Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy National Cat Day

  Today is a wonderful day.... it is National Cat Day! Happy National Cat Day to you and all of your fuzzy, whiskered feline friends! Here are pictures of some of the cats that have been important to me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Art and Nature

   There is a recent controversy I learned about on the internet involving a woman painting pictures with acrylic on rocks or other natural objects in national parks. This makes me sad. Nature is so awe-inspiring and beautiful, it should be appreciated for that. Humans have their imprint all over the world. Our remaining havens of nature do not need any sort of permanent adornment from humans. We just do not need to alter, manipulate or add-to nature. I'm all about (well done and respectful) graffiti in urban settings. But leave nature be!
    This being said, I think there is a place for human's artistic inclinations to mingle with nature, in nature. When I was little and on beach trips, my family and I would sometimes collect rocks and driftwood from the seashore. We would then find a cozy spot on the sand to make pictures out of our beach combing treasures. I remember this amazing horse my dad once made out of driftwood and sea-smoothed stones. I wish I had a picture of it so I could share it on my blog. But this art was impermanent, and it was more like we were co-conspiring with nature to create art, rather than defacing natures art with our own 'art'. When we made our driftwood pictures on the sand, we knew who the true artist was, and our art was a celebration of nature. We also knew that later in the day, the tide would come in and swallow up our driftwood pictures, tossing the stones and smooth pieces of wood back into the sea where they came from.
    Thee are other ways to intertwine art and nature. Just recently I was at Carkeek Park where throughout the park were displays of art. It was fun to wander through the woods, and then come upon several interesting pieces of art once we were in the grassy meadow area. This art was respectful of nature. It knew it was temporary. It knew the debt it owed nature. The art I saw at Carkeek celebrated nature and worked with the natural setting it was displayed in.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Birds and Train Tracks

  I walked from Sodo to downtown and took lots of pictures along the way. Sodo is part of the industrial district and is full of semi-trucks and the sounds of rattling and choo-chooing trains. Sodo is in a weird flux right now. I think Sodo will be a very different place in maybe even as short as five years. Right now, there is the familiar combination of the old and run down and the new and fancy.
   Sodo in the afternoon is full of birds. Around one o'clock, a bunch of starlings come from somewhere and settle in the trees that line the streets. They chirp and chime merrily. Sometimes you can't even see the birds, you can just here the sound of birds echoing in the trees. But then something will startle them and they will all burst from their cocoon of leaves and branches and into the air where they swoop, separate and reconvene along the telephone lines or back in the trees.
   There are crows in Sodo too. There are crows everywhere in Seattle. They've claimed this city. It is an empire for crows, it is their ideal city. They feast upon a perfect combination of urban debris and the treats and treasures of nature. In Sodo, they leave bones scattered along the sidewalks. I thought the bones were chicken bones at first. I imagined some resident or worker of the area walking down the streets, gnawing on pieces of chicken and throwing the bones behind him as he continued his walk. But once I saw a small, almost decayed mammal skull in the weeds and another time I saw a dainty spine. There's been bunny sightings in Sodo... a flash of a rabbit tail heading toward the train tracks... long ears poking up from a patch of dry and overgrown grass. There are probably sneakier rodents around too, but not so sneaky to evade capture by a hungry crow.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Late Summer at the Fair

    This summer, I visited the Washington State Fair for a day of traditional summertime fun. 

  It seems like every born-and-bred Washingtonian I know raves about the fair scones. The first time I heard about it, I thought it seemed weird because I have never associated scones with the fair. I associate scones with tea parties or brunch. But, the Washingtonians all seem to claim they are the best thing in the world. So of course I had to try these amazing fair scones! While I was in line (a rather long line for the fair just opening moments earlier) I saw at least two people leave with huge bags of the sconces. It was like they came to the fair just to have the scones. As you can imagine, I was quite excited to try one. Upon finally tasting the scone fair, I thought they were good..... but I was a little let down after all the hype. For Parks and Rec fans, I think the fair scones might be Washington's version of Li'l Sebastian

    The Animals are obviously a highlight of the fair! Although, walking through the barn with all the cows was depressing because I had a sneaking suspicion that these cows were not dairy cows, especially because I noticed no udders heavy with milk swinging below them. They all had sad eyes, as if they could sense their fate. A happier portion of the animal section was the Piglet Palace, where there were several adorable piglets relaxing on hay.

Not a real animal, but still really cool! 

  Other things we did at the fair were wander around the rides and game area, explore the hobby hall, eat more gross yet delicious fair food, and pay too much money to go to something called 'The Vision Dome' that would have been really cool in 1988.

Deep fried butter????

One of my favorite rides ever is The Swinger! It feels like flying and is so much fun! Plus, it is a very beautiful ride.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Reluctant Ode to the Zoo

   The Zoo, a wonderfully horrible place or a horribly wonderful place that always leaves me delighted and unsettled. I can never feel completely care-free at the zoo, with the animals stirring in their cages around me. But to experience so many different animals up close is amazing. A flat picture of an elephant is not the same thing as really seeing an elephant. With his rough, creased skin and his lumbering walk. The way he swings or curls his trunk, or wiggles his floppy ears. For a while when I was younger I vowed to never go to a zoo again, not wanting to encourage animal exploitation. But time wore me down and I'm back to visiting them, lured in by curiosity, fascination and the same love of animals that use to keep me away. But I never enter the zoo without feeling ambivalent or leave the zoo without a tinge of sadness.
   Like most things, zoos can't fit neatly into a moral category. I've been to the zoo and seen the tiger nervously pacing in her cage. Even if she had never seen the wild herself, there was an inherited genetic memory that was tugging at her heart, making her anxious to be away from the world where she belonged. But most good zoos aren't just about showing off animals, they are about education and conservation. They show us that the world we live in isn't small, and that the world we live in is full of everyone, from humans to bats to bears to zebras. So even though I leave the zoo with that swell of sadness, I mostly leave filled with wonderment and admiration for animals and this place we all live.

David by a Bird

Me by Some Painted Birds

  When David and I first met, we went to a little zoo in a small town near the smaller town where we lived. It was a free zoo, known for an old baboon named Bill who everyone loved despite his reputation for throwing his poo at zoo-goers. On this first trip to a zoo together, we met an orange tabby who wandered around the zoo. He wasn't the zoo cat, but a curious neighborhood cat who had found his way into the zoo premises. The orange tabby followed us around the zoo for a while. When we got to the otter habitat, the orange cat became fascinated with the otter and the otter likewise with the cat. They looked at each other with bafflement and curiosity, stretching toward each other, trying to make out who was this fuzzy creature they were looking at. Sometimes I feel like I made this up, but David remembers the cat and the otter too, except he remembers the cat as a gray tabby.