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

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

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.

The beauty of a Pacific Northwest escape, to Vashon Island

It’s been a while, almost too long.

That, for the writing and telling of the better parts of my life, lately long overshadowed by the constant darker shades of pandemic restrictions, the mental weardown of my social circles, and the frustration off the latest news reports. Much of that darkness has been coiled with the confines of the pandemic and partial shutdowns. I spent much time not by traveling or seeing what’s new in my neighborhood, but through the video chats, gaming, long text sessions with distant friends. My work life is mixed, with short assignments, freelance,and straight hustling.

But eventually, I must take time out. I must breathe out in the open, ruminate, refresh, energize in a setting that fits as an escape. So with some very good friends, I took that time and made the best of that plan, by travel to somewhere distant, but not too far.

I returned to Vashon Island, a solid livable mass of 80.8 square miles (209.3 km) to near West Seattle within the beautiful waterways of Puget Sound. The population is a little over 10,000 locals. Less than an hour from home, and then an hour at most through the Vashon Island Ferry from the Fauntleroy Terminal.

I have much to say about Vashon Island, its current state with locals and adaptation to the global pandemic. I also made some new discoveries, and had a lot of fun with companions. Spoiler…I recommend it for anyone that’s Covid 19 conscience, and wants to visit a place that is also that.

I will share more on that experience very soon. In the meantime, just enjoy these capture moments of just getting there…

The sweetly street sights of Seattle’s Ballard District

The days are packed for me, yet the sidewalks still seem empty during this weird pandemic time.

I recently took to the streets of Ballard, a northern district Seattle with a quiet small town feel, lined with boats and docks to the west. It’s an area often missed by visitors with little tourist draw, yet plenty for those loving the deep Pacific Northwest charm of old shops, restaurants, decades old buildings, hints of history throughout, and some cheerful little oddities.

Recently, I finished some extra work in Ballard, which took about a week of back and forth commutes, filled with sorting and paperwork. After the last hours of that assignment, I looked to the sky with plenty of daylight left, inhaled the cool summer evening breeze. With comfy shoes and a half charge phone with no messages to respond to, I went for a long pointless walk around Ballard.

Much remained closed and limited from the ongoing pandemic. Few persons were seen scattering about, probably with purposes of commuting back home, not the aimless adventuring I love. The weekday evening might as well been a Sunday morning, as most remain in their homes.

I would not go home just yet, as I held free time and a thirst for adventure has no schedule. I dive in with comfy shoes, a half-charged phone.

Here are some street sights taken then, with notes….

Here is a cool vintage car, 50’s I think. I’m not sure on further details, but it’s a nice combination of beautiful metal shapes and shines.

I love some good wheels, as none should ever go to waste. Let them inspire other working wheels along the way!

I see not a pipe, but an elephant bellhop standing before me! This was to the side of the Mox Boarding House, a highly recommended hub for tabletop gamers (next to Card Kingdom).

Not a pandemic sign. I learned this was to promote…something…by some years ago by local writer Isaac Marion. If you call the number, there’s a very cryptic and bizarre message. More on that here.

Twice Sold Tales Books store in Ballard (different than the one in Capitol Hill). It was closed, but I love the sign!!! There’s not enough signs with dinosaurs on them.

The Ballard Consignment Store, with giant dogs guarding the entrance…

I really like the dress pattern in the window of the Monster Art and Clothing Shop.

Yeah, it’s Starbucks. It still counts as local for Seattle as the business was born and remains HQed here. But for this location, I love the practical recycled used of old boxcars.

Ballard Brothers Seafood & Burgers and Taco Mamas restaurant. Great food and service inside, wonderful local art by Henry on the outside.

The other side…

And more. I love Henry’s work. It’s super cheerful and very PNW.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed these memories of my little walk. And, if I missed anything, I would love to know more for a future trip in the comments below!

The 2020 National Protest, Part 3 – Progression through time, the difficult trajectory

Today is June 19, a significant day for African Americans in the U.S., a second Independence Day for each other. This day reflects not when slavery was abolished, but officially enforced upon those still practicing illegal forced labor, two and half hears later.

The Emancipation Proclamation, an order signed by Abraham Lincoln abolishing slavery, became official on January 1, 1863. However, much of the U.S. ignored that ratification with a Civil War going on until April 1865. The South would lose, but remain stubbornness throughout, especially in Texas. Texan farmers ignored the Proclamation (or didn’t get the message), ready to squeeze a bit more forced labor for the summer harvest. But Union Army forces arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, with the news that the Civil War ended and that slaves were now free.

The news spread fast, and history continued. This was a pivotal early high point for Black lives mattering, which still means a lot, and to me eventually.

I did not know about this “Juneteenth” until my early high school days, from my grandmother upon my first visit to Los Angeles in 1992. She stressed the importance of that day, as one that should be as significant as any holiday, and always remember. We both had experiences to share on racism, harassment that stemmed from slavery times, and society that, in a way, needed constantly reminding that dominion over others by race is unacceptable. We lived in a system that was very discriminatory on the amount of melanin in our skin, along with other physical aspects of our African roots.

To clarify, I am of mixed complexion and race. My maternal grandmother and remaining family (all on the maternal side) were African American, with roots traced back to the deep South and its slavery times.
There is much to share from that time, but for another day. For then, my attention toward television and news it brought is more relevant to the following and eventual now. I then learned a new word from the media.

Acquittal.

Four Los Angeles policemen (three white) brutality beat African American Rodney King nearly to death. It was all on caught on camera, and the officers made lousy excuses and lies for this very unlawful inhumanity upon him. They were acquitted, not guilty of the charges brought upon them.

So forth, came the first significant protest of my lifetime, starting downtown by its city hall and main courthouse. It was initially peaceful, as my grandmother and I stood by and hared solidarity, yet frustrated. The acquittal was not right, and the justice system failed. Anger and frustration built on our community, feeling ourselves unheard and uncared by a government system we thought at the time, would ignore our humanity in this particular symbolic case. A man was held against his will and beaten for not respected his temporary slave masters.

Adding to all this was also a recent slap on the wrist ($500 fine, probation, community service) for a Korean store owner in South Los Angeles who shot 15-year-old African-American Latasha Harlins, after accusing her of stealing orange juice. She was holding the money to pay for the juice, as she died. Still, there was no justification, whether or not Latasha Harlins was stealing. But it raised racial tensions among African Americans and Asian Americans as well. In a way, the justice system was also at fault here, feeling very imbalanced towards African Americans, yet again..

Often with court system failures, justice needs to be clarified by other voices. When it does not, anger is lead by fists and fire. So forth went the cry, “No Justice, No Peace.” This sentiment echoed into the South Central Los Angeles area, where many gave up a just society, feeling separate and not equal. Reasons included poor community funding, continuous discrimination, feeling exploited for cheap labor, and just feeling forgotten and ignored. To be at the very bottom, then seeing one of their own beaten by someone given authority for whatever reason, felt like a return to slavery

But, such did not entirely excuse the chaos, as major rioting followed. Such behavior did not reflect the message of the protesting but remained a symptom of those unheard. The beatings, fires, vandalizing did not speak for the community or African Americans, just the growing frustration where many would wrongly escalate frustrations away from the conversation.

Afterward, new voices would speak for ourselves. Most notably activist leaders, including Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton. A new renaissance in music and arts culture that would bring fresh attention to “Black Power,” the effects of poverty, and system injustice awareness. But one voice resonated with me as a person of color, and others felt especially strong and much needed at the time, on May 1, 1992, by Rodney King appearing on television.

Can’t we all get along.”

It was a short message from a man who wasn’t ready for public speaking but felt the message needed a hearing. It’s simple, emotional, and a perfect question in a society that still frustration over those recent 1992 events, and the centuries of buildup that built up.

Something was liberating about that statement, ushering an era for the rest of the 90s with the recession ending. Bill Clinton took Presidential office in 1993, and definitely more favored (and relatable) in our African American community, which I think helped ease tensions towards the still White prevalent United States. Together, I think we all did get along, focusing on trivial guilty pleasures, including but not limited to Amy Fisher, OJ Simpson, Batman movies, Mortal Kombat, Tupac, Back Street Boys, The Matrix, Beavis and Butthead, and so much more.

But something remained for the next two decades, which I think was sparked in the middle by the next critical day in U.S race relations history, and a new era of protest. That day was September 11, 2001.

And that’s where I leave off, for now. I will return later to this point in history and share what led to our current times, from my perspective and observations, traveling through it all.

Orion T

The above picture is from the height of tensions in the current protest for 2020 in Seattle. I will share more on that in further parts.

The 2020 National Protest, Part 2 – The silent solidarity, loudly felt

On June 12, 2020, a significant Black Lives Matters march took place under some heavy rain. The main theme was the overall solidarity for Black lives unfairly victimized by law enforcement officials throughout the U.S. This new protest and call for awareness is from the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more. This march called for heavy silence spread and pandemic precautions with face masks and regards to those at further risk

Special note: I planned a follow-up from my recent Part 1 post with personal experiences and observations growing up as a person of mixed complexion on police brutality, civil unrest, and the 1992 Los Angeles Rodney King police verdict aftermath. That will have to wait, as I felt this march had priority in reflection. A single uniformed approach to recent events for a simple message reveals safety and comfort for those in danger are greater in numbers.

Not even the COVID 19 pandemic can slow this message down. Yes, we took a significant risk, but often an emotional need to unite and bond physically overpowers current obstacles. Yet, we still made adjustments, of which I am optimistic.

So, an estimated 60,000 slowly walked for over 2 hours from Judkins Park in the Central District to Jefferson Park in Beacon Hill. Some of that was uphill, very wet. The rain slowed down and stopped eventually. I was impressed with how many used their umbrellas, raising them higher above peers, and taking care not to poke or cause excessive splatter.

The march went well with no known incidents. Many who could not march or had to stay near home, stood by to add solidarity. Some passed out snacks and water. I am proud to be a part of this community support, as the effects of this will hopefully influence better public policy throughout all civil service, especially within law enforcement.

Later on the same day, in Atlanta, Georgia, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks fell asleep in his car at a Wendy’s parking lot, apparently blocking a drive-thru. After failing a sobriety test, he attempted to run away, allegedly resisting arrest. For an unknown reason, he waved a taser back at them. That was all the excuse one of the police officers needed to open fire and fatally shoot him. I think he was running, fearing for his life, which in the end was not enough.

On the same night in California’s San Fernando Valley area, former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoah was jogging down a street. Then  LAPD officers swarmed and pulled their guns on him, ordered him on the ground as one officer then put his knee to Jay’s neck. The excuse was that he matched the vague description of a suspect.  His life was most definitely in danger, and I believe otherwise be left alone if his skinned had been a significantly lighter tone.

So yes, even while silent, the call for new attention, action, oversight, reform, changes and justice still must be heard. I will share more insight from the steps I take with my own two feet and hands for the coming days, for sure.

Orion T

The above picture was taken in Beacon Hill looking back on the march. I was very impressed and proud to be a part of this.

The 2020 National Protest, Part 1 – Hot time for justice and reform, long overdue

Over two weeks, the latest protest for civil injustice reaches national (and heading global) proportions, yet also grown for decades in the making. We look outside, turn on the news, take part in the conversation because the air is a bit tenser. That time for civilization to stand by and do nothing is up.

On the surface, this latest civil unrest ignited by a horrific image from Minneapolis, a White police officer using his knee to crush the neck of a Black man for eight minutes and 46 seconds, depriving him of his right to live. On the ground pleading to breathe, George Floyd was a father, a mentor, a working every-man who also made terrible decisions. He then turned his life around, with new dreams while recently losing his job to the ongoing pandemic. Such details and more, are additives to the humane treatment that George Floyd and anyone else deserves.

Yet George Floyd had no chance, but every right to live as other officers stood by and did nothing. And,, so did much of the current police system passing this off as a mere incident, reducing the public call to action. The Minneapolis Police Department attempted to change the narrative, while more details and outside camera footage showed an apparent contradiction. Each disciplinary action felt like minimal for what appeared to be an execution, as more information mounted. This overall system felt cold to the growing public outcry.

Yet, new heat developed among the citizens of Minneapolis, spread through news and social media to every corner of the U.S nation. A spark to the growing Black Lives Matter movement, and too many similar incidents of police brutality and injustice through the previous decade. The systemic racism that leads to far too many events where people of color are unfairly targeted and mistreated for minor or made-up offenses. Then, made to suffer from a lack of due process where a law enforcement officer may use some lousy excuse to become judge, jury, and executioner.

Now, the movement fires up, filled combinations of pent-up fury and frustration with hope and hopelessness for the future. Many give up on not just the police as a force that is supposed to “serve and protect,” but a growing world that leaves the needs of the poor, the minorities, the less privileged…cold.

I use temperature as a metaphorical measure because nothing is instantly hot or cold. There are conditions that lead to growing extremes. History is full of moments that have raised the temperature of the growing frustration of a system that seems to give little effort to change.

Many historians would agree, the earliest racially pushed policing stemmed from the pre-civil war era. Slavery patrols were common in White, European descent dominant small towns and rural areas, organized to keep a lookout and control of Black slaves. Eventually, slavery was abolished, but the mentality of racial control remained through harassment, terrorism continued through the growing sectors of law enforcement.

Racial segregation laws, also known as Jim Crow laws (the term derived from a popular racist caricature in the late 1920s of Blacks), were eventually considered legal in South area regions, pushed a very unequal imbalance for Blacks to be kept social and economically disadvantaged and many dominant White areas. Being that African Americans were on the losing end of the Jim Crow era and treated inhumanly, White police officers identifying (and often working with) White supremacist groups including the KKK), would be widespread as typical enforcers. Eventually, those laws were ended, as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed. Yet still, it took a heavy law enforcement in many areas to keep those laws moving.

Such attitudes through many law enforcement areas, did not change overnight. The resentment from many African Americans who experienced the social damage of Jim Crow laws grew, especially among those who migrated westward to the Pacific States, remained.

On August 11, 1965, in the Watts district of Los Angeles, a police officer pulled over Marquette Frye, a young African-American with a troubled past resulting in bad personal decisions, for drunk driving. He would walk in a drunken state to return with his mother to claim help claim the vehicle being towed. Eyewitnesses (a slowly growing crowd of locals) say she handled the situation well, while rightfully scolding her son for drunk-driving. Frye became agitated according to a police report, where he angrily defied threats of jail and car towed away. Patrol officers present tried to handcuff Marquette Frye, leading to a worried mother defending the life of her son in police custody, jumped to the officer, leading to violent escalation. The officer struck his baton to the head of Marquette Frye, bleeding as they both were under arrest,

The present local crowd grew frustrated and angry, also responding to some spreading incorrect rumors (for now, but there was only an official report to go by at this point). But even so, the racial tensions combined with economic inequality and housing discrimination added to the reputation of the Los Angeles police force, notorious among them for its recruitment of white individuals from the South U.S regions, an area well known for its systematic and very open racist community standards. Protests grew, and so did the anger.

The 1965 Watts Riots followed, leaving many buildings burned and places looted. While the police arrived to slow down the civil unrest, many were quick to use violent methods of crowd control. It didn’t help that Police Chief William Parker described the rioters as “monkeys in the zoo.” 34 people ended up dead and 1,032 injured. Of those who died, 23 killed by LAPD officers.

More frustration grew and spread from police reaction, mixing the protests and riots together.

Another early yet major and more substantial incident of police brutality was on the evening of July 12, 1967, in Newark, New Jersey, where two white police officers pulled over black cab driver, John William Smith, for an apparent traffic stop. They arrested and severely beat Smith claiming resistance and “insulting remarks.” Smith remained in his holding cell of the local precinct until further injuries lead to hospital placement.

The incident sparked protest from an area where African Americans were economically disadvantaged, adding anger to frustration resulting in a wide range of reactions. Rising tensions resulted in a quickly organized peaceful protest on that police station. But hell broke loose, as a riot instigated by a few angry citizens, leading to more police brutality, unnecessary and vicious. 26 people died, and countless injured, including Joe Bass Jr, a 12-year boy injured from a police gunshot. A photo of his bloodied body appeared on the cover of the July 1967 issue Life Magazine. It’s haunting, violently graphic, and you can click here if curious (warning, very graphic)

It’s what we see with out own eyes that makes the biggest difference. With the advent of media technology, so shall come the mounting resentment as pictures and video captured of unnecessary police brutality built upon legitimacy of the problem.

So why the rioting when there involves incidents of police brutality? I think Dr. Martin Luther King had the best response in a 1967 interview with CBS’ Mike Wallace in which he responded to a question regarding on minority charged vandalism and looting. “And I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro,” King said. “I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”

Adding oppressing police who abuse their power, maddens the situation for the disadvantaged. Sure, a riot is not justification. It is merely a result for many involved who I think, have given up on a system that works for them.

And so forth, there continued other incidents of police brutality, but none quite so apparent until the night of March 3rd, 1991 in Los Angeles from the balcony of local citizen George Holliday. He recorded by video cam, construction worker and also African American Rodney King, beaten horribly by a group LAPD officers who pulled initially pulled him over for drunk driving after a short chase.

And, that’s where I leave pause for a moment, looking back to a more personal experience. I was in Los Angeles at the time, with much to share the civil unrest and riots that followed. There is more to bring up from personal experience, because my part among so many others are just a contribution to the connected buildup of today.

Which is now, a very hot time.

Orion T

The top picture I took from the recent protest in Seattle, currently more focused now in the Capitol Hill district. More on that with more pictures, coming up.

Silence standing, waiting

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

I was enjoying the silence before me over the weekend, taking time alone at the Seattle waterfront, sitting at an open public table freshly sprayed with my lavender sanitizer spritzer. I take off my face mask, eat some delicious barbecue lunch from the Pike Place Market (Pike’s Pit, highly recommended now). My phone battery is nearly out. but that’s okay. It’s a noisy, troublesome device that needs a nap. I devour much of my delicious mix of soaked sweet chicken, rice, mac and cheese and cole slaw. Then, I listen to the silence of the air around me.

It’s very nice and welcome.

The temperature is kind, between cold and warm, with a slight breeze that brushes against my skin enough to keep me awake. I look to the Big Wheel of Pier 57, it’s unmoved, unlit, waiting, and I add a contemplative thought…perhaps this stillness as a moment for all things to think, uninterrupted. The clouds are lively, yet also seem still. I’m sure the clouds if I close my eyes for what another moment.

The Big Wheel remains still, which being an invention meant to move, looks very relaxed in its time of tranquility. It enjoys nothing, but embellishes in it. I stare at it, and think like the Wheel.

And then comes the slightest interruption. A little raindrops followed by a sudden burst of sunlight from somewhere above, then a shout in the distance followed by a distant vehicle squeals its brakes. Such makes the silence a bit more meaningful, remembered. I wait for a few moments for the confusion to go away, maybe let the silence soak in. My phone suddenly beeps with another notification. I look to the screen to measure its importance. It’s too late, the phone battery is dead for now.

I sit back. Enjoy the silence a bit more. The sudden light dies out into the clouds, only a few more skydrops, then stop. I ignore the distant citylife the Big Wheel remains still, and then a seagull makes a familiar squawk. The sudden break in silence blending, adding to the new silence. And then nothing else for another five minutes, as I am left with the flavor of lunch and the last bit of root beer upon my lips.

Then more raindrops come. I get going, but remember the silence for what it brought. Such was a good time to let happen, and use well.

– Orion T

The blossoms stay out, float around, clutter together

After errands in these shutdown weeks, I often take a small detour through Freeway Park in Downtown Seattle (located above Interstate 5).

Why? Because I need to, to help mentally cheered in this tough time. I must place myself in these city-developed little pockets of nature, to hear the birds chirp and peek at the squirrels. To enjoy the lush greenery and surroundings of gardens, grass, shubbery. This is my treatment of the stir-crazy confines of home.

Also lately, I check on the the cherry trees in full effect for the early Spring, reaching the end of their grand presentation. This is a show that is not cancelled, and moving on well…

The trees here are beautiful in some unique way for every season. But this round of developed silken bright blossoms is a particular show. These display a picturesque beauty, a scattered show of delicate petals tied together in the air, clustered to show an overall storybook setting. This global pandemic changing nothing for them, for the show continues.

But soon, this show will slowly end. The blossoms take a bow, slowly dropping to the ground. I look to the slow finale, feeling appreciative that this process moves on as a natural exception to the sadness of the global pandemic.

I share below, feeling somewhat lucky to have these wonderful views, with likely a bit more current freedom to walk around than other parts of the world. Hopefully, these sights will bring a smile, and reminder of some beautiful normal things still moving on…

Orion T

The calm, empty streets of Seattle now

It’s been a weird last few months, for reasons now inescapable throughout our current hours of civilization. We collectively must stay apart, stay isolated, be sanitized, lower the curve of those infected, allow and support our busy medical workers.

I’m doing my part in my tiny Seattle apartment, keeping busy with projects, working at home, supporting others. But then, usually every other day, I must go out for errands. I take the routes through downtown where people are less likely, the broader sidewalks, avoid any huddled situations.

Throughout the typically tourist-heavy area of the downtown Seattle area around Pike Place Market, there are empty spaces. The air is cleaner, quiet, calming. Voices are few, silent, reserved for essential communications. I pass by someone infrequently, remain distance but smile to spread positive vibes.

I also carry my camera often. It’s not the best, just a Canon Rebel T6…great for those with decent incomes. I have many lenses for it. My current one I often use now is the EFS 18-136mm macro lens. It’s a beauty for sure, but it also weighs a little more than I am used to when placing it in my backpack. For these big empty streets, it’s a perfect accessory to capture these surreal moments.

From this week, I share some favorite moments captured from my essential walks.

That’s all for now. Take care and be safe out there.

Orion T

To yearn, in this still time…

Still yearn for the days of normalcy to return…

For the music to play,

and the food trucks to stay,

For a share a table with friends,

while sipping coffee blends,

To discuss among strangers the news,

or complain about life with booze,

To stop and hear how your day went,

is better than a texting back sent,

To chat and listen and learn and dance and love again, is what I yearn.

Orion T

Waiting for the emptiness to pass…

Stay home if you are sick, avoid crowds, use keep washing those hands.

Weeks ago, many passed off the COVID-19 strain as just another virus, something that may die out soon, and whatever else puts most of our 1st world lives feel comfortable, and at ease.

But, then comes those little alarming reports of rising cases, people affected, and the deaths, all increasing at an exponential rate. Such was local here in Seattle, but then reported in other states, and other countries, and you then you look back outside, and the magnitude of the situation becomes global.

In the downtown streets of Seattle, the streets gain an unsettling emptiness. Devoid of heavy entertainment, there is mere purpose left among visitors and locals. Local business owners and staff share in the melancholy silence, lacking participation and their future in question. I choose a few small stores to spent money on some simple things around the Pike Place Market, doing what little I can with those little ounces of morale to spare.

Recently, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Italy remains quarantined, and many significant events closed down or canceled. Some are far more affected than others, and I feel a bit fortunate not to suffer at the bottom. Yet, I am also unhappy at the slow, messy response by our national government under the current Executive Branch administration. Still, we listen together now, anxious for the unknown days ahead and hope for a bounce-back recovery soon.

I felt a wandering need between destinations. I am currently unemployed and feeling the struggle of this new emptiness. Now, there are no new friends, no new gatherings. I fight this further despair with home projects, but taking a moment infrequent to appreciate the new calm. I reflect on what will be a hard lesson for humanity, that our civilization that relies on commerce and consumption means nothing to microscopic strains of viral infections. We should be mindful of each other; help when needed. That is how we best get through and keep living.

Meanwhile, here are some recent pictures of the new quiet around the normally tourist heavy areas of downtown Seattle. I hope for a return to the usual noise soon.

Orion T

Clowning around with the Clownfish

Did you know…

That clownfish, also known as anemonefish, are born male, But, the dominant adult one of its group becomes female when the previous one dies. It’s an irreversible change, where it can then reproduce with another male, for the next generation of hermaphroditic organisms.

Clownfish are mostly found in coral reefs in south Asia, and Australia, feeding on a diet of plants and very small organisms (algae, zooplankton, tiny crustaceans). Clownfish live in harmony with sea anemones, sharing in food scraps and immune to their tentacle released toxins meant for prey. Those anemones also cover as shelter from larger predators. The clownfish pays their kindness back by removing parasites, and sometimes standing guard.

These strange factoids are just morsels of the countless grand wonders that make up of our complex planet, and build ecosystems meant to naturally create a long-lasting system of life coexistence.

I learned of such and more in a recent visit to the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59, where I took the above pictures. Such wonderful things, I will share of more in later postings, spread out over future times. I hope you will enjoy, and be as fascinated as I was in observing, learning of these lively occurrences.

Orion T

Here today, gone tomorrow…the final days of the original Bon Marché

Only, 9, 8, 7, 6, days left…

I see the going out of business signs more now, spread among the malls, department stores, big names of yesterday giving up their land. Past vibrant with the rising consumerism of societies spending addictions, now withering from the lack of capitalist sunlight focused more on the Amazons of online shopping. Or perhaps, it’s all just from unwise business practices, unpaid loans, and becoming prey for the savvy vulture capitalists who see not the products and potential, but the money to picked from the bones of these once-great behemoths.

Now, the downtown Macy’s store in downtown Seattle is next. It began as the Bon Marché store in 1890 (not to be confused with the famed Le Bon Marché in Paris, founded in 1838), which grew into a chain of its own until about the early 2000’s where a number mergers would end up with its name gone, and eventually put into the Macy’s department store chain collective, based in New York City.

Much like many other Macy’s stores closing in 2019, and more scheduled for 2020, everything must go. Here, the local Macy’s was a familiar cornerstone of Seattle’s big department store scene since its Bon Marché beginnings. The interior was much like any other grand upper-middle class catering atmosphere, with central escalators leading to the usual departments of fashion and home goods. But on the exterior was a felt presence, welcoming to spendy tourists and locals with its vintage architecture built-in 1929 designed by local architect John Graham Sr. During the holidays, its massive Holiday star light decoration would light the way outside for locals and tourists to partake in the seasonal consumerism inside

Its upper floors sold to Amazon for office space in recent years, then eventually struggled with likely expensive upkeep related to booming property values. Macy’s as a downtown Seattle store will end very soon.

I meanwhile, dropped by to scavenge for bargain deals. Not disappointing as I would buy new pants, socks, shirts, that were previously beyond my affordable range. In that venture, I was fascinated by what felt like the end of an era, not just for this Macy’s, but many department stores gone over the recent era. How many will be left by 2030?

But for now, here are some moments observed of these final days of the Bon Marché Pacific Northwest legacy, founded in 1890. At least, it had a good full century run.

– Orion T

Reflecting over what happens for happiness…

Not much happened over the weekend, and that may be a good thing…

That space gave me time to ponder, walk around, talk to people, participate in a project study, meet new friends, learn a little Python coding, fix my laptop, give a good hard look a change in direction, write some short stories which I will someday publish.

Okay, that’s a lot to reflect on. Yet still, not much really happened over the weekend because that was a lot of great moments that’s don’t imply drama, follow-up, expressing of concern of spreading the emotion of some great joy or sadness felt. I just had time to live in some great moments, that just developed with myself, friends, strangers. This was a all mixture of entertainment, study, creativity, sharing, pondering with some light planning. All happened, but passing through in a relaxing, smiling flow.

Oh, never mind. A lot happened, now that I reflect on my writing here.

Orion T

The picture above, I took last Friday night after some heavy rain, at the University of Washington. Here is the Suzallo Library on campus, an amazing building with a Hogwartsesque main reading room. I passed by that buildng last night in the dark, cold lonely night, with an urge to take pictures of the this beautiful observed moment. I really liked this shot, but wish I had a better camera to capture the fine details.

The Rainy Rain of Rain City

Another day of rain in Seattle…

Lately, I feel this city is getting that crazy reputation for rain, because that’s what’s been happening this winter season. Sure, Seattle has its overall reputation of rainfall. But, I am not impressed with the amount of rain we get in this crazy town over the years, after moving here in 2012. We get the showers a lot, but often not feeling very drenched or feeling the need for galoshes and durable umbrellas.

Yet, here we are after nearly a full month of rain in January. That’s 29/31 days with 9.23 inches average, beating the national January 2020 average at 5.57. Yep, it’s really raining, and not a drizzle.

Still, Seattle is not the rainiest city in the U.S., not even by a top ten from many studies. According to an updated report last year by worldatlas.com, the most wet action are in some cities of the deep southeast region.

But for now, it’s undeniable wet outside with a forecast of more precipitation ahead.

Hopefully by the end of winter, the showers will slow down and give us a pleasant, more walkable spring season. This wet weather also contributes to a healthy environment cycle, keeps farms going, helps small animals survive naturally, keeps everything growing. I also love looking at those wet streets, cleaned buildings, enjoy the calming sound of pitter-patter in-between.

So, for those in the area feeling a bit too drenched here from this downpour, don’t let the showers get you down. Instead, put on some happy music and let your smile be your umbrella.

– Orion T

The picture above was taken by me in the middle of this rainy season from atop the Columbia Tower. I recall being in a good mood, leading me to appreciate the moment that rain often brings.

The Sadly Gone Newsstand

Last Christmas Eve, I stopped by the world-famous Pike Place Market, to have a last look at a familiar staple of preserved atmosphere for 40 years within Downtown Seattle. There was the First and Pike News newsstand in all its glory, for over 40 years on the corner, ever welcoming and giving locals and tourists a deep look into Seattle culture in print, along with a very wide selection of magazines and reads from around the world.

First and Pike News closed on December 31st, 2019.

That part of the market hit me as a wonderful, nostalgic part of this city, that will likely never come back. Meanwhile, the local Barnes and Noble book store, with another large newsstand holding rows of magazines, recently closed on January 18th, 2020. Both closings add a sadness, of a declining city tradition that is the great multiple newspapers and magazine newsstand.

Both, doubly sad signs of that wholesome access to news and magazines in print, dwindling as not just from its outdated model of receiving ad revenues, but its lessening exposure in public places. More people are exponentially are drawn to new media with our Reddits, Facebooks, Twitters. Then battle it out with instant messages, notifications, invitations, interruptions, memes, all taking our attention to faster and shorter spans, as we frantically swipe through ad revenue life-streams, polluted with data mining, privacy-invading bots, mostly run by online conglomerates.

But for a moment, let’s take a look at the beauty that was a wholesome, plentiful newsstand, with its cheapo snacks, postcards, maps, other helpful things that would help both travelers and locals find their way. We then swipe those eyes on printed pages, keep us focused on just the words and images. Those were light, convenient, with no battery charge notice.

That is a beautiful view of colorful machine-bound printed paperworks.

To see a row of frequent prints, each and choice of topics tailor-made by a passionate and dedicated staff is a joy that I shall remember. The newsstand has the nostalgia of browsing and enjoyment of sampling through what’s worth paying. Also, as a light read for that day in the park or evening on a porch. Some places give a little more like snacks and maps. The sadly gone First and Pike News stand offered many more delights and souvenirs for the passing tourists.

Now, that thrill left this part of Seattle. But maybe, you might know of some newsstands in your area. Stop by, browse and appreciate the joy of printed media, formatted for your full attention. Buy some papers and cheap stuff, and smile to the seller. Every little bit of support helps, and maybe keep that wholesome bit of honest joy a part of your neighborhood for more days ahead.

Orion T

Snowcapped in Seattle…

Meanwhile, there is some snow here in the Emerald City, for about three days now.

But, feeling it depends on the area. In the eastern regions of Bellevue to and through the mountains, there is a white winter wonderland now. The northern areas have heavy patches as well. Closer to downtown, not so much, as I notice remains on the rooftops, cars, some around trees. I am not impressed so far…

But, I do appreciate the what the snowfall leaves to the cityscapes. They bring peaceful chill and serenity throughout. I walk and let it sink in, wishing for a little more.

Orion T

The above pic is taken at the Cultural Landscape Foundation in Freeway Park. This is a place that is wonderful, every day of the year. But the snow changes, makes this view a different special.

Gloomy reflections in dialation

Enjoy what the sky gives to the ground, especially after the rain.

The picture above is from the basketball courts in Cal Anderson Park, in the Capitol Hill district of central Seattle. The rain hit hard, and the gloom remains. I returned from an eye exam with my eyes freshly dilated. The world to me was a blur for about 2 hours, But walking around, I can still appreciate the beauty in it when given, and here it was…the peace of the day upon an empty space.

I took the picture in blind faith, that all would work out in the right perspective.

– Orion T

The new messages from Post Alley…

I visit the Post Alley section of Seattle’s Pike Place Market often. There, is a little driveway many tourists in the area miss, paying too much attention to the main market floor. Which is sad, because a great trip to the Pike Place Market is never complete without a walk through the Post Alley to check out the Gum Wall, and the art.

I love the art in that area much more. There are visual changes often, with new papered art often covering up the faded. It’s a mix of entertainment, politics, social activism, self-promotion, humor, and advertisements. I believe the bulk of it defines the true artistic soul of Seattle, as a hub of varied culture and awareness.

So, here are some pics of my latest visit a few days ago..

Just a small portion of sticky notes, very heavy and scattered this time.
A random scattering of what Post Alley is all about
A featured piece showcasing the current Hong Kong protests.
Another area, but some faded pieces I still can see from a month or two ago…

And some more by the gum wall area.

That’s all for now. I will definitely return to this spot, many more times.

-Orion T

Leaves after a good shower…

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus, French philosopher, author, and journalist

Here are some wet, wonderful leaves from within Licton Springs Park, a small park in North Seattle. This cozy spot I recommend to wanderers, to take in deep, exciting colors after a long autumn rain. The leaves are now scattered everywhere, many still strong on the trees while others cling to the muddy ground. All are plenty across bridges and steams, connected by damp pathways through a lush mini-forest in the middle of an old neighborhood. This is a little, wondrous place worthy of adventuring for a small time.

Here are recent pictures from my phone…

Orion T

On this Veteran’s Day of 2019

Today, on November 11, also known as Veteran’s Day, where we remind ourselves to honor those who served.

This is the day to honor the 18.2 million veterans of the armed forces currently living in the United States. As of 2018 (according to the U.S. Census community survey), an estimated 50% of those veterans are age 65 and older, while 9.1% were younger than age 35. 1 and 12 overall, are women. About 6.3 million are Vietnam-era vets.

There’s more to all that, and most of us probably know a veteran who served, who may have been through combat duty or willing to go into that high level of danger, because they believe in our country that much. We thank them, and give share some extra treatment where we can, perhaps talk and discuss that service, share stories, be proud of them, and never forget. Others can understand, maybe be inspired, or delve more into the lives of those who served, while many among them still have there own battles to fight.

According to a recent report by the Department of Veteran Affairs, 6,139 Veterans in 2017 committed suicide, compared with 5,787 in 2005. About 5.1 are on disability. The number of Veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome varies by their time of service, where 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan related conflicts suffer from some form of PTSD. The last count by the VA in January 2018, estimates 37,800 living without a home on a night during that time. 

So yes, there is a lot more to this day than parades and social media shout outs, because what this entails is more than the day. Don’t forget, honor, keep communications, and be kind enough to help when needed, to those who served.

Orion T

The above shot was from the Columbia Tower this morning in Seattle to its Space Needle, with my decent zoom lens.

Happy November

Happy New November to all!

And with that, a change where the Fall season sets in as the many loosened leaves lose color while fresh chill weather ushers in, and the days become a little darker

Also, National Novel Writing Month, Banana Pudding Lovers Month, No-Shave November, National Adoption Month, Aviation History Month, and probably more special stuff. There’s the rising holiday deco in stores, peeks at Black Friday, and other overly commercialized temptations throughout. Then later, there’s Thanksgiving Day, a four day weekend for many, and probably the point of this year where many are feeling done, ready to look back at it all.

But for me, it’s just the here and now. Enjoying each day when possible, enjoying what this time of the year gives.

  • Orion T

The picture above in Seward Park, after a long walk in this nice part of Seattle’s Columbia City area. I was testing some new settings on my camera, with this wild plant soaking in some late day sunlight.

Happyish Halloween

Cheers and Happy Halloween to all this lovely night (from here in Seattle, at least)

Though it’s almost over now, and probably gone by the time many of you read this. Sadly, I didn’t take much part in the spooky season this year, for reasons leading to my lack of a social life. But, I visit a local Goodwill thrift store, because I like doing that in the small times I do have. And cheers here, were for the left over Halloween costumes, props, and decorations. All of which, I found are visually wonderful for any part of the year; because such delights are lasting and silly far beyond this time of year.

-Orion T

To look inside for the way out…

When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930), author of Sherlock Holmes

I passed by a local bike shop, Free Range Cycles, in the Fremont district of north Seattle. It’s a good start for a better escape, but closed at the moment. However, I did peek inside admiring the sunlight merchandise. Here, is beauty observed of the stillness of these human-powered metal steeds. The look of the bicycle is a timeless, natural design, that I think serves as an extension of real body practicality. I admire the many parts both attached and loose, mixed in shiny metal, smooth leather, and mighty rough rubber. I love all here; meant to make local travel simple, enjoyable, yet empowering and healthy.

Hmm.

-Orion T

Looking up in a day of work..

Look above your head, when walking through a busy metropolis… You might spot a friendly neighborhood window-washing super-person.

To observe a daredevil in action doing mundane work, brings a little thrill to my day. I feel reminded, of extra joys in life that should be gained through some aspects of employment. It’s better to get something more back than money, for your devoted time. Such somethings can be fun conversations, gain knowledge, expand creativity, new friends, tend to a hobby that is part of the job, help others, be an inspiration, be a part of something better, or just be at peace.

This thrill above, is an inspiration for the days ahead. Not so much, to be a window-washer; but to desire something more for my work-time.

– Orion T

The picture, was recently one morning at the Seattle Central Library, an amazing building worth keeping clean.