The park, named after life-long Capitol Hill resident and Washington State Legislator, the late Cal Anderson, sits atop the site of the former Lincoln Reservoir, which it now completely covers. There's a surprising number of amenities included in the three square block parcel. The centerpiece is a tryptic of waterways including the fountain (top photo), a cascading waterflow (middle photo), with a somewhat larger holding pool to the south (none of which, BTW is apparently in any way connected to the reservoire system itself, so not to worry about toddlers or drunks peeing in our drinking water). There's a sizeable grassy promenade running to the east of the waterways, with a children's play area on its southern edge. The old pumphouse, seen in the background of the first photo, still occupies the center of the park, while the playfield that anchors the southern end has been completely upgraded with a spongey astroturf-like surface, a second ball field, and new restrooms and consessions areas.
All-in-all, it's a pretty spiffy spot, and one that, given the response of the residents enjoying it today (encouraged no doubt by the return of our famous Indian Summer - I should have known) is going to become a very welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Sweat It Out In The Streets Of A Runaway American Dream
For the past several days downtown Seattle bus commuters have been treated to the rather amusing sight of a dozen or so SPD motorcycles and patrol cars racing up-and-down Third Avenue, leaning hard on the lights and sirens, pulling over hapless drivers and (presumably) politely informing them of the impending closure of the street to vehicular traffic during the morning & evening rush-hours.
Starting Monday, our local downtown bus tunnel, Seattle's anemic imitation of a subway system, will close for approximately two years, while the tunnel is expanded and retrofitted to accomodate a light rail line. As a consequence, the 70+ bus routes that normally use the tunnel will be shunted up to surface streets, and in order to accomodate the extra transit traffic, somebody decided to turn 3rd Ave into a temporary transit mall.
Having seen similar transit-only thoroughfares in other cities (our neighbor to the south, Portland sports a fine one), it sort of begs the question of whether, after all the underground work is completed sometime in 2007 and the light rail line starts up in 2009, the current temporary arrangement shouldn't become permanent. Sure, a few business owners will bitch-and-moan about access, but frankly considering there'll be a roughly 200% increase in foot traffic past their doors every weekday, it seems like catering to an exclusively public transit using clientele would be a win-win opportunity for them.
In the meantime, those of us at the bus stops will continue to watch as the clueless drivers get pulled over, only starting next week we'll have the added entertainment value of seeing them try to talk their way out of the inevitable tickets.
Autumn has arrived here in the Upper Left Hand Corner with unambiguous intent, something of a rarity in these parts where traditionally the transition from Summer to Winter can be marked on the calendar within the span of a few weeks. This year, however, the prospect for a not untypical Indian Summer seems to diminish with each passing day. Around my place the trees are shedding at a ferocious rate, not even bothering to scratch off the chlorophyl from the leaves before letting them litter the sidewalks like losing Lotto tickets outside a 7-Eleven on payday.
When I leave for work these mornings, my street is filled with the urban-warfare sounds of Nature's Insurgency: the paint chipping reports of hazelnuts, acorns, and chestnuts riccocheting off the roofs and hoods of parked cars echo down the street, while platoons of squirrels patrol the sidewalks and gutters gathering up the spent shells with the forensic thoroughness of a CSI team. My breath, not quite yet visible in the early morning air is scented with the acrid chill of biting into a cold, ripe apple. The sky is gradually shifting from a uniform Light Ultramarine Blue to a mottled patchwork of Neutral Grays, the kind of sky Northwest writer Tom Robbins likened to "a brain. Moist, gray, convoluted". If so, it's a brain thinking dark, ominous thoughts, devising cruel strategems for its seven month campaign against the forces of light and warmth.
Meanwhile, the cowardly sun is snowbirding south along with the RV's and the summer tourists, leaving the rest of us to face the increasing darkness, damp and dropping temperatures with our customary Norse stoicism. For those newcomers of six or seven years who still have yet to acclimatize, increasing incidents of suicide, binge drinking, and Xanax abuse will surely follow, like phosphorescent plankton in the wake of an oil tanker. Sweaters are being pulled from bottom drawers and shaken out, reluctantly trading places with shorts and tank-tops. Umbrellas are calling "All in free!" from their hiding places in the backs of closets and forgotten corners of mudrooms; gloves, scarves and knit caps are sleepily asking for "just five more minutes!", while rubber boots and GoreTex jackets hit the snooze button with futile abandon, in hopes of delaying the inevitable.
Winter is waiting in the wings, ready for its entrance, mentally going over its lines for the next scene. Summer has begrudgingly roused itself from the settee, and gone out through the French doors, exiting Stage Left. Autmn is nervously shifting from one foot to the other, waiting for the Stage Manager to feed it a cue line. The play continues, but the Act has almost come to a close, and the lights are already starting to dim on the fake backdrops and painted scenery.
(I'm at a wedding this weekend. Guess what I'm doing right now?)
I think I'm developing a reputation.
I had just dropped off Mr. Awesome to play at the wedding rehearsal at Brian's folks' place on Orcas Island, then headed over to the Community Center (which also doubles as the Volunteer Fire Dept.) for the day-before-wedding bar-b-que. As soon as I got there, my friend Jaye litterally grabbed me by the jacket lapels and asked - well, begged is really a more accurate description - me to grill about 40 pounds of beef ribs. I mulled it over for roughly two-tenths of a second before saying, "Sure. You know me; if there's fire and meat involved, I'm all over it like mop on brisket." Or words to that effect. Being the chivalrous type I am, how could I refuse to come to the rescue of a damsel so clearly in distress, particularly when open-flame grilling is involved?
I don't think I've ever seen another human being look so greatful. Turns out Jaye and a couple other friends had stayed up all night smoking 50 lbs. of actual brisket, then put up the decorations, then set out all the other food, and who knows all what else, at which point Jaye, who is without question one of the most level-headed, organized, and just plain all-round competent young women I've ever known had just reached the end of her rope, party planning-wise, and the prospect of now having to cook another huge batch of cow parts was simply more than she could handle. So, I guess you could say I arrived just in time to save the day - or at least one person's.
And you know what? I probably would have done it anyway.
Perkins was a Black Russian long hair of approximately 19 years age, which -- well, I don't know how old that would have been in Cat Years, but he was old. He'd lost most, if not all of his vision in the past year, and in the last several months he'd suffered from a slew of undignified, if not exactly painful maladies, all of which, despite a voracious appetite, reduced both his physical presence, and the effective size of his world to a corridor, a bathroom, and a familiar lap, where he apparently decided to call it quits at about 7:30 p.m. last night.
Needless to say, Dawn hasn't been taking it well, which is understandable. People have funny attachments to their pets, and not funny in a strange sort of way, but funny in the sense that we invest so much of our own nurturing feelings into the small, furry animals we bond to as surrogates for children, family, lovers, traveling companions, you name it. Anybody who says a pet is only an animal and doesn't deserve the same emotional consideration as a human being just doesn't get the point, and probably has no business owning one in the first place.
I've known Dawn since 1991, and so I've known Perk for the same length of time. I'll always remember him fondly for two particular eccentricities: for one, in his younger days he delighted in being suspended over his food dish by his tail, with his head buried just deeply enough into his food dish to reach the kibble; the second was for his love of cantalope. One of the funniest, wish-I'd-had-a-video-camera-I-would-have-made-a-fortune moments I've ever experienced was the time I walked into the kitchen of the house Dawn and I shared in Greenwood, to find Perkins with his head shoved all the way to the shoulders into a ripe cantalope, pushing it blindly across the linoleum in a determined effort to eat his way through to daylight and freedom.
He had a good life, and he left it in about as peaceful a way as any being conscious of the limitations of mortal existence could ever desire. And I truly believe he knew it was his time, and he simply let go, because well, in the end what else can you really do?
So long, Perkins. Thanks for being such a pal.
"When you notice a cat in profound meditation, The reason, I tell you, is always the same: His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name: His ineffable effable Effanineffable Deep and inscrutable singular Name."
- ts eliot, "Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats" (1939)
I've switched to good, old, reliable RateYourMusic.com's commenting system, and it seems to be working just fine. I'll gussy up the window formatting as I get the opportunity.
Don't Touch That Dial
I've activated the Blogger.com comments html, since I have no idea why jsoft/Reblogger has been offline for the past three days. If it/they comes back, I'll probably restore their code, but for now - comment away.
I hope you've sent some money to one of the many charitable orgs (this is FEMA's list, but there are lots more out there - if you haven't already, take a minute to find one you trust) providing relief to the people of New Orleans and environs. It's about all you can do from half a continent away and still feel good about yourself.
All this looking at and reading about the devastation and its aftermath makes me realize how lucky I've been since moving to Seattle; despite a few relatively minor setbacks, things are pretty good all-in-all. I've got a decent job that I actually like, good, true and trusted friends, a comfortable - if not exactly large or upscale - place to live, food, water, working sewers, etc. Things could be a lot worse. A lot. And I'm glad they're not.
I don't think I could have imagined when on September 3rd, 1985 I maneuvered my humongous 1972 Chevy Impala four-door sedan up to the curb outside an old college friend's apartment building on lower Queen Anne, that I was beginning what's been a twenty year adventure. In fact, I'm almost certain I didn't. Fresh out of grad school, with two diplomas and a $15,000 student loan debt-load as my letter of introduction to "the real world", I'm pretty sure I was ready to take on the Metropolis of the Pacific Northwest, and once conquered, extend my ambitions to ever larger cities, rising higher, ever higher to the pinnacles of success.
Yep, I was going to be a superstar.
But of course, I wasn't going to become just any Hollywood A Lister. I fully intended to be of the "legit" variety, paying my dues in the theatrical realm, which would of course give me that frisson of authenticity lacking from most "flavor of the month" celebrities that grace the covers of the supermarket check-out stand tabloids. I had it all planned out: after a few years honing my craft on Seattle's major stages, I'd pick up stakes for New York, make my Broadway debut, get noticed by film studios, become bi-coastal, and by now have at least one or two Oscars lining the mantel of my tastefully appointed Central Park West apartment (making every effort to avoid such crass symbolism at the Montana ranch). I'd be famous, rich, admired, and respected, yet still maintain that small-town American "aw shucks!" demeanor, which like Jimmy Stewart or Tom Hanks, would become my stock-in-trade, and the essence of my popularity.
Well, yeah things didn't exactly turn out quite like that, did they? Twenty years later, I'm still in Seattle, by choice if not by circumstance, and having suddenly and inexplicably found myself smack-dab in what the older generation terms "middle age", I find myself at a crossroads where, while the world of the theatre itself is always going to fill a large part of my life, I'm not certain at this point whether performing ever will again to the same extent it once did.
It turns out my ambitions were slightly unrealistic, even for a naive, relatively unsophisticated 24 year-old who'd up until then had never lived in a town larger than Portland. It didn't take all that long to discover that whatever innate or cultivated talent I possessed was only going to carry me so far. In addition to talent, dauntless perveverence, unbridled sucking up, and plain good luck are just as essential in terms of who does or doesn't make the top. It's like having a high IQ: sure, scoring 145 puts you in the 98th percentile, but when you break it down into actual numbers that means there are roughly 130,000,000 people on the planet who are just as smart, if not smarter than you are. And most of them are a LOT smarter than you. It's the same with talent. You can be waaaaaaay up there on the Talent Quotient Index, but unless you're right at the very tippity-top, you need something more than that to give you that extra edge that marks the difference between minorly and the spectacularly successful. And after 20 years, I think I can say with a certain sense of humility that whatever those extra qualities may be, I don't have enough of them to turn that dream into reality.
And that's okay. In the meantime I've come to realize that success, or at least that particular kind of success isn't all that important or worthy of a goal. Sure, rich-and-famous people have the opportunity to do good, important things as a result of their success, things that most of the rest of us could never dream of achieving. I mean, only the richest man in the world could even consider single-handedly tackling the problems of eradicating childhood commmunicable diseases in Africa, or providing every school-aged kid in the United States with access to the Internet. And more power to him for trying.
But, then you see at what ordinary people are capable of achieving under the most daunting of circumstances, like what the citizens of New Orleans, and Gulfport, and Biloxi and any one of a hundred other smaller, but no less devastated towns strewn across the Mississippi delta are doing right now to ensure, by whatever means necessary, the health and safety of their families, their neighbors and their communities. And that's a quality that neither talent, money nor fame can ever guarantee.
Sometimes success is measured simply by the fact of sheer survival.