scarlettina: (Happy Sun)
It's been busy days around chez [livejournal.com profile] scarlettina. Planning for this past weekend actually started months ago when [livejournal.com profile] garyomaha told me that he and [livejournal.com profile] elusivem were going to be in Seattle for a visit. We made some plans--and then suddenly [livejournal.com profile] davidlevine was available for a visit the self same weekend. And so began the social whirlwind that this weekend became.

David arrived on Friday night. Saturday we spent the afternoon at the Fremont Solstice Parade, which David hadn't attended since his Clarion West sojourn in Seattle. The parade has exploded since then both in terms of attendance and the scope of the event itself. The day was sunny and warm, and we arrived early to secure a good spot in the shade. It was, as always, raucous, political, joyful. I think my favorite entries in the pageant-cum-party were the stilt walkers, the giant preying mantis puppet, the portrayal of a spouting oil rig surrounded by kayaktivists, the giant bigfoot on the Cascadia Now float, the sharknado (a tornado festooned with blow-up sharks and air sleeve sharks) and, of course, the naked bicyclists. We had to leave before the parade's end, however, because we had plans for the evening with Gary and M.

I haven't seen Gary and M since JayWake, and this was a much better circumstance overall for a visit. We met them, along with their friends Don and Clark and (forgive me) a woman whose name I've forgotten, for dinner at the 5 Spot at the top of Queen Anne. It was lovely seeing them; I was so delighted. It was a nice chance to catch up before we headed down the hill for the evening's entertainment: a concert by the Seattle Men's Chorus, a program of music by Queen.

I've never seen SMC before. They're sort of a musical institution in Seattle and it seems ridiculous that I've waited this long to see them. A couple of the men who sang with SLGC sing with them now. Between the program and a chance to see those folks and, of course, the company, I was very much looking forward to the evening. Its also one of the last shows to be directed by the chorus' long-time, well-respected director Dennis Coleman. And they put on quite a show, with a guest actor/singer who strongly resembled Freddie Mercury singing lead on a couple of numbers, some excellent soloists (stronger, I thought, than their guest Freddie) and some terrific vocal arrangements. I've sung Queen in concert; I know how hard some of the music actually is on examination, so I had a great appreciation for what the chorus was doing, and they did it very well indeed. We had a marvelous time, and I think many people, like myself, left the hall bouncing and singing.

Sunday was a much quieter, more low-key day, and very much what the doctor ordered. In the morning, David and I met the usual suspects for writing at Ballard Coffee Works. We had lunch at The Market Arms and then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Ballard, strolling around the locks and just soaking up the sun. A bagpipe band was performing on the green. A classic car show was being held with a parade of absolutely gorgeous classic cars. Down by the locks, two seals dipped in and out of the water trolling for salmon smolt; a heron looked on, dipping for smolt as they passed by. We saw salmon swimming through the fish ladder, and watched as the gates of the locks opened and closed for pleasure craft navigating the passage.

The evening was quiet, pleasant. We watched the second episode of "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," which I've been quite enjoying. David took off yesterday morning.

Lovely weekend. Pleasant. Full of good people, good things. The coming week promises more goodness. We shall see.
scarlettina: (Happy birthday cupcake!)
Tuesday was my birthday and it was a perfectly smashing day!

Cut for pictures and narrative )Me, going into orbit with the Lunar Orbiter

I couldn't have enjoyed myself more that day. This was the way to celebrate the turn of my half-century, and if the company was any indication at all, then I lived those first 50 years well. I can only hope that the next 50 will be half as good.

See the complete Flickr set.
scarlettina: (Seattle Space Needle)
I've been out and about with the camera a bit lately, and fairly pleased with some of the results. Both last weekend and this weekend, I took mini-trips with friends to take pictures.

Last weekend, I spent some time with CS at the Volunteer Park Conservatory and the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery (Seattle's Civil War-era cemetery), the former a favorite destination of mine, the latter one I'd never been to before. The weather was stellar for walking and shooting, and I got some lovely photographs that day, several of which I'm quite proud. We ended the day with a fine meal at Matador in Ballard--excellent company and delicious food.

Yesterday, I was off with a gang of the usual suspects, CS, and his 8-year-old daughter S to walk on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. For those of you not local to Seattle, the viaduct is an elevated, double-decker roadway that runs along Seattle's western waterfront. It was damaged during the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake and, since then, the city has debated endlessly about its fate. The decision was finally made to dismantle it for safety reasons, and to replace it with an underground tunnel. I'll not debate the merits of this decision here, but simply say that the loss of the viaduct will adversely affect Seattle's traffic patterns. It will also deprive us of some of the most wonderful views of downtown, West Seattle, and the Olympic Mountain Range available in the region. Yesterday, the city opened the viaduct to pedestrians for the first and only time in a sort of farewell celebration. It was a typical Pacific Northwestern autumn day, though perhaps darker and wetter than we've had in a while--the rain was a fine, constant shower, the clouds low and dark gray--thwarting hopes for clear photographs of views from the top. I'm sure that photographers more gifted and skilled than I got lovely, moody images nevertheless. The pictures I took are not art by any stretch, but they are my souvenirs of a roadway I have used regularly during my time in Seattle and which I will miss. (Note: The last five photographs in the set were not taken yesterday but during past drives.) [livejournal.com profile] ironymaiden took some wonderful pictures, and [livejournal.com profile] e_bourne took some nice shots with her iPhone. CS took a couple of striking images, too.

I'm going to miss the viaduct. I know that a lot of people consider it an eyesore and a wall between downtown and the waterfront but, as I said above, the views from the upper deck were wonderful. I always loved coming home after a long trip and looking down the city's canyons as I passed by, seeing skyscrapers from a good ten stories up in a way not possible anywhere else. Seeing sunsets from the viaduct was marvelous as well. And having used the viaduct as a primary route to the homes of [livejournal.com profile] e_bourne and [livejournal.com profile] markbourne, and [livejournal.com profile] ladyjestocost and [livejournal.com profile] bedii regularly, I've developed a fondness for it because of my associations with them, some of my longest, dearest friends locally. Lastly, the viaduct is one of the things that distinguishes Seattle from many other cities. As we walked, [livejournal.com profile] varina8 remarked that the last time she returned from a trip, she felt as though the city was becoming a generic urban area, losing its character slowly as a result of gentrification and the loss of historic, distinctive architecture. As I consider how the Capitol Hill neighborhood has changed over my years here, I see her point, even though a great many historic structures have been registered and will be saved from the axe. This particular loss I feel somewhat more keenly than for any one particular building because its looming presence is one of the defining features of the waterfront and because I've used it so regularly. I suspect, based on the turn-out yesterday, the number of people who took souvenir chunks of viaduct rubble, and the farewell grafitti, that I'm not the only one who feels that way. The city posted a farewell banner on the viaduct for yesterday's event. I couldn't have said it any better myself.

ETA: Pictures and video of the start of demolition. It actually hurts me to watch the walls being destroyed. ::sigh:: And here's a video of how the southern bypass will look during the demolition of that first mile of road. Pretty cool. And you can get a sense of what the views of town are like from the viaduct. With thanks to [livejournal.com profile] e_bourne for the links.


------------------------
Things I want to post about:
-- Last weekend's photo excursion
-- The book I'm nearly finished with (when I'm finished with it)
-- The interview/dinner I enjoyed with some of the women from Weight Watchers last weekend
-- The coming dismantling and replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct
-- Other stuff I'm sure I've forgotten

Note to self:
-- Make an icon for posts about photography

A grand adventure

Sun, Jul. 31st, 2011 05:19 pm
scarlettina: (Default)
Yesterday I ventured out with friends to the Snoqualmie Tunnel on the Iron Horse Trail (known primarily as the John Wayne Trail, but I like Iron Horse better) for a morning's adventure. The Snoqualmie Tunnel started out as a railway tunnel, part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, built around 1913. When it was abandoned, it became a destination for adventurers. It has recently been renovated as part of the Iron Horse Trail for bicyclists and hikers. This trip, instigated by [livejournal.com profile] selinker and [livejournal.com profile] brumbjorn, was specifically to hike the tunnel itself, a 2.5 mile walk one-way through the dark, cool, damp tunnel.

Full narrative with pictures beneath the cut )

We concluded the trek by walking back through to the trailhead. The walk back actually went much more quickly than the walk through, I think, because we'd already been through and so kept up a quicker pace. It was still delightful and much fun. Definitely an excursion worth taking.
scarlettina: (Happy birthday cupcake!)
As is usual around here, my birthday (today) was a rolling celebration that started Friday afternoon and ended this evening (though I suspect there may be more revelry as the week goes on). I attended the Clarion West party, completed my first 5K, hit the Ballard Seafood Festival, and had a perfectly wonderful dinner at Root Table (Asian-inspired tapas: steak cubes in a savory sauce, shrimp wontons, and mushrooms stuffed with corn, peas and a Thai-style sauce--yum!), which I recommend to anyone here in the Seattle area as it's just terrific.

The culmination of the weekend was a delicious lunch at Chinook's, and then this afternoon's tea here at Chez [livejournal.com profile] scarlettina. I had a small group of girls over for treats and talk in tiaras. We laid out quite the spread.




The afternoon's fare included three kinds of sandwiches: tuna salad with green onion, cucumber, and tomato dill; scones; lemon curd tarts; delicious muffins; cupcakes; shortbread; two kinds of cheese; pepperoni; bean dip with crackers; Milano cookies; and at least one or two things I'm forgetting. And of course there was tea.

I can only hope that the year brings me the same kind of joy I had this weekend. It was very nearly perfect.
scarlettina: (Default)
So last Saturday, after a small celebratory birthday brunch, [livejournal.com profile] jackwilliambell and I went to the Skagit Valley Highland Games in Mount Vernon. As previously mentioned, we met [livejournal.com profile] paulcarp, [livejournal.com profile] mcjulie, [livejournal.com profile] jkling, and Ivy there, watched sheep herding and caber tossing, poked around the vendor booths, and listened to and watched the pipe and drum bands. Somehow, as interesting and fun as the caber tossing was, I found the bands just thrilling. I may not be an especial fan of bagpipes, but all of these bands were so good. I really enjoyed the music.


On Sunday, we took advantage of the lowest tides of the year to go tidepooling at Golden Gardens park and beach. It was an overcast day, cooler than I expected, but the silvery light made for interesting photography conditions, and made colors pop everywhere. I had a wonderful time poking around the tidepools, seeing anemones, seastars, crabs, and fish. This particular crab, which was about the size of my whole hand, when I approached it, reared up on its back legs and snapped its claws at me! Twice! Raaarrr! I'd never seen that before. I burst into laughter, which I'm sure was not the intended effect. When it realized that I wasn't going to leave it alone, it began to burrow into the sand; that's when I decided to stop harassing the poor little guy. Just a few steps later, a fountain of water about four feet tall shot up out of the goo; I'd been spat at by a geoduck buried beneath the surface! (Actually, it was probably just being a geoduck and its fountaining had nothing to do with me, but it's fun to think of it that way.) Later on, I turned around to discover a great blue heron standing about ten feet away from me, surveying the shallows for snacks. It was a wonderful morning (see the Flickr set here). We then spent the rest of the day sitting on the beach relaxing, and watching a man get his beached sailboat back into the water.

I came out of it all sunburned for the first time in years. While I regretted the burn, I didn't regret the day. It was perfectly lovely.

Today I'm going to take advantage of the fact that I don't have to be anywhere and go to the zoo to finally visit the new meerkat exhibit. I'm so looking forward to it! Then this weekend, it's parties and Foolscap stuff. Busy busy busy!
scarlettina: (Default)
It's June. Damn, but this year is flying by.

Spent the weekend on the Oregon coast with [livejournal.com profile] jackwilliambell, visiting his folks and poking around Newport. We went to a community garage sale, visited the Yaquina Bay lighthouse, saw Iron Man 2 (is anyone in Hollywood hotter than Robert Downey, Jr.? I think not), and just relaxed. The highlight of the weekend was our visit to Yaquina Head lighthouse and wildlife area. We saw harbor seals, Brandt's cormorants, Pellagic cormorants, Harlequin ducks, and--the piece de resistance--a pair of big, healthy, handsome bald eagles. Lovely afternoon.

I missed the news of the Israeli encounter with the Turkish flotilla until I got home yesterday. It upset and angered me, but I've been feeling really torn about the whole thing, as a Jew, as an American, as a human being. With thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jaylake, I share a fairly balanced discussion of the situation: part politics, part humanitarian issue, part history, and part media manipulation and public perception. I'm not an apologist for Israel; I've disagreed with how they've handled the situation in the region for years now. This is truly a WTF moment. But nothing is as black and white as it seems, and no one is getting out of this encounter unscarred. I fear for the future of Israel and what may yet follow.

ETA: Someone on my flist, posting about this situation, stated that today she was ashamed to be a Jew. I can't take that stance because I see my religious and cultural identity as a separate thing from Israel and its existence. I won't be ashamed of who I am or how I was raised. There was a time when I supported Israel with an unalloyed loyalty, but it's been a long time since that has been true. I believe in the idea of Israel (call it the platonic ideal) but I disagree with its policies and practices. Yes, I will split hairs. And no, I'm not going to discuss the point.

It looks like Peter Jackson needs a new director for The Hobbit. Guillermo Del Toro's schedule wouldn't allow him to spend the extended amount of time required to work on the film. I'm sorry to hear this; I was looking forward to seeing what he would do with the material. Fingers crossed that Jackson finds someone just as visionary and creative as Del Toro to take over the film.

Spent last evening at [livejournal.com profile] kijjohnson's place for the second session of her F2F writing workshop with [livejournal.com profile] e_bourne and [livejournal.com profile] shelly_rae among others. I'm working to finally get the Africa story written. (Yes, writing is actually occurring.) Kij is a fine instructor. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, the hand is still healing, but it hurts every single day. It's still swollen, but far less than it has been. I just have to remember to rest it and to be patient. It'll heal bit by bit.

Surprised!

Sat, Feb. 20th, 2010 11:02 pm
scarlettina: (GWTW: Pleased as punch)
[livejournal.com profile] jackwilliambell and I met [livejournal.com profile] e_bourne and [livejournal.com profile] markbourne to visit Kubota Japanese Gardens in Renton, south of Seattle (pictures), and then we went to have lunch. As we were leaving the restaurant (Calamity Jane's in Georgetown, which I highly recommend), Elizabeth got a call from a neighbor saying that Kai the Wonder Dog had gotten out of the very-well-fenced-in backyard and we had to get right home.

I was worried. Kai's my doggie nephew. We got back to their place and I started calling for Kai the moment I got out of the car. E was adamant that we put our things into the house before going to look for him. Okay, I thought--it's your dog.

But . . . but then who should we be greeted by at the door--inside the house--but Kai? And . . . wait a minute . . . there's a balloon bouquet by the fireplace that wasn't there when we left. And there's . . . [livejournal.com profile] ironymaiden? [livejournal.com profile] oldmangrumpus? [livejournal.com profile] shelly_rae? Brian? All these people . . . WHAT?

It was a party! A surprise party! It seems that [livejournal.com profile] markbourne and I were being given the birthday celebration we never quite had this past summer. As you may recall, Mark's heart surgery was scheduled for our mutual birthday and, well, events got in the way. This was our do-over! Our birthday cake was a big heart-shaped chocolate layer cake that said "Happy Re-Birthday" on it, surrounded by perfect little yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting--very basic and very much my favorite. The group insisted upon singing "Happy Birthday" to us--I laughed all the way through it. Friends from different parts of our lives attended, and others who couldn't be there sent along gifts. All of Mark's were heart-themed (two, in fact, were plush, beating hearts complete with sound effects!). All of mine were beautiful beads of all sorts--cats were a theme, and a penguin bead showed up from Portland, as well as a heart-shaped box filled with "muggle beads" which looked suspiciously like pretty jasper but insisted on being "muggle beads." I received a beautiful bead with a blown-glass tree frog perched upon it, a fused glass pendant, and a pendant featuring a blossom suspended in glass, and so many others. Such pretty things! They'll all be used and will all be seen adorning me.

I was completely surprised--gobsmacked! I still am to some extent. I have the most extraordinary friends on the planet and could not be more grateful for the gift of this day. I send out special thanks and love to [livejournal.com profile] e_bourne, [livejournal.com profile] ironymaiden, and [livejournal.com profile] shelly_rae for conspiracy, and [livejournal.com profile] jackwilliambell for keeping secrets at close proximity. And then thanks to everyone who participated in one way or another. There's no question that today is the high point of my year. I love you all.

Pleasant visit

Sun, Feb. 8th, 2009 11:17 am
scarlettina: (Happy Skip)
Just concluded a pleasant visit with [livejournal.com profile] jaylake. We went to see Coraline (strange and funny--and very well animated) and this morning hit the Ballard Sunday Market for cheeses. Well, he left with cheeses. I left with cider and lovely, lovely apples. Maybe I should have left with cheese as well. Hmmm...
scarlettina: (Fantastic!)
My original plan had been to have Christmas dinner with [livejournal.com profile] grubbstreet, his lovely wife and a gang of usual suspects. Though the snow and ice are finally beginning to melt, and despite my digging away the snow and ice around the car, I still couldn't get the vehicle out of its spot on the hill where it's currently planted--still too slippery to be safe. That left me facing yet another solitary day and evening.

Around 4:30, I got a call from [livejournal.com profile] ladyjestocost, asking if I was available for dinner. Plans were made, and at around 6:45 I walked to the nearby 7-11 on the main thoroughfare near my place. They didn't dare try to drive up the hill, but I certainly could go down to them. They whisked me off to dinner!

We went to the Warwick Hotel's Brasserie Margaux, where my kind friends treated me to the restaurant's prix fixe holiday dinner as a holiday gift. My meal choices were as follows:

AMUSE BOUCHE
Prosciutto and Mellon “Lollypops”
Sherry Vinegar Gastrique

APPETIZER
Pumpkin Bisque
Pumpkin Seed oil, Crispy Sage and Crème Fraiche

ENTREE
1/2 Pheasant with Walnut and Kahlua Cream Sauce
accompanied by Haricot Vert and Pommes Anna

DESSERT
Blood Orange Creme Brulee

The amuse bouche really was an amusement for the mouth, with its sweet and salty flavors combined: four melon chunks, each wrapped with prosciutto, two each threaded on skewers and served on a bed of greens.

The pumpkin bisque was thick and light at the same time. The sage and creme fraiche added nice touches. Must try something like this with the sweet potato bisque I'm enjoying this season.

I'd never had pheasant before, and I found I enjoyed it quite a bit--as did [livejournal.com profile] ladyjestocost, who had the same. The gravy was marvelous, if a little overwhelming. I suspected that I was missing some of the subtler pheasant flavor. Later in the meal, when the gravy was well and truly gone, I knew I was right. That didn't stop me, however, from asking for extra gravy when they wrapped up my leftovers for the trip home.

My other entree choice would have been the Wild Mushroom Risotto Cakes with Snow Peas and Baby Carrots in a Beurre Blanc Sauce. [livejournal.com profile] bedii had that option; it looked delicious.

The blood orange creme brulee was very tasty, though I admit that the blood orange flavor seemed to get lost for me. Doesn't matter; the dessert was still delicious.

My hosts were, as always, excellent company. The conversation roamed from unorthodox flying machines to movies to family holiday festivities. A complete delight.

One of our waiters was a Mexican man with a striking face--big dark eyes, a quick smile and a remarkable profile. He looked like he'd just stepped out of a Mayan frieze (sans headdress and exotic earwear). I asked him where he was from (though I could have guessed) and he said Oaxaca, Mexico. I stared a little, probably longer than I should have. He just had such a distinctive face; it was like art. At the end of the meal, he presented me with a rose fashioned from a dinner napkin--very sweet.

All in all, a terrific evening. My thanks go out to [livejournal.com profile] bedii and [livejournal.com profile] ladyjestocost--they saved the day.
scarlettina: (Fantastic!)
This past weekend my dear friend M, whom I've known since my days at Expedia, came up from southern CA for her 40th birthday blow-out. It could not have been a better experience. The weekend roll-up will be fairly detailed, mainly as a result of Saturday evening's repast, hence all the cuts--find what interests you and read as you wish. I did say that Saturday was going to be a day of Genuine Luxury (tm), and I didn't lie.

Friday night, few details )

Saturday morning and afternoon: brekkies and massages )

At that point, things spiraled in a most entertaining way. No, I'm not talking about mind-altering substances. Part of M's plan for the weekend was that her brother would join us for dinner that night, a dinner she was treating us to. Her brother, as it turned out, was ill and couldn't make the trip. M asked me to ask a friend to take his place, since a dinner of this sort really should not go to waste. The first person I asked let us know around 4 PM that she couldn't make it... and so I started making phone calls. In the end, [livejournal.com profile] the_monkey_king took the bullet.

But then, it was an already-paid-for dinner at The Herbfarm. Hardly an opportunity that would be easy to pass up.

For those friends not in the Seattle area and those who are affirmed foodies, let me take a moment to explain about The Herbfarm. ([livejournal.com profile] suricattus: Next time you come here--and we'll have to plan in advance because reservations are tough to get--we must go for dinner because, honestly, you'll die happy.)

The Herbfarm restaurant, experience, menu, fun details and pictures )

Overall, I don't think the day could have been more perfect, and no meal more astonishing. Other pictures of the day will follow--us in our finery and so on--when M sends me her pictures and I get mine all taken care of. I really wanted to post this ASAP so that my memories of the meal were still fresh and specific.

Sunday, M, F and I went to Bellevue Square Mall and went shopping. I never shop recreationally. I enjoy shopping, but I never do it specifically because it's fun; it's always out of practical need. This was an aberration. As it happened, I did need a couple of things--sweaters for the season, some holiday cards--so, recreational though it was, it also netted me stuff I needed.

F flew out of Seattle that afternoon and M stayed over for dinner and a quiet night in watching movies. She departed this AM. Wonderful company, spectacular food: All in all, I don't think I could have enjoyed myself more if I tried.
scarlettina: (Default)
I spent the better part of a crafty afternoon with [livejournal.com profile] dreamline. She learned how to string beads and made a lovely, Celtic-themed necklace. She also brought the kitties a lovely gift, a sleepy mat that one can load with catnip. Merlin has already curled up on it. Spanky expressed interest then toddled off. In case I didn't say it, thank you!

I completed one project and started on another today.

First, the completed project: A pair of earrings that I plan to donate to the Foolscap auction. Hey, Foolscap people! Should I just bring these to the show and hand them off, or do they need to be delivered beforehand?

Pretty Celtic earrings beneath the cut )

Second, the started project: I lay the blame for this at [livejournal.com profile] lisamantchev's door. She sent me a box full of clockworks, and whatever this turns out to be, it will be her fault. I think what you're seeing is the start of an elaborate pendant that will be suspended from a choker length bead-and-chain something-or-other. If you click through the image twice to the largest version, you'll see the chain detail--awfully cool. You'll also see beads affixed to the center spool of each gear so as to protect my delicate skin from being scratched by sharp, pointy bits.

Clockwork still life with pliers )

My hope is to have it completed by Foolscap as well.

Tomorrow? Back to the job hunting.
scarlettina: (Happy Skip)
The last comes first: I had errands to run in Ballard today, so I decided to stop at the locks to enjoy the sunshine and to see which salmon were running the salmon ladder. Today's fish? Chinook salmon three feet long, fat and sassy. As it happened, the fish were extremely active. Not only was the salmon ladder full of fish anxious to get upstream, but out in the bay, the salmon were literally leaping out of the water. I've never seen such activity before. I also learned that if salmon are missing the tiny fin that grows immediately above their tail, they are hatchery salmon, not wild. I saw only two wild salmon in the ladders, not a happy phenomenon.

I also stopped and took some pictures of the flowers in the gardens around the locks. You can see the whole set, fish and flowers, here.

I posted my meager few pix from the Cougar Mountain zoo here.

And you can see pictures of the people I met and the coins I brought home from the ANA show here.
scarlettina: (Lion of Kenya)
If one can say that there's such a thing as a "neighborhood zoo" then Cougar Mountain Zoo might be its perfect definition. Nestled on the side of Cougar Mountain betwixt tidy new housing developments, this small but nicely composed zoo focuses on a strange and interesting combination of critters -- cranes, lemurs, Bengal tigers, cougars (predictably), many species of parrots and macaws, reindeer, alpaca and maybe one or two other sorts of creatures. It also features the largest collection of bronze animal sculptures in the country. A number of the enclosures were surrounded with chain-link fence which I found distracting and a little frustrating.

I arrived in time for the lemur enrichment and mini-lecture. I visited with each of the beautiful macaws (there will be pix) and then sat for about twenty minutes chatting with a sweet alpaca lounging in the shade. I spent time talking with a volunteer getting the inside scoop on the cougar and Bengal tigers, and marveled at the astonishing antlers on the zoo's collection of Siberian reindeer.

The Bengals are about a year old, one a golden (which makes him look like a ferocious, giant orange tabby) and one a royal white. The pictures on the zoo web site are up to date. Beautiful cats. The zoo is building a new, much larger and more natural enclosure for them. It won't be enough to take the zoo to the next level, but it will be enough to make more of an impression on visitors.

Nice visit overall, but I think the park is really geared toward families with little kids. It's small and somehow feels like exactly the sort of zoo one would find on the Eastside: very neat, lots of signs telling kids not to touch or climb on things.

I did take pictures; will upload and share them as time permits. Now, I'm going to sit in the shade and read. It's an air quality alert day today (heat + stagnant air for the urban corridor through the better part of the weekend apparently), and I want to take it easy.
scarlettina: (Merlin: Nap rays)
Spent the afternoon with [livejournal.com profile] mikigarrison at Discovery Park hiking up and down the well-marked trails, then stopping for something cold to drink at Corporate Coffee Behemoth. What a lovely afternoon, even though we never got to really see the ocean as was our desire. This desire was mainly foiled by my knee, which complained of walking down hills. I got to see water this AM (see prior entry re: riding along the canal), so I don't feel too bad about it.

Mainly, then, today was all about exercise and snoozing, because when I wasn't on the bike or on the trail, Merlin's Feline Nap Rays lured me to the horizontal position. The Nap Rays are strong with that one. (See icon; can't you feel the Nap Rays?) Part of me feels like I should have been UP! and PRODUCTIVE! The rest of me feels like, hey, it's Sunday, it's warm, I've been out in the sun doing muscle-powered activity. Snoozing is an acceptable way to spend any part of the day not doing that stuff.

So suddenly, here it is, 7:20 PM, and I'm thinking chicken and pasta. Tomorrow evening I will almost certainly be thinking about grocery shopping.

Seven business days left under the current contract at Large Software Company in Redmond. Part of me is really looking forward to the time off. Part of me is really sad to be going. Such, however, is the way of things. And so it goes.
scarlettina: (Movie tix)
My birthday on Thursday was perfectly lovely. Work was relatively low stress. Lunch with [livejournal.com profile] the_monkey_king was delightful, as always. Had dinner that evening with The Usual Suspects at Luigi's Grotto where, upon seeing we were a small group, they asked us for a per-person budget and then made us a fabulous, family-style meal. JH and I went for ice cream (small, small servings) afterward. I was asleep by midnight and could not have been happier at the end of it all. A really perfect day.

Yesterday, the team took me out for my farewell lunch. I still have about a week left on this job, but one of our team members is going on vacation before then and didn't want to miss the event. We went to Canyon's, where the food's perfectly adequate; mostly I was there for the company, and I had to tell the team the truth: this year has been the best year I've ever spent on a team at the Large Software Company in Redmond. I genuinely enjoyed working with the group. I felt like I made a contribution to the team that mattered. I felt like I was taken seriously. If you have to work somewhere (and most of us do), that's not a bad way to spend your time. I made the right choice a year ago. I hope I can be that smart about employment again.

After work I met BC and FM to go see HellBoy II: The Golden Army. I give the movie a B+ (okay, okay, A-) for stunning visuals and costumes, likable characters, a story steeped in myth, and a vision of a sort of alternate New York that's wildly imaginative. And the good news is that if you didn't see the first film, it's really not a problem. You're provided with all the information you need right at the front of the movie.

The rest of my pretty extensive comments, with spoilers, are under the cut )

The short version here is that this is a beautiful movie to watch, a fun adventure with huge ambition and a cool story to see unfold. The pacing is a little off and some of the character stuff rubbed me in the wrong way--though your mileage may certainly vary. But it's well worth seeing, a visual banquet and a lot of fun.
scarlettina: (Spanky Dignified)
Woke up this morning to e-cards from [livejournal.com profile] phgellis and [livejournal.com profile] setsyoustraight. I received a happy birthday video from my favorite local radio station, which just made me laugh. And lots of LJ birthday wishes. E-mail also brought a note from a friend with compliments on "After This Life" that added to the happiness.

The packages awaiting me contained a tiny Minnie Mouse wristwatch (which will be worn today with complete delight) and something I'd ordered for myself that I completely forgot about.

I also forgot that today's Spanky's birthday, too. There he is in my icon, in all his magnificence. He got lots of pets this morning.

It promises to be a lovely day.

Lastly, I send out birthday wishes to my twin-of-another-mother, [livejournal.com profile] markbourne, and to [livejournal.com profile] juliebata. And I send out happy anniversary wishes to [livejournal.com profile] the_monkey_king & [livejournal.com profile] shellyinseattle, and [livejournal.com profile] kenscholes & [livejournal.com profile] jens_fire. Have a wonderful day, each of you!
scarlettina: (Default)
Moss in its natural habitat
Moss in its natural habitat,
originally uploaded by scarlettina.

Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] brumbjorn, [livejournal.com profile] selinker, his sister and I went geocaching. [livejournal.com profile] brumbjorn had chosen a group of caches at and in the vicinity of Flaming Geyser State Park, a place with an intriguing name that I'd never heard of. The day was cool and gray, but exactly the right weather for hiking up and down steep inclines and poking about in thick forests.

Our first cache of the day was the "Mossy Mystery Cache", which turned out to be located up an extremely steep trail and behind a rotted out tree. The forest all around was just coated in moss, and we could hear and see the Green River below pushing along, very swift and very swollen.

The second main attraction of the day were the caches inside the park itself. The park was gorgeous, trails everywhere, forests filled with trees draped with moss, and lovely creeks that babbled and crackled through the green. The first cache was the flaming geyser itself, now a ghost of its former self. It was only five or six inches high; apparently it got as tall as 13-15 feet back in the 1930s. We then followed the trail to the next geyser, the Bubbling Geyser. You could smell the methane from yards and yards away. This geyser was small also, located in a trickle of a creek, and turned the water a chalky white. Still worth seeing for the beautiful clearing in which it was located. I highly recommend this park as a destination for those in the Pacific Nothwest. The forest is breathtaking, and though many of the trees look relatively young, the place looks positively primordial with all the moss. Many of the trees are so covered that they look like they're wearing green fur, and it makes their branches look almost like tentacles. (See the entire Flickr set.)

Our last stop of the day was Whitney Bridge State Park. Basically, it's an enormous bridge that's been stuck on concrete blocks in the middle of an open field. Its successor crosses the Green River about 300-400 yards away. It's a lovely setting for this slowly-rotting bridge made of cables and I beams. I took some pictures of it (at the Flickr set), but didn't have the presence of mind to shoot the thing from a distance so you can actually see it full on. Anyway, very cool to see this abandoned bridge in the middle of nowhere.

Lovely excursion. I like geocaching. It's a way to exercise without thinking about exercising, and if you find a good cache, you get a toy surprise. (I got a pencil that says "High Maintenance," and a wooden nickel for my token collection.)
scarlettina: (Happy Skip)
We started the day bright and early. Around 9 AM, I picked E up from her hotel room and brought her back to my place which, never having been to Seattle, she'd never seen. She thought it was wonderful, with its high ceilings, loft living room and all the open space. We chatted genealogy a bit (she's slowly passing me all the family stuff she's got; I'm becoming quite the family archivist), and then I showed her my rare and antique elongated coins. She had no idea the hobby is as old as it is, or that the older coins are such tiny works of art, so it was fun to share that.

Then off we went. Our first stop was Pike Place Market. She'd been told it was a farmer's market and had no idea of how large or diverse it really is. She also enjoyed the view of Elliott Bay available from he market. We shared crumpets and coffee at The Crumpet Shop (which I know is a favorite of [livejournal.com profile] girasole's and the reason I decided to try it), poked around a bit more, then headed downtown for the Underground Tour.

This was my third time on the Underground Tour, and I didn't find it as detailed as it used to be. While there certainly was emphasis put on history (because that, after all, is what the tour is all about), our guide didn't really point out as much of the cool stuff and landmarks underground as I've seen other tour guides do--buildings and that sort of thing. A little disappointing. Still, she was entertaining and informative enough to make it worth it. E had a blast. We made a stop at Elliott Bay Books, then headed back to Capitol Hill to spend time at the Asian Art Museum. I was glad to get her over there since she'd wanted to go so much, and she clearly enjoyed it.

Dinner was at Elliot's on the Waterfront. E was bound and determined to have salmon while she was here. I'd considered Ivar's on Lake Union, another local landmark of sorts, but I haven't been to Elliot's in years. It was ultimately the right choice.

E and I walked along the waterfront a bit after that. Finally she decided she was fading, so we called it a night.

She's off to the airport at this writing, probably queueing up for her flight even as I type this post. There were a million more things I wanted to share with her while she was here; her visit was just too short to accommodate it all. Turns out that she'll be back in the fall on business again, so there may be time then to take her out to Rainier or St. Helens or maybe Snoqualmie Falls. I hope so.

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