Friday, June 19, 2009

Visiting Seattle 09: Part 3 Family time!


View of downtown Seattle from Interstate 5

When I was back in Seattle for a visit, I was lucky enough to spend a little bit of time with my
family. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend much of my time with one of my best friends, my own brother, Tyson! I didn't realize how much I missed my family until I got to see them again. As I have written about in past blog entries, my family is very unique and very eccentric. I think I love them more because we are not the typical family.

My dad took me out to lunch with my bro
and a family friend...delicious food in a

During the two weeks, I got to do a variety of things. My dad took my brother, me, and Brian to a baseball game at Safeco stadium in Seattle. We had great seats and being back at the stadium was incredible! It was perfect weather and despite the loss, it was a really good time. We had good beer to enjoy, veggies dogs were only 4$ US, and, afterwards, we all had aching abs from laughing so much during the game! I haven't seen my dad act that young for a long, long time!

Safeco field!

My dad lookin' goofy!

My brother and I had a good time at Wal-Mart. Yes, that is right, Wal-Mart. We stayed over at my mom's house for a few days and I had to do a little shopping in preparation to return to St. Lucia. My brother suggested that we go to Starbucks first, which I took him up on/. For some reason, by the time we had our coffee we were cracking up hysterically! By the time we reached Wal-Mart, we were stilll laughing. My brother made it worse when he saw a little house outside and decided to pretend he was a giant in it. Ha ha. Only he would do that! We must have spent about 6 hours inside of Wal-mart because by the time that we left it was dark outside!

It's his new apartment....

During my stay with my mommers, I got some incredible food, got to go play golf (even if it was in the pouring rain), got to share in my grandma's birthday dinner, see some of my other family members, and got to spend quality time with my moms and my dogs and my cats. Topper now resides with Brian and Delilah (Dell) is the office cat at my brother and Dad's drug testing business. It was so good to see Dell looking so happy- a little overfed, Dad- but happy and healthy! My childhood dog, Macaroon, reached 16 years of age and I knew it would be my last time
that I would be seeing her. :( Mac has always been that dog that runs up to you each and every time she sees you. She got to see me grow up through the years, as I did her from the time I was 9.

When I checked my email a week or two later upon returning to St. Lucia, my mom sent me an email to let me know that Mac had passed. She held on to see me one more time, to see my family in whole one more time. I love you, Macarooners!!!

The family camping trip was great! We went to my uncle's property, well one of the two. It is on a river, complete with plenty of camping space, four horseshoe pits, and a space for a live band to play. We celebrated my uncle Patrick by unveiling a totem pole that was made in his memory.

My family is what I have been missing living abroad. Without them around, there is always something missing. Though I am starting to get used to them not being here, I will never be 100% okay with them not being here. My family is my center, and without them I find myself a little inbalanced, at times!

There are many more stories that I have just from the few short weeks I spent back in Seattle, but I will save that for the book!

My crazy bro lookin' fresh!

Visiting Seattle 09: Part 2: Best of Friends time!

Me at Greenlake embracing the sunshine!

While being in Seattle, I got the quality time that I wanted with family and my best friends. It was nice to just spend the time with the closest of my friends. Sorry I didn't tell most of you that I was going to be home. I only had two weeks, and I wanted to spend the majority of it with my family.


Me and Jay hanging out at Greenlake.

One of the first outings, besides the Benveridge Place Pub, was to Greenlake with Jay. Greenlake is a 3 mile around lake in the area nearby I used to live for the majority of my independent life. Greenlake offers rollerblading, tennis, running, football, plenty of good sites and opportunities to talk to people. I love it! Plus, it is always beautiful; in sunshine, rain, snow, and sleet.

Let's just say, I got to "stop and smell the tulips".

I picked Jay up to go with me to the DOL to get my license renewed. Luckily, he had the day off and I got to surprise him by showing up on his front doorstep. I did not have a phone the entire time that I was in Seattle so this happened quite a bit. Anyhow, after a very quick in and out at the DOL, we went to Greenlake for a little walk. We spent the time laughing and catching up. Though, it felt as if I was just hanging out with him two days before. That is how it always feels with the best of friends- like no time has gone by at all!

Jay always manages to brighten my day...AWAHHHH.

Along the walk Jay pretended to be a turtle and said AWAHHHHH a few times, acted like a monkey swinging from a tree in the path and got to be my model for photography. It was a great time. Just what I needed.

Me and Rach (and Spartacus) catching up.

I was fortunate enough to get to spend time with Rachel and Taylor (and Riley and the Spartacus). I went out to dinner with them at a good Mexican restaurant and went straight to Taylor's hockey game. After coming back to St. Lucia, I realized that I have spent too much time in St. Lucian bars and restaurants because I forgot to tip the server! In St. Lucia, most of the bills include the service charge and at the bars, you generally do not have to tip. So, I was pretty embarassed to figure out that I totally just forgot to leave anything for this woman. It was good, fast service too. Ah well....I was a foreigner that day. Ha ha. At Taylor's hockey game, me and Rach got to catch up a little bit. I became much too excited for the new baby that is kicking around in Rach's belly. So much, I am really sad that I am going to miss his birth!!!

I friggin' love this girl. 100% ourselves with each other.

On the Friday night that I was in town Tessa and I planned to meet up and celebrate her birthday and my visit. It turned out much bigger than planned. I got to see a few close friends and had probably one too many tequila shots. But it was totally worth it. Met a few randoms from around the area. Overall, it was a great night. I woke up in the morning at Tessa's and we had to start planning the next camping trip to my uncle's property that day. Good thing we were all sluggish from the night before. :D

Two of my best friends and I with our other best friend; tequila.
Hey! I'm still in my mid-20s....I've got a couple more good yrs of shots left.

The second camping trip was great too! My uncle has two properties in Eastern Washington. This new one was just as nice as the first one. It has a huge open area for tent camping, an area for a band to play, firepits, horseshoe pits, plenty of drinks available, a river on the edge of the property, and plenty of good company. Every Memorial Day he has a big celebration camp out. There is always a horseshoe competition and a band that plays. This particular year was the first time that we were celebrating it without my uncle, Patrick. He had passed just before I left for the Peace Corps. In honor of him, a good friend made a hand-carved totem pole with some significant markings. A Jack card and a 7 card in honor of his favorite drink, a harmonica in memory of the instrument he played in his band, and a few other nice markings. It was very nice. I think Patrick would love it.

Grandma, Manman, and Bro (and me) with the totem pole.

The band was fantastic, the company was great, and we all had a lot of laughs! We had to go shopping for beer twice, food once, and we finished every ounce of it. Hey, we were out in the middle of nowhere with family and good friends!

Towards the end of my visit, I got to see a friend of mine, that I think is just so fantastic!!! Jacob has a heart of gold and I love the conversations that I get to have with him. I didn't know if I would get the chance to see him for sure, but with the extra day due to a delayed plane ride I got to see him just before I left!
Jacob was camera shy, but I got one anyway!

Nothing more I can ask for besides all of this quality time. It was the slow life...and I enjoyed every second of it.

Oh, Tess!

Visitng Seattle 09: Part 1 Lake Crescent

Overjoyed being outdoors in the Northwest!

Last month, I decided to use my moms' valuable offer to buy me a ticket back to Seattle for a visit. It was a completely spontaneous decision to go when I did, but it worked out perfectly. Despite the last minute timing and arrangements of where I was going to stay and who was going to pick me up everything turned out exactly how I would have planned it were I given two years notice.

First, I was picked up by my best friend and favorite person, Brian. Though he has been to St. Lucia for a visit since I left, I still felt as if I hadn't seen him in years! I guess that is how it feels when you don't have the people you really care about in your everyday life. After my flight was delayed an hour and a half from waiting for the caterers to bring the right trays on the plane (while we were sitting in our seats), I was still in a good mood regardless.

If the Peace Corps has given me any gift, it would be the gift of patience and more flexibility.

I had originally thought that I was both patient and flexible when I lived in the states, but oh, how much more I am now. Thank you, PC.

Anyhow, while on the plane I was listening to others around me moaning and groaning about the delay and I could not help but laugh. What good is it going to make by complaining about something that you cannot control??? I ask myself this every single day of my PC service. There are so many things in life that I cannot control, and my perspective on the situation can make or break me. I choose to stay at ease.

So, to continue on, I was finally off the plane and collecting my bags. I was immediately overwhelmed with all of the people around me. You get so used to a certain way of life that somtimes you forget what it was like before you were in that life! Needless to say, I was wide-eyed and constantly looking around me to take it all in again. After leaving the airport, Brian and I went to one of our favorite bars, The Beveridge Place Pub. I was starving from not eating for the last 24 hours, so we ordered a vegetarian pizza (YUMMMMMY) and ate it while talking with four other friends who met us at the bar. Oh, it was so welcoming to have a GOOD beer in my hand and a slice of good pizza in the other!

After a good night of catching up and laughs, we went home to cool out. I had a great first night back, and little did I know that the rest of the trip would be just as great. The next day, me and Brian packed up the car, loaded the canoe on top, and stopped to grab a few cases of brew at the supermarket. Then we headed on our way to Lake Crescent, on the Peninsula about three hours east of Seattle.

Lake Crescent in the morning.

Lake Crescent is magnificent! The water is so blue and reflective that I was simply mesmorized. We set up the tent at about 11 pm. Seth had been waiting for us to arrive for about five hours. The bridge was closed, so we had to take 3 ferries to get to our destination. I was overjoyed! I love ferry rides and getting to play multiple games of cribbage on the way up.

Playing cribbage at the local ferry bar.

While the boys were scuba diving, I took a nice little hike through the woods. I came across an abandoned cabin with- get this- an old style can crusher from the 60s. Oh man, was I excited!!! my parents sported one of these at the house I was born in. Sentimental connections to a can crusher...oh, the simplicity of life.

60's can crusher at the cabin....

I was a little hesitant to walk in the cabin for fear that around the corner was a man hiding with a chainsaw who would start walking after me when I sprint out the door and still manage to catch up to me. Yes, I probably have watched one too many horror movies in my life! Regardless, I decided to wait for the boys to come back to the cabin with me to really explore around. :D

Brian and I "odeing" to the cup of rum.....

It was the nearly perfect camping trip to come back to Seattle for. I had a good time sitting around the fire talking with the boys drinking a few beers and having good conversation. On the way back to Seattle from the Lake, we were stuck in a three hour wait due to a fatal car accident. Brian and I met some great, new people in the meantime and gorged on the remaining chips and dip in the car. It was a good time. I love the little moments!

How Inspiring

I found this very simple but incredible journal at the thrift store when I was back in the says on the outside:

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world."

By who else, but ghandi!

Loved it so much I splurged on the 99 cents US. :D

Pumpkin Pie Bread Recipe

  • First, I baked a wedge of fresh pumpkin in the oven frosted with butter, cloves, and cinnamon for about an hour until soft.
Then, I took off the cloves and the pumpkin peel and hand blended the pumpkin into puree.

Preheat the oven (I do not have a thermometer on my oven - so I am estimating- med-high heat). Butter the trays that you are going to use.

Mix the flour, soda, powder, spice mix, and salt in one bowl. Then combine the sugars, vanilla, oil eggs and pumpkin puree into another bowl. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture alternately with the water until thoroughly mixed.

Bake until fork comes out clean...I think about 45 min???

I added chocolate on the last batch and it was delicious! You can add walnuts, almonds, bananas, coconut or whatever else your creative mind can think up! It makes a good batch size, so cut the recipe in half if you are only making it for yourself!

3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs (3 if you want it less cake-like)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons spice mix (I used fresh grated cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1/2 cup water

Pumpkin Pie Bread Recipe


St. Lucia has brought me closer to music; in action, thought, and soul. I have been attempting to learn the steel pan every week, learn the acoustic guitar and hear music with my ears and soul rather than my mind. I have found some attachment to Buju Banton while I have been here, and feel the connection when I listen to his music. It is not only Buju, but music as such has really helped me to step outside and really LISTEN to the music. I am still quite new to music and I am fully aware that I have much more to learn. This particular song is one of my favorites. It has taken words from the rastafarian beliefs in combination with Proverbs 18:11.

My favorite statement: Destruction of your soul is vanity. Oh, how true.

Verse 1:
The rich man's wealth is in the city
Destruction of the poor is his poverty
Destruction of your soul is vanity
Do you hear
I and I, I wanna rule my destiny
I and I, I wanna rule my destiny

Destiny, mama look from when you call me
Destiny, mama look from when you calling
I wanna rule my destiny
yeah, yeah oh help I please Jah Jah mek mi rule

Verse 2:
I've been blessed I've been touch
I love Jah so much
They keep fighting me I'm not giving up
May the realms of Zion fill my spiritual cup
Wisdom overstanding can never be too much
Give I protection Day and night


Cast away their cords from us
you have them in the region in the valley of decision
Restraining the heathen with a rod of iron
you know not the destiny of a next man
Why hold him set him free too long

Verse 3:
My destination is homeward bound
Though force try to hold I down
Breaking chains has become the norm
I know I must get through no matter what a gwaan

And here is the Proverbs Verse:

He who separates himself seeks his own desire,
He quarrels against all sound wisdom.
2 A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own mind.
3 When a wicked man comes, contempt also comes,
And with dishonor comes scorn.
4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
5 To show partiality to the wicked is not good,
Nor to thrust aside the righteous in judgment.
6 A fool’s lips bring strife,
And his mouth calls for blows.
7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.
8 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
9 He also who is slack in his work
Is brother to him who destroys.
10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.
11 A rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own imagination.
12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty,
But humility goes before honor.
13 He who gives an answer before he hears,
It is folly and shame to him.
14 The spirit of a man can endure his sickness,
But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?
15 The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
16 A man’s gift makes room for him
And brings him before great men.
17 The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him.
18 The cast lot puts an end to strife
And decides between the mighty ones.
19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.
20 With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied;
He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.
23 The poor man utters supplications,
But the rich man answers roughly.
24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

I am not going to go into detail about my own beliefs in faith and religion, but I will say that these words give me something to think about. St. Lucia has brought me closer to thinking with my heart. Island lifestyle may be attaching itself to me! :) Slow down a little and you start to take new ideas into consideration. Part of the culture here is this idea of a God (regardless of denomination) and living for others; with others and not for yourself. Living off of sustainability and listening to his surroundings and environment rather than speaking first. Vanity can kill the soul too quickly. Sometimes the simplest of a life can be the answer. Depends on who you are, I suppose.

Little things should freeze the moment

After leaving work one day, I found myself walking into an argument that two women were having near a car. At first, I was immediately wanting to walk briskly past them but I noticed something that made me stop in my tracks.

In the midst of this heated argument, a child was standing right next to his arguing mother, lost in his own world. Rather than listening to this argument, the little boy was busy looking at his reflection in the car door.

Not only was he looking at his reflection, but he was dancing his little heart out! I literally stopped walking and stared. I could not help it! It was the funniest thing I have seen since "Pineapple Express" came out.

This little boy was my refreshment for a week of insanity. The moment I stopped and started laughing; regardless of the arugment that was happening, other people noticed as well. This boy had no idea anything else was going on around him. He did not hear the curse words that came out of his mother's mouth, he did not see me fixated and laughing with my whole heart, and he certainly did not see what happened when the two women realized what was going on.

Yes, in the midst of this argument, the boy had managed to change the entire situation by having fun. The women saw me and the others around looking and laughing, and they could not do anything else but stop fighting and laugh too. I'm not going to say that these women most likely did not continue fighting after I started walking again, but for one moment in time, they stopped on account of one person's actions. An argument was frozen by a 4 year old boy that just wanted to dance with his own reflection. Priceless.

Everyday brings a new blessing

Since the last blog was over a month ago, and was a little intense in emotion and perspective, I am going to stray a little back to the ease.

Yesterday, I was sitting in Grow Well, the NGO that I work with in Gros Islet with a few of the youngsters from around the community. Prior to cooling out with the youngsters, I had my second site visit of my Peace Corps service and as a snack I had made pumpkin pie bread the night before for my colleagues. The recipe that I used was, by far, more than I had needed for the four of us. I had some extra so I decided to share with the boys. After giving them a few slices, they were smiles from ear to ear. Now, I am still uncertain if it was the amount of the sugar that was in the recipe or the fact that they were enjoying our conversation, either way it was a good day.

Now, one minute I was talking about art and the next one of the boys said, "Miss, ______ just said that if you were his age, he would kiss you!!!!" My immediate reaction was to burst into laughs of hysteria, but I really, really, really tried to hold it back from embarassing this kid. Though, it didn't last long when all of a sudden we were all cracking up at the statement. Shortly after that, I said, well if you were 20 years older...we might talk. Then, I hear, "oh my gosh- you're that old?!?!" Now, I have heard this before from kids that are almost still in diapers so I was not surprised to hear it. It was what followed that I could not help but be eternally devoted to working with children...

"Miss, you should have been married a LONG time ago!!!"

Ha ha. Okay, okay, thank you...I'm 25, single, nowhere near marriage, and facebook tells me that I am not going to get married until I am 37 anyway. Facebook is ALWAYS right (ha ha), so now this kid is just rubbing it in.

Maybe other people would have felt bad after this statement, as if someone was telling you that you look "rounder" aka fatter...(Yes, that did happen the day before despite the fact that I have been running every day in the last month). I, however, found this so incredibly refreshing and it really made my day. This 5 year old thinks that I am past my prime of marriage years, whereas, I see myself in the right spot at the right time. I am going to make a valiant effort to call this kid when he is 25 and see if he has been married yet. We'll see then, kid. We'll see then.