Friday, April 11, 2014

a tale of two cities...

...or Seattle vs Portland. It's just such a thing right now. There's always been a bit of a beatles vs stones, blur vs oasis rivalry going on, but lately it's gettin kookoo! I giggled a little when I read my sweet friend Milla's Portland post this morning. Then it got me to thinking about this Northwestern city battle... and plus, I needed a break from my intensive feng shui attack/space clearing thing (more on this soon!).

  I love Portland but was stunned on my last visit there at how much Hating On Seattle, seems for some, a big time regional sport. Last time I went to Portland I had to listen to 3 different friends give me their anti-Seattle monologues. One pal talked about it soooo much I finally said "Cool, I get it! Love it or leave it, you left , now can you stop talking about how much you hated it? I still live there and you're bummin me out.". Then while out looking around, when I mentioned I was from Seattle, I encountered plenty of sweet Portland folks but was also was scoffed at and told by 3 shopkeepers,  2 baristas and one snooty bartender some negative views of Seattle. I've never felt such widespread regional disdain before (except when I went to London and certain Brits realized I was American...). It's weird how worked up some Portlanders (and non-Seattle people) get and how easily they engage in trash talk. You wanna know what people in Seattle say about Portland? I'll tell you, nothing. We like to go shopping there (tax free!) or take mini-vacations. Portland is cool, Seattle is cool. If you don't like it, guess what, you don't have to live here or even visit.

  I envision Seattle as the eldest child of the Pacific Northwest family of cities. Swanky Seattle is all growed up and off to an ivy league school (even though she once used to have green hair and play in a punk bank) while Portland is the sassy kid sister still in middle school, so totally annoyed at her older sis... Does that make sense at all?
*this lovely lady above is my friend Olive, the sweetest barista/dog bestie (at the cutest tiny coffee shop) in all the land. Washington native and all around nicest gal in town!

  I am daily annoyed by so many things in my city. The lack of diversity-racial and economic, The crowded streets, so full of cars and people, the condos, condos, condos, grossly going up EVERYWHERE (buying out seattle dives and landmarks for ridiculous prices to get a slice of the real estate pie), the uber yuppies/ drones that flock to new fancy cafes & bars (they live in all the condos, drive audis), the jocks and bros and weird dudes that fill up every sidewalk in every neighborhood on every weekend night once the sun goes down, the fact that rents are going up and up... No city is perfect. I get over it here, then I leave for a week or even a few days and when I get home, it feels so right (now).

  I've never been bothered by the legendary coldness of Seattlites. I think people are friendly enough. Some days it suits me just fine if no one talks to me. People usually do though, especially cuz I have a super cute dog and I frequent hoods where I know so many people, I bump into friends often. Yesterday I was talking to a 75 yr old Norwegian pal of mine that I saw at the coffee shop, about the supposed coldness of Seattle people. He laughed and said, "I like it, reminds me of Norway. Always standing in the rain or snow in the dark waiting for the train, it's fine, no one saying 'How are you?' or some nonsense when we're cold and all feel the same way, no need to put on some fake friendliness." hahaha.

  There are so many wonderful things going on in Seattle. It's interesting (as well as frustrating) how my city has grown up with me. When I moved here I was only 20, Seattle was gritty, felt small (compared to so-cal-where I came from), still pretty dirty. I thought it was neat to see Layne Staley on the bus, Krist Novoselic was in a yoga class I frequented, Kurt had passed on but I had several odd interactions with Courtney Love. I ended up meeting and making friends with many of my teenage grunge idols. The music scene here was and still is pretty magical. We have the best radio station in probably the world. That dark foresty Twin Peaks vibe is afoot big time. The forests, islands, mountains, beaches are crazy beautiful. Oh, don't forget the coffee thing, Vivace is here and it's the best. Our city spends a lot of time and money on parks and green spaces. There are chickens and bees happily in every hood. Art galleries and community gardens (plus guerilla art and gardens). And then there's my family and the friends that have become family to me here in Seattle, I love my community-which is made up of a few different communities (some overlapping) but just so many wonderful people here!
 *Here's my teen and his bud when I took them on a super uplifting (sarcasm guys) pilgrimage, in the dismal rain, on the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death day to see Kurt's house and the park/memorial next to it... bummersville bonding experience extraordinaire, Seattle style. It felt heavy out there...

  I don't really care what folks think about where I live but sometimes it's a little like having people talk mean about your mama or sister. I mean I can talk about Seattle I've lived here since 1996 and damnit I've earned it, but hearing other people make jabs at my city does make me feel a bit protective (yeah, I'm talkin to you, bearded bartender at that Portland vegan cafe/bar, named something I can't remember). For now Seattle is my home. I lived in Portland in 1993-94. It never felt like home to me (It felt like "My own Private Idaho" and I went to "the city" nightclub and xray cafe.). When I visit now,  I have fun, eat amazing gluten free vegan treats, dip fondue at the pied cow, marvel at the surplus of cute boys (the grass is always greener!) but right now,  I can't see myself there. I'm not so sure Seattle feels like my forever home, but it feels close. I need to spend more time exploring the surrounding country and islands and hopefully migrate out of this blossoming city scape as soon as my oldest is done with high school. But for now we are in Seattle, and it's a little like my baby, and nobody talks bad about my baby (but me!).

Sunday, March 23, 2014


  On Wednesday our sweet little puppy came to live with us. Viggo is so tiny and only 8 weeks old. A friend of ours rescued him and his sisters from an animal hoarder when they were only 4 weeks old. Unfortunately My gal came down with a nasty virus (stomach ache, sore throat) on Friday and a few hours later I was feeling it too so now we are sick again. I'm grateful puppy is pretty chill and as active as he can be in brief bursts, he does sleep a lot. Right now I have very little energy and I've noticed that the colds and such of this winter have a lot of accompanying body aches. woe is me woe is us. This had better be the last cold of the season!
 We've had so many conversations with neighbors and met lots of new people when we're out with pup. It's like having a celebrity on a leash, the pup-arazzi are everywhere!! I've never had a dog before, it's a completely different experience from my years of cat companionship. I honestly would've never even considered a dog but my gal is very allergic to cats and wanted an animal friend she could touch and play with. Having a pup is a bit like having a baby. And I don't know the first thing about potty training or any of that, learning as I go so any tips or links would be very appreciated!
 I found this cute mug at the thrift store the other day. I love it. I'm doing well staying away from the coffee. I've had 1 chai and only a couple green teas in the last week. I've been drinking dandelion root tea in the morning and nettle/mint in the afternoon.

 Egg production is way up and egg eating is way down. The kids are over eggs in every form.
  More than ever, I'm suffering from the city blues. I love Seattle but I no longer feel like I need to be in the city and in the midst of all this activity. The longing for country life is so strong. A little cabin, a trailer, a school bus, on a bit of land... For now, we are here. I have a teenager in high school and I am committed to having him finish here, he would be devastated if we moved now. Still, when I dream, I'm in the country.

Now, it's time to put on a coat and take this pup out for a walk. xo m

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

girl afraid

  I am delicate. I have ptsd and a hair trigger with stimulants. It takes me many, many times of repeated behavior before I learn that certain things just do not work for me. I'm not sure why I feel the compulsion to try some things again and again, ignoring the past. I did a little work today regarding coffee and my love hate relationship with black gold. And by "work" I mean that I foolishly had a latte' then had the first intensely physical panic attack I've had in months. When I get a physical panic attack, I'm short of breath, get tingly fingers and toes, my head pounds, my heart races and my vision gets blurry. I become irrationally convinced that I'm going to faint or have a heart attack due to some undiagnosed mystery ailment. If I'm in public I have to get to a "safe" place (my house, my car, a trusted friends) It can go on for hours, hard or with peaks and valleys. Afterwards I feel completely depleted and wrung out. It's awful. It wasn't worth the latte', that's the truth.
   After months of intense, hard wintering (ie: constant rain and gloom, slow sales at the shops-so more $$$ stress than usual) the veil of darkness is beginning to lift and I got a little excited for the actual spring start which is only a couple days away. After 2 weeks of avoiding coffee and black tea the coffee I had today amped me out severely and I felt superhuman for about 15 minutes... then I started sweating, thinking weirdo thoughts and feeling like I needed a horse tranquilizer.
 I'll get it eventually. I'm glad I have my chill out/safe cds in the car. I sat quietly, shut my eyes, concentrated on my breath and imagined long ago Versailles full of ladies in lovely pastel gowns with fancy, party hair.
 Years ago, these kinds of attacks used to send me racing off to the nearest ER, sure I was on my deathbed. Now I know it's in my mind and I'm getting it, slowly... It passed quickly and I was able to calm down, eat something and get on with my day. It was a real triumph to not let a damn cup of coffee derail my entire day. As bad as I felt in the moment, it was nice that those kind of freak outs are no longer common place.
  Now, there is laundry to fold, bedtime poetry to read and we are all super excited because tomorrow we're adding a special new friend to the family... Can you guess? xo m

Friday, March 14, 2014

daffodils, cherry blossoms, moss, worms and chicken eggs

  Spring spring spring.... I am soooo happy that it's been (mostly) over 60 degrees and sunny the last few days. Daffodils are everywhere, walks through the park are a lot less slippery and muddy, cherry blossoms are in bloom in some places-still waiting to open in others, my dormant herbs in pots are growing fuzzy moss and little leaves to signal their return, and I keep finding worms in the garden beds (and they are sneaking into the basement!).... This afternoon, the warm air on my bare arms as I did a little work outside was so magically powerful. I could feel myself standing taller, unfurling like a flower. I didn't have to huddle into myself for warmth. I tidied up in the chicken coop and did a thorough clean up on the front porch, even painted an old wood chair the perfect shade of melted strawberry ice cream pink.
   Beware, the moss is everywhere, slick underfoot and waiting to get you as you skip out the door in the morning. My little lady and I have both fell flat onto our butts a few times this week.
 Miss Pensive... Two seconds before she was singing the Frozen song (I now cringe... it's everywhere!) and imitating the ice queen and I said, "I want to take your picture as you think about nature.". She's really thinking here. Then my gal said "I don't think Mother Earth likes this trash people left on her, we should pick it up!" so we picked up some trash by the trail.
 Spring cleaning has been happening in a big way. I'm trying to figure out how I need to be eating. I've been trying so many different things since my little one was born. The last 5 years have been a constant flux. No one can keep up with my dietary changes. I think back to when I felt the healthiest and like I was getting the most out of food (and not using it as an addiction-um, I've mentioned my caffeine and sugar dependency many times) and that was when I was vegan. I'm working on vegan, gluten free, minimal nightshades, no refined sugar, and only green tea allowed for now to see how my body responds. Sounds fun, right? I've been doing this since Monday (and have had only a few sugar slips cuz it's in EVERYTHING!) and I feel good, different. Totally different energetically. I have a real ethical conflict when it comes to eating animals. I'm not one to push my ideals onto others (haha, anymore!) and preach, it just bums really me out when I eat animal products. I love animals so much, I've always felt a real connection to them. I feel this lightness and openness when I'm eating vegan. It's transformative for me and I kind of forgot that.
 Eggs! All the hens are laying everyday! It's nuts. 5 eggs a day. Even Sadie, who is almost 4, has started laying and she hasn't given me an egg in probably 9 months. No one wants to eat them. I've never been a fan of eating eggs (especially after one of my hens, Cinnamon, got one stuck and I had to... assist.) and the kids are super sick of eggs in all forms. I'm gifting a bunch to some lovely ladies tomorrow. There are at least 3 dozen in the fridge!

    It's sunny and warm in the mudroom, dry on the rickety porch and steps.

 Spring Equinox is on the 20th and that also marks the end of the funkiness that has been caused by mars in retrograde. I've been having the weirdest dreams and poor sleep. For some reason my cat has decided he needs to vigorously scratch the bedroom door at 3am every morning. When I open the door he runs and hides. He's not over being banished from the bedroom at all.
  The moon is so stunning tonight. My digital camera did little to convey her mysteries. xo m

Monday, March 10, 2014

tea & sympathy (a recipe): In Dreams

  I drink so much tea! Mostly herbal so I guess I should say I drink so many tisanes. I'm really trying to cut out all caffeine. There was a time when I was completely caffeine and refined sugar free and it was great! I've been trying to get back to that, but dang, I am hooked on sugar and the buzz my sleep deprived mama mind gets from black tea and coffee (and I do live in Seattle, coffee capital of the world).
  I thought it would be fun to have a regular post about tea with a recipe so here goes...

 Of all the teas I make and sell in the shop, this one-In Dreams,  is the most popular and I get the most positive feedback about the results.
  I've always had very vivid dreams. I believe that the dream world can be an alternate dimension. I have magical adventures and work on solving very real problems in my dreamscape. I make this tea when my dreams are getting funky or not showing me signs I'm able to make sense of. You can read a bit more. The most mystical herb in this brew is Mugwort.
  Mugwort is an herb sacred to the Greek Goddess Artemis (Goddess of the moon, the hunt and chastity) and has long been used as a magical aid to encourage lucid, vibrant and even prophetic dreams (it is also a thought to be a digestive aid and good for regulating a woman's moon cycle). Drank just before bedtime this tea blend will prepare you for your journey into the dream realm.
 Blend this tea with intention and please use only dried Organic herbs.

In Dreams, lucid dreaming tea:

1 1/2 Tbsp Chamomile
2 tsp Peppermint
2 tsp Catnip (Catmint)
1 tsp California Poppy
2 Tbsp Mugwort
1 tsp linden
3 leaves white sage

Mix all the herbs together in a bowl and crumble sage leaves into mixture. Store in a seal light tight container.

To brew: pour 1 cup fresh boiled water over 2 heaping teaspoons of tea blend in mesh strainer. Let steep for 5-15 minutes (covered), the longer you steep the more potent and the more beneficial constituents will be extracted from the herbs. Lovely when sweetened with a bit of honey.
 I drank some today as I was taking these pictures and my dreams have been pretty wild lately, we'll see what I dream of tonight...
 Last night my little one climbed into my bed after midnight (I was still awake thanks to the damn time change) with an annoying sniffly/runny nose, neither one of us got much sleep after that. Today was a bit of a haze but I did manage to triumphantly clean off the top of the refrigerator which was getting nuts.
Now I ahve to convince my gal that, even though it's not exactly dark outside it is still very much bedtime... Hope you enjoy this tea! xo m

Sunday, March 9, 2014

tics & dots

  I've never quite sure of how much I want to share here. It's an ongoing process I guess. I easily share the bright and shiny bits, as most bloggers do, but I try to limit my gloomy realness. My life isn't always a bed of roses (haha, whose is?) so when I'm feeling frustrated or going through a difficult, stressful time I avoid this space. I think, "well no one really reads my little blog... I can just be a total bummer and wallow in my woe-is-me vibe!" but I'm assured by my stats that you do read it. Somewhere out there (and a lot of you are in the Ukraine-which seems really magical to me) fingers are clicking to get here and readers are reading my words. And aside from what other people think about my thoughts, I work really hard to be a positive engineer of said thoughts. It is not my natural state to be free n easy, light and positive, but it comes more naturally to me daily.

   All that said, let's be real... I've been feeling a bit taxed as of late. There are days when the singleness of being a single mama to two is really trying and tiring. Throw in the ever constant winter viruses and dark days and I'm a little worse for the wear of it all... My children are so sweet and kind. I have, in moments, been less than patient.  It's been a little tense around here. Last year, my daughter was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome & Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (My son was also diagnosed with both many years ago). When these things first come on it's a bit heavy for a while. Most people with Tourette Syndrome experience a pretty hectic onset that usually evens out and diminishes somewhat by puberty. My son is doing really well and has only a few pretty low key tics that don't really interfere or get noticed much-which he is happy about. Right now, my daughter is going through a pretty diverse and constant battery of tics. It's frustrating.  She does well when we're out of the city, in nature or engaged in focused creative activities. Tourette Syndrome "tics" are triggered by over-stimulation, stress, tiredness, excitement, illness. I am so happy my kids are healthy and will be able to have wonderful lives and there are no physical problems caused by TS and OCD but I have to be honest, to people living with them, that's me, the tics are disruptive, stressful and super annoying. I hope that doesn't sound insensitive or mean. I adore them! But trips to say, Target are sheer hell... I feel like a jerk saying that. I know it terrible for my kids to be doing things they don't want to be doing and having the repetitive thoughts and actions they have,
   Transitioning from, playing with her wooden barn to dinner or getting out the door and off to school are 2 really difficult times in our house. My little one screams, hits, pinches or just refuses to go if she is unable to complete a complex series of tics or parting rituals in her desired exact order (play with barn, get stuffed kitty off bed, take drink of water, use bathroom, put sweater on, put shoes on, pick up bag for dad's house...). Meal times are rough. When she's in rage mode nothing can get through to her, I just have to step back, wait and keep her from thrashing into something. Her brother and I have been tip toeing around and walking on eggshells for months. Her Dad, even though he was there when the neurologist diagnosed her and explained everything, thinks it's not a real condition and refuses to do any modifications to their activities (such as not going to loud movies every time they get together) or reading on how to better support her. When she returns from visits to his place, she's sugared up, way overstimulated and totally flipping out, it takes hours of heavy tics and tantrum throwing just to get her back into a chill rhythm. It's hard enough "co-parenting" (even in the limited amounts that he is with her) when there is simple animosity or poor communication, it gets even more complex when the parents aren't on the same page if a child has special needs...
  I read a lot. When I was at my wits end, This book helped me immensely. And just a few weeks ago I was reading through the Sears family discipline book looking for ideas on dealing with the daily violent freak outs and came across their idea for a connect the dots style chart for a big reward after many days of accumulating dots. My gal really wants to go on a trip to Portland OR, Her brother and I went last month and she was pretty jealous (Ok, she was totally enraged when she found out and screamed for 2 hours breaking several items in my sewing cabinet in the process). I explained that going on a trip and staying with friends is only possible when everyone is working hard to be as kind as possible. We talked about trying to stop and think and calm down when you can feel yourself getting angry. We drew pictures on a piece of paper of all the different things she wanted to see in Portland: parks, flowers, cupcakes, bridges, more parks. Then I drew many dots around it, about 40-50 I think.  She get's 2-3 dots a day and if she seems like she's getting upset I say "Wait, think about it, we want to get all those dots connected so we can go on our trip sooner..." and it usually works, things have been pretty good the last 2 weeks. And now almost all the dots are connected!
  We've been getting outside. The TV is unplugged and not getting any action.  Friday we went on a premature nettle quest (still too cold) and ended up spending over an hour at the cutest yarn store I've ever been to. My gal sat next to the faux fire place playing with knitted farm animals and was mellow while I looked at all the amazing yarns. The lady working was so warm and genuinely friendly. Most stores in the city are pretty un-welcoming to kids. It was so lovely to be in a cozy small town for the afternoon.
 We came home and the day just got brighter and warmer, windows were opened and we finally did a thorough clean out of the gross mud room which is now so organized and minty smelling. That little glimpse you see above is a "before" pic.
 Big brother was off with his buds and spending the night at a friends so we had a little walk in the drizzle and coffee date, just the two of us, on Saturday morning.
 "Mama, take a picture of me before we get coffee cuz we're having such a good day!" she said.
It was such a good day. A really special weekend. xo m

Sunday, March 2, 2014

finding balance...

   I'm not sure if you know this about me but I used to go out a lot. I sang in a band, I was a total social (boy crazy) butterfly. Really.  Every fri & sat and probably tues or thursday, at least 3 or 4 times a week, every week. I find it hard to believe (in my current sleep deprived mama state) that I ever had that kind of stamina. I envisioned my 20-something social life as an ever swinging Great Gatsby-esque revel, but in reality it had moments much more akin to the movie Hysterical Blindness. In my 20s, I could never imagine a time when I wouldn't want to be at every "it" party, art show or performance. My bestie and I would vow that it'd never change! We'd always be at the center of every party. Her ex boyfriend used to say, "You just have to get the EDIE out of you first." referring of course to doomed socialite Edie Sedgwick. Well guys, the Edie is officially out of me.

   In the last couple months I've been doing a little experiment. I've been going out. Once a week, every saturday, as my little one is at her Papa's (and I usually just stream shows or movies until my eyes are popping out!). I have come to realize that my tastes in nightlife have certainly changed. I do not like people with boozy breathe talking loudly in my face or stepping on my toes on the dance floor. I enjoy going dancing, but I think my going out vibe can be saved for once every one or two months unless there is something really special happening (a sci-fi theme birthday-see blade runner makeup above... or holiday party that can't be missed). I miss playing music and my son and I are turning part of our basement into a practice area for our future musical projects.
   The cycle of change is an interesting animal. As I grow and explore and discover myself, the things that bring me joy have certainly changed. Obviously, hanging out in bars (since I no longer drink at all) isn't much fun. I do enjoy staying up very late on occasion, but not so much when I'm out and about. My favorite late nights are spent at home lost deep in the depths of a creative project, sewing dresses, purses or working on my book. Day times are spent immersed in the domestic arts (baking, mending, writing, homesteading, herbal studies and of course there's always that four letter word, WORK). Truly most of the activities that bring me happiness are solitary pursuits. I've found myself feeling a little isolated in the last year. It has been a grand period of growth and development but I am a deeply social creature at my core and I miss the artistic/social community I was once a part of. But everything feels so different because I am so different now.

  This months marks 18 months of abstinence from alcohol (and 2 years since I re-entered the single mama path) In the last 2 years I have done so much work on myself and our family life. I want to create a safe, ever nurturing environment for my kids. I want to seek out only loving relationships. 2 years ago, I wasn't feeling too spiritually or emotionally healthy. Not only my romantic relationship, but many so called "friends", were pretty toxic. In the process of untangling myself from unhealthy emotional ties I have also come to realize that it is very integral to my well being to help others. Mother Earth, animals, people. I need to radiate calm and love and ask myself  "Am I being helpful, am I being kind" many times a day in order to stay on the path. It is more important to try and figure out how I may be of use to others in a healthy way instead of ever asking how will this help me. Self seeking is something that seems such a part of our society (at least in the city) and moving away from that selfishness feels so good!  Working towards balance and finding my place within a new sort of healthy, creative community is part of my daily work. A big part of that community is the friendship with wonderful ladies I have "met" through this blog. There are so many sweet and kindred spirits out there connected and found through an internet spiders web.

  Growing up in a tumultuous environment left me to have an anxious constitution always fearing the worst would happen. I'm trying to retrain myself and gradually my anxiety and fear of future things is lessening. Now when I have a panic attack it's a big deal and extra freaky snce it happens so infrequently. Panic used to be a daily constant. I'm also working on finding the silver linings... My sewing machine broke a few months ago (and I haven't the money to buy another right now) so I moped about it for a week and then just picked up my needle and started hand sewing and I'm really into it. I've been making these little drawstring purses out of antique and vintage fabric (cutting into antique quilt remnants). The bags are just the right size for tarot cards. So far I'm making them for special friends but they will make their way into the shop this spring.
  Now I'm off to be a busy worker bee and take pics for the shops and then hopefully hunt out some magical nettles beneath the trees. Happy Sunday friends! xo m