June 24, 2011

I have some real writing on the net, now. Three nonfiction pieces and one poem. Check it (and other cool writers) at Prick of the Spindle.

La Bicicleta

June 17, 2011

First day of Birthweek #2: I got my bike back. We are both put together and fine and a little bit closer because we went through something traumatic together. The bike shop took care of everything–bent the front wheel back into a more normal wheel shape, gave me a tune up, checked the brakes, and replaced the weird black foam with cool black bike tape. All for only $70–what a steal!

I rode through the intersection where I got hit twice before heading home. Then, got a drink of water, and went on another bike ride. Through the intersection again. We’re not going to be afraid of 7th and Mass.


June 16, 2011

Disclaimer: This feels long. For that, I apologize. Stick with me because you like/love me.

I have had quite the birthweek. Uncle Kevin created the birthweek and I think it is great. After all, there are 365 long days in a year, why shouldn’t we get to celebrate our birth for a whole week? A day (and a short one at that) is nothing. Most of the things in this eventful birthweek have been good; one is not so good. I’ll tell you about that at the end. And don’t worry, kids. I’ll connect it back to the garden somehow.

June 9, 2011: A Stellar birthday. In the morning, I went on a run and ran through sprinklers and saw a squirrel fall out of a tree and land on its feet! I also taught the students. I spent the afternoon downtown taking in all of Lawrence’s free birthday stuff–iced coffee at La Prima Taza, a movie at Liberty Hall (though it was super low budget and a little silly, it was plant-related, so that was cool), and free popcorn at the movies. Then, I had an exciting party and lots and lots of friends came. Though last year’s party had a mojito theme, this year I decided that unthemed was best. Themes are best when inspired and unforced.

I still wanted to have a cool cake though. Since my favorite is vanilla on vanilla (which is decidedly not cool, in fact, is boring) I decided to add something from the garden–chamomile. So, I took this recipe and modified it a bit–no berries, dried chamomile, and an accidental modification (no eggs). The chamomile gave the cake a special (chamomile-y) flavor and made it speckled, which was cool. I had decided to tell no one about the egg mistake…but then I made a birthday speech. There were few secrets.

Mostly, I have a nice family and cool friends who care about me and do a good job of showing me that and who like to have fun. For all these things, I am thankful.

June 10, 2011: Also pretty cool. And still garden-y. In the afternoon, Clare took me to the house she was house-sitting. These people have a totally neato modern, simple house. It has a raised bed garden and horses and dogs and chickens. For most of the afternoon, we sat inside and read (and napped). The dogs were hyper but the chickens were very fun. They sort of just did their chicken thing, which was walking around and making weird noises and eating, while we did our thing, which was walking around and not making noises. Before we left, we had to gather the eggs (is there a one word verb for that?). Some of the chickens did not want to get out of their little hole things, but Clare pushed them out with a stick because she was the boss.

There might be too many chicken photos because I liked them a lot.

The night, Truman friends Sarah and Alison invited me over to make homemade sushi for a birthday meal.  I’ve been wanting to make sushi for quite some time but didn’t want to figure it out myself. This invitation worked out really well for me because they had made sushi once before and are basically experts. Even though they asked me to get all the meat out of the crab (maybe the most difficult part of our particular sushi-making process), I’m pretty sure Sarah and Alison still love me. I thought our sushi rolls turned out quite nicely.

June 11, 2011: A wonderfully typical Saturday. Went for a run, made some middle aged friends in the garden (One woman was smitten with me: “You garden and you read Michael Pollan? I love Michael Pollan.” Yes, I read Michael Pollan, along with a good portion of America’s literate public), coffee shop, and a wedding + party bus (okay, party bus is not typical).

June 12, 2011: This is where excellent birthweek gets a little less excellent. I was in pedestrian and biker friendly downtown Lawrence on a coolish Sunday afternoon. I had just finished having a nice cup of coffee with friend Mark at favorite coffee shop LPT. I was behind a van on my sweet Panasonic bike (complete with a brand new birthday bell from friend Justin) and we had a green light. I was hit by a car; she didn’t see me. Don’t freak out! Though I am bruised and have a slight headache and am sore, I am fine. There were lots of nice people who made sure I was fine and then helped me get out of the street. They stopped commenting on my shaking after I finally said “I’m probably shaking because I got hit by a car.” Luckily, friend Jeff was at LPT. He took my bike to the shop for me and then made sure I got home okay. Clare gave me some homemade pizza and epsom salts. Roommate Katie reminded me to ice my neck/shoulder/leg/knee before bed. I’d post photos of the bruises but that seems weird and a little too personal for the internetz. Just trust me, they’re cool.

June 13-15, 2011: Normal Kara activities–reading, writing, smiling, teaching, seeing friends–mixed with less normal Kara activities–no running, doctor visit, police station, bike accident drama, telling the same story over and over again (okay…well…I might do that sometimes, friends will vouch). The best thing about this incident is that I’ve been having nice early morning walks and garden visits instead of running. There are usually sprinklers and old people.

June 16, 2011: First, a birthweek event worth using an exclamation mark on: I got the call today that my bike is ready, so I should get to pick it up tomorrow! I am so excited that I might post a photo when I get it back. In normal circumstances, June 16th would mark the final day of the birthweek. Like I said, though, I am taking 2 weeks. I got hit by a car. I think Uncle Kevin would okay this decision.  If anyone wants to buy me ice cream or a drink (for birthweek or bike accident), I would accept.




I spent the past week in my land of origin, the lovely Southeast Missouri. While there, I got to tour and work in (thank you, parents) quite a few gardens. This helped me not miss my garden too much.

Last year, my mom and dad decided to get in on the gardening action (Important information: Though I risk annoying him, I can’t help but note that my dad often picks up my hobbies–running half marathons, gardening, and umm…well…that’s all I’ve got). The weather has been kind of bad (you may have read about the flooding in that part of the state) so my parents had to wait a bit to plant stuff and have had to replant some other things.

In addition to corn, zucchini, okra, and tomatoes, my dad has planted an impressive 8 pepper plants; I am not sure what he will do with all the peppers, but time will tell. He also planted snow peas and pole beans, both of which require trellises. You might remember that this is my area of specialty. We did some collaborating and while I drove stakes with the not-a-blade part of a hatchet (safe?!?!), he tied the string onto the stakes. The end result looks good. Probably sturdier/neater than my trellises. His pose for the photo was very American Gothic of him.

I also got to see Grandpa Wiseman’s garden. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera, so I will just have to write about it. So far, he has planted most of the traditional things–green beans, tomatoes, cabbage (I think). The coolest thing about Grandpa’s garden is that he also grows fruit. Every summer, Grandpa would either: 1) give us huge containers of blackberries 2) let us pick blackberries or 3) do both. There used to be two cherry trees in the backyard, too, which was also fun. This year, he has added a few blueberry bushes. This is probably good, because last year he racked up quite a tab at the local blueberry farm.

On Memorial Day, we went to STL for a Cardinals game. We lost. Someone on the other team hit a grand slam, and then later when Albert Pujols (the hometown hero) hit a home run, they shot off fireworks; I love America. This STL trip meant that I got to visit my good friend Patrick’s garden, though.

Before I talk about the garden, I must give Patrick credit for planning the coolest lunch ever. The plan was to go to the Winslows Home. They have a farm about 35 miles outside of STL and in their restaurant/general store, they use/sell their produce. Talk about a place Kara Bollinger would love! Unfortunately, when we got there, we learned that they are closed every Monday. We peered inside the windows and marveled for a few minutes, and Patrick said “It’s even more fun when you get to go inside.”

The coolest thing about Patrick’s garden is that seeing Patrick’s garden really means that you get to see Patrick’s entire backyard, a backyard that he is working very hard on. In fact, he was working so hard, that he wouldn’t even stop to talk to me. Okay, that’s a lie…the photo is posed.

In addition to having a backyard garden (a garden with seedlings that he started under super scientific lights nonetheless) with peppers, corn, tomatoes, and zucchini, his backyard is pretty rad and is getting even radder. There are birdhouses. He is reusing iron trellises from his grandpa’s house. He is growing his own hops to try to brew his own beer.  He built two rock stairways. There was some talk of possibly digging a cool patio space into this really steep hill. He has a swing and a hammock. There is even a fire pit.

Other potential guest gardeners were Aunt Sandy and Grandma Bollinger. Because of the rainy weather, though, they don’t have much of a garden yet. This alarms me because Grandma is my sole provider of sweet potatoes and canned green beans. Aunt Sandy’s birdhouse did, however, have robin eggs, just like it always did when I was little. This was comforting.