After spending the past couple weeks reading about architectural contracts in preparation for my first licensing exam, I was eager to take a break and spend a few days digging into some good old take-me-away fiction. I love the idea behind Girl with A Pearl Earring – the author created a fictional storyline based on the real paintings of Johannes Vermeer. She carefully studied the minute details of much of his work to inspire a story filled with love, jealousy, torment, and all that stuff that makes for a good girly read. I just wish it had been a little more believable. The dialogue sounded so contemporary for something set in the 15th century, and the main character (Griet – the “girl with a pearl earring”) often acted in a way that seemed pretty unlikely (her extreme concern for propriety didn’t quite align with her “promiscuity”). Would I recommend this book? Sure. Will you walk away from it feeling enlightened? Probably not, but it’s the perfect choice for a lazy afternoon when you just want to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and indulge in some easy reading.
Archive for February, 2008
The beauty of God’s creation astounds me sometimes. I was ecstatic to wake up to a sunshiny day this morning and so I jetted straight over to Seward Park for a jog. Is it really possible that we live just two miles away from all this? Glistening water, dense green forests, a view of snow-capped mountains in the distance, and lots of happy, happy people. Nothing unites Seattle-ites like a little sunshine. I saw 70-year-old couples strolling hand-in-hand, young families playing on the beach, people walking their dogs, people pushing strollers, people riding bikes… I even saw a couple of elderly gentlemen sweeping for valuables together along one of the trails with their matching metal detectors. And everyone was smiling, basking in the beauty around them (a stark contrast to way that people tend to retreat into themselves on rainy and windy days, putting their heads down and just focusing on getting from point A to B as quickly as possible). What a glorious day… Spring is so close I can smell it.
It is surprising and shaming to find out how much power money can have over your mood. Shane and I have been incredibly blessed in that we have always been able to buy the things that we need. We certainly have to pass from time to time on the things that we want, but I’ve accepted that as perfectly normal. Healthy, even. I’m ok with the fact that I need to make my 5-year old laptop last a little longer. I’m ok with not going out to dinner every weekend. I’m even ok with skipping the Nordstrom semi-annual sale (well, “ok” with it is a stretch, but willing to do it, nonetheless). I’ve accepted self-restraint as a good thing. It makes the occasional indulgences that much sweeter. A healthy and well-adjusted outlook on money, right? But when Shane and I were handed a $557 repair estimate this morning for our Honda Civic, I was less than cool and casual. I would have loved to say, “Hey, it’s only money…” But that was far from how I actually reacted. Frustration and anger filled me to the point of tears. That sucks. We can pull this money out of savings, but those hard-earned, carefully-saved dollars were not sitting in the bank so that we could spend them on something like car repairs. That money was supposed to go towards the trip to Europe that we hope to take later this year. That money could buy that new bed I’ve been eyeing in the West Elm catalog. That money was being saved to allow me to take a decent amount of time off from work when we have a baby. Somehow “unexpected car repairs” was not on my 2008 wish list. I keep reminding myself that I should be thankful that we can actually afford unexpected expenses such as these. But it’s hard. The real kicker? After being given our $557 estimate, I came into work this morning and was asked by a group of my female coworkers to come along on a 5-day trip to Hawaii in April. They had found some deals on airfare and hotels and estimated that the whole trip would come out to somewhere between $550-$600. Shoot. Sometimes I wish the voice of reason wasn’t so dang loud.
I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical when Shane said that instead of going out, he wanted to cook Valentine’s dinner for us at home this year (I had visions of him walking through the door with a take-and-bake pizza and a bag of pre-mixed salad), but shame on me for doubting him. My man really pulled out the big guns on this one. Our menu consisted of stuffed Cornish game hens, asparagus, and fresh baguette. Fancy. And delicious. Then hens were stuffed with a rice pilaf and baked with fresh rosemary, garlic cloves, and lemon wedges, then topped with a gravy made from white wine and the leftover juices. Mmmmmmm…
I was in charge of dessert and decided on bananas foster, for its decadence and simplicity. Paired with vanilla ice cream and a small glass of the Port I gave Shane for Valentine’s Day, it was heaven. Quick word to the wise, though: make sure you’re leaning away from the pan when you light the rum on fire. Shane was taken by surprise by how high the flames leaped up (I laughed as he immediately raised his hands to his forehead, checking to see if his eyebrows were still intact).
The best part of it all? Taking the time in the midst of a busy week to sit down at the table and devote our attention to one another for a couple of hours. Our lives have been rather hectic lately, with me studying for my licensing tests and Shane working insanely long hours. We had lots of catching up to do, and what better way to do it than over good food and wine?
Many thanks to my husband for putting himself out there this Valentine’s Day. Shane is the first to admit that he’s typically no ace in the kitchen (unless you’re in the mood for a cheese quesadilla), and it would have been easy for him to pick up the phone and make reservations at one of Seattle’s hundreds of restaurants. Watching him go to such great lengths to make this meal extra-extra special reminded me that I am one incredibly blessed woman.
It had been awhile since I’ve read any poetry, and I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for years, looking very forlorn and neglected, so I decided to give The Colossus a try. And I’m glad I did. While you shouldn’t count on Sylvia Plath to raise your spirits when you’re feeling down (one of her poems is about a body that was buried with a live rat in the coffin and the damage that ensued…), at least she is fully able to transport you to a different time and place (usually a place where white-capped waves crash under gray skies and withered leaves slowly drop from trees). Dark and brooding, but beautiful.
I love these lines from “The Ghost’s Leavetaking”, speaking of that nebulous time when night turns to dawn:
“So these posed sheets, before they thin to nothing,
Speak in a sign language of a lost otherworld,
A world we lose merely by waking up.”
To counter-balance my Debbie-Downer post the other night about how much the weather sucks, I want to throw a little positivity Seattle’s way…
Went to “First Thursday” a few nights ago with a couple of girlfriends and had a fantastic time – the first Thursday of the month, the local art galleries stay open late and offer food and wine to celebrate the opening of new artist exhibitions. Started at Punch Gallery and admired the blobbish-but-intricate balance of Jen Erickson’s painting. From there, we wandered around the corner to what looked like just a small corridor lined with paintings. Turns out we had found our way into the TK Artist Lofts: a maze of artists’ studios and galleries. We went from room to room, each of them filled with all kinds of creative goodness: sketches, photos, paintings, sculptures. Yum. I went home that night giddy with inspiration. Not sure yet what to do with that inspiration, but for now I’m content to rest in the budding awesome-ness of Seattle’s local art scene.
Cool Seattle experience #2 came in the form of a super-good breakfast with Shane yesterday morning at Both Ways Cafe near Seward Park. A quick search on Yelp for breakfast places near our house led us to this gem in the midst of an otherwise quiet neighborhood. We grabbed one of only 6 or 7 tables in the cozy dining area and chowed down on eggs and biscuits that tasted wonderfully homemade – I kept peeking back towards the kitchen, wanting to confirm my expectation that some cute little old lady was back there in an apron with chickens all over it, lovingly forming each piece of biscuit dough. I saw no such thing, but was impressed with the friendliness of the hip young waitstaff, nonetheless. Once again, South Seattle proves that it rocks!
I anxiously await the dawn of summertime, but I’m also realizing there is still much wintertime fun to be had. And so I will stop my whining.
I hate to complain about the weather, since I did technically choose to leave San Luis Obispo for Seattle, but these cold, gray, rainy days are starting to wear on me. I feel so cooped up and lethargic. I went to the gym tonight in an effort to get my endorphins flowing, but I was only reminded that I am so dang tired of running in place. Spending half an hour on a treadmill in a stuffy room with sweaty strangers on my left and right is no substitute for a jog around Seward Park. I’m tired of getting up when it’s dark and leaving work when its dark. I’m tired of shivering in the cold while waiting for the bus. And I’m really tired of the pasty white color of my skin (vain, I know, but it’s true). I can’t wait for the days when Shane and I can hop on our bikes after work and ride over to Lake Washington. I’m looking forward to spending time in the backyard, drinking white wine and barbequing with the neighbors. And more than anything, I just want to remember what it feels like to step outside in a short-sleeved shirt and feel warmth. But for now, I suppose I must be content with curling up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of hot tea. There are worse things.
It’s nice to have a comfy new scarf to protect me from this biting Seattle cold we’re feeling these days…
details: garter stitch (16 across), size 15 needles, double strand (one skein solid blue wool blend, one skein variegated blue and brown boucle).
I’m about “scarfed out” now (the scarf rack in the corner of our bedroom is becoming overgrown and resembles a sasquatch when the light are out), so my next project will have to be something new. Maybe get a head start on a Christmas sweater for Shane? I thought he would look super-hot in this one: