Monthly Archives: March 2014

We are Vikings!

Three years ago I spent the winter in SE Asia. I started, timid as a mouse, in Bangkok. It was not auspicious. I got bolder and left and went to Ayutthaya, to adjust to the climate and the culture and recover from the jet lag.

Ayutthaya is one of the ancient capitals of Thailand. It’s a beautiful place, and there are many ruins of old temples. The old city is surrounded by a river, so technically it’s on an island. One afternoon I took a long tail boat ride around the island:

longtail boat and driver

We stopped at several sites along the way, visiting beheaded Buddhas,

beheaded buddhas

Buddha heads,

buddha head

and admiring the jackfruit trees.

jackfruit

There were two Norwegian couples on the boat ride with me, one that was middle-aged and the other quite young. We all went to the night market for dinner. We sat outside, in the dark, sweating our asses off at 7:30 at night. Apparently the only food I took a picture of was this fish, which was delicious:

garlic fish

There was also morning glory vines and frog legs. And beer. Which was the point of telling this story. For those of you who know me, you know I’m not a big drinker. I mean, it takes me at least an hour to drink a pint of beer. On a good day. At the night market, they had beer – but only the 22-ounce bottles. I tried to ask if they had the 12-ounce once ones and everyone laughed at me. I recall asking the people I was eating dinner with how they could drink so much.

The young woman turned to me, lifted her bottle and cheerily said, “We are Wikings!”

We all had a good laugh.

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52 Photos: A Present Someone Gave You

Queen Mary tea - rainbow sugar

When I saw this week’s prompt, I initially thought I was going to take a picture of a Shona sculpture my sweetie got me for my 30th birthday. It is about 2 feet high and made out of serpentine (I think)? It’s two figures holding each other, and there is a story about how the sculpture was one of the few to survive the Nisqually Quake in 2001. And how it was so heavy my sweetie had to take it home on the bus, because it was too heavy to carry home.

But then EPIC TEA happened.

Let me back up. Last week I sunk down into a pit of sadness. This happens from time-to-time. I understand generally why it happens and have some strategies for responding. In the midst of this, Lis, tweeted about having tea at the Queen Mary Tea House. I responded to her tweet, and the next thing I knew, she was arranging to meet up with me and three other women on Sunday for tea.

Queen Mary tea plate

It turns out that yours truly was the catalyst and force for bringing together this particular group. There was Lauren, who I had inspired to start TeaVoyeur. I met Lauren a couple of years ago at an InfoCamp and we connected right away. She is a kindred spirit and we particularly connect on issues related to work/life balance.

Then there was Jess, who I’d met through the food tweeters a couple of years ago. And she brought along her friend, Kiri.

Queen Mary: ladies who tea

So Jess and Kiri were friends, and Lauren and I were friends, and Lis was the bold soul who organized the event, but the five of us had an incredible time. I mean, I felt completely comfortable in my skin, with these ladies who are smart and bold and strong and sweet and beautiful. We talked about life, creativity, dreams, religion, feminism and photography, just to capture a few of the topics that swirled around. I didn’t cackle my head off, but I was soul-satisfied, in a way I didn’t even realize I’d been parched. There was no awkwardness, just joy and celebration about each person and what she brought to the table.

After tea, we visited the cherry trees that are blooming on the quad at the University of Washington. It was a zoo.

the crowds

But I did capture a few tranquil images:

blooms and moss

sunlight cherry blooms

As I start another revolution around the sun, I want to carry this particular gift and share it as much as I can this year. Thank you, ladies, for what you gave to me.

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52 Photos: Where I Would Take You

For this week’s prompt, Where Would I Take You, I had many thoughts. Seattle is beautiful and I have some iconic pictures of the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, Pike Place Market, the downtown skyline, and plenty of pictures of birds, flowers and nature. I felt overwhelmed, because there are so many places I would take you.

seattle skyline

I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that my adventure of the day was going to the library. One of my friends suggested I take pictures of the library to share. She didn’t even know I was still looking for a focus.

So, dear reader, I’m taking you to one of my favorite places in Seattle – my branch library. I hope you enjoy it.

The Seattle Public Library

Let’s start with this World Book set of encyclopedias. Anyone still use them? I remember them opening the door to the world for me.

world book

I imagine so many worlds, beyond what is known. On the left are the science fiction and fantasy novels. Dip a toe in!

library aisle

My mom loved to read to me and my brother and sisters when we were children. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins was one of her favorites – and ours! A classic:

The 500 Hats

The library is where lights go on:

library lamp

When I’m finished with my materials, I return them:

book return

There are a few more pictures included in the full set. Thanks for letting me show you around my library!

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The Pomodoro Technique

tomato rose

My friend Lauren told me about the Pomodoro Technique a while back. The basic idea is to break your work into smaller chunks, work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and then go back. Wash, rinse, repeat for 4 cycles, then take a longer break.

I thought I would give it a try today to see how it would work for me. I was interested for a couple of reasons:

  • I’m easily distracted
  • I thought it would help me focus
  • I could take those 5-minute breaks and stretch, check the internet, etc. without feeling guilty

So, how did it go? I will first say that I modified the technique as it is explained. I did not attempt to complete a single task in 25 minutes. Rather, I approached a larger project and gave myself 25 minute increments to work on it.

This approach worked very well! The first three pomodori I was able to maintain focus. My breaks were pretty close to 5 minutes. The last two pomodori I found my attention started to wander after 15 minutes and I really had to push aside temptation to say focused.

I had a discussion with a few pals on Twitter the other day about multi-tasking, busy-ness and the pick two of time-quality-price. I think many of us feel frantic as we try to fit more and more into our lives. I can relate to the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland: “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!”

I often feel as though I’m running behind, and the urge to do more! faster! is something I tussle with. Some days I’m better at it than others. Creating this blog and identifying the slow bloom philosophy has been critical in silencing that voice that tells me I should be doing more.

I liked the overall effectiveness of the technique, which helped me maintain my focus. One of the reasons I often stop what I’m working on is because I get stuck. But with this approach, I found I forced myself to work through whatever barrier came up, instead of goofing off and then returning to see if I had come up with a solution (which NEVER works – LOL).

I’m curious if any of you have used the Pomodoro Technique, or something similar, to manage your time and productivity. How does it work for you? What do you like? What works? What doesn’t?

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52 Photos: Where People Gather

The Week 45 prompt is Where People Gather.

A few hot spots in Seattle’s Georgetown. First stop, coffee:

All City Coffee

All fired up, one can shop till you drop at the Trailer Park Mall:

Georgetown Trailer Park Mall

You may want to get some groovy tunes:

Georgetown Records

Just beware the narwhal:

narwhal mural

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