Helping flooded schools in Louisiana

The devastation brought about by the flooding in Louisiana is almost too much to contemplate. Earlier this week, I heard a school librarian interviewed on NPR, and thought about offering him some books, but then couldn't find the story when I went to the NPR website. This morning a couple of people brought a post to my attention. A middle school was asking for books to replace those they lost - and three of the titles were mine! I just boxed up 15 copies of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die and 15 copies of The Body in the Woods to send them. Sure, it's a drop in the bucket compared to an ocean of need, but I'm still happy to be doing something. If you would like to help, see: or
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Llamas - 10 years later!

The local news just closed with a llama story.  It wasn't even a local story.  And the llamas didn't crash the wedding - there was a llama show next to a wedding.  Most of the local news anymore is made up of anything with interesting photos or videos. Not actual news.

For years, the word llama has made me laugh.

Almost exactly ten years ago, I posted this:
My husband is watching the 10 pm news. I've given up watching the TV news and now just listen to NPR when I'm driving or making dinner.

The announcer just said, "When we come back, learn why this llama paid a visit to a group of senior citizens." The B-roll showed a brown wooly llama, wearing a harness, nuzzling a confused eldery woman as she sat on a couch. And this was only 15 minutes into the program, when they should still be doing some hard news. They hadn't even talked about the Middle East yet.

Which reminds me...

A few months ago, my brother called me to tell me about his day. He sells farm equipment. He had gone into a barn trying to find a farmer, when he heard an unearthly groaning from a corner of the barn. It was two llamas, mating.

He told me a little more than I really wanted to know about llamas mating, esp. since he's my brother. There's something off-putting about discussing llama sex with a blood relative. Or, in this case, listening to a one-sided story.

Later, I was telling my husband about it. As I spoke, his expression went from disgust to pure horror.

It turned out he thought I said, "It was mama, mating." He thought my brother had stumbled across my mom, mating with some farmer in a barn.

Even for a girl from Southern Oregon, that would be a hair-raising story. For two weeks, if I needed a laugh, all I had to do was think of his face before I told him what my brother had actually seen.

From Cooking Light to Brazilian Jiujitsu - thanks to the lady who invented Step Aerobics

I got asked the other day how I got into BJJ.  I'm 20-30 years older than most of the folks I roll with, and most of them are men.

So I tried to trace it back.  And then I remembered!  When I was still working at Kaiser Permanente, Cooking LIght asked readers if any of them wanted Gin Miller, the lady who created Step Aerobics, to design a workout for them.  I'm sure a lot of people volunteered, but I got super lucky and got picked!

She designed a boxing workout and Cooking LIght even sent me a pair of bright pink boxing gloves and handwraps. I liked it. It was hard! You can do it yourself!

And then my gym offered a kickboxing class, and I took it.  The instructor was a black belt in kajukenbo, and he asked if we would be interesred in learning it. It's a mixed marital art.  The "ka" stand for karate, the "ju" for judo, the "ken" for kenpo, and the "bo" stands for both Chinese and American boxing.  I made it from a white sash to orange and was a few weeks away from testing for purple.

When that instructor left the gym, I looked around and got super lucky.  I found Southwest Portland Martial Arts. I started taking kung fu, which is a cousin to kajukenbo. Still I had to start at the bottom again.

Kung fu has been great for me - sparring, forms, and even some grappling.  I have moved from white belt to orange, and am now purple. I hope to trest for blue in the next year.

As part of kung fu, we had to do some grappling: arm bars, rear naked chokes, a mount escape. Then my school started offering Brazilian jiujitsu.  (aka grappling, aka wrestling + chokes + joint locks)

I have fallen in love. In love even more than I am with kung fu. I love it even though I am not a natural, and I don't have much in my favor. I'm 57, I'm not particualrly flexible, I'm a lady, a lot of my partners outweigh me, and I am not all that good at even knowing where my body is in space, let alone other people's bodies.

I don't care.  All I care about is that it's fun.