Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Poem

I have been posting Friday poems intermittently for some time, and while I know that the poems I post here stand alone and need no explanation I would like to say a word about poetry in general.  Having been drawn to poetry my whole life, I sometimes forget that not everyone has the connection to it that I do. In the same way that you might return to a stunning photograph, or savor that delicious glass of wine, or stand in awe before a perfect painting, to me, a well-written poem is incredibly powerful. If you are not typically a reader of poetry, I hope that you enjoy these.  And if you are new to my blog, you can go to the Friday Poems archive a read a few more.



Before She Died

When I look at the sky now, I look at it for you.
As if with enough attention, I could take it in for you.

With all the leaves gone almost from
the trees, I did not walk briskly through the field.

Late today with my dog Wool, I lay down in the upper field,
he panting and aged, me looking at the blue. Leaning

on him, I wondered how finite these lustered days seem
to you. A stand of hemlock across the lake catches

my eye. It will take a long time to know how it is
for you. Like a dog's lifetime -- long -- multiplied by sevens.




Copyright 2000 by Karen Chase.
from Kazimierz Square, 2000
CavanKerry Press, Fort Lee, N.J.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bragasaurus

I usually try to keep our shop news on our shop blog, but I had to share this one. Check out our glass seashell used in a recent advertisement by Kraft Macaroni & Cheese!

A video on youtube and a contest on their Facebook page


Of course you can purchase your very own world famous glass seashell terrarium right HERE


And check me out, I got through this whole post without any cheesy puns. Almost.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Music Monday: a brief history of j.wong



When I first met J.Wong he was playing a show at an outdoor amphitheater in the back woods of a small liberal arts college in 1999.  Even as a 19 year old college kid, his lyrics were perspicacious. A singer-songwriter who got his start playing guitar at age 15, Wong’s songs often relay a strong visual narrative. You just have to listen to "The Ballad of John B" once to understand that these stories come from a darker past.  

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Wong’s music reflects the same insightful vibe of other homegrown Seattle musicians such as Damien Jurado and David Bazan.  He was a member of the band Rand Univac (née Madison) which included members of Velella Velella and James Pants. Wong released his first EP j.wong and the popular butchers in 2010, and more recently organized three singer-songwriter showcases at Seattle’s Triple Door featuring Cathedral Pearls, WIDOWER, Shannon Stephens, and Tomo Nakayama among others.  He just finished a West Coast tour, and has collaborated with visual artist Scott Kolbo on a video project to be released November 7th

J. is personally responsible for cultivating my own love of music on vinyl, and introducing me to Conor Oberst (clarification: the actual Conor Oberst--in person. And yes, I was shamefully starstruck.) When asked about his sources of musical inspiration, Wong is quick to rattle off a seemingly endless list including Harry Nilsson, Brian Wilson, George Harrison, Randy Newman, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zant, and Dave Bazan.  In his words, “Most of these are no brainers. I respond to writers that have songs you can keep going back to – songs that have a way of drawing you back whether you have heard them hundreds of times or once.” 

And indeed that’s the kind of song that Wong himself writes.  With his dark voice and upbeat chords, it's easy to lose yourself in his storytelling.  His newest album, The Statue of Corrupted Endeavor, is enjoyed best with a glass of scotch aside a warm fire.  Hours later you’ll catch yourself humming "Coming Down."   


You can catch j.wong live Wednesday, November 7th at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, along with Mark Eitzel. 



[poster art by Scott Kolbo] 

j.wong's new album, The Statue of Corrupted Endeavor is available now at jwongmusic.comAlbum art by Charlie Fornia. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Skagit Valley



I am kicking myself for having failed to take any photographs during our latest trip to Anacortes.  However, I will summarize our highlights so that if you find yourself in Skagit Valley, you too can enjoy some of the best places.  

1. Compass Wines:  This wine shop is fantastic, and has a stellar reputation. They are friendly and unpretentious, and have a enormous selection.  We happened to be there the day they were hosting a free wine tasting by two Italian wineries.  Delizioso! 

2. Apothecary Spa at the Majestic Inn: This is my favorite spa in all of Washington.  They book up quickly so make sure you schedule an appointment well in advance.  Show up early so that you can take the time to enjoy the eucalypus steam room and the relaxation room where you can lounge in your cozy robe and slippers, sip tea, nibble on dried fruit and nuts, and flip through magazines before your massage. They have a fully stocked locker room so you can shower and get ready for your evening afterward.   

3. The Brown Lantern:  Beer. Enough said.  

4. Adrift: This restaurant easily makes my top five restaurants of all time. I love this place. It's a casual atmosphere with delicious food.  The tables are divided by shelves of used books, which only adds to its charm.  Be sure to make reservations as this place is extremely popular for locals and tourists alike.  Favorite menu item: Green Dragon curry mixed shellfish steamers. 

5. Washington Park:  Located on the tip of Fidalgo Island, this is the best way to get moving after a night of indulgence.  Roll out of bed, grab a coffee, and head to Washington Park for a walk around the wooded two mile loop which has great views of the sound all the way around.  The loop is open to pedestrians from 6-10AM (perfect for walking the dog or a short run) and opens to cars at 10AM. There's a great picnic area at the western-most point if you go later in the day for a picnic lunch.  

6. Rhododendron Cafe: Located on Chuckanut Drive in Edison/Bow, this cozy little diner has great breakfast. They are closed during the winter so double check that they are open before you head out.  

7. Taylor Shellfish Farms: If you are looking for fresh oysters, wind your way up Chuckanut Drive to Taylor Shellfish on Samish Bay. Drive under the large sign at the top of the hill and it leads you down a steep drive and straight into their shellfish farm.  You can BBQ right there at the picnic tables or take your oysters to go on a bag of ice.  If you're looking for a restaurant option, you can enjoy some of their shellfish at the Oyster Bar right around the corner.  Taylor also has retail stores in Shelton and Seattle, or you can order through their website. 

8. Breadfarm: Work your way back down Chuckanut Drive and you'll find yourself back in Edison.  Be sure to stop at Breadfarm for a delicious EVERYTHING.  Seriously. We left there with a loaf of french bread, two croissants, a pain au chocolat, a double chocolate cupcake, and a macaron. Come with cash or your checkbook- they don't take credit cards.  Maybe that's a good thing.  

9. Art Galleries: While you are in Edison stop into the art galleries and shops. Smith & Vallee is a lovely space, and if you walk down the road to the woodworking shop, upstairs you can see some of Todd Horton's amazing pieces while he works in his studio.  

I suppose I forgot to mention that Anacortes has some great art galleries and antique shops as well. But if you are into art and antiques, chances are you already found them.  Anacortes is a also great starting point for hopping the San Juans, a drive through the farmlands during the annual Tulip Festival, and a visit to La Conner for more art galleries and antique shops.  

Note: Since we are lucky enough to have a friend with a cabin in Anacortes we haven't stayed at any of the hotels in the area, but if you have any recommendations on where to stay feel free to leave those (and other Skagit Valley favorites) in the comments. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Music Monday: The North Wind


Update: This show was awesome.  If you have a chance to catch The North Wind live in the future, do it. You won't regret it.




***************************************************************************

My friend Erin and his band are playing in Seattle on Friday, October 26th. If you live in the area, come check them out! They'll be releasing their first EP, Mirror Lake, on October 25th. You can listen to some tunes HERE




[post originally published October 15, 2012]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Live Glassblowing with Justin



For any of you Seattle locals, the talented (and extremely good looking) Justin Bagley will be giving glass demonstrations on Friday, October 26th from 6-8pm at Avalon Glassworks in West Seattle.  
Stop on by and say hello! He'll be making some of these beauties, as well as other items: 

jellyfishpendant774.jpg

Monday, October 1, 2012

Music Monday: Justin Townes Earle


I have been listening to this live performance of Justin Townes Earle "Movin' On" non-stop for the past week. Beautiful.

You can watch the rest of his SXSW performance HERE  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Monday: Shovels & Rope

Ah, the crash of Monday morning. To motivate me for the week ahead, I've decided to occasionally feature a new band I am listening to, or an old band I love that might be new to you.

I usually 'discover' most of my new music via KEXP, the local independent radio station in Seattle, and they get full credit for introducing me to one of my new favorite bands, the folk-bluegrass-country singer/songwriter duo: Shovels & Rope.


I recently saw them play for the Concerts at the Mural series at the Seattle Center. Two words: absolutely charming. You can pick up their new album O' Be Joyful on iTunes. Worth every cent.

You can watch their Concerts at the Mural performance of "Birmingham" HERE as well as download the song.  And you can see their KEXP in-studio performance of "Birmingham" HERE.

There. Now don't you feel better already?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello there

A warm welcome to my newest niece...


Aurora Claire
born August 27, 2012
8 pounds, 4 ounces
19.5 inches long 

Welcome to the world, Aurora!  
I can't wait to meet you.

XOXO,
Auntie B

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Poem


Shoulders

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he's not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy's dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we're not willing to do what he's doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Adventures in Alaska: Part 2

For the story that goes with these photos and Part 2 of our adventure, click HERE to read the InnerSea Discoveries blog where I contributed a guest post.  




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Welcome

A warm welcome to my newest nephew: 

Owen Pierre



Born July 9th, 2012
9 adorable pounds. 

Welcome to our family. We're so happy you're here! 

xoxo
Auntie B

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Adventures in Alaska: Part 1

Justin and I recently got back from our first trip to Alaska.  I hesitate to tell you that we went on an Alaska cruise, first, because that sounds like something retired married couples do, and second, because this "cruise" was nothing like you are picturing.  Or at least it was nothing like I was picturing. 

Allow me to begin at the beginning of our trip: Juneau.  The approach to the airport was semi-terrifying with thick fog and then a quick break in the clouds where I could suddenly see mountain peaks practically touching either wing.  Dropping down toward the runway it looked like we were going to crash land on the mudflats.  As far as I know this was an incredibly ordinary landing for everyone else on the plane, but I was thrilled when we were finally safe on the ground.  We arrived into Juneau on a foggy, wet Saturday morning. 



After checking in to the Baranof, we went adventuring and per our usual new-town protocol, we asked a random local for her favorite place to eat and favorite place to drink. Following her advice, our first stop was the Hangar restaurant on the waterfront.  They had great chowder.  After lunch we made our way to the Alaskan Bar.  It's a great, dark little bar with friendly bartenders and interesting locals.  The next day we were lucky to catch some tunes there by a couple of girls who were traveling around Alaska playing music. 
 

[Christa & Chloe]

We were actually a bit sad to leave Juneau and hop on our boat. Well, I guess we don't look that sad in this picture. But we really liked the folks we met in Juneau. 


A little back story in case you were wondering how we ended up on an Alaska cruise: We found out about American Safari Cruises/InnerSea Discoveries from Justin's brother, who had gone on an Alaska trip with ASC/ISD before.  While we never really considered going on a cruise, he told us about the trip he went on and we were totally sold: kayaking, hiking, small skiffs up to glaciers, gourmet meals, etc. And so we booked. And there we suddenly were. 

Our boat was tiny compared to the monstrous cruise ships we saw in the bay.  Once aboard we learned that there were only 60 people on our boat (including the crew).  We had our first dinner and got to know a few of the other guests, before settling into our cozy room for the night.


Early the next morning, I awoke to the sound of humpbacks surfacing just outside our window.  In case you missed that last sentence, there were literally humpback whales right off the railing of the boat, outside our door.  I hopped up quickly and threw on my robe, and stood at the railing watching in awe, before I remembered to grab my camera (thus the whale in photo below is a bit farther out).  


It was a pretty incredible way to start the morning. I got dressed to catch the yoga class on the back deck of the boat.  In between our downward-dogs and plank poses, we watched the whales some more.  Already our trip had become almost surreal.  Seriously, who wakes up to the blow of humpbacks, and then does yoga surrounded by amazing mountains and surfacing whales? Evidently me, but it hadn't quite registered yet. 

After breakfast, we arrived at the Glacier Bay visitor's center where we got off the boat for our first hike. 

It seems everything in Alaska is beautiful. We walked through the woods a bit, then returned to the boat to continue farther north into Glacier Bay. I don't think I was prepared for just how beautiful Alaska actually is.
 
 
 
 


Off in the distance one of the crew members spotted a tiny white dot hidden on the cliff, that happened to be this mountain goat.  So the captain drove the boat over so we could have a closer look.  (correction: Mar, representing the great 49th, has informed me that this is a Dall Sheep, not a mountain goat.)

And just a little farther up on the shore, we spotted a brown bear and her three cubs.  


After watching a while, we continued on our way toward Margerie Glacier.  It was pretty amazing how dramatically the landscape could change from one mile to the next.  
 
 
 
 


Since we were on a small boat, rather than a cruise ship, we were able to get right up near the glacier.  Justin and I finished off the night sitting in the hot tub on the back deck, watching glaciers calf into the water. 
Totally, totally incredible.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Catching up and thoughts on life

I don't know why I am always surprised when I get a million steps behind on life's to-do list.  We recently returned from an amazing trip to Alaska, and I have yet to finish editing the 2,558 pictures I took. (And no, I'm not exaggerating.)  On top of that, I still haven't had time to upload photos from our L.A.- Palm Springs - Laguna Beach - Central California trip in May.  

I'm sure I will eventually find time to do these things, but one of the biggest gifts of both of these trips was the time we had just enjoying these experiences.  Floating in the pool with the glowing mountain backdrop, looking out into the Alaskan twilight as humpbacks feed at the surface. 

It is admittedly a bit challenging for me to live in the moment at times. I am a planner, a list-maker through and through.  Yet on both of these trips, it was nearly impossible to worry or think about anything else except how extremely blessed we were to be experiencing this life.  Living in that very moment. Enjoying the people we were with.  

In the wake of the shootings in Aurora, CO early yesterday morning, I'm finding it difficult to focus on the things on my to-do list. A little over a month ago a similar, senselessly tragic event happened in Seattle.  I didn't personally know the victims, but good and beautiful people who were once here are gone. And no rationalizing, or gun debate, or mental health debate, or finger pointing can bring those lives back.  Yes, policy changes can take place and I salute those who are shaken into action. But those lives are gone. It's hard to know how to react, how to feel about the world that we live in, where these acts of violence occur randomly, out of our control.  

It seems my own emotional response is to love more. To appreciate the people who are around me.  To reflect on the unchangeable fact that time for each of us is finite. To understand that I cannot live in fear. To be a little kinder to those I do not know, because they may be struggling with loss or pain in their life. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones.  May you be comforted by the time you had with those you lost.  And may we all glean something from the madness.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Justin!



We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.


- Ode, Arthur O'Shaughnessy 

much love. xo

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Poem

The Clothes Pin


How much better it is
to carry wood to the fire
than to moan about your life.
How much better
to throw the garbage
onto the compost, or to pin the clean
sheet on the line,
with a gray-brown wooden clothes pin.


- Jane Kenyon


From Collected Poems by JANE KENYON, 2005 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Swoon

It seems I have a terrible case of the "I WANTS" lately.  Yesterday on a quick stroll through Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn I almost bought everything. And then, to make matters worse, Brittany got me hooked on Tiny House Swoon.  So many cute little homes!!  

Image borrowed from Tiny House Swoon

Image borrowed from Tiny House Listings

The good news is that if I build a tiny house I won't be able to fit everything from RH and PB.  And hey, at least I'm hooked on tiny houses instead of gigantic houses, right? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hope and Goals

I realize this blog is starting to become (or has already become) a miscellaneous mess of road trips, parties, crafts, recipes, and poetry.  On one hand I feel like a sense of focus would be nice. On the other hand, it's a pretty accurate reflection of my lifestyle.  I seem to dabble in a little bit of everything.  I love learning, and probably would have stayed in college forever if I could afford it.  

That being said, one of the things I like about my "day job" is that I am in an academic environment, and work alongside a lot of really great, really brilliant people.  Today I went to an interesting lecture in which one of the primary topics was hope.  You don't hear scientific research talks on that topic every day. So in addition to the categories above, you now get to hear me vaguely discuss scientific research.  I don't know that I can accurately sum up the whole lecture, but here are some of the takeaways that I'm currently churning in my brain:

- Hope is experienced when there is expectation that a desired goal can be achieved. (informal definition) 
- There can be two components: pathway & agency. The pathway would be: are there ways to reach this goal/what are those ways?  The agency would be: is it possible for me to do that?
- Personal outlook can be broken down into positive affect and negative affect.  Positive affect can be good, obviously (good attitude), but the statistics also showed that those with positive affect become risk adverse (ex. why rock the boat when things are going well?).  Negative affect can actually be kind of good.  Often times negative feelings drive change and critical thinking (ex. I'm currently unhappy with X, so I will take action to change this situation).  Really they are both needed to accomplish goals, so both can be "good" in a way.  
- Understanding/discovering potential pathways and feeling like you have a sense of agency to succeed contributes to the feeling of hope.  Both negative and positive affect are usually required to discover those pathways and to feel empowered that one can reach a goal.  
- When asking the question, "what is your goal" sometimes your first answer, the primary goal, is literally not possible. Which can really knock hope.  However, when pushing further and asking "what is another goal" and "what is another goal," those are possible.  And when those become the new goal(s) (in the lecture termed: re-goaling) one can have a renewed sense of hope because that goal can be achieved.  

Interesting stuff. (I will note that most of the study related to palliative care, for those of you who might be questioning the "not everything is possible" point...)

I think a lot about my own personal goals, what they mean to me, and whether they are moving me in the right direction.  As my priorities shift, often so do my goals. As anyone who has ever had a goal knows, when you have a goal that you can't reach, it can lead to frustration and loss of hope.  Admittedly some of my major goals in life are a bit expansive (and yet incredibly specific- no surprise to anyone who knows me...). But then I marvel when things fall perfectly into place, and I take a huge step closer to my goal.  It renews my sense of hope that with a bit of critical thinking and innovation, a little adversity for motivation, resilience, hard work, and empowerment, I can accomplish the things I want in life.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Poem

Mourning Pablo Neruda

Water is practical,
especially
in August.
Faucet water
falls
into the buckets
I carry
to the young
willow tree
whose leaves
have been eaten
off
by grasshoppers.
Or this jar of water
that lies
next to me
on the car seat
as I drive
to my shack.
When I look down,
the seat all
around the jar
is dark,
for water doesn't intend
to give, it gives
anyway
and the jar of water
lies
there quivering
as I drive
through a countryside
of granite quarries,
stones
soon to be shaped
into blocks for the dead,
the only
thing they have
left that is theirs.

For the dead remain inside
us, as water
remains inside granite--
hardly at all--
for their job is to
go away,
and not come back,
even when we ask them,
but water
comes to us--
it doesn't care
about us; it goes
around us, on the way
to the Minnesota River,
to the Mississippi River,
to the Gulf,
always closer
to where
it has to be.

No one lays flowers
on the grave
of water,
for it is not
here,
it is
gone.


- Robert Bly
from The Man in the Black Coat Turns (1981)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The BIG O-FIVE

Happy 5th birthday to my #1 fan:
Thanks for being my dog, Jasper.
May you live many, many more wiggly bottom years.
XO

p.s. Maybe next year I'll teach you how to read.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cape D

This past weekend Andrea, Justin, Jasper and I took the LoveDog Mobile to the Washington coast for some much needed respite. And it was amazing. Two things: 1. It did not rain the whole time! 2. It was sunny!

Cape Disappointment is about 3 ½ hours from Seattle, but we picked it because we had no other choice. Every single campground on the coast was booked up. Turns out we’re not the only ones who like camping at the beach in the wintery months of spring. However, it did not Disappoint (budumpbump…)



Cape D State Park is pretty huge (1,882 acres), with about a million camp spots (actually: 137 standard campsites, 60 full hookup, 18 with water and electricity only, 5 primitive, 14 yurts, and 3 cabins), plus two lighthouses, and two beaches. The bathrooms are immaculate, they have pay showers, AND a pizza shop where you can order pizza to your campsite. I know, we’re totally into roughing it. But seriously, if you go, get the pizza --gourmet and delicious! We got the Earth Pie: garlic olive oil, gorgonzola, fresh basil, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Mmmmm..



In spite of the number of campsites, and the pizza booth, and the heater in our tent trailer, it still felt like we were camping. Maybe because most of the campsites were fairly empty and spread out. Or because we had multiple deer sightings. Or because the raccoons stole our marshmallows.




In addition to watching Jasper run around on the beach for two glorious days, we hiked up to the North Head lighthouse (about 4 miles roundtrip from our campsite—a moderate hike through mud, over footbridges, and up hills), and walked to the Cape D lighthouse from the parking lot (about 1 mile round trip – mostly paved but slightly steep near the top). I found North Head to be the more impressive of the two, but from Cape D you see a totally different view.


.


And did I mention that Cape D is only about 20 minutes from Astoria? Translation: 20 minutes from Rogue Brew Pub. While their food wasn’t particularly good, their beer is fantastic. I tried 2 IPAs, an ale, and a red, Andrea had 2 porters and 2 stouts, and Justin had an assortment of IPAs. Next time we’ll stop there for an appetizer and some beers, then check out another brew pub in Astoria for our meal.


All around a perfect weekend.



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