Archive for October, 2012


“Hi my name is Julia,

I want be a princess when I grow up because princesses are pretty and I want to be pretty. They get to live in castles and wear princess shoes.

Julia’s first photo session had to be postponed due to the fact that she lost her princess privileges on our scheduled shoot day.


“I’m Laura,

This is my chicken, Jennifer. We have eight chickens and one rooster named Radio. Since Sweet Pea, who was my favorite, passed away this year, Jennifer has taken her place. But she is the last of the originals so I’ll have to get more that I raise.

I am not a crazy lady. Eight years ago it started. I just brought three of them into our family, one for each kid, so that we had that life to experience because that’s what it’s all about. I wanted the kids to be around that new life and watch them grow up. It’s been a lot more interesting and fun and valuable than I can imagine. Lessons for everybody.

We purchased our chickens as babies. You start them in the house. They have to be warm so you have a heat lamp and people are always holding them. I’d be making dinner and holding a baby chicken. And they really do bond with you in that way.

They become part of the family. The dogs protect them, the kids protect them, we protect them. And they give us eggs, and entertainment!

I once gave Sweat Pea acupuncture after she got injured and was limping. Down the street from us is a veterinarian that has dabbled in acupuncture and had helped our arthritic dog. I asked her if she won’t mind trying it on Sweet Pea even though she had never done it before. She had no idea if it was going to work, but it totally worked. She was not limping after the treatment and I was a happy momma.

Sweet Pea passed away this year but she had a lovely life.”


“Hi my name is Mehdi

It was February of 1981 in Tehran, Iran when my father had purchased a brand new car. On the morning of the 2nd anniversary of the Revolution he decides that he and I will go do some driving tests in the outskirts of the city on some empty roads near a military base. We switched seats so I can drive. Seven or eight minutes later I hear loud noises and realize that my dad has been shot. He opened the door, raised his hands and then fell to the ground and died. I was 14 years old.

We would eventually learn that he was shot by the members of the Basij, a paramilitary volunteer militia who had wrongly assumed our car belonged to the opposition group,  Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK Militia) , just because of the color alone. Eight people fired on our car. All the bullets went through the vehicle without hitting us except for one that hit my dad in his heart.

What transpired in the following year and a half would be a process of negotiations by my mother that ultimately paved a way out of Iran and into Germany and then the United States for my mother and me.

By Islamic law, the father of the victim gets to decide the fate of the convicted, i.e., it’s an eye for an eye.  My paternal grandfather chose to pardon the accused because “it was a mistake”. This led to an unspoken agreement, a deal with the government, that if he pardoned the soldiers it would help in allowing my mom and I to leave the country. My grandfather died about a year later and my mom continued to pressure the government to admit they had made a mistake and with the help of a lawyer was able to acquire a letter from the government that was an admission on their part. She wanted desperately to save what she had and this was our way out legally and with passport as tourists. Had I stayed, I would have been banned from leaving the country at the age of 16 and potentially eligible to become a soldier and fight in the Iraq/ Iran war.

I was thinking of making a stop-motion movie with a scale model car to illustrate what had happened on that day. I did a lot of searches on Ebay and finally found this exact replica of a Renault 5 and in the exact color. I have never shared this story with anyone and not even my wife knows the history of the car.”

Mehdi graduated from the University of Texas in 1991 and received his Doctoral from the University of Washington in 2000. He currently is employed at University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer research Center as an Oncology pharmacist. His mom lives a mile and half down the street from his family and is the best grandma ever.


“Hi my name is LIz,

My object is a 1970’s New York Times cookbook. The reason I choose it is because in my family most things revolve around food. If we don’t remember something about a trip or we don’t remember what we did, we always remember the restaurants in which we ate and the food that we really liked and the food that we didn’t like.

When I turned twenty-one my mother gave me this cookbook. She learned to cook with this same book shortly after she married my father in 1975. It was helpful because it was not only a way for us to forge a relationship over something that was so important to the both of us but it was also saying something about independence. As you move on in your life and you graduate school, you should know how to take care of yourself, so you should know how to cook.

Someday no one will use cookbooks because so many recipes are online, but this book is my history, so I think I will use it forever. But I don’t think I will be as good a cook as she is!”


“I’m Eric,

I like to say I paid cash for a Papa Bear Chair. If you buy one new it can put you back nineteen to twenty thousand. Buy one vintage, ten thousand. I was able to pay cash: $34.50.

My wife and I are mid-century furniture enthusiasts and this was a ‘coup de grace’, greatest chair known to man. It was designed in the early fifties by Hans Wegner and it’s an icon of that period in Danish design.

We found this in the most unlikely of places, St. Vincent De Paul, in the heart of blue collar Bremerton, WA. We’ve always been driven and moved by art, gardens and architecture but have mostly had very little money to fuel these obsessions. We got the idea that we could own and enjoy the material essence of beauty without having to pay too much for it – coining the phrase “shoestring abundance” to describe our life philosophy.

Our daily excursions to St. Vinny’s were brought about when my wife and I were providing care to her grandmother with dementia. It was only a few blocks from our house and was something we could easily do together. That’s when we really got into shopping for furniture and it just became our daily thing and they came to know us at St. Vinny’s. We had this mindset that we don’t have to be limited. That we can find anything even though interior design is so stratified by income level.

There have been all sorts of great marketing ideas. But for St. Vinny’s it’s about being completely honest. Everything is on a cement floor. It stands on it’s own and it is what it is. You pay the price marked, no dickering and that money you give to them immediately goes into the second half of the store which is a food bank. In this time of “Green” and “helping others”, I think it’s the best thing we got going.

The day I found the chair I was just going through the store and then decided I’d just kinda look in the secure area in the back and see if there’s something I wanted. There’s a woman there. A great lady but really prickly and kinda gruff and she would say, you know, “Get out’a here” or that day she just looked at me and said “what do you want?” And I just said, “That chair!” And she said, “Okay, $34.50” And so I tried to act like it was no big deal and said “okay, great!”. She said, “Don’t say I said you could have it. We’ll move it out and you just act cool.”

So they brought it out and I brought it home and showed my wife. It was all very exciting, except for one thing! It had been re-covered at some point in something we call Eddie Bauer plaid, which is ok on a jacket, terrible on a chair, kind of a taupe and green. I mean it just was really bad to look at even though it was in good condition and would have lasted a long time. But we couldn’t have it. We live in the land of Eddie Bauer but we just can’t have it on a chair. We were lucky enough to find an upholsterer right up the road that did a fantastic job.

Our first furniture purchase at St Vinny’s was a piece by the same designer, Hans Wegner. It was a ten foot long,teak,drop leaf table. We purchased it for $24.50. I drive up in my ’84 Volvo and it just slides right in like it’s made for it. I said, “you know its amazing, those Scandinavians. They build the car to fit the furniture.” And the guy said-“It is amazing. IKEA right?” And I said, yup, it’s IKEA, and so we drove off. That started our love affair with Danish furniture and we still got it going.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in 1833 to serve impoverished people living in the slums of Paris, France(source:Wikipedia). Eric and his wife are now working on a book called “Shoestring Abundance”, trying to encourage everyone to realize that you can find quality at thrift store prices. It’s all about knowing what to look for.