the continuation and re-ending of Otter and Seal

So, when my longtime partner in crime Sencha Mujer Otterchoa departed Olympia, I didn’t expect we would ever occupy the same city again. Ergo, her relocation to Australia was a welcome and surprising delight.

I’m never at a loss for amazement that sometimes you get to share life with people who are so magnificent. This one is ready to join in on any adventure I might imagine. Prepared to propose adventures which I wouldn’t imagine. Ready with pizza upon my landing[s] at [all] the airport[s]. And soup on my sick days. And cookies before I crave them. And tea when I awaken. (We like food.) And surprises for no reason. Ready with patience when I’m grumpy. With energy when I’m exhausted. With encouragement when I’m defeated. With solid advice and understanding for any situation I fall into. With enthusiasm every day of the week. Ready for chips (fries), always.

I think relationships at their very best look like people allowing each other to be themselves, uncompromisingly. Creating an atmosphere that is both comfortable and safe for the other to flourish. Being both encouraging and challenging. That’s exactly the space we’ve had in Melbourne (and beyond). Such a beautiful foundation for intentional and incandescent living. I’ve felt so nourished and supported. So ready to exist fully.

This past year has seen a lot of kilometres of gorgeous landscape and fun experiences on the road. It has also seen days and weeks and months of simple life conducted out of a cozy [partial] home. It has been an exceptionally creative time for me (I think it’s safe to say for both of us). Creative cooking based on whatever seasonal, local produce we’ve found delivered in our CERES boxes. Gourmet road trip meals mostly-suited to the desert, or to the bone-deep winter of Tassie. Sewing projects beyond my experience, painting, card games, reading and other shenanigans at Bar Josephine. Filling scrapbooks from an entire country. Braiding, knotting, macrame-ing a sea glass toned collection of anklets. Threading together film clips of a gorgeous island state. I struggle with motivation, often. But this year has been so full. Of experiences. Of growth. Of satisfaction. I attribute this to having a really solid foundation. One which was created, significantly, by this gorgeous friendship. By this caring and conscious individual. It feels good to be ready for life. It feels good to have the energy and the space to live well. And while Melbourne is filled with so much excellence and so many stellar people of it’s own accord, it is this human, as always, who has filled so much of my heart. And filled my life with so much more than I would’ve had on my own.

Thanks Mujer for a year of epic goodness. Thanks for making me more me. Thanks for changing the fabric of this city for a year. I love you endlessly.

As a side note that deserves (and will have) its own note (eventually): While we’ve created our own precious space, we’ve also had so many people adopt us into their homes and their lives, and we wouldn’t have loved this place so much without all of you who have been there for us. Our hearts are full! 💕

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the crumpet fiasco

Somehow I had gotten it into my head that crumpets would be an excellent road trip food. Not like, store bought crumpets. No. Crumpets from scratch. So in our trip preparations we bought egg rings and yeast and Sunita dutifully let me make my usual overambitious and absurd plans. However, the desert is decidedly less ubiquitous with its gas bbqs than other parts of Australia. So I had been putting off the crumpet endeavours. But after a full day of hiking and swimming and being in the sun, making and eating real food sounded like a hassle. And for once we had heaps of daylight left after arriving at our roomy desert camp for the evening. I decided today was the day. The day for crumpets. The perfect road trip food.

So I retrieved my little handwritten recipe and set about the process. Our soymilk was cold and I needed warm milk for yeast activating purposes. I could’ve used our camp stove. But instead, I set the container I had chosen, our large jar normally reserved for iced tea (our best reprieve from the heat), on the hood of the car. Sunita noticed this, and suggested popping the hood instead. Which I agreed was, in fact, a superior method. So there we were with the hood open and a jar of yeasty sugar milk resting on our seemingly ever-warm engine. (A fellow camper checked to make sure we weren’t having car issues.) Next, everything else gets mixed in and then it rests for forty-five minutes and gets all fermenty. This was the point where I set it well away from us since the flies had taken particular interest in it’s rich, quickly souring aroma. Also, where I realized, in hindsight, that I should’ve halved the recipe. We’d be eating crumpets forever.

We were cramped together in the way way back of our Honda CR-V. It was too warm to be in the car, but the alternative – being outside, but covered in flies – was worse. Would you rather? In an almost unprecedented scenario, I’d choose heat. Anyways. It occurred to me, suddenly, the near certainty of this crumpet mixture rising beyond its vessel’s capacity. I braved the flies to check on it. Before even reaching it I notice the once flat top had become a bulbous mound. Damn. And then everything is moving in fast forward and I’m covered in a sticky fly-attracting white goo for the next hour. My elbows to my fingertips unusable for anything unrelated to crumpetry. Unsuitable really even for that. The batter covered tea towel gets left in the dirt, the ever erupting jar needs constant attention to keep the flies from claiming our precious crumpets-to-be as their own. Sunita prepares the stove and everything to start cooking this underdone concoction immediately. As It turns out, I wasn’t feeling patient enough to use the egg rings and make proper crumpets in these conditions. They were more like crumpet pancakes. Which, hybrid pastries are like a major trend right now, hey? Cruffins and cronuts and the lot. We didn’t have the means to properly clean the jar or the tea towel so they got disappeared into the roof pod for future us to deal with. Meanwhile the desert floor is dotted with little crumpet puffs that got smattered about (and cooked!) while I was attempting to both pour crumpet batter and swat away the damned flies. I’d like to say we had a nice meal of crumpet pancakes (Sunita didn’t appreciate the title of ‘crumpcakes.’) but realistically, as soon as the less-than-successful crumpets were slathered in butter and honey the flies became absolutely frenzied and we had to fight viciously for each bite. My hands were still covered in dried batter and plenty of red dust. Still, I licked the precious Tasmanian pepper berry honey from my fingers.

So yeah. I guess this is what we get up to. On our road trips. In the desert. Needless to say, I have conceded that crumpets are best left to a kitchen environment…

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the tale of otter and seal

This is the tale of Otter and Seal.

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They were introduced at the land of Trader Joe’s.

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Their meeting was unceremonious and unspectacular. Still, Otter and Seal quite quickly became friends. With bonds composed of cookies and mushrooms and outdoor adventures, their friendship was sure to last.

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After some time, they decided to live together. The two created a cozy nest in which to hold their lives.

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And collected a diverse and happy family tree.

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Otter liked to redecorate Seal’s portion of the nest as often as possible.

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They enjoyed cooking and gardening.

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Otter and Seal fell in love with many people who entered into their lives. With these people, they shared a great many adventures.

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They had friends and strangers alike stay in their home. And upon such occasions forced said people to create self portraits.

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Otter and Seal slowly crept into each other’s families.

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They went to the woods whenever they got a chance. Hiking and camping were their favorites!

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They got dirty.

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They got fancy.

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They got silly.

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…and sometimes even sillier.

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Otter and Seal delved into their city.

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They loved taking road trips. So they took to the open road.

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They explored neighboring areas.

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And then they explored even further. Far across the country to strange destinations. They saw great expanses of nature.

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They didn’t look at explosions.

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They even went off to explore other countries!

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Music was much adored by both. So they sought out good music.

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And even made some of their own!

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They did a lot together. But they accomplished great things on their own, too. For instance:
Otter became a Firefighter/EMT.

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and Seal built a house.

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Perhaps most importantly, Otter and Seal enthusiastically ate immense piles of pizza and sushi. As often as possible.

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Yes, Otter and Seal were a good team. But eventually, as these things do, their lives took them separate ways.

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And now they are off to have their own adventures.

The end.

my slightly gross and rather interesting blood story

I feel sixty times more awesome than I felt when I woke up this morning. Here’s why:

I went to donate blood today – it’s been a while since I was able to donate, low iron problems and whatever. But I have been eating really well and drinking lots of water, and I haven’t donated since I started running. So I was interested to see if that affected my iron or the speed of my donation at all.

So I got there and gave them the “let’s check my iron first, blah blah” spiel. They stuck my right finger and I was one point low, so they stuck my left finger. Score!

Then we go through all of the rest of the tests/formalities. All of those fun questions. (No I’m not pregnant, no I don’t have HIV, no I have not used a dirty needle for drugs, no I haven’t been to Sri Lanka)

“Which arm?” They ask. I always say “My left arm is better.” So they check my left and decide it is inoptimal. “Can I check your right.” “Sure.” And so they check my right, which is mostly followed by “…you were right…your left was better.”

They prep my arm, the bag, etc. and stick the needle in my left arm. Well, no blood starts rushing down the tube. So, they phlebotomist hunts around for the vein, apologizing ceaselessly. He calls someone else over.

Repeat.
Repeat.
Repeat.

So for about ten or fifteen minutes they had four different people trying to find the vein in my left arm before deciding to switch to the right. They bandage up the left arm and move over and prep the right. Stick the needle in, no blood. It took two people to find the vein in my right arm, but they did finally succeed in finding it. In the process I got a hematoma and ended up being sent me home with an ice pack. My actual donation time was really quick, which for me is rare. But, the REALLY interesting thing that happened, the thing that makes me sixty times more awesome than I realized, was what I found out about my blood.

So I was talking to one of my many phlebotomists of the day, and he was explaining about how different bags are used for different types of blood and he said “Well you are O negative, right?” “Yes.” “And you are CMV negative too?” Pause. “What does that mean?” He started explaining and the words “Your blood, well, it’s really quite special.” came out of his mouth. (That’s right, special blood. Jealous much?) Apparently not only is my blood amazing because of its universal donor status, but also it is what they call CMV negative. Which means that I have never had some form of virus which apparently 99.5% of the population has had. Yeah. Way to go immune system! And suck it all you medication enthusiasts who try to treat me with your antibiotics. Anyways, since I am O negative and CMV negative my blood is used for babies. That’s right, I am a baby blood donor.

Moral of the story: in order to have superior blood to mine – it better be rainbow colored, chocolate flavored, and bring people back from the dead.

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