Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Being Bicoastal

New York City Skyline Sunset

Image by mikeleeorg via Flickr

Greetings from New Jersey! Last Thursday, I flew from Seattle to Newark in order to enjoy a nearly three week vacation in the beautiful Edison, NJ area. While I realize that this is not usually considered a highly desirable vacation destination, it serves as a fantastic home base while I hit five states in my 19 days out here.

I love Seattle, but I truly miss the East Coast. I lived in PA for 9 years, NJ for two, and NYC for two.  Seattle will always be my hometown, but there are a lot of things that I miss about the mid-Atlantic region:

Seasons:

Seattle has two seasons – cold rain (November to April) and warmer rain (May to October). While growing up, I was used to this, but when I moved to PA, I became accustomed to have four distinct seasons. I loved the warmth of the summer, the cool crispness and changing leaves of the fall, the snow in the winter, and the actual spring.  Seattle doesn’t get much snow and has a very mild climate due to its proximity to the ocean. We also have a lot of evergreen trees (thus the name the Evergreen State), so we don’t have the amazing color changing leaves. I truly miss the seasonal differences that I grew to love out East.

Food:

I think the reason that I have had success with my weight loss in the past several months is because there is nothing to eat out west. Maybe if you have a lot of money and can afford fancy or cutting edge restaurants, food in Seattle is great. However, especially living in New York, I loved being able to walk in some little hole in the wall and having a fantastic meal.  The pizza is fantastic (all we have in Seattle is chains), the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to is a little family owned place just north of Times Square, and even at your little corner deli, you knew you could get a great sandwich (Seattle loves its Subway!). If I still lived here, I don’t know that I would have lost the weight I did, but I think I would be much more gastronomically satisfied.

Getting Around:

I know I’ve discussed this before, but Seattle has horrid transportation. It’s only been in the last year or so that I have been able to get to the airport without utilizing the services of a airport shuttle company of a taxi. We finally have one light rail line that goes between downtown and the airport. Of course, this still means that I need to get downtown, which I do via commuter bus. Once I arrived in Newark, however, I got on the monorail at the airport which took me to the NJ Transit station. Four stops down the line I was at my sister’s place. Easy Peasy. Why can’t Seattle figure this out??

I do love Seattle – on a sunny day in July or August, there is no place like it. It’s great when I want to go running in the summer – none of this 90+ degree temps with 60%+ humidity. The access to the water and the mountains make it ideal for the outdoorsperson. I just wish there was a way we could take a few of the really great things about the East Coast and add them to what we’ve got in the West. Maybe I’ll just continue to be bicoastal – spend the school year in the west and the summers in the east.

Now to end the week with a little Muppet goodness…

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Next week, the Our View From Here bloggers will be taking a well-deserved break. We’ll be back Monday, July 25th with our usual posting schedule. We thank you for your continued readership!

 

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Naked Ambition

I’ve been meaning to tell this story for awhile now.  In fact, I wrote myself a note and left it on my desk.  I cleaned off my desk on Friday, and found the note, so now’s a good time to write this all out because to be honest, I had no idea what else I would write this week anyway.  But it’s also appropriate to tell this particular story now, because it took place on Memorial Day Weekend four years ago.  This is one of those stories that sticks with you, and the memory of it is so vivid, it could have taken place this weekend. 

The Scene:  Warm, sunny, Memorial Day, 2007.  Robert Moses State Park, Long Island, New York

My friends, Tim and Jen, and I drove out the the beach early, and grabbed a good spot for our blanket: close-ish to the car, the concession stand and the bathrooms.  Tim was recovering from an Achilles Tendon injury, so walking on sand wasn’t easy for him.  But, he was a great sport and played paddle-ball with us through the morning.   We sat in the sun through the morning and into the afternoon.  The early-day clouds cleared a bit and the sun was strong.    Jen and I decided to go for a walk down the beach.  Tim, because of his injury and because someone had to, volunteered to stay with our stuff.

Jen and I walked down the beach talking and joking.  We walked through a mostly empty section of the beach and then back into a busier section.  There was something different about this particular busy section of beach: everyone was naked.  We continued to walk and talk, and I was silently thankful that my sunglasses disguised what must have been some incredibly rude staring.  I tried to stay facing forward and not gape.  And, to be honest, these were not the best beach bodies I was surrounded by.   About this time, we noticed there was a man, naked, walking a few yards ahead of us.  He turned around:

“Hey, do you guys mind if I walk with you for a little while?”

“Um…..”  Seriously, what do you say to that?  “I guess not.” We didn’t want to be rude to the nude stranger.  He seemed perfectly pleasant, and it was clear that he was not concealing a weapon. 

The naked stranger, whose name turned out to be Bill, joined us and walked us through the finer points of nude beach-going in New York.  Turns out, according to Bill, it is perfectly legal to be naked on National Park beaches, but on State Park beaches (like Robert Moses) you have to wear a suit, at least a bottom, you can go topless anywhere (again, according to Bill, I make it a rule not to fact-check the pantsless).  Bill demonstrated his willingness to follow the law when we crossed back into another State beach, he put his swim trunks on (seemingly from nowhere, seriously, to this day I have no recollection of him holding a swim suit when we met).  When we crossed back into the National Park, he asked, “do you mind if I take my suit off?” “At this point, why would we mind?  You were naked when we met, Bill.”

Bill chatted us up about our jobs briefly, before starting to talk about his new business:  an at-home spa services company.  They did massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and other spa treatments for parties and groups in people’s homes, hotel rooms, etc.  It sounded a bit sketchy to me, just this side of an escort service.  But the more Bill explained, the more legit it sounded.  After awhile, we turned around and headed back toward Robert Moses.  Bill again donned and de-donned his suit again as we passed through State Park territory.  When we got back to the place we had met him, he ran to his bag, and got out his business cards and some laminated sheets detailing the services his company provided. 

We shook his hand, said goodbye and walked back to Tim. 

We’d been gone about an hour, and in that time, the tide had come in, and poor Tim had to drag all of our stuff up the beach with his injured leg.  We apologized and told him why we’d taken so long.  He laughed, we gathered our things, got an ice cream, and headed home. 

In the car on the way back, it struck me:  Bill was giving us a sales pitch!   Who could forget something a naked man told you on a beach?  So simple, yet so brilliant.  If you’re interested in at home spa services, I know a guy.  He may or may not be wearing pants.

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La Niña Needs to Leave

Aurora Bridge in the Seattle rain

Image by Gexydaf via Flickr

It’s spring. At least that’s what the calendar says. Mother Nature, however, doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo.  We were warned last summer that we would be having a “La Niña” winter, meaning that it would be colder and wetter than usual (which, for Seattle, is really saying something!) What they didn’t tell us was that La Niña wouldn’t really hit until late January and would continue well into April and beyond.  So far this April, we have not hit 60 degrees. Since record keeping began in the 1890s, we’ve hit 60 degrees at least twice by this point in every year.  We’ve also had more rain than usual. I know, Seattle has a reputation of being a rainy city, but it’s usually about the number of rainy days more than the quantity.  Lately, though, we’ve had many heavy rainstorms come through.  We’ve also continued to have snow showers and several instances of hail so bad that it accumulated over an inch. Very weird weather for this time of year.

However, I try to look at the positive side of things. So, here’s my list of good things that we can remember when cursing the weather:

  • Green!!  Everything is definitely green right now – the grass especially! It’s really quite lovely.
  • Longer Spring – with the temps so low, it’s taking a long time for the flowering trees to finish. They seem to be staggering themselves out, so there’s always a pretty tree to look at.
  • Thunderstorms – we don’t get these very often around here and when we do, they don’t often cause much damage. We’ve already had at least three since January, very odd for around here.
  • Cool season crops! I’ve planted some Broccoli and Lettuce and they are growing just fine. I don’t worry about them bolting in this weather, so that means extra long growing season!
  • Clean air – One thing rain does well is clean out the air. We often get stagnant air in the winter, but the spring rains come along and clear it all out.  No worries about the air we are breathing right now.
  • Squirrely Middle Schoolers not so squirrely. Something happens to pre-teens and teens when the sun comes out.  Without much sun, we’ve seemed to avoid the worst of it.

So, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy this rainy-lack-of-spring we seem to be stuck in. But don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for sunshine and warm weather!

Announcement: The week of April 25 (that’s this Monday!), Our View From Here will be holding its first virtual book club!  We will all be reading, and commenting on, the book Water for Elephantsby Sara Gruen.  Read along with us!
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Tut, tut! Looks Like Rain!

I love the rain. I don’t know how one can be from the Pacific Northwest and not appreciate the rain. Move to California I guess. I’ve always found the sound of rainfall comforting – chalk it up to countless childhood nights falling asleep to it. I also love the smell of rain, when you can take a deep breath and just smell the impending storm. And the smell afterward when everything seems clean and fresh. I love the spring showers and the summer downpours. I even like the fall storms when the wind is blowing, the leaves are falling and it’s cold and dreary. I love snuggling under a blanket and reading a good book or watching a favorite movie. There is one thing I don’t love about the rain though, and that is umbrellas.

To be accurate, I feel no malice toward umbrellas themselves. In the right hands, they’re perfectly innocent tools to keep off the rain. In the wrong hands, they’re evil weapons of DOOM. Perhaps I’m slightly overly dramatic, but I cannot count how many times I’ve been nearly poked in the eye or been hit in the head by a careless umbrella bearer. I used to not carry an umbrella. I found them to be more cumbersome than they were worth. My rain jacket and hood kept me just as dry as an umbrella. I started using an umbrella not to keep myself dry, but to ward off all the other umbrellas. After one too many near run-ins with the pointy end of an umbrella, I decided it was time to start protecting myself. At least by carrying an umbrella I could put some more distance between myself and the other umbrellas.

I have enough problems with the standard size umbrella; don’t even get me started on the beach umbrellas some people feel it’s appropriate to walk down a crowded city street with. Of course, these are the people that seem most oblivious to where their umbrellas are in relation to their bodies and any body else. Really though, walking down a sidewalk on a rainy day shouldn’t be too difficult. Let me explain. When two people carrying umbrellas are approaching one another, one can raise their umbrella while the other person slightly lowers their umbrella, allowing the two people to pass by without jostling one another. Simple, yet it seems to escape the majority of the population. So, world, consider this your lesson on proper umbrella etiquette. I expect to see a noticeable improvement for the next rain storm. Thank you.

Now that we have those sundries taken care of, I’ve decided to include two of my favorite clips about rain. First, is Mr. Gene Kelley in Singing in the Rain:

I love the part where he just lets loose and starts jumping in the puddles. How much fun is that?!

And the second clip is Winnie the Pooh, being the cutest rain cloud you ever saw. Tut tut, looks like rain!

Perhaps the next time you’re caught in the rain, you can think back to these clips, and maybe it won’t seem so dreary.  And watch out for umbrellas.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Contrary to the popular song…it’s not Christmas. It’s Autumn. This is, by far, my favorite season. The leaves change colors, you can go apple picking, and pick a pumpkin for Halloween. The temperatures start to drop and I get to bust out my hoodies, fleece shirts and sweaters. All varying degrees of comfy that T-shirts just can’t match. This season has the largest number of simple pleasures that make me smile.

I have a particular tree lined road that go on to and from work. No matter how bad my day has been this stretch of road has made me smile for the past month.  The colors on the trees have been gorgeous this year. I feel like I’m driving through an impressionist painting every time I go home but in a good way.

I’ll go for walks with my friends they look at me funny for stopping and staring up at the trees. I get mocked regularly for my enjoyment of the fall colors. I was saying to my co-workers a couple weeks ago how I love when a big wind comes through and tons of leaves flutter down looking like snow…but with colorful leaves. They asked me to share whatever I was on because it must be great. I really just think its pretty. It’s the girly kid in me going ooh and aah at the pretty colors.

I love the smell of the freshly fallen leaves. On this point people probably think I’m bonkers. There is a particular smell from fallen leaves that reminds me of raking up leaf piles for the sake of jumping into them when I was a kid. My backyard growing up was loaded with trees so we hand fantastic leaf piles. That smell will always take me back to those times and again make me smile.

Some of my favorite childhood memories happened in the Fall. We’d make an entire day of selecting pumpkins for Halloween. We’d go to the local orchard take a hay ride, maybe pick some apples, and select the perfect candidate for our Jack-O-Lantern. One year we took my rather tall Uncle with the long arms with us to the farm that had a set price for as many pumpkins as you can carry. I think the final tally was 8-9 pumpkins although my childhood exaggerated memory makes me think it was more like 15-20 but you get the idea. We only took home two but it was a great picture.

I see the Fall as nature’s last hurrah for the year before going to sleep for a couple months. There is some beauty in winter after a snowfall but it just doesn’t match  a hill side loaded with an array of trees in full Fall color glory. It won’t last for much longer. For now, I’m going to enjoy the show.

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The Fauna Among the Flora

All morning I was trying to think of what to write about, suddenly work presented me with a topic. Most people work in offices that are reasonably clean and I would imagine free of most pests.  I do not. This morning I went into one of our storage buildings to do a little inventory and was greeted by 2 little mice scurrying away. I jumped and ran out the building in the opposite direction. You’d think after 8 years at the company I’d be used to this sort of thing.  Critters are a daily occurrence for us but I still jump every time I see something move where it be or when I find dead things (that was unpleasant). Seeing the mice this morning made me think back to some of the other animal/bug encounters I’ve had.

Evil Stink Bug Invader

This year we had the epic battle with the massive yellow jacket hive that settled into the crawl space above the office. Every morning for about a month we would come in and open all the doors. Each of us would grab our swatter of choice and clear out the office invaders. Throughout the day you’d be minding your own business and suddenly discover you were sharing the room with a dozen yellow jackets thus initiating a swatting frenzy. Toward the end we were all getting very good at swatting the buggers out of the air. My boss did what he could with cans of bee spray which mostly resulted in making himself ill from the blow back. They finally brought in a professional to take care of the problem before it got colder and the buggers got angry. As soon as the yellow jackets cleared out, the stink bugs started moving in.

I know not every state has experience with stink bugs. They are awful. The end of a warm day is spent clearing the 50 or so off of my car before I leave. They get in little cracks and crevices so they can drop on you when you least expect it. They hide behind posters and as I discovered last year love raincoats hanging on hooks. I found at least 10 in each pocket, 20 in the hood, and I don’t know how many inside the coat. It was unpleasant to say the least. One of the many annoying things about stink bugs is the way they fly. They are not only audible fliers, sounding like little remote controlled airplanes buzzing around, but they are bad it. The most common way for a stink bug to land on a wall is to crash into it, fall to the ground and climb up to its preferred landing spot. My day is filled with the sounds of Bzzzzzzz…plop. They will also crash into you randomly because apparently they are unable to steer around you.  Today the stink bugs reached a new level in their invasion. They took out our microwave. My coworker was heating up his lunch and the microwave made the same sparking noise it makes when you put metal in it. He swore he didn’t put metal in but the microwave did smell funny. He tried again and we realized it was the sound of stink bugs being bombarded by microwaves. Thanks to the little brats I ate a cold lunch.

There are many other random encounters with mother nature. The skunk that set up residence under the storage shed. Last year’s epic battle between the stink bugs and the preying mantis. In case you’re wondering, preying mantis DO eat stink bugs and its fun to watch and laugh maniacally at it. The various birds that have flow into the office and been somehow unable to find a way out even though we have exits on every wall. The day I had to yield to the deer that decided they wanted to get to the other side of the farm by way of A-range. Snakes, frogs, etc….. These things are to be expected from time to time when you work on a farm next to the woods. There was one incident that I will never forget and still tops my list.

One day I was innocently doing inventory in one of our greenhouses. Walking among the beautiful plants checking my quantities and a flying object came right at my head. It was a duck. This is a covered greenhouse with doors. The last thing I expected was to have a soon to be mama mallard coming at my head because I was too close to her nest. Mice scurrying around sure but not a full grown duck. It took at least an hour for my heart rate to settle down. It seems she had found a block of taller plants, shoved a few around to make a circle and made her nest in a nice hidden away spot. After the initial swoop, I spotted the nest with the little bunch of eggs in it. From then on that house was entered with caution and she was the first thing I looked for. I felt we had developed an understanding, she doesn’t swoop at my melon and I’ll leave her alone. I actually recall one day where I scolded her out loud because she had left her nest unattended. It was a special relationship.

I think I’ll actually miss my random animal encounters when I move on to another job. It’s been fun having them break up some of the duller days. I won’t miss the stink bugs though.

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