Friday, September 30, 2011

The Amazing 5 Foot Tall Stack of Books!

Yes, I just bought a Kindle, but I still have a lot of physical books and expect that I always will. 

Like most people who enjoy reading, I always have a stack of books around me - including this one. It's about 5 feet tall and it stands along the wall in my living room. When people come to visit, they sit on my couch and stare at it. 

Sooner or later, someone will ask how often the stack falls over (it never has). Or people say that they wouldn't want to be standing next to it in an earthquake. Once in a while, someone asks what I do when I want to read one of the books at the bottom of the pile. And that's when I reveal the secret. 

These books aren't just piled one on top of another. They are sitting on a clever, vertical book "tower." If you click on the photo at left, you can see what it looks like when it's empty. The shelves are metal and the structure is surprisingly stable. It makes use of what would be wasted space. Books are easily accessible. And it's a great conversation piece. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I Finally Bought a Kindle

Yesterday, I did something I have been talking about doing for a year. I ordered a Kindle from Amazon. What got me off the fence? In a word, price. 

This week, Amazon introduced its Kindle Fire, a full-color tablet. At the same time, the company unveiled a reconfigured Kindle line up, including one with the low price of $79 US. 

For me, and I am sure millions of others, seeing the price drop below $100 made all the difference. As with all new tech gadgets, I have no doubt that cheaper Kindles are on the horizon, but at $79, I am not going to feel like I over-spent when that day comes. 
Once you buy a Kindle, check out these great buys: 100 Kindle Books for $3.99 or less

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Lies Beneath at Alki Beach

I love living near the water, walking along the edge of the water, looking out across the water, but I do not love being in the water. My Alki Beach neighborhood is popular for scuba diving - an activity that doesn't appeal to me. However, I am very curious about what divers see when they are down there.

Now thanks to the skills of diver/videographer Laura James, landlubbers like me get to see what life is like underwater without having to get wet. Here are a few examples of her stunning work.

Want to see more? Laura has over 140 videos posted on YouTube. Go check them out!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Q: When is drinking actually GOOD for your liver?

A: When what you are drinking is - WATER.

The liver needs water, and plenty of it, to burn fat and eliminate toxins. If you are dehydrated, the body goes into water conservation mode by slowing your metabolism and using fat to insulate the cells to prevent further water loss. This makes it harder for the liver to do its job. 

Without adequate water intake, you gain weight and toxins build up in your body, usually stored in that excess fat. This contributes to diseases that include: diabetes, allergies, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease and more.

Most of us think we are hydrated enough if we don't feel thirsty. But our thirst mechanism fades as we age. By the time we feel thirsty, we are already in a state of mild to moderate dehydration. Remember that we lose about 2 liters of water a day (roughly equivalent to 2 quarts) via respiration, digestion, perspiration and elimination. That water needs to be replaced every day to prevent dehydration. 

To learn more, take a look at this comprehensive article: Dehydration Slows the Liver's Fat Burning Ability. And drink up!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering the Alki Beach 9/11 Memorial

It is hard to believe that a decade has passed since the events of 9/11/2001. And yet, here we are. Today I went through photos that I took of the Alki memorial back then, and reflected on life since. Of the many things that have come out of that difficult time, perhaps the most positive has been a renewed sense that we are all in this together; that life is unpredictable; and that family, friends and neighbors are what matters. The phrase "building community" seems to echo across the country. 

Here at Alki, that sense of community rose up spontaneously on 9/11. The news seemed, at first, bewildering. Did this really happen? For some of us, the Orson Welles/War of the Worlds story came to mind. But this wasn't fiction. And as the reality of it sank in, whatever else we were doing seemed unimportant. It was as if we were all wondering, "well, what do we do now?" 
And so we came to the beach. As Isak Dinesen said, "The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the sea." Walking along the water's edge is soothing in a way that nothing else is. As we walked, our little Statue of Liberty seemed the natural destination. 

As people came, they brought candles, flowers, hand-written notes, teddy bears, and personal mementos that related somehow to the events or people they knew. For days, candles remained lit - when they burned down, people brought new ones. Wilted flowers were replaced with fresh ones. 
Someone brought a supply of brown paper lunch sacks and sharpie pens, and encouraged people to take a bag and write a message on the side. Volunteers then took the bags, put a bit of sand in the bottom of each one to weigh it down, and placed votive candles inside. At night the candles were lit. In the photo above, you can see the row of bags in along the seawall.
As the days went by, the flags, hats, notes and other memorabilia just kept coming. When the memorial wound down days later, the nearby Log House Museum collected something like 18 boxes of these treasures which they are preserving as part of local history.

Here are a few of the messages on the bags. 
"MAKE LOVE NOT WAR (after we get those bastards)"
There was, of course, no formal program or agenda. During the day, people were quiet, either reading what others had written or lost in their own thoughts. At night, I remember that we held lit candles and sang a few songs. Some people read poems. What I remember most, though, was feeling grateful for my life and for the connection I felt with the people around me. 

There were many touching notes in the collection at the base of the statue. But this one stood out for me. In fact, I made copies of this photo and used them to make my holiday cards that year. Here's what it says:
"As long as you hate,
Hate is in the world.
As long as you love,
Love is in the world.
 As long as you have hope,
Hope is in the world.
Choose to face the light,
And let the shadows fall behind you.
Change yourself,
And you change the world."

A special exhibit will be held at the Log House Museum on Sunday, September 11. For more information about observances planned in the neighborhood, visit the West Seattle Blog.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fiona, The Spy Cat

This is my neighbor, Fiona. She isn't allowed out of the house because her owners have had too many sad experiences with kitties being hurt while outside. So since she can't get out and hunt for birds and chase mice, she has to be content with - spying

She sits in this upstairs window and keeps an eye on the neighborhood. She tracks the movements of the raccoon family that makes its way through the yard every afternoon on its way to dinner at a neighbor's house. (I know, we wish the neighbor wouldn't feed them, but she does.) 

Fiona is startled when Harold the blue heron flies overhead, squawking on his way to the Douglas Fir he likes to hang out in. She is bewildered by hummingbirds. She is interested in squirrels. 

But mostly, Fiona likes to spy on me. From her perch on the windowsill, she looks into my kitchen window and down onto my deck. She watches intently as I rinse dishes or go outside to clip some herbs. Her eyes follow me as I walk back and forth in my kitchen. It makes me laugh to glance up and see the look on her face. 

Soon the weather will turn cool and Fiona's family will close the window for the season. From then until the first warm days in spring when the window is open again, I will miss my nosy little neighbor.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A New Look!

As you can see, Where I Am Now has a new look. I've spent a few days fiddling with colors, layouts and photos to use for the header, and I'm close to being satisfied with it.

For some time, it has seemed to me that the blog needed a better way to navigate through the content than just using labels. Adding pages (see the tabs above) that organize much of the content by specific category, such as "food & recipes," "the arts," etc. is, I think, a big improvement.

I hope you find the changes helpful. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Oh, and if you are wondering about the photo at the top of the page - it was taken at Solstice Park in West Seattle at sunset on the Summer Solstice, 2011.