Just a few of the many great hiking trails in our area.
We had a nice visit this morning at the new site fo the Farmers Market down on the waterfront near Scuttlebutt's. Here's a quick 2 minute look:
Of course, we're talking about Bill Gates' Medina Mansion. Twenty-four bathrooms. It's a safe bet that Bill and Melinda run to Costco when they're out of t.p.
That's just one of 15 facts in this interesting article in Curbed Seattle.
The mortgage website HSH.com posted an interesting article this week in which it estimated the salary needed in order to afford a house (including principal and interest, taxes and insurance) in 27 U.S. cities. With the average home price at $359,900 (up 3.5% from last month and 8.2% from this time last year) and a monthly mortgage of $1752.29, Seattle ranked 7th among major U.S. cities. Want to own an average home in Seattle? You'll need to aim for a salary of $75,098.06.
To see how we compare to the other 26 cities, check out the article here.
. . . Snow-vember
We don't always get snow in November, but when we do, it's delightful. Want a peek? Here's what it looked like in my backyard this week …
The little red shed in the middle used to be our chicken coop, but last year we converted it into an art studio where my grandson and I can make messes without getting into trouble.
Coming back up our driveway
You can't tell from this picture, but our front porch has two facing swings. Pretty much my favorite spot whatever the season.
Dave's shed and the delphiniums and hollyhocks I had to paint on the side because the real ones kept getting mowed down. 🙂
Light along our walkway
Dave's wood shed, and some of the wood he's been chopping this summer
The Centennial Trail we like to walk along
I'm not going to lie to you. If you're thinking about relocating to the Puget Sound area, you're going to encounter a little rain now and again, like I did on a trip up to Samish Island with my friend, Cathy Taylor, early in September.
But doesn't this look like fun? 🙂
Sure, you're going to step on a slug or two if you become a Washingtonian. You're going to get rained on. You're going to endure Big Foot jokes from your out-of-state friends. But you will never, ever have to deal with this …
Good call. You could have relocated to Florida!
I could probably blog for an entire year about the characters in this town. And up till now, the only reason I haven't done so is because I couldn't choose which story, which character to share first. But yesterday I found my beginning place. I'm going to start on one specific street in downtown Marysville, the one that runs byStarbucks.
I saw the boy as Dave and I were driving out the back entranceof the Starbucks parking lot. I'm amazed I noticed him at all because I was totally consumed with my iced grande soy latte. I'd been trying to get up the courage to try a soy latte for two weeks. But every time I stood at the counter and opened my mouth, some other order came out. Yesterday, however, after managing to gush my worries to the barista and hearing her assurance that I could dump it if I wasn't delighted and she'd replace it for free, I went ahead and jumped off that cliff. And you know what? It wasn't bad at all. Theyuse vanilla soy, which apparently masks the fact that you're drinking bean milk.
I was sipping and savoring and mmm-ing as we turned left out of the parking lot, but in the midst of all that I caught a glimpse of the traveler sitting on the right side of the road. I knew he was a traveler because he was thoughtful enough to announce it, to me and every other driver within passing distance. Traveling — Low on funds, his cardboard sign read. I'm not sure if it was the honesty of that sign or the fact that he had dredlocks which drew me to him, but something did. (On the dredlock topic — I've always been fascinated. I'm quite sure that if I were a twenty-something young man, I'd have them too).
I looked in my wallet and found a five-dollar bill with no immediate plans attached to it. "Mind if I give this to that boy?" I asked Dave. He didn't. I pulled down my window and waited to catch the traveler's eye. He grinned when he saw my outstretched hand and jogged over.
"Where are you headed?" I asked.
"Seattle," he answered. And then, because he's a traveler, don't you know, and travelers have to make friends quickly, he kept talking. "I have a job interview there. I might stay. Or I might go north … or south. I don't know." He grinned, and that cinched it. I liked him. I actually wanted to take him home with us and make him a pot roast, but as we were talking in the middle of the street and the light had just changed and a line of cars behind me didn't share my fascination with the boy, we had to part ways.
"God bless you," I said.
He God blessed me right back.
My heart stayed on that street corner with the boy I would never see again. And all the way home, I hurt that I couldn't bring him to our home and to our church. My reaction startled me. I'm not the first person to hand out money to sign-holders. In fact, I often suspect that when their day's work ends, they hop in their somewhere-hidden Mercedes and jet off to their beach-front homes. I have no proof, mind you, but that's my suspicion. From time to time, God nudges me to help someone, but until I feel that holy prod, I look the other way.
I grieved over my lost friend all evening, and thought about him again this morning. But it wasn't until I sat down to write this post that I made the connection.
Just a week ago, as I'd been pulling out of Starbucks again on that same back road onto that same street, a small blur on the pavement between me and the front car caught my eye. It was a mouse, and he was running for his life. For right on his heels came a (proportionally) giant black crow. Just as the crow was reaching his feet out to snatch the mouse, the big-eared, long-tailed little guy ran beneath the front car. Seconds later, that car moved. Not wanting to run him over, I scanned the pavement before moving forward, but he was nowhere in sight. It occurred to me that he may have hitched a ride on the undercarriage of the car — and I was right. After that car had turned left and gone twenty feet, the mouse reappeared, and skittered across the left side of the road. I looked up the road, saw an oncoming car, and held my breath. But the mouse made it to the curb unsquished. However, his troubles weren't over, for thecrow had been watching as well, and he flew from behind me and swooped right toward the mouse. I so wanted him to get away. I watched as he bounced against the curb — no doubt fighting panic —and lay dazed for a split second. He ran back, just barely missing the crow's talons, and then ran forward again. But the writing was on the wall for this battle. Before the light changed and I left the scene, the crow had snagged his prey and flown off to enjoy his lunch.
The entire drama had played itself off directly across the street from where the traveler sat waiting. The mouse was long-gone, long-digested by the time that boy sat himself on the grass and penned his cardboard sign. But I must have made a sub-conscious connection.
It's a great big world, and he was just one young man–a young man who reminded me of my own boy. A young man whose mother might be looking up from her stove somewhere and wondering if her boy is hungry. A young man about to venture into a world chock full of taloned predators. I know there's an adventure involved, and I hope on his search he finds whatever he's looking for. But I'm praying he simply lands somewhere warm and safe, and that at the end of his traveling, he knows he's loved.
We're all on a journey of some sort. May your travels today lead to joy.
Snohomish Pumpkin Hurl & Medieval Faire What could be more fun than hurling pumpkins from a Trebuchet? Afterward you can watch sword fighting and a jousting theatrical troupe. (September 13-14)
Schack-toberfest The urban pumpkin patch at this 4-day event features 600 blown-glass gourds and pumpkins. Enjoy glassblowing demonstrations, face painting and a raffle.(September 26-29)
The Great Pumpkin Glow. Gather at Craven Farm for storytelling, a 3D Pumpkin Adventure, hay rides, a corn maze and more. (October 26)
Historic Downtown Snohomish Trick or Treat Kids in costume receive treats from the downtown merchants. (October 31)
Foster Farm's "Wizard of Oz" Corn Maze For one of the best corn mazes around, visit Foster Farm in Arlington. (Oct 1-31)
These orcas were spotted swimming and playing off of Vashon Island yesterday. Just another reason to love living in the Northwest!
We missed the Evergreen State Fair this year. I don't know how that happens. I am always so determined that we're going to go, but sometimes August slips into September and our chance disappears along with it. There's always the Puyallup, but it's not the same thing. All my best memories are from the Fair in Monroe. And of all those memories, the most precious to me is the last time I went with my grandmother.
She announced one day that she wanted to go. In itself, that request doesn't seem odd, but I'd actually never thought I'd hear it again from her. Though only 61, Grandma had been stopped cold by arthritis. 'Old Arthur,' as she called it, had cruelly plucked from her all her delights: trips to the mall, trips to Seattle, trips to the Fair. Arthritis had stolen her legs and hands, wrung the energy from her bones, and confined her to a chair near a window, from where she could watch life but no longer participate in it.
Grandpa perked up at her suggestion. "If you want to go to the Fair today, then that's what we'll do." I watched him watching her, and saw determination in his eyes. "How many scones do you think you can eat?"
"At least two. And an ear of corn from the VFW booth," she said. We didn't waste a minute. I helped Grandma brush her hair, Grandpa got her shoes and purse, and off we went.
Monroe, home to the Evergreen State Fair, wasn't far from my grandparents' Snohomish farm. We were there in under twenty minutes, even counting Fair traffic. Grandma endured the slide from the car to her chair without a word. Nor did she utter a syllable's worth of complaint as we traveled the gravel-covered parking lot.
As we walked toward the admissions gate, I saw her staring toward the right end of the fairgrounds, where the whizzing carnival rides were in full neon frenzy. "Shanny, what's that long, skinny ride over there?"
I followed her gesture and saw the ride in question. "That's the Zipper, Gram."
She watched for a split second and said, "I think I'd like to ride the Zipper today."
I made a sound not unlike a snort. "No, Grandma, you don't want to go on the Zipper." I looked at Grandpa and he looked back. My expression said, What is she thinking? but his sent an entirely different message. What I saw in his eyes was, Isn't she something?
True to her word, she ate a butter-slathered ear of corn and two scones. She also nibbled an elephant ear and shared a purple cow milkshake with Grandpa. We watched a man demonstrate the new-and-improved way to slice vegetables, watched a woman clean a spill with a must-have chamois, and watched loggers climb poles, chop wood and roll logs in a make-shift pond. We got our rings cleaned. We listened to the stock car races and even found a low-enough hole in the fence so Grandma could have a peek at the cars flying around the track.
Maybe it was that race that got her going again. "I think I'm ready for that ride now," she said.
I decided not to fight her. We'd go on a ride, but the Zipper was out. "Grandma, if you feel well enough for a ride, let's find one that won't rattle you. The Zipper is too wild." I scanned the jumble of machinery and saw one that looked innocuous enough. "Look over there," I said.
Grandma looked. "You mean that big circle of swings?"
"Doesn't that look fun?"
She kept looking. "Not really."
"Sure it is. They'll strap you in and then it lifts and spins around. I'll bet we'll be able to see everything from up there."
I felt a little embarrassed as we wheeled Grandma up to one of the swings. I could see people nudging each other and whispering, as if we were forcing the woman to ride carnival rides against her will.
I fastened her safety belt and locked the metal bar. "I'll be in the swing ahead of you."
The ride started. We lifted and began to spin. Against the force, I twisted in my chair and looked back at Grandma. Legs dangling in the breeze, she sat straight against her seat with her hands folded neatly in her lap and a polite smile arranged on her face.
The peaceful, gentle ride didn't last long. We got her back in her chair and wheeled past the onlookers. "That wasn't so bad, was it, Grandma?" I asked.
"No," she said, "but now I'd really like to go on that Zipper." If she went on the Zipper — which wasn't going to happen — it would mean I'd have to go with her. I took in another earful of Zipper-screaming and another eyeful of tumbling cages and decided I'd have to find a less frightening alternative.
I spied the Matterhorn. "How about that ride?"
We wheeled her up, helped her into the alpine-decorated cars, and started off. This time, she perked up. As we rolled up and over the curved track, she started yelling. "Faster! Faster!" We did go faster. We whipped along that track like a couple of medal-bound bobsledders, with Grandma yee-hawing right in my ear. After several minutes, we finally began to slow down. Grandma squealed her disappointment. "Don't stop!" But the ride operator on the side of the track just laughed. As we rode past, he yelled back, "I'm putting it in reverse — just for you!" And off we went again, with Grandma yelling out her delight.
I felt dizzy as we climbed out of our car. That ought to do it, I thought. But Grandma had a different thought. "Clifford, tell Shannon I want to go on the Zipper."
I begged Grandpa with my eyes to side with me. But I should have known he could never say no to her.
"Shanny, take your Grandma on the Zipper."
I walked to that ride with all the joy one would feel walking to a guillotine. I felt ill as we climbed aboard one of the barely-secured cages and I heard the click of the lock. Grandma, however, looked like a sixteen-year old who had just gotten her driver's license. "Let's see how fast we can make this thing spin."
I didn't have time to argue. The ride (and my screaming) began. Up we went, and then around, and around, and around. "Lean into it," Grandma ordered. "Help me spin us faster."
Could she not hear my screaming?
I screamed myself hoarse. Grandma giggled through the entire ride. And when we finally, mercifully, slowed and stopped at the very tiptop of the ride — upside down — Grandma kept laughing. I kept screaming. Until eventually, she gave me a nudge in the side. "Shannon, you're embarrassing me."
I stopped screaming and turned to look at her. Grandma's hair, like my own, hung straight down from her head. Her eyes were teary from laughter; with a gnarled finger, she wiped one escaped tear from her cheek. I could just see the ground below through squares of the cage near her head. Near our feet, I saw the sky. And the whole thing was suddenly so absurd, I had to laugh. We hung there together like two teenage friends, stuck in a moment I've returned to a hundred times in my mind.
Grandma's arthritis came back in the months that followed. It came with a vengeance, angry to have lost her for that short period. That trip to the Fair was our last together, but it was the trip that meant the most to me. Among the many things I learned from my grandmother, the lesson she gave me in that between-earth-and-sky moment was one I value most. Age, it turns out, is a relative thing. And unless you convince yourself otherwise, you're never too old to fly.