It’s time for funky

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring is finally here. We have color in the yard. I’ve been waiting.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!

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Beauteous. My father called them “weeds.”
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The first of many to bloom. See that hedge back there? All Rhodies.
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Our beautiful Vinca
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Oops…how did that get in here?! (To be truthful, winter was SO long this year…I’ll take any color.)
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Began with cleaning up my greenhouse. Those weeds below are GONE!
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And look what I found. Hundreds of them, on both sides. They come inside and even though the door is open–in fact, there is no door–they can’t get out (or choose not to).
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Signs of activity, then and now. The favorite tree for Woodpeckers.
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Yep, part of my trail. It was worse.
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Aging green houses, and part of my coveted trail.
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Guess who with her favorite tree?
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Only ONE of our green houses took a hit in Portland’s recent wind storm. One.

And, the best for last. Can you tell what this is?

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These were just the ticket, the boost I needed, to get back outside. They are parked safely inside the kitchen door, ready for me at a moment’s notice. They bring out the funky in me. It’s been a very long winter, but I’m ready to get my fingers dirty.

If you can’t find me, I’ll be out back. 😉

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”

~ Robin Williams

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Can you say cheeeeeeese?

Thaw Rhodes loaves the night before, spray first and cover.

Unless caught in time, there may be leakage.


Next, prepare the egg mixture that is brushed on the dough.

  • Eggs–two per loaf.
  • Parmesan cheese–roughly 3/4 cup per loaf.
  • Oregano–usually one teaspoon per loaf.

Mix well and set aside.

Next, slice cheeeeeeeeses of your choice. Here, I used provolone, Colby, and pepper jack. This can vary in both type and amount. I’ve also made this without pepperoni, turned it into a cheesy herb bread. I prefer it with pepperoni, but either way is delicious.

I try to have the egg mix, the sliced cheese, and the pepperoni ready BEFORE I roll out the dough. It’s quite elastic and tends to shrink back in. If all is ready, it can be put together and rolled in short time. The cheese can be shred, but it’s not necessary.

Roll dough into a rectangle, and shoot for 12″ by 15″ if you can get it that large. It should be large but not overly thin.

pepperoni-bread-3Next, roll and seal the edges. It will expand substantially and I like it to stay on the baking sheet. I roll from right to left, side to side, not from top to bottom, to make a shorter loaf.

Edges are sealed underneath and the opening is on the bottom.

pepperoni-bread-8I use separate baking sheets because the dough may rise in an unpredictable manner. The leaves don’t need to be that friendly. You’ll thank me later. I then let both sheets rise side by side in the oven on the top shelf, over a metal pan half full of boiling water. This works well. I let them rise until doubled in size, usually an hour.

I bake each loaf alone. If they are baked at the same time, the edges cook faster at this high heat and the final result is less desirable. The only problem I’ve encountered here is that my family has devoured the first loaf before the second is ready and they have to wait.

Cover with foil and bake at 425 for ~ 30 minutes. Just try to let it cool–I bet you can’t–before you enjoy! 🙂

Pepperoni bread


I promise, no one will care. If there are children  adults  neighbors  people around, anything you’ve sliced will be gone before you’ve finished cutting the loaf. Once I began slicing, they vanished. I have no pictures of any cut slices.


“When my ship comes in…”

…it’s going to have diamonds, rubies, and emeralds….” I’d tell my mother, according to my childhood fantasy. Beyond that, there is a certain image I attach to my ship. But, I’ll get back to that.

When I was young, When My Ship Comes In is a game my mother played with us. There were plenty of card and board games, but this was one of my favorites. Mom’s eyes would light up and she’d start by saying, “When my ship comes in, it’s going to have….” and then list all the things she would love to have. Then it was our turn, and we’d tell her what our ship was going to contain.

It was always fun to hear what would arrive on someone else’s ship. Sometimes it was kittens and puppies. Other times it was chocolate bars, pickles, or some load of silliness. Beyond that, it called for imagination, a slice of fantasy, for what may come. I suppose it helped me to envision the future, that there was one. It gave me a sense of possibility, that one never knows what life will bring. The sense of surprise was delightful.

My daughter works in a grade school where, lately, each day is a challenge. She’s been  placed in charge of a young student whose home life has been disrupted. We’ll call said student Quinn, a non-gender specific name. From what we can gather, Quinn sleeps on a couch (does not have a personal bed). There appears to be no regular bed time, nutrition appears to be a non-issue, and the food that does come from home is sugar-laden, processed, or both. Quinn arrives each day with bags under the eyes, and has enormous trouble focusing. Flying off the handle and yelling and screaming are the norm. Having said that, there has been no diagnosis of any condition; therefore, there are no “services.” Attempts at academics have fizzled; Quinn is not allowed to sit among the other children due to disruptive behavior. A typical activity is throwing other children’s lunches on the ground, stealing items from a teacher’s desk, running out of class, throwing items at teachers and staff, breaking anything in sight. Quinn destroys; others clean up after.

Maybe due to school policy, personal preference, or just getting through the day, it has been left to my daughter to hold Quinn accountable. No one else makes Quinn say please and thank you or right a wrong; indeed, others walk away (for whatever reason). My daughter is the only one setting boundaries.

When the family is called to retrieve Quinn it’s often at the beginning of the day: it can be at zero minutes in class to an hour or more. Currently, Quinn is allowed in school only three hours on any given day unless a full week passes without incident. If so, more time for the following week is earned. This has yet to happen.

I sigh, and recall fondly a mother who played games with us, someone who genuinely cared and wanted to spend time with us. We were well fed, clothed, and loved, every single day.

ship-big-photo-dot-com-freeWhen I remember that game we played long ago, I recall my ship out at sea, slowly making its way to shore. It was filled with goodies just for me. The images I associate with my ship–and mom’s for that matter–are all of a certain type:



big-photo-dot-com-freeThe type of ship in my childhood fantasy was irrelevant; I recall images with still waters, clear skies, the bluest of sunny skies, and very little wind. It was calm. Peaceful. Serene. Beautiful.

What I did not imagine was this:




immigrant-voyage-dot-comNever did my ship have to navigate dark skies, rolling waves, rough waters and the threat of death in a stormy sea. My ship sailed in still waters.

I imagine Quinn must feel tossed about on a regular basis.

  • There are no rules.
  • There are no boundaries.
  • There is improper nutrition.
  • It appears there is a diet of sugar and processed food.
  • There are no friends in Quinn’s world.
  • There is no discipline.
  • This child appears to be neglected (and is acting out for attention).

Did I mention Quinn is six years old? My heart breaks for this child (and mine who is tested to her limit every day and comes home exhausted). None of what I’ve described is Quinn’s fault; indeed, it appears to be a breakdown of the family unit. Mother is young and distracted, father is absent, grandpa picks up Quinn and helps when he can, mother’s boyfriend does what he can. It truly breaks my heart.

I lunched this past week with a college friend, a retired teacher who’d been in the system for over 30 years. As I described my daughter’s job, my friend looked at me squarely and said, “You’d be surprised how many Quinns there are.” I feel for teachers as well whose hands are tied.

Now, when I think back on my long ago childhood game with my mother, and as I recall her bright eyes at the start of our game, I create a new list for my ship.

When my ship comes in, I want it to head for Quinn’s harbor. I want it to have games, play dates, friends, and sleep overs. I want it to include special time with mom, dad, and grandparents. I want there to be vacations and holidays, filled with togetherness and love. I wish there to be nutritious meals, every single day. I wish for regular sleep, so the next day can be met with sufficient energy to learn and grow. I wish that the adults in Quinn’s life realize what this child is in need of and be able to meet that need. More than anything: I wish for Quinn to have barrels of time and attention and love.


I wish for the gift of time so that one day, Quinn can look back on the early days and recall a mother/father/aunt/uncle/grandparent who took the time, who made time, because nothing is worth more to our future than a child.

What’s on your ship?

Featured Image: Big photo dot com. Others: Internet, free images.

Bare Naked

I woke today in need of a really good chuckle. A belly laugh would be best. I searched my archives and found the following:


Did it work? It perfectly captured my sentiments. After this week I’m feeling old, rusty, and a bit saggy. I mean my brain, but still…I’m feeling rather exposed.

I started a new adventure and I’m not sure whether I’ve bit off more than I can chew (pun intended!). I told you about my new adventure last week; I began as a volunteer dental hygiene instructor at a community college. You can read about that here if you like. I now have a full two days under my belt. TWO DAYS, and…does anyone know where I can order a portable oxygen tank?

My role (newly defined as of yesterday morning) includes BEING BACK IN THE MOUTH. Yikes! Not only am I allowed in the mouth, I may help with instrumentation and placing films for the full series (18 individual films), a pano (where the machine goes around your head), 0r bite wings (the 4 you bite on at your re-care appointment). As a volunteer I may not grade them–Thank the plaque Gods above!–but I am allowed to dive in and help if needed. My biggest concern is my back; this is why I hung up my scalers a year ago.

Well, I dove, and, while there were a few retakes in radiology, now I know their system and what the lead instructor expects. I stood directly behind her as she assessed the full mouth series I helped a student take and I learned those expectations. In the real world as you may guess, it’s a whole new ball game, and the doctor may want a specific angle or just the root tip on a certain film. Here, in school right now, the expectations are different–indeed the bar is higher and slightly different–exactly how it should be. Now is the time to perfect the basics. Later, they may use the tricks I am showing them now.

  • My sudden “ah, ha” moment: Part of my role is I am there to help them think. They are learning one technique, but I bring years of experience. It’s all good.
  • My new revelation? In spite of last week’s experience in radiology, I LOVED BEING THERE THIS WEEK. I was shocked, but I ENJOYED HELPING THEM PLACE FILMS. Maybe they’ll let me park myself back there and mainly help in radiology. I would LOVE that.

As I left the clinic last evening and began my drive home, I felt shaky. Rusty. A complete and incompetent outsider. I felt so alone! That was eventually countered by feelings of, “But, Karen, this is your thing!” and “You KNOW this!” and “You’re being FAR too hard on yourself,” and “You need to chill, woman!”

There were some very nice moments from yesterday:

  • I was greeted with warm student smiles on my second day in clinic.
  • Out of the blue, a student thanked me for donating my time on Fridays.
  • Another thanked me for helping her use the ultrasonic scaler in a tough spot in the posterior teeth.
  • An instructor and I had a very nice chat about hygienists, our level of education, how our profession has been held back in several ways, what obstacles lie ahead. This is big as we are not self-regulated; we are regulated by dentists and one of the very few health professions not self-regulated).
  • I shared my experience with the same instructor about trying to bridge Oral Health and Gerontology with those in my master’s program (who were not overly receptive at the time). She stated an article needs to be written about this.

As I continued to drive, the next thing was, “How would YOU feel were you a student now?”  Well, since I can’t grade them, and since they don’t know me yet, I sense they’re holding back from asking for my help. I get that, and I might do the same thing were I in their place. What I’ve done is PUSH MYSELF to start talking with them, ask them about their day, what’s on their schedule, and how it went with their last patient. I need to earn their trust.

And, do you know how UNCOMFORTABLE that is for me? Holy Buckets! This is NOT my default setting. It feels as though I am naked, that the 20 students, the five hygiene instructors, and the one dentist are staring at me (never mind talking about me when I’m not looking). Sigh….

“If the door closes, quit banging on it! Whatever was behind it, wasn’t meant for you. Consider the fact that maybe the door was closed because you were worth so much more than what was on the other side.”

~ Author Unknown

While I can’t say that I know volunteering here is meant for me, or that what I’ve left behind (private practice) is behind me permanently, I can say I need to push forward, difficult as that may be. I simply don’t know what’s in store. And that feels like I’m teetering, bare naked, high on a cliff….

I know you tried. 🙂

And, today is a new day. I’ve slept well and feel much better after I’ve had a chance to rest my battered brain. It’s a great feeling to tackle a new day. That feeling was only enhanced by the following post when I opened up my Reader.

I saw this from my friend Carola at her blog My Dear Yellow World. The post is called “Go deep. You are not alone” (accessed here, and oozes with positive affirmations. It is worth the read. Here is her first paragraph:

“I´ll never be content with the surface of things. So often we hold ourselves from going deep because we are scared it may be more than we can handle or worry what people might think. But we will grow so much more from it. Exposing our hearts is not weakness. It´s bravery. It´s authenticity. It´s love.”

And the last:

“You are my people. I see you. I believe in you. So tell me anything. Tell me everything. I am not in this world to make small talk. Talk real to me. I am here for you. I want to be a reminder that it is okay to share what you are feeling inside. Your voice is needed and it matters. A lot. 💛

How fabulous is that?

As the day wore on and as I reflected on yesterday, I relaxed after re-reading Carola’s words of affirmation, her request to share, her knowledge we are not alone as I’d been feeling. This is what blogging is all about. Thank you. It is the push I need right now.


❤ I feel a little less exposed. ❤