Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monkey ball

As you know if you read this blog, I took up racquetball in early March.  I've lost my heart to the game and lost many pounds of unneeded weight to it as well (20 as of this writing!).

I see a little progress every time I play, whether it is against someone or a practice on my own.  Very encouraging, I must admit.

This morning I enthusiastically showed up at the gym at 7:00 so I could get in a 45 minute practice before work. I like to practice at that hour -- no one is there and no one bothers to watch me.

Because this gym I'm forced to use right now has THE only racquetball court in Park City (where I work every summer). 

That's the only court.


In the whole town.

One court.

With a lovely clear glass wall between the players and those who patronize the gym for other reasons.

As if the glass weren't enough, the court is located on the main hallway that leads from the entrance to EVERYTHING else in the gym.  Funnily enough, it also leads FROM everything else in the gym back to the entrance. And for those who need to wait for someone or stop to get their stuff together before they exit the building, there is a very convenient bench. 

Located right across from the glass wall of the racquetball court.

It's enough to make me feel like a monkey in a cage.

So different from my gym at home, which has five lovely courts, three of which are tucked away at the back of the building. No glass walls.


Because when I do those exceedingly awkward graceful futile lunges at the ball ballet leaps in pursuit of a great shot, well  . . . I wouldn't want to show off after all.

Anyway, there I was this morning, practicing fiercely and making some good shots, and feelin' so very fly! I hit eight great and tough shots in a row and I thought to myself "Ah ha! Terrific progress!"

And then the next shot went completely awry. Laughably awry. Pitifully awry. It didn't even make it to the wall before it died on the floor.

And there were many more like it before I was done this morning.

It's enough to bring a girl straight back to earth.

The only consolation is that there was no one outside the glass wall at 7:20 in the a.m. to see the monkey in the cage.

- Catherine

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Golden Day

Tim is grieving the sudden loss of his much-loved uncle on Friday (June 18). I was grieving my mother that same day because it is her birthday.

June 18, 2010, wasn't one of our happiest days, as you can imagine.

On Saturday we took our sorrow out into nature, to the High Uintas mountain range of Utah. The beauty of God's creation was truly balm to our souls. We were accompanied by #4 and ftb, and it was ftb's first time up in the mountains of the American west. 

Packing a picnic lunch of cheese, apples and baked chicken, we drove up to Bald Mountain -- one of our favorite hikes in the Uintas.  With a summit of some 12,000 feet, Bald Mountain boasts some of the most wonderful views I've ever seen.  The steep, switchback trail can be tough at times, but the climb is worth it.

Alas, the hike was not possible this year.  Here's why:

Yep, that's a lot of snow for mid-June, even in the High Uintas. And even if the weather turns hot for the next month, it will remain pretty snowy on Bald Mountain. It will be a long while before a hike there is possible, if at all this summer.

So, we headed back down Mirror Lake Highway and stopped at the Provo River Falls. I'd been there briefly in 2001 with Tim, but there wasn't much time to explore on that occasion. This time we took our picnic and found a nice place to relax by the river.

Here we are just at the time we arrived.

See those falls? Magnificent!  And that ain't the half of it! We climbed up the hill by the falls, stopping on a nice big rock for our meal.

And then wandering farther upstream to see more of the falls.

 An farther still for even more falls:

The scenery was breathtaking and the sun was warm.  We had a grand afternoon together, wandering along the falls.

Here is my favorite picture of the day:

I'll be printing this one out and framing it -- a golden memory of our Golden Day.

- Catherine

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today my mother would have been 80 years old -- which is an age she never wanted to attain, really.  She'd seen so many of her friends and family members suffer from ill health in those years -- she didn't want that for herself. And she certainly didn't get it.

I used to remind her that she shares her birthday with Paul McCartney (I share mine with Donald Trump). When I was a kid we always celebrated our birthdays together, being that they are four days apart.  I remember the telegram that she kept in her jewelry box for many, many years.  It was from her father, and it said "Congratulations on your 2nd and your 28th" -- he meant second child and 28th birthday.

I've thought about her on and off all day.  At this moment, after a fun evening outing with #4 and ftb, with the sun setting outside our condo and the wind finally stilled, I miss her so much I can taste it.

- Catherine

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer is starting and I've only got random stuff to report

Summer has officially started for us.  We are in Park City getting prepped for the Summer Institute that I manage each year.  The load-in of equipment (audio, video, blackboards, computers, whiteboards, supplies, etc) begins on Monday.  (No, our house in Idaho isn't empty while we're gone.)

I am experimenting with WebEx as a means of meeting virtually with others across the nation. My colleagues and I are working on a big funding proposal and it's good to be able to talk once in a while through that process.  If WebEx works well for us, I will be one happy camper.

Got a message from my niece, Mandee -- at whose home Hank Williams Jr stays while we are away for our summer work.  We call it "Puppy Summer Camp" because he has many more animals and kids to interact with while there.  Seems Hank has a hankering (ha!) for dry cat food and likes to sneak a few mouthfuls out of the bowls in Mandee's kitchen. She caught him at it yesterday and merely cocked an eyebrow at him, at which point he lowered his ears and slunk out of the kitchen.

I love that dog!

And now, it's time for my WebEx meeting!

- Catherine

Monday, June 14, 2010


Happy Birthday to me!  Today is my birthday and I say that not so everyone will chime in with greetings (although I'd certainly love it if you did).  I say that because we had a killer party at our house on Saturday night -- for my birthday -- and I didn't get one. stinking. picture.

52 years old and the mind is definitely going.

But I had an awesome, awesome time, and I'd say my husband went a very long way toward making up for the debacle of my 50th birthday party two years ago.  That's the party where I cooked (and I mean COOKED) all the food, etc. for what was to have been a home-coming party for my daughter.  And then, when my husband was about to give thanks for the meal that I had prepared, I found out that he decided to piggy back this as a surprise birthday party . . . for me.  I looked at my husband right then and there, with my apron still on, and told him I was putting up my feet for the remainder of the day and he could see to the rest of the party, especially the clean-up.

Said in the nicest way possible, of course.

So, this year, he again tagged my party on with another celebration, but this time he also set it up so that I wouldn't be cooking. Friends came over and took over my kitchen, and my brother-in-law (a meat cutter and caterer) provided some mouth-watering prime rib.


About 60 of our closest friends and family came, and it was lovely, lovely, lovely.

It rained, though, and we have a small-ish house, so I wondered how we were going to handle it if the rain didn't stop in time for the party.  Tim joked that we'd be sending everyone home with a to-go box.


BUT, man of the hour that he is, Tim went to the hardware store an hour before the party was to start, picked up a humongous tarp and then proceeded to string it across the yard.  We placed fire pits and tables underneath, built up roaring fires for warmth, and were quite comfortable hanging out in the yard for the party.

I loved every minute of it and am so thankful to everyone who came to celebrate with me!

And I'm thankful to my wonderful Tim, who has now redeemed about 65% of the Great 50th Birthday Debacle.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I think he's too young for senior moments.

Last night I cooked a tri-tip roast on the grill.


I'd hoped for leftovers for tonight's dinner.

But that was not to be.

As I was putting the precious leftovers into the refrigerator after dinner, Number 7 appeared in the kitchen. He was hungry. He wanted the last of the meat. I'm a sucker for hungry children.  So I told him ok.

A few minutes later, I began hunting around for the container that the meat had briefly lived in before Number 7 rescued it from chilled captivity.

I couldn't find the container anywhere on the counter, even though I knew that the meat no longer had a home in the fridge.  I looked all over the kitchen.

No dice.

Finally I looked inside the fridge.

And there was the empty container, carefully put away by Number 7.  Aged 14.

Sounds like something I would have done.

Isn't he cute?

- Catherine

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rain, rain go away

It's raining. Again.

We had one awesome day of sunshine (spread out over two days) and now we are back to rain.

Normally I like rain, but we have a new fire pit and haven't been able to use it since the night we purchased it -- because it's been raining. Argh!  Plus #4 is coming home with fiance-to-be this week.  As it is ftb's first time in the Western section of the U.S., I think a little of our usually glorious sunshine is in order for that occasion.

Last night we had our church's annual BBQ picnic. It was hot and sunny when we arrived at 5:00, cold and pouring rain by 6:00. Eventually the rain went away and a beautiful rainbow came out.

But . . .

Sheesh.  Everything is a sodden mess.

Random segue: today #6 heads out on his first trucker job. He will be driving with someone more experienced, but, well, it's a bit of a pull for Dad and me to see him go for six weeks.

- Catherine

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Big Loser

I've been playing racquetball for three months now. After the disastrous fall resulting in eight stitches from my second outing to the court, I'm happy to report that I have remained injury free.  And I've discovered, through the development of tennis elbow in my right arm, that I am a stronger and better player with my left arm. I'm officially a "lefty" when it comes to racquetball and my skill is improving with every game.

I've endured many losses to my friend and teacher, Rhonda, of course.  She plays a LOT better than I. We spend the first ten minutes of each session warming up with random rallying and then we start the first of two to four games, depending on how much time we have. 

In order for Rhonda to improve, though, she has to do more than just teach me and play to my level.

So, there is usually at least one game where she practices her serve -- I always lose those games.

Then there is usually one game where she serves easy but plays the rest of her shots hard -- I lose those games too.

It's good practice for me to try to return those tough serves and shots, and the exercise of moving across the court is good, so I'm philosophical about the inevitable losses.

BUT . . .

. . . the most significant loss of all in these last three months is the happiest: I've lost twenty pounds. TWENTY!!!

I'm down an entire size in clothing. The jeans and shorts I purchased a month ago are falling off of me. I'm back into sun dresses that I haven't worn in years. And my weight is lower than it's been in several years too.

In all of this, I've hardly changed my diet. I still have a glass of wine with dinner.  I try to keep my chocolate intake to just the good quality dark stuff. I don't deprive myself unless I know it's a substance, like deep fried food, that will kick my butt (read: gall bladder) later on. Oh, and I eat two big spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt every day (not the low-fat kind but the regular, full-fat, organic yogurt). I add a tablespoon of granola and, if I have it, some fresh fruit.  That's become my mid-morning snack. Other than that, I eat as much as I always have, I think.

Twenty pounds. I wish my mom were here to applaud me because I know she'd be very pleased.

- Catherine

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flowers and Flippers

Well, we had a lovely Memorial Day. We spent time planting our annual geranium display (all over the yard) plus our deck planters. In the evening we had an impromptu barbecue of tri-tip roast on the grill.  Friends came over to join us, and we capped the evening by going to Home Depot and picking up the slate-surround fire pit that I've had my eye on for quite a while.

Well, my friend and I went to Home Depot.

My husband and another friend stayed home to clean the kitchen.  Love that!

Relaxing by the fire was the perfect end to the day.  I love the ebb and flow of conversation around a fire, while watching the flames dance.

Here are the pictures of the deck this year:

 Martha Washington Geranium

 Peach Harmony Daisy

 The fire pit

Number 7 has appointed himself the reining grill master at our house, so he was in charge of the tri-tip roast once I had prepared it for the grill. Right after he took the meat outside, he came bounding back in saying that he needed "the flipper."  1960s child that I am, I immediately began to sing him the theme song to that iconic TV show "Flipper."  (Anyone remember all the words?)

Number 7 looked at me like I had three heads, picked up the BBQ spatula from the dish drainer, and exited the kitchen without another word.

The tri-tip was excellent.

- Catherine

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A junk post. Sorry!

I'm watching a Celtic Woman DVD and wishing I could sing with them.

I'm wishing I could visit Ireland and trace more of my family's heritage there. 

And that's all I have to blog about this evening.

Sad.  But, it does give you, dear reader, a break. 


- Catherine