Getting to Know Seattle: Live Music at the Triple Door

The Triple Door in Seattle is a live music dinner theater. Louise and I went to hear an Iranian singer named Mamak Khadem as part of the Town Hall arts and lecture series. I know nothing about Iranian music, which was reason enough to go. There are two other musicians as part of her band — a drummer/percussionist and a Kurd playing a traditional instrument whose name I didn’t get. But the photo showing all four didn’t turn out well. I picked this one instead.

Khadem sang pieces from Iran, Syria, Kurdistan, and Azerbaijan — and it was clear from the response of the audience that there were many who knew the music and were likely from those areas. The joy on their faces as the clapped and sang along and ultimately line danced to the music of their homeland was as special as the performance itself.

Getting to Know Seattle: Green Lake in Winter

As regular readers of the blog know, I am a frequent visitor to Green Lake in spring, summer and fall. In winter, I tend to exercise inside. But I did go one recent Sunday mid-afternoon when the rain held off and it was simply cloudy. Darkness falls here around 4:30pm at this time of year; during my walk, at about 3pm, it was already feeling like evening was upon us. There were lots of walkers so it felt quite safe, but this early darkness is our payback for having light until 9:30pm at the summer solstice.

Getting to Know Seattle: Downtown Christmas Lights

The star on the downtown Macy’s department store has been a tradition for more than 50 years. Like most other traditional retail operations Macy’s in Seattle is struggling. Now the store occupies only the two bottom floors; the next four floors are leased to Amazon.

But the Macy’s star still shines, and illuminates the retail core of downtown. I was happy to see it.

Getting to Know Seattle: Thanksgiving Morning

I’m studiously back to getting my 10,000 steps a day, prompted by my seeing how much capacity Minga has lost by not walking for several weeks. In truth her strength has been declining for some time. She used to walk from her home in the village to her daughter Rufina’s and to the nearby church, a distance covered in about 15 minutes at my pace, longer for her. But she can’t do that now, nor walk to her other daughter Mari’s, about the same distance in another direction. Minga can’t come home on public transport anymore because they leave her along the highway, with a walk down the road to her home that she is unable to do.

I chose a walk instead of going to the gym, and was rewarded by seeing Mount Rainier out. A tad more than 5 miles, 107 minutes, and 11,000 steps — a bonus thousand to make up for my on and off exercise while in Panama. 🙂

Getting to Know Seattle: Last of the Fall Colors

I hope you’re not getting tired of our fall colors. I’m not getting tired of finding these lovely palettes when I do get out for a walk, declining in numbers though they are as we move into November.

The march toward the winter solstice is hard for me, as the days are shorter and darker and there is too little sun.  I know that some people find the gloomy weather restful and part of the cycle of nature, but not I. I looked hopefully at the weather forecast for Panama City, as I am headed there mid-month to visit with Minga. Alas, no luck there either. November is the rainiest month of the rainy season in Panama, with an average of 250mm or almost ten inches of rain. The long term weather forecast for the days that I am there show a 90% chance of thunderstorms every day of my planned visit.  Staying dry is not easy, as the drenching rain pretty much overwhelms an umbrella, and a raincoat is simply too hot. I’ll wear quick dry fabrics and use an umbrella anyway and hope for the best.

In the meantime, I delight in finding fall leaves wherever I can. When I stop posting pics like this, you’ll know that in Seattle, our brightly colored leaves are all down.

Getting to Know Seattle: Still Fall Color

We’re getting into Seattle’s really drippy season, so I make a point of being outdoors whenever I can. The week started out nice and I was a little light on my exercise last week, so I set off early in the morning walking to breakfast at the Crumpet Shoppe — ricotta cheese and lemon curd of course, plus two large cups of coffee. I walked from there to Pike Place Market, then to Eileen Fisher on Pine, then walked home. I was enticed by the opening weekend of Beautiful Boy that was playing downtown, so I took the bus back down the hill, saw the film, caught the bus home, and grabbed dinner at Oaxaca on top of Queen Anne hill. All in, I walked 20,213 steps , or just over 9 miles. The rain came on and off — it was a deluge when I got off the bus and ran across Queen Anne Avenue to the restaurant — but during the day I caught some gorgeous lingering fall color.

The colorful bouquets are in Pike Place market.

Flowers at Pike Place all through the winter months.

Happy Halloween 2018!

We’re well into Seattle’s rainy season, and alas, Halloween is rainy. Kids here walk up and down Queen Anne Avenue in costume, where local merchants hand out candy. A few come around in the neighborhoods as well, so this year I stocked up. I chose Jerry’s favorite, KitKat, and my favorite, Almond Joy. 🙂 Pics of the kids tomorrow.

Jerry was extremely disciplined about what he ate — no junk food for him, and lord knows no candy. Halloween was the one time of year he let his guard down. He did all the grocery shopping, and around the 1st of October he’d come home with a couple of bags of bite-sized candy bars, including KitKats. He’d dump them in the “Halloween bowl” ready for the month’s end. Day by day, he’d grab one or two or three, and by the third week in October he’d come home from grocery shopping with new bags,  having needed to replenish our supply and refill the empty bowl. I never said a word, and was actually glad to see him indulge this once in a very great while.


Film Review: Free Solo

I got to the theater showing Beautiful Boy early enough to nip into one of the other films, Free Solo, for the last and most exciting 20 minutes. “Free solo” refers to rock climbers who ply their skill without benefit of ropes or any protective gear. This film is about Alex Honnold’s successful summit of 3000 foot El Capitan, a sheer rock face that takes immense skill and strength to climb even with protective equipment. Honnold climbed El Capitan with nothing more than a bag of chalk hanging from his waist. The climb took him just over four hours.

Honnold is a young guy. There aren’t many free solo rock climbers who live to be old. If they fall, they almost always die. And who does a sport like that for any length of time without ever falling? Two experienced climbers who were using ropes died on El Capitan as recently as June 2018.  The list of climbers who have fallen to their deaths on climbs all around the world, with or without ropes, is long.

Free soloing reminds me of another high risk sport, BASE jumping. BASE jumpers fling themselves off fixed structures like mountains or high buildings or antennae or bridge spans wearing a winged suit, which they maneuver to glide to the ground. An errant wind current, or failure to jump far enough away from the structure, or any error maneuvering in flight can result in the jumper crashing into the side of the structure or hard into the earth below. BASE jumpers don’t live long either.

Apparently the brains of people drawn to these sports don’t register fear in the same way the rest of us do.

The part of Free Solo that I saw, the final leg of the ascent, was thrilling enough to make me want to go back and see the entire film.  I’m not drawn to sports like this. I did some indoor rock climbing in Rochester, with ropes, and know how hard it is. I have no desire to do it outside, much less without protection for my nearly inevitable fall.

That’s just the point, though. Guys like Honnold don’t think about falling, much less the statistical inevitability of it. They think only about the exhilaration of rising, and standing triumphant on top.