First Kisses


First Kisses

Suzy Nobless’s dad was a famous shoe designer. We were in the seventh grade, when she and her little brother and her mom and her dad moved into Sabrina Epperly’s old house by Pine lake. The lake radiated tranquil beauty, but at that end, the muck and mud left a kid wondering, what is in this foot sucking ooze anyway? Soft. Too soft. The deep slime held pointy sticks and sharp rocks, which laid in wait, under the brown slime, ready to jab a kid’s instep or scrape an ankle. When we were bored enough to venture in, we imagined we were walking in the all the excrement pouring from pipes from quaint old houses, plumbed before codes disallowed such things, so for us: muck = poop.

That particular sunny day, Suzy and her new boyfriend Steve Storey and I decided to walk home from school. We went to Pine Lake Middle School, and when the last bell rang, we decided it was too nice to ride the stuffy old, yellow school bus home, with its blowing diesel, grinding gears and old lunch smells. I had just met Suzy, but I knew Steve when he and his family moved to Pine Lake the year before. We had been in Mr. Valenta’s sixth-grade class together. He’d always been so understanding when I’d shared my boy trouble with him, explaining how I’d been roped into saying I’d go steady with David Hassinger, you know how Doug is, I had told Steve. Steve had nodded, like he knew just what I meant.

“You want to stop at Sadler’s for ice cream sandwiches?” Steve asked, shifting his back pack on his shoulders.

“I spent the last of my money at the school store,” Suzy replied, glancing quickly over at Steve, smiling sweet and coy, like some Southern belle.

“Yeah, me too,” I added.

“That’s okay, my treat today,” Steve smiled at Suzy. So we got our ice cream and Steve sprung for Suzy’s favorite gum, some bright green apple-flavored stuff that blew the biggest bubbles ever. Suzy slapped my arm, signaling me to what how big she could blow.

“That’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” Steve shook his head in amazement, like he himself was blown away, just like the gum.

“Stunning,” I said looking from Suzy to Steve. So we teased and meandered, and we playfully shoved and laughed our way down the two lane road, that wound its way around the lake. The sun was warm for April and fruit trees bloomed. Each twist in the road brought a new smell and we got quiet for a short while, ebbing and flowing, in and out of ease and awkwardness, as kids on the verge, do. Just before the road wound sharply to the left, a grouping of alders stood with roots soaked in mud and decaying leaves. We breathed in the sweet, earthy odor as we passed.

“I kind of like that smell,” I said absently, sleepy from the ice cream.

“Me too,” Steve nodded. “I don’t know why. It’s kind of a rot and dirt smell… kind of good in my nose.”

“Ewe. You guys are gross,” Suzy let out as she looked into the stand of trees. Steve and I shrugged. We continued past the Hamm’s house, both my dad’s friend Jerry and his brother Bob lived down that drive. I’d met Bob’s daughter Karen, when she invited me over to play when we were in Kindergarten. Karen had yelled at me to come in when I knocked on the front door that day. There was a lot of barking, big barking behind the door, but I opened it as directed anyway. A gigantic pointy-eared Doberman jumped and landed his paws on my shoulders and her cat attached itself to my thigh, before she could get to the door. I looked down their driveway, as I walked with Steve and Suzy, and I wondered how Karen was. She never seemed like a girl who’d be happy any day soon.

Steve looked at Suzy as we neared her house. He often looked like he had something up his sleeve, so I ignored his sideways glances at Suzy, and she seemed genuinely oblivious to all his in-drawn breaths, where he looked like he ready to say something then thought better of it.

We came to a rock. Steve simply plopped himself right down on it.

“I need a kiss,” he declared smiling at Suzy. Her eyes widened and her face reddened, and she didn’t say anything for a moment.

“I don’t know how,” she finally breathed, then looked to me for help. I just shrugged. “Show me how Kathy.” Right then it was time for my eyes to go wide and my face to redden. I shook my head.

“Eh…” I stammered. I had kissed a boy before, but it hadn’t gotten good reviews. Kurt Holtzingner had run into my face outside my parent’s bathroom in the summer following the sixth grade. He had looked perturbed and he instructed me to open my mouth when kissing. Humiliated I obeyed and we tried another kiss. He went home and never called me again, though I was relieved because he wasn’t even nice, I also felt inadequate in the way twelve year-olds sometimes do. After that I practiced with my friend Sabrina and on the bathroom mirror at home, so I’d be ready for my next kiss.

So, that day I looked at Suzy, with her pleading eyes. I knew I wasn’t any sort of expert, but I also didn’t want to look lame.

“He’s your boyfriend Suze.”

“I won’t be mad, I promise.” I let out a big breath. I know I’m going to regret this, I thought.

“Well,” I start, “you make sure he’s looking at you, that he’s paying attention. You don’t want to waste your kisses on some dope who can’t even look you in the eye.”

“Yeah. Okay.” We both look at Steve, who’s just smiling and waiting. What’s next? I pondered.

“Well, you move closer to him,” I stepped closer to Steve, making both he and I redden. Suzy nodded. I looked at my scuffed keds and knew I had to keep going.

“Well, you just kinda kiss,” I stammered, then continued, “You know? Right?” I was aware of Steve now, but not looking at him anymore. I thought he was kind of cute, especially since he’d gotten taller than me. I’d hoped, for a while, maybe he thought I was kind of cool too.

“So, just kiss him already, Kathy,” she blurted, then paused. “I’ll watch. You guys teach me, yeah?” she rattled off in rapid succession. I ventured a glance over at Steve, who was smiling. Then he shrugged all neutral, like guys do whether they’re twelve or forty. I swear its part of the male DNA to know when to be quiet, a sort of self-preserving mechanism or something. Good ole Steve, Mr. Switzerland over there, just sat on a rock with two girls, grinning and waiting.

Then we heard an older male voice boom into the cooling air of early spring.

“Suzy, come in for dinner,” the voice called. She shrugged her apology and off she jaunted down her driveway, waving without even looking back.

“Wait,” Steve called, seeing his grasp on the moment, slipping away like a wiggling, slick fish.

“Um,” Suzy turned and smiled, “see you guys tomorrow… in geometry,” then added, “Bye.” Steve rose and we walked to the end of Suzy’s driveway. I turned and he pointed the way to my house.

“I’ll walk you home,” he said. “That’s what any gentleman would do, right? …and I’ll even pay attention,” he added wryly. We glanced briefly at each other and walked through the blueberry bog, jumping across puddles in the trail, teetering across an old, thick, slick board which spanned the trickle that emptied into the lake. Quietly we made our way down the road in the fading light and in short order arrived at the end my driveway.

We talked about nothing I can remember. It started to get dark. He swung his hand towards me, but fell short of a touch.

“Good night, see you Monday,” and off he went.

“Night,” I smiled and turned and ambled down the zip of green, flanked by gray gravel. I hopped up the concrete steps of our house. I looked out into the air, across the Szuba’s yard, and through a stand of trees and blackberry bushes, and just caught the last glance of Steve moving from foot to foot as he found his way down the road, back to his house.

“See you Monday,” I shrugged and smiled.

A toast, Beauties, to learning to kiss. To kissing it all. To kissing boys. To kissing girls. To kissing children and puppies. To kissing ardently, both love and life.


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Cooking Humbow and Remembering Home


For Melvin


Pronounced in Chinese: huang ran da wu, which means “suddenly see the light or suddenly realize what has happened.”

My nine year-old daughter Sarah and I, on occasion, make humbow. She thinks they are the greatest thing since Jewish Challah, the sweet, egg-rich bread I make on Christmas.

So, we make humbow.

Chinese Humbow.

1. A few cups of white flour—the Chinese like it bleached—utterly consistent.
2. A couple of teaspoons of dry yeast, to leaven.
3. Some granulated sugar, to touch the heart.
4. A dash of salt, for balance and auspicious travel.
5. A splash of sesame oil, because everything is better with sesame. Sesame seeds are considered good luck for the Chinese.
6. And some warm water, both for dissolving the yeast and for making the dough.
7. Pork filling stewed in a soy reduction-barbeque sauce, made ahead of time.

First proof the yeast: liquefy in a quarter cup of warm water and a teaspoon of sugar. When the yeast reveals its vitality with frothy bubbles and a yeasty fragrance, add in the wet and dry ingredients and mix well.

Then knead on a floured board. To knead use flat palms and flatten and roll the gluten-elastic dough, until smooth and springy. If there are children present “pat its bottom” and give it a smooch—like it’s a baby.

Then let rise. This is where I sing “Let it rise. Let it rise” to the Beatles melody “Let it Be” which isn’t very Chinese, but my daughter even at nine understands The Beatles.

Here I take the opportunity to fashion a little science/biology lesson: I tell my nine year-old the yeast eats up the sugar and “farts out” carbon dioxide, which makes it big and airy. She giggles at the idea of the yeast “farting” in our bread.

We smoosh out palm-sized rounds and plop sweet saucy pork into the center of each flattened disk of dough, bring up the edges, pinch them closed and cup them into nice rounded forms.

After a rising, we sit the little morsels in a bamboo steamer. Humidity saturates the air and runs down the windows, as we steam batch after batch.

Humbow, on the way back home.

Be Very Well.

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Going Out to a Healthy Lunch in Bend, Oregon? Salud!


Looking for a delicious, healthy, unique dining experience right here in Bend? We were looking, and found it: Salud, a raw foods lunch spot, lives right on Franklin, towards town, next to Brook Resources.

My nine year-old daughter and I were scoping out the downtown’s offerings for a little snack while we were waiting for Les Schwab Tires to finish changing out our winter studs for some more kind-to-the-road all season tires.

“Ha! Salud,” I pointed to the restaurant, then glanced down at my little walking companion. “Let’s try it.” She’s always game, so in we went. I vacillated between the falafel wrap and the tacos – all raw, wrapped in delicious, dark green leaves. I could have chosen from a myriad of salads and wraps and desserts, all loaded with nuts, veggies, greens and seeds. I chose the falafel and was pleasantly surprised at the rich and satisfying experience. Sarah had the fruit pie. (She’d eaten her healthy breakfast just an hour before.) Her chosen fruit laden slice sat on a crust fashioned of nuts and dates. The next layer, a nut cream. She smiled quietly and nodded when I asked her if she liked it. No words from the nine year-old = very good.

Give it a try!

Be Very Well,

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Finding the Way Home


I need to find my way home again. To remember.

I closed my eyes and I was on the boat again—the boat my family motored around the Sound in, when I was a teenager. In that memory I am probably about sixteen, the oldest of three. My youngest brother Mark snores softly beside me, in the queen-sized stateroom, aka cozy-cubby-under-the-stairs. Mom and Dad are asleep in the v-berth. My brother Al, he’s on the tarp covered aft deck. He doesn’t know it, Dad certainly doesn’t know it, but Al’s the lucky one, up there with the morning’s natural light shining on him, and fresh salt air wafting in from the leaks between the snaps of the vinyl tarp. Here, in Mark’s and my little den, I hear the water of Puget Sound lapping at the side of the fiberglass hull. I feel the gentle side to side rocking, which makes some people nauseous, but just lulls me into a satisfied state. We’re likely moored at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, or maybe Westbeach on Orcas. It doesn’t matter. Here I am, held by the boat, surrounded by my family, rocked like a baby, in the bobbing waves of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

This I remember.

Be Very Well.

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Learning to Sleep Again

Kathryn at Crater Lake 2013
Sleep is the slimming, happy making, fountain of youth sort of activity. And, for some of us, it’s easily disrupted.

I’ve written about getting good sleep before, but what didn’t occur to me was how sideways I could get and not know that sleep deprivation was the culprit. I knew I hadn’t slept well in a while, but I was getting SOME sleep. It all started with the Flu a month or so ago, then I just kept feeling bad. I thought it was some secondary issue. You know how I figured this out? One night I went to bed feeling vaguely crappy and I didn’t wake up until the morning and I woke feeling decidedly happy!

Some of my symptoms:

Depressed, flat, tired, and yes – seriously whiney
Irritable, aggressive
Unable to concentrate
Emotional, weepy
Weight gain
Old and negative

Some ways I make sure I sleep well:

Eat 4 – 5 small meals of protein and veggies with just a little quality grain like quinoa or millet and add some quality fat like avocado.
Ridiculously reduce sugar, caffeine, alcohol and refined foods.
Before bed, take a hot bath in the evening.
Drink a relaxing herbal tea before bed with herbs like mugwart, skullcap, valerian, chamomile.
Get vigorous outdoor exercise. I love to cycle.
Do vigorous yoga in the morning.
Practice gentle yoga in the evening.
Meditate to relax and stem obsessive thinking.
Journal with honesty and candor.
Take responsibility for your part.
Stay well hydrated until an hour an a half before bed.
Use self hypnosis with positive suggestions.
Kick your child out of your bed, no matter how cute she is.
A friend of mine swears making love is the answer.
Reduce stress: make those hard decisions and let go.
And, you got it: Love like crazy!

Sweetest dreams dear ones!
Love, Kathryn

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Holiday Traditions that Satisfy

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We: my friend Lauren, her mom Leanne and I, and all our children, were sitting at the dinner table at Awbry Glen last night, enjoying our Grateful Feast. We looked out at the mountains, and ate with delighted sighs and descriptions of the delicious variety of beautiful food, we each chose to bring back to the table. “Did you try the salmon cakes?” Leanne asked. “I love braised turkey legs,” Lauren said. “Mama, I want a chocolate covered strawberry,” little three year-old Maesha lamented, eyeing my daughter Sarah’s plate. Ellis suggested maybe next year we could include another boy, since he was the only one at the table. Sarah, not to be outdone thought one more girl would made the mix even better.

As we adults glanced around the room, we wondered about the other lucky souls celebrating in the dining room. We wondered: How do people decide to go out to dinner on Thanksgiving? We rolled around the idea of traditions: we pondered celebrating the inherited versions learned as children; then we thought about how some of us find ourselves going through burdensome motions that no longer hold meaning; then we came up with the idea of creating new traditions, possibly like going out to a buffet on Thanksgiving.

I do love to cook. So does Lauren. I love the party at my house, and she’s a community making goddess. And, I actually totally dig leftovers and do that crazy stuff like make turkey vegetable soup, and deep dish pot pie with flaky homemade crust.

Who knows what we’ll do next year? Buffets are such fun, maybe this is our new tradition. Maybe turkey pot pie and mountains of stuffing can be the new president’s day celebration.

Be Very Well. (And Very Free to choose your own traditions.)

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Chestnut Breakfast in Bed – Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


These were fantastic. After scoring an “x” on their shell/skins, I roasted these farm fresh little babies in a 425 degree oven, for ten to fifteen minutes or until the fire alarm goes off, whichever comes first.

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Truly Lovely Squash

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The last sunny, warm day here in Central Oregon, I took a little jaunt up to the pumpkin patch in Terrebonne. My daughter Sarah and I frolicked with the stinky farm animals; played on dusty hay bales; and brought home a couple of colorful varieties of exotic (at least to me) squash. When choosing a squash, I tend to pick out ones that are heavy for their size; have slick, shiny skins; and have charming, knarled stems. It’s my pumpkin. I choose what I want to. (And I’m sure the attractiveness of the stem makes all the difference in taste.)

I usually choose squash that cook up dark orange for my eyes; sweet for my palate; and fragrantly floral for my nose–just what I like.

After I cooked up one of these lovely little ladies, I proceeded to make a spicy Thai squash soup richened with coconut milk; a honeyed squash torte with a nutty crust; and plain old warm squash with a little butter and raw honey. Life is delicious here!

I have noticed, that depending where I buy my groceries, there seems to be a difference in quality and freshness. Freshness seems like it would have a positive affect on my health and add to the delicious factor of my food. Also, when something is fresh from the farm, it needs hardly any preparation to be delicious, so that could theoretically, even save me time! I’ve started shopping at Locavore here in Bend, and also getting deliveries from Redtail Farms. A whole other world has opened to me!

This thanksgiving, or even this very day, I encourage you to veer from your canned pumpkin and butternut squash road, and drive on over to a variety of squash you haven’t experienced before. Just bake the thing for an hour, or an hour and a half, until a fork prick indicates tender doneness, then just use it in any of your recipes that call for pumpkin.

Life is short: experiment!

Be Very Well,

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Eek! What Is That In My Kombucha?


You’ve have heard me talk about Kombucha, right? I’ve mentioned how good it is for you with it’s complex probiotics, beautiful acids and phytonutrients. Say yes. I’ve also mentioned that it’s got a little alcohol and a bit a residual caffeine, right? So, lots of people think the drink is pretty darned cool. For me, the stuff leaves me feeling wickedly fantastic.

It’s also fun to brew. I just really enjoy the whole experience: making the sweetened tea; deciding WHICH tea to use; telling the organism it’s a “good SCOBY”; then bottling and bottle fermenting. And, through the year and a half of brewing, I’ve honed my own particular version, finding the perfect blend, lacing it with flavors, and enhancing it with matcha tea powder.

Now, one part of kombucha is an acquired taste: SCOBYs grow in the bottles. They do. Those guys just reproduce like vermin. You ever throwing back a gorgeous brew, and get a mouthful of gelatinous goo?

Well, the other day I was baking and needed just a yolk. So, I got the soon to be delectable baked morsel, in the oven, and I reach for what I THOUGHT was my glass of Kombucha. I filled my mouth with a giant swig, and then think, something’s not right. I didn’t swallow. I think, Darn, this little glass has got a GIANT SCOBY! I move it around in my mouth. I look at the glass. I look at the confection baking in the oven, then, I remember: The left over egg white! Eek!

Spew! Out it went in the sink.

I know what you’re thinking, but really not every egg has salmonella. Not even close. Eggs are WAY safer than you think, especially organic ones, but me, I’m used to being afraid of them. So, I did what most of us would have done: let it fly out of my mouth.

I wipe my lips with the back of my hand, and toss the rest of the egg white.

Ah, well. I poured myself a real glass of ‘buch and raised it up to the light, shrugged, and drew in a delicious, sweet, acid-y mouthful. I gurgled air through it like a sommelier, and swallowed.

It’s all good. Very good.

Be Very Well.

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Thanks Bob, for Telling Mesothelioma to Get Out of Town

Meditating by the Madrona on Orcas Island

Today, as I was whirling up some leafy green stuff in my food processor, I began to think of that day, when my ex-husband called. That was just a little over eleven years ago.

“You’d better sit down. I have something to tell you.”

Yeah, it wasn’t what you might think. It was worse. I sat down.

“I have mesothelioma,” he said. He told me that this wretched cancer was a killer, with a nearly 100% mortality rate. My daughter’s daddy was diagnosed with this disease in 2002. It looked hopeless, with the road to the merest possibility of recovery, a gut-wrenching, painful, chemical laden, massive surgical undertaking. Bob wanted to give up. He was forty-two then. Our daughter Liss, was nine.

I was shocked, then scared, and finally mad, all in the span of about a minute and a half. “You just look in her eyes, and tell her you’re leaving,” I dared him.

He sighed. He told me all he would have to do. I countered with how important he was, that she needed him. He agreed to try.

The disease had been developing a long time, probably twenty years or more, since he was in his early twenties, when he was exposed to asbestos as a mechanic, while under a grimy car, servicing the brakes.

He qualified for experimental chemo, because his survival was unlikely. (The drug used to treat Bob, is now being used in cancer treatment.) He was also treated with a form of radiation called Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, then had a pneumonectomy (the entire affected lung removed) as well as the removal of a portion of the pericardium (the lining of heart). After more than a year a various treatments, totaling nearly a million dollars, he lived. He has one lung. He does pretty well, but his life is definitely different than it was before.

Bob doesn’t work. He gets tired easily. He takes longer to recover from illnesses. He just can’t do some things he used to do. A while back, he helped me move a small table, just across the garage. After we set it down, he leaned on the table, ghostly pale, gulping in ragged breaths. Then he smiled, trying to reassure me, telling me he’d be alright in just a minute. Even with those limitations, he’s made a new life for himself. He watched his elementary aged daughter grow into a beautiful, young woman.

Our daughter Liss turned twenty this year. She’s in college and engaged to be married. She navigated her childhood, with her Daddy and I raising her, with him video taping her choir concerts, with she and him running a sound board together, in their local church. Liss, her dad and her grandparents took a Disney Caribbean cruise a few years back. Today she is happy, simply grateful for every year she has had with her dad. And, he has fun on his own too.

He has this hot red sports car. A Nissan GTR. He takes the searing, barely-street-legal thing to the track, and drives it like a man with new lease on life. He records music in his dream sound studio, located in his home. He is connected in his church community. He likes to help people. He’s one of those guys who can fix anything. With a brush of his hands and a nod of his head, he’ll fix you right up.

Every year he gets a CAT (Computerized Tomography) scan, and twice he’s gotten something called a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan, an imaging tool used to take a gander at the lungs. So far, all scans have come back clear. So far, so good.

Thanks Bob, for hanging in there. For deciding to stay, and to keep living, and to keep loving, when it would have been easier to leave. I look forward to seeing you walk Liss down the aisle, and also snapping a photo of you holding your grandchild.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day is September 26th, right before Bob turns fifty-four.

The link below is from a fellow health conscious blogger, in case you want to know more about this disease.

Be Very Well,

P.S. Bob’s story is in no way typical. According the Pleural Mesothelioma Center 10.5% of those diagnosed with mesothelioma live more than three years. 6.4% live beyond five years. I could find no statistic for survival beyond ten years. There are of course many contributing factors such as age, general health and at what stage the cancer is found. Bob found his cancer at stage one. He had another illness, that allowed for the early discovery.

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