Another solstice

I had a long conversation on the phone with Allen today. Remember Allen? He was the friend who accompanied me to Patagonia to spend the months of winter in a rather remote place. He’s feeling a bit nostalgic for the winter solstice we observed down there last June. He had found some discarded wooden pallets in the storage facility and broke them down to make a fire. It was quite a fire — and we used the leftover wood for a fire on July Fourth.

Allen has spent much of December rehanging Christmas lights that got blown down in recent storms at various family homes. He has found that if he keeps busy with strings of lights, he is less likely to get dragged to a mall — although one year, his wife forgot he was working up on the roof, and absent-mindedly took down the ladder and put it away before she drove off to the mall to do Christmas shopping. This was before he had a cell phone, and he couldn’t get any of the neighbors to hear him — so he was stuck up on the roof for five hours, unable to find any way to get down.

He has been busy with his chainsaw and has plenty of wood to take to another house for a fire on Christmas Eve, which is a HUGE occasion in his large extended family.

He’s very happy to hear that Alene is writing Zanda’s story — but disappointed that we still can’t find a way to be together. Allen is our one mutual friend — the only person who has known both me and Alene in Seattle. At times, he has been extremely sad for both of us. He wishes so much that we could be together for Christmas.

I joked that perhaps one day, we will end up on the same bus by accident — all three of us! He liked that — and added that we could then all go to the same bar!

These last six months went by far too fast….

The Imps

The Imps want us back.

It’s hard to describe who these Imps are. Anything Google turns up is only partly true. British Isles mythology knows lots of such creatures — but there is no one species that neatly correlates with our Imps.

Imps ARE pranksters — but not tricksters. They make mischief, but never out of malice — although it’s maddening when they hide things. Sometimes they will deliberately lead you astray — but later on you discover that they guided you away from almost certain harm. Imps are also great story-tellers and have a bone-dry sense of humor. They love cats.

Imps don’t have wings — but they can disappear and reappear at will — and so have no need of flight. They are also shape shifters — and often manifest as full-sized human adults. If you have ever worked with the public, you will have encountered Imps. They love to be around people — but prefer not to draw attention to themselves.

In the unannounced presence of Imps, people feel inexplicably happy.

Be like a duck

You’ve gotta walk the walk,
You’ve gotta talk the talk,
And if you wanna fly,
You gotta take to the sky.

And then there’s:

Please can I keep it!
It’s thumping its tail!
It has such a lovable whine….
Please can I keep it,
Just look at those eyes….
I think it would love to be mine.

We’ve had a few Philadelphia Chickens earworms going round and round today.

We hope you like…..

Alene mentioned yesterday that this was the soundtrack to her life for about three years while she worked at Magic Mouse Toys. It wasn’t playing all the time — but it sure seemed like it. As we remember, it once played on a repeat loop for six (or was it sixteen) consecutive days — which is probably an unbroken store record. One reason is that the CD played on a boom box that was chained to the top shelf of a display — and while it was possible to push the Play button without going for a step stool (especially with use of a stick), changing the CD did require even the tallest staff member to get the step stool — so it usually went unchanged, unless a customer requested to hear something else.

Bing bong!

As it happens, the staff rarely got tired of the Philadelphia Chickens — although six (sixteen) days eventually prompted someone to get the step stool and change the CD — only for a customer to come by about an hour later and ask to hear the Philadelphia Chickens.

It’s pajama time….

Shackleton nights

I’ve seen more than my fair share of winter this year. I went down to Patagonia in the austral autumn (April) and stayed there until July, when I went on to Australia. I visited briefly with summer in Hawaii and Vancouver — and then headed up to Nuuk, Greenland. I returned to Seattle in the middle of October — just as the stormy, rainy weather returned. And now it’s dark early — and cold a lot of the time.  But I’m back in the same city as Alene — and so I don’t care about the weather. Besides, the dark and cold of winter allow for enjoyment of one of life’s greatest pleasures — a hot beverage spiked with booze.

A chai latte is helped along with rum. A regular espresso latte benefits from Canadian whiskey. And hot chocolate likes to be paired with bourbon — although just about any liquor goes with chocolate. And Yukon Jack is pretty darned good by itself.

Alene was a bit envious of me and Allen back in the dog days of the Seattle summer, which was awfully hot at times. While she was going through five trays of ice a day, Allen and I were enjoying rum-spiked cocoa as a winter storm raged outside.

That feeling of snuggly, happy warmth as one enjoys winter treats by a fire is known by many names. In Danish it is called hygge — and I think we mentioned that in a post a few months ago.

We don’t really have a name for it in English — even though the journals of the Shackleton party suggest that the men fantasized about winter food and drink comforts constantly. So Alene and I propose naming it after him — as in, we’re having a Shackleton night in — and going to bed with a comforting warmth in the belly.

Good company

Part of Free Will Astrology‘s excerpt from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

TOP-SECRET ALLIES: Sacred janitors, benevolent pranksters, apathy debunkers, lyrical logicians, ethical outlaws, aspiring masters of curiosity, homeless millionaires, humble megalomaniacs, hedonistic midwives, lunatic saints, sly optimists, mystical scientists, dissident bodhisattvas, macho feminists, and socialist libertarians who possess inside information about the big bang.

If you answer to one of the above, a high-five to you!

Nothing to do and nowhere to go

Cold autumn mornings returned to Seattle last Wednesday — and I put the detachable hood back on my warm down vest.

I attended a training session downtown in the morning and took my usual early bus just for the sake of keeping things simple, even though I would get downtown far too early — but that’s what coffee shops are for. I whiled away the time in the Cherry Street Coffee House — the one that’s actually on Cherry Street — on the northern edge of Pioneer Square.

Pioneer Square feels good at the beginning of November. We (Mark and I) fondly remember my first holiday season working for a long-established Pioneer Square retailer. It was mad, mad, mad — and more mad! It was so mad, that I gave myself permission to live on the edge a little — or at least pretend to.

Closer to Christmas, I ended up with several closing shifts and was on the bus home to West Seattle around 9:45pm — well after the hour at which Pioneer Square becomes a different place. By day, the cafes, restaurants and bars swarm with business people, office workers, and tourists. Sometime after 7pm, menu boards are taken in — and bouncers take their place. At the end of a long shift in the store, it felt good to be sitting on the bus as it made very slow progress down First Avenue — past places very near and dear to Allen’s heart, such as J&M Cafe (& Cardroom), the Central Saloon, and the Triangle Pub. Once past the stadiums, the bus would pick up speed, and in a seat just ahead of the bellows, I would enjoy the bouncing of the bus as it hit the First Avenue South bumps and potholes. There was a bus driver who whistled melancholy tunes — and by the time we were in West Seattle, I had been lulled almost to sleep — and was not always so anxious to get off the warm, cosy bus.

I wasn’t afraid back then. Of course, I was younger. I also got minute-by-minute feedback from the Universe that I was exactly where I was meant to be — but perhaps that’s because I lived minute by minute. And I was younger then.


This morning (Friday), I was having my morning coffee at the other end of downtown — at the southern edge of Belltown. I picked up a copy of The Stranger to look at my horoscope. In those days at the store in Pioneer Square, my horoscope in The Stranger was always disturbingly spot on (while those for the eleven other signs were completely non-relevant) — and it was often very encouraging — so I made a point of checking my horoscope whenever a copy of The Stranger crossed a path. But I lost the habit around ten years ago.

When I first started going to this coffee shop, a few months ago, I noticed the stack of copies of The Stranger on the rack by the door — and Mark joked that I should look at my horoscope. But I couldn’t find the horoscopes! I went through the paper page by page without seeing it anywhere. Mark joked that this might be a sign I have no future! However, a few weeks ago, I took up a copy of The Stranger and opened it right up at Free Will Astrology (by Robert Brezsny) — and it was disturbingly spot on as usual.

The horoscope I read this morning picked up where my Wednesday morning thoughts left off…

Immerse yourself in the mystery of having nothing to do and nowhere to go. Put your faith in the pregnant silence. Let emptiness teach you what you need to know next.

Back in my Pioneer Square retail days, I felt that my life would end very soon — and it felt good — because it allowed me to live from one minute to the next — always in the moment — rarely worrying about what the future self — because I truly believed there was no future.

Well, I’ve had fifteen years of future…. and most of it has been rather good.

I suppose I should have some faith in the next fifteen years!