Monday, April 27, 2009

Back on the Bike

After my first attempt at biking into work in Edmonds back in March, the bike stayed quietly in the garage for awhile. But either I am simply determined or I have a very short-lived memory when it comes to pain, because this morning I packed my lunch, made sure I had enough bus fare on hand, then hopped on the bike, headed once again for the Aurora Village Transit Center.

And this time, my efforts were rewarded. It really wasn't that bad. Of course, the fact that I wisely chose to take the bus all the way to Lake Forest Park in the evening before finishing my commute on the Burke Gilman Trail made a huge difference. Even on the longer morning trek to Aurora Village, I managed to pick a route that minimized hills. The biggest challenge was the steady uphill climb to get to our house once you leave the Burke when heading home. After a good quarter mile or more of switchbacks, you reach the stairs. And after biking uphill for even that relatively short distance, I can tell you that carrying a bike up 196 steps is just icing on the cake.

Thankfully there is no need to climb the entire flight of 196 steps without pause, as there are frequent landings to provide the breaks I need to keep hyperventilation at bay. I try to comfort myself by telling myself what a great strength building exercise this is, but in the back of my mind I'm remembering the days in our Laurelhurst apartment, when all I had to do to get to the trail was cross the street.

But all in all, it was a successful venture. I think I'll do it again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The People Who Brunch

Last month, while out for dinner with a couple of friends, the topic of good brunch options came up, and one friend noted that, until he came to Seattle last year, he never heard of people "brunching". Hmm... do we Seattleites like to brunch more than the average Mid-Westerner? Is this the road to which a food-obsessed culture with access to a lot of restaurants leads?

All I know is that I really like brunch. Less formal than dinner, and with the decadent possibility of eating all of your favorite breakfast carbs and meats with alcohol before noon, what's not to like? Plus, the word "brunch" sounds pleasingly edible, like a crunchy little tidbit you could just pop in your mouth, too good to just eat one.

Today I hosted a brunch for a couple of couples (really, that's the best way I can describe them succinctly) from my church who recently had, or are soon expecting, their first child. Boysenberry coffee cake, buttery roasted potatoes, baked eggs with cheese, and homemade granola were among the dishes to make an appearance. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know I ended up eating too much. I really needed that six mile walk I took with Lucy afterwards.

But the meal made me realize there is more to brunch than food, there is also company. While I'm sure one could order off the brunch menu as a single diner anywhere, somehow a true brunch always seems to be a communal affair. After church, it's the way you celebrate a new baby's birth or baptism. It's friends getting together for a leisurely meal on a morning when, through some miracle, everyone's schedule is free. It's sleeping in late on vacation and heading down to the cafe with your partner for an 11:00 treat. It's everyone coming together to relax and unwind, knowing they still have a beautiful afternoon ahead of them to enjoy.

Ahh, brunch. No wonder we love you so.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Case of the Missing Camera

It's unclear when it happened, but my camera has been suspiciously missing for several weeks. The facts: It was with me when I wrote a blog post on March 22nd. I know this to be true because I downloaded the photos appearing on the blog that day. About a week later, it was nowhere to be found.

My only thought is that I took it with me to happy hour at Tidbit on March 23rd, the day following the aforementioned blog post. But scatterbrained as I may be at times, I have a hard time believing I would bring it with me into a restaurant, not use it, and then completely forget that I had ever brought it with me, even when faced with the camera's mysterious disappearance. I'm not that scatterbrained... I think.

Now, part of me sees this as the perfect opportunity to purchase a new camera, as mine is well over six years old and has become rather crotchety in what, for a digital camera, is now old age. But I am so confused over what camera to get - some sound great, but the indoor picture quality is apparently sub-par (and I already have that problem), I want more than a 5x optical zoom, and I don't want to spend a lot of money because, well, now just isn't the time.

So, any suggestions? I want to be able to sneak in quick photos while traveling in Europe, so I can keep on blogging and, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. So from any who prefer the illustrated Rutabaga Stories, all thoughts are welcome.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Steel Me Away

Michael's father is in town this week and is, naturally, staying with us. The only unfortunate aspect of this situation is the fact that our guest bathroom is currently what is known as a 3/4 bath - except in this case the missing quarter is the sink. There is still a big gaping hole where a counter top should be, with twisty little pipes poking up ineffectively from below. Oh, well, it could be worse. It could be the toilet that was missing.

Last night we treated Rick, the above mentioned father-in-law, to dinner at Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market. He and his lovely wife, Beth, have been more than generous in treating us to past dinners and more, particularly on our recent trip to Las Vegas, so I felt we should return the favor, although unfortunately Beth wasn't able to be here on this visit. I think it may have been the first time we managed to escape a restaurant having eaten with Rick and not had him pay at least part of the bill. I had to be very adamant about this.

Steelhead made for a nice splurge, especially if you like seafood (and I love seafood). Having chosen the crab cake as my entree, I was thrilled to find it live up to its promise of "lump" crab meat. Whole pieces of dungeness crab leg meat made up a good half of the baseball-sized cake. Hands down, this was the best crab cake I've ever had, and it alone is enough reason to visit the Diner. Rick, meanwhile, chose the king salmon special, which was nothing short of divine. They sure know how to take advantage of their position in the Market to get some fine fish; this one practically melted in the mouth.

Other delights include fried Beecher's cheese curds and a deep chocolate cake coated in toasted coconut and topped by a scoop of coconut ice cream. Needless to say, I felt more than a little full by the time the meal was over.

The other good news is that Steelhead has a happy hour! Tuesday through Friday, from 2 until 6, they offer $2 off appetizers and $2 local bottled beers. While hardly the skinflint deals you can find at some other restaurants around town, it's still a good opportunity to get your fried cheese curd and crab cake fix for a little less cash.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's Hammock Time!

Lately, my life has been swallowed up by what is purportedly a minor bathroom remodel. Every night after work, time has been spent stripping the cabinets, sanding, painting, and cleaning, with little down time in the house. Sure, I took Friday night and Sunday afternoon off to be with friends, but home life has been devoted to home improvement.

Weary of it all, staring blankly at the dusty floor lit by today's sunny weather, I knew it was time for a break. For a whole five minutes - maybe even six - I lay in the hammock on our porch, staring dreamily at a blue sky through the glass panes above. Never mind that the panes were smudged with debris washed from the roof and trees in last week's rain; this view was, for the moment, perfect.

Lucy was excited, too, so I helped her scramble into the hammock beside me. We watched as an extremely fat bumble bee tried to make it's way through the glass to the open sky above. Thwarted at every attempt, the bee finally made it beyond the edge of the roof, flying through the open walls of the porch to freedom in the high skies. Lucy seemed a bit disappointed; doubtlessly she would have preferred the insect hover lower, giving her the opportunity to try out her hunting skills by snapping at it.

With the bee having moved on, I decided that it was time for me to make a move as well. Back to the kitchen I headed to finish the pasta salad I was fixing for dinner. But busy as we may be, when fine weather calls we all need a little hammock time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Greetings

It's Easter! Alleluia! What with recovering from illness, painting the bathroom, and trying to catch up on housework, I've haven't had time to write recently, but I wanted to take a quick moment to wish everyone a happy holiday. Despite the rain, and the fact that our guest bathroom is currently a shambles, Easter still feels like a time of renewal. In church, I sing especially loudly, partly happy by the simple fact that I'm finally able to sing again after two weeks of a nagging cough, but mostly from the sheer exhilaration that comes with this holiday.

Easter isn't as popular with the general public as Christmas, probably because celebrating Jesus rising from the dead isn't as simple and neat and believable as a baby being born, and also because the holiday has failed to develop any serious secular meaning, unlike the call to "spend time with your loved ones and give gifts" which has become so prevalent in December. Sure, there's the Easter Bunny, but he doesn't have much clout except with the youngest children, and he's never given Santa any serious competition.

Personally, I can't think of anything more wonderful than Easter. To me, it's the celebration of God's triumph over sin and death - for everyone. No exceptions. Jesus died and rose for us all, as a living demonstration of God's love for us and desire to forgive each and every shortcoming we have. That's amazing!

So, whoever you are and whether you celebrate or not, I hope you have a wonderful Easter! As spring comes, what a great time to remember that we all have a chance at new beginnings and a cause for joy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Still Sick After All This Time

It crept in slowly last Sunday night, and has yet to leave. Who knew colds could last so long? Or is this some sort of flu? I'm not sure; all I can say is that I've been feeling nasty for five full days now, which, in my opinion, borders on ridiculous.

But the fact that I feel well enough to write a blog post now says something. Specifically, it says, "You are getting better! This will not last forever!" Phew! I was beginning to wonder.

Yesterday it got to the point where I just couldn't take it any longer. For three whole days I had stayed home from work, and I'd be darned if I was going to spend another full day on the sofa! Believing I felt better, I did manage to work for four and a half hours... and at that point I could not wait to get back to the sofa again. So I stayed home today. It takes baby steps. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.