Sunday, February 21, 2010

Waiting at the Espresso Stand in North Bend


We're in the process of launching a Sustainable Bellevue group. One minute you're talking about it and the next you're "live." We talked a lot over at the Mustard Seed about all the the things sustainability could mean. I kept coming back to "walkable distances" as in:

What's walkable for you?
Where did you walk as a child?
What keeps you from walking?
What inspires you to walk?

To start, I plan to time five and ten minute walks from my house. In different directions. This is a major basis upon which the City of Bellevue wants to decide the placement of its proposed downtown lightrail alignment. So I will stand, timer, camera, dogleash and compass in hand, starting with my neighborhood.

Is that why has this song by REM been in my head for days now?

Stand. Think about the place where you live.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Unhappy Hipsters

"Secretly, she enjoyed the grids imprinted on her skin. In the new DSM, the American Psychiatric Association gave her disorder a name: “Bertoia butt.”

Click here for modernist funniness. I'll never look at Dwell magazine the same way again.

For some reason this put me in mind of a book my parents had on their shelf--it was small and the cover was cute and so had great appeal to my 10 or 11-year old sensibilities. I didn't really get beyond the cover, but this--I loved:

The Dot and the Line by Norton Juster, of Phantom Tollbooth fame: "And she suddenly realized that what she thought was freedom and joy was nothing but anarchy and sloth."

Sunday, February 14, 2010


My friend Megan from art school has some new work on her blog: click here for more on the book she's working on. You can see she was permanently stamped by our mossy environment. Could it be she misses it since it started snowing in Fayetteville?

Kissing in the Library

A lovely Valentine from Chuck Pefley at Seattle almost one a day I want to pass along to you.

Most romantic urban community idea of the week calls for eking more space out from underneath (think the viaduct as drive-in movie) is pictured here at Pruned.

"Only connect" here
Valentine from the Small Expectations kitty here--don't miss the "Slicer!"
My funny valentine lurks here and shows us that Mr. Rorschach is no slouch in the looks department, either.

Finally, my not-so-secret valentine goes to Joshua Prince-Ramus, truly a prince in my book. When he was in his early 20s and just beginning to design the Seattle Public Library with Rem Koolhaas I was introduced to him at Town Hall during a model-viewing workshop. My then much-younger son was with me and Joshua leaned down to ask him what he'd like to see at the library. Shyly, Nick replied he'd like a "slide" from the fifth floor to the kid's book section on the lowest level off Fourth Avenue.

Deborah Jacobs, then City Librarian and client extraordinaire, gently but firmly shook her head, as if she knew Joshua would always be on the kids' side. "Better nip this in the bud right here and now," she seemed to be thinking. Joshua just led Nick over to the model where they had a private conversation about buildings and stuff.

There wasn't a slide, last time I checked, but the library is still one heck of an exciting place to be. More photos from a recent visit


Just for Valentine's Day, in the Seattle Public Library the "Juliet balcony" is hidden behind elevators on the top floor. Not for acrophobes, the view takes in all the lower floors and it's where Joshua proposed to his wife. Truly the most romantic spot in the library. Deborah used to say that the public library was the only place she could get away from her mom's watchful eyes and meet boys. Seems Joshua was listening!
Click here for Joshua's TED talk on the Seattle Library.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Birthday Girl Gets Pierced

When I turned 13 my mom and I were in Berkeley visiting old friends of hers. Kaethe Kliot made jewelry and weavings and sold them in her shop called "Someplace" on Adeline. I remember her living room contained a 1930s gas pump repurposed as a giant cylindrical aquarium filled with water and goldfish. In her kitchen she pierced my mom's ears, and then mine. Mom, at the time, was 32. It was 1969 and we felt swept up in the zeitgeist.

Flash forward to 2010. My daughter Piper turned 13 last Wednesday and we swept her off to Factoria, to Claire's, to have her ears pierced by the competent assistant manager, Jasmine. No incantations, but lots of sterile solution. This followed a ceremony in Piper's bedroom involving scented candles in all the colors of the rainbow, a painted basket from Peru and a beautiful golden scarf. Bells were tinkled, foreheads were annointed with sandalwood oil and a dewy bouquet of sage. Wishes made on lavender wands. Wisdom was passed on. We think.

Purple Cafe

Mom and I had a lovely lunch on a rare sunny afternoon in downtown Bellevue a few days ago. The venue was Purple and the place was all ours. However, we did encounter a slight problem getting in. In the end, it required the efforts of three people to enter its hallowed walls. The hostess, seeing us struggle with the mighty fortress-like doors, offered an assist. When I "joked" about how heavy the door was she explained, to our consternation, that this was the restaurant's theme, owned by "Heavy" Management Group. "You should see the chairs," she quipped.

As mom would say later, "once you're seated, make sure that's where you want to be because there's no way you're going to skootch closer to or further away from the table." Everything in the place is HEAVY. As in iron, steel beams, Richard Serra-like "Tilting Arc" banquettes
and industrial spiral staircases (I counted four) leading to two-storey walls of wine bottles. Smooth black rocks. Concrete counters.

Though the decor was tres formidable, the food was outstanding. The chicken/avocado/bacon sandwich was the single most exquisite meal I've eaten in recent memory. I had two glasses of wine (for which they're best known) and I never, ever, do that. It was just too dang pleasant. Thanks, mom, for a divine lunch!

The doors in all their splendor: piece of paper on right side says: "Use door on left." Possibly because you'll get a hernia trying to open the (locked)one on the right?
Another reservation I had about this place was the fact that one of the "wine walls" sits in the window facing west--for the few sunny days we do have this could be a serious hindrance to preserving the wine. On the plus side: passive solar gain?

Hollywood in Newport Hills

The whole neighborhood was abuzz with the doings at the Red Apple yesterday.

For a 12-hour period the former supermarket was transformed into an "extras holding" area for a movie being shot at Perry Ko's restaurant next door. The movie is titled "Late Autumn" and in this scene a Chinese family is attending a wake. Movie stars milling around in dark suits, running to the Chevron for snacks and using the bench outside the Mustard Seed for informal conferencing.

Click here for
eff-stop's unique photo take on all the drama. He gets full credit for the photos you see here. Definitely the most excitement in Newport Hills evuh!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Browns Point

What I love about this place, apart from its spectacular site on a point of land opposite the industrial ground zero of Tacoma's harbor is how ordinary it looks from the road. And then you walk down to the water, look back, and it all makes sense. Everything is meant to be seen from the water, not the road.

The house's front porch is oriented to the sound and then you notice all the faces of this group of buildings, the lighthouse, the keeper's house, a small cottage, pumphouse, the boathouse and the oil house are all engaged in the same watchful activity.
It's a portrait of a family whose members are all very comfortable with one another. Another thing I love about this place.

And the smell of the viburnum is intoxicating. I notice the swelling buds of lilac. The water laps against the pebbled beach. A sailboat motors by and in the old apple orchard, I feel myself inhabiting this family portrait as all these sensations work themselves under my skin.

The oil house, a storage shed for kerosene, paint solvents and gasoline. Of course, kerosene was the main source of fueling the lighthouse lantern before electricity, and originally it sat only a few feet away from the lighthouse. In the 1920s it was moved to this location and continued to be used for paints and fuels. Very practical from a fire hazard standpoint.

In 1905 the boat house and ramp were built for the surf boat that was necessary for the light keeper to continue his chores when the surf covered the beach at high tide. Apparently Oscar Brown, the lighthouse keeper for whom Browns Point is named, managed to bring a young calf over from Tacoma in the 16-foot boat.

Browns Point has more fog for longer periods of time than any other place in Puget Sound. The lighthouse bell was cast in Philadelphia in 1855, a very long time ago in these parts, and came around the Horn to its first home on Dungeness Spit. Later it was moved to Point No Point, and in 1906 came here to Brown's Point (when it was still Brown's Point with an apostrophe).

It was then replaced by an air horn in 1933, when the wooden lighthouse was replaced with a utilitarian concrete one. The bell fetched up at University of Puget Sound where it rang at the start of classes. The clapper, interestingly, was a bowling ball. You can see the original bell today, back in the pump house on Browns Point. It had, of course, been replaced (once again), this time by a modernized electronic buzzer system at UPS.