Reveling in Sunshine

When I lived in Florida, I used to take sunshine for granted. As a matter of fact, I kind of looked upon it as a creator of sweat, sunburn and humidity, and avoided it whenever possible. Mine was a closed-in, air-conditioned existence.

Not so in Washington State. Here, I glory in the sunshine whenever it’s available. (I haven’t gone completely native. I still tend to get hindered by the rain, but I go outdoors every sunny chance I get.) About half the year, I even eat dinner on my back porch.

Recently it actually got up to 70 degrees for a whole day, and I had the opportunity to go hiking with a friend, and afterward we just sat on a lakeside park bench and soaked up the sun. It was glorious.  It was transforming. It was the perfect way to spend the day. Bliss. Simple. Free. It still makes me smile, just thinking about it.

Don’t you just love it when you feel glad to be alive? The sun’s rays and a friend with a sunny disposition. What gifts.

Come on, Spring! Hit me with all the goodness! I can take it!

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Nature’s Personality

When I lived in Florida, I avoided nature at all costs. For me it was a place of spiders and snakes and mosquitoes and lightning strikes and fire ants and tornadoes and floods and, increasingly, forest fires. You couldn’t even jump into a pile of leaves for the scorpions. (How does one get through childhood without jumping into at least one leaf pile?)

Status quo was heat and humidity and sweat and sunburns. Mostly, I hid indoors, and went into full-blown panic if my air conditioning broke down. In fact, life was hopping from one air-conditioned oasis to the next. All my windows were painted shut. Having that contentious relationship with the great outdoors, I kind of had the mindset that I was surviving in spite of, rather than because of, nature.

It’s amazing how quickly my attitude changed when I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Here, I don’t even own an air conditioner. During the warmer months, my windows practically stay open. I have a new-found love for fresh air. During those same months, I have dinner on my back porch every evening. I’ve yet to encounter a mosquito, let alone anything else that might bite me. I don’t even own any bug spray.

Here, I get outdoors every chance I get. I’m starting to look at the rainy, grey winter months (which I confess I’ll never get used to), as the penance I have to pay for the exquisite gifts of spring, summer, and fall. This is the first time I’ve experienced seasons in 40 years. They’re magical.

Perhaps nature is more than one entity. I like its personality much better here than I did in Florida. Here, we’re friends, not enemies. And I didn’t realize how much my life lacked for not having that friendship until it finally came along.

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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.

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Salting Pigeon’s Tails, and Other Games for Kids

My mother was one smart lady. She had three kids to keep busy and very little money to do it with, so she got creative.

We would often pack up a picnic lunch and go to the nearest cemetery. My friends think this is nuts, but I remember these as being very fun times. When you live in the city, a cemetery is often the closest you’ll get to the country. We were outdoors. We were enjoying our lunch, feeling the sun on our faces, and we could often glean stories from looking at the various headstones. For example, if a lot of the family died within months of each other during a certain period, it was probably one epidemic or another. And different symbols on tombstones mean different things. History, deductive reasoning, poetry, art…there is much to learn in your local bone yard.

She would also take us to parks, armed with nothing but a salt shaker. She would tell us that if we were able to put salt on a pigeon’s tail, we’d get to keep it as a pet. We’d toddle around for hours, wearing ourselves out and having a wonderful time, never quite salting that desired pigeon, and then we’d go home and sleep without complaint.

And you don’t have to buy bubbles and a wand to blow bubbles. You can use dish soap and water and glycerine a piece of bent wire.

One of my mother’s best purchases was a book of the local birds. While we were out on these forays, we’d often consult this book to determine the name of the various birds we’d see. I still have this book to this day.

Another book that I still have is the one describing a wide variety of card games. We could have fun for hours just playing cards.

Some of my favorite toys were the “blocks” that she had someone make by sawing up the remnants of discarded two by fours into various angles and shapes, and the collections of little bottles that I would fill up with various combinations of food coloring while pretending to be a mad scientist.

She’d also call leftovers “Dinosaur Meat”, thus igniting our imaginations and gaining our cooperation on eating the same meal for a third day in a row.

Sometimes we’d make candles out of our shortened crayons, or fry marbles or carve apples into shrunken heads. She’d somehow obtain the ends of rolls of butcher paper, and we’d draw for hours.

You may think it’s important to keep your child supplied with the latest electronics, but sometimes the greatest lesson a kid can learn is how to have fun with next to nothing.

bubbles2[Image credit: marvelousmommy.com]