10.9.18

What I’ve been up to: 

TL;DR: I’ve been hella busy. This is a big one.

After mostly being home in July, supervising landscaping and doing my altMBA, August saw me escaping to the Olympic Peninsula with my Rainier Ravens women’s motorcycle group, then over to Victoria to visit a friend and see the Egyptian exhibit at the Royal BC Museum.

Then Matt and I broke out the dirt bikes and did a part of the WABDR – the Washington Back Country Adventure Route. Definitely looking forward to ramping up the dirt adventures next summer.

I threw all my clothes in the wash and swapped my motorcycle boots for Louboutins for Allyson’s bachelorette spa day and dinner, followed by her fairy tale wedding.

In between it all, both dogs have been taking obedience classes and I have been working like a fiend on a work project gone sideways and then upside down.

To celebrate coming out the other side, Matt took us to the beach.

What was beautiful:

All of the Egyptian artifacts at the museum, the many generations of Seattle

and the serene blues of twilight on the banks of the Pacific

What made me laugh: 

Can always count on the dogs and my sister!

 

Also this high AF sloth:

What I’m reading and listening to:

ON HAPPINESS –

The Surprising Science of Happiness

The Power of Positive People

How to Know what you Want

Dancing is the Best Way to Get Fit & Live Longer

Presence Over Productivity

ON PERSPECTIVE –

Lab Decoy

You’re Not Lazy

Freedom From Want. You Have Enough

Leap

ON PLACEBOS –

Placebos

ON RELATIONSHIPS –

The True Hard Work

How to Have a Happy Marriage

Why You Should Be Kind to People You Hate

A Wife Less Ordinary

ON SUNK COSTS –

The Wrong Bus

ON VULNERABILITY –

Brene Brown’s Ted Talk. Again and again.

“Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” —Walt Disney

Scientists give Ecstasy to Octopuses

ON STORIES –

The technology of storytelling

Keep it Moving

ON WORK –

6 Signs it’s Time to Quit Your Job

How to deal with a Job You Hate

100 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

How to Use a Notebook to Reach Your Writing Goals

How to be a Good Writer with a Good Life  Writing, Reading, Ideation, Talking, Exercising, and Regrouping

  • write fiction
  • read fiction
  • make a list of ten ideas
  • talk to someone 
  • exercise
  • review my day and plan for tomorrow

ON GREED –

Why are we still chasing more money?

ON POWER –

Why Women Don’t Get to be Angry

American Democracy in Crisis

ON MONEY –

How Much You Need to Make to Own a Home in Vancouver

ON MAPS –

Finding Your Way with Maps

An excerpt from The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands

The New Guy

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 is generally a pretty happy girl (except when she feels like I am in danger) 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. There was a bit of a transition period into our home but now there’s no separating them. Best friends forever, for real.

Tyler 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 neighbours on their deck and cries on leash when he can’t go and say hi to people and 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 was scrawny, had 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. And 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 in the physical therapy). 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 added as well.

I mean, he really loves sleeping.

He also loves his toys.

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

Austin

Austin
One of the great things I love about our temporary US home is how diverse it is. Last fall we went on a road trip through pelting rain and evergreens, forests of yellow and green Aspens, geothermic landscapes, the view from 11,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains, red sandstone for days, ancient Pueblos, more than one amazing canyon (as well as the Grand one), the suburbs of Las Vegas, from 230 feet below seawater to the hot desert heights of Death Valley, the cool granite and forested landscapes of Yosemite and finally back to the rain and evergreens. We saw moose, a Grizzly, a herd of Pronghorn antelope, a whole lot of Elk, deer, chipmunks, Bison, and met a lot of cool people too. And that was only the western states. With my birthday coming up I wanted to do a quick city break with my sister and we narrowed it down to Savannah, back to Denver, or Austin. Since Savannah was a bit too far for a weekend and I had just been to Denver, we were soon on our way to Texas.

Austin
Austin is adorable and so fun. I only knew it from Slacker and SXSW and from my friend Mel who lives there now, but America has a thing that Canada does not, which is a relatively even spread of people and culture across the country, and inhabitants that move around between cities. So even a college town can seem larger than life when in fact it is about the same size as Ottawa. In a matter of hours, we had seen the lake (actually a river), the grassy knoll that rises above the town, the party district and, well…I don’t really remember much after that.

If someone asked me what there was to do in Austin, I would have to be honest and say “drink” with maybe some eating thrown in for good measure. We did walk up to the Capitol building one day and Mel suggested stand-up paddle-boarding on the lake but we mostly explored various restaurants and bars.  If Austin had a theme it would be “cocktails and music” which are basically two of my favourite things and it kind of blows my mind that what I consider real jobs seem like an afterthought here. We had an AMAZING time but this was definitely a case of needing home for a rest.

Austin
Our weekend started off in East Austin with dinner at Qui. We were late because our taxi driver didn’t speak French and so took us to Key Bar, a raucous, divey looking thing on a party street. My sister looked alarmed and the taxi driver asked me if I was sure when I said we weren’t in the right place but soon we were speeding off in the other direction and sitting down to an amazing dinner. I would go back to Austin just to go to Qui again but from there we walked back to the hotel, hopping through cocktail bars and food trucks, and ended up at the East Side Show Lounge where a trio featuring an incredible vocalist was playing. I adore live music and I know that Seattle has a lot of it but there is something about just stumbling upon it happening that makes it that much better.

Food trucks
The next day we went for brunch and I tried to untangle the local vernacular for bodies of water (lake, river, swimming holes, etc.) over a Caesar and then a series of patio bars for the afternoon. Our dinner plans at Wink turned into a whole evening affair when the sky opened up and a thunderstorm took out the power. We were one or two tiny courses into a tasting menu so we worked on our wine. Eventually, the rest of dinner arrived and we carried off on some further adventures.

Austin
Sunday we spent on Rainey Street at the recommendation of one of the locals. It’s a street of converted houses where each house has a different theme – one is a sports bar, one is a cocktail bar, one has a crazy amount of sausages, one has hammocks to chill out in…many have live music. It’s a great place to spend a day and Austin was a great place to spend a weekend – especially as I don’t get to see my sister nearly enough these days and spending days listening to music and drinking cocktails was the perfect way to catch up.

Degan and Stacie
Next trip we’re thinking Nashville. I can’t wait.

New Mexico Redux

New Mexico
My mom had airline tickets to Albuquerque and I had travel points so we set off after Christmas for a few days. Matt and I had been to New Mexico for the first time on our road trip last October, travelling through Taos Pueblo, Farmington and Chaco Cultural Centre to see the ancient pueblos. We were mesmerized by the landscape and the history so I was excited to see what Albuquerque and Santa Fe were like.

New Mexico
The immediate answer is that it is cold. Much colder than we expected. We looked out the window and saw the sunny courtyard so walked out in sweaters…then promptly headed back to the hotel for jackets, toques and gloves. The sunshine was nice but at -4 degrees it was significantly warmer in Seattle! Historic Albuquerque is beautiful and was still all decked out for Christmas with wreaths and ribbons and a creche at the church. The red chiles hanging everywhere are surely not seasonal but if you want a mix of red and green on your enchiladas you ask for “Christmas”.

New Mexico
We took the train to Santa Fe and that was a beautiful ride through the state and up to 7,000 feet elevation. Needless to say, it did not get any warmer and the plaza in the Old Town district was still covered in snow – gorgeous against the sandstone pueblo architecture. We walked everywhere, ducking into art galleries and boutiques, finding little cafes to warm up in and eventually sitting down to a beautiful lunch at the historic La Fonda hotel. We saw the Georgia O’Keeffe gallery but there’s not much there; we were more impressed with the light and the landscape, the architecture and the Puebloan craft markets. It’s easy to see why so many artists have found themselves here, and how so many beautiful things have come out of this area.

New Mexico
Here are some photos from the trip:

New Mexico

New Mexico

New Mexico

New Mexico

Gratitude & Grace

Home

Today is Thanksgiving in America. “Yanksgiving” as we’ve taken to calling it in order to differentiate from regular (Canadian) Thanksgiving that happened back in October. I am volunteering at SAM tonight and tomorrow we are going up to Whistler to join some friends for a ski weekend. So we have no real dinner plans and no bird in the oven. It feels strange, but then it also feels strange to have Thanksgiving while it’s snowing out. We’ll adjust. But while I’m alright with passing on turkey, I can’t let the occasion slip by without thanks.

Riley

I listened to the first episode of the Good Life Project podcast yesterday, during which they asked Brené Brown what it takes to live a good life. Her response, without hesitation, was gratitude. It’s important. She then went on to say, “I think for me, a good life happens when you stop and are grateful for the ordinary moments that so many of us just steamroll over to try to find those extraordinary moments. So my good life is soccer practice and carpool line and tuck-ins and date night…and knowing that it’s good.”

Friends

I haven’t been very good at that lately. I’ve been trying to grow and change things in literally every aspect of my life and it’s so hard. I am struggling and getting frustrated with my lack of progress. The gap between where I am and where I want to be seems so huge and while I do make a daily note on things I am grateful for, they are usually small or specific; coffee, someone backing up in a crosswalk to let me walk through, a good book to pass the time…the kinds of stuff that is so easy to miss when you’re bogged down in other things.

Matt

Even today, a day of thanks, I’ve been stressed out trying to write a good sample for my grad school application and not being very grateful that Matt made me a nice breakfast and took the dog for a walk (nevermind that he helped me with the sample as well), so taking time to notice and appreciate makes a big difference.

Maceo

Some of the things to be grateful for though have been enormous and can’t go unmentioned – people I have just met offering up their entire contact list to help with my job search, people that I don’t know at all befriending us and making us feel welcome, coworkers and clients I haven’t talked to in ages giving me recommendations, friends coming to visit and making sure we’re settled in ok. The enormity of the gifts and the impossibility of never being able to give it all back feels a bit overwhelming but the simple grace of being grateful and expressing gratitude helps lighten the load.

Family

And all of the foundational pieces supporting quietly in the background; health, wealth, family, friends, clean water. I’ve had so many of the extraordinary experiences that Brené Brown talks about and I am so grateful for them…for this life. But I like the reminder and the opportunity – the grace – to bring that thanks front and centre and try to live it in every moment.

Sea

Sand & Sea Adventures

Grins

OREGON

Most of July was spent on unpacking and setting up our place in Seattle, hanging art and preserving fruit – because the farmers market is only a block away and I can’t seem to help myself. But I have picked up the Washington State Visitors’ guide and made all kinds of notes in it in preparation for exploring. I thought that would happen on my own, later, so it was kind of funny that my sister came down to visit and right away suggested we go to Oregon to ride dune buggies.

Oregon Coast

I was thinking that we would tour around the Woodinville wineries, maybe go for a bike ride and check out a new neighbourhood but I am always down for both a road trip and an adventure and both together is just not something that I need to be convinced of. My friends, knowing that I love adventure, took me snowmobiling for my staggette and I’d been ATVing before (and of course I ride my motorcycle on a regular basis) but neither of us had been in a dune buggy or on a sand dune, and Ally hadn’t even been to Oregon! So we were very excited.

Oregon Coast

We took Highway 101 for maximum coastal scenery, through such funny little towns as Centralia, Pe Ell and Lebam, past a hundred antique shops and drive-through espresso booths, and stopping at every third pull-out so that I could take a photo.

Cannon Beach

Of course, we stopped at Cannon Beach, and I was agog at the size of it. I had visited about 10 years ago – long enough ago that I was not surprised to see how much the town had grown – but I was surprised that I had so drastically misremembered the size of the beach. It’s the kind of beach that makes you want to play; run and do giant leaps across the sand or twirl or fly a kite just to try and consume a little bit of it. When I was last there it was winter and no one was on the beach but my boyfriend and I bought toy airplanes and ran around throwing them until they were destroyed and we were freezing.

Cannon Beach

The other thing that surprised me is that it’s not even close to the most beautiful part of the coastline. I guess the last time I was there we just got back on the I-5 and didn’t think much of it, but there is a Long Beach in each province and state on the Pacific Coast and (with few exceptions), it seems like it’s really just one long beach from Canada to Mexico, twisting and rolling through amazing pockets of scenery that can only be described as spectacular. I am definitely going to have to go back and do it again on my motorcycle.

Newport

We crashed in a beachside hotel in Newport and woke up in a cloud – there were people on the beach but I could barely see them. Even so, it was wonderfully peaceful and the kind of thing I used to dream about when we lived in the city. Sitting outside drinking my coffee and listening to the waves would have made the trip amazing for me all on its own but we were only an hour away from the dunes so the day just kept getting better!

Oregon Coast

Oregon Sand Dunes

I probably don’t have to tell you that the Oregon Sand Dunes are ridiculously fun. We were a little dismayed that they wouldn’t rent us a dune buggy (too expensive for them to maintain as rentals) so we hired a professional driver who took us out on the dunes for an awesome ride and then we rented an ATV and went back and did the whole thing over again ourselves. I’m glad we did both and I’m also glad that they hadn’t rented us a dune buggy. We told them we wanted to go fast and so they let us take their sole high-powered machine (and I suddenly had flashbacks of the high-powered snowmobile ending up in a ditch) and even so we still managed to almost fly over a sand cliff AND get stuck. I think when the operators give their fast machine to two women they assume it’s going to be babied. Not in this family!

Ready to rock

HOOD CANAL

We were barely back in town when it was time to go on the next adventure – a combination camping, diving and crabbing trip. I have been bugging Matt to go camping with me and Riley for a year now and I’ve been trying to go crab diving for way longer than that.

Shine Tidelands 1

We drove down to a place outside of Sheldon in Hood Canal – about 2.5 hours south of here and camped in a state park and it was pretty fun – Riley LOVED the tent – but we were literally closer to our neighbours than if we had camped in our backyard, which I thought that was pretty funny.

The next day we drove up the peninsula to Shine Tidelands State park to meet some divers and get some crab.

Diving

Crab

I managed to catch some females and a few males that were too small but came back empty-handed for the barbecue. Luckily the others had better luck and we had a wonderful feast of crab, clams, mussels, foraged blackberries and cold beer. Ah, summertime!

Crab

Up next: Mount St. Helen’s, a loop around Olympic park, some more visitors, sailing, then Japan.