What Happens in Seattle…

Jerry-rigged pole extends out hotel room window.

Jerry-rigged pole extends out hotel room window.

Saturday, while we were BBQ’ing on the patio, we noticed a window in the hotel across the street was open. Then,a long wooden ‘pole’ extended out, at the tip a 6″ spike on which a small bunch of straw was attached. It slowly stretched out over the alley and,once over the edge of the apartment building next door,was inverted,allowing the straw to fall off. The pole was withdrawn back in through the hotel window and the entire sequence was repeated. Two more times. One of the bundles of hay fell into the alley, so, during a dog walk, I checked it out, unsure whether I’d find a severed hand or a hypodermic needle hidden inside the bundle, but it was only straw, knotted by twine.Who does something like this? And why?

Parklet

Parklet

Parklet: “A parklet is a small space serving as an extension of the sidewalk to provide amenities and green space for people using the street. It is typically the size of several parking spaces. Parklets typically extend out from the sidewalk at the level of the sidewalk to the width of the adjacent parking space.[1][2]

Parklets are intended for people”—– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parklet

Originating in San Francisco and spreading throughout urban areas in the United States, these small, passive spaces are intended to foster a sense of community while taking up just a couple of street parking spaces. One recent study, in Philadelphia, found a daily use of 150 people in a space previously occupied by two cars.

This parklet is Seattle’s newest, up the street from our apartment in Lower Queen Anne. Sitting just outside the Uptown theater and a couple of restaurants, it may sea quite a bit of activity as the weather warms up, but walking past it the other day, as a bus zoomed by, my wife remarked, “I’m not sitting there.” We shall see if others feel the same way.

Same Old, Same Old

Old buildings being torn down in the International District, Seattle's Chinatown.

Old buildings being torn down in the International District, Seattle’s Chinatown.

Old Lilong neighborhood being torn down in Shanghai

Old Lilong neighborhood being torn down in Shanghai

It doesn’t matter which side of the globe you inhabit, progress stands still fore no one. Especially when there is money to be made.

El Nino 2015

Sun sets over Elliott Bay

Sun sets over Elliott Bay

The El Nino weather system that is sending the Siberian Express rumbling through the Midwest and Southern United States and bringing Nor’easter to New York, Boston and the New England is also bringing unseasonable warm weather and clear skies to the Pacific Northwest. We have lived in Seattle for 3 of the past 4 years, with a year off in Shanghai, and this is the mildest winter of all. For my friends and family in the South, the Midwest and the Northeast, sorry. Come visit.

A Year Later, 6,000 Miles Away

Dragon Dancers parade through the International District in Seattle.

Dragon Dancers parade through the International District in Seattle.

Last year, Melinda and I welcomed in the Chinese New Year (of the Horse) in Shanghai, China and the next day left for Hanoi, Vietnam where we celebrated Tet, the Vietnamese version of the lunar new year. Fast forward to 2015 and we took a break from work (Melinda) and birthday celebration (me) to make a trip to the International District, Seattle’s version of Chinatown. The dragon parade, kung fu demonstration, drivers ignoring the crosswalks and throngs of people waiting on restaurant lines and jamming the streets lent a slight flavor of our favorite Asian countries.

新年快樂 (The Year of the Sheep)

Young man ignites firecracker and runs

Young man ignites firecracker and runs

Last year at this time we experienced our first authentic Chinese New Year celebration. Unlike CNY in America, which seems to be limited to a Dragon Parade in a city’s Chinatown neighborhood, the Spring Festival celebration in China spans weeks, culminating in the loudest night of explosions anywhere outside an active war zone. This scene is on the street corner of our apartment compound, about 11 PM; the haze of smoke from burnt gunpowder made my nose and lips tingle and my eyes water. If I wasn’t already hard of hearing the explosions would have pushed me over the edge. After shooting this picture, the young man offered me a 8″ firecracker and his cigarette to light it, but I chose to keep my fingers attached to my hands.

More of the Same

Sunset over Elliott Bay

                                                                         Sunset over Elliott Bay

This winter’s El Nino has buried the Northeast in snow, frozen the Midwest and South and left those of us in the Pacific Northwest basking in warm, dry days. We have had so many ridiculously beautiful sunsets that they are beginning to blur together.