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) 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:

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 (, 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!