Find a Way Through the Dark

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I have this friend. He is kind, funny in the nerdiest of ways, and just as willing to hang out with his nieces and play board games as enjoy some Bears football. One more thing, on his 40th birthday, he came to the realization he was depressed and needed to do something about it.

You see, our spouses both decided to throw us surprise parties this year for outrbirthdays and while eating lasagna at mine he told me what happened at his. He told me he walked in to find a bunch of his family and friends waiting to surprise him and he didn’t react. He wasn’t surprised, happy, uncomfortable, nothing. Some small part of him knew the lack of reaction wasn’t right. And thankfully, he listened to that small part.

Since then, he has been doing some work. Learning what helps (friends and sunshine) seeing a professional to get some chemical support and finding some mentors. For him, Brandon Marshall is a beacon. An athlete and a bit of a rebel who has a supportive wife and a thriving foundation whose mission is to remove the stigma of mental illness and create awareness for all types of mental illnesses.

So here’s what’s happening, On the summer solstice, June 21st, he is taking a Top Gear style race against the sun up the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the most beautiful drives in the US. Here’s the hitch. Instead of doing it in the California sun, he will be doing it overnight in the dark, to signify what it feels like to experience life’s beautiful moments with the dark cloak of depression.

As an added layer, my friend is raising money for the Brandon Marshall Foundation and is soliciting donations to his crowdrise page. Every penny he raises goes to the foundation and helps build more awarness for mental health. If you can, please donate a few dollars or just drop us a note of encouragement. https://www.crowdrise.com/solstice/fundraiser/dougstubbs

For my part, I am priviledged to be his copilot on this leg of his journey. We will be meeting up with friends at Santa Monica Pier for the start of the journey and just across the Golden Gate bridge at the end. Throughout the drive you’ll be able to check in with us via Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I will be working the technology because my friend is going to be responsible and keep his hands on the wheel as we Find a Way Through the Dark.

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Little Free Library

I’ve been driving by the Little Free Library at 39th and Grand Ave for a year and a half now. It is only two blocks from my apartment and I haven’t taken the time to go over there. I’ve been wanting a random book to read and have not been taking the time to procure one, so today I took a walk down Tonawanda Dr. by Salisbury House and stopped over on my way back.

I picked up Paulina Simons’ The Summer Garden. I’ll let you know how it is.

 
walk in beauty
~Kirsten

 

p.s. While walking by Salisbury House I heard the rehearsal for The Merchant of Venice showing June 12th-15th.

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tomorrow

I’m coming back tomorrow.

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*snarky*, *snarky*, Halloween!, *snarky*

no pictures yet.
it’s just not time.

While waiting in line at Ragstock in Iowa City I was watching a girl run around the store trying to figure out what to be for all three nights of Halloween. You heard me correctly THREE NIGHTS. In Iowa City you have to dress up Thursday night for Thirsty Thursday, Friday night cause it’s Friday and Saturday night cause it’s Halloween. Right.

Anyway, while waiting in line at Ragstock I was watching a girl run around the store trying to decide what to be…
Does she need to buy cowboy hat to be a cowgirl?
No, her friend has one she can borrow.
Can a biker girl wear a navy bandeau?
*(blink)*
Yes, it’ll be dark enough no one will know.
Are the peace sign earrings the right symbol for a hippie?
*(blink)**(blink)*
Yes, they should work, it’s very Paul McCartney.
*(blink)*
What color peace signs should she get? Orange?
**(PLEASE get the orange ones. They will match your orange spray tan that matches your orange hair and then all you’ll have to do is put on some black lipstick and you’ll look like a pumpkin! Please!)**
No, the light blue one’s would be better.

Eventually the girls walk out with nothing and the line is that much shorter.
Fin

Did anyone else learn to spell Halloween with a song?

H, A, double L, O
double U, double E
N
spells HALLOWEEN

walk in beauty,
Kirsten

H, A, double L, o
double u…

p.s. It would seem I was incorrect about the number of days you have to get dressed for Halloween in this town. It’s really four instead of three. Yup, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday each have to have a different costume. Good thing that only happens every 7ish years.

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talk soup

It is windy in Iowa. The kind of windy that shatters the picture windows in my apartment buildings and rips the car door out of my hand leaving dents in the next car over. (The first one happened today, the second I just live in fear of.)

And due to that wind I just couldn’t face eating leftovers today. Veggie Chili Mac is all fine and good, but I don’t want it again on a day like today.  Enter Exotic India.  I love all forms of food, but I for sure have a bigger soft spot for Indian food than most people. I love the blends of spices, the mix of hot and sour, the naan and all the wonderful aromas.  And one other thing, but we’ll save that for the end.  Exotic India, like many Indian restaurants has a lunch buffet. It’s smart because I always want a little bit of everything, so when I go usually end up with something that looks like…

…this lovely plate of goodness.

There is some tandoori chicken, a samosa, zucchini kofta, chicken saag, and some broccoli on that plate. But the crowning glory is in that bowl with the spoon…


…daal soup.

I don’t know what they put in that soup, I don’t think I really care. It is the most mouth-watering soup I’ve had in years.

Years?

Yes, years.

So let’s talk soup. I don’t like them really thick, really creamy, or really sweet. I do like cold soup, I like partially blended soup with just little bits of texture and I love soup with corn in it for some reason. This soup, the daal soup, hit high in almost every category. It was thin enough to actually dribble off the spoon and had been blended a little, but still had a bit of parsley? and lentil floating through to make sure you chew a little and savor. It was not overly spiced or oily, but there was a distinct flavor of something buttery and a strong savory smell. I had two bowls. It was that good.

I am a bit torn about this meal. That soup was good enough for me to want two bowls, but one of the reasons I love Exotic India so much is the chai. It truly is the most delicious chai in the world. Tastes like tea and milk and a bit of sugar and spice and is better than dessert cause it’s so simple and wonderful.

 

Sigh

I’m going to leave you dreaming about he most delicious chai in the world.

walk in beauty,

Kirsten

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cranberries!

Hott for sure, but not the kind of cranberries I’m writing about today.

That’s more like it.

I went to the grocery store last night in order to pick up the fixins for breakfast burritos. While wandering through produce, what should I come upon but cranberries!

It is officially my favorite time of year when these little babies show up. It means the heat of summer is officially over and we’re looking forward to fall and winter. The leaves are crunchy and scattered about and pumpkins in the field are being harvested.

I wish I could find my pictures from my trip to New Jersey last October. My Momma lives minutes away from some beautiful cranberry bogs and when we were there last year we were able to see some of the aftermath of the harvest. I’ll be the first to admit I picked up a few of the strays and munched on them right then and there.

And yes, I am the kind of person who can eat cranberries raw and unsweetened. They have such a satisfying pop when you bite into them and the sour/tart is only made better by crunching through the little ventricles with all the tiny, tiny seeds.

It is cranberry season and I am a happy girl.

walk in beauty,

Kirsten

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sweet sweat

Today I am reminded that construction workers smell like a mixture of dust, chew and sweat. Good Lord, I love that smell. It’s almost as good as the smell of service members who smell like a mixture of ironing, brasso/shoe polish and sweat.

And now for a train of conscience moment.
I vividly remember learning the difference in spelling between sweet and sweat. In one of the American Girl Kirsten books, there is a passage in which Kirsten is remarking on the smell of her mother and baby sister and she uses the phrase ‘sweet sweat’. The first time I read it I just could not understand what she was saying. I wondered if it was a typo and thought it should have been caught by the time I read the book. As someone who read above her age group I was used to coming across words I didn’t understand and usually if I kept reading I would either understand from context or find it didn’t make a big difference to the plot. This was a little different. I knew I should know these words and knew my brain was just being stubborn. I was one of those kids who didn’t stop while reading though, so I just pondered a second and kept reading. Eventually my adolescent mind figured it out, but I think I had to read the book a few more times before it finally clicked. Sweet, Sweat! Sometimes sweat just smells bad, just think about a teenage guy, and sometimes sweat smells wonderful and clean like when someone has been working outdoors in the winter. In this case, Kirsten is referring to the wonderful smell of her hard working mother. Sweet sweat indeed.

walk in beauty,

Kirsten

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after the storm photos

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cross stitch

I’ve started a new epic project. Almost ten years ago I bought a beautiful cross stitch kit with the thought that I would make it for my grandmother. She is the one who taught me to cross stitch and measure ingredients when cooking and to listen to my friends and buy myself a nice dress every now and then and respect my family, but also be fierce in my beliefs. Grandma loved roses and this kit is a large (15″x20″) grouping of pinky-mauve roses in a sterling bowl on a black background. It’s going to be beautiful even though now I’m making it for myself and not for her.
You see, she passed away about a year and a half ago. I had two really clear thoughts amid the pain and frustration I felt when I learned she was gone. First, I was upset with myself and somewhat relieved because I had never told her I am queer and she never knew about my girlfriend even though her only wish for me was that I would find someone who would be my great love. My second thought was about this cross stitch kit. I knew right away I would need to complete it anyway. It will become one of my greatest remembrances of her.
As I started working on it last night, I was thinking about why I like the process of cross stitch.
1) Take stock of your floss, needles, aida cloth and pattern
2) Center your cloth and secure it in the frame
3) Start stitching in the center and work your way out binding the loose ends in the stitches. There are no knots.
4) The first time through a section will take time as you follow the pattern
5) The second time through a section will be easier and you can enjoy following the hard work you did earlier.
6) As you move around the piece, there will be some large expanses to cover and some single and double stitch details to complete. They are both important to the whole piece.
7) When done, step back and enjoy. For me most of the time this is also followed by give it away.
There are no major revelations here. I cross stitch, other people run or do yoga or cook to get some stress relief and small sense of accomplishment and focus in their life.
One sort of side thought. When I describe the women who have helped make me who I am, I always think about two of them in this way. My grandmother taught me how to follow the rules and my mother taught me how to break them. Both systems serve me well in life.
walk in beauty,
Kirsten
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office colds

More than half my office has a bad head cold. That’s right, six of us all desperately trying to work and get better.We’re all coughy-sneezy-sniffly and working hard to not fall asleep.

Time to take some more cold medicine.

walk in beauty,

Kirsten

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