1. If you were to write your memoir, where would you start?
With my parents. They divorced when I was very young. Mom moved back to her small hometown, and Dad joined the Air Force to see the world--both choices shaped me probably more than even I'll ever realize. I spent the school year with Mom, and summers with Dad. Life with Mom was patterned, predictable--the warm, safe, security blanket that every kid needs. Life with Dad was an adventure--flying on a plane by myself, traveling first to Germany, then to California--I was exposed to places and ideas that I most certainly otherwise would not have been.
It's been an interesting sort-of study to me, because my parents are just such fundamentally different people--the above example being the tip of the iceberg--yet both absolutely wonderful. And I'm such a mish-mash of both that it can sometimes be...conflicting. I think taking the best from each of them, yet learning from their mistakes, and trying to figure out how to put it all together has been and will continue to be a big part of my "life's work".
2. Which country or area would you most like to visit, and why?
While I certainly wouldn't say no to a trip to Italy or Hawaii, the place I would most like to visit is Antarctica. About the time that "March of the Penguins" came out there were tons of documentaries and articles about traveling there, and I kind of became obsessed with the idea. I've done big cities, and--while each have their own unique character and significance--they're all still the same in that they're man-made. Lately I just find myself more and more drawn to older, more untouched places--places that are almost lonely, I think. And Antarctica would certainly be completely different from any place I've been before.
3. I see you’ve started a photo blog. What is your favorite photo you’ve taken?
The problem with answering this question as asked is that my favorites change so often! I wouldn't say I have a new favorite daily or even weekly, but certainly at least once a month I take something new that I really like. Today, it's this one. I love it because, just walking up on this flower, it seemed kind of scraggly and ugly, but up close it's beautiful...almost exotic. I also really love the color contrast between the flower and the little hint of blue sky you can see in the background.
4. You seem like an avid gardener. What got you started gardening? What do you find easiest to grow in your climate?
I remember trying to garden as a child--raising seeds in a cup or baby trees in milk cartons--and it just never seemed to work out. I would forget to water things for days, and then try to make up for it by drowning them....I just wasn't quite steady enough, really.
Consequentially, I grew up thinking I had a black thumb and didn't really try to garden much as an adult until just after I got married. After the wedding, I was supposed to go on to Ireland to do a summer school program, but after months of planning, the excitement of the wedding itself, and our honeymoon, I was just done and decided to stay home instead.
Suddenly I had a whole month free with nothing really to do, so I planted some little potted herbs to use for cooking, half expecting to kill them. What I quickly learned is that the ability to grow plants is more like doing math than it is like magic. Put it in good soil in the sun, add water regularly, and most things will grow with some measure of success.
As to what grows best here--I think maybe I'm still in the process of learning that. Kansas is kind of in a funny place climate-wise, because our winters are too cold to grow some of the semi-tropical plants that you see down South. On the other hand, the summers get so darned hot that other things just wilt. I've had good luck with sunflowers and morning glories for flowers, and potatoes and (so far) pumpkins for vegetables. Nice Mother-In-Law has some very pretty coneflowers that come back year after year as well.
5. You’re also obviously a dog lover. How did you come to have the two dogs you have now, and do you find it difficult to raise two dogs at once?
Porter was given to me by a friend. She had three dogs, but was moving to a very dog-unfriendly city for graduate school and could only find an apartment that would allow her to have one. I was "in the market" for a dog, but knew I didn't have time to properly raise a puppy. At a very mellow 3 years old, Porter fit the bill perfectly.
Porter wasn't at all happy about the change for quite awhile, and the first time my friend came back for a visit (after Porter had been living with me for a year or two) was heart-breaking. But--at almost 10 years old--I think she knows we're her family now.
Moe was the product of...well, about a year after Sweet Husband and I were married I went through about a 6 month period where I just absolutely needed to have a baby. (I've been told most women go through this, but I can't help but think my case was worse than many.) However, the timing was all wrong, we were both still getting settled into married life, we were in school, didn't have a lot of extra money, etc.--in short, there was just no way it was going to happen. Which led to a completely miserable me.
In the process of consoling me, Sweet Husband made the mistake of saying something along the lines of, "Well, maybe we should just get a puppy." I don't know how serious he was even--after all we did already have Porter (who was just too darned self-sufficient to fill the "baby" empty space)--but I liked the idea. As a student, I could pop home between classes for purposes of potty training, and after all two dogs wouldn't be anymore trouble than one, right? So home came Moe.
After two or three weeks of getting up twice a night to take him out, cooing at his adorable antics, and reveling in puppy breath, my baby longings were nicely cured.
As for having two dogs at once--It's both more difficult and less difficult than you would think. Two dogs means more food, more poop, and more trips to the vet. Sometimes it also takes more hands--I can't walk both dogs together and do anything else.
On the other hand, we get off a little easy because Porter is just so darned good most of the time. She occasionally steals a toy from Moe, just on principal, but otherwise she's an incredibly easy dog to live with. And although Moe has a pronounced streak of mischief, his size is perfect (not so big that he can push us around, but not so small that he needs to be fussed over) and his coat is fairly low maintenance (just a comb through once a week, and a trim a few times a year) so that helps.
Hmmm, I thinks that's all I have to say. Good questions Kathy--they made me think about some things I hadn't thought about in awhile--thanks for taking time to ask them....
If anyone else would like to be interviewed by me, leave a comment and let me know. You can either answer the questions on your own blog, or do it in the comments on mine if you don't have one.