Thursday, May 31, 2012

If you can't take the heat, get out of our kitchen!

Posted by Amy Baranski and Melissa Baumgart
Welcome to "Teach Your _________ How to Cook Month."  We'll be filling in the blank with our husbands, but feel free to join us with whoever fills in your blank.
If you've been reading for a while, you might remember how much we loved cooking everything from scratch during Urban Homesteading month last September.  This month was a suggestion from one of our husbands, and of course, we thought anything with cooking sounds like fun.  And you know how we love a challenge, too.

"By the end of this month my husband will have mastered several appliances in our kitchen including, but not limited to to the rice cooker and Vitamix. I'm really excited. Snort. Snort." - Amy 

"I love to cook.  It is definitely one of my passions that I love to share with feeding them, not by teaching others how to do it.  My husband, Jamie, says I am a terrible teacher.  A mean teacher, in fact.  I think maybe he's just a slow learner.  But don't tell him I said so, let's just see how this is going to go." 

Is something burning????  We better run.

Tackling other priorities

Posted by Amy Baranski

After the one fly casting class I took earlier this month at Greenlake (read Melissa's summary) I quickly realized I wasn't going to fish in May. It's not that I didn't want to go fishing. I had a blast learning how to cast. It felt great to be out early in the morning trying something new with a fun group of women. Interest wasn't  an impediment to trying this new thing.

So what gives? I've had other things on my mind. Like having a baby! This month has been full of baby planning and other fun. Here's a quick run-down of things I've been doing instead of fishing:

Mariners games! We got free tickets for the Cinco de Mayo game because of some Opening Day snafus. I love springtime at the ball park, and so does Baby!

Master gardener clinics and volunteering! This spring I've spent time working at two of my Master Gardener posts--the Cesar Chavez demonstration garden and the Arboretum Plant Clinic. I even committed a new botanical name to memory - Ceanothus, commonly known as the California Lilac. Bees love this plant! 

Book-themed baby shower! Hosted by my mom and sister. Read my sister's blog about planning the details. Those cupcakes were delicious and the theme of the party helped us start building a beautiful collection of books for Baby. I can't wait for story time! I also got to spend some time with my luvable cuddable nephews!
Childbirth class with  local childbirth educator Penny Simkin! Penny is an outstanding, balanced, and evidence driven educator. Talk about contributing your life's work to the good, this woman's got it going on! Her books Pregnancy and the Newborn and The Birth Partner are worth checking out if you're expecting.

Planting tomatoes! Memorial Day weekend is the time to plant those tomato starts. I decided to cloche some of mine since the weather can be a bit unpredictable here. But I left some uncovered just to see how each will do. Unfortunately I waited a bit too long before planting them so I significantly stressed my starts before finally transplanting. Oh well.

Beekeeping! Every single sunny day in the spring is so important for the bees and the beekeeper! I tagged along for a few days and helped my husband inspect the hives. I'm the designated picture taker. It was hot underneath our long sleeved shirts and bonnets, but oh so worth every moment.

Working on unfinished projects! Remember that pallet garden? Well I got really far and then I stalled out on the easiest part--planting the starts. In a week I'll be calling on my brawn to lift the garden to its upright position. But I think it will look much better next year. Ouch that was an expensive project. The starts totaled $

Celebrating love! Friends of ours got married this past weekend. We had planned to be out of town on a little road trip but canceled at the last moment because we were too tired to travel and too stressed with work to not work overtime. (Huh? I know!) So we crashed the wedding, which was a total tear-jerker. Ah love.

There were other adventures of course but those were the highlights. Would I have rather been fishing? Not really. April and May are the months for gardening and getting the bees off to a good start. Now we know that spring time will always be abuzz in my house. I'm looking forward to the coming years and living more according to the seasons.

I am looking forward to the onset of summer, the slowing down before Baby comes, and Baby's arrival. I'm feeling really picky and choosy about how I spend time outside of work hours. I think it's important to listen to those instincts and to build a strong cocoon that will keep my creative energy warm and safe and able to transition into a new form of life.

Responding to a world of chaos

Posted by Amy Baranski

You may have heard the news by now that a murderer ran loose around the city shooting people and then himself (coward). Six are dead including the suspected shooter.
For those who have died.

Just last week there was the father, a victim of a senseless stray bullet who died near my neighborhood. I was at my friend's son's baseball game when it happened. Another mother who had come from the area and saw the commotion of the first response teams spread the news while we were cheering on the kids in the bleachers. Then there was the gang-related incident at the Space Needle during Folklife--the annual Memorial Day weekend celebration of folk music at the Seattle Center. A bystander was shot, non-lethally. The shooter is 'sorry' he hit the wrong guy. Three days ago a house got shot-up with 60 bullets in the south-end.

The shooting yesterday, of course, reminds me of the Capitol Hill Massacre that happened six years ago. I'll never forget that day because it started with my reporter friend Josh who called me at a very early hour asking if I was OK. I was half-amused by the concern in his voice; it seemed so random that he would be calling me to see if I was OK. It took me a moment to realize his seriousness and that something terrible had happened and I could have been there. I jumped off the phone and threw on some clothes and darted out the door to meet my friend, and boss, Matthew.That began one of our longest working days of the year. We worked at the, now closed, Capitol Hill Arts Center--the venue for the rave that murderer Kyle Huff attended. That was a day of phone calls--one after the other with lawyers, community organizers, politicians, and even Larry King's people.

Today, my husband spent a lot of time on the phone, because the murderer shot a woman in an apparent car-jacking in the parking lot adjacent to this office. My husband bicycles to work (which I love) but I have to not sweat times when he's late or hasn't called because he's in wall-to-wall meetings on any given day. Because if I do sweat it I'll go down this chain of anxieties that always lead to an imaginary scene with a shattered bicycle helmet and a dramatic scene in the Harborview emergency room. Not only am I selfishly happy that he wasn't at the office at the time of the shooting--because if he had driven it could have been his truck that was car-jacked, but I'm even happy he wasn't there so that that he didn't have to witness this senseless violence.

Seattle isn't the only place where a rash of gun violence has swept the area. There were the 40 shootings in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. We're we supposed to be remembering the dead not creating more of them? Everything seems so upside down these days. Then I read these articles:
After taking in the uplifting headlines so many cliches filled my mind that it took some effort to think beyond them, to think about what is going on in our world. I really wanted to think about what we are all doing together in this world, and what we are all doing on earth as individuals. What guides us? How does our Id, Ego, and altruism commingle? What do they become together? Is it good?
Last night my husband and I stayed awake until 1:00 a.m. (a feat for us on a school night) talking about the meaning of our lives--the value of the work that we do and our aspirations. We talked big picture and strategically to try to make sense of the world around us and how we fit into it and how to live a "good" life and what a "good" life means to us. 

And that's sort of the point isn't it? To think. To talk. To share. And to do these things in a loving and intentional space. We can't just let a stream of cliches fill our minds and our hearts. We have to sort it out. We have to partner in someway with someone(s) to share our frustrations and to have our perspectives challenged. We have to use our anger and frustration, or our confusion and loss, to transform ourselves, our minds. Sometimes we just have to be together. Other times, we have to let go. We have to let go of what's expected of us and take a leap of faith because who should reign a court of expectations of our lives? Who has that power and why do we so often give it away?

Last week, up in Snohomish at a lovely mom-'n-pop bee-keeping supply store I chatted with the shop owner. He asked when we were expecting (because I'm really showing now). And he said this: 
"There's not many things you'll do in life, if any, that will have an impact 100 years from now. But raising a child will."
This filled me with a sense of hope, responsibility and pride. And I love the idea behind it--that raising up people (loving people) is so important to contribute to the good. But I also thought, what if I weren't having a child? What kind of impact would my life have 100 years from now? And I think this too is important to consider, because I may very well not have ever had a new person to raise. And I know many people who have chosen not to procreate or have not had children not out of any choice or reason. And those lives matter deeply--at least they do to me. But how do we frame the conversation so that we're asking how an individual can contribute to the good, and to the 100 year good? One thought that immediately came to mind (because I'm very committed to environmental sustainability) was if we all thought of the earth as our child--a living being as complex as one could imagine with interconnected systems of feeling, and life, and seemingly endless opportunity to cultivate, blossom, mature, and ultimately transform into a new cycle of life. If we held the same esteem for the earth as we did our own children can you imagine the kind of world we might live in? In my mind it's a paradise that makes me smile. The other idea that occurred to me was the importance of our thoughts and not only their content but their mode. We each have an amazing capacity for imagination, bliss, attachment, and detachment. And how we allow our thoughts to rule our life decisions has, in my opinion, a 100 year effect. Thoughts--both their scope and operation--are handed down to generations whether we intend for that or not.

And yet there are so many other ways to think about the world and our impact. I invite all of you to make some space for yourself or with a friend or a lover and have a conversation on what it all means. Don't just let the day roll on by like some banal Hallmark Cliche. If you don't have time to do then think or talk.


Friday, May 18, 2012

I Went Fishing! (Sorta)

The hopeful fisherwoman.
Posted by Melissa Baumgart
This evening I really wanted to take our youngest to see the new movie, Chimpanzee.  The oldest was volunteering at her circus school for a fundraising performance, and the middle child went to see the opening game of the Seattle Storm.  (The Storm just happened to be the 2010 WMBA champion, yes, that's right...GO Seattle!)  So, there we were, with a choice.  Take the little one fishing, or to the movies?

With good intentions, and because I like to "do it for the blog!", we went fishing.  We first stopped off at the Outdoor Emporium, the place where I previously had obtained my fishing license.  I had a fishing pole so I just needed all the fishing accoutrement.  I walked into aisles of hooks, rows and rows of inly fishing hooks! Seriously, I just needed a hook, and a worm, as far as I was concerned. But no, I had to get help, and hope that the guy wasn't up-selling me on anise flavored marshmallows to add to my leader line.  For real, I bought "marshmallows" and other bubblegum and sour apple bait as well.  Bizarre.  But even if it was an up-sell, it was only $19.00 total, so not too bad on my part.

The directions. 
Next, the three of us headed to the WAC, the UW Waterfront Activities Center, where you can rent a canoe for just $10.00/hour.  Me, Jamie, and Tallulah awkwardly entered our canoe and set out for Lake Washington's fishing delights.  We paddled ourselves under footbridges and near reeds and lily pads.  We even saw a heron fly right in front of us.  All in all, it was a pretty amazing time out on the water.

What was't amazing?  Well, as I was sitting in the front of the canoe, seriously afraid that we were ready to tip at any moment, Jamie was busily following the written drawing instructions from the man at the Outdoor Emporium.  Jamie got the fishing pole all set up with a sinker, and a swivel, marshmallows and a worm to boot.  As he was about to cast, guess what he realized?  The reel had no handle!  We had no way to reel anything in.

"True Baumgart Fashion!", is what I heard from behind me.  Followed by much laugher.  And then we were all laughing, for a long, long time.

See our catch? The lily pad!
We went fishing, and literally, could not fish.  Believe me, I tried.  And when we finally pulled in the line totally by hand, I realized we had caught a lily pad.  Perhaps you can see it in the picture to the right.

Better luck next time?


Monday, May 14, 2012

Learning how to Fly Fish

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Very early Saturday morning, Green Lake was quietly abuzz with runners and swimmers.  Standing on the dock with a full jug of coffee (Thanks, Edie!) were Me, Amy, and four other women all ready for our fly casting lesson.  The original plan was to spend the whole day out near Fall City, on a river, in all of nature's glory.  When there was a miscommunication about which day it was scheduled for, we had to once again roll with the punches, as we often do.

So, we ended up at Green Lake, and like I said, very early.  A couple of us (yes, me included) admitted to waking up with a bit of the feeling like we really weren't going to be into this.  But since we had committed, and paid already, we'd go anyway.  For me personally, once I stepped out onto the dock and felt the sun start to warm my back, I was quickly won over.  And I hadn't even picked up a pole yet.

Our casting instructor, Loren, walked us through putting together a fly fishing pole.  The whole reel situation seemed a lot easier than I recall conventional fishing poles to be.  Once we had the line set up, Loren told us the basics of casting.  We didn't use hooks, thankfully, because I know I whacked myself in the face with that line a number of times.  But if we had, maybe we could have caught the huge fish I saw jump up out of the water!

Here's are the top three things I took home about fly casting:

  • Do not flick your wrist.  Keep your wrist straight the entire time.  
  • "Picking it up, and putting it down."  Loren told us to think of it like you're picking up a phone, bringing it right up to your ear, using your shoulder in the lift instead of tilting your wrist back to reach your ear.  And then hang up, put the phone down.  We all had fun with this one.  Thinking how soon a new generation isn't really going to get the picking up the phone, since it is always in hand already.  At some points all you could hear were the mutterings of six women reminding ourselves to pick it up and put it down.
  • The Pause.  At each stop with the pole, moving back and forth, from front to back, (think 10 and 2 like on a clock), you have a pause.  It's not even a second long, but it's there.  Without it, there is no release of the line, and it just whacks around in the air without grace and flow.  When you get the pause right, it really is a beautiful thing.  
Like many things, it takes a good degree of relaxation in your muscle tone to really "get" it.  But, as a beginner, I found my mind was racing with trying to remember all the how-to minutia, and my body instinctually shifted into a rigid stiffness.  Then, at some point, when my mind drifted off, there would be a moment, where I really felt like I was in the rhythm of it.  The line was looping just the way he taught us, my hand/shoulder motion was "picking it up and putting it down" in just the right way...and inevitably I would start thinking again, and it was gone.

What a life lesson.  Stay present, relax and don't over think it.  

This has come up numerous times during the adventures of this blog.  Definitely during drumming, and then yoga for sure, and learning the Single Ladies dance.  I imagine it is what accomplished musicians experience, or athletes at the top of their game.  Those moments where you transcend the everyday and leave the constant mind chatter behind, and you just are. 

I don't know if I will ever get there with fly fishing, I mean, I can't imagine the perils of just putting a hook on the end of that line.  Maybe I'll just spend my time casting.  Finding my meditative self through fly casting, never catching anything but myself.  Wow, I sound like some crazy lady now.  "Have you heard about the lady at Green lake, she just stands there, casting a fly fishing pole, but doesn't even have a hook."  Yep, that's me, I might just be crazy enough to do it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

When your courage opens unexpected doors

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
You know how this blog has turned into a vehicle to continually keep stepping out of our comfort zones? A way to keep trying new things and opening up to the infinite possibilities that being alive has to offer?

Well, sometimes those things really catch my fancy, like with yoga.  Even though I don't go as much as I wish I could, I still love it and I always will.  I look forward to a time in my life when I can go again, every single day.

Some things suck.  They seem like great ideas at some point, but then I end up not liking them.  Like anything crafty.  I really want to be crafty and handy, but alas, I am not.  And while I am ecstatic to have a beautiful dress to wear, that I made!  And to have that tufted headboard under which I fall asleep every night in my new "hotel" bedroom.  But the truth of the matter is, that in the process, I truly hate every moment.

And then sometimes, something unexpected happens.  Although, I was terrified to tears to stand on a platform 23 feet in the air and leap forth while holding the heaviest metal bar that can exist, my oldest daughter loved it!  She came with me to one of the trapeze classes and fell in love.  And I could tell from the first time, she really had a natural ability for the flying trapeze.

Tonight, at her school Talent Show, she shared a video of her performing on the flying trapeze.  I was so proud of her, and so happy that I chose to step beyond my usual and into something so uncomfortable that it made me tremble with fear.  Because, you just never know what might come from your courage.  It might be you growing and learning, or maybe, you might just open up the world in a bright, new way for someone else.

Hope you enjoyed her video!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Getting My Fishing License

Wow, I look thrilled.
Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I went today and got my fishing license!  I stopped in at the Outdoor Emporium on 4th Ave in SODO on my way back from Lily's trapeze team class.  Luckily they were open, and had an ATM.   You should know that they only take cash or check for the fishing license.

I received a booklet printed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, called "Fishing Sport Rules."  The Virgo in me is already happy...I love Rules!  This booklet is 135 pages long and from quickly flipping through it, seems very overwhelming.  It's likely though, that very little of it will apply to me, so I need to spend a little time filtering through the content.

The woman that helped me at the Outdoor Emporium was very knowledgeable.  She had a cute tattoo of Illinois with a heart marking where she was from on her forearm, and for some odd reason that made me feel less stressed about not knowing anything at all about fishing.  She helped me to choose a fresh water only license.  I doubt I'll be fishing in the Puget Sound, although that does sound like fun.  She also informed me that if I come back during the daytime hours, there is always a staffed fishing counter where they are happy to answer as many questions as you have.  I think Amy and I need to make our way down there this week sometime.

Signing my license.  It's official!
If you don't want to venture out, and you live in Washington, you can also get your fishing license online.  I chose the freshwater only option, and it cost around $33.00, which includes a parking pass for WDFW lands.

I also received a "Sport Catch Record Form" where I need to record the area, date, and for some fish, the species code.  What?! Species code???  Hope that's covered in the 135 page booklet that I'll get to right after my Pre-Calculus homework tonight.  This record form is for Steelhead, Salmon, Sturgeon and Halibut.  And beware, if you have one of these forms, do not lose it!  Even if you do not catch any fish, you have to mail this in or you will be fined.  I'm a little scared already, I have a bad history of getting fines from government organizations.

My weekend is a little bit busy with soccer tryouts, baseball games, sleepovers, soccer games, a talent show, Jamie's gig, finishing that lampshade and homework...but I hope to squeeze in a little fishing too!

Anyone else heading to the open waters this weekend?

Good things come to those who bait.

Posted by Amy Baranski and Melissa Baumgart
Welcome to Fishing Month!  
Why does fishing have to be a man's sport?  We were looking for inspirational quotes about fishing, and every single one of them was written by a man, or spoken in reference to a man.  It reminded me of when I (Melissa) picked fishing for one of my months.  I was a little concerned that it was too masculine.
But then, isn't that a part of why we even do this blog?  To step out of our comfort zones, whether they are placed there by ourselves or by societal constructs.  So, this month, we are heading out to nature to learn a little about the sport of fishing.
We are going to be out on a canoe, sitting on a dock on Lake Washington and taking a fly fishing class with a bunch of ladies.  That's right, it turns out there a lot of other women out there that think fishing isn't just for men!
Off to get our fishing licenses!  Anyone in for a competition to see who can catch the biggest fish?