Archive for July, 2011

Another blessed weekend of truly ‘weekending’ – lazy mornings in bed, afternoons spent reading on the back patio, leisurely dinners with good friends… I feel like I’ve rediscovered the beauty of relaxation, and it. is. goooooood. It must be the weather that’s put me on such a high; after we each finished our morning run over to Lake Washington, Shane and I spent yesterday afternoon laying on a blanket in the sand at Ed Munro Seahurst Park, dragging ourselves up out of our sun-soaked sprawl only when we got so hot that we needed to go dip our feet in the frigid waters of the Puget Sound, and by the time we left, I was giddy. It just feels like such a treat to enjoy the outdoors without even having to do anything – I’m used to oooh-ing and aaaah-ing over the beauty of Mount Rainer, or being wowed by the lushness of a forest hike, but to feel totally in love with the Northwest without even having to stand up, or even open my eyes? That’s pretty rare. The special-ness of days like yesterday is not lost on me.

That said, we awoke this morning to cloudy skies and a misty drizzle, but I didn’t even mind – I suppose I was still riding my sunshine high from Saturday and was totally content to come home from church and enjoy curling up on the couch with my book and a cup of tea. And the weather gods rewarded my good nature with a late-afternoon bout of sunshine, so I was able to peel myself off the couch and plop down on our patio to catch a few more weekend rays. I’ve always prided myself on being one of those Seattle-ites that endures the clouds and the rain with minimal complaining, as I’m usually happy to retreat to a cafe or the sofa when the weather isn’t conducive to being outside. But I’m seeing the brighter side of life, and hot damn, it is bliss.

Almost nine months ago, I embarked on a new literary journey as I picked up Harry Potter Book One.  My original intent was to read all seven books back-to-back, but book club and general Potter fatigue prevented me from powering through – it took me much longer than I expected to jump on board and officially join ranks with the HP fan club.  The first couple of books were fun, but they wrapped up too quickly and lacked the drama I love in a good read.  Book Three picked up a little bit, with the introduction of Sirius Black (one of my favorites) and an ending that started to unravel the story of Harry’s beginnings.  Book Four was fun and exciting but dark and mysterious, with the first real twinges of tragedy.  Book Five was intense and maddening (seriously, have you ever hated a character more than Dolores Umbridge?) but so, so good.  By book Six, I was all in, ready to sign up for the Order of the Phoenix, wanting to plaster ‘Dumbledore for President’ stickers on the bumper of our Civic.  And then, 10 days ago, I picked up Book Seven.  Ohhhhhhhh, Book Seven – I can’t remember the last time I loved a book like I loved the Deathly Hallows.  I was so fully invested in Ron, Hermione, and Harry, cheering them on, fearing for them, praying that they would emerge from their journey unscathed.  Shane came home last night to find me clutching the book to my chest, gushing over how brilliantly J.K. Rowling was tying the long and arduous journey together.  This evening, I turned the very last page, and the journey came to an end.  And for complete closure, I joined my fellow Potter fans tonight for the final movie.  And now…it’s done.  Finito.  All tied up with a scarlet and gold bow.  It’s kind of sad to see it end – it’s been one heck of a ride, HP…

The past couple of weeks have been pretty low-key for us – we’ve stayed close to home, venturing out for game nights with friends or when pizza cravings call us to Tutta Bella, but other than that, we’ve been livin’ the slow life.  Hours have been whiled away reading on the couch (translation: napping with a book resting on my stomach) or watching old Harry Potter movies in preparation for our plans to see HP 7 next week.  These leisure-filled weekends and evenings have been nice, but a couple of days ago, I started to get antsy.  Itchy with the desire to visit someplace new, see something we’ve never seen before, get out and do some exploring.  So when a little instant message from Shane popped up on my computer on Friday afternoon with the words, “Should we go have an adventure tomorrow?”, I thought, “Hallelujah!  We’re skipping town!”  Granted, we use the word “adventure” lightly, as what we ended up planning was a day trip to Vashon Island (which is a 20-minute ferry-ride from Seattle), but still, I was looking forward to checking out this uncharted territory.

We woke to clear, sunny skies on Saturday morning – perfect ferry weather.  We drove right onto the boat after a short wait at the terminal, and we were off!

Shane had done a little research and we had a list of a couple of things to check out on the island, starting with the Saturday Farmer’s Market. Vashon is home to several small farms, and we were looking forward to perusing the local offerings.  I bought a carton of plump raspberries and devoured them with my morning coffee, admiring the piles of leafy greens and freshly-picked beans on the other tables, then feeling our hunger spike as we eyed the cheese stand and smelled the sizzling meat at the little taco booth on the corner.  And so we crossed the street for lunch at The Hardware Store, which we’d heard is the island’s most popular restaurant.  We settled into our table by the window and eyed the appetizing fare on the table next to us – the breakfast special and the fish tacos both looked super-tasty, so we ordered them both to share.  Verdict:  yum.  The food wasn’t fancy, but it was hearty, well-prepared, and just the fuel we needed for an afternoon of sight-seeing.

My expectations of spending several hours cruising a loop around the island were slightly unrealistic, as it turns out you can drive from one tip of the island to the other in 20 minutes flat, but we did stumble upon a jem when our meandering landed us at Point Robinson on Maury Island (the baby brother to Vashon Island, connected by an isthmus).  We walked down to the pebbly beach and found a perfect piece of driftwood from which we could soak in the sun and enjoy the view of Mount Rainer.  Then Shane threw some rocks (never gets old), we checked out the itty-bitty lighthouse (took all of 15 seconds), and walked one of the short trails that took us through the lush, fern-filled forests.  I love being able to experience sunny beaches and shady woods all in the space of 30 minutes – I suppose I was destined for the Northwest.

We hopped back in the car and headed over to the other side of Maury Island – Dockton was one of the larger words on the map, so I figured that must be where the town center is located, but in the 8 seconds that it took for us drive through Dockton’s main drag, I didn’t even see a post office, so we shrugged our shoulders and headed back toward Vashon.  We pit-stopped at Vashon Coffee Roasterie for ice cream sandwiches and a cold drink on the Mayberry-esque wood porch.  I think I saw Opie walk by (then again, I may have been delusional with the atypical dose of Vitamin D I’d gotten that day…).

We passed the rest of the afternoon visiting with our friend Michelle at her grandparents’ house on the island.  Michelle’s grandpa showed us around their impressive garden, full of corn and berries and quickly-sprouting beans, and then we all sat out on the back porch and chatted over cold lemonade and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies (seriously, her grandparents belong in the hospitality hall of fame).  Life out there seemed so peaceful, so un-rushed, so good.  Shane and I are already making retirement plans…  And honestly, who wouldn’t want to get their milk from a store that looks like this?!

Before long, it was time for us to catch our ferry back home, so we bid farewell to Michelle and to Vashon, knowing that our first visit wouldn’t be our last.  Our little “adventure” turned out to be of rather mellow proportions, but it turned out that just living the slow life island-style was still perfectly fulfilling.

Since my art show is all wrapped up, and since my hectic bout at work ended with my Wednesday deadline, I was left to a weekend completely of my own making – no place special to go, nothing pressing to get done, just 48 hours of genuine ‘week-ending’. I napped, I read, I dined outdoors, I napped a little more, I stayed up late playing True Colors with friends on Friday, and then again playing dominos on Saturday (yes, we are animals!), I curled up on the couch with Shane and watched old Harry Potter movies, and I reveled in the chance to enjoy quality, stress-free time both by myself and with some of my favorite people.

(photo from Jack)

And as icing on an already-fabulous weekend, I did some pretty satisfying cafe-sitting. This is one of my favorite afternoon pastimes, and it’s been too long since I spent a couple of hours with a book and a latte in a cozy coffee shop. And so I passed my sunny Saturday afternoon with the iPad and a raspberry Italian soda at All City Coffee in Georgetown, and my rainy Sunday afternoon with Harry Potter 7 and a latte (and a lovely little chocolate macaroon from Ines Patisserie) at Essential Baking Co in Madison Park.  This truly is the stuff weekends are made of…

I took my art off the walls of the cafe last weekend – a few of the pieces sold, which was exciting (though surprisingly difficult – I’ve found that I become way too attached to my work!), and the remaining prints will find a place somewhere in our house.  But before I tuck anything away, I wanted to share a few of my favorites.  All of the pieces are a mix of collage and print-making, with a little hand drawing thrown in here and there.  The collage comes from photos I’ve taken – I like the idea of abstracting images of skies or grasses or sandy beaches to form shapes and create gradients of color (for example, the mountains in ‘ice land‘ were made up of a photo of a cloudy sky that I snipped up and rearranged).  The printmaking was all done with inked stencils run through the presses (with a few handy tricks used for the spotty skies or the thin white lines of relief).  The final days of pulling this together were a bit touch-and-go (with only 5 days till show-time, I had yet to feel like anything was finished), but somehow everything came together in the end to form a pretty sharp collection.  And…voila:

desert city:


ice land:

glacial view:

minnesota cabin:


horizon line:

one way:

sky way:

I’ve taken a break from any art-making for the past month, devoting my spare time instead to Harry Potter and old episodes of Friday Night Lights, but in the past couple of days, I’ve started to feel the creative itch again.  I’m browsing Pratt’s latest course offerings, picking up my neglected sketchbook, starting to formulate some new ideas about printmaking and drawing and collage.  I’m looking forward to spending some time in the studio just ‘playing’.  I want to pretend for awhile that I’m not actually a fine-lined perfectionist and instead focus on freedom and chance.  Could be good, could be completely terrible – either way, expect to see dried paint under my fingernails in the next few weeks (the mark of a quality day at the presses).

It’s been kind of a garbage dump of a week, so I’ve had my sights set on this three-day weekend for the past few days.  Since Monday, I’ve been making my Saturday plans:  sleep in, roll out of bed only for a latte and a scone, and then roll back into bed for an afternoon with Harry Potter and Season 6 of Lost.  I believed it was just what I needed.  But then my more adventurous, more fun-loving better half turned to me on Thursday night and said, “What if we woke up on Saturday morning in a different country, instead?”  We quickly Price-lined a hotel in Vancouver, packed our bags, and as soon as the whistle blew on Friday afternoon, we were Canada-bound.

It wasn’t until I started looking online for things to do near our hotel that I realized July 1st was in fact Canada Day, so we would be in the thick of the country’s annual ‘birthday’ celebration.  As soon as we got into the city, traffic slowed to a crawl, as the streets were swarming with people clad in red and white, waving their maple leaf-adorned flags as they danced to the music of any number of bands that had set up shop on the street corners.  We snaked our way to our hotel, gladly ditched our car at the parking garage, and set out in search of 1) good food, and 2) general merriment and festive-ness.  Jack and La Verne had recommended Zakkushi for dinner, a cozy little Yakitori joint just a few blocks from where we were staying.  We snagged a couple of seats at the bar and promptly began ordering to our heart’s delight – items on the menu were about two dollars apiece, and we wanted to try to try just about everything.  For the next hour, the waitress brought us plate after plate of pork-wrapped asparagus, grilled quail eggs, and miscellaneous chicken parts, paired with cold, refreshing pints of Sapporo.

Happy and well-nourished, we waddled out of the restaurant and followed the throngs of people to the waterfront in hopes of catching the big fireworks show.  We staked out a little spot at the harbor’s edge and watched bang after bang of red and white lights.  I marveled at how unknowingly perfect our timing had been in our last-minute decision to make the trip up to Vancouver – you don’t see this every night!

Post-fireworks, we headed toward Gastown to check out the Pourhouse – an allegedly ‘legit’ bar where bartenders respect and know their cocktails.  Shane was determined to verify such rumors, so we plopped ourselves on a couple of barstools and promptly ordered our fist round of drinks.  Shane was impressed with his Fernet-laced Toronto, and my Golden Fizz (gin, lemon, egg, soda water) was perfectly creamy-but-light. Verdict: this bar was indeed legit.

By the time we left Gastown, it was nearly 1 am, which is pretty late for an old married couple such as ourselves, so we cabbed it back to the hotel and fell into bed with a couple of food and drink-induced smiles on our faces.  It had been a very good night.

I was delighted to see sun shining through the curtains early the next morning – I peeked outside and took in the view of the harbor and mountains, pleased that it would be a perfect day for touring the city.

Shane threw on his running clothes and headed out for a jog around Stanley Park.  I thought about joining him for all of six seconds, and then decided instead to head back to bed for awhile – I just wasn’t quite ready to give up on my plans of a Saturday sleep-in.  Hunger eventually pulled me back out of bed, and we left the hotel mid-morning in search of breakfast.  I followed a recommendation for a good crepe place just down the street, so we grabbed a quick bite and then decided that the sunshine was calling us back toward Stanley Park.  We found a place that offered cheap bike rentals, hopped on our super-rad orange cruisers, and we were off!  It was an incredibly leisurely ride, as we stopped every few minutes to take in the scenery and snap a few photos.  Shane said it was the longest bike ride he’d been on without breaking a sweat – that’s what I’m talkin’ about…

We returned our bikes mid-afternoon and knew that we needed to take advantage of Vancouver’s culinary offerings at least one more time before hitting the road.  We settled on ramen at Motomachi Shokudo, another trusted recommendation from Jack and La V.  And wowsers – these Vancouver-ites don’t mess around when it comes to their noodle soup!  Rich, flavorful broth filled with soft-but-not-too-soft noodles and tender slices of pork.  I dont think I’ll ever be able to go back to those 25-cent packages of Top Ramen that I loved so much in college…

We ended our trip in Yaletown, for gelato and a stroll along the waterfront, then down the charming brick-lined streets.  I love this neighborhood – we’re looking forward to spending more time here next time we’re back.

And with that, it was time to hit the long dusty trail back to Seattle.  Thanks, Canada – our spirits were higher when we left than we arrived, so I’d say our little getaway was a smashing success.