Not Just Your Grandma's Conversation Anymore

I think talking about the weather gets a bad rap.

The elderly get it.  They know.  It's not that they're out of touch or have nothing better to talk about.  They understand deep in their bones that weather is unbelievably important.

It changes how I feel when I wake up.
It affects little things: like how I dress, what I drink in the early hours, and how I plan my transportation.

Weather, and more importantly seasons, mark time.
It's like I know what to do as I listen to the weather.  Go play outside! Cuddle inside.
Go further. Stay closer.

Seasons give me, and the elderly, a sense of rhythm.

A rhythm that I like to hum to sometimes.  Like when I went on a walk and took those pictures up there (the ones in this post).

Really? Leaves can be that damn attractive?


Close to Cozy

(photo taken from my front stoop.  You can barely make out the base of the space needle on the left - the cloud cover ... well...covers the city)
We walked last night.  Down our hill, along the railroad tracks, towards water.  Always towards water.
We walked until summer ended and autumn came.
We said goodbye to long bright nights as we moved in a comfortable September darkness.  
We are close to cozy.
Close to having our backs to the fire.

Close to warmer chocolate and juicier wines.


Shortcake Smiled On Me

Today at the Queen Anne farmer's market, somewhere between a peony and the fresh ravioli, goodness came my way.  
My girlfriend turned and whispered with some awe:

 "someone has smiled on us."  

The Met Market table was giving away strawberry shortcakes to the first 200 people to attack their stand!  We got in line like the other kids to experience the hand of divine provenance.  

This got me thinking: there's been a lot of smiling going on lately.  So many moments of surprise and "extra."  

Lots of "extra" these days.

I heard a psychiatrist speak recently about what makes some people lucky and others feel left in the dust - poor unlucky bastards.  There are infinite factors, but it did seem that once people see themselves as lucky and benefactors of a divine "smile," they attracted more luck.  People who thought they were lucky acted lucky, expected luckiness.  This charming attitude probably just made people want to be kind and generous with them, but whatever the reasons, they became even more fortunate.

I don't put much stock in luck: I believe in generosity and receiving, and I believe in looking up and being thankful for the gifts life offers.  I believe a lot of life happens outside my control, and some is within it.

I believe in seeing the sign for "free strawberry shortcakes" and getting in line, and enjoying the gift and saying thank you and maybe sharing a bite or two.  That little "extra" bite you shared just might be someone else's "divine smile." 

This sounds cheesy, and is I guess, but I'm feeling rather thankful and thought I'd share the joy.  Smile on.

(photos compliment  of this site)



(Photo of my recent purchase at Maison Laduree in New York, Upper East Side, 2012)

Packaging gets me every time.  Great branding makes me do crazy things.

This past week I walked 48 blocks in Manhattan just to step into the Ladurée boutique and stare at macaroons with precise, pillowed feet!  And really, I was far more excited about the beautiful boxes they come in than the near-perfect delectables themselves.  Thick textures, extra white space, unnecessary foiling and logo-ed paraphernalia make my heart race. 

I could only afford one treat, and went for a minty green container that housed their sultry Earl Grey Thé.  I feel like the Queen herself.



(Photo by Laura D'art)

"We know from experience that our meals and relationships evolve in tandem: we form friendships over lunch dates, settle into traditional brunch spots with family, and share cups of coffee that sometimes turn into marriages. These everyday meals, moments, and places shape us both individually and collectively, but these pages serve as a reminder that our time together can be unfussy and uncomplicated—so long as it’s intentional." -Kinfolk website

Isn't that true?
- I fell in love with the Non-Scotsman somewhere between grilled salmon and a slice of chocolate cake.
- I met my college roommate over a cup of dorm-room brewed coffee.
- My dream of graduate school was confirmed over a steaming grougere.

The list could go on endlessly.

What about you? Where has your life been changed somewhere at the intersection of friends and a shared meal?

(Images courtesy of Kinfolk)

This is what I love about Kinfolk. The latest (3rd) edition is out and I am oohing and aahing over the way more than 50 artists join forces with a vision of "welcoming food, community, and simplicity" into the everyday. Writers, photographers, chefs, visionaries, friends.

Kinfolk just might be my "soulmate-in-print."
(Photo by Laura D'art)


My Peeps

It's interesting that one way we celebrate the resurrection of Christ is ... marshmallows shaped like chicks. Really?

You have to admit they're a tad bit adorable. In a way only yellow, gummy sugar can be adorable.


Some people have a garden...I have a modern day totem pole

Some people walk out their front door into their garden.
Stepping just outside my condo last night, I walked into this:
It used to be a tree. Now it's. Well, what is it? What is something that uses more staples than a tummy tuck, yet somehow works to bring together the heavy-metal, the lonely singer-songwriter, and the lone Seattle hip-hop artist? All on one hole-ridden pillar of marketing crap?

It's like a modern day totem-pole, telling a story of Capitol Hill's music and livelihood.

And, it's a place where your bike can rest.


West Seattle Walking

Walking on the beach in West Seattle on Saturday, the Non-Scotsman and I saw a bald eagle swoop down and catch a fish. It ran off to it's nest in a nearby tree, a flock of black crows jealously screeching behind him.


What if Cleopatra Had a Wedding Videographer?

What if some of the greatest loves of the past had video technology.

Imagine watching the wedding films of Cleopatra & Mark Antony, Odysseus & Penelope, or the wedding feast of the Bible where Jesus turned water into wine. I'd like to see the dance party of that video.

Imagine even just watching your grandparents say their cherished vows and eat a good ol' fashioned wedding mint.

Well, they may not have been able to capture those milestones, but now we can.
Let me introduce you to:

The Ranch Studios Wedding Films.

Remember the way Grandpa smiled.
Remember the words of a somewhat-funny, but certainly precious, toast.
Remember the heart-thumping moment of saying your vows.
Remember the music that played as you danced.

I am so impressed with the The Non-Scotsman these days, and specifically with this new growth. He not only takes generous care of his current clients, but continues to grow his repertoire of services. Check out his beautiful new website specific for the bride & groom who want to remember.

Alicia + Vini Highlight from The Ranch Studios | Danny Lund on Vimeo.


Hell Has Frozen Over: My Local Garden

(Image compliments of boys life)

This is something I wrote a few months ago as I watched two men garden in the little pea patch that sprouted up this year a block from my house. I read it this morning and felt hope that spring is really only a (baker's) dozen weeks away.

Men in glasses
Orange and black
Soothe their snapping peas,
question infestations
Soak up the energy of their sun-spotted soil
Salvage strawberry starts

Men in khakis
Bleached and crisp
Head to bed early just wake at six a.m. to coax
Walla walla sweets into crackling brown bags
Laid gently, forever, to rest

“Can I look?”
Wired minds burrowing into nature
Like pastors into Big-Booked doctrine
Ready to fry ‘em up in bacon grease
As hell cools and freezes over.


The "Good Enough" Gift

I'm not a seeker of perfection. I used to be, and it didn't work out so well. Perfection requires no true courage, or hope, or raw and vulnerable connection. The psychologist, D. W. Winnicott, wrote that a mother does not need to be perfect, she just needs to be "good enough."

For me, giving a wonderful gift usually seems to meet 2 criteria:

1. It is something intentional and personal for a specific person (in other words, they are delighted by the gift, but equally as happy that you know them so well).

2. It is something I enjoyed shopping for or creating (in other words, the process of giving was a gift to me as well).

I had this "good enough" gift experience yesterday when I found a present for a dear friend at Sugarpill on 10th & Pine.

A modern day apothecary, walls are lined with salts, herbs, teas, and tinctures customized for customers. An old-world remedy shop with a modern aesthetic.

(Photo compliments of Only in Seattle)

I was standing at this salt wall, thinking of the fact that my friend is Italian and an avid foodie. She'd like salt, wouldn't she?

The stores nurturing owner, Karyn Schwartz, came and asked if she could help. As I described my foodie friend - an Italian who used to live in Seattle but does not any more - she directed me to two items that fit the bill beautifully.

1. A flaky, translucent Italian sea salt. A taste of my friend's heritage.
2. A blackish salt that smoked over 7 Northwest wood planks for 2 weeks, leaving them smelling like a smoky Seattle bonfire. A taste of my friend's old home.

I left thrilled that this, indeed, was a good enough gift.


I"ll Be Wearing Rainboots When I'm 54.

Rainboots. Who lives in Seattle without them?

Well, me, for the last 7 years or so. Dodging water, soaked socks. Not good.
Until 2 days ago when I stepped into Lambs Ear in Fremont.

It was one of those moments. You see the item in the window. You look again. You want to say yes.

You walk in, take a look, and the sales lady says: "I just marked those down this morning."

Done and done.
(photo compliments of webury.com)

Aigle Boots. 150 years of happy, dry, toes.
Rubber that scuba divers use to stay dry.

Boots with a 25 year warranty. Seriously? Seriously. I'll be 54 by the time I have to give these up to wear & tear.

10 minutes later I was walking out of the store with my old shoes in the new box.
New rainboots on, ready for some deep, dark, Northwest puddles.



I threw a quarter in my pocket and stepped out for a walk.

The quarter is for the handful of Mike & Ikes I'll find at either Utrecht or in the Value Village on 11th. (I'll admit that I hold a bit more trust in the cleanliness of the candy machine at Utrecht, but coin-candy-machine users can't be picky, can we?)

Up on 10th I happened to see that Flora & Henri is having a closing sale, and almost decided to buy a full wardrobe of imported linen for my future child. The saleswoman told me not to fear, they are not leaving but are simply focusing online - they'll retain a by-appointment-only space downtown.

A peacock front-button dress on sale at Flora&Henri.

I walked up to 14th just to peek in the lace curtains at Spinasse and happened upon a little boutique I've never been in before: Spun. Teeny and warm, I was happy to take off my mittens for a minute and peruse the goods. Conscientious artist collective: jewelry makers, beauty products, and fashion designers all offering organic goods with simple design.

Photo compliment of Seattlest

Some of the jewelry was gorgeous, although I admit I was not taken with many of the 100% organic clothes.

I was struck, however, by 2 things:

1: The absolutely gorgeous wood & iron furniture pieces around the shop. The cheery-cheeked woman who was managing the shop said everything was for sale, was completely affordable, and could be custom fit to your house. The designers name is Mike, at MM Builders, and the furniture is made under his concept "Marian Built." Using cast iron wheels and reclaimed wood, he does what Restoration Hardware is doing but at a much-better price point. I want to see more of his work: especially old rolling doors.

Photo compliment of Seattlest

2: No nonsense cards from "the Raven & the Writing Desk."

I'm always impressed by the creativity birthed on this hill between two waters.


Ice Cube & the Eames

The snow in Seattle. To some, it's a nuisance. For other's, it's a wonderland.

Ice Cube said it most eloquently:

One man's eyesore
is another man's paradise

Go ahead and watch this video.

I wonder if the largest eyesore in Seattle - the downtown Westin Hotel - is someone's paradise?


Plumbing, Sushi and Maple Trees

Up on 12th Avenue, near Pine, there used to be this plumbing shop.
A polished, latrine hardware store, of sorts. It was housed in one of my favorite buildings on my hill: a historic white dove of a building with wide, sparkling windows nestled between taller and more modern sorts. It looked confident it it's skin; she had aged well.

The old Dawson Plumbing building.

Quite a few months ago I saw the Dawson Plumbing sign had been taken down, and fresh construction spastically commenced. I almost cried because somewhere in me I always thought I might open something in that precious pale spot someday. The building was emptied, gutted, cleansed, and birthed a most unlikely child named Momiji, a sushi restaurant. The owner is Steven Han, the same entrepreneur who started a few belltown sushi spots.

I ate at Momiji (Japanese for "maple trees") for the first time last night, ready to not be impressed. Maybe it was the fact that my dining companions were bubbling newlyweds, or because I was famished and the rolls were massive and unabashedly odd.
Maybe I was charmed seeing they replaced the rear parking lot with a glass-walled Kyoto garden,

or because Yuri Kinoshita's woven paper lighting installations hugged and curved along the wall and made me feel like I was floating in a basket.

Maybe it was the translucent white salmon that melted away like butter under a black sunspray of tobiko.

Whatever it was, I had arrived mourning the copper pipes of the plumbing co. and left content and praising a meal worth having again. soon.