Monday, July 31, 2006

Maximizing Summer Reading!

Ever since elementary school I have always upped the ante on reading books over the summer. This summer I have been trading in used books with the local used book store. I recently discovered their tiny selection of books on tape (or CD) and thought, why the heck not? On top of the current book I am reading (Shanghai Diary) I am also reading (listening to) another book! The trick is to get them so different from each other so you can't get them confused. It is fabulous and makes me look forward to my commute every day. By the end of this week, I will have one more book checked off my list. Another trick is to make sure the narrator is a good one. I know it is hard to tell sometimes. The best luck I have had is when the author is reading it or an actor - the one I have now is read by Kathy Najimy, who is wonderful.

Nothing will ever replace reading a great book, the paper, the print, the smell, and your imagination are all you need to escape from reality for a while.

The power of a book is amazing but why not mix it up and get some fun books on tape?

Museum Trio

I went to the Legion of Honor this weekend to meet up with Angela and Jan (we are the Museum Trio) to check out the Monet in Normandy exhibit. The art and the company were amazing as always. I think the thing I like best at museums, is checking out people's expressions when they are looking at the exhibits. Whether they are squinting to take in every brush stroke or their mouths are hanging wide open and they look like they are thinking "how did he do that?" I love it. What is the art saying to them I wonder. Art touches people in so many ways and speaks to some of us and does not say a word to others. It was nice to see mothers with their daughters, some of them not speaking but letting the art bridge the communication gap between them. It is nice to go to the museum with non-critical people, just a couple normal gals enjoying each others company looking at art without trying to analyze every piece. I just want to look and enjoy.

It was great day, we ate lunch at the museum, which is always wonderful and when we were done walking around we went out for cake and coffee (tea for me). Conversations with these two women are always great and filled with laughter. Jan amazes me with how many places she has visited around the globe. The stories of her journeys and her zest for travel are inspiring. Angela and her energetic go-get-em attitude rocks my world, she puts my anxiety to rest and reminds me of the power of positive thinking.

If you have a day with nothing to do, check out your local art museum, it won't let you down. I promise you will see at least one thing that will amaze and perhaps inspire you.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The FOG is back!

The fog is back and the hot weather in the city is over for the time being, or at least it is by the time I get home from work. The city is weird without the fog. As much as it blocks out the sun in the late afternoon, it also keeps us cool under it's white fluffy blanket. Fortunately, in my neighborhood it burns off before it reaches us but we still get the cooling effect, I love it.
I thought of this quote a while ago and it comes to mind now while I watch the fog engulf the city.
"The fog is the icing that holds the layer cakes of the city together"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Grandma Visits Dreamland

I had the most lovely dream last night. My Mom, Dad and I went to pick up my Grandma from the nursing home to take her out to an antique mall. Not sure if all of you know, but my Grandma (Nettie Jane) passed away January 2001 and visits me occasionally in my sleep, I love it. We went to the door of her room to pick her up, as we approached she opened the door and was wearing a really cool pair of modern slim jeans, black vans and a white t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up. She greeted us with the exuberance I remember she had when I was a child. She always had a ready to take on the world and life is too short attitude. Her face was the same as it was the last time I saw her in life, but she was up and moving around. She had a tote bag slung over her shoulder and told us to get the show on the road. Well, the rest of us couldn't believe our eyes. She was up and walking, even skipping about with excitement about our outing! We asked her what happened because the last time we were there to visit her she couldn't get out of bed and she had been using a walker or a wheelchair for almost 10 years. She said she woke up and felt great and "this is how I am now". Stunned, we proceeded to the antique mall and it was actually the market I go to in Saigon, but it was all American and filled to the gills with great antiques. Each dealer had an elaborately decorated entrance into their stall. Some with narrow Moroccan doors you had to squeeze through, others with old, heavy velvet curtains pulled aside for our entry. We weaved in and out checking out all of the wares. My Grandma was so sassy swinging her bag and dancing around exaggerating the swivel of her hips with the beat of the old music that was playing. It was one of the best dreams I have had in a while. I love that she visits me in my sleep, I love that I can still have conversations with her. Her spirit is alive in me and that makes me so happy.


I have one sweet summer memory of my Grandma I will share. It was before my sister Emily was born so it was just me and my brother Andy. My Mom and Grandma decided to take us to Point Peele regional park in Ontario, Canada for the day - check out these photos, they give an idea of what it is like there We decided we would play at the beach and have a picnic. We had lunch and then headed to the "point" where the waves can come over you from both sides. My Grandma had on a green and white bikini (so cute, picnic table cloth patterned fabric). We sat at the shore in a row and laughed so hard as the waves washed over us. Nothing was said, we all just sat and squeeled and laughed while looking at each other enjoying the waves. I don't even know why it was so funny either, I guess just having fun in the waves, the sunshine and being together were the right combination that day to make us all happy. After playing on the beach we went to the car and realized that we had some mallomars that we didn't eat with lunch so we all stood by the trunk of the car and ate them eventhough they were all melted and sticking to just about everything. We licked them off the plastic wrap too. We washed our hands and faces in the water, dried off and headed out. I am sure my brother and I fell asleep in the back of the car on the way home wearing our freshly sunkissed faces with the memories of a fun day alive our heads!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Urban Family

I can't take credit for the phrase, but when Bridget Jones mentions her "Urban Family" in her first movie, it made me smile knowing that I too, have an urban family. The Bay Area is great and I love living here but my family is not here which makes me sad at times. You can always count on family, they are there no matter what. A family's love and support is unconditional. I have some friends that are like that as well. They would be there for me no matter what the reason, no questions asked. Some are like siblings, others more like distant cousins but no matter the frequency of our visits or conversations, they never get upset with me. If by chance someone does get upset, we call each other out on it (like family would), there is also no expectation and they are always supportive. I consider those friends my urban family. My family is pretty small compared to some and I am so grateful that I now I have a large family between my family in the Midwest and my urban family here in the Bay Area. Whether large or small, all of us need an urban family if family is not close by. Just knowing you have a posse to lean on when you need it is so comforting.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I had a wonderful ride yesterday! No Snickers though, I said hello to him and he turned his back to me, nice, eh? Jennifer (my instructor) decided that since we had a rare hot day and the coast had no fog at all, we should take a trail ride (western style) down to the beach. I was so excited. After last week's drama, I wanted to have a nice mellow lesson. I got a horse named Silver - how perfect. She was HUGE and white with tiny spots, a thoroughbred and so sweet. She was a little silly too. First she got her leg caught up in the rope that tied her to the post, I got there to undo it before she freaked out though (phew!). Then when we went to grab our saddles, she untied herself and was hiding right behind us. We got saddled up and ready to go, took a couple laps around the arena and took off on the trail (which Silver had to be pulled a little since she didn't want to leave the arena). Once we got out there, it was simply amazing. Narrow winding trails, steep inclines and downgrades taught me to lean back or forward depending on what Silver was doing. We got down to the beach and it was so fun. We walked a little bit, ran a little bit (I am NOT used to it though so we stopped). Jennifer was on a horse named Slinky who loves to run so they ran and Silver and I cantered and then walked a little more. Lots of people on the beach stopped what they were doing to check out the horses too. It was the best ride yet. Silver doesn't like the water so every time a wave would come in she would move over as not to get her new shoes wet - I love it! We headed back up through the hills in the heat and got back to the stable after some huffing and puffing on the last incline and took the saddles off and hosed off the horses. I had some nice alone time with Silver and gave her a Pink Lady Apple which she loved. She put her nose against my tummy and moved it up and down from my face to my tummy with frothy apple and hay mouth - I was loving every minute. When we were done hanging out she went back into the corral with her friends. I went to visit another horse that I love, named Magic. He has cancer so I always make a point to say hello to him and tell him I love him. I am having so much fun with the horses, I never imagined this at all. It is beyond my wildest dreams.
PS - I wore my helmet too!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Seasonal Fruit Crisp Breakfast Bowl

I made this the other day for breakfast and it was so good, I had to share it. I used a nectarine but think it would be great with any stone fruit this time of year. It tastes like dessert and could be used as that. You could even make it in parfait glasses or custard cups - how cute!

Seasonal Fruit Crisp Breakfast Bowl
1 Stone Fruit or whatever fruit is in season
1/2 -1 Cup Yogurt* Plain or Vanilla (however much you want, really)
1/2 Cup Granola cereal (your favorite kind)
1 Tbls. shredded coconut
1 pinch ground nutmeg (fresh is best)
1 pinch ground cinnamon

In a bowl layer ingredients in the following order; granola, yogurt, fruit, coconut and spices. If you need a little sweetness, add a fine drizzle of agave nectar, maple syrup or honey.
Make a cup of your favorite tea, sit near a sunny window and enjoy the beginning of your day.

*Wholesoy & Co. plain flavor is my favorite and made from organic soy beans to boot! It is not grainy like some of the other soy yogurts.

Remember, there are really no rules when it comes to what tastes good. Have fun, add some berries, banana or frozen fruit when you can find what you want in the fresh produce section. Add some nuts, seeds or whatever else you want, the options are endless.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My head is covered...

OK, for all of the mothers I have out there reading this, I got my helmet this weekend. Thank you all for your concern. Perhaps I will take a picture of myself in it and add that tomorrow.
More later...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dust Your Boots Off and Try Again!

Woah, what a night I had Wednesday night. My second riding lesson didn't go as smoothly as the first. Snickers started out being very obstinate, didn't want to trot, didn't want to walk faster than a snails pace, etc. I realized that I wasn't in command like I was last time - maybe I got a little cocky or thought he would just do what he did last time without me having to put forth too much effort, who knows. Anyway, there was a little drama at the stable...a woman from the stable next to where I was riding was out for a ride on her horse and her horse got spooked and bolted right into the ring where I was posting. My trainer had Snickers on a lead, she was holding the lead so he could only trot in a 20' circle around her and she could watch and critique me. Well the next thing I knew the dog at the stable "Eskimo" was barking and the near by horses started to rear and get upset as soon as I looked at my trainer and asked "what is going on" I looked forward and the horse that bolted was running right towards the lead between Snickers and I and my trainer so she yelled back, "I have to let go!". The black horse, Lady, ran right between us and Snickers reared to the right and I went to the left and flew off landing in a huge mud pile (water, sand, dirt and other unmentionable stuff). It all happened so fast, I didn't even freak out, I wasn't scared or anything - just wanted to know what happened. I got up, pet Snickers and talked to him for a little while to make sure he was OK. The woman from the stable next door came over and apologized and told us Lady went through some thorns or something and bolted, throwing the woman off (she was riding bareback). Lucky for her, she had a helmet on. Geeze. Anyway, after having a heart to heart with Snickers and Jennifer, I got right back on and finished my lesson. Snickers listened to everything I said after that and was a doll. I took the tack off and gave him and nice brush and gave him some carrots. I wasn't too sore that night but yesterday afternoon my knee that I went down on started hurting along with my shoulders, but today I feel good. I rested last night and did not go to yoga, I figured I needed some time for my body to heal from the impact. I have to say that I am surprised at how "in the moment" I was during the entire thing. I didn't get to far ahead of myself and think of all the things that could have happened nor did I dwell on it after. I cant wait to ride again next week. I think we may do Western next week, but I am not sure - we are mixing it up but like to use Snickers since he doesn't always get to get out unless there is a lesson.
With all of that said, I am buying a suit of armor for next weeks lesson!
Not really, but I am buying a helmet this weekend and some gloves for riding.
PS -If you feel like you need the totally play by play on this, call me and I will reenact it for you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I get to ride Snickers today!
I am so excited and must admit, I have a bit of a crush.

PS - This photo is not Snickers, but it could be, it looks just like him.

Turning over a new leaf...

I don't know if I am so much turning over a new leaf, maybe more like flipping the one I already have, over to the other side.
Some people set resolutions/goals for themselves at the beginning of a new calendar year, I tend to set those kinds of goals/resolutions on my birthday. This year was a little rough, probably due to the fact that I have already dubbed it "The Year of Katie". No pressure there, right? I decided I would just hold my breath and jump and see what happens. Life is too short to make excuses for things that I have always wanted to do. So this year, if I feel like doing something, I am going to try like hell to get it done! We will see what happens either way, it is "The Year of Katie" no matter what. I started off my year with a spa day, I got a massage and shirodhara* treatment which was awesome. I highly recommend pampering yourself on your birthday it renews your body and your spirit.

*A controlled flow of warm oil is gently poured over the "Ajana" or third eye chakra. The oil then streams down the "Sahashra" or crown chakra, which magnifies the senses, disperses negative electrical impulses that accumulate in the forehead from stress, reverses imbalances within the body, rejuvenates the face and renews the sweetness of life. Shirodhara is one of the most unique therapies available for reducing stress and enhancing cellular intelligence and immunity.
Benefits of Shirodhara Therapy
· Eliminates diseases of head and disorders affecting neck, eyes, ears, nose and nervous system.
· Helps overcome stress and its ill effects on nervous system
· Helps relieve insomnia, fatigue, tension, anxiety, anger, chronic headaches, rheumatism, hypertension, asthma, hair problems and stress
· Gives great mental relaxation
· Invigorates the body and mind and stimulate cognitive memories.
· Disperses negative electrical impulses that accumulate at the skull and hairline from stress.
· Renews the sweetness of life.
· Rejuvenates the entire face and softens worry lines.
· Opens the third eye.
· Heightens the senses.
· Increases intuition.
· Activates the pituitary gland.
· Increases spiritual awareness.
· Regulates mood and depression disorders.
· Activates the memory & stimulates the 6 & 7th charka which regulates our breathing patterns

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I have been spending a lot of time this last week reflecting on my life so far, where I am at, where do I want to be, etc. I have been writing a lot in my journal and taking time for myself which is nice. With my birthday right around the corner I think it is time to take stock of what is going on and set some goals for the upcoming year. I have done a lot of things this past year, the biggest accomplishment being my trip to Vietnam with my parents which was a HUGE moment in my life that I will never, ever (God forbid) forget. That is the thing I am most proud of, just thinking about that trip makes me smile - it was so different from my past trips there because I got to see my parents heal right in front of my eyes. I have conquerred fears (horseback riding) and gotten back in touch with my spirit and my "true self" which I am pretty proud of too.
Well, I am going to keep this one short today. Yoga tonight and then off tomorrow and Monday for a long weekend.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Red, White and Summertime Blues

Wow, it's the 4th of July, Independence Day...the one day that most people are at the beach or at a barbecue, gathered with friends and family and I am not doing anything like that. Today, I am missing the summers of my past.
I have great memories of 4th of July's gone by of my family playing in the pool all day, lounging in the sun, maybe Grandparents would come over and hang out. Regardless of who was there, we would always barbecue burgers and dogs and have my Mom's apple pie and ice cream (sometimes we would even make the ice cream!).
I will share a funny 4th of July memory. It was 1993, the year I came out to California for the summer (I thought I would stay forever, but didn't). My Mom and Dad let me have my boyfriend at the time spend the night with me in the backyard in the tent we used to camp in. At the crack of dawn my Dad started pumping Marine Corps band patriotic tunes out of the speakers in the backyard and came out attempting to play a trombone he had purchased at a garage sale while marching around the tent to wake us up. I was probably cranky and embarrassed at the time, but I think we all ended up having a good laugh in the end.
Things have changed so much since that last summer at my parents house. I moved out and came back at the end of that summer but nothing was as permanent as it had been before. I didn't stick around as much and went off and did my own things with my friends most of the time. I moved out again a couple summers later and have been in San Francisco now for 10 years. The summers here are cold and foggy and I find myself longing for the hot sun and humidity of the Midwest this time of year.
I miss the Independence Days of the past, before I was independent.

Monday, July 03, 2006

My Kids!

Hey, not sure if you have all seen the pictures of my sponsored children so I wanted to post them here for all of you to see.
Tran Quang Ha - Vietnam (will be 2 in September)

Brooke Payton - Oklahoma, USA (will be 11 in February)

I get letters from Ha's mother since he is so young and Brooke writes me herself with help from the people at her after school program. If you ever want information, email me and I can tell you more. It is a great thing to do and so much fun getting letters from other parts of the world.

What are you grateful for?

I was thinking last night about gratitude, what it means to me, what am I grateful for, etc. Here are a few things, I thought I would share, that I am personally grateful for (not in any specific order):
  • My health - although not great all the time, I can still get around and do all of the activities I want to do.
  • My parents - what great role models they are. They have overcome some obstacles at the same time keeping the family together and are still so much in love to this day.
  • Tim - he balances me out when I get out of control - everyone should be so lucky to have someone like this in their life.
  • My brother and sister - the two of them are so cool, they both ROCK my world.
  • Harvey, Willie, Dewfey, Marley, Bay-Lee and all of the other cats in my life. Everything is on their terms and that is how they are comfortable - we could learn a lot from animals.
  • My friends - some of my biggest cheerleaders and also some who test my limits. You all serve a purpose and have helped make me the person I am today, I love you all, thank you. I couldn't pick a better bunch of people to surround myself with. You can never have too many friends!
  • Books and Music - need I say more?

Gratitude is a great thing to recognize, I think it is important to think of at least one thing a day that you are grateful for. Maybe add a gratitude section to your journal or something.

COMMENTS WANTED - please comment on this posting and let us all know if you keep a journal and if so, how often do you write in it? Perhaps we can learn from each other and inspire each other to write more.


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