scribbles tagged ‘Seattle’

Laundry ship set to sail

Sunday, February 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,  |

Laundry ShipAnother stormy weekend chez Wendy House.

A temporary break in the flood production system. No rain this morning.

Laundry to be washed and dried. No modern tumble-drier accessories. My laundry its catching some rare sun rays in the Wendy House wind-swept garden.

Extra ballast had been added to the ‘airer’ to prevent it attempting a take-off garden tour. Bricks.

The ships that carried lumber from Seattle to San Francisco, to build the beautiful houses there, carried stone back to Seattle as ballast to weight the ships appropriately on the return journey. The stone was used to build many of the Historic buildings in the Pioneer square area of Seattle. Awesome.

Sampo stretchSampo is staying in.

The RSPCA has warned that cats are likely to take-off in these strong winds. Despite her own substantial personal ballast, Sampo’s a cautious cat.

Sampo’s not risking any unplanned flights.


Laundry ship set to sail
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endings and beginnings

Monday, March 21st, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

The Pacific North West, and Florence, two of the worlds most beautiful places. Death Cab for Cutie came from a town in the Pacific North West and named themselves after a Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band song. So many good connections, there are more….

Death cab for Cutie sang Meet me at the equinox

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mountain mary

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

wendy: i think I must be lonely

mary: rubbish, you are the least lonely person that I know, you just spend a lot of your time on your own

We met several months before.  We both started a ‘mountain glacier hiking’ course.  At 60 Mary was the oldest person on the course. She had not signed up as part of a couple nor was she treating the course as a mate-finding opportunity.   How refreshing. I soon started to seek-out Mary’s company while hiking and during the rest breaks.  I quickly tired of the chattering from other hikers, normally affluent couples considering what gear to purchase, what restaurant to recommend.

At 60 Mary’s love for her terminally-ill bed-ridden husband was not stated, but it beamed stronger than a lighthouse.  She recorded our hiking sessions, the beautiful scenery and laughter,  for him with her new digital camera.  He could feel part of an active interesting life because she sought this life out and carefully bought it back to his bedside with love. What a fabulously generous heart.

I fell in love with Mary. Not the love that hungers for sexual validation. Not a love that needed to be returned.  There was deep peace in her company. Knowing this I invited myself to her home in the foothills of Mount Ranier. The home she had built with her husband before his death so noticibly stepped towards him.

wendy: can I help you gather the leaves from your garden?

Mary: yesthey  will fall as fast as you’ll be able to gather them

After a morning gardening, mostly in silence, we went inside and Mary finished the home made french onion soup.  She talked while she stirred. Talked of how her father raped her and how the authorities didnt believe her story. Talked of how her sister committed suicide. How she left her bilogical family and built her own new family.  How she worked to help abused children and beaten wives. Clearly she has known and seen more loneliness than I could feel.

The cedar dappled autumn sun played on her face.  No tears, no frown lines.

It seems we have both found some form of peace amidst life, in the silences

mountain mary
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hockey induction

Friday, April 11th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

not just ordinary hockey.   hockey on ice,   in the NW US hockey on ice is ordinary hockey.

Audiences at hockey matches bear more resemblance to (real) football audiences throwing insults at players and referees,   there were some entertaining insults thrown around at the match between the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Tri-Cities Americans.   Mostly aimed at a Tri-Cities player with the family name ‘Yellow Horn’ on his shirt.  

Tri cities covers three cities,   Richland, Kennewick and Pasco.   Near Hanford,   Hanford was the nuclear power generator for the Manthatten project,   the first full-scale plutonium producing reactor in the world.

One Seattle Thunderbirds supporter called out:    Yellow Horn,   do you glow in the dark?

One of the highlights was when my companions explained that the orange rubber-pucks that you could purchase on the way into the ground are for throwing into the sunroof of the car that drives on the ice during the interval.  

Yeah,   you’re pulling my leg right?  

No?   You’re serious,   we buy rubber pucks and throw them into the sunroof of a car on the ice rink?    

And indeed we did just that….        

Thankyou to the cultfigurine and cultfigure for escourting me into the wierd and wonderful world of ice hockey.   Sadly,   Reading doesn’t have  its own Ice Hockey team in the UK league,     When the season starts in the UK,   next September,  I’ll have to catch a direct train then bus to the Basingstoke arena,   looks like they need a little support,  hoorah!.

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BA pilot says…

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

welcome to Sea-At-TULL,  mount rainy-air on the left

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Tuesday, December 4th, 2007 | tags: , , ,  |

According to the world clock on November 9th sunset started  in  Reading UK (16.24hrs) only 16 mins before  Seattle WA  (16.40hrs).   This small difference was noticable.   Winter  feels more announced by the Reading  daylight  in the UK.    Summer days are longer too,   Hoorah!

Snow is not part of the regular winter menu in Reading.   It’s only lightly part of the Seattle diet but they do like to make a fuss about it.   I gather there was some snow recently as this photograph by Jenn suggests.

Now please excuse me while I do some laundry in an Electrolux front-loading washing machine with 700 different settings and the capacity of a large hankerchief….

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selling a garage-load

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007 | tags: , , , ,  |

A multifamily garage sale on the Wendy House street.   I sold stuff that would be unnecessary for living in a smaller UK style Wendy House.   We wisely picked a cold, rainy,  November day for the sale,  advertised on craigslist, expo live,  and with street-signs.   People arrived an hour before the start.    We  made good value sales in the first 2hrs then dropped prices radically to end with effectively shifting  quantity, nearly everything.

Several friends helped make the sale  a fun, pleasant, and effective experience  by displaying stuff attractively,   being nice to the customers and  making sure everyone had tea,  Thai hot soup, and donuts as needed.  

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power, pride & addictions

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 | tags: , , ,  |

The Seattle Federal court building is very impressive in both size and contemporary design.   The architects  NBBJ  provide a  project description of the building on their website.   The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce also provides some statistics and stories about the building.  

Unlike the  Reading Crown court I was:

  • – allowed to take my camera into the building but had to promise  not to take  photographs.
  • – warned about the $100 for my cell-phone ringing in a court room.  
  • – required to produce a photo ID.  
  • – directed to a standalone touch-sensitive display system with terminals on every floor  that provided information about the court cases and the building.

I asked if the Murals and Sculptures in the huge atrium were exceptions to the no-photography rule.   Alas,  they weren’t.     Like the English Crown court the Federal court deals with criminal cases.

Its difficult to estimate the ‘interestingness’ of a case from its title on the  touch sensitive display system:  “The USA vs (person or corporation’s name)”.   I chose a court where I discovered the judge was accepting guilty pleas and setting pre-sentencing requirements such as psychiatric and drugs assessments.     The two  cases I watched  were illegal drug possession (Valium, Zoloft)  by a diabetic in pain because of a kidney disorder who had just lost her job in a pharmacy.   The second case was a violation of a parole requirement  to avoid alcohol by an alcoholic.

A striking design feature of this courtroom was how similar it is to the court-rooms I’ve seen in US films.   There is a central isle through the public gallery to a low gate marking the entrance to  the main court area.   The barrier is purely symbolic,   anyone could step over the low-wall,   gate dividing the court from the public gallery.  The public and the lawyers enter by walking down the isle.   In the UK the door to the public gallery appears to be separate none of the court officials have to walk through the public.   Depending on their status the  accused enters  through the public gallery (not yet  proven guilty of anything) or  wearing  prison gear from a door in the main court area.     Just before the judge entered the room the court clerk banged a gavel three times and called out ‘all rise’.

The Seattle  federal court building has the  declaration of independence decorating a low wall and is reflected (backwards) on the the floor in front of the Court building.   This struck me as curious.   A supersticious person might think that the declaration of independence written backwards was an omen of loss of freedom.    Writing the document on the floor means  that  any one can walk on  it,   placing it on a long low wall is just too tempting for many dogs whos natural inclination  might well be considered disrespectful of National treasure.  

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Wednesday, August 29th, 2007 | tags: , , ,  |

fifty-sixth in a Wednesday-series of posts  detailing the geographical causes of my singleness.

Reason # 56: Downtown

It has been pointed out to me that I am unlikely to meet cool happening cosmipolitan dudes while I do not live Downtown.   Where all the lights are bright.   Downtown.   Even Kevin Turvey recognised the value of going Downtown.

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tower crane activity

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007 | tags: ,  |

cabbie:   there are more cranes in Bellevue than anywhere else on the east coast

Last year experts predicted 60 cranes in the Puget Sound summer.  

“tower crane activity now is similar to the technology building boom of 1999-2000 when we were very busy in the Northwest … but the difference is that today the activity level is pretty intense all across North America, including a lot of high-rise condo construction.”

This summer there is ‘record’ downtown Bellevue city construction.   Inbetween,   in  November, tragically,  one crane fell over.  

Cranes have seasonal behaviours,   either hibernating in the winter or going south to sunnier climes.      

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Freddy Kempf plays Griegs piano concerto

Monday, February 12th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

Saturday night, the Seattle symphony plays at the Benaroya hall.   Freddy Kempf   played Grieg’s piano concerto.   Beautiful.   The fringe from Freddy’s traditional short back and sides danced with his body movements as he pumped the piano.    The piece is familair,   even to untrained ears such as mine, and thoroughly enjoyable.  

I am unable to comment on the following Bruckner symphony #9, I dreampt and dozed through it…  

Before the full orchestra took the stage I sneaked this photograph of the gap between the very grand Piano and the not so grand piano stool.   Between them over the heads of the audience we can see the lead Cellist preparing for the evening.


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Queen Anne’s Tea cup

Thursday, February 8th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

eighteenth in a  royal series of  Thursday posts about taking tiffin with  (black) tea  and milk in the NW USA.

Thursday Tiffin #18: Queen Anne’s TeaCup.

Excellent.  On a snow-ridden Sunday afternoon I drove to Queen Annes and enjoyed a fabulous cup of tea inbetween freezing fingers of air winding thier way around my legs, ears and not-insubstantial nose.  

Wendy:    I’d like a big pot of darjeeling
Server-1: (hesitate)
Wendy:  4 to 6 normal cups?
Server-1: (hesitate) 36 oz?
Server-2: Would this pot be the right size (holding up an ideal size pot)
Wendy: Yes please!
Server-2:  there’s only the one seat available,  we’ll bring it over to you
Wendy: that’s wonderful, could I have a jug of milk too?
Server-2: what type?
Wendy: 2%?
Server-2: Fine, we’ll bring it over to you

The teapot arrived with timer to enable me to judge the brew effectively,  tea-cosey to ensure the tea didn’t get cold, dish to place the removed  strainer of tea-leaves  in,  spoon to stir in my dash of milk.  Excellent attention to detail,  fabulous smooth sympathetic service.    I was impressed.

Unlike the Queen Mary tea rooms the clientelle were varied age and gender.    Hoorah! On this Sunday they looked like students with paper note-books open (no wireless, no laptops).   While mixed gender the men did fit into my stereotype of  effeminate. One sat in my line of sight constantly  played with his gold necklet,   discussed the quality of his manicure with his colleagues and regularly re-adjusted his hair and clothing.   Overheard conversations  from beside me also fitted my stereotype of Americanisms;   I heard phrases like “so,  I  said…. …it was really cool…   …mMMMMmm-Kay…   …I totally agree with you…     ….I have to get me some of that…  ”  

The venue is small maybe seats 12 at most if they are all slim and breath in.    The counter at the back of the shop.  It’s a popular shop,  people are constantly coming and going,   buying loose leaf tea and accessories.  On this snow-ridden January day the shop door opened every 2 or 3 minutes.  Everytime a customer opened the door the fast freezing finger of January snow twisted around my thighs, yanked my ears and tweaked my not insubstantial nose.  It is impossible to relax and fully enjoy your tea when the freezing fingers are regularly poking around, breaking the serene atmosphere that should surround the taking of tea.

recommended for people who are already in the area to drop in and see if there’s a table free for a quick cuppa

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Redmond Park & Ride Bay 1

Sunday, January 21st, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

Bay 1 is popular!   Why?

  1. children arriving and leaving with their skateboards for the nearby park.
  2. there are 377 car parking spaces across the road by the only other bay,   Bay 2.  
  3. frequent, cheap, fast, buses to downtown Seattle.
  4. buses have bicycle carriers (Redmond is rumoured to be the Bicycle capital of the NW USA).
  5. Redmond Library,   Police Station, Courts and shopping facilities are within 3 blocks.
  6. the outrageously innovative, wild, humerous naming strategy used for this Park and Ride.   I fell off my chair laughing.   I’m going to write a poem about it.   Really.   I am.   I AM.  

Bay 1 doesn’t have a  fancy  ‘Robobus’.   It does have an open-fronted   wind-rain shelter painted brightly with pictures that look like a cross-between graffiti and children’s pictures that might be posted on a Fridge.     The quick, cheap, warm, friendly ride on the 545x to downtown Seattle is simply adorable.   It costs less than downtown parking!   The bus drivers are cheerful helpful people.   Wonderful service.

Actually,   I go there  to hang-out at Bay 1.  

I  like  riding on  buses

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Tea in Panama

Thursday, January 18th, 2007 | tags: , , , , ,  |

fifthteenth in a  series of  Thursday posts about taking tiffin with  (black) tea  and milk in the NW USA.

Thursday Tiffin #15 Tea in Panama

Panama:  The Panama canal was a significant engineering achievement sponsored by the Americans and French prior to WW1.   The Panama Hotel dates back to the 1920’s and is based in what has become Seattle’s ‘International’ district.   The Hotel’s Tea rooms provide a pleasant mix between oriental and English tea customs.   The tea was well made, not stewed, plentiful and upon request an appropriate jug of milk was supplied.

Goodnesses:   I had advertised that I would be loitering in this Tea house on a Sunday afternoon at 3pm to 12 or so favourite people.   To my enthusiastic suprize 8 people* turned up to join in.   We were able to arrange to sit around one ‘coffee’ table and share conversation.   This made the afternoon really enjoyable.     The tea prices were reasonable at  $6.00 for a pot of at least 6 cups of tea and some classic (Darjeeling) and interesting (lavendar flavoured) choices.   Yummy,   naturally I finnished off one pot of Darjeeling  all on my own and managed to scrounge cups from friends’ pots!   The Tea house provides free wireless access,   there were groups of people with Tea and Laptops opened on long tables.   The rest rooms were very stylish,   though difficult to spot from the outside,   not labelled.   I accidentally walked into the broom cupboard,   perversely this was actually a highlight for me,   giggling in the broom-cupboard bought back lots of fun memories.   The clientelle looked mainly,   but not solely, Asian and of varied age maybe 20 through to my 43yrs.   Girls and ….boys….   and sometimes it was difficult to guess….


Discomforts:   these were miner,   I feel a bit churlish even mentioning them.  The shiney wood floors and some of the hardwood seats gave the place aslightly cold, uncomfortable edge.   I kept my coat on to stay warm and was lucky enough to find a seat on a soft sofa.

Panama Hotel Tea rooms are  a  good place  for a reasonably priced and brewed hot tea in a relaxing environment conducive to good conversation irrespective of age and gender

* People included:   LaCroix, Raymond, NitwitOddment, Mark, The CultFigurine, the DevilsGulch.   No-one was a post-menopausal woman (not even me!) consequently several people risked taking milk in our tea,   Hoorah!   I even put milk in my Darjeeling….   just a comforting ‘dash’…

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weather event

Friday, January 12th, 2007 | tags: , , ,  |

My voicemail recieved a pre-recorded message from the people that empty my bins: (US = ‘waste disposal service’).  

thier tape recorder phones my tape recorder

The impending ‘weather event’ might interrupt my service.   Not to worry!   They’ll come next week and take twice the rubbish away.   Hooray!   Wonderfully polite and thoughtful.  

‘weather event’?!    Seattle services’ way of saying “snow“, “high winds“,  ‘something  not nice’,   ‘some nastiness’  without causing customers to  panic.    Or, maybe they’re expecting a heat-wave and the bin service people to call in ‘sick’ as they dash to ‘reccuperate’ on the local beaches with their surf boards.   ‘Weather event‘ certainly covers a broad range of possibilities.  

Near me the weather event turned out to be a couple of hours of snow, producing ‘slush’ on the roads, local Seattle drivers aqua-planning or deserting their cars on the roadside.   Some parts of the Seattle region collected over half a foot of snow.   Meanwhile, LooSea didn’t even skid in our local 3 inches.    Here are LooSea’s tracks mixed with evidence of people, cars and bicyles outside the Wendy House… …in the evening slush..

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what do the pyjammas say?

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

There is a trend amongst the young adult girls of Seattle.    I’ve not noticed boys indulging in this fluffy passtime.   The trend is wearing your pyjamma pants  as everyday wear.   What does this dressing choice say?

Possibly it’s a variation on the notion of ‘come to bed eyes’,   ‘come to bed pants’?   Maybe it’s a way of expressing how ‘laid back’ you are “I’m so laid back I didn’t even bother getting dressed this morning“.   Could it be that these girl’s objected to the  storyline of ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and they’re making a point about the fashion industry,   they’re awake in Seattle and not following the store-based clothing classifications.   A wee rebellion against the fashion industry.    Hoorah!  

Here’s a couple of girls sporting the look in a local Coffee House:



The folded arms, ankles-crossed, pony-tails,  multiple uncoordinated colours,  jacket shorter than t-shirt and trainers (US = sneakers) are all optional extra’s but definitely part of the core ‘look’ I see the local girls stylin’ in.   I may have to try this out to get the full  experience of the fashion-rebellious pyjamma’s as outer-wear thing. Like wearing other people’s clothes,  but not quite since I will have to purchase my own Hello Kitty Pyjamma pants.  

I’ll report back on the experience.   Wish me luck 🙂

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Sleepless in Seattle

Monday, December 25th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

Do not read this film review if you are likely to find a one-sided, negative,  critique of this popular cultural icon offensive.   For those interested in reading less offended, more detailed,  analyses of the film this UK website provides some interesting analyses.

Sleepless in Seattle?   Puking in Puget (Sound)

Icky, Icky, ICKY.   It prompted a Wendy tantrum,   small inanimate objects flew,   cats hid.   Evidently this film was extremely popular.   This review is intended to redress the balance of the Wendy-perplexing  popularist view.  

 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁          

 Ratings Explained

I could write pages of analysis on this film.   For your readerly sake and sanity  I’ll constrain myself to 3 points and assume that you are familiar with the film.   There are, unfortunately, too  many more that I could make.

Key characters:

  • Male = Tom Hanks = recently widowed father of one son, Architect
  • Female = Meg Ryan = Magazine writer (? I can’t remember and none of the plot reviews I’ve read reference her job,   after all it can’t be important,   she’s only a woman),   engaged to a rich man

Three points of Analysis:

  1. Role reversal would undermine the social acceptability of the plot.   If a man (rather than Meg Ryan) was investigating a widowed woman (rather than Tom Hanks),   while engaged to another woman, following them,   writing them letters, considering a stronger emotional attachment to the ‘stalked’ woman than thier fiance, lying to their fiance,  how would we value that man?   Is this movie saying that it is okay for women to stalk, lie and be unfaithful?   Is it acceptable for a woman to behaive like this?   Is it acceptable for a man to behaive like this?   I’d argue that irrespective of gender this behavior is unacceptable.   That the film places a woman in this role suggests that the film makers,  and potentially viewers, can accept that a woman if deceptive,   unfaithful,   conniving etc.   I consider this a slander.   That it appears acceptable, through the popularity of the film, is more than disappointing.
  2. Widowhood legitimises male singleness.   Why not divorce?   Divorce is more common than widowhood.   Widowhood gives the Tom Hanks character a ‘he’s a good guy’ status.    Divorce could potentially undermine this status because a substantial proportion of the audience would have first-hand expereince of divorce,   would know that mistakes were made, imperfection is implied,  blame is hidden and not fully understood by outsiders.   Using widowhood was a strong strategic ploy to provide the Tom Hanks character with a  good, clean history that we could trust,   it gains audience sympathy without raisng any questions of potentially realistic imperfections.   He  is portrayed as  unblemished.   Why wasn’t the female put in this ‘above and beyond question’ good person role?   I was disappointed that the Tom Hanks role was placed in a socially unquestionable position while the female role was not.
  3. Humour at the expense of portrayed stereotypes of women.   One of the most offensive scenes involved Tom Hanks,   a male friend and his wife disucssing a so called  “chick movie” (An affair to remember).   The woman describes the plot with emotion and empathy and difficult to understand dialog.   Her husband then explains that the non-understandable description is because the film was a ‘chick movie“.   They then parody her expressiveness  while descibing what can only, pressumably,   be a ‘not-chick movie’,   ‘The Dirty Dozen’.   It is pressumably ok to classify films as ‘chick’ and ‘not-chick’ movies,   it is okay to demean this woman’s inarticulate expression as a ‘chick’ thing,   obviously you can’t expect articulate expression from women,   to top it all she laughs at their woman demeaning humour.   Pressumably because she’s a good sort who understands that to be a woman is to be inartiuclate, over emotional and the butt of Jokes.   What a terrific gal.   I nearly puked.   Some internet searches confirmed my suspicion that this film is considered a ‘chick-flick’ itself.   I guess I’m just not a ‘chick’,   I am very definitely a human being and a female,   just not part of this bizarre patriarchal consipiracy that appears to define women as ditsy, unreliable,    seekers of ‘true’ love, with bundles of humility when they are the targets of derrogatory humour.

After having forced myself to watch all of this film I had to consume 4  pots of Tea before I could let myself loose on an unsuspecting public…. …and even then there was some risk involved…

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Summer summerised: Seattle to NY roadtrip

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 | tags: , ,  |

Summary of  the 3,300 miles drive across 14/50 Northern US States  for 10 days in late August 2006.   This post pulls all the earlier blog posts and adds a few storylines.   Because that’s how a Wendy spends the long winter evenings, reminiscing on her little adventures.   For a visual ride  take  10 minutes to watch a flick-r slide show that gives a feel of the journey.

The journey in blog posts:

  • Adventure pilot:   the reason for the journey is a friend’s home move from the west coast to NY where she’s taken a teaching position in the Bronx.   It’s her truck, filled with her home-accessories (sofa, chairs, tables, crockery, cutlery etc).  
  • Pre-trip plans:   where will we go?   what will we see,   I don’t want to miss anything but I don’t have a clue what’s out there…
  • Idaho Shoot and Stuff it:   the Taxidermy industry is still Alive in the west.
  • Montana Wendy driving:   on the second day I drove for a while.   World traveller took this photograph.   The truck made strange noises,   gave subtle feedback not displayed in dials.   For the rest of the journey I opted out of driving.   World traveller could ‘feel’ and ‘hear’ the truck make judgements about its health based on that sensual understanding that cannot be conveyed easily in words. When and where to sensibly call AAA was an underlying theme of the journey.
  • Basic Truck Maintenance:   duct tape muffles  maddening wing-mirror squeak.
  • Wyoming Buffalo:   the truck nearly runs out of gas late at night in a ‘closed’ Yellowstone park.   Earlier that evening we’d successfully escaped a police tail (not blogged).   Earlier that morning we’d  convinced a different policeman that we didn’t need help.   A truck driven by girls attracts the attention of the police.
  • Wyoming tractors: all over the place,   tractors.   I suspect they are the US equivalent of the British  Yak.
  • South Dakota Wall Drug:   Because its a culturally shared experience, Wall drug has to be visited. Followed by the Corn Palace in Mitchell where we illegally loitered for a while.   Naughty!
  • South Dakota Cowboys:  We saw some, real ones, mainly in trucks pulling their horses behind them.
  • Minnesota mechanic:   he just dove into the engine,   seat in the air,   what a hero, fixed the truck there and then while we hunted-down local pie.
  • Minnesota I90 speed limits:   road signs publish a Maximum and a Minimum.
  • Ohio unshorn teachers: a copy of a teachers behavioural code published in a pie serving Ohio cafe.
  • Ohio Pie Prices: the same cafe showed innovative accounting practices,   the sum is greater than the individual pieces.   The sum is a tad scarey.
  • Pennsylvanian Karaoke: after days of practicing what my pilot called ‘Car-e-oke’ on our last night we raved it up in a small town Karaoke night with friendly locals.
  • Pennsylvanian speeding house:   we were overtaken by a house.
  • Keeping it clean:   categorisation and rating of the tested motel showers (Mining, Cowboy, Trucking, Tourist, Toy).

Then,   not long after completing the journey, the much loved truck died

Bye Bye truck.

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Sunday, December 17th, 2006 | tags: , , , , ,  |

For a  photo-story of the Wendy House, 24hr Power outage, click this picture of my reading a book by candle-power:

The Wendy House was lucky,   only 24 hs without electricity and a gas-fire for warmth.   The Seattle PI reports that more than 1 million Washingston State residents lost power. The all to frequent sound of siren’s passing the Wendy House re-inforced the risks associated with a suddent lack of traditional power sources.   The smell of woodsmoke, prevalent in the air, took on an ominous tone.   Did it  herald a burning home?

Memories of my childhood:  

January 1974,   11yrs old, the UK was suffering from a power crisis.   The Conservative government under Prime Minister Edward Heath introduced a ‘3 day week’ to conserve power.   At that time the UK’s main source of electrical power was the National Coal industry,   electricity from coal.   The country was suffering from extreme inflation.   To try and curtail inflation the government introduced wage-capping.   The Miners were not happy about their wage cap.   The Miners union introduced a ‘work to rule’,   they only followed the detail of the job description nothing above and beyond.   This severely curtailed coal production and reduced the power available to the country.   Unable to negotiate a solution with the Coal Miners representative,   the Union, the government introduced a 3 day week.   Power was only available on 3 consecutive days in a week.

To  an 11yr old this  is exciting and  fun.   4 days a week where the evenings were by candle-light and no hot-water for bathing.   As a family we would play cards by candle-light. It was like camping inside home.    We wore several layers of woolly jumpers and fingerless gloves indoors.   We used a camping gas stove to brew tea and make the occassional hot meal.  

After the Heath Conservative government was replaced by  Harold Wilson’s  Labour government the normal working week returned.   Wilson was a working-class boy who excelled in English the educational system.   A Yorkshire boy,   like Wallace, with a quick wit.   The last great intellectual Prime Minister that lead Britain.   The last true Labour Prime Minister.   With some impressive political thinkers in his cabinet such as  Tony Benn  and my personal favourites Denis Healey and Micheal Foot.

The exploitation of  oil  from the North Sea helped Britain to avoid severe economic disaster,   and assured that Scotland would not gain independence before its natural resources ran out.   That would be approximately…. ….now.   Britain is begining to face a renewed energy crisis and despite a thrashing by Thatcher the National Union of Miners is still a voice at the lobbying table.   The fancy new Labour party, Blair’s government, is being criticised for its lack of long term planning.

In my ‘retirement’ I  want to live in, or below,  a Windmill, to  be self-sufficient then sell extra power back to the country in  an emergent decentralised power system.  

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wooden houses and seattle storms

Thursday, December 14th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

Living in a wooden house is still a novelty.   I grew  up in the security of bricks and mortar.   The only noises from the water hammer in the copper pipes as the heating burst into action on a cold day.   Tonight,  I am experiencing my first storm in Seattle.   I hear the wind growing and the house c-c-c-c-creaks.   The lights flicker-ker-ker-ker.   Will I be plunged into darkness any minute?   Time to find my head-torch.

Federal news radio reports:

A powerful storm socked the Pacific Northwest with heavy rain and wind gusts close to 100 mph Thursday, flooding streets, toppling trees and cutting power to thousands.

More than 150,000 customers lost electricity in Washington and Oregon, utilities reported. Additionally, Washington’s largest utility, Puget Sound Energy, said thousands lacked power

The services are watching for floods,   mudslides,   the massive tree’s falling where they could take-out people or power-lines.    At first I thought the locals were always over-reacted to so-called storms.   Calling a snow-flurry a snow-storm.   Tonight I understand, a little more,  why.   The infrastructure is more vulnerable than in Britain.   The tree’s are bigger.   The cables are often overshadowed by trees.   Vulnerable.    The houses are built on the brow’s of hills for the good views.     When the trees on the hillside fall they  unmesh the topsoils,   enable mudslides.    The ‘trouble-spots’ here  are not necessarily known.   In Britain we know the problems through centuries of documented natural events.   Here, many buildings, roads, and  services (power etc) are relatively new,   less than 10yrs old.   The realistic implications of living with this are only really beginning to dawn on me.

I think the big bad wolf is outside a huffing and a puffing to blow my house down….  

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9 ways to deal with Seattle snow

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

The authorities do not ‘Grit’ or salt the roads in Seattle.   No local government provided roadside grit bins.   I’m told they do provide sand but as far as I can tell it’s not stored at known troublespots.     Apparantly, drivers have to rely on other means to reduce the impact of slippiness.     Here’s a list of strategies I’ve observed in the last 24 hours:

  1. heavy metal:  4 wheel drive SUVs  with chains  and/or studded tyres.   I watched a lady smoking a fag in a   Mall car-park yesterday while a ‘cashiers clerk’ (packs shoppers bags for them) put the chains on her stonking-big SUV.  
  2. cat litter:   several people I know carry bags of cat-litter in their car boot,   just incase they need some traction in an emergency.  
  3. abandon ship: abandon your car here, anywhere,   well perhaps aim at the side of ther oad.  Pressumably  these people get a lift from somone with an SUV.
  4. Mall camp:   drive to the nearest strip-mall with a 24hr store.   There are lots of them.   Park,   then wait for the weather to thaw.
  5. hermit:   stay indoors (popular choice).
  6. truant:   claim being stranded then go skiing (another popular choice).
  7. speed: put your foot on the accelerator to get up that slippy hill  (I kid you not,   I saw several people trying this on slopes).
  8. wiggle:   wiggle the steering-wheel around to try and regain control when in a skid (seriously,   I saw this happen to more than one driver)
  9. attack: get out of your car and kick the tyres (uhu,   you guessed it,   I saw somone do this after having wiggled his steering wheel and spun his tyres)

 Now excuse me for a while,  I’ve got some serious falling over to be getting on with,    outside into the pretty slippy world… …oooOOOOooooo….

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Teatro Zinzanni

Monday, October 2nd, 2006 | tags: , , , ,  |

Teatro Zinzanni, a show called ‘dinner and dreams’.   After a poor start to the evening the performance was colourful and fun,   the food was interesting and tasty.   A very good evening. 🙂 🙂

Ratings explained

Apparantly they were expecting us the week before we turned up.   They didn’t have our reservations.   I had a confrimation number and when I subsequently checked their confirmation email had not cited the day of the performance.   I was sure I’d stated the right night when booking,   they were sure I’d stated a week before my parents arrived.

Mum looked upset,   dad looked anxious, the tent looked dark and sumptuous.

Teatro Zinzanni Bar

I asked if they could fit us in.   They waited until all the expected guests had turned up and then found 3 places for us.   It took the shine off the beginning of the evening.   That they were able to let us see the performance despite this misunderstanding was very much appreciated.   That there was room for this misunderstanding was not good.   Mum and Dad laughed through the evening of bawdy jokes and Vaudevillian sketches.  

Mum really liked the original theatre tent with bevelled glass windows.   Both parents had trouble reading the menu in the very dim candle light or hearing the waiters above the general noise of the tent.   The wine supplied with the meal was outrageously expensive and the corkage fee (if you bring your own wine) was  less, but still,  outrageous ($30).  

Nonetheless, the whole experience of the evening is worth paying for,   once.

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Saturday night’s alright for Gershwin…

Sunday, October 1st, 2006 | tags: , , , ,  |

A thoroughly enjoyable evening. The musical evening was only marred by my  feeling short changed on by the unexplained program  change that effectively downgraded the promised experience   🙂 🙂

Ratings explained

Starting with Desert

Plum, apricot  and ginger pie in Earth and Ocean.   The first 3 desert wines we requested from the menu were not in stock.   After these 3 attempts at ordering  via the waitress the wine waiter came over.    I suggested that he take the trouble to inform the waitresses which of the menu items were unavailable.   Spot the spikiness.   I tried to smile while making this suggestion.   The wine waiter spontaneously offered several reasons for not having the listed wines in stock.   I wasn’t really interested in disruptions to his business processes,   he should tell the waitresses what is not available.   Sensing the depth of passion behind the Wendy Paddington Bear stare the wine waiter recovered ground  by suggesting that he pick on our behalf and charge us the price of our original choice (the cheapest on the list).  

  • Good deal.  
  • We gladly accepted.  
  • Excellent food.  
  • Friendly staff.  
  • Decently small portions.

Seattle symphony selection of Gershwin compositions

The conductor, Rudi Schlegel,  provided a semi-formal  verbal introduction for each piece to compensate for the lack of performance program notes.     He announced that  “I got rythm” had been replaced in the program and the audience simultaneously  groaned.   We were never told why they pulled this obvious audience pleaser.    

We started with a plucky rumba, the Cuban overture, inspired by Gershwin’s stay in Havanna.   Good stuff.   The ‘Porgy and Bess’ symphonic picture appeared to be a patchwork of  sections from different tunes within the Opera of that name.   I prefer being guided gently through a single composition than listening to compilation of musical highlights.   Not my taste.    

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Stewart Goodyear’s interpretation of a Rhapsody in Blue.  Vibrant,   then gentle,   fast then slow,   Stewart’s face and whole body flowing with the music.   Captivating.   I didn’t want it to end.   After 3  applause-prompted  curtain calls  Stewart played an encore.    Twinkling notes of a  soft Embracable you.   After the interval,   the replacement for  “I got rythm’ was a short,   sweet ‘promenade’ performed without Stewart Goodyear.   Urgh.   More like a weak apology than a replacement.

Benaroya Hall

The actual Orchestra on stage are not steeply tiered.   This makes it virtually impossible for the people in the first 8 rows of seating in the stalls to see the brass sections,   percussion,   reeds and Banjo.   Actually we could see the Banjo by twisting our necks to look underneath the Piano. The stalls seats after about row f are steeply staggered,   this enables attendees to see more of the orchestra.   For this reason I’d recommend seats towards the back of the stalls or in the gods.   This photograph is taken from row ‘f’ looking back towards the gods:

Benaroya Hall Circle from Orchestra

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I90 Seattle to New York

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

This summer I’ll be travelling the  I90.   The longest (3,113 miles)  interstate in the USA.    Riding in a  red 1974 Chevrolet truck with AAA coverage.   The major cities we’ll pass through include:

Seattle, Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Missoula, Butte, Bozeman, Billings, Sheridan, Buffalo, Gillette, Deadwood, Rapid City, Wall, Mitchell, Sioux Falls, Austin, Rochester, Madison, Rockford, Chicago, Gary, South Bend, Toledo, Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Schenectady, Albany

Apparantly it has a dangerous 90 degree bend in downtown Cleveland called ‘Dead mans curve’,   exciting!    

Other than  the tent,   sleeping bag sun block and cell-phone charger,   I have no idea what to pack for a road trip across America.   Suggestions?     This probably calls for a road-trip hat-purchase.   To help me think.

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Leyland Olympian

Thursday, July 6th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

I saw a Leyland doubledecker  bus in Seattle.  Whooopie!!!

Instant over-excitement.  

I shouldn’t read the branding on bus-grills while driving.   It’s one of my naughty habits.   I think it was a Leyland “Olympian“.   An Olympian bus with views of the Olympic mountains imported from Britain built by the British National motor  industry with engineering specialism from Bristol.  

I’m getting all soppy again.     Time for more Tea.

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Piehole Panorama

Sunday, June 11th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

Space Needle 11pm June evening

Originally uploaded by :: Wendy ::.

after a couple of beers in good company (LaCroix, Anne, Jen). Just to be clear, its not a Pie and its not a Hole. It is a bit fuzzy…

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sanitary pubic market

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006 | tags: ,  |

Pike Place Market has some suprising merchandise.   I’m glad they’re sanitary.

photograph of Pike Place Market sign
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one way

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006 | tags: , ,  |

the word of Jesus brought to you  from a microphone on a downtown Seattle street corner (Pike & 4th) highlighted by a road sign pointing the one way…

preacher on street corner
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otter bubble trails

Monday, March 13th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

rising after an otter has passedAfter 9 attempts to photograph a pair of delightfully playful otters at Woodland Park Zoo I realised it was impossible, because

  • my finger is slug-slow compared to  an otter
  • otter direction is twisty-unpredictable
  • my 4yr old camera shutter speed is ‘leisurely’

Some of the unintended compositions have unique charms:

I turned-off my camera flash when photographing animals at the Zoo.   Many people didn’t.   There were no signs suggesting camera flashes should be turned off  for the comfort of the animals.

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Jamie Cullum. First night of US tour

Friday, March 3rd, 2006 | tags: ,  |

Summary:   highly recommended because Jamie is a very talented all round entertainer.   Thoroughly enjoyable.   The music was more fun than album reproduction precision,   my favourite trade-off!

They played at the beautiful old  Moore Theatre in Seattle.   Jen and Roth managed to find me in the open seating of ‘the Gods’ despite the dim lighting and my cunning disguise of Ray Ban wrap-around reflective tinted sunglasses!

Moore Stage Before the Matt Herz

The back-up dude, Matt Wertz,  was a loner from Tennessee with an acoustic guitar.   He  perked us up with passionate,   humerous,     ‘folksy’ rock songs and a singalong.   He was a good  compliment and lead-in to  the main band.  

Some things seemed very consistent with this being the first night of a tour,   for example:

  • Sound system failure – at one point Jamie talked to us for about 5 minutes while the technical crew attempted to fix the set-up.   Failure of technical preparation,   very professional Jamie for pulling-off an obvious improvisation with charm.    
  • Missing band member due to unanticipated US Visa processing delays.
  • Jamie’s patter not fully tailored to US audiences.   He used irony.      When his comment didn’t get a laugh he highlighted this and the normally very responses audience were just silent.   I doubt he’ll do that again!    

Before one  intimate song Jamie  suggested people snuggle up to the person next to them if they were

thinking of “getting Jiggy with it

and were”good to go

I’m definitiely getting acclimated.   I didn’t realise these were Americanisms until Jamie pointed them out.

The real fun came from the musical vibrancy and improvisation.     Jamie is very much a performer as well as a musician.   He played the piano with his hands,   buttocks and feet!   Wonderful dramatic effect.    Had me chortling away!     He kicked-over his stool,   he picked it up again, he  climbed on the Piano and jumped off again.   He played standing-up,   he played sitting down.   He played the piano-frame…       It was FUN.  

The songs?   You could hear the lyrics!   They were beautiful.   At the end of one song the band rolled into “Notting Hill Carnival” style music that was amazingly like the real thing.   It was all good clean fun.   I loved it.

Seating in ‘the gods’ was only $15 (UK about 7 pounds!).   It was very cramped and uncomfortable with an extremely poor veiw.   That seem’s about right for $15!

I did  a Cinderella around 11pm….

LooSea was parked on the street about 8 blocks away opposite the Seattle Greyhound bus station in a seedy part of town.   People were sleeping rough on the sidewalks on this cold spring night.   They put my luxurious evening in perspective.

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