Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Get Lost

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It can clear your mind and remind you forgot to use anti-perspirant this morning. Go do it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

On the Selfoui

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I realize I'm being sort hypocritical here by posting this photo of these women taking a selfie, but I do try hard to blur out faces as much as possible, sue me. 

I'm of an age where I am starting to feel bad about my neck and for a long time, just felt bad about how I looked. I'm over that now, although I'm thinking investing in a few turtlenecks might not be a bad idea.

So, imagine how I really feel about selfies. I'm happy that others love taking them. I'm glad that is how others rejoice in friendship, impromptu gatherings, visits to the chiropractor and document each and moment by placing yourself in the picture.  I do a similar thing every day when I post a picture to instagram remember both the good and the bad that transpired. What I don't love is when your picture taking means that I'm also in your picture.

My friend Jess has a fabulous post about photographing people while they are eating, but in this case substitute me talking, bending over weeding, turned at an unflattering angle or just not in the mood to be captured in your need to be captured. I'm more than happy to pose when you ask me to pose, but I hate to be caught off guard.

There are truly some amazing photographers who have taken gorgeous candids of friends and family at events, even the most recalcitrant of victims party guests. It is also a given that at an anniversary party or graduation, there will be the family shots and these lovely folks realize that the events are to be documented and either prepare (Xanax anyone?) or are happy to comply. I'm not sure if this is a generational thing, but always think before you snap.

Friday, May 15, 2015


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I'm feeling about 60% of normal. I still can't go to the gym. I barely managed to get halfway packed today, walked the dog once and read a book. I'm glad I was an Energizer bunny early in the week because had I any notion that I was going to be out for two solid days, I would have wept into my chia flax flakes on Monday.

Yay Friday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday wrap up

Pretty good day around here if you discout the fact it rained (poor Ernest).

I managed to get some paperwork sorted,  made it to  Dress For Success to drop off donations including some lovely dresses that no longer fit me but will make some petite woman very happy. I struggled with letting them go. I realized that other than a few occasions where photos are used to document events, I could wear a paper yard waste sack with a nice Hermes belt and no one would remember what I wore to x event.

The same thing goes for shoes. I really wanted to buy a new pair of sneakers for an upcoming trip and went to Nordstrom to try them on for size (really, for size as the do run large).  The shoes were cute, they were not in the color I wanted.  I had to leave to attend a lunch honoring Nora Pouillon and on my way back to the car struggled with going back in the store to look for a substitute shoe.  When I got to the entrance, I turned back.  I took five seconds to think about why I wanted the shoes to match a skirt perfectly.while the ones I had in my closet were not perfect, they would do and no one would remember what I had on my feet.

It is more important to be remarkable and memorable because you are articulate, interesting and attentive. That is what people should and will remember about you no matter if your shoes don't match your skirt.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Road food

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I'm all for packing snacks to take on the road. You never know when you'll end up stuck in an airport or wake up in the middle of the night starving.  I usually pack a few Larabars which never seem to get eaten, a package or two of m&ms (don't judge), turkey jerky (in the day), a few apples and satsumas if I know my upgrade isn't going to clear and I'm going to be hungry.

The April 14, 2015 New York Times food section was devoted to the sandwich with many different recipes and ideas to spice up your sandwiches.  Martha Rose Shulman suggested making a goat cheese and roasted pepper sandwich which doesn't get soggy because the peppers are placed between the goat cheese encrusted bread.  This sounds like a great idea, but I still wonder if the goat cheese is going to be okay after 12 hours in transit.

My sandwich choice is the solid peanut butter and marmalade sandwich - Paddington style. It is a sandwich that holds up to being smushed in the bottom of my bag and can be eaten any where. If you are concerned about nut allergies, you can sub out sunflower butter, but don't skip the marmalade.

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I have to admit that I'm in awe of the English and their fascination with the sandwich - I've had many a meal of the cut rate sandwich eaten on the train or in my hotel room late at night.  They seem to cram so many things in the sandwich and because they are British, they seem so exotic.  My favorite sandwich was the cheese and celery sandwich from Marks and Spencer.  There was something about the crisp and mineral taste of the celery mixed with the mature cheese and mayonnaise that was comforting to me.  I haven't been able to locate them recently, but I would break my dairy embargo to have one soon.

I can't wait.

What is your favorite traveling sandwich?

Monday, May 11, 2015


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Marie Kondo advocates for socks standing up in the drawers, I would rather see skunk cabbages stand at attention.  

I am a pro at overthinking things - airplane routings, hotel loyalty strategies, dinner options and now - where to donate my stuff.

A million bloggers have written about Marie Kondo and her best selling book about how tidying up can change your life and release unicorns. I know I have piles of things that do not bring me joy, but I'll be pretty pissed if I go looking for something specific and it is gone. The truth is that I don't need four gray cashmere sweaters and six pairs of chinos that really do nothing for me better than before butt.  I do need to keep at least two pairs of Prada flats, one pair of Jimmy Choo pumps and a few purses because I'm not going to spend money to replace those.

So, the letting go is hard for me. I have memories associated with many things - shoes that I instagrammed to death in Paris and Rome, a slightly tight sweater I bought because I was cold somewhere and promised myself would look great if I took off 10 lbs. and never wore again, a hard backed sketchbook I bought in Boston that I never used to write my deepest thoughts because it was the wrong dimensions.  Some of these objects are captured through photos so I can refer to them if I want such as the shoes, but others (tight sweater and sketch books) serve to remind me that I did not follow through with my goals.

What vexes me the most now is the actual disposing of the piles of unloved goods. It seems that most places (shelters, hygiene banks, help centers) are not as interested in your stuff, no matter how awesome it is and want money instead. I really can't blame them - money is easier to handle and can be used to provide directed services, but it is getting more and more vexing as a person who would love to see her stuff go somewhere.

I was happy to see that YWCA's Dress for Success Program is taking career clothing - which I have a bunch of as well as barely used casual jeans and tops which I am also happy to donate. I found an organization in Seattle that teaches young kids how to write and communicate that can use my many sketchbooks and who knows who will get small kitchen appliances and thousand orchid pots that we keep on accumulating.  I'll probably take this to Goodwill which has kindly opened a donation center on my daily ant path of errands.

To me there is no joy in the art of tidying up my stuff, it makes me realize that I do a lot of impulsive buying and not knowing what I leads to duplicate purchases.  While I'm not going to spend a lot of effort inventorying my closet, I have a better grip on what I have and hopefully will find some excitement in putting on those Choos to go to lunch with the girls.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reading List

New Releases, Dec. 2011

I've been a terrible reader of late - mostly reading blog posts and short form pieces on leadership, growthhacking, personal growing, plant growing and what to do if you have six hours in Bratislava. I'm trying to get back into regular before bed reading.

Last year I bought a kindle Paperwhite - it was super on sale and I figured it would be a great thing to have for traveling. Our library has a great e-book selection, so I haven't bought a ton of books unless I really needed them, so the recurring costs have been minimal.

I have a love/hate relationship with e-books.  I love that there are no library fines and that they take up only virtual space. I hate that I have no idea where I am in the book and sometimes I can't even remember what I was reading.  I also love that I can sync what I am reading across all my devices - so what I read on my Paperwhite I can then pick up on my phone.

I do love that they are light, easy to transport and that I can throw a ton of stuff on the Kindle and it doesn't change the weight.

I just finished "Euphoria" for my book club and the "Power of Habit" is up next.

What is on your reading list?

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Happy Saturday

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Today must have been the hottest day of the year to date. This is probably why I decided to spend two hours or two back episodes of "This American Life" pulling up morning glory, quack grass and trying to figure out what to do with a million other perennial weeds in my ppatch.

It was probably a really good day to sunscreen the back of my neck, eat breakfast and hydrate before gardening. I was famished when I got home and must have demolished everything within my wake. This is not a good way to eat brunch.

For the last six weeks I've been eating a 90% vegan diet and so far so good. I have had a few lapses into salmon, 10 year old aged cheddar and cream cheese for a bagel. There is so much you can do when you are traveling.  I'm pretty excited to keep up with this for the next six weeks.

Today we went to my parents for a pre-Mother's Day dinner that featured burgers. The vegan burgers are not cutting it for me. I'm going to have to make my own. I think sometimes it is the toppings and the crispy bun and the ritual of construction that are just as important as the meat/meat substitute as burger.

I look forward to the same meal tomorrow except tomorrow I'm bringing my own relish.

Happy Saturday.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Home again

Bershon much?

I'm happy to be home for the next week or so. There is a ton of stuff to do in the garden, around the house and in my brain. I have been slowly been tackling my garden and my house but my brain and thoughts require a little housekeeping as well.

It is also Mother's Day weekend.  I argue that we should celebrate our moms every day, but these days I am even more cognizant of everything my mom has done to keep our family going and how she is strong and resilient. I'm lucky to have her as my mom.

Her desire this year is to have a simple barbecue at their house, using paper plates and cups so that there is no clean up. Most moms wish to be taken out, but my mom is happiest cooking and surrounding herself with her family. We'll give her that.

For all you moms out there - thanks for all you do.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

On Mentorship

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Last week we flew to the Bay Area to see a friend and mentor give his last lecture to his students before retiring.   It seems that we spend more time attending memorials than retirements and weddings these days, so it made us happy to be present and catch up with dear friends for a happy occasion. 

Paul Groth is a professor of geography and architecture at UC Berkeley, he was also TH's father's student. Over the years, Paul took a genuine interest in our lives and scholarship. When TH was contemplating returning to grad school to get her PhD., he reviewed her statement of purpose and provided excellent editorial advice.  As she worked towards finishing her degree, he provided needed encouragement, advice and when it was time, Paul helped hood her.

When I was in grad school (again), Paul helped narrow down my broad desire to write about the connection between health and landscape history to a topic that was well-defined but not well studied. The thesis ended up being a lot of fun to research and write.   

Prior to this trip, TH and I talked a lot mentors and influencers in our lives.  Does that person have to be called out as a mentor? Does that person have to be someone who gains from your accomplishments?  Should they? Does that person have to be someone you shadow or check in with on a regular basis? Does that person have to be within your discipline?  How much do you need to give back as a mentee?

When I went back to school for the second round, I felt more grounded in my scholarship and felt like the professors that took a genuine interest in me acted as mentors.  From them, I learned to research, analyze and write about topics of gender, landscape and built environment in a way that made me feel proud of my work and felt like they were also happy with my results.  I still hear them in my head when I write or look at a building or urban plaza.  I remember to think of the context and events that impacted the design or placement of buildings.   Now I think of software and app design in the same way, so what I learned is bigger than a building footprint. 

What makes a good mentor? Have you mentored someone? 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


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I cam out of my shell a little more today, was more gregarious and asked a lot of questions. In doing this, I learned a lot. While this all is so energizing, I'm just as knackered as the day before. Collision Conference, you killed it and you killed me.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Leaving Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Collosion Conference Day 1 is over. I am exhausted, but happy I came. 

Deeper thoughts of conferences tomorrow. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

Lettuce Planting for Dummies

This is one of a series of posts to get you in the mood to garden. Short of serving your guests stuffed rhubarb leaves with a castor bean stew, growing your own food is easy and fun and not too hard if you don't over think it.

So many cute lettuces to choose from these days. 
There have been spring showers galore in Seattle, but we’re now in a pretty stable weather pattern of the slow and long Spring.  We’re likely to get more rain, but the ground has warmed up sufficiently to start planting all of the things we’ve been buying at the grocery store and letting disintegrate in our produce crispers.

I’m talking to you lettuce.

Lettuce is one of the easiest things in the world to grow and honestly, is one of the most satisfying to harvest.  There is nothing more gratifying (smugger) than serving a salad that you picked yourself from your back garden beds. There are a million varieties out there for the small garden and ones that are way more interesting than the run of the mill iceberg, romaine or loose leaf we see at the grocery store. Lettuce requires a little warmth, not a lot of space and minimal soil prep.

If you have about a two by three foot area, you can grow lettuce from now until mid July.  First, prep the soil by removing all the overgrown weeds and tags from last year’s plantings.  With a trowel, loosen the soil to about 3 inches and to lightly aerate it.  Next smooth it out again and let it settle for a few hours if you have the time.   If you don’t have such a big area, scale down what I’m about to tell you. If you don’t have a bed prepped – go buy a 2 cubic yard bag of planting mix and use that bag as your new raised bed.

If you have purchased some lettuce seedlings at the grocery store or nursery, good on you.  Starts are a great way to get your garden going. Just make sure to separate out each plant if they are planted in a mass by teasing them gently from each other and plant them into individual holes. I try and space them about six inches apart on a grid if possible so that they have a little room to grow and can crowd out any weeds. Try to be careful not to destroy the root structure when you pull them apart and make sure that the roots and the base of the lettuce plant are covered with soil. 

We've resorted to growing lettuce in gutters around here. It works, mostly.

At the same time you should sow some seeds to keep that lettuce train going into the summer.  I usually plant one or two short rows nearby the grid of lettuce seedlings.  Lettuce seeds are pretty narrow and long, so I create a ½” furrow to drop in the seeds and then cover them over gently with some soil to keep the seeds from being exposed.  Under the right conditions, the seeds should germinate within 10 days.  From these rows you can directly thin your lettuces by either transplanting some of the seedlings to another place or put them into a salad. 

Baby lettuces are great mixed with other things  such as baby kale and herbs

About ten days later, I do another sowing, either in rows or I broadcast the seeds (lazy gardeners FTW) in a small (1x1 ft) square to use a nursery area.  These seedlings can go into the spaces where we’ve harvested the first seedlings we bought to encourage us to keep going.  The trick is to keep sowing to stagger the harvest.  There is only so much lettuce that one family can eat in a day.

As the season continues, you might find that your lettuce has bolted and turned bitter.  This is the time to pull most of it up and calls for a lettuce holiday.  In this case, I encourage you to let a few heads go to seed because they are both pretty and the seeds germinate the following season giving you a new crop of free seedlings and start eating all those beans and chard that has taken off.

You can start the lettuce train again in early September when things cool down a little bit, the days are getting shorter, but if you pick a lettuce variety with a short harvest time, you’ll be golden.

Here are a few of my favorites –

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Sunday Musings - on Travel

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My friend Joan just posted to Facebook a great article from the NY Times on what makes a good travel companion - you can read it here.

I met Joan by posting on Flyertalk in 2000 (remember that far back?). I had posted that we were visiting Paris for a day and would like to meet up with anyone who wished to go exploring with us. Joan took a morning train from Brussels and we spent a delightful day wandering, eating and marketing.  From that trip a million miles ago, we've traveled to Paris again, London, Japan as well as the US. We talk about doing some more traveling soon. What made our trips work is that we have many of the same interests (quirky museums, eating, markets and fine hotel lounges), we have similar schedules and stamina for long days of walking and know when to give each other space.  We're also pretty good planners and communicators and this helps tremendously.  Joan is also the only person in the world who could get me to eat sweetbreads and I sort of liked them.

The past July, I took another short break with my friend Elaine to Paris. We had seen each other off and on over the years when she lived in London, but had never traveled together.  Again, we had a great trip because we had the same interests (sight seeing, shopping and eating), similar levels of energy and stamina and were mature enough to enjoy our own company.  I would repeat the trip again in a heartbeat.

Trips together don't require flying on the same flights or the same day, but they require some discussion prior to leaving to figure out logistics such as reservations at hard to get into restaurants and booking that burro ride down to the bottom of the gorge in 100 degree heat.  They also require a little flexibility, which can get harder as we get less flexible in our bodies and minds.

Where to go next?

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Saturday wrap up

Grand Central detail 

2600 miles flown
Many rows of needlepoint completed
Awesome catch up with a friend
Great food at Craftbar 
And a high of 78 tomorrow 

Friday, May 01, 2015

May Day

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I'm not calling for reinforcements -  but I am making my May goal public. I would like to blog every day this month, no matter where I am and when.  I like those gold stars that mark my calendar for completing tasks.

Last month my goal was to record everything I ate - that was interesting. I learned I love sugar and early in the day and late at night. I don't eat enough vegetables and that I walk a lot and get plenty of exercise.

All these goals start to snowball in a good way - I track my food, I try and exercise daily and I need and want to write about all sorts of things.

Happy May.

What are you goals for the month?