Stop. Your 5 senses want to tell you something

This sign was immediately the boss. STOP, stay a minute, see what happens.

I went on a walk a bit ago to a park 1.3 blocks from my house. It's not large or manicured; I don't think any map has found it worthy of mention.

I brought a few towels to sit on, as dogs are this parks primary visitors, and my camera. I sat down and started looking; listening. My heart rate slowed, and without my consent, enjoyment scuttled like a flustered mama around me, pointing out details and beauty all around, making sure I saw and appreciated.

The city cranes became works of art.

The detailed border of the park became a gilt-edged frame.

The vase of market flowers in the window across the street invited me in.

The grasses around my towel (s) like a paint swatch from Home Depot.

I phoned The Non-Scotsman to come and join me, to share this scene, and of course to bring 2 glasses and a bottle of wine. This spectacular scene called for backup, for celebrating.


Spring has Bloomed

I walked out of my condo, turned the corner on Denny Avenue, and what did I see?

(Baby Blossoms, source unknown)

I’m nearly giddy; my very first sign of spring around the corner! I immediately scavenged a handful for my enjoyment.

The condo The Non-Scotsman purchased as our love nest (literally, the size of a large Bald Eagle’s nest) rests on a blossom street of dreams, if you will. Rows of them lined up, ready to be the first to bloom over the I-5 rush of gray and dirt below. They ignore the evidence that they are in a concrete walkway and blossom as if rooted in a temple lawn in Japan:

(compliments, Getty Images)

or perhaps Ronda, Spain, where I spotted these on my most recent trip:

(Taken during a scenic-stop in Ronda, Spain, 2007)

Two trees on my street always win. They must find the perfect midday sun, because every year they bloom 2 weeks or so ahead of the rest. Valiant trailblazers, and I have named them Lewis & Clark. I adore them because they give me time to prepare myself for the glory to come, when the rest of the hill bursts into splendid fireworks of pink.

The Northwest is known for our cherries, so we have fabulous places to see the trees close to home. Tamara Wilson of Wilson Public Relations represents Northwest Cherries, and I worked on an event a few years ago with her where she invited guests to a Cherry Luncheon at Canlis by sending boxes of the blooms as invitations. Stunning and memorable.

A few of my favorite sightings within the city limits are:

1.Volunteer Park, Capitol Hill

2. The Arboretum, Madison Valley

3. This perfect little turn in the path on the far North side of Green Lake (near the tennis courts)

(Valiant beauties survive a bit of snow. Source unknown)

Spring has officially sprung.



One of the most beautiful creatures has to be the butterfly. Maybe it’s the fact that it starts as one of the ugliest, lumpiest, creatures on the planet and, through a miracle, becomes one of the most graceful dainties.

They've been branded:

They hang on our walls:

My sister, Alicia, just got back from Brazil, where they have these:

For the most part, here in Seattle, we have these:

(Antique brands of Kidney Beans)

However, there is one place where you can revel in their brilliant patterns and colors: The Seattle Science Center Tropical Butterfly House. I went last week with my nephews, Johnmarc & Jiovanni, and it was as miraculous as you imagine.

A butterfly lives in a reality we all, deep-down, ache to believe:

That although we are often unattractive, ignorable, and slow, we will one day, in an astounding transformation, become something vibrant, flying…


(Our neighbor's perfectly manicured wood pile; you stay off this lawn, 2010)

Our time at Roche Harbor was complete because it was the perfect satisfying mix of details. It was the sounds of breakfast in the morning, tromping around outside all day, runs around the island at sunset, wonderful meals with too much cheese, and cozying up to talk around the fireplace (or was it the wet bar?) after the kids were in bed.

(I made this for dinner)

I found that I was almost giddy having an opportunity to share my childhood imaginations with other children.

(Jadyn & Betty, two princesses ready for the ball, 2010)

It was like they understood the magnitude of catching a 2ft sandshark, or falling off the dock into a pool of jellyfish. Catching a scary crab and then killing it for dinner was as horrific as I remembered, and finding bugs in the woodpile downstairs just as disgusting.
(I imagined that this dock lamp was lighting up the whole sky, 2010)

I remember my dad reading “A Light in the Attic” by S. Silverstein and
laughing until I cried, and mom making homemade blackberry cobbler out of the buckets of sun-warmed berries we had just picked on the west hills. I remember watching my uncle Kevin making homemade clam chowder (from clams we messily dug up) for the first time and wondering who in heavens name thought up that mess!

When you’re a child in the San Juan Islands, you expect adventures at every turn and in every tidepool. And it is still true that exploration is at it’s best with good company. More nourishing than the scenic view itself is discovering it with someone; more satisfying than a glass of wine is pouring two to share.

I heard once that landscape has its own melody. If you look at the line of the horizon, or the tree line, it plays a music of its own. I put sheet music over a picture I took of Roche Harbor's view of Henry Island yesterday: Here's the melody:



(This post was written 4 days ago in an antiquated land with no internet service...let me explain).

It’s not a French pastry, or a beetle. It’s not a brand of candle, or a little-known poet.

(This poster of Roche Harbor hangs in my family's house)

(Sunset last night on our dock, 2010)

Roche Harbor is where real magic happens; the kind of magic where rosy children are transported into another world, become blood brothers, forage for food, get stranded at sea while fishing, fall madly in love, and protect their families.

(Roche from the back deck, 2010)

Roche Harbor is heaven on an island and a place you beg God to let you get stranded.
Just a nook on the north end of the largest of the San Juan Islands (aptly named San Juan Island), it is just 9 miles from where the green and white Washington State Ferry drops you off, conveniently at the doorstep of the best ice cream shop in Friday Harbor. From Seattle, this is a beautiful 1 ½ hour drive through farmlands backed by Hellenic god- inhabited mountains.

(And more of the back deck view at sunset, 2010)

You board the Anacortes ferry and wind through a few of the thousands of islands that comprise the San Juans. You find that every moment on the water takes you further from life’s daily grind and further into this magical land where sunsets are seen from the comfort of a back porch and you remember what it was like to want to get covered in mud.

(Nothing like pilings, heavy rope, and a bit of time, 2010)

I am not sure if I become more of a child here, or old to the point of ageless. All I know is that this is my favorite place in the whole world.

(A photo taken the weekend I got to the The Non-Scotsman, Roche Harbor, 2007)

I am here for 4 days with the Non-Scotsman and many, many friends. We plan to do little besides become better wives & husbands & friends by way of immensely enjoying each other and life.


Water: a Luxury

It is hard for me to write about luxuries in Seattle aware of the devastation happening just miles from our border in Haiti. Lives lost, brand new orphans hungry and scared, people desperate for a clean sip of water.


I’m not thirsty right now at all.

In Haiti underground sanitation pipelines and water storage tanks are damaged. The short-term response is to get people bottled water. Eventually, the whole sustainable water and sanitation infrastructure will have to be restored.

Clean water is something I never think twice about, especially in Seattle where our tap water is crisp and tastes better than any other place I’ve lived. We squeeze lemons into it without ever considering its sanitation.

We find it in the secret springs of New Zealand, brand it, and charge $30 for a 1/2 liter. We use a 9 step filtration process, name it "Bling," and put it in a frosted bottle studded with Swarovski crystals.

Water: not an everyday luxury for everyone. Not a luxury in Haiti tonight. I feel spoiled by - and thankful for - my $2 bottle of Italian sparkling gold.

I have a friend - a photographer friend - Amy Cheng, who used to live in Boston. Her friend at Lucky Dog Organics is going to purchase bottled water to send out on a boat leaving out of East Boston on Sunday for Haiti. If you are interested in helping, check this out.


I have a confession.

I am obsessed with Brick.
Lots of bricks.

(A favorite from my trip to New York in November, 2009)

I crave them. I look for them everywhere. I daydream about them. I drive the long way just to see glorious mountains of them cemented together in their stolid regimen. I love how glass windows look in their cavities.

(A classic on Occidental in Pioneer Square)

Thankfully, Seattle is shock full of the most beautiful, 100-year old brick beauties. Yesterday I found myself in Georgetown, innocently driving through when I saw Them. I immediately pulled off the road, parked in a frenzy, and braved an icy, torrential downpour with my camera.

I stood in the street like a madwoman and snapped photos of the old Rainier Brewery building.

It's partially intact, partially a facade. Georgetown Studios took some of the best parts and have created a gorgeous event facility. I was in heaven.

(You can even see the raindrops in these photos)

My affair with brick is only egged on by The Non-Scotsman's similar affection for the stuff. He actually found the historic Red Hood Brewery where we held our wedding, almost solely because of the fact that it recessing brick.

(Our wedding, 2007)

(Our audio technician, wedding 2007)

There is something about it: warm in winter, cool in summer.
Looks good by itself.
Looks better painted 50 after doubling as a billboard.

Give me a brick building with massive leaded windows - and I will give you the most toothy smile you've ever seen.

(My bridesmaids outside the Red Hook Brewery, 2007)


Albert Einstein values your imagination

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."

-Albert Einstein

Today I decided my spacious place was a carefree, imaginative conversation. If Einstein valued the imagination I figure that gives me permission to as well.

Although I never stepped foot outside the 425 sq. ft. cupboard I call my home, I had traveled, by way of amusing banter, out of the house and off the continent with my husband (whom, by the way, I am going to affectionately declare The Non-Scotsman … for the remainder of this blog. I’ll explain later).

It was almost as satisfying as being there in person; sitting under a leafy tree an unfinished wooden slab of a table with friends, drizzling olive oil we had pressed onto handmade pasta with real semolina flour. Drinking inexpensive wine that tasted rich with fruit and full of the soil our chairs sat on. Our hosts’ accents thicker than the ricotta filling our ravioli.

Do you know where we went?

As our daydream continued, my life expanded beyond our walls and out into the world. Ah, space. Room to take a deep, satisfying breath – knowing that the world is big and mysterious – and our potential to revel in it, full of wonder and enthusiasm, is magnanimous.

There was room in our conversation for the whole, hopeful world.

By the way, I think this daydream can be partially recreated here at home in Seattle by way of DeLaurenti’s Specialty Wine & Food Shop. I might have mentioned them just yesterday.

This is where I go to get my fill of The Motherland. I could live there.

(De Laurenti's Prosciutto case)

They carry the most beautiful Italian excesses –--they have 9 types of Prosciutti! --- the trip to DeLaurenti’s is il migliore momento del mio giorno.

A toast to our imaginations today; and to Albert E.


Bread Bread Bread

Today a dear angel asked me the question, “what is your favorite kind of bread?

I could have hugged her; I can’t think of a more cheery thing to think about than warm, freshly-baked artisan bread. My mind started reeling with thoughts of flour and butter...

It seems every country has a bread they're famous for, and in Seattle was can enjoy these delights in the comfort of our own backyard. My favorite Seattle bread moments include:

1. Italian Panetonne at DeLaurenti's,

2. Israeli Challah at Three Girls' Bakery in Pike Place Market,

3. Blackburn Wheat from Macrina Bakery on Queen Anne

4. Rosemary rolls, handmade by Andrew at Canlis

5. Rustic baguette with fresh butter and French Onion Soup at Le Panier

For something fresh and innovative, check out the Ecuadorian yuca breads soon to be brought to Orange County by my dear friend, Stephanie Cedeno.