Archive for April, 2008

I’ve been back in Seattle for 48 hours now and I’m already into the swing of things – waking to the sound of an alarm, putting on a coat before I leave the house, living the life of a working adult… Hawaii was a wonderful little break from reality. Trip highlights:

We checked out the Honolulu Aquarium on our second day there, which was packed with some of the most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen. My love of color was renewed after seeing swimming shades of yellow, purple, and blue in such intense, pure hues. The Moorish Idol was my favorite, with it’s delicate form and bold stripes. I left the aquarium certain that I would never again see fish like that.

I was wrong. We spent the following day snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and I was blessed with the chance to see these very same aquarium-worthy fish in their natural habitat. I flippered through the maze of coral reefs and found dozens of brightly colored, uniquely shaped fish around every corner. I came across a Moorish Idol and tried to yell “Look, look!” through my snorkel tube while frantically pointing so that anyone around me could share in my excitement. The whole experience was totally…dream-like. Incredible. Unbelievable. Indescribable.

Hanauma Bay with its Underwater Coral Maze

I wanted to have at least one authentically Hawaiian meal while we were there and so we tried out “Ono Hawaiian” at the recommendation of one of our cab drivers. We ordered a couple of different combination plates and soon our table was filled with little dishes of all kinds of things I couldn’t pronounce. We munched on chicken wrapped in taro leaves, fresh salmon salsa, shredded pork in some kind of sweet/salty/savory sauce, dried beef (kind of like jerky, but more tender), coconut pudding… My only aversion was to the poi, which is made of mashed taro roots and resembles some sort of purple baby food. Very little flavor and a gritty, gooey texture. But everything else was fantastic and I left feeling very satisfied, with just enough room left in my stomach for a raspberry shaved ice for dessert.

We rented a car on our fourth day there and headed north from Honolulu. Our first stop was the Dole pineapple plantation. I never knew that pineapples grew how they did – they rest on these thin stalks and sort of hover over the leafy plants below. But as cool as seeing the pineapple plants was, the pineapple ice cream was what made the trip worth it. Sweet, tropical, creamy goodness in a waffle cone.

From the plantation, we headed to the north shore and followed the coast up from Hale’iwa to Turtle Bay, then back down the eastern side of the island. I got a glimpse of surfer-town Hawaii on the North Shore and lush, mountainous, rocky Hawaii slightly inland. Next time I’m in Hawaii, I’m renting a jeep and doing a little more exploring in the jungly hills – it seems that there are a lot of adventures to be had in there…

Other goodies? Meeting Elvis, the screaming monkey, at the Honolulu Zoo; being in buildings with roofs but no walls (this was true of restaurants, hotel lobbies, and even airport terminals); getting a brightly colored tropical flower as a garnish with every meal; 79-cent cans of strawberry-guava juice from the corner market; drinking Coronas with juicy lime slices in them at the bar on the beach of Turtle Bay; flinging open the curtains in the morning and being greeted by the sight of palm tree tops and blue ocean waters; wearing a swim suit all day long; sharing stories about traveling, marriage, and work with four other super-fun women; trying to pronounce funny street names like “Kapahula” and “Likelike” (actually pronounced “Licky-Licky” – who would have known?); savoring and soaking in sunshiny warmth

This was a perfect getaway. I can’t wait to go back with Shane and share the wonders of Hawaii with him. I think I’d avoid Waikiki the next time around (a little crowded and “posh” for my taste), but there are four other islands calling our names. This was the view from the balcony our little hotel room – seems like another world, doesn’t it?

Wow, talk about a book that took me out of my element. Drop City is the story of a hippie commune that gets pushed out of their ranch in California and so heads north to Alaska to escape “the man” and freely live off the land. The first few chapters of this book paint a somewhat glamorous picture of hippie-dom. Free love, an eternal buzz, the beauty of brother and sister-hood… But as things progress, and as the Alaskan days grow darker and colder, the drug-induced bliss is peeled back to reveal people’s tendencies toward jealousy, greed, and selfishness. And things get messy. Train-wreck messy. Staying-up-way-past-my-bedtime-to-finish-just-one-more-chapter-messy. This was an enthralling story. My only complaint is that all the mayhem was a little too quickly and neatly resolved in the final few pages – I wouldn’t have minded a few loose ends.

I can’t remember the last time I needed a vacation as badly as I do right now. Work has been intense the last few days. I must have gotten over 25 phone calls today. I sent out 57 emails and received twice that many. I crossed 8 things off my to-do list, but added 13. My project is in its final stages, which is exciting, because a real-life inhabitable building is unfolding before my eyes, but it also means that every single little (and big) issue suddenly needs immediate attention and resolution. The inspectors want things changed. The contractor wants the go-ahead to make these changes. The owner wants to stick to the original budget (not happening). Everyone wants the project to finish on time. And I want a vacation. The good news? I’m getting one. I leave on Thursday for sunny, beachy, blue-watery Hawaii. Woo-hoo! It’s a five-day getaway with four other women from my office, and I am stoked. Because of cheap airline tickets, the opportunity to split the cost of a room five ways, and an unselfish husband, I am boarding a plane in 59 hours and 40 minutes bound for far-off, 84-degree lands. After yesterday’s hail storm, nothing could sound better. Come next Monday, I will be one of the very, very few people in Seattle with a tan. I am so looking forward to stretching out on the beach with a book, my biggest concern being whether I’d rather go for a swim or take a nap. And it will be good to have some girl-time. A large part of me certainly wishes I were going with Shane (the romance of Hawaiian sunsets will be lost on me this time around), but I’m also due for a little estrogen-fest. Story-sharing, late-night giggling, a little shopping… My only concern? Five women sharing one bathroom will be interesting. Good thing I’m planning on going for that sun-kissed, breeze-blown, au natural look while I’m down there. I might even leave my blow dryer at home (gasp).

Big stuff happing in the ‘hood these days… The fun began on Tuesday at 4 am when I woke to sound of crashing and crackling. My eyes flew open and I was startled to see what looked like lightning flashing outside of our window. A storm, I thought? Couldn’t be. I stumbled out of bed, fumbled for my glasses and peered out the window just in time to see another intense flash of light – in the midst of a pitch black neighborhood. Power was out for as far as I could see. I tried to wake Shane, who seemed to be much more concerned about sleeping than he was about the crisis that was throwing me into a panic. Everything was suddenly eerily silent. So I got back into bed, perplexed and unnerved, but helpless. The sound of fire trucks just a couple of minutes later drew me to the front of house, where I quickly understood the cause of the crashing and flashing. A power pole was laying in the middle of the street, in the midst of a mess of smoking wires. Our neighbors lined the sidewalk, shivering in their pajamas. Shane assured me that the fire department had it under control (“Kelly, I’m so tired, just come back to bed!”), but being the busy-body that I am, I had to go out and get the details. Turns out a car had come down the hill too quickly, lost control, and crashed right into the power pole. Crazy. I went back inside and attempted to go back to sleep, but that seemed to be a lost cause. I laid there for over an hour, worrying about all the food in our fridge that would spoil if we didn’t regain power soon. And how would I blow dry my hair in the morning? And how much battery power did my cell phone have left? I should have recharged it the night before. It’s embarrassing how neurotic I can be when I’m tired and it’s the middle of night… Nearly 30 hours later, power was fully restored. Thank God. I just enjoyed a hot shower and am contentedly sipping my night time tea, made with water quickly heated in our fully functional microwave. Dinner by candlelight and the absence of electronic distractions was nice for a night, but the novelty of it wore off when we woke to an unheated house and 40 degree temps outside. It’s nice to be warm and in a well-lit room, with the internet at my fingertips as I type on my plugged-in laptop (my battery is dead). Part of me is ashamed of my dependence on electricity and all the modern comforts that are associated with it, part of me is just glad this “crisis” has been averted.

The teaser of a sunshiny day that we had yesterday has been followed by a cool, gray day today, and so I am foregoing an afternoon at Seward Park for an afternoon in a previously unexplored cafe. And I might just have found my new favorite hangout – All City Coffee in Georgetown is sweeeet. Natural light floods in through the big storefront windows and reflects off the crisp white walls and rough concrete floors. A lazy dog lays by the door, occasionally lifting his head when a person enters. One woman sits at a table sketching in her notebook, a couple of people are tuned into their laptops, several others are intently reading books and newspapers, two women next to me are knitting some fantastically colorful scarves. There is a very hip-intellectual vibe in here (and whether I fit into that or not, I am still very comfortable sitting here with my latte and my chocolate biscotti). I don’t know why I don’t make it over to this neighborhood more often – it’s only 2 miles from our house and filled with gems: beautiful old brick warehouses (some of which I hope will remain intact through Georgetown’s “revitalization“), industrial yards filled with all kinds of wonderful rusted-out junk, and a few trendy-but-not-overdone eateries and boutiques. It will be interesting to watch this place change over the next few years – I certainly hope it is able to retain some of its original character. This cafe was a good, good find (gray skies actually worked out pretty well for me today).

For the first time in months, I opened all the windows today and enjoyed the feeling of a fresh breeze flowing throughout the house. Heaven! The joys of spring can officially begin: walks along the lake after work, barbecues in the backyard, tending to my new little herb garden… Days like today make the months of gray drizzle all worth it. I hate to let my mood be dictated by the weather, but my God, this sunshine is making my happy! Is there such a thing as a Vitamin D high?

It was inevitable. With all these babies being had in our neighborhood, our church, and our family, I am starting to feel the slightest twinge of baby fever. I want a little one of my own. I want to decorate a nursery and pick out baby names and make homemade baby food. I want to know what it feels like to love a child in ways that I can’t even begin to imagine now. And hearing my brother talk with such tenderness about his newborn daughter has made me excited to see what fatherhood will look like for Shane. I can’t wait to see him change diapers and rock our baby to sleep and eventually throw the baseball around with our future son or daughter. And yet… I am so not ready yet for the responsibility of parenthood. I have no doubt that the joys will far outweigh the sacrifices, but I am still a very selfish person – I like operating on my own schedule. I like taking naps, going out to dinner on a whim, having a clean house. These things don’t necessarily have to fall by the wayside when a child enters the picture, but they certainly become more difficult. And are we financially ready for a child? Can we afford for me to leave my job for a significant amount of time? And what about that trip to Europe we want to take within the next year? Won’t that be difficult with an infant? So many questions still… And so for now, we will wait, and pray, and plan. And dote on all these new babies around us!

I think Spring is nearly upon us, as evidenced by the cherry blossoms that are in bloom throughout Seattle. We took a nice stroll through the UW campus with my parents yesterday to admire the flowers as set against the beautiful brick facades of the old buildings there. The sun was shining, people were lounging on the grass, the sky was blue. And then… it started to rain, and gray skies ultimately prevailed. But at least we had a glimpse of what’s to come, hopefully in the near future.