Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Breakfast at Claire’s

There are two main streets in the little town I call home, Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle. One street is called Main Street (no surprise!) and it ends at the dock where the ferry loads up passengers and cars to go over to Kingston, so it is called the Kingston ferry. Just up the street from the ferry dock – and it is UP, Seattle is full of hills – is Claire’s Pantry.

I don’t remember a time when Claire’s wasn’t there. I remember going to the same place for seafood buffets; but maybe it wasn’t Claire’s at that time. Mostly we go to Claire’s for breakfast.

They have everything. Mom opens the menu and says “I am NOT going to have Eggs Benedict this time” and scans through the huge variety of pancakes and omelets and breakfast specials.

I already know what I want. Not Eggs Benedict. CRAB Benedict.

Mom sighs and closes the menu. When the waitress comes, she orders.

“I’ll have the Eggs Benedict, please.”

LLLOOOLLLLL!

I only took one photo because her Eggs Benedict looked just exactly like my Crab Benedict.

00CrabBenedict

And before you ask – NO! No! We didn’t eat it all! We could never eat it all! Mom took half home in a box, and I just ate the eggs and crab and a little bit of the hash browns and left the rest. It was too much and too rich!

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Humor, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Seattle | 8 Comments

Digging Up the Saudi Past


By DONNA ABU-NASR
Associated Press Writer
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia —
Much of the world knows Petra, the ancient ruin in modern-day Jordan that is celebrated in poetry as “the rose-red city, ‘half as old as time,'” and which provided the climactic backdrop for “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

But far fewer know Madain Saleh, a similarly spectacular treasure built by the same civilization, the Nabateans.

That’s because it’s in Saudi Arabia, where conservatives are deeply hostile to pagan, Jewish and Christian sites that predate the founding of Islam in the 7th century.

But now, in a quiet but notable change of course, the kingdom has opened up an archaeology boom by allowing Saudi and foreign archaeologists to explore cities and trade routes long lost in the desert.

The sensitivities run deep. Archaeologists are cautioned not to talk about pre-Islamic finds outside scholarly literature. Few ancient treasures are on display, and no Christian or Jewish relics. A 4th or 5th century church in eastern Saudi Arabia has been fenced off ever since its accidental discovery 20 years ago and its exact whereabouts kept secret.

In the eyes of conservatives, the land where Islam was founded and the Prophet Muhammad was born must remain purely Muslim. Saudi Arabia bans public displays of crosses and churches, and whenever non-Islamic artifacts are excavated, the news must be kept low-key lest hard-liners destroy the finds.

“They should be left in the ground,” said Sheikh Mohammed al-Nujaimi, a well-known cleric, reflecting the views of many religious leaders. “Any ruins belonging to non-Muslims should not be touched. Leave them in place, the way they have been for thousands of years.”

In an interview, he said Christians and Jews might claim discoveries of relics, and that Muslims would be angered if ancient symbols of other religions went on show. “How can crosses be displayed when Islam doesn’t recognize that Christ was crucified?” said al-Nujaimi. “If we display them, it’s as if we recognize the crucifixion.”

In the past, Saudi authorities restricted foreign archaeologists to giving technical help to Saudi teams. Starting in 2000, they began a gradual process of easing up that culminated last year with American, European and Saudi teams launching significant excavations on sites that have long gone lightly explored, if at all.

At the same time, authorities are gradually trying to acquaint the Saudi public with the idea of exploring the past, in part to eventually develop tourism. After years of being closed off, 2,000-year-old Madain Saleh is Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open to tourists. State media now occasionally mention discoveries as well as the kingdom’s little known antiquities museums.

“It’s already a big change,” said Christian Robin, a leading French archaeologist and a member of the College de France. He is working in the southwestern region of Najran, mentioned in the Bible by the name Raamah and once a center of Jewish and Christian kingdoms.

No Christian artifacts have been found in Najran, he said.

Spearheading the change is the royal family’s Prince Sultan bin Salman, who was the first Saudi in space when he flew on the U.S. space shuttle Discovery in 1985. He is now secretary general of the governmental Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

Dhaifallah Altalhi, head of the commission’s research center at the governmental Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, said there are 4,000 recorded sites of different periods and types, and most of the excavations are on pre-Islamic sites.

“We treat all our sites equally,” said Altalhi. “This is part of the history and culture of the country and must be protected and developed.” He said archaeologists are free to explore and discuss their findings in academic venues.

Still, archaeologists are cautious. Several declined to comment to The Associated Press on their work in the kingdom.

The Arabian Peninsula is rich, nearly untouched territory for archaeologists. In pre-Islamic times it was dotted with small kingdoms and crisscrossed by caravan routes to the Mediterranean. Ancient Arab peoples – Nabateans, Lihyans, Thamud – interacted with Assyrians and Babylonians, Romans and Greeks.

Much about them is unknown.

Najran, discovered in the 1950s, was invaded nearly a century before Muhammad’s birth by Dhu Nawas, a ruler of the Himyar kingdom in neighboring Yemen. A convert to Judaism, he massacred Christian tribes, leaving triumphant inscriptions carved on boulders.

At nearby Jurash, a previously untouched site in the mountains overlooking the Red Sea, a team led by David Graf of the University of Miami is uncovering a city that dates at least to 500 B.C. The dig could fill out knowledge of the incense routes running through the area and the interactions of the region’s kingdoms over a 1,000-year span.

And a French-Saudi expedition is doing the most extensive excavation in decades at Madain Saleh. The city, also known as al-Hijr, features more than 130 tombs carved into mountainsides. Some 450 miles from Petra, it is thought to mark the southern extent of the Nabatean kingdom.

In a significant 2000 find, Altalhi unearthed a Latin dedication of a restored city wall at Madain Saleh which honored the second century Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.

So far, there has been no known friction with conservatives over the new excavations, in part because they are in the early stages, are not much discussed in Saudi Arabia, and haven’t produced any announcements of overtly Christian or Jewish finds.

But the call to keep the land purged of other religions runs deep among many Saudis. Even though Madain Saleh site is open for tourism, many Saudis refuse to visit on religious grounds because the Quran says God destroyed it for its sins.

Excavations sometimes meet opposition from local residents who fear their region will become known as “Christian” or “Jewish.” And Islam being an iconoclastic religion, hard-liners have been known to raze even ancient Islamic sites to ensure that they do not become objects of veneration.

Saudi museums display few non-Islamic artifacts.

Riyadh’s National Museum shows small pre-Islamic statues, a golden mask and a large model of a pagan temple. In some display cases, female figurines are listed, but not present – likely a nod to the kingdom’s ban on depictions of the female form.

A tiny exhibition at the King Saud University in Riyadh displays small nude statues of Hercules and Apollo in bronze, a startling sight in a country where nakedness in art is highly taboo.

In 1986, picnickers accidentally discovered an ancient church in the eastern region of Jubeil. Pictures of the simple stone building show crosses in the door frame.

It is fenced off – for its protection, authorities say – and archaeologists are barred from examining it.

Faisal al-Zamil, a Saudi businessman and amateur archaeologist, says he has visited the church several times.

He recalls offering a Saudi newspaper an article about the site and being turned down by an editor.

“He was shocked,” al-Zamil said. “He said he could not publish the piece.”

Associated Press Writer Lee Keath contributed from Cairo.

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Generational, Leadership, Living Conditions, Saudi Arabia, Travel | 4 Comments

Sunset on Sunset Avenue

I arrived in Seattle just in time. My dearest, oldest friend’s father died as I was en route, and the service was this week. On a cold and dreary day, fortunately I had a dark dress with me, and I quickly ran and bought stockings, which are so irrelevant in the heat and humidity of August in Doha, and so necessary for a relatively formal occasion in Seattle.

Last night, we got together and walked, something we have done through the years, and then grabbed a bite to eat. We walked along Sunset Avenue, in Edmonds, just as the sun was setting.

In one of the yards, we saw this wonderful tarted-up piece of driftwood:

00SunsetSiren

The light was glorious:
00EdmondsSunset

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Beauty, Exercise, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Public Art, Seattle, Travel | 2 Comments

The Edmonds Market

The Edmonds Market is one of my favorite things in my hometown, just north of Seattle. Street vendors set up early, and by nine in the morning the market is already going strong. I like to get there early, to get a good choice and – to get a parking space.

It was a wonderful, cool, cloudy morning, but there was no rain. I stopped at Celebrations, a bakery/catering booth, and bought chocolate covered brownies for a gathering later in the day, and an orange/cinnamon roll for my own sinful indulgence. (It was sticky and wonderful!)

All of the people photographed here gave permission for their photos:

The honey man who mixes all his own honeys and brings his bees to pollinate crops for various farmers:
00EMHoney

The relish makers – a variety of homemade chutneys, condiments, relishes, made by them from herbs and vegetables they grow:

00EMRelish

This lady sells wonderful lotions in divine fragrances – sandlewood, ginger and lime, etc.
00EMLotions

This woman and her daughter knit and crochet darling little clothes for babies!
00EMKnitters

00EMBabyBundles

I found these wonderful squash / pumpkins:

00EMSquash

There are all kinds of vendors selling flowers, at wonderful prices:

00EMFlowerSellers

Just outside the Edmonds Street Market is the gazebo round-about, and every now and then, some kids think it hysterically funny to pour a little detergent into it, making it bubble over:

00EdmondsFountain

There is a Starbucks by the fountain, with several tables outside to accommodate dog walking patrons:

00EdmondsStarbucks

August 30, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Marketing, Seattle, Shopping, Travel | 7 Comments

Joke for Women

A sixteen year-old boy came home with a new Chevrolet Avalanche and his
parents began to yell and scream, ‘Where did you get that truck???!!!’

He calmly told them, ‘I bought it today.’

‘With what money?’ demanded his parents. They knew what a Chevrolet
Avalanche cost.

‘Well,’ said the boy, ‘this one cost me just fifteen dollars.’ So the
parents began to yell even louder. ‘Who would sell a truck like that for
fifteen dollars?’ they said.

‘It was the lady up the street,’ said the boy. I don’t know her name –
they just moved in. She saw me ride past on my bike and asked me if I
wanted to buy a Chevrolet Avalanche for fifteen dollars.’

‘Oh my Goodness!,’ moaned the mother, ‘she must be a child abuser. Who knows
what she will do next? John, you go right up there and see what’s going
on.’ So the boy’s father walked up the street to the house where the lady
lived and found her out in the yard calmly planting petunias!

He introduced himself as the father of the boy to whom she had sold a new
Chevrolet Avalanche for fifteen dollars and demanded to know why she did it.

‘Well,’ she said, ‘this morning I got a phone call from my husband.. (I
thought he was on a business trip, but learned from a friend he had run off
to Hawaii with his mistress and really doesn’t intend to come back)

He claimed he was stranded and needed cash, and asked me to sell his new
Chevrolet Avalanche and send him the money.

So I did.’

(Are women good or what?)

August 30, 2009 Posted by | Civility, Cultural, Humor, Joke, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Women's Issues | 5 Comments

Casper’s A Taste of the South

We had decided on one restaurant, an Italian restaurant we both like, and were on our way, when Mom thought of another restaurant we might like to try, but it was on the way, so we could look at it and decide whether we wanted to eat there or go on to the Italian one.

This is very normal for our family. Our son used to call it “bait and switch” because we would say “Hey! Do you want to go to Tortilla Gonzales?” and he would say “Yeah!” and we would all jump in the car and then on the causeway, AdventureMan would say “You know I really have a taste for Chinese . . . would anyone prefer Chinese?” and I would jump in and say “We’re really close to that sushi place we all love!” and then our son would have to rein us in “NO! You said we were going to Tortilla Gonzales!”

Once he went away to college, we switched all the time. Later, we learned that now he and his wife do the old switch-a-roo, too – family culture is a hard thing to shake.

So we are en route and Mom suddenly shouts “RIBS!” and I say “What??” and she said “We just passed a rib place!” We were at a stop light. “Mom,” I asked, “Do you want to go to that rib place?”

Silence.

Silence.

I pull into the U-turn lane and complain “You’ve got to start dealing with me directly; if you want to go to the rib place, you have to say so!” The complete irony being that I was already making the U-turn, which is what she wanted me to do. . . . Family culture being a hard thing to shake . . .

But as we pulled into the already crowded parking lot, the smell was absolutely divine. There was already a line. Good thing, too, it gave us time to read the menu and decide what we wanted.

00Casper'sTOS

We both ordered ribs. We are both forbidden to eat ribs. I eat ribs maybe one time each year, like once, at a buffet, I ate one small rib. It is so rare that I allow myself to eat a rib that I can remember even that one tiny rib. But this time, I ordered ribs, because my Mom did. She ordered Sweet Potato Fries and Cole Slaw and I ordered Hush Puppies and Cole Slaw.

00Casper'sOrderFood

You are going to be so so proud of me. I took pictures before we ate the food this time, well, except for one tiny bite I took out of the hushpuppies, but that was to show you what they look like on the inside. (My Mom has NEVER had a hushpuppy in her life before having one of mine.)

We sat down in the large outside sitting place – I can’t help but wonder what they do in the winter time, because it can get really really cold and damp in Seattle, but I am guessing that they do a huge take-out business.

00CaspersOutdoorDining

They have a map that they want people to put push-pins in to say where they are from:

00CaspersMap

I made a little addition:
00CaspersAddition

And, as I promised, here is the food. Actually, they gave Mom this HUGE portion, about double my portion, but since I got four ribs and only ate two, Mom took home a huge box of leftover ribs to package up and freeze and have a little at a time.

00CaspersMom'sRibs

Did you know sweet potatoes are really really healthy for you?
00CaspersSweetPotatoFriesColeSlaw

(I think sweet potatoes are healthier for you when they have a lower surface/interior ratio and have absorbed less fat, but these are totally, incredibly delicious. That’s sugar on the sweet potato fries, not salt.) Mom took leftover sweet potato fries home, too.

00CaspersHushPuppies

I can’t even pretend that there is anything healthy about deep fried cornbread. I ate them all, except the one Mom ate. They . . . they were really really good. Yes, I am so ashamed, but I would do it again.

And no, I didn’t take a photo of the sweet potato pie, generously seasoned with fresh nutmeg, it was divine, or the key lime pie we couldn’t eat and Mom took that home, too.

Oh, this food was good. As we left, the line stretched way out to door and into the parking lot.

Casper’s Taste of the South
15030 Bothell Way
Lake Forest Park, WA
(206)268-0202

Casper’s A Taste of the South

Their slogan is:

Put a Little South in Your Mouth. LLLOOOLLLL!

August 29, 2009 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Diet / Weight Loss, Doha, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Geography / Maps, Health Issues, Humor, Living Conditions, Relationships, Seattle, Women's Issues | 9 Comments

British Soldier Kidnapped, Escaped in Kuwait

Holy Smokes! Have you seen this?

Kidnapped British soldier leaps off balcony to freedom
A British soldier who was kidnapped by Muslim fanatics in Kuwait leapt from a balcony to escape his captors.

By Ben Leach
Published: 9:26AM BST 27 Aug 2009
Private Peter Walker was ambushed by five men wielding knives in Kuwait City before being beaten up and bundled into a building.

Pte Walker, in his mid-20s, was then left alone while his captors talked into mobile phones. The soldier, who had gone for a pizza in civilian clothes, struggled free and scrambled up a flight of steps – to find he was trapped on the first floor.

He then jumped off the balcony as the gang chased after him and managed to land safely before running to safety through the streets below.

Pte Walker, who was serving with 59 Movement Control Squadron, 29 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, in Iraq before the pull-out of British troops in May, is back in Britain after the ordeal last Sunday.

It is believed the gang pounced after they heard him speak English. A source told The Sun: “Pte Walker had gone out to the local pizza shop but found it closed.

“He was ambushed by five men. He feared they were going to sell him on to terrorists. They were all talking on mobiles. Pte Walker tried to speak to them in English but they blanked him.

“He ran up the stairs and had no option but to jump off the balcony. If he hadn’t escaped he could have been held to ransom or beheaded by terrorists.”

The Ministry of Defence said that Kuwaiti police and the Royal Military Police are investigating.

This is what really happened:

The soldier was part of the UK’s team at KIA looking after RAF aircraft going in and out of Kuwait. The detachment is due to withdraw in September and they had a “farewell” party last Saturday (the first full day of Ramadan). There was alcohol at the party!

The soldier was at the party and in the early hours (0530 hrs) of the following morning decided he wanted pizza. He took a vehicle from the detachments villa in Mesilla and went to Dominos Pizza (off the 207/30). He found the shop closed (hardly surprising as it was after dawn during Ramadan). He looked around the shop, was banging on the door and then tried to force the door open. He was seen by some locals who intervened. Things became heated and the locals tried to detain the soldier and called the police. The soldier put up a fight and was put into the harris’ room in the adjoining flats.

Whilst in “custody” the soldier picked up a bottle of water and drank it!

The soldier got out of the room (he certainly didn’t jump from a balcony), got to his car and drove back to the villa. On the way back he hit several other cars.

On returning to the villa his CO was informed what happened and the police arrived at about the same time.

The MP’s and police did not believe that this was a kidnapping and no charges will be bought against the locals. The soldier was repatriated to the UK last Monday and will face charges.

There is no way that this soldier is a hero. He is young and immature and should never have been allowed to serve in such an environment.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Crime, Cultural, Kuwait, News | 3 Comments

Commercial Real Estate Next Implosion

10 Cities Facing The Next Real Estate Bust
Rick Newman, U.S. News & World Report
From AOL News: Real Estate

The worst of the housing bust might finally be over, but another real estate tsunami is about to swamp many American cities. This time, it will be office buildings and retail space going vacant and facing foreclosure.

Like housing, commercial real estate goes through booms and busts, and the coming wipeout is likely to be a doozy. Commercial developers went on their own spending spree earlier this decade, racing to cash in on the hot economy with new office towers, hotel complexes, and retail projects. Banks supplied hundreds of billions of dollars in loans, often assuming that rents paid by tenants would keep going up. “The assumption was that the good times would go on forever,” says Victor Calanog, director of research for REIS, a real-estate-research firm.

If that mistaken assumption sounds familiar, so will the ramifications. Instead of going up, commercial rents have begun to plunge as companies downsize, warehouses empty, merchants go out of business, and huge retailers like Starbucks and Macy’s close underperforming stores and demand rent reductions. Office and retail vacancy rates are near record levels and going higher, and developers are about to face crunch time as billions in loans come due for repayment or refinancing over the next three years. Like homeowners who are “under water” on their mortgages, many of those developers owe more than their buildings are now worth.

The commercial crunch won’t hit consumers as directly as the housing bust, but they’ll still feel it. A resurgence in construction spending is often the springboard out of a recession, but in dozens of overbuilt areas, it won’t be. Many shopping centers could close completely. Urban development projects have been put on hold or canceled, giving blight a reprieve instead of chasing it out of town. As many as 3,000 banks may face significant losses on commercial real estate loans, according to economist Gary Shilling, which could crimp other lending and even threaten the banks’ solvency as losses start to pile up.

To determine which cities are most vulnerable, U.S. News analyzed data from REIS covering retail and office vacancy rates in the 79 biggest metro areas. At our request, REIS combined its retail and office data into a single commercial vacancy rate for each city, for several time periods. The research firm also provided its 2010 projections for each city.

To gauge the impact on each city over the coming year, we measured the difference between the commercial vacancy rate in 2008 and the projected rate in 2010. So the cities that landed on our list won’t necessarily have the highest vacancy rates next year, but they’ll experience the biggest increase over a two-year period. In most of these cities, commercial real estate woes are likely to hamper a recovery. In a few, they’ll compound a set of problems that’s already profound. Here’s where the next real estate bust is likely to hit hardest:

In Las Vegas (above), the real estate market could go from bad to worse, while Charleston (below) has been relatively stable until recently.

Las Vegas (projected commercial vacancy rate, 2010: 18.1 percent, up 6.8 percentage points from 2008). What happens in Vegas depends on the rest of the American economy, and until Americans start to feel wealthy again, travel (and gambling) budgets will remain crimped. Southern Nevada already suffers from one of the worst housing busts in the nation and a 12.3 percent unemployment rate. Vegas had a hot hand earlier this decade, which led to lots of commercial construction. But nearly one fifth of Sin City’s commercial space will stay vacant until tourists, conventioneers, and their cash start to return.

Baltimore (15.8 percent, up 6.5 points). Several large universities and proximity to recession-resistant Washington, D.C., have propped up Baltimore’s economy, but the city is still exposed to many economic strains. With the nation’s retail sector in a tailspin, shipments in and out of the Port of Baltimore have tanked, leaving acres of vacant warehouses. Other development programs have stalled as businesses have cut back on spending. Mayor Sheila Dixon has also been indicted for suspicious dealings with area developers, casting a pall over Baltimore’s business climate.

Detroit (24.8 percent, up 6.3 points). What else could go wrong in Motor City? Two of the area’s biggest employers, General Motors and Chrysler, declared bankruptcy this year, and the whole auto industry is undergoing severe cutbacks amid the biggest sales plunge in decades. So many companies have left Detroit that there’s barely a rush hour in this once bustling metropolis. If there’s any good news, it’s that prime office space is cheap: Rents have fallen eight years in a row and are likely to drop an additional 13 percent through 2010, according to REIS.

San Bernardino/Riverside, Calif. (15.9 percent, up 6.3 points). The availability of land once made Southern California’s “inland empire” a housing hotbed, with hundreds of mortgage brokers and a booming retail sector. No more. A vicious housing bust could ultimately drive home prices down 65 percent from peak values, and the unemployment rate could hit 16 percent next year. That’s knocked many of the mortgage brokers out of business and devastated the area’s ubiquitous strip malls. Even government jobs have been disappearing, thanks to California’s budget crisis.

Hartford, Conn. (20.2 percent, up 6 points). A recent survey identified Hartford as one of the first cities to bounce back from the recession, but local economists are doubtful. Many of the city’s insurance firms have slashed jobs in response to the financial meltdown. Aircraft-engine maker Pratt & Whitney may close two local plants, and the Obama administration’s push to end production of the F-22 fighter jet would hurt defense contractors in the area. With little new construction over the past year, most of the increase in vacancies is coming from businesses scaling back or shuttering their operations completely.

Dayton, Ohio (22.8 percent, up 5.9 points). After 125 years in Dayton, NCR is closing up its headquarters and moving to Georgia, taking 1,300 jobs with it and leaving more than a million square feet of office space behind. The collapse of the auto industry has also hurt the area, with several local parts suppliers dependent upon the Detroit automakers. In a survey of the 100 biggest cities, the Brookings Institution ranks Dayton near the bottom in terms of lost jobs and economic output.

New York (12 percent, up 5.9 points). Those lavish Wall Street bonuses you’ve been hearing about are going to a lot fewer bankers. The financial industry, Manhattan’s mainstay, has contracted by about 7 percent over the past year. Other industries have lost even more jobs, causing a sharp reversal in what used to be one of the world’s hottest real estate markets. Office rents skyrocketed in 2006 and 2007, when Wall Street was at its peak, but REIS expects them to fall 28 percent between 2008 and 2010. REIS’s vacancy data for New York include only office space, so the combined vacancy rate including retail space is probably higher than 12 percent.

Charleston, S.C. (16.6 percent, up 5.8 points). The antebellum charm has worn thin as this low-country mecca hopes for tourists to return and trade at its port to pick up. Several ambitious downtown hotel and redevelopment projects have stalled while developers wait for the economy to revive. Elsewhere in the state, manufacturing, retail, and construction companies have shed thousands of jobs, many of them gone for good. When not addressing his extramarital affair, Gov. Mark Sanford attempts to woo new businesses to the state.

Tacoma, Wash. (13.6 percent, up 5.8 points). Shipments are down at the city’s port, one of the nation’s biggest, which has left warehouses vacant and hammered the many area businesses that depend on trade. And many of the region’s most prominent companies, including Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, and Washington Mutual — taken over last year by JPMorgan Chase — have been laying off workers, helping push Tacoma’s unemployment rate higher than the state average.

New Haven, Conn. (17.2 percent, up 5.8 points). Education and healthcare have helped stabilize New Haven’s economy, but even Yale University has scaled back development plans and laid off workers, after its famed endowment dropped by $6 billion because of market losses. And a long-term shift away from manufacturing toward financial services and other white-collar industries has left the city exposed to the financial meltdown. That means New Haven’s recovery will probably lag the nation’s.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | Financial Issues, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Marketing, Technical Issue, Work Related Issues | 7 Comments

Guerilla Art at the Gas Works

Yesterday Mom pulled out a clipping from the Seattle Times about an unknown sculptor who had left a collection of fascinating sculptures – papier mache’ with golden highlights – of people emerging from their shells. They were delivered by stealth to the park by by the artist and friends, and left displayed to the wonderment of runners, joggers, walkers and picnicking families who discovered them at the Gasworks Park.

“Guerrilla-art in Seattle
In what was advertised as a gift to the citizens of Seattle, a gold-colored sculpture by an unknown artist turned up in Gas Works Park on Tuesday, August 25, 2009. “Anew is gifted to the citizens of Seattle in the spirit of awakening,” the artist wrote in a plaque attached to the sculpture.”

2009735663

(This is not my photo; this photo is from the Seattle Times Photo Gallery and you can purchase a copy of it from them)

How cool is that? The park officials were all set to pick the art works up and dispose of them, but people started calling in, by the hundreds, “no! leave it there! It is wonderful!” And, amazement of amazements, the city listened, and left the sculptures there.

In today’s Seattle Times is a follow up:

Guerrilla artist goes public; golden man already taken

By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter (you can read the entire article by clicking on the blue type)

The artist who left a sculpture in Seattle’s Gas Works Park earlier this week says she was “amazed and overwhelmed” by the response to the art.

“I spent some time both in the afternoon and evening standing with the crowd, watching their reactions, and I am overflowing with joy,” said Cyra Hobson, 31, in an e-mail sent Wednesday night.

The Seattle Parks Department said Wednesday it will leave the multipiece sculpture in place until Labor Day rather than removing it today, as had been planned.

So Mom and I decided we wanted to take a look, which is a lot braver than you can imagine. Mom has always been active, but she is no longer able to walk as long as she wants to walk – at 86, she hates to accept any limitations, so off we go.

We get to the Gas Works Park and it is another gorgeous day, warm, without being hot, and we walk. And we walk. And we don’t see one single piece of sculpture. People have taken her at her word – they are all gone!

Oh well. We missed an ephemeral moment in time, a great happening, but we still had a great adventure. The view from the Gas Works park (which is – no kidding – on the site of a defunct Gas Works factory, so they turned it into a park for families, joggers, dog walkers, etc.) is phenomenal – at one time, there was a jet, a helicopter and a pontoon plane in the air, a car/boat, several kayaks and a fishing boat in the water, and dogs and children everywhere.

Of course I took some photos to share with you:
00GasworksPark1
00GasworkPark2

00GasworksParkViewSeattle

This is a “Duck.” Right now it is a boat, but it can also put down wheels and function as an open tour bus on land:
00GPDuck

00GPPontoonPlanes

August 29, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Bureaucracy, Character, Charity, Community, Events, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Seattle, Travel | Leave a comment

Ivar’s Seafood Bar and Lunch on the Waterfront

It’s another gorgeous day in Seattle, hitting around 87°F/29°C, blue skies, not a cloud in sight, a day everyone heads for the beach.

My Mom LOVES the beach.

“How about if I pick up lunch and we eat on the beach?” I ask her, and she agrees almost before I ask. “But I don’t need a big lunch,” she adds, “only two pieces of fish and no fries, I’ll just eat a couple of yours.”

I hardly ever order fish and chips. I almost never order fries. How could she know me for so long and not know that?

After running my errands, I hit the Ivar’s Seafood Bar and order – two orders of fish and chips.
IvarsSBMenu
00IvarsSBDecor
00IvarsSBBestSeafoodTY

The restrooms:
00IvarsGulls

00IvarsSeafoodBarBuoys

I remembered to take a photo of the fish and chips before the fish was entirely gone 🙂

00IvarsSBClassicFishNChips

I picked up Mom and we drove to the waterfront, scoring rock-star parking and a park bench with a view that went forever, right off the beach and watching the Edmonds ferry come in and out of the dock:

00WaterfrontViewFerry

00WaterfrontFishingBoat

00WaterfrontSealsCloseUp

And then we went home and waited for Mom’s new red chair to be delivered, which it was, and it is beautiful!

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Seattle, Travel | 3 Comments