The Last Gift

81721220_10221596693528120_505395252761198592_oWhen I was a tomboy of eleven, my Aunt Willow gave me a sterling silver bracelet.  Why she gave it to me I’ve long forgotten; whether it was an intentional gift or a hand-me-down token from her own jewelry collection, I don’t know.  I do know that from the moment that she gave it to me, I clamped it upon my wrist and wore it nearly continuously for twenty-six years.  I loved it because it was real silver, simple but classic, with a patina braid running thru its middle.   It was buttery soft; I could bend it effortlessly back into shape if need be and I felt like a bonafide adult with it on my wrist.  It was vintage, before I knew what such a thing meant, and it went with me everywhere.

As the years dulled its shine and it wore a permanent tan line onto my wrist, the bracelet saw me through the end of my childhood and the cliches and social awkwardness of middle school.  It was there when I graduated high school and college; it glistened under fluorescent lights as I signed the papers to buy my first house.  It moved to LA (and back) with me and bore silent witness to my first heartbreak and also to my first taste of freedom.  The first time I ever ate sushi, on Franklin Ave in Hollywood, it was there, peeking out of my jacket sleeve.  When it was time to move home again, there it was, snug & tight on my wrist through two state lines and 100’s of u-haul miles.  It traveled back to California for Edgar and I’s San Francisco honeymoon and was there in the delivery room when all three of our boys were born.

I wore that bracelet to all the great moments in my life; to all the mundane everyday ones and all the epic, life-altering ones in equal measure.  It was a small but defining element to what made me me; at least before the loss of you.

Six months ago, today, was the last time I wore that bracelet; the last time I saw your face.  Your hands were not as cold as I thought they would be and I kept expecting you to open your eyes.  I stared at your still chest~that great barrel-shaped chest of yours and willed it to rise.  For you to take a breath, just one breath, again.  A Garth Brooks song was playing and I thought that you must be there, in that room with us, because that was totally a song you would have picked to try & comfort us; to let us know that you were safe & peaceful.

And as I stood there, dry-eyed, looking at your stilled strength and rough, capable hands; I took my bracelet off my wrist and placed it in your shirt pocket.  I patted it down gently and said goodbye, to you, to us, to everything I’d known before. The me that wore that bracelet, through life’s ups and downs, was gone.  And as time works its wicked ways and does what time does best, my bracelet will move down; slipping between your ribs, slowly, slowly inching to where I wish I could be, to where I know I am~in your heart forever.

~Drew~

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Drew, you burned as bright as an earth born star is allowed to. The way forward is unimaginable. To say that the world is a darker place without you in it would be a gross understatement. Our lives, our hearts and our souls will never be the same without you.

So while we are all left cruelly grappling in the vast & never ending emptiness which stretches out before us in your absence, we know that this is not goodbye. You are with us still. In the wind rattling the pine trees, in the glow of the summer sun, in the sweet smell of diesel and sawdust, in the warmth of a wood burning fire and of course, in Maxwell Wilder.

So until we meet again, know that we will miss you every minute of everyday and if you happen to hear a rowdy ruckus down here, that’s our love being howled up to you~

Woodland Park Zoo

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Most people would assume a zoo is a zoo is a zoo the world over, but having visited a handful of them from Seattle to Dublin, I can tell you that that is simply not the case.  Zoos can be as varied as the animals within their walls.

Founded in 1899 with elk, bears, deer and ostriches as its main attractions, the Woodland Park Zoo has evolved into a meneragie of animals with over 1 million visitors a year.   The first zoo in Seattle was a small collection of animals owned by the Lake Washington Cable Railway who gifted the beasts to the city after the Woodland Park property was bought from local lumber barron Guy Phinney.  Building onto the traditional English style park layout of the Phinney estate, the Woodland Park Zoo occupied the upper level of the property while Lower Woodland was left as undeveloped woods until Aurora Avenue was built in 1933 dividing the property indefinitely.

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Over the years as the exhibits and the animals have evolved, the zoo has gravitated toward an ecological and naturalistic approach with exhibits reflecting the animals’ natural environment as much as possible.  Known as a world-class zoo, Woodland Park provides not only an informative & educational day out but also packs in lots of extra fun for the littles.  There’s a natural habitat themed playground complete with a giant spider’s web and an iron bird’s nest.  For those inevitable PNW rainy days,  there is also the indoor Zoomazium with a two-story treehouse and a toddler play area.

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We sprung for an annual membership which pretty much pays for itself in 3 visits or less and it allows us the freedom to spend all day looking at snakes and bugs should we so desire without the pressure of trying to see everything in one day.  London and I literally spent an entire hour once watching a Komodo dragon grub down on his macerated lunch and aside from watching chunks of flesh being chomped between giant reptile jaws; it was quite relaxing because there was no where else we needed to be at that moment and we just sat there & enjoyed it.

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So if you’ve been putting it off, make a plan this year to go to the Woodland Park Zoo.  Fostering an awe of nature and animal admiration can never start early enough in my opinion.  For us, yearly visits to the zoo help me to teach my boys that it is a big ‘ol world out there, full of all sorts of amazing creatures and that it is up to us to keep it that way and anything that helps me simultaneously teach them this vital lesson & keeps them entertained, that’s a win in my book.

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Woodland Park Zoo

750 North 50th Street Seattle, WA 98103

206-548-2500

Fall & Winter Hours: 9:30am-4pm~Spring & Summer Hours: 9:30am-6pm

Prices: Adults $22.95 and Kids 3-12 $13.95~Ages 2 and under are FREE

 

Trinity

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Today, on what would have been your 1st birthday, I celebrate you my darling blue eyed niece.  We had 11 months, 3 days and a handful of hours to call you ours.

We are taught that love is infinite and I think that we as humans believe that means that the love that we show and give others will always be infinite as well.  And in a sense, it is.  I will always carry you in my heart and each family photo from now on will be missing you.  But had I known that loving on you, holding you, breathing in that sweet baby scent of yours was not the infinite number we’d been promised but a specific and very countable number of times, my heart would have broken.  That is the very reason for the guise though, because I would have held onto you desperately, never letting you go had I known and love should never be desperate.  It should never be held down & tethered as if it would be whisked away at a moment’s whim.

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I few years ago, I had a dream that your Dad, my baby brother Josh, had died in some tragic accident and the feeling of grief I awoke with was so tangible that it nearly choked me.  In the years since, he certainly has come close to actualizing that dream of mine and I don’t think I would be alone in saying that more than a few fevered prayers have been said on his behalf.  But then you came, and like most daughters, you had him wrapped around your tinest finger the moment you first drew breath.  You mellowed him, stilled his recklessness and gave him a purpose outside of himself with which to hold onto.  Comfortable in his role as a father; if he faltered we never saw it, and the hopes and dreams he held for you were plain as sunlight upon his face.  In short, you, dear Trinity, made him a better man.

Though we will never know why you left us so soon perhaps those angel wings of yours were ready to be claimed; earned from the moment you were born.   And though we will grieve the loss of you everyday; to have loved you and to have known you was worth the tears of a lifetime. So please fly high sweet one and know that though we will miss you till the end of our days, we are ever so grateful that, for a brief moment in time, you were all ours.

Pacific Northwest Ballet & George Balanchine’s Nutcracker

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I’ll be the first to admit that I am not always the biggest fan of ballet.  I like words too much to fall in love with an art form that often uses none at all.  However, ballet does  convey a story thru movement and artistry & can be enchanting in its own way, so I feel that a well-rounded culturally rich upbringing should include an occasional ballet or two.  It also helps that I happen to work at McCaw Hall, home of the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Opera, and dress rehearsal tickets are a periodic perk to my working woman grind.

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Of course, no ballet is better known than the Nutcracker and the Pacific Northwest Ballet does it better than most.  From the costumes to the infamous “growing” tree, everything about the PNB Nutcracker is colorful & enchanting.  It launches the beginning of the Christmas season for many in the Seattle area and Seattleites would be hard pressed to find a more dazzling tradition elsewhere.  Though I risked the wrath of my fellow ballet goers by taking my nearly 3-year-old as my date, aside from his plethora of loudly whispered questions, he actually did surprisingly well. The scenery & sets from the Nutcracker are designed by Ian Falconer, the notable children’s author & illustrator of  Olivia the Pig series, so the entire production has a very whimsical feel to it.

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The lobby of McCaw Hall is fittingly decked out during the Nutcracker season, with plenty of Instagram worthy scenes around and mouse cookies in the concession stands. With the ballet clocking in at just over two hours long with a 25 minute intermission, getting to the theater early to let the little wild ones explore and get some energy out is always a good idea.  Plus, seeing some of the props and costumes will hopefully get them excited about the show they are about to see.  I know Huck certainly couldn’t get enough of being center stage in my photo shoots as well as sneaking in to photobomb perfect strangers shots as well.  The kid likes attention I guess.

 

 

Though I may not attend the ballet every year, I do and will continue to drag my boys to see The Nutcracker in hopes that they will learn at least a little to appreciate art in all its’ forms and to marvel at the athleticism of the dancers.  Maybe someday, far away down the line, when their wives suggest a date night out at the ballet, they won’t scoff or roll their eyes but dutifully put on their best garb for a night out on the town.  For that is what going to the ballet is all about; witnessing ethereal beauty through the story of dance and conveying emotions & themes through the movement of silent bodies.  And I can rest easy knowing that their appreciation of art & beauty & passion, no matter where it takes them; it all started with those job perk dress rehearsal tickets.

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Pacific Northwest Ballet & George Balanchine’s Nutcracker

Runs from the day after Thanksgiving thru the end of December

Tickets run between $25-$178

McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street

Seattle, WA 98109

206-441-2424

 

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Christa’s Sandwichboard

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My second job back in high school was at a gourmet deli & wine shop on the edge of downtown.  We had the most delicious bread, delivered from a local bakery and nearly everyday I would walk home with the day-old loaves tucked under my arm; the taste of grilled cheese sandwiches dancing on my tongue.  It was the summer of bread, and though evidence of my daily carb smorgasbord slowly began to take its toll on my waistline, for those short glorious months I had money to spend on whatever I chose and a seemingly endless supply of potato rosemary bread to go with it.

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After I went away to college and my high school bread baby quickly gave way to a much sleeker starving college physic, the deli shuttered its doors taking those yeast infused temptations with them.  Over the years, bakeries came and went all along 1st street but the quintessential deli seemed to be ever elusive until Christa’s Sandwichboard set up shop.

Christa’s is bigger than it looks from the outside and like all good deli’s, comes stocked with a cold case full of cakes and salads. The decor is vintage cottage quaintness at it’s best with a bit of Victorian flavor thrown in to match the surrounding antique stores.  It’s the perfect place to tuck in and catch up, which is just what my sister Sammi and I did on a sunny day a few weeks back.  It was a celebration of her finally passing her investment banker test or financial test or whatever it was and which I still don’t understand a thing about, and so we took our respective babies out for sandwiches, soup & cake.

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We both ordered the mushroom soup, and I don’t say this lightly, but honestly, it was one of the better soups I’ve ever had.  Creamy, yet brothy, with bits of mushroom floating blissfully throughout, it was surprisingly decadent.  My sandwich, a Basil Mozzarella & Tomato concoction, made for some messy eating, with balsamic oozing  deliciously thru my fingers.  By the time I was halfway thru eating it, I was a hot mess and Huck; despite a table with ample empty chairs which he had rejected in favor of my lap, was gladly licking off all the tangy sauce which fell onto his arms.

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We ordered a celebratory piece of cake, which in true trendy fashion, was ombre purple with silver sugar balls which Huck couldn’t get enough off.  After properly destroying the cake, the evidence of which could be found all over the table and ourselves after the babies got ahold of it, we left Christa’s Sandwichboard with full bellies and happy memories; a true deli-licious afternoon indeed.

 

Christa’s Sandwichboard

1206 1st Street Snohomish, WA 98290

 360-568-9866

Open Tuesday-Sunday 10:30AM~5PM