Following a hearty breakfast that included Johnny Cakes, bacon, eggs and bottomless cups of freshly brewed coffee. We decided to stay close to home to explore nearby Washington Lake. With most of our recent weekends being rain soaked affairs that allow us the excuse to take a good book and the computer to the local coffee house. The sun drenched ones are rare in these parts and therefore wasteful to take for granted. So with our late start and lack of serious plans accepted. We decided to stay close, take it easy and take advantage of what our immediate area had to offer. It goes without saying that some of life’s greatest pleasures can be found right under our noses. Whether it be short walk to your backyard. The hammock on your porch or the lake that lies just five minutes from the place you call home. Sometimes, small steps and short trips can be as and even more rewarding than the bigger ones. As my Dad would say, “Take it Ease.”
Some of my earliest memories of baseball involve the Major League Baseball’s 1977 expansion that brought us the Toronto Blu4 Jays and the Seattle Mariners. Though it would be another three years before the Great American Pastime would take hold of my imagination. It served as a gateway drug to what would become a lifetime obsession.
Just as I recall those dark day that plagued the Mariners in the late 70’s and much of the 80’s. I can also look to the hope that came when the NY Yankees sent a young outfielder by the name of Jay Buhner west. The hope the 90’s brought with players like Ken Griffey JR., Edgar Martinez, Tino Martinez, Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez.
I was in Japan when Ichiro Suzuki played his first games for The Mariners in 2001. Getting to see his first games, at bats and center field wizardry from his place of birth was, to say the very least, outer worldly. Still after more than forty years of existence. The Seattle Mariners continuously sport the ugliest uniforms in all of baseball while never appearing in a world series. Not even the 2001 team that won 116 games.
Regardless, the fans here are great and I really enjoyed the games I attended in 2017. Getting to know the players names while getting a feel for the stadium. As the 2018 season has just opened. I’m already watching the schedule to buy tickets when the Mets and Yankees come to town. Just as I enjoyed growing up in the shadow of Shea Stadium as a kid. I feel very lucky to be living just a short drive from Safeco Field and the Seattle Mariners. GO Team.
As our Jersey City condo nears its closing date. The thought of moving back east in order to be closer to friends, family and loved ones looms large. Before deciding to take a job offer and move to Seattle, My wife left the door open to moving back to the area if life here didn’t live up to what we expected it to be. At the time, moving away from friends, family and an area I had lived the entirety of my life in, did not seem to concern me. The opportunity to live on another coast was paramount. Thus making our decision almost immediate. Visiting Seattle for the first time ever back in May and ultimately moving here in June. I was able to leave behind a lot of my worries, anxiety and stress and view life with a fresh and very different outlook. As we close in on a year here in Seattle. I can’t think of how the move has change me for the better. Sure, it rains a hell of a lot here and the area has it’s share of problems. However, my friends back East have been pummeled by one Nor’easter after another. All things considered, the idea of moving back to New York City or New Jersey doesn’t quite appeal to me as much as plotting a course for another city I’ve yet to experience or country whose cities and culture would be further explored. In some respects, the nomad spirit in me yearns for new adventures.
Over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend we decided to catch MOPOP’s new exhibition “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses.” It was one of the first times we’ve spent time in Lower Queen Anne since we moved to Columbia City in late September. Though I think we can all agree on how much I love Columbia City. It’s safe to say, that the time spent in Lower Queen Anne was well spent. Living out of a suit case in a corporate apartment might sound rough to some. However, for me. Living with just the basics was a complete joy and a way to practice minimalism in a way I never thought possible. The several months we spent in Lower Queen Anne offered us a great introduction to Seattle. One I’m incredibly grateful for. Whether it was riding the bus, taking the train or just plain walking. The time spent there provided the change I was looking for when we decided to give the West Coast a chance.
Below are several links I’d highly recommend checking out.
After a delicious breakfast at Heyday, we ventured down the steep hills towards Lake Washington. I had brought my new Canon 70-200 f4 USM lens with me in the hopes of finding the right spot to fire off some test shots. I recall owning a 70-200 lens years ago but don’t recall it ever being so noticeably heavy. Quickly, we found a spot under the bridge. I proceeded to remove the already mounted lens and camera body from out mini coopers trunk. At first feel, you would think I was moving a centuries old pace of art from the auction house to the high bidders home or gallery. Truth be told, I was more focused on convincing my wife that I hadn’t let my clumsiness get the best of me. Overall, I enjoyed the way the lens handled and the results were rewarding. I really enjoy the focal range it provides and the fact that I can use it without a tripod. Still, I’m looking forward to using it on one and testing it on some local sporting events. Until then, go big or go home.
I have a long history of bad dreams regarding my childhood, the places I’d been, the characters in my life and some of the crazy things I had seen and experienced. Thankfully, I reached a place in my life (a good one.) that’s given me a sense of closure that’s allowed me to look back upon those times with a sense of humor. While writing about many of those experiences has helped immensely when it came to that closure. It’s given me something I never could have expected. That being able to sharpen my memory and bring a greater sense of detail to my writing. Time and perhaps forgiveness has given me the strength and to a great extent, a chance to look back, laugh and share some of these stories with a sense of detachment that allows me to write as if I was penning fiction. Instead of waking in the middle of the night due to a nightmare. I wake refreshed with a fluent memories of an experience I haven’t thought of in decades.
One involving my Mother leaving me in the care of a very nice woman who managed or possibly owned a dry cleaners, While I can only recall being left there once. She was a very nice lady whose storefront was highlighted by a supersized fish tank that housed some rather colorful coy. I mean, I can’t think of a better place to leave your kids. “In before 9:00. Ready by 5:00.” had to have its origins.
The other, and perhaps the head scratcher of the two, came when left in the care of my father. Considering my parents worked shifts that almost insured they’d rarely see one another. (My Mother worked the regular 9-5 as a secretary in Manhattan. While my Dad’s city job as a bus driver had him on a 3-11 schedule. As far back as I could remember, my Dad was doing a lot of side jobs making money here and there doing work for bookies and loan sharks. While there were countless times when I could tag along to the bar (Cheese burger & fries, a plate of calamari and a couple of cokes. Armed with a handful of quarters for the jukebox. The hours would just slip away.) Or the local O.T.B. (Off Track Betting for those not old enough to remember.) Where I could sit and watch the races on closed circuit tv or run to the corner hot dog guy for a mustard, sauerkraut and onions Sabrett.
Through the years though, there were a number of occasions where my Dad couldn’t take me along with him on his rounds and had to get creative. The local gas station on the corner of 83rd st. and Astoria Blvd. just happened to be one. Though there were three filling stations within a two block radius of my Pop’s house. My Dad must have known the owner of this particular one. During the hours and occasions I was left in his care. I don’t recall any strange goings on. There was the office (or reception area) with a gumball machine. I spent time watching the mechanics work on cars. I can recall thinking how cool the collection of tools looked on the peg board. Those roller carts that allowed them to magically disappear under the cars and oh, those awesome car lifters that would raise the cars off the ground magically. The people there always looked after me, kept me entertained and safe from the constant traffic that flowed from La Guardia Airport into Astoria Blvd.
From a very young age, I had come to love visiting junk yards whether it be for a spare car or motorcycle part. Or to tag along with my Dad when he went to collect money for the bookies or sharks, By four or five, I had come to love the smell of gasoline.
Years later though, after hijacking my Aunts copy of The Daily News. I was somewhat surprised to see that the same gentleman my Father trusted to care for me was being arraigned on charges of extortion, arson and kidnapping. It was just one of many instances when someone I knew and trusted showed up in the local news paper or led off the days TV News report. It was just a part of growing up. People doing what they felt they needed to do to get from point A to point B taught me a lot about life and the many grey areas that you find along the road.
There are times when I can write, write, write all day. The hours just melting away as I continue to pen the next Great American Novel or put the final touches on that record or book review I’ve been working on for over a week. Then there are days like this past Monday where I’m able to get out early and often. Yesterday’s sudden burst of energy and inspiration allowed me to explore yet to be traveled, yet eerily close destinations within ten minutes of my Columbia City apartment. The first photo was taken just before noon at a little spot I found on the way home for lunch. During my short time there. I couldn’t help but notice how calming the fresh, cool air and the water felt. I’d imagine a lot of folks going there to clear their mind while enjoying the peace and quiet. It was during my time there when I met a sweet pit bull named “Woof”.
The second picture was taken at Sunset just a few blocks west of 15th Ave. S. Due to the cold and the fact that I had pretty much attained what I wanted. I began tthe walk back to my car. It was then when I noticed this van with the sunset perfectly reflected in it’d side window. Having watched several documentaries featuring people traveling the country in vans just like this one. I was ready for someone to emerge just as I focused my lens. That, or a full on zombie apocalypse. Luckily, neither occurred as I was able to get in my car, head home and warm myself with a hot cup of coffee. At the end of the day, I’m glad I decided to try something different by taking a few side roads and allowing myself to get a little lost.