Just bitchin'

Northwest Winter Gifts


At the stormiest of times, clouds can part…

…revealing an unexpected vista of stars so thick they seem to coalesce, to gather like swathes of gauze against purest black.

This celestial beauty spreads before you, mesmerizing until…


…a streak of fire jolts you from your reverie.

Did you really see it? Maybe not…

…but then another

and another

and yet again

and more.

A shower of fire, frost-kissed, utterly silent, lances across the sky.

Each one worth a wish.

You wonder if you’re the only person stargazing on such a night. Normal people are indoors, sheltering against the cold.

You are no longer in a hurry. You no longer grumble about the long walk from the garage.

Because the winter night has gifts to give.


Just bitchin'

A Hazy Shade of Hell


You know how it is with the news.

What’s happening is usually so far away that, although your inner sympathy-chip is engaged, you aren’t really affected in your insulated, little, day-to-day life. You kick back in the evening to watch the latest events of local or national interest and thank your lucky stars it’s all happening far, far away.

But sometimes what’s occurring reaches out with vaporous fingers and reminds you in a more visceral way that you, too, are part of this world where nothing stays the same.

My state is on fire.

Hundreds of thousands of acres are blazing. There is loss of homes and loss of lives, both human and non-.

In my comfy, little, beach cottage, hundreds of miles and a mountain range away, the sky is yellow. The sun is bloody.


When you step outside, the discomfort is noticeable. Your eyes sting. You smell something acrid in the air. The color yellow now has a scent.

The birds have gone still, venturing forth for food and water, but not engaging in the usual aerial acrobatics and song.

At the end of your normal, unaffected day, a throbbing headache reminds you that smoke is a formidable opponent. And your neck hairs rise when you look to the east and wonder how your fellow Washingtonians will sleep tonight. Or where.

For the first time, we’ve sent out a call for help, for volunteers to stand at the front lines and engage the enemy.

Australia answered. So did New Zealand.

A thrill of thankfulness runs through us for these brave souls so generous with their courage.

It’s a hazy, yellow shade of Hell.

But we’re not alone…


Just bitchin'

Sweating in Seattle


It has been the hottest July on record for my neck of the woods.

Those records have been kept since the late 1800s, so we in the Pacific Northwest find this newsworthy to the extent that it’s all we can discuss.

The heat.

The heat.

The heat.


Seems only appropriate that I should join the steady stream of sweat-soaked Seattleites who populate our newscasts throughout our sweltering days and torpid nights. The newscasters whose smiles at the beginning, when they announced sunshine in the forecast, are now frozen in a rictus of confused denial.

You see, we can’t admit we don’t want all this heat and light. We like the rain. We adore clouds. We bow down to fog. This unprecedented string of solar showmanship is…is…unnatural. Yet we feel we should be appreciative and brave, telling each other how beee-oooo-tiful the weather is.

We’re afraid the rest of the world will realize our unofficial state flower is mildew. Or that most of us have never found the need to have air conditioning installed. Or that we’ve never had to water our lawns to keep them green. Or that we’re in danger of crisping ourselves like bacon during the short journey across a parking lot to our cars.

This weather is untoward.

It’s not us.

And it’s never clearer than when I drive into the city and it looks deserted.

We are all clustering around the few air conditioned venues we can find. The spacious walk-in beer and wine cooler at the QFC atop Queen Anne’s Hill…packed with teetotalers and imbibers alike. The downtown library swamped with first-time patrons who didn’t realize books still exist in the sea of tablets and Kindles. The few air-conditioned buses plying their routes over melting asphalt, their drivers wondering why no one is getting off.

This is my home.

And it’s hot.

And it’s all anyone can talk about anymore.

And there’s only one way out…


…ice cream.


Just bitchin'

A Northwest New Year’s Eve


Here in the Northwest we like to welcome the new year with a visual shout out from the top of our signature logo…the Space Needle.


A great many people who live in the neighborhood are treated to pyrotechnics galore, accompanied by blaring music and cheering revelers.


It really is quite an amazing sight as well as an amazing site.


Afterwards, the celebration continues into the small hours of the newborn 2015. So, apologies to those who live nearby, a captive audience to the annual madness, noise and disturbance, but…

Happy New Year!

And twelve months from now, we’ll have recovered enough to do it again…