deception pass

Climbing the North Beach Bridge Trail at Deception Pass State Park for this view. In other news, today was pretty much perfect. #theoceanismedicine #natureistherapy


one item missing from the travel checklist

This is one of those "This will be a funny story someday" moments:

Sal has a conference in Mt. Vernon for a few days so I've tagged along. We've made this trip many times and we like the area so it's a fun little free getaway.

After an almost 6 hour drive thanks to Seattle's demonic traffic, we've arrived safely to a hotel room that's decent and quiet and are thinking about where we're going to eat. Start unloading the car, he gets the luggage cart loaded up, I ask, "Where's the suitcase?"

I don't think I've ever ever ever seen that expression on his face before.

No suitcase. Didn't get loaded in the car. I didn't load it, he didn't load it. No pajamas, underwear, change of clothes, toiletries, curling iron, brush, glasses, walking shoes, jackets. We did, however, remember the laptops and the lunch cooler full of homemade cookies and brownies, so we've got what we need to survive, at least.

We're now off to find some basic clothes and toiletries. And then dinner.


aye, calypso, the places you've been to

This is Calypso, the newest member of Hall House.

It's been over a year without kitties in our home, and we were finally ready to bring home some new family members. In a couple of months, after the chaos of our recent crazy had calmed down a bit, we'd planned to find a couple of new kitties at the shelter -- a bonded pair or siblings or just a couple of kitties who weren't as likely to be adopted -- and bring them home with us.

But Calypso had other plans.

I'd just gotten home one evening a couple of weeks ago (day after the 4th), and as I got out the car, I heard a kitty crying somewhere nearby. I looked around trying to figure out where it was coming from as I headed toward the house, and just as I reached the bottom of the stairs, the kitty emerged from along the curb and came right up to me, as if she'd been on her way to meet me and just happened to arrive right as I pulled up.

She was lovey and talkative, and didn't look like she'd been neglected...a little dirty but not ragged, no sign of hurt or illness or starvation, wearing a dirty flea collar and clearly cared for until somewhat recently. So I got her some water and spent my evening on the porch, trying not to fall in love with her and failing miserably.

She was still there when Sal got home that night. He took pics that he posted on NextDoor and neighborhood FB sites. She clearly had had people at some point, and we know the desperation of having a kitty go misisng and trying to find them, so we of course wanted her to get back to the people who loved her. But secretly, we were hoping maybe she could be ours, even though neither of us said anything.

We decided that if she was still hanging around by Friday morning, I'd take her to the vet to check for a chip and if she didn't have one, we'd start the process for adopting her. We talked very carefully about her, as if it was just a matter of thinking of her as someone else's to pretend we wouldn't be really sad to say goodbye.

Thursday night, as we were getting ready for bed, Sal said he'd thought of a name for her. So much for not getting attached.

This was the sight that greated us in our living room window Friday morning.

The vet's office didn't find a sign of chip anywhere so I brought her home and we let her come inside with us while we decided what to do. I got some food and cat litter. Just enough for a temporary stay. Trying not to get attached.

By law, we could either 1) file a report with the county and keep her with us in the meantime, posting lost notices in all the places they require and after 180 days, she'd officially be ours if she wasn't claimed; or 2) take her in to the shelter so they could use all their resources for finding her home and be 1st on the list to adopt if no one claimed her after 3 days.

Taking her to the shelter was a hard choice, but we felt, for various reasons, that it was the best one to ensure that she was reunited with her people if she had some, and it would mean we'd get to call her ours much sooner if she didn't have any. The shelter also has a universal chip reader, so there was still a chance she had a chip that just wasn't showing up in our vet's scan.

She spent that Friday day and night inside with us. All pretense at not getting attached was gone by the time Sal got home that night.

Sal took her to the shelter last Saturday. Which turned out to be the best choice, even if it was the hard one. They found a chip -- Sal texted me that his heart sank when they said that -- and we wouldn't have known that if we hadn't taken her out there. She was older than we thought -- 10 to 12 years -- had had her shots at some point and been spayed. She definitely had people.

He filled out the report and put our name on the list anyway. They said that if her people didn't claim her in 6 days, we could adopt her. So we called to check each day, and started a list of name ideas, and added "get collar, cat food, litter" to the grocery list.

The phone number on her chip was an old one, belonging now to people who'd never had a cat. No one responded to the "found cat" listings on all the various sites and boards. On Thursday, our anniversary, the shelter confirmed that unless someone called to claim her by Saturday, we could come fill out the adoption paperwork on Sunday.

So she's home now, officially licensed with a brand new collar and brand new name, scouting out all the best perches and napping spots of Hall House. We're getting used to having a kitty boss us around again.

Welcome home, Calypso.


happy birthday, sally

20th anniversary @ Orcas IslandHappy Birthday, my beloved Salvatore! It's an impossible task to adequately describe what a gift you are, so I've settled for reminding you with a small, small, small sample of ways that you have imprinted your soul into mine.

  • The way you still laugh as hard at the movies and shows that delight you as you did the first time you saw them. Not everything holds up, and sometimes you have to be in the right mood for it, but when it does and when you laugh, and it makes me laugh, and it's like getting to watch it again for the first time.
  • Your unbroken streak of picking out the exact perfect card for me every time. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, just-becauses, thinking-of-yous, I' are seriously a card-picking savant. I've kept every one, framed a few, wanted to frame many more. I imagine that if someone who never met me opened a box full of these cards and laid them all out, they would know me without even reading what you wrote inside them.
  • I love all the characters and voices you create, but my favorite character is Big Al and whatever he's selling in his barn that day. The day we drove past the big metal barn that had "BARNS" emblazoned on the side, we looked at each other and both knew without saying a word: Big Al and his Barns Barn. It was like discovering the singularity.
  • After we watched Pride & Prejudice the first time, you spent weeks afterward saying "Capital, capital!" whenever you were pleased with something. It was adorable.
  • That day several months ago, a typical work day for me, when I was trying to complete an impossible task list with an equally impossible deadline, and had jotted down the do-or-die-must-complete-at-all-costs-before-tomorrow things on a yellow sticky note stuck to my laptop, with the ominous words "MUST DO TODAY" written at the top, and I realized after you left for work that you had added an item: "Love yourself". I've looked it almost every day since.

Thank you for being you, Sally. I love you.










goodbye, mr. president and family

Farewell, my beloved Obama Family.


autumn crisp

Yesterday was a gloriously rainy, gorgeously not-officially-autumn-but-close-enough Pacific Northwest day. Mists in the trees across the river, sliding down the slopes to wreath around the bridge, dark and gray and cool and lovely, rain coming down steadily for most of the day. While we spent the day writing (me) and watching the Timbers game (him) and enjoying our day, we had all the doors and all the windows open to hear and feel and smell it, to soak it all up. Fall is here, fall is here, O Great Pumpkin fall is here.

On the first rainy day of not-officially-autumn, if I am a very good girl, Sally makes me a crisp. Pear, in this case. While we sit at our humble, rickety little kitchen table waiting for it to come out of the oven, listening to the music of the rain and breathing in deep lungfuls of cool, water-filled air, we talk about deep life things. Soon, the oven beeps and the crisp comes out, sweet and cinnamon-y autumn love in a 9x13 pan.

We eat it while it's still not-quite-burning-our-mouths hot, big white bowls warming our hands, simple mix of pear and sugar and oatmeal and flour warming our bodies from the inside out, and I think, this is my life, right here. This is the life I get to live, this love and this comfort and this peace.

This life, I tell you what. It'll bowl you right over in the most quiet little moments.



Yesterday was our twenty year anniversary. Or, in Salvatore-parlance, "wedding remembrance day". We marked the day itself in a sweet and quiet little way together; our celebration was actually last week, on vacation in Orcas Island.

It's been 15 years since we were last there, and then it was only for a daytrip so we didn't really get to enjoy it as much as we wanted. This time, we did it up right: rented a little getaway with a beautiful view, packed up enough delicious food to last the duration, filled our bags with books and games and writing supplies and art supplies and movies, and fit it all into the Black Pearl for the road trip adventure north.

Six hours, most of Washington State, and a ferry ride later, we arrived at our tiny, magical, fairytale cottage, tucked into forest and steps away from the water. A little kitchen with just enough room for one person at a time, a bathroom with a skylight. A bedroom with a soft bed, woodstove, and French doors that open wide to the forest and the view. A covered patio a few steps down and a cobbled path through green and trees to a couple of wooden chairs perched on the water's edge. A hot tub hidden in a stand of firs and madronas, complete with lights for a good night time soak under the stars. Beauty and solitude and magic.

It was a warm and beautiful day when we arrived, rainy and cool the next, a mixture of both the day after that and the day after that. We had a chance to get a little too much sun, and to snuggle under the covers with the doors open while the rain played outside. We played in the water and warmed up in the hot tub. We spent time sketching, and writing, and playing Zombie Dice and Firefly Fluxx and Love Letter and Gloom, and watching movies late at night with a smorgasbord picnic spread out on the bed. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the village a few miles away, and walked through shops and galleries, and found a beautiful art treasure to memorialize this Year Twenty milestone.

We talked a lot, and laughed a lot, and enjoyed contented silence a lot, and it was like regular days together, but special days, too, because here we are, still together after all these years, and these are what regular days are like, and they are wonderful.

See all pictures from the trip here.


smaug, 07.??.96 -- 06.22.16

After twenty years, our little dragon has flown away. Rest in peace, sweet Mei Mei.

Many, many more pictures here.


this is the heart that i call home

Credit: unknown (reverse image search didn't turn up the photographer; will gladly credit when I find that info)This is my world. Truly it is a wonderland.



across the ocean and back again

This was the view from the lanai of the condo we stayed at on Maui, where we've been (along with Oahu) for the last week. Just arrived on the red eye home to gloriously gray and cool Portland and cannot wait to climb into my own bed and get back into the Pacific time zone. Ocean waters are good for any sea loving heart, but this little mermaid's flippers are definitely most at home in cooler northern waters.


airplane bento

Today's airplane bento lunch, for the Salt Lake City to St. Louis leg of my trip. My seatmate had his window closed so it doesn't look so great, but it held up nicely in my carry-on after being tossed and tumbled and jostled about from house to car to airport to security to plane to another airport to another plane. Not too shabby.

(I know I've been lax about posting bento pics for awhile. I have been both packing and taking pics of them, just haven't gotten around to uploading. Someday.)


it starts

Finally tackling the big canvas for the living room. Fifty thousand layers to come... #whatsitgonnabe #lovemystudio


bountiful handful


You and I still aren't on speaking terms, Summer, but I suppose these little peace offerings get us a little closer to truce. Thank you for this handful of today's tomato harvest.






net neutrality ftw




the obligatory foot selfie @ pdx

They started the tear up on Friday so of course I had to seize my last opportunity for a foot selfe on the iconic Portland airport carpet (if you've somehow missed the big to do about the replacement and are wondering what the big deal is about a freaking carpet...well, Google is your friend).


design trends

So Sal and I happened to stumble upon Liberace's furniture sale today in our quest for a new couch. Until today, I did not know that glittery gem trimmed cabinets and metallic pearlescent lizard skin textured dressers were a thing that existed in this world. I was also not aware that pearlescent white vinyl chairs with ginormous fake diamonds embedded in the middle of the seat backs were a thing that a human person alive and breathing in this dimension would not only make and sell, but buy and put in a room where food is served. And then nod to themselves with satisfaction and say, "Yes, this looks good."

Also too, mirrors as furniture trim are best when used on everything everywhere in a room. Really makes the room pop.

Bless the person who would buy this furniture, truly. Bless the furniture maker who caters to them. Bless anyone who would need a 6 foot jewelry cabinet in black faux snake skin with a big rhinestone butterflyhandle.

And now the vintage 40s/50s style red couch I want doesn't sound so crazy.


if it weren't for my horse*

"Oh, look.  We have the white chicken in our bed. I have to go get the number off the pole and call now."

This is the combination of words Sal just said about 20 minutes ago as he happened to glance out the kitchen window, then took off out the front door. What the what?

I'm in full-on does-not-compute-blue-screen-of-death-void-null-error mode. Chicken? What chicken? "The chicken" implies a specific chicken, an expected one, which is odd since we don't, you know, have any chickens. The little hamster wheels in my brain are spinning furiously as I try to sort out what he's just said, trailing behind him in the blazing heat. (Trying to figure out wtf he was talking about was the only thing that could've enticed me outside at these temperatures.) The "bed" part I realize must be one of the raised garden beds, but what the everloving hell does a pole (light? telephone? North?) and a number have to do with anything?

By the time I get to the front porch, I have concocted a rough theory that there's a white chicken statue/figurine/object of some sort that has been left in our garden bed by some mysterious prankster, and that this is a random underground Portlandia sort of game that Sal has heard about and knows what's required next.  That this white chicken whatever-the-hell has a phone number on it that you're supposed to call when you find the chicken for your instructions on where to leave it next. I haven't quite figured out how the pole fits into the scheme of things, but I'm only about 10 seconds into this adventure so it's early yet.

Welcome to the inside of my brain. It's scary in here.

Sal's down to the street level by this point and hollers over his shoulder to watch the chicken. As one does. So I did. I go around the side of the house to the garden beds and I hear rustling and then see a dart of white and then feathers. "WHAT." I'm loud enough for the neighbors to hear. There is an actual white chicken darting around our yard. My brain-hamsters are now no longer in their wheels, but instead running madly about and crashing into each other.

Nothing like the chicken in question. You know Portland, we're all about the heirloom varieties.So there's a "Lost Chicken" flyer on the lightpole at the corner of our street (not as uncommon as you'd think) that Sal noticed on his bike rides and turns out, it's the very white chicken in our yard that I'm at that very moment "WHAT"-ing about while he's calling the number on the flyer.

He has to leave a voicemail, but must first listen to a long message because the number is apparently for a business, and the message is about hoop yoga classes, because of course it is. As he waits to leave the message about their lost white chicken running around in our yard, he says, "Well I feel like a true Portlander now."

(A few minutes after leaving the message, the chicken flew clear across the street and the neighbor's house/yard into Baltimore Woods, and there's probably a "why did the chicken cross the road" joke in there but I can't tease it out because my brain is still rebooting.)

*Title taken from a famous Lewis Black routine.


hobbes, 07.??.96 - 07.22.14

Eighteen years, and it still wasn't enough time with him. Rest in peace, bunny love.

















Many, many more pictures here.


stir fry

Stir fry ingredients about to go into a very large wok for tonight's dinner. AND cooking al fresco. It really doesn't get any better than this.