Happy Birthday Happy Mama

Happy Birthday Happy Mama

On Thursday I had my perfect day, and during our family dinner celebration at home Lady Kitty said, “Happy birthday, happy Mama!”

Indeed! This special day of mine was really quite ordinary and yet it was infused with joy from start to finish. What’s your perfect day?

This astonishingly mundane and exquisitely special birthday included pre-dawn yoga, work, British afternoon tea with a dear friend out at Queen Mary’s tearoom, phone calls and text messages from dear old friends and inspo from Brené Brown in her Unlocking Us podcast. Her interviews with the Gottman are poignant and powerful. John Gottman: I love the equation in the Beatles song: “In the end, the love you take is equal to love you make.” So I’m a mathematician, too, and I love to see an equation like that.

It all added up to a beautiful day, and Michael was being so thoughtful about dinner plans trying to pick the perfect evening plan and restaurant. Option after option was not feeling quite right and then I realized I wanted nothing more than to enjoy a home cooked meal together with my family around our own dining table. As it turned out some time-saving hacks were in order— my list is always longer than the day has hours. I had fun shopping at Metropolitan Market for some catered prepared foods and voilà, a (semi)-home cooked meal at home!

Happy Birthday, happy Mama!

I’m truly blessed with wonderful friends and family, and I was able to revel in the gratitude of these beautiful relationships all day. Lady Kitty, though, really takes the cake. She might just be my biggest supporter and fan. She regularly says, “I take care of you Mama, puz I don’t want you to die.” And “don’t hurt yourself Mama puz then you’ll have to go to the hospital to get medicine and a band-aid that makes you feel better!”

The love you make…

A perfect birthday day… I’m glad I spent it with you!

On Inspirement and Compassion

The gift of sibling love and compassion. 📸 Jason Gerend

Today’s pearl is coming to you compliments of Brené Brown, and is this quote from Harvard clinical psychologist Chris Germer PhD: “compassion is love plus suffering. So, when suffering meets love and stays loving, then we have compassion. A moment of compassion is always a kind of mixture between suffering and love, but compassion is also a positive emotion… it transforms the experience of suffering into something positive. That’s compassion.

“Often when love meets suffering, it turns into fear, it turns into anger, it turns into disgust, it turns into aversion because we just get overwhelmed. But if we can stay loving, then we have compassion. So compassion is actually a taller order than love because suffering is a challenge to love.”

And the cute quotes are coming in strong from the kiddos. As always it’s difficult to capture them all, but here are a few gems.

Lady Kitty on a film Lake wanted to watch, when she came running to me and Lake had his head under the sofa pillow: Iss wery swery [it’s very scary]. But iss not a lot of swery [scary].

Lake: I got the “inspire-ment” of have pirates in my legs because there’s pirates in Porco Rosso.

Lake, said, in response to me passing on almond cake for dessert because I had a big piece for breakfast along with my protein bar said,

“Wow, you’re… That’s really living a life!“

Lady Kitty, “I like aw-mon cake. I love aw-mon cake this much. That’s a lotta much!”

We hope your day includes some sweetness and compassion— that’s really living a life, as Lake would say!

After the Rain

Listening to Brené Brown’s podcasts whist Linnéa and Lady Kitty are out adventuring. The house is quiet and I have my daily work awaiting me. Lake is at school and Michael is working at the hospital.

If this message doesn’t speak to you, at least enjoy the gorgeous photos.

Brené highlights in her 14 Dec 2022 Unlocking Us podcast this moving passage that stunned me, and I wanted to share together with some photos taken by Linnéa this morning at Gasworks Park. Father Richard Rohr wrote in his book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps first published in 1989:

“We suffer to get well. We surrender to win. We die to live. We give it away to keep it. This counterintuitive wisdom will forever be resisted as true. It’ll be denied and avoided until it’s forced upon us by some reality over which we are powerless, and if we are honest, we are all powerless to the presence of full reality.”

Wishing you all a blessed and beautiful day!

Cozy Mama

“You’re so cozy, Mama! It’s nice to have a Mama.” says Lady Kitty. “I love my Mama. Mama is my best friend!”

“When I’m bigger I wear all your dresses Mama. When you’re small you can wear all my dresses Mama. I wear your dresses when I’m bigger.”

Wisdom of self-love from Lady Kitty: “Do you like this guy, Mama? I like this guy.” Lady Kitty asked me referencing me and then herself.

Christmas tree love 💕

Lake Something funny Lake said: “I like orange juice and water. I just want you to know I like water better than orange juice. Without water we couldn’t live. I love water. Water is so tasty and relaxing.”

Then Lake did, “I wish you a good life Lady Kitty. I wish us all a good life.”

Sitting near Santa’s lap — 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

Lake showing Linnéa around at Westport Lighthouse ocean beaches and how the marmots burrow at the beach! And migrate!
Giving thanks at the beach!
Sunshine at Westport!
Nana — the welcoming hostess and the photographer! — made a lovely traditional holiday meal. Where did it go? Delicious!!
Fun at the tree farm on the way home after a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!
A tiny one?
A humongous one?
Home with the perfect tree!
And it fits! Let the advent officially begin!

Spain Anniversary Trip: Chelva

When we began to plan our anniversary trip to València, I bought a book on The Best Day Hikes in Spain and insisted we have a Saturday in València to take the regional bus to Calles to hike the Chelva loop dayhike.

What ensued were a few transportation plan mishaps and then, by some miracle or sheer grit and determination, we ultimately hiked the loop.

Back in Seattle, Michael rented a Fiat500 for Friday. it would have been a nice day trip, being on our own timeline we would have more time to explore. Two things happened. We realized that an international driver’s license would most likely (definitely?!) be required to pick up our Fiat. It rained floods on Friday. We scrapped the plan to go pick up our car and instead went to the aquarium and the operetta. We’d go with our original plan to take the bus.

Saturday morning came and we left the apartment at 9:17, the very last minute allowable to leave and catch the subway to the bus stop across town. The subway was delayed due to water on the tracks from the torrential rains and flooding. we both spent a quarter hour blaming each other and sharing our disappointment at missing our connection to catch the bus. We both really wanted to go on this hike. The pressure was high. I was really raking my brain. Finally we reached the ability to think from a solution-oriented perspective. My urban training emerged and we switched on my phone plans $10/day international roaming charge, updated the Uber app with passport information and current payment, and called up a taxi. For £90 took us up to Calles. We had about 4 hours to complete the hike the guidebook called a 3 1/2 hour loop. So we kept a steady pace, panicking near the end. We picked up the pace to a run, enjoying the feeling of running along the river but ending up with 45 minutes to spare and very sweaty at the supposed bus stop by the side of the road. We were very relieved when a local woman also appeared to catch the bus as well. We were really out there in the mountains and had the distinct impression there were no taxi drivers available without pre-reservation. Our train to Barcelona left in the morning so we were very motivated to get back to València, although we did entertain if we needed to sleep rough by the river we probably would live to tell the tail.

Spain Anniversary Trip: València

Michael surprised us with a revelation about Spain, that it and especially the third largest city in Spain—València—were worth checking out and perhaps even moving to. So with the generosity of my parents to take up the helm at our household watch the kiddos together with Linnéa, and generally hold down the fort (they strengthened it), we jetted off to the Mediterranean for the first half of November.

València did not disappoint. Such a beautiful and varied city. We found it balmy, friendly, walkable, brimming with arts and culture and we were even able to find an authentic vegetarian paella. Our urban Airbnb apartment provided the perfect home base to explore and sleep off our jet lagged mornings. We loved the ocean, the castles and the fresh squeezed oranges. We saw an operetta at the opera house, and several “foreign films” at the cinema across the street from our flat. Two were shot in and around València so it was a wonderful cultural experience and good for practicing our Spanish and Catalonian.

Enchantments Through Hike

This year October stretched out like a taffy pull. The golden light and warm days kept intensifying. Instead of waning and turning dark, cold and rainy, the regional Skykomish fires lent the sky a pink peachy hue, and the rains held off. Each day was a repeat of the last, and they were all cherished for what they were, both foreboding in the acknowledgement of heralding climate change, and glorious bonus days of summer for hiking and outdoorsing.

In September my running buddy Jason and I got back to running after healing from our half-marathon (from May!). Around the same time he was getting into longer and longer day hikes, like Royal Basin as a dayhike, it caught my interest. In my early twenties when I worked for the Arapaho National Forest in Colorado and the Olympic National Park in Washington, I would hike marathon distances to my absolute bliss. I expressed my desire to be invited along on one of the next ones Jason planned.

Jason had been in the Enchantments backpacking and climbing a few times before in the previous decade, and was due for a re-visit. I had lived in the area long enough to have a healthy regard for the Enchantments. They are well known as the penultimate in alpine scenery: the landscape of legends, heroes and the playground of the Gods. So like our half-marathon, it was Jason’s idea to through-hike the Enchantments, but I latched onto it and drove it home.

On our runs around Greenlake, we began plotting our ascent into the Enchantment Lakes district of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness sometime in October for the fall colors. It’s a bit like the frenzy that associates the peak-bloom of sakura season in Japan. “Peak-larch” it’s being called, and everyone is trying to time their trip to match it. It’s a formidable day hike of approximately 18 miles, or 30 km, with ~4500′ elevation gain, and ~6000′ elevation loss. To hike it in the autumn means fewer daylight minutes, and planning to hike some portions by headlamp.

Another part of the preparations included planning and arranging for the transportation. The trail nearly makes a complete loop with the two trailheads separated by approximately 30 minutes drive along a bumpy road up the Icicle Creek Road. With a goal start time at the trailhead of around 5am, we leaned heavily on the generosity of our old beloved Quinault friends to drive with us out there leaving Leavenworth at 4am. Enormous gratitude goes out to Pam Baugh Trudeau and Jacquie and Glen Ferrier. Their heroics made seamless our car drop off at Snow Lakes trailhead and subsequent drop off at Colchuck Lake trailhead. We couldn’t have managed such elegance without you all. Huge thank you!

We successfully through-hiked the Enchantments on 1 October with about 300 other mostly toned young folks in their 20’s and 30’s, without injury or mis-hap and then immediately I was plotting when I could get back in there. Surprisingly, I did not have to wait long. With Michael’s support, Jason and I through-hiking again with another friend of his on 15th October, this time with about 200 others. I would go back again tomorrow in a minute. And I certainly plan to go back next year on a weekday.

What follows is a amalgam photo journal of these two trips, and an arial view courtesy of my brother, Captain Peter Murphy.

Upper Snow Lake and the Enchantment Lakes in Alpine Lakes Wilderness from the air 📸Captain Peter Murphy
Arriving pre-dawn at Colchuck Lake after hiking two hours from the trailhead on 1 October 2022 with at start time of 0515.
The boulder field going around Colchuck Lake took us one hour on both occasions, and it is something I would not wish to do by headlamp. On this day, dawn had just broken, and I swapped my headlamp for sunscreen and removed a layer. Jason Gerend 15 October 2022
Climbing approximately 60-75 minutes up from Colchuck Lake to the top of Asgard Pass. Here I’m nearing the top of Asgard, looking back down at the Larches forming an ombre pattern with the elevation change on 1 October 2022

Autumn Joy

Lake’s favorite question to ask is still: “what’s your favorite color?” And ironically Lady Kitty’s favorite answer to any question is still “I like pink and purpaw.” I just put two and two together! Those two are made for each other!

We’ve been making a lot of wagon excursion in the evenings after school. Thank you Nana for the new wagon! One favorite destination is the “book store!” Third Place Books, and another is Greenlake. They are both real troopers when Mama likes to get some exercise after working inside all day. We often pack a picnic and return in the dark. Enjoying the autumn sunshine as long as it lasts. Autumn Joy! I recently taught Lake that plant name after he noted someone else had it in their garden like we have.

Sweater on Lady Kitty is vintage hand knit by Jacquie Ferrier.

Enjoy the Autumn!