• Embracing Seattle in February

    Most people would agree that August is the best time to visit Seattle, when the temperature can get as high as 77 °F and chances of rain fall to near 0%. It’s true. Riding a ferry under blue skies, walking the waterfront, and eating outdoors in August is glorious. But if you want a more authentic Seattle experience, visit in the winter. In February, I set out to embrace Seattle. Fortunately, it was one week after a debilitating snow storm. I was prepared for rain and cold, but not snow.

    The Pike Place Market is one of the most iconic Seattle sites, so I booked The Inn at The Market with a view of Puget Sound. When I arrived, the sun was shining and the Olympic mountains revealed their snow-capped splendor. But within 24 hours, the scenery disappeared and I found myself pressing into a bitter cold head wind and pelted by rain. This was not the day to hang out in Myrtle Edwards Park. I headed back to the Market for an indoor walk.

    The main arcade of the market is covered and sheltered from wind. There are not too many people out on a nasty day in February, which makes it possible to stroll through the market without fighting crowds. Seeking warmth, I explored the levels below the arcade. I’ve been to the market on many visits to Seattle, but only on this visit did I discover a level lower than I’ve ever been. From the looks of the shops, I’d guess the rent decreases proportional to the level. 

    Shops included:  a flea-market full of things not likely to sell, several budding artists’ studios, a sous-vide culinary school, a few collectibles shops, and a book publisher. The market provided benches in the center of the floor, with signs stating that proper behavior is required at all times. These benches were popular with some of Seattle’s homeless. I was happy to see a place where people can get a brief respite from the winter weather. When I finally made my way to an upper level, I ended up popping out of an unmarked door next to a restroom. I have no idea whether I will be able to find that lower level again! 

    Now I was hungry. I grabbed some butter from De Laurenti’s, ginger beer from Rachel’s, a loaf of bread from Three Girls Bakery, and a crab from one of the seafood stalls. I devoured this feast in my hotel room, watching the ferries cross Puget Sound. Winter IS a good time to visit Seattle.

  • Tick, Tock Tristan Time

    Lorien talking to Sheridan in an episode of Babylon 5.

    There are only two possibilities. If you hit bottom then you are dead. If you did not hit bottom you are still falling and all this is a dream unless you are in-between moments.

    Tick tock, tick tock. Always running out of time

    Yours is almost used up. You are in between seconds, lost in the infinite possibilities between tick and tock.

    Tick you're alive.
    Tock . . . well, it was a good life but a short one.

    Tick, tock, tick tock.

    Seattle Opera's recent production of Tristan und Isolde reminded me of this scene from Babylon 5. A man caught in the moment between life and death. The in-between worlds of Sheridan and Tristan warps time to suit their circumstances. Sheridan allows his love for Delenn to pull him from the in-between world to that of the living even though his feat costs him years off his life. Tristan takes another path. His in-between world allows him to consummate his love for Isolde before he dies.

    Tristan und Isolde is a favorite of mine. Its only flaw is the love potion. From my first encounter with love potions—The Searchers' hit Love Potion No. 9—I've been a skeptic. Really! A liquid that's going to make two people fall passionately in love? Lust maybe, but not the sort of love Tristan und Isolde have for each other.

    Under the direction of Peter Kazaras, Tristan und Isolde became believable for me. The love potion is really a death potion—there isn't any swapping by Brangane. The opera becomes the tale of Tristan's in-between world. His passage from tick to tock. This concept, combined with the extraordinary singing by Annalena Persson and Clifton Forbis, and the rest of this high-caliber, cast created a moving and memorable performance.