Apr 14, 2014

Early Alarms: Now Only For Hikes And Planes!

Congratulations to my mamma, Ellen, on her first day of post-retirement freedom. She alleviated a lot of pain as a radiation therapist, and later as director of oncology and other departments. And she sparked so many smiles along the way. She'd freehand splashy Sharpie tattoos around the permanent dots that guided the treatment beams. She fought for art and gardens and no-questions-asked care for migrants in hospitals. And she'd spring out of bed at 4am, so kids with cancer could knock out their appointments before school – even long after she became a manager and could have delegated the early shifts.

I am so proud of the huge heart and mind she brought to healing. Every patient deserves treatment from people as engaged, brilliant and hard-working as my mother. She may be tiny – just 5' 1/2" – but she was a giant in her field.

And now I'm excited for Ellen's next chapter, which I hope will be full of laughter, learning and great adventures. Love you, mamma!

Ellen and Maria kayaking on Lake Union, Seattle, 2008. Image copyright AC.

Apr 7, 2014

Mysterious Mid-Century Photo-Booth Selfies

My brilliant writer-editor friend Patti Verbanas rescued this story from obscurity, about a man who shot 445 portraits between the Great Depression and the 1960s. It has now hit CBS, The Atlantic and Yahoo News (among others), with a relay assist from my officemate Christy Karras. Beautifully done, ladies!

Collection of Donald Lokuta, Courtesy Rutgers Zimmerli Art Museum

Apr 4, 2014

Sea Otters & Wind-Sculpted Monterey Cypresses

My only recurring dream threads through Point Lobos, faded into a Chinese watercolor by coastal fog. I must be remembering some childhood trip, from when my family lived nearby in Santa Cruz.

Today I got to explore the real Technicolor deal again with my writer pal Kristin Conard, who knows ALL sea otter facts. If I don't explode into one giant poison-oak pustule, this will stand among the epic days of 2014, I'm sure!

Point Lobos, CA. Image copyright amandacastleman.com.

Warning: Contains Sharks. Not A Toy!

Overheard at the incredible Monterey Bay Aquarium, a mom: "These are real animals, honey. Not wind-up toys."

Images copyright amandacastleman.com. Created with flickr slideshow.

Apr 3, 2014

Noche Buena Street – living up to its name...

After a San Francisco conference, I wriggled a rental car down Highway 1 and got to decompress at this Airbnb gem in Seaside, near Monterey, California.

Seaside, CA: image copyright www.amandacastleman.com

Apr 2, 2014

Comstock Saloon Fires Up The Chili-Bitters

Trust my Canadian colleagues to find a watering hole that doesn't pull punches! San Francisco's Comstock Saloon whipped up a chili-bitters drink with whiskey, Campari, Aperol, ginger and lemon for me: just a few of my favorite things...

Comstock Saloon cocktail: image copyright www.amandacastleman.com.

Apr 1, 2014

Oh, San Francisco, always with the purdy

Too bad parking is such street sorrow... with apologies to the late, local columnist Herb Caen of The San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco, CA,  from Nob Hill. Image copyright www.amandacastleman.com.

Mar 30, 2014

Cheap Art is Expansive in "Socialist Seattle!"

My fella and I met finally the artist (and PhD-candidate and Full-Tilt gelaterista) Shawn Behling behind the Minimumwageart.org fox piece we bought around Christmas. She works on scrap wood with donated house paints and acrylics, because she believes everyone, "even those with dirt under their fingernails and tiny paychecks [should be able] to own an original piece of art without having to sell a kidney." Beautiful in so many ways...

Image by Shawn Behling, mimumumwageart.com