Monday, April 29, 2013

Seattle Freeze Culture

I hadn't heard of "The Seattle Freeze" until we looked into moving here. If you haven't heard of it, here's an article from Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Times Magazine, that explains it really well.

To boil it down, the concept of "the Seattle Freeze" isn't that people are unfriendly, they're very friendly but in sort of a customer service way - chatty and polite, but you're never going to break that wall into friendship.

One article that I read said that you'll make a lot of friends that you can say "hi" to, but never any that are going to invite you to hang out. Another article had a guy explained that he'd made a lot of acquaintances but never a "take a bullet for you" type of friend.

So far, I haven't really encountered that, but many of the friends I've made have moved here recently. Even the Seattleites I have met are mostly people that are making an effort to make friends - going out to meetups, for example.

I kind of dislike the concept of "the Seattle Freeze." I think it can be kind of a cop out. "Oh, I never make any friends... probably because of the Seattle Freeze."  It's kind of like thinking that if people don't like you, they're probably jealous because you're so pretty or so successful. Maybe you're not so likable or nice or friendly yourself, right?

But my opinion changed this week. I've been taking a course to prepare to teach ESL (English as a Second Language, also known as English for Speakers of other Languages.)  One of the topics we covered in our class this was the concept of teaching our students American culture. For example, if your student comes to class late often, but is from a culture where it is considered acceptable to be late, it might be a "learning opportunity" to speak to your student or your class about the importance of timeliness.  Along these lines, the teacher gave us some examples of American culture multiple choice questions.

And then I saw this one...

I'm sorry, I can't figure out what the correct answer is supposed to be.

As for a) I think that if someone tells you to "drop by" and you spoke about a specific day and obviously spoke about his address or wherever it is that you "dropped by," than he should have honestly expected you to visit or should not have said that;

As for b) That doesn't really make sense, no particular Sunday was discussed; and

As for c) I can see the argument that you should have called, that's never a bad idea, and that's probably what I would have done, but I don't think your friend had should have been "surprised and upset" without that call. That probably would have been my answer, out of the choices given here, but I don't think it's a perfect choice.

I think I'm bothered by the use of the word "friend" here. If someone is your "friend" they shouldn't be upset when you drop by, especially when you've discussed it and you came on the particular day they suggested.

Ok, it might not be a good time. You might answer the door and say "Oh, I'm so sorry, I was just headed out" or "taking a shower" or "giving my dog a bath" and discuss a better time, but if you're an adult, I don't think that should "upset" you.

My class, full of Seattleites, unanimously agreed that "A" was the correct choice, that his friend extended the invite but didn't mean it.  Why?  Why would your friend say that, especially something specific? It'd be different if your friend had said, "We should hang out sometime," and then you showed up at their door the next weekend - that would be weird, and your friend would be rightfully upset. But your friend obviously told you his address and specifically mentioned a day of the week - why do that if you didn't really want them to come?

I think teaching this to your students would be perpetuating the Seattle Freeze culture. When your student becomes conversant, he might say "Let's meet up on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at the mall, I'll be standing in front of Macy's" when he has no intention of showing up, because he was taught that this is American Culture.  I think we should instead teach "that friend is a jerk, you need better friends" and maybe get this friend to an etiquette lesson rather than our student a culture lesson.

Am I right?  (No, seriously, tell me - am I right? I'd love to hear from both Seattleites and non-Seattleites!)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm Juicing Like Roger Clemens

A friend recommended the movie "Fat Sick & Nearly Dead" to me many months ago, but I just got around to watching it last week. The movie is about the health benefits of juicing, and the narrator meets some people who are, appropriately, fat, sick and nearly dead, and introduces them to juicing, and (spoiler alert!) they became trim, healthy and lively.

Of course, after watching it, I wanted to run out and buy a juicer. But they start at about $100 and I'm not working.  I figured I could go the Bed Bath & Beyond route, with a 20% off coupon... but it still seemed like a lot of money to spend on something I wasn't sure about.

Then I had a moment of genius... Goodwill! The first Goodwill shop I went to (South Lake Union) didn't have any juicers and the worker there told me that they get them sometimes, but they always disappear quickly. Then we went to the larger store in Ballard and bam! They had one juicer. An older Hamilton Beach model for the bargain price of $9.99. Sold.

I brought it home, and threw an apple in just to make sure it worked. Yum, the most delicious apple juice I had ever had!

Next stop: Grocery Outlet where I loaded a cart full of fruits and vegetables. And wine. Seriously, their wine is so cheap, and perfect for sangria! Anyway, where was I? Oh, fruits and vegetables. I got a bag of apples, a bag of oranges (I think they're tangelos?), carrots, red bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, lemon, lime, garlic, ginger, cilantro and parsley. I also got a bag of potatoes because Jon has gotten into making his own potato chips.

Now, I'm not doing a juice "fast." I'm still eating regular food, but I am drinking juice as a mid-morning snack and having more like a snack (today, hummus and pita chips) for lunch.

Ready for some pictures?  Here you go... and a tragic story!

First juice! Oops, a couple of vegetables and I only got a half cup of juice!

Next juice I made. That beautiful red color is thanks to our delicious friend the red beet! 

For this juice, I was smart enough to take a photo of my ingredients before they went in. Which worked out realllly great when...
I had a very bad allergic reaction to this green juice. Itchy hands and feet, swollen lips and itchy hives, it was a disaster. Two Benadryl and a three hour nap later, I woke up feeling better. So, what was the culprit? My best guess is parsley.  I've eaten all of the ingredients plenty of times, and I rinsed them really well with vinegar & water so I don't think pesticides or anything was the problem. I'm sure I've had parsley before, maybe accidentally ate my garnish... but never in this kind of quantity.  My plan is to wait a couple of days and try eating a piece of parsley and see how it goes.  Anyway, here is the offending allergy juice:

And today's juice.  I had to take two photos of the bowl to get all the goodness that was in there.  Broccoli, including the stems, red beets, including the greens, a clove of garlic, a handful of grapes and a tangelo. It was pretty good, but I was surprised how garlicky it was - and I love garlic. I guess the juicer really extracted the garlic juice! 


So far, so good. I've made a juice or two each day. Today I made another one, not photographed, when Jon came home from work, which made a great "hold 'em over" so that we could have a later dinner. (We've gotten into a weird habit of eating dinner at 5pm every day, which isn't always convenient.)

I'll probably keep going with my Goodwill juicer for a little longer, but I'd like to move up to a Breville eventually. I have a few friends who use the Breville, and they all love it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Walking on Sunshine

It was gloriously sunny this morning in Seattle.

After our morning stretches, Olive & I headed out for a walk. 

Here's a little tad of street art. It reads "if you run away i will find you".  
Yes, Olive, we've got a microchip under your skin! 
Except that someone hand wrote underneath "and kill you." Sorry, Olive, I didn't mean it that way!

We walked to the Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle. 

With my favorite little model. 

I've wondered exactly what the Seattle Center Armory was, because I've heard that they have awesome happy hours. I got to check it out, and basically it's a great food court above a children's museum.

Olive liked it too.

We saw a squirrel, and it drove Olive crazy.  It went through that fence. I thought we were going to have to stand around here forever! (Notice her tongue hanging out!)

Tilikum Place with Chief Seattle and the Space Needle.

Olive & I loved soaking up the sunshine. I could have stayed outside all day. 

 But, after, little Olive was tired out! And so was I!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day Parade

I've seen a lot of parades in my day, but this was my first Earth Day parade!

One of the hot button issues here in Seattle is the transport of coal via train. Some investigation has shown that the coal often falls off the train and into our waters. So of course, there was a coal train in the parade. Not to be confused with a Coltrane, which would've made for an even awesomer parade. With better music.

Photo credit to Jon, who snapped some pics for the blog! 

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

That's Very Seattle

I've noticed a parked car a few blocks from my home, I usually walk past it when I walk Olive.

It has one of those bright orange stickers on the window that usually indicate that the car is going to be booted or towed. I don't really know the rules in Seattle, regarding parking tickets and towing and whatnot, so, walking by with Olive this morning, I decided to stop and read the orange sticker.

Basically, the sticker is dated 2 days ago, and says that if the car is not moved by tomorrow it could be towed or impounded, and cites a Seattle statute about cars being parked on the street in the same spot for more than 72 hours.

Alright, fair enough. There was no boot or anything on the car that I could see, so basically, this is just a warning. Then I noticed that the ticket under the windshield wiper had some writing on it in magic marker.

I'm nosey. I had to read it.

(And snap a picture so you can read it too. Cropped and rotated for your viewing pleasure!)

Someone took the time to write, directly on the envelope the driver is supposed to use to return the payment to the City of Seattle:

I love you (in a heart) that you git (sic) these tickets all the time + don't seem to care. 
Someone had taken the time to not only leave a note, but to draw a heart. And if you're going to stop and express your admiration for just one person or one great thing in the whole city today, it's going to be the person who shows utter nonchalance about receiving parking tickets. That's so Seattle.

I love you (in a heart) that someone took the time to leave this note and express their love. I love you too, Seattle.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Whidbey Island Adventure

We took off this weekend for our first (hopefully of many) Washington road trip adventure.

We drove north through some pouring rain and headed to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. My mother's cousin met us up there and showed us around the tulip route.

It was beautiful! There were tulips in every direction, fields of color like I had never seen before, and varieties of tulips I never imagined. I'm so glad we made the trip up there.

Then we went through Deception Pass on our way to Whidbey Island. This is an amazing bridge and the views are stunning, even on a cloudy day. I can only imagine it on a clear day. In fact, the next day a marathon route ran across this bridge, that has to be the most scenic marathon route in the world. How could you run past? I'd want to stop and take in the sights! (Note to my marathon running friends, come on out here for this one next year!)

We stayed at Carol's house on Whidbey Island. As a child, Carol lived with my great-grandmother, my favorite grandmother's mother. It was so interesting to hear all about my great-grandmother from her.

The next morning we had an amazing breakfast at a nearby seafood place. I had crabcake benedict and it was deee-licious!

Then we went to the Naval Base, NAS Whidbey Island. This was my first time on a Navy Base and it was pretty cool. I really liked looking around the Exchange, the shopping area for the military and their families. They had an awesome variety of products, which I guess makes sense because it is much more convenient for them to go shopping nearby and on their own schedule. I liked looking at all the products specifically marked Navy. You could even get "Navy Dog" t-shirts for your dog! And there was a frozen yogurt place in the exchange! Very cool. I love frozen yogurt!

On the way to the ferry, we stopped at this great store called 3 Sisters featuring locally farmed items and bought some grass fed beef from a butcher and lavender chocolate chip cookies from a lavender farm. (Next road trip, I'd like to go visit the lavender farm!) Leaving 3 Sisters, I noticed that we were about a block away from a great cliff over the water so we walked over there to take some pictures.

It was beautiful and sunny and warm and perfect.

But then it got even better. We heard swoop, swoop, swoop, and we turned to look up... and saw a large bird had landed on top of the telephone pole right next to where Jon was standing.

A bald eagle! Amazing! 

We continued on to the ferry. I sometimes get car sick if I'm a passenger in a car, not a driver. I never ever get seasick on a boat. Want to guess how I did in a car on a ferry?  Not so great, I actually had to get out of the car and stand so that my body would feel more like a boat passenger and less like a car passenger. Suddenly, as soon as I was out of the car, I felt better. It was the weirdest sensation. 

But the views were beautiful. The 20 minute ferry ride flew by.  

Olive didn't care for the ferry much. Maybe she gets car-on-a-boat sick too.

We had a fabulous weekend! I know it was the first of many road trips to come and what a way to kick it off! We love it. I'm so thankful to have family here, especially when they're such fabulous people. 

I can't wait to see the rest of Washington!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Seattle Street Art

Seattle is really rich with street art. Here are a few local pieces I've found:

This one is by an artist known as "Henry." He has quite a few murals and other pieces around Seattle. I'm always delighted when I spot one of his works around town, they're always cheerful and often whimsical. 

A yarn bombing! Oh, are we still allowed to say "bomb"?  A man saw me taking a picture and let me know the ladies at the nearby Christian shelter (St. Mary's House maybe?) had spent a lot of time crocheting this and were really proud of it.

Regrade Dog Park mural. And my favorite little model.

And, last but not least, my favorite neighborhood piece:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This One Is For My Lawyer Friends

Exhibit A:

The arraignment interview
Olive's first thought was to use a misidentification defense.

Or maybe self-defense.

And, last but not least...

Oh, poor Olive, it's not easy being raised by a criminal defense lawyer... Your Mom has already heard all of these, and many, many more.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Highs and the Lows

Jon & I went to a movie pre-screening tonight. We're such red carpet celebrities!

The movie was Starbuck and it was really cute. It's a French Canadian film, and it's funny and heartwarming and great. I highly recommend it. Here's the trailer:

It was already previously released in some countries, but it will be in wider release in the US later in April. And, of course, Hollywood is making an English version, starring Vince Vaughn, to be titled "Delivery Man." But, trust me, see the original.

We left Olive home alone while we were out at the movies. We had been experimenting with leaving her home alone over the past couple of weeks. We had finally decided, after a series of experiments, that the crate might be the real problem, because she did much better (no crying) when left home alone and loose in the apartment, not locked in the crate. We started leaving her home alone for longer and longer times, and I was using a webcam to keep an eye on her. She had been left home alone for 3 hours without incident, mostly just lying on the bed or on the couch.

Tonight, I didn't set up the camera because I figured we wouldn't turn on our phones to check on her during the movie, so there was no point in running the camera.  Meaning, we came home to a surprise...

Olive had destroyed the carpet in front of our door.  I don't know if she was chewing or digging or what, but it was all torn up. We couldn't even open the door when we got home, the carpet was so torn up in front of the door.  I'm sure that it wasn't just "being bad" but anxiety of trying to get out and find us, blah blah blah... but I'm also sure that it's going to cost us a fortune.

We can't leave her alone in the house, she'll tear things up. We can't leave her locked in the crate, she'll be loud that the neighbors complain. We can't afford to put her in daycare every day. We can't just stay home all the time. We're totally frustrated.

But at least we got to see a great movie.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stubbornness is a Virtue

Imagine my surprise to learn that the house from Up (the movie) is here in Seattle! I love that movie!

Ok, so Up was cartoon, and wasn't filmed live on location anywhere. But a woman named Edith Macefield was similarly a real estate hold out, refusing to leave her home in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, as a large retail center was built up all around her home. She became something of a folk hero for standing her ground and refusing a million dollar offer for her little home. Here's a great story on her life from NPR's All Things Considered on the occasion of her passing: Remembering Seattle's Edith Macefield.

She ended up surrounded by the retail building which includes a gym and a Trader Joe's, boxed in. 

Ok, it's not as colorful as the house from Up, but you see the similarity of a cute little house that gets surrounded. In 2009, Disney tied balloons to this house as a promotion for the movie. 

Of course I was excited to go over to Ballard and see the house for myself, maybe take a picture of myself with the Up house for the blog.

I should warn you, prepare yourself for disappointment... I certainly was not prepared.

It was all boarded up! The sign on the fence indicates that it is being renovated (although I didn't see or hear any work going on when I was there Friday) and that it will be expanded and lifted up two stories.

I'm not sure that I think that is really so much better than just destroying the house to build a liquor store or whatever. But I will stop by occasionally and let you know how it looks as it progresses.

Edith Macefield just wanted to die in the house where her mother had died, on the couch where her mother had died. And on Father's Day, she did. No word on what's next for the little house she left behind.  -All Things Considered, NPR.