Monday, July 3, 2017

the eve of independence

It is the eve of our nation's birthday.  The stars and stripes are displayed beside our front door.  We will be grilling later.  Tomorrow our town holds a big parade, a carnival, and a fireworks show.  We'll spend the afternoon with friends around their bonfire.
 
For now, I just need to catch up with this here blog.
 
Every Thursday there is a farmers market here in town.  It isn't big but I make the best of it.  A couple weeks ago I bought these golden beets, some sugar snap peas, and radishes.  The beets are lovely.  The radishes are a bit too hot.  The snap peas were gone almost immediately.
 
 


 
 
 
On a Saturday morning not too long ago, Aaron and I went to the beach for a little stroll.  The weather was perfect, the sun just right and I captured a picture of these delicate flowers.  I love the way the light falls on the driftwood in the background.
 



Our little town has a beautiful waterfront park.  On any given evening there are handfuls of people there, walking their dogs, jogging, playing basketball.  We took our Charlie one evening and came across this large tree trunk that had drifted in on a high tide.  We walked out to the end of it, the water underneath is only maybe 3 feet deep.





We had to travel to the nearest "big town" to go to the Cash & Carry to get all the things for our church picnic.  It wasn't a chore so much as a good reason to go to Five Guys for lunch.  And who wouldn't want to get a coffee from a coffee shop that has a wall of plants?

A wall. 

Of plants. 

 
Thank you Whidbey Coffee for being beautiful.
 
 
 
Last farmers market day I walked there from home (it's only about a mile).  Stopped at Starbucks for an iced Americano and sat in the sun and soaked up some summer.  I cut these old jeans and was immediately transported back to the early 90's.  Cut-offs are every summer of my teenaged life.




The bounty from that market didn't disappoint.  Organic golden raspberries, strawberry jam, sweet carrots, fresh arugula, cheese rolls, and warm kettle corn (warm!).  So here's the thing, fresh arugula sounds really great but it is so peppery that I wouldn't recommend just popping a leaf into your mouth to try the freshness.  Why is it so peppery?!



Here's how I manage to eat my fresh arugula:
  • Chop up a fresh beet and fry in a little butter till softened.
  • Add a little chopped bell pepper.
  • Crack two fresh eggs over the beets and bell pepper.  Let cook for a couple minutes.
  • Put a large handful of arugula on top of eggs, toss in a handful of cherry tomatoes, and flip the whole mess over so the arugula and tomatoes are now on the bottom.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and cook till arugula is wilted and eggs are to desired doneness.

This is my go-to for a warm breakfast or easy lunch.





Another evening, another walk with Aaron and the dog.  We found ourselves in a field with some pretty purple thistle and the setting sun.



Same evening.  Same sun.  Different location.





My Charlie dog thinks that I practice yoga just for him.  I give him his own blanket or rug to sit on but he almost always finds his way onto my mat. 

Downward dog becomes a time for him to rub his wet nose on my chin.  Savasana becomes the best time for him to lay next to my head or to nose my relaxed hand.

I don't take any of it too seriously.  If my dog wants some attention I incorporate it into the motions. Yoga is accepting each moment, recognizing it, being fully present in it. 

Even if your dog sneezes on your mat.





The Independence Day picnic that our church held went really well.  Some of the ladies that are good at decorating had the pavilion looking very patriotic.  We welcomed some visitors, listened to some great preaching, ate burgers, sang patriotic songs, and enjoyed a sunny day.




Just today I spent most of the morning in the back yard.  The cherries are just ripening (two weeks later than last year!) so I picked a bowlful to make ice cream.

The lilies that someone before us planted are blooming.  This is the only yellow one.


 
The rest are orange.
 




Mintie was curious what I was doing.  My presence usually means there are treats nearby. (P.S. Look how brown our grass is while the dandelions continue to thrive.)
 
 
 


Big, beautiful pink poppy in the garden.  Their petals are like crepe paper.
 

 
 
 
A rare photo of the photographer in her natural habitat.
 



Squash blossom.
 

 
 
Itty bitty baby summer squash.
 

 
Viola growing in the garden.  I didn't plant this but I'm glad it's there!
 

 
Green bean blossom.
 

 
 
Today's harvest:  sweet peas and cherries. 
 
 
I ate all the sweet peas immediately.  The cherries were turned into Cherry Garcia ice cream.
 
 
 
In other news,
 
Blake got his first real job.  He begins training at a local supermarket this week.  Of course, as most 16 year olds, he's saving for a car.  This kid impresses me with his energy and motivation.
 
I'm working on starting up a freelance photography business.  That's all I'm going to say about it for now.  I'm in the baby stages, the business planning stage, but I'll share more as I have more to share.
 
One month from today we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  He's planning something.  I can't dig details out of him.  If it's like our first date we'll head over to Burger King.  What can I say, we know romance (wink, wink).
 
Time to close.  We're grilling ribs and chicken this evening to go alongside leftover potato salad and baked beans from the church picnic.
 
Happy birthday to this great country.  Here's to celebrating freedom!  Here's to celebrating liberty!  Here's to independence!



Friday, June 16, 2017

the zoo

The day after he graduated high school, my boy and I went to the zoo, just the two of us.

Since he was an itty-bitty he has studied animals.  He would pour over his Killer Creatures book for hours.  He would read the animal encyclopedia to his brother and memorize the habits of various critters.  He is always my go-to resource when it concerns anything living.

So a trip to the zoo was actually kind of a big deal.

And I asked him to drive...on the freeway....in Seattle.

Good times with my boy.
















 
You've never seen so much joy until you've seen my Austin light up in the presence of river otters.  By far the highlight of his day was the time we spent with the otters.  He recorded them, he photographed them, he sat with them and just watched.
 
Have you ever tried to watch an otter and not smile?  I don't think it's possible.
 
 

 
 
I had a moment with a baby gorilla.  It was a highlight for me.
 
And the giraffes.  I was astounded my how gentle they can be.
 
Hippopotamus.  Swimming silently.  So much power.
 
And hanging out with my Austin.
 
It was a good day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

we go on, he goes on

From day one as parents you dream and ponder and imagine what your little bundle will become, what their little speaking voice will sound like with those first few words, how their personality will bloom over time, and which side of the family they will most favor. 

You think about the milestones and the accomplishments that lay ahead.  And it feels as if you have all the time in the world, that somehow, those things in the future will always be just an indistinct, hazy dream.

But the years have a way of gaining speed, the moments building on each other like snowflakes in an avalanche.



NJROTC Awards Night ~ 2016-17 Rifle Team

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 




 
 


Now that we are on the other side of our first-born's high school graduation I think I can say I have gained some perspective.  There is relief that it is over. 

All those eighteen years of looking toward it in wonder, like something just out of reach, something to be all at once dreaded and pursued, it is finally over and we can move past.  And it wasn't really all that scary.  It wasn't really all that terrible. 

It was a progression, a door to step through, a page to turn.

For myself, I allowed my emotions to seep through my hands as I ironed his graduation gown and the gold sash.  I mixed my emotions into the chocolate cupcakes I baked and decorated that day.  I wrote my emotions on his car windows in the form of bright window paint and words of congratulations. 

My emotions stuck in my throat the moment the high school band began to play Pomp and Circumstance.  When they called his name to walk the stage all his 18 years flashed through my mind and my mothering heart leapt with pride and love and grief and relief.

And we go on. 

He goes on.




(see him there, in the very center?)

Friday, June 9, 2017

putting joy on canvas



The sun shines despite the dark gray clouds.  A chill breeze carries the song of sparrows and finches.  Charlie and I are home alone, he laying in a sliver of sunlight on the floor next to me.  My coffee has gone cold again.

My to-do list sits heavily to my left.  The day is mostly mine although I do have a shift at the restaurant this evening.  I will make double chocolate chip cookies for the wrestling car wash tomorrow.  I will make time in the garden replanting some things that didn't take, hoping for a late harvest before fall's first frost.

My thirty-ninth birthday is next week.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  I certainly don't feel the age, almost forty when I don't feel much more than twenty-five.  I'm thankful for the years, for the lessons life has taught me.

Here I stand at this new fork in the road, this junction between where I've been and where I want to be.  I wrote down the parts of life that bring me the most joy, a list of things I'm passionate about.  I studied the list, carried it with me for months.  And came to the conclusion that I need to build my life around those things.

I stepped away from the job I had as an office assistant.  It did not serve me well.  And now, with no clear direction ahead I step into this new idea that I must turn the things that bring me joy into my life.

Freelance is the term.  Gray, fuzzy details are the current game.

It is somewhat like seeing a beautiful painting in your mind, beautiful brush strokes, vivid colors, seamless blending, a stirring rendition of what is in the heart, but I'm not a painter.  All I have are a few broken, dirty crayons and a crumpled piece of paper.  How can I put to canvas this painting in my mind with the tools I currently have?

As with the rest of this one life, it shall be a grand adventure, I'm sure.  Stay tuned for changes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Kauai album part 5

On the afternoon of day 4 (covered in my last post) we stopped by Shipwreck Beach, named such for this big ship-shaped rock that juts out into the water.  The waves were large and loud and the sand was very soft.  We watched a tiny little crab dig out a hole, throwing grains of sand out of his way.





Day 5: Saturday

We took off to go to the Kauai Coffee Plantation.  When I learned that there was such a place on the island I knew we had to go.  Aaron and I are big coffee fans and this place just seemed like something we couldn't miss.



Grow tiny babies....


More plumeria....


This cup is just the right size for a Monday...


The label of their fanciest, most expensive coffee.  I had a sample and it was so smooth.


My very first CARDINAL!!  I was so happy to see him.  He sang for us.  He was bigger than I was expecting but just as beautiful as I've ever imagined.  I saw one more cardinal on this same day.


The harvester...


Coffee flowers.  Aren't they just so delicate?!


We toured the farm and did some tasting, bought some souvenirs and gifts, and left with a couple of iced coffees.  P.S. None of the people in this picture are us.



We took the rest of the morning and the afternoon to drive to the north side of Kauai.  Up the west side is very populated as you go through Lihue and Kapaa.  The beaches are lovely on the Pineapple Coast.  We made our way to the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge.

The entire cliffside to the right was full of birds.  I didn't know at the time what they were.  Now that I've done some research I would say they are either Laysan Albatross or Red-Footed Booby.  I wish I would have studied them a little longer but they were rather far away and I didn't have my glasses on.  They were pretty loud and liked to soar and seemed to be resting mainly in the trees.


Just west of Kilauea was Hanalei, one of the prettiest spots on the island.  It was most jungle-like here on the North side.  We stopped for lunch at this grouping of shops.


I think I would like to spend more time exploring the beaches around Hanalei.  We stuck to the main road and didn't take much time to veer off.  We were super surprised to discover the Maniniholo dry cave up the road from Hanalei.  From the opening, it goes back about 300 yards.





Outside there were these huge Tarzan like vines hanging down the cliffside.


Just across the road was the Ha'ena Beach Park.  The surf was up on this particular day and we got to watch the surfers for a bit.




This house was right at the beach and was built elevated.  Many of the houses in this area were up on stilts.  For tsunamis would be my guess.


Back in Hanalei, a picturesque little church.


We got back to the house later in the afternoon.  I spent the rest of the day half napping in front of the tv watching old episodes of Full House.  Some of the family went out snorkeling.  Pizza Hut delivered our dinner that night and we chilled.

The next day I sat out in the sun with my coffee for the last time.  I tried to soak in all the bird songs, all the fresh flowers, all the tiny lizards...to just memorize all the details of this beautiful place.  I shed a tear for what I was going to have to say good-bye to.  Really, it was that hard to leave.

We went to the beach again.  Aaron and Blake did some boogie boarding.  Austin and I soaked up some sunshine.  I did a little yoga under a palm tree.  The four us just sat there for what seems like an hour, not wanting to leave that beach.  I snapped a couple pictures as my heart broke a little.








The rest of the afternoon we just took a drive along the south and side of Kauai.  We made our way back to Waimea.  I thought of my Charlie and my chickens when I say this bus...


And we saw a heavily laden mango tree in someone's front yard...

Our flight leaving Kauai departed after 10 p.m.  We tried to get some sleep before landing in Los Angeles for a quick plane change the next morning.  We were home in Washington before noon.  And reunited with our Charlie pup within a couple hours. 

Here he is on my lap for the drive home...


It was a beautiful, wonderful, memorable trip.  I love Kauai.  I love the aloha spirit.  I love the warm sunshine and the flowers.  I love the birds and the water.  I love the beaches and the sea turtles.

Mahalo Kauai
A hiki i kekahi manawa (until next time)