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A significant birthday

21 Jan

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A couple days ago, I turned thirty. Thirty was not a scary milestone for me, but it did feel significant. Nothing abruptly changes or ends at thirty, but there is a transition-y feeling lingering in my mind. Ten years ago I turned twenty, and I can barely remember what that felt like. Twenty-year-old Kate was vaguely planning to go to law school after college, not move to Italy, have a huge life transition/crisis, get a design degree in San Francisco and work for herself. Nope, I was a different person then, thinking of a very different life for myself.

A much older someone recently told me to remember the feeling of being thirty, because 10 years from now, forty will feel twice as old. Nice, right?

I’ve always secretly felt eager to be a little older. Maybe its a holdover from being the youngest child, or usually finding myself the youngest among friends. I still feel it, I like being a little older. I feel more sure of myself and my work every year, I feel more confident in knowing when to say no and when to say yes to experiences, people and opportunities. Dare I say, thirty feels pretty good?

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To celebrate and reflect on another year of growing, working and being a full-time grown woman, Intern and I took a few days off mid-week and drove to Healdsburg for a few days of fun and relaxation in wine country. We biked, we napped, we read books, we picnicked and wandered. I didn’t worry about anything for three full days!

Thanks-break

3 Dec

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For as long as we’ve lived in the bay area, I have wanted to experience the hot springs in Sonoma and Calistoga. Its so close to us — but we never make time. This past week, we decided to keep Thanksgiving plans low key, so we could take some extra time off to really relax. I had it set in my head that hot springs would be the only way to calm down and recover from the past few months of work-stress. Intern was a bit  doubtful about the curing properties of hot mineral water… but I felt pretty certain.

After all the hustling and juggling of the past few months, its hard to slow down. I have a hard time giving myself permission to give a break, even if that means “taking a break” while also doing two other things at the same time. Not an effective method for achieving relaxation. Intern and I made plans and shook on it, we’d take 2 days off. The magical part of our plan was that it actually happened. No work crisis, no last minute meetings, no reason to postpone our trip. The morning we’d planned to head out to Calistoga we found a last minute deal on a hotel, so we packed our picnic and an overnight bag and got on the road.

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The drive to Calistoga from San Francisco is just under two hours. We visited a winery for a pre-Thanksgiving picnic lunch, then dumped our bags and threw on swimsuits to test out those restorative mineral hot springs. Works like a charm. In two days we packed in a good amount of healing water and relaxation. We drove back the following afternoon to make our traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Washington in Fall

18 Nov

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After 10 days in Washington, its good to be back in warmer, drier weather, though having a taste of real fall was pretty refreshing. Bright fall leaves, listening to rain at night and a fire roaring in the fireplace? Not bad for a few days. I think I experienced a full spectrum of weather there- rainy days, windy days, dry cloudy days and even a few days of patchy sun. I sort of miss that changing weather and rain! The rain was brief, and very very nice.

My sister went out into the woods near my mom’s house and came back dragging this old painted sign we’d taken out there as kids. The sign is probably 15-20 years old, long forgotten in our old fort hidden in the woods between old growth stumps and moss covered nurse logs. I remember taking the sign out to the woods with my sister, carrying it over streams and wetlands and across fallen logs and through dense woods to a little moss covered clearing. Every trip out to the woods was always full of big plans for extended trips out to our fort, but in reality most of those plans were thwarted by too many mosquitos from the surrounding wetlands, or our encounters with mysterious animal tracks in the mud, and scary sounds and movement just beyond our eyesight. I realize now we were pretty brave kids, much braver than I feel now.

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Napa Valley Escape

27 Aug

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For the last three years we’ve joined Intern’s company for a weekend-long retreat away from the city. Coworkers, consultants, families and an open bar all weekend. There are planned activities like biking, pool parties, golf and competitive wine tasting. Things can get a little rowdy, but this year things got a little fancy. This year the escape was held in Napa, with a special party at Castello di Amorosa. The dinner was black tie, with a masquerade ball following dinner. After dinner we all put on our masks and were lead down through narrow candlelight hallways down deep underneath the castle, past wine cellars, a room of armor, and even a torture chamber. Yes, more than one reference to Eyes Wide Shut was made… but fortunately the only thing waiting for us at the end of the procession was top 40 music and a dessert bar.

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Washington Summer

24 Jul

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We moved away from Washington 4 years ago and nearly every trip back I find myself surprised at the green. It is really, really green. I spent 10 days on the Eastside at my mom’s house, where nature is slowly and surely trying to reclaim its place around her house and yard. All those “natives” as we like to call the creeping weeds, are tall and dense and the trees have grown considerably in the last few years. The not-so-native blackberry bushes stand taller than me in some places, and are particularly nasty and not fun to tangle with. We spent some time clipping back vines that had begun to cover mom’s stone walkways and wood arbor, finally resorting to the electric hedge trimmer to get the meaner and thicker bushes back into some state of control. Yard work in that part of the world feels like a futile fight against nature, the weeds and volunteer trees will just grow  back, as big as ever.

We learned a good, and probably not-so-secret trick for cutting the notoriously fickle hydrangea blooms. Immediately after cutting the blossoms we dipped each stem in Alum, and the flowers stayed fresh for days and days.

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