I Love it When...

The Family Guy gets political.

I was just watching a recent episode - McStroke.

There were so many funnies: stem cell research, slaughter houses, you get the idea.

No, really, I think it was one of the funniest episodes yet.

The moustache episode. Talking cows with funny accents.

Everyone should watch.


Lotta Fun

You know how I said I love fabrics and ribbons and stuff?

Like, two posts ago? If you skipped that one because it was unbearably long, I'll hold up until you read it.

Go on.

Seriously, I'll wait.

Done? Good.

This very cool artist and textile slinger from Aland, Sweden (a bee-you-tee-ful island of tall blond people) is inspiration for those aspirations.

From the Self-Ascribed Nicknames Department...


Half man, half alpha.

Can you guess who's been referring to himself thusly?


I have to wonder, though, does that make me the Womega?

Not this past weekend, but the one before.

Leaving work last Friday afternoon, as I gathered empty tupperware containers and several days worth of dirty running clothes, I realized that I was absolutely, 100% looking forward to the weekend.

And in the words of Loverboy, "I was workin' for it."*

*I can’t claim the reference. I first heard it several years ago from “Big Jim” Fitzgerald, one-time editor of Bike Magazine and quite possibly the funniest guy I ever worked with. Not incidentally, Big Jim is also the man who sent Megan and me one of my favorite email attachments ever: the inspirational poster featuring an old man and a young boy with the caption, “It’s time to hug Grandpa!”

I have journeyed to the ends of the internet – trying every search word combination imaginable – and still, still I cannot find a reproduction of that absolutely delightful fauxster. Honestly – it’s awesome. Look for it.

Anyway, back to the weekend. Wonderful. Friday night, Brad and I joined 30 or so others for a birthday celebration for our dear friend, Lizzie. She rented a yoga studio and treated us all to a private lesson. Even Brad – whose name is not Gumby Dammit! – had fun. After, Brad and I shared chicken curry at East West Connection and headed home for an early bedtime.

We skied the Y Couloir (not the whole thing – I felt too exposed up high) on Saturday. Great skiing, and I was pleased that it felt way better than the last time I skied it, a few years ago, the day of Andrew and Polly’s wedding, the very day I decided to move to Utah.

After skiing, Brad and I went home to prepare for the Great-Hot-tub-Move-of-2008, aka Utahans Gone Redneck.

We had a big 10-12 person hot tub in our backyard; it came with the house. After using it exactly once in nearly 3 years, we decided to send it on its way. What’s that old saying? If you love a hot tub, set it free. If it was meant to be, it will provide you with increased patio space and room for more flower beds.

Our friends, Derek and Colleen, offered to take the tub off our hands. The only problem, of course, was, well, have you ever tried to move a 10-12 person hot tub? I’m just saying, those things are heavy. And unwieldy. And downright dangerous when they’re tipped on their sides, teetering this way and that.

We’d amassed a group of 5 strong men for the task, but that wasn’t nearly enough. One or two attempts to budge the behemoth yielded a progression of only a few inches. “When’s sunset again?” Rob asked, vocalizing what everyone was thinking. It was gonna be a long night.

Even after gathering several more the buffest folks we know, we struggled to heave the thing across the backyard, up a little hill, into the driveway and onto the trailer.

And by “we,” I mean, of course, “they.” I tried my damnedest to stay out of the fray. In fact, when the move began, I was in the middle of making two lasagnas – one veggie, one meaty – for Sunday night’s potluck. I tried as hard as I could to appear busy and focused on my cooking, but to no avail.

“KATIE! Get out here!”


So I flitted around, mostly just getting in the way and making jokes at inappropriate times. Like when they were lifting the thing in the air, all energies directed toward that end, nothing left over for laughter.

Highlights from the spine-wrenching event include: hitching the thing to a truck in attempts to drag it slowly, only to have it fly so fast across the yard the men couldn’t keep up with it; and watching the gents push the tub up the small hill in our backyard while Ed (whose very sore back earned him the post of job foreman) and I shouted helpful direction tips. “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE GONNA HIT THE FENCE!”

But it’s over now. The hot tub is safely bubbling away at its new home and, thankfully, no one got hurt in the moving process. I love our new patio space and am enjoying imagining the possibilities for it: a CrossFit style pull-up/dip/muscle-up station? A picnic table? Lawn furniture?

We’ll see what summer brings. I’m already thinking about a flower garden border, though. And some tomatoes. And peppers. And herbs.

Periodical Order

I've never read an entire article in Real Simple or Martha Stewart Living, but every month, as soon as they hit the newsstands, I peruse (ahem, a commonly misused word) them for at least an hour. They're hard to miss, always front and center, smugly hiding the messier, louder covers of National Geographic Adventure and Cosmo.

Unlike the other mags on the shelves, with their garish promises and enticements, Real Simple (RS) and Martha Stewart Living (MSL) are calming; selling serenity, peace and natural beauty. A cabin in the woods with a red door and concrete floors and plenty of southern exposure.

With their many photos of labeled baskets of ribbons and fabric, open shelves of organic sheets and towels, sunny craft rooms and organized pantries, RS and MSL help me imagine a life in which I do everything I say I’m going to do: run, work, climb, knit, write letters, ski, play the guitar, cook, do laundry, make sure the dogs got plenty of exercise. In a day.

They promise time, order, completion. They promise predictability. That’s what I love about them. That’s why just holding them in my hands - I especially love the rough, heavy paper of RS - makes me smile.

Sunday I climbed with our friend, Young Alex. I've climbed with him once before, in California in the middle of a road trip. I was tired then, not really trying, sort of content to just hang out. Yesterday, though, I was eager to climb and I said as much as we drove to the gym.

Regardless, after warming up, when I started trying harder routes, I found myself sinking back into the normal headtrips – giving up before I was tired, opting for adequacy over potential failure.

I remember a time when I didn’t focus on possible negatives, when the only thing I thought about while climbing was how strong I felt, how much I loved being in the canyon or the mountains, 400 feet off the ground, good gear at my feet and a stance just above me. I remember my first hard route on the Diamond. We were rushed getting out of Boulder and I spent the drive to the trailhead organizing the rack rather than studying the topo. My partner was nervous, thought we should take some time to really peruse (see? There it is again!) the guidebook. I brushed her off; I had no doubts in our abilities and knew that we’d figure it out. Routefinding was part of the adventure back then. Not knowing what was coming next? Even better.

I was probably too reckless back then. I should have paid more attention, should have placed more gear, should have been more humble. Maybe if I had, the pendulum wouldn’t have swung so far to this other side – to the point of me being scared to fall in the gym (where it’s very, very safe).

Maybe it comes with age, though. Because back then, in the Diamond days, I wouldn’t have looked twice at RS and MSL. I’d have pushed them aside, grabbing at the new issue of Climbing to stare pictures and dream about road trips.

But now? Now I dream about baskets of yarn and jars of needles. About a bright room with a table for my sewing machine and a stool on which to play the guitar. When I think of road trips, I think more of how happy I am with all that unlimited exercise than about climbing big hard routes in the mountains.

Things change.


So, uh, hey...

How've you been? Yeah? Great, great. Yeah, it has been a while. I know, I know...

Yeah, I’ve been a little lazy.

I’m in the process of updating my look. Don’t worry, this is far from the finished product, and the blog will remain open during construction.

New posts are en route, but in the mean time, a helpful reminder:

ETA: The above graphic? The one that makes me nearly fall down laughing because I'm just a sick monkey? I found it here. Laugh out loud funny, she is. Talk like Yoda, I do.


The Problem with Vision

I’ve often said that my marriage is stronger because of how different Brad and I are. We approach problems differently, express emotions differently, deal with stress differently, exist differently.

That’s never bothered me. In fact, I used to think it remarkable. I used to think that our differences made us a stronger, more well-rounded team.


Tonight, our differences are bothering me. Tonight, I’m worried about our splits in opinion. The core of it is this: I am near-sighted, and Brad is far-sighted.

I see things in the present, what’s in front of me and little else. I’m aware of conversations, in tune with subtle emotion and what’s left unsaid. I know when it’s time to cook dinner, when the dogs need exercise, when I need to go to bed.

Brad knows those things, too, but his focus is bigger. The forest not the trees. The world from 10,000 feet. He sees return on investment, long-term effects, end results. Those words barely register in my vernacular.

Whereas I’m content to do what feels right when it feels right, Brad rarely lets himself be comfortable, rest, be still. Rather than sitting down to read a book – which wouldn’t be helping the team – Brad’s constantly in motion: shoveling snow, chopping wood, raking leaves, changing oil, building fires, picking up the fruit that’s fallen off our trees. He’s always preparing for something. I never give something up in the short term in order to have a reward in the end. I demand my rewards immediately, and if that can’t happen, I lose interest and move on.

This disparity between Brad and I is most obvious in our climbing. I tend to “project” routes that aren’t very hard for me, favoring fast results over determined effort. If I have to try hard, if I have to be uncomfortable, I give up, declaring the route too hard, myself too weak. Brad, though, couldn’t be more different. He doesn’t mind suffering in the short term (I actually thinks he enjoys it) in order to achieve a goal he’s set for himself. He tries hard all the time. He climbs through pain and discomfort and fatigue and bad weather. He never gives up on a project.

And the thing is, he always has a goal – climbing and otherwise. I’m content to make plans one weekend in advance (plans that will probably change because I have been growing increasingly awful at keeping dates, even for things I enjoy), but Brad knows exactly what he’s doing every weekend for the next three months. He has logistics worked out and partners lined up; he never cancels or bails.

Here’s what you should know: I’m not resentful of Brad. I’m not bitter, even though I probably sound like I am. Rather, I’m awestruck. While Brad knows where he’s going and what he’s doing and what’s going to come next, I’m cowering in the present, terrified every time my phone rings that it’s going to be news so bad that my world will stop, that whatever was holding it up will crash down on me so fast I won’t even have time to take a deep breath.

And that’s it. That’s why I don’t plan, why I don’t set goals. Because what if something goes wrong? What if I can’t achieve them? What then?

And this is why I’m good at lots of things but great at nothing. I can’t commit, because I’ll never be good enough, and then I’ll have failed. And while I don’t necessarily enjoy the middle of the road, at least it feels safe here; at least it’s familiar territory. To stick my neck out, to drop my gloves and grit my teeth and fucking TRY, well, I don’t know what that would yield, where it would leave me, who I’d be then.

We have a group of friends who are “Brads.” These people try as hard as they can all the time, whether they’re climbing or skiing or deciding what to have for breakfast. They’re uber-cerebral, always thinking ahead, laser-focused and they fucking terrify me. I love them, they’re the kindest people in the world, but being in the presence of such tenacity, such do-or-die, such intensity leaves me completely exhausted, feeling inferior and like an outsider. It makes me feel like maybe Brad and I are all wrong for each other.

And I worry, sometimes, that Brad has the same reaction when he’s around “Katies.” How does he feel when he’s around people who are content to just climb with no real purpose? Who aren’t necessarily trying as hard as they can at all times? Who aren’t sure what their goals for 2008 are…people who are near-sighted, like me.


More HA HA, less WAH WAH.

That is my pledge to you, dear readers.

And to start, I'll share more hilarity from my new favorite artist, Ms. Natalie Dee.

I think my favorite thing about the above cartoon is that it is titled, "Just lookit that smug dude."

Her use of colloquialism and humor is wonderful; I might be more drawn to it than many people because Natalie resides in Ohio, in an area similar to my home in Pennsylvania, so much of the language and imagery she uses is familiar to me. FAMILIAR AND SCARY.

Check her out.

The cartoon in this post is especially funny to me today because yesterday, Arnie and I stopped at the dog park on the way home from work, only to find 10 GOLDEN RETRIEVERS wagging their tails and smiling at nothing in particular (they're like the stoned expats you see in Pokhara, Nepal - friendly, shaggy, staring into the middle distance, not entirely surewhat their names are). IT WAS THE BEST DAY EVER.

I'm serious: 10 Goldens, including my Arnie. The best part was - wait for it - there was ANOTHER ARNIE RETRIVER. Also named for Arnold Palmer, this one had a sister named Winnie (also at the park), and he and my Arnie chased, wrestled and barked at wach other for an hour. Then a pug named Sophie came along and broke up the revelry.

I love the dog park.


Arnold in Repose.

This is how it's been for us. And by us, I'm talking about Arnie and me.

We've been kind of sleepy. Lazy. Sick.

Well, by "Arnold and me," I guess I just mean, me, because, really, Arnold seems totally fine. Poor guy can't really walk himself, though, so he's forced to suffer alongside his mama....

Part of it, I think, has to do with the winter feeling fragmented. Skiing has been inconsistent at best, and truthfully, I don't really mind. I've had a few wonderful days out there, but some mornings I wake up and am uninspired. I've been kind of into yoga and CrossFit and climbing, and when I'm sore and tired from those, the thought of skinning up Flag just to get a glimpse of my partners' backs as they drop in is not appealing.

I mean, in some instances, skiing is always awesome. Here in the Wasatch, we are so lucky to have a group of capable, motivated, skilled female skiers always ready to go skiing, always ready for a big day. I find that skiing with my girls almost always appeals to me, even when the thought of skiing with male friends - including Brad - has me hitting snooze and pulling the covers over my head. What is it? Why is it so much easier for me to be a part of a she-ski-group?

and I talked about this a bit the last time we were out. For me, it has something to do with guilt. The guilt of making other people wait for me. The guilt of not being as good as the others. The guilt of not wanting to ski big days all the time, not wanting to ski dangerous lines....And so on.

The thing is, though, my girlfriends are really fast. I'm slower than most of them just as I'm faster than some of my male friends. Likewise, plenty of the men I know love short easy tours, and lots of the women I know want big, steep days everyday. So why have I drawn this line - this arbitrary determination of what is ok and what is not - according to sex? If I were honest with myself, I'd make these decisions based on actual experiences and not just run my mouth about skiing with men. If I were smarter, or maybe just more logical, I'd realize that my fast friends wouldn't call me to go skiing if they didn't mind waiting a few minutes at the top of a climb. I'd realize, maybe, that the guilt is stupid and does nothing but hurt me. It's not productive; it doesn't help the situation.

But it's hard to shake.


And Speaking of Saint....

This is unacceptable.

Saint does not appear pleased with having his name shaved into his side. I am stating this publicly now, today, at 9:11 Mountain Time on January the eighth in the year two thousand and eight: BRAD, DO NOT SHAVE ARNIE'S NAME INTO HIS SIDE.

You've threatened to shave a lightning bolt into his side ("Because he's so fast!"), a number into his fur ("Like kids in Mormon families!"), to paint him pink ("He likes pink!") and, most recently, to dye him the two-toned speckles of a Heeler ("Because he's an honorary Heeler now!").

The owner did this because she was sick of answering people when they asked, "What's your dog's name?"

Oh my god, it's one syllable - it's "Saint." It isn't "Mister Knickerbocker." It isn't "Sir Adolfus GoldenDog." It's not even "Denali." (Don't even get me started on THAT choice....)

One syllable. You can do it, say it with me now: SAINT. Now get that dog a cover of some sort before he gets sunburned.


This is delighting me like little else ever has. Seriously. The best part is around the 22 second mark, when you can see the puppy's tail wagging.

The more you watch it, the better it gets... Not unlike THIS! (Yes, I KNOW it's a prairie dig, but "Dramatic Prairie Dog?" Please. Where's the rhythm?)

Now, as adorable as the puppy in the first video is, I just can't ever imagine doing something like that to Arnold or Red. They don't eat people food (except when Brad feeds them), and even if they did, they'd never stoop to such sophomoric forms of entertainment.

Arnie prefers extreme sporting.

(Please note: This is Saint, not Arnie. Also note the excellent form of Saint's Downward Dog; my yoga teachers would be impressed.)

Um - and this is just a suggestion - if you're ever looking for something to do, just type "Surfing Golden Retriever" into Google. Again, just a thought. But seriously, though, not a bad way to kill 5 minutes while you wait for files to upload.



I was lonely and broken-hearted and contemplating quitting when I walked into the guesthouse recommended by the Lonely Planet guide. I was in Tatopani, Nepal, along the Annapurna Circuit, and I was tired of being alone.

The whole point of my trip was to use solo travel as a way to overcome fear, though, so any interaction with Americans, any connection that felt easy and comfortable and safe left me feeling wildly guilty. Like I wasn’t doing it right. Like I was cheating.

Then I met Mike.

He was tall and lean and his eyes crinkled when he smiled. He had sun-streaked hair and a beard and he reminded me of an old friend at home, someone I had a crush on growing up and who’d remained in my life through college. I guess this association, this familiarity, is what made it ok for me to walk over to him and sit down. To start talking. To let my guard down.

The other travelers were posturing and competitive. They were talking loudly about meditation retreats and dysentery and getting stoned. I wanted no part of it, and from the looks of this friendly person beside me, he didn’t either.

We talked quietly for a long time. I learned that he was from San Diego, had a golden retriever and was in grad school. Those are the only details I remember, but I know we sat there for hours, talking long after the others went to bed, talking until we saw the backlit silhouettes of the mountains outside the windows.

I slept for a few hours, and when I walked back into the main room of the guest house, I saw that he was gone. There was no note or message. I didn’t know where he was going next, and even then, I knew that it didn’t matter.

I didn’t need to know. An email address, even a last name, would have been pointless. We didn’t need each other; we weren’t friends. And now, years later, I have no idea how to contact him, nor do I want to. His life doesn’t concern me anymore. I wish him the best, but where he is or what he’s doing doesn’t matter.

What matters, what I remember from that one conversation on one night in the middle of a trek in Nepal, is that it is possible to make a safe connection with a stranger. That they’re out there, the good ones. That I don’t always have to protect myself. That sometimes, people are beautiful.