Failure and opportunity

Over the last few years, I’ve come to firmly believe that mistakes are only failures if I don’t learn from them. Yes, I make mistakes, of course, and I suffer the consequences sometimes. But if I also take away a solid lesson – even if it’s as mundane as “Don’t leave a cast iron skillet unattended on an induction stovetop” or “Plug in the car every night” – I don’t consider the experience a failure.

In the past, I thought of a divorce as a “failed marriage.” Now that my marriage has become a statistic, I’m realizing that my no-failure-if-I-learned philosophy applies here, too. Continue Reading >>

Sing the holiday blues

Okay, before we start, let’s talk about the point of this blog post. It isn’t meant to be a post complaining, whining, or seeking sympathy. I’m going to take some time to express the emotional experience of going into the holidays this season because writing things down allows me to work through them, and because maybe other people might have insights or relevant experiences that they can share around this topic. Take it or leave it. So, that said, here goes.

Our church has a tradition I never really understood before: the Longest Night service. Held on the longest night of the year, it’s an opportunity to mourn and acknowledge the pain around holidays. I intellectually got it, that people might have lost loved ones and find the holidays a hard time. Sure, good idea, let people feel sad. Continue Reading >>

Finding beauty here

Yesterday during my bike ride, my friend Rachel sent me some stunning pictures from her family’s vacation to Florida’s Gulf Coast. I ran out of different ways to say, “Wow!” So I started sending her some Washington winter pictures. (You can see my offerings below. Very different from the tropical paradise vibe from her end of the world.)

This photo exchange gave me the idea for the Great December Photo Swap. Every single day in the month of November, Rachel and I will send each other a picture of something beautiful we saw that day. No explanation required. Continue Reading >>

A Chouxnut Learning Experience

This season of Great British Bake-Off, my brilliant sister came up with the idea of a weekly betting pool to guess who is star baker and who is eliminated. On Sundays we convene in Zoom to rehash what happened that week.

We bet nothing and win nothing beyond the thrill of guessing right, yet we’ve had such a fun time every week! I’m far more invested and interested in the show every week, literally cheering when my pick for star baker proves right (this is extremely rare, although odds get better as the season progresses). And, as Colleen intended, it gives us all something to gather around. Continue Reading >>

“How are you?”

Have I mentioned the concept of social lubricating lies here yet? According to the scholarly article “Lying as norm in social interactions”: “One prevalent reason lying is a norm in North American society is because politeness is generally an upheld value. Thus, people are even encouraged to lie in certain situations in order to protect others’ feelings and to be polite.”

As the New York Times puts it, “To most people, the minor lies we sprinkle in our daily conversations are a confection, a social lubricant, not a poison. What a nice dress! What a swell haircut!” Continue Reading >>

Brackett’s Landing on a blustery fall day

We’ve been having some seasonally exciting weather experiences — wind and rain, darkness, and a general sense of coziness at being inside without yet feeling cooped up. On Sunday, Benji, Mom, Dad, and I decided to go enjoy the dramatic wind and rain at the beach. Here’s some pictures of that little adventure.

Brackett's Landing
The tide was just about at the peak high, and it was up 12 feet from normal. Hardly any beach to be had!
Benji in Driftwood House
Someone built a very sturdy driftwood house, which Benji confirmed fit at least a nine-year-old.
Brackett's Landing Rainbow
To our astonishment, the rain tapered off as we approached the coast. On the beach, it wasn’t raining at all on us — but we enjoyed the benefits of someone else being rained on, with some very nice rainbow views.
Katie & Benji at Brackett's Landing
Uh, yeah. No comment.
Benji & Nana in Edmonds
Benji and my mom have a heart-to-heart.

I didn’t take a picture of this, but three coal trains also went by. We counted cars, and two of them had 106 cars, including engines. That’s a long train.

And a couple quasi-art eye pictures. Continue Reading >>

Apartment living

I mentioned previously that Benji joined me for our first week flying solo this last week. Benji’s never lived in an apartment before, and honestly I haven’t lived in one for well over a decade. 

As a result, we’re used to making noise levels appropriate to a single-family home. One day when Benji was here visiting, our downstairs neighbor came up and mentioned he could hear Benji’s running. We apologized and promised to try to keep it down.

Then during the week when Benji was gone, I walked across the house in my bike shoes — which do tend to be pretty noisy, with the stiff plastic soles and cleats — and within about 30 seconds the downstairs neighbor banged on the ceiling (I assume) to tell me to quiet down. Continue Reading >>