Archive for March, 2008

Shane got back last night from his 5-day business trip down to Tuscon, and it is wonderful to have him home again. While I enjoyed having some time to myself, and appreciated being able to spend my Saturday afternoon watching chick flicks instead of the NCAA tournament, I was starting to get a little lonely. Spending a few days on my own has caused me to appreciate all over again just how integral Shane is to my day-to-day life. He keeps the blankets from falling off the side of the bed in the middle of the night. He is that shoulder I need to lean on after a stressful day at work. He doesn’t let me spend all morning watching reruns of Beverly Hills, 90210 (I found I need someone to call me out on my trash-TV binges). He makes sure that I laugh deeply and regularly. He remembers to always close the garage door and turn the heat down at bedtime. He keeps me from being freaked out by the noises that the house makes at night. He takes the garbage out when it’s cold and raining outside. He makes certain that I always feel loved, appreciated, and pursued. He leaves his socks on the floor and his empty glasses on the coffee table (wait – that might be another post…).  Anyhow, I’m happy he’s home.  Life is so much better when he’s around.

It’s been a busy week at work. No, I haven’t been sitting at a table engaging in intense design discussions and sketching ideas for the next Dezeen-bound project. I’ve been meeting with scientists to help them determine how their research equipment would best be arranged in the lab spaces we’ve designed for them. I never thought that the words “Biosafety Cabinet” and “Fume Hood” would become part of my regular vocabulary. My last two years of college were a time of such incredible creative growth and exploration. Little did I know the amount of unglamorous practicalities that must go into putting a real-life building together – fire codes, handicap accessibility, budgets, time constraints, door hardware schedules, etc. I spent my thesis year at Cal Poly pouring my heart into a project that was very conceptual and sculptural (see the image of part of my thesis model below), and so it’s been an adjustment to make the shift from architectural student to architectural professional. Don’t get me wrong – I have been blessed with some amazing opportunities at my current job and it is extremely rewarding to actually walk down the halls of a project that I’ve worked on. I’m just still getting into the groove of things. And I suppose there’s something to be said for becoming well-rounded…


This weekend got off to a rocky start, but has turned out to be a fantastic couple of days…

friday night: sat on the couch and cried for awhile due to fatigue (it was a long, draining week at work) and nervousness about the licensing test I was to take the following day.

saturday morning: things looked up a little – the sun was shining and Shane and I got to spend some time out in the yard, weeding our garden and reveling in the arrival of Spring.

saturday at 1 pm: the highlight of the whole weekend – I got a call from my brother announcing the arrival of my healthy new niece: Elise Wynne Jarrell was born on March 22nd at 9 am. I can’t wait to meet her…

saturday afternoon: took my second architectural licensing test and whizzed through it – I walked out of the testing center feeling like all my preparation had really paid off (though I won’t know the official results for another 8 weeks).

saturday evening: enjoyed some time over at our neighbor’s house, watching basketball, playing with the kids, eating good food, sharing good stories.

saturday night: movie night at home, which we haven’t done in awhile. Atonement and caramel-vanilla ice cream. mmm…

sunday morning: brunch with our small group from church. Jack and LaVerne went all out once again: french toast, procioutto-wrapped asparagus, fritatta, bacon, sausage, yum… it was raining outside, and it felt so good to be holed up in a warm home, sharing food and conversation with such good friends.

sunday afternoon: completed a couple of small home-improvement projects I’ve been meaning to get done. checking things off my to-do list is always fun.

sunday evening: an excellent service at church. taking communion was especially powerful for me tonight. He is risen indeed.

For me, an ideal afternoon is one spent in a cozy cafe, sipping a latte and reading or writing or sketching. This pleasure harks back to my time in Paris, where I found that cafe-hopping is a reasonably affordable way to really experience the vibe of a street or neighborhood (I couldn’t afford to eat out very often, but for the bargain price of 2 euros, I could get a cup of espresso and a chance to sit and soak in a cafe’s ambiance for a couple of hours). And so when I moved to Seattle, coffee capitol, USA, I immediately started asking around about where to find the city’s best cafes. I was living in Capitol Hill at the time and frequented Bauhaus, Espresso Vivace, Cafe Vita, and Joe Bar. Then I did a bad thing. I started taking all this urban, espresso-filled goodness for granted. I started filling up my Saturday and Sunday afternoons with errands and house-cleaning and tv-watching and naps. But I’m back on the wagon and am sitting in Stumptown Coffee on Pine Street as I type. And I like it. It’s nice here – warmly lit with comfy seating and clean, modern decor. Fellow Seattle-ites: any suggestions on where to spend next Sunday afternoon?


This was a chance to play around with some ideas I’ve been toying with for awhile… I like the idea of using printed fabric as a background, and I had some scraps left over from the curtains I made last year, so that was my start (though I ended up feeling like the damask I used in this was so bold and contrasty that I didn’t want to paint over it). The tree was also the product of some scraps I had laying around – I have a bag full of basswood pieces left over from my days as an architecture student, so this put some of it to use. I painted the woman pretty quickly (used a picture from one of my old bridal magazines as inspiration), but the background is where I really got stumped. The first time I painted it, it was too monochromatic. So I layered another shade of green over it. Then it was too varied. Then it was too light, too dark, too green, too yellow, etc. There are probably about 12 layers of green paint on this canvas. Last week I finally just threw my hands up, squeezed a bunch of green and yellow and red and white paint onto my palette, mixed it all together, and started slapping big daubs of acrylic onto the canvas with my palette knife. I’m not totally satisfied with the effect, but I don’t know where else to go with this one, so I’m setting it aside for now and moving on (more ideas brewing…).


This is one of those books that I could sit down with for several hours at a time, if only working and sleeping would just quit getting in the way of my reading time.  Eat Pray Love is written from such a personal point of view - funny sometimes, sad sometimes (I appreciate her transparency), and chock-full of interesting insights into what life can be like in Italy, India, and Indonesia. And, though I don’t want to get all “self-help” preachy about this book, it’s true that each section had a lesson to offer me:  The author’s time in Italy (“Eat”) reminded me that the pursuit of pleasure (to a certain extent, of course) is actually a very worthy endeavor. Savor and appreciate life’s pleasures – don’t guilt yourself over them. Her time in an ashram in India (“Pray”) wasn’t quite so fun to read about as Italy, but the hours upon and hours and days upon days that she spent in deep, focused meditation did beg this question from me: when is the last time I sat down in a quiet room, silenced my mind, and did nothing but revel in God’s presence? Another worthy endeavor… And finally, the chapters on Indonesia (“Love”) were about relationships, and Lord knows, I do love reading about/talking about/watching movies about relationships, so this section was right up my alley.  The strength of the friendships she formed in just a few short months was a reminder to me that I must let my guard down a little if I want to experience closeness.

Two thumbs up.

I don’t want to dwell too much on this “Where is my home?” question, but it’s something that weighed on my mind throughout the past couple of days in Turlock. I took my seat on the plane back to Seattle a few hours ago and the gentleman next to me asked, “Heading home?”, and I caught myself hesitating before I responded with an emphatic “Yes”. That 90-minute plane ride was host to a number of emotions for me: one part sadness over having just said good-bye to my parents and girlfriends; one part thankfulness for the time I got to spend shopping and hanging out with Amanda and Francine (dearest friends), chatting with my parents, and stuffing myself with some absolutely fabulous burritos from the local Mexican joints; one part (or maybe two parts?) excitement over returning to Seattle and seeing Shane; and one part bitter-sweet acceptance that Turlock really isn’t home to me anymore. That town holds sooo many memories for me, and there’s comfort of the familiarity of it all, but I was reminded throughout the weekend that it just doesn’t “fit” me anymore. This is largely due to the fact that my parents have sold the house in which I spent many of my adolescent years and are moving up to Oregon later this month, but that’s really only part of the reason for my emotional departure from this small town in the Central Valley. I’ve realized that I belong in a city where new construction consists of high-rises rather than strip malls, where I have a choice of spending my Saturday morning in a local cafe or an art museum, and where I can have Thai food for lunch on Monday, Indian on Tuesday, and Greek on Wednesday (though Turlock’s Mexican food trumps Seattle’s any day). I’m not knocking my small-town roots – my two closest friends lead very fulfilling lives in Turlock, surrounded by people they’ve known and loved for years, and they’ve proved that staying there has its advantages. Shane and I don’t get to run into old friends from high school all the time, and we can’t pull together an impromptu family-wide picnic on a Sunday afternoon. But still, I’m happy in Seattle, because God has wired me with this “urban craving” that I just can’t suppress. There are people and things in California that I will forever miss – which is completely ok, but I can’t let these things keep me from further rooting myself in Seattle. Next steps? Stop obsessing about this whole singular definition of “home” (why is this such a big deal to me?) and simply enjoy the transition from Californian to Seattle-ite…

I finished these up just in time to slip them on as the cold, gray wind and rain overtook Seattle. A fun little knitting project – it’s good to have something to entertain myself while Shane watches the History Channel (what is it with men and the History Channel, anyway?).


details: size 9 needles, double-strand of regular worsted yarn, pattern posted here.

I’m heading back to California next weekend for a quick visit with friends and family, and I’ve caught myself telling people that I’m “going home” for a couple days; then I pause and think to myself “isn’t it about time that you start thinking of Seattle as home?” And then I realize that finally (after 2 1/2 years), I think I’m getting there – this past week has contained several reminders that we are slowly but surely rooting ourselves here.

Being involved in our church has been hugely meaningful in our connection to Seattle. The small group that we host every Tuesday is a source of so much joy and encouragement (and calories – we’ve shared a number of pretty indulgent desserts over the past few months!). We took a break from our regular Bible study this past week and decided to just kick back and enjoy a movie together. And as much as I enjoy the depth that comes out of our studies and discussions, this night was a reminder that the greatest thing about about this church-based community is that we have really become a group of friends who really like just hanging out together. Six months ago, most of us didn’t even know each other. I also volunteer a couple of times a month in one of the Sunday School classes and got together with several of the other teachers last Thursday. Nothing big – just a couple of hours of catching up with one another and sharing ideas about children’s ministry, but I left that meeting feeling so supported and uplifted. Again and again, I am inspired the passion and sincerity of the people we’ve met at Quest.

Another one of these root-setting reminders came in the form of the wonderful dinner we shared last night with some friends. Thanks to Jack (lawyer-by-day, chef-by-night), the food was incredible. But the conversations we had that night were what sent me home with a smile on my face. We spent several hours at the table sharing about our families, our travel experiences, our restaurant recommendations… We pondered the origins of chapstick, Shane revealed his dreams of opening up a fast-food Indian restaurant, we reminisced about the days of Atari… Good times. It is encouraging to see these much-needed “local” friendships growing and deepening.

And finally, a couple of simple experiences this weekend reaffirmed how much we really love our neighborhood. Shane spent much of yesterday and part of today helping our neighbors lay new sod – not a “fun” task per-se, but still, it’s nice to have someone just around the corner that he can play in the dirt with. And we had our first backyard barbeque of the year this afternoon when our neighbor a few doors down pulled out his grill and called us over for hot dogs. A few other neighbors wandered over and we sat around in our lawn chairs and chatted for awhile, pretending that it was much warmer than it actually was. I love being a part of a community where these spontaneous gatherings are so natural – Shane and I lived in our previous apartment for a full year without meeting anyone else in the building. We have been so blessed here by the warmth and generosity of the people that live around us.

So are we home yet? I’d say yes – actually, we’ve been home for awhile now.