Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The question is not why the fish crossed the street, but HOW ...

Have you been to the WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center?

Until today, I had not.

After today, I'll be back.

I'd heard about the extension ... that this is where the Master Gardeners train and this is where there's a demonstration garden and some cool research. Soil studies, rain gardens, permeable pavement, low-impact development, agriculture research and so much more. It's really quite incredible, this amazing resource that is just around the corner.

But I'd never been. Today was meant to be merely a meeting (a looooooooong meeting). At lunch one of the staffers offered to take us on a little walking tour to see a man-made pond. I wasn't going to go, but I did. Apparently a bunch of my friends finally did a few sun dances, and thus: sunshine ... GLORIOUS sunshine. A walk was required.

And wow.

I don't remember all the details, but the below photo is the pond. Apparently the fish and salamanders and frogs inside it ... got there on their own! Nature is amazing. No wildlife was planted by man, nor by woman. But birds or other wildlife that come in from the pond across the street or other places brought in fish eggs and frog eggs (apparently they don't own feather or hair brushes ... go figure) ... and wa-lah! Sticky eggs get from Point A to Point B. (And I thought this only happened with plant seeds.) Oh, and this pond has salamanders ... but the one across the street doesn't. So weird. And so awesome. And so beautiful.

And here is the view across the street.

It was a glorious, if short, lunchtime walk in the sun.

Educational, too!

From the website:

An Urban Center Committed to Sustainable Communities

"Bridging the past to the future, providing research, instruction and outreach services through an interdisciplinary approach for the development of ecologically sound, socially responsible, and economically viable communities.

The Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center unites a rich past of education and research with a critical and important need: the ability for institutions of higher education to develop sound science, instruction and outreach to meet the needs of future urban communities and their residents.

"Washington State University seeks to provide an exemplary teaching, research, and outreach environment that fosters the conservation of natural resources, supports and enhances social responsibility, addresses community and economic development, and follows environmental, social, and economic practices.

"The Puyallup Center connects the region to a world of possibilities creating sustainable social, economic, and ecological interdependencies through the community of Washington State University."

I like science ...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Time for some spring reading!

It might no longer been cuddle-up-with-a-good-book-in-front-of-the-fire season, but that just means it's about to be bask-in-the-sun-with-a-good-book season! Woo hoo!

For those folks who'd like to chat about their good reads, the good folks at King's Books have not one, not two, but THREE different reading groups for grownups that might pique your imagination ...

Ravenous Readers Book Club
"Join this community book group reading books on food and sustainability." Meets the first Thursday of every month at King's Books.
Next meets: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at King's Books, 218 St. Helens
This month's book: "Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World" by Kurlansky

Graphic Novel Book Club
"Join this new book club reading graphic novels! Perfect for people just starting to read graphic novels, or confirmed geeks." Meets the second Monday of every month at 1022 South, Hilltop's new book-themed cocktail lounge. (Must be 21.)
Next meets: 7-9 p.m. Monday, April 13 (first meeting!), at 1022 South, 1022 S. J St., Tacoma
This month's book: "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel

Banned Book Club
"Join this profane book group reading books that have been banned or challenged."
Meets the third Tuesday of every month at Tempest Lounge. (Must be 21.)
Next meets: 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, Tempest Lounge, 913 MLK Way, Tacoma
This month's book: "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko.

Books for all of these groups are available at King's Books, 218 St. Helens Ave.

For more information about any of these groups:
Call 272-8801 or e-mail sweet pea.

So if you're taking a few days off for spring break this week, consider some quality time with a good book ... And if one of these book groups doesn't suit you, there's always getting your friends together and starting your own. Even if you just use it as an excuse to get together with good friends for dinner ... :)

Happy Spring Reading!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I think I have a minor league crush on minor league baseball ...

Until May of 2007, I'd never been to a Tacoma Rainiers game (or any other minor league game, for that matter). I had been in or around Tacoma for more than 12 years at the time, had even lived in Aberdeen for a bit while the Gulls were still there, and had still never been to a game.

And then ... I went.

It was May 2007. The Diva Daughter was in kindergarten. An age in which we began to realize the beginning of the end of our own agenda, the beginning of just how busy we were about to be with the lives and itineraries of our three little ones. The daughter's elementary school was selling tickets for a "let's all go to the Rainiers" school event ... and she wanted to go. And so we did.

And I liked it.

The small-scale venue, the fact that you could see the field, the smell of the grass, the taste of the hot dogs, the crowed ... the ... I just can't fully describe it. We took the neighbors. The kids cheered. I even cheered. The Boy declared his desire to become a batter someday ... and just last week he started his first T-ball practice. The Baby Girl, then 2, was an insta 2-year-old cheerleader ... jumping up and down on my lap and screaming "go Rainiers." They had fun watching for Rhubarb, and they danced between innings. The only complaint at the time was the Diva not liking the loud fireworks ... but we've been back a few times, and she's over that now.

And now, according to the calendar, it is Spring. As the rain poured down right on schedule for this morning's Junior Daffodil Parade in the Proctor District, it seemed hard to believe.

But the Baby Girl's preschool picked a baseball theme this year and she's been running around the house in her cap and long-sleeve tee singing "Take me out to the ballgame" ... and it got me thinking: When DOES baseball start? More to the point, when's the first Rainiers home game?

I NEEDED to know.

Turns out the first home game is coming up quick ... Friday, April 17 ... just three days after the Baby Girl turns 4. Guess who now wants a baseball themed birthday party? A baseball cake. To go to the baseball game. Baby Girl.

And you know what? I'm excited! It's my first true sign of spring -- one of my favorite seasons -- and all of the sudden I'm itching to see a game. It's a little thrilling.

I really did not expect to get this hooked. It kinda snuck up on me.

And now ... well, I don't know how I'd get through spring without at least one ball game. And it's not the peanuts or cracker jacks.

I'm a little discombobulated.

But batter up nonetheless ... let me root, root, root for the home team ...


Monday, March 02, 2009

Scrabble fans: Unite for a good cause!

I've mentioned to a few of my fellow Scrabble geeks (at least a few times) my grand desire to start up some sort of Scrabble club/meet-up/fun night. And while I've failed thus far to follow through, I recently tripped upon an awesome opportunity for T-Town-area Scrabble fans to have some fun and do a little good all at the same time: SCRABBLE ROUSERS! Brought to you by the Tacoma Community House (and sweet pea's ever-mischievous brain).

From the TCH website: "Inside each of us is a mischievous child who seeks to unravel social norms and challenge traditional order. This impulse, at a mature age, is often repressed and controlled for the sake of personal growth. As Scrabble Rousers, we seek to free our mischievous child through traditional and nontraditional Scrabble games. Our aim is to bring to light the importance of words in your life and in the lives of others."

Sign me up! Ok, if I can get a babysitter ...

For the ticket price of $10, Scrabble fans of all ages an abilities are invited to come together from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, at the University of Puget Sound's Rotunda. There will be three levels of play you can sign up for. It's a creative fundraiser, so they will let you buy dictionary peeks or even a list of two-letter and obnoxious Q words. (Those of you who *cough* have been playing too much Facebook Scrabble lately might be hit to that.)

Money raised at the event goes to benefit the Tacoma Community House's Student Scholarship Fund, which assists students as they transfer from TCH to community college.

What is the Tacoma Community House? "A nonprofit organization that for decades has provided services to refugees, immigrants, and English speaking adults and youth."

Click here to read more about the event, and the Tacoma Community House.

Note: Yes, I posted this on Sunday night. But it was having trouble loading a couple places, and I'm hoping I fixed the problem ... and want to make sure people know about the event!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

MUSIC: "Help, I'm Alive" -- help I'm addicted

I love it when a song grabs you in a way that makes you stop what you're doing and just listen. When a song's first notes make you catch your breath so you can inhale every haunting note. When even listening 10 times in a row can barely whet an insatiable and growing desire to hear every beat, every syllable, every distortion. And and no matter how many times I hear it, at least so far, Metric's new "Help, I'm Alive" single currently does that for me.

The lyrics? Very simple. A sample:

I tremble
They're gonna eat me alive
If I stumble
They're gonna eat me alive

Can you hear my heart beating like a hammer?
Beating like a hammer?

Help, I'm alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer

Hard to be soft

Tough to be tender

Come take my pulse, the pace is on a runaway train

Help, I'm alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer

And if I wasn't already in love with the tune, the tone ... the tremble ... the story behind the song is quite haunting as well. In an interview with Metric's Emily Haines, the lead singer talked about how she decided to escape from it all to Buenos Aires in a search for inspiration and re-find a voice that was hers. Just hers.

It's a song and a story behind the song that strikes a chord with me, though why I have not fully wrapped my brain around.

All I know is when I hear it, I have to stop and think.

And when it ends, I want more.

The acoustic version of the song is also available for free download on the band's website, And if you're looking for something a bit faster, I've been hearing the more dance version lately on 107.7 in Seattle. There are also versions on YouTube with photo slideshows, but I can't stand those. I'll be patient.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A simple gift

Today is a simple gift.

No matter your politics. Today, is a gift.

A simple gift.

And simply, a gift.

And so is tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. Heck, yesterday was a gift (and that was a previous administration!)

Every day is a gift.

Every day that we have to share with loved ones. Every day that we have to make a difference in the lives around us. Every day that we have to make the world better. Every day that we have to breathe fresh air, eat good food, kiss our loves ones, hug our friends, read good writing, listen to music, appreciate art, dance because we want to, dig in the earth, make a choice ...

Every day is a gift.

It's a message that's been driven home for me, recently. From the loved ones I've mourned the past two years to the strange local events of the past week ...

Every day is a gift.

And thus, during today's inauguration of President Barack Obama, the performance of Air & Simple Gift gave me pause ...

The lyrics to the original, a 1848 Shaker tune:
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Every day is a gift.

And every day, I will seek to find what gift I can give to my loved ones, my community, and the world ...

Every day is a gift.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Things that make you feel old ...

... and I'm not referencing C&C Music Factory. (Though saying that makes me SOUND old!)

I'm talking about my 8-year-old daughter wanting to walk to school without us parents, us saying no, and her starting to ask:

"So how old were you when you got to walk to school by yourself."

Husband's answer: "When my big brother was in the sixth grade."
My answer: "Never." (I lived in the boonies.)

Then it was: "So, when did you get your e-mail address?"

Not quite getting what she was asking, I responded with: "Which one."

I quickly realized she was doing parent-to-kid comparisons.

And so I said it. The dreaded words:

"We didn't have e-mail when I was a kid."


At least I didn't have to walk uphill in the snow to get said e-mail.

I wonder if she'll try to carbon test my hotmail account to see if I'm telling the truth.