Monday, November 22, 2010

What a crazy, snowy day

The first snow of the year, in a town that doesn't get snow at all. I don't mean Seattle doesn't see its fair share of the stuff – we get a pretty nice amount every other year or so. I mean we don't get snow. It befuddles us. We can't walk in it, drive in it, we can't dress for it, we can't predict it and we cannot deal with it when it arrives.
My commute this morning was nearly two hours, because of a couple of wrecks on the Aurora Bridge.

Once I finally got past the blockage, I discovered that my power steering had stopped working. Great. 

I struggled with the car until I got to work, called the dealership, and got a few things done before leaving again at 1:00 to take the car in.

To my great surprise, when I started it up and left the parking garage, the steering seemed to be fine. I called up the dealership: "Do I really need to bring it it?" I was dreading the repair cost, because while I love my car very much, it's never cheap on those few occasions that I have to get something fixed.

"Yes, bring it in. It went out once, it could go out again."


I was actually not unhappy when I got there and found that I'd been awarded this shiny red convertible as a loaner car.

As of right now, I still don't know what's wrong with my steering, whether it will in fact go out again, and what it'll cost to ensure that it doesn't. They won't even be able to look at it until Friday. In the meantime, the red car will do just fine.

However, having recently peered out the front door, I'm not at all sure I'll be going anywhere tomorrow. We already have a couple of inches, at least; it's still coming down and may just go all night.

I'm glad we're stocked up on soup.

Mina, sweet and silly hound that she is, loves the snow. It makes her run around like a crazy beast, huffing it up and chasing snow ghosts. We throw snow balls and tell her to catch or fetch them, which puzzles her as they disappear into the rest of the whiteness on the ground.

But she adopts a cheerful and zenlike attitude about the whole thing, and eventually goes inside to watch the snow from her chair in the living room. Sometimes she barks to let us know that a car is trying (and usually failing) to make it up our frozen hill.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Back to blogging and the sandwich incident

It's been forever since I actually posted anything here. Since the rise and domination of Facebook, blogging seems outdated and cliched. But there have been times lately when I have things I want to say that can't be contained in FB's limited status area - what is that? Maybe 400-some characters? Damn, I have opinions that just won't fit in that space.

I'm quite aware that pretty much no one will be interested in reading this, and if anything, that's a bit comforting. I'm not looking for readership or attention, just a place to write a few words from time to time; to keep in practice with forming thoughts longer than those 400 allowed characters.

Also, with the constant availability of a small, portable computing device, I can actually keep track of thoughts at times when I'm not near a desktop computer. Amusingly, just before I typed this sentence, I had the following exchange:

Guy walks up to my table: "Excuse me, can I ask a question? Is that all right?"
Me: "Yeah, sure!"
Guy: "Is that an iPad?"
Me: "Yes, it is..."
Guy: "Ok, thanks." Walks away.

Wow, I hope he got what he wanted out of that exchange.

The other funny thing that happened just now, during this very lunch hour, has to do with my lunch itself. First, I should explain that I'm eating in a cafe of sorts, in our building — it's really more of a cafeteria than anything, but "cafe" is in the name, so there you go. This place is run by a group that helps rehabilitate ex-cons by providing them employment here in the kitchen, as servers, and at the cash register. They're all pretty nice folks, though the food's a bit less than gourmet, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I've been trying to eat better, so I asked the lady at the grill if she had the caloric info of the items on their menu, specifically the garden burger. She went in the back for a while, and came back to tell me: "The garden burger is 140 calories."

"That's all?" I was surprised; surely the bun alone would be more than that.

"Just the patty," she said.

"So what would it be with everything on it?"

"I'll go ask..." and she disappeared again. A line was building behind me and I felt conspicuous.

She came back and said that she wasn't able to tell me how many calories were on the burger as prepared, but listed what was on it. Feeling that it was time to stop holding up a busy lunch line, I said, "Ok, that's fine: I'll just get it and figure it out later."

So I took my number, sat down and read for a while, and shortly a cafe employee walked up with the red plastic basket that burgers come in. In the basket was:

A garden burger patty.

And nothing else.

It only took a few minutes to clear up the situation, and I got my garden burger, but you can bet I inspected it carefully in case someone was pissed off and had decided to spit in there. It seemed fine and was tasty. Still..huh.

Happy Friday!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Spring!

One of the best parts of spring is getting outside to work in the yard and garden. This year I've decided to clear out what was a flower garden in my back yard and dedicate it just to growing edibles. This will be my first real vegetable garden, so I've started a blog to track how it goes (and how it grows). 
So far, it just looks like a black patch of dirt, but there are seeds in there: carrot, radish, spinach, peas...and I'm learning about starting tomatoes from seed, so I have a ton of those in little cups, too.

If you want to check it out, and maybe follow along as I either systematically kill everything I plant or harvest lots of yummy fresh veggies, it's here. Take a look.

Monday, March 15, 2010

50 Peaceful Things

This list really inspired me. I'm going to try to incorporate these little peaceful things into my life every day.

Via TinyBuddha.

50 Peaceful Things

by Lori Deschene
“Peace is not something you wish for. It’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.” ~Robert Fulghum
Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time visiting 1000 Awesome Things, a blog devoted to the many simple pleasures in life. Some of them remind me of being a kid, like this one about celebrities on Sesame Street. Others remind of me I’m stronger than I think, like this one about getting through difficult situations.
With that in mind, you can imagine how excited I am to receive a copy of Neil’s upcoming book, aptly named The Book of Awesome. I’m even more excited that I’ll be able to give away two autographed copies when I write my review. (Coming soon!)
In the meantime, as a way to pay tribute to this awesome book and my awesome new friend, I’ve decided to create my own awesome list, tinybuddha style.
Here are 50 peaceful things to help you be mindful and happy throughout the day:

1. Laying in bed for a few minutes in the morning before hopping into your day. There’s no reason to rush.
2. Eating breakfast slowly, at a table, instead of grabbing something on the go.
3. Listening to your favorite music on the way to work, and remembering when you first heard it. Where you were, who you were with, how you felt.
4. Hugging someone you know long enough to make it meaningful.
5. Appreciating something you take for granted, like your feet for taking you where you need to go.
6. Focusing solely on the smell of your coffee as it brews.
7. Noticing something thoughtful a stranger does for someone else. (There are a lot of beautiful people out there).
8. Watching a coworker get proud about doing something well and feeling happy for them. Nothing’s more calming than focusing on someone else and forgetting yourself for a while.
9. Getting into the zone typing, like finger-moving meditation, maybe set the rhythm of a great tune on your iPod.
10. Doing only one thing, even though you have a lot to do, to fully enjoy what you’re doing.
11. Knowing you did a good job and taking a few minutes to bask in self satisfaction. You’re pretty awesome.
12. Expressing how you feel and then letting it be without feeling pressure to explain (pressure we usually put on ourselves).
13. Taking a break without anything to do besides breathing and noticing little details in your environment. How soft the rug is after having been cleaned. How sunlight from your window leaves shadows on your desk.
14. Holding someone’s hand in both of yours when you thank them.
15. Listening to someone talk–really hearing them–without thinking about what you’ll say next.
Peaceful Stream
16. Remembering a time when you felt peaceful, and going back there in your head.
17. Writing a thoughtful, hand-written note to someone, even if you could email, because you feel more connected when you write it out.
18. Channeling your inner Kevin Rose and savoring a cup of loose leaf tea.
19. Forgiving someone, not just in words, but by feeling compassion for them.
20. Writing down thoughts that keep racing through your head, crumpling up the paper, and throwing it away. Being done with them.
21. Letting yourself have lunch without any thoughts of work.
22. Doing something slowly and finding it more fun than you realized when you rushed through it.
23. Holding a smooth rock in your palm and feeling stable and grounded.
24. Believing someone else when they say everything will be OK.
25. Feeling whatever you feel without judging it, knowing it will pass. It always does.
26. Making a short video of your child or niece, and watching it in the middle of the day when the world seems to be moving too fast.
27. Watching something in nature and letting yourself be intrigued. Feeling wonder at something simple that man hasn’t touched or changed.
28. Finding something beautiful in chaos, like the love between your loud family members at the dinner table, or one raindrop dripping down your window as you navigate a traffic-congested road.
29. Thinking something and realizing you can change your thoughts whenever you want. You don’t have to dwell in a painful memory–you can make a better one right now.
30. Telling someone you love them, not because you want to hear it back, but because you feel it too deeply not to express it. Because expressing it makes you happy.
31. Realizing there’s nothing to worry about. You can be happy right now–you have everything you need to smile.
32. Doing something creative and childlike, like making someone a card or coloring. Even as an adult, it feels good to pick all the right colors and stay mostly in the lines. Or go out of the lines and embrace it. It’s your picture!
33. Giving someone you love the benefit of the doubt to put your mind at ease and maintain a peaceful relationship.
34. Rolling down the window when you drive and feeling the pressure of the cool air on your face.
35. Calling one of your parents in the middle of the day to thank them for everything they’ve done–everything they’ve given you that one crazy afternoon can’t diminish or take away.
36. Taking a walk with no destination in mind, just to see what’s out there to be seen.
37. Letting go of something you’ve been holding onto that does nothing but stress you out.
38. Telling someone why knowing them makes you lucky.
39. Letting someone have their opinion; knowing you can honor it without changing or compromising yours.
40. Setting out on a joy mission–looking for something to do solely to experience fully present, open-to-possibilities bliss.
41. Defining peaceful for yourself. If peace is yelling, “I’m the king of the world!” while jogging around a track, do it with abandon.
42. Listening to a song that gives you goosebumps and creating a mental montage of moments that made you happy.
43. Turning off all your electronics to read without distractions.
44. Doing something by candlelight and remembering a simpler time.
45. Closing your eyes and dancing to a song you can feel pulsating in your veins.
46. Turning off your cell phone, no matter who might call or text, because there’s something you’d like to do with all your heart and attention.
47. Sitting in a sauna, and letting the heat melt all your stresses away.
48. Finally making time for something you want to do but always say you don’t have time for.
49. Making eye contact with a stranger and feeling connected to a world larger than your own.
50. Letting yourself lay in bed at night without making a mental inventory of things that went wrong today or could go wrong tomorrow.
And one last peaceful thing: being grateful for new friends with awesome ideas, and letting them inspire you.

Lori Deschene, lead contributor, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more of her posts here, and follow her on Twitter @lori_deschene. Photos here, here, and here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Art from Japan

A few years ago, I discovered the Flickr stream of Kaori, a lady in Japan, who makes little clay figures of cute animals. On a whim, I asked if she ever did custom-made figures, and she said that she would be glad to. I sent her some pictures of our two cats and before long she sent me four adorable little hand-painted clay likenesses, two of each cat, that really captured their personality.

This year, I contacted her again, and asked if she might still be working in clay, and would she be able to do a matching figure of our dog. She replied that she'd be glad to, so I sent photos, and got these amazing little Minas in the mail just a few weeks later, beautifully packaged and carefully wrapped.

They even have separate little collar tags with Mina's name, and the year. They're the sweetest little things, and her price is just stunningly low (and as far as I can tell, she doesn't charge for shipping).
Looks just like her! 

I asked Kaori if she would mind if I told my friends about her work and she said that would be fine. I think these would make remarkable gifts for anyone with pets. She takes incredible, artful care with the wrapping and packaging, and is friendly and easy to communicate with.

You can see many more of her little figures here on Flickr, and can contact her through Flickr or at this email address.

Monday, February 1, 2010

In which I try yet another new medium.

Now what? you ask. Now: I have a Tumblr blog. Just because it's so lovely and image-oriented and I can post from my phone, and link it with my Twitter and my Facebook.

You're laughing now, aren't you?

Aren't you?

(Just go there and check it out.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Not quite spring...

...but getting closer. Brett mowed the lawn today; first time this year, I think. Everything smells fresh; the mowed grass, the moist dirt. Because it was so mild, we didn't lose nearly as many plants as last year – none at all, actually, except the usual annuals and a few casualties caused by Mina's occasional digging. We had a long game of fetch in the back yard before the sun went down.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

For Annie

For Annie
Originally uploaded by sonyaseattle
I love beetles. There are more species of beetle than any other insect. They live in almost every climate, and all told, make up about a quarter of known kinds of life on this planet.


Originally uploaded by sonyaseattle
For a postcard exchange - I started to do a painting each day, but ran out of time pretty quickly!