True Spring

on Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday was a true spring day. In other words, it fulfilled two of my unofficial criteria for spring: 1) sun and 2) warm (a.k.a. above 60 degrees).

Reuben came into Seattle and I planned out an excursion to Fremont. Look what we "happened" to "stumble across"!

A chocolate factory! Mmmmmm Theo chocolate. What's even better than Theo chocolate? Unlimited Theo chocolate samples.

We decided to walk all that cocoa off on our way to Gas Works park. I used to walk this way from Seattle Pacific.

I think I found our next house! (in my dreams)

I heard several people on several different occasions say that everyone in Seattle had waited until today to crawl out of their houses and outside. They all decided to congregate at Gas Works park. It felt like we were all collectively feeling the warmth of the sun for the first time!

We walked past the Fremont Troll, but were too tired to walk up the hill. Lazy bums.

And our ferry home to the island rode into the sunset!


on Sunday, April 17, 2011
Recently Reuben and I subscribed to Netflix. It was my spring break and because the weather was so crummy, the adventure(s) we had dreamed about never happened, and we needed something to do. Here's a list of some of the things that were first on my list to watch:

Mugabe and the White African

The heart-wrenching history of Mugabe's land reform program in Zimbabwe, which takes away land from White Africans and redistributes it to the 'poor, landless Africans'. Or in reality, Mugabe's closest family and friends. The movie follows a family struggle to keep their farm and the hundreds of Africans workers they employ. They manage to take Mugabe to International Court and eventually win the case and the legal rights to their farm (that they held all along...the Mugabe regime simply wouldn't recognize it). As the ending credits roll, the movie concludes by saying that the farm was burnt down and the farm was lost. *Sigh. I find the movie fascinating because I've never heard of such a harsh example of reverse racism. It's alive and well in Zimbabwe, even today as the last remaining white farmers cling to their land.

Which Way Home

The story of migrants on the North-bound trains that run through Mexico and up to the U.S. border. The documentary follows several kids who run away from home, hoping to make it to America to join family and achieve the American Dream. They somehow manage to interview the families they left behind and, for those who made it across the border, the families they joined. Others gave up part way on their journey or ended up in a detention center in America. Despite the crazy insanity and priorities of U.S. immigration policy, thousands of people still manage to make across over every year...and thousands also die in the attempt.

Rivers and Tides

Andy Goldsworthy has to be one of my favorite artists of all time. Doing 'nature art' was one of my favorite lessons to share with kids at IslandWood last year. Kids in Taiwan loved it, too. This movie is the creme-de-la-creme of his work. It's awe-inspiring, blows my mind, and is heart-breaking at the same time.


Just watching the trailer makes me smile. I like how this movie demonstrates how every culture (at least all of the four they chose to feature...Mongolia, U.S., Japan, and Namibia) has crazy ways of raising children. The Mongolian parents let their babies crawl around in the cattle herds. African mothers clean their babies with their tongues. American parents vacuum their babies. I don't remember anything particularly strange about the Japanese. It's basically the cutest 2 hours of your life, if there is such a thing.


This movie blows my mind in every way. I want to watch it over and over and over again, simply because I want to understand it but know I never will. It's true: an idea IS the most resilient parasite. Brilliant, Leo.

There were others on my list to write about, too, but those were a lot more dry and boring. I don't want to waste my time writing about those.

Queen Anne

on Thursday, April 14, 2011
Once every couple weeks, Reuben comes into Seattle on Friday afternoon and meets me after class. Normally we walk around downtown, find some place to eat (our favorite is Mike's Noodle House in Chinatown), get something from Starbucks, and head home. The winter was so dark this season (or maybe it seemed worse to me!) that it was dark by 4:30 and walking through downtown Seattle, although not dangerous by any means (if you know where to avoid) is not the most pleasant experience.

Today was a beautiful Friday. The sun was shining, I got out of class early, and temperatures ventured into the 50s. It stays light till past 7:30pm now. It's practically summer! I had been thinking about visiting this neighborhood for a long time, but today we finally managed to make it there: Queen Anne! I spent a total of 3 years of my life here, while attending Seattle Pacific. Some fond memories, most not so much. I did love taking walks through the beautiful neighborhood, hanging out at Starbucks and in the Queen Anne community with all its hills and secret stairways. I didn't quite remember where to do, but we just started walking and ended up at one of my most favorite spots on Queen Anne. Lovely view.

One thing I love about April in Seattle is the cherry blossoms. UW is ablaze in whitish pinkish flowers, and Queen Anne was no exception. Magnolias are beginning to bloom as well!

We stopped for dinner at the Queen Anne Cafe. I had a Greek Salad that was MOST delicious and Reuben had a gigantic veggie omlette. Yum. We spotted this on a nearby menu, but for some reason Reuben didn't seem tempted:

Marathon: Check

I don't know how he did it or why I said yes, but at some point early in the year Reuben convinced me to do a marathon. One very wet and cold and dark winter was our season for training, making for some very challenging training runs. I learned many things about myself from this training. First: GoreTex has a saturation point. Second: I love Jeff Gallaway. He created a training plan where with every mile you run (on long runs) you walk one minute. I LIVED for those minutes, especially after 15 or 20 miles. Three: Another love: French Toast. Our favorite post-run meal. mmmmmm. Four: Marathon training isn't as difficult as I thought it would least after running a few half-marathons. If you can train up to 13 miles, you can certainly train up to 20. And if you can run twenty, you can run 26.2. It's all about endurance, anyway. Fifth: Beware of Aleve. I actually didn't learn this until after. Due to knee pains, I always pop two Aleve before a long run. Over the course of the marathon, I took a total of 4. I read a few days ago that too much Aleve while running can cause kidney failure.

The marathon we chose was the Yakima River Canyon Marathon, on April 3rd at 8am. To make a long story short, I did it! I finished. Miles 15-20 were a drag. Not close enough to the finish to start counting down, but far enough that it already hurt. And boy did it hurt! But a marathon ain't all rainbows and puppies. It's supposed to hurt! At least for first-timers, like me. I didn't have any sort of goal for finishing, but we made it across the finish line in 4 hours and 41 minutes. Not bad!

My preferred post-race snack was pretzel sticks. SALT. Yum. I scarfed them down. Plus a few Fig Newtons.

People say that marathon running, like tattoos, are addicting. I say, not so. I accomplished what I set out to: I finished. I don't have anything to prove. I don't feel the need to run another one for a VERY long time. I've spent so much of my time RUNNING at the expense of so many other things I wanted to do: like biking and hiking. Almost every saturday was spent running for HOURS, and we missed out on a lot of other activities. When I wasn't doing my long run, I was laying on the couch like a lazy bum. And because I didn't do any cross-training or weights to supplement my training, I don't feel that all this marathon training made me any stronger. I know I can run killer hills, but probably can't do a chin-up. I gained weight (apparently a common occurrence for first time runners).

Needless to say, I'm ready to get on with my life. Since the marathon is over, I've been on the track doing a little bit of speed-work, reminiscent of good old high school track days. Nowadays, I want to do things that I LOVE, not just all running, all the time. If only this spring would cooperate!

From the Fat of the Land

Last week I set out for an exploratory morning walk and stumbled upon a stand of stinging nettle. Score! I taught kids at IslandWood last year all about stinging nettle, how it's considered to be "indian spinach" by the natives, how it makes great and nutritious tea, and showed them how to eat it raw. They were always impressed by that trick. I also treated a lot of nettle stings with baking soda, although they preferred the more traditional treatment of rubbing sword fern spores on the sting.

So when I stumbled upon this stinging nettle just a few minutes walk from my house, I knew what would be our dinner tonight. Armed with scissors, gloves and bags, we harvested two (half) bags of young nettle shoots (they turn deadly if you try to eat them as a mature plant!) . The longest process was removing the tender leaves from the tough stems. It took me about an hour. In order to neutralize the formic acid in the nettles, I blanched the leaves for about a minute. They cook down to super-small itty bitty things, but packed with iron, potassium, and Vitamin A.

I was tossing back and forth whether I should make nettle pesto or nettle soup. The soup won. I have to admit that although it was delicious, I couldn't eat very much of it. The nettle taste and texture was too intense for me. But the leftovers will make a delicious pasta sauce!

As for my next foraging target, I'm keeping my eye out for dandelion greens and miner's lettuce.

Old haunts

“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” - Elizabeth Lawrence

Yesterday I paid a visit to my childhood dentist, Dr. Parker. I think I've written about him on here before, probably sometime last year. After my dental check up and two cavities later, Reuben and I decided to hang around Lakewood (it was considered Tacoma back when I lived there - Lakewood only became its own city after we left) a little longer. Since I haven't been there in who knows how long and because Reuben's never been, we decided to pay a visit to 7914 Sapphire Drive - the house where I lived the first seven years of my life.

It's funny how much I remember, and how much I don't. I remember living on a golf course, but I didn't know that our house was actually IN it- golf course all around.

Although I unmistakably knew it was my house, it had changed so much. The current owners had opted for blue trim instead of the pea green paint we had. Our climbing tree out front was taken down and a tiny one put in its place. Lame. No more ferns or flowers in the front yard. That plant that Dylan told me would talk back to me if I talked to it? Gone....I think.

They fenced in the backyard, where Dylan got bit by a goose one time, where we used to build snowmen and jump in great piles of leaves. We used to set up a lemonade stand and sell golf-balls that we found had haphazardly landed in our yard. This picture makes the place look so much manicured than I remember - it IS on a golf course after all and has to be tidy, but what I remember as a child is getting dirty in the sandbox, stepping on goose poop, and endlessly raking leaves (child labor?).

One side of the house is now empty, now landscaped with grass and a tacky trimmed tree. We used to have a sandbox which was constantly water-logged, a swing set, and a patch of strawberries that always disappointed me every year (by their very small size, as I now know are the best and most flavorful of them all). The other side of the house now has a shed. Before, this is where Kerry's pet turtle made its mysterious escape and where I remember finding a spiders egg sack (I still shudder when I think about all those baby spiders exploding out of there when I touched it).

I also remember the frogs. Just a short distance from our house was a small pond that was home to a population of frogs that made a great deal of racket. Dylan and I used to go there to catch tadpoles. I don't remember being on the golf course itself very much, but I DO remember wanting to ride those golf carts really bad.

The street, Sapphire Drive (the picture is the sign of the street perpendicular to ours) has memories as well. I remember the first time I was able to ride my bike without training wheels on my red banana seat Schwinn. Speaking of bikes, I remember (waaaay back, repressed memory!) when I rode in the carrier seat on the back of my mom's bike. Hahaha the thought of her on a bike now makes me laugh. I also remember once when Kerry and I were walking our dog, Sable and we came across another dog who tried to attack her. Kerry picked Sable up to protect her and I remember being so mad because I thought she should have protected me instead. I remember riding in the Volvo P1800 with Darcy and her swerving around on the road....dangerous teenage driver. I also recall walking to the next door neighbor's house and buying a present for my mom at their yardsale.

Coming back here and thinking back to my early childhood makes me recognize that most of what I remember came from my time spent outside. I do have vivid memories of watching the Little Mermaid, stepping on a sewing needle while wearing Strawberry Shortcake socks, and my bedroom closet which I swore something was going to jump out of while I was sleeping.

Oh, the days of childhood!