Hey local readers - looking for a climbing partner?

Anyone out there live in Salt Lake and feel like trad climbing? I have a few projects in Little Cottonwood - single pitch 5.11 plus lots of mellow classics. If you're interested, let me know.

Yeah, I know I promised a real post, but the thing is, I lie.


I'm it.

Kate, my new blog friend, tagged me. I love to get tagged, because I enjoy both talking about myself and not having to write a real post.

(Much has been happening...my mind's all whirly...I'm having trouble focusing...and - as I've been saying QUITE often lately - more on this later.)

Here's the fun little tag game:

Five things (under $10) I can't live without:
1. Wild Oats spf 15 lip balm in mint
2. Two Buck Chuck
3. WrightSocks running mini socks
4. Clif Nectar bar in Cherry Pomegrate
5. Cetaphil Antibacterial face soap

Five favorite movies:
1. Best in Show
2. Waiting for Guffman
3. Braincandy (Kids in the Hall)
4. Juno
5. Supertroopers

Five favorite dog names (the original tag queried kids' names, but being kidless, I'm using dog names):
1. Noodle
2. Little
3. Graupel (just met a golden puppy named Graupel - super cute)
4. Snoot
5. Seven (remember that Seinfeld episode?)

Five songs I could listen to over and over:
1. Hey Kind Friend by the Indigo Girls
2. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
3. Downpour by Brandi Carlile
4. Windfall by Son Volt
5. Terrapin Station by the Greatful Dead

Five things that stay in my totebag (edited from purse) at all times:
1. Brown clutch wallet
2. iPhone
3. Lip balm
4. Hairbrush
5. Sunglasses

Five current obsessions:
1. Bumble & bumble Surf Spray
2. Organic pop tarts (frosted strawberry)
3. Trader Joe's Volcano coffee
4. My new approach shoes
5. My perennial garden, which includes lavender and shasta daisies among other favorites.

Five places I'd love to go:
1. Southern France (to climb)
2. The Slovenian Alps (to climb)
3. Turkey (to climb)
4. Sardinia (to climb)
5. Kentucky (to climb)

Tagging: all other bloggers who are having trouble thinking of something to post...


The bloggers they are Mormon

Did you know that the LDS faith encourages daily journaling?

I didn't (I'm not LDS, so it's really no surprise that I'm not up to speed with the rules).

I swear, I'm working on some real posts. These aren't good ones, these little posts lately.

The Mormons would not be impressed.


Blog Roll

Who am I missing?

(I told you the blog roll was forthcoming.)

And now I promise a real post soon, very soon.

Little, Yellow, Different, Better.

I changed the layout again, because my Mama said the flowery to-do made it hard to read me VERY IMPORTANT WORDS.


Can't Get Enough of the Following:

1. This song, by the Old Crow Medicine Show. Do you know these guys? No, I don't mean "have you heard of these guys," I mean, "do you KNOW them?" Because I'm pretty sure they need me on djembe and dijeridoo and perhaps also to play the five or so chords I can strum on the guitar. So, if you KNOW them, well, please mention my name. You know, just tell them about me. If you don't mind.

2. Jen who uses real butter. My fellow mountain-woman and kindred spirit made my day on Saturday, when I found a manilla envelope in my mailbox. In the envelope, I found a handmade card with a very kind note as well as an adorable wool hat with both Outdoor Divas (one of my favorite stores) and Eldora Mountain's logos on it. Thank you for thinking of me, Jen. Our mountains are still heavy with snow, so I'll be wearing the toque on a few more chilly morning tours.

I model said hat:

Sleepy Arnie models said card:

The photo on the front of the card - taken by Jen (is there no end to this woman's talents?) - is a breathtaking image of coneflowers, botanically known as Echinacea.

3. Rock Climbing. It's climbing season in the Wasatch, at least on south facing crags, and yesterday I went with Lizzie to American Fork. We saw lots of friends and climbed a few great routes. The best moment of the day, for me, came when I was eight feet above my last draw and looked up to see another eight to go before the next one. In that moment, climbing the unknown and insecure terrain gingerly, knowing that a fall would be a huge bummer, I loved climbing more than I have in years. I flashed on my first leads in Eldo, my first route on the Diamond, tentative moves on my first pitches in J-Tree. Back to a time when climbing played a bigger part (I know, many of you are thinking, "um, but you're completely obsessed...you realize that, right?").

4. Marit, who keeps running no matter what, and who inspires me to keep going even though I'm underdressed (as usual) and tired and achy and did I mention whiny? We went for a beautiful run on Saturday morning. Dry Creek. Overlooking the city after climbing out of the gulley. Only one deer carcass, which was disturbingly fresh, but at least, I suppose, the coyotes were well-fed.

5. My husband, who just did something incredible. He totally crushed a goal he's had for a long time, and he did it with a good friend, which made it all that much sweeter. When I talked to him afterwards, he sounded happier than I've ever heard him, and it completely warmed my heart.


Why Rings Matter, and Why They Don’t

This morning, I went bouldering before work. After I traversed a few moves, I realized that I hadn’t taken my wedding ring off.

I hopped off the wall and walked over to my clutch. I was about to drop my ring into the little change purse where I store it while I climb (the only time I take it off), but stopped for a minute.

Brad proposed to me on top of Free Blast (also known as the first 12 pitches of the Salathe Wall) on October 15, 2005. We hadn’t been dating long – just 10 months or so – and I was so shocked by his proposal that I almost fell off Heart Ledge (Free Blast ends at the base of the Heart of El Cap, which is formed by two corner systems leading to adjacent roofs).

That morning, Brad broke out a new chalk bag – one with a zippered pocket. “Sweet,” I thought. “I can put my chapstick in there.” (We weren’t taking water on the route, and in the absence of actual fluids, chapstick tricks me into feeling hydrated).

“Get out of there!” Brad shouted as I reached for the chalk bag. “What are you doing?”

“Jesus,” I thought. “Why is he so edgy?”

“I just want to put this in your pocket,” I held up the tube.

“I’ll do it,” Brad said, snatching the balm and turning his back on me to stow it safely away.

Deciding to table the weird vibe, I started walking to the base. Brad seemed fine again in no time, offering me the rack for Pine Line (YES, I know most people just solo it, but I’m not most people, thank you very much) and chatting happily about the pitches above.

Most people link the first few hundred feet of Free Blast, so when we saw a party practically camped out at the top of the first pitch, we got a little nervous.

“We’ll just pass them,” I said, trying to ease the look of concern on Brad’s face. “Of course they’ll let us – they’re moving like alpine snails.”

But when Brad got to the top of the first pitch, intending to climb through to the second, the party was reticent to let us get ahead of them.

“No, that would not be ok.” They said in broken English. “We don’t want to get stuck behind someone and get benighted.” They spoke to us like we were four-year olds who required walking-helmets and short busses.

They weren’t going to get stuck behind us, you see, because we’d just completed the first pitch (not easy) in something like an eighth of the time it took them. We were moving quickly and smoothly; they were lurching along and yelling at each other.

And then, in a most unusual display of fuck-you-itive-ness, Brad said, “I guarantee you will not get stuck behind us,” and took off up the second pitch. “Put me on belay,” he called down to me, barely breaking his stride.

“Who is this man?” I thought to myself. “This is NOT Brad-like behavior.” As I glanced up at him, I caught the glowering eye of the slow party’s belayer. He was staring at me with such disdain that I momentarily considered unclipping from the belay and simul-climbing.

He appeared to be European (which is to say, he was wearing a bandana around his neck and very colorful trousers), and I found myself worrying that Brad’s uncharacteristic brazenness would put him off Americans forever.

“Sorry,” I attempted feebly. “I don’t know what’s gotten into him; he’s not usually like this.” I was hoping the Euro-tortoise would take pity on me and stop with the stink eye already. No such luck, though, and I tried to avoid eye contact with him until Brad pulled up the spare rope and shouted, “CLIMB!”

“Good riddance,” muttered my new friend as I chalked up and willed myself to move quickly. The climbing was good; I would have enjoyed it if I hadn’t been so worried about encountering the slow party’s leader, laboring along a few feet above me.

“Excuse me,” I was a little timid when stepping over the man, who was struggling to place what appeared to be a hemp-slung hex. I braced for the verbal-assault.

“Oh, it is no problem!” He shouted, delightedly. “Your man, he tell me it is very important you move fast today!” Then he winked at me, not lecherously, but as though we shared a secret.

I had no idea what prompted his change of heart, but I appreciated it, so I just smiled, said thank you and moved on. When I got to the belay, Brad was smiling and seemed calm.

“What was that all about?” I began, wanting to figure out what he’d said to shift the leader’s perspective of our climbing past.

“I guess he just sees how much faster we are,” Brad didn’t meet my eye, but instead pulled the gear off my harness and slipped back into his shoes. “Ready?”

“Wait,” I said, grabbing for his chalk bag.

“Get off!” Brad shouted, pulling away and looking horrified.
“I just want some lip balm,” I shouted back. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Nothing, but just hold on!” Brad fished in the little pocket. “You can’t go around grabbing at peoples’ chalk bags whenever you want.”

He produced the tube and I put some on, staring at him, slightly unnerved. “He’s being so weird,” I thought. “Why is he so touchy about his chalk bag? What’s going on?”

The climb progressed without any more explosions, and we both had fun, climbed well and I fell in love with El Cap. It was hot, though, really hot, and by the time we got to the top of the final pitch, we were both in desperate need of water. As I climbed onto Heart Ledge, I immediately prepared to rappel.

Brad was surprised. “What are you doing? Don’t you want to hang out?”

“No, I’m super dehydrated. It’s really hot. Let’s just rap.”

“Maybe chapstick will help.”

“ No, Brad, seriously, I’m over it. Let’s just go down and get some water.”

But he hadn’t heard and was once again fishing in his chalk bag. “Here, it’ll make you feel better,” he was offering something to me.

It wasn’t a tube of lip balm, but a ring. And he had tears in his eyes. And my heart started pounding.

“What’s that?” I asked. I wanted to make sure I understood what was happening.

“It’s an engagement ring,” Brad said, walking towards me (it should be noted, at this point, that we were 1200 feet off the ground and Brad hadn’t bothered to clip into anything). “Will you marry me?”

Oh. That explains the nervousness.

And that explains why he didn’t want my grubby mitts rummaging through the pocket of his chalk bag.

It was hard to rappel while crying and laughing. And telling everyone we saw that we’d just gotten engaged. And repeatedly asking Brad, “Really? You planned this? Really? You want to marry me?” As it turns out, I'm the only person who didn't know this was coming. Our families, our friends, the slow party who let us pass them - they were all in on the surprise. I love that Brad thought it out. Planned for it. Knew how to best make it happen.

And so, this morning, in the climbing gym, what I saw wasn’t the ring with its sapphire baguettes, delicate filagree and clear round diamond. It was Brad’s face when as handed it to me, his eyes full of promise and intention.

I think my ring is beautiful, but – and I never thought I’d say this – it isn’t all that important to me. The ring itself, well, it’s just a thing. I don’t wear it because it defines me; I wear it because it reminds me of Brad, of his commitment to me, of mine to him. I think of the look on his face when he handed it to me, when he asked me to marry him.

I put it in the little change purse and kept bouldering. I felt a little stronger and a little braver. I climbed a little harder. It was nice.

More on this later

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream."

Mark Twain



Happy because:

Arnie famous. Red has been famous for a long time, but today, after months of ceaseless badgering, Brad succumbed and added Arnie to the list. ARNIE VERY HAPPY.

I ran 15 miles on Saturday. Well, ok: I ran 11 miles then walked for 10 minutes through a boring stretch, then ran again, then walked it in. But still. Pretty goddamn rad.

I’m surrounded by some of the coolest women I’ve ever met. To climb with. To run with. To ski with. To drink wine with. To teach me things. To help me through tough times. To tell me I’m ok. To inspire me to keep running even though we’ve already been running for 2 hours and I’m out of water and there’s no sign of the trailhead (you know who you are).

We had dinner with those hot-tubbing fools, Colleen and Derek, last night, and Ed came with us, too, and we ate great food and laughed and laughed and laughed and Brad ordered one of his fruity cocktails and it was great.

There are always new opportunities on the horizon, and it seems like as soon as I take a moment to look for them, they appear. More on this later.

Last Friday, Brad and I went bouldering in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Just the two of us. We hopped from boulder to boulder and he pointed out the good problems and we both climbed well and felt like a team. It made me excited for the Valley, Bishop, the Red and more remote objectives like the Incredible Hulk. It’s all coming soon.

I finally found a china pattern I like. Not that I actually want or need or have anywhere to store china, but still, it makes me happy to have found something this delightful.



I haven't done an interactive, time-waster post for a while, so when I saw this on Kerry's blog, I decided to try it.

It's scarily accurate, but then, as you'll learn from "what my name says about me," I'm prone to believing this sort of stuff.

It's not all true, though, so in the name of Full-Disclosure Friday, I've added editorial comments (in parentheses).

What Katherine Means

You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life. (Fairly true)

You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip. (Patently untrue. Never tell me anything.)

People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them. (True, but I'm not deep in thought, I have low-grade social anxiety that emerges around skinny bitches.)

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection. (I'm the best at nothing, and that pisses me off.)

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive. (Yep. Wanna make something of it?)

You have the classic "Type A" personality.
(Yes. I like to blame it on my East-coast upbringing.)

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life. (Put it this way, I have over 300 bookmarks on my computer and at least three windows open at all times.)

You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home. (This is only half-true; I do travel often, and I don't go to typical places, but I also love to be at home, and I'm definitely most comfortable in my own house.)

You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.
(I possess zero logic or reason and crash through life based solely on what feels right at the time.)

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out.

Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia. (True. When I apply myself and resist the urge to play with internet applications all day.)

Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.
(Uh, yeah. It's pretty much all about me most of the time.)

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
(As far as you know. Actually, I can be friendly, charming and warm, but only when I feel safe and loved and in my element.)

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
(I don't like conflict.)

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.
("At times?" Try 24-7.)

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
(I'm a dreamer.)

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
(True, except when I'm tired.)

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.
(It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.)

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.

You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
(I have a lot of interests. As I said, I get bored easily.)

You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.
(True. I work best under deadlines.)

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
(I have insight.)

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
(Um, yeah. Like, for example, when I self-diagnose via webMD...)

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.
(Sad but true.)


And Again.

Apparently it's poetry week at the Wasatch Report. I woke up thinking of this line:

"Suddenly in this doorway where I stand

in this house I see this place again"

Even in bed, in the dark, knowing what day it was or what time it was, I knew that line to be the first line of the second stanza of William Stafford's "At Our House."

I first read this poem in Dr. Burkholder's class, "literature and the natural world," during my freshman year of college. That class altered nearly everything for me: my course of study, my career path, my feelings toward wild places, my belief structure.

At Our House*
William Stafford

Home late, one lamp turned low,
crumpled pillow on the couch,
wet dishes in the sink (late snack),
in every child's room the checked,
slow, sure breath--

Suddenly in this doorway where I stand
in this house I see this place again,
this time the night as quiet, the house
as well secured, all breath but mine borne
gently on the air--
And where I stand, no one.

*I've posted this poem before, but it's worthy of another.


What It Is I Do All Day.

Yesterday I was struggling to create a concept for a client. Nothing I came up with was moving or funny or unique or good.

I worried.

What if I couldn’t produce anything? What if my clients didn’t like my work? What if my boss gave up on me, thinking my initial creativity an offshoot, a one off?

(Shudder) What if I’m not as good as I think I am?

I sighed. I browsed the Inter Webs. I walked around the office, only to find that everyone else was Very Busy and therefore Not Interested in talking about my concept ideas.

I sighed again. I walked back to my desk and thought about Yosemite. I checked some of my favorite blogs (I’m getting to a blogroll, I promise). I ate some pretzels. I thought about Bishop.

And then it hit me.

An idea.

It was good enough to write down, and as I stared at it in written form, removing words, rearranging sentences, I decided that it might be good enough to present to my boss.

And then I remembered this:

How Poetry Comes to Me
By Gary Snyder

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light

I have to remember that; the words, concepts, ideas are there, just beyond my reach, waiting.
It takes effort. Time.