The Adventures of an Intrepid Introvert: Confession #1

Braving Fred Meyer’s on Valentine’s Day…

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On the best day, my little introverted self struggles with crowds.  Be they crowds of people, of cars, or of dogs…too much of anything overwhelms me and sends me into a tailspin of irritated impatience.  I’m not proud of this, but it remains a fact.  Crowds ≠ Sane Lynda.  Some days I wake up and know that I should not be around people.  When one of these moods shows up during the grossest made-up holiday, created to make single people feel like failures, it is officially, The Worst.

So…I’m dusting off my blog today to vent, but also because I’ve been wanting to dust the blog off for a while now, and I figured this was as good excuse as any!

Truthfully, the day started off well.  I woke up early, coffee was ready, so I spent two hours in bed reading…this is my favorite way to start the day.  The knowledge that it was Saturday, and thus a day I don’t have to work, made the morning all that much sweeter.  When I did drag myself out of my room, The Mom surprised me with a Valentine’s Day gift from both her and The Cat…a grill-set and chocolates, respectively.  I hadn’t remember it was VD at all, so I instantly felt guilty for not giving her an equally thoughtful gift.  Instead I apologized and she requested two new food bowls for The Cat.

After a load of laundry, and watching the insanely pretentious, and equally horrible movie, The Letter, (which reinforced my feelings about James Franco, and further tarnished my tender feelings for Winona Ryder), I finally dragged myself off to Fred Meyer’s.  This is where things started to go wrong…

1). Everyone in South East King County had also decided that Four Corners in Maple Valley was where the wanted to be…

2). They also decided that in honor of this very special retail holiday, they would bring their entire family to the store with them (people…this is not quality family time)…

3).  Those families actually driving their vehicles decided today was a nice day to stroll down the highway a good 10-15 mph below the speed limit…

4).  I didn’t have my debit card!

The Mom had to go to the dentist the previous day, so she borrowed the card, and both of us forgot to get it back from her.  The Cat’s bowls, the guilt roses, and the food were purchased with the credit card.  However, the Red Box rental would be a different story.

I slogged my way back home through the morass of suburban, weekend drivers:  dropped off the guilt flowers, The Cat’s bowls, and lunch; picked up the debit card; pulled back on to the disheartening highway.

After almost parking in a cart return spot, I got in line at the rental kiosk, wondering how the chattering families in front of me could be so cheerful standing in queue.  (Though my spirit did reach out to the teenage boy wearing head phones, and clearly wishing he could be back in his bedroom reading Kurt Vonnegut.  A kindred spirit, no doubt).  Finally at my intended destination, I swiped my card, only to find out that this destination didn’t have the movies I reserved online.  This, it turns out, is because the two kiosks do not share an interconnected database, as I had assumed.  So back in line I get, and am finally on my home with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (not sure I’m going to like this, but figured it’d look pretty in HD), and Tusk (in anticipation of going to see Kevin Smith in Seattle next Saturday) riding innocently along in the passenger seat.

Those of you who can deal with these frustrations with a sunny disposition…I tip my hat to you, and secretly hate you. (Unless you’re one of the people whom I love, then I love you regardless of how sunny your disposition might be).  For me…this is what I imagine hell to be: crowds of slow people all standing between me and my goal.

Herbs and Spices

June Eighth, Two Thousand and Fourteen

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I’ve been sick (boo!), so I’m behind in my pictures by four days.  I’m doing something tomorrow, so I’ll make them up then.

I took this shot right before the dread virus took me down.  I made one of my favorite meals,  Moroccan Meatballs, another recipe from Well Fed (you should buy this book!).  Every time I mix up the parsley, cumin, smoked paprika, sea salt, and pepper, I flip over the beautiful color combo of the spices lying on top of one another.

-Thirty-Nine, of Three Hundred and Sixty-Five

An Invite

June Seventh, Two Thousand and Fourteen

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For years I’ve driven past this driveway.  There is something about the bend in the road, and the way the fence frames the entrance, powered by tall trees that grabs my attention.  It’s an entrance that invites, ne entices one to enter it.

“Welcome anything that comes to you, but do not long for anything else.”

-Andre Gide

-Thirty-Eight of Three Hundred and Sixty-Five

Welsh Heritage Days

June Sixth, Two Thousand and Fourteen

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Welsh coal miners founded the small town I live in, in Washington.  Annually, our town spends a day in celebration, with the railroad museum decking itself out with the Welsh flag.

-Thirty-Seven of Three Hundred and Sixty-Five

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Iris Macro

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This Iris lives in our backyard.  We uprooted its life from a quiet, shady spot to a barren area full of sun – and it’s thriving dramatically.  The dark purple of its petals is deeper than any year before.

This isn’t technically a macro, as I don’t have a macro lens, but it’s about as close to flower as I can get with my camera, without a filter.  Still, I wanted to play along with the photo challenge…so here I am.

The Rivers

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The Platte River

I crossed over the Platte River on my way into Central City, noting to return to it on my way out-of-town.  A shallow river bed, muddy islands poke out from its center.  Nebraska means “flat water”, which is derived from the native word for the Platte, thus making it the state’s namesake.  Platte itself comes from the French for flat.

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PhotoGrrl Pictures

The Missouri River

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The Missouri River marks the Eastern border of the state, between Nebraska and Iowa.  This also makes it Omaha’s Eastern most border.  Not as impressively wide as the Columbia River here in my home state, nor as mythic as the “Mighty Mississippi” which borders Iowa to the East, it’s easily traversed.  On its western border in Omaha, it marks a landing site for Lewis and Clark.

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Final Destination: Omaha

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A patchwork of highways frame Omaha, taking you anywhere in the city in 15-20 minutes.  With a population over 400, 000 it’s a quiet city with minimal traffic.  (A most welcome change from Seattle’s constant gridlock).  Rolling hills break from the traditional landscape of the Midwest.  A lazy Missouri River rolls to the East, keeping Iowa at bay.

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PhotoGrrl Pictures

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Omaha is hot pavement, with nary a tree in sight.  I can’t imagine how barren winter must be, once the few deciduous trees drop their leaves.

The Gene Leahy Mall of hand-crafted waterfalls, and artfully cascading steps, point to a condensed cluster of downtown high-rises.  The buildings huddle together in defiance of its surrounding agricultural communities.  (Even the ever-present grain silos wink at the traveler driving East into the city.  Dressed up in the urban-chic of commissioned graffiti).

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The Bob Kerry foot bridge angles across the Missouri River into Council Bluffs, Iowa.  I’ve heard the locals call it the “Bridge to Nowhere”, as there isn’t much on the Iowa side other than a small amphitheater, a suburban neighborhood, and a nice view of Omaha.

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PhotoGrrl Pictures

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The people of the city are wonderfully down to earth, and the epitome of “real”.  Brusk without being brash.  Polite but not overly effusive. It’s not a city where strangers meet your eye as you pass on the sidewalk, or share in a polite smile of acquaintance.    Yet, the musician/waitress and local glass artist that I met were eager to share with me what they enjoy most about their city.

With only a day and bit of an afternoon to explore the city I regret not making it to The Old Market District.  Equally wish I could have gotten some late afternoon shots of the Jocelyn Art Museum and the Durham Museum.  But sunburn, and the uncertainty of being alone in an unfamiliar city near night held me back.   It’s the only time when traveling alone became a liability.

Lincoln: Capital City

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I woke at sunrise on Memorial Day and headed back in to Omaha (without any coffee I might add, say what you will about the charms of Central City, their lack of acceptable caffeine is a demerit). My plan was to spend Memorial Day in Lincoln, the Nebraska State Capitol.  I decided to head East on Hwy 66 through farmland with the vague hope a bathroom and a cup of coffee might avail itself (it did not).  I did come across some sweeping vistas and the charming town of Polk.  It wasn’t until angling south to reconnect with I-80 East that I came to the town of York and the blessed sighting of Starbuck’s.

I managed to reach the capital building at dead Noon.  Hot sun blasted the limestone building, baking the bronze sculpture of “The Sower”, but didn’t diminish from the blue, tile embellishments.  Being Memorial Day, the building itself was closed, and the area around it fairly deserted.  A mall is under construction, with a design plan intended to herald the capitol building from a block away.

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PhotoGrrl Pictures

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While Illinois is the “Land of Lincoln”, it’s Nebraskan early politics that afforded this state’s capitol his name.  Wikipedia tells me that the original town, Lancaster, was renamed Lincoln in an effort by the power brokers of Omaha to prevent the capitol from moving south (due to Southern Nebraskans desire to secede into Kansas).  The thinking went, naming the city after the recently assassinated president who ended slavery would make in unappealing to those residents south of the Platte River.  158 years later, it stands as a monument to Lincoln, even including a replica of the Lincoln Memorial monument in Lincoln Memorial Park.

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I’ve been told that college sports are an important part of Nebraskan life.  Considering it made it into the Father of the Bride Speech at the wedding on Sunday, I’m inclined to believe it.  Just a few blocks down from the capitol building is the main campus for the University of Nebraska.  I figured it’s as good a place as any to enjoy my salad and journal a bit.  Afterwards I ventured into the college bookstore, where I bought a T-Shirt for my trouble.  Grateful to the two girls who directed me to a local coffee shop (The Coffee House) where I purchased an iced Almond Milk Latte.  (The pretentious hipsters could give the Elliot Bay Bookstore baristas in Seattle a run for their money, but the coffee was excellent).

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PhotoGrrl Pictures

The Cornhusker State

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“Nebraska.” Peabody waived a hand, vaguely west…. “They still grow them pretty guileless in Nebraska. I think it’s all that soy and corn.”
― J.D. Robb, Witness in Death

Driving west along I-80 I watched weather rolling across the sky. Dark clouds would appear and roll steadily south. The promise of sunlight to the north diminished a few squalls of rain.  At sunset that bright, orange, ball of light would slip down past the farms in the distance, holding on to the edge of the world until the last possible second. In the morning, it would light up the land, bringing stark contrast to the fluffy white clouds and the bluest of skies.

I’m blessed to live in a town nestled within the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It’s beautiful here, and in my mind nothing compares to the site of Mount Rainer rising up on the rare, sunny, Northwestern morning. However, mountains aren’t the only beauty to see in this country, and what we make up for with mountains, trees, and tangible topography, is weakened by a lack of horizon (unless of course if you’re at the ocean).

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For all that we are an industrialized nation, so much acreage of this large country is dedicated to abundance. Grain silos explode into the skyline in each small town found along the train tracks and highways that crisscross the state of Nebraska. Rolling green crops, and brown earth teeter off as far as the eye can see. Farm co-ops, equipment repairs and sales, and grain and feed stores dominate retail.

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PhotoGrrl Pictures