Gonna move this blog.

After many months of trouble-free blogging from my iPhone via the WordPress app, the system seems to have been invaded by gremlins – and crashes constantly.

So, I will attempt to continue over at:


Cheerful lights 2

I have been riding the Water Taxi for seven years now – but not that regularly. It has mainly been a summertime operation, but this year funding was found to keep it running through the winter, albeit for weekday commuter schedule only.

Lately, in the morning on the bus to work, I see the vessel docking on the West Seattle side, and have noticed the garlands and lights hanging in the windows of the cabin. This morning it looked so inviting, that I decided to come home on it.

It was actually my first ride in winter darkness. There were only 14 of us on the boat – a far cry from the noisy crowds of summer. I didn’t pull out my iPhone or e-reader – just sat and enjoyed the hum of the engine and the feeling of sailing across Elliot Bay – enjoying the lights of the Port of Seattle and remembering all the times I’ve made that trip – in happy chapters – and in not-so-happy chapters. I have explored every emotion on that boat.

I bypassed my usual latte downtown in favor of dallying a while at Alki, where I doodled while enjoying an old-time-radio Christmas suspense play, and then read a few chapters of Mark Twain’s “The Gilded Age” – another blast from the past that sheds much light on our present.

On the way home, I enjoyed the Christmas lights of the neigborhood. I managed to get a somewhat decent picture of one display, that is not the most impressive – but is by far the cutest – with penguins in santa hats and a lawn flamingo. Always makes me smile:)


Over the last couple of months I’ve made the Starbucks at Second and Seneca in downtown Seattle my most usual afterwork spot. It’s mainly the location. A bus that takes me all the way home stops literally outside! And the other West Seattle buses leave from First and Third Avenues – both just a very short block in either direction.

The view is interesting, with lots of buses and pedestrians. And the liquor store across the street has a lot of traffic at this time as it closes at 6pm. I think a lot of ferry commuters grab a couple of miniatures on the way down to the terminal. I was in there a few weeks ago – and almost everyone was buying miniatures:)

Finally, the staff are great. There are usually two guys in there who have a bit of a comedy routine going – and they also converse about everything under the sun. Great fun to listen to!

But now this place is being remodeled, with a part of it being torn up each day. And now it’s touched my favorite spot by the door:(

I’ve been through this twice this year. The Starbucks at Fourth and Seneca was my spot for a while. It was remodeled last summer – and that did away with my favorite seat. Then the Starbucks at Alki underwent a dramatic facelift – and my favorite seats were eliminated.

I know a shake-up is good for us all every now and then – but Starbucks seems determined to re-seat its Seattle patrons – or at least me!

As for independent coffee shops – I’ve been driven out of them by kiddie play areas:)

Cheerful lights

Tonight is a typical December Seattle evening. Steady rain with a wind that is picking up. And it’s been dark since 4:30pm. I allowed myself to come all the way home on the bus.

People were evidently busy over the weekend hanging Christmas lights. I really enjoyed the bus ride home, listening to Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge in an old Campbell Playhouse performance of “A Christmas Carol” (introduced by none other than Orson Welles!) I’ve been listening to podcasts of old time radio Christmas shows as an antedote to the madness where I work – and I think I’ve found a whole other realm of entertainment to explore at iTunes.

Anyway, I saw some gorgeous displays of lights. Unfortunately, the camera on my iPhone does little justice – else I would post photos.

One thing that’s nice about Seattle: many people leave up their lights long after Christmas is over. I usually have Christmas lights going in my apartment until the clocks go forward in March. My rule of thumb is that you may keep the lights going as long as it is dark when you get home from work.

The idea of lights is a pagan one in any case – about brightening up the most dismal time of the year. It’s really an observance of the winter solstice rather than Christmas itself – so there’s no reason to hurry over taking those lights down:)

Thrilling Tales

During the holiday season I am having to work Saturday, having Monday off in exchange. A friend of mine routinely is off on Monday, so we have been enjoying doing things together. Today we went to a lunchtime storytelling session for adults at the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library. This takes place at noon on the first and third Mondays of each month – and you are invited to bring a brown-bag lunch. Neither of us has attended before, and we really enjoyed it.

I became a podcast junkie shortly after getting my iPod Touch early this year, and short-story podcasts are possibly my favorite form of entertainment these days. So it was to wonderful to hear a couple of short stories read by a real person (one of the librarians) to a fairly large audience.

It really suited my mood for today. I’ve been extremely relaxed – almost zoned out, you might say.

Certainly not stressed or hurried:)

Fresh-scented bus

I just took a bus to the grocery store. I take the bus from the very end of the route and when you arrive at the bus stop, you usually find the driver taking a well-earned break.

The driver I rode with today is one I have been seeing for years. He is a self-confessed clean-freak and I often find him wiping down surfaces with Lysol disinfectant and spraying air-freshener throughout the bus. He himself is always immaculate – even down to his spotlessly-white driving gloves! – and he lines his seat with bus schedules to keep his pants clean. (Another bus driver I know always lines the seat – “you never know who’s been sitting in it, or what they’ve been doing in it!”)

Today, he finished his ritual by emptying the garbage pail in the trash bin at the stop. Several of us were waiting to board the bus and kidded him a little about the cleaning – to which he jokingly responded, “I don’t know how you lot live with each other. I’d like to be up in space where everything is sterile!”

But I have to say – his bus smelled just lovely:)

Lake Baikal revisited

That is one big lake! Contains more water than all five Great Lakes combined. And it’s taken several months for me to circumnavigate Lake Baikal in Google Earth, zooming in really close and enjoying Panoramio snapshots along the way. I think I’ll have to go around again:)

It’s such a beautiful part of the world. Impressive fault-block mountain ranges capped with snow, intricate coastal geomorphology, some interesting railroad architecture, and some of the most exquisite sunsets I’ve seen posted to Google Earth.

We worry much about the casualties of global warming, but rarely consider the possibility that some places may benefit from it. If the polar ice caps melt completely, then sea level will rise by around 100 meters. This will bring the Arctic coastline much farther south, and fragment the land mass of Eurasia, which should moderate the climate of Siberia, especially in winter – and probably allow for more precipitation. Lake Baikal could be quite a wonderful place to be.

I mention Google Earth therapy often. I can’t recommend it enough for someone who spends most of the time in a crowded city. A 3G iPad would be nice – but you’ll be surprised how enjoyable it is on the little iPhone:)

Christmas classics

I found some rather enjoyable Christmas stuff to listen to on iTunes, such as a podcast called Christmas Old Time Classics – a collection of radio shows from the 1940s – Abbot and Costello, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, and the like. The humor is very basic – but wonderfully refreshing.

The collection also includes Boris Karloff reading “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” – which I just enjoyed coming home on the bus.

An even bigger surprise was the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I guess it’s in the public domain now, because it’s a free download on iTunes. Not sure what the quality will be like – but I decided to give it a go:) I forgot to start the download yesterday while I was at Starbucks, so actually set an alarm on my iPhone to remind me today! It’s a 1.3GB download. I got 400MB downloaded tonight – wow! That would have taken up half the hard drive on the laptop I used to do my dissertation research!! Hopefully, I will have it completely downloaded by Sunday – three more sessions should do it:)

There are still three weeks to go before Christmas, and I’m already burned out from many months of dealing with Christmas merchandise at work – but the old, Christmas classics seem to be an antedote to any Bah Humbug I may have picked up over the course of my day at work.

A bit of Yukon Jack doesn’t hurt either:)

Holiday indulgences

Last week’s winter weather put me in the mood for holiday treats, so as I had Monday off, I suggested to a friend that we go in search of edible indulgence. We ended up at Top Pot Donuts in downtown Seattle – my first visit.

I’ve had the donuts before. They are the best. I went with the Double Trouble Chocolate. Not necessarily seasonal – but the drink I had was an ideal winter treat – and not one you find anywhere – an Ovaltine latte! It was perfect:)

As for the Chai lattes I make at home, I asked this friend to suggest a liquor I could spike one up with. Dark rum was her immediate response. She knows a lot of things:) I gave it a go – and it was truly wonderful.

I’ve rediscovered Yukon Jack, which really hit the spot those nights after walking home from work in the snow. I’ve also been reminded that you can do yourself an injury with it if you are not mindful of your intake:)

And we have lots of goodies floating around at work. Almost every day we get a package from one of our vendors or distributors – and of course, it’s something to eat:)

Seattle Daleks!!

Was in the International District today – and these two sculptures stopped me dead in my tracks! Happily – they were unarmed:)

Which reminds me…. visiting London at Christmas is not a great idea…. you can usually expect an alien invasion… or the end of time… or something of that ilk!