PNW Part I

Skyline snapped en route from airport.

The pull of the Pacific Northwest grew gradually but inexorably over the years. When my son moved out there six months ago, there no longer existed a single excuse not to just… GO.

Seattle to (almost) Sacramento and back again in 2.5 weeks. Another epic journey undertaken with my 24 year old daughter, Maggie.

In this overview (Part I) — Washington State. If you told me tomorrow that I was moving there, had a job, a place to live, and sorry but it just had to be, I’d kiss you. Seattle stole my heart and the whole state captured my spirit.

High points included….

  • Seeing a dear friend from my school days in NYC and her wife, and getting the quickie overview of Seattle from a wise and pragmatic person who instinctively knew what we’d love.

    The wonderful Anna and Louise.
  • What we saw (and loved):
    • Lake Washington (where my friends Anna and Louise live) and the view of snow-covered Mt. Ranier at one end. For an easterner this hit my eyeballs as “A Mountain” putting Mt. Alander or Brace Mountain of my nearby Taconic range into stark perspective as “mountains”—note my use of capitalization. (Ranier is 14,410 feet high and topped by a glacier. By way of comparison, I learned to ski at Catamount, in the Berkshires, with an elevation of 1000 feet and topped by mostly trees.)

      Lake Washington and Mt. Ranier.
    • The troll under the bridge. Yes! A glorious art installation and he even holds a real live VW bug in his trollish grip.
    • Lenin-in-mid-stride. Someone thought it was a great idea to buy an old statue of the leader of the Communist Revolution from the Russians and install it in front of a café. He makes an impression in any city.

      Lenin striding.
    • The Olympic Sculpture Park (part of the Seattle Art Museum). Set on the water, artists like Alexander Calder (in all his majesty), Richard Serra (whose amazing work is at Dia Beacon in my neck of the woods), my old fave, Louise Nevelson, and many more, are on fabulous display. One artist new to me, Jaume Plensa, knocked my eyes out with his monumental Echo….

      We walked together in the sun and the breeze, wearing light sweaters in late June. Bliss.

    • Pho.

      The Pho was delicious.
    • The salmon ladders. If you’ve never heard of such a thing, you’re in good company. It was new to me, too. Ladder is a misnomer, really, as the engineering is more about stair-steps that head upstream through gateways, so the salmon can access their spawning grounds despite the existence of a lock system that controls water flow into and out of the giant Lake Washington. There is a viewing spot below ground-level where we could watch the valiant wild salmon swim against the current, find the gateway to the next level, and use their muscular little bodies to push through it. They were beautiful and Maggie and I were thoroughly transfixed for a good hour. And yeah, we took about 9 million photos and at least 8 thousand video clips. We were inspired.

      The salmon in the ladders.
    • The first five or so of a plethora of small coffee spots we stopped at during our trip. My friend, Anna, understood that we needed to see multiple “temples of coffee” as she called them.
    • Amazing Copper River salmon.
  • Visiting friends, Tom and Nina, in Olympia, WA and experiencing their love and wonderful tour-guiding.
  • What we did with them:
    • Walked through part of the Olympic National Park. Since the park is about 1400 square miles, we were on just a microscopic fraction of it, but what we saw filled our eyes and souls with great beauty. A temperate rainforest covers most of the park, and we walked what is called the “staircase” trail, which starts about an hour and a half from Olympia. Majestic cedar trees, Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, and hemlocks towered overhead. Sunlight filtered through the canopy, but we were cool and comfortable as we walked. We stopped frequently to inspect a fern, some moss, a section of rapids, or a fallen cedar (one was especially enormous; the root system, lying on its side, towered over us).
      Tom, Nina, and me posing beside the huge fallen cedar.

      One of our hiking companions, Tom, is 81 years old. He impressed all of us! 

      Beautiful couple and a beautiful view.
      Tom and Maggie walk ahead.
      Trees grow on other “nurse” trees.

      The Skokomish River from up hgih.
      The Skokomish River.

      Taking a rest as we walked the Olympic State Park Staircase trail.
    • Toured the Capitol building in Olympia, WA. To be honest, many capitols in this country were constructed with ugly in mind. Or maybe it was just economy. But this building and all the ones around it are modeled on the neoclassical style of the nation’s capitol. The capitol itself was not only quite gorgeous, but contained more marble than I’ve seen in one place outside maybe the Metropolitan Museum. Fun fact: the supreme court of Washington is comprised of five women and four men. Seems about right.
      Washington State Capitol.
      A VW bug would fit in that chandelier.

      WA House.
    • Drank more great coffee.
    • Ate more delectable salmon. Plus some crazy-good chicken Perloo made by Tom, a Florida Cracker born and bred.

Washington State secured itself in me as a destination of my heart. I constantly imagined myself living there and began fantasizing possible move-to-Seattle outcomes for myself. It’s probably a good idea for me to visit in the winter and really experience the daily rain I don’t think I’m going to mind, but won’t really know till I see it firsthand.

Olympia is a port city.

Next installment: heading south through Oregon to meet up with firstborn, Win, in CA.




  1. The ONP changed me. I’d have to write a book in this comment to do any of it justice. The least I can say is that the Hall of Mosses in the Hoh rainforest is another of the weeping-inducing wonders of the world. This was the furthest point in our month-long honeymoon, vying with Zion for the top spot on my bucket list. A year later, after I’ve had time to digest it all, the Hall of Mosses is permanently tied at the top spot of favorite places on earth (the Grand Canyon and Glacier National Park are the other two top contenders). Yosemite comes a close second (fourth?), but the crowds in July were devastating. I will return without doubt, but never again over summer break. The overwhelming crowds actually caused me to skip Yellowstone which is reported to be even more heavily visited in summer, which broke my heart but kept me sane. I made myself firm promises that we will go at some later non-summer date, and with the extra time from the cancellation, we added Craters of the Moon and Little Big Horn to our trip. (Craters and LBH were enroute, lucky surprises, and both were overwhelming in completely different ways. Craters because of its extreme beauty in desolation, which is a gimme for me. Nature = Love. LBH is the only “human” as opposed to “natural” place we visited, and I was blindsided by my reaction, which involved tears streaming down my face the entire visit. It prepared me for what I would face at the Badlands, though I didn’t know it until I got there, which also broke me. The plight of Native Americans stirs something in me that is feral and angry and hungry for acknowledgement. Side note: I love the Canadian choice to call the Native Canadians “First People”. Argh. This shit always makes me cry. I didn’t come back to finish catching up on your posts until after I had stopped crying over your #metoo and the Advil started working because crying gives me a headache every stinking time. Other side note: It’s startling how much of my honeymoon I spent in tears. And misleading. It was wonderful and amazing and life-altering and yes, chock-full of tears. I swear I don’t cry over everything.)

    1. You cry over things the way I do– moved to the core. I cried my way through the Michelangelo show at the Met earlier this month, for example.

      I am reading with great avidity (and taking notes) about your trip and the stops you made as this is a dream for me too. But first… ITALY. Before I’m 60 dammit. |

      Sorry my blog gave you a headache. XOXO

      1. I read and loved your post on Michelangelo. I experience the same thing with handmade textiles…quilts, embroidery, knitting, crochet, redwork, tapestries…that every stitch passed through someone’s hand, and nearly always in an act of love and caring for family. I am an avid crocheter, and holding someone else’s work in my hands is sometimes overwhelming. Stumbling across an antique thread crochet tablecloth at a thrift store for five dollars is both exhilarating and soul-crushing. Turns out the fastest way to devalue fiber is to make something with it.

          1. My dear friend, I wasn’t well, but I am getting there. 🙂

            In the past month, two daughters have ended toxic relationships with alcoholics. That sounds so clean and simple and easy, doesn’t it?

            Can you guess how awful it was?

            Daughter 1: after he smashed her children’s furniture in a drunken rage, we got them and their remaining belongings moved to our house. Then we find out he’s a stalker. Doxxing her online. Hacking her accounts. Drunk texting everyone she knows all night long. Harassing her friends and family online. I actually posted a fb rant yesterday (I’d delete it because fuck Zuckerberg, but it’s the only way to keep up with my wife’s family). I don’t usually post personal things on fb, but I’m truly fed up with this man.

            Less than a week later, daughter 2: he was blind drunk (his income tax return had showed up that morning) after two months sober (and two months unemployed) when she got home from work, so she kicked him out. Told him to be gone when she got back, and tried to leave to pick up her daughter from school. (My other three daughters -one is a daughter by another family, who calls me mom and so she’s mine- and four grandchildren under the age of 11 were present and spellbound.) He tried to disable her car so she couldn’t leave, so she tackled him. He’s three times her size and drunker than Cooter Jones so he can’t feel pain, and he pinned her arms and dropped them both to the ground. She’s fighting to get away and he’s fighting to keep her under him, so she bites the holy hell out of him. Like, the bleeding vicious wounds a trapped animal would inflict. One of the other daughters calls the cops, and when she fights her way free, she screams at him to leave and jumps in her car to go get the kid. The cops show up, arrest him for public intox, and wait for her to come back so they can interview her. Turns out, since he’s the one chewed up, she is going to jail for domestic battery. He dropped the charges after he sobered up, but the state’s attorney can prosecute without him. We go to court on the 26th to tell our story.

            I’m stopping here and hitting send, because I am frankly afraid of screwing this up a second time. LOL

        1. But prior to all of that, there was the internal fallout of my metoo. I deliberately did not go trawling those dark waters for more. I deliberately did not open that closet door, refusing the skeletons inside.

          But the trick to remembering something is to not think about it…then it will come floating to the surface. So naturally, after a couple of days, when the jitters had worn off and I could be quiet and thoughtful again, in the middle of a silent drive home from work, it hit me. I’d left it out. The world-ender. How is it even possible to think about these things without this screaming red and yellow and fire and damnation at me? How?????????? And then what? Go back to our conversation and say oh by the way, I forgot to mention I was molested for almost ten years (8 years, 9 months, 17 days according to his please-come-back-to-me letter, and I have no cause to disbelieve it, and no care to figure out if he made those numbers up). And how do I tell it? It’s ugly and you can’t un-learn it, and you don’t deserve to have it in your head either.

          Stop here if you like. I won’t hold it against you. I have debated with myself over this for weeks now. Do I leave my story as is? It’s enough like that, isn’t it? And it would be, I swear, if it didn’t feel like not telling it is still covering for his crimes at my own expense. I can say it’s not a secret anymore, but until I tell it nothing changes. I hadn’t decided yet if I would tell you or not, but now it feels like I was waiting for a signal, a sign from the universe that it’s time, that it’s ok to finally set this one down, and that maybe instead of it being a burden you’ll have to carry, maybe you’ll be standing with me, the other mourner at my childhood’s funeral.

          I was 14, he was 24. After a couple months (“grooming me” my mind supplies, because today there’s a word for it), he started having sex with me. A couple months after that, with no forewarning, he became my mother’s boyfriend and she announced he was moving in. That night he told me it was the only way for us to be together. He impregnated me, and blamed me for it, not that it stopped anything or even changed anything. I was 15 when my daughter was born. Now I had another secret to hide, and now it it felt like her life hung in the balance. I spent 4 years in that house, in that miasma of self-hate, and learned to hate my family because they were the threat, the ones from whom the secrets must be kept. I honestly don’t know how I survived the intestine-shredding shame. When I turned 18, we left for Florida. The next four years were spent learning what life with him would be without secrets. Women are supposed to work, and cook and clean and take care of the child, and when he rattles the ice in his glass it means he wants more iced tea. Women cannot have friends, and they cannot complain when he (insert verb here).

          I left him when I was 22, and he hunted us for months.

          I filed restraining orders, I moved multiple times and kept it a secret, talked to the phone company so they would use the message “no further information is available about” instead of “this number has been changed”, I made sure my daughter’s schools knew her father was a danger and to never release her to anyone except myself. And still, I got “simplex” nails in my driveway (always his favorite “I’ll show them” threat, and specifically why he did it…he KNEW I would know it was him. Three blown tires on the way to take my daughter to school.) I had police show up at my carefully-guarded address to ask for his guns back…guns he had kept when I left. LOL They didn’t just ask for his guns. They asked for MY gun, the one he bought me “for Valentine’s Day” (And yes, good girl for spotting it, that’s exactly like a mechanic buying his wife an engine hoist; it was obvious it wasn’t for me. It was also the only time in ), which he ALSO STILL HAD IN HIS POSSESSION. It was a show of power. He sent the cops to show me he knew where I was, and that the cops were his friends. That lesson, that no matter what, I was on my own, has never left me.

          It has taken over twenty years for me to label him a predator. For me to call it molestation. For me to say out loud He is a Pedophile. For me to recognize myself in stories of “grooming”.

        2. Sending you the link to my fb rant yesterday, because I’m inordinately proud when my words fall into place as if they were born fully formed, filled with righteous fire and still following my train of thought coherently. I’ve found that’s the hardest part of writing for me…not losing the thread. For someone who follows game trails just to see where they go, it’s not always easy to stay the course.

  2. You are a kind and gentle wonder. No apologies are permitted for what was essentially being brave enough to open yourself to connection. What a good image. Splicing two live wires so energy flows between, the first step is a cut. So I got a headache. I also got a glow. A spark. A gift. XOXO (Afterthought, or during-thought actually, but it would’ve made that message unreadable, and I’m already too prone to that: the bravery in leaving yourself (or your self, really, it’s more than just “you”, it’s YOU) open to connection…is that you opened yourself full stop. To connection, to response no matter what it might be, to the risk of offense, to judgement, to VIEW. So damn brave. Truly. Own that.)

    1. I do often wonder at my willingness to put so much out there. Sometimes I feel like it’s into a void, but then I get some REAL responses and thoughts, like from you, and I am clonked on the head with wonder and gratitude. I am lucky so far not to have received cruelty, but then, not many readers….

      You are open and honest too and I feel so grateful to that. I love the idea of being able to touch the art you love– the crochet, and feel the embedded energy that resides there.

  3. Dear lady, I hope (again, such a small, small word) that there is some benefit to reading what has felt a bit like madness instead of feedback, and I haven’t convinced you to start searching “how to baker act someone you’ve never met”. I actually think blogging (for normal people and not “influencers”, a term I have a love/hate relationship with because I hate the idea but I love the accuracy) is the modern message-in-a-bottle, with only a slightly better risk/opportunity for reply. I participated for a couple of weeks in the online Five Minute Friday no-editing prompted writing excercise, wherein each participant shared the link to their post in that week’s prompt’s comments, and then visited the previous poster’s blog to read their post and give constructive (and positive, it was definitely supposed to make you feel good) feedback. Feedback! That was thrilling. I don’t remember why I stopped. Update: I just searched for it and now I remember why. I am not a believer, and it is a Christian community; it felt very dishonest to be reviewing what were mostly faith-based writings, and my own writings were definitely not faith-based, not that it seemed to bother anyone.

    I have probably not mentioned that to you. I am usually careful about revealing my atheism. I’m not anti-religion. By my choice alone, we say grace at dinner every single night (the ubiquitous children’s grace: God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food. By his hands we all are fed. Thank you, Lord, for daily bread. Amen.). We also eat dinner together at the table with no TV and no phones. We celebrate Christmas, tree and nativity and all. I like tradition, and I like the human connection that shared traditions reinforce. But I no longer believe the story. I no longer have faith in the church. I have faith in humanity. I believe with all of my being that if anyone is going to save us, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. And I think this is how. Recognizing ourselves in others. Forming connections.

    Thank you for broadcasting into the void.

    Sigh. Okay, I’ll feel like a fraud if I don’t tell you now that I’m married to a woman. Surely right after you reveal you’re an atheist is the correct time to also reveal you’re gay, right? Not always. I was married to a man. My simplified explanation of my own sexuality is that I fall in love with a person, and gender doesn’t play a part in it. Really I don’t think about it much because it’s not one of the things in life that bothers me. It was never an in-or-out-of-the-closet thing. When I was in my 20’s I fell in love with a woman for the first time, and I moved in with her. Easy as that. I never felt a moral dilemma about it. End of today’s revelations. (That made me laugh out loud.)

    1. Your revelations are not the kind that make a dent in my equilibrium. Were you a gaybashing right wing “Christian”–that would be a problem for me. I have a few dear cousins who are pretty strongly Xtian–but the kind who actually do seem to follow the love-based teachings of the person we know as Jesus. Good folks, full of love, and I adore them. (I also have some, other side of family, who are the kind of Christian where you’re like, wait, WHAT? Have you READ the Bible?) But one of these other cousins, the walk-the-walk kind, said to me when he found out my daughter is gay, “Oh, I’m so sorry…” as he touched my arm. The jerk of the knee made him a jerk in that moment and I schooled the SHIT out of him … in a few months–literally a few months later I said, “Okay, we need to talk.” But that day (we were at a family wedding), I just patted him on HIS arm, a bit too patronizingly I later thought, and said, “Why? She’s happy, she’s awesome, she’s brilliant and self-confident, she knows how to love, and she loves her life, so why exactly would you be sorry?”

      As for atheism… I was raised by two parents (separately as they were not together after I was two) who were hardcore, ironclad atheists to the point of slammed closed minds, akin to the reactionary Christians who cannot hear or see or feel beyond the rigid limits of their scripted belief system. Really the similarities among ideologues are profound. You are CLEARLY not that kind. My husband (ex) and I eventually found a community we loved taking our kids, a Unitarian Universalist meeting/church where there was no creed but the principles were ones we were already committed to. It was lovely, for the first time in my life, to be connected to a community of that kind, which so many grow up with at their local church. Once my kids did their “coming of age” ceremonies, I pretty much faded out. My lapsed Catholic ex still is very involved. He truly missed the anchor of church during the years he/we did not yet find the UUs, and he has never looked back once we did find it.

      I spent most of my youth seeking my own spirituality, as I somehow knew all along I actually WAS a being of spirit, despite the strictures of my interesting, brilliant, and ultimately super fucked-up parents. I have landed somewhere in the pagan world, but essentially, philosophically, a humanist. I believe in our own innate power as humans to create and manifest. Simply put. I also believe in karma and universal energy that can be harnessed or ignored, but ignoring it doesn’t mean it’s not real….

      Two of my personal fave blogs of mine (am I allowed to have favorites? Is that stuck-up?) are loosely related to this topic. One is a feminist rant slash essay about how religion stole from women:
      and the other is me basically saying, guys, you did not invent goodness and morality, I mean how ARROGANT to think you did:

      Okay back to work. XOXO

  4. Regarding Size as the Ultimate Mystery: the TED talk by Richard Dawkins “Queerer than we suppose.” If you’ve got twenty minutes to listen to a yummy accent saying exquisitely brilliant things…but wait til you’ve got time to actually sit and listen. It turns out it’s easy to lose the thread in a quantum physics lecture when you’re trying to saute onions. I’ve actually listened to this talk more than once, because This is Mystery, with all the gut-churning immediacy of a burning bush. What are we, really? A water molecule? A speck on a blade of grass in some colossal field of roses (yep, Stephen King fan too)?

    By the way, not connected but somehow connected: do you know about mitochondria? What an absurd question. But really. There, my friend, there is your origins, your godhead, your mystery of life and the universe and everything. We enslaved another life form at the cellular level. Wot?!?! “The energy powerhouse in every cell” it has its own DNA. Separate from our own. Are you kidding me?!?! Why aren’t there movies about this? What are we, really? And gut bacteria. WTF. I asked my doc, are we the ship? And he laughed and said now you’re getting somewhere. I swear, religion has nothing on reality. Science is GLORIOUS.

  5. Okay, one more note: totally did not mean “there’s your godhead” like “there’s no god” or like mitochondria are god…but that they are proof of something, some natural hugeness, some thing that we don’t get yet. Can’t see yet, probably, based on the size thing. LOL How’s that for the theory of life written at mach speed with the keyboard at an awkward angle while I dance around because I have to pee and I can’t seem to stop writing, or thinking really. Yes, there’s something. Spiritual or, well, something. Pagan is the closest to my own gut feelings, that it has to do with nature. That there is some mystery about nature that we get hints of but…

  6. And YES you are allowed to have favorites! Be PROUD!!! You made that! As surely as I made the blanket on my bed that keeps me warm. You made these, and you made them well, using materials and tools you’ve cultivated over a lifetime. Your labor shows, how you turned each word over in your hands looking for flaws, discarding what wasn’t exactly right. You’ve done a damn fine job, and you bet I’ll read your favorites, with great anticipation.

  7. LOL. I love the effluence of your replies…. I knew exactly what you meant by “there’s your godhead” and agree that when I say “pagan” I’m mostly thinking “nature centered” though it is super easy for me to think in terms of goddess energy and universal energy in general.

    I’ll make note of the TED talk. I’m sure my daughter and I would get a charge out of watching that together. Keep reading and writing I love the connection! Be well. XO

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