Saturday, December 29, 2012

Furry and Frivolous- The Saga of the Drips, a Pictorial

So I had some time on my hands, and my pet was around doing silly things.  Hence this.

Sit back and relax for some kitty antics.

Natural curiosity attracts the wild creature to her prey...the evil drip.

Being a natural detective, she goes straight for the origin.
"Starts here..."

"comes out of this shiny"

"I'm goin' in!"

"You gonna help, or you just gonna sit there with that phone thingie?"

She decided this was a better vantage point.
"I got this!"

Catlike reflexes engaged!

Evil, yet delicious drips acquired!

The End. 

Hold your applause. :P

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe

One thing I can do is dream. I've always had it in me. I'm a daydreamer who just takes it to bed and keeps it going.

When I was dreaming of a white Christmas, I wasn't really picturing being forced off the expressway into whiteout conditions between cornfields with ravines dug on either side that our car could slip into at any moment.

Sometimes my heart runs away with my mind and creates pictures. Some I've seen before...maybe I'm Zuzu, and Daddy can scoop me up and give me the petals and make everything ok again.

Maybe I'll be restless and wander out to get a sandwich, and I'll sit down at a piano with that special someone, and he'll sing a whole song about counting your blessings instead of sheep.  Maybe we'll go to the window and he'll ever so gently slip his arm around my waist as the snow falls serenely outside.   Maybe we'll sit by a fire and sip cocoa.

Maybe everyone I love will be in the same place and we'll all get along, and there'll be music and meals and laughter.  The tree will be beautiful, and everyone will linger and talk and have a glass of wine and stay for awhile.  Maybe some grinch will change their mind and carve the roast beast.

Sometimes it does you harm to dream.  Sometimes you need to put your feet on the ground and realize life isn't like that.  You don't always get the Red Ryder carbine-action 200 shot Range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.

Sometimes I'll be Home for Christmas is playing in the background, and you're alone, and you've lost someone.  You're sad for what could have been, what wasn't, and what your life will be like.  Christmas is sometimes just hard, and lonely, and reminds you of the things you're missing.  I'll admit, I've been finding Christmas a little bit that way this year.  I was trying to enjoy it, but coming up short.

I'm down here in Jacksonville.  I've been here for Christmases past, when I was younger and my cousin Laura and I dressed up in identical nightgowns and every piece of costume jewelry in the household, added some shades and sashayed down the creaky old stairs to the adults.  I've been in secret spy clubs with passwords and laminated cards where our only task was to find the presents and figure out what they were.  There's a lot of history here.

This year, we came down early.  We sat in the front room with some much needed wine after the harrowing drive and chatted.  We formed a search party for a dying phone.  We met Louie, the new pup, and patted Toby, the old pup, on the head.  We watched White Christmas and we putzed around and we retired to our couches or beds or air mattresses.

We did the shop til you drop, and then we had a wonderful dinner of prime rib at the same dining room table we've had big family meals at for as long as I can remember.  My cousins and I stayed at the table awhile after, chatting about shows and movies and people.   We exchanged gifts and had another glass.  It was really nice.

But it wasn't til tonight that I got there.  My uncle and cousins came up after the Illini game ended, my aunt surprised me with birthday cake, and everyone piled into the living room.  My uncle pulled up a chair, grabbed the remote and polled the audience for the Christmas movie we'd watch.  Same as always.  All 3 dogs joined us, sometimes creating a Christmas Vacationy sort of chaos, sometimes sitting quietly.  We settled on the end of the Grinch, and something about hearing everyone recite their favorite parts made me smile.  When that was over, we put on A Christmas Story.   Somewhere during that, I took this picture.  Because when I looked around me, I saw that no, maybe I had no dad to scoop me up and make everything ok.  Maybe this year wasn't the one for gentle snow and handholding and singing.  But there's such a safety and a comfort in unspoken tradition- in that gather round we have.  People pull up chairs, corners of sofas, slices of floor...and we just sit together, and watch something we've all seen 100 times.  And that's Christmas, and that's family....and that's perfect, for me.

I've been thinking about it a long time this year, because some of the people I love the most are suffering, and this season tends to get salt in those wounds, even when you try hard to fight it.  I've got wounds of my own, some new and some old.

But to whomever reads this...I hope you can find your Christmas.  I hope you can hold onto something that makes you feel safe and loved.  That's what I wish for you.

And to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Million Little Pieces

The first time I ran across a pomegranate in the "wild," (y'know, the grocery store...) I knew that I liked the flavor.  And it looked exotic, and it was different, and it was something to do.

So I bought it and I took it home, and when a friend came over, we tried to crack into it. Keep in mind I knew nothing about the fruit.  It was completely alien to me.  I didn't really even know which parts were edible.   I found out that it was tough to get into.   So I got out my big knife, and I sliced it in quarters the way you'd do with an apple or an orange or really, most any other kinda-spherical fruit.

As soon as it was sliced open, rivers of almost bloodlike red poured out.  It immediately stained the counter, our hands, and the wooden cutting board, and the stains seemed rather indelible. We laughed and picked at it and we tried the skeletal, tough whitish part, in case it was edible.  It wasn't.  We gnawed on it all of 30 seconds before we discovered this. It was bitter and had no redeemable use.  So we tried to tear it apart.  This just resulted in more bleeding, more staining and more laughing.

Eventually, we decided even though the wifi was spotty up in White Rock, googling might do us some good. It turns out if you soak the pomegranate when it's cut like that, it's easy to separate the little alien seeds from their little alien pods.  It turns out also that the little alien seeds that contain the ruby red juice are where all the good stuff is.  Seemed like a lot of work for a bunch of tiny seeds.

Still, we soaked it.  We brushed off the arils into the water- they sink while the pith floats, making it relatively easy to separate what you want from what you don't.  A few minutes later, hands still slightly pink, and counters still stained, we got the prize- tiny little gems bursting with tangy juice.

I was separating one of these suckers tonight, and it made me think.  I always think in metaphors, and there's a lot to think about this week.  There's a lot of pain and a lot of confusion and a lot of....stuff.

I guess I was thinking about the things you do and why you do them.  Usually it's worth it to you in some way.   Then I was thinking about people, and the people that are worth it to you- the relationships.  I think it starts out a lot like this situation did.  You know nothing.  You know there's something there that's attractive, and you want to get at it, but you don't even know how.  Maybe you pass it up or maybe you take it home and stare at it awhile.  Then you get inside of it.  The friendship forms and it stains, hopefully indelibly. This is the first part where you can tuck and run, because this is the first time it's ever risky.  Sitting on your counter, you can stare at it or let it go bad.  Open on the counter it's gonna start to affect your life.

But you're not done yet.  It's a part of you, but you haven't figured out how it works yet.  If you put in that work, you find 530 (if the Greeks were right) perfect little reasons it was worth all that work.  It's sweet and it's tart and it's good for you. And you're probably still going to keep getting stained, but it's worth it.

For me that's how it works. And if I find those 530 reasons, I'll take the stains and I'll take the soak and I'll take the work.  Because it's worth it.

I don't find pomegranates often. They're not always in season. They're expensive.  They're rare enough to be a special treat for me.   And I guess...that's how I see the most important people in my life. Or it is tonight.

Sometimes you have to sort through and figure out why.  Why are you gonna let yourself get hurt? Why are you gonna keep trying?  Why risk it?  Why run into pith and gnaw on bitterness and ruin some of your own things?

And I guess you have to figure out how far you'll go for those 530 reasons, and if the sweetness inside of the thing is worth enough to you to risk it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Things I Learned from My Mom is my Mom's birthday (and in her honor, we won't say which one)

I thought it would be neat, since she's joined the blogosphere, to make a different kind of birthday card, and tell whoever is out there reading this some things I've learned in thirty years with my mom.

30. If you don't want to heat all of Illinois, you need to SHUT THAT DOOR!
29. Why wouldn't a woman be able to change the oil in a car?
28. Road trips are a good thing.
27. You can still have fun on a kraft mac and cheese budget.
26. But eventually, you gotta switch from Kraft Mac and Cheese to Lunchables?
25. Do what you do because it's what you do.
24. Go potty before you leave the house!
23. Brush your hair so you look presentable whenever you go out.
22. It's ok to be an individual- you aren't like anyone else.
21. Don't forget to be good to people though.
20. Everyone's got a little artistic streak or creative side in them.
19. Creativity is important, and you should be proud of it.
18. Travel.
17. Look out the window or you'll miss a bunch of stuff that was just outside your window.
16. Don't be afraid to be smart.
15. SOMETIMES it's ok to just do nothing.
14. Hard work is important.
13. Scrub under your nails.
12. Make your bed.
11. Thank people
10. Believe in little miracles (and big ones)
9. No matter what happens to you, you can get through it.
8. You need to learn to be independent.
7. Even though you can do it on your own, it doesn't mean you shouldn't let people help you.
6. Don't take too much medicine-let your body get strong enough to fight it.
5. Do what you have to do even if it hurts.
4. Love.
3. Remember that your family is important.
2. Remember that you're loved.
1. You can be a strong, amazing woman who can do anything you put your mind to.

So thanks Mom, and Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Tonight I'm not doing ok.

I'll start there. Then you'll understand why when I look at this same thing tonight, I think maybe she doesn't see the storm, or maybe she does and she just wants to imagine it away, and she's minutes from being swept away by the storm surge.

I think she is malevolent and angry, and it's not a calm blue sea, it's absolute isolation- nothing and no one to hold on to.

I think the color is draining from her face, not reflecting from some light source.

Tonight the blue lips are frozen and wordless- she'll never say the things she wants to say, out of fear, because when you're already hurting the last thing you want is to open yourself up to get hurt some more.

Tonight she's tossing everything good in the ocean and walking away, foolishly, because it seems easier than trying to find its place.

Tonight I'm hiding in analogies because I feel alone, upset and like I'm shouting into the wind and nobody can hear me.

Tonight I don't want to sleep it off because I'm afraid of what I'd dream.

See what I mean about art?
I wish I wasn't so angry tonight.

Monday, November 26, 2012


This is the sea witch...or maybe just a girl someone knew once.  She hangs above my bed now, an incredibly generous gift from the artist, who is a friend of mine.  The first time I saw it something in it clicked with me. He remembered that, and one day he told me he wanted me to have it.

The thing I love about art and music is how it reads into you.  I love to see how it affects people, and what they see when they look at it, because it tells you something about who they are, and you get a glimpse into how they see the world. I love to look at paintings and try to figure out what the artist may have felt or been thinking, too.

When I look at her, strength is the first thing I'm drawn to.  Her eyes stare right into you, and she doesn't waver.  Where someone else might see malevolence I see power and calm control. There's a storm building behind her, but she doesn't look back.

She's vibrant- her hair a web of colors and reflections of light. And even though all the different colors shouldn't work, and shouldn't flow, they do. Wild and subdued together.

Endless ocean behind her, nothing on the horizon, the light catches her face and she's awash in color and light.

What I love about this painting is that it's about strength and light, color and calm, storms and determination. There's something inside me that wants to be her sometimes, that wants to find that blend of ferocity and calm, and that wants to be every color all at once, but have it still make sense.  Sometimes I want to be able to put the storm behind  me and be fearless.  I want to stare down the things I close my eyes to, and believe the sea is calm and cool behind me.  I want to fight when it's time to fight but always restrain it with wisdom and love.

I love, too, that it's a little rough around the edges, maybe just a little unfinished.  Because somewhere I think we all are just waiting for another brushstroke to finish the picture.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Little Rain Must Fall

So I'm back!
I was keeping to a pretty regular schedule here, and then I got the plague.  The "I-think-I'd-rather-die-please-just-bury-me" kind, where you can't even enjoy guiltlessly watching awful television with incredibly unwashed hair.

I'll spare you gory details, but it was really really unpleasant.  I'm still slightly afraid to eat meals. And at least personally, I'm a wuss about these kinds of things, and it's one of my least favorite things on Earth. Not that anyone likes to be any kind of sick. Just sayin'.

You might say it's in keeping with the weekend I had. I might have said that too, at least at first.  A fun trip got bogged out and then completely dismantled by extreme illness (which I'd later catch, of course.)

And I could complain about missing out on bluffs and fall colors.  I could complain about how it was supposed to be a carefree fun time for me and someone I really care about, and it was mostly an exercise in worst- case scenario.

And you know what? It's ok to complain. It's ok to be upset when things don't work out. That's something I have to remember too. Not that I didn't let myself have the "cry in the dark" moment.  I did.

But there was time by the fire, and goofy conversations.  There was lazy mornings and late nights with rain falling on the roof.  There was fall colors, even if they passed by in watercolor brush strokes on the way home....

You know how people always say that all that matters is who you're with?  And you know how you go "oh my God, that's a cliche."

Sometimes it's not. Or it always is, but sometimes it applies.
Because when you look back, and you realize that even in the "worst case scenario", you weren't alone and you had someone to talk to, someone to laugh with even?  And when you realize that you survived it and came out even better for it?  When your stomach hurt like hell because you were laughing?  When you realized that yeah, things suck right now in a lot of ways, but we got this?  And when situations like the one I ran into recently happen, it strips down the barriers, you know?  No time for fronts. Care out in the open, because there's no other way to be about it.

I keep thinking about it because I wasn't the one who reached this conclusion right away. I just wanted it fixed. I wanted it to be easy and fun because I thought that's what would be best.  And ok, being rained out and getting awfully sick, that's really not ideal. Would I take it back though? I don't know.  I hate seeing anyone in pain, and I hate being in pain.  There's things I'm sure we'd have enjoyed that we didn't get to.  But it's not always about that.  And that's a lesson we've all learned before but have to keep learning.  The hard stuff can be the good stuff too. So I'm a little bit glad.

And that's how I am tonight.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back home

I've been away on a housesitting/dogsitting job for about a week now. It's nice to get away, nice out to be in the quiet, and since I love animals, it's a lot of fun to visit other peoples' pets. I love dogs and cats, and since I don't have dogs, it can be fun to take them out for walks, talk to them and generally confuse them to death when you zip yourself inside a mummy bag and they have NO clue why any human would do such things.

As nice as that all is, it was nice to be back at home last night.  My cat, the furball pictured above, was waiting for me.  In fact, she was waiting to intentionally ignore me to my face, because that's what cats do when they're upset that you left.  She ran down the stairs like she always does to greet me when I come home from work or being out somewhere else, but as soon as I acknowledged her even a little, she took a haughty little turn on her back paws and marched herself back up the stairs.

I think some people would consider it off-putting. But one thing I like about cats is that they really seem to have many different emotions, and it's easy to read them.  Later on when she ran into my closet, I scooped her up for some cuddles, and she protested loudly as though it was torture and she  But at the same time she was letting out her sharp little protest meows, she was nuzzling her face into mine and leaning into the pets she was getting.

And as much as I loved all the tail wagging and balls getting shoved into my hands this weekend...there's something about my strange little ring-tailed drip hunter, and the way she yells about everything and nothing at all.  There's something about that nuzzle from your very own pet that lets you know you're loved that you can't replace.

I've always had pets, and I hope I always will.  Yes, they cost money. Yes, they chew fences or tear holes in plastic bags you didn't want them to.  They track litter onto your floor or barf in the corner or eat the trash. They lick parts of them they shouldn't lick when they're in the center of your living room on Christmas Day...but the love you get from an animal is irreplaceable.

That's one of the reasons I love the picture above- I look at that picture and I see *my* pet.  My pet that has travelled cross country with me, and slept like a teddy bear in  my arms, and who comes and yells at me every morning when I take a shower.  The one who knows when I'm sick or sad and comes and curls up with me, even though she's more of an independent soul most days.  The one who loves me just as much as I love her.

People usually don't give their love as easily as animals do.  It's harder to know, and you won't always get that "I miss you" that you want to hear so badly (but won't admit, of course).  You won't always be able to just look at someone and know.  Pets give you something I think everyone actually wants- the feeling of being needed and loved, and more importantly, being needed and loved openly.  But then, I always did think we could learn something from our pets.

I think if we're lucky, not only will we find someone who loves us that openly...we'll be open to being loved that way, and to loving someone that way right back.

Now, get out of here and go hug your pet.  Unless it's a goldfish...because...I don't think they'd appreciate that too much.  But y'know, maybe give em a shake of the flakes?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tarantella23 and the Angry Toe

This is my toe when it's angry.  Scary, is it not?  It's also what I do when I have Sharpies and a lot of free time.  In fact, this was something I did to attempt to cheer up a friend.  Sometimes I find being extremely, utterly weird throws people off enough to make them smile when they're not feeling great.  Plus...truth be told, I enjoy being extremely, utterly weird sometimes.

I thought of this picture tonight because I needed a little cheering up, and I needed to remember who I am a little, and who I want to be able to be.

A long time ago, a good friend of mine cornered me, so to speak, and asked me why I felt like I always had to prove myself.  It took me by surprise because I didn't see it in myself, and I didn't know anyone else could either.  It's been a turning point since then, though sometimes I've made slow progress.

I didn't used to like my name when I was little, because it was weird.  I didn't tell people my middle name because it was still weirder. (It's a public blog so no, I'm not putting it here either, but it's for security reasons). One day in a cemetery visiting the grave of someone I loved very much, I realized how special it is, and how powerful. Now if I don't share it with the world it's not due to shame or awkwardness, it's because it's a precious precious gift I want to protect.

We all figure out who we are as we go along.  That's how it's supposed to be, I think.  But I also believe that the people that really love you accept you for who you are, weird angry toes and all.   And I won't prove myself to anyone anymore.  From stranger on the street to family, say what you will.  You don't like the way I dress? You don't like the dress size? You don't like who I'm voting for?  Well, that's fine.  You don't have to, but I don't have to apologize either.

I prefer Macs, though I know they're too expensive, and though I use a PC  (which i also like, and does more for the money. hey folks, it's POSSIBLE)  I like to play video games with people socially, though I'm not a hard core gamer.  I think organized religion has a lot wrong with it.  I doodle constantly, and I ADORE editing anything and everything I can for grammar, punctuation and especially spelling, even though I am guilty of abusing the English language for fun sometimes, and I make up words, and I write run-on sentences when I think the situation calls for it.  I have a weird obsession with nail polish lately.  I like to buy magazines, and I think it's a compulsion.  I'm a dork about cooking, photography, writing, and music. I don't care if they're the popular interest and if everyone else or no one else is interested in those things, they're things I love to do and want to get great at.  I talk to my cat when I'm in the shower, and she meows back at me.  I ADORE puns, to a fault.  I like absurd humor.  I'm a treehugging hippie nature freak, and if you let me loose near water, I will be IN it without hesitation 9 out of 12 months of the year. I love to drive, and I don't drive home the same way every day because I can't stand that, gas mileage be damned. I eat pickles and then drink milk. I love travel, but I freak out the night before I leave on any trip and insist I don't want to go, no matter how badly I actually DO want to go.  I seem openhearted, but I build some killer walls around my heart and I clam up like...a clam of steel sometimes.  (that's...weird....too...)

I watch America's Next Top Model no matter how much worse it gets every season, or how much Tyra scares me sometimes. I can recite Princess Bride from start to finish but I've probably not seen a bunch of movies everyone else has. Or so I'm told ;).  If you give me a blanket when I'm watching a movie, chances are I will check out in about half an hour, but I also LOVE blankets. I don't really have much of a sweet tooth, unless you're holding gummis, KitKats or Tootsie Rolls....but I'd give up candy altogether for flowers, because I love them so much more.

I snore ever since I moved back to IL from NM, and it pisses me off.  I'm allergic to almost anything airborne, and some things that aren't.  I will eat all your strawberries with no remorse.  I sleepwalk and sleeptalk, though rarely anymore.  I HATE mornings, and you probably shouldn't try talking to me for the first two hours of  my day, and especially don't expect me to remember anything first thing in the morning.  I like to intentionally mispronounce things and read signs on the side of the road, especially if the light is out so it's not Dun Don's or Fo Eyes.  Or Barnes and Noble Boosellers.

I'm bad at confrontation, and I don't always speak up when I should. Sometimes, my feet smell really, really bad.

I believe in silliness, and I don't think it's something you should outgrow.

I love who I love how I love them, and it's nobody's decision but my own who I choose, and nobody's right to judge. I don't ask you to love all the people I do or even like them, all I ask is you respect my decision to do so.

I am me.  I'm good with it, smelly feet, run-on sentences, milk and pickles and all.

And that has to be enough.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I'm not sure what to write about tonight, and I'm not sure where it will go, but I felt like it was something I should do.

I know I've mentioned it before, and to anyone in the North (and maybe the South, though I can't say with absolute certainty) it's fairly obvious to those whose rods and cones are working that it's fall. Things are turning copper, orange, yellow and red before they die away into the whites, grays and browns of winter.   It's natural, and it's beautiful.

For me, it's a time I can't help but look back.  Sometimes I find I do so fondly, but it hasn't really been that way recently.  I enjoy the amazing colors and the bite in the air, and I enjoy entertaining thoughts of sweaters and chili and cuddling up under blankets.  As wonderful as all that color is though, it's a sign, and an ending.  The light's fading and the leaves aren't holding on anymore.

It's just a going dormant and the spring will bring all the signs of life back.  I sometimes feel like I want to go dormant in certain arenas though.  Here's the part where there'd be some grand analogy involving the brightest leaves being the first to fall.

I guess the dark coming earlier has me worried when I'll see the light again.  The changes in weather are matching the way I feel like I'm safe to open my heart one day and another I need to bury it in the floorboards.  And here's the things, I like extremes.  I like raging fires and crashing waves and violent lightning and thunder...most of the time.   But I don't need that now. I need pastoral.  Neat little bundles of hay in a row that makes sense in a little cornfield somewhere where everything is in a row.   It's not normal for me to want that but I do.  I want to feel safe, and I want to feel cared for.  I don't want to look out the window every day and have no idea what it's going to feel like when I step outside, because I've been trying to adapt to the changing weather for too long and I need to rest.

What I want is fall.  Blankets and rainy nights and the distant sounds of high school football games and marching bands.   What I want is to wrap up in a comfortable sweater and know that it'll be okay when I step outside.

I hope I find that feeling soon, and I start to look at fall as the sun catching the world on fire again. I hope when I do it's contagious.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Washington Wrap-Up: Grab Bag Edition.

Well, it's been fun recounting tales of my recent cross country road trip and the adventures I had during it, but fall is in FULL tilt already here, and there are regular posts to get back to.

 I've had so much fun writing and sharing photos that I've been inspired all over again to try to do one at least    every other day. Trying to go every day doesn't really work when you're also going to classes and y'know, going out into the world and finding the stories. 

That was a little fall teaser, but what I want to do today is share the rest of my Seattle/WA pictures, in no particular order.  Free association! Whatever comes out comes out! Hold on to your hemp hats! 

 So...remember the advice we learned earlier?  This is the thing you should not eat.  Mount Rainier.  I can't say I've ever seen a mountain quite like it, and that it's so alone on the landscape makes it more dramatic. I never got close enough to get the types of shots I'd like to have gotten, but I thought this one was pretty neat. Ben told me that Fuji,Japan is a sister city to Seattle, and one of the similarities is the way that Mt. Fuji stands alone against the backdrop of the city just like Mt. Rainier does in Seattle.   I recently found out there's a whole national park at Mt. Rainier.  This is now on my list of things to do on future WA trips.

The sunset over Puget Sound.  This is something I'd like to watch as many times as I can get the chance.  This picture was taken across from Pike Market, but it reminds me of the feeling I got at dinner that night- knowing you're on the coast or at least near it, and looking out into such an immense horizon...on some level it should be scary, but in a different way it's so calming and so welcome, at least for me.

 This is just a snap of Seattle as Patty and I were wandering our way back to the docks to get to the ferry.  I didn't realize Seattle shut so much down so early...which is how we missed Pike's while it was open, and what also gave us a bit of the heebie's much nicer to be in an unfamiliar city that seems active, and where we were at the time of the photo really didn't seem to be.  Strangely desolate for a big city.  I knew Chicago slept at some point, but I guess Seattle sleeps a little earlier, at least where this photo is taken.
I have a friend I didn't get to meet up with who wants to give me a tour of Seattle and show me the hip spots so I'm hoping to find more nightlife if I take him up on that. 

 You can't spell Seattle without coffee....or something.   There were, just as I'd been told there would be, thousands upon thousands of coffee shops.  There's even TOPLESS coffee shops.  This isn't an extreme coffee drinking sport where they fill the cups up real high and don't put lids on them, forcing you to be careful in your drinking so you don't spill.  No, this is TOPLESS PEOPLE SERVING COFFEE.  I had no idea, first of all, that this occurred...and on top of that...HOT COFFEE...SENSITIVE BODY PARTS!!  And my final thought on that is this...does this not change the whole "laid-back, might be a date, might not" dynamic to "let's grab coffee sometime?"  I mean, if you say that in Seattle, do you have to qualify it by being like "but not topless coffee..." Just sayin'.

 This was later into the sunset the same night, right on the docks by Ivar's.  A pretty pastel palette on the stilling waters, with the soft blue outlines of the mountains in the distance.   This is something to look forward to seeing again and again...
This is a place I didn't get to go, but is on my list for next time. It's right down by the ferry, and people SWEAR by the place.  I'm not opposed to more seafood on the Sound.  I'm like a moth, and I'm attracted to neon, hence the many many neon pictures in this post. :D

Seattle has a really pretty skyline, especially when you're coming in from the ferry.  They even have a ferris wheel like Chicago does on Navy Pier.  Ours is more giant, and has better views, but this is a passable one. :P

You know the whole moth thing I mentioned just a little bit ago?  I also enjoy lame jokes/plays on words.  Hence.

This is Pike's Market.  It was on my list of places to get to, especially since I'd been told there was absolutely nothing like the flower market, and I ADORE flowers. If I had the money, I think I'd always have fresh flowers in my place, year round.  Anyway, due to the wonderful, laid-back dinner at Anthony's, we got to the market after it closed, which I guess was around 7.  I still got to peek around a little, which was fun. 

I'm pretty sure Seattle has a thing for neon, too.

This is something else I want to see at Pike's...during the day this is full of fishmongers tossing fish around all willy-nilly.  I worked in a seafood department once, and had seen a motivational video when I was still working in an office about this place. I thought it'd be neat to see the market at full bore with everyone throwing flounders around.   So I'll add that to the reasons why I need to visit Seattle again soon.  Apparently, the wall of gum is a must see as well.  I don't know how I feel about that.

I don't have an explanation for this other than that I like to take pictures, and I wanted to goof off with the lines and the contrast. So...hey! Pike's Market's women's room wall!

And since I didn't know where to put this earlier...this is what I left in Seattle for Patty- her going away present. This is all hand made by yours truly. I wanted to give her some kind of piece of Chicago so she wouldn't get homesick.  Here's a pro tip: If you draw IL, first of all, it's harder to draw than you'd think, and second of all, if you draw it on the reverse side of your glittery paper, it'll come out as backwards IL, and since you're a procrastinator and it's already late (y'know, theoretically. I wouldn't know anything about this), you'll be really mad that you have a glittery BACKWARDS IL.  Just sayin'.

The outside of the frame is a bunch of different Chicago-y things.  Blue Men, DA CUBS, DA BEARS...da sox...The Trib...all kinds of things.  I had a lot of fun doing this, and I think it'd be fun to do again. Not that I want any more friends moving so far away...but I am glad to say...I have 3 fantastic reasons to go back to Washington if the national parks, Puget Sound and Seattle itself weren't reason enough...and probably one more reason, since I really feel like through the trip, I gained a new friend in Tim.  

It was a fantastic trip, and I really do hope to come out and see everyone all over again, and do some more exploring.  If you ever thought about going to WA...I really hope this convinces you to check it out.  And if you never have...I hope this convinces you to put it on your list.  That and Idaho, and Montana. 

I love to travel, and I love to explore...and I've loved sharing my stories and pictures too.  This is me at my happiest...travelling, writing, photographizing (making up words...)...and being with the people I love. It's not really possible to do this every day...but I want to find ways to incorporate more things I love into my life every day. And hopefully, some of you will come along for the ride.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cityside- The Washington Files 4!

So I think last we left off, we were touring around the city. I love to explore cities, try new restaurants, shop, explore, take pictures (I know, you're shocked) and see the sights.  And while the city is beautiful, and I'd love to explore it more the next time I'm in WA...this may well have been my favorite part of the day. 

Ben took us to Golden Gardens Beach on Puget Sound. It's beautiful, active,  and the weather couldn't have been more perfect.

These two are two of my favorite people, and they're friends of mine going back to high school.  I was in band with Ben, and met Patty on a field trip when she bought a cello from a guy in Chicago who warned us about the demons outside his front door.  We remained close or got even closer after high school and spent late spring, all summer and into fall around bonfires having barbecues and sharing stories. 

 We're not all in the same town anymore- not even all in the same state, so just getting to see Ben again was great. There's something about being back in the presence of your close friends when it's been a while.  We had a little adventure getting *to* Ben when we got off the ferry, but as soon as I got in the car, I felt a sense of familiarity wash over me, and the city didn't seem so foreign anymore.  I'm really grateful for the kind of friend Ben is. We hadn't seen each other for over a year and we don't always talk too much...but it didn't take any words at all to know the relationship we had was still there.   Patty being there made it even better- just felt like a reunion of sorts. 

The park was perfect- there were a lot of people there but the feel of it was that everybody was just out to have fun.  Ben and I always liked to take long walks together, so it seemed pretty natural to be walking along the shoreline catching up, laughing, inventing strange creatures (I didn't forget about the HC, man.) and laughing. There was a light breeze, the sun was nice and warm, and you could make out the outline of the  mountains from the shore. 

So this isn't my best shot by a long shot...but I think it sums up how the day was going.  And anyway, when you're with your friends, it's not so much about how ridiculous you look.  The thing that struck me about this is how happy we both looked.  We were on the shoreline hunting crabs when I took this. 

 Shortly after this, we got in touch with someone else who's really special to me, the fabulous Ms. Wing.   She's a friend of mine I met through other friends, including Patty, and who became very important to me.  She's creative, wise, funny, and warm.  I was nervous to finally get to meet her in person, and when she got out of the car and hugged, I knew the friendship we'd forged over forums and letters and emails was just as strong as I'd thought.    She met us at Anthony's HomePort Shilshole Bay, which is a wonderful seafood restaurant that sits right on the Sound.  Ben came along, and fit right in.   We had cocktails, laughed and talked for way too long before we even opened the menus, and watched some people learning to paddleboard past where we were sitting on the balcony. It was a gorgeous night.

Seafood when you're right on the ocean was something I wasn't going to pass up, and I wasn't disappointed. I had a seafood alfredo with scallops, prawns, shrimp and was amazing.   But honestly? The conversation, the wind in our hair (though it got cold) and the friendships evident all across the table were the absolute best part.

Towards the end of the meal, the sun started to set behind our table, and it was amazing.

I couldn't have thought of a single place I'd rather be than where I was that day, and it wouldn't have been nearly as amazing were it not for the company. It wasn't the end of the trip, either, but it could have been, and I'd still have been one happy camper. 

You don't always think about how much difference your friends make, but this day it was pretty clear, and pretty easy to just feel it.  So to Wing, and Ben, and Patty...

You made my day.  Your friendship is so, SO important to me, and I'm so glad we got this day to enjoy it. I hope there's many more like it. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The time warp! The Washington Files Part...3?

When last we left off, our intrepid travellers had journeyed their last road, eaten their last gas station sandwich, and panicked about rolling backwards down their last hill.  The author had written her last incoherent runon sentence. (Ok, who am I kidding? I'll probably do that again, and soon!)

There's a bit of a wrinkle in time between the end of the last story and the beginning of this one.  This is because when we arrived, there was a whole day of moving trucks, allergies, restaurants in which at least 2 people were falling asleep at any one time (restaurants with excellent pie, though) and....hotel rooms with Bones and me and Patty.  Good times.  Except the allergies and stuff.  

It was Saturday I had really been looking forward to, because it was my first pure vacation day.   We were headed to Seattle, and not only that, we were about to meet up with two old friends, Ben and the fabulous Winger.  Fair warning: I may split Seattle into two posts....because there were two very separate reasons it was as amazing as it was.

Patty and I got dropped off at the ferry station (port? sea...hut?) and prepared for our first trip across Puget Sound.  It was actually kind of overcast and dreary when we got there.  It reminded me vaguely of The Ring.

These birds? not harbingers. So we dodged a bullet there, I guess.  As an aside, anybody know what type of fine feathered non harbinger friends these are? I'm curious. 

It's strange how foreign things can seem.  The ferry is probably (and somewhat embarassingly) the biggest boat I've ever been on.  I like the way the passenger section is set up. There's good places for you if you're alone or with a group, and there's tables, arcade games, and concessions. There's also window spots and spots on the open deck, if you're a natural born gawker like I am. 

Patty's happy this is significantly less creepy than the El. 

Anyway...the clouds seemed to go on their way pretty quickly, and we got a great view across Puget Sound.  Mountains a vague blue in the distance, sparkling blue waters, and the thick pine forest, busy bridges, and homes scattered along the shorelines.  

It's not too long a trip, not too expensive.  It was a good time to just relax, enjoy the ride, and see the sights. I keep wondering what makes a sound a sound...I'm not terribly familiar with sounds as opposed to islands or isthmuses or peninsulas, etc.  Must be a Washington thing. ;)

Seattle came into view fairly quickly, and from further out, it looked quite a bit smaller than it turned out to be.  We disembarked our fair ferry and attempted to meet up with Ben.  This was easier said than done. One thing I will say about Seattle: If you come in on the ferry,and you're trying to get picked up by a's really not set up well for you to be able to do that. I really have to hand it to poor Ben for tolerating tons of circling on a big scary highway just to pick us up.  

I found that Seattle has the type of vibe you tend to expect from it- young, hip, green and smart.  I didn't expect hills whose steepness  I'd only heard existed  in San Francisco.  Ben navigated through like it was his backyard, and he turned out to be an excellent tour guide.  We learned alot about the various neighborhoods, got to drive through a few of them, and had some "local" experiences- I think it was a really nice mix. 

We got in around lunch time, so we headed out to a Mexican place whose claim to fame is having baby sized burritos. 

I can't decide if this is creepy, amusing, disturbing or all of the above.  Maybe all of the above?

After lunch, we explored Ben's place of employ, an incredibly neat bookstore called The Couth Buzzard.  First of all, I never name things well (see: title of this post) and I find this an amazing, memorable name. But more than that, it's homey.  It has the musty book smell, the shelves on wheels that clear for music performances, local photographers displaying their work, and a coffee counter.  More or less a nirvana for the bookish nerds.  We got lost in there for a while, tried some interesting coffee drinks (I tried something called The Stinger, which is espresso, coffee, cayenne, honey...and something else? milk? It hurts a little, but then you flyyyyy), found a few neat card prints by a Seattle artist, and generally meandered the bookshelves. 

I'm glad we know this.

We stopped at a really interesting little space store that's actually a children's educational center too, and we hit a few more landmarks, like the Troll.   

We also got to go to Golden Beach right on Puget Sound. I promise there's more about this tomorrow, but it was a completely gorgeous day- probably high 70s or low low 80s, pure sunshine, wonderful breeze and sparkling water.  This was kind of a theme on this trip. 

We got our toes in the sand, watched sailboats, saw lots of happy dogs playing catch or Frisbee (including one poor German Shepherd who was unhappy to discover he could not, in fact, hold an entire volleyball in his mouth.  He kept trying, but he'd just drop it and whine sadly.) We hunted crabs, sat in the sun, and got a little wistful seeing a cute older couple taking a labored stroll through the park hand in hand. 

We headed out from there and I think, honestly, if the day had ended there I would have been pretty damn content.  But we had much more to do. 

We took another small driving tour and then we met up with the wonderful Wing, who's a friend of mine for at least the last 7 years who I'd known online through other real life friends, and someone who'd been there for me through a lot.  It was exciting to meet her.  We'd told her the neighborhood we were in and she'd suggested a place called Anthony's for dinner. 

It was GORGEOUS.  Right on the water, and we rolled in just as the sun was starting to set over Puget Sound.  The seafood was absolutely fantastic, and I'd had it on my list to get seafood while on the West Coast...I got a seafood alfredo full of the freshest shrimp, prawn, was amazing.  We were there forever, laughing, talking and enjoying the food and company. 

This is the kind of thing that makes me feel overwhelmingly lucky.  Getting to see places like this. Getting to share them with old friends, to laugh and talk and try something new.  To relax...and to get lost in a moment like this.  

Again, I think I'd have been completely happy with the day ending here.  Full tummies, a cocktail, a beautiful sunset, laughter and friends.   I think that's all you can really ask for.