Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tea Time

Today Dominic and I spent time with friends doing what friends do: hanging out.

I decided last week to throw a tea party and gather as many girlfriends as possible for some good conversation and crafting. Dominic enjoyed the opportunity to watch basketball at a friend's house. 

It occurred to me about a week and a half ago that I have a million excuses not to spend time in casual conversation with friends. From 'too busy' to' too many other commitments'; from 'the house is a mess' to 'I'm tired', I've made up all kinds of reasons not to have people over. This all ended with a quick email invite (not even an Evite). I sent out the request to everyone, knowing full well that it would be uncomfortable at first. There were friends from work, church, wives of Dominic's friends and running partners. As it turns out, however, it's hard to turn down tea, and everyone got along really well.

To make things even more fun, at the suggestion of our dear friend Lisa I also made it into a craft party. For Christmas I got some great card-making books from Peg so I taught the group how to make pop up Valentines and let the girls go wild with all kinds of card stock and scrap booking paper:

Obviously I ignored the excuse 'not enough seating', but they promised they were comfortable on the floor...

This day meant a lot to me. A few weeks ago I was at a small group discussion where a woman made a point that Americans have lost our sense of community. That statement alone didn't seem newsworthy, but then I realized that we don't ever know when having people around who know and care how you're doing is important. It's never until something awful happens, like an earthquake or hurricane, that people drop work, stop planning and start caring for others. Why shouldn't creating community be the status quo when things aren't devastating?

Perhaps it was unemployment, maybe boredom, but the villagers in Surenavan were always dropping by for a meal, coffee and conversation. Was it that Armenians didn't have anything to do or is it that they made time for those around them? Was it that they have more time than Americans or that they enjoy hosting more? Whatever the reason may be, I sure wish I wouldn't have forgotten that sense of hospitality so quickly when I got back to the States.

While we were chatting today, we all realized that none of us have family in Seattle. If we can't be close to our parents or siblings-- and even when we can-- I'm sure glad we have friends. 

Valentines masterpieces

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We're official

What's wrong with this picture?

a.) That's not our car
b.) I've been wearing those galoshes since 2005
c.) I'm holding an umbrella in the rain

Well, it's official. Dominic and I have a licensed Washington automobile. It's not that we're excited because we drive it all that much, it just gives us that much more respect on the friendly Pacific Northwest roadways. 

Truth be told, it was rough zipping down I-5 with California plates. Even more so to navigate the arterial neighborhood streets with that white and red marker. Like the scarlet letter, we believe that California plates imply to the Washingtonians that we are speeding, impatient daredevils. You'll have to ask Dominic about traditional Washingtonian behavior at 4-way stop signs in this state... be sure he's in a good mood first.

Despite the plates, and the fact that we've lived here for more than a year now, we're not quite true Seattleites. If you guessed "C" in my quiz above you guessed correctly. True natives don't carry umbrellas very frequently. Perhaps it's the abundance of REI-supplied gortex jackets, perhaps it's that normal rain comes down in light drizzles, for whatever reason, if you've lived here (at least longer than us) there's no need for an umbrella. In fact, you look foolish trying to carry one in the wind anyway. 

I carry mine regardless of how it makes me look. In fact, we've developed quite a collection of fashionable, wind-resistant, over sized umbrellas over the past few months. My favorites have the special wind catching flap that prevent the Mary-Poppins inside-out dilemma "inversion". 

For those out there who do try to protect themselves from the drizzle with an umbrella, here are some tips for polite handling, curtsey of Monica from the Big Blog. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Life in the Big City

I was putting away dishes yesterday afternoon when I heard a person shriek and a thud outside the apartment. I ran to the corner widow and saw a man laying on the side of the road with his bike to the side. He was rolling around and clutching his stomach with three people nearby. A woman was on her cell phone and two minutes later the fire truck showed up. Soon thereafter there was an ambulance and later cop cars and a medical truck that eventually took the man away on a stretcher. 

I couldn't believe the events taking place before my very eyes!

Just when I thought the news was over and life had gone back to normal I walked home tonight to find a bus on the sidewalk next to my building and an 18-wheeler pushed next to it. I decided to update the Queen Anne Blog and all of a sudden I became an eye-witness

Media is so exciting!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Greenish-brown thumb

Since obviously we don't have children, and my apartment building (and husband) prohibits labradoodles, I get a lot of pride from my plants. I have five total, and they've done surprisingly well in our apartment's climate.

West Seattle has a great nursery where I found paper whites a few weeks ago. I remember forcing these spring-flowering bulbs into winter bloom way back when, but was wondering how they'd do without much sunlight and in an 80 degree apartment (I like it warm). West Seattle Nursery, however, may have anticipated my concern because the bulbs came with an instruction sheet. I do well with plants that have directions.

I 'planted' the bulbs in about two inches of rocks and water and placed them on our windowsill. Sure enough, it only took one day for two of the three (I had one dud) to begin sprouting up out of their Ikea planters. 

The bulb on the right in the photograph above developed quite a lean two days fact, it was nearly laying over onto the table. Fortunately, my instructions highlighted some advice out of Cornell University: "After roots have developed and stems have grown about 2 in. tall, replace the water in the bowl with a mix of 1 part 80-proof liquor (gin, vodka, rum, tequila, and whiskey all work) to 7 parts water." Although Dom's bar has significantly less Russian vodka in stock these days I'm very proud of how tall my little paperwhite stands now.

I was pretty excited about the success of this ingenious Cornell trick and it reminded me of some advice I got last year from Dominic's roommate about tulips. When they start to droop you throw one nickel into the bottom of the vase and they perk right up in a day as well. 

Can anyone help me with my dying orchid? I'm not sure what to do about this stem:

Here's my little basil that could. The thing won't give up even though the base of the plant is completely brown!

I haven't found any $100 bills growing off this money tree yet... but it's a new year. Anything's possible right? 

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

San Francisco Surprise

I have quite a wife.

Christ being a tough act to follow, makes my birthday (December 26th) a day that I (and I must assume others) don’t really look forward to celebrating all that much. It’s just bad timing. I dread having to recharge (or appear to) the day after Christmas for another celebration… and it’s my own birthday. But with marriage comes new priorities, new skill sets. Sarah happens to love birthdays and has a real talent for surprises.

After celebrating my birthday in Ohio with a lobster lunch, a birthday card to open every 30 minutes (thanks all who sent cards), a trip to the zoo and bowling extravaganza, Sarah ended the night with one final card… A surprise trip to San Francisco for New Years.

Our New Year’s Eve was amazing. Staying in Union square, hanging out in North Beach, riding trolley cars and then fireworks on the waterfront. But Sarah wasn’t finished. Did I mention she loves surprises?

After a perfect day hanging out and watching the Rose Bowl (I shamelessly bandwagoned the Buckeyes once it became clear they would win), we headed out to dinner. North Beach, where we were staying, is the Italian district in San Francisco and renowned for all its wonderful and plentiful Italian restaurants. We settled on Thai. After dinner I was shocked to enter a local watering hole to find a group of my college friends there to greet 

me. Five minutes later my high school buddies arrived. Oh… did I mention that Sarah likes surprises? It was awesome to be surprised by so many friends and we had a fun filled night celebrating.

The very next day after touring the city, we headed to my uncle and aunt’s house for what I thought would be a nice intimate dinner. I was greeted by more Monleys than you can shake a stick at. Sarah had arranged another surprise party for my cousin Erika and I with my family. To have a second surprise party… or was it the third, was even more amazing. We celebrated long into the night. In short; a wonderful trip. I truly am blessed to have friends and family who were willing to make a trip San Francisco for the parties, as well as hosting and touring Sarah and I around the city.

Mostly, I’m lucky to have such a wonderful wife.