Thursday, August 30, 2012

15 Things I Want Every Woman Under 30 To Know
(and, let's face it, a few over 30)
1.  At some point, there will be a man in your life that you will make an absolute idiot out of yourself over.  He'll walk away and leave you feeling like a fool who's been hit by a truck.  Don't beat yourself up over it.  As time passes, you're more likely to look back and just grin and shake your head, rather than cry.  And let's face it, he was cute.
2.  At another point, you will meet another man that will tempt you to act exactly the same way as you did with the guy in point #1.  This is where you should remember how you felt those first few days after he left, and say "no thanks" to the new candidate.
3.  The guys in points 1 and 2 are probably very similar.  There will be some connecting thread, some personality trait that fires you up, even though you know it's bad for you.  Figure out what it is, and realize that for you, these guys are hookers and coke.  Lots of fun when you are young, but there's no future there, and they are probably hazardous to your health.  Run, Forrest, run.
4.  You look better in those jeans/shorts/dress than you think you do.
5.  You are a woman, and as such, you have an incredible amount of power that you don't even realize.  It's called "femininity."  If you embrace your feminine essence, you are automatically more attractive and empowered.  Seriously.  Give it a shot. Tomorrow.
6.  Don't get drunk in public.  You don't look nearly as sexy as you think you do when you are slack-jawed and glassy-eyed.
7.  Stay out of the sun and your skin will thank you later.
8.  For gawd's sake, get some decent shoes, and stop wearing those Birkenstocks everywhere. 
9.  Don't let anyone else dictate your beliefs to you. Figure out what you believe and why.  If you don't know why you believe something, then guess what, you don't really believe it.  Be open to experience.
10.  Always, always, ALWAYS listen to your gut.  Do not confuse your gut with your brain, your stomach, or your vagina.  You know what I'm talking about - that little voice.  The Universe will tell you what to do and when to do it, and it will frequently use your intuition to do so.  Ignore at your own peril.
11.  Get a little exercise every day.  Be as fanatical or as laid-back as you like about it.  If you want it to be a big deal, then go for it, babe.  But if you are a sloth like me, just make it casual and do it.
12. Any woman with a ciggie hanging out of her mouth automatically looks a little trashier.  I'm sorry, but it's true.  Kick the habit, you know it will kill you, or at least ruin your teeth and skin.
13.  Find something that stirs your passion and make it your "pet" cause.  Don't float through the easiest, healthiest years of your life with no vision.  You will look back in 20 years and kick yourself for wasting so much of your time on stupid shit.  Your time and resources, whatever they might be, are desperately needed by some organization close to you.

14.  Starting your life over isn't the end of the world.  You'll be just fine, and after you do it, you'll wonder why in the hell you were so scared to do it for so long.  If it means leaving a lover, a job, a house, a town, whatever - you'll make it.  And if it's a move you really NEED to make, you will be amazed at the number of people who will step forward to help you.
15.  Buy yourself a birthday present every year.  I buy myself a new perfume.  Celebrate what you've done and what is to come.  Your birthday should be the most important day of the year.  Relish it, baby.  For once in your life, make it all about you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Christmas, My Birthday, Valentine's Day and Income Tax Refund Day all rolled into one.

For a moment, pretend like you are me and read this little email I received. 

Thank you for your interest in the Spokane Valley Fire department’s CERT (community emergency response team) program.

Our program follows the National CERT guidelines. The goal of our program is to teach members of the Spokane Valley community ways they can prepare to help themselves, their neighbors and their community in the event of an emergency that could overwhelm the fire department’s resources’ and ability to respond in a timely manner to these type of events.

Our program consists of 8 weeks if instruction, approximately 4 hours each night in the following areas; Fire suppression, emergency medicine, light search and rescue, emergency vehicle operations, disaster psychology. A back ground check will be conducted on all applicants due to the nature of the work.

There are a few requirements before we can admit you to the classes, they are as follows; You must be at least 18 years of age, you must pass a back ground check, you must attend ALL classes to receive a certificate, special circumstances will be considered with prior instructor notification and lastly, you MUST be a resident of the Spokane Valley and live within our area of jurisdiction.

Our adventure begins on Tuesday, September 11th.  I think I'll need pharmaceuticals to sleep a wink between now and that day. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Spokane Valley Fire Department Open House

It was on my calendar for 3 weeks.  I anticipated it like a 5-year old does Christmas morning - like a Labrador drools over a Milk Bone - like a computer geek awaits a new Windows release - like Mitt Romney prays for the opportunity to say exactly the wrong thing when somebody points a camera at him.

And then the morning came - Saturday, August 11th.  The all-day open house at the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Armed with my digital recorder, smart phone and "got firefighter? they do a body good" camisole, I braved the heat to spend the day with my new homies.  The first of what will hopefully become an annual event, Firefighter Scott Whitaker put together an impressive display of bouncy castles, pumper trucks, photo ops and demonstrations by Spokane Valley's finest.  He told me - "the public deserves to know what we do and what our capabilities are, like swift water rescue, vehicle extrication, fire education, and medical calls."

Okay, you know Kat - my thought is, the public deserves to know what Spokane Valley Fire does SO THAT WE CAN PROPERLY ACKNOWLEDGE AND THANK THEM FOR THEIR DEDICATION TO THEIR PROFESSION.  But I digress.

As I made my way through the various displays, I made the following observations:

1.  Every single fire professional on site was courteous, patient, friendly and acted with the utmost professionalism.  This is especially admirable considering the number of small children who were climbing all over their stuff and being encouraged by Mommy and Daddy to ask lots and lots of "questions." 

2.  The Spokane Valley Training Center is a freakin' awesome facility.

3.  The firefighters were all uniformly buff.  Seriously.

My dearest and dedicated readers, you know of Kat's anxiety concerning the SCBA.  The SCBA is my nemesis, my foe, and the mask itself terrifies me.  But fears are made to be faced, are they not?  Conquered!  Vanquished!  So off I went to the gear table.

Okay, let me say I had absolutely ZERO intention of putting that Scott Air Pak on my back when I walked up to that table.  I figured a jacket, a helmet, a photo, and BOOM move on.  However, this particular table was manned by Brendan.  Firefighter Brendan told me that he used to be an accountant, until he decided one day several years ago to walk away from the spreadsheets, follow his childhood dream and become a hooligan with a Halligan.  (okay, I paraphrased).  So Kat says to herself, "Kat, this is it.  Your big shot.  If you can't trust Brendan the former accountant firefighter to take care of you, who can you trust?"  Nobody came to mind, so the gear went on.

Photographic proof:

I'm not going to lie.  There was that 20 seconds or so between the time the mask went on and they hooked up the tank, that I wanted to scream "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, GET THIS &#*!! THING OFF MY FACE BEFORE I SUFFOCATE!!!!" and then vomit, but I did neither.  This is how much I trust Brendan.  He is The Man and my new hero.

For your viewing pleasure, here we are:

I then moved on to the brush truck, with Firefighters Jeff and Mark.  Here's Firefighter Mark, assisting a small child as she knocks over cones with the water stream:

And here's Kat and Mark, after I told said little girl that her Mommy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were waiting for her over on the other side of the bouncy castle:

Mark gets serious Kat props because he had just returned from the Antoine fire, which is basically in the backyard of my old stomping grounds.  I wish I had a picture of Firefighter Jeff, but he was stuck holding the camera.  Between the two of them, they have 32 years of fire service.  Jeff took the time to explain the department-wide wellness program and the exercise regimes (which explains all the buffness onsite), and Mark knew the inner workings of the brush truck like the back of his hand.

(An aside - so much went on that day, there's no way I can condense it into one post.  I am specifically going to address "Mako the Arson Dog" in his own post later on.  You will love that one.)

The training center has a five-story training building, which basically looks like a really cool haunted house because it's been set on fire so many times.  A demonstration of Spokane Valley's finest being lifted to the top balcony to perform a rescue:

followed by his brother in arms rappelling down:

followed by a car extrication exercise.....then my favorite part.  Yup, it was time to bring in the trucks and set the building on fire.

I'm pretty sure I was the only person on site who was a complete nervous freakin' wreck.  But I was.  You know me well by now, dearest reader, and so you realize that this is now my turf.  These are my guys.  They protect me and my son.  They take care of me and I will take care of them.  They have no idea who I am, and frankly I only learned the names of maybe 10 of them.  But as I told Chief Thompson - "I'm here to make your life easier.  Tell me what you need, and it will get done."   They are my guys, and serving the servant is my calling.

I met this amazing woman named June that day...she's 82, and I told her, "I want to be you when I grow up."  I can't go into too many details about June at this point, because she's an integral piece in an UBER-EXCITING THING  we will be doing in September, and I don't want to ruin it for you.  In the literary world, we call that a "tease."

The district website,, has some great photos of the event.  (Yes, I did specifically look for myself when I went through them.  Couldn't help it.) 

Many of these heroes made a point of welcoming me to the Spokane Valley...and to them I say, welcome to Kat.  You will be seeing me around....and thanks for a lovely day.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Featured House: Northern Lakes Fire District

Hello, world.  Meet my sweet new ride.

Well, I haven't actually WON it yet, but last weekend I ventured to Hayden, Idaho and paid a visit to the Northern Lakes Fire District where I bought 2 raffle tickets on this little beauty.  Yes, it comes with the axes and the ladders and the hoses.  No, it doesn't come with the cute little probie I met at the fire house. 


I actually photographic proof of said cute little probie, but my official photographer, Baby Girl, had "phone issues" and so I ended up with exactly 3 pictures.  Did I get the one of the cute guy in his turnout gear with his arm wrapped around my waist?  No.  I got the truck, a Smokey the Bear sign, and me and Baby Girl in front of one of the district's trucks.

So it turns out my new friends at the Northern Lakes Fire District had an extra fire truck to surplus, took an idea from their brothers at Spirit Lake, and decided to raffle it off.  There are 10,000 tickets at $5 a pop.  At the house, Fireman Fritz (a very nice guy, by the way) told me that the truck's value was about $4,000....however, my study of firefighter math tells me that the District has the opportunity to make $50,000 - money that could be used to update equipment at no cost to the taxpayers.  And let's face it, it's a fun idea.  Who doesn't want their own fire truck?  I'm torn between parking it at Alex's house and putting it in my grandma's garage.  Won't they be surprised and excited?

I did have a great conversation with Pat Riley, Deputy Chief of Operations, about volunteer opportunities for residents of the Hayden, Idaho area.  He said that the district is looking to resurrect its volunteer rehab program, and I can't tell you how much that makes me want to move to Hayden.  For those of you who aren't familiar with that term, a rehab team provides support to the fire team onsite - food, water, medical services, a place to rest...the district recently surplussed an ambulance and which will be the rehab vehicle.  If you are in the district, want to help out but can't stand the sight of blood or can't physically put yourself in a fire....DO THIS.  If you click on the district link above, you can drop them a line and let them know you are interested.

Just because I have no other pictures - here's Smokey.

I then headed down to the park where I met up with Ralph, who was hawking the raffle tickets.  He was kind enough to let me crawl all over the truck and take pictures, which of course have since gone to picture heaven anyway.  Not that I will ever bring that up again.  Anyhow, Ralph tells me that WHEN (not if) I win this truck, I should expect about 8 miles to the gallon from my new 1972 Chevy with the 350 and I probably shouldn't drive with the lights/sirens on.  He was a super-friendly guy, and I believe every word he says.  Ralph says that the winner of the Spirit Lake raffle only bought ONE TICKET.  It only takes 1, folks.  It only takes 1.

Also at the park was the Greater Kootenai County Fire Prevention Cooperative smokehouse trailer, manned by Tyler.  The trailer, funded by grant dollars, sees a substantial amount of use at schools, fairs, community events.  Basically it's a mock-up of the interior of a house, filled with the types of fire hazards you would see in an average home.  Kids go through from one end to the other and learn how to get out through a window, how to spot fire hazards (ie paper towels on the stove), how to call 9-1-1, stuff like that.  I seriously would have went through it but a group of ACTUAL kids came up while I was there, so I deferred to the target audience.

Here's the flyer for the raffle.  Your money will be well-used by the fire district, so go to their site and buy a ticket.  Make sure you put my name on it, though.  Think of it as a "referral fee."