A to do list that is never done

I have chosen to work in a field where the To-do list never gets completed. Individual items come and go but there is ALWAYS some project underway. I first came to understand this while dissertating last year. You write ALL year on one big paper. And, even when it is done,.it must be formatted, submitted for graduation, and then chopped into publications for the masses to consume. Even when you are "done" with those publications (years later) there is already another giant project (or 3) on your desk. So, this morning I awoke, got dressed for work, and made some fat free hot chocolate while I read the morning blog posts on Google Reader. I found this from Donald Miller (Check him out at http://donmilleris.com/) and while I am still processing his thought, it is definitely worth of sharing.

A Creator Finds a Rhythm and Loves the Rhythm

So if the work you are creating demands completion before you can find fulfillment, it’s doubtful the creation will be finished, and perhaps more doubtful it will be any good when it’s done. You’ll labor through it, pushing it up a hill like a broken cart. But if you can love the actual work, not the finished product, you’re on to something. If you have a rhythm, if you get up every morning and work for a few hours, and you like the getting up and the work, and you don’t think about how great it will be when it’s done, but rather how great it is every day that you get to get up and do the work, your creation will be tremendous. Don’t think about the finished product. Stop rewarding yourself with something that doesn’t exist, and may never exist. Instead, think about how delightful it is you get to do this, you get to make this, and how delightful it will be to get up and do it again tomorrow.


Come and See Me

I am pretty excited. I got a new "big girl bed" this weekend! Friday night my coworker (who had to borrow a truck from a different coworker) met me at Costco (he has a membership, I don't) so I could get the mattress and boxspring. He even helped me get them inside my apartment - which is half the challenge when you have a back like mine.

You should also know that I have been hunting a headboard for months (I am not exaggerating for blogging effect - it's been months). I knew I was getting a queen size bed and I wanted something that matched my current furniture. This furniture, mind you, was my mother's when she was a child (and her older siblings had it first). The new stuff wouldn't match because it is too "shiny" to look like my approximately 60 year old dresser, chest of drawers and nightstand. So, I went to used furniture stores and checked Craigslist regularly.

Today was the day. I logged on searched "queen frame" and the first entry (posted today) was perfect. It was the right color and the right price. I called and left a message which was returned 10 minutes later. She rounded up her husband and truck and brought it to me an hour later! 

It may take just a little tweaking before its perfect (it is assembled, but I am not certain it's correct), but the color match is amazing and it fits the space perfectly. 

That means my guest room is officially open for business! My old full size bed (which sleeps phenomenally) was bumped into the guest room (AKA: the Ulmer Suite)! I got a new headboard for it a few months ago (this one came in the mail from Overstock.com).  I love the little porcupine and owl.

I also repainted a $10 Craigslist shelving unit and the guest room is ready for your arrival. And, with that curtain, you can sleep til noon to get over the jet lag :-) Come and see me!


The Falls

Last week I got to make the trek to Hood River to supervise a student teacher. I was able to stop and see Multnomah Falls. A few tidbits about the falls:
  • The falls are 620 feet tall with the top tier dropping 542 ft and the second tier dropping another 69 ft. 
  • They are the world's second largest year round waterfall (according to the sign)
  • It's one of 77 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge (Source)
  • Part way up you find Benson Bridge... The bridge is named for Simon Benson, a prominent Portland businessman who owned the falls in the early part of the 1900s. Before his death, Benson gave Multnomah Falls to the City of Portland, which later transferred ownership to the USDA Forest Service. (Source
  • The bridge is 45 feet across and 105 feet above the ground providing for an amazing (read: knee wobbling) view. I am willing to go on it, but I need someone's hand to hold... and more than 20 minutes to spend.
Note: If you click on the pictures, they should open bigger and then you might actually be able to read the sign.

 This is the view from the parking lot... which is actually located between the east and westbound lanes of I-84. I have seen it driving by, but this was my first stop.

I talked a nice lady into taking my picture so you get a rare blog appearance from me :-)

And once again, I was impressed by all the green... on the rocks, on the trees, everywhere!

I stepped back so I could take one good picture from the viewing area... this has the falls from top to bottom.

There is a Union Pacific sign on the train tressel nearby to indicate the location of nearby towns.

What goes on in the head of a student teacher?

In a moment of random thought this morning, I copied and pasted our student teacher's journals into Wordle so I could see in a quick glance what they were talking about this week. Their number one word: Students. It's nice to see words like "great", "good", and "well" still showing up so big (size indicates frequency of occurrence in Wordle). It is also obvious a number of them are still teaching units on parliamentary procedure and public speaking. I look forward to seeing them all tomorrow!


A Million Miles in 1,000 Years

I am in a book club. I know... but I have to have something to fill ALL the spare time I have (said sarcastically). But, I love to read and I find it fascinating to see how multiple people process the same book. This month we read Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It's non-fiction (which I have to be in a mood for) and tells Miller's story of turning his memoir into a movie and, along the way, trying to tell a better story with his life.

I don't know if I loved it, but there were blurbs that definitely reached a deeper place. Let me share one...

"I saw a story on 60 minutes a few months ago about the happiest country in the world. It was Denmark. A study done by a British university ranked the happiest countries, and America was far down the list, but Denmark was on top. Morley Safer explored why. Ruling out financial status, physical health, and even social freedom, he landed on a single characteristic of the Danes that allowed them such contentment....they had low expectations.

I am not making that up. There is something in Denmark's culture that allows them to look at life realistically. They don't expect products to fulfill them or relationships  to end all their problems. In fact, in the final interview of the segment, Safer was sitting across from a Danish man and remarked to him that when Americans find out the happiest place on Earth is Denmark, they are going to want to move there. Without missing  a beat, the Danish man looked at Morley and said , "Well, honestly, the will probably be let down.""

I read this on Sunday evening. I had spent the previous Friday evening on the phone with my mother talking about the pace of my current job and how, with that pace, I don't feel like I am doing anything to a level of quality I am proud of. She gently reminded me that sometimes good enough is just that: good enough. And then, in that way only mothers have, she said, "Misty, perhaps nothing needs to change about the job. Perhaps your expectations need to change." Two days later, as I laid on my couch reading Miller's book, the pieces clicked into place so loudly, it was deafening. For a bright girl, I swear God sometimes has to push extra hard to make me see things. It's about my expectations..... hmmmm?

Wordless Wednesdays

Other peoples ability to capture an image leaves me speechless... Enjoy Crater Lake Oregon!


A Fall Playhouse Project

Let me set the stage: It was fall and I had moved to a new town and spent most every evening and weekend at home. The dissertation/PhD process had suppressed every last ounce of creative ability I thought I once had. I needed a project - something to occupy my time and allow me to be non-academic. Christmas was coming and I saw a friend's Facebook profile pictures of a felt cardtable playhouse. The idea was born to make this playhouse for my niece, Emily. I looked up the plans on Etsy. Seriously, what 2 year old wouldn't love to have one of these?

Perhaps I was being a bit ambitious. When I got the plans, the packet was 49 pages long!

So, I bought the stuff... a card table to build it around and lots and lots of felt. Oh, and clear thread, cutting mat and fusing paper for patterning. It slowly took over the living room. 

I spent the first few weekends making patterns, ironing them on and cutting them out. This, I could do in front of football. Seriously, from 9am-9pm on Saturdays it was me, football, the iron, sewing machine and tons of felt. 

The pieces were finally starting to come together....

but there were more than 100 pieces to make.

Finally, one side almost done.

Once, I had all 4 sides sown separately, I sewed them together. It was now 28 inches tall, but around 140 inches long!. This is the point where it got a little annoying to handle. 

So, lets see each side individually. This side is an owl on a fence and a fruit tree - complete with removable Velcro backed fruit that she can pick and put into the basket. The tree trunk is fuzzy and the basket is 3-D, complete with ribbon on the handle.. 

This side has some birds, a butterfly and a working window you can look out. The pattern included instructions for curtains, but with the purple felt, it's pretty dark inside so I left the curtains off.

This side also has a window and, as I would later find out, this window is big enough to get her head through. That was easily one of her favorite things... peek-a-boo out the window. The watering can detaches so you can "water" the flowers! And, there is a bee and some puppies to decorate.

The front includes a kitty, a flower pot, a porch light, and a working mailbox. The door (complete with windows) opens from the corner. I also put grandma's address above the door.

I took it home with me when I traveled home unexpectedly October 30th for my dad to have heart bypass surgery. I needed my mom to help me put the roof on. It happened to be Halloween weekend and, since no two year old will later remember the difference between Halloween or Christmas 2010, I went ahead and gave it to her. I did not use a card table, because, it turns out she is taller than 28 inches. So, my dad help me construct a PVC frame with non slip feet with legs that unscrew for easy flat storage. She is standing up inside the house in this picture... and since I didn't use a card table, she didn't bonk her head!

She LOVED it... and that made Aunt Misty happy!


When I grow up...

I have been thinking a lot about adulthood. When am I a grown up? I know, I know. I have hit a lot of those milestones that would indicate I am grown: I live 3,000 miles from home. I can vote. I can drive a car. I have three college degrees. I rent an apartment and pay my own bills. Heck, I am 31 years old.

But I don't feel like an adult. But maybe I just don't think I know what being an adult feels like. These thoughts are always in the back of my head, but came to the forefront a few weeks ago during a Grad and Career discussion of adulthood in the church. I think I live the life of an adult (most of the time). And, when I catch myself doing things that I don't think an adult would do, I begin to struggle with these questions all over again. For example, I was driving a state car to supervise a student teacher (adult thing) while rocking out to 'Baby Got Back' (not adult thing). These contrasts are pervasive in my world.

Let me share a few of minimally embarrassing examples:
I sleep until noon (on the weekends of course).
I call my mom when cooking a new recipe.
I watch reruns of the Office instead of the news.
I still have TLC, BoysIIMen, and Nine Inch Nails in my CD collection.
I shop for jewelry and choose silver hoop earrings over the pearls.
I don't buy clothes that require dry cleaning.

My parents will probably tell you I was born 40 so perhaps I don't feel like an adult because I was never really a kid. Hmmm.


The sun came out

The sun came out yesterday and, since it was the MLK holiday, I was able to go out and enjoy it. Seriously, prolonged sunshine and one of the best weather days I have experienced in Oregon since early November.

I went for a long walk around the neighborhood (without my rain gear)! I saw some great mossy/licheny photos that were better than the ones I posted last week. So, I snapped a few. Forgive the fact that they were snapped with the ol' camera phone. The most important part is that you can see the sun in some of these photos.



It's Green Even When It's Not

It is the middle of winter... and Corvallis, Oregon is still green. Don't get me wrong: as a self-professed plant geek, I love it. I expected the evergreens... fir, pine, juniper, cedar, and even the Yew. However, the rest of the green is a bit unexpected. There is moss and lichens everywhere.

I snapped a few photos as I've walked around the last couple weeks. This one is a downtown stairwell around the corner from my church.

There is also this great old tree by the library that I walk past each morning on my way to work. there are all sorts of green things growing on this one. 


Say Hi

I am constantly amazed that anyone is reading what I am writing. Seriously! If you are stopping by the blog regularly, leave me a comment and say "Hi". Or, go all in and subscribe :-)


Winter Term

When I tell people I work in Agricultural Education and General Agriculture at Oregon State University, I usually get asked the follow up question: "So, what do you do?"

Honestly, it depends on the day...but it really does depend on the term. I have only been on the job since August, so I haven't seen the rhythm of an entire year yet. I can, however, talk in broad, sweeping strokes.

Fall term I was part teacher educator/ part leadership educator. I taught two classes. First, I taught a graduate course for our student teaching cohort (future high school ag teachers) called "Laboratory Pedagogy" which covered topics related to teaching in non-classroom settings (i.e. metals lab, greenhouse, field trips). A fun 3 hours with 12 students every Monday afternoon.  I was also the instructor for the capstone course required of our General Agriculture majors. This writing intensive course came with pretty open parameters so I made it part leadership development and part career/life skills. Both classes were good experiences for me, but both classes would be thoroughly revised if I am to be the instructor again.

This winter I am part researcher/ part teacher educator. I am coordinating the seminar that our student teachers come back to OSU for every other Friday while they are out student teaching. While it means I ONLY teach every other Friday, it means I teach ALL DAY. I have a strong need to be organized so I have planned out all four seminars and all of the due dates ahead of time. Maybe that will make the term run smoothly. We'll see. I will also spend some time on the road visiting student teachers. They are scattered pretty far (see previous post for a map) and need to be visited a total of 6 times during the year. So far, two down and 4 to go for each of them. There will also be some road time to get in the second round of interviews for a grant funded study on the CASE curriculum. And the term ends with State FFA Convention during our spring break. The host site rotates each year so we are heading to Medford for this year's Convention. That is also when worksamples will roll in and need to be graded in one weekend. (We should discuss the nightmare that is WORKSAMPLES sometime, but today isn't the day.)

Spring term I will be part leadership educator.  I will be developing a new course for us called "Team and Organizational Leadership" during spring term and am excited and challenged by the idea. I will also be part conference attendee starting at the end of winter term and carrying into the summer. (That conference part was said a little tongue-in-cheek, but not really.) I have trips to Orlando (March  2-4), State Convention (March18-21), New Orleans (April 8-12), Fresno (April 20-22), Coeur D'Alene, ID (May 24-27), Hood River, OR (June 22-24) and Denver (July 10-13).

I also do advising for some of the students in the department. I also co-advise a fun bunch of college kiddos in a student organization: Collegiate FFA. I have also picked up a faculty/staff fitness class everyday (weightlifting 2 days a week and water aerobics 3 days a week), grad and career group on Tuesday nights (with some other G&C fun stuff mixed in on Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday mornings during the term), a Tribe for Dox meeting on Thursday evenings, Weight watchers meetings once a week, and a WIC (Writing Intensive Course) seminar for the next five Tuesdays.

That's what I do. And, I gotta say, it makes me a little tired to think about it all. I'm gonna take a nap now.


Living in the Window

I am living in a window. 

I had a back surgery in July 2003. Yup, at 24. I wish it was a cool story, but I didn't do anything grand. I was working at a garden center during my masters program and picked something up wrong. It hurt all spring and through the summer. I went to a chiropractor. I babied it and it got some better. Then I bought a house. I moved things in and when I woke up the next day, I couldn't feel my right leg. At all. After rounds of doctor visits and an MRI, it was decided surgery was my only option. When I had it done, Dr. Nitka said "I give it 1-3 years before you are having another surgery. That's just how these types of injuries work." I didn't really believe him. I had the surgery, took a couple weeks off work (with some of the best colleagues I will ever work with picking up the slack -thanks guys!) and figured I could work hard and be vigilant about protecting my back and all would be okay.

I had another back surgery in October 2007. (If you are quick with the math you will see he was right on... 3 years). Didn't do anything crazy this time either. Went for a hike in Rock Bridge State Park on Labor Day and woke up the next day with shooting pain and no feeling in my leg. Dang! We tried to avoid surgery this time, too. I did it all. Steroids. Physical therapy. A nerve block procedure. Nothing worked and it was decided I needed surgery. This surgeon gave me options: I could do another small procedure and be back in 1-3 years or I could remove that disc, and fuse my two vertebrae, buying myself 3-10 years. After a whole lot of discussion, it was decided to fuse. (I was just beginning a 3 year PhD program and the thought of having another surgery during that was definitely a motivating factor). So I did it. Four screws and two rods holding L4-L5 together, with six days in the hospital, a month at Amy's house and two years of not feeling like myself at all (I put on 40 lbs and was both depressed and fairly miserable). I got over it. I am losing the weight and starting to feel like my old self. 

The surgeon who did the second surgery guaranteed me two things: 1) I would not longer have any issues with the L4-5 disc (because he took it out!) and 2) I would have an issue with the next disc above or the disc below and be back on the operating table in 3-10 years. Again, if you are quick with the math, you can see what I mean when I say "I am living in a window". I have passed the 3 year mark. It is a waiting game.


Dancing Queen

I mentioned that I went to my niece D's dance recital while I was home. I wasn't planning on videoing, but we were so far in the back that still shots wouldn't work. So the video doesn't start at the beginning. Sorry. Bad auntie! FYI: She is the super skinny one.... at the beginning of the video you can't see her for the boy, but for most of the video she is on the far left of your screen on the middle row. Enjoy :-)


Happy and Sad

The holidays are over. My vacation back home has come and gone. The winter term has begun. And that all makes me happy. And sad.

I had a great time at home.
We celebrated KatieBug turning one.

I got to see Desiree dance in her first dance recital. I had dinner with my college roommate Leigh and her husband Cord (I never get to do this enough!). I hung out with "the boy" and got to meet his family. I celebrated Christmas and ate a phenomenal dinner with the family. I ate out a LOT (Stag and Doe (x2), Floyd's, Bojangles (x3), No Name Pizza, Gary's, Royal James, Chic-Fil-A, Porky's, The Spot...see that's a lot). I watched A LOT of football. I went for walks with dad. I rang in the New Year with the whole gang around a backyard fire. I got to shop and get a pedicure with my mom. I played with the nieces and nephews. I got to see snow (on Christmas day)!  We grilled out with that snow still on the ground. Check out the snowman my niece Emily made with my brother.

It is weird living this bi-coastal (almost double) life. On the one coast, I am a daughter and friend and aunt and sister. There are always people around and something non-work related to do. It's great and so easy to fall back into those roles. One the other coast, I am a friend, a member of some groups, a health nut, and a professional. I go home to my empty apartment and eat dinner alone.

I have decided I am a true "grass is always greener" person. When I am in NC with family and living out of a suitcase, I appreciate all of the people and things to do, but I crave peace and quiet... and to be in my own space with my own things. When I am in my apartment in Corvallis, I appreciate the peace and routine, but I crave all the people I have left behind. I spent the whole break craving the productivity of sitting behind my desk and checking things off of the ol' to do list... and as I sit behind my desk working, I choke back tears for the people I have left behind.

See: Happy and sad.