Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Update

Here's a quick run-down on what I did the month of June.

*Started a rad new volunteer opportunity with a fledgling community garden, part of which involved attending a fascinating class on pest control hosted by Seattle Tilth.

*Saw three movies thanks to SIFF. I also saw Bridesmaids, which was funny, touching, and really awkward.

*Showed a coworker from Philadelphia the sights on what was the most gorgeous day of the year thus far. We went up in Smith Tower:

Took a ferry to Bainbridge:

Went to the sculpture park where we saw this incredible nurse log at the "vivarium":

And finished the day with a driving tour of Capitol hill, Madrona, Leschi, and Columbia city, ending at the taco stand.

*Saw my friend John from college who I hadn't seen in years and who visited on a whirlwind weekend, and finally met his delightful girlfriend Lauren.

*Enjoyed a Gaia skin care party crafted by my talented aunt Karen (I'm totally obsessed with the toner) and hosted by my always-accommodating mom.

*Worked several days in K and M's garden. The back yard is shaping up nicely, with some much appreciated plant donations from my mom's always gorgeous garden and some fabulous raised beds built by M into an otherwise unruly and slanted piece of the back yard.

*Met K's dad and stepmom for the first time in the many years I've known her and had a delicious and inspired dinner party with them and some other friends of ours.

*Got four amazing free tickets and took my parents and Russ to the Phillies-at-Mariners game on Father's day. It was the first time I'd ever seen a winning game!

*Hosted Katharine overnight and took her to the new Rn 74 for happy hour and my favorite, Local 360, for dinner, where we ate a variety of random meats and a gourmet s'more. Later we drove to West Seattle where we took this skyline glamour shot:

*Went to a Solstice barbecue at Golden Gardens, which was a combined birthday party for my friend David, where I made the best s'more ever. If you're keeping track, that's s'mores two nights in a row. Heaven.

(If you look closely you can see there is a windsurfer under the sun.)

(The chocolate is a melted Reese's peanut butter cup!)

*Attended several Gay Pride events, the most noteworthy of which was Prom Rugby in which men played in prom dresses and women played in tuxedo-esque garb. It was a fundraiser with various levels of donations and rewards; for $25 you could get two players to change clothes and teams, which Morgan and I got behind.

*Went to the Gay Pride fair on Broadway with Robyn and some of her friends on Saturday, and then the parade downtown on Sunday with Toddler J on my back and his mom and another friend as enthusiastic attendees. That parade is LONG! We lucked out on the weather and had a great time.

*Made serious progress on my first major sewing project - a wrap dress - with lots of help from Morgan and Casey. Here is the top half before I sewed it to the bottom. It's made from two different colored bedsheets, is too big, and has weird front pleats, but I love it anyway and hope it's wearable after some alterations and a dye job. No matter what it's been a really valuable learning experience.

And that's June, more or less! This afternoon it's off to the Olympic Peninsula to go camping for a long weekend. Although it is the rain forest, we're hopeful it doesn't rain on us the entire time.

Happy 4th of July!

Note: The Philadelphia blog is 100% written and the photos are picked and re-sized, but I'm a dolt and left them on a jump drive... which I left at home. Will post next week.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Volunteering is good for the soul: Miller CC Garden

I'm excited to share that I recently became the Volunteer Coordinator for a new pilot program community garden at the Miller Community Center in my neighborhood, Capitol Hill.

The Seattle Parks Department is starting nine such pilot gardens in an effort to connect communities with each other and with a sustainable, nourishing food system. In addition to the vegetable garden there will be cooking demonstrations and community meals, and during the school year local students will be largely responsible for caring for the garden, integrating it into educational opportunities. Bleeding heart liberals, rejoice!

The Miller CC Garden is a fledgling project, with raised beds getting built the second week in July and the first planning/working party tentatively scheduled for July 21.

In addition to coordinating volunteers - of which I'm thrilled to say there are quite a few interested parties - I've started a blog and, believe it or not, a Facebook account for the garden (if you want to "like" the project, search for Miller Community Center Garden).

Can we talk for a moment about how creepy Facebook is? I created this account with the Miller CC email address and didn't use any personal information, yet it still managed to recommend that I "friend" two dudes I knew years ago in Philadelphia and whose email addresses I don't even have in case FB was able to somehow leach its way into another open browser where I was logged into my personal account. HOW DOES IT DO THAT? Reason number 1,687 why I'm not on Facebook, at least not personally.

Anyhoo, I've been searching for just such a volunteer opportunity and I can't believe something exists that so perfectly connects so many of my passions - gardening, building community, sustainable food education, delicious food, and language acquisition (one of the local schools primarily serves English language learners) literally fell into my lap.

I fully accept the premise that volunteering is an inherently selfish activity because it makes us feel warm and fuzzy, because frankly, I like feeling warm and fuzzy. Hooray for giving back to get something out of it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Three Flicks at the Seattle International Film Festival

I was in Philadelphia for most of SIFF this year but managed to catch three movies toward the end.

Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Seach for a Kool Place – Egyptian theater, Thursday 6/2, 9:30 pm

The description for this movie was right up my alley – “found” footage made into a documentary about 1960s drug culture. And the movie itself was quite interesting, beautifully edited – and incredibly so considering the major hurdles the filmmakers had to jump to put together something cohesive – but it was somewhat slower than one would expect from a movie about a psychedelic-filled cross-country bus trip.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame – Egyptian theater, Monday 6/5, 9:30 pm

I have a soft spot for martial arts flicks and this one promised spontaneously-combusting government officials and a fight sequence with chainsaw-yielding puppets. Although there was some good humor and enjoyable action, the plot was a bit too jumbled for my tastes – a “plot doily” as my movie viewing companion described it. Lest you all clamber to argue that martial arts movies are not dictated by the same constraints as western cinema, never fear, you’ve been beaten to it by a coworker who put me in my place.

Por El Camino – Pacific Place, Thursday 6/9, 7:00 pm

This road trip movie was set in Uruguay, directed and produced by Brasilians, and starred an Argentine and a Belgian. By far my favorite movie, it produced both nostalgic and violent reactions as I watched the main character display so much of what I liked and loathed about the Argentine culture, specifically the upper class, all juxtaposed against the stunning undeveloped Uruguay landscape with cuts to pulsating, hideous Punta del Este, where the rich and famous – and those who want to gawk at them – flock in January and February. I resisted being a know-it-all as I listened to audience questions and speculation, and I suffered feeling utterly foolish as I tried to explain to the filmmaker (both the director and lead Argentine were there for the U.S. premiere) how his editing choices had captured a culture I tried on for size for two years, only to fumble over my Spanish. He was nothing if not sweet and I know I projected my own memories of being wrapped up with the rich and cool of the southern cone but not quite belonging, but I still walked away feeling a bit silly, like the only-sort-of-cool-kid trying to join the really-cool-kid group instead of just being content with where she is.

STIFF – maybe next year

I tried to get to several STIFF events – Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival, which is always held right after SIFF ends – but I didn’t quite make it. In theory I like the idea of more independent films (we’re talking truly independent, like you or me grabbing a camera and deciding to make a movie) but I don’t know that I necessarily love the way they harp on SIFF. Since when does success mean they’ve sold out? Although some of SIFF’s sponsors are questionably corporate, there’s no denying that SIFF connects a lot of people with a lot of movies they’d never otherwise see, and they’re able to do it year-round thanks to a lot of local support.

I encourage everyone to expand their viewing of independent movies - there are some incredible things to see that you'll never watch at an AMC, and a great way to do so is through any local film festival you can find.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

OCD tip: to regain a sense of control, try scrapbooking

I know I owe a Philadelphia blog, which is mostly written, I just have to add pictures to it. (Don’t even mention the Mexico blog. One of these days…)

Before that, I’d like to briefly talk about the mental struggle I’ve been experiencing since I got back from Philadelphia, which was a delightful trip and has me thinking about moving back, which happens every time. (Today it’s 100 degrees there which dampens my desire to relocate.) Seattle weather has been wintry and depressing and it has everyone Down in the Dumps, which affects us all differently.

For me, for whatever reason, I feel a loss of control over my environment; I'm fractured, disorganized, without direction. I tried to alleviate this by hiring my friend Brian to finally hang everything that’s been leaning against the walls since October while I simultaneously cleaned out every drawer, nook, and cranny in my house. However, as a minimalist I haven’t gathered much and that didn’t give me the satisfaction I was craving. Then I saw it: the giant plastic tub filled with 11 years’ worth of scrapbooking material.

Back in November I bought a bunch of scrapbooking supplies and was determined to make a winter project out of it. My last major scrapbooking initiative was when I was a senior in high school, 11 years ago. I put together books of school work, written work, photos, and random memorabilia, and I’m still grateful to my young self for taking that initiative. Since then I’ve been collecting memories and storing them in a variety of manila envelopes and plastic bags at best, with most items loose which I gathered into the one bin the last time I moved all my stuff.

For whatever reason, that didn’t happen this winter, and it’s been a persistent, unfinished nag since then. So on Tuesday night, when I got home at 8 with a few drinks in me and the urge to do something productive, I busted out the bin and got to work.

Four hours later, this is what my living room looked like, and still looks like:

It’s hard to see but there’s a little semicircle against the couch where I was sitting, and surrounding that circle are about 9 stuffed manila envelopes and several filing folders, plus all the stuff on the floor. Believe it or not, this is Highly Organized.

I got through all the organization of items into categories and/or chronological groups. Simply sorting through everything was really the hardest part, since I had to look at every individual item, ascertain what it was, whether or not it was important enough to scrapbook, and if so, find its appropriate category or year. A few observations/random notes:

  • It’s scary how terrible my memory is. There were things that didn’t jog my memory, even a tiny bit. For instance, I was a volunteer English teacher in Philadelphia for two years and I saved all the class rosters. Out of 4 classes, only ONE STUDENT’S NAME rang a bell. This actually made me so upset/depressed that I had to put them away in a folder.

  • Even on the things I did remember, I have always been dreadful at remembering WHEN things happened. So, to get things in the right place, I sent many texts asking random questions like “What year did you act in the Twilight Zone?” and “What year did I visit you when you were that band’s tour manager in Philadelphia?” I was often cursing myself for not dating items with the year – so many notes and other items with just the day and month. IDIOT. (Likewise for first names vs. first AND last names.) Also it's strange to me the things that don't have years on them, such as airline ticket stubs.

  • I think it’s sweet how many things I save, but not practical to scrapbook them all. So, I enjoy the items for the memory jolt they give me, but discard quite a few of them in favor of saving the really good ones and not being overwhelmed by too much material down the line. I have a similar approach to photos - I delete a lot of them so that when I'm old I don't have 500,000 to sort through.

  • I found so many cards from my dear Grandpa Joe that I actually had to put them away to read later because every time I came across one I got a little teary. He was a wonderful letter writer and card giver and it was just too touching to deal with in my high-gear sorting OCD headspace.

  • Speaking of things I found, a $200 savings bond that Gramma and Grandpa Archer gave me for my high school graduation - score! I knew I had it, I just didn’t know exactly WHERE it was. It’s now worth $148, which I suspect is the same it would be worth once it gets to $200 once adjusted for inflation, so I’m going to cash that sucker in.

  • I may be a recluse for the next few weeks. Once I start a project, I can’t go back...