All posts by Katherine Kott

About Katherine Kott

Management, organizational effectiveness, and organizational change consultant in the academic sector. Experience working with libraries, museums, archives, and other not-for-profits to manage change and enhance organizational effectiveness. Areas of expertise include meeting facilitation, team building, leadership development, volunteer program development, organizational design, performance improvement, change management, systems thinking.

Fava Saga

Once upon a time, there was a small vegetable plot in the garden of a home in Oakland, California. During the winter of 2019, the bathroom of the home attached to the vegetable plot was remodeled and the vegetable plot lay fallow. But it was not too late to plant a late winter crop of fava beans, according to the architect who had designed the bathroom, who was a fava bean enthusiast. Fava beans were miraculous, she said. The leaves could be used to make pesto. The pods could be harvested early and stir-fried without having to husk the beans. Simply growing them in the garden would add nitrogen to the soil.

I was SOLD! In late January, I planted six hills of fava beans. In mid-March, after I had returned from what was possibly my very last trip on a plane and recovered from the flu I had that was probably not Covid, the plants had sprouted and had enough leaves to harvest for pesto.

Blending the leaves with olive oil, garlic, hard cheese, and walnuts in lieu of pine nuts, I made pesto and used it to make a pizza with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives. Tasty, but I missed the distinctive, pungent flavor basil brings to traditional pesto. I decided to leave the leaves, and let the bean pods develop. I managed to harvest a few immature pods to cook without husking. However, once the pods started coming in, they matured quite quickly. Perhaps because my crop was so late.

Before harvesting, I read up on how to prepare fava beans. The information was not encouraging. Chefs were enthusiastic about all the tasty dishes that could be made with them but cautioned that kitchen staff hate them because they are so laborious to prepare. But I couldn’t just let them rot on the vine… This is what the six beanstalks yielded.

Fava beans have both an outer pod and an inner membrane that surrounds the beans inside. When the beans are mature, both the outer pod and the inner membrane need to be removed for the beans to be palatable. Removing both is indeed laborious and involves shelling the beans and then blanching or heating in some other way to loosen the membranes. That’s why kitchen staff hate them. One chef suggested grilling the beans. Heat from the grill pops the pods, loosen the membranes and gives the beans a smoky flavor. So, that’s what I did. On the left–fava beans on the grill–on the right, grilled beans before shelling.

Even after grilling, shelling the beans and removing the membranes was a laborious process and yielded a pathetically small pile of cooked beans!

Just enough for a batch of hummus, made in the traditional way, with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice but with grilled fava beans in place of garbanzos. It was truly delicious, especially with the smoky flavor from the grill. But I will never have it again! That’s it for the fava saga!

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Shelter-in-Place Diary

Because life can be a little monotonous during shelter-in-place, I will try to keep it brief! For a change of pace from neighborhood walks, I took the dogs over to Alameda to walk along Shoreline. It was moderately busy. Most people were wearing masks. One person apparently lost her ice skates en route to the beach!

The Indivisible group I belong to has been raising money to support down-ballot candidates in “flip-able” states. Before the pandemic, we had been quite successful with events such as a “blues bash” and a Portuguese wine tasting. Now that we can’t host gatherings, we’ve switched to making masks. Asking folks to donate $10-15 per mask. A generous supporter donated quilting fabric for us to use–everything from cats to psychedelics. Special orders considered…

On May 9th, Programs in Bowen Theory hosted its first ever online conference. Like so many other organizations, offering online conferences was something we wanted to try eventually. But the pandemic forced a decision–postpone the in-person conference or go ahead and offer it online. Under Laura Havstad’s leadership, we forged ahead to offer the conference via Zoom. Instead of a full day format, we planned a half-day with two speakers on Bridging Cutoff. Attendance was about double what it usually is at an in-person conference and many people joined from other parts of the country and the world! Although in-person meetings may come back at some point, more live online content will almost certainly be offered in the future.

Otherwise, it’s walking the dogs, sorting through stuff in my house and selling things on eBay, participating in Zoom book groups and yoga classes, and hiking weekly with KA. We are now training for our next camping trip which we hope we can do as planned to Lassen in August.

Shopping for food takes more thought and planning than it used to. Is it safe to go to the store? Which store is best? Do you have to wait to get in? For how long? Or is it better to order online? What is the lead time before the groceries will be delivered? Which services tell you what is out of stock and offer substitutions while the shopper is in the store versus letting you know when the items are delivered? I’m still experimenting and have tried different options from week to week. It’s definitely a plus to be a “senior” in this situation with access to early morning shopping hours when the stores are less crowded and better stocked. Reliable access to paper products remains a challenge.

No need to be bored when there is so much content being offered online from the sublime (Lucia di Lammermoor from the Met’s free streaming service) to the ridiculous (Masterminds from the library’s Hoopla service). Masterminds is so dumb/funny I laughed out loud! My sense of humor is so juvenile.

Last but not least, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a granddaughter some time in mid-November! It’s a somewhat strange time to be pregnant, but my daughter Amy and her husband Justin are taking things in stride.

Stay safe. Be well.

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

What’s That Low Whine?

Seemed like it was time for another blog post, but what to write about? My obsession with finding out whether or not I really had Covid-19 in early March? Reminiscences about pleasant past experiences like the Pinnacles Retrospective? Boring accounts of my days under shelter-in-place? Complaints about what I’m missing? Plans for the (uncertain) future?

When in a half-waking state, as two furry creatures urged me to start the day, I was reminded that, although I’m not a Buddhist, Buddhist ideas about suffering and the causes of suffering have been helpful to me as I’ve navigated difficulties in the past. Shifting my thinking from what’s missing, what is gone from the past, what I want that is not possible–that privileged low whine–to appreciating what is available in the moment is worth the effort and lifts my mood.

How can you not live in the moment when greeted by this face? I miss hugging my human loved ones, but I’m grateful for cuddles with my furry companions.

And a visit to my garden, with or without wine is a reminder of the beauty that surrounds me. The Buddha on the left actually belongs to my friend KA of Pinnacles camping fame. It has a place of honor near my front door. When KA and I are not co-writing blog posts, we are social distance hiking with the dogs–a great opportunity to be outdoors with human and canine companionship! My daughter and I also social distance dog walk and she and my son both check in with me regularly to see if I need anything and just to talk about life and the universe.

Other connections are through a book group that already used Zoom before the pandemic, my yoga communities and teachers who have transitioned their classes to an online platform, my work with the Bowen theory community which has also always been distributed and technology enabled, and of course social networking on Facebook and Instagram with friends and family. So, I am far from being an isolated senior, despite social distancing and living alone. Just for today, I’m going to stop my whining and enjoy the moment.

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Pinnacles Retrospective

Hello, this is Katherine and Katrina hereafter known as KK and KA which should explain our cute spelling below.  We have been friends for almost 25 years: first as work colleagues then as hiking buddies and now camping pals. Last year, at Pinnacles National Park, on our first camping trip together, we consumed a couple of beers and decided that we were having such a grand time that we should share our adventures.

While following the current social distancing practices and without a lot to do, we revived the idea of a blog so we could reminisce about last year’s trip.  This is our Pinnacles Retrospective.

Kamping

When we’re not under “shelter-in-place” restrictions, March is a good time to go to Pinnacles. It gets cold at night, but daytime temperatures are perfect for hiking.  Our campsite was #79 in Loop C. We cannot recommend that site for Winter or early Spring camping because there’s a small stream of water that runs through the middle of the two tent pads.  It’s just a little too muddy. We checked out a few other sites for the next trip, you might like: #66, #61, #50, #40, and #37.

However, #79 is a wonderful site for viewing wildlife.  If you’re a birder, you will appreciate the California Quail, the Acorn Woodpeckers (left), the California Thrasher, the Water Pipits, and a variety of hawks overhead.

Kooking

Before we departed, we planned our meals on Google docs then procured our provisions.  Our first meal was a dutch oven dinner: short ribs marinated in Kinder’s garlic BBQ sauce and slow cooked over campfire coals.  Before cooking, we added a few quartered, small red potatoes, half of a head of peeled garlic cloves, and chunks of white onion plus a cup or two of water to dilute the saltiness of the Kinder’s.  

We served the stew along with iceberg lettuce wedges and blue cheese dressing. Yum! Red wine (don’t remember which one… probably from Trader Joe’s) was the perfect libation.

We conserved the broth from the dutch oven dinner and used it for the sweet potato chili we made on the second night.  Adding the broth kept it from being vegetarian, but added a rich umami flavor. We enjoyed a couple of Sierra Nevadas that night.   On our third night we had a simple ramen with canned salmon that was ideal after three days of hiking. Wine? Probably a Chardonnay.

For a sweet treat, we had brioche bombs with hazelnut chocolate.  Just take store bought croissants, cut them in half, and place a piece of your favorite fancy chocolate bar between the halves.  Wrap it in foil, stick a skewer in it, and roast it over the fire. It’s all melty goodness.

By the way, KK fed us oatmeal, yogurt, and Starbucks Via instant Italian Roast every morning to fuel us for our activities.

Hiking and Klimbing

On arrival, we acclimated by taking an easy stroll along Chalone and Bear creeks. It’s mostly a shaded trail with lots of wildflowers.  The Visitor Center has a board where campers can list the wildflowers they’ve seen.

The next day, we made the strenuous climb to the High Peaks.  When we got close to the top, we were fortunate to encounter a study group with a telescope. They invited us to view one of the tagged California Condors roosting on the rocks.  It’s good we actually saw a condor because we had spent several minutes studying a couple of Turkey Vultures that we were convinced were condors. KA’s photographs disproved our hopes of spotting condors on our own.

Besides the weather, another reason to visit Pinnacles in mid-March is that Bear Gulch Cave will be fully open before it’s pupping season for the colony of Townsend’s big-eared bats. So on day three, we explored Bear Gulch Cave.  There were some challenges with the stream running through the cave and flashlights or headlamps are required.

Kampsite

Back at boggy #79, on our second night, we endured our campground neighbors’ newborn (as moms, we were a little judgy about how young she was) crying all night.  The baby was probably cold–we sure were. They were nice people but that baby was miserable. The next day, her cries lured a coyote out of the woods to take a look.  Shortly after the coyote appeared, the family packed up and left. The following evening, we kicked back with beers and marveled at more wildlife: a trio of deer, a blue belly lizard, and a fox!

Konclusion

Pinnacles National Park is a great place to  visit. From the East Bay, it takes a little over two hours without traffic.  You can go for a day and climb the High Peaks and a three night trip allows you to experience much of the park.

Yours sincerely,

KK and KA (Note: KA took all the photos! KK left her phone out overnight and it froze! Inadvisable!)

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Shelter in Place

As of 12:01 am on Tuesday, March 17th, residents of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties have been ordered to “shelter in place” to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Most people were already working from home and schools and libraries have closed. This new measure limits non-essential travel as well as any type of gathering that is not required for health and well being–even or maybe especially–going to the gym or to a fitness class. Studios are scrambling to provide online classes to stay connected with their communities and provide people with much-needed stress relief.

It’s OK to hike outside as long as you remain six feet away from anyone who does not live in the same household. Dog walking fits within this type of outdoor activity, thank goodness. We are sticking with neighborhood walks and avoiding dog parks.

People in my age group are particularly advised to stay home as much as possible. My wonderful younger neighbors have offered a shopping pool so that more vulnerable folks don’t have to venture out to get groceries or other essentials. The ordinances allow restaurants to prepare food for takeout, but not serve food on the premises. Bars are closed. Thank goodness for streaming content, e-books, and online meeting platforms.

In late February/early March, I was quite sick (high fever, night sweats) but my doctor thought what I had was “regular flu.” If that was “regular flu” I certainly hope to avoid Covid-19. Stay safe, everyone. Shelter in place!

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Community Engagement Three Ways

While the events of the past year have inspired some folks to write about current events, I needed to spend time experimenting with and reflecting on how best to change what I was doing. According to Ghandi, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” With this in mind, I looked for opportunities to contribute in new ways Continue reading Community Engagement Three Ways Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

New Article on Strategic Planning

I am pleased to report that an article Kathy Dabbour at California State University Northridge (CSUN) and I wrote has just been published in the Journal of Library Administration 57 (4). The article, Dialogic Approaches to Strategic Planning in Academic Libraries, a contribution to the Strategic Planning and Assessment column edited by Wanda V. Dole, discusses trends towards strength-based methods for planning and describes how we used Appreciative Inquiry for strategic planning at CSUN.

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Academic Libraries, Community Engagement, and Service Learning

Are community engagement and service learning strategic priorities at your college or university? Are you wondering how your library can be more involved in community engagement and service learning? Do you want to know how you can take your service learning program to the next level? Continue reading Academic Libraries, Community Engagement, and Service Learning Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail