Every time a homeless person is found dead outside or dies by violence in King County, WHEEL (a homeless women’s organizing effort) and the Church of Mary Magdalene (an ecumenical day ministry) mobilize for our silent witnessing vigil called Women in Black.

Today, we stand  in honor and memory of Miguel U. Garcia, 77, who died outside in Seattle of natural causes on Feb. 19th.

At least 12 people have died outdoor/violent deaths in Seattle already this year.

(Taken from the Women in Black press release)


A double Sabbath

Washington State is, in a word, breathtaking.  This weekend the weather was absolutely fantastic, and I got a beautiful glimpse as to why people put up with the grey chilly winters.  Spring (and I hear summer too) are incredible.

Sunday a co-worker and two of her friends invited me to join them at the 19th Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.   A day outside, in a valley full of flowers?  Count me in!   We left right after breakfast and made the hour drive up to Skagit Valley.  Good thing we left early, because the warmer weather apparently drew everyone outside, and traffic was already starting to pick up even before lunch.   We parked and walked around a few different fields of tulips and daffodils.   There was one point where I felt like I was in that scene from The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends are in the field of poppies.   As far as the eye could see, dots of red, yellow and pink.   I, of course, took a ton of pictures (which can be viewed on Facebook – I’ll try to put some up on Flickr later). Even though the weather was warming up, and it wasn’t grey, it wasn’t really sunny either.  It was what they call “Filtered Sun.”  An odd sensation – because it definitely wasn’t grey, and  it wasn’t sunny, yet not quite hazy either.  So while we were a little disappointed that the sun didn’t fully come out, we were still pretty enamored with the tulips!   After a full morning/afternoon of flower-gazing, we went into some small little town and had a fantastic veggie pizza for a very late lunch.   Then we decided to drive home a different way, over Deception Pass, and then ride the ferry back to Seattle.

Deception Pass State Park turned out to be a magnificent idea!  The sun decided to make a full appearance for the late afternoon.  So we spent a couple of hours walking on the pebbly beach, and making the short hike up to a point where we could look over Skagit Straight.  Sitting on the edge of the cliff, looking down as the sun sparkled on the water, we saw seals and porpoises!  There were a few people out kayaking, and I have to say I was a bit jealous of them.  Kayaking is definitely on my list of things to learn to do while living in Washington!  Laying back with the warmth of the sun on my face, I felt at peace.   I thought to myself, “This is a true Sabbath.”

Before the sun started going down, we headed back over the bridge and onto the ferry.  It was the first time I had ever ridden a car-ferry!  Very exciting!  We stood outside as long as we could stand the chilly wind, taking in views of the Cascade Mountains and Mt. Rainer.

Today was more brillant than yesterday – weather wise.  The sun was in full bloom all day.  So I took advantage of my day off by packing a lunch, my camera and my book and headed down to Green Lake, which is just about a mile’s walk from my house.  It seems that everyone called in sick to work on this beautiful Monday, because the path around the lake was full of bikers, joggers and skaters, even at mid-day!  I found a sunny little spot in the grass in which to enjoy my lunch and finish of my book.  I fell asleep in the warmth of the sun – which resulted in some funny red streaks on my arms that will be sure to get a laugh out of the girls at work tomorrow.  But that’s okay – sun-kissed and happy.

A wonderful, relaxing two days spent almost completely outside.  I couldn’t ask for anything better!!

Back in the saddle…er, kitchen

I’ve mentioned before that one of my goals in moving to Seattle was to learn to cook.   Somehow I had missed out on that lesson in life, so teaching myself to cook in a city that thrives on local and organic foods seemed a wise choice.   How’s it going you ask?  So very tasty.  I have set goals for myself to make one new meal a week, and for that meal, to use at least one local product.  Not including the weeks I was traveling, I have met my goal every week.  Of course, it helps that I have no children to tend to in the evenings, or friends to cause my to stray with offers of dinner out, but still, I’m impressed with myself.

I realized though that while I am loving learning to cook, I had been neglecting my baking.  While in Hong Kong, the material object I missed the most was my mixer.  Well, that and an actual-for-real kitchen.  I missed baking.  And while my beautiful mixer is still stored away in a garage in Florida, I have re-gathered or obtained many other baking necessities.  This week, I set cooking aside and got back to my baking roots. 

I started with Valerie’s scrumptious but incredibly STICKY Strawberry Cookies – with cherry chip substitute.  (An aside: while the cherry chip cookies were yummy, I’ll stick with strawberry from here on out.)  It was my friend’s birthday, and everyone deserves cookies in the mail for their birthday, right? I love these cookies because they are cheap and always a party favorite.  What I do not like about these cookies is that they can easily burn the motor out on your hand mixer.  Or, as evidenced below, will completely twist up your beaters.

101_3421 <—YIKES!!

After the cookies, I decided to fall back on an old classic, and one of my favorites and specialties, an Apple Pie.  We were having a staff meeting on Thursday, as well as celebrating our director’s birthday, not to mention that we had two boxes of leftover apples at the shelter.  So Apple Pie seemed like a must have.   I must say that it turned out beautifully.


Wednesday we are welcoming our new pastor, and I’ve been commissioned to make a “Welcome Cake!”  On the 30th one of our social workers will be finishing her internship, and I’ll be making her “Goodbye Cake!” 

Is it odd that I feel more complete when I’m baking?

A Beautiful Moment

Today was one of those days that was just non-stop.  It started from the minute I walked in the door in the morning to the moment I accidentally set off the alarm trying to close up.  Yep, it was just that kind of day.  We were down a staff person on the floor, our numbers were high for this time of the month, and it was just constant constant constant movement all day long.  It was a good day, just…BUSY. 

It was in the midst of that kind of day that I had my beautiful moment.  And it was a beautiful moment that was shared by a few of the women.  A client, I’ll call her Momma T, came in today.  We hadn’t seen her in weeks, so it was of course a relief to see her walk in the doors looking healthy and happy.  She approached me and said, “I’m having the absolute best day ever!”  She shared about how she woke up that morning to the sound of her cell phone.

“I almost didn’t answer it, because I was nearly out of minutes.  But when I saw it was my lawyer, I figured I had better pick up.  And I’m so glad I did!”  Her lawyer told her to meet him at court, they had an appointment before the judge.  “I had no idea what this was about.  This wasn’t scheduled.  I thought, ‘I can’t be in trouble!  I’ve been so good!'”  So Momma T threw on her best clothes and headed down to court.  Once there, the judge said he had great news he wanted to share with her.  It was obvious that she had been making great steps at getting her life back in order, and she had been approved for her apartment!

This was great cause for celebration!  All the women standing around as Momma T told the story cheered.  Anytime any one of our ladies gets approved for housing, its a party!  It is a moment that shows how hard they have worked, and the patience and diligence they have put forth in securing housing.  As we were high-fiving, Momma T said, “And then the judge said, “But that’s not all.’  Then he gave me the biggest gift.  He told me that when I moved into my new apartment next week, that my baby girl was coming with me!  I have custody of my little girl again.  My baby is coming home!”  At this astonishing and incredible news, everyone teared up.  How could we not? 

Proud Momma T opened her bag to show new baby outfits she had bought.  All pinks and flowers.  One that said across the front, “I love my mommy.”  Her little 3 month old baby is not only being reunited with her mother, but they have a safe and clean home in which to live.

As Momma T continued to show off her new goodies for her sweet child, I said a quick prayer.  “Thank you God for this moment of beauty today.  For reminding us all of why we are here.  For moments like these of redemption.  And of hope.”

Happy Anniversary

Let me just start this post off by apologizing.  If you live in the KY area (and I know that there are a few of you that read here) and I did not call you to let you know I was coming, I’m sorry.  I didn’t call anyone.  It was a whirlwind trip to celebrate my anniversary with Kris.  But don’t worry, I’ll be back, and we’ll get together then, promise! 🙂

So, I went to Kentucky this week!  It was Kris and I’s three year anniversary.  Three years!?  Can you believe it?  I know that I hardly can.  The trip, though short, was absolutly wonderful.  He took me to his hometown in Virgina to meet his grandparents and show me where he grew up.  For as metal as Kris is, he sure grew up in a small Southern town.  Kinda makes me laugh.

The grandparents were cute beyond belief.  His grandfather talked my ear off, regaling me with stories from the war.  My grandfather never talked much of his war stories, I just always assumed they were too painful for him to speak of.  But Kris’ Daddy Bob shared many stories of being on a naval ship for 2 years, over in Asia.  He shared one story in particular, of the ship holding a Japanese kamikaze pilot.  He was able to speak to the man, and learned that he had been educated in the States.  Something about hearing the Japanese man speaking of his time studying in Pennsylvania really struck Daddy Bob.  The way he told the story, the compassion that entered his voice when he spoke of this hostage, showed me the humanness that is often forgotten in times of war.  I also learned that he was trained at Bremerton, which is just outside of Seattle. 🙂

After just two short days in VA, Kris and I drove back to Kentucky.  Wednesday was our actual anniversary.  We spent most of the day at Keeneland, where we had also spent our first anniversary.  A tradition of sorts. *smile*  Even though the day was cold, it was absolutely beautiful.  We only bet on two races, and lost both times.  Kris wanted to bet $3 on the 3 horse (for our three years together).  Slightly cheesy, totally sweet, but absolutely not a winning horse.  haha!   That night we had a wonderful dinner at this great Italian restaurant that is practically a hidden gem in Lexington.  Our waitress was just fantastic, and when she learned it was our anniversary, she brought us two desserts…on the house!!  Yay for free tiramisu and cannoli!!

I didn’t want to leave on Thursday, but had to be back for work this weekend.  I managed to squeeze a visit with a couple of people that I didn’t get to see when I was in Kentucky over the holidays.  One I literally saw for 3 minutes, but it was worth it to hug her neck!  I also got to meet sweet baby Henry, Beau and Amanda’s baby.  I just only wish I could of had more time to see everyone!!  There are still people I haven’t seen at all since returning to the States!!!

Leaving Thursday was hard.  Saying goodbye gets harder every time we have to say it.  I am just ready for the day when we will finally be in the same city again!!! 

Happy 3 Year Annivesary Kris!!  It was wonderful to get to spend our special day together!! I love you!


A Wedding post!

Sorry for the delay! Finally, an update on my sister’s wedding!

Friday started with the bridesmaid’s luncheon.  As a tribute to our Memma, Alison had decided to have the luncheon at the Yacht Club – our grandmother’s old stomping grounds.  It was a wonderful luncheon and true enough, we could feel her presence with us that day!

101_3075  <– All the bridesmaids outside of the Yacht Club

The rehersal Friday night went well, though Scott did ask to practice the lighting of the unity candle 3 times.  He was so afraid he was going to trip over her dress!  I had made a fantastically ridiculous bouquet for my sister to carry for the rehearsal; made out of a sampling of the ribbons from various wedding gifts.  I even made Scott a little boutonniere! 


During the rehearsal we kept getting a kick out of Jack, the 3 year old ring bearer, because he kept burping!  His mother was mortified, but we just couldn’t stop laughing!  The rehearsal dinner was great as well.  Big Jim from our church combined efforts with the ladies from Scott’s church and had a wonderful BBQ dinner waiting for us!  Ribs, chicken, potato salad, baked beans and salad! Yum!  I was helping Mary Frances, the 7 year old flower girl, fix her plate.  I asked her if she wanted ribs or chicken.  “Oh neither, I’m a vegetarian.”  (which she’s not – but just to hear her say it was so stinkin’ cute!)  One of the youth from our church made a great video of Scott and Alison, embarrassing baby pictures and all!!  Best-man and Burke-side cousin Daniel gave a speech that made it sound like my sister was naggy, but ended by saying how he had seen time and time again evidence of Scott’s love for her.  My dad teared up in his speech.  And I shocked the crowd when I told them that Alison was not the first Hooks sister Scott had married. 

Scott and I went to school together.  Our freshman year of high school we ended up hanging out together at a Sadie Hawkin’s dance because both of our dates and dumped us for each other.  The dance theme was country-fied, and there was a booth where you could “get hitched” to your date.  After watching our dates come out of the booth with their plastic gold rings and pre-printed wedding certificate, Scott looked at me and said, “So uh, I guess…do ya wanna get hitched?”  

The story brought the perfect amount of laughter from the crowd as I closed saying that I couldn’t be happier that Scott had stuck around to marry the right sister for him. 🙂

When Saturday arrived, all lists were forgotten. It was finally the big day, and all that mattered at this point was the union of Scott and Alison.  A day they, and really all of us, had been waiting for many years to arrive.  The weather could not have been more perfect.  Clear blue skies, a slight breeze and a warm sun.  Alison looking stunning in her gown and Scott was so handsome in his tux.  Our cousin’s wife Stephanie told us she wished she had waited till after the wedding to buy tickets to take her daughter to Disney World, because as soon as little Maddie saw Alison she looked up and said, “Look Mommy!!  A princess!”  101_3140

The wedding flowed beautifully and no one messed up.  Except for when the pastor, Brother David, lost him composure.  But who could blame him.  After my father kissed Alison’s cheek after giving her away, he shook Scott’s hand, and then smacked him on the butt!!  It was so hard and so loud it actually echoed in our carpeted church!


The reception was packed out!  The wedding had completely filled the church sanctuary, to the point where it was standing room only!!  It was hard to pack everyone in the reception hall, but we made it work!  There was a live Big Band and everyone had a great time dancing!! 101_3176  <— Cousin/Bridesmaid Jamie caught the bouquet!!

The groom’s cake was a hit:  A chocolate cake with a jeep stuck in the mud (with mud “flying” off the back tires!), complete with a groom and a bride sitting in the jeep.  Too cute!!  cake

101_3184 <—Newlyweds leaving the reception!

After the wedding, out of town guests and family headed back to our house where Kris and I played bartenders!  Alison and Scott came over, and Alison chopped ALL her hair off! 


It was a wonderful week all in all!  Exhausting, but wonderful.

kris <—-me and my handsome man!

Many blessings and greatest congratulations to my new brother Scott and my dear sister Alison!!