Getting to Know Seattle: Smoky August

We actually don’t have wildfires in or near Seattle, but due to some kind of air inversion we do suffer the smoky effects of wildfires in eastern Washington state and British Columbia. Right now our air quality is apparently worse than Beijing, which is saying something. I’m not having respiratory issues, which is great. But our gorgeous Seattle mountain views are entirely obscured.

New Fence

The new fence is in, and I’m very happy with it. I had them put the boards tight to each other so that the blackberry canes and ivy will not come through. Hah! The installers told me that nature will have its way — if the canes can’t wiggle through any narrow spaces, they will come over the top or under the bottom. I’ll just have to stay on it and clip, clip, clip. No one here uses RoundUp or similar — God forbid.

The Orca and Her Baby

The Pacific Northwest orca who pushed her dead baby around for more than two weeks has finally let go and allowed the body to sink into the sea. The orca is feeding and frolicking with her pod, her intense mourning apparently over.

This story touched many of us at a deep level, because loss is a universal experience as a part of this life that we all share. I’m glad the orca did what she needed, kept her dead baby close as long as she had to. And, I’m glad she’s let the baby go and is moving on with her pod.

Getting to Know Seattle: Cloudy Day

Seattle has had a run of gorgeous summer weather: mid-80’s, abundant sun, dry as a bone. The weekend, by contrast, was cooler and cloudy, with short spurts of rain. Starting Monday we’re back on for warmth and sunshine.

When it’s sunny, I feel as if I should be outdoors and active, taking full advantage of the gift of blue sky, gentle winds, and sun. When it’s cloudy, I find things more restful. I’m more apt to curl up with a book, which is what I did Sunday: A Place for Us, by Fatima Farheem Mirza.

How about you? Does your daily activity change depending on the weather? Do you find cloudy days restful now and again, or are you chafing at the bit to be beckoned outdoors?

Bainbridge Ferry

Usually I walk onto the ferry and meet my friend Julie in town for lunch on Bainbridge island, where she and her late husband John have their condo. But the Episcopal church where John’s memorial was held was about 5 miles from the ferry terminal, so Louise and I needed to drive.

My former home town of Rochester tried to get a ferry going between our city and Toronto, but it failed. There was no compelling reason to take the ferry, as opposed to driving. But here in the Pacific Northwest, the ferry is an active part of the commuter system. Lots of people live on Bainbridge and work in Seattle, going back and forth every day. Lots of people from Seattle go over to Bainbridge for recreation. The ferry is especially crowded on summer weekends. The ferry is a 30 minute ride, v. an hour and forty five minutes to drive around via an all-land route. Nobody drives unless you’re going to the Olympic Peninsula for a vacation and need a car.

Getting cars on and off the ferry is a well-oiled process, and as long as you do what the ferry loaders tell you, it’s easy and eminently safe.

This is the view coming out of Bainbridge. You’re really right there, very close to the water.

Bainbridge Ferry: Best View of Seattle

Visitors to Seattle, especially families, often pay quite a bit of money to take a one hour Argosy cruise around Puget Sound: $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $16.50 for kids. You get great views of the city from the harbor. But you don’t have to pay anywhere near that for the great view. All you have to do is book the ferry to Bainbridge and back, $4.25 for adults and $1.00 for seniors if you walk on. If you time the return right, you can see the big cruise ships leaving port to head up to Alaska.

View from On High

When I said that political fund raisers are held in high-end places that everyone wants to see, here is what I’m talking about.

We were actually in the club room of this building, on the 39th floor, rather than in the host’s living space, and it was too hot to be outside on the roof deck which surrounds the club room. Many of these new high rise buildings in Seattle, be they apartment or condo, have smaller living spaces and more expansive shared space, like the roof deck. My old apartment building was similarly designed. I found that even with the gorgeous roof deck, most people who come home from work at night are tired, and choose to relax in their own space. The roof decks, even the ones offering spectacular views like this one, are often sparsely used.


A nice lawn is hard to grow and maintain in Seattle. The winter is too rainy. Summer is hot and dry — bone dry. We once went 91 days over the summer months without a single recordable drop of rain. If you water enough to keep the lawn from going dormant, people give you bad looks for not paying attention to water conservation. No one here uses weed killer or anything similarly noxious; everything is organic. In Rochester my lawn people used everything, and I had a lush, thick, weed-free green lawn. But not here. So far, I’m not too impressed with the results of “organic”. What’s left of my dried out, crunchy yellow grass is filled with burdock, clover, dandelions, and other weeds.

Enter a new option for people with enough disposable income, called “carpet” — aka fake grass. Technological advances have made fake grass much more real looking. The grass is porous, allowing water to soak through. You never have to cut it, treat it, weed it. The fake lawn, which is goes by the euphemism “carpet”, is always green, always at the perfect height.

I totally get why busy two career couples would choose carpet over grass. Looks great, doesn’t it? That black line is a shadow, not a seam. Sara has actually taken a look at it for our house.

I like the way it looks. I would love to give up worrying whether the lawn people are going to come when they are supposed to. I hate burdock. I would love my yard to look consistently perfect.

I just can’t wrap my head around the concept of fake grass.

Getting to Know Seattle: Lazy Days of August

I get quite crabby long about November when it gets dark in the Pacific Northwest at about 4:30pm and it’s chilly and rainy, so I pay particular attention to savoring the long, lazy, hot days of August. It’s still light enough at 9pm to be out on the deck. The very best of local produce is in the markets: sweet juicy peaches, gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn. For the latter, I have to give the nod to Amy’s Aunt Joyce and Uncle Ray — there is nothing like Iowa sweet corn. But Seattle’s might be second in the rankings, followed by my birth state of New Jersey. Jersey is known for its pollution and traffic and refinery smells… but wonder of wonders, it really is the Garden State and they grow great corn and tomatoes and blueberries there.

The summer sky in Seattle is blue. Really, really, really blue. I love it. And as you can see, cruise season is still going strong — this ship in port on a Tuesday, which means it’s likely a 10 day cruise.

Getting to Know Seattle: Gorgeous Summer

We’re having a gorgeous summer in Seattle: warm weather, lots of sunshine and blue skies, and no bugs. This is perfect weather to be outdoors, and Seattle-ites respond accordingly. Green Lake hosted a crew racing competition, club level. I’d gone there over the weekend for a fast walk around the lake — 10,000 steps in all, which is about 4.5miles. I had plenty of time while walking to take in the races, which seemed to offer equal measures of competitiveness and fun. 🙂