Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12/27/11: Holiday Frolics and Hangovers

Happy Holidays from the Pacific Northwest!  Hope you and yours had a good one.  I can tell you that for us, all was quiet on the western front.  We stuck close to our new home and had some home-cooking, and generally relaxed.  Well...as much as you can relax with a crazed 6-year-old whose eyes glazed over every time a new package arrived with her name on it.  Oooh the Christmas anticipation was at full speed by Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve was a glorious Seattle day.  The sun and my beloved Olympics were out, and I went for a run along the water in shorts.  As a matter of fact, we spent most of the day outside, running errands (walking to the stores) and walking to a neighborhood open house in the evening.  The open house was hosted by the head of the PTA at Lorelei's school.  She's a true free spirit, which of course, makes her parties the best.  I've been to two, now, and each time, something interesting happens.  At this party, we walked into a conversation about the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Just when I thought it could get ugly, someone handed me a glass of champagne.  God bless whoever that was.  Then another person arrived in full dress.  I mean, in full vampire-goth-weirdo-Halloween-floor-length-gown dress.  I feel terrible that I don't have pictures to share because it was a sight to behold.  To be perfectly fair, these people were wonderful and we had a great time.  The kids all played in the basement which was decorated, and the parents listened to great music and enjoyed a Mexican-themed fare - complete for 3 different types of homemade tamales (Ed - you were missed).  

When we got home, Lorelei was permitted to open one gift, and she chose the above gifts - from Great-grandma Bear.  She wears the doggy hat all the time!

And then the storm came.

Lorelei was crazy with presents.  She had a great time, but wow.  She got a lot of stuff.  Whew.  It wore me out.  By around 5pm Christmas Day, Lorelei had what can only be described as a Christmas hangover.  Those of you who spent the holidays around little kids will know what I'm talking about.  Only the aspirin isn't for Lorelei, it's for me.  Ugh.

It's hard to say what her favorite gift was.  She has played with all of her gifts.  It was really nice that everyone sent her gifts - she loved getting the mail and having the presents...it was just really nice.  She was sad to not be with family, she told us that.  This was a nice consolation.

Shawn and I did well too.  I got the hat I always wanted and the cookbook that I didn't even know existed (nice work, Santa!).

That hat is for the rain.  As luck would have it, it's been raining here, so I've had an opportunity to wear it.  This hat is perfect.

Probably the best part of the weekend came on the day after Christmas.  We walked down to Lincoln Park right near our house.  We walked all along in the woods and down by the water.  The Olympics were visible despite the clouds, but they looked like ghosts of themselves. It was really beautiful in a different way than the pristine views you have on a clear day.

Sometimes I think I like the Sound and the mountains as much on the cloudy days as I do on the clear days.  The wildlife is always much more visible on the rainy, cloudy days.  

It's nice.  This is a good place to get a little perspective on things, that's for sure.  It's why we moved here.  

As the year draws to a close, here's hoping that we all can keep perspective and have a great year coming up.  Much love to everyone - we wish we were with you, but hopefully we'll see you out here soon!

Much love to all!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

12/10/11: Dark Days and Bright Lights

Happy Christmas!  Christmas in the city is a magical thing.  One of the most striking differences between C-bus and Seattle is that downtown is just about always hoppin'.  All times of day and night there are people out and about doing things.  This is certainly amplified by the holiday season.  My office is right in the thick of the shopping district downtown, so I get to see all of the decorations and activity up close.  Above is Macy's.  I took that picture yesterday.  It was a glorious sunny day.  Shawn had dropped Lorelei off at my work so that she and I, as well as a co-worker of mine, could all attend The Nutcracker (also downtown).  Before we left for the ballet, Lorelei and I walked around looking at decorations.  We visited Macy's and visited the plaza at Westlake, where we saw the big tree and rode the carousel.

Who doesn't love the carousel?  The Nutcracker was fabulous as well.  We all loved it and it was a good way to cap off what was otherwise, a rather terrible week.

I won't go into the multitude of idiot things that happened this week, but everyone knows what it's like to have that string of days where it seems like everything goes wrong.  It may be a smidge harder to deal with at the moment because I'm going through some homesick feelings and missing friends and family.

It's also dark.  The sun sets around 4 right now.  The days will continue getting shorter until the solstice, but at least that's only another week and a half.  The funny thing is, everyone here knows exactly when the solstice is - they talk about it on the news.  It's a product of being so far north.  The difference from Columbus is quite noticeable.  I keep telling myself it's not a big deal, it just means we get that many more hours of the fabulous light displays.  Whatever.  It's dark.  I knew I would have more trouble with the dark than the rain, and I was right.  Like I said, only 11 more days until the solstice.

In addition to holiday fun, there have been a few other noteworthy things we've experienced.

God bless the Swedes for giving us IKEA.  IKEA is about 15-20 minutes from our house, which is insanely convenient.  It is definitely an experience.  We went to find some things for the closets and ways to make use of the small space we have.  Wow.  IKEA is totally the place for that.  It's also a statement on Swedish organization and efficiency.  It's laid out so you tour the showroom (which is organized by room in your house), where you write down the things you like and the aisles they can be found in the warehouse.  Then you take your cart to the warehouse and pick up your things, then you check out.  It's easy and user-friendly, and unlike any furniture experience I've ever had.  When my mom comes to visit, I'm taking her to IKEA so she can see her heritage in action.  Sure, we'll visit Ballard where the Scandinavians live, and we'll tour the Nordic Museum, but she needs to see IKEA.  I think she'll relate to it.

We also did Thanksgiving at Ed and Amy's.  They had a transplant Thanksgiving - most of us were from somewhere else originally.  There were people who had lived there for 4 years, some for 14.  It was very cool.  The food was amazing, the company superb, and Mary's (my sis) champagne punch really got the party started. Not a drop of it was wasted or spilled, and by the end of the evening, that was pretty evident.  (I'm so making that again)  Part of the magic is that Ed and Amy know how to throw a party.  Even if Ed did accidentally order a 32-lb turkey and had to stay up all night the night before cooking it.  It was a great way to spend the holiday!

We've also been to the West Seattle Farmer's Market, which goes on all year round.  This time of year you can still find some produce from local farms, but it's mostly meat, cheeses and ciders, wines, that type of thing.  Our family seems a little obsessed with the cheese out here.  The only cheese we have bought that wasn't produced in Washington is Tillamook - produced in Oregon.  It's pretty amazing stuff.  I can't say enough about the food here, and local farms, local production is reason number 1 it's so good.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it....  That day at the market, it was another glorious, sunny day, and on the corner, right where I took this picture, I could look east and see the Cascades, look west and see the Olympics.  They are my constant reminders of why I wanted to be here.

This will wrap it up for now, as I've probably rambled on long enough.  I'll leave with a couple of Lorelei pictures for the holidays:  one from the Nutcracker and one from home, Lorelei by the tree.  Wishing everyone lots of love, and know we miss you all and are thinking of you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nov. 21, 2011: November Olympics

This is the view from our living room.  I had to post this because that white stuff you see toward the horizon are the snow-covered Olympic Mountains.  I am becoming borderline obsessed with the Olympics.  I think they are absolutely stunning when you can see them and coupled with the Puget Sound, it makes for a breathtaking view.  It's the kind of view that makes me think it might not matter if I don't make it to the store, or the bank, or finish that load of laundry.  It's my zen check.  However, it being November and all (which I'm told is the wettest month here in Seattle), and the days becoming very short, we don't see the Olympics much.  Saturday, however, it was a crisp, clear day, and there they were.  Seeing them with snow is, well, it's hard to describe how it makes me feel.  But I love it.  Shawn and I watch the Olympics sort of in the same way that I watch football:  "Oh wow - did you see that view (play)?"  "Oh wait, look at it from this angle!"  I wonder if it will ever get old for us.

So far I have not been able to take a picture that even remotely captures the majesty of those mountains.  I think it might be better in the spring or summer when it's even more clear.  I remember coming to Seattle for the first time and seeing the Cascades and Mount Rainier.  I could not get over how gorgeous they were.  You could literally look to the north, south and east and see mountains.  Then we came over to West Seattle and I was stunned by the fact that there is a mountain range to the west, too.

I'm not sure why the Olympics are my favorite and why I'm so drawn to them.  I think it might be that once you cross over them, you've arrived at the Pacific Ocean.  Whatever it is, it is one of the biggest reasons I have fallen in love with this place.  I could dedicate an entire blog to the Olympics.  I just might when the weather gets clear in the spring or summer....

A few more words about my commute:  I've started taking another way in because I find it less congested and kind of a fun drive.  It takes me by some interesting landmarks, too.  This is Starbucks headquarters.  I also drive by both stadiums.  Here of course is where the Mariners play (if that's what you want to call it):

Right next to that is the Seahawks' stadium, but I haven't been able to get a picture of that because I'm driving.  I'll work on that one.  It would be cool to get a night picture - they do some interesting things with the lights on it.  Of course, you can't have stadiums without strip clubs:

I also drive by the Art Museum, and through the shopping district.  And on the West Seattle Bridge I can usually see the Cascades and Mount Rainier, though they are mainly shadows this time of year with the cloud cover.  The star of every show out here, however, is the water.  The Sound is so blue and so beautiful.  I do not know I will ever get used to it, and I sort of hope I don't.

In other news, we are all on the mend and starting to shake off the Seattle sickness that hit us.  Lorelei is doing well in school, and as it turns out, she loves math.  She subtracted 25 from 150 the other day in the car in her head.  She's obviously learning something at school.  Shawn continues to job search and is getting a few leads here and there.  You know how painful looking for a job is....  He continues to do well in school, though.  Everything will come together in time.  I think yesterday was my 2-month anniversary for being here.  We have come a long way in two months.

Uh-oh.  Looks like I'm going to be late for work (again).  Whoops.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Enjoy and be safe!  And if you are looking for something to do, come to Seattle!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nov. 10, 2011: Some Cold Hard Truths

I am sorry to report that I have found a bad cup of coffee in Seattle.  I know, I know, it's blasphemy!  Say it isn't so!  But it's true.  The worst is yet to come, though.  It's at... (shhh, keep in down)...my work.  [commence screaming and running amok]

I'm quite serious; it's enough to make one want to jump off the Fremont Bridge (the most popular site in Seattle for, you know, taking one's life).  The coffee is that bad.  The good news is, there is a Starbucks right around the corner.  Of course there is! This is Seattle!  They don't call it the Emerald City for nothing!

I decided to take a picture of me and post it.  I'm smiling because this is the day I found the Starbucks.  No more crying over bad coffee!  Perhaps the worst thing about the coffee is that they have non-dairy powder creamer for it.  That's it.  If I took it black, that would be fine, but I don't.  I'm more of a "coffee regular", NYC style, kinda girl.  Also, you need to put something in that jet fuel they call coffee to kill the taste.  That's what will survive the next apocalypse:  cockroaches, mcd's french fries, and my work coffee.

I look really laid back and happy here, right? Yeah, that's what a good cup will do for me.

Otherwise, the Shraders have been touring some of Seattle's underbelly of ugliness.  By that, I mean we have all been sick.  Lorelei with the flu, followed by a nasty cold, Shawn with the flu and a cold at the same time, and me, well, if the gods are kind I will be over it in a day or two.  I have gotten off the easiest, but that's because I subsist on wine and good coffee and here I'm surrounded by both.

We have a lot of reasons to think it wasn't a good idea to move here.  We've all been sick and you know how bleak things look when you are sick.  Plus, we are still carrying a house and mortgage in Ohio with just about zero prospects.  And I think, though none of us have really voiced it, we are starting to get a little homesick.  But every time it starts to feel really bad, I start noticing some things.  

Like how Gretel and Lorelei love the dog park close to our house.  Also, how well-behaved my dog is at the dog park - especially compared with the other dogs.  She's a dream.  

We love the school system out here, too.  It's not just that Lorelei gets homework, and most of it's math homework, it's also that she is seriously engaged.  She's had her trials and tribulations with being the new kid, but she likes what she's doing, and I like that.

Tonight was a diversity celebration at Lorelei's school.  It was awesome.  The first-grade classes are each paired up with a kindergarten class and they do some group learning.  For this presentation, each set of classes sang a song about diversity.  Lorelei's class had "This Land is Your Land" by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.  You can hear it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wKW6l_VnR0

It's an awesome rendition of Woody Guthrie's classic, and the kids were amazing.  They sang, they danced, they wore sunglasses.  Check it out:

Lorelei is the 3rd from the left.

All the kids turning around at the beginning to put on their shades.

Here they are, all those kids too cool for school.  Listen to the song and imagine them dancing and singing.  It was fun.

I think we are adapting okay.  I think it's all going to get much better as we go forward, and it will be a lovely Thanksgiving here in Seattle.  

And if not, well, I'll always have the coffee, the wine, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings to keep me company.  Not bad, not bad at all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nov.2, 2011: Halloween and the Horrors of Job Hunting

After much ado regarding Halloween costumes (we had decided on Link, a video game character, but couldn't find the costume, then it was a pink/princess witch, which I didn't really understand and sort of vetoed), we settled on this one.  It lights up.  

Seattle is very serious about Halloween.  Seattleites spare no expense celebrating the dark side with ghoulish decorations in their yards and homes, and there are many scheduled events for kids and adults.  Lorelei went trick-or-treating at Ed's work (allrecipes.com), then she attended a Halloween party hosted by one of her classmates, and on Halloween itself, she went trick-or-treating at my work.  We didn't even go to the business district scheduled trick-or-treating in West Seattle (Saturday afternoon), or go out in the neighborhood Halloween night, yet we still have about 10 pounds of candy floating around the house.  I guess we better find a dentist.

Speaking of my work....

I think things are going well.  I can't ever know what management thinks, but the more I get into my job the more I like it.  I forgot how much I love litigation.  I like how unpredictable it can be and the idea of formulating a strategy for each case.  In Washington the courts have hearings for just about everything, which means some court time arguing merits of the case - of course, I love that.  I think this is a good fit.  I'm not quite to the end of my first six weeks, so I'll withhold further impressions.  Of course, the view from my window is nice, too.

One of the girls at work and I went to lunch the other day, and we had Pho, which is an Asian dish that involves noodles, broth, veggies, and if you want, meat.  It's amazing.  Excellent comfort food.  It's almost a phenomenon out here, too.  Pho and Starbucks, one on every corner.

Lorelei seems to be adapting at school very well, and we've figured out that we like the curriculum at her school here better than what they were doing in Hilliard.  She has math homework every week and has a whole portion of her day dedicated to math.  It's much more intensive than at Brown Elementary.  Her reading skills are improving, also.  They teach phonics in first grade here, which is another difference.

Shawn is busy keeping up with school and looking for a job.  School is great and he's enjoying his programming class very much.  The job search is, well, everyone knows what fun it is to look for a job.  Fingers crossed for him that it doesn't drag out too long.

The sunsets in West Seattle are amazing.  The days will start out cloudy, overcast, your basic gloom, and end with the sun and these fabulous colors.  The pictures cannot do it justice.  It's nice that we can see them from our house with a view like this.  This picture also shows the Olympics, it's a rare thing in the fall to have the Olympics pop out from behind the cloud cover.

I went to get my hair cut on Sunday.  The woman doing my hair, upon finding out that we'd just moved from Ohio, pointed to the hair stylist next to her and said, "Emily here just moved from Ohio, too."  As it turns out, Emily moved to West Seattle about 4 months ago.  She's from Canton, Ohio.  Emily and I had a wonderful conversation about adapting to things, and how difficult it is to miss your family and friends after having lived your whole life in Ohio.  I told her how things were just starting to settle down and I'm now starting to feel the void of my family and friends.  She said that it's hard, but time will eventually help us get through it.  She also pointed out that, having spent 40-plus years in Ohio, what would it say about our lives if we didn't have a hard time adjusting to a place 2600 miles away from our friends and family?  

With that said, it's time to get my day started.  Know that we miss you all!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23, 2011: Autumn on California

This is Sunday morning coffee.  We walked down to the coffee shop a couple of blocks from our house.

This is the little spot that Eddie Vedder is rumored to show up now and again.  It's pretty good coffee, but the chocolate croissant was the real show-stopper.  Oh, and speaking of Eddie Vedder, we drove by his house last night.  He lives less than a mile from us.  

I missed my blog update last weekend because our furniture was delivered on Saturday.  I spent the weekend unpacking, organizing, unpacking some more.  By Sunday night I was exhausted.  I never knew you could get so tired from something that didn't involve running long distances and weight training.  I did not straighten out until probably Wednesday or Thursday.  

Lorelei started school last week too.  She has already been invited to a Halloween party next weekend, and she loves her new school.  This is it:

I think the kids can see the Puget Sound from their playground - it's not too far off from Lowman Beach.  1 1/2 blocks from our house, too.  I like that.  She has already had one field trip to the Locks to learn about the salmon and the Locks themselves.  I can tell she's going to love going to school in Seattle.  She caught the flu on Friday.  Threw up 6 times (which she now wears as a badge of honor), but by the afternoon was mad that she couldn't go to school. I'd say she rallied pretty well.

Shawn is also settling into his routine of school and household things, and this week will start the dreaded job hunt.  It's been a whirlwind for him - he's vacillating between enjoying his life here and completely freaking out about having moved to Seattle.  I admit, every once in awhile I have a moment of strangeness, wondering at the fact that we actually pulled it off.  

As for actually living in Seattle, it's been really great so far.  It's pretty much what I hoped it would be, with a couple of minor issues, and they both involve driving.  The hills are killing me.  Driving a stick shift in Seattle is nothing less than terrifying.  I'm hoping I'll get used to it at some point, but right now I still completely panic when I'm stuck on a hill at a red light.  And if it's raining, there's a chance I'm not going anywhere but backward.  My blood pressure is rising just writing about it.  Whew.  The other driving issue is the Seattle drivers themselves.  They drive way too slow.  5 miles under the speed limit is appropriate, and they allow anyone to merge at any time, which has resulted in very slow drivers constantly cutting people off.  They wouldn't last 5 minutes in C-bus, and as Ed said, LA would reduce them to tears.

Otherwise, things are good.  The weather is actually pretty nice.  It's overcast a lot, and there has been some rain, but some pretty days mixed in there too.  It doesn't get too cold, at least not yet.  Maybe 50s at night and 60s during the day.  Just about perfect, really.  When the wind comes in off the Sound, the leaves swirl and blow, and you can smell the salt air.  I love it.  

The animals are adjusting nicely to their cohabitation.  There are no dog-free zones in our house, so the cats have had to get used to Gretel being in their space.  All things considered, they're all good.  This is Gretel at the dog park.  Lorelei and I took her there this morning.  She made lots of friends and walked the trail with us.  She is amazingly better behaved off-leash.  She would tear off running at full speed, and the minute I called or whistled, there she was, right by my side.  She probably ran for 45 minutes straight, after which she made it clear to me was done playing and wanted to go home.  Poor girl, she might be a smidge out of shape.  She's sleeping right now.

On the subject of running, that's what I'm going to do now.  It's a good day to run by the water, and this is the first day I've woken up without some crazy agenda of 9 million things that need doing.  I'll update next weekend, hopefully basking in a Buckeye defeat of those Badgers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oct. 10, 2011; Home Sweet Home!!

It's been a big weekend for the Shraders!  Friday I moved my stuff into the new house, and yesterday Lorelei arrived with Shawn's mom.  Today, Shawn should be here by the time I get off work.  I can hardly wait to have the family together again.  It feels like it's been far longer than just 3 weeks.

That picture above is Lorelei and Amy with a new friend at Lowman Beach.  This beach is about half a mile or so from our house, down a very steep hill (walking home is challenging).  It's gorgeous though.  You can see the ferries heading over from West Seattle to Vashon Island and beyond, and of course it's a fantastic view of the Sound.  When the weather is especially good, the Olympics are in full view as well.

It's peaceful.  We walked down to Lowman yesterday and were able to walk right by Lorelei's new school on the way.  It's about a block and a half from the house.  When we got to Lowman, Lorelei found another little girl her age and they played and had some fun.  It was all in all, a nice way to spend the afternoon.  

Shawn's day was less peaceful.
This was his drive through the first part of Wyoming.  I'm glad we didn't wait any longer to have him come out - we are getting into the tricky time of year coming through the Rockies and Medicine Bow.  He made it through, though, and by the time he hit Idaho, he had this:
Much better!  He stayed in Boise last night and should have a shorter day today getting here - just 8-9 hours.  The dog and cats will be grateful, I'm sure.  He has a chance for snow in the Snoqualmie Pass, but otherwise he should have a good drive.  By the time he hits Snoqualmie, he's almost here.  

Otherwise, things are good.  I walked around downtown Friday on my lunch and realized how much I love working downtown.  I've missed that the last few years.  I work very close to the shopping district, so there are all the department stores (Macy's, Nordstrom's, Barney's of NY), and all the usual suspects.  Intermingled are all these local specialty shops as well.  Those are the places I like to look in.  Of course there are fabulous-looking restaurants and bars on every block, too, but what I like most is seeing all the people out and about, creating the hustle and bustle.  There was a big protest all last week, protesting Wall Street.  Not sure what the actual reason for the protest was, but the people-watching was out-of-this-world.  I can't walk around without Petula Clark running through my head.

My job has given me culture shock, I think.  It's a very different atmosphere than MDK, and I think it's just going to take some getting used to.  I think I'll feel less alienated by the transition having my family here.  We'll see.  It's too soon to really tell how things are going to be.

In the meantime, I'll look forward to settling in with the family and having a nice week with Brenda.  With a little luck, all goes well for Shawn today and our furniture will arrive soon!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fragrance, Frolicks and the First Week of Work

I may have mentioned before that Seattle is fragrant.  I decided to go for a run this morning because it's been 5 weeks or so and I'm out of excuses.  On my run I smelled the rose bushes that seem to randomly grow in various spots, the wild rosemary that grows everywhere, and of course, the salt air.  It's amazing how the plant life just takes over here.  Even more interesting - it's fall, yet I still smell flowers and plants.  I'm sure that will change shortly, but it's a different environment altogether when I can watch the leaves falling from the trees while I can smell the roses and other plants.

Also, today was the West Seattle Food Truck Fair.  The picture above is from our excursion checking out the truck food.  I tried a kobe beef slider from one of the trucks, some pizza, and of course, a soft pretzel.  They had trucks with tacos, creole food (the longest line ever or I would have gotten a biegnet), gourmet hot dogs, ice cream, and loads of other items.  I would have tried more things but the lines were crazy long.  Everyone from West Seattle was there, I think.  There is always something going on around this town, which is nice.  The West Seattle Farmer's Market is open year-round. That makes me happy.

That's Stella and her pink ball.  She loves her pink ball and she knows the difference between it and her other balls.  It has to be the pink one.  Stella and Foster are my constant companions.  They are great dogs because they help fill the void while I'm waiting on my family to get here.  They also hang out with me while I'm getting ready for work.  They give me little pep talks before I head out to the office.

The first week of work went fine, I think.  I'm still trying to figure out the dynamic at the firm and what the culture is.  I suspect they have quite lofty expectations regarding my work there, and we'll just have to see if I can live up to them.  Overall though, I think I'm going to like the work itself - the litigation.  I'm anxious to get into my cases and get settled with the workload.  For now, one day at a time.

This is the view from the balcony at our new place. There are clouds in the distance so you can't see the Olympics out past the islands, but they are there and we'll be able to see them from time to time.  I think the rain is starting to arrive, though, so it might be awhile before I see them again.  I'm ready to move into our place and establish ourselves as a family unit.  I stopped by tonight to move a few things in and I just looked around.  I like this place.  It's warm and inviting, and it will be a good place for us to create our new reality. 

Amy and Ed have been amazing and have really made this transition so much easier.  As just a small token of my appreciation, I picked up baby Jupiter his/her first item of clothing:  a Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt.  

And speaking of babies, my baby girl arrives one week from today with her Grandma B!  The countdown can truly begin!!  I have missed her immensely.  Shawn should arrive a week from tomorrow if he has smooth sailing on his drive out, or he'll arrive Tuesday.  Fingers crossed.

Godspeed Shawn and Lorelei!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Job, New House, and a Very, Very Dangerous Commute

This is what it looks like when you are getting on the West Seattle Bridge.  It's hard to see, but that's the skyline off in the distance.  When  you get a little further down the road, you have a nice view of the Sound and the mountains.  

It's about a 7 mile commute from West Seattle to downtown, but it can take a long time because of traffic congestion.  Also, according to some guy at work, driving from West Seattle to downtown is really, really dangerous.  To be fair, however, when things are screwed up traffic-wise in Seattle, they are a smidge worse because you already have the Puget Sound and a couple of big lakes to contend with.  And hey, look, my first day of work I took the bus.  The bus got into an accident on the West Seattle Bridge (some guy hit the bus - yeah, he HIT the BUS), and this morning there were two accidents:  one was with a motorcyclist in critical condition (having a way worse day than any of us sitting in gridlock) and a separate incident involving a woman who went into labor (seriously).  

Overall, though, driving isn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  The hills are scary and I still want nothing to do with them, but I've been able to navigate around them for the most part.  Otherwise, the drivers on the road are courteous, even if it is to a fault.

But enough about the commute. 

This is the view from my office downtown.  It poured down rain yesterday so the picture isn't fabulous, but you get the idea.  For all of my MDK folks, the walls go all the way to the ceiling and I can shut the door.  I forgot about walls and how nice they can be!!  The job is going well, I think, but it's crazy busy.  I have been given supervising responsibility over a couple of attorneys and also a caseload.  Somewhere between figuring out the phone system, navigating the parking garage (which is absurdly laid out) and finding the bathroom, I need to learn Washington's state and local rules and the law.  Whew.  I've been mentally exhausted these last two days.  I think I'm supposed to help these attorneys find their way as well.  At the very least it should be interesting.  What is it I always say?  On a new job it takes 6 weeks to get acclimated and 6 months to own it.  Okay.  Let the countdown begin.

Probably the oddest thing that happened so far this week is that I couldn't get out of the garage tonight.  I don't have a key card yet, and I was leaving after it closed, so I had to call security to let me out.  The guy from security took one look at my car and said, "You're from Ohio?"  As it turns out, he's not only from C-bus, he's from Galloway.  That's spittin' distance from our house!  He gave me a hearty "Go Bucks!" when he let me out of the garage.  What are the odds??

This picture is the kitchen in our new house.  Yep, I found us a place out here in West Seattle (where the commuting is very, very dangerous).  It's a townhouse and we can see the Sound from the balcony.  I'll have more pictures of that later.  I probably can't really move in until Shawn and Lorelei get here, but I take possession on Thursday.  It can literally be never-ending looking for a place to live in West Seattle because all of the houses are different and the rental market is wide open.  I looked at other townhouses, but they were too narrow.  I looked at free-standing houses, but most of those were really dated.  I don't mind a fixer-upper, but I'd prefer not to rent one.  This place should do just fine.  

I'm afraid Shawn is going to get here and say, "what were you thinking??"  I basically decided this was the right place because of the kitchen.  It has plenty of cabinet space, a dishwasher, and most importantly, a gas range.  I might be a little obsessed with the kitchen.

Now I just need to finalize the paperwork on the townhouse and wait for Shawn and Lorelei.  We'll give West Seattle a whirl and see what happens.  As for that dangerous commute, well, I guess I need a challenge.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Phase 2: Finding our Place in the New World

The last few days since arriving in Seattle have been a flurry of activity: showing Debbie the sights and what drew me to this place, helping her enjoy her vacation and mine, and starting the all-encompassing search for a place to live.  I'll say, it's pretty overwhelming and might make me feel a little small like that Wyoming prairie dog (who became, incidentally, Debbie's buddy in the Wyoming desert).  I was, however, able to show Debbie some of the Seattle highlights and we met a few interesting folks along the way.  Seattle never wants for interesting people; that's for sure.

It helps that the weather was beautiful today, and is supposed to be tomorrow.  I think fall will really hit here next week and then we go into the seriously rainy months.  Hopefully I can sort out the living arrangements before we get too far into fall.  The sooner I line that up, the sooner Shawn and Lorelei can be here.  Interestingly, Seattle has a wide open renter's market.  There are tons of places to choose from and they are constantly coming on the market, going off, etc.  I've looked at several already and have a couple more on Sunday.  Fingers crossed one of them works out....  In the meantime, it looks like I'll get to watch the Buckeyes tomorrow (it's being televised out here on one of the ESPNs, I believe), and I'll continue my preparations for my first day at work.

Having never done a move like this before, I don't have much of a frame of reference.  I find the experience somewhat disorienting.  I miss Shawn and Lorelei and feel incomplete without them.  On the other hand, it might be a little easier for them if I've already gone through my shell-shock phase before they get out here and go through theirs. Even though it's disorienting and leaves me vulnerable, however, I really feel like this is right.  I love this city and as I get comfortable in my own skin again, it's going to be wonderful exploring it.  Ed and Amy are helping keep me grounded, which is the most valuable resource a girl could have in this situation.

Hopefully by the next update I'll have news and more pictures to share!  I believe they may reflect a wetter version of Seattle, though.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Destination Seattle!

Day 4's travels were, again, amazing.  The part of Idaho that we drove through, however, was sort of nothing special by comparison to Utah, Oregon and Washington.  In a way, that's good.  We needed a break from the fabulous landscape in order to not lose appreciation for it.  Ed and Amy said a friend of theirs came up with a term for it:  scenery fatigue.  In fact, all of my pictures from Day 4 are from Oregon because by the time we hit Washington, my reaction was more like, "oh look, more fabulous beauty, more of the same."  I don't want to understate how incredible Day 4 was, though.  Oregon is stunning in its landscape, and the idea that we were on the Oregon Trail was pretty enticing.  I cannot believe people traveled out here by horse.  The picture above is taken from the Blue Mountain summit in Oregon.  I'll have more pictures of the view below, but above the lookout there was a little shack with some horses hanging out on the hill.  Pretty serene.

These pictures are the view from the summit.  We had been traveling through the mountains for several states running and then to have this view of the plains was striking.  Oregon has a little bit of everything - mountains, fabulous coasts, plains, farms/vineyards.  It is truly some of the most beautiful country I've seen.

These pictures are from a rest stop in Oregon.  It really felt like we were on the Oregon Trail and it was easy to imagine the first settlers coming out this way because it remains undeveloped and unspoiled.  That has been one of the most memorable parts of the drive out here:  after Iowa, there is very little and all you see are wide open stretches of land, animals and sky.  

Once we got into Washington we started to see a lot more in the way of civilization and vineyards, and the scenery was, of course, amazing.  The eastern part of Washington has desert and farmland, and couldn't be more different from the western part.  Upon Amy's suggestion we got off 82 at Yakima and drove up SR 821 (which runs parallel to 82) and drove through the Yakima canyon.  It was treacherous driving, as I was so enthralled with the scenery I kept having near misses on the S curves winding through.  The road ran right next to what I believe was the Yakima River.  The water was crystal blue and we could see the rapids from the car as well.

Before getting to Seattle we had to cross the Cascades via the Snoqualmie Pass and the Wenachee National Forest.  It was here that I started to see all the green and smell the trees and plant life, which is what I associate with Seattle.  It's all very lush and green and fragrant.  Crossing Snoqualmie was a beautiful way to arrive.

Of course, we arrived during rush hour, so the last hour of our drive was navigating Seattle's gridlock.  I suppose that was good experience for me, given my job starting on Monday.  

I'm so glad to be here and I'm certain this was a great move for us.  I now focus on looking for a place to live so Shawn and Lorelei can get out here.  I'm ready to move on to phase 2:  Family reunited and getting settled.