31 August, 2011



This photo makes me smile. 
A creation by two of my lovely friends: 
K. Murphy (model) and D. Hruska (photographer).

30 August, 2011


This quote about mothers struck me today as I was thinking about my own mother, my constant striving to be more like her, and my own malleability.
"They adjust, adapt, glide, accept. They are mighty in their malleability, almost to the point of a superhuman power. I grew up watching a mother who became with every new day whatever that day required of her. She produced gills when she needed gills, grew wings when the gills became obsolete, manifested ferocious speed when speed was required, and demonstrated epic patience in other more subtle circumstances."

—Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed

29 August, 2011


The Paradox Of Our Age

We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees but less sense;
more knowledge but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines but less healthiness.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.

We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,
but have less real communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;
Tall men but short characters;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window but nothing in the room.

— the 14th Dalai Lama

28 August, 2011


Thankfully, we easily survived Hurricane Irene (downgraded this morning to Tropical Storm Irene) with no damage at all and only a few moments of scary wind noises. But we made many preparations... better safe than sorry, right?!

We stocked up on food and water, batteries and back-up candles. We taped up our windows - at our landlord's request - and moved precious things away from the walls/windows, like our daughter's crib and all of our computer equipment. We also took our air conditioner out of the street-facing bedroom window - it was a cooler night than we've had in recent weeks, so sleeping with the fan was just as good.

But mostly, we just stayed safely inside, read some books, watched aquatic-themed movies like Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid, and practiced our funny fish faces.

Jon just got back from a walk - it's windy, but the sun is pushing its way through the clouds - and he brought me an iced coffee (so we know that at least Dunkin' Donuts is up and running!). We'll be doing lots of cooking at home this week so that none of our food goes bad. And depending on the NYC subways and transit system, we may or may not be going to work on Monday morning... we'll just have to wait and see (and cross our fingers for a three-day weekend!). The tall sunflowers just outside our front door even weathered the storm!

25 August, 2011


Re-posting this from The Ongoing Adventures of the Hoosier Hickeys. It's just too good not to have a second glance!
I was talking with Maddie over the weekend after attending a friend's blessingway.* We were discussing how it can be difficult to be "different" in a world that values "sameness" and how to both fit in and still be your own individual self.

Kat (mother): "The thing is: most people don't think about the world the way we do."
Maddie (daughter): "I think the thing is: most people don't think about the world."
* Blessingway link provided by A Little Each Day.

12 August, 2011

HONEYMOON - Day 7, Local Wineries

We started again this morning with a lovely breakfast (omelet, toast, tomatoes & feta, warmed grapefruit) and today we shared our table with another couple who had stayed at the B&B last night: Marion & Rosa. I really love staying at B&Bs. I love the interaction with the homemakers, I love their cozy feeling, and I usually enjoy chatting with the other guests at breakfast. But I must say that I enjoyed this couple the most. They got married last summer; they are both musicians (pianists); and they had a wonderful sense of love and faith and "joie de vivre"... sharing a meal with them and learning a bit of their lives was a wonderful way to start the day.

Then we spent a few morning hours reading by the pool before we headed off on our tour of local wineries in the town of Mariposa. We stopped at Starbucks first, of course, and then we were off - down a new (and just as beautiful) winding highway. And after about 40 minutes, we saw the small sign for our first vineyard: Butterfly Creek.

We slowly found our way down the narrow "two-lane" road just off California 140 and pulled into what looked more like someone's home than a winery... and it was. We were greeted by 4 sweet dogs and then by Bob, the smiling and friendly owner of this family vineyard (his parents started the business, his college-aged daughter does the artwork for the wine bottle labels). He warmly invited us in to have a tasting of a few different wines, describing each of them with knowledgeable but common enough language that we really got a sense of how he grows and picks the grapes that go into his beautiful wines. After purchasing a fruity, refreshing white and a bolder red - we got back into our fun convertible and Bob walked the 50 feet back to his house, all dogs following behind their kind master.

After a quick stop at a local pizza chain ("We toss 'em. They're awesome.") we explored the town of Mariposa... window shopping - and buying a few things, too - in some adorable mountain stores along the small main street in this town of less than 2,000 people. We also spent some time in The Country Store, where Harold & Kris sell their Mount Bullion Vineyard and Casto Oaks wine. Harold was a wry, large man who seemed to smile at a joke while he thought of it - and would then share the secret he was chuckling at with us. He and his wife saw a For Sale sign on their vineyard lot just over 10 years ago as they were taking a drive... and within one month, they owned the place. He seemed to make wine just for fun. And lucky for us, it also turned out to be quite good! We picked up two more bottles and were on our way.

We liked it so much the first time, that we had dinner at El Cid again - enjoying our taco salads while talking about our favorite parts of our trip. Without a moment of hesitation, I can truly say that my favorite "part" of this week has been the luxury of having seemingly endless time to be with the man I love - to sit next to him by the pool, to be winded with him as we climbed mountains, to see his wide grin as we drove through this beautiful country, and above all, to have several deep and meaningful conversations with him about life and love and this journey that we're taking together. I am so blessed.

Our last honeymoon night wound down with stop at Queens Inn to hear a local cover band play a few songs (and to watch cute couples awkwardly dancing and thoroughly enjoying themselves). And we had to linger in the jacuzzi just one more time... the warm water bubbling up around us as the full moon shone brightly through cool night air.

11 August, 2011

HONEYMOON - Day 6, Mariposa Grove

Today, as we entered Yosemite National Park, we took a right instead of a left and headed toward the Mariposa Grove of the Giant Sequoias. We parked our car and took a shuttle bus up to the grove, where we embarked on a hike that wound a couple miles through a wood with trees so large we kept saying things like, "It's just like Avatar" and "This reminds me of Lord of the Rings". It seemed like a fantasy world. Trees so wide that cars could drive through them; branches that were larger than any of the trees I've ever seen on the east coast; and pine cones the size of a newborn baby.

We made sure to hit all the "major" trees: the Grizzly Giant, the Clothespin, the Faithful Couple (two trees that grew so close together that their bases fused into one - picture below), the Telescope Tree, the Mariposa Tree... the pictures help to get a sense of the hugeness of these magnificent living things, but it's truly hard to describe their overwhelming size and beauty.

One of the trails leading to the Mariposa Tree was a very narrow path that cut through a seemingly endless field of lilacs. The wonderful aroma was incredible as we walked through that purple sea... and it must have been just as intoxicating to the bees. If you stood still for even a moment, it sounded as though you were in the middle of a beehive - the buzzing was almost tangible.

We left the park after about 4 hours... and we said our goodbyes to Yosemite, as we knew we wouldn't return there again this week.

On the way back to the B&B, we attempted to battle the 95 degree heat by loading up on iced coffees and shaved ices. The hot day turned into a warm but breezy evening as we sat by the pool, reading and writing. And we finally got to go back to Todd's for some delicious pulled pork sandwiches and hushpuppies. It was definitely worth the return trip!

 On the way home from dinner, we stopped at Blockbuster to rent a movie for the night... but instead, we ended up watching the GOP debate on Fox. I'm not really sure how we went from a sweet story where Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman pull on your heartstrings to hearing Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann explain their nauseating anti-gay marriage views - but somehow we did. Nothing says "Romantic Honeymoon" quite like eight Republicans.

10 August, 2011

HONEYMOON - Day 5, Glacier Point

Today we ventured up to Glacier Point - a beautiful lookout point within Yosemite Valley. The elevation is about 7,200 feet (to give some perspective, the top of the Empire State Building is about 1,050 feet high... so, seven of those!) The views were spectacular, although a bit hazier than we would have liked.

That morning they were setting controlled fires in the park (to eliminate brush that could cause bigger, natural fires later) and there was a lot of smoke that rose up into the mountains. But even through the haze, you could tell how grand everything was. We got several great pictures of the Half Dome (that rock in the distance that looks like it was sliced in half) - and we could even see the tops of both giant waterfalls we hiked to only days before... they looked so small from up there!

It has been amazing to me, during our trips to the park, to recognize how truly easy it would be to take a few wrong steps and seriously hurt - or possibly even kill - yourself. There are walls build up around the edges that strongly suggest where you are allowed to stand... but there is usually an easy way around those walls and you could - if you wanted to - get to the edge of some pretty serious cliffs.

The park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and for much of the time that we were hiking, we felt the freedom of being able to go anywhere we wanted. Yes, there's usually a well-marked path and trailheads to let you know how far it is from one point to another, but really - you could go pretty much anywhere you wanted.

I suppose that's how the 14 deaths this year in Yosemite came about (twice as many as their most recent highest death toll: 7 in 2007). It seems idealistic to take your family on a trip to one of our first National Parks. But knowing that one of this year's 14 deaths happened because a man simply slipped on the Mist Trail leading up to Vernal and Nevada Falls (the same trail we hiked, which I thought was definitely scary), and having seen parents holding the hands of toddlers just a bit older than our own daughter as they climbed several hundred rocky steps, wet from the mist of the waterfalls... let's just say I don't see a family vacation to Yosemite in our near future.

However, I would recommend this for a family-friendly activity: the Sugar Pine Railroad. We took an hour-long ride on the historic steam locomotive - heard a little bit of town history - and walked around the gift shop, book shop, and historical museum. Later that night, after a few hours reading and relaxing by the pool back at the B&B, we went to dinner at DiCicco's - a fine, but not great, local Italian restaurant. Looking forward to heading back to Yosemite tomorrow to catch the giant sequoias!

09 August, 2011

HONEYMOON - Day 4, Recovery

As it turns out, 8 hours of rigorous hiking when you're not in the best of shape lends itself to an achy morning after. So we spent today in recovery mode. And a gloriously relaxing day it was.  We began with a breakfast of eggs, toast, ham, and delicious baked fruit with our week-long host... then I went promptly back to bed while my other half did a little writing and reflecting.

Next stop: a viewing of Captain America at the adorable local cinema (where they only took cash to purchase the $6 tickets), followed by a quick stop to Payless to pick up a pair of "loafing" shoes. Then I made a trip to the grocery store to get some fixins for the grill. And I grilled a wonderful dinner, if I do say so myself! Corn on the cob, pork, potatoes and a medley of vegetables - brussels sprouts, onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms... yum, yum.

After dinner, we took the dishes inside and this somewhat hilarious, somewhat horrible scenario ensued: Jon went in first, opening the screen door and leaving it open while he headed into the bathroom. I followed a minute later and shut the screen door behind me, thinking to myself "Should I tell Jon I shut the screen door? No - it'll be fine. I'll just go put these leftovers in the mini fridge in the other room." And so I did. And as I opened the door to the mini fridge - not 10 feet from our bedroom - I heard a loud and awkward crashing noise... and I already knew what happened. I hurried back to our room to see the space where the screen door used to be wide open, the screen door mangled on the patio outside, and Jon getting up from the patio holding his upper left arm with his right hand. He was fine. The screen door was not. Our wonderful hosts were already asleep, so we knew we'd just have to deal with it in the morning.

We felt so bad about it - we were so worked up - that we had to immediately get into the jacuzzi and relax. (Kidding! Kind of. We did feel terrible. But we also got into the jacuzzi mere moments later.)

The worst/funniest part of the screen door saga? When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, Carol showed us the screen door that was off its hinges, leaning up against our patio entrance... and she said Paul would be fixing it tomorrow or the next day. To quote her (and you must read this as if a nice, older, English lady was saying it with humor): "Stupid Americans keep running into the screen door." She laughed. We laughed. Paul fixed the door on Monday. We broke it on Tuesday. Stupid Americans.

08 August, 2011

HONEYMOON - Day 3, Yosemite Valley

With our backpacks stocked full of water, gatorade, power bars, granola bars, crackers, beef jerky, gum, bandaids, hand sanitizer, extra socks, tweezers, bug spray, suntan lotion, and sweatshirts - and of course, after a quick stop at Starbucks to get coffees and sandwiches for lunch - we were headed to Yosemite National Park by 7:15 AM this morning. Go us, for getting up so early on our vacation!

We entered the park by the South Entrance and drove the 35 miles north toward Yosemite Valley. Our first site was Tunnel View, and it was just as breathtaking as we'd hoped. We could see El Capitan, The Half Dome, and the Cathedral Rocks as clearly as they were marked on the map by the lookout point.

We kept driving a few more miles toward the heart of Yosemite Valley... we parked the car, walked about 10 minutes to the Visitor Center and picked up some maps and information, then set out for our hike. There are free shuttle buses that will take you to the trailhead for any of the many paths you can hike, but we defied the shuttles - we walked! We didn't travel all this way to be packed like sardines on shuttle buses. We have NYC subways for that.

Our two destinations for the day were Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. When we stopped at the sign which gave the mileage, we smiled and thought, "Only 1.5 miles to Vernal and 3.4 to Nevada? We walk that much every day in New York. Let's go!" Little did we know the many stairs and winding inclines that it would take to get us to the tops of those falls... we hiked the Mist Trail on the way up and the John Muir Trail on the way down.

Words can't really express the overwhelming beauty and vastness of the abundant nature we saw during those many hours. These pictures do a better job of it.

Once we left the park - and after filling up with another tank of gas and getting some more food/drink supplies at Rite Aid - we were really looking forward to eating at Todd's BBQ. But when we got there - exhausted and starving - they were "closed for the moment" because they were running out of food. Guess they must be popular! We cursed them for disappointing us, but plan to go back as soon as we can to get some sure-to-be-delicious hushpuppies.  We settled instead for some French Dip subs at Country Kitchen. I was so exhausted from our 8 hour, 10-12 mile excursion today that I'm sure I ate my dinner, took a shower, and somehow got into bed... but I don't remember doing any of it!

07 August, 2011

HONEYMOON - Day 2, Planning & Shopping

After a long, comfortable sleep in our king-sized bed we joined our host, Carol, and a lovely young couple (Brian and Neve) from Ireland for a 9 AM breakfast of eggs with spinach, sausage, fruit, toast, tomatoes with feta, coffee, juice, and a sweet danish. A delicious first breakfast at this adorable B&B. We talked of Brian & Neve's trip into Yosemite the day before and what they experienced. They gave us some good insight on parking, wait times, what they saw... and before they left the B&B that day, they even gave us their Yosemite parking voucher so we could use it for the rest of the week. How nice!

We spent a few hours after breakfast looking at maps and searching the world wide web to plan our week, making sure we could hit all the places we definitely want to see, and figuring out which things we need to buy to make some of the more strenuous hikes in Yosemite National Park.

We ended up deciding to get up super early tomorrow morning to start our Yosemite adventures... so today, we hit the town of Coarsegold and stopped at several little shops (including one named Rocks, Gems, and Junk... yes, those kinds of shops). 

We spent some time talking with the gent who owns After Wine Designs, and we might have purchased a deck chair and table set made out of wine barrels if we had the extra cash (or a deck on which to put said chairs and table!). We stopped for an iced coffee at Zanders and admired the necklaces made from Scrabble pieces. We followed a sign that said "Point of Historical Interest" and stumbled upon Fresno Flats where we took a self-guided tour.

Wanting to take a rest from the 90 degree heat, we sought out Idle Hour Winery and spent just under an hour tasting 5 of their local wines, which Joseph (the one employee) poured out for us. We met and talked with Anna (the owner) and learned a little bit of their wine-making process from her.

 She also owns the Queens Inn, which has a wine bar & beer garden and features live music on Friday nights... so, I think we have our Friday evening plans in place.

We ended the day celebrating my husband's 30th birthday with a luxurious dinner at The Narrow Gauge. A bottle of wine, a course of fondue, and two delicious entrees later (he got the "Sportsman's Special" of antelope, elk, and wild boar chops), we fell into our beds after a wonderful second day.

06 August, 2011

HONEYMOON - Day 1, Traveling (Part I)

We've embarked on our honeymoon. A whole week together, just my husband & me. On the opposite coast from our beautiful daughter (we love you even from 2700 miles away!) and headed toward some beautiful national parks.

After precious few hours of sleep, we arrived at BWI at 5:30 AM. We parked our Nissan Sentra in the Econopark lot and took a shuttle (with the happiest shuttle driver ever) to the terminal, where we checked one bag, got some breakfast sandwiches, and boarded the plane. Our seats were 39B (middle) and 39C (aisle). I love my husband; he's taller than me; so I took the middle seat. I love my husband so much that I didn't even ask him to switch with me when one of the largest gentlemen I'd ever seen told us he had 39A... the window seat (seat - singular - being a relative term). I got to love my husband even more as I pressed ever closer to him each passing hour of the 4 hour and 2 minute flight, while my window seat neighbor slowly oozed over into my personal space.

Somehow the time passed quickly and painlessly enough and we de-planed in Salt Lake City for a short layover before boarding the smallest plane I've ever been on to make the quick hop over to Fresno.

An hour later, our 3 bags and the 2 of us were driving up 41N toward Oakhurst, CA in our 2012 Spider. Yes, we did feel pretty cool... even despite the blazing hot mid-day sun.

We arrived at Oak Cottage Bed & Breakfast. We set ourselves up in the Rose Room. We took a quick dip in the pool. And then we went out for a drive to explore the area. 
We ended up at El Cid, at the recommendation of Carol - our B&B hostess - and ate our fill of some delicious Mexican food while sitting at a table with a view that overlooked the mountains. Stuffed and satisfied and sleepy, we headed back to the B&B, cuddled up to a movie and drifted off to sleep.

05 August, 2011


Not a bad week to look forward to... thanks, Sunny California.

TodayAug 7 Mon 8 Tue 9 Wed 10 Thu 11 Fri 12 Sat 13

Sunny Sunny Sunny Sunny Sunny Mostly Sunny Sunny

Sunny Sunny Sunny Sunny Sunny Mostly Sunny Sunny

92°F High 93° 93° 93° 93° 93° 94°

60° Low 60° 61° 61° 62° 63° 63°