pre-skiing nerves ("will I be able to keep up?" "will I be good enough?" "will everyone be laughing at me behind my back and wondering why Brad married me?") (Ahem, I know what you're thinking, and for the record, I'm already on medication) faded away in 30 minutes. Which is like, a record for me.

Either a Brad or Bill photo, Katie the Happy.


The Happiest Place in the World

Happy Golden Retriever Tuesday. Tonight, in honor of Lord Tweedmouth, who is the Father of the breed (learn more here), I offer this image:

Descendants of the original lineage, at Lord Tweedmouth's estate in Tomich, Scotland.


Baked on Sunday, on Monday.

Yeah, I know. I'm late.

But this recipe, from Barefoot Contessa, is totally worth it. It's terribly easy, too. I can do it while listening to Fair Game (which you really should be listening to) and talking to my mom on the phone and ironing. Christ, who knew I was so domestic? Also, it's easy to make this recipe healthier, by using organic products, natural peanut butter, and jam that contains real fruit. I think these might become a long-distance and backcountry skiing food.

PB&J Bars

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.

A New Low

Last night, after an atrocious Scrabble performance by myself, Brad and I were channel-surfing before bed. Flipping through all our new tv stations, we came upon this show.


Brad, though, didn't share my dismay, and was entranced by the antics of the sort of fit-looking participants as they hung from a rope, ran across a bridge and jumped approximately 4 feet in the air.

"I'd CRUSH this thing!"

And actually? I'm sure he would.


"Boo Hoo, I am So Melancholy, Okay?"

Could he be my new favorite muppet? Pepe the King Prawn?

"This clam looks very familiar to me, okay?"

Grab Life by the Balls

It's rainy and cold and absolutely delightful here today, and after goregous run with the dogs along the mid-mountain trail this morning, reading the majority of Harry Potter while watching PSU-UM this afternoon and a brief (maybe too brief?) Crossfit workout, the boys and I are watching Dodgeball. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, the guy who played Milton in Office Space...oh my god it's funny.

Some of my favorite lines: "I read it. In a book." and "It's gotta be the hair, it's beautful - feathered and lethal. You just don't see it like that nowadays."

Even Red is enjoying it.

Last night I met up with Amber, mother of this girl:

We went to Kayo to see Catherine's show. WOW! My friend, the artist, presented beautiful work, and the buzz around her prints was audible. "How did she do that?" "I wonder if she's a full-time artist." And on and on. It was awesome. I'm so psyched for her.

After the gallery, Amber and I went to the Oasis cafe, which was hosting Dine a Round. I had a Newcastle for the first time in years - yum - and we ate crabcakes and hummus and salmon and asparagus and pot au creme....I must learn to make this pot au creme. Maybe I'll share the recipe on Baked on Sunday (don't forget! It's tomorrow!).

Nice weekend so far. I'm loving the cool weather. I ran in a long sleeve today, and my hands were sort of numb when I finished. Awesome. The boys were panting less than usual, and now they're curled into furry circles beside me, snoozing, snuggling, happy.

I'm looking forward to climbing and another mountain run tomorrow.


Devil Come Down to Utah...

...looking for a soul to steal. And he found mine.

After years of watching tv only when in hotel rooms, at my parents’ house and on JetBlue flights, we got cable.

This is going to be a definite test of my self-control, because with the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert at my disposal, I stand to lose all motivation to do anything but laugh and laugh and laugh. And laugh.

Not having tv for so long, I’ve definitely turned into one of those, “oh no, I didn’t see that show; you see, I don’t watch tv (AND AM THEREFORE BETTER THAN YOU)” people. Arguably, that could be worse than being a total tv-a-holic, like my former colleague who spoke of nothing but the lives of fictional television characters. I always felt a bit superior to that guy, as if by reading the latest Sophie Kinsella novel in lieu of watching a sit-com, I was somehow smarter than he? I mean, while the Shop-a-holic books make me slightly uncomfortable due to my own former spending habits, I can’t say that they’re actually deep or require critical thinking, so who was I to cast judgment?

And now I dwell among the likes of said former colleague. A tv-owner. A cable-haver.

Still, I think it’s a good idea for me to get news from places other than NPR, the New Yorker and the New York Times. I mean, as BALANCED and NON-BIASED as those sources are, I would probably benefit from hearing the other side of the story occasionally....

How shameful

I’ve been reading nothing but Chick-lit lately. I know, ew.

But the thing is, it helps me fall asleep at night, because no matter how crazy delusional the characters are, everything always turns out happy in the end. Which is why it helps me sleep soundly.

(I recently read Himalayan Dhaba (not chick-lit), which, while exquisitely beautiful and well-written, managed to cover a bicycle accident, death, grief, rape, arson, murder, a car accident, kidnapping, illness and more grief in 400 or so pages. Even though I loved the book, I had nightmares for weeks.)

I just finished Room for Improvement by Stacey Ballis (definite chick-lit, and because the author is a poet, I am not ashamed). I laughed and laughed, mostly one of the characters said only, “Really? With the screaming? Really?" And, “Really? With the pillow-fighting? Really?” And, “Really? With the not being ready? Really?”

He reminded me of Len, an old client, who said things like that to me all the time. “Really? High heels? You think that’s a good idea?” and “Really? That press release? You think that’s appropriate?”


The Moxie Girl Ain't Nothin' to F&*k With...

This week's GRT is brought to you from Moxie, aka, the Ghost Face Killah.

Moxie smiles when she's happy, wrinkling her snoot and showng her teeth, even as she wags and wiggles and makes the "dog greeting" noise that I cannot for the life of me phoneticize. (Word, yes? I don't know...)

Moxie is our favorite Guest Retriever.


Our Red.

I know, Red. There are many, many pictures of and stories about your brother, Arnold, on this blog. There aren't as many of you. I've been negligent. I'm sorry.

Red, you're a compact little animal - a tank of a thing - and you're the best snuggler I've ever met. You used to sleep between Brad and me at night - our chastity heeler - but now you favor your dad's side of the bed. I think you're a little pissed at me for the lack of Red-related posts. I know you read this blog every day, right after you finish the Times crossword and check out what Wonkette is saying.

So this is my homage to you, little man. You talkative monkey. Every morning, just as the thin line above the horizon breaks the night, you spring to it. "Raar rar, raar! Arr, rar,raar!" You nibble our ears and necks and hair and faces. You nuzzle in, still talking. More like yelling, actually, especially at 5:30 am. You're so funny, Red. Trying to be tough in front of your dad, but really a total lover. You prefer sleeping under quilts to "heading secuity," which is your dad's job for you. Just underfoot, you go where I go (I step on you rather frequently). You read my moods and know when I need a furry shoulder. There's a great big heart in that fawn-like coat-covered body of yours, and I'm glad you're willing to share it with me.

To you, buddy.

In case you want some cheese straws, too.

This is the easiest recipe in the world.

1 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 c. grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar)6 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne
Roll or press into shape. Bake at 425 f for 15-20 minutes.

The best part? The warm and wintery and comforting aroma while they cook.


I ran in Mill Creek tonight, 9 or so miles along the Pipeline Trail, all lined with fallen leaves. The valley was clear; the scrub oak (I think) already reddening. It was a perfect run. Arnie a few paces in front of me, until we met a "very scary" and frail woman who looked to be older than dirt and seemed about as threatening as a ground squirrel.

(For what it's worth, the Iranians take the threat of squirrels very seriously.)

After that, Arnold stayed on my heels.

I got home and drank some chocolate milk, my new favorite recovery drink, and went grocery shopping. Kind of homesick for a Pennsylvania Autumn, I decided to bake cheese straws and make chicken soup. The house is warm, the air outside growing cooler and Brad just called, on his way home with a van-load of firewood. We'll unload the van tonight, stacking the wood into very specific piles (if you know Brad, this is no surprise) and imagining winter, fires in the stove, skiing, sleeping under the quilt, the dogs curled near.


Now for the Funny

This weekend, in A-PLACE-THAT-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED, Brad was working on a tough route that he couldn't seem to free. After he ran a coulpe laps, Arnie thought he'd give it a go.

Even with the Evolve shoes, .5 splitters are hard for Arnie. I mean, he doesn't have fingers, so he can't exactly secure ringlocks. Not that I've even learned what "ringlock" means yet, so far am I from ever perfecting the form.

It was a nice weekend, though, with beautiful weather (we were at 9,000 feet, so I was almost not too hot) and amazing terrain. I like to think that part of the pleasantness came from my new cookie recipe, samples of which we took with us to
A-PLACE-THAT-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED. Here's what they looked like:

Minus the silly box and cheesy ribbon (I mean, chiffon? Ew. Why not a velvet ribbon? Or Grosgrain?). I used organic flour, brown sugar, eggs and butter, then threw in some non-organic vanilla (it's all I could find in the pantry) and added dried cranberries (no sugar), dark chocolate shavings and coconut.

Good, but not perfect. They just weren't quite right. Maybe too much "stuff" in them? Maybe oatmeal dough next time? I don't know.

And yes, by telling you this, I'm now introducing another feature on this here blog (in addition to everyone's favorite: Golden Retriever Tuesdays). It's called: Getting Baked on Sunday!

Stay tuned; there'll be more goodies to come.

Not all that funny

My apologies - if anyone is still reading - for the lack of engaging repartee lately. I've been lazy about posting because, well, now that I KNOW who's reading this thing, I sometimes feel the need to hide a bit, to not be out there in the open, exposed.

I was thinking about that this weekend, in a place I'm not allowed to mention under threat of Brad, when I was trying to convince myself that I should go running. I love running, just as I love writing. But in both pursuits, it's the start that's the hardest. The first twenty steps of a run; the first few sentences of a blog or journal entry. The opening of an email to an old friend.

It's hardest for me to crest those beginnings. So I stop running for a while - and writing - until I become so annoyed with myself that I just have to do something.

Climbing is the same way. Getting out of the car, approaching in the sun, just to get on a route that's too difficult for me - so much so that I come off the weekend looking like a bare-hands fighter. Sometimes it just doesn't feel right, but when asked what I'd rather be doing, I don't have an answer. Of course, I probably DO have the answer, I'm just not able to say it yet; I'm too scared that it's not the "right" thing.

Sundays used to be sad for me. We'd leave our ski house and drive down into the city. The weekend was over. My "ski friends" were heading home for the work and school week, too, and I wasn't going to see or hear from them again until the following Friday (long distance calls were kind of rare back then, and cell phones came in giant bags that sat in the back seats of our mothers' SUVs). I had to return to the school I didn't really like, to the peers who I thought didn't "get" me (who gets" anyone at age 14? And really, how complex could I possibly have been? I was a girl in the suburbs, not the next Steven Hawking). I remember sitting in the backseat, listening to my parents' music, watching the gloomy Pennsylvania dusk take over what was most likely a cloudy day, and giving up. I didn't stand a chance at having a good week at school, because right there, in that car, I decided not to have a good time. I decided that it was going to be hateful and annoying, and so it was.

And as I watched Brad put up a new route this weekend, in a PLACE-THAT-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED, I began to think that maybe I was doing the same thing with climbing. Not always, but definitely on those weekends when I'd rather be watching Fall overtake the mountains and baking brownies than hauling a huge haul bag up a crumbling talus field in PLACE-THAT-MUSTNOT-BE-NAMED.

I need to stop giving in to that fatalism.


WE ARE....

...Penn State.

This weekend I returned to my alma matter for my parents' world-famous tailgate party and the Penn State-Notre Dame game. (Psu 31, ND 10)

Lots of old friends at the tailgate and in State College. The town looked welcoming and familiar despite new stores, new campus buildings and having spilled into the adjacent fields and open space. I still love it there, and as I write today I'm having to remind myself why I left State College. I wanted to be out West; I wanted to rock climb at places other than working quarries. But I also needed to know what else was out there, what my choices were. I needed to see everything before I settled down; I couldn't be still until I knew I wasn't missing anything.

Yesterday, I got to see the places and things that were my everyday in the Penn State years. I miss it there, but I'm not sure if I miss ME there or if I miss the place itself.

More on this later.

For now, proof that Brad was THRILLED by the football game:


En Route to Pennsylvania

Last night, as I packed for my trip to Pennsylvania, I realized that I'm not allowed to take contact solution or a water bottle on the plane with me. This is problematic because I'm taking a red-eye, but whatever. No big deal. More pressing is the weather in Salt Lake. Last night we had a huge thunderstorm with high winds; we're having another one right now. Crossing my fingers that the plane can fly out on time tonight.


'Tis the Season

It's desert climbing season again. This past weekend we pilgramaged to Indian Creek with Arnie, Red and Moxie (Guest Retriever - we love her) to meet Mike and Lisa Ray and their dog, Tanner. Three days of chasing shade and climbing pitch after pitch of sandstone....I loved it, which kind of surprised me; normally Indian Creek is ok, but not awesome. This time, it was absolutely rad. I think I've turned the corner and finally found the rhythm, the fun, the grace of crack climbing.

Not that I was particularly graceful this weekend. My hands are swollen and cut up, my knees and forearms are bruised. Ok, so my form is still lacking; at least I'm having fun.

Photographic evidence of the fun.

GRT - Biting the Hand That Feeds Him

Tucker, who left this world not long ago, was a wonderful Golden Doggie. 14 years old when he died, Tuckie lived a long, happy and healthy life. He was sweet and friendly and loved people and animals. Once he peed on a retarded man, but not on purpose.

Here's Tuck with my dad. Biting the hand that fed him.