An Empty City

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     It was the emptiest day of the year in Seattle on Super Bowl Sunday. The hustle and bustle of city life had dispersed into crowded bars, or apartments with big screen TV's and lots of snacks. It was the perfect day to wander around the city. I met my friend Ces, another non-football fanatic and we set out to explore our familiar city disguised as a ghost city. Last Super Bowl Sunday, we spent our time in a very similar fashion. So just like the rest of the city, watching the Seahawks in the super bowl for a second year, we duplicated our day. But our day was full of wandering downtown and Vietnamese food instead of football.
    The vacant streets and corridors gave the city a slightly eerie feeling. There are lots of spots in downtown Seattle that have an eerie feel to them even with lots of people around. But usually the eeriness creeps up on me. I will be in a location that I never thought of as particularly abnormal when suddenly I realize that there is something a little creepy about it. Seattle has a rugged history of free spirited gold minors seeking their fortune in the Pacific Northwest. Now all their ghosts lurk in old stories and the cities imagination. 
    Pike Place definitely feels a little eerie at times, but it is always so crowded that it is difficult to notice. Ces and I went to the market on Super Bowl Sunday and took some pictures. Most everything was closed, so I took pictures of closed gates and darkened windows. I didn't see a ghost, but I did see shadows and reflections which are often mistaken as ghosts. 
   Part of the reason Seattle became a ghost city during super bowl was, of course because our team was in the game. Even though I am not excited about sports, I was disappointed that they did not win. When the Seahawks win, the whole city is filled with an energy of good cheer. 

The Rain Monster Descends from the Seattle Sky

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  I love handwritten letters! Emails are nice, but there is something extra exciting about opening a real mail box to find a beautiful letter waiting there for me to read. Just as fun as receiving letters is writing letters. It feels more special to hand write one's thoughts to a certain person.
   Recently, I got an especially amazing and exciting package in the mail from my pen pal, friend, and (future) sister in law, Jessie. Jessie made me my very own set of Rain Monster greeting cards!!! She made them based on a character from my illustrations, the rain monster.  It was so exciting to open the package to discover my very own greeting cards. This is one of the most creative and thoughtful gifts anyone has given me.

   Jessie is amazing at block printing. She has a real eye for the medium and creates beautiful cards. I have received lots of lovely block print cards from Jessie. They are my favorites! Here are some of the Jessie-creations I have received in my mail box.

The Fairchild Sisters Dance in the Woods, Much to Mouse Mother's Indignation

Here is an illustration I recently finished. I used acrylic, tea and gouache.

  The Fairchild sisters live in a log cabin in the woods. They spend their days doing hard work- chopping wood, tending to their garden, and taking care of their animals. Being a woods person is not an easy life. But it is the life the Fairchild sisters love. Their favorite part of the day, though, is when the hard work is over. Every day around sunset, the Fairchild sisters descend into the woods to dance. Dancing wildly and merrily is their favorite way to decompress. They dance to the beat of the woodpeckers beak and the melody of the blue birds in the trees. They sway like the windblown branches. They embrace the joy of wild abandonment.
   The mouse mother, however, is not impressed. She finds these three dancing fools absurd! Her children cannot sleep with the frantic pitter-patter of human feet tapping on their roof. She wished her children sweet dreams, and the next thing she knows, they are subjected to the ridiculous booms and bangs of clumsy humans jostling above them. The mouse mother considered writing the sisters an angry letter, laying out in great detail how their inconsiderate dancing distresses her children. But just as she brought out her pen, there was another huge thump upon her roof. "That's it!" The mouse mother hollered, "It is time to bring out the broom!"

Counting Cats and Books

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Here are some pictures I took the other day after work.

  Today, I walked past a tow truck lot. One of the employees was walking through the lot with a cute little tabby cat by his side. I think he was the company cat! If your car gets impounded, the cute tabby probably helps make people feel less upset about their car situation. I think this scene got cats in my mind because later in the day, I became curious about how many cats exist in the world right now. When I typed my query into Google, they responded with "Did you mean how many cars exist in the world right now?" Umm, no, of course not Google!" Obviously it is more interesting to imagine the amount of cats in the world right now rather than the amount of cars. According to one of those websites where you go to get random questions answered by strangers with no credentials, there are 2 million cats. This seemed a little low in my estimate and thus my curiosity was not satiated by answer number one. Another one of those answer sites say that there are 600 million cats in the world. This seems more believable. 600 million cats!
  Since I was wondering 'how-many' questions, another one popped into my head: how many books exist in the world? According to a Google algorithm, there are almost 130 million! This is both wonderful and depressing. I will never get to all those books. I will miss out on so much!

The Wonderful Aquarium!

   I got an awesome, two part present from David for my birthday (which was several months ago on National Cat Day.) Part one: An awesome river otter pin. Part Two: A membership to the Seattle Aquarium! I love this present. Now I can go to the aquarium whenever I want without having to pay the entrance fee. And I like to be as nerdy as possible, so I try to remember to wear my otter pin while wandering the aquarium. One of these days, I'll be looking at the otters when one will catch a glimpse of my pin. He will give me a knowing glance and a nod, and I will be in! Finally, I will be a true member of the Secret Otter Society. 

   The aquarium is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places. I like popping in after work if I want to sit in the dome room and watch the fish or if I want to visit the sea mammals. If you are feeling down or depressed, I recommend watching sea otters for a couple of minutes and your spirits will easily be lifted by these playful rascals. I wish I had some otter pictures to share, but they move about so much that it makes it difficult to take a non-blurry shot. Besides the sea mammals, my favorite part of the aquarium is the underwater dome. It is the most peaceful spot in the entire aquarium.

This fish is huge! I have named him Sam but I am undecided if it is short for Samuel or Sampson. Any thoughts?

  This little fellow is a cuttlefish. Isn't he both strange and adorable? I love his large, sad eye. He looks like a cartoon of an alien's pet rather than a true animal of Earth.

This puffer fish is not so good at playing hide-n-seek. We can see you behind that thin stick of coral, silly puffer fish!

I love jellyfish! I wish there were more at the Seattle Aquarium. They are so lovely and ethereal looking. I bet the first human to see a jellyfish was amazed that such creatures actually exist.

The sea horse is such a cute and strange creature.

The bottom of the sea is full of interesting things from sea anemones to scuttling shrimps to fuzzy crabs.

Whose this speckled fellow? He is just relaxing in his purple world.

Gray Bird Desert

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  Here is a sketch I did of a gray bird desert. A long time ago, the gray bird was thousands of miles long. On top of gray bird were spiky succulents, snakes and howling coyotes. But the water came, and the gray bird desert shrunk and shrunk until it was only large enough to carry one, single cactus.

   One day, while the gray bird swam in the stormy sea, the cactus on her back began to glow. In the dark, it shone brightly and cheerfully. From every reach of the world, the moths came. They gathered around the beautiful, green light. They circled around the cactus, to protect it and to celebrate it. Now the moths and the gray bird travel together. They float and bob on the sea. They tell each other stories. They laugh at sailors surprised faces. The moths flap their paper wings, the bird chirps sea bird shanties, and the cactus slowly grows.

Shimmering, Shining Green Lake

  I have another set of summer photos to share. These ones are from Green Lake. I went there one late afternoon in August with David and Jessie. We had a Thai food picnic, then we walked around the lake. I remember that we saw an all white dog with big ears that stuck up and were pale pink on the inside. He looked like a bunny rabbit dog! We saw another dog that had his leash in his mouth. He was giving himself a walk! How sophisticated and self sufficient!

   There are many animals that live in Green Lake. Ducks float upon it, fish swim underneath it's watery surface, and turtles can often be spotted lounging on logs poking up from between the lily pads. But, maybe innocuous animals are not the only creatures that call Green Lake home. I heard a rumor a long time ago that someone released their pet alligator in Green Lake. It is sad for this alligator, first to be kept in captivity at all, then to be released in a murky city lake. He probably felt lonely being the only alligator in the little lake. No one wanted him there either. I'm sure anytime a swimmer brushed their foot against a rough lake rock, their heart thumped, thinking perhaps they were feeling the scaly back of the alleged alligator.
  There is an island in the middle of Green Lake. Originally, it was called Swan Island because some ambitious park planner wanted swans to live around Green Lake. But the plan failed and the ducks came instead of the swans. Now the island is called Duck Island. Maybe the alligator went to live on duck island. I imagine him lounging in the brush, enjoying the few bits of sun rays that burst through the clouds here and there. Maybe he has befriended the ducks or the salamanders, or maybe he is content in his solitude, or maybe he doesn't exist at all and there never was an alligator in Green Lake.
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