Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The View From Here

When I was working full time, most often I left home before sunrise and got home after dark, which meant that although I knew we had a nice view -- it's why we bought the house, thirty years ago -- I rarely got to appreciate it. Among the many pleasures of my semi-demi-retirement is being able to drink it all in. No matter the season, the weather, the time of day, it's never the same, never less than beautiful. Great storms, steely calm, pink sunrises, sunsets like fire, boat traffic, calm seas. We see eagles, osprey, fishing. Sea lions swim by, barking for our pleasure, or snooze as they hitch rides on the log booms heading to the harbor hauled by tugs, the markings of which we've come to recognize. Small local working ones, enormous sea-going ones. Gargantuan cargo ships, navy craft of various sizes, including the home-ported Abe Lincoln, of "Mission Accomplished" fame. Sailboats with spinnakers puffed with color, parades of them sometimes; Coast Guard boats and helicopters. Sometimes there are flybys of old warrior aircraft from Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Museum; a little less welcome are newly minted Boeing planes, including the much delayed 787, noisy.

For the last couple of days salmon season has been open for the purse-seiners, and yesterday there were more than I've ever seen: maybe thirty of them arrayed across the Sound as if guarding it from invasion; and there are at least half a dozen processing ships lined up in front of our place, to which the fishing boats parade to offload their catch. It's dusk now, and that's what they're doing in the picture. When we first moved here, the fishers tied up overnight next to the nearby ferry dock, and when we'd go down there they'd toss us a fresh caught whole salmon, for which we paid five bucks. They still spend nights in front of our place, and we can hear them talk to each other, see the lights, but they stay a little off shore and don't sell. Nice while it lasted.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm tryin to remember the last time I went to work before 8am/after 4pm... lets see...
1997, no wait, that was vacation.

"Sunsets" like fire? we had one like that a few months back.
Too bad it was a real fire, same week the house was foreclosed on..wierd.
And the only birds I see are airliners intercepting the localizer for Atlanta-Hartsfields runway(s)26/27, the worlds busiest Airport BTW.
And we've got regular birds, probably cause there's not many Cats.
Oh Cats show up occasionally, but then vanish without a trace, its almost like someones cat-napping the poor guys for nefarious purposes. And just cause my neighborhoods 90% Korean doesn't mean...oh forget it.
Seriously, Washington sounds nice, low minority, I mean humidity, good coffee, no sucessful College/Pro Sports teams to waste your time with..
how many really good Soul Food restaurants you got????
and I mean REAL Soul Food restaurants where your the only Causcasian and they churn there own buttermilk...


Sid Schwab said...

We have the place that Oprah says makes the best fried chicken.

Anonymous said...

We've got Popeyes too...

Sam Spade said...


Atlanta is really far down on the list of places where Sam Spade would like to live. Birmingham towers over it. I grew up halfway in between so I know these things. Atlanta gives sprawl a bad name. Yes Seattle has seven months of gray drizzle and it's not cool anymore since Kurt Cobain died, but it's waaaaay nicer than Birmingham even.

We have a lot more coffee in Seattle--you can get espresso drinks anywhere--but for the most part it's not much different from Starbucks. The two best coffee places that I know of are first, Espresso Vivace on Broadway in Capitol Hill (don't go to the new upscale Espresso Vivace cafes, it's just not the same. No idea why this.) Their macchiato will enliven even your blackened soul, Frank. The other one is a little coffee shop in Friday Harbor. The owner there explained to me the secret of great coffee: her husband wakes up early every morning to roast a fresh batch. So there you have it. Incidentally I'm convinced that beer is the same. The beer on tap at the Sam Adams brewery tour is far superior to what they sell in a bottle. (Also, getting drunk with a bunch of strangers in the middle of the afternoon makes for a memorable time.)

That being said, I am sometimes annoyed by the ostentatious displays of "liberalism" in Seattle. For instance, we "rechristened" King County for Martin Luther King. Second, my children are occasionally taught in school that humans are bad and should feel guilty, for instance for pollution. I am totally on board the global warming train, but this approach seems weird and counterproductive. Third, whereas I feel nothing but admiration for people who commute on bicycles, easily the greatest threat to my well being is bicyclists on the picturesque, long, narrow, windy road on which we live. The typical cyclist here rides a thousand dollar bicycle which they hauled here, likely with an SUV. (Oddly, as a rule they purchase cycling clothes with corporate logos on them, as if they have been sponsored.) Sometimes they are unwilling to let cars pass as a matter of principal. Often they are quite self-righteous.

Sid Schwab said...

Check out Diva Espresso, Sam, particularly their original store on Greenwood/79th.

I don't disagree with you when liberalism goes over the top; although I guess I'd rather be annoyed by that than brainwashed by the RWS™.

And, as a cyclist who never runs stop signs, always pulls over for cars and trucks, and whose favorite jerseys sport cartoons, I'd argue that I'm in much greater danger from cars and trucks (avoided death, twice, narrowly, when being cut off and nearly run over) than are they from me. Like Obama's kumbaya vs teabaggers' scorched earth, it ain't a fair fight.

Sam Spade said...

I used to bike to Microsoft from central Bellevue, but stopped when a bicyclist twenty feet in front of me got hit on the corner of 140th and Bel-Red. She tried to make a yellow light, which as you know is challenging on a bike. I heard a loud pop--her tire--and looked up to see her lying face down in the road. She wailed, "I can't feel my legs!" Annnnnd now I drive.

The Revised Code of Washington says that bicyclists on the road must obey the same traffic laws that car drivers do. Also, "Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe...".

Since you are a cyclist you might have ridden by me on Issaquah-Fall City Road. It's quite a nice ride if you haven't tried it. Park at the Klahanie QFC or if school is out Endeavor Elementary.

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail is little-known and highly recommended. There's a baby eagle nesting on top of a power pole there right now that I enjoy watching. It's a short trail but at the end you get a nice view of Snoqualmie Falls.

William King, for whom King County used to be named, is not only a fellow Alabaman but also James Buchanan's lover.

Anonymous said...

Oprah? Fried Chicken?
Geez Sid, Sterotype Much?
and you haven't tasted nuthin till you've tasted Mother Drackman's Deep-Fried-Watermelon..mmmmmm mmmmmm Good....
and Sam, I've had a vendetta against Birmingham ever since UAB put me on there "Alternate" list for Med School.
Sumthin about how I didn't have any empathy, maturity, and the only volunteer work I'd done was helping out with Junior Highschool Cheerleader Physicals..
And I brew my own coffee thank you very little, but thats because of my Howard Hughes-esqe OCD, and my Ebaneezer Scrooge-esqe Stinginess...


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