Let us walk in the white snow…

Here’s a special theme for this post…walking together in the snow. Trailing through a beautiful place where snow cover is an amazing, poetic experience meant to be shared.

So, I hereby mix up today’s pictures recently taken by me, with a poem (Velvet Shoes) by Elinor Wylie, an American poet and novelist of the early 1900s. She lived an interesting yet shortened life of 43 years; married three times, wrote five novels and multiple poems. This poem is timeless, and perfect for a snow walk through the woods.

I will share more details on the pics, at the end.

Velvet Shoes

Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as white cow’s milk,
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
U
pon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go

Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.

The candid pictures were taken at Ravenna Park, a beautiful little ravine forest in north Seattle. The park is a 1/2 mile stretch where you can spend a day not admiring it enough. I can never visit there enough and will take any excuse to trail again. The recent snow here was amazing, and a lot of fun for photography. The first shot was taken above the Ravenna Bridge. The others are of the main path through the park. have more pictures, which I will share soon. These three pics with the theme of others walking though, just deserved its own special post.

– Orion T

Goodbye Forever, 2021…

What a year, that 2021!

It was just a weird, bothering time around the Sun. Early on, the January 6th attack on the Capitol felt very surreal. The pandemic still lingers on, ending with the rise of the Omicron variant. Anti-vaxxing movements have become mainstream. Supply chains involving mass cargo on boats have slowed down drastically. There’s still some computer chip shortage. Workplaces are in need of new workers, but a lot not wanting to return to a being underpaid and treated poorly (I am among them). Seattle received some record heat weather at around 108 degrees Fahrenheit, while having two crazy snowfalls in opposite winter seasons. Lots of brutal weather around the world, probably from climate change. Crypto currency is a super crazy thing people are into now. NFTs are huge, and the less you know about them, the better…unless you are super into them. Inflation is wacky. There is so much that we could have done without, but made the year interesting.

I’ve also been very busy with a lot of personal baggage while dealing with a mid-life crisis. There’s a lot of ups and downs, but I do my best to keep going and always find new things to smile about. Sometimes, that’s with friends new and old, in person or online. There’s a lot of mental health concerns among us. But, there’s good stuff. I have new, bigger apartment. I cook a lot more. I have an exciting project that I have been spending a lot of time on, and will hopefully reveal with satisfiable progress in the coming months ahead.

I also adopted Smokey, a 3 yr old rescue cat from Seattle Humane animal shelter.

How cute is Smokey? She demands a lot of attention sometimes, usually when I am on my computer. I have much to write on the challenges of cat ownership, which I will eventually share.

Here are some other fun things and notes that I loved about 2021:

  • Favorite full movie released in 2021 – The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn
  • Favorite animated movie released in 2021 – Klaus (on Netflix)
  • Favorite documentary released in 2021 – Life in Color with David Attenborough
  • Favorite standalone streaming TV series released in 2021 – WandaVision (on Disney+)
  • Favorite continuous or new streaming TV series in 2021 – Chucky (The TV series)
  • Best satire of 2021 – Don’t Look Up (movie on Netflix)
  • Best dumb pop culture trend of 2021 – Squid Game
  • Favorite short audio stories and narratives – NPR’s This American Life
  • Favorite YouTube channel of 2021 – Casually Comics, a look at comics past and present, with very fun commentary
  • Best music album of 2021 – Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
  • Favorite movie soundtrack vocal of 2021 – Billie Eilish – No Time To Die (For the James Bond: No Time to Die)
  • Favorite fiction book I read in 2021 – Crossings by Alex Landragin (came in 2019, but I really liked it)
  • Favorite non-fiction book I read in 2021 – Black Journalists, White Media by Pamela Newkirk (2020 released)
  • Favorite graphic novel of 2021 – The Body Factory by Heloise Chochois
  • Favorite comic book series of 2021 – Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner
  • Favorite video game I played in 2021 – Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  • Favorite wrestling match of 2021 – Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega- AEW Buy In Event
  • Favorite food dish made in 2021 – Alton Brown’s Macaroni and Cheese, but modified with extra sharp white cheddar instead
  • Favorite hike of 2021 – Rattlesnake Lake Trail during the summer
  • Favorite city I never been to before in 2021 – Bellingham, Washington
  • Favorite local development in 2021 – The expansion of the Light Rail in Seattle to the Northgate area
  • Favorite park of 2021 – Ravenna Park
  • Favorite new food snack discovery of 2021 – Japanese import KitKats bars in obscure flavors

There’s more I likely missed. Yet, I think the above sums up my year well. Now, I must join friends online for the final hours of 2021. Stay safe and look forward to 2022!!

Orion T

Snowing up high at 2,726 ft through Snoqualmie Pass

Snoqualmie Pass did not disappoint with snow over the recent Christmas weekend.

This popular Washington State mountainous area was a treat to help make up for a very quiet and otherwise dulled outlook to this holiday season peak. A spontaneous adventure was due, traveling with an old friend who worked in the area. With no New Years plans, ruined by the rising Omicron, I needed this. I never been to the Snoqualmie Pass, therefore it interests me, especially with its famed winter snowfall.

Snoqualmie Pass is a mountain passage in the Cascade Range deep in the Snoqualmie Forest, west of the Snoqualmie Valley, with an elevation of 2,726 ft (831 m). The area is named after the local indigenous Native American tribe, part of the Coast Salish peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Snoqualmie Pass was well-known and utilized by indigenous natives long before U.S settlers set foot in the early 19th century. Over time, the area was planned for a large railroad line expansion, then eventually abandoned.

The Interstate 90 is now the main highway in and out of the area, and 54 miles east of Seattle. The famed Pacific Crest Trail also crosses through the area, a long hiking route that stresses far to the south through California, almost to the Mexico border. The Snoqualmie Pass remains small, but very significant in the Pacific Northwest with a very small population, 311 according to the 2010 U.S. census. The main draw for tourists is now the cluster of four ski areas with resorts stationed throughout: Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central, and Summit East.

After a serene and slow morning drive (about an hour and a half from Seattle), I set foot on some deep and plentiful snow. There was little purpose after, other than to escape the stressful city and explore the snowy landscapes a little, work on a writing project while my driver friend does some skiing. I did some observations of skiing sport and local activity, thinking of future plans to return and gain more from the area. Someday, I would like to partake in the sport of skiing and also do some snowshoe hiking.

Here are some pics, with notes!

This snow is deep and high there, so watch your step! Roughly 3 inches of snow were added overnight. By Monday, 44 inches fell, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation,

The lifts at the Summit at Snoqualmie, early in the morning during a light snowpour. Activity greatly rose around the noontime, for where I was inside sipping on local beer and working on a project.

The view from outside the window. Many large icicles to accompany the weather high of 30 degrees, low of 21 degrees.
Skiing looks difficult, challenging, yet fun. My friend gave me some pointers to think about, regarding balance and momentum.
I will eventually buy some good snowshoes, find some safe hiking terrains, and have some awesome winter wonderland hikes.
No sun in sight that day. The snow coming down was constant, yet not too enduring.
The roads are maintained very well here, but still must be careful and slow when driving through.
That’s me, Traveling Orion!

Well, that’s all for now. But, I will definitely return to the Snoqualmie Pass, hopefully with ski gear!

– Orion T

Some leftover Christmas weekend cheers, with surprise snow

I hope you (yes, you!) had a wonderful, warm, and safe Christmas weekend.

I did, though I would have preferred a more traditional day with many friends and family. The pandemic and rising Omicron variant have put a severe damper on that prospect. Still, thanks to the wonders of modern technology with the video conferencing and cellphones, had a lot of heartwarming talks and goofy discussions of the Matrix Resurrections movie (mini-review at the end).

Through the day of Christmas Eve, I went on a small road trip to the Snoqualmie Pass in the mid Washington State mountain region. The snowpack did not disappoint, with about 11 inches fallen in that last 72 hours. I have never been there before, as I wanted at least one small adventure for this Holiday season. So I enjoyed my time, and will write more on it soon.

On Christmas, I spent much of the day alone in my apartment with my cat, Smokey, who was extra cuddly that day. Some friends online could not visit their families that day, citing a lack of vaccination at the dinner tables. So for much of the day, we spent smiling, chatting, updated on our lives though our webcams and microphones. With that exchanging fun video bits from YouTube, and played some Jackbox.tv games online (Quiplash, Drawful 2).

And, I got to share this hilarious comedy sketch from the BBC of a Nativity production gone horribly wrong. Lots of fun, and very clever near the end.

And then the next day, we got Snowpacalypse in Seattle 2, Holiday Boogaloo!!! Lots of snowfall happened overnight and through the day. Of course, I took a long walk. This time, to somewhere different and visual stunning. I have many pictures, of which I will sort out later and share soon. The location, I will keep hidden for now.

Here are some snow pics in the meantime, from Seattle downtown and somewhere in the north of Seattle.

That’s all for now. Stay warm, safe, and cheerful out there!

– Orion T

Bonus movie review: Matrix Resurrections is a reminder that truly creative work owes us nothing, leaving more room for appreciation to be given. I had a lot more typed about that, but then it ‘s more than what I wrote above. Maybe, I will share more on this later. It’s still a great movie for it’s meta-humor, original themes reexplored, and multi-layered relationships. But, the viewer needs to free their mind of what to expect or want, and what may not be given.

When every leaf is a flower…

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Albert Camus – French philosopher, author, journalist, 1957 Nobel Prize winner.

You may notice these “flowers” with their varied sizes and colors, falling to the ground now, especially if you live to the far north in areas of high tree density. This is the best time to look down, admire the scatters, see massive landscapes covered. Some remain on their branches, each telling their own story, waiting for the cycle to end, so others may eventually begin.

Here are some pictures of some select leaves in various states, ready to move on as this season brings beautiful change.

Orion T

The twisted resilience of enduring remains

Nature often plays with our imagination, leading our wandering minds to double take and circle around, checking to both look closer at details an observe the widest landscape. We notice the natural developments of trees, bushes, rocks presenting the beauty of patience, giving a long story to how its ecosystem builds itself, coexists until practical use comes to an end, then very slowly comes apart.

And even them remains stories in the shapes of old, long after life, passing on its place for some new telling. So goes forth, what you make of the enduring remains, leading to new inspirations. And like much of what I have written on this twisted resilience, is not exactly clear yet.

– Orion T

The above pictures are from a recent hike at Whatcom Falls Park, near Bellingham, Washington. Highly recommended for casual hikers and satisfyingly short-term wanderlust.

Living the hottest day in Seattle

108 F degrees happened in Seattle today, breaking an all-time record for hottest day in this city. Portland also broke its all-time heat record at 115 F degrees. This heat wave in the Pacific Northwest is excessive!

Yet, I kept myself cool for most of the day. I went out for a few errands around noon, finding that lemonade was a sold-out commodity in the downtown area. No lemonade seen on any shelves of some local stores I checked, nor at any Starbucks or popular eating areas (or, so I was told by a few local venders). I was craving lemonade, and settled on just making my own later.

For the rest of the day, I stayed indoors blocking out the sunlight through all my windows, and keep my oscillating fan on setting 3 and very loud. I devoured four popsicles.

I hope everyone else stuck with this weather made it through, maybe found a fun way to keep cool. I think today is the height of the rough weather, and hope we can back to usual unpredictable mix of clouds and sun at 70-85 F soon.

– Orion T

The above is picture is of Westlake Avenue, through the top of an clear sippy cup of iced water.

Looking closer and closer, at life

Waiting for the bus, I looked to some large dandelions nearby.

And then. I decided to have a little fun with the macro settings on my camera phone. Most impressive, and revealing!!

I will have more fun with this, again and again for random days ahead.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

Working, listening, thinking to some chill, lo-fi rhythms

I work at home during this strange pandemic now.

That includes some freelance projects for clients, mostly involved with digital media management. That routine can be stressful sometimes. The work I do takes a lot of focus and dedication to nor waste time getting stuck or distracted. So, I put on my headphones to block the outside world. Then, I have the Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud, with the seemingly infinite plethora of musical access possibilities of the Internet.

Then, I have a mode that demands more focus and relaxation, to progress further through a mind that needs proper, encouraging flow. I feed that with some good music, and daily goals will be met. So many discoveries I look to now, some eventually bookmarked, favorited, playlisted, and noted.

With that in mind, I find a lot of chill beats more on YouTube now. Many are described as lo-fi, a term that I think will grow further in this new decade of growing anxiety.

This one above has been the most popular, helping to start this new trend of relaxing mixes with looping pictures…

I also get recommendations from friends, or stumble upon them in live streams or suggested by algorithm. If you have some, feel free to add in the comments!

In the meantime, back to productivity!

Orion T

On a side note, i wrote an article for another site (strangerworlds.com) featuring more relaxing and loFi mixes and soundtracks to popular Nintendo games across all generations. Do give it a chance, or listen to this awesome Legend of Zelda series one that is a saved favorite of mine now. Enjoy!

The simple life of the Black Oystercatcher

Haematopus bachmani, aka the Black Oystercatcher doesn’t really catch oysters. It’s catches mussels, limpets, barnacles, and various shellfish, all do well for their natural diet.

The Black Oystercatcher loves rocky shorelines, and often seen along the North American Pacific Coast. They don’t like human development or high industrialization where pollution and disturbances to their nesting areas disrupt their delicate existence. 

I took the above picture a few months ago from the Seattle Aquarium, which this little bit of info from its seattleaquarium.org site:

Oystercatchers nest and spend winters in the same basic area. They’re monogamous—the same two birds will return to the nest they create together, season after season. They make nests near rocky tidal areas where food abounds. By flipping their bills sideways and backwards, the birds toss rock flakes, pebbles and shell fragments to create a nest that resembles a bowl. Each pair will raise a clutch of eggs (one to three eggs) at a time. If anything happens to a clutch, pairs will raise two or more clutches until they have a successful brood.”

Black Oystercatchers are often very noisy, for reasons I could not uncover. Those noises are a little silly and cute, different from other avians. I love them for that…

That’s why I am sharing this joy of nature now. Maybe this will cheer you and others in this long, difficult pandemic time, for at least a moment. Then, feel free to make a little silly noise of your own.

Orion T

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Visit the Post Office before Mother’s Day

I have two reminders to all, as this week closes…

This Sunday, May the 10th, is Mother’s Day. A wonderful day that we pay homage and respect to all the maternal bonds in our mothers, whether they are related, adoptive, single, step, or just taking on the role of such.

It’s best to give a small gift traditionally. Flowers are lovely, or maybe a cookbook. But as necessary is also the card. One that says Happy Mother’s Day or something close to it works well.

But now, so many stores and gift spots are closed, sadly because of this ongoing pandemic. Choices for cards may be somewhat limited. This observation brings on my second reminder, to check you local post office. Many, like the Seattle downtown office in the above picture, has a quaint selection of Mother’s Day cards.

The United States Post Office system overall has been struck by this pandemic, especially with the large decrease in many businesses relying upon them every day. Many remain open, even though they face danger from infections as well. Still, many clerks would love to see their local people, perhaps in support and a reminder that their service is valuable.

Many post office locations have cool gifts, including stamps. Many also have cards for many occasions. I would recommend checking your nearest one for a good Mother’s Day card to send. It might be too late to mail timely for this Sunday, but that’s where adding a gift can help. Then a phone call Sunday, to the Mum, will be your chance to apologize for any lateness.

So, those are my two reminders as we carry this ongoing bizarre May month living. Take care and be safe in your plans, and don’t forget the important things.

Hey look, I’m a Star Wars!

Oh, Marge!

Anyway, Happy Star Wars Day, even though it will over by the time you read this…

Yet, the many of us don’t stop really enjoying and appreciating those Star Wars.

Star Wars is with us forever. What a silly thing this science fiction franchise does for us! So many among love the characters, get deep into its expansive lore, praise, or groan emotionally at creative turns through the years across all mediums. And how remarkable and surprising was that Star Wars: Clone Wars finale? 10 out of 10 lightsabers up for me!

What is it about Star Wars appeals to so many beyond its initial groundbreaking movies from decades ago? There’s a huge plethora of cool creatures, spaceships, robots, action with laser swords and laser pistols. There’s weird space politics, mystical religions, various cultures, and lifestyles that keep growing with the many more movies, games, serials, books, whatever else.

I believe it’s the binding and bonds between established characters. There are ongoing themes about friendships, family, rivalries, comradery, and the sense that we are all connected no matter how far apart in planets we are. You can be a farmer, a robot, a princess, a bounty hunter, a soldier, a wizard, a princess, a knight. Somehow, there’s a possible connection in the universe for anyone to partake. Then go on an adventure, discover something about yourself or others, check out an environment opposite of your familiar zones, get the rush of an exciting and very high stakes battle. From all, gain something new for surviving the experience. Star Wars is just a fascinating thing that happens through its pop culture that will never end as long as humanity enjoys the escapism that science fiction brings us together.

May the Force be with you, always!

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

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