May the 4th be with you, always

Another busy day today, but I took some time to enjoy this May 4th tradition that is now Star Wars Day.

I spent my lunch and later evening reading a some short stories out of Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, a stellar anthology of 40 short stories from 40 writers, focusing on the viewpoints of non-main characters present during the events of Star Wars: a New Hope. I really love this idea, and enjoying pretty much every story so far (halfway through). I highly recommend for anyone who loves Star Wars, or just enjoys a good short story where anyone in a galaxy far, far, away has a special story to share.

The day is almost over now, but I love Star Wars every day. It’s just one of the many great things that binds us together. and inspires me to keep adventuring. And remember…

New Video, Early Springtime Exploration at Kobe Terrace Park!

I recently finished a local move to a bigger, more spacious apartment. After that, and a break from my busy life, I finished editing and publishing a little video I shot in early April. This comes in two parts. Part one is centered on the beautiful Kobe Terrace Park in Seattle’s International District during a short period of cherry tree blooms. Part 2, will be on the nearby Danny Woo Community Gardens!

Check out part 1 below. Part 2 will be done soon. Enjoy!!

An important epilogue to a sad story

Yesterday, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on two counts of murder and one for manslaughter for the death of George Floyd, an African American man whose near last words were, “I can’t breathe.”

And from that day the verdict referred to, on May 25, 2020, ignited a fury for social justice needed for Floyd and many others whose black skin color share a common trait, for having their lives disregarded by law enforcement officers. What is often noted, is that people often judge African Americans apprehended by police officers as “thugs”. “druggies”, and whatever else makes privileged folk concerned, when one does the slightest act of suspicious or illegal behavior. So with such judgement, there is a constant reminder that their lives are more threatened in police confrontations, as they may not survive to get any necessary due process. And often, there is no crime or prior suspicion. Black lives, like any other, need to get go for a nice walk, get a slice of pizza, get a good night’s rest, and other human things. And they matter on the basic principles to be judged on the same level as others confronted by law enforcement.

George Floyd had a life of many ups and downs, which sadly lead to some bad choices involving criminal activity, and drugs. However, he did often try his best to turn his life around, and sometimes succeeded in being a positive influence to others at times. He was a mentor, a father, a blue-collar working class man, and a loved African American whose potential to better himself and others was robbed by Derek Chauvin. He just need better days ahead, to work his life out. Sadly, Derek Chauvin robbed him of that opportunity.

So, Derek Chauvin was given his most important day for due process, and found guilty. Prison will give Chauvin a time to reflect and dig deep on the wrongness of his actions. His might even appreciate that he was given this chance to live through it, and do other human things. I will care less for him, but will appreciate any further good that comes out his guilty verdict.

But what of the rest of us? What do we get out of this? We shall see. In the meantime, also keep in mind other fresh names since, to other similar sad stories: Daunte Wright, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Breonna Taylor.

The above picture was from a sidewalk memorial in Seattle, a few weeks after the death of George Floyd. Pictured with George Floyd is Breonna Taylor, another life senselessly lost from wrongful police actions in 2020.

A beautiful springy spring, and its fresh cherry blossom blooms

I have finally let myself be immersed in the glory that is the spring season of the Pacific Northwest.

I feel a bit late to the party, but also just in time for some fresh blooms. Cherry blossoms are around in Seattle, for about a good few weeks to appreciate, then on to other spring blooms. But for now, I must walk, and peek, and listen, and study, and breathe in the light breezy air between the many trees around. I see many are gaining new leaves after losing so many to the long, harsh and lonely winter.

For now, back to the blossoms, look!!

Each one of the countless, can be appreciated. More of this, soon!

The above pictures are from a recent visit to a favorite little park by a very noisy freeway…Kobe Terrace park in the International District of Seattle. I have shared about it on travelingorion.com more, on a snowy day, after a snowy day, and other days of spring blossom renewal. This time, I did something a little different, which I plan to share here soon.

Orion T

Being stuck in a winter state of mind…

Today is the first day of Spring, but the picture above does not reflect today.

It’s about a month old, from the last full day I had outside, February 13th, 2021. Since then, it’s been parts of days on weekends and not much else because my busy life, often full of messaging chains, video conferences, and work. Also, the last two weeks I mostly spent in a 14-day stay at home quarantine, as part of the ongoing pandemic.

I did not test positive Covid-19. However, someone I know very close that I was in contact with did. I tested negative, but through advisement from others and the county, I went into a 14-day quarantine. This was over the possibility that Covid-19 could develop late. Fortunately, it did not.

From there, the time was a bit rough not so much dealing with isolation and living alone in a small, darkened apartment, but other things revolving around mental health. I received some sad news over distant friends, family affected by the pandemic, and felt helpless. I also felt a bit down, pondering my future post-quarantine and post-vaccination life eventually. Where will I be? What will I be doing? How much time must I give to dead-end positions of employment where I continue to be underutilized and my greater talents ignored? So much of my spare time at peak energy and brain is spent working with dead-end tasks that do nothing for career growth, yet pay bills and keeps me moving.

With that, I do have some answers and gave heavy thought to some new ideas. Some of that will take more thinking and more planning, but I look forward to making good on them. That includes, finding fresh energy when I am lacking it the most.

Still, there remains a struggle of wills. A fight to keep going. Some of it is from age, and some of it is from depression. I do what I can do, to get through this long, cold winter.

But, also… I remembered that I had shot many video segments from my walk in the snow last month. I wanted to do a little test, to see how I could do on camera as a host, and a videographer. During the quarantine, I had enough time to get through the footage, weed out the most cringiest parts, do a lot of editing. I also refreshed my skills on motion graphics, animated logos, some other stuff.

This is the result:

Watch as much as you can. If you make it through and enjoyed, please hit a “Like” and “Subscribe” on the YouTube. That will certainly help excite things and ideas for the coming spring season, which begins for me after my quarantine session.

Orion T

Senseless in Seattle, with the usual strangeness of its late winter weather

There’s a saying I’ve heard in this Emerald City of the Pacific Northwest…

If you like the weather, wait five minutes. Or, If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.

But, that’s not an exclusive saying to the city of Seattle. It’s said of many cities where shifting, unpredictable weather happens. The earliest version of that saying was quoted by famed writer Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. His exact quote was said to be, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.” The context and where he quoted this remains unknown to the Internet. But who cares, it’s timeless to our hours of environmental unpredictability, where it can be the only notable occurance of an otherwise mundane day.

Still, there is something timeless about the joy of unpredictable weather. Constant weather patterns can be boring. TV morning news would be less exciting without our weather reports. Less banter, less small talk for sure. For me, I enjoy the opportunities of photography and inspiration that sudden weather changes bring..

Especially in Seattle.

Orion T

Pictures above are from the newish patio deck area of the upper, main floor of the Pike Place Market. It’s a good place to chill, with less people and more space than other parts of this popular tourist destination.

Through the night of the great Seattle Snowpocalypse of 2021

Continued from my previous post, but before those pics were taken, are more (below) from another long walk.

This walk happened late night last Friday close to midnight with a couple friends, as the snow fell heavy upon the Seattle city. The streets were peaceful, quiet, and relaxing for my boots to stroll about. Locations were mostly the Downtown area around the Pike Place Market, the waterfront, and Space Needle.

Here are the pics of my long, roughly two-hour night experience…

Is that all for now?

Orion T

Through the day of the great Seattle Snowpocalypse of 2021

Over the recent last Saturday of this Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend, 8.9 inches of snow descended upon the Seattle area. This was the most local snow reported in a day over the last 52 years. It’s a lot, though pales in comparison to snow reports further to the East of the U.S.

Yet, I loved this downpour of constant snowflakes rested upon my home concrete jungle. Everywhere, new tints of natures monochrome, and the eerie quiet of city further closed, along with the ongoing pandemic. I took a many steps throughout, for mostly errands and whatever excuses I mustered for the sake of long, joyous walks through this wonderous winterland of strange unfamiliar proportions of snow. I wore a good pair of tough boots this time, well-prepared to not slip and drench my precious feet. I stomped through the downtown area, to the waterfront, until the International District, then back to downtown, eventually to the Capitol Hill district, and then back to the waterfront through downtown again. The long trek was all great exercise, with the minimal eating of a cupcake and a bread bowl full of Ivar’s clam chowder.

I also snapped some pictures with my fancy phone (A OnePlus 8T Pro). Here are some of those pictures, all wide and unfiltered:

And there’s more, of which I will share soon. Take care in the meantime, and check your weather reports before heading out, especially if you live in or around Seattle. Weather is otherwise quite unpredictable around here.

Orion T

21 things to the great 21s of today!

So today is the the 21th day of the 21th year of the 21th century. I am posting this on the 21st hour of my day!

So, I will share with you 21 things I enjoyed about being 21 years of age, back when I was 21.

  1. Drinking responsibly, and legally…totally new at 21!
  2. Community college…totally ready and willing to go back to school, but on my terms at 21!!
  3. Having roommates that weren’t my friends, didn’t usually feel weird.
  4. At 21, I can begin to officially quote, “Back in my day…”
  5. “So, this is clubbing…heh.”
  6. Whipping out my state ID with a smile, proving that I am 21.
  7. No weird life regrets just yet.
  8. Not caring about the sodium count in 10-cent ramen packs and 50-cent noodle cups!
  9. Totally a full grown-up with no age restrictions, unless I want to run for President.
  10. But still can be kind of a kid with my Spawn action figures together on a shelf. No explanations!
  11. No big student loan or credit card debts. Probably not ever, riiiiiight?!
  12. Working five days a week at a reasonable living wage for the time, hell yeah!
  13. My peak high metabolism.
  14. Taco Bell food tasted really good then.
  15. Decided officially that gambling was stupid, and I sucked at it.
  16. Sleep was way more manageable.
  17. Hanging out with friends when I can because I can, and they could too. it was just so simple and exciting back then!
  18. Following your dreams instead of chasing after them.
  19. Having an innocent, naïve world view that was more acceptable
  20. The amazing and totally responsible 20s life, 8-9 more of this year to redo…riiiiight?!
  21. Being very overly optimistic. (Now, I am cautiously optimistic).

So yeah, that’s my awesome 21 things I loved about being 21 on this day of multiple 21s. Also, enjoy this catchy opening to one my favorite classic TV shows, 21 Jump Street now…

This is probably going to stay in your head now (you’re welcome!)

Orion T

Oh…you might ask why is there a squirrel as my opening pic. That’s because today, January 21st is also Squirrel Appreciation Day! NOD YOUR HEADS TO OUR FURRY OVERLORDS OF CUTENESS!!!

Also, I carefully planted 21s, 21 times in this article of 21s!

Spinning light in the deep night…

Here in Rain City, where the trees are wet and my shoes are damp.

The streets turn quiet as the night sets in further. The pitter patter of today’s lasting shower remains. You can hear the drips, falling from above, bouncing off windows, off branches, on our faces. It’s all very pleasant, though my glasses can take only so much in droplets, before I must stop and rewipe.

My time is late, after some mundane yet necessary errands just done. I look to the familiar streetlights to light my way towards home after a short, yet sluggish bus ride from Capitol Hill to the Denny Triangle. Aside, are light reflections off concrete, sometimes hiding sneaky deviously deep puddles. I carry on and eventually reach the front door of my apartment, fiddling for my keys in my drenched backpack. I hear metal jingling, as I rummage though the deepest, cluttered area.

But then I stop for a moment. I look up and notice the glistening naked winter branches, staring back at me. A nearby streetlight is perfectly centered to my line of vision, where it and I should be, to make this connection that is our moment. That is, until my glasses can take no more droplets, and I must stop and rewipe.

I take a picture from the phone in my pocket. it captures the moment perfectly, which you now see above. And then, I dig my keys out. I go inside, and that’s end of my lovely time outside in the rain, for now.

– Orion T

My first cupcake of 2021!!

YUM!!!

It’s a New Years edition edition from the local Cupcake Royale consisting of chocolate cake, strawberry champagne, frosting, sprinkles, and a truffle. It’s a beautiful thing that tastes amazing.

This cupcake is only available from Cupcake Royale from until the end of today, then on to other special editions. One a side note, everyone in Seattle should visit Cupcake Royale when around the world famous Pike Place Market area. It’s small, but filled with much awesome flavor with a curated range of scrumptious cupcakes and ice creams. My personal favorite is their salted caramel cupcake, a must for all seeking to partake in the best sweets of the Emerald City.

– Orion T

Hello and cheers for the 2021 new year!!

This year of 2021 is off to a nice nice start!. Happy New Year!!

It’s the second day now, with solid showers from the sky to the grounds of the great city of Seattle. I got my Nike Air Max’s soaking drenched, underestimating one puddle after the next. Still, I moved on, enjoying every moment this year had to give me so far. Yesterday, was a bit more dry.

I started the new year as the countdown clock hit zero. I was a party, alone in my apartment but a gaggle of friends online cheering on the most surreal virtual “fireworks” imposed over our famous Space Needle. What a weird yet wonderful 10 minutes, developed by Terry Morgan, owner of Seattle-based Modern Enterprises and founder of BOREALIS – A Festival of Light, in partnership with co-producers Maxin10sity.

Here’s that…

This process used a digital sky-mapping technique. I think this involves using multiple layers crossed with 3-D stuff combined with video of the Space Needle. It’s all very visual impressive, but also a bit cheesy. I and online friends watching it online, enjoyed it. I think with drone technology, lasers, hologram tech, this might be a real thing in about 20 years, for many more to enjoy without the virtual part.

Then after much silly chatting, I fell asleep and woke up for later on this first day of 2021. Then, many phone calls with close loved ones, checking on friends, tidying up my apartment.

Then back to day with lots of walking around, yet avoiding people because the pandemic is still out there. I have to go back out tomorrow, and then the next day, and so on for many more because I have to.

But so far, all is well around my wet feet. Cheers, and hope you all are also doing well and looking forward.

Orion T

Goodbye Forever 2020!!

Yes, finally done with this long and strange, and also often saddening year.

But, I learned a lot through this time dealing with a pandemic, a huge turning point in social unrest, and appreciating a lot that I should have really done more before this year. And also, a lot of fun things shared with friends (mostly online). Here is a mix of mostly all the favorite things I enjoyed in 2020..

  • Favorite full movie released in 2020 – Soul
  • Favorite TV show through 2020 – 60 Minutes
  • Favorite new streaming TV series released in 2020 – Queen’s Gambit
  • Favorite continued streaming TV series in 2020 – The Mandalorian
  • Favorite podcast through 2020 – Junk Food Dinner
  • Favorite short audio stories and narratives – NPR’s This American Life
  • Favorite Youtube channel of 2020 – KanaChanTV
  • Favorite printed book of 2020 – Invisible Men, the Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books by Ken Quatro
  • Favorite graphic novel of 2020 – Under Earth by Chris Gooch
  • Favorite comic series of 2020 – Excellence by Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph
  • Favorite new video game of 2020 – Hades (developed and published by Supergiant Games)
  • Favorite older and most played game of 2020 – Final Fantasy XV
  • Favorite “wrestling” match of 2020 – Boneyard Match, Undertaker and AJ Styles – WrestleMania
  • Favorite wrestling match of 2020 – Sasha Banks vs. Bayley – WWE Hell in a Cell 2020
  • Favorite sports team of 2020 – Seattle Seahawks
  • Favorite junk food of 2020 – Pizza Mart (local Seattle chain and bar) slices
  • Favorite dessert of 2020 – salted Caramel Cluster SO Delicious Dairy Free Cashew Ice Cream
  • Favorite food habit – vegan meat alternatives for mostly red meat dishes
  • Favorite Hike of 2020 – Mount Rainer, Sunrise Point
  • Favorite playlist trend – relaxing chill beats compilations and mixes
  • Favorite collectible thing I bought – The Ultimate Gremlin Flasher figure from NECA Toys (pictured above)
  • Favorite thing I did a lot on my own but will share later – writing, lots of writing!

I have much more to to say and share for the coming year. But now, I must join friends online for the final hours of 2020. Stay safe and look forward to 2021!!

Orion T

The Silent Seasonal Lights of Seattle 2020

Rain has fallen heavy tonight upon the Emerald City as the global pandemic courses through. The streets have are almost empty as the night sky takes over and most shopping and restaurant spots normally open, are now closed. There is peace, in between much of our troubled days.

The holiday lights for this time will not dim, as they brighten up this dark year with Christmas-time cheer. Traditions continue, helping those still out or perhaps needing a nice walk (but still stay safe, please), that not all is lost for 2020. Beautiful, colorful, LEDS everywhere!!!

But it’s also cold and wet now. I would not advise going out around here now, unless you really have to or maybe living a lonely life in a dark, small downtown apartment during a pandemic is clawing at your mental health. Then, a good walk through pretty lights can be pleasant, even in Seattle’s coldest, wettest hours.

Here are some of my choice phonecam captures of the Pike Place Market and Westlake area, taken recently. Live vicariously through them, hopefully in a safe and seasonal cheered environment…

– Orion T

Back to the Kubota Japanese Garden

2020 isn’t over yet as we we have one last month, and a stressful for many holiday season to go.

Meanwhile, I have the perfect place to wind down for those in the Seattle area, to decompress outside and away, socially distant and pandemic-mindful. That is the Kubota Garden park in the Rainer Beach area.

The Kubota Garden is one of the few curated Japanese gardens, with much greenery and sights reminiscent of the timeless natural scenic beauty of Japan. It’s free to enter, but with current pandemic restrictions (no big gatherings!).

I’ve written more about this place before, of which you can read here.

But for now, here are some pictures I took from a recent visit. For location and more information, click here.

– Orion T

Some Thanksgivings for 2020

Hello one and all, and Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a quiet day for me, as I often spend this over recent years in solitude and escape. Thanksgiving is a day of more self-reflection for me, with my family very distant (but have long morning phone calls) and reserve time with friends for late nights and the following weekend.

Now we have a pandemic, and we should be playing it safe and unless others are close, with heavy pre-quarantining to a gathering is 5 or less. and still sanitizing and taking extra measures. If not, avoid and sit this day out and be safe.

But many of us still have our thanks to share. In a larger scope, I’m thankful for essential workers, medical care workers, public service workers, volunteers, those working hard to keep others safe or maintain basic necessities for those in need, so that there will be a life waiting beyond this Covid-19 public health crisis. Such struggles are difficult, with many tragic stories (some very personal to me, and my reason for not writing lately). I hope there will be a wider appreciation and respect for those who dealt with this pandemic up front, and never forget those who also died and suffered as a result.

I also want to share thanks to those who have follow trough on the small inconveniences of social distancing, hand-sanitizing, mask-wearing, and matching the basic common sense spelled out by science and safety guidelines. The effects of Covid-19 are much more than death stats and the misconception that it’s like the flu or whatever. Those who took on the full effects will tell you, it’s horrifying and you need to stay the hell away from this.

I feel fortunate to remain uninfected and financially secure. My mental health has its ups and downs. This month morphed me into a turtle-like creature stasis, shelling myself from social media and the extreme polarizations brought along memes and political finger-wagging. I poke my head out for friends who knock on my shell, and we share in some quiet, very fun low-key treasures and cheerful spirits. We express support, of which these special friends and close relatives I am very thankful for. I would be in worse shape if not for all that.

So, Happy Thanksgiving! Remain safe and look after you and close ones mental health for the days forward. Be thankful, because with all the restrictions and precautions taken, we can still go with the basics of what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about, and still intact for 2020.

– Orion T

The above picture is taken from the Kubota Garden, a lovely little place I recently visited and wrote about a few years ago. I have new pictures of this wonderful place for another day. But for now, I just feel like the little bird, alone and making the most of its surroundings.

Speaking of little birds…

Present Tense in the USA

VOTE if have not yet done so!!

I won’t push the obvious stakes much further. There is nothing I can not stress more that would change anyone’s mind at this point. I have to trust in an imperfect system based on the sensible ideals of democracy, with faith that a large portion of the voting population will put forth what needs to happen for this country to sanely continue.

From what I hear, more people are voting. Records are being broken from early voting. It’s trending, to declare your vote and share without shame, that there is something in this great American system that works. But, only if enough people participate.

Yet, let’s take a deep breath. Don’t let the anxiety overwhelm you after you did your part. Maybe stay off social media for a bit. Work helps distract, but avoid political conversation (a good practice in general at most jobs). Maybe find a dumb movie, play a video game, get some rigorous exercises done, or whatever…then turn on some news and see the results later on. Then, well let’s see and go from there.

Yet, still..

Orion T

I voted early, as Washington state has an awesome vote by mail system.

Happy Halloween 2020, in isolation but still loving it

So, I’m all alone with my little monster buddies on the shelf for this Halloween 2020, mostly because of the anxiety and fears of social gathering lately. There is a full Moon outside, but too cold and spooky outside for a good, long gaze. I am probably missing out on some cool decorations too.

Yet, I’m still in the spirit. I just watched an old favorite movie a bit earlier, starring Vincent Price and Diana Rigg, Theater of Blood. Vincent Price plays a bitter Shakespearean actor, not taking kindly to his disrespectful critics. He surprises each with a creative trap, that involves the best (and worst) of his Shakespeare plays. Lots of fun, and very over the top. You can watch a decent copy of the full movie on Youtube…

I hope you are all having a safe and Happy Halloween. I hope next year, with the pandemic being a lesser concern, that we can make up for the lost socialness this fun day brings. Maybe enjoy some more more movies and a moonlit walk together.

Orion T

A problem of all sorts of different angles…

“We think that we can fix our lives by taking some simple step, but it’s not like that. Most problems need lots of sticking plasters. They need coaxing and massaging and looking at from all sorts of different angles.”

― writer Alexander McCall Smith, The Quiet Side of Passion

The picture is saved from way back at the beginning of 2020, during my visit to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas (North San Diego County) California. I stumbled upon this pic an hour ago, and felt it should be shared, though I had little context. I know little else about this stairway, just that it’s unsafe and off-limits to visitors at the time. It still deserves a nice metaphorical quote, at least.


Foggy Seattle Weather Predictions

The good news is that Seattle is back to normal…with the weather.

Unpredictable, beautiful in own way through every condition. The other day it was sunny, but with low level fog giving moments of surreal blue haze. The next day, a spooky fog through the day, hiding the Space Needle from viewers afar. Then the next day, we got some needed rain.

The forecast today will be partly cloudy, partly sunny, higher humidity, maybe rain. We will see. For those living local and around, enjoy the moment when the Seattle weather can just be itself.

– Orion T

Old-fashioned trinkets, hanging around

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

– Emily Dickinson, Poems

The picture above is from the outside looking in through a nearby building at the Point Robinson Lighthouse at Maury Island. Sorry for slightly out of focus quality, but I hope you appreciate the content the camera still captures. See yesterday’s post for more on the outside.

Plain of a Peaceful Paradise

A moment to admire from a month ago, among friends at the Maury Island Marine Park, part of Maury Island, part of Vashon Island (depending on one’s perspective), part of the greater Seattle area in Washington State.

Before me stands the Point Robinson Lighthouse, a small beacon of light for foggy and dank nighttime conditions since 1885 (automated since 1978). Bit its doors remain closed most of the time. Other times, you might be able to enter, maybe get a tour. More info at vashonparks.org.

I love lighthouses. I intend to visit more of these eventually, and share in experience.

Before that structure, you’ll notice much dead wood mixed in the wild grass, probably washed up on short, or left behind from a past operation. I do not really know. But such is a beautiful sight to see much so scattered, enjoying its long life, relaxed on the beach, with the company of playful feet at times.

The waters are quiet, with few boats. Along the shore, there are plenty of rocks mixed with slippery moss and hints of passing life. Walk further then the rocks, and you are either wet or among the trees and grass of this medium-sized local park. The choice is yours.

This place is peaceful, and I love the moment where I am part. You should come when given the chance, and love your moment too.

Orion T

Advice about Lost Things…

“People give the worst advice about lost things. Retrace your steps. Pray to Saint Anthony. Think about where you last saw it. But that doesn’t apply to the things that matter. Those are right in front of you, except they can’t be found by looking for them. Only by looking at everything else.”

― author Kristen Lepionka, The Last Place You Look

The picture above is from a recent hike near the base of Mount Si, far east of Seattle. I think it was on the Talus Loop trail. The story behind the jacket is unknown, as far as I know.

But feel free to make something up, and share!

Everything is familiar, and everything is strange

“Walking through a deserted city in the hours before dawn is sobering way beyond the undoing of the effects of alcohol. Every thing is familiar, and everything is strange. It’s as if you are the only survivor of some mysterious calamity which has emptied the place of its population, and yet you know that behind the shuttered and curtained windows people lie sleeping in their tens of thousands, and all their joys and disasters lie sleeping too. It makes you think of your own life, usually suspended at that hour, and how you are passing through it as if in a dream. Reality seems very unreal.”

― author James Robertson, The Testament of Gideon Mack

The picture above is from a late night walk through the University of Washington’s lovely center around the Drumheller Fountain.

Leaving Summer 2020, in wholesome hindsight…

Summer 2020 was a little weird but full of beautiful moments.

I was a bit worried on its end after a week of nasty fires in the Pacific Northwest, bringing darkened skies of smoke and ash throughout. That’s so very 2020, pushing me back into home isolation.

But yet, I felt great times during the season under the troubling, continual circumstances of the year. Such are the pandemic and continual dread for the future of my world, with social unrest and shared economic stress. What does one do, for feeling the necessity of the news, yet not ignore the constant frustration and trouble that the headlines bring?

One great answer is to reach out, accept the reaching out of peers to make the best of what’s out there. The weather was great most of this season, at least for the Pacific Northwest (sorry friends in California who endured over 100 F). I feel blessed with good friends that shared my hunger for adventure, and that we did.

We shared many weekends all over midwestern Washington in Tacoma, Bellingham, Anacortes, Issaquah, and the Seattle area. We hiked, we ruminated, we explored, we eat, we enjoyed nature and the somewhat the surroundings while being pandemic-minded and safe.

I had a great time throughout but also unplugged much from the social media and pleasures of modern digital technology. But, I am also terribly sorry for not sharing such beautiful experiences in a timely fashion. Much of it was also for me talking, helping, discussing life, and current happenings with friends in between. Personal time was my priority.

But, I will share on memories recent and fresh when I can, especially as the new Fall season sets in. I have the feeling it’s going to be a longer, colder, darker time ahead. With that, more time to share but in a different way.

– Orion T

The above pic is facing Mount Rainier, from the top of Mount Burroughs, taken from one of the many trails from the Sunrise Visitor Center deep within and high above. It’s closed to the majestic peak, the best view I think one can get by hiking after a lengthy two-hour drive deep within the Mount Rainier National Park. The entirety spent with friends, very worthwhile.

The surreal life of a frog

Frogs are weird.

Did you know that frogs don’t drink water? They soak it through their skin.

Or know that a frog can shred a layer of skin about once a week? The old dead skin is not wasted. The frog usually eats it.

Did you know that most frogs have teeth? Frog teeth are located in the upper jaw, which are used to hold its prey before swallowing it whole. Prey depends on the size of the frog, from insects to pocket-sized animals.

There are over 5,000 species of frog. The study of frogs is called Herpetologists.

A group of frogs is called an army.

Ranidaphobia is the fear of frogs.

Some people also have frogs as pets!

Frogs are a huge part of pop culture for every generation. Frogs are very everywhere in books, games, movies; as princes, mascots, obscure B movies, lots of mythological references. I love Kermit the Frog, who I see as the best frog.

I would love to know what your favorite frog is, fictional or not!

Orion T

Top picture is taken off the Shadow Lake (not to be confused with Shadow Lake in King county, WA) trail near Sunrise Point very high up at about 6400 feet in the Mount Rainer National Park, Washington State. I recently did some hiking there, and will share more on that soon.

Gazing upon the Fence of Doors of Vashon Island

Doors are important in most stories. These are transitive devices, that hold the way to one world as small and familiar as one’s own home, or to another world as vast and ready to explore as our universe itself. Either side, is a new story waiting to be told.

That said, is my highlight of a favorite little spot on Vashon Island to the west of Seattle), celebrating the awesomeness of doors in pop culture, with a fence made of many to the side of a house bordering a small alley. For a visitor to find, is to either stumble upon it or be learn of it. This spectacle is not easily noticeable otherwise.

Each colorful, styled door is in reference to some iconic pop-culture staple. Here is a closer look. Try and figure them out.

From left to right, I believe (might have a couple mixed up) we have Sherlock Holmes, Muppet Show, Harry Potter, Twilight Zone, Friends, Shrek, Hobbit, Doctor Who, Winnie the Pooh, Lord of the Rings, Monsters Inc, Napoleon Dynamite, Mystery Date, Christmas Carol, and Chronicles of Narnia (out of frame).

Upon my visit with a couple friends, we had a chance to chat with the artist, and builder of these doors, John “Oz” Osborne. He is a local resident, also very friendly and welcoming toward admirers of his work. He shared a little history, which began as a plan to keep his yard less visible to the local business activity across the alley. His wife, Jenny developed the idea further, as both worked together to expand each part of the fence, one door at a time. The work is still continual, with more space left for more doors.

John explained the most curious of doors, in the picture of the above on the right (him to the right taking a break from painting his own house). This door is in reference to an old board game intended for young girls, Mystery Date. The idea of the game was to gain a desirable date, but avoid the “dud.”

For those visiting Vashon Island, the Fence of Doors is worth personally checking out. Also, see what’s been added with the passage of time. It’s open for all to see, from a small side street. Location is 100th pl SW and 174th street, behind Luna Bella’s consignment boutique.

For those who may never get a chance to visit the little obscure area of the Pacific Northwest, here’s my little video posted on Instagram…

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Fun island town adventuring through Vashon

I love a peaceful, quaint, distant getaway that doesn’t feel too isolated. Vashon Island is awesome, for its lovely greenery and sense of community that I feel such be model for this pandemic time.

Vashon Island a little island of two parts (Vashon and Maury) located west of Seattle, deep within Puget Sound. The 36.9 square miles (95.6 km) landmass has a population of over 10,000, and only accessible from the outside by boat. There are two state-run ferries on the north and south end, where vehicle boarding is possible.

This visit to Vashon Island is my second since the Spring of 2015. I thought of coming back here on remembering that it’s still an island, therefore not likely overwhelmed by summer visitors during this pandemic. And unlike the Seattle city, there has been little growth since.

Coming back, I notice not much has changed in its mostly rural parts. Still, very peaceful, lush, and green. But I saw much awareness and respect for the current times. Many signs of Black Lives Matters on yards and fences, with painted portraits of George Lloyd and Breonna Taylor upon various walls, all express solidarity. There are also constant reminders to keep the virus masks on and be mindful of those around you with social distancing. Sadly, such things have become very polarized and would perhaps bother a more Trump-loyal conservative person, who would otherwise enjoy this lovely island. For myself being a person of color, I find the solidarity welcome. For not wanting to suffer horribly from someone else’s carelessness, I find the pandemic safety awareness also welcome.

I find these positives amplified and mixed in with, the Vashon central town center area, where SW Bank Road and SW 99th cross. Close and quaint, are huddled little shops, markets, restaurants for locals and tourists to enjoy and sink into that Pacific Northwest charm. Not much has changed, except for some good signs of support in these challenging times.

Here, are some pics I took with notes while with other friends, as we walked around…

One of many small local businesses in central Vashon. Some are open, some are closed. Most are well-preserved structures with some little extra character added. This gives Vashon Island a timeless appeal in these changing times.

Raven’s Nest, Northwest Native Art Gallery and Gifts, an indigenous owned and run store of wonderful native art.

The Vashon Theater. A little spot I hope to see open upon a future visit. But for now, they do offer drive-In movies for the summer!

The front of the Vashon Print and Design Shop, showing many ways for one to express support, awareness, and solidarity through glorious poster art.

Lots of gift ideas at the Vashon Pharmacy. Yes, it’s a pharmacy within the place that I barely noticed while looking at all the fun, various housewares.

A large sign in front of Granny’s Attic Thrift Store, an awesome thrift store I highly recommend for treasure hunters. But also, well-aware and meeting of the challenges on running business during the pandemic area. There was a line of people on Saturday, but the measures taken were well worth it, and we picked up some cool, vintage things.

Berries and summer blooms everywhere!

At the The Hardware Store Restaurant, with this canine decoration that I had to take a picture of.

Also at the Hardware Store Restaurant, the pancakes and other food is super great. I highly recommend!

A little art gallery behind the Hardware Store Restaurant, this time with a little pet theme.

A little random art piece alone outside, because no small town is complete without one.

The old bike in a tree, a sub-famed attraction of the island. Sadly, much of the attraction has rotted away as the growing tree swallowed it more. According to this site, the bike was abandoned in 1954, by a local who received it was a gift, and just didn’t want it, and left it in the trees.

And my new favorite part of the Vashon town center is this artistic fence of doors done by a local, located in an alleyway. It’s quite amazing and deserves its own post. I will share more on the doors, the history, and the artist behind the work , in my next post.