Monday, March 27, 2017

Owlberta




This is Owlberta.

Likes: Buttercups, daydreaming, perching in trees.
Dislikes: Her constant internal battle between her love of all living creatures and her hunger for fresh mice.
Favorite day of the week: Wednesday
Favorite time of the day: Three minutes after midnight
Secret Talent: Perfect pitch
Dream for the future: Traveling to Finland to see the aurora borealis
Favorite Book: Anne of Green Gables
Perfect Day: Soaring though the stars with the breeze and the black sky.
Best Friend: Albearta, the bear.
Personal Quote: Life is a hoot!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Movie Weather

Even though it is officially spring (Hurrah!), Seattle isn't quite done with the cold and the rain. Bursts of sunshine and blue skies are happening more frequently, but most of the time it still feels like winter. The tree branches are still mostly bare, the dips in the pavement are full of rain water and the sky is gray. So while I eagerly await the true spring glory of sunshine and flowers, I will try to appreciate the stormy weather for for one reason: it is the perfect weather for staying in the cozy warmth of indoors watching movies. I've been on a marathon of movie watching! Here are a few movies I have seen lately that I recommend.
  • Short Cuts: Short Cuts is a movie directed by Robert Altman based on Raymond Carver short stories. Robert Altman directed an eerie, surrealist film I absolutely loved called 3 Women. After watching 3 Women, I was intrigued to watch more by him, but the second film I saw of his called The Player I wasn't too interested in, and afterward stopped seeking out his work. Short Cuts reminds me a bit of both movies. Short Cuts and The Player felt like they existed in the same world and that the characters of Short Cuts could potentially walk past characters from The Player in the grocery store. 3 Women shared a world more with films like Muholland Drive or maybe the characters from 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle.' But there were little surprises of eeriness, or carefully disguised surrealist undertones in Short Cuts. Raymond Carver, who wrote the short stories the movie was based on, use to live in the same small town I lived in (not at the same time), so I am automatically interested in him because of this shared connection. I remember reading a short story by Raymond Carver that took place in Arcata and it talked about a mail man there. It reminded me of the time I spent in Arcata at the post office and how there was one postal worker who had poetry taped at the front counter where she always worked. The poetry was by my college poetry teacher. 

  • Blithe Spirit: This movie was a comedy about a couple who enlists the services of a psychic as a lark, being unbelievers themselves. But the psychic is legitimate in her talents and summons forth the ghost of the husbands deceased wife. The comedy has elements of slapstick and silliness, while still be clever. The movie is based on a Noel Coward play, and the rich and witty dialogue definitely has more the flair of a play than a movie. It still translates well in the form of a film, as all of the main actors were great! This was a short and fun movie to watch. Also, the eccentric psychic had a great sense of style and was overall a hoot!
  • Don't Look Now: I don't know what it is about the seventies, but there have been so many amazing movies to come out of that decade, including 'Don't Look Now.' This movie was based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier , writer of 'Rebecca' (another great movie by Hitchcock and also a fantastic book!). The story seems at first like that of a couple trying to figure out their new normal after the tragic death of their young daughter. But soon the story becomes eerie, otherworldly and down right scary. This movie is a 'thinking person's horror film.' It has elements of horror to scare the most seasoned scary movie goer while still being contemplative and intelligent in the way it portrays characters dealing with loss.
  • Paris, Texas: This movie is the story of a man estranged from his family seeking a sort of redemption for failures of his past. It is a road movie, a movie about pasts veiled in mystery, a movie about the love parents have for their children and a movie about forgiveness. I can say the movie is about a man seeking to reunite with her family, but the movie itself is so much more powerful than that sentence can portray. 
  • Stranger than Paradise: Another road movie! This time about two friends and a cousin visiting from Hungary. One thing about this movie is that the two main male characters looked like they could have been brothers. They looked so similar and it made me wonder why they would hire to men that look so similar. Whenever movies have people that look super similar, I always find it a bit odd. This movie was a bleak but interesting glimpse into the lives and relationships of the three main characters. 
 

Movie marathon is almost to an end as the sunny days approach. But there is still some time to squeeze in a good movie or two. What are favorite rainy day movies?


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Winter Walk

By the shore of Lake Washington, there is a place called The Center for Urban Horticulture. The day I went, the actual buildings were closed, but I was still able to wander around the trails that stretched out from where the buildings stood.



I love plants and nature and being outside. In the harsh chill of winter, it can be a little more difficult to find spaces of nature to explore. There is something about the trails by The Center for Urban Horticulture....The natural beauty was magnified in the starkness of winter. The chill clarified the beauty, the lack of leaves and greenery created a world which was both stoic and elegant. 




One of the walks is a trail of planked walkways over a marshy area. It was fun and surreal walking over the elevated walkways. On the day I went, the marsh was little more than mud and a few puddles of water, but this just added to the strangeness making the experience feel surreal.



There were two different encounters with birds during the walk at The Center for Urban Horticulture.

First, a cackling duck somewhere in the distance of the reeds and water. Mostly, the soundscape was muffled sounds of nature and the distant freeway roar, until suddenly from somewhere among the brush, a maniacal  laughter erupted. But it wasn't laughter at all...it was the quack of a crazed sounding duck. Sometimes, if you pay too much attention to something, it starts to become hilarious, as this duck cackling quack quickly became.



Second, a bald eagle spotting! It was sitting in a tree with it's wings spread out, it's ivory head rotating occasionally to survey his kingdom. He looked mighty and noble in that tree. he looked gigantic with his wings spread out. I spent quite a while admiring this majestic bird. At one point, the bird put his wings together and knelt forward. The way he was postured, it looked like he was about to take off for flight. I declared with excitement "He's going to fly!" But nope, he wasn't getting reading to fly, this serene and dignified creature instead pooed, and oh boy, it was the biggest bird poo I have ever seen. This of course brought out my juvenile side, and was even more hilarious than the cackling duck. Birds sure can be funny.



I also encountered some non-hilarious birds such as crows, a red wing black bird, so itty-bitty chirpy birds and cormorants. Winter birds are the best. They are little beacons of life and vitality in the stark and empty spots of winter.


While walking, I encountered two benches which were dedicated to memorialize humans who have passed away: Walt (Buddy) Williams and Jesse Dawes Green. Both men had brief and simple descriptions of who they were on their memorial bench, and although simple, the descriptions made them sound like beautiful people. Buddy was a scholar, unrepentant liberal, and happy birder. Jesse was a poet, scholar and brave spirit.




One thing about winter is it makes the sky look bigger. There are no tree leaves edging out the sky, covering it with cloaks of green leaves. A lot of Seattle is still filled with greenery because of all the evergreen plant life. It is something I like about Seattle. But sometimes it is nice to be confronted with the lack of greenery that winter brings.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Woodland Jaunt at St. Edwards Park and More Mysteries

The nature of Washington State is just so beautiful. I've been trying lately to spend more time out in the woods where everything is magical and mysterious and calming and exciting. Yesterday, I went to St. Edwards Park and hiked through the woods to the shore of the lake and then back through the woods. 

The sun was out! It exists, even in the PNW!


I love finding fungi and mushrooms while in the woods. It always feels like such a treat! Like a hidden surprise! Someone should invent an interactive hiking game involving spotting forest fungi. 


The creek was half frozen. It has been a very cold winter. 


An ordinary tree or the home of some sort of magical creature? I can definitely imagine a little elf peering out from this tree. 


Someone lost their little yellow bow. 






I found my swimming spot once summer is here. 



Earlier I mentioned the mystery of the woods is part of what makes it enticing, but it is not just the woods that is full of mystery. The world in general is a weird and wonderful place. I just heard about a very mysterious story. 

There are many people who grew up in the 1990's who fondly remember a beloved movie from their childhood. The movie is about a genie played by Sinbad who helps out a little kid by granting wishes. The movie is called Shazam. Real life plot twist! This movie never existed! Despite many people from all around the country convinced they have seen this same movie, and all of them remember Sinbad int he movie and remember the name of it being Shazam, no evidence exists that the movie ever happened. Sinbad says he was never in the movie. I was a kid in the nineties and unfortunately, I do not remember the movie, although I like the idea of being swept up in this mystery. 

Some people think it is a huge conspiracy. They claim that Sinbad must have been embarrassed by his association with the movie and took drastic measures to erase all evidence that it ever existed. 

One explanation is that all these Shazam fans are actually thinking of a movie about a genie called Kazaam which starred Shaq. Believers of Shazam say 'No!', they are not talking about Kazam, they remember a separate movie and some people even say they thought it was weird when Kazam came out since Shazam already existed.

Another more interesting theory that involves a whole new mystery is that some people think the Shazam story is an example of the Mandela effect. Nelson Mandela died in 2013, but there are many people who are convinced he died in the eighties while in prison. They even remember seeing the news footage on it. Some people believe that this shared belief or remembrance of Nelson Mandela's death did not come from a mistake of the memory, but is related to parallel universes! Somewhere in a parallel universe, Nelson Mandela did die in prison in the eighties. This is how the Mandela Effect was named. Somehow, something weird happened and some people from the parallel universe ended up in this universe and still carry the memories of their original universe. Shazam could be another example of the Mandela Effect. The people who remember the movie remember it because in the parallel universe where they grew up, Sinbad did indeed make a movie called Shazam. 

The Shazam story reminds me of a story my friend told me in seventh grade. When I was in seventh grade, the movie 'Ransom' starring Mel Gibson came out. My friend told me that she had seen the movie before. She had seen it years ago when she was still little. She knew everything that was going to happen in the movie while watching it. She new every plot twist before it happened. My friend was not the lying type, so I believed what she said. It seemed such an eerie thing to know this entire movie. There seemed no normal explanation. Every explanation seemed fabulous and amazing. Maybe my friend was psychic or maybe when she was little she was in a parallel universe where the movie came out earlier or maybe she was a time traveler. 

But it turns out, like most movies, Ransom's source material was from a story already told. It was told in 1954 in an episode of an old TV show and it was told again in a film entitled Ransom! in 1956. So of course this doesn't rule out completely the possibility of time travel, but it is much more likely that my friend saw the old movie Ransom! and this is why she remembered the details of the plot so well. 

But just because there are reasonable explanations for many of life's mysteries, it doesn't mean every mystery has a reasonable explanation. Somewhere out there, there is a mystery ready to be solved with the most outlandish yet true explanation 

Learn more! Shazam and Mandela Effect.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello Crazy Vegas!

I went to Las Vegas! I had a wild and crazy time.....attending the animal care expo! I got so drunk....on excitement over learning more about animals! It was a really fun trip and I loved having the chance to learn more about how to make an impact on animals lives through shelter and rescue work. It turns out my first trip to Vegas was for work rather than play, but the best type of work is where I got to learn and I got to be around inspiring people. And even though it was not a 'traditional' Vegas adventure, I did have an opportunity to go out on the town and explore a bit. I liked all the replications of artwork and world renowned attractions. My favorite part of going out on the strip though was the street performers. I love street performers! They are so impressive and give a place more personality. One street performer I liked was a friendly accordion player. Another street performer I saw is almost impossible to describe. He was a dancer. He wore an outfit that when he was crouched so his palms were touching the ground, the outfit looked like two people holding hands. Then he would dance around (like dancing while in downward facing dog position) so it looked like the two people were dancing. It was super cool!






My first Vegas trip was a success! Not financially though as I didn't go home winning a jackpot. I gambled a dollar and lost all but fourteen cents which didn't seem worth using the voucher to reclaim. Vegas has never been a place I have been interested in exploring, other than in the sense that anywhere never experienced before is interesting on some level. But once I was there, it was more interesting than I expected! It felt very surreal and otherworldly. It was an absurd and fantastical and gaudy place and I couldn't help but want to feast my eyes upon every nook and cranny! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

On a recent cloudy day, I visited all the plants over at the botanical conservatory in Capitol Hill. I love the conservatory and wish I could live there. I'd set my bed up in the jungle room and I'd do art in the succulent room. I'd eat scones and drink tea in the sparsely populated flower room. 

Plants are really beautiful and make the world a more pleasant place. But plants are more than just pretty to look at. Science is beginning to wonder if plants may have some level of intelligence. After a bunch of plants heard the sound of a caterpillar munching upon a fellow plant, the plants emitted a defensive chemical. Despite not having ears or a brain to process and react to sound, the plants somehow recognized the sound of a threat. I have been a vegetarian for many years now. I might have to rethink it all! 

Here is a really interesting article about plant intelligence if you want to learn more: Plant Intelligence.