Friday, December 4, 2009

A long time ago...

So I am thinking about writing in my blog again...over 18 months after my last post...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Some Good at Last

It seems these days that the world is going to the dogs. Bad news leaps from the pages of our newspapers, the screens of our TVs, the speakers of our radios. High gas prices, the failing dollar, the looming prospect of paying outrageous medical bills that a high-premium health insurance does little to off-set, and all on one family income. It's enough to make some of us want to head for the mountains and live off the land.

What seems to be even more distressing than rotten news, though, is the continued persistence of our fellow man to be, in general, just as rotten in his nature. The people of Myanmar may be suffering needlessly because of a militaristic government that is reluctant to accept international aid. An old man in Austria astounds the world with his despicable, torturous acts. And need I mention those who are filling their pockets as we pay higher gas prices and medical bills?

So, in the midst of it all on this gloomy May morning, I'm happy to run across this little tidbit of news. There is indeed hope for all of us.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Seeking the Sun

I'm discovering the joys of my first Pac NW spring. Trees have been flowering since early March with no signs of stopping. Our cherry blossoms are almost gone, but the apple tree is showing bright pink buds that are getting ready to burst at any moment. The tulip farm down the street is revealing a stunning show of colors (and I must say that it is a far more pleasant experience to jog over a few blocks to see tulips than it was in Iowa to drive 2 hours to Pella to see a marginally-better color display.) The rhodies everywhere are blooming, and I'm planning solo trip up to a nearby botanical garden to see them.

Despite the color show the sky remains gray more often than not, and so last weekend Z and I headed east of the Cascades to bask in the warm sun and try a little desert hiking. I recently returned from Los Angeles and had a wonderful day tromping around Joshua Tree--my first desert experience--and wanted to see how our Eastern Washington landscape compared. We (eventually, after hours of driving, taking wrong turns, and driving our poor car over some terrible gravel roads) found a lovely spot near a quiet bend in the Columbia River. It was warm, dusty, dry, but with enough of a cool breeze to remind us this still wasn't Southern California. The ground isn't red rocky but brown and sandy, and there weren't nearly as many blooming shrubs as I had hoped. But we both agreed it was a lovely afternoon, well-worth the drive over the still-snowy Cascades. We ended the day with a lingering drive towards the sunset and dinner at one of our favorite Washington restaurants, Santiago's in the "Old-Western" town of Yakima.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Three plus one

I was hoping to get in under the three month mark. Alas, I am hopelessly behind with little chance of catching up in one entry. And while my excuse is lame, life has been busy since January 14. In case you are still with me and are at all interested in a brief update:
  • I've written four thesis chapters and a paper, the latter which I am giving at a conference in LA this weekend.
  • I traveled to Ohio in late January for a one-week stay that involved plenty of resting, shopping, and wonderfully intense two-year-old niece time.
  • I've ridden the job-search roller coaster with little to show for it except a thicker skin and increased determination.
  • I've enjoyed every second of my time with the college choir, all in preparation for our final concert this Thursday night.
  • I've (nearly) survived my first Pacific Northwest rainy season.
  • And last, but not least, I'm pregnant. Thirteen weeks and counting!

In celebration of these many events great and small, I took a break from writing to spend last Saturday at one of my favorite spots, the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. I embarked on a 6-mile walk in the sunny, 75-degree air and saw (for the first time in the wild!) a pair of bald eagles. They were too far and fast for the camera, but I did snap a few other pics that reminded me how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rainier in winter

I see this blog is getting a little dusty. Peter Philips and an ill husband (not necessarily in order of priority) have called me away this past week. In an effort to bring myself back into the world of blogging, this one will be short and sweet.

Rainier in winter is a beautiful thing, when one actually has a chance to see it. Yesterday the clouds parted and the sky rang a brilliant blue all day. After a sad little 3-mile run I headed down WA-162 towards Orting to grab this shot (please forgive the power lines):

I find this image striking for two reasons. 1) It is no wonder most random spaceship sitings happen out West with clouds like these hovering over our mountains, and 2) Clearly Orting, happily nestled in the Carbon River Valley, will be the first to go when Rainier blows.

On days when those of us near Puget Sound get a little rain, Rainier gets anywhere from 6 to 10 feet of snow. Back in November I grabbed some snowshoes and headed up to Paradise.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Something to drink?

I am developing a discerning attitude towards coffee. I was drawn to it late in life, mostly through paper cup envy and not the drink itself. In Iowa I would show up for class sheepishly holding a water bottle while everyone else held a steaming cup/mug of "something much more chic." Momentarily casting aside all thoughts for my health and the environment, I decided to trade in my morning water for a small cup of joe from the Java House. What better to go with yet another round of Bach recits and Marie's home baked goodies? After a couple of days I realized I had clearly been missing out. I soon discovered my favorite blends of brew (no espresso in the morning for me, thank you) and learned to take it without sugar or cream.

Now I live in the coffee capital of America, and my taste is becoming more refined. I still won't drink Starbucks home brew. I agree with my mother-in-law in that it is too brackish. My current favorite is the daily blend served by Forza, a South Sound local chain. Forza serves me well for both its dark, smoky coffee and fine dissertation-writing environment, complete with fireplace and cheesy-sounding-but-actually-quite-classy indoor Italian fountain. I also recently discovered the best cup of espresso known to man at Tacoma's new Satellite Coffee. I swear I have never tasted anything so smooth, and without the odd Teriyaki taste that accompanies the so-called best espresso served at Blackwater Cafe. (I should add that I also don't have the necessary prerequisite number of tattoos to allow me entering Blackwater without a significant turning-of-heads in my direction...) My environmental sensibilities have returned from that momentary lapse in Iowa, and I generally drink at home or at the cafe out of a mug rather than the paper cup. (Tully's has started serving coffee in 100% compostable cups--hurrah for the crunchy Northwest!)

As my dissertating becomes more intense I look forward to my coffee more and more. Not for the caffeine--truly, as I generally do half-and-half or entirely decaf post-noon--but for the comforting taste. Or is it for the fact that preparing a perfect cup requires a significant break from translating old Flemish at my computer? I must boil the water, grind the beans, locate the perfect biscuit, open the mail, admire my Christmas tree, read another chapter in my non-Peter Philips book, and, oh, what time in dinner? Better get that started ...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Long Autumn

The subtly changing seasons in the Pacific Northwest are starting to feel normal. September days alternated between what I heard as called "extreme summer"--sunny and temps in the upper 70s--and "nearly winter"--cloudy and temps in the 50s. The leaves started to change then, and now, at the end of October, they seems to be in no rush to finish up. Many trees are still green, many are bare, and many still cling to brightly-colored-but-increasingly-soggy leaves. The long season (and the fact that the majority of our trees are evergreens) prevents us from having the spectacular display of colors I remember so well from three years in New England, but we do have time to enjoy the passing into winter.

Early in October I managed to get out to Tacoma's beautiful Point Defiance Park to grab these photos. I thought I would need to rush before the rain pulled down the leaves. Little did I know that they would hang around for several more weeks

(Don't be fooled, I didn't catch this beast "in the wild", merely grazing from within the fence of Point Defiance's wonderful zoo!)