There’s a real dichotomy here, with downtown Seattle pretty much back to normal — streets and sidewalks clear, grass visible — and the hillier neighborhoods like mine and Capitol Hill, which are still a mess.
The pic below is of my friend Louise’s cabin, near Alpental — ski country — about an hour into the Cascade Mountains from downtown Seattle. Area ski lovers are in heaven, with feet and feet of new powder. Lots to shovel, though, to get into your cabin.
All of that said, we’re returning to normal. Busses are running again; I rode one downtown on Wednesday to get my hair cut and colored — no more white roots. Late Wednesday afternoon my held mail was finally delivered — although I have a couple of Amazon packages still on weather delay because of lingering weather conditions. On Thursday Seattle Schools reopened, although on a two hour delay. Louise and I met for breakfast at our favorite neighborhood spot. I drove to Belltown and parked instead of walking as I usually would. Queen Anne hill is open, but there are still icy patches on the steep sidewalks.
I still have too much snow in my front and back yards for the mapaches to have returned to dig up my sod.
I’ve adjusted back to Pacific Northwest time zone but not to the chillier temps — although we’re in the high 30’s, which is hardly that cold. Panama was 90 degrees, and only a tad cooler at night. That’s a big temperature swing. I had to put a sweatshirt on in the house, even though my heat is set to its normal 68 degrees and I’m usually quite comfortable with that.
I’ve started to sort out my tax information, and I activated the new credit card that arrived while I was gone. I’ve handed out the small gifts I brought back, all but two.
Largely back in my routine, I’d say. 🙂
Schools are closed again on Tuesday — not surprising, as the side streets are in no shape to accommodate busses. The city bus schedule is on “emergency”; I have no idea what that means. The schedule is showing major delays along the routes, and busses still can’t get up and down Queen Anne hill, which remains closed.
Temperatures are just above freezing, which means we’re getting melting and then freezing again of the deep slush on side roads. Makes driving bumpy and treacherous.
My “held mail” still hasn’t shown up, although I’m sure it’s somewhere in the USPS system awaiting requested delivery. Not a big deal, except that at this time of year there are tax forms and such that I need. Mostly my snail mail is advertising and other junk.
Sunday and the challenge of getting home was an adventure. Monday it snowed those big, pillowy flakes that are quite beautiful and which pile up pretty quickly. I shoveled my steps a couple of times, hoping for the arrival of the mail. By Tuesday my feeling is “OK, enough already.” I have things to catch up on that require driving, and some of the steeper roads are still closed. I can get my car out and so far the Subaru has done well in the snow, slush, and ice. But getting where I need to go requires a lot of creative picking of routes. And getting up my street, with its deep slushy ruts, is really a challenge.
We need a week of good February thaw to get rid of all of this, but so far that is not on the weather forecast. Nor is a heavy duty snowplow to push aside the slop.
The raccoons are still holed up. I wonder if grubs that have frozen and then thawed are as tasty. 🙂
In Rochester, the pickup below is the kind of thing we’d have hired to plow our driveway. The City of Rochester put huge plows on the front of heavy dump trucks, and a fleet of trucks went up and down the main and side streets day and night until traffic could move safely — often within 24 hours of a huge storm, much larger than what we have. If the trucks ran out of space to pile the snow at the end of the street, they’d load it in the back and dump it in the Genesee River. That way, we avoided having huge lakes of melted slush at the street corners as temperatures warmed.
The City of Seattle is trying to clear the side streets with a small number of trucks like this. In fact, this is the only plow I’ve seen since returning to Seattle on Sunday — this one attempting to create a path for busses to the neighborhood middle school. Seattle schools are closed Monday and likely Tuesday as well, and perhaps farther on into the week. The main streets are pretty clear, at least the flat ones, but the side streets aren’t even remotely passable by school busses. A truck this size simply isn’t powered enough to move large amounts of snow in any kind of hurry. I think this guy is probably working very hard, but it’s a bit like trying to empty Green Lake with a tablespoon.
The we-don’t-get-any-snow-to-speak-of Seattle is overwhelmed right now with a series of snowstorms that are supposed to continue on and off through the week. We still don’t have anything like the huge snow dumps that upstate New York gets, but we don’t have anything like their snow removal equipment either. I’m about three blocks from the main drag on Queen Anne, and while that street is relatively clear, the streets leading to my house and in front of my house are not touched by plows. With melting and freezing and more snow coming for the foreseeable future, the ruts get pretty deep.
One good thing: the snow is deep enough that my mapaches, raccoons, are nowhere to be seen. They are holed up, presumably, trying to survive and not digging through the snow to roll up my now-frozen sod looking for grubs.
In Panama we had a different critter problem. There were three iguanas around the yard — they are apparently territorial — and one chose a particular spot on the concrete surrounding our pool as a place to dump a pile of poop. The daily dump was annoying, but whoever saw it first grabbed paper toweling and disinfectant spray and just cleaned it up. There are a series of villas adjacent to ours, and apparently the daily dump happened at other pools as well. Surprising how much poop three iguanas can generate. One of the other renters complained loudly and demanded of the gardeners that something be done. Iguanas are protected in Panama; they can no longer be killed for food or as a nuisance.
So much for that. One of the gardeners went after the thing with a machete, and no more iguana — and no more poop for the remainder of the time we were there. I hope at least he took the critter home and ate it. Iguana legs are quite tasty, and no, they don’t taste like chicken. They taste lizard-y.
Gloria said that if the authorities find out, the gardener will be fined. I asked her exactly who was going to tell on the guy, and she laughed. “Tienes razon, Tia Pamela.”
I know that Trapper Jon has to observe the civil rights of my raccoons, per Seattle law. But if I had the Panama gardener here for a couple of days, I have no doubt my mapache problem would be over and done. 🙂
This post is for friend and regular reader Phyllis, who shared my pilgrimage to Flannery O’Connor’s homestead in Milledgeville, Georgia, where we met descendants of two of Flannery’s beloved peacocks.
The Seattle Art Museum, which has a so-so standing collection but brings in spectacular traveling shows, is hosting an exhibit called Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India — 15th century artworks beautifully preserved an on exhibit in India at the vast Mehrangarh Fort. If you saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I think this is the same Jaipur where the hapless crew of old Brits arrive to live out their days in decrepit former luxury. We asked a docent if that was so, and she said no — but after looking at a map of India, I think the docent is wrong. I think historical Jodhpur is now Jaipur.
Louise was struck by the gilded luxury of the rich in India, set against massive poverty then and now — but I think that’s true of a lot of countries, our own included.
That inlaid mosaic swing is made of stone, which must make it very heavy.
I liked the elephant best. When I was a kid, five or six, there was a program on TV about an Indian boy who had his own small elephant, and I was deeply smitten. I remember making the case to my parents why our garage would have made a suitable home for my own miniature live elephant — to no avail of course. Nor did I appreciate what wintering over in frigid New Jersey would have meant to an elephant of any size.
This is a painting of a peacock, not the real thing. They are beautiful creatures, but they have a blood-curdling screech. Flannery had 60 or more. I was quite bowled over by the sound of two.
There’s a company in Seattle that gathers up imperfect produce, food that is safe and nourishing and fresh but which falls outside the standards that most grocery stores will sell. The fruits or vegetables might be too large or too small, too misshapen, off color — things like that. Take a look at a row of tomatoes next time you go to the grocery store, and notice how uniform they are. Anything that falls outside of that uniform standard either gets donated, discarded — or winds up with Imperfect Produce and sold at a discount to adventuresome cooks.
Sara did this for awhile, and liked it, but stopped because of her travel schedule and the need to cancel her weekly box too often. My friend Nicki does it now. I don’t, because in a weekly box I’m apt to get things I don’t know how to cook and don’t really eat — things like chard or kale. I think you can control somewhat the contents of the box, but not entirely. I feel as if I’d waste a lot of things while pondering what to do with them. But I like the concept.
I was at Nicki and John’s for dinner on Saturday night, and Nicki showed me this giant sweet potato. You see what I mean by “larger than usual.” 🙂
We’re actually having a pretty good winter, without too much rain. I went for an early morning walk on Saturday, and was happy to see Rainier out. And, the view of the Olympic Mountains in sunlight was quite pretty. That snow will stick around until well into the spring, even as the weather warms up at lower altitudes. The city of Seattle is between the Olympic mountain range and the Cascades, where Matt and family went to play in the snow.
New Year’s day here in Seattle was cold, right around 32 degrees, but sunny. Seems as if half the city was at Green Lake. They have a polar swim there, but I missed it this year. I think the hardy souls dive in rather early, around 9am.
There were adult walkers, little kids on shiny new red bikes with training wheels, slightly older kids on scooters, a few adult bikers, dog walkers, people with walking sticks or canes, and elderly people bundled in blankets being pushed by gray haired relatives. There were joggers and runners and people on in-line skates. Seattle is a dog city, so there were lots of those, all on leashes. Puppies were being coaxed, then pulled, then dragged in something of a forward motion. Eager young dogs lurched and barked at similar energetic dogs, gaming to become head of the pack. A few squirrel chasers practically tore their owners’ arms out of their sockets lunging toward trees. Older dogs ambled pleasantly along, ignoring any distractions. Some people held cups of coffee — the vendor stays open all year. I walk fast; as I passed by others, I heard English, Spanish, French, and Russian I think.
A young man sitting on a bench had a sign saying “I desire a conversation. Will you stop and talk with me?” Someone had.
I notice different things at different times of year. Now, I notice reflections on the water.