Friday, September 28, 2007

Gross!


After the rain last night these guys were out in full force during my morning run. I passed at least 8 of them on the sidewalk! (Some, however, had clearly met with other runners to a less fortunate end). There was also a bigger one, orange in color and about three inches long, without a shell, which I guess would classify as a slug, not a snail. Apparently there are banana slugs that are at least a foot long in the Hoh Rainforest west of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula. Gross!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Spanish Inquisition at the DMV

For those who have been following along (don't worry, I won't hold a grudge if you haven't), the saga of our WA driver's licenses ended yesterday! It was our fourth trip to the department of licensing; after two failed attempts downtown because I didn't have the proper proof of residence, then a frustrating wait at the DOL in Greenwood last Saturday only to leave just before closing time with still a hundred numbers in front of us (you take a number when you walk in), yesterday we waited outside the Bellevue DOL before it opened, got number 11, and after an hour had our new licenses. Well, the temporary ones. Real ones will come within 5 weeks, and now I have to turn to getting WA plates and title, so it's not over yet.

Besides my excitement at finally getting "Cameron Psiaki" on a picture ID and now being able to legally change my name, I had my first conversation in Spanish in more than two years. The man who called us to the counter happened to be from Colombia, and when he flipped through my passport and saw the visa I got for my study abroad in Spain junior year, he began speaking to me in Spanish. Tim can attest to this: my entire registration process was conducted in Spanish, right down to reading the letters for the vision test! If I tried to ask the guy a question in English, he responded with, No entiendo, I don't understand. While nervewracking as first, the words came back to me pretty quickly and it was actually a lot of fun. I do have to brag a bit because he praised my accent, which was one of my strong points while in Spain (I actually had people asking if I wasn't from there, since I picked up the andaluz accent pretty well) and said I should look for a bilingual job. I'm not so sure about that, but it definitely would be fun to get involved with something, whether a volunteer position or job that mildly used Spanish skills, so I could practice. We used to have intercambios with people in Seville who were sevillanos wanting to practice English, so we would meet and speak English with them part of the time and then switch to Spanish so we could practice. Only problem was, often they were Spanish dudes wanting to meet American girls. So I steered pretty clear of that. I bet I could find something just as sketchy, though, on Craigslist!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Seattle v. Ithaca Part II






I have been waiting to make this post until I could get some more pictures, but I never remember to take my camera out so here goes, without the complete battery of visual aids. Some more similarities and differences between Ithaca and Seattle.


1. Ithaca has lots of seagulls because of Cayuga Lake. Seattle has lots of crows. Don't know why, but those black disgusting things are everywhere. There are some seagulls, too, by the waterfront.

2. Both places exhibit a remarkable number of VW vans.

3. In Ithaca the weird weather creates confusion, then stoic resolution. In Seattle it (the dampness) creates moss and spiders. Everywhere! We have moss growing on the sidewalks, the steps, in the grass in our backyard and up the trees! Spiders live outside our window, in our basement, in webs they spin across our front steps and from bushes to trees on the sidewalk. Anywhere you have to be on the lookout for a web. Keep your hand at the level of your eyes!

4. Both Ithaca and Seattle have hybrid metro buses, but the ones in Seattle run attached to electric lines that go all over the city. They make a buzzing sound as they go by our house.

5. Say the phrase "520 bridge" in Seattle and you will meet with mutual pain and understanding. Ithaca doesn't know what traffic is, except on move-in day at CU.

6. Coffee is fashionable and necessary in both cities. It was a big deal when Starbucks moved in across from Stella's in Collegetown. Up the road we are getting a Peet's Coffee & Tea across the street from Starbucks, which is across the street from a Tully's Coffee. I buy Seattle's Best in the grocery store because it is relatively cheap and still decent. There are umpteen more roasters in town. It is everywhere and somehow there is always room for more. Three coffee shops in one intersection!

7. Both places are starved for sunlight and warmth. Today it is 55, cloudy, and drizzly, but yesterday it was around 70 and brightly sunny. People probably took the day off just to be outside.
The photos of the rainbow and Tim's hair are bonus.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Breakdown and Brownies x 3



I should have known it would happen. The long days by myself at home would have to cach up with me eventually, right? And the self doubt would creep in, even though my new writing project has been going pretty well? Add to that not hearing anything about the jobs I've applied to so far (none of which may, in fact, be the right fit), and being motivated to keep looking harder and do housework and make dinner can last only so long. So. Yesterday I had a bit of a breakdown. I called Tim at work and he couldn't really understand what was going on. I wanted more things to do and yet didn't really feel like doing anything (which then made me feel guilty)--you know how that goes?
Well, after some good wallowing I decided hey, I would make our picnic dinner for the all-church baptism down at Alki beach that evening, and the peach cobbler for dessert when our friends came over afterward. I was pretty upbeat when I walked to the library to return a movie and get a book and then to the store to get some peaches and other ingredients for guacamole. I got home, started on peeling the peaches, and then realized that the recipe I had wasn't correct. The real recipe I found later took twice as many peaches, and by that point I couldn't go back to the store. Meanwhile, Tim was coming home early so we could make it down to the beach in time to have dinner before the baptism started (in the freezing waters of Puget Sound!). I decided to quickly mix up some brownies with ingredients I had around the house. Tim called just as the oven heated up, so I had to turn it off to drive to the bus stop and get him. I figured I would have enough time to drive us home, bake the brownies and whip up the guacamole before we needed to leave. Though I was pretty frustrated with the dessert, I hoped going to the baptism on the beach would cheer me up.
As the brownies were baking I made the guacamole, and Tim and I got to talking about why I was upset, which I didn't do a very good job of explaining. I was just sad. And by that point it was getting too late to eat down at the beach (we didn't want to be chowing down while the pastor was speaking) so I felt all the work I had done to prepare the picnic was for nothing. I wasn't sure I wanted to even go to the baptism anymore. Meanwhile the brownies burned in the oven, and I had to call our friends and tell them I was in no state to go down to the beach, and they should just meet us at our house. So Tim did cheer me up by setting up a little picnic on our living room floor so we could watch the Yankees v. Red Sox game (Yankees won!). But then we needed to make another batch of brownies.
I didn't have enough chocolate chips to make a second batch of brownies, so I drove to Safeway to get another package. Tim asked me twice if I needed anything else for the recipe, and I ran through the ingredients in my head and said no. Upon returning from the store, I realized I had used the last of our eggs on the first batch. There was another grocery store just a couple of blocks away, a mom and pop shop we don't go to often because it's more expensive. Tim started mixing things up and I ran down there to get the eggs--literally ran, since our friends were due to show up soon. When I walked back in the door the TV was blaring and I heard a crash. I saw Tim in the kitchen holding the glass lampshade from one of our kitchen lights. The Yankees had scored and he put up his fists in victory, smashing into the light and shattering the shade above his head. Shards of glass fell into the brownie batter, and that was our second failed batch.
At this point the hilarity of the situation, which kept getting worse, was cheering me up. God really does have a sense of humor. We mixed up a third batch of brownies which came out of the oven just before our friends arrived. We spent some good time with them and the evening turned out all right. I'm glad today is a new day!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Map of Seattle

Finally!


View Larger Map

Zoom in using the plus (+) sign on the map, and manipulate the map with your mouse.

Some points of interest:

We live north and west of the word "Seattle" on the map, which is west of the heart-shaped Lake Union (not named on the map). Lake Washington is to the east, and the northern bridge that crosses it is the one Tim takes to work in Redmond, which is north and east of that.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Crocuses, wine tasting, and couch, oh my!











This weekend a lot of exciting things happened. The first was that our couch was finally delivered - yay! After 8 hours of looking at 9 stores, we finally settled on one last weekend, and I have to say that waiting just a week for it to arrive is not bad. Lots of places were quoting us 6-8 weeks and, my friends, that was not okay. We needed something to sit on! So here it is in all its golden glory. The cushions aren't quite as soft as in the store, but we remembered that lots of people had been sitting on them, so it'll just take us a little while to break ours in.




Ah, those boxes in the photograph. That is Tim's rendition of how much space the piano would take up if we had it moved out here. My piano has been passed from my grandmother to my mom to me, and it's currently employed at a little community college out in the farmlands of rural Ohio. Tim is quite the virtuoso, as many of you know, so we were psyched (pun intended) to get a place where the piano would fit. It's going to be a bit of a tight squeeze in this little room, but I think it will work. I hope our neighbors agree!




And, yes, as you can see we also bought a TV. We just had to be ready for the fall line-up: Family Guy and The Office begin next week, and we couldn't be left out! :) The cable/internet/phone service gets hooked up this Wednesday, so we will email all of you with our new Seattle phone number!




Another of the photos on here is a bit odd. It is of some crocuses I found in our side yard while clearing away a pile of dried leaves. This part of our house doesn't get much sun at all, because it's very close to the house next to us. But I couldn't believe it: crocuses in September! Those babies popped up their heads in April this year in Ithaca. I guess you can have lots of microclimates in Seattle, even in your yard! Clearly these crocuses are a bit anemic--their stems are nearly translucent. But they were a pretty surprise after my yard work!




Also this weekend we went on a mini wine tour with our friends Johnathan and Jen, who host the small group we go to that's organized by our church. Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the Washington wineries you may have heard of, and it is actually near Redmond where Tim works on the other side of Lake Washington. This picture is actually of us at Columbia Winery, which is right across the street from Chateau Ste. Michelle, and by the time we made it to CSM they were about to close, so we headed down the road to Redhook Brewery instead! So it was kind of a wine/beer afternoon. Redhook is a local brewery that makes some pretty good stuff; you can probably find in your grocery store. We four were able to sit in the sun and sip some good brew with our nachos. The kitchen was slow, though, so we missed the tour. All the more reason to return!




And finally, that is Mt. Rainier in the distance, seen from the wineries! I get a glimpse of this lovely snowcapped peak most mornings when I run if it's sunny. The other mountains pictured here are the Olympics, seen from a little grassy point where Tim and I brought a blanket to read yesterday afternoon. Such wonderful views in our very own neighborhood.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Neighborhood collage




























Here's a selection of photos from around our neighborhood. Lots of beautiful flowers are still going strong! That sign in the first pic, "Be Nice or Leave," is something I've seen on several houses around this area. I don't know what that's about, but it doesn't seem very welcoming. Anyhow, the funny steps in a few of the pictures are built into the side of the hill between streets, and they all have street signs, which can be very confusing to drivers (myself among them!). The signs indicate what street you'll come out on when you get to the top of the stairs. This is what I meant when I said that Seattle isn't really on a grid: not all the streets go through!
I've also put in some of my favorite houses nearby. And one photo is evidence that fall is really on its way!