Getting to Know Seattle: Walk to the Gym

I went back and forth over the walk-to gym with clean, up-to-date equipment but not much else in terms of spinning classes or pool or anything v. the drive-to chi chi gym with everything. Finally, I chose the walk-to gym. I think it was the right decision. I’m enjoying working out there. I’m easily the oldest person on the floor at the mid-morning time I go, which was not true at the downtown YMCA. From the number of young people there mid-morning, I’d have to guess that a lot of Seattle-ites work from home and can fit in a gym workout as a break from what may be a very early start. The atmosphere on the gym floor is good, respectful. Working in is easy. People smile, and chat. I like the vibe.

The gym is about a ten minute walk from my house, much shorter than the 25 minute walk to the downtown Y from the apartment. Ten minutes still gives me time to notice things, like a veritable army of ants crossing the sidewalk.

There were thousands of ants in this one spot. I’m fascinated, as I shoot the pic, at whatever they are doing, how they do it in tandem, and how indifferent they are to my stepping over them. I’m sure someone who specializes in insect behavior could provide precise answers. They were stretched out from one side of the walk to the other, and clearly on a mission.

Getting to Know Seattle: The Pantry

Seattle has no shortage of extraordinary, innovative places to eat. A new one to me, site of Matt’s 40th birthday party, is The Pantry in the Ballard neighborhood of the city. The Pantry is a small place, with one long table in the center, a fixed menu, and the multiple-course meal is cooked and served right there. I gather The Pantry also offers cooking classes, which sell out as soon as they are posted — I think I heard one server say they offered 45 or more classes each month.

We had enough family and friends gathered to take over the whole place, which was really fun. A server greeted each person arriving with a glass of bubbly, and hot appetizers were passed while we were outdoors on the small patio. I wish I had grabbed a menu. One was a spectacular arancini, another geoduck on a home made potato chip, and a third was some sort of lightly battered fritter. When we sat down there was a delicious salad, a hot veggie course, and then the main: lightly done fresh salmon with pasta in a delightful lemon sauce. Wine pairings as appropriate, liberally poured. The dessert was a coconut creme pudding — it had a fancier name — with liquored fruit and additional toasted coconut on top. Really good coffee.

The whole thing took 3 1/2 hours, as a leisurely and well-enjoyed meal should — this is the antithesis of fast food.

Most of us took an Uber or Lyft there and back, to account for the alcohol. I didn’t have that much to drink — my body can’t tolerate it any more — but I was surely glad to be taken home rather than driving.

Matt’s birthday would have been special in any case, but The Pantry was a real treat. Highly recommend if you find your way to Seattle.


Rochester friend J. sent me sunflower seeds as a housewarming gift. Just an update: there were six seeds, and two started to grow and then withered. The other four are doing great. I’m optimistic. 🙂

Getting to Know Seattle: Too Expensive to Live Here

A second friend has just told me that she and her longtime partner are leaving Seattle because it’s too expensive to live here. K. owns her condo and her partner contributes to expenses, but rising condo fees and unpredictable assessments have made staying there untenable. They are moving to Walla Walla, a college town about four hours southeast of Seattle. Walla Walla is much less expensive, the pace of living is slower, and as a college town, there are a lot of cultural and educational events to make life interesting.

My former hometown of Rochester, NY, was struggling to revitalize a pretty dead downtown after the demise of Kodak and the loss of most of Xerox, Gannett, Bausch and Lomb, French’s Mustard to other iconic companies. Seattle is at the opposite extreme, struggling to control the bad effects of rapid growth: constant traffic, rising prices, and a surge in homelessness.

This wonderful city can’t become a place where only the young, the rich, and the tech-savvy can afford to live.

Getting to Know Seattle: Lilacs and Heat

My gardening friends are invited to weigh in on this, but I’m guessing from observation that lilacs don’t like heat. The lilacs in Sara’s yard have just come into lush bloom, and then we had a couple of 80 degree days — unusual for Seattle at any time of spring or summer. The lilacs, most of them, quickly went from lush to brown.  Ouch! I’m glad she was able to take a few cuttings to put in her new home last weekend, when things were still peak.

Getting to Know Seattle: Chickens

As I’ve said before, chickens are allowed in Seattle neighborhoods, although not roosters. I passed these while out walking, and chatted with their owner who was out front picking weeds. She has a mesh pen and roost for them in her front yard, but she said they prefer to be out of the enclosure. She’s trained them to stay right around her house, on the grass between sidewalk and street. I think chickens have small brains for the size of their bodies, and didn’t think they could be trained. The owner said that if they stray too far, she grabs them up and puts them back in the pen. They don’t like that, so they behave and stay within range. Who knew?

Getting to Know Seattle: Bainbridge Ferry

Louise and I went by ferry to visit friends who’ve moved to a lovely new condo on Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge is quieter than Seattle, has more of a small town feel, and it’s not quite as pricey. I wouldn’t like so much to have to take the ferry back and forth every day, but it’s fun for a visit.

Seniors get an Orca pass that allows us to use any part of the transportation system for a buck — that’s both ways, to Bainbridge and back. Quite the bargain.

You get the best view of downtown Seattle, and without having to sign on to one of the harbor tour boats at a much higher ticket price. Really, can you beat these views?

Who Pays for the Poor?

Amazon and the City of Seattle are engaged in a standoff over who pays for the poor and homeless. The numbers of homeless people throughout our city are huge and growing. We are a prosperous high tech urban hub — in part due to the fact that Amazon is headquartered here — and that drives up the cost of living. Lots of people can’t keep up.

In addition to the proposed 75M tax on larger employers, Seattle is in the courts over a high earner tax that would be applied to individual taxpayers. Both are to address widespread poverty in our city.

This isn’t just a Seattle problem; it ‘s a much larger issue of who pays for people who can’t keep up in a fast moving global economy. That would have included my mother, who competed as best she could in the job market without a high school diploma. Like many casualties of the Depression, she dropped out of high school to go to work to help support her brothers and sisters. It includes people in current time with poor or mismatched skill sets, people with physical and mental health problems, people on the low end of the Bell shaped curve in terms of innate talent and ability. Who is responsible for those left out?

Paul Ryan frames it as a matter of makers v. takers, and says people like me should not have to pay for people who can’t keep up. The Trump/Ryan/McConnell tax cut codifies that philosophy into law, and if the Republicans keep their majority in Congress in November, middle class entitlement “reforms” aka cuts, will be added to the tax cut. People who now rely on Social Security, Social Security disability, Medicare, will be sharply squeezed.

This really is a societal question: “makers v. takers” or “we the people”.

Amazon is resisting the employer tax, and has put on hold the construction of a large new building intended to bring even more jobs here. I have mixed feelings about the high earner tax, but believe that if I want the benefits of living in a high tech and thriving city, I have to kick in for those who can’t keep up.

Time will tell where the majority opinion lies.

The Move: New Blinds

Seattle is on the grey side in the winter, even when it isn’t raining. And, the windows in Sara’s house are large — privacy is an issue, especially at night. Yesterday, the new window coverings I ordered arrived. Lordy, are window coverings expensive. But, once in, they stay. I got over curtains a long time ago — dust catchers, and they cut down on the brightness in the room. But blinds I like. I’m happy to have them, especially for that very open family room. Now I can sit there at night. 🙂

Bit by bit, the house is coming together.