30 January 2014

Urban Tramps

Photo taken somewhere near Tangletown with Ian's phone, using the flashlight app on my phone as illumination. 

Ian and I were lounging around our living room sometime in late December, in the aftermath of the Christmas Festivities and Santa's Sweatshop, basking slothfully in the twinkling lights from our tree and our string of illuminated tools, when the subject of our spring return to Cabo Verde came up.

We loved our first trip to this starkly beautiful island country. The people are well-educated, independent, musical, and they speak Portuguese. We spent several days hiking through dramatic landscapes of soaring peaks, plummeting cliffsides, endless ocean vistas, implausibly narrow and steep subsistence terraces--in use--and presumably impossible spire-top stone villages. "What the hell," I said in disbelief, the first time I saw the far side of Fontainhas. We knew immediately that we wanted to go back.

When, last summer, we decided to begin the process of building our forever home on Orcas, we realized that we would only be able to have one more expansive travel experience for the foreseeable future. First, we needed to save our money for building. Second, we wanted to be around for building, and the process is likely to take at least a year once we break ground. Third, once we're on Orcas we will want to spend at least a couple years settling into our new lives and our new community. Fourth, after the forever home is built, we won't have money for exotic travel on other continents, at least not until we take stock of the New Us.

We didn't debate long about where we wanted to go--Islands, Hiking, Sun (but not too much heat), Foreign. We love Greece, but it doesn't seem that foreign anymore, and Europe is easy to get to--we wanted a last adventure. And so Cabo Verde was decided.

Late in December though, when we were resting from the exertions of 2013 and beginning to peek into our new year, we realized afresh that one of our great pleasures in Cabo Verde was tramping up and down and around those mountains, and that we had, over the last few years since being there, begun settling pudgily into middle age.

"We'll have to start doing some regular hiking around the city," said Ian, "if we're going to be able to go more than one day."

"Twelve years ago we walked all over with Spackle," I replied, "and that was a lot of fun! And even if he's an old man and can't go anymore, that doesn't mean we have to stay home."

And so we scheduled Wednesday as hike training day, and every Wednesday so far this year, after Ian gets home from work, we've gone out for a long walk in a different neighborhood. The first Wednesday was New Year's Day and so we went to Discovery Park in the daytime, but since then we've had dark, cold, and sometimes damp expeditions around the city streets. Seattle is a pretty good city for building hill-climbing endurance, and we've huffed and puffed our way around Fremont and Phinney Ridge and Queen Anne, and we've taken two trips from home--one up to Woodland Park, and last night up to Latona and 65th.

We are LOVING this. It is exhilarating to stride along at night, feeling the chill of the winter air against the heat of our bodies. I yank off my hat when I'm hot, and revel in the tingle of steam rising from my scalp. We feel ALIVE, and we feel young again. I realized today that these nighttime rambles are something that I am going to unambiguously miss when we live on Orcas. There are spectacularly awesome things about living in the country, on an island, but sidewalks and streetlights are not part of those things, and sidewalks and streetlights make this new practice of ours possible.

Ian has been tracking our jaunts on his phone, which gives us elevation, distance, and speed. We've been walking fast--three or four MPH, and going for 4+ miles, and IT FEELS GREAT.


22 January 2014

Everything but the Kitchen Sink . . .

. . . is what we still have to buy for Our Orcas Home. It's true--we don't have to buy everything we're going to be putting into our island idyll forever home, but this sink--this gorgeous, hand-made copper farmhouse sink that we stumbled upon for a screaming deal at Handcrafted Metal--is the first purchase we've made EXCLUSIVELY for our dream home.

It was terribly exciting to complete this purchase at 11:00pm on a recent Saturday, after a long, monsoony-freeway day of visiting showrooms and ordering fireplaces and looking at window options and hardwoods and being generally overwhelmed by all the decisions we still have to make in the next 18 months or so. It took us a couple minutes, late at night, to realize what we'd done after hitting "pay now", and then we both squealed and bounced like little kids. But boy oh boy, there is still a lot of work to do before we can fall into our blessedly comfortable bed and bask in our quiet view out over West Sound, Shaw, and the Olympic Mountains. I'm sure the view will be visible in daylight when we finally hit our pillows, because I'm planning to put the bed together first and fall into in, profoundly knackered, the moment the movers have shut the front door behind themselves. 

I was telling a cousin recently that for the upcoming year-and-some-months, I am working, essentially, 2 1/2 full-time jobs--not including standard day-to-day living and housewifery. I have my ongoing cancer job, which is at a relatively low ebb right now as far as needing my attention, although it does have the effect of tiring me out before I'd like it to. I also have the virtually full-time job of readying our current house for sale early in 2015, plus the virtually full-time job of building a house from scratch on an island (plus I've managed to wedge in 5 weeks of travel in Lusophone countries between now and mid-September) . 

We do have a builder/general contractor for Orcas, but I am the main point person for him and all other members of the team not associated directly with putting in nails or pouring cement--the architect, the permit coordinator, and various sales people for various items: floors, windows and doors, fixtures, septic water paintcolors hardwaretilegroutknobsetc. It's difficult to represent in writing the maelstrom of details whirling through my mind. 

But, now we have a drain around which those details can circle and flow away as we complete them; a figurative knob to twist to bring our project into focus; a center from which to observe the scattered elements settling into place. 

After all, the kitchen sink really IS the most important fixture in a home. 

We love ours!

Super heavy, super well-packed box.
We wore out the drill battery opening it.
I mean, really a lot of screws. 
More screws (don't worry--this sink is like a first child--I am sharing way more pictures of it than I will of any subsequent home details). 
Ian unscrewing.

Exceedingly well-packed.

Oooh, yeah! There is a sink in there!

And it is AWESOME.

And AWESOME from the side.

And it has TWO SINKS!

And both sinks are GIANT!

And both sinks are also GIANT from an angle!


03 January 2014

Short Poem on Domestic Pleasures

Arms intertwined, braided, knotted.
What urgent crimson and purple orgy
Tumbled here, in warm, wet, covert passion
In the front-loader Whirlpool?