February Things

Things I’m Learning.

She likes pretty rugs.

She likes pretty rugs.

This past month, I have been getting the hang of cat-parenting. Yes, a lot of people my age are dealing with actual parenting for humans. And I know it sounds silly, but until recently, I don’t think there was ever anything truly dependent on me for their long-term survival. Enter Sophie, the calico cat we inherited from Peter’s father. Since Peter has been busy packing and dealing with paperwork and appointments, I have taken on the main role of kitty caregiver. When we first got Sophie home, she literally hid under the blankets of our bed for more than 48 hours. She did not eat, bathe or use her litter box. There were two terrified bright green eyes staring at me when I would peer in at her, but Kitty wouldn’t budge. But now, I am happy to report that in a few weeks Sophie has made exponential progress, sitting between us on the couch in the evenings, gobbling her food like she’s starving (she’s not), and enjoying laps, playtime and brushing. Also, I guess since I feed her, she kind of thinks I’m the best. She sleeps curled against me at night, follows me around, and sits opposite me on the couch while I’m on the computer, paws tucked in, watching me work with fascination. I feel a little guilty, since just as she is getting settled in here, we have to move her across the country in a month, but Peter is sure she’ll love Seattle. He is already talking about taking her to Pike Place Market in a baby sling and showing her all the fresh seafood. Yeah, uh-oh.

Things I’m Making.

Idle hands, as they say… So, I’m attempting my biggest knitting project yet- a striped throw blanket. There will be seven colors, and I am currently on #2.

From http://www.purlbee.com/. I'm thinking this is what it should look like when i'm done, although I substituted a couple of colors and the wool is probably not quite as luxurious.

From http://www.purlbee.com/. I’m thinking this is what it should look like when i’m done, although I substituted a couple of colors and my wool is probably not quite as luxurious.

In keeping with the surprisingly (for me) DIY theme, I also attempted to make my own Valentine’s Day card for Peter, mostly because the nearby art school gift shop –with the best cards ever, not an exaggeration– has permanently closed (SAD!) I almost went to Walgreens, and then I thought, but wait, I can make a better card than whatever they have at Walgreens, so I got out my art bin, sketchpad, pencils and pastels and illustrated a little card, complete with drawings of us and our cat Sophie. I am actually pretty happy with how it turned out… I even put a bird on it.

Cooking: There’s been a lot of take-out lately (with mixed results) due to the craziness of this past month. But after awhile, the body starts to crave something healthy- something you make yourself so you can rest assured you haven’t just consumed your allotted saturated fat for the month in one sitting. Here’s a cliche, probably three years late, but did you know how awesome and versatile quinoa is? Of course you do. So I’ve been making quinoa for breakfast (brown sugar, cinnamon, almonds, berries), AND quinoa for lunch (with shredded chicken, apples, chickpeas, corn, almonds, green onions, feta cheese, and a homemade dressing of apple cider, vinegar, olive oil, honey, and salt.) Thanks, Pinterest.

Places I’m Going.

Once the initial sheen of San Antonio wore off, I really stopped doing stereotypical “touristy” things. At first I was all, “Ooh, let’s walk down to the Riverwalk for dinner!” Now I’m like, “Ugh, I hate all those tourists with their strollers and the overpriced Olive Garden-esque Italian food.” But when I have visitors, I do things I wouldn’t normally do, and actually really find myself enjoying some of the events and destinations of this city. My mom visited this past week, so we ventured out with like tourists, and a major surprise for me was how amazing the San Antonio Botanical Gardens are. Nope, I had never visited, despite loving gardens and living here for a year and a half. No excuses, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. But I’m so glad I had the chance to see this place before moving. Despite being technically winter, and a dry winter at that, the foliage and flowers and succulents were gorgeous. I especially liked the zen-state-inducing Japanese garden and the Texas Native Trail. I know this is Texas, so I shouldn’t be surprised by the size of things (HUGE, always huge), but seriously. This place had its own lake with a log cabin for the East Texas Pineywoods area, and a whole street showing traditional Texas lawns, complete with little houses. So, so cool. I loved that it was educational and scientific, with detailed labeling- it would be a killer field trip for Landscape Architecture students- but it was something kids could enjoy, too. Who doesn’t love a whole street of miniature houses?

One of the houses and lawns- Spanish-style. Adorable.

One of the houses and lawns- Spanish-style. Adorable.

Music to Which I am Listening.

(I know, that dangling “to” bothered me as well.)

I have really been enjoying the classic stylings of Sam Cooke lately.

As for newer artists, these two songs- dreamy and mysterious- by Grizzly Bear and The Dirty Projectors- have somehow captured my mood lately.

P.S. Just listen- don’t watch- the Grizzly Bear video if you’re at all squeamish.

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Born with Nomad Blood.

Bantry Bay, Ireland, on a trip with my mom in 2007. This is very near the area that my great-grandparents were born.

Bantry Bay, Ireland, on a trip with my mom in 2007. This is very near the area where my great-grandparents were born.

Most Americans have roots elsewhere. The people that led to us lived in faraway places, either hundreds of years ago, or for some, maybe only weeks ago. We are adventurers by nature, seekers of the new. Our blood is tinged with the melancholy of the generations before us, the troubles that brought them here, but also with the hope that better things were ahead for them, and for us.

Many, many Americans have stories like these: My Irish great-grandparents passed through Ellis Island in the 1890s. They were born in County Cork, married there, but bore all seven of their children on American soil. My grandmother, born in 1914, was their youngest child. She met and married my grandfather in Wisconsin in the 1930s. They had three daughters, my mother the youngest. In 1949, they moved to Evanston, Illinois from a small farming town in Wisconsin. My grandfather’s family had a farm there, where his mother, father, brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephews lived and worked. Their family, of Scottish descent, had lived there for generations. But my grandfather did not want to be a farmer. He took his family and moved, symbolically, as far away as one can get from that lifestyle. He worked in downtown Chicago, as the vice-president of a gas company. As a very small child, my mother recalls playing at her friend’s penthouse apartment in the early 1950s. There was a sunken living room, and all the walls were windows, where she pressed her nose against the glass and watched the dizzying city lights that seemed hundreds of stories below.

My mom, with her Scottish grandfather on his Wisconsin farm, c. 1953.

My grandparents’ intersecting lives were both touched by the decision to move and explore other options. My grandmother grew up very, very far away from her parents’ homeland in a quick generation. My grandfather exemplified the American dream. He didn’t live in Europe, so he didn’t have to be a farmer just because his parents were. In America, you really can be anything you want.

Today, we are all born into stories like these, families who made their way because of brave choices. But these are different times. Possibilities are even more endless for most of us, leaving us with a feeling of discontent and an unnamed restlessness. Our nomad blood surfaces in us if the gene is turned on. When we have this desire, stasis makes us nervous. Change is how we mark the passage of time. For me? I have always had constant desire to travel, to move, to experience new things. It’s the same drive of past generations, but maybe for more contrived reasons.

At Volunteer Park, Seattle, 2012.

At Volunteer Park, Seattle, 2012.

Yet, even when you feel like a modern nomad, sometimes there comes a point when you just know it’s okay to stay somewhere. Peter and I have both moved around a fair amount during our adult lives, and we are quite sure that the next move, to Seattle, will be the last one for awhile. Getting settled into a city I love with someone I love definitely sounds like a better plan than continuing to be a nomad, especially now that I’m in my thirties. I like to think that each of our moves, and the life changes that led to those moves, were necessary to bring us to this unique nexus of time and place. We know we’re ready to make a real home. And of course, that doesn’t mean we give up exploring. If anything, having a solid home base will lend itself even more to continuing travels and adventures.