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Today was a day for doing what I ought, taking my self-prescribed medicine, and getting on with my life.  I’ve been living under this fog of being underworked and unfocused.  Like trying to start a car which is frosted over and too cold to turn over.  LA was just the little vacation I needed.  It came on the perfect weekend – I just got a whole bunch of stuff to do, but wasn’t behind on anything, and thus got to go play and get all my work done.  I got a cold my last day there, and skipped yesterday’s Quechua and today’s semantics classes, and now I’m feeling really rested, restored, and caught up.  I worked all day today.  One of those life-affirming, productive, well-paced work days.  I got started this morning when Lewis went off to class, and I worked all the way until he came home for dinner and I got a ton of stuff done.

(Now to deliniate my list in a self-fulfilling manner:) I cleaned my desk, caught up on neuroscience powerpoints, did some neuro-reading, did Quechua homework, pronounciation practice, and song practice, set up a meeting with my TAing professor for tomorrow, cleaned the living room, did some research and brain-dumping on my phoneme paper, read an article for that, prepared for my meeting with research professor tomorrow, went out to Chinese food with the Lawyers (+Emily & Andrew!), screwed around with my computer’s layout, and studied all my Quechua flash cards!

Now it’s almost 11, and I’m feeling so accomplished and vaguely prepared for tomorrow.  I can’t remember the last time I went to bed feeling prepared for my next day of classes because I’ve actually studied everything I intended.  It’s good to be TAing again (at least, having work to grade) and I’ve got midterms coming up!   Not to mention, researching for my QP always gets me all excited.  I imagine this is what archeologists get to spend their lives doing – unearthing artifacts and surprising relations between things.  It gets my brain working so quickly, it’s like all my synapses are firing at the same time.  It’s crazy, like no other feeling I know.  I think I’m built for critical analysis.  I keep discovering these quotes in papers that just make me jump out of my chair.  I want to run down the street announcing, “Hockett said it in 1942!  It’s right here!  I can’t believe it!!” and have everyone I meet be pleasantly surprised to see that a quote I’ve found proves a thing that we hadn’t thought was true.  That everything I need to know is right there, on paper, lost somewhere in the annals of history.  It’s like the Da Vinci Code, but with linguists arguing over the existance of theoretical units of sound.  That’s my new line for whenever anyone asks what I’m doing.  “It’s like the Da Vinci Code, but with linguists”.

And on top of it all, I’m feeling pretty much non-sick this evening!  Sore throat still, but all my sinus stuff seems gone.  Did I mention I’m listening to The Moody Blues?  I love The Moody Blues.  I’m a happy camper!


Portland's Amtrak Station

Portland's Amtrak Station

Sitting here in Eugene, Oregon waiting for something or other. I really love the Amtrak, and it always makes me a little sad when it gets caught in train traffic or behind track work or something and people blame Amtrak for the delay. It’s almost never Amtrak’s fault, as far as I understand it, since Amtrak does not control or in any way operate the tracks or schedules, but merely runs these passenger trains. At any rate, we got stuck for a good 45 minutes outside Eugene, and now we’re sitting at the platform waiting for something to happen. We’re quite a bit behind schedule, but for an interstate train it still doesn’t seem too bad. Luckily I have this here laptop, upon which I loaded the Linux port of Civilization II for the Lewis to play in just these sort of situations. Yay!

The Slow Lane

View from Golden Gardens

View from Golden Gardens

Dropped off the car today, after grabbing breakfast at a great diner in Ballard. Not sure why Ballard has become such a hot spot for us on this trip, as I had never really been there before while I lived in the area. I do believe it’s gotten more hip. But with a Sonic Boom right there to tempt me down… it’s inevitable I’d end up there sooner or later.  We also spent a few minutes checking out Golden Gardens Park past the Shilshole Marina.  It’s beautiful!

My sister picked us up from the rental shop and was late to get Zen fed and dropped off at school, so we took a hair raising Mister-Toads-Wild-Ride-esque jaunt across town to get those things accomplished. Yuck. I just can’t drive like my sister does, whether or not I “really know where my car is”. My life just does not accomodate that much adrenaline.

Luckily the rest of our day was really slow and relaxing. Lisa needed to stick around the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market to wait for someone, so we ended up driving Lonnie home since he was feeling sick. Came back to bring my sister the car and her rendez-vous hadn’t yet happened, so we had a few more hours to watch the market and hang out at the adjacent park and relax in the sunshine.

Lisa cooked us tasty Uli’s salmon sausages for dinner and we headed out pretty early so we could pack and such for the train. Turns out we bought just exactly enough stuff as is going to completely pack all the bags we brought. I had been hoping to buy a backpack while we were here that would accomdate our extra junk but I just never did find one I liked. Anyway, we’re all good to go for tomorrow! Seems a little crazy our trip is coming to such an abrupt end, but we’re also starting to drag a bit from all the sightseeing we’ve been up to. Time to get home to our kitty!

Life As It Is

Woke up feeling much better than yesterday, which was a great surprise! Only had to take one dose of cold medicine all day, and even that I think I could have done without.

So we had our usual morning – rolled out of bed at 9:30 or 10, and headed over to the Teacup to have breakfast with my sister before beginning on our adventures du jour. When we got to the store this morning, my sister was actually across the street overseeing the demolition and digesting the morning’s events (namely: the Health Inspector visited). It was really neat to get to see the new store in a state of progress, with all the old wood beams exposed and counters ripped apart and such. It’s going to be really lovely when it’s all done, and I can’t wait to see it.

After grabbing a bagel at Noah’s and having some tea with Lisa we decided that we had to get some teriyaki en route to the south end, lest I manage to entirely avoid having teriyaki on this trip. Crisis was averted, and the three of us went to my favorite spot, Nasai on the Ave. Had delicious teriyaki and poked around for a backpack at the UW Bookstore where Lewis found a good linguistics book for cheap, and I failed to find anything. About this point we realized that it was too late to go to the Museum of Flight since it was already 3:00 and the museum starts shutting down at 4:30, and we weren’t even in Renton yet.

We actually didn’t end up having time for anything anyway, since we were supposed to be to Steen’s by five for game night. We got caught in a fair bit of traffic leaving the city past three, and our empty take light came on just as we got past Boeing field. We got off I-5 on Marginal Way there and filled up, and then took Interurban (what turns into West Valley Highway) all the way from Boeing to Kent. By the time we made it to downtown Kent it was almost four thirty, and we still had to get all the way to Federal Way. We did stop at the top of the west hill to do a loop around West Fennewick Park, where I got to tell Lewis about all the great adventures we had playing Bad Tennis and walking Eponine as a puppy and shouting dirty words from the hilltop. Ah, childhood. It was nice to see it’s actually getting fancied up over the years!

Made it to Steen’s right on time, and had a very nice night with Steen and Joel, K.I. (of KISUX fame), and her friend Amy. We had tasty spaghetti, and played Settlers of Catan. I played on a team with Lewis cause I didn’t really know what I was doing, and we won! Very exciting. Things sort of turned in there after that, and as it wasn’t particularly late yet, Lewis and I headed hotel-ward via a coffee shop downtown. Ended up trying to find a place in Fremont, and mostly discovering that Fremont is full of bars and Thai restaurants, and not so much coffee shops. But we did find a local chain, Caffe Ladro, which was open all the way till 11:00, and served us very tasty fair! Lewis had a mocha with orange zest… yum. We also had some great conversation about family and friends and life that left me feeling like I had all my loose ends tied up and maybe I’m ready to yet again bit Seattle farewell and strike out on my own in California. Though it’s nice to feel like I can always come home.

Tomorrow we have to drop off our rental car by noon, and then we’re schlepping around town with my sister. I’m hoping to talk her into a market trip, since that’s sort of the last landmark I haven’t hit since being here. But we’ll see. I’ve been pretty easy to tired out these last few days. Which reminds me: sleep!

What We Need More Of Is Science

Low key day today, since I woke up feeling rather under the weather. Hopefully this cold is winding down, because I’m really not looking forward to traveling while sick.

After getting up rather late, we went back down to Cap Hill. Yesterday while looking through The Stranger I saw a Sonic Boom ad that said a new Damien album was coming out today, so I had to go pick that up. Of course, ended up finding much more great stuff in there than I intended, but I did manage to pick up Damien, a rare Soundgarden find (yay!) and a Smashing Pumpkins album (Earphoria) I’ve been looking for for ages. I love Sonic Boom. We had lunch across the street with my sister at the Coastal Kitchen which was delicious as always, and wasn’t even crowded! It’s nice to be able to do these things on off hours, like Tuesday afternoons.

Our major event of the day was to hit up the Pacific Science Center. When I lived closer by, my mom used to buy us year passes every year, which even came with guest passes, so I could go whenever I wanted and bring whoever I wanted. It was the perfect thing for a 2nd-grade me, and I can’t even count the number of times me and Ban, or me or Little Jeff, spent the day there. Lewis and I finally made our way there (via REI to look for backpacks) and saw all the old favorites – anamatronic dinosaurs, naked mole rats, puget sound tide model, and everything in BodyWorks!

I was pleased to see they hadn’t changed any of the old silly body things since I remember them so well, but the height chart was gone, and they had changed all the buildings around so building one was mostly empty (except dinosaurs) and building three had BodyWorks but was missing the whisper dish and gravity bike. Unfortunately buildings four and five were closed to set up for a new exhibit, and I don’t know if they do the day time laser shows any more, but I didn’t see them. And sadly, it overall looked pretty forgotten and unimproved. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse, since I loved what they have to much, but it seems like “kids today” might be bored with the mid-80s-tastic technologies. Shrug!

Came back to have dinner with Lisa, and crashed out pretty good at her house. She and Lewis made some really tasty pizza, and we watched lots of TiVoed Food Network stuff. Ooh, and we also tried out her frozen Monster Cookies to see if they would perk up like fresh made ones. They were mucho tasty. Only a few days left here… tomorrow I think we’ve got to get teriyaki and hit up something like the Museum of Flight. We’ve got a game night at Steen’s in the evening, so it should be good fun. Woot!

Orting Adventures!

Today our big plan was to meet up with Cerise in F-Dub and get ourselves out to Orting to say hello to an old junior high teacher we both TAed for in 9th grade. We stopped off to see my sister and have breakfast at the shop, but she was too busy with her architect for much visiting, so we had our bagel and got on our way. Met up with Cerise at the Barnes and Nobel which Val used to work at on Pac Highway, only to discover that Cerise assumed I had found directions to Orting before we left. I had also wrongly assumed Cerise had directions since she was organizing the trip…

Lewis and I did have a Washington/Oregon map on hand which thankfully at least had the town of Orting listed, so we managed to navigate ourselves (albeit somewhat circuitously) to the town and land on the very doorstep of the middle school we were aiming for! It was funny seeing our old teacher, who was looking much younger and more sprightly than I remember her. It’s funny how old and boring you think your teachers are while you’ve got them, only to discover that they were the age you are now when you had them. It turns out she’s was just 30 when she was teaching at Totem, and didn’t even have kids until after we lost touch.

Feeling inspired by our Orting success (and also our delicious Mexican food lunch) we got ourselves back to Federal Way just in time for high school to be letting out, and for us to stop by another new school to see a favorite old teacher, Mr. A. By the time we found his new school, and classroom, and got checked in and all it was just about time for him to leave, but not before he recommended us a new book and made us all merry with his unhinged sense of reality. Seeing Mr. A is like reminding yourself that there’s a whole different way of looking at life out there. As he rode off into the sunset (literally, after having ridden his bike through the halls at his school) we went back to Barnes and Nobel and Cerise and I each bought a copy of his recommended book. We also spent a few minutes saying hey to Cerise’s mom (another teacher!) at her 1st grade classroom in Auburn. I haven’t seen Judy in ages – it was really nice!

That left us just in time to get over to Steen’s house, for she had made us dinner! Cerise didn’t stay through dinner since her lady was waiting for her at home to make her tasty steak, but it was neat having ¾ of the band in one room at the same time. Lewis and I stayed a bit longer to chat and watch Hot Shots, which Joel had just brought home for Steen. That movie is pretty classic, even if all the jokes are ham-handed and cheap. My cold was catching up to me, so we left pretty early.

Lewis was feeling like getting some reading in at an exciting location so we took a pit stop off in Capitol Hill after getting the name and vague location of a coffee shop from Lonnie. We had a bit of a time finding the place, not having realized that 15th Ave and 15th Ave South were so disparately numbered, but we did eventually make it to the proper cross street and intersection. The Victrola Cafe was very pleasant – good chai, good brownie, nice art, chill clientèle, and grooving music. I made it all the way through this week’s Stranger, which is always a really heartening read for a homesick Laurie.

I’m going to miss Seattle an awful lot after our trip this time. But when do I not?


Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

Woke up this morning with a cold, for sure. I always seem to catch one when I’m traveling, though I’ve always blamed it on planes before. Oh well! Acquired some cold medicine this evening and I’m sure everything will be fine.

We spent most of the day hanging around the Snoqualmie Falls, which I haven’t been to in ages. It’s even better than I remembered! We got there fairly early, so it wasn’t as crowded as I was worried it would be for a gloriously sunny Sunday. We went and saw the falls from the observation deck, and had a very nice snuggle looking at the beautiful water and thinking about how this was my choice of location for a Seattle-area wedding. From the deck you could also see some folks down on the river bed, so we decided to grab lunch and then head down the path to the lower viewing deck and river walk.

Lunch was outstanding. We splurged and ate at the falls-adjacent Salish Lodge where we got a window seat at their bistro. I had salmon chowder, and Lewis had a mighty feast of local fruits, cheese, honey, berries, and nuts. I took a few pictures of that gourmet plate which I hopefully can put up later. Feeling full of nutritious goodies, we took the all-downhill trail to the riverbed and admired all the lovely forest plants and smells and sounds along the way. At the bottom there was a very silly crowd of college kids getting into two very unseaworthy-looking flotation devices which everyone sort of stared at for a bit. We did go down to the other observation deck, but it was a bit silly since it was so crowded and mostly people were just jumping the railing and heading out to the rocks we could see from above.

I wasn’t much feeling like clandestine rock jumping, so we headed back to the first beach spot and stuck our toes in the water for a bit. My goodness those mountain rivers are cold! After that was the all-up-hill climb back up, but it certainly seemed shorter than the other direction. Got to see lots more nice plants and forest things, and get ourselves the requisite silly magnet souvenirs at the gift shop before heading home via Snoqualmie proper and North Bend. Our route took us past a really gorgeous view of Mt. Si (I think) which I now have the itch to go visit again. I recall climbing up part of that mountain as a kid to visit a lookout deck (actually a fire tower) the forest service lets you climb up on. Maybe next trip. There’s also a great looking diner in North Bend we should hit up.

Came back to Lisa’s just in time for some delicious navy bean soup and salad and a really tasty home made carrot cake. My sister is an excellent cook, and all that smooth creaminess is just what my sore nose and throat wanted at the end of the day. As if that weren’t enough, Zen gave me a shoulder massage as part of his massage school practice hours and loosened up some of the massive knots I’ve been unable to get rid of since working at Ask. Feeling much better, and much relaxed after that!

Tomorrow, health depending, I’m headed down to Orting with Cerise to visit an old teacher of ours, and then we’re having dinner with Steeny. Should be another wonderful day! I’ve never had a Seattle trip so successful as this one. Yay!


Flowers at the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Flowers at the Bellevue Botanical Garden

You can tell my vacation is going well when every post seems to start with a “Yay!”

Today was very chilled out, and we did lots of stuff I had never done before! We started out our day stopping by my sister’s to have a wee sconey breakfast before heading out to lunch with Valdito. Lisa was looking mighty tired, and seemed rather stressed out. It’s hard to know what you can say that will make her feel any better, but I hope she enjoyed having us over this morning, and that her day picked up from there. All this tea shop business can get a little trying and she’s such a trooper it’s always hard when you can see it’s finally starting to get to her.

Anyway, the lunch with Val was a bit awkward at first. I’ve never spent enough time with her husband to get to know him and the times I’ve met him over the years he’s always made a bad impression on me. This was by far the most time I’ve ever spent in close contact with him and I think it really paid off. By the end of our long day today he seemed to be loosening up and not being nearly so combative as when we first hang out. I think perhaps new people or old friends make him nervous; I know I am especially self-conscious when meeting Lewis’ old-timey friends.

So we kicked it off by going to a nice restaurant in cute downtown Issaquah, and then Val took us home to show off their wedding photos. It looks like they had a lovely time in Hawaii, and a lovely wedding, and I was definitely a bit sad that I didn’t have the opportunity to participate. But Val’s life is just how she wants it, and apparently how she wanted it was with only Kelly and her father by her side. I do wish them the best, retrospectively.

After that we took off for the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, which I had never been to. This surprises me a bit, given the field-trip-happy elementary school I went to fairly nearby, and the naturalist-type parents I had at the time. At any rate, the gardens are lovely, like a weensy Northwesty version of the Berkeley Botanical Gardens, and it was a very nice afternoon. I think we may have walked the whole park, and it took us through several wooded and open plains, and they seemed to have tons of fuchsia and hydrangea varieties.

I tried to follow Val’s directions to Lynnwood thereafter so we could go to P.F. Chang’s (where she had a mighty gift certificate to). I got supremely lost, but it turns out I got lost right at the mall. Lewis and I made three or four about-faces and ended up right at the point where we had decided we were lost in the first place. After eventually arriving at the Alderwood Mall we checked out the movie schedule and headed to dinner. Never ended up seeing the movie as I was hoping to get back to our hotel before it got too late so we could finally get some good sleep. And here we are – it’s 11:00 and I’m already back! Many sleeps to come.

All in all it was a relaxing and reassuring day. There were moments in there I was worried I’d never be able to enjoying seeing Val without Brian getting on my nerves, but that fear has abated. I also panicked about ever finding Lynnwood, but we made it there as well! A day of tiny triumphs, and entertaining experiences, and good company for sure.

Gettin Crabs


Lewis at Saltwater State Park

Another fantastic day in beautiful Seattle.

Got up fairly early (9ish) compared to our late evening last night. Went out to breakfast at an excellent spot my sister suggested to us in Ballard and had tasty pancakes. Both were sort of strange types – mine flat and crepe-like, but not crepe-y, and Lewis’ thick and fluffy sourdough! Mucho bueno. We also somehow ended up with enough breakfast for four people, so we’ve got some chilling in the fridge waiting for our next quiet morning. Not tomorrow though – we’re having breakfast at my sister’s!

After packing away some pancakes we headed over to Laura Bee to see if the bag that won my heart yesterday would fit my laptop. Unfortunately not, but in the end I’m sure it’s all for the best since I didn’t really need to be spending that money right now. Though I do want pretty much one of everything she sells. Then we put a little time in at the shop with Lisa and watched the beehive of activity that is her staff in stocking mode. It’s rather intimidating!

Since we were gonna spend the night watching movies with Steeny in Federal Way, we made our way down the south end before it got too late. We had a few hours to kill, so I took Lewis to Saltwater State Park, which was a blast! We did all the great Saltwater things – we picked blackberries, walked to the big cliff, poked around the tiny bit of tidal flats, flipped over rocks, caught tiny crabs, skipped rocks and even floated sticks in the stream! I was really pleased that my little crab beach was even more crab-iful than I remembered. We even found a few that were big enough I was scared to pick them up because I thought they might pinch me hard! There was one of those crabs with the one huge pincer (and one tiny one) as well – I hadn’t seen one of those on a Washington beach before. Very neat!

Movie night was as great as always. We did a little Will Farrell themed night – Anchorman and Talladega Nights, followed by a few shorts from his Best of SNL DVD. Mostly Steeny and I just caught up on folks we know, and the usual stuff. It’s always so heartwarming to chat with my Steen! Sounds like we’ll have a few chances to hang out again before I go home, and that’s great. Might even go to the zoo or the fair! What fun! But first, another great day planned tomorrow – meeting Val in Issaquah for lunch, and maybe blueberry picking before hand. Num.

Built to Spill!

Gasworks Park

Gasworks Park

It’s been a few days since I’ve gotten to update, partially owing to our train having been old school enough to have no outlets to compute at, and also our days being rather travelly-long. Today was our first full day in Seattle, and it was most excellent!

We started off hanging out with my sister for a bit and trying out new baked goods she’s thinking of carrying in the store. We also got to see her new space! I’m really excited for her to work her magic on this, and to move in and all. I think with all the plans they have in mind, it’s going to be really beautiful when they’re done, and Lisa will have something to be really proud of. I sort of wish we had come up two months later to see all the finished product! It’ll certainly be a treat for next time, at any rate.

The afternoon was our pilgrimage to Ballard, since that’s where we needed to be to pick up our car anyway. After a very calm, very easy trip to Enterprise, we headed to main street Ballard and had some times. I love going to Sonic Boom here, since they have records I’ve been looking for in California with little to no success. It’s strange how productive the local scene can be here, and how distinct from elsewhere. I always feel a little like perhaps I’m crazy when I’m looking for stuff like “the band the 764-HERO guys were in before that band” when even Amoeba records doesn’t have a section for 764-HERO. Then I can walk into Sonic Boom and they’ve not only got a proper section (and signed 764-HERO poster on the wall!) but their info card tells me the names of the other bands with the same members in them, and even those bands have sections! Needless to say I’ve made a point now of coming to Sonic Boom every time I’m in town and going through the entire rock section by hand from A to Z. I bought several lovelies I’m very excited to check out!

We also went to Cupcake Royale and got a nice selection of comestibles to share with Lisa back at the store. On our way back to LIsa’s house we passed by Gasworks, which I suddenly realized I had to show Lewis!  We spent a few minutes walking about and it was wonderful as always.

Crashed a bit after that, so we ended up ordering delicious Chinese food in at her place before Lewis and I headed off to the Built to Spill show at the Showbox! It was really awesome to be back at the Showbox since it’s probably been five or six years since I last got a chance to go – and that was to see Elliott Smith, I think. Anyway, it’s always great to show Lewis another piece of my old life and live a little bit like I’m still in my glory days. Did see a few folks I recognized at the show, not to mention meeting up with Cerise! Cerise is the best. The show totally rocked, despite the crap-tastic second opening band (the first was alright), and I had an awesome time. Yay!

Now it’s almost 2 am and time for me to go to bed. I’ve got silly movies & pizza plans with Steeny tomorrow night, and before that Lewis and I are either going to head down to the Nisqually valley for a little nature walk, or we’ll go blueberry picking in Bellevue. Seattle! So great!