Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scenes from a hot city

The temperature topped 100 degrees in Seattle yesterday. We’re so not used to it. A few pollyannas say they enjoy it, and loudly proclaim their newfound love affair with the sun. The rest of us walk around slowly, blinking and frowning, alternately cranky or bewildered.

The unrelenting heat is prompting questionable sartorial decisions. I saw my supervisor in a miniskirt. For every lithe young campus hottie running around in flip flops and cutoffs, there's the Rubenesque bare-chested old guy with sweat dripping off his wrinkled nipples.

An older manager at work abandoned his computer, rolled up a copy of the campus paper and chased around an errant fly.

29 Seattle-area friends on my facebook page posted about the weather. No more archly clever posts; we're recording triple digit temperatures in our kitchens, posting screen shots of KING5, and passing around beat-the-heat tips (water soaked headbands, running through sprinklers) .

On my bus, no one talks. No one's sleeping. We all have zombie stares, behind our shades. And overhead, the sun continues to shine.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A priority message













Remember I told you to look up when you're walking down the street? (Be safe and all, natch.)
I snapped this series of doodled shipping stickers along a 1/2 mike stretch in Wallingford.

I tried to simply enjoy and not think too hard about what they were or meant -- poetic clues to a scavenger hunt? Coded messages? Or just random, disposable thoughts?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The eyez have it


I happened across this menacing garage door one Saturday when I was wandering around trying to find Essential Bakery.

I liked that it was a burst of exoticism in an otherwise ordinary landscape--a careless half-tone wall, unremarkable metal siding, a bent drainpipe. And yet someone took care to center the eyes and the snake-nose, and to level the painting against the angle of the door.

Because where would you be if the evil eye were off kilter?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dried to a crisp

Dried flowers were big in the 1980's, and I hated them.
Hated the dessicated rose headbands and clumps of pungent eucalyptus and the dried out baby's breath (don't most babies' breath smell of up chuck?). Everywhere you went people had silk flower or dried flower arrangements bound with satin ribbon and hanging on their walls, gathering dust in windowsill vases, even nestled in women's hairdos. So romantic, ladies sighed. So Victorian and sweet.
It might be why all the dead grass and dried out weeds around town are giving me the creeps. Everywhere you look, the grass is blindingly blond. It looks like crew-cut hay. These are some weeds I saw in an abandoned lot. I did like the sunburst appeal of the bristly dry heads. I imagine if you sat down, you'd be picking sharp little stickers out of your ass for quite awhile.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The smile mafia

A contractor came by the house yesterday to talk about some remodeling projects. Nice guy, youngish, a little fond of monologue but also copacetic with my interjected semi-funny sidebar comments. In other words, it went great, especially given the hot day and my finely honed sales resistance. Until, that is, on his way out, when he handed me his card.
Owner-slash-Smile Maker, his title read.
I looked up, groaning. Smile maker, really?
See, it worked, he said with a grin.
Actually, it was more of a grimace on my part. But I just nodded and shook his hand.
*
Earlier this week, a co-worker said how much she liked someone. So-and-so is so nice, they're always smiling, she said, nodding in approval.
Those kind of people scare me, I said, and her own smile died.
It's true. I trust them the least. The smilers. Either they're up to something devious and trying to allay all suspicion, or they're just not paying attention.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Henry in tatters


A couple of weeks ago, someone (henry?) posted these strips on walls and utility panels near my writing space. Most are in tatters. This one, pasted up high on an alley wall, is in the best shape by far.
Natural wear and tear, or something more sinister at work?
Whatever. I'm over it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The hotness

So far, it's been a crackling hot summer in Seattle. June was nearly the driest June on record. It's my least favorite weather. I tolerate it, but just barely. Some days, the sun and the humidity and the sweating and chafing, the chipper sun-lovers and the paunchy shirtless old guys get to me, and then, quietly cursing it all, I retreat to a cool basement, run the fan on high, and remember that six months ago the city was paralyzed by snow.
*
Today I walked a new route and tried to find something beautiful about this hot spell. It wasn't easy. The graffiti looked greasy and unimaginative. A bunch of drunks cooed at the dog, and the female one said Hi pretty doggy, to me, then laughed with so little conviction that it could have been crying. Tourists fussed with patio umbrellas at a gelato place, trying to make more shade. The grass in the parking strips looked like crispy straw, the dried blond heads like starbursts against the cracked dirt.
*
Forty minutes in, I gave up. The dog was slinking along and panting, tail drooping. On the way back, we passed the drunks again. One fell to his knees. I remember you, doggy. C'mere. My dog shrank away from his waving arms. Sorry, I said. He's hot and he's on his way to get a drink. Still on his knees, the drunk guy said, Ha ha, so am I.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Doctored signs are wondrous

I have a lot on my mind but today's note will be brief.
This is the first of a bunch of altered street signs I'll be posting.
It's by far the silliest.
How cool would it be if crosswalks were patrolled by the likes of Edward Scissorhands?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

How my dog and I ruined everything

I freely admit that I'm a contrarian. I find conflict interesting, telling, sometimes helpful. That said, I did little to start (okay, and little to defuse) the altercation yesterday with the 2 bearded bald guys and their snarly shepherd mix.
*
Starbucks on 1st Ave S, mid-morning, out front in the sun. Notice The Stranger's Farrah/Michael cover and head past some patio tables to grab one. Out of nowhere springs this pretty big dog, barking savagely. My dog--16 lbs and fierce only in the pursuit of squirrels--falls back, yelping and scared. What the hell, I say aloud, backing away, confused.
*
The dog's people, two middle-aged paunchy bald men, resplendent in scraggly beards and blue blocker sunglasses, start berating me. How dare I startle their dog why didn't I just go away they had been out there for an hour reading their paper with no problems at all with their wonderful doggums.
I point out that said doggums was still barking so hard that saliva was flying out of its mouth. My dog calmly looks at the trio. We go stand in the shade. Look at her she's standing right there you can't stand there go away you're ruining everything. Inside the Starbucks, people watch, unable to hear but clearly enjoying the visuals.
*
I also admit that--now that it was clear that the duo was completely unhinged--I fanned the flames. We're leaving, they declared huffily, and I said Good for you. But we need our paper, they added. It had blown over near where I was standing. Then you better come get it, I said with a smirk. The classy couple stamped off, still winging epithets. They puttered away in an old white Volvo wagon, dog still barking insanely. In unison, the pair flipped me the middle finger and drove away into the hot morning.

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