Getting to Know Seattle: Pumpkins in Fall

I’ve said I have a hard time letting go of summer, and I do — although I have nothing to complain about. Seattle has been having a gorgeous September.

But signs of things I do like about fall, like pumpkins, are starting to appear. 🙂

I haven’t had pumpkins for the last eight years I’ve lived in Seattle, because it didn’t make much sense to me to drag one to the balcony of a high rise. But I plan to have them this year — with Archie and Else’s help of course.

Losing Anthony Bourdain

I think it’s humbling to realize that we never really know what is going on inside another human being. On the face of it, Anthony Bourdain would seem to have had everything: good looks, enormous creative talent, wealth, an entire world to explore for his popular CNN travel show Parts Unknown. The final episodes of that program will begin airing on Sunday evening, with Kamau Bell as guest host. Bourdain was in the process of filming the season when he took his life.

I don’t know a lot about suicide. I suspect that suicide in the young often may be a matter of despair that peaks but can subside again, and that when the young person can be dissuaded, further attempts might be forestalled. I think suicide, assisted dying,  in the terminally ill is perfectly logical. I suspect that suicide in a person of Bourdain’s age is the culmination of a lot, and that following through on the impulse to end one’s life is considered and intentional and hard to reverse. There’s such a thing as suicidal attempts masked as a cry for help — the person tries, but in a way that he or she is likely to be discovered. I sense that Bourdain’s death wasn’t that. He wanted to die. He was surrounded by people in whom he might have confided his dark thoughts and who might have helped him hold off. That didn’t happen. He died.

I liked Bourdain’s show, his easy manner with a variety of people and the number of places he was willing to go and the sometimes bizarre culinary things he eagerly tried. He seemed like a person with a zest for life, and more chances to add richness to his days than many of us. He looked like he was having a wonderful time.

I’m probably not the only viewer who had fallen into the trap of thinking we knew him. I suspect that even with foreknowledge of his death, I’m going to watch right up until the last episode and see him as a man living at the peak of his game.

Getting to Know Seattle: The Mountain is Out

Upstate New York isn’t particularly flat, especially in the Finger Lakes region and in the Adirondacks. But my former home town of Rochester was flat, and there were no mountains to be seen from our San Gabriel Drive home. That left me a bit perplexed when I moved to Seattle and I’d hear people say on a nice day, “Oh, the mountain is out.” “The mountain” of course meant Mount Rainier, and here she is in all her glory on a beautiful fall day.

Look to the right third of the pic, with the peak rising out of the clouds.

Amazon Take Your Parents to Work Day

Take yourParents to Work Day was quite fun, although I only attended late afternoon. First I met up with Sara at the plaza in front of her building, where the AmazonGo store is located. This was her first time exploring the store too, so we were figuring out how it works simultaneously. We each used an app on our phones to enter — you have to have the app to go in, can’t go in as guest on someone else’s app. I carried the free orange Amazon bag for our purchases, Sara picked chips and salsa off the shelf [we were bringing some snacks to her team], put them in my bag, and I carried the bag through the exit.

We both assumed the items would show up on my credit card, but they appeared on Sara’s. That means the price scan happens at the point of pickup, not as you go through the exit. Sara and I were standing side by side and we both had our phones logged in when she picked the items off the shelf, so I have no idea how the scanner knew it was she and not me. She doesn’t work on this project, so she doesn’t either. Fascinating.

Right now AmazonGo is only in Seattle. The stores carry a variety of fresh items like fruit and yogurt and sandwiches and snacks, ready made meals that just need warming up, and drinks. The offerings looked very appealing, although we were headed other places and didn’t want to carry much. I think this will be a big success, and then you can go and try it out and let me know if you can figure out how they know who takes an item off the shelf.

Then we went upstairs to meet her team, which was having a party to celebrate visiting parents, and I had half a margarita. 🙂 We added our chips and salsa to the mix.

We ended up at the new Spheres, a glass building with a tropical rainforest inside, a snack and coffee shop — and a trendy bar on the ground floor open to the street and the public. The Spheres is intended as an alternative work space, and it was quite remarkable.

The trendy bar was too packed for us to get in, so we headed back toward her car and nipped into happy hour at a restaurant near her building. I had two small plates for dinner — she was on her way home to have dinner with Ben — and she and I both had a glass of wine. This easy availability for good things that come up is the best part of Klainer West. 🙂

Phyllis and Art Still OK in South Carolina, I Think

Friends Phyllis and Art live near Myrtle Beach, and they’ve chosen to weather the storm in place. Phyllis said in a Comment earlier in the week that waiting on the hurricane was like being stalked by a turtle — an observation she saw on Facebook. Great image! Now the lumbering beast has arrived. I heard from them early on Friday, and they still had power. I reached out later in the day, and haven’t gotten a response. That might mean Phyllis hasn’t checked email — or, they could be in darkness and without internet. Hoping to hear on Saturday.

Seattle Storm: 2018 WNBA Champions

Seattle’s WNBA women’s professional basketball team, the Storm, won the championship in 2010, the year that I moved here. They lost their mojo pretty quickly, and have had several dismal seasons in a row. Finally, this year, they are back. They swept the championship series against the Washington Mystics, and are the 2018 WNBA champions.

Go Storm!

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Somewhat heretically for a Seattle resident, I’m not a fan of Starbucks coffee. I think it tastes burnt. But I do like their pumpkin spice latte, which came to their coffee shops right before Labor Day.

What’s in pumpkin spice that evokes fall colors, crisp temperatures, and Halloween?

Not pumpkin. There is no pumpkin in pumpkin spice. According to the New York Times Morning Briefing, pumpkin spice was originally marketed in the 1950’s by McCormick as a way to add flavor to home made pumpkin pie. The spice mixture includes ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Other variations may add clove, cardamom, and mace.

If you like the smell of pumpkin spice but are not a fan of pumpkin pie or Starbucks coffee, you can now get pumpkin spice kale chips, beer, cereal — even pumpkin spice dog treats.

What about you? What’s your favorite fall coffee drink, or your favorite pumpkin spice treat?

And does anyone out there make pumpkin pie from scratch any more? 🙂

Getting to Know Seattle: The London Plane

Seattle, as I’ve written about many times, is a food lover’s delight. Occidental Square, which is in the Pioneer Square section of the city south of downtown, is a bit of a hike for me now that I live on Queen Anne. But it’s near the ferry terminal where friend Julie came over from Bainbridge Island to meet me for breakfast. Voila, I was able to take the bus — although I walked home. An 8:30am breakfast date would have required me to allow 70 minutes on foot for the trip, and I just wasn’t ready to set out that early.

The London Plane was eminently worth the effort, and not just because Julie and I had a rich and deep conversation. The London Plane is a bakery whose fresh bread is to die for, a wine bar later in the day, and a restaurant with a small but unique menu. I had baked eggs, which came with fresh baked plane bread, tomatillo sauce, harissa, and urfa yogurt. Don’t ask me what those things are, I just ate them — and I’m reading off the menu online to say what they were. The combination of flavors was delicious. Julie had a fresh baked biscuit with butter and home made jam, and as she shared her biscuit, I shared my bread. Honestly, I’d go there any time of day for coffee and a biscuit or bread. Nothing more needed — although the “more” was in both our cases totally great.

I got so involved with the food I forgot to take a pic, but here’s the place.

And here’s the link; they have pic of those baked eggs under “Menus”.

None of this is ever stuff I’d make at home, and when I have a breakfast like this out — healthy, delicious, so different from what I usually eat — I wonder why I eat at home at all. 🙂 The only thing I make as well as a restaurant is Peet’s coffee, and when you begin with Peet’s and a functioning coffee maker, it’s hard to go wrong. Baked eggs with all those accompaniments? Not a chance.