I love the produce at this time of the year. We are just starting to hit the peak. Seattle has a bounty of markets. There seems to be one every day in a different neighborhood. We have one locally but I love the market in the University neighborhood. I picked up dinner - mussels just harvested yesterday smelling fresh of the sound, a warm ripe tomato that I served with the last ball of buffalo mozzarella, loaf of sourdough and sweet apricots. I also picked up some green beans, squash and lettuce for the coming week. Here are pictures of the market.
We are on a San Francisco 60's weekend. We started by watching "Zodiac". I was curious since I remember reading about the killer when I was at school. I remember being spooked at times when new letters were received and I had to walk to school. The movie was interesting but too long. The movie spent too much time with the character played by Jake Gyllenhaal obsessing over finding the killer.
Today we went to my favorite museum in Seattle, Frye Museum. The current exhibit is R. Crumb's Underground. Crumb's cartoons were always around while I was in high school and college. He was part of the counterculture and the rebellion that went on in the late '60s. But I knew little about him beyond the cover for Cheap Thrills album, the Keep On Truckin' guy and Fritz the Cat.
The exhibit is a collection of his work through the years. Some of it fascinating, some of it vulgar and misogynistic. All very interesting.
I didn't realize that he moved to France in the early '90s to escape the commercialism and conservative religious trends in the US. There was a great cartoon of their live in a small French village. I searched around and found a couple of articles.
That was the headline of the Seattle Times this weekend. June is always an changeable unpredictable month here in Seattle. It is a time of transition. Some years it is mild and the temperatures steadily increase up to July. Other years, it just is dreary.
And then there is this year; a record breaking year for low maximum temperatures. Hey, if you are sweltering right now - I don't want to hear about it. Right now, it is 58 degrees and that may have been our high today! Jet stream - get your butt up into Canada where you belong in June.
G and I have been snipping at each other. The gray days will do that to you. The forecast was for sun breaks on Sunday so we took a chance (or advantage) to get outside. The snow level was down to 5,000 so we stayed in town. We took a walk around Discovery Park.
The park is a treasure for Seattle. It is located on the bluffs in Magnolia neighborhood overlooking the Puget Sound. It was formerly an Army site and there are some cool memorials on the park. But today, it is run by the city and provides a 534 acre escape from the grind of the city.
It is also great in-city hike. There is a 3 mile loop trail that takes you along the bluffs, down to the beach and back around through the forest. On a cold June day, it is the perfect escape.
Another great place to visit on a cloudy cool day is the Volunteer Park Conservatory. You are transported to a tropical jungle as you walk through the doors. There are 5 green houses varying in temperature and humidity to highlight different plants. The glass house was completed in 1922 and consist of 5 different 'houses of varying temperature and humidity.
The center house is the Palm House. The highlight of this house are the orchids but if you take time to look around you will see many other interesting tropical plants such as ginger and Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise plant).
We headed to the cactus house, our favorite. We love the desert. The humidity is low and the temperature is kept around 75 degrees. Last Sunday, members of the Seattle Cactus and Succulent Society were available to answer questions. Many of the cacti were in bloom. It was a perfect escape on a gray Seattle day.
I went to lunch with my friend E today. We've been going to lunch once a week for the past few months after I found out that I was going to be laid off. I'm trying to continue getting together with friends once a week or so to get me out of the house. Otherwise, I suspect I will become a bit of a recluse.
I am taking the opportunity to explore Seattle after lunch. I feel like I'm rediscovering the city I live in. I never had much energy while I was working to get out and see where I live. I was doing 4 10-hour days and I focused on getting to work and home. With the traffic here in Seattle, that usually ate up another hour or two. There went 12 hours.
Last week after lunch, I went over to West Seattle. I was bummed because I didn't have my camera. Today, I decided to explore the Fremont area and I had my camera along. This area is just northwest of Lake Union which I showed you pictures of on Saturday. It is separated from Queen Anne by the Ship Canal leading to the Ballard Locks.
It was settled early in the 1900's when a trolley was run from downtown Seattle up into the works above Lake Union to Green Lake. The area along the trolley built up creating Fremont and made it an early suburb of Seattle. A wood trestle connected lower Queen Anne and Fremont. The neighborhood was hard hit by the depression and the creation of the Aurora Bridge. It became more seedy and run down. Later it attracted the bohemian crowd. In the early '90s, it had a very irrelevant atmosphere and was nicknamed "The Center of the Universe". During this time the Fremont Solstice Festival came to be. It is a crazy fair and parade known for its painted nude bicyclist which streak through before the parade begins.
Also in the '90s, the art community brought several unusual items into the neighborhood; a status of Lenin, a huge rocket from a Army Navy store, the "Waiting for the Interurban" statue and the Troll. G used to sell plants at the Sunday Market which at that time was part flea market, part farmers market. The farmers section has now moved on to Ballard.
But things change. The dot-com boom built several large office buildings along the canal bringing large companies such as Adobe, Getty Images and Google to the neighborhood. Today you can see the old bohemians rubbing shoulders with the young geeks. There are also many small shops selling boutique clothes, gifts, shoes and art to make for an interesting stroll. Here are a few pictures of the neighborhood.
The Troll statue located underneath the Aurora Bridge. It has been painted up due to the Solstice celebration last weekend. The second picture shows the VW Bug that it is crushing.
The best view of Seattle in my opinion is from Kerry Park. This viewpoint is located on the west slope of Queen Anne just north of downtown. The Queen Anne neighborhood is one of the most sought after neighborhoods. It is close to downtown and the views the hillsides are stunning. The Seattle Center is located at the foot of Queen Anne in an area also called 'lower Queen Anne'. Lower Queen Anne is a mix of apartments and businesses. Queen Anne Avenue connects the two areas and is also known as the 'Counterbalance'. Up until 1940, trolley cars climbed Queen Anne Hill up the Counterbalance. The trolley cars were pulled up the hill by a system called the 'counterbalance' similar to what is used in San Francisco. Here is a great story on the counterbalance used from the Seattle PI newspaper.
Just a couple of blocks off Queen Anne Avenue on Highland Drive is the Kerry Park Viewpoint. It was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Kerry in 1927 so that "all who stop here may enjoy this view". It is popular with tourists and locals. In addition is an interesting sculpture by Doris Chase that helps frame views of the Space Needle.
Below is the Seattle Center, Space Needle, EMP Museum, Downtown. Behind downtown are the stadiums of Sodo (south of downtown) and if you are lucky Mt Rainier. Looking to the west, you have a great view of Harbor Island, West Seattle, Alki Point and out to the Sound. It is place to go on a warm summer evening at sunset as the lights start to twinkle below.
A few blocks further is the Marshall Park also known as Betty Bowen Viewpoint. It is located just a few blocks west of Kerry on Highland Drive at 7th Avenue West. It is a short level walk which will take you by many lovely Queen Anne homes. Betty Bowen was very active in the local art community and helped found the Seattle Art Musuem. The interesting feature of this viewpoint is the artwork in the cement along around the viewpoint. Several are unsigned pieces from Northwest artists such as Morris Graves. The view from this point is of Elliott Avenue, Magnolia, the Puget Sound and if you are lucky, the Olympic Mountains.
"Changing Form" sculpture by Doris Chase at Kerry Park
Kerry Park - the blue silver red building to the lower left of the Space Needle is the EMP museum
Along the walk between Kerry and Marshall Park
Marshall Park - Betty Bowen Viewpoint
View from Marshall Park - Puget Sound and Magnolia neighborhood is in the distance on the right
The Pacific Northwest is a great region for wild mushrooms. G studied fungi while he was at the UW stuying for his Botany degree. I remember foraging for wild chantrelles with directions he received in class in the forests just a few miles from Seattle. We collected about a dozen chantrelles and had them for dinner. Chantrelles are pretty easy to identify so I felt pretty comfortable eating the ones we found in the wild.
Over the years, we have looked off and on after the first rains for autumn but never really been foragers. I prefer to purchase my wild mushrooms in the market where I'm certain what I am eating. I wish it was an easy as it is in France where you can take your wild mushrooms to the pharmacy and have them identified.
This weekend we went to the 45th annual Wild Mushroom Show sponsored by the Puget Sound Mycological Society. At the show, the mushrooms were organized by spore type and displayed on moss and leaves as your would find them in the wild. Each mushroom was identified and denoted if they are edible, toxic or no use. There are several choice edible mushrooms in the area, chantrelles, boletes (known as porcini or cepes) and the matsutake. I really enjoyed the show and we should go looking for mushrooms again.
There was also a cooking demonstration by Kathy Casey. We had a sample of the polenta with wild mushrooms and watched her prepare a wild mushroom risotto. I need to keep both of these dishes in mind since they are perfect for autumn months.
Here are a few photos of the mushrooms from the show.
Boletus edulis - This is known as porcini in Italy or cepes in France
The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn. - John Muir
The weather continues to be glorious for October. I love crisp blue fall days. We usually have rain, fog or gray days. But we have only had a few misty days the past few weeks. G even had to water the garden it has been so dry. Cold but dry.
We went to the Seattle Arboretum to view the gorgeous colors. We had not been to the Japanese Garden in ages so we paid it a visit. It is separate from the main arboretum and has a small entry fee. The colors were brilliant reflecting on the pool.
November and December are the months where we get torrential rains. We call them Pineapple Express. The jet stream drops down and picks up the warm tropical weather from Hawaii and then swings up and crosses over Washington. The result is a warm heavy rain. They usually happen after we have had a little bit of snow at the passes. The freezing level rises dramatically to 8,000 or 10,000 ft and all the late fall snow melts in the mountains.
The result ranges from mild flooding in the Snoqualmie and other foothill valleys to deluges of rain which swells the rivers and tear out trails and mountain roads. The last few years have not been kind to the trails of Western Washington.
A Pineapple Express deluge came through earlier this week. The days were dark, dreary and soaked. Today, the clouds parted and the sun emerged. We drove up to Snoqualmie to check out the falls. We were not disappointed.
In 1990, the area became the inspiration and setting for the TV series Twin Peaks. Many scenes were filmed in the area around the falls. In 1995, we spent a night in the luxurious Salish Lodge. The rooms are gorgeous as is the setting and restaurant.
The falls swell and become torrents whenever we have heavy rains and especially after a Pineapple express. We drove over to the falls today. The plus side - the falls are very full. The down side, there was a lot of mist from the tremendous amount of water. Expect to get drenched.
Here is a video that we filmed. There are some still photos following the video. If you are in the Seattle area, don't miss a chance to view the falls.
The city seems to be exploding in blossoms. The weather has been cool and overcast. I look out my bedroom window and I see pink cotton candy puffs of flowering plum blooms over the neighborhood roofs. Pink flowering plums must have been the rage in the '60s when our suburb was built. Everywhere I look it is pink.
But my favorite spring blooming tree is the Yoshino cherry. These are the classic cherry blossoms celebrated in the other Washington - Washington DC. They are currently in full bloom in the Quad on the University of Washington campus. I did not know that they had been transplanted to the Quad when Evergreen Point Bridge was built. I found this information on the One A Day - Mostly Seattle daily photo blog. I took a walk today around the campus and enjoyed the lovely blooms.
There are a few others in the University of Washington Arboretum but many of the trees are old and they do not bloom as strongly. But there were many other spring blooms to enjoy - magnolias, rhododendrons, daffodils.
Now - if the sun would just come out!
Yoshino Cherries Blooming at the University of Washington Quad
Seattle has needed light rail for a long time. It has an excellent bus system but it is hampered by the traffic even with HOV lanes. In 1993, the state legislature authorized a single transportation agency to cover the Puget Sound counties of Pierce, King and Snohomish. In 1996, voters approved the addition to the sales tax to cover the costs. Over the years, many improvements have been made to bus service between the area and train service (Sounder) between Tacoma and Seattle and Everett and Seattle. Ground was finally broken for light rail construction in 2003. Fast forward to July 2009 - passengers boarded the trails for the first time on Saturday July 18th.
G wanted to go downtown to the Out to Lunch concert to see California Guitar Trio. Yes, it was the hottest day in Seattle's history but we decided to brave it. It was also a public transportation day for us. We took the bus downtown from Shoreline. Only 1/3 of the Seattle Metro buses are air conditioned and we didn't get one. We made certain we sat on the side opposite of the sun. The windows were already open but since it wasn't an express - the bus never got going enough to create a breeze with the frequent stops.
The concert was great. Best of all, it was cool and shady at 2 Union Square but you couldn't avoid the occasional gust of hot air blowing down from between the buildings. After lunch, we walked down to Pike Place Market and had lunch at El Puerco Lloron - excellent Mexican food just below the market. G loves their Chile Rellenos and I love their Taquitos Machaca (soft shreaded beef tacos) with a scope of guacamole. Next a climb back up and out of the market to Gelatiamo, hands down, our favorite gelato in Seattle. I had a scoop of mango and blackberry. The blackberry is excellent and perfect for an over 100 degree day.
I got the crazy idea of riding the light rail to Columbia City to go to the Wednesday Farmer's Market. It is a small but vibrant market with a strong neighborhood feel. The Columbia City Station is just two blocks away from the market.
The University station was just a block from Gelatiamo. The tickets are super easy to purchase using the touch screen ticket machine. They take debit cards. We got two round trip tickets and went down to the transit tunnel. How exciting! We love riding metros and light rails on our trips and now we had one in Seattle!
The train goes under downtown using the shared bus and train transit tunnel and stopping at Pioneer Square and Stadium next to Quest and Safeco fields. Then on to Sodo station near Starbucks headquarters before turning east and entering the tunnel below Beacon Hill. Gorgeous views over Sodo to the skyline of Seattle. The ride to Columbia City was smooth and quick.
I did not expect the rush of heat when we exited the train. Of course there is no shade around the open stations and the heat was pounding up from the new white concrete. The market was two blocks from the station along Edmunds Street. It was surprisingly busy at the market given the heat. But everyone was quickly making their purchases and leaving. The vendors were busy spraying and icing their produce. We got a mixture of eggplant, peppers and corn for BBQ and an icy lemonade.
We just missed the train on the way back. While we were waiting to cross over to the platform, we were able to check the artwork on the Edmunds (south) side of the station. I really liked the stone lion carved by Norie Sato and Mara Smith. We were too hot to walk to the North and see the artwork along Alaska Street. I want to go back to see the shovel.
It was our luck that the Mariner's baseball game had just let out when we returned. We decided to catch the Express bus back to Shoreline and got off at Pioneer Square station. This was a smart move since the bus was empty and there were enough seats for the crowd from the game. It was also smart because the Express bus was air conditioned. Just what we needed after walking around on the record setting 103 degree day in Seattle. We also found out that the Sound Transit ticket works as a 1 zone transfer on Metro so we saved some money on the bus ride home.
We've got a ticket to ride!
Train arriving at University Station in Transit Tunnel
Lots of room during the afternoon
Seattle Skyline before the Beacon Hill Tunnel
View of MLK Way from above on light rail
Hot summer day at Columbia City Farmers' Market
"Garden Windows" by Juan Alonso at Columbia City Light Rail Station
Hand carved brick lion by Norie Sato and Mara Smith at Columbia City Light Rail Station
And here is California Guitar Trio doing one of our favorites - Walk Don't Run originally by the Tacoma band - The Ventures. Perfect for a hot summer day.
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, also known as the Ballard Locks, is one of my favorite places take out of town guests. I enjoy visiting it on my own throughout the year.
Several fresh water lakes surround Seattle; Lake Washington to the East and Lake Union to the North. Lake Union and Lake Washington are connected by the Montlake Cut and Portage Bay. Lake Union is very interesting. It was named Lake Union by one of Seattle founding fathers, Thomas Mercer who predicted that canals would connect the Puget Sound to Lake Washington via Lake Union. This waterway is called the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
Lake Union is serves several functions in the daily life of Seattle. Boeing started production on its shore in 1916. Today along the shores you can find several shipyards, public parks and houseboats. The houseboat where where "Sleepless in Seattle" was filmed is on Lake Union. It also is a great place for recreation; early morning rowing crews, kayaking lessons and rentals from the Northwest Outdoor Center and summer evening sailings. It is also the location of Kenmore Air where you can take a seaplane to Victoria or the San Juans.
To connect Lake Union and Lake Washington with the Puget Sound, a set of locks were build in 1917. The locks also protect the canal from mixing of saltwater from the Sound with the freshwater of Lake Union and Lake Washington. They also provide a route to the sea for many boats - summer pleasure boats bound for the San Juans to working fishing boats bound for Alaska.
In addition to the engineering wonder of the locks, there is a fish ladder where you can view salmon as they swim up stream to breed in the streams supplying Lake Washington. The charts will help you identify which type of salmon are currently migrating through the ladder. Follow the Salmon medallions in the sidewalk to fish ladder.
Another one of my favorites at the Locks are the surrounding gardens. The Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Garden is a wealth of interesting plants. The garden is a unique micro-climate due to its proximity near the water. The gardens contain several trees not normally found in the Seattle area such as Palm Trees, Princess Tree Paulownia tomentosa and Mexican pines. You can find a guide to the trees in the Visitors Center. There are also interesting perennial beds, rose gardens and fuchsia display.
The Locks are located on NW Market and 30th Avenue NW just west of Ballard.
What a difference a couple of days make. Today was gorgeous. I had lunch with my good friend E in Fremont. We ate at Homegrown Sandwich Shop which focuses on local sustainable products for their sandwiches. We ordered a roast turkey and a roast pork and split them so we could each try the sandwiches. They were so yummy. I liked the roast turkey better although the pickled red onion was a nice touch on the roast pork. We went for a short walk along the canal before she had to return to work.
I had originally planned on walking around Green Lake when I realized that it would be a great day to go to the Olympic Sculpture Garden at Pier 70 in Seattle. It has always been overcast and cold on my previous two visits. Today was wonderful.
The hillsides were covered with lupine and wildflowers. The dogwoods were in bloom. The sun and sea perfectly complemented the garden and sculptures. I'll post more next week on the garden.
I decided to stay a while more and walked down the waterfront to Pier 66. It is one of the best places to view the Seattle skyline. The picture above is from the roof top at Pier 66. I also discovered the wonderful Belltown P-Patch on my walk back to the car. I'll tell more next week also.
The temperatures are in the mid 60's - sky blue - scented breeze - lovely day in the city.
Eagle by Alexander Caulder Olympic Sculpture Garden Seattle
It is another cold, wet, gray, gloomy, overcast, glum day in June. It is the first full day of summer. Yesterday the high only got to about 55 - 15 degrees below normal! Today's Tacoma newspaper had an article on this year's June weather.
Washington might be the only state where the weather can be about the same on the first day of summer and the first day of winter. The high was 52 degrees at Sea-Tac Airport on Dec. 20. Monday, it’s expected to be a balmy 61, according to the National Weather Service.
I was wondering how 2010 compared with 2008. I remember 2008 as being another dark, cold, gloomy June. It actually was worse. Most of the days before the solstice were averaging closer to 50! June 2010 has been wetter but June 2008 was colder.
But the plants are loving it. Several plants are still in bloom such as peonies. The weeds are going full bore since we have not really wanted to do any weeding in the wet and cold. Fortunately G got out and did a little weeding yesterday to tame the beds in the back. Fruit is ripening in the region. It is the start of our local strawberry harvest. The berries are supposedly very plump. Hopefully the harvest won't be cut short by the rain. Also predicting a good harvest of other berries (raspberry, marionberry and blueberry).
Oh yeah, and officially Seattle is still waiting for the first day of temperatures above 75. We got to 75 degrees at our house on June 12th but so far no official temperatures over 75.
Here is June 2008 compared with June 2010 from Weather Underground.
Our good friend J visited this weekend. He is another plantsman who works in a nursery in Spokane. G and J worked together for several years at the now closed Seattle Garden Center in the Pike Place Market. It is always a ball to visit local nurseries with them. Both of our gardens are chaotic homages to plants.They love plants. I always just tag along for the ride.
Late September is a great time in the nurseries in Seattle. Many have Fall sales to help move out plant material before the winter and Christmas season. I was the only one looking for a specific plant. I have started to get into ornamental grasses. I love the grasses because they are still interesting in the late fall and winter. J is a great expert in grasses and was advising me on which ones to buy. I love Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'. We have a small one in our garden. I wanted something bigger and J recommended a Miscanthus. I was surprised that many of the nurseries in Seattle did not these large grasses. I did find a Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus' at Wells Medina. The blossoms start out with a maroon tint before opening to cream colored. It will be tall so we'll have to decide where to put it.
I also loved the autumn displays of pumpkins along with orange flowered and maroon leaved plants on display now in the nurseries. We spent two days traveling the area and visiting our favorite nurseries. Here is a list of the nurseries we visited: