Knickers on the Line

Notes from a Magniloquent Mama

Now, that thar’s the pioneerin’ spirit…


I’m on a roll, folks. So I thought I would share that after months of grumbling every time I bought overpriced laundry detergent- I bit the bullet and went all pioneer woman. I made my own laundry soap- and it smells all lavender-y and real purty. It also washes my duds up just fine (they’re nice and soft!), and is saving me about .23c a load. That’s not chicken scratch. Here’s the recipe for y’all in case you occasionally like to kick it like it’s the 1700s.

Kirstin’s Kickass Pioneer Woman Washing Powder

16 cups washing soda (arm and hammer makes this and it’s at fred g. meyer’s)
12 cups borax
8 cups grated castile or glycerin soap flakes*
3 tablespoons lavender, lemon or grapefruit essential oil OR MORE- because where a little smells nice, A LOT smells even BETTER!

Combine baking soda, borax and soap flakes. Add essential oil and mix with a wire whisk. Do not inhale. Inhaling soap is generally a bad idea, and hurts like hell. Use 1⁄8 cup per load.

Use bars of castile soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s) and grate with a kitchen grater. I used a microplane and it was hard work, but I’m not afraid of a little hard work. I think I have established that I am an ass-kickin’ pioneer woman, right?
I’m going to go clean my shotgun now.

Playing with Anne’s mp3 recorder at rehearsal April, 2012


TK and I recorded some tunes we were rehearsing before a gig. Yes, our piano is out of tune (gotta fix that), and the recording quality is not great- but I thought it would be fun to share these with you all. Thanks, Anne for letting me use your recorder!

Miss Celie’s Blues

Holding Back the Years


Couch to 5k – believe it or not…


OK- So I am aware that I haven’t posted in well over a year, but I did say that I would post more often in a recent email exchange, and to show my gratitude for the very existence of this family blog I will try to follow through. We’ll see now who actually visits this deserted blog of mine!

This year, well- since last fall- I have been trying to really change some of the bad habits that over the years have led me to be less healthy than I could be. It all kind of started with a book that Jim brought home from work (they have to do a certain amount of motivational book reading there) entitled: Change Anything by Kerry Patterson. To be honest, I only read a few chapters- but it got to the heart of what I really needed to do at that moment in my life. The author suggests that you take any situation in your life that is not optimal, and envision the logical end result of that situation. For me, this has been really my weight over the years. After many years of trying to understand the internal forces that pulled me back into my unhealthy ways, I finally came to a place of understanding of myself. Believe it or not, it stems from some things that happened as a young woman in Portland trying to be taken seriously by older,male jazz musicians.

I wanted so desperately to be able to make music with these guys, that I did my homework, listened, studied, showed up to the jams prepared- and still- had to put up with the sexual denigration that came with the less than self-actualized, self-indulgent jazz environment of the late 80s and early 90s. I learned a lot- but along the way, came to realize on some deep level- that only if I was less attractive could I be taken seriously. So, over time- the 36/26/36 curvalicious marilyn body of my teens was left behind.

Going to the worst case scenario- after all these years of being overweight and unhealthy- was probably the best thing I could have done psychologically. I should mention that I read this Change Anything concept on the heels of spending a weekend with 2 women in their mid 80s. There’s nothing quite so startling as the realization that what I do now may have a profound affect on what I am able to do later. I plan to have fun now- AND later, and truly do not want anything preventing my ability to do so. (Anyone want to do a walking tour of Greece with me?)

Shortly after these 2 experiences, a friend asked me to join Weight Watchers online with her. I figured it was an easy way to start being more conscious of choices and food portions- so I did it. She fell of the wagon shortly afterward, but I managed to stick with it- and have been losing weight slowly since mid-September. As of this writing, I have lost about 35lbs and it feels great. I’m not one of those hardcore WW people who turns down cake at a party, and I still enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week. It’s been so much easier than I had expected. One of the things that the author of change anything does say is that pretty much any diet that you actually stick to will work. This has been working for me- but I do find that now I need to actually add the element of physical activity to obtain results, and to be a healthier person.

Enter the Couch to 5K program. I feel the need at this point to clarify that I may or may not run the Library 5k at Willamina 4th of July. I am into the 2nd week of interval training- and don’t feel like I am going to die after my workout- but depending on where I am at and how my feet hold out, I may do what I think Jim called Fartlek running in July (I know it sounds obscene, and I may be getting that term wrong)- a combination of running and walking. But as of today, I have the awesome shoes, a sturdy no-bounce sports bra that is a feat of engineering, and an *awesome* podcast to keep me moving (it’s a whole lot of music that I would never let my kids listen to: I may just run that 5k, who knows?

I feel great- I feel like I look better all the time, and I love shopping for clothes(I’ll probably have to keep that in check as I start fitting into more vintage stuff). I know now that I can be taken seriously as a musician and not have to mistreat my body to be treated with respect. I bring the talent I have to the table, and if I get a lascivious vibe- I can walk away and find musicians who won’t disrespect me. As a vocalist, there is always the sex-symbol element- but I don’t need to let my fear of not being taken seriously control my choices about my personal health.

I feel empowered, and am glad my girls are seeing me going through the paces, and making these changes. I think it’s good for them, I know it’s good for me- and it means that their old mom has a better chance of being able to keep up with them when we play outside. That’s the good stuff of life.



I just returned from a school district budget meeting where folks were invited to speak about the proposed budget plans for our Eugene school district. We are looking at a 30 million dollar shortfall next school year- so reconfiguration of schools has been suggested as one cost saving measure. As you can imagine- people are really passionate about no one shutting their precious school, or really changing anything. It was a yay for my school night, but the folks who showed up and spoke were people whose children attend the wealthiest schools in Eugene. They spoke of all the wonderful classes their kids have (one school has choir and 2 bands), their sense of community, and the importance of their identity. All the time I was just fuming at the reality of the inequality that exists in our schools in Eugene. So I did what any parent with an overly developed sense of justice would do. I wrote a letter to the superintendent. Here it is- and yes, it’s politely snarky.

Greetings Superintendent Russell;

I just returned from the meeting this evening, and wanted to represent an opinion which would not have been well received by tonight’s crowd. My children attend McCornack, and sometimes when I talk with parents of children at schools with a wealthier demographic- I find myself feeling downright indignant at the inequity that exists between schools in 4J. Why do children at some schools in the south have more music, art, electives, and project based learning opportunities than children at my neighborhood school? I think I know the answer to this question.

The reconfiguration of schools may provide wonderful opportunities for schools to offer more to students- but only if program based curriculum goes hand in hand with that reconfiguration. If everyone receives the same offerings- then we will be one step closer to being a district that truly provides educational opportunities to all. The folks in the South aren’t going to like this idea- but parents like myself look at other schools that have more music, science, and electives- and wonder why some schools, simply because they haven’t a population that requires Special Ed or ELL services- and they have an administrator who builds their curriculum to reflect the values of the demographic of that catchment area, can offer so much more to their students.

At least my kids go to McCornack- and not Chavez (technically our neighborhood school), which struggles even more than our school does- and has no music program at all. I know the board has looked at the equity issue, but it will become extremely pronounced as restructuring is discussed. It’s not a budget issue- per se, but parents of kids in schools that struggle wonder if maybe this new system- whatever it ends up being- will produce greater educational equity at last. Or maybe it will just be more of the same. Cesar Chavez and McCornack are nothing like Menlo Park schools, nor are they likely to be if 4J doesn’t take drastic measures to move toward a more just and equitable system.

I continue to hope.

Best Regards,

Kirstin Nusser
McCornack parent

I’m tired of a system where kids don’t get art and music because they go to a “poor” school. I’m tired of hearing wealthy parents moan about how their school is being constantly picked on despite being outstanding- and how merging with poorer schools would bring down their performance. I’m tired of listening to parents express entitlement, and seeing them being listened to- while Latino parents, and parents at poor schools just take what is given them and don’t dare dream of,or ask for, more for their children.

Yes- we are in a budget crisis- but we are also in an equity crisis.
I hope we can find our way out of BOTH.

Long Winter’s Walk- How do you get copies, you ask?


Thank you for asking about how you too can order copies of my anxiously awaited full length Christmas CD entitled Long Winter’s Walk. This project is my very first- and it was a great experience bringing it to reality. Long Winter’s Walk features jazz interpretations of ancient and forgotten carols, plus a few modern tunes to help you ring in the season. 100% of proceeds from this project will benefit charities that provide after-school opportunities in music, art, and culture for low income schools.

I will be running CDs this week- and would love to bring you as many copies as you would like when we come up to Portland for Thanksgiving. CDs are $10 each and make *fabulous gifts*! Let me know in the comments section below how many you would like me to bring for you. The CD is also available for digital download from CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon MP3.
p.s. on the back I have hyphenated my name, so that the Parmeter family can have SOME bragging rights : )

New Thanksgiving Venue!


After much consideration, it has been decided that our Thanksgiving get together will be held at Rick and Tuyen’s house. Details will be forthcoming- but for now- here’s the plan for what folks will bring:
Rick and Tuyen-
Tuyen’s famous spring rolls, a family Thanksgiving tradition! : )
(possibly mashed potatoes too- did I hear this from my mom? I can make these too, if you want to just do spring rolls. Let me know)

Doug and Joyce- Turkey and stuffing

Jim Parmeter- Green Salad (+ pie optional)

Stan and Nancy- Rolls and butter

Kirstin- Cranberry dish

Ingrid and Brad- Squash dish + pie

Kendall and Keith- Raw vegetable plate & Raw fruit plate

Anyone else want to bring items to fill this list out? Possibilities could include:
apple cider/ candied yams/ ice cream/ etc.

Please leave any notes about this list in the comments section.
Love to all!

Thanksgiving information courtesy of Joyce


Hi Family! My Mom asked me to post the email she sent out here for people to respond to- so here is the email most of you received. Updates for time, etc can also be found here.
We are looking forward to seeing you all!

Email from Joyce:

Thanksgiving is coming….. the turkey is getting fat!!!

We’re looking forward to another wonderful Thanksgiving gathering out in Sheridan!!!

When? Thanksgiving Day at a time of day that suits Wilma….maybe noonish and continuing as long as you wish – I will get more specific info out to you after talking with Rick & Tuyen. In any event, our family should all be here ready to greet anyone who comes – we have church around 10:00 on Main Street and you’re all welcome to join us if you wish.
Where? Doug & Joyce’s out on Rock Creek Road
Who? All are welcome…. double check the addresses so that all are invited in the event that I missed someone.
What? Potluck….. Doug and girls and their families will basically take care of the core things like turkey, gravy, dressing, potatoes, punch, coffee, tea. The rest of you can sign up or surprise us with items from the following list (or your own ideas!).

Cranberry sauces _______________
Pickle/olive plate _______________
Rolls & butter ___________________
Salads _____________________________
Fruit plate ________________________
Fruit salad ________________________
Green vegetable __________________
Raw vegetable plate _____________
Fudge _____________________________
Pies, desserts ____________________
Squash dish _______________________
Other ideas ________________________

You can share your ideas if you wish . I’m sure we’ll do well as long as we have electricity and running water! We look forward to sharing a 44+ year old 8mm film which we had made into a dvd. We have a cute segment of Rick at about 3 or 4 painting a model, also a fun sequence from our wedding. We were pretty cute too!!!
We hope you can make it on the 25th . It should even be warm this year!

What HAVE I been up to? Answers to all this and more…


Greetings folks! I was recently asked what I have been up to, and perhaps because I hadn’t had enough coffee/sleep/brain processing time- I just sort of stood there with my mouth gaping, and a big silence filling up the space. My life is not as pathetic as that momentary impression though- I have so much going on that I need some time to get it all compressed into a response. Kind of like what we call “the beachball of doom” on our computer- sometimes if you wait long enough you get the answer you wanted, you just have to be patient.
So- here’s the answer to what I have been up to:

I just had friends visit from the UK, and we spent an amazing week in Otis, Oregon outside of Lincoln City. While there, we hiked, canoed, saw a seal, saw a herd of elk, shopped at the outlets, and went to the aquarium in Newport. We also cooked some great food and had some fun evenings playing games and visiting. It was incredibly restful and our rental house was amazing. I hope to stay there again. It was located just a few hundred yards from the Sitka center for Art and Ecology at the base of Cascade Head.

I have also been obsessed with Juvenile Literature lately- especially the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Good, but not as riveting was Feed- a cautionary tale of a future with internet tweeting installed into our brains to both satisfy our every need, and manipulate our desires and spending. Creepy stuff. No microchip in my brain, thank you very much.

Kids are getting ready to go back to school, and I am scheduling actvities for the Fall, including theatre (musical in a month with Rose Children’s Theatre), and a Tai Chi class for me. Also arranging walking buddies, and other opportunities to get together with all the adults in my life that I miss during summer break because we are all running around.

I am sitting in tomorrow evening at a friend’s gig, and doing some crazy stuff including a tune taken from Anton Dvorak’s New World Symphony. I will be doing some gigs this fall with 2 guys whom I enjoy playing with. These playlists will include new songs (for me) from folks whose recordings are hard to find, let alone their music. Ethel Waters, OLD Lena Horne from her early days in the “darkie” movies, and obscure blues tunes.

This year I will be teaching music to 1st and 2nd graders at our school. I recently had a meeting with the teacher to create a music curriculum that reflects the class curriculum. It has been a fun challenge to find music that the kids will enjoy and be challenged by. We are going to have a lot of fun! I get to cover subjects from soil to Africa and Conservation. Wow. I am going to have to work a lot to pull this together.

This is the year that I record a Christmas album! In October, I will head into the studio to record some of the tunes I did for my last Holiday concert. I will be posting the music online for purchase, and proceeds will go to a secret project that I am working on. I can only tell you that it involves creating an opportunity for a child who can use all the opportunities they can get, but thus far has had very few advantages in life. Please plan to buy my Christmas album! I would like to raise $2k with this project.

I am working with the board of the Willamette Jazz Society to help secure our 501c3 funding so that we can begin applying for grants. The Jazz Station is moving to a new, larger venue- and will need to step up its fundraising efforts to begin to build a vibrant community performance and education space. I am already beginning planning for our Black History Month programming. It’s going to be amazing- and will include a retrospective of tunes made famous by singers who have recently passed away- including Abbey Lincoln, and Lena Horne. I also want to have a film series, maybe a performance of some of Max Roach’s Freedom Suite, and other programming that is exciting to local audiences. It’s going to take some coordination. whew!

My own non-profit, Orpheus Collective, is going to launch a fundraising effort in Spring of 2011. Please save your change, cause I’m going to hit you up… each and everyone of you! Orpheus Collective’s mission is to provide After-School Music Education in Non-Classical musics to Students in Title 1 Schools in Eugene that receive less than an hour of music education a week. That’s pretty much every Title School in our community. It is a HUGE undertaking, but our first project is to have a Guitar class for 15 kids. Right now though, I am in the paperwork stage- registering as a non-profit with the State of Oregon.

Well, that- in a nutshell- is what I have been up to. Life has been busy- but wonderful. I am so glad I got to see so many of you at David and Carmel’s party. I love it when we can connect and catch up! If you ever are in Eugene, please let me know so we can get together. We also still have a guest room available for weary travelers. Hope to see you soon.

Un petit Kitchen Remodel


We did it! With copious thanks to my Dad who has crazy skills, and with some hard work hauling, tearing-out, and sanding- we managed to complete a mini-remodel on the kitchen.
It became clear that this was needed when our oven, original to the house- 1964- started operating only in Hades mode. We would turn it on and the temperature would climb to over 600′- turning everything we baked into charcoal. I am not crazy about wall ovens, and it turned out they were way expensive to replace, so I thought we should go with a range/cooktop combo and tear out the dirty old cooktop as well- also original to the house.
If we were going to tear out the cooktop, we would have to take out the countertop- a circa 1980s off-white laminate with stains and burns beyond removal. Wouldn’t you know it- the dishwasher started making noises too, just as I was preparing estimates for the countertops, range, and hood. I figured we ought to replace our 30 year old dishwasher, and if we were taking that out- we might as well, replace that countertop as well, and if we were taking out the countertop- the old cast iron sink might as well go away, and then we would need a new faucet.
After much work- and an unexpected need to hire an electrician- the job is completed. Here is a short photo trip through our petit kitchen remodel:

The icky old oven is GONE!

Cutting into the old countertops- hooray!

A familiar sight to many in this family…

New IKEA (Whirlpool) range and hood

Dishwasher, sink, and new countertop

Aaaaah- allow me to wax poetic about the new sink and faucet for a second. The sink was found at Bring Recycling for $25. The faucet though was my big splash-out on the project. I absolutely fell in love with the commercial styling of this faucet. The pre-rinse sprayer and the way it dangles so gracefully from its pole. Everytime I see it I just feel awed. It is so beautiful to behold.

So that’s it in a nutshell- my petit kitchen remodel. Thanks Dad, for volunteering your amazing craftsmanship, and construction know-how for this project! I am so pleased with the outcome!

Come on by sometime and stay for coffee, or better yet- let me cook for you, in our new, lovely kitchen. Please call ahead for reservations.

It’s OK to be envious of my compost…


Because it is beautiful and amazing and full of red worms! Even I am astounded by its incredible quality when I shovel it. With each turn of the spade, I smile as I move the rich, black soil to nourish other plants. I am proud of my compost. That’s why it gets its own post!

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