02.12.17

What was Beautiful:

The scallop eyes, above, from the Atlantic. “Look at a full, living scallop, and you’ll see a very different animal. And that animal will be looking right back at you, using dozens of eyes that line the fleshy mantle on the inner edges of its shell. Some species have up to 200 eyes. Others have electric-blue ones.” The sea never ceases to amaze me.

Also the urban stand of birch trees close to my office:

What I’m Grateful for:

Time with my sister, dogs, balance, visits to the sea, Rainier Ravens, real conversations, friends reaching out, PTO, adventure.

What made me Laugh:

Flamenco hijinks, impromptu dinner with a friend, chatting with a new friend about books in a bar, and every day the dogs.

What I’ve been up to:

Along with packing for the expedition to Ecuador’s jungles / volcanoes / oceans / old towns, ramping up at my new job, prepping for a 5k holiday run and a Flamenco studio open house show, my Raven’s holiday party and a Death Cafe, I’ve barely had time to think.

What I’m reading this week:

Have we always been depressed? Yes. The answer is pretty much yes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve radical happiness. at Literary Hub.

Using elephants to demolish homes which forest officials claimed were illegally built in the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary in Guwahati, India…and thereby co-opting elephant habitat. at the Atlantic. I’m really (still) not sure how I feel about this.

How Wolves Shape the Natural World, at Literary Hub again. Reminds me of this TEDx video.

Fertility rates are declining super fast. I’m surprised and yet I shouldn’t be this paragraph amalgamates almost everyone I know (and doesn’t include the many who, like us, have forgone children altogether); “In 2017, things have changed. Emma ended up breaking up with the guy she thought she might marry because he turned out to be kind of a deadbeat, so she didn’t have that kid she hoped to have in her 20s. Olivia got a great job… which has really long hours, and she really loves the job and she loves how comfortable it has made her and her husband’s life, but there’s no way she and Bob can care for a kid right now: life is just too busy. And Harper? Well, Harper and her husband were enticed to take a few extra vacations by generous credit card rewards programs and super-low mistake fares online, so they used up their vacation time and their disposable income, and so a third kid just isn’t in the cards anymore.”

About Real Rent, a type of reparation project for the Duwamish tribe. This is an amazing idea and I’m so glad it exists.

“Savoring is a mindset that doesn’t wait for life to get perfect to enjoy it. It believes that life is worth it, no matter what the state” at Darling Magazine.

My friend Eagranie writes about connecting to Syrian refugees through food at Saveur.

About Lagertha, the Viking Shieldmaiden. Someone told me last night that I looked like the portrayal of her in Vikings.

The Enduring Power of Aunties is a great read, even more now that I’m going to be one.

The effect today of blasting the Bikini Atoll coral reefs. It’s not what you think. At Medium.

25.11.18


What was Beautiful:

Grey sky stretching out to grey waves crashing against grey sand beaches… it’s weather that only a Pacific Nor’wester family could love but we do. So much.

What I’m Grateful for:

This is a big one since it was Thanksgiving weekend in the United States but for me not a tough one. I am grateful every day for these dogs that get me up in the morning, get me walking even on rainy days, get a laugh out of me even when I feel like I could clobber them….but also my sister who is the most amazing person I know, and our proximity to the sea, our ability to come down here once or twice a year and re-connect to our souls (human program) and / or to our joy (dog program).

Additionally this year I am grateful that I have started a new job at Nordstrom, and in spite of now working in the retail industry, they were gracious enough to gift me this time off as well as for our upcoming trip to Ecuador.  And I am especially grateful that when Tyler decided to bolt down the beach, some combination of my being able to keep up with him in Wellies and he stopping to smell the dead sea creatures meant that he didn’t run all the way to California.

What made me Laugh:

Fawlty Towers is the easy one, as my sister and I watched almost the whole season last night and found ourselves holding our guts pretty frequently, but also dogs running on the beach for all they’re worth.

What I’m creating and doing:

Before we left for the weekend, I started a new job at Nordstrom, made a coffee scrub and a couple of face spritzers, bathed the dogs, ordered a bunch of stuff for various parts of our upcoming expedition and then got us all to a place of resting and not thinking so much.

What I’m reading this week:

I picked up 2 volumes of “Whiskey Words & a Shovel” poetry by r.h.Sin as well as Felicity by Mary Oliver and while I didn’t get through all of them it was the perfect pile to leaf through while curled up on the couch at the cabin, raindrops pelting the windows and the sea crashing, continuously,  just a little ways off.

17.11.18

When I was small, my mother used to ask us before bed, what was something you learned? something that made you laugh? and probably a few other questions in there as well. I’ve read since then that this asking for details results in a better memory but I find the act of taking note helpful in and of itself, and so I’ve continued the tradition for years, recording bits of gratitude and spots of beauty in my task list application – which means it gets archived at the end of the day and I never go back to look at it. I haven’t blogged here in such a long time but I’ve been reading and doing some interesting things and want to put them somewhere more accessible. So:

What was Beautiful:

Hummingbirds buzzing around the feeder, fire in the hearth – with dogs luxuriating around it, rainy days, the maple tree shedding its leaves like flames, the phenomenal Casa Patas flamenco show, luminescent anemones covering underwater structures.

What I’m Grateful for:

Yoga, dog snuggles, cats in boxes, my Rainier Ravens, this crisp fall weather, legwarmers & wellies, Matt’s help sorting out my dive camera and gear, new fences.

What made me Laugh:

Buying dog coats. Picture this: wrestling one huge into trying on coat after coat while he was trying to kiss everyone in the shop, play with the dogs and steal some of the bulk treats while I wasn’t looking then swapping him out for the even bigger dog who is terrified of everyone and trying to back into me and rack while staff were trying to give her treats. By the end of it, I had broken a sweat and my gut hurt from laughing so much but we are now all outfitted for the rain.

What I’m creating and doing:

A new blog – https://www.asgoodasarest.com (still very much in progress)

A lot of dancing of various sorts, diving with my camera and dog training. Next week I start a new job, try out Capoeira and head to the Oregon Coast for the holiday.

What I’m reading this week:

Rebecca Solnit: if I were a man at the Guardian. If I were I man it’s not the direction I’d go in but I still found this snippet appalling, “But success was available to them, and that was an advantage – and still is. We still have wild disproportions on those fronts; the New York Times reported in 2015 that ‘Fewer large companies are run by women than by men named John’.”

Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump at the Literary Hub.

And re-reading her old but always good “Men Explain Things to Me

This all came about because I have been struggling to get through The Mother of All Questions before it needs to go back to the library because in spite of being amazing it is also a paper book and I just don’t have as much time for sitting and reading as I would like.

Various posts about the #metoo movement – here and here and here. I’m glad this has not gone completely quiet. I have been thinking about it quite a lot still and probably need to do some writing there myself.

Dangerous Life,” an arresting poem by Lucia Perillo.

Why People Can’t Stop Touching Museum Exhibits. I suppose it’s helpful to know why, but I just wish they’d stop.

The Story of Self at the Guardian, which talks about how memories are constructed by the brain, the unreliability of memory and how that plays into our sense of self. I am fascinated by the overlapping and editing that happens here. For instance, this is my earliest memory but I am also sure that my memory is largely (if not entirely) informed by that photograph. “And yet these untrustworthy memories are among the most cherished we have. Memories of childhood are often made out to have a particular kind of authenticity; we think they must be pure because we were cognitively so simple back then. We don’t associate the slipperiness of memory with the guilelessness of youth. When you read descriptions of people’s very early memories, you see that they often function as myths of creation. Your first memory is special because it represents the point when you started being who you are.”

4 Unconscious Questions that we are all asking ourselves.

Other bits of inspiration:

Looking Past Limits by Caroline Casey via Mel Robbins‘ newsletter

TylerMan Badoo Melty-face Walters

I am posting this for posterity, so that when I look back at this past winter and don’t look back and wonder why I wrote nothing about the best thing that happened all year – the addition of Mr. TylerMan Badoo Melty-face to the Walterses family.

We weren’t looking for a second dog but my friend was fostering Tyler and she was worried no one would adopt him because he was a big male pit bull who drooled a lot, but who was also a super love in spite of having been used as a bait dog and tortured.

At 65 lbs, he was quite a bit smaller than Riley (who also drools a lot), so we figured that those were problems we could handle and decided to take a look. Within a few minutes, it was pretty clear we were getting another dog.

Riley’s a pretty happy girl (except when she feels like she needs to protect me) but it’s been a while since we’d seen her that happy – rolling around in the grass with Tyler, sniffing each other’s butts, tug of war, finding sticks and all the good dog stuff. She made the decision for us.

We had a bit of an intro period into our home but now there’s no separating them. Best friends forever, for real.

Tyler is a melty-face because you have to laugh or you’ll cry your heart out – he was used as a bait dog and had acid poured in his mouth, I assume because he does not have an aggressive bone in his body. He loves EVERYONE except cats and squirrels (but he and Maceo are coming around). So much so that he climbs into our bamboo planter to try and go see the neighbors on their deck. And he cries on leash when he can’t go and see the other dogs.

He even loves going back to the surgery center where he had 2 operations and a bunch of physical therapy!

When we got him he also add some ear infections, a skin rash from a wheat allergy, and a torn ligament in his knee, which our vet told us would likely lead to a tear in the other one. Yes it did! Only a few weeks later. So we spent the winter walking around the house and then around the block and then repeating it with the other leg, all the while going to puppy PT (which I renamed PB after seeing how much peanut butter was involved). Luckily I worked from home for most of it and when I was laid up with my injury, both dogs stuck very close by…like usually on top of me.

We got a larger couch when we moved into this house, which is great because there are now regularly 180 lbs of dog on it (not to mention the dog hair) and Tyler loves sleeping.

It’s not enough for him to be on the couch, he also has to gather all of the pillows together and then he wants a blanket or two as well.

I mean, he really loves sleeping.

He also loves his toys.

Stick!!

A post shared by Matt Walters (@mattfwalters) on

And I’m pretty sure he loves his new home too.

Travel planning and Traipsing through Canada

Current status: hanging out with Kim Crawford on the couch, listening to Spotify and mucking about on the internet. Not all that different from a typical Tuesday night except that I am in an Airbnb in Ottawa and there are no dogs.

I’ve quit facebook, quit my job and taken leave of my husband and animals and home to travel to India and Nepal but I lined up a bit of “practice” traveling, wrapping up work remotely and visiting friends. The day before I left a friend told someone I was off to India the next day and I had to explain a bit ruefully that I wasn’t going to be in India for a little while still. Leg #1 was Seattle to White Rock, leg #2 was to Vancouver, leg #3 Montreal, leg #4 Ottawa, leg #5 Toronto, leg #6 London (with a layover in Iceland) and then Mumbai from where I will make my way north to Delhi (as well as east and west and a bit farther north, and finally home through Hong Kong. I can write that now because although I’ve been on the road for 10 days, I only just booked my flight home.

It’s kind of exciting, really. As a project manager and therefore usually a super-planner. I often make reservations months in advance but this trip I am kind of making things up as I go along and that has meant some scrambling (for visas, passport renewal, giving my company enough notice, figuring out outfits that will work across cultures and climates and landscapes, etc.) but it turns out that most of these things can be done in a rush and / or online – something that I am finding out at a whole new level now that I have lost my wallet.

New credit and debit cards overnighted to me? Don’t mind if I do. New green card and Nexus rushed to me so I can get back in the country later? Yes please.

I’m consider myself a fairly seasoned traveler so this is an embarrassing and rookie mistake but I had an errand at the embassy where they require you to bring no bags, sunnies or cell phones so I was literally carrying everything in my pockets, in the pouring rain, in a country that I feel safe in so I wasn’t really on my guard. And so I’m grateful for these weeks of practice travel while I ramp up and get my sh– together.

One gets old and set in one’s ways and even in my home town I was glad of free public Wifi, Google maps and friendly bartenders. In Montreal even more so. as I spent a good portion of the week dealing with rudeness, apathy and ineptitude as they tried to fix my notebook. In Ottawa the response to me losing my wallet was “not my problem” or “I need to get paid” but I’m sure it will not be long in India before I’m laughing at how infuriated I have been about the noise and construction and lack of WiFi, customer service and kindness. It’s tough out here in the world.

Travel is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. That is how we grow.

Instead of grumbling, here are some of the many new and / or cherished experiences I’ve had this week:

VANCOUVER:
Sorting through all kinds of old nostalgia and photos with my mom, a great sleep with her tiny dog curled up in my armpit (as compared with my mediocre sleep most nights cramming between my two enormous, snoring bulldogs), a ride to the bus stop on the corner (literally 3 blocks away) so she could see me off, the ahhhh-mazing Apple customer service and quality program fixing my laptop on the road – for free, high quality delicious and sustainable sushi at Hapa Izakaya, inventive vegetarian Chinese comfort food at Bao Bei, delicious and creative cocktails in beautiful rooms at Nightingale and The Botanist, and finally a ride to the airport from my sister.

MONTREAL:
Being met at the airport by my lovely friend who I’ve not seen in a while, who fed me all kinds of delicious food and wine, snuggles and kisses and playtime with the second loaner dog of the trip, happening across an amazing Chagall exhibit at the art gallery and another Amazonian one at the archeology museum, surprising sunshine allowing for wine and burrata on a terasse with a good book, more wine and deliciousness at Vin Papillon, and then even more wine and more deliciousness at Nora Grey, teaching the loaner dog to waltz, brunch at the spectacular Satay Bros. and finally coming across an urban “cabane à sucre” in a park.

OTTAWA:
Arriving at my Airbnb to find it so charming and lovely and heart-warming that I didn’t even want to leave – and that was before I saw that my hostess had left me some chocolate, ducking in out of the rain at a cosy pub to have some seriously good pizza and beer.

TORONTO:
Having said credit cards arrive over night – with a photo that my husband had included of him and all of our animals, catching up with more good friends I haven’t seen in a while, delicious cocktails and dinner at Byblos, mind-blowingly amazing peach beer at Momofuku (and lunch to go with), the availability and ease of hailing cabs, interesting and sumptuous flavours at Banu Iranian restaurant and cafes with good coffee that haven’t minded me hiding out from hours from the rain. And tomorrow we dance! I can’t tell you how excited I am about that.

I am feeling very loved, cared for and connected…and this is another reason one must travel – so that we can spend time connecting with people in person. As I have learned from working from home this winter, video chat and IM just don’t cut it.

Finally, being away from home is an opportunity to appreciate the things one normally takes for granted. I am so happy to have my high quality pack / boots / Goretex with me, my Canadian passport, to be free of allergies and allergies and have a relatively good ability to adapt, to be hosted by so many lovely people (both because it helps my travel budget but also because it’s a new perspective on how others live, not to mention extra time to catch up). Conversely I have loved and needed the downtime in between staying with friends, appreciated the flexibility to work remotely…and of course to have enough health and wealth and courage to be able to take this trip in the first place.

Next stop: Londontown.

City of Angels

Los Angeles

I’ve been down to LA a few times this year and seems like I’ll probably be back again. At first I was dismayed but I have found myself loving it. It’s a cool city.


Chicago!

Steller 2

For my birthday, I was trying to find the balance of a place my friends to come to to celebrate with me, and a place I hadn’t been to yet. After much waffling, I picked Chicago and figured we would dine at Alinea. That didn’t turn out and it ended up being only myself, my sister Stacie, our friend Farren and my husband Matt but also – the best birthday trip ever. I can’t wait to go back.


I’m going to Memphis! (and Nashville)

Junkyard 2

I put together a Steller story Stacie’s and my trip to Tennessee. It’s impossible to capture how much trouble many adventures we can get into in photographs but needless to say – memories were made, adventures were had, we’ll probably have to go back at some point and we will definitely have to go on another motorcycle trip. That was super fun.