Monday, April 27, 2009

Panting, Planting and Police

Last week after I had recovered from my exploit to Discovery Park with Roy, Matt and I decided that what he needed was more constant exposure to dogs and people and things outside our neighborhood if he’s ever going to calm down in those environments. So we tossed him in my car and headed back into the lion’s den (if you will.)

 This time Matt got the brunt of his exuberance, but he really was much better than he behaved with me the first time! Matt kept asking doubtfully, “This is better?”

I got to smile and skip ahead taking pictures gleefully calling out, “Oh so much better!” We did have a fun time, although I’m a mite worried people may call us out for animal abuse as Roy was nearly suffocating himself on the choke collar and every time we passed another dog and Roy would try to meet it Matt would give such a tug Roy would body slam him. I had to respectfully ask him not to abuse our dog in front of strangers, but Roy is usually oblivious to it anyways.

Oh the weekends. Those two days you wait all week for that go by in a blur of cleaning interspersed with naps followed by late night movies and tubs of ice cream. Yes I know I’m not in college anymore but that’s still how we roll. The past couple of weekends I’ve had glorious days off with my husband…which means absolutely nothing gets cleaned and hardly picked up.

So Saturday, I resolved, was my cleaning day. After whipping up an immaculate omelette for Matt and some bacon and eggs for myself, I kissed my hubby goodbye and rolled up my sleeves. I got myself another cup of coffee and made my list of to-do’s. It included things like: mop the kitchen floor, pick up all of Roy’s tennis balls and bits of animal gut-fluff, gaze fondly at my seedlings and make homemade bread.
Well, I got through cleaning the kitchen and had just mopped when I decided I needed a snack. I’d bought a whole bunch of ingredients for a delightful little treat called “puppy chow” that I’m going to make and send my cousin Amanda for her birthday. 

Sorry Amanda, I’m going to have to go get more ingredients for your batch cause that stuff is DANG good! For those of you who don’t know what “puppy chow” is (some call it muddy buddies), its rice chex covered in a heavenly blend of chocolate, peanut butter and butter (can it get any worse? Oh yes) and THEN shaken in a bag of powdered sugar. Let it dry, pop it in the fridge or freezer and you have the best dessert/snack known to the microwave. Needless to say shaking powdered sugar bags effectively covered my kitchen and I got to clean it…again. But Roy did the floor this time.

By the end of the day most of my “chore” list was done and I got to thinking how bare our patio looked—even thought I’ve got some plants out there. A lot of them are from seedlings so they’re only an inch or two high…this is SPRING! I need color! And pots to grow things in…so I was off!

At Fred Meyer they were having mega-sales on their flowers. 6 cosmos for $1.50, who could turn that down?! I didn’t even really look at the sunlight/soil they needed I just grabbed what I liked and checked out. Dahlias, zinnias, cosmos, pansies, nicotianas, snapdragons, and some marigolds to plant near my carrots to ward off insects. You should have seen Matt’s face when he opened the door and I had a shopping cart full of soil, pots and flats of flowers! “So…so…after this you’re pretty much set, right?” He’s asked this every time I’ve brought home some more soil or seeds or another pot. “Sure, honey,” I always reply. 

Sunday morning was gray and chilly—perfect transplanting weather. I filled my little REI thermos mug with fresh coffee, donned my fleeces and wool socks and headed outdoors leaving Roy to mope at the window.

I now understand where the term “Stick your nose in everything” comes from. My dog. His nose will literally be in the middle of whatever I’m trying to read, work on, clean…you name it. He’s a curious pup and I’m not sure that’s going to wear off.

About the third time I went back in and out he bolted past my legs and onto the patio. What a new world of sensational smells! I let him check everything out, then drug his butt back inside and closed the screen. With his eyebrows pursed he began to give a soft, high-pitched whine/bark that sounded just like a pouting teenager. Then he plopped down with an emphasis and gave a loud, exaggerated sigh.

Eventually I let him out with me and after knocking over my zinnias and trampling on my pansies and knocking the buds off my marigolds with his tail and nibbling at my sage I made him lie down where he was quite happy just to be with me. Just as I got the last flowers transplanted the sun came out and we enjoyed a warm-ish spring day as I cleaned everything up. Then I made myself a plate of red beans, cornbread and fried zucchini while enjoying my handiwork.

After a nap and a shower I decided it was warm enough to wear a dress and actually look like a girl for a change! I had on my little ballet flats and a new dress and can honestly say I looked pretty cute. Matt was due home soon so what better way to greet him than outside lookin’ pretty?

I called Ammah as I walked Roy and had been bragging to her about his “loose leash” walking skills when we went down a long flight of stairs. At the bottom was a big slew of mug. I lightly hopped over, calling Roy to follow but, boy dog he is, he tromped straight through the mud. 

The next thing I knew a little tan terror was flying at us with high pitched yapping and teeth bared. Roy was more surprised than anything and backed up to me…leaving muddy paw prints all over my cute ballet flats and legs.

 I was doing the tango with one hand holding the leash that was beginning to wrap around my legs, the other hand holding my phone into which I yelled “CALL YOU BACK!” The owner, who sounded uncannily like her dog, yapped, “Trixie! Stay in your yard!” Meanwhile the terrier kept leaping at Roy but since we were between the street and the mudpit we had to endure the little bitch (the dog, of course, I’m not vulgar) until we could cross.

When I called Ammah back she acted like my dog was the one causing all the commotion! Doesn’t she know it’s always the little ones getting the big ones in trouble? Nonetheless by the time Matt showed up I looked like anything but the cute girl in the dress who had gone out 40 minutes earlier.

REI’s been pretty swamped, so he was pretty tired when he got home. 

Me? I’d had a nap and was raring to go! I asked what he wanted to do. 

His response, “Can we just sit on the couch together?” 

Hmmm…while that does sound infinitely exciting I think the laundry needs changing…you hold that thought. I do have to say, though, I wouldn’t trade anything for my man who just wants to “sit on the couch for awhile” with me! I convinced him to go to the movies, and from that he decided to find the movie theater and dinner location.

An hour later we were headed to Redmond…which is 40 minutes away…to go see a movie at a Regal Cinemas (we had gift cards—thanks Palmers!) and have dinner. At Claim Jumper Matt enjoyed a “schooner” of Mack and Jack ale…and looks rather pleased about it doesn’t he? After stuffing ourselves we browsed Borders then found our way to the theater in the mall. Only it wasn’t a Regal Cinema. Hmm. Now before this I might add Matt had a bit of trouble reading the directory and finding Claim Jumper. I had to repeat where north was three times. Anyways, we got in the car and through a tiny bit of help from my GPS but mostly explorational luck we found the movie theater and saw “Adventureland.”

My review: A 2009 version of Garden State with some funny moments, good acting by the lead but a pathetic portrayal of a pot-smoking lifestyle and it’s sad that the whole resolution was sex. The end.

Upon leaving the theater I asked, “know how to get back to the freeway, Tracker Tom?” “Oh yeah,” he responded confidently. Ten minutes and two cough-right-coughs later I suggested we make a u-turn and go back to this other street because I was pretty sure the entrance was on there. Matt turned left at the light, drove into a residential neighborhood and made a u-turn. As we approached the red light where we needed to get one lane over to turn right, Matt waited to see if the car coming behind him was in the right lane. It was behind us, so at 2 mph he signaled, got one lane over, stopped (because the light was red, but there was NO one around), and turned right. Ten seconds later red and blue lights were flashing behind us.

Uh-oh. What did we do???

Turns out any U-turn where there is not a sign expressly telling you it’s ok to make a U-turn is illegal. (In a neighborhood…REALLY?) He also said we had made a “Last minute lane change.” Well what are we supposed to do? The next U-turn sign isn’t for 5 miles and we just turned right! He asked Matt, “Sir, have you been drinking? And this IS being recorded!” Matt replied guiltily, “Um…yes.” The officer asked sternly, “How much did you drink?” Matt thought again. It was a “schooner,” of beer…just slightly bigger than a pint.

“One beer,” I answered for him.

“How long ago? And this IS being recorded!”

“Three hours ago,” I answered for him again. Delay would not make us look good!
Then he cited my tabs that expired a month ago. I’ve been meaning to get WA plates but BOTH Matt and I have to sign IN the actual office during their hours, and when are we BOTH off during business hours? Luckily he could see we were just lost and the only thing he gave us a ticket for was the tabs.

Then, twenty minutes later on the floating bridge what did we see behind us? Flashing blue and red lights. “SERIOUSLY?” I said. But it was the car behind us—PHEW! When we got home we de-fragged with ice cream and King of Queens. So that’s the latest in our exciting lives. Love you all much and would love to hear back from any and all of you!

A Cup, not a Carafe...

So thanks to Mark’s succinct words referring to my last morning cup—documentary—I’ve decided to try to shorten these up a bit. You might actually get through it without having to refill your cup of coffee! It is called “Morning Cup,” after all, not “Morning Carafe.”

Update: Mark was only teasing and I know that! I was going to try to make it shorter anyways...

Winter finally seems to be in retreat here in the northwest. The temperatures are slowly creeping up during the day (though last week it was 34˚ when I left for work!), and I’ve actually sat outside on the balcony in…shorts! Last Saturday Matt and I decided to head down to Pike Place Market for the first time since January. After deciding to drive downtown, we managed to find ourselves in the entry of the most expensive parking lot in the city. Just as we were about to reverse out way out of there, a car pulled in behind and we couldn’t just pull in and turn around without paying the initial $8. So we decided to park there and chalk it up to experience…but be back in time to pay the lower fee before we jumped to the next price bracket.

Now thorough experts of the market—or so we thought ourselves—we breezed past the craft stalls and the fish-tossing place and delved into some of the more ethnic stores there. I found masarepa flour in a Mexican grocery store to make arepas with.

Arepas are a cornbread/sandwich food stuffed with meat or cheese that we ate almost every day in Venezuela. The one time I’ve tried to make them before was with flour I bought in Venezuela. When I cooked the arepas Ammah and I discovered that there had been some sort of eggs in the flour and the heat had caused the eggs to hatch. We didn’t see them, however, until we began to dig our forks into them and noticed black specs. Ammah did her best to keep eating and not say anything, but when they began playing leap frog on her plate she had to give up. So twelve years later I’m ready to try making arepas again!

We wandered in the Asian store and bought some oyster sauce, looked at pickled ginger and coconut vinegar and other unusual items. Next we drifted into DeLaurenti’s Italian goods store. I felt like I was back in a shop in Florence—the smells, the brands, everything was so authentically Italian it made me want to shout “Viva Italia!”

Next we headed across the street to the waterfront piers and walked past the arcade with the wooden carved miners and sailors flouting fresh fish and chips, and made our way to “Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe.” Curious indeed. We paid 5 cents to watch an vintage slides
how of Charlie Chaplin, gawked at the mummies in the back and got a bit squeamish over the two-headed cat fetus and piglets/fetus/thing. Definitely a place to bring all you future tourists.

Sunday we took Roy for his first trip to the dog park. This place is called Marymoor and is enormous—640 acres! Every time I would ask someone, though, “Is it fenced?” I’d get the same response. “Oh it’s soooo big it doesn’t need to be!”

They haven’t met Roy.

Having it be “soooo big” means Matt just got to run soooo far to catch our former stray. Oh sure he’d pause and glance back when we called his name, but there were dogs and dogs and dogs to meet and acres and acres to run! Why stay with Mom and Dad? We even tried containing him in an area—Matt and I on one side and our friends John and Carrie on the other. Roy blitzed over a Rottweiler and through John and Carrie’s defense line in 2.5 and was nothing more than a brown streak on the horizon.

Needless to say he had fun, and we learned our dog wouldn’t maul sausage-sized mutts. The picture of the three dogs is a tri-way game of tug of war with one stick, and if you look at Roy's nose you can see the swipe of slobber from other dogs giving their greetings. But we think we’ll stick to the smaller, fenced parks until he learns to come on command a bit better!

Today was a warm, beautiful day outside. I decided to keep up this new found explorer in Roy and take him to Discovery Park. Not an off-leash dog park, but a reserve of forests and meadows and bluffs overlooking the sound. Breath-taking. Actually what was breath-taking was Roy pulling my arm off for four miles. Now before I disparage him let me rave about him a little. The past few weeks he has gone from sled-mushing dog to barely pulling dog that ends up being a loose-leash dog by the end of the walk. Seriously, he’s so good we can hold onto the leash with a finger and he’s glued to our side.

Not so much today. I think he walked better the day we brought him home from the shelter! I swear it was like I didn’t exist. He was on sensory overload with the smell of the trees and the sound of the wind and the dirt trails! Ironically the times we’d be on a paved part of the trail he was back to good-walker-Roy. But once his paws hit that dirt he became “Roy the Wild Stray Dog” and took off. At first I wasn’t entirely sure I could keep it up holding him back for the whole hike! We keep him on a short leash, and attempt to keep his head level with our legs to show we’re the leader. Ha. Ha. Ha.

The farther we hiked the more I thought, “It’s ok, once he gets this energy out he’ll behave.” That dog drug my butt 3.5 miles and only for the last half a mile did he bring it down a notch! I was worried I’d collapse his windpipe a couple times as I yanked and tugged on his choke chain. Well he is still breathing and my arm is attached, although both are probably going to be sore tomorrow. By the way, if you look close (or click on it to see full size) at the picture of the sound, a little past halfway to the left is Rainier--much clearer than my cell phone could take a picture of!
Wrapping things up (see? Isn’t this shorter?), just wanted to give a little plug for my articles I’ve started writing again on Not only do I get to put my intelligent discourse out there for the public to read and comment on, but I’ve got an account with Google and for every ad that’s clicked on one of my pages I get paid! Not much, it’s true, but so far I’ve accumulated $59.64!

 If I ever reach the magic $100 mark when they cut me my first check, I think I’m going to start putting it away for a plane ticket home! My favorite one I published recently is “How to Have a Country Heart in a City Life.” So if you feel like it read one of my “hubs” and don’t forget to click on a Google ad or two! If you want to read more, click on my hubpages name “Solorya” and it’ll take you to the home page.

That’s all for now! Enjoy spring!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another week in my odd but fun life

As I write this (well, wrote...) Matt is out on the patio in 30 mph winds checking the steaks we have on the bbq for our Easter dinner. I just walked into the kitchen and thought I heard bagpipes but realized it was from over our heads. The wind was playing “Danny Boy” on the top of our stove pipes. It’s a blustery, rainy Easter here in Seattle and so after church we headed to a warm Fremont diner for a late breakfast. “Isn’t it going to be crowded?” I asked. “No,” Matt responded, “Fremont is where the heathens live, they won’t have been in church on Easter.” Sure enough we walked in and sat down, haha.

But let me rewind a bit. A couple of weeks ago Matt and I got to explore the Ballard Farmers’ Market. I love farmers’ markets. You get fresh food usually at a lower price, support the local economy, meet the farmers, all that warm fuzzy feeling stuff. Well, you still got that at Ballard but one dozen eggs was six I’m not kidding you SIX dollars. That’s 50 cents an egg! They might as well have been made of gold! Most things there were sadly not just more expensive but RIDICULOUSLY more expensive. We did make off with a couple pounds of fresh clams for less than market price, but other than that we kept our money away from the homespun wool-clad hippie farmers.

What we did spend our money on was these out-of-this-world cupcakes from a café called Cupcake Royale. Lordy Almighty. If you come to Seattle I’ll have to take you there.
After that Matt wanted to try this Caribbean food place in Fremont (you know, where the heathens live). We parked next to where it was supposed to be and smelled this amazingly delicious aroma. There was a tavern, and then a little no-name shack next to it. No name, no menu or anything, but it was packed as tight as a southern woman’s girdle. That was “Paseo,” our Caribbean joint but they only took cash. Well, we thought that tavern smelled like it had pretty good food, but we’ll check for an ATM first. We walked by as a drunk man stumbled out and slurred “Ers en dere,” as he stumbled out of the tavern’s door. The brief opening let loose a stench of piss and sour beer and the neon glimpse of an ATM machine. So much for thinking that place was where the good smell was coming from! As Matt drew out cash I thanked God for the umpteenth time that neither of us found that setting appealing.

We went back to the shack (I’m not kidding you, tin roof and everything, and no I didn't take the last 3 pics but the rest are mine) and squeezed our way into the stuffy but amazing-smelling room. Twenty minutes and two growling stomachs later we had our food and were driving back to Queen Anne. I remembered that that night was the night that all the major cities around the world were all turning their lights off at 8:30—what better place to watch that from than Kerry Park? We pulled up and ate our WONDERFUL Caribbean food in the car. So good it’s almost a Mexican food fix. My boss was telling me about a place that supposedly has good Mexican food. “No refried beans or that yellow cheese, you know? It’s authentic.” I nodded but wanted to say, “Have you BEEN to a burrito shop in Tijuana? Give me the refried beans puh-lease!”

Anyways, we were a little early so we headed to our favorite café—El Diablo—and sat down just as a blue grass band was warming up. Now I may not have been to Texas since I was a two-year old in ruffled panties and a bonnet, but country is a state of mind and raised by the southern women as I was I loved it. Steel guitar, fiddle, a base, mandolin, and a couple of regular guitars all played by an older group of folks in a circle tappin’ their feet to the beat. One man was dressed up in his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ with a collared white shirt under his nice blue overalls and a straw hat. And, I kid you not, the wife of one of the player sat in the corner humming along and knitting. Where are we again?

We headed back to the park for the exciting moment when the lights of downtown would turn off. We huddled in the high 30 degree chill and waited. 8:30. Nothing. 8:31. Nothing. Nearly five minutes pass as I begin to lose feeling in my nose. Then, the Space Needle turns out. Ooooh. We wait for the rest. Nothing. That was it?! So not worth the cold, but at least we can saw it.

A few weeks ago I planted my flower seedlings, then about 11 days ago I planted my snow peas and sunflowers. And they’re growing! Last Saturday I got up relatively early for a Saturday morning (8:30!) and after my coffee, bacon and eggs I bundled up and headed to the patio to transplant my little seedlings to the pots. I’d also stocked up on some ranunculus, lobelia and diascia to bring some color to the patio. It was a brisk 40 degrees but being on the fifth floor it was wet and very windy, and it wasn’t long till I was chilled to the bone. I made myself a cup of coffee in a thermos cup and headed out again. Roy sat at the window and whined, pretty worried that I was out there and he wasn’t. In fact, the rest of the day he was such an attached doting dog I’m considering going out on the patio without him every morning just to feel even more wanted than I already do! Lol, just kiddin’ y’all. He is funny when he’s in a clingy mood. You can’t sit or stand without him leaning on you or lying on your feet. Or he’ll crawl up in your lap to be cuddled like a poodle. When he’s not clingy, though, he’s pretty relaxed, as you can see in the picture. That chair he has claimed as his throne, and when we had company over for Passover and took the blanket off he was very offended. One of our guests dared to sit there and Roy sat in front of him staring him down.

I guess that brings me up to Passover, though. Tuesday day I thought, “Man, it would be nice to have a seder this year.” The seed was planted. Passover began officially Wednesday at sundown leaving me little more than 24 hours to get everything ready if I wanted to do this. But hey, I thought, even if it’s just Matt and I it would be worth it. I texted Matt to ask if we could do it and invite our friends from Point Loma—Stephanie and Peter. He called and said yes, and he was going to invite his coworker. I told my Point Loma friends they were welcome to invite their small group, I would just need a definite number by that night. After work I went to the store and loaded up on parsley, matzoh, and a ton of frozen chicken. I got a text from my friend Stephanie, “Two more and possibly another two.” That would put the guest list at 10. Ten? Wait a minute, my table is small (not figuratively, but literally!). The most that can fit around it is 6! Uh-oh. Why did I send that “come anyone!” invite! Because the Passover table is open to all. The words came back to me from a Jewish Haggadah I had read earlier that day. Ok, I thought, We can sit on the floor, like they used to do. But I needed to know how many to cook for. I was making dinner the night before and there’s a big difference between 6 and 10! I never got a response from Stephanie, so not wanting to not have enough food I made two big dishes of a chicken/pasta/cream sauce dinner. And enough spinach salad to feed a small village. That night Matt and I cleaned, cooked and prepped for the coming dinner.

The next day, about an hour before the dinner I got the final number—6. Just us, Stephanie and Peter, and Matt’s coworker John and his wife Carrie. None of them had ever been to a Passover seder before, and having watched my parents do this for many years I knew we had big shoes to fill. Matt and I divided the readings and co-led it. At first, it was completely silent and I began to get a bit flustered they were all thinking, “What the haggadah have we gotten ourselves into?!” By the break for dinner I was nearly in a sweat wondering why I had decided to invite people who by now probably thought I needed to be locked up or sent straight to Jerusalem. I would try to explain why I found it so interesting but get so excited my words would tumble out like jibberish and I would turn red. This was not going as planned.

By the end, however, the group reading together had gone from uncertain to speaking aloud with authority and strength. Each read their part in the telling of the Passover story, and by the end we all chimed in “Next year in the new Jerusalem!” When it was over, John and Carrie brought up their rambunctious black lab/shepherd mix named Cooper to play with Roy. Everyone stayed for awhile, and it turned out they liked it! When Stephanie and Peter left they called out, “Next year in Jerusalem!” and John and Carrie replied, “The NEW Jerusalem!” I couldn’t have been prouder! Roy and Cooper romped to their hearts content and John and Carrie didn’t leave until 11:30. That being said I finished the last of our enormous amount of pasta today (5 days later…we’ve eaten it almost every day), and we still have a ton of spinach.

I guess this brings me up to Easter. We went to the late service at the same church where I had been distracted by the deaf ministry and the pastor had likened us to applesauce. I like to think of it as giving them another shot but sadly we couldn’t find anywhere else that really appealed to us. We actually made it out the door on time, and were directed into a parking lot by a man with a flag next to two blank signs. Huh? We never figured that part out, but there were attendants with giant umbrellas walking people from their cars to the sanctuary which I thought was nice. It was raining pretty good, making for my first non-sunny Easter ever. The worship needs some desperate help but the message was really good and reminded us why we had liked the church in the first place. We’ll be trying it again next week, although I’m still not sure how I like being locked out of church. Oh, if you haven’t heard that story two weeks ago we tried to go to the night service but were a bit late. We thought, “Oh well, we’ll miss the worship but make the message.” The church was locked! I was appalled! Who locks a church door? During a service? Don’t they know it’s the people who are late who probably need it the most? But God gives lots of chances so I guess we should too. The diner we got our late breakfast at (In Fremont, remember? Where the heathens live?) was a tiny place, hardly any bigger than our living room. The waitresses could only fit into the back of the bar area one at a time, but we had great service! I did bump someone who was walking by me when I itched my back, but that’s just the kinda place it is.

The rest of the day consisted of going to Fred Meyer and finding a bottle of wine called “Mad Housewife,” watching movies, napping, steak, cookies, and more movies. Side note--I'm not a mad housewife, I just thought it was hilarious. Matt keeps checking on me. It was odd not to go see family, have someplace to go. I miss all of you, and wish you had been there with us for our cold walk in the rain.

Another side note.

Mini-synopsis of the craziness of Seattle streets. I’m working on a map for the crew who come here and need a simple guide to the city. Simple my foot. By taking this one—yes one—road that winds from the north of Queen Anne, down and around a lake the street’s names go from (big breath):

W Nickerson to Westlake Ave to Valley to Fairview Ave to Eastlake Ave to 11th Ave.
Whyyyyyy? Oh, another favorite? Leary Ave NWto NW Leary Way to Leary Way NW. Would it have killed them to call it Leary?

Enough ranting. I’m off to bed. Thanks for reading, y’all. I love any comments or feedback or stories of your own. My goal is to try to write a bit every day. Whether it’s a part of the morning cup or another story, I need to get back in the habit. If you need something to watch I posted a video of Roy making noises like Chewbacca on my facebook, and my Aunt Wendy told my mom about this website that I too am now addicted too— I’d love to have something like that up and running one day—thanks for the inspiration Aunt Wendy!

Love to you all, and I’ll leave you with a quote by Annie Keary from Joy & Strength:
“The time of singing of birds is come,” –the time when nature calls aloud to us and bids us awaken out of the deadness of personal grief, and rejoice in the new manifestation of His beauty that God is making to the world. ‘Behold, I am alive for evermore, and the dead live to Me.’ Was not this the secret saying which the new verdure was writing all over the hills, and which the young pattering leaves and singing-birds were repeating in music? It must be well to have ears to hear and a heart that could respond with a little flutter of returning joy and thankfulness.”

think he loves the dog?