Friday, July 12, 2019

Fifty Fascinating, Fabulous Facts

The birthday month festivities continue! To recap, to celebrate turning fifty this month, on the blog I've:

Started a five week giveaway. All winners get a bookish token of my appreciation, and:

  • Week one, a Scottish reader won the ability to pick out $25 worth of books for my classroom library, and I'm sending her one of the literary scarves I've acquired along the way.
  • This week, the prize is that I'll send $25 to a Donors Choose classroom literacy project near the winner.
  • Week three's winner gets to pick books for me to donate to a Little Free Library in a low income apartment complex. (I've noticed a lot of really adorable ones in very middle class neighborhoods, and while it's still sweet, I'd like to support readers who might not be able to buy their own books.)
  • For week four, I'm donating $25 to RAICES in the winner's name. They are doing good work to help children separated from their families at the US/Mexico border. 
  • And for week five the winner will get to do each of the above over the course of the next year--basically, as my finances allow.

Posted Self-indulgent Top Fifty Lists
  • One where I chose my favorite book published in each year I've been alive.
  • One where I chose my favorite book I read in each year I've been alive.
  • Today I'm going to get even MORE personal and just share fifty things about me and my life. 
  • Next week, I'm sharing five sets of pictures, in roughly chronological order. Most of my digital images from the first forty years are actually from the first 15 or so, so it won't be completely representative, and I'm not repeating many I've already shared on the blog.

This is going to be a lot. You might want to get a cup of your preferred beverage and settle in.

  1. My preferred beverage is coffee. I'll order a plain latte if I'm at a coffee shop, drink my husband's red wine at home, and might splurge on a mojito if I'm out.
  2.  The only pop I like is root beer, which I have a few times a year.
  3.  I mentioned the giveaway winner's Scottishness (?) because my grandparents on my dad's side emigrated from Scotland to Canada early in the 20th century. So I'm half Scottish.
  4.  My blog is named after my maiden name, which I love and never meant to change.
  5.  My married name is Gassaway, which is a HILARIOUS and HORRIFYING name for a middle school teacher, and I didn't want to hurt my husband's feelings by refusing to take it. Plus, his dad had died a year before we met, and it was a way to honor him.                                 
  6.  I'm an orphan. It's not that dramatic though, because my parents both died when I was in my 40s.
  7.  I'm certified as a "Bilingual/ESL teacher" which is kind of hilarious because to become a certified bilingual teacher you have to prove proficiency in a foreign language, and mine is...Latvian. Which is not something I've EVER used in the classroom.
  8.  I've lived about five years total in the country of Latvia. Four teaching English in rural villages in my twenties, and one in the capital city with my husband in my thirties.
  9.  About twenty years ago, three women I've known since grade school/high school and I started doing a family camping trip every year. As the years went by, we went from tent camping to yurting to renting a house together, but we've only missed one year, when our most organized member was due in September. (I thought we were going to miss this year, but I was wrong.)       
    The young woman on the left was in a stroller on our first trip.
  10.  I became a middle school reading teacher around the same time I became a book blogger, so I've read more YA in the past five years that when I was an actual young adult.
  11.  I was born two days after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
  12.  We had cats and dogs when I was growing up. Our Scottish terrier, Maggie, was my best bud. Throughout high school we had her, our Siberian husky Tilly, and four cats.
  13.  My husband has severe allergies, and we can't have pets. I had a cat when we married, and he loved her too, but towards the end of her life he was really struggling to breathe in the house, so we're pet-less.
  14.  In middle school I could ride a unicycle, walk on stilts, and juggle. Not at the same time though.
  15. I have three nieces and three nephews, but I really only see the nieces very much any more. I'm also a great-aunt twice over.
  16.  I played piano and viola growing up. I was eleventh chair viola in our city's youth orchestra my senior year in high school, so I was never very good, but I was at least good enough to participate in some great music making.
  17.  I made homemade English muffins yesterday. There is one left. 
  18.  We watched Bohemian Rhapsody last night, which reminded me that the summer I turned 16, my Norwegian host sister and I woke up early to watch Live Aid on TV. 
  19.  In 4th grade we wrote "autobiographies" and illustrated the cover with a drawing of ourself at our favorite place. I still have the same favorite place, a 110 year old former inn on Mt. Hood that the mountain rescue group my dad belonged to used as a base of operations.
  20.  Ursula le Guin is my literary hero. She lived most of her adult life (i.e. all of my life) in my hometown. I went to a signing in the 1990s when she released a book of poetry, but that's the only time I saw her.                                                                                                                          
  21.  I have three sisters. They are 13 and 11 years older than me (There's three because of twins, not bad counting).  So I was the baby, then I was pretty much an only child, and then I grew up enough to have a very sisterly relationship with all of them. I feel pretty lucky.
  22.  There are swallows roosting in my chimney. They're there every summer, so we've never lit a fire in our fireplace. The babies explode into cheeping every five minutes or so, round the clock. It's actually kind of a soothing sound, thankfully.
  23.  My middle name is Louise, after my least-favorite of my mom's friends. 
  24.  I swam on the high school team for two years, but I was super slow and awkward. Our coach didn't do tryouts; he just let everyone swim, and if you showed up to something like 80% of practices and 90% of meets, you got a letter. My event was the 500, which I could usually get a 3rd place in because most schools had smaller teams and would only have on swimmer in that event.
  25.  I broke my nose in first grade. I was walking into school and I fell over my own feet and face planted. This is a pretty good indication of my general level of gracefulness.
  26.  My favorite color is purple, and overall I like sort of blue/green/purple shades best. 
  27.  My favorite season is summer. I have a birthday, I work in a field where I have summer break, and I live in a state where USUALLY the weather is warm and dry but not ridiculously hot or humid. 
  28.  One item that's perennially on my summer bucket list is to float in a lake. I may not swim fast, but I can float on my back like nobody's business, and the best place to float is in a mountain lake.
  29.  I like licorice ice cream.
  30.  I have two kids. They're both adopted from Lithuania. I don't talk about them or show pictures of them much online anymore, because they're teenagers and they asked me not to.                   
  31.  I have three piercings in my right ear and one in my left, but these days I usually forget to wear earrings.
  32.  I dream of doing hut-to-hut hiking in Norway one day. 
  33.  I dented my truck last week while parking. *facepalm*
  34.  Vacuuming is my least favorite indoor chore. Weeding is my least favorite outdoor chore. I avoid both of them to a dangerous extent.
  35. We were going to have friends over tonight to play board games, so we cleaned house. I was about to start the vacuuming, when they had to cancel because one is sick. So I didn't vacuum after all. Clean house, gross floors.
  36.  My husband was my first real boyfriend. We started dating when I was 31, and got married 10 months later.  So I wish more YA was romance-less. Not everybody dates a ton, and not everybody meets the love of their life at 16. 
  37.  My dad took my Camp Fire group up Mt. Hood when we were 14. Then in my thirties, my husband and I did more climbing. Nothing super technical, but I've been up Hood again, up South Sister three times, up Mt. St. Helens twice, up Middle Sister, and up Mt. Elinore in Washington. Now I get winded going upstairs, but I am still proud of my younger self and happy to have the memories.                                                                                                    
  38. I'm an INFP in Meyers Briggs types. I've taken the test multiple times since my twenties, and my results have never varied an inch. 
  39. When I was a kid, I used to walk to the library about 1.5 miles away, cutting through the property of the local high school. There was this super steep grassy hill that usually had cardboard pieces on it, which were for sliding down the hill with. Sometimes my friend and I would check out coffee table books at the library if there wasn't any cardboard that day, and slide down on them on our way home. 
  40. I used to be a CHAMPION sleeper. Then menopause happened, and I am PISSED. It's hard to get to sleep, and it's hard to stay asleep, and I need naps, but then I'm even more messed up. 
  41. I've been teaching more or less continuously since 1992. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was in college, so I majored in history, but when it came time for grad school in 1994, I was deciding between teaching and librarianship. 
  42. There are more pictures of books on my phone than anything else, including my family.
  43. I was usually not that bothered about being single for so much of my life, but when I met my husband, it didn't take long before I knew I wanted to marry him.                                                  
  44. When my niece was about seven, she was telling my sister and me a bunch of elementary school riddles. "What has hands but no fingers?" A clock. "What has eyes but can't see?" Needles and potatoes. So she asked, "What has legs but can't walk?" meaning a table, but I said, "a quadriplegic," which a) is horrible and not funny and b) not a word she knew. So she gives me this confused look, and my sister starts laughing, and I start laughing, and she was so mad at us because we couldn't stop laughing but refused to explain the joke, because I was too embarrassed.
  45. A few of my favorite flowers: freesia, lilacs, avalanche lilies, delphinium, white roses, irises. 
  46. I was raised without a TV. My parents got rid of it sometime during my sisters' childhood, and I didn't have one until I got married. Now TVs are kind of a moot point, since we stream anything we want to watch anyway.
  47. Shows I've loved: Alias, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy, Veronica Mars, La Femme Nikita, Firefly, Sherlock, Stranger Things. 
  48. I watched a horror movie (Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street) when I was in high school. By the end of the movie, my friend and I were huddled together in the middle of the couch, afraid to get up and go anywhere. I've avoided true horror ever since.
  49. I have an extreme sweet tooth. Chocolate is my favorite.
  50. When I turned 18, my dad told me, "I don't care who you vote for, but remember to always vote in favor of parks, schools, and libraries." I always have.


  1. These are fun and interesting facts. Compare to me, your life is far more interesting.

    I've been reading your blog for while but rarely leave a comment but I thought I should today. May you have a wonderful birthday. Happy Birthday!

    And have a lovely day.

  2. I love this! My birthday is coming up and I have some fun posts planned for the week, but I like that you are doing an entire month of fun things! Happy Birthday!!

  3. I would love to do a multi-day hike. I’ve only done day trips. Weeding is my least-favorite outdoor chore because most of the weeds around here are prickly. I hope you’re having a good birthday month!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  4. I never thought about your name until you pointed it out, and then I giggled. Preteens must have tons of fun with that one. I am total product of the 70s. We even ate in front of the TV, though, I watch very little now.

  5. I always wondered where your blog name came from. It makes so much sense now! And I never thought about your last name, but I would imagine it's a fun (not) name to have as a middle school teacher. LOL! Thank you for sharing this post! I learned so many wonderful facts about you!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  6. I enjoyed reading this post. Happy Birthday! And as a former middle school teacher myself I laughed when I read number 5.


Please share your thoughts. Comments are almost as sweet as chocolate!