Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I have been looking forward to spending a morning with Miss Landies at La Boulange for months.  And this morning, it happened.  :)  It was all I hoped.  And it didn't hurt that I was spoiled with Birthday presents and gifts from Italy that have been stored away.

After La Boulange, we came home and read by the pool. Rather, I read, and Megs worked on her final paper that continue to drags along, grasping at her ankles. I love all the time we're getting to talk, but it definitely took some self control to STOP talking to her while she was trying to focus. I'm proud to report, I was able to silence my commentary... even if it did take me walking across to the other side of the pool.
After that, I was so lucky to sneak away for Frozen Yogurt and some park time with Sara and her amazingly funny and adorable little girls.  I didn't think to grab a picture... which is a shame since those girls are three of the loveliest faces!  Tonight it's a family night with the whole Landies crew.  Loving my time away with these wonderful people.  And LOVING that I still have 4 more days. :)
After all the trouble of trying to make a decision... we fell into the perfect evening. I couldn't have thought up anything better for my first evening here with Megs. We wandered the neighborhood on a long walk catching up and then came back and made ourselves pancakes with fresh peaches, and a glass of wine. Then, with our wine, we slipped into the hot tub and watched the sky fade into the dark, star-stunning wonder it is. What an amazing night! And how amazing to be with my sweet friend, catching up. :)
We came across FIVE deers!! When I find this incredible, Meg's teased me for being a Seattle girl. I'm sorry, I've seen deer.  We have plenty in and around Washington - but FIVE all together?! Amazing. 

 Yesterday was a great day!  I met up with a friend who just moved back home to the Bay Area and we went n the tourist dream trip. ;) After a good deal of searching, we found the Full House park and house.  I queued up the theme song on my iPhone and we ran through the park holding hands, rolling through the grass like in the clip.  We had a blast- I wish this girl wasn't leaving my life pretty much as soon as she came into it.  She laughed and joined in as I strolled past people, holding the phone up to them as the song rang out. They took me to the Mission District for the best Mexican around. Then we drove over to the Golden Gate and walked it (something I hadn't done).  It was such an incredible time, Teresa gave me a great tour commentary full of the much-needed details like "This is a nice neighborhood..."  She doesn't really know the city much, seeing as she's been in Seattle the past 5 years.  Her friend who came along however, knew it VERY well.  I was so blessed by them and their willingness to drive me all over on a Monday.

After that... I got to see one of the prettiest faces!! After 3 months - I got to hug THIS girl! We had the perfect night... We're heading off to La Boulange (I've been waiting for this!!!) and later today I'll probably have time to upload photos.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Today I grabbed my jacket, laced up my new Oxfords, grabbed a coffee at the Starbucks in the lobby and started off on my hipster adventure!  First of course I opened up my little Moleskine with my notes, scrolled through my iPhone notes from lunch with Esther last week, and logged into google on my MacBook.  My first stop was going to be Tartine, a French Bakery Esther included as a "must" and advised I get to before 11am.  I showed up about a quarter after and spotted it by the line that went out the door and down the street.  When I didn't know exactly which direction to head upon exiting the bus, I asked a young girl sitting in a doorway smoking a cigarette.  She kind of laughed at me, said "Yes, I know where it is.  It's down that street a couple blocks.  There's no sign, but you'll spot it by the line."  As I walked the few blocks, I realized something about myself. I'm learning myself.  I'm twenty-four, and I'm learning myself, yet again.  And one thing I've learned is I'm pretty good at reading people.  I don't want to stereotype, and I'm a firm believer that we see about 2% of what's really in a person and going on, but still, I think part of why I love wandering places and asking people for suggestions, directions, advice... is because I'm good at picking people out.  Who would know where what sort of places are.  And this time, I was right.

I called Mumsy while in line.  Tried about 15 times to upload a photo to Facebook.  Then, pulled out Zen in the Art of Writing.  It took less time for me to order, get my food, eat, and leave then I actually waited in line, but the food and coffee were both delicious.  I'd had plenty of time to eye the food others were carrying away, and settled upon the Bread Pudding.  I don't even LIKE bread pudding, but upon being assured by the man behind the counter that what I was pointing at on a nearby table was bread pudding, I got it.  AMAZING, peaches and blackberries and perfect bread pudding.  That with a mocha and a glass of water and I was set.  I think I only ate a third of it, but I was satisfied.  Being that I can't exercise (fed-up with this ankle!) and am starting to feel a little.... gah, I decided 1/3 was plenty, since I was technically eating a dessert at a breakfast cafe.  :/

I wandered the neighborhood for hours, stopping in clothing boutiques, antique stores, thrift stores, book shops and on... until I decided it was time to find my lunch spot.  The bartender yesterday had sent me to The Monk's Kettle.  With a 6-page long beer list and a relaxed and comfortable pub feel inside, I understood why.  I'd actually been looking for the pub, and looked RIGHT at it, even photographed it, without realizing it.  I was so enamored by the name of the hotel (Brade), that I missed the first-floor restaurant entirely.  Then, I realized I'd dropped my sweatshirt and was set on an hour long hunt back through all the said shops above.... just as I had given up, I saw it.  Amazingly, it was in a one-block space of a street I had walked all the way down- only for that one block, I'd crossed to the other side... and scanned from across the way.  Someone had found it and hung it on a parking meter rather than snagging it.  I can't say how grateful I am to that person! While hunting, I'd even seen another jacket hanging on that street... it was one parking meter from the one I found MY jacket on.  How I'd missed it, who knows.   But I got it back, and I'll be washing it.

I sipped a delicious beer, enjoyed a Flatbread with ricotta, basil, tomatoes and pepper (sounds common, but it tasted extraordinary!) and read and wrote some more.  Amazingly, I didn't feel rushed in and out by my waiter.  I had to ask for my check... I almost felt like I was being kept there... and I loved it.  A place that allows someone to come in and just rest with their thoughts and a pen is a great place in my book!

After lunch I travelled back down the other way on Valencia, finally finding the Curiosity Shops Esther had sent me in search of, as well as my new favorite shop, I think it was called Viracocha.  It was unbelievable! Old type writers covered the place, massive doors rested against the walls, books and books and beautiful old books, impressive unique jewelry, and a man sitting at a piano playing the most perfect music, full of curiosity, memories, laughter, and age.  In the back, there was a private library.  It wasn't too large of a room, but for a price you could join and enjoy checking out their personal selection of books, or sit in a nook and read or write.  It was full of plenty of trends, but so authentic and like nothing I'd seen.  I was in heaven.  After wandering a few more book stores and getting completely freaked out by all the massive pinned bugs at Paxton Gate (sorry Esther, it was cool, but also very creepy to me!), I stopped for my third coffee of the day.  The Summit SF has pretty good coffee, and oddly, it was full of all very beautiful people.  It was like a storehouse for very attractive men.  Only, being San Fran...  :/
The Summit SF

After that I took the MUNI back and headed up to my room, where I've been reading for the past couple hours.  I just traveled down to the Starbucks for some tea and fruit... and now I'm off to finish Zen in the Art of Writing.  :)  Tomorrow is my last day downtown, and also the day I see Megsy's face!!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

A Few Favorites:

There were also a number of amazing clothing boutiques that were so pricey I didn't bother remembering their names.  But my oh my the beauties I saw!

So many more restaurants I'd like to check out on future visits, one of which was called Cheese.  It's a cool looking wine and cheese bar.  ;)

One of the biggest highlights for me has been all the amazing buildings - I plan to give you a post just of the amazing architecture of theatres, houses, churches and more.  And of course, I've added a few doors to my collection. :)
I'm in one of my happy places.  I managed to navigate my way from the airport to the BART, and from the BART to my hotel.  I've made this route once before, but I was with another girl who had herself at that point done it once before.  This time it was solo.  And once again I'm thanking God for my iPhone (without a doubt the best purchase I've made this year... okay, it's tied).  Between that and my ability to ask strangers without any shame, I've been having a grand time already.  I'll probably wait to tell you all the places until Monday or Tuesday, as to avoid worrying my family about stalkers who might see this post, create a grid of all the places I've been, and cast a net!

No, but really, I won't tease too much, because I am being very careful.  Last night I made sure to be in my hotel before dark.  Not much of a punishment since I'd only had 3 hours of sleep the night before.  I crashed by 9:30, and slept for a near 12 hours.  It was blissful, minus the slamming of the doors on my floor (not sure what was going on).

I wandered shops yesterday, and asked a saleswoman for a good lunch spot recommendation.  She sent me to a back area that's adorable, and just a few blocks off from the tourist mayhem.  I ended up stopping early and eating at another place I passed.  Later, I returned to where she'd sent me and enjoyed an amazing mocha (one of the best I've ever had), and sat for a few hours at a window and read and wrote and thought.  After, I crossed the street and found an Italian restaurant.  It was perfect!! In fact, I teared up.  Ridiculous, I know, but I did.  The five hours I spent between that coffee shop and restaurant were exact;y why I'm here.  To explore, to find and to know I'm being led.  I love finding new places, I love sitting alone at a fancy restaurant for dinner and drinking a glass of wine.  I love being adventurous and courageous and confident.  I love having time to just listen, watch, and be.  And on top of all of that - I love Italy and the Italian language (you know this).  So when the owners started filling in and the empty room was filling with that beloved language and tones and embraces, I felt overwhelmed by the perfectness of the details.  I was the first person there.  When I walked in I asked I felt a little out of place, as if I were intruding.  I asked "Are you open?"  A silly thing to ask at a restaurant that seemed a bit posh.  It appeared posh, but it was so open, you could look into the kitchen, and with all the warmth of the staff and closeness between the owners and staff, it didn't feel stuffy.  They responded "Yes, come in. Sit down. "  I responded "Just one, for dinner."  And they asked if I'd like to sit at the bar, as it was still happy hour.  The bar was truly just a long table along the "bar" in the one open room.  Down stairs there is another room with one long table that seats twenty and a stalk pile of wines, olive oil, vinegar and other Italian-imported ingredients. It looks just like a basement or wine cellar, and feels like an Italian living room.  It was amazing, and the bartender was great.  She ended up giving me lists of places to visit and suggestions for other restaurants.  Today, I am heading over to see the hipsters, and between her and Esther, I am set!

My room. TINY, with a little desk, bed, TV and lace covered window.  All I need. :) 

Friday, August 26, 2011

How cute, right? I need this swimsuit, and this child! Well, not THIS child. But she's a cute little button, and so is that suit! I was admiring the photo on a blog I follow when I realized who it was - it's the writer of The Rockstar Diaries.. she had her baby! (Shows how long it's been since I've visited her blog.) Oh goodness, this is real life... well, someones. Amazing.

Les Miserables - 25th Anniversary
August 25, 2011 matinee

I've seen the Musical four times now.  That is nothing compared to the 14 (?) times my parents have attended it, Kim close behind and Kristin just behind that.  Reaching the age that dad would take you to see Les Mis was a big benchmark in our family.  I remember singing along to Castle in the Clouds and Little People before we moved to the new house.  I had to be 3 or 4.  I loved them both.  I thought they were my songs.  I didn't even know what they were from until a few years later when it clicked.  Junior high and for the first time, I wouldn't be left at the neighbors while the family dressed up and headed to the show.  I remember the months leading up to it.  I'd fallen in love with Eponine, her deep rough voice that broke your heart in two, just as my sisters had fallen years before.  We'd lie in the living room and listen to the album through.  I've always been terrified since of becoming Eponine.

We'd read through the book in High School, and I'd see the performance several more times over the years.  But it wasn't until the opening scene yesterday that I realized just how much this story has impacted my family.  I see my dad in many ways in Jean Val Jean, I don't even know how to connect it or describe it, but I loved the man on stage yesterday all the more for it.  I cried as he said his goodbyes, wanted to beg him not to go.  I wondered if my love (near obsession) with the French Revolution, the British Radical Culture it affected, and the work of the Romantics that were sparked out of it is perhaps the fruit from this seed that grew up with me since my toddler years.  Is this why I love it?  Kristin said two days ago "You love Red & Black too, it gets you all worked up." And it's true.  When the song changes to Will you join in our crusade, who will be strong and stand with us. Somewhere beyond the barricades is there a life you long to see?  I tear up, and can't even explain what exactly, but something deep inside of me is wrenched, something that comes alive at the thought of the student-soldier, of ideals and battles, of passion and dreams and blood. Of things being real, and hope rising from hopelessness and barricades. 

And as I wondered all that, I began to laugh too (not out loud), I'd never even considered the political commentary of the film on the justice system and it's not only unconcern, but blatant refusal of change and return to society and hope.  I thought of Kristin.  That has to be part of why she loves this story, this Musical.  Or perhaps this Musical is part of why she is so passionate about justice, about the Eponine being heard, about the Jean Val Jeans being given a chance and the system being fought. 

I thought of how my dad hates to see people judged.  I thought of how he loves Fontine's song, and if he found that woman on the street, dying and wronged, and ashamed, he'd probably have done the exact same thing.  I thought of how my dad has loved and encouraged many girls who probably felt like their life resembled Fontines in that moment, in one sense or another.

Amazing how art can shape us, transform us, define our passions and awaken us to our callings. Amazing how the same Musical can bring about so many different responses, even in one family. 

As I said, this performance was different from previous, or rather, more different.  The revolving stage was gone (which I was kind of partial to, if for nothing else than Turning.), and pretty much they just brought new tricks and gadgets, a huge screen as the backdrop which was pretty cool, a new device for Javert's suicide, new moving stages for balconies/ tunnels/ houses/buildings.  It was all quite cool. 

One Day More was no longer song as the gate rotated, but instead the lovers chimed from opposite balconies, Val Jean and Eponine below... the gate still central but less obstructive.  Empty Chairs at Empty Tables was not in the bar, but instead an empty stage.  The candles were a new touch, and the synchronized movements were overwhelming in all the best ways to me.  I liked this change, even while I missed the old.  (My mom wanted the old back.)  Turning, I thought I'd miss the stage for (and did), but the simple action of the little girl doing a "Ring Around the Rosie" with the woman, in so turning, and also drawing on the true historical beginnings of the children's game....hit me in the gut like a punch.  The emotions of this performance were heightened not only by a greater emphasis on the acting (which my dad told me before the performance- they saw it twice this time around), but also by these very specific and bold changes to the choreography and set.  In some ways, they stripped it down.  In others, they hyped it up by technology.  I enjoyed it, but part of me worries that they made it more like all the other Broadway shows, and perhaps stripped away a bit of the "old" which everyone's been afraid to touch... but perhaps that fear was with good reason.  I've grown up thinking there are musicals, and then there is Les Mis. 

As for the individual performances themselves, this was the best TenerdeausFontine was my favorite.  I wished she'd been in every song, her voice was incredible, her acting was excellent! When she returned to the stage for the final song, I wanted to cheer immediately!  Eponine's voice was excellent, but her acting seeemed lacking.  It could also be that I just didn't enjoy how she chose to represent Eponine.  She only seemed angry, and perhaps desiring, but she didn't grab at all the emotion and empathy that I was ready to give to my favorite character.  Her face never showed the disappointment, frustration, heart-breaking I've always felt in her songs. And Cosette.  Let's be honest, she sort of gets the bum vocal part in the Musical.  No one says "Oh, Cossette's part is my favorite!" No, she's near operatic.  And while she did manage to salvage it, she sounded so pitchy in A Heart Full of Love that I felt uncomfortable.  She acted well enough, but I was so disappointed by her singing I almost didn't care.  A Heart Full of Love, and One Day More are some of my favorites, and I just couldn't enjoy them this time.  Hear's Marius pulling his part, but Cosette is jumping everywhere and I'm pretty sure she's not on the note she should be, and if she is, she's holding on to it with one hand and dangling, and Eponine is standing outside the gate reminding herself "He was never mine to keep" and echoing "standing here" but she looks more angry than devastated and I just can't connect to the scene the way I want to!

I shouldn't end with a negative... so, remember, I am dramatising it all myself.  The performance was incredible, and by the end Cosette had pulled it together I felt and Eponine sounded so lovely I'd forgiven her.  I'd enjoyed seeing this nee depiction of my favorite Musical, I loved the well-thought-out additions that heightened the themes.  There was a new character this time through, a man who appeared to be like a father to Gavroche, and when Gavroche was shot, you see this man's face, staring right at you center stage and you FEEL the loss amidst a life of numbness and you choke on a cry in your throat.   This cast was overall remarkable, some of my favorite performances will remain from this run I have no doubt.

(I didn't take any photos, except the one above.  You know how irked I am.)
I'm not really a bird cage person. 

I think they're pretty.  I like that everyone likes them.  In fact, at one point I guess I did want to hang one in my bathroom as a sort of shelf/storage type thing for towels.  But... besides that, I haven't gone crazy about them.  And I think I just realized why:  I've had birds.  We've had dozens of birds in our home over the years.  And guess what bird cages are covered in?  Hint: continue the alliteration.  Oh yes. Crap.

I think I've cleaned too many bird cages to really enjoy them to the full aesthetic whimsical delight others do.  They are pretty.  Birds are pretty.  But they are work too in my mind.  And I don't mind work, so don't get me wrong.  Just a sudden light-switch moment.  I saw this lovely photo and thought
"Dang, you'd have to clean that every day with that many birds."  But it sure is pretty.  :) I also tend to see photos of beautiful birds, and imagine the sort of squawk they'll make based on what family they appear to be related to.  I blame my father for that, if there is something to blame.  My dad's probably had more birds than pairs of shoes.  Just this past year a couple of a my close friends heard a noise coming from his den and said in surprise "You have a bird?"  Yes, we have two.  I'm not sure my dad has settled on names for these ones, or if he ever will.  We spent a good hour brainstorming recently, he and I.  I'm a fan of Willow and Lewis.  Those don't work for him. 

Pet names we've had in our home:

(See any common themes?  We're trying to complete the cast of LOTR and Star Wars.)
Which includes: dogs, birds (the three types of love birds, micahs, parakeets, parotlets, etc.), turtles, hamsters, frogs, every kind of fish, just not cats.

For those of you who've seen Garden State, you know the seen where they bury "Jelly"?  I laugh ridiculously and uncomfortably hard, "It's not that we're bad pet owners, it's just that we've had a lot of them."  And as she cries as she barries him... yep.  I still remember crying in my bed when our first dog disappeared.  I was only three or four, but I can still feel that deep hurt that I had.  Kim and Kris laugh about it now, because really I hadn't even known the dog for that long, I was a baby! But it was my first sense of losing something/ someone I loved.  And when you think about it, I probably spent more time with that dog than with my sisters even.  They went to school, and he and I ran around naked in the back yard.  So... there you have it.  Bonding. ;)

I fell in love with The Weepies.  About this time last year, I looked up their schedule to see if by chance they'd be coming to Seattle. Oh yes. The week before. I think it might have even been the night before. Today, I looked again. They were here five days ago. And guess where they played, oh yes, Woodland Park Zoo. Could I be more bummed right now for missing that show? Yes. Because I also checked to see when they play in San Fran (last week) and Nashville (a few days after I leave). Perhaps it's just not meant to be.

Or perhaps I need to join their mailing list. ;)

So- were any of you at their show a few days ago?  Remarks?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer's finally shown up in Seattle... and all I want is fall. Trying to push that desire away, and refusing to let myself post the dozens of photos I've stockpiled on my hard drive of fall fashion. Blankets, sweaters, jeans, boots and coffee!! They're patiently waiting. Summer has just arrived and I am going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts! 
AND YES- Those ARE the Bowie Pants.  ;)
As a friend so eloquently put it to me this week, "Deal with it, Kelly."

(I like it. But my worst has been known to be pretty bad, at Four it meant tossed-over book shelves and fits that lead to fevers and passing out. I don't exactly know how my family could 'handle' me at my worst...not sure if locking me in a room 'til I passed out does count as handling me at my worst. But if anyone deserves me at my best, it's them.)
You know those nights where you're not sure if you slept, because all you really remember is those moments where you realize "Hm. I'm awake" ? Over, and over, and over.  That was last night.  I don't know if it was because I was so excited for Les Mis today, because of the triple americano at 7pm the night before, the rush of jumping into Lake Washington, or the funny texts but I wasn't sleeping...And thankfully I'm excited enough that I'm seeming to stay awake.  That said, the coffee pot was the my first focus at work today.  ;)

I kind of love those nights anyways... they seem to be my most creative thoughts.  Sometimes it isn't until the middle of the next day that I'll realize the thoughts I'd had, the ideas, laughs, memories replayed, words whispered to my heart.
Bad things to do on a sprained ankle:
  • Run for the bus  (check)
  • Jump into a lake  (check)

Three hours of work and then we're off to the theatre!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I think my most common question for my children will be "Why?"   Why do you like that?  Why do you want that?  I can only imagine it will be hard for me to watch my children fall into trends and chase after fashions.  Unless, they can give me a good answer to Why.

If you can't answer why, I think there's a good chance you aren't doing something because it's meaningful or impacting or making you become more of who you are... but because it's popular and common.  This thought process has me wondering though:

How much do our trends say about our generation? Do they reflect a value system?  Maybe subtle, or not... I don't have an answer.  I just started processing the question.  Why are tattoos a trend?  Maybe it's just because it's cool, but maybe if we asked enough people "Why?" we might actually discover a theme of values... something our generation has ingrained in our fibre that makes us drawn to them, to their honesty, their permanency, their commitment.  Maybe? 

What other trends do we have - and do you think they suggest certain values or character traits? Good or bad. 
Clever or annoying? 
It's tough to stay.   But it sure looks genius!