Thursday, August 30, 2007

The woman I met on my walk this morning

Yesterday I tried out a new fitness class, and it completely ruined me for running this morning. I am so sore! So I went for a long walk instead of a run, and it's another gorgeous day. I found a street just southwest of our house that curves around Queen Anne Hill and offers a fantastic view of Puget Sound for about a quarter of a mile. It was another opportunity to see some great houses, too.

When I'm out in such beautiful surroundings I can't help but praise God and thank him for the flowers, the clear sky, the mountains, and the water. I prayed for Tim on his way to work and for continued guidance to use my time wisely and seek the right job. Being a good steward of my time, especially now when I don't have a lot going on and it's easy to waste, is something God had been impressing upon me in the last week. I was thinking about this as I walked, and there were several other people out walking their dogs or running. Not all of them say hi or smile when they pass, but a lot do. I had passed the block with the great view when a very small older lady in an oversized green sweatshirt came toward me on the sidewalk. I prepared myself to smile and say hi, no matter what she did, because I've decided I don't want other people's aloof behavior to change my natural tendency to be friendly. But before I could speak she said, "Look at you walking like that! I used to be able to walk like that, and now I get out of bed like this," referring to her shuffling pace. I can't remember exactly everything she said, but she went on to tell me how quickly life passes and then you're old, and you wonder where the time has gone and you live with the thought of "I should've." She put a wrinkled hand up to my face and got very close, peering up at me with light blue eyes. I do remember clearly what she said next: "If one day you feel that something's been given to you, then go after it. Go for it!" and she pumped her fist like a coach. "And remember to always ask God to protect you first."

She may have been a little crazy, just coming up to me on the sidewalk like that. I smiled and tried to respond to her while she was talking, wondering if she were speaking out of regret or fulfillment. As I kind of edged away with a "Thank you, you're right, I will," she called, "I love you." All I could lamely respond was, "Have a great day!" She went on her way and I resumed my walk. Walking back home, I'm not sure I did the right thing. Is it right to respond in kind to a stranger who's a little eccentric and therefore probably not genuine--how could she be?--and say "I love you" back? I think we all tend to protect ourselves, and that's what I did, not wanting to be untrue. I wonder if this woman has a family somewhere, or if she talks to everyone she meets simply because she doesn't have anyone to pay attention to her. I wonder if her life has been full, and whether the memories she looks back on are sweet or painful. I know that if I hadn't been so sore this morning, I would have gone on my normal run and never have crossed her path. So I believe this chance meeting was one more little nudge from God to take a step in faith, whether that's with a job or something else, and pursue the future he's laid out for me. I know that if I do that, at the end of my life I'll be able to look back without an ounce of regret.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wedding proofs are up!

Our 1300+ wedding proofs are now up on Pictage.com. You'll be able to access them from the following link (and may need to set up an account to do so). They are awesome. Enjoy!

www.pictage.com/262386

Friday, August 24, 2007

Oh what a beautiful morning!

I treasure my morning runs, when early light the color of lemonade filters through the leafy trees surrounding our house, and the chill of the air makes me consider wearing a long sleeved shirt (in August!). One of my most important criteria for where we would choose to live in Seattle was that it be a place where I could run from home. I've enjoyed doing that for the last several years, from dorms or apartments, and couldn't imagine having to drive somewhere to go running--or worse, run on a treadmill! I love it that things are still relatively quiet if I can make it out before 7am, and I have been soaking in the beautifully landscaped yards (those hydrangeas are still going!) and the quaint houses. Just around the block from us is an amazing view of the Olympics. This morning I could just see their peaks; the lower mountians were covered in a purplish-tan haze settled over Puget Sound. I usually see several other people out running or walking their dogs, and when I run by the houses I think to myself, I'll take that one, and that one, oh, and that one, too! I really am so grateful that we get to live in this lovely neighborhood.

I have been driving Tim downtown to catch the bus to work this week. It definitely saves on gas and is a good option for his commute rather than driving to Redmond every day. We're also looking into a vanpool which would leave from an intersection close to our house. Tim would like to buy another bike (he hasn't had one since his sophomore year in college, when the one he had was stolen), and then he could ride to a bus stop close to the 520 bridge, which goes over Lake Washington into Bellevue/Redmond, and then catch the bus there. I keep telling myself to put a map on here to orient everyone...I'll look for a good one.

I had my first experience with the city bus yesterday. Not being used to riding buses, I felt silly waiting at the stop outside our house, thinking that everyone who drove by must know that I wasn't sure when the bus would show up--it didn't come according to the schedule I found online. When it finally came and I got on, I had $2 out because I had read it cost $1.50. The sign in the bus said that fare as $1.25, and rather than fumbling through my wallet for a quarter, I put in both bills and then asked the driver where the change slot was. Of course the bus didn't give change, but I did get a transfer slip which I figured out I could use for my ride back up the hill when I had done my errand downtown.

Which brings me to the thing that wasted much of my afternoon yesterday: trying to get my Washington driver's license. Some of you may remember what a headache it was for me to title my car in New York last year (driving up to Syracuse for the inspections, etc, because it is a rebuilt vehicle). Incidentally, I didn't have a problem getting my license in NY, but it is proving to be very difficult in WA! I wouldn't be so interested in doing it right away if I didn't need to go ahead and get my name changed so I can be up-to-date with my bank accounts and start getting things switched over legally to Psiaki. It's embarrassing to say, but I've been to the Department of Licensing in downtown Seattle twice now, and twice I've been turned away because I don't have the proper proof of residence. The first time I just brought my lease, along with my passport and all that, and the man at the counter said that a lease didn't count, which I find ridiculous. He mentioned that an insurance policy would work, and so I walked back home (I walked about 6 miles that day; the DOL is FAR from where I live, and I hadn't figured out the bus yet) in a huff because our new policy for this address hadn't come yet. To make a long story short, it came yesterday, so I went back downtown only to be told that it didn't count either: I needed a homeowner's policy! I saw the same man and complained that they made it very difficult: here I was trying to change my name and comply with the law about getting a new license, and they wouldn't let me. Other things that would count, like a utility bill, won't be issued to us at this address for a while because we just moved in. The only way I can get my license is to drag Tim with me to a DOL on the weekend and use his pay stub for proof of residence. So I'm feeling a little handicapped here. I guess bureaucracy will follow you wherever you go!

But back to my run this morning. It was the strangest thing. I rounded a corner and in my peripheral vision glimpsed a little sunset maple in someone's front yard--with bright red leaves! I almost stopped, I was so startled. And there was already a little circle of fallen leaves surrounding the trunk on the ground. Someone already has autumn in his front yard!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Have it your way

Talk about Seattle-specific advertising. This sign was in the BK we stopped at on our IKEA shopping trip last week. I guess people in Seattle are used to having things their way, at least when it comes to their coffee and hamburgers (makes me think of that scene in You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks is narrating in the coffee shop and people are all kinds of crazy drinks on their way to work).

"My way" is something I've been thinking about a lot in the last week. I admit that I get kind of cranky when people ask me what I "do"--like in Office Space: What would you say you do here? (Sorry for the double movie reference). Well, right now, what I "do" is what I imagine a stay-at-home mom would do, except very scaled down because we don't have any kids. I do laundry. I unpack. I dirty dishes and then wash them. I run and try to stay in shape. I walk to our downtown mailbox to check mail (which reminds me, please do not send mail to our 800 Fifth Avenue address; if you don't have our new one let me know and I'll send it to you). I spend time on the phone with friends and family to reconnect. I'm even spending some time working on a new writing project to see if this is something I want to commit to long term. And that's where the thorn in my side comes in. What is my next step for a career, however that is defined, and what is my goal? People ask me all the time what my ideal job would be and, the thing is, if I knew that I would be out looking for it! I know I want a job working with people, planning and organizing things (because that is my nature), and I want it to be instructional in some way. Plus, I can't ignore my love of reading and writing. I know that I don't want to be at a desk all day. I hope to have the kind of job where I am up and about, actively forming relationships, in whatever context that may be. Sound a little vague? It is to me, too.

An obvious choice might be teaching, and this is one of my favorite possibilities right now. I think my talents and interests would equip me well to be a teacher, and if you put any stock in those personality profiles, I am an ENFJ, which is the teacher/giver personality. I have developed a heart for teaching through bible studies I've led in both the college and high school age groups, and teaching English or creative writing is an option I keep coming back to. I have thought about applying for a local MFA program, which has both the writing and teaching elements--it would give me a structured environment to work on my writing and also prepare me for the classroom (admittedly, one of my favorite places). But there are so many questions surrounding tuition, a two-year commitment and the end goal of that program (will I be a teacher or writer foremost? or something else not yet on my radar screen?). Because I believe that the LORD leads us in his will one step at a time, my ultimate concern is not a five- or ten-year plan. But it is wise to consider my aims in pursuing another degree, especially since Tim and I hope to start a family in a couple of years (all you potential grandparents and great grandparents out there, this is not a promise! Nor is it a threat).

For now, I continue to think and pray about next steps, as well as comb some local websites for ideas. If you have any bright ones, let me know!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Spotlight Wedding!


I just found out that our wedding is the spotlight wedding in our photographer's new newsletter! Many of you have already seen some of the amazing photos that Luke Walker and his partner, Alisha, took at our wedding on July 21. I was so excited to see that Luke had also put us up in the portfolio section of his website. Go to www.lukewalkerphotography.com, click on Portfolio, and then on Weddings.

I've mentioned that Luke will be uploading all the photos from the wedding to another website, Pictage, which is also where you can order prints. When that happens I'll post the link here.

I am having so much fun reliving the wedding through these beautiful photographs!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Handy at Home

   

1 empty house + a little money to burn = shopping trip to IKEA!



I had never actually seen an IKEA catalog, much less their gigantic tourist attraction of a store. Going to IKEA is an event. We drove around the whole place looking for the one entrance, then walked in with the crowd through the showrooms, past the restaurant and bistro (they have both!), found our items of choice in the self-serve warehouse, wrestled the boxes to our cart, paid, loaded them up, drove home and assembled! Phew. (What I didn't mention is that we really went to IKEA twice, with a trip to Sears in between).



We're trying to add one piece of furniture at a time so that we can think about each thing, be it a table or dresser or mattress, individually and get something we actually like rather than something to just take up space. Top priorities are a bed, dining room table and chairs, and some extra counter space for our kitchen. When we decided on this house we were concerned with the condition of the kitchen: not much had been updated, counter space was scarce, and there was no dishwasher. We chose to live with the old oven/stovetop and fix the counter and dishwasher issue by buying one of those portable dishwashers with a butcher's block on top. We also wanted to get a small cabinet of sorts to place next to the dishwasher to extend the counter space and add some more storage. At IKEA we found the cabinet you see above, which took us about an hour last night to assemble, and also a dishwasher cabinet which will provide a nicer countertop and be level with the cabinet top. Once the dishwasher arrives I'll post a picture of the final produce!



The house is looking more like home as we've been able to unpack most of our clothes and kitchen items. Our pantry has a lot of shelving, and most of that has been taken up now with appliances and bake ware (we are well stocked!). All we need now is the food! Also, Tim went around the house today with his power drill and tightened all the screws in the doors to make them latch better. The best part is, he has FUN doing that kind of thing. I do think life will be cheaper with such a handy husband.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

So long, old buddy


Tomorrow the company that has our stuff in storage is delivering it to our new home. This is great, because although it's only been a week since we rented the place we have been anxious to move in. And since we will soon be moving on, I have to say a few words about the place Microsoft rented for us as temporary housing.


It's an apartment community called on the west side of Lake Union called The Neptune. It's an easy walk to downtown (which I've been doing this week since Tim's taken the car to work), and though it's near to the lake and within view of sailboats and seaplanes landing, it's kind of a gritty part of town. A bit industrial, if you will. The Hostess Cake factory is just one block south (you can catch a whiff of sugary goodness walking by), and a Union Bay office building, or maybe their headquarters, is just to the north (does anybody remember that clothing label? Maybe it's named for Lake Union). When I go running I hold my breath when I pass the various auto repair shops that emit all kinds of noxious fumes, and I always wonder if someone's going to jump out of the tall grasses under the 99 bridge. But you don't really have to leave the complex at all. There's a fitness center and a computer room, plus a spa and deli in the retail spaces on the ground floor. Once we found a game room with a pool table, huge theater-style TV, and life-size cardboard figures of Marilyn Monroe and some wrestlers. We take our trash to a little chute down the hall, and apparently there's housekeeping service. I guess they're waiting for us to build up some dirt because they haven't yet dropped by.


But the best part of living here, hands down, is our friend and constant neighbor, Neptune. He resides in the building's inner courtyard, an imposing mass of stone-cut glory with more chiseled biceps than you'd care to count. Commander of the seas and squalls, Neptune holds aloft his trident and meets any passers-by with a piercing gaze. It's a pity they turn off his little fountain every evening, at about 11:30. And truth be told, I've never sat in that courtyard. But Neppy, we'll miss you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Seattle v. Ithaca, Part I


I can't help but notice things about Seattle that are strikingly similar to Ithaca, and of course some that are different. VERY different. Take this wine bottle here. It's the wine we had at my birthday dinner Monday night at Cafe Juanita (http://www.cafejuanita.com/) in Kirkland (also the city for which the Cost-co brand is named). First of all, thanks to my parents who gave us an IOU for this fabulous eatery back at Christmastime once they knew we were moving to Seattle. Second of all, a big shout out to the Washington state legislators, who have made it possible for fun-loving residents like me to take their unfinished bottles of wine home from a restaurant. Maybe you had a cocktail or two before dinner, and the bottom of that bottle seems a bit too far away? Don't worry about wasting money on undrunk goodness (or worse, finishing it when you really shouldn't). As long as the cork was popped at the restaurant, your friendly server can recork the bottle for you to take home. The ultimate win-win situation!

Some other observations:


1. In the spirit of letting the wine flow freely, both alcohol and beer are sold in grocery stores in Washington State. (Only beer in New York)
2. Seattle is a whole lot bigger than Ithaca. I know that was obvious.
3. A similarity: some aspects of the weather. We may be chilling at 60 degrees while those Ithacans we left behind are suffering through a heat wave, but, yes, the sun does come out in the summer. I think Ithaca and Seattle are neck-and-neck for cloudy days per year.
4. Lake Washington. Cayuga Lake. Both are nice for a dip or a sail.
5. I thought that by moving out of my Fall Creek neighborhood in Ithaca I'd escape those two lane roads which are really made one-laners by the cars that park on either side. Wrong. Welcome to Queen Anne hill, where only one car can fit down the side streets at a time AND not all intersections even have stop signs!
6. People in Seattle say "right on." Don't know what that's about. Matt Sears, if you're looking for another reason to move to the Northwest after you finish your Ph.D. (besides to be close to us, of course), here it is.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tim's First Day


Here he is all set to go to work! It was like the first day of school. I had to take a picture. I do hope the headshot on his Microsoft id gets a bit of that flowered shirt in there.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Mishmash: Blue Angels, Ivar's, and Our New House!







































I have a lot of catching up to do. So much has been going on that I'll say only a few snippets here. First off, last weekend marked the end of Seafair, a Seattle summer fair that's nearly a month long. There are hydroplane races, road races, a milk carton derby (whatever that is), and a performance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The only thing we made it to was the Blue Angels demo yesterday, which was pretty amazing. We drove to the south end of Lake Washington with some friends (two other Microsofties from Cornell) and watched them zoom across the sky for about a half hour. They did some amazing tricks! (And, guess what, it was really warm and sunny!)

Next quick thing to mention is that we had our first fried fish at the waterfront yesterday at Ivar's Acres of Clams, which apparently has been a Seattle staple for many years. I had fried clams and Tim had regular fish 'n chips (cod). There was a crowd of seagulls gathered around the ourdoor seating area hoping for a tasty morsel or two, and they were huge! Tim noted that they're probably overweight because birds are supposed to eat regular fish, not fried! I don't think this will become too much of a habit for us, either.

Lastly, and this is the most exciting thing, we have rented a house! It is a century-old Craftsman at the top of Queen Anne hill, which is a lovely and fun neighborhood just north of downtown Seattle and Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is). It's a small and very cute two bedroom house with original woodworking, a front porch, dining room, living room, kitchen, bathroom with a clawfoot tub, backyard and original carriage house. There's even a basement, though that's not finished. There is a ton of storage space throughout and we hope to be able to fit my piano in the front room. We're so excited! It is exactly what we were hoping to find, and is within walking distance of Queen Anne Ave North, the major town street with little boutiques, grocery stores, restaurants and, of course, a Starbucks. The demographics of the neighborhood seem to be young professional types and young families. There is a post office, several churches, and some parks and schools. Just outside our door is a bus stop, and on the corner is a little pub. Just one block west is a street with lovely homes (huge) and a great view of the Olympic mountain range. We loved walking down the street in twilight last night, the sidewalks lit by gas lamps. We're not sure when we will be able to move in, as all our things are still in storage and we haven't a stick of furniture! (Except my papasan chair, which Tim is not fond of and says will not be seen anywhere but in the front bedroom--my office). Also, Tim's commute is reasonable--about 20 minutes to Redmond. He has to cross the 520 bridge over Lake Washington, which is where the most congested traffic can usually be found, but we decided we wanted to live in a real neighborhood in Seattle rather than out in the 'burbs. This will work for now!
PS, until I get better at posting pictures, you should scroll down to the bottom of the pictures and work your way up. I thought I had put them in order from when you enter the house going through it, but the blog just put the most recently added ones on the top. Sorry!

Settled in Seattle!

Dear family and friends,

We've been in Seattle for just over a week now, and I can't believe how quickly the time has passed since the wedding. One cross-country flight, honeymoon, and apartment hunting week later, it seems like it was ages ago! Thank you to all who were able to come; we are blessed that you celebrated our marriage and this new stage in our lives with us. We couldn't be more excited about where God has led us in Seattle and all the elements that are coming together. I am setting up this blog in hopes that we can keep in touch with all of you who are far away. Especially with the three hour time change, it's difficult to connect in a meaningful way to share what's going on with us as we are still in transition. Addresses and phone numbers will change and we still have yet to move into our new place (we've rented a house!), but all that information will be coming soon. We hope you'll interact with us on this page, and of course we would love to catch up with each of you individually. Let the adventure continue!

Love,
Cameron and Tim