Posts filed in: Travel


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'Burb Days Daze

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There's an incredible storm going on outside. Rain and wind are whipping the trees in every direction. I'm inside, next to the fireplace, listening to the clock, to the mad wind, to the rain whooshing through and rapping the windows like a gravel shower. It's the strangest thing, to have these strange, quiet days, so far from our usual places, people, pets, work, and activities. Part of me is kind of enjoying it, part of me is seriously antsy. Thank goodness we're with family. When Andy's parents are at work, we don't know quite what to do with ourselves, and yet, we don't really want to do much. Yesterday we had the laziest day we've probably ever spent in our entire lives. We're car-less, far from anything we can walk or bike to, and have no wish to roam, anyway. I'd shipped all the baby stuff ahead of time, so we didn't take much with us when we left Portland — a bit of knitting, a couple of books. Yesterday afternoon we took a walk around the neighborhood here. This is a gated 55-and-older community neighborhood, very nice; we get stares and howdies when we go out. I saw a guy riding a Hoveround with a little white dog sitting at his feet on it, nice as pie. (I just asked Andy how to spell Hoveround and he cracked up.) Around three or four o'clock we were sitting in the grass by the lake and a string of cars began driving away from the clubhouse. Andy: "Bingo must have just let out!" I say I love Bingo, and wonder if they'll let me play. Andy amuses me constantly by doing spot-on impressions of his parents' cat. I made dinner for everyone — pastitsio and salad; I dragged the cooking out all day. The stove was a gas stove, and awesome (ours in Portland is electric). We wrote letters. We put fake UFOs into our iPhone photos. (There's an app.) We texted people. We watched TV. We watched Happy Feet. We played Wii. We each spent about an hour designing our Miis, changing face shapes, eyebrows, glasses, noses. An hour! hee hee :-) It might have been longer than that. My sense of time is inaccurate. I'm not totally sure what day of the week it is, either.

I have my big black camera with me but I forgot the USB cable that connects it to the computer. I spent an hour figuring out how to pop out the memory card and put it into the computer so I could get the old pictures off, which is how I found the picture of the house that I had taken and forgotten. It looks different than it did when we lived there. The new owners have made some unfortunate changes, in my opinion. I don't know what's going on with the windows, for instance. I don't understand why the window trim is brown. It should be white. They took out all of the original leaded windows and replaced them with what looks like vinyl or fiberglass. They also paved the driveway, which was always gravel with a path of dandelions and grass down the center, I think. In some ways, though, it's exactly the same. That's probably why it's confusing.

Today we're going to Menard's with Andy's dad to get rock salt for the water softener. Field trip!!!!!

Hurry Up and Wait

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Here we are, in Chicago, waiting for the arrival of a very special baby girl. The phone rang last Tuesday afternoon, prompting a flurry of suitcases, phone calls, housesitter arrivals, ticket purchases, last-minute instructions, and general running around the house in small excited circles, like side-by-side triple axels with barely stuck landings. But we somehow managed to make it out of there just fine. Zing!

Arriving, we found that baby had decided to wait after all — very good baby!!! Once again we are waiting for a phone to ring, letting us know that she is here! It's Monday morning at Andy's parents' house. The house is incredibly quiet. Andy's parents both left for work early this morning and now Andy and I are here alone, goofing off and passing the time, fussing with the temporary mini-nursery, folding baby clothes, playing with the kitty, walking around the lake, bouncing on the yoga ball, daring each other to see what baby formula actually tastes like, setting up baby monitors and bottle sterilizers, knitting tiny heartwarmers, trying to figure out how the baby sling works, trying to figure out how the baby carrier works, trying to figure out how the television works, checking the phone again, talking about our hopes and dreams, sitting on the back deck watching geese fly overhead through the cold, crisp air. It was not too long ago that this subdivision was a farmer's field.

On the verge of motherhood, in some ways I feel like I am suddenly, ironically, back in my own childhood. The sky looks the same as it did then, and also like nowhere else I've lived. The leaves look the same, the bare trees look the same, the leaves smell the same. The color of the light from the streetlights is the same. Passing through Oak Park on the expressway the other night I cried in the car, thinking of my dad and missing him more than I could say, thinking of how he was always here, always, always at home. Before this past summer, the last time I had been in Chicago was ten years ago, shortly after he passed away. He died in Oregon, but that never seemed right. One afternoon during our visit here last month, I sat in the park across from my old house for several hours and stared at it, and it looked just like my dad to me, and it looked like me, and it looked like my family. I felt like I was looking at people. Our life was so thoroughly there, in that place. My parents lived on Forest Avenue for almost thirty years until they moved to Oregon in late 1998 to be nearer to my sister and me (we were already there). For several reasons, I wasn't able to come back then, that autumn when they were moving. The house is in a cul-de-sac. It was strange to have to sit like a stranger, across the street in the park where the swings used to be; it was the same point from which I had looked at my house a thousand times before, pumping my legs back and forth on the swings: house closer, now farther, now closer, now farther away. I didn't dare get too close this time. I felt like I could walk off the sidewalk and right up the front stairs into the past. But I didn't want that. I could hear acorns falling from the hundred-foot-tall trees. I walked a few blocks down Linden to Thatcher and the edge of the woods, my first woods, and looked in at them. My dad had dragged us there to go walking around all the time when we were growing up, and we had mostly hated it. Go figure. I was told never, ever to go into them alone. And so I didn't this time, either. But I missed him, and wished he were here now, for all of this.

Andy's parents live farther out of town now. The suburbs stretch farther than they did when we were kids, the neighborhoods out this way a strange mix of farm fields and gated communities. I love the prairie grasses and the cornfields and the cattails that line the sides of the road. I love the the bare, black oak tree branches against the blue sky, the way the downtown skyscrapers rise like mountains. I love the rusty El tracks overhead, the busty pigeons, the wide, wide sidewalks downtown and all of the people and buses and taxis. I love the museums, the planetarium, the Art Institute where my parents met, the fancy old apartment and office buildings. I used to work in one of them, on the corner of Michigan and Madison, but that was a long time ago; I'm a tourist now. I'm absolutely amazed at and intimidated by how many expressways there are, how many lanes of whooshing traffic, how many people and malls and stores, how many things to eat. Andy is sitting in his dad's recliner at this moment, reading a book about hot dogs and eating from a gigantic wax-paper bag of cheese-and-carmel popcorn from Garrett's, which he walked into the room carrying on one arm, like a baby.

We wait, and dink around the house, and pray, and wait.

Snow Day

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As you head away from the city, it may be warm and raining.


But at the mountain, the world (and time) has frozen.


We went to Timberline Lodge with our friends Keely and Josh like we did for my birthday last year. It's become a sort of unexpected tradition I am happy to continue, as I honestly cannot imagine a better or more beautiful place for a new year's birthday.


Andy gave me an iPhone for my birthday. I wasn't that interested in the iPhone until I got one and started playing with it and now I love it. I took all of these pictues with the phone. I love taking pictures with the phone! (Which is good, since I left my huge bag of knitting [I think I had four WIPs, a brand new book, all of my tools like tape measure and yarn needles and stitch markers in there] and my big black camera [also in the bag] at the hotel. But we won't talk about that. It was supposed to be overnighted to me but has yet to arrive; hopefully the camera will survive the trip.)


I had thought I wanted it to snow until I saw that we were going to get a sunset, and then I didn't mind at all that it didn't snow.


This sunset was magical.


Hipstamatically enhanced, but that only makes it look how it felt, I think.


I really had no idea how to control this camera so I just let it do whatever it wanted. It was like a corgi in that way.


Thank you so much for your birthday wishes last week! I hope someday you go to Timberline Lodge and you are there sitting next to the huge fireplace as the sun is setting. That's my birthday wish for you.


We had dinner in the restaurant and then sat in the hot tub outside, under the stars. I didn't really sleep the whole night, though I tried (hotel pillow too squishy: "What is this? A bag of frosting?"). The next morning, though:
















Taken from the window of our room. Seriously.


J+ K adorableness.


Too soon it was time to go home.


It was such a great day. I even got to walk around in the snow with my special traction chains. That was just amazing.


Double rainbow, all the way.

Seattle Sunday

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It was my first time attending an NFL game in real life! It was a beautiful day, and we had great seats. Andy was extremely excited. We sat between Bears fans and Seahawks fans. Andy was a bit conflicted, since he likes the Seahawks just fine, but once a Chicagoan, always a Bears fan; he was wearing an Urlacher [Bears] jersey but wound up enthusaistically high-fiving everyone around, no matter who scored. I offered helpful observations about the game when I could. The first quarter didn't go very well for the Bears.

 "The team seems a little uninspired today. The team seems like it is wishing it was on the ferry to Bainbridge Island."
 "No, that's just you, hun."

Maybe. I continued knitting my fair isle sock. During halftime, Andy went to find some popcorn, and I read O Pioneers! Some people gave me weird looks, but c'mon, I'm Alicia: I get weird looks all day long. Doesn't bother me a bit.


The Bears came back in the end, and it wound up being a very exciting game. After the game, we walked uptown to our hotel, the Inn at the Market. We always stay there when we go to Seattle. I have a thing for nice hotels, as you might have noticed if you've been reading this blog for a while. I love fancy hotels.


One of our favorite restaurants, The Pink Door, is right down the alley.


It's a darling, sparkly little place, with pretty lighting and very nice food.


We ate outside, on the deck overlooking the water.


As I mentioned yesterday, it was turning into a gorgeous evening.


You could feel the chill in the air. It is no longer summertime.


We walked back down the lane to our hotel, about a block away.


And went up to the roof to watch the sunset.


Good grief, it is beautiful there.


I really love Seattle.

Bears vs. Seahawks

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Andy and I took the train up to Seattle on Sunday for the game, and got back last night (very short trip). Seattle is so beautiful, isn't it? This was the sunset on Sunday night from the rooftop garden of our hotel. Love that place. More soon! Need coffee first!

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at