Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fat Robin Farm

This blog entry was written by my grandson, Owen, who visited Katie and me while we were staying in Sequim, Wa. at the home of our friend, Sally.

I’m here at the Fat Robin Farm with my grandparents. I came from Edmonds on the Kingston ferry, and from there, my grandparents drove me to Sequim. 

I’m staying at their friend Sally’s house, which has a huge back yard, complete with a cherry tree, a few raspberry bushes, and black berry brambles, around the edges. 
Sally’s house is divided into two sections by an art studio. Sally lives on one side and we live on the other side. We keep the door of the art studio closed because Sally has three cats and I’m allergic to cat dander. My favorite of the three cats is Meow. 
She’s the boldest, so she doesn’t run away from me. She’s a grey cat with dark grey stripes. She really likes me and will come slowly after I call her. She also really likes to roll around on the grass, which makes her really dirty. Her owner, Angie, is in Seattle. Angie is Sally’s daughter, and she is going to get Meow and take her to Seattle within the next year. Meow was next to the driveway when I came here, and she let me pet her.

George is a nervous kitty. He runs away from me whenever I come within three feet of him. 
He’s dark brown with black stripes, and pretty big, not like Meow. He lies on Sally’s bed all day, but he can run really fast when he wants to. His owner is Sally. George really likes Grandpa and will come if Grandpa calls him. I first met George when I went exploring the house.

The last cat is a Tonkinese named Blue.
 Blue has a dark tail, face, ears, and a brown back, but he’s white everywhere else. Blue likes me enough, but he hides anyway and scratched me after I rubbed his tummy too long. Blue is the largest of all three cats. Blue really likes Grandpa too. I first met Blue when Grandpa called him.
Sally is super, super nice. She waves to me whenever I see her. She includes me in conversations. She lets us use her enormous wide screen TV whenever we want to. She tries to get her cats to like me. She lets me roam around her house whenever she’s awake or not home. She lets five people share her house with her all at the same time. She is AWESOME!

On my third day here, we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s friend Pamela’s house for dinner. She gave us some of the best 
Mac’n’cheese I’ve ever had. It had mushrooms, smoked mozzarella cheese, stilton cheese, possibly some other cheese that I forget, with vegetable rotini. 
Pamela is a GREAT artist, and she even did a painting of my grandma which will be part of Pamela’s one-woman show at the Sequim Museum and Art Center. She was really nice too and gave me a bunch of lemonade!

On my fourth day, Grandma’s friend Ann came over. Ann is super nice too. She goes walking with Grandma every day! 
She and Sally come over and eat with us sometimes. The Lavender Festival is going on right now, and Grandma, Sally, and Ann went to two or three farms together and ate lunch out, while Grandpa and I went out to Subway. It was fun because I got a bag of Doritos with my sandwich and then we went to Starbucks for a Cheesecake Brownie.
While we were talking to Ann shortly after she arrived, a deer came really close to the apple tree in the backyard to eat the apples.
Today, we all went to the Lavender Festival. Grandma and I made
lavender wands and I made a sachet. Both are pretty and smell strongly of lavender. I had a very good time, but I almost froze my toes off.
I’m going home tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to swinging on my swing. My brother has been at a backpacking camp, but he’ll be home when I get back. I’ve had a great time at the Fat Robin Farm.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The 21st Annual Greenwood Car Show

Advertised as “a mile and a half of classic rides,” the Greenwood Car Show is the largest one-day classic car show in the state of Washington. Hundreds of cars are lined up on both sides of Greenwood Avenue, the main street in Greenwood, a neighborhood in north central Seattle. This is the third time I’ve attended with my friends, Jim and Nick. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us, if three times makes a tradition. It’s only a ten-minute walk from my sister Karen’s house where Katie and I were staying. Nick showed up early in his Mini Cooper on the Saturday morning of the show. We walked together up to Greenwood, leaving in plenty of time to get to the show 1/2 an hour before the official start. We planned to meet Jim, who also lives close by, in front of the chiropractic office on Greenwood and 79th. We knew that we would still be looking at cars five or six hours from the time we started, so knowing that a chiropractor was nearby was not a bad thing. When we arrived Jim hadn’t arrived yet, but there were already plenty of people milling around. Nick commented that many of them resembled Jim. In fact, upon further inspection, they resembled Nick and me as well, a bunch of older white guys in t-shirts, jeans and baseball caps. The demographics did change somewhat as the day progressed, to include non-whites, younger folks, women and families. Did I mention that the guys who owned the cars also looked remarkably like us as well?
The number of restored minis seems to get bigger every year. Comparing Nick’s modern retro Mini to these older ones, is like comparing a Pit Bull to a Chihuahua
Seeing all these restored cars in one place is close to a religious experience--happiness, gratefulness and awe. And the car owners are the high priests who openly share the secrets of their cars with the masses. The three of us tended to get most excited about the cars we grew up liking. Even though many of the older cars of the 30s and 40s demonstrate superior craftsmanship and a refined elegance, it’s the cars of the 50s and 60s that really turned us on and as usual there was an abundance of them. 
My family had a 1955 Mercury, light blue with a dark blue roof. This 54 was a beauty and well restored.

Jim is probably telling this woman how good she would look behind the wheel of this Chevy Bel Air.
 Jim is an authority and connoisseur of classic cars. He has loved cars his entire life and knows subtle things about them that sometimes the owners don’t even know. For Nick and me, attending the show with Jim is like having our own personal tour guide. He misses few opportunities to question an owner about a car he’s particularly interested in and they are always happy to share their knowledge.
In the late 50s and early 60s cars had huge rear ends.
And the designers’ imaginations went wild. This Cadillac looks like it’s ready for take-off. But you’ve got to love ‘em.
The three of us agreed that this Studebaker was one of sweetest cars of the show. Studebakers were unlike any other cars of their time.
Every year we each pick our personal favorite car of the show. The cars we choose are never the older classics or even the best restoration jobs, but the ones we would most like to immediately climb into and drive away. Nick and Jim are both passionate about Thunderbirds, so I wasn’t surprised when each chose a T-Bird as their favorite.

This ‘57 T-Bird that Nick chose was actually up for sale for a measly $70,000. We didn’t have to try to convince him that he’d look good behind the wheel. But for that price, he was concerned that he couldn’t convince his wife, Suzanne.
I couldn’t get a good shot of Jim’s favorite car because of all the people getting in the way, but I did manage to get a piece of it.
Jim mentioned that back in the day, you were either a Ford guy or a Chevy guy and never the twain shall meet. For some of the formative years of my life, my dad only bought Chevys, so I was a Chevy guy. My choice of the show was this red 1962 Corvette. In the early 60s TV show, Route 66, Buzz and Todd drove around in one of these.  Damn, I’d really look good behind the wheel of this one. 

The paint job on this car was luscious. 

Nick spent an inordinate amount of time lurking around this little 195? Aston Martin DB Mark III.

On family vacations, the kids could really bounce around in the back seat of this 1952 Buick Eight, Super Woody Estate.
The three of us agreed that the cars that are restored to their original state are the ones we love most. There were many examples at this year’s show.
By mid-afternoon, the 22-block show was so over-crowded with people, it became a challenge to even get close to the cars. When we still had 4 or 5 blocks to go, we ran out of steam and decided to bail. Maybe next year we can begin training a few weeks in advance in order to complete it. but the show keeps getting bigger and we keep getting older.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Getting Back Into Balance

     We spent the first two weeks of our three-month long escape from the Arizona heat, in Seattle. Summer had not quite begun in the northwest. We stayed at my sister Karen’s house, and she referred to June in Seattle as “Juneuary”. It was cloudy and rainy almost every day, but then late in the afternoon, the clouds blew away and the sun spread its warm, drying rays around giving rise to the smell of green plants and moldy wooden houses. Our last few days were hot, in the 70s and 80s with high humidity. The day we left for the Olympic Peninsula, it soared into the 90s, a little too much summer for the locals. As one Seattleite put it, "I wait all year to complain about the heat." 
Seattle is a progressive, liberal city. It is most apparent coming from Arizona, a conservative State. At the grocery store, the clerk, seeing that we hadn’t brought any bags of our own, asked us how many bags we wanted to purchase to put our groceries in. We bought two paper bags at 5 cents apiece.
     Recycling is not the exception in Seattle, it’s the rule. Every house has three containers for waste pick up, the smallest one for garbage and the two big containers for recycled material and yard/compost material. I read that Seattle leads the nation in recycling. I think it’s commendable that the people of the city choose to recycle so much, but at times it can be frustrating. At the co-op, after eating lunch, I got so confused trying to decipher into which of the many containers I was to put my plate, napkin, cookie bag, plastic fork, paper cup and plastic lid, that one of the employees took pity on me and came over to help me sort it all out. In my frustration I said, “Down in Arizona, we just haul ass up the highw002ay and throw our garbage out the window.” She laughed, I’m glad she knew I was joking.
     The Fremont area of Seattle seems like the epicenter of liberalism. One morning Katie and I wandered over to Fremont to witness the Solstice Festival and parade. Immediately upon entering the area, we felt transported back to the 1960s.        lenin in Fremont                   
     As one enters Fremont, you are greeted by a giant statue of Lenin, not John “Lennon”, but Vladimir. I read that this statue is dressed up for a variety of different Fremont occasions throughout the year. As we walked by I noticed that Vladimir’s left hand was painted red. This subtle addition to the statue’s revolutionary pose, helped put it into the right perspective for me. There are at least two other notable icons in Fremont. 
A huge cold-war rocket fuselage adorns the front of a local store. I have no idea what the significance of this is. And then there is the giant Troll under the highway bridge. “The community pays tribute to the troll every October 31st with a mobile ‘Trollaween’ party, starting under the bridge and wandering to other funky art sites and events in Fremont.”Giant Troll
     The Solstice Festival proclaims the arrival of the sunny season and this year the sun cooperated. As the day progressed, the temperature rose into the 80s. We arrived early, about 11am, and people were already lining the streets to watch the parade, which didn’t start until 3pm. The festival celebrates and highlights all things environmentally friendly. It is also an opportunity for people to paint their bodies and ride totally naked on bicycles in front of hundreds of people. Not something I would recommend or be inclined to do, especially at my age.
     I stopped and talked to a young woman who had a giant shrimp on her head.
 She was very nice and wanted me to make sure that when I ordered shrimp in a restaurant, it was the right kind of shrimp. It was very important to her that I do not eat shrimp from certain countries. I can’t remember which ones, but she said these countries do bad things which to me seemed totally unrelated to my shrimp eating. She was very nice and very earnest about the cause. I trusted that she knew what she was talking about and I told her that I would do my best.       
Medical marijuana van     We walked past a man standing in front of a truck with green crosses and giant marijuana leaves painted on the side. He tried to give Katie a brochure, which she rejected, but I took and he seemed extremely pleased. These green crosses are all over Seattle on buildings and trucks. It is the symbol for medical marijuana. I’ve always been in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. It should not be lumped in with the harder and more addictive and dangerous drugs. But the movement to push marijuana as a medical remedy seems deceptive to me. I’m sure it helps people with certain ailments, but I suspect that the people behind it are not solely motivated by remedying other people’s health concerns. My friend, Erran, told me that there is a way to heat up marijuana and take out the chemical part that makes you high. The process leaves in all the medicinal elements, which means it would become more like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. I wonder, if all of the pot these people are pushing underwent this process, would the movement still have such a robust following.
     After wandering around Fremont for several hours, I began to feel a little more balanced. It was just the remedy I needed to counteract the effects of all the Tea Party rallies in Green Valley, AZ. over the past few years.