Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Seattle Summer Music

In addition to the mad pickin' skillz we witnesses a couple of weeks ago, we've also enjoyed some outdoor concerts over the last few weeks. I love the outdoor venues in the area and we're definitely taking advantage of them this Summer. We saw Ringo Starr and his All Stars at Chatteau Ste. Michelle winery and it was really fun. All the artists played songs they were famous for and then some not-so-famous songs. They were all fantastic musicians and you could tell they were all having a really good time. That's part of the fun of live music for me. I enjoy watching musicians who love performing.

We also went to one of the Zoo Tunes concerts at Woodland Park Zoo. We saw Emmylou Harris and she was wonderful. I love her music and also enjoyed the collection of musicians she brought with her. It's also a great venue for enjoying the people and we had almost as much fun seeing the families and folks who went to the concert as we did watching the concert.

We're looking forward to a few more event this Summer. They're not all at the outdoor venues, but we're definitely looking forward to Boz Skaggs and (totally unrelated) the opera Aida.

More on My Aching Foot

It still hurts! Now I'm just irritated. I've been going to the gym every other day, and no treadmill, just eliptical, but it's getting really old. I thought it was really getting better and chose not to wear sensible shoes late last week and I paid the price. Is this a sign of aging -- that I hurt two weeks later? I'm not having fun, but I'm still doing stuff. I'm hoping to return to my weekly Greenlake walk this Saturday, so trying to treat the foot right all week.

On the brighter side, it's been very cool in Seattle, so noone thinks another thing of me wearing long pants and clogs everyday. I really like my clogs, even if they aren't so fashion-forward.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Green for Green

This morning, as I put my darks in the dryer instead of hanging them on the line, I realized that I'm not really that green. If you were to describe me as a woman living in Seattle who drives a hybrid car and has a clothes line, you might assume that I'm also very green.

I have a secret. It's not a very green secret. I believe in saving the environment because I think it's good for my pocketbook. And on a grander scale, I think it's good for the economy. I like having a clothes line because it's too hot to run the dryer in the summer. I drive a hybrid because I was wasting a lot of gas on my commute, which was costing me a lot of money. I think we should decrease our dependence on foreign oil because that's what has driven the price of gas so high in the first place. I think we should look to renewable resources for things like transportation, because the oil will sometime be gone. I'm just a realist.

When I traveled in Europe while I was in college, I saw the mountains that had been desecrated by acid rain. The beauty of the black forest in Southern Germany was really ruined in places as a result of that rain caused by pollution. I love the natural beauty of the earth and want it to be beautiful for future generations. I'm not a tree-hugger. I just don't want to live in an area where the mountain looks like a forrest fire went through, but it will never regenerate because of acid rain. Honestly, my reaction to that was shock. I had heard about acid rain, but we don't have it in the Western US (more a result of how the winds blow, rather than being so much less polluted), so I had no idea how bad the situation was.

In the end, I think we should all care about saving money and having a beautiful earth to live on. I'm not making a political statement about being green. I'm keeping my house cool, saving money, and enjoying the outdoors.

And it's kind of nice if it has a positive effect on the world, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tragic -- Or Not

At church today, a woman was telling me about the tragedy of losing their boat to fire. She actually used the word tragedy, but soon retracted the term. The fire happened while the boat was docked and noone was hurt. It fact, it was taken care of rather quickly, with no damage to anything else around it. It happened the same week that the Mississippi rose so high that people lost their homes and businesses.

The exchange made me think about what we consider tragic. So much of the loss we suffer is not really tragic. It is still a loss, and may be mourned for its passing, but I don’t have much that I can actually call tragic in my life. I didn’t marry as young as I would have liked to. I haven’t had children like I wanted. I struggle with many things. In the grand scheme, however, none of these are tragic.

My point, if there is one, is that when I look at my life with the right perspective, it really is a beautiful thing. I have much more to be grateful for than I have to mourn. Even with the upcoming funeral of our friend Penny, we can celebrate her life and our privilege of associating with her. When work gets difficult, I can remember how blessed I am to have a job that gives me great challenges and helps me grow both personally and professionally. And when I struggle with some of the other challenges I have in life, I can remember how blessed I am with my wonderful husband and extended family. My glass is more than half full. In fact, my cup runneth over.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Have You Done Any Good in the World Today?

Have you helped anyone in need?

This morning, I was really touched by the small kindness I watched on my way to work. I drive South on Aurora to get to work and it's not the greatest stretch of road. When I got to the intersection at 85th, I was behind the first car at the red light. (For reference, there's a gas station on that corner.)

I noticed the guy in the car in front of me had his window down and was motioning to the car next to him. It had three young-ish girls (older teenagers) in it and I was a little worried. They clearly couldn't tell what he was motioning about and wouldn't roll down the window. I think it seemed a little wierd to them.

Then I saw the guy get out of his car, quickly grab the gas cap off the trunk of that car, replace it, and clost the gas tank cover. If he hadn't helped them out, they would have lost the gas cap as soon as they left the intersection and wouldn't know it until they got to their destination. They never would have found it again.

I thought it was really cool that they guy took charge of helping out the girls in the car even when they clearly couldn't figure out what he was doing and weren't thrilled to have the help -- that is, until they realized that he was helping them.

It made me want to do something nice for someone. It also reminded me that it's OK to look like a dork if it means that you're doing good in the end. A lot of times, I'm reluctant to help people when it brings any kind of attention to me. I'm going to work on that.

My Aching Foot -- Update

Well, it's not broken. It still hurts, but not as much as it did yesterday. And yesterday it didn't hurt as much as the day before. I'll rest it up through the weekend, but I'll be back at the gym on Monday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Aching Foot

Many of you know that I'm a bit accident prone, aka clumsy. Well, yesterday I fell down the two front steps at work. I felt like a huge idiot. I was carrying my computer bag, a cake pan, and a bunch of keys and I just couldn't catch myself.

When I got home, my foot was killing me. It wasn't bad enough to go to the emergency room, but still hurting. I decided to wait until I could see a doctor -- and thought it might get better over night. When I got up this morning, it was even worse. I couldn't put any weight on it at all. So much for my early-morning gym trip.

I called the doctor, but couldn't see him until 3:15. When I went in, he checked it out and thought it may be broken and ordered x-rays. He talked about the treatment and told me it would be the same whether it was broken or just strained. I could get The Boot (you know--those big splints with the wide velcro closures) or I could wear Dansko clogs. Becuase of where the injury is, the clogs will immobilize it just as well as The Boot. I opted for the clog. So now I'll be wearing sensible shoes to work until it feels better and riding a bike at the gym when it's good enough to go back there.

Oh, there's one other thing. The spill totally scraped the nail polish off my big toe. Now I have a good excuse for another pedicure (not that I really needed an excuse).

The Brownies You'll Love

When I have monthly staff meetings at work, I like to take a little sumthin' in to help celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and accomplishments. This month, staff meeting was yesterday and I wanted to make something really yummy. I'd already taken in cherry chocolate cake and chewies though, so I was at a loss for something new. Then it dawned on me. Annzy's most amazing brownies.

I don't know where Annzy found the recipe, but she's made it for several family events and they are a rich decadent treat that I thought only came from the high-end bakery downtown. She makes hers with extra dark Belgian chocolate, but I didn't have any of that on hand at 7:00 in the morning. Yes, that's when I decided on the brownies. That meant calling Annzy on her way out the door for work and getting the recipe quick so I could make them quick. It all worked out and the crowd loved them. They were gone in less than 10 minutes.

Annzy hasn't posted the recipe, but I wanted to share the love. Here is the most fantastic brownie recipe (and it's pretty easy too).

Decadent Chocolate Brownies*

1 C butter
2 C sugar
3 eggs
1-1/4 C flour
3/4 C fancy Belgian cocoa (or Hershey's if that's what you have -- like me)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt butter. Cream sugar and eggs. Add melted butter and mix. Add dry ingredients and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Bake in a greased 9X13 pan at 350 degress for 25-30 minutes. Brownies are done when the puffiness goes down and they are flat in the pan. (The toothpick will never come out clean on these babies.)

* That's just the name I made up. They probably have a real name that is nothing like that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mad Pickin' Skillz

Last night, the DH and I saw some amazing musicians at Benaroya Hall. The symphony put on a Summer concert series and last night was the final performance of the series. The musicians were the Sparrow Quartet, with Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck making up half of that group, and Earl Scruggs and his family band. You might know Earl best for the song that you'll be singing the rest of the day. He wrote the theme song for the Beverly Hillbilies. That's right. Ol' Jed's a Millionaire, and now you've got that song in your head.

I'm not the biggest blue-grass fan, but I have to say that those were some amazing musicians and I really enjoyed the evening of live music. Earl is 84 now, so his son did most of the talking and introduced the band. I was amazed at how fast they could all play. The one just played faster than the next. Of course, I enjoyed the dobro and the mandolin more than the banjo, but the banjo sure was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Peninsula

While Aimes and Annzy were here, we took a quick trip out to the peninsula. We started with the ferry crossing from Edmonds to Kingston and then drove all the way out to the Hoh Rain Forest. I think it's one of the most interesting and beautiful place I've been. Our world is such an amazing place!

This is a pictureu of the amazing foliage. Even the plants in the water were beautiful.
Then we went to Rialto beach. It's pretty far North and not like a California or even Oregon beach. Close to the water, there is course dark sand, then above the surf line, there are small round rocks. The other amazing thing is that the drift wood is made up of whole trees. Most of them were a foot or two accross, but some were three to five feet accross and 20 or 30 feet long. I can only imagine the weather that coughs those trees out of the water. It also reminded me of the book Snow Falling on Cedars. It may have been the mistiness of the evening, but I couldn't get that out of my head.
On Sunday, we went to Hurricate Ridge in the Olympic range. The drive was a small winding road and the view was really nice the whole way up. When we got to the top, it just got better. I think we picked a good time of year too. There were flowers in bloom, snow on the mountains, and lots of green.
We had a lot of fun and I'm still catching up on my sleep. Aimes and Ann, you can come visit any time!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Brush With Fame

While Amy and Ann were here, we took a road trip. I'll post more about the whole adventure later, but this post is about our brush with fame.

When we stopped for lunch in Forks, WA, we stopped by the place with a line before finally deciding on Mexican. As we were going into the restaurant, another big car drove up and a bunch of adults and kids got out. Then who do we see, but Mario Batali! (He's a chef on the Food Channel with his own show and often appears on Iron Chef.) He was even wearing his signature orange crocks.

Mario and his party sat at the table next to ours while we ate Mexican food. It's the closest I've come to meeting a real celbrity.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Happy 4th of July!

It's been a really happy (birth)day, full of fun activities. We started off with presents -- super fun! The DH got me a few gift certificates, some lovely jewelry, and two beautiful pieces of pottery. He did such a great job of finding things that I love. I'm impressed, especially since he was acting like he didn't know what to get me at all, and didn't need any of the ideas that I gave him. He's a reall keeper, that one!

The DH and I and Annzy and her friend Amy made our first stop of the day at Mae's Phinney Ridge Cafe for breakfast. We did take a detour past two other breakfast places that were closed, but Mae's has great food, so we won in the end. We had great service and great food. Maybe next time, I'll even try their famous cinnamon rolls.

We then headed down town and went to the Pike Street Market before heading to the Mariner's game. We had a lot of fun at the game. The weather was great and we all got a little more sun than we needed. Our red noses are really cute. The Mariner's even won, which is only a little unusual these days.

After the game, we met Colin, Sam, and Max for a yummy dinner with birthday cake (and other yummy treats) for dessert at Gordon Biersch before heading to the Indiana Jones movie. We all like the movie (no matter how outlandish and impossible the plot may get).

We then ended the day by watching fireworks on Elliot Bay. We didn't know where they were going to be, so we didn't select the best place for watching, but we were able to move to where we could mostly see them. The good news is that we know exactly where they are now, so we can get front row seats next year. Then, when we got home, we found flowers from Bop and Beep on the doorstep. Fantastic! Those are the flowers in the vase that the DH gave me.

Now it's late and I'm off to bed. It's been a lovely birthday!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

In Memoriam

Our dear friend Penny Catto passed away today. It makes us really sad that she's not around any more. We loved her a lot. She was like a mother to the DH. She was one of the first people who befriended him when he came back to church and he always sat with her in Sacrament Meeting. He helped her take care of her yard when she was in her old house and also helped to clean up the house before it was sold. He's got some pretty good stories about possum droppings. Just ask and I'm sure you can get all the gory details. Penny was also a great friend to the missionaries. They always knew she was good for a meal and would let them do laundry at her house for free. I know a lot of missionaries who considered her their grandma away from home.

In November, Penny fell at church and broke her hip. Around the same time, she suffered a stroke, and then a series of additional strokes both large and small. She was in and out of the hospital and nursing care facilities over the last few months and has been at home for several weeks now. Her daughter and our good friend, Carolyn, has been taking care of her while she's been ill. Over the last few weeks Penny was less and less able to communicate and it was clear that her life here would not extend much longer.

This morning, Carolyn called to let us know that Penny had died. We love them both, so we mourn for the loss of our friend Penny and the loss to our dear friend Carolyn and her family. At the same time, we rejoice that Penny is free of the broken body that she was in and that she is free from pain. She always told us she didn't want to hang around too long if she was really sick and couldn't communicate. We also know that she is now reunited with other loved ones that went before her and there were some great characters that she was looking forward to meeting up with again.

At this time, I'm very grateful for the knowledge I have that there is a life after death. Penny has left us, but she isn't gone.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Spam for Entertainment

I was looking at my Spam folder and just had to laugh at some of these subjects. I'm letting you all in on the fun. I'm such a giver.
  • Image does not put up with diletantness
  • Elegance exists. Accessories for ladies and gentlemen.
  • My heart beats just for you
  • Encouraging news for man’s health!
  • Receive our grant to feel well!

There were some other funny ones that weren't very family friendly, but I'm sure you can look in your own Spam folder to see some of those. The only question I have is how is this making people money? It must on some level or they wouldn't do it.