Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 3.0

This year, I’ll have had the distinct pleasure of experiencing Pacific Northwest springs for 4 years in a row. After the dreariness of winter, it’s such a delightful gift. To celebrate it, I’ve gone to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival for 3 out of the 4 springs. Each experience was unique.

The first year I blogged about the area in detail. I went alone. Because of that it was bittersweet, but it gave me the chance to really focus in on the surroundings. I still had a lovely time.

On year two, I went with a dear friend, and had even more fun. She is an amazing photographer, so the experience was even more of a visual treat. And we had a great lunch afterward.

This year, I went with my boyfriend, and we visited Tulip Town. It was absolutely stunning and romantic and a pure delight. I can’t imagine a better way to revel in the pure joy of spring!

Each festival experience was different. Each was wonderful. I’ll be going back again and again, without a doubt.

Without further ado, here are some of the pictures that we took on that glorious sunny day this time around. Enjoy!

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Please Don’t Flaunt Your Flowers

So, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Hurray for love! I hope you appreciate it every day of the year. Love really is all that matters in this world, and the romantic kind is beyond compare.

Having said that, I hope you will be a bit sensitive to those of us who don’t have it in our lives. Some of us look to Valentine’s Day with a certain level of dread and resignation. It’s particularly painful for those of us who have lost loved ones. And it can be downright depressing for those of us who have given up all hope of finding someone to love. (I know you’ll be tempted to say, “You’ll find someone!” in the comments section. But the odds are equally good that I won’t. Please allow me to reside in the real world.)

For those of us in the lonely hearts’ club, your big bouquet of flowers, delivered to the office with a great deal of fanfare, is disheartening. Your chocolate makes us lose our appetite. We are happy for you, yes, but it would be nice to be able to be happy for ourselves.

And please understand that for the lovelorn, the day after Valentines is viewed simply as a great opportunity to buy chocolate on sale. We don’t rush to work in eager anticipation of hearing about your romantic dinner at the fancy restaurant, or your bed strewn with rose petals. We’re just happy to have survived the day once again.

So please, enjoy your flowers. But could you take them home now? Thanks.

flowers

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There Goes the Neighborhood

I’ve been house hunting, and I can tell, almost immediately, if I’d be a good fit for a neighborhood. If there are wide expanses of manicured lawns, I definitely will not fit in. And I would chafe under rules that dictated what color I paint my mailbox. I’m not a “keep up appearances” kind of person, if I can possibly avoid it. I prefer a yard that’s pretty much au naturel, and my tastes can be unorthodox.

I love dandelions, because the bees love them. I don’t know why people object to moss or dollar weed. I mean, it’s green and it’s flat, right? What’s the big deal? Lawns were a French affectation that unfortunately caught on, and have been a nightmare for the environment ever since. I will not, absolutely will NOT fertilize my lawn. That crap gets into the watershed, and it’s one of the reasons that the river in Jacksonville gets choked with green slime every summer.

I like to plant flowers that will attract butterflies and bees and hummingbirds. I love to grow heirloom tomatoes, although I’m not great at it. I dream of having a bat house in my back yard. I think squirrels have as much right to food as any other creature. Possums keep the tick population under control. And if I feel like paining my house hot pink, I’ll do so (although it’s unlikely).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to leave junk cars up on cinder blocks in the yard, or moldy couches that fill with mice and stink after a good rain. I’m not going to plant flowers in an abandoned toilet or cook meth (I hate to cook). But if you can’t handle a neighbor’s yard that suffers from benign neglect, or a neighbor who has an interesting concept of art, then we’re going to have issues.

Having said that, I am quiet, I don’t cause trouble, and the police have never been called to my door. I want to steal an idea from a friend and call my next home “Tranquility Base”. I’ll even hold onto your mail while you’re on vacation if you ask, call 911 if I see someone peeping in your windows, and help you look for your dog if he runs away. So I’d like to think I’m a good neighbor to have. I am house hunting in the Seattle area, so if you are looking to sell, please, please contact me first. More details here.

Urchfont Manor
Urchfont Manor. It’s safe to say I do not live here.

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What I Love about Seattle, Washington

I’ve been living in this delightful city for 2 ½ years now, and I have never been happier. It sort of feels like I went to bed in Florida and I woke up in the Land of Reasonable People. Not a day goes by when I don’t look around in awe. How did I get so lucky?

Now, more than ever, I’m grateful for the liberal bubble in which I reside. In the current political climate, I think it’s the only reason that what little sanity I still possess remains intact. I love that my senators and my representative are all Democratic females. I love that we have a member of the socialist party (also female) on our city council. I love that our mayor is gay. And granted, it was a federal judge who ruled against Trump’s travel ban, but that judge was located right here in Seattle. I couldn’t be more proud.

The City of Seattle also just divested itself from Wells Fargo Bank due to its involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Integrity in politics. How refreshing. (Not that we always get it right. For example, the homeless situation here is abysmal, and there’s absolutely no excuse for it. But it’s a start.)

We’re also proud to be a sanctuary city. Immigrants are welcome here. Contrary to supposedly popular belief, that makes me feel safer. I don’t like the idea of people being snatched from their homes. That happens a lot more frequently in this country than any terrorist attack.

I love the fact that individuality is celebrated here. It means that creativity thrives. Because of that, you can experience a wide variety of art, music, culture, and food in this fair city.

Oddly enough, I’m glad that we have horrible weather in the winter. It makes me appreciate the rest of the year that much more. I spend a lot more time outdoors here than I ever did in Florida.

I love that no one here needs air conditioning (yet). I love the parks and the flowers and the diversity of the landscape. I want to explore this city and this state a lot more. I love that every neighborhood has its own personality.

I love that the environment is taken so seriously here. If you don’t recycle, you can practically cause a riot. And there are so many outlets for environmental activism.

I love that this is the most literate city in the country. I love that the library parking lots are always packed with cars. I love that people enjoy talking about books.

I don’t smoke pot, but I love that it’s legal here. I don’t drink coffee, but I love that it’s celebrated here, and I love hanging out in coffee shops. I am musically inept, but I love that you can’t sling a dead cat without hitting a musician. This is the land of Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, after all.

Now, if you want to talk about horrible traffic, out of control growth, and the outrageous cost of living… well, that’s a topic for another post.

seattle

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No Good Deed…

Yesterday, I was driving to the grocery store, thinking about how mad the world has gone and how helpless I feel about everything. I don’t know how things came to be this way, and I don’t know what to do to stop this slow motion political train wreck from happening. Nothing I do as an individual will ever be good enough.

While I was in the grocery store, I bought some flowers and decided to drop them off at the Idriss Mosque on the way home. I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel as if you are surrounded by people who want you gone, and I wanted them to know that not everyone feels that way. In fact, the majority of us do not feel that way.

When I pulled in to their parking lot, there were several cars there, and I certainly did not want to disturb them in the middle of prayers, so I decided to simply leave the flowers on their front porch with a note.

As I approached, there was a woman standing on the sidewalk around the corner. She was a tiny, older woman. I really took little notice of her. I assumed she was waiting for a bus or a ride or something. But as I was leaving, she confronted me and asked me what I was doing.

When I told her I was leaving flowers, she asked me why, so I told her I wanted to give support to people who were being discriminated against.

In a thick accent, she then began quizzing me as to my family background, and I said Danish, and she shouted that I was not an American, then, and that I had better take care of myself instead of worrying about anyone else.

When I told her I couldn’t disagree more, she pointed at my flowers and said they were bullshit, and that I called them Islamic f*****s. As I walked away, I said I would never call anyone that. The hatred in her eyes is something I will never forget.

I went back to my car and wondered if she was going to throw the flowers away. That bothered me a great deal. But I knew I couldn’t sit there, guarding the flowers all day. So I left.

As I drove home, I grew very upset. Here I tried to do something good, and this woman had made me feel much worse. But was I leaving the flowers just so I could feel good? If so, then maybe that woman was right. Maybe they were bullshit, and I wasn’t doing it with a pure heart after all.

I came home and I sat down and I cried. I cried for me. I cried for the mosque. I cried for humanity in general. And I am still left with the feeling that nothing I do will ever be enough.

The experience was very surreal. I suspect there are lessons I will learn from it as I reflect on it over time. The only thing that I’m certain of is that I really did hope for a positive outcome.

I don’t know what that woman expected to achieve. I don’t know why she perceived me as being such a toxic force and felt the need to respond in kind. I just hope that one experience with a random hate-filled crazy woman will not keep me from trying, in my admittedly inadequate way, to heal some of the wounds in this world.

Update: Recently I received a lovely card from Idriss Mosque. It said, “Thank you for your continued support and friendship.”  I’m glad they got my message, and the encounter with the crazy woman was not their fault. I wish them well.

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Spring! Nature! Joy!

Last week I went to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival with a dear friend. This is becoming an annual tradition for me. Seeing all that vivid color just fills me with an indescribable level of happiness.

That nature can produce such beauty, such elegance, such perfection makes me feel as though all is right with the world. How can I possibly worry about anything when such wonderments can spring up all around me without requiring my effort or input? It’s as if nature is saying, “Don’t worry. We got this.” All we have to do is be kind to the planet and get out of the way.

So, without further ado, and because I firmly believe that a picture really is worth a thousand words, here are some of the photos I snapped on that joyous day. Enjoy.

Flowers That Don’t Look Real

Once again I’m faced with the fact that I don’t know everything. I don’t know why this continues to take me by surprise. Oh, but it does.

Today I was introduced to a whole group of flowers, dozens, maybe hundreds, that I didn’t even know existed before. And they are otherworldly. They look like they’ve somehow been photoshopped into existence. They’re called auriculas.

Collage - Auricula Animals - 500

It seems that auriculas, like purebred dogs, have been very influenced by the hand of man. I’ve always had mixed emotions about that, but as you can see, the results are quite stunning. I may have to get an auricula one of these days. These photos came from Abriachan Nurseries.

Collage - Auricula Royals - 500

But how have I managed to be on this planet for a half century without even knowing of their existence? Especially when there are whole societies and organizations dedicated to their preservation and evolution? That shows how much I know. The Bard said it best:

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Shakespeare

(For more otherworldly flowers, check out columbines and bleeding hearts!)