Rain Catcher

Last fall we saw work beginning on the centerpiece of Newport Hills' city-funded street beautification art project from Orcas Island artist Bruce Myers -- "Rain Catcher."  

This week, Bruce installed the long-awaited sculpture. The previous steps had been the placement of the large stones, and then the installation of the concrete base. Friday morning, the scaffolding went up.  

Bruce brought down the three steel trunks, studded with leaves of several types, from his Orcas Island studio.

Wouldn't want that scaffolding to tip over.

Pastor "Bug" and his daughter, plus Scott MacDonald (left) from the City,  helped offload the pieces.

Bruce and his assistant positioned the first piece...

...and hoisted it up...

...and secured it onto the base.

Unfortunately I had to take off at that point for my job, but upon my return that evening, the piece was complete!

Looking good from any angle.

This anchor point complements the pieces already in place around the bus stops.

The final step in the art project is to complete the mosaics that will adorn some of the stones.
Here's what they looked like in their initial state last October.



Mason bee houses, Mercer Slough, Bellevue WA

Family Reunion in the Orchard

On a beautiful summer day at Orchard Gardens long ago, and members of the family gathered for a picnic.
Great-uncle Albemarle always drooled just a bit 

Aunt Hattie, ever surprised at life

Cousin Philemon the mouth-breather

Grannie Cadwallader's breath left much to be desired

A bit of lunch always managed to remain between Cousin Imelda's teeth

Grampa Obediah didn't have that problem, as his teeth had gone long ago.

Cousin Adlai was typically the only one who found his jokes funny.

Aunt Myrtle could not be dissuaded from singing the national anthem on any occasion.

A lucky shot, Cousin Ledbetter caught mid-sneeze


Sepia Salesman

This week I cleave to the Sepia Saturday theme of hotels by remembering my maternal grandfather, Art Singer.

Art and a sample suit.
Art was a travelling dress salesman. Twice a year, for the fall and spring fashion seasons, he and a passel of his fellow salesmen would make their way up the coast bearing dozens of dresses to show to the buyers of all the major department stores. In 1960s downtown Seattle, these were Frederick and Nelson, I. Magnin, The Bon Marche, Rhodes, and a few others. The guys would hole up in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel and invite the buyers up to peruse their wares.

Most of the buyers were women, I believe, and for this purpose Art, always had a box of See's chocolates on hand to help soften up his customers.

For the male buyers, and Art's cohorts, there was also a bottle of Johnny Walker and a Playboy magazine.
Anyway, there is oddly a lot of online information about the old Ben Franklin. Built in 1929, it was the second largest hotel in Seattle, with 359 rooms in its 14 stories. 

One of the big draws for the salesmen, as well as others, was the "tiki bar" conveniently attached to the Ben Franklin. Originally named The Outrigger, it soon expanded and transformed into the famous Trader Vic's.

Note the quaint, politically incorrect signage. Our family car, by the way, was a two-tone (banana and battleship) 1950 Chevrolet, named"Uncle Wiggily" and very similar to that one on the right.
Note the stunningly affordable 1960s prices.

Alas, the hotel closed in the 1980s, although Trader Vic's carried on for some years catering to "Mad Men" and hipsters.

If you're into tiki bars, check out this feature on the Ben Franklin Outrigger at Tiki Central.

My great-great uncle on my father's father's side owned a hotel in downtown Detroit, the Blindbury Hotel. But that's another story!


The Royal Portable

This week's Sepia Saturday theme features typewriters. This is a machine I have not a little familiarity with, having been intimately involved with them from rather an early age.

This model I am experimenting with is a 1948 Royal Poetable. I mean, Portable.
This machine belonged to my mother. Given its vintage, I assume she treated herself to it the year she won the University of Michigan's Hopwood Award for fiction. Here she is around that time, looking literary.
However, she handed it down to me in the early 1970s, as I embarked on my own poetic career at the University of Washington. Here's the site of our "poetry workshop": Parrington Hall, with several of the poetry students taking a break. Summer of '72, I was 18 and most of my friends, from the class, were at least four or five years older.
Jim Mitsui third from left, Kay Deeter standing at center
That's my father at the podium, with the inimitable Frank Maloney eclipsing him.
Reading the announcements
I brought my camera one night. Actually I borrowed it from a fellow student, Daphne. I got arty widdit.
Poet's eye view: under the table 

The lonely cup

Window open: in those days you could smoke in class

The side exit
That's Daphne on the left, with her sister, at one of the three poetry readings held every week (in addition to the two poetry classes -- a full schedule!).
After class at 9 PM, several of the class members would retire to the local pub, actually Woerne's European Pastry Shop. You could smoke in there too.
From left: Unknown, my little sister Julian (!?), Ronnie Church, Anne Pitkin, Jim Mitsui, Charles Webb, Frank Maloney, Linda Engel,  Nick Seguin
And here is the culprit himself, pretending to work on a poem.
Note that my keyboard technique has not changed since toddlerhood.
I have long since graduated to a computer, and have recently returned the Royal Portable to my mother, who no longer can use it but keeps it as an icon of her college days. Amazingly, you can still get ribbons for it!