Image

Home is …

… in Wales, and in Iowa.

… with my family, and with my friends.

… at a meetup with my coworkers, and at a coffee shop with my laptop.

… in a tango embrace, and in the middle of a good book.

… where I see the sunrise, and where I see the sunset.

As an expat, home is where I make it.

Image

Meeting Up in Utah

2014-09-18 07.41.15 HDR

I spent last week in Park City, Utah, with most of my colleagues. We (all 277 of us) usually work from home, spread across the globe, so this annual get-together was a chance to see everyone face-to-face. We met up at Canyons Resort — I was a bit skeptical about going to a ski resort in the off season, but it was beautiful.

Thanks to the miracle of flying west, I was an early riser all week. One morning I woke up around sunrise and met up with a coworker for a walk on Sunrise Trail:

A couple days later, a big group of us went up the gondola to check out the hiking trails higher up on the mountain. I was sad to find that one of the most-recommended trails to the top of the mountain was closed, but we found plenty of other places to hike:

The last morning of the meetup, the clouds had rolled in and I managed a quick solo hike before the rain started:

I’m now suffering from jetlag and the withdrawal you get when you’ve had a week full of intense conversation, challenging projects, and meeting friends. It’s that odd feeling, right after the introverted outburst of “Thank goodness I am home with quiet time to myself,” when I wish I could walk down the hall to chat with a coworker.

Thank goodness for WordPress. :)

Sunday Eats

Croissant and berries — a mid-morning snack

Sundays are lovely, lazy days when we’re at home. After a chilly spell, yesterday was warm and sunny — we took it slow, doing a bit of work around the garden and some less exciting paperwork inside.

But we also took the time to make some tasty food. I love the days when everything is made from scratch. (Or at least made at a real bakery … I’m not yet ambitious enough to try making my own croissants.)

I’m also terribly lucky. I barely had to lift a finger until I had a knife and fork in my hands, since my husband enjoys cooking. :)

Gardening: Morning glory and blackberry bushes

With the beautiful weather we’ve had lately, and new patio furniture encouraging us to sit outside, I am once again motivated to work in the garden. I spent most of the year watching our garden to see what would grow. Now I’m feeling more aggressive — ripping out weeds and trying to help the other plants flourish.

I have some trouble with this process. And not because I’m lazy. No, the trouble is that wildflowers and weeds are attractive to me. For example, at first I thought our morning glory was gorgeous, with its white, trumpeting blossoms:

2014-07-10 Morning glory
A morning glory blossom, distracting me from its evil vines

But then I watched as it crept over every other plant in the garden, strangling them and stealing their sunlight. Finally I gave in — the morning glory had to go.

I also defended the blackberry bush at first. I love blackberries. But the branches have been invading the surrounding bushes, winding over and through them, far overreaching their limits. And after reading up on pruning blackberry bushes (and the positive impact of pruning on berry yield!) I’m going after those prickly invaders, too.

2014-08-04 blackberries
A single blackberry blossom and bunches of promising unripened berries

Thankfully, my parents are in town and pulling out bindweed is my mom’s idea of a good time. So the two of us pulled and unwound and ripped out a good chunk of the morning glory. And then I spent some time ripping out more. I cut back some of the blackberry bushes, and the results were pretty dramatic. We only worked on a relatively small part of the garden, but I’m proud of how much we accomplished.

Here’s how it looked just a month ago:

2014-07-08 garden

And here it is now:

2014-08-04 garden

Don’t look too closely, though — there are some giant thistles in the back corner of the garden. I really want to pull those down, but first I have to work my way back to them. There’s a good deal of grass and horsetail to get through first, and there are some other unknown plants in the middle of the garden that I’d like to identify before banishing them altogether. Oh, and then there’s the dandelions …

Gallery

Walk to Deganwy Castle

Summer has truly arrived in Conwy. A warm, humid, sunny day enticed us out of the house for a long walk from Conwy to Deganwy Castle. We took a route around Conwy Harbor, appreciating the wildflowers and berries growing alongside the path.

As we came into Deganwy, we passed the marina and headed straight inland toward the hill. We almost missed the path that snuck around and behind a stretch of houses. The path quickly wound into bushes and fences and we emerged at the top of the hill into a field full of grazing sheep.

Across the field we found a set of stiles leading us over the fence, and we continued on toward the ruins of Deganwy Castle. The ruins are mostly a suggestion of what used to be there — a pillar here, a piece of wall there. We speculated about whether the fields of thistles and nettles were a natural castle defense started long ago or a more recent defense against the sheep wandering all around us.

Done exploring, we wandered back down the hill, around into town, and past an ice cream shop. By the end of the day, I was left with another reminder of summer: a pink nose and rosy shoulders as punishment for forgetting my sunscreen. It was worth it.

Image

Conwy Harbor

Conwy bridge

“I remember the night, on my first visit here, when I lost my way and ended up driving across this bridge toward the castle,” said my husband. “I didn’t know I’d end up living next to it.”

We decided to walk to the grocery store yesterday. My muscles were aching from a morning yoga practice, but the weather was glorious. I couldn’t say no. I grabbed my walking shoes and my messenger bag, and we were out the door.

It was a bit over a mile, cutting through town and across the bridge out of Conwy. We filled our bags at Tesco and started meandering back — and as we crossed back over the bridge, we had to stop to enjoy the view. The castle loomed ahead and the boats floated in the harbor, under the setting sun.

“I remember the night, on my first visit here, that I lost my way and ended up driving across this bridge toward the castle,” said my husband. “I didn’t know I’d end up living next to it.” But here we are, and I’m so glad we did.


P.S. If you’ve been following my Stories from Iran, I am writing more to share with you. I just needed this little interlude to share the beautiful evening I had. :)