Springtime for Katie and Marylhurst, a photo essay

wpid-2014-04-09-22.14.25.jpg.jpegHello, dear readers. Believe it or not, I think of you often. But graduate school has demanded most of my writing-energy and time, so I’ve been away from my WordPress. Luckily, my professors seem to like my writing as much as you do, reader, and that means a lot to me.

I’m halfway through my program, and it’s been a whirlwind. Here are a few glimpses.wpid-20140409_202647.jpgGuess which one I helped on? The one with no straight lines and obvious structure, of course… complete with a ladybug (top right).

wpid-1398040825649.jpgBasketball was really fun– for a while.

wpid-2014-06-12-12.04.23.jpg.jpegThe first time I saw the sunshine caught in the campus fountain. Wow.

wpid-20140512_201854.jpgIf you have homework on your birthday, wear fabulous glasses, have chocolate and wine.

wpid-2014-05-12-18.12.48.jpg.jpegOh yes, I had a birthday. 30 circles around the sun.

wpid-2014-06-05-17.44.26.jpg.jpegI got a label maker.

wpid-2014-05-14-11.45.27.jpg.jpegI got to explore a hunch I’ve had for some time– that the words people use to challenge and ban books can be used to incite curiosity in readers. So I’ve been doing a little project that is one part research, one part art, and one part cheeky teacher. The above books are popular or frequently required reading and are just as frequently banned. I taped them all to block out the covers, titles, and authors. I labeled them with praises and criticisms, and then I taped the books shut.

2014-05-14 11.42.57 I want to draw attention to how people try to censor entire books based on single themes, scenes, or words. Taping them closed elicited a stronger response than I expected, and I realized that one of the best things about books is that they are so inviting. Drop one on the floor and it opens up, saying “read me!” Opening a book is automatic, it is instant gratification. Preventing that brings on emotional (and physical) responses from frustration to anger. It makes for fascinating conversation with students– even kids who hate reading discover they have an opinion on censorship when they learn the only book they ever liked gets banned all the time.

wpid-2014-06-09-08.52.31.jpg.jpegI spent several weeks observing at the nearest alternative high school. It’s a perfect place for me.

wpid-2014-06-09-08.50.40.jpg.jpegIn the spirit of the art project/phenomenon, Before I Die (which I did in the fall with my class). Here’s another good example.


We were visited a few times by the blondest raccoon I’ve ever seen. Matilda agreed. But if there’s any place for a ginger raccoon, it’s my backyard. wpid-2014-06-12-11.41.12.jpg.jpeg

Speaking of Matilda, she’s in pretty good shape these days. Diana’s cat got an upgraded cat tower for Christmas, so the old one was bequeathed to Tilda, and Emily and I did some improvements on it.



To top it all off (literally and figuratively), my mom made a wee little quilt for Matilda’s tower, which happens to fit perfectly. She sits on this at the window for hours every day with a look that says “What took you so long?”


I write this on an anniversary of an important day for me and everyone who ever loved Matilda. So forgive me a re-post of my most popular entry, Thirty Days of Solitude.

Here’s a balance-in-the-universe prologue to that story: earlier this spring I saw a cute little calico hiding in our yard. A few days later I saw Lost posters in the neighborhood for the strictly-indoor-tortie. I called and met the lady, and I recognized the tightness in her throat and the hope in her eyes. Luckily, her kitty was still in our yard and they were reunited after 6 days. I had so much trouble communicating to her just how much it meant to me that I got her calico back to her. It wasn’t just a good deed, it was paying it forward.

So pet your pets, and tell your loved ones you love them. I’ll be back with more stories soon.


What took you so long?


I hereby declare this blog officially Not Dead

Oh hello friends! I sincerely apologize for taking so many weeks off. In that time, I assure you I have been busy.

I completed another lap around the sun.



I saw my brother-in-law graduate from the Willamette University School of Law.

Rob's graduation card from Matilda.

Rob’s graduation card from Matilda.

for dummiesI read this book. Officially there’s a Dummies book for everything.

autoimmuneIt’s not the first book I’ve picked up about Endo, but it’s the place where I have learned the very most. There are surgical options I did not know about (duly noted for when I see my Dr. next), tons of information on all the symptoms and causes for them, approaching it as an autoimmune problem, and even has a chapter for your loved ones– on how to best support a woman with a chronic pain disease that you cannot see. I learned just how typical I actually am. It seems to particularly afflict taller-than-average, thinner-than-average ladies, with certain kinds of moles, it is often first misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and it takes on average 7-10 years for a woman to get the right diagnosis. I’m tall, all kinds of moles, and I had pegged my diagnosis time at about 8 years (all the way through high school and college) but the bit about Irritable Bowel makes me re-evaluate. See, I missed half of 5th grade at home with IBS. And if that was indeed the earliest of my endo, my diagnosis took closer to 12 years.

In March, I adopted the Endometriosis Diet. You can also look it up under “Anti-inflammatory Diet.” I am thrilled to say it has helped, I am no longer having cramps every day. Isn’t that a melancholy place to be– where victory isn’t ending pain, it’s getting through one day without it. I’ve got lots of more observations and information here.

Lastly, I’m sure you’ve been craving Matilda pictures. I just got a smart phone (Woo hoo Galaxy S4!) so now I can use it to take decent pictures when my camera is not handy. Like this one:

peekabooHappy napping!

How can my cat afford Dish Network? She hasn’t payed me rent in 6 YEARS!

Greetings again, with another Frame My Cat picture.

Today’s installment of Kids Say the Darndest Things takes place on a playground. After two creative minds clashed in their visions of sidewalk-chalk-masterpieces, I sat with one of the artists. I understand her, as I have noticed she shares several qualities with Matilda. I regularly have conversations with both in which our only words are meow-meow. They both covet small shiny objects and love chasing bugs. They are both fatally cute. Completely adorable even (or especially) when they are angry. Stomping her feet wasn’t helping. She kept saying UGH and informing anyone nearby that she was STILL ANGRY.

I just love to say tonatordo…

…still so angry she could scream. I told her that since we were outside, it was ok with me if she walked away from other people and screamed until she felt better. She thought about it but said it might not be enough. “I’m so angry I want to scream a bad word.”

I’m a cool teacher, and I often turn to the calming power of profanity (reason #1 no kids are allowed in my car). So I told her that since we were outside, it was ok with me if she walked waaaay away from other people and screamed a bad word. If it would make her feel better. This was still displeasing to her.

She sat down, crossed her arms with a huff. Then she took a big long inhale, paused a moment to let it all boil up (just long enough for me to wonder how I was going to explain to the other kids why this one was screaming profanity) and finally let it rip.


You ever have someone laugh at you when you are that wound up? It is literally enRAGEing. Keep a straight face looking at that scowl under a flowery headband, hollering gutsgutsgutsgutsguts! I dare you. And if you can do that, then I hire you to go get the other angry girl who is hanging on the monkey bars in the fashion of… well,  a sit-in protest. A hang-in, you might say. Careful, she kicks.

After I clean up their water color paintings, I come home and bust out mine. I’ve recently devoted time to this medium that I abandoned about the same time I stopped wearing jelly shoes. I’m pleased with my results so far, so here is a sample. My scanner is back in working order so I can finally digitize my new art. Thanks for sharing in my Anger Management lesson!

Documented sighting of rare Nutriabearsheepalope, and other silly art

This week’s activities are all inspired by animals. They have constructed caterpillars/turtles/a crab out of craft pompoms and googly eyes. Some of them have even given them habitats (though that seems an odd word when you’re giving your “calapiller” a big screen television.

We also covered a table with animal magazines and pieced together hybrid animals–not the least of which being the Basilkleoparbird.

It would be a shame to ignore the less-exotic animals of the world: pets. So yesterday we all looked up our pets in an encyclopedia of cat and dog breeds. Yup, this is my tortoiseshell calico ragdoll/persian. Or whatever. I realized that my cat and students share an endless love of cardboard boxes.

I support this addiction wholeheartedly. Basically, I subscribe to the Not A Box Philosophy.

Not A Box by Antoinette Portis

So I took this Matilda-in-a-box picture and applies Not A Box. Now she’s popping out of a….

Spaceship. Maty came too.

There are already 2 new Where’s Matilda pictures, so you’ll have some to look forward to next week. For now, Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend!

I don’t know the traditional gifts for the 5th year Cat-iversary. So I’ll give her some turkey.

Oh hi!

This is Cinnamon. Well, this was Cinnamon.

Around the house she’s Fluffy Butt, Meowy Face, DammitCatShutUp, and Don’tEatThat, and Butt-tilda. Her fans and admirers know her as Matilda.

First night with her new family

Five years ago today we brought “Cinnamon” home from Salem Friends of Felines. She was a little sick then with a cold, so she was boogery and her eyes were crusty, so we didn’t know at first how beautiful and nuts she would be.

She proved to be the most entertaining acquisition ever for me, Emily, and frankly everyone else too. But even before she started to show her personality (smart-ass) and silliness (dumb-ass) we knew “Cinnamon” was not a sufficient name. Also 3 other brownish cats were called Cinnamon at the shelter. Emily and I are a bit geeky and wanted to give our cat a literary name, and Roald Dahl’s Matilda occurred to us simultaneously but separately.

I came home from work and said I’d thought of Matilda for a name, and Emily said “ME TOO!” so it was settled.

She was completely nuts over any strings or dangling things. She was completely afraid of the litter box so she took to crapping behind the tv or under my desk. She was really gassy. And most importantly, she was goofy. That was pretty much our goal.

She gets a lot of her goofiness from being… not so bright. She is the sole kitty that can bring dog-lovers and cat-haters to their knees. This is largely because she acts like a dog. I’d never had a cat, I grew up with dogs. So I played with her like she was a dog, and now she comes when you whistle, she plays tag, and she licks e v e r y t h i n g.

Thanks, human. It's warm here. What do you mean I'm blocking the remote sensor?

I cannot say enough good things about and give enough love to the people who run Salem Friends of Felines. They provided us with a kitty, no batteries required. Oh wait, that’s toys. They provided us with a spayed, immunized, microchipped kitty and gave us the medicine for her cold at no charge. They operate a small space in Salem where the cats hang out in rooms with windows and toys rather than cages. They arrange foster homes for cats they don’t have room for at the shelter. They have a thrift store and I encourage you to shop there or donate appropriate stuff.

Then SFoF rocked my world for a second time. Matilda escaped our apartment and was gone for an entire month. You can read the full story in an old post, Thirty Days of Solitude.

So if you have a fluffy little family member, take this opportunity to pet them affectionately. If you do not, then go to Friends of Felines and they will hook you up. The morning after I got her home again, we agreed to be gratuitously affectionate and every morning when she wakes me up by meowing outside my door (DammitCatShutUp) we have a little morning-snuggle. Then I turn on the coffee machine and she gets spooked by the noise. Then I let her taste cappuccino foam and we get wired and play tag.

Thanks for allowing me to rave about my cat. I’ll honestly return to art and other stuff next. And for Matilda’s Fan Club, you’re welcome!

Happy New Year!