Tag Archives: city

Here Kitty Kitty

28 Apr

In the city I did not to notice a huge difference in safety, security or activity when dusk turned to night. The street lights popped on allowing us to see almost just as well as during the daylight hours, the number of cars driving by didn’t slow down all that much (until much later in the night) and the daytime noises seemed to carry on save for a few bird tweets who settled into bed somewhere and the honking of the boats pleading for the bridge to open, now all docked and done for the day.

But here, dusk is a very different time. The hundreds of birds and their endless daytime chatter shack up for the night. The frogs take their place with their croaking harmonies. The owls may start to make themselves heard. Sometimes you will hear the yips of the coyotes. But mostly it gets dark. Really dark.

This is no jungle but their are plenty of creatures out there. And my mind has a nasty habit of grossly over-thinking what lingers beyond the illumination of our porch light.

Turns out, a cougar does.

Well, not exactly outside our house – more like on the other side of the property, acres and acres away. But still! Holy shit Batman.

A few weeks ago while doing barn chores, my mom noticed that one of the older llamas (one with an injured leg no less) was lying down way off in the wooded area in the horse pasture. All the animals usually come straight in during this feeding time so the lying llama was a concern. As she predicted, it was dead. Killed and dragged about fifty feet and “hid” under some brush. Classic cougar kill.

So we hooked up a night vision camera on the tree overlooking the general area and collected some photos of the cougar coming back night after night just around dusk to feast on her kill. She ultimately dragged the llama a few hundred yards, under a fence and closer to the wooded area behind said pasture. Cougars are beautiful animals and ones that you rarely see, let alone capture on film. Needless to say, we were all pretty amazed at the images.

While the cougar sighting wasn’t a shock – we know they are out there along with bears – it was a reminder that we no longer live in a predictable urban neighborhood.

We live in the wilderness.


Leather Shorts and Bog Boots

23 Oct

We have a wedding to go to next weekend so today I shuffled through the two bins where all my “nice” clothes lay packed and preserved for the rare occasion when I may need them. It has been a few months since I last laid eyes on these clothes – gorgeous dresses, velvet coats, delicate sweaters and a variety of former work wear (suits, dress pants, collared shirts). It felt a little unnerving to dig through these – I started to get an urge to be back in the city. This feeling of returning to the urban life where I may be able to wear such garments without being splattered with mud or horse poop.

But here’s the thing – last week I spent a day in the city and was so stressed and hurried about that by the time I got on that ferry to come home, I was so excited to drive down that peaceful driveway and settle back into the country life. My, how quickly a few months in the quiet depths of woods and valleys can change the way you view Ballard Avenue or lunch hour. And so many cars and people! Geez, I didn’t remember it being so crowded and rushed – everyone zooming on to something more important, more urgent. I couldn’t imagine ever living there again.

So I am experiencing this pull in opposite directions – I really enjoy being out here where the librarian knows me by name and fellow parents at my daughter’s school are eager to invite you over but that city allure – the nice clothes, the funky ensembles, the late pizza run still resonate with me. In all honesty though, I haven’t worn get-ups like that since before I had children – they are by far the worst offenses to my clothes. Sure, scooping horse poop in a red leather jacket may not be practical but it is still doable while berry picking with your children in your pale cashmere sweater and heeled boots just doesn’t seem responsible.

How does one feed their desire to have personal style and be “in-the-know” all the while magnetically pulled to farm life and raising animals? Is there a middle ground? And please don’t tell me that means moving to a suburb. Can I not wear my sequined cardigan to the Corner Farmstand? Or crazy beaded hoop earrings with red lipstick to drop off?

This reminds me of Emerson Fry – a clothing designer who lives in NYC and on a farm in New Hampshire. She is often pictured wearing such fabulous outfits such as long leather clothes while tending to the pigs. Now, I know this is for photo shoot purposes only but it makes you think…perhaps you can marry the two?

All images from EmersonFry

Small Community Living with Chris Axling

10 Sep

Please welcome my childhood neighbor and friend, Chris Axling and his family, to our ongoing Family Profile series. I am forever curious as to how and why people pick where to place their home and set some roots. Chris is a special case in that he grew up on the same island that I did and spent some time in the same city that I did (Seattle) – so I have to figure that his opinions about particular places will speak to me in some form or another. Chris has always been an artist for as long as I have known him (I still possess a vibrant painting of a butterfly he made me way back when) but his woodworking takes it up a notch – I am a daughter of a woodworker so I think I have some authority in saying that his woodworking projects are masterpieces – just solid beautiful works of art. He is also a gifted writer – he shares some of his witty observations on parenthood on his blog Babies and Dogs. So without further ado, I present to you our talk about his home, his family and his dreams:

Q: Tell us about your family – who lives here?

I live here with my wife Sarah, my 18 month-old daughter Josephine, and our dog Clover.  Sarah and I are in our early thirties, and have been together for twelve years.

Q: Where do you live? Will you tell us the story of how it came to be yours?
We live in Port Townsend, Washington – a Victorian seaport at the top of the Puget Sound.  We moved here three years ago.  After renting for a year to make sure it was somewhere we wanted to commit to for awhile, we bought this house.

Q: You started in the city. How did you decide to live in the country? Why did you choose this town?

We spent about six years renting in Seattle.  After getting engaged, we began to talk seriously about what where we wanted to live.  Seattle kind of ‘chose us’ for its jobs, but we really wanted to live on a few acres and build a house.  Not wanting to buy in Seattle’s outer bedroom communities (where we could afford what we wanted, but become a commuting zombie), we turned our attention to communities not directly connected to Seattle’s economy.  I had become a carpenter, in part, to fulfill the goal of building a house, but also because it would be a profession that’s not exclusive to cities.  Sarah could take her job with her, which became an important financial bridge as the financial crisis blew up and I was laid off.
On our weekends we visited communities around the Puget Sound, real estate adds in hand.  My wife needs sun, and I’m pretty stubborn about living in Western Washington, so we focused on Whidbey Island or Port Townsend (Sequim was out of the question until we are in our 60s at least).  We decided on Port Townsend, which gets half the rain of Seattle, and it’s close to the Olympic Mountains, which is where Sarah and I met.  But, perhaps more importantly, it seemed to have a more vibrant community, which I remember from visiting it as a kid with my parents.For a town of only 9,000 residents, it has a lot going on.  It has a tremendous diversity of restaurants, and many of them source much of their food from our surrounding farms.  We have a wonderful food co-op and our farmer’s market won Washington State’s farmers market of the year last year.  It has two historic movie theaters and one of the last drive-ins in the state.  Our old Carnegie library is great, and proportionally our town has the highest rate of library card ownership in the state.  Fort Worden – the most diverse and well used State Park in the state’s system, is within city limits, and houses Centrum, an art’s programing non-profit that attract local writers and musicians for a variety of festivals every summer.  And mixed in with all the old hippies, are boat builders, mill workers, “trustafarians,” liveaboards, and Seattle retirees.  As our town’s bumper sticker says, “Port Townsend: We’re all here because we’re not all there.”

We Made It

16 Jul

So, here we are. In the country.

As I was packing up the last of the little stuff in our city house, I couldn’t help but take some time to walk through every room and reminisce. Nick and I spent countless hours tearing this house down and building it back up again. I birthed both my children in these rooms. First walks, first words…my first home. We are not selling it but I have a feeling we will not be coming back here any time soon. I wonder if Maya will even remember it, Sebastien certainly won’t.

In all the work to pack up and move out, it is easy to glide over the fact that we are leaving the city. WTF? What are we doing!?!? It probably won’t truly sink in for a few more weeks, as we unpack, organize and finally settle in to our new life. It’s a crazy change but one I think we are up for and will lead us to more adventures. It will definitely settle the debate on whether or not we want to leave the city life or take up a new one on an island or a small mountain town east of here.

So good morning Monday. Here’s to a new week!

(I’ll post some pictures of our new abode later this week and another Family Profile coming your way too!)

Raising Bi-Lingual Kids in London with Severine Loram

10 Jul

I met Severine in college and it was hard not to instantly fall in love with her seemingly effortless style and charm. After college, she went on to study at the London School of Economics where she met her husband. Having grown up both in America and in France, I was interested to hear her thoughts on bi-lingual childhood and raising kids in a country in which she did not grow up. I am thrilled to share with you a peek into her life in London and I must say, even after two children, her style and charm are still completely inviting and inspiring. Plus, her kids are quite possibly the cutest children you have ever seen.

Q: Tell us about your family – who lives here?

My husband Paul, our two children Violette (3.5 years) and Félix (20 months), our golden retriever Lola and myself.

Q: Where do you live? Will you tell us the story of how it came to be yours?

We live in an Edwardian house in Fulham, a leafy part of South West London. We moved into our house just 2 months before Violette was born and as I was planning a home birth, I was desperate to move in and get settled before the birth. We were also very lucky to find a house walking distance from a fantastic bilingual “maternelle” that Violette now attends and Félix will attend next year. Our neighborhood is very bilingual, which was one of the main reasons we wanted to move here.

Q: How did you decide to live in the city? Why did you choose London?

I initially left New York to pursue a Masters at London School of Economics. I wasn’t planning on staying long term, but I met Paul and 10 years later, the rest is history!

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