March 2023 in Review
Birthdays, Pizza, and Bushwacking
✍️ • 🕑 March 2023 • Series: Month in Review • Tags: Eurovision 2023 • good eats • pizza • parks • bird photography • public libraries • Places: Juanita Bay Park • Union Bay Natural Area • Seattle Central Library
The amount of energy I've had to devote to blog posts this month is... low.
And there were good reasons for it, like having 16 unexpected visitors (❤) or spending a weekend walking up and down some hills.
So let's get into it!
Best of the Month
The first best thing this month was Chelsea's Birthday, which comes before mine. The main event included a D-I-Y murder mystery game in her apartment (a.k.a. -- I got to pretend I murdered someone in a pizza parlor.) Plus, Chelsea had some friends visit from out of town, including Matt, Brit (co-author of the recent Eurovision post), and Emi -- but not all at the same time, meaning there got to be more instances of hanging out and having a nice time.
Not that long after Chelsea's birthday, is, of course, My Birthday. People who know me well likely know that I am unlikely to organize anything big on behalf of my own birthday, but I feel kinda sad if I don't do something. Well, it also happened that this particular birthday ended in a round number. So, it was a big one, a milestone.
Stretching back to last November, Chelsea had made plans to go all out for celebrating my birthday, reaching out to the friends of mine she'd met, and later doing her darndest to secure additional contact information from yours truly. I dutifully cleaned my apartment, cleared off my schedule for a whole long weekend, and was excited to expect that I'd have some surprise visitors.
Never would I have guessed the quality and quantity of out of town visitors, who flew across the country just to celebrate my birthday with me. Sixteen of my best friends visited, and in general, they got along incredibly well, and we had an absolute blast together. We even wound up renting a large passenger van for a couple days just to ease transit!
It's hard for me to convey in words how much this meant to me, or how much I enjoyed it, and I'm also very grateful for Chelsea doing the organizing and planning, and being so gosh darn thoughtful. After the weekend was over, I was wiped. And to a certain extent, I still am.
After my birthday, I had a particularly fun final musical performance for Time Class recital, which... well, you'd have had to have been there live for. It was an interesting challenge to create and present a piece that blended live elements with two pre-recorded live performances, one of which played in reverse. I do have my own recording of the performance, which I can edit into a final video, but I certainly haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm excited to see what course facilitator Ash Starnes does next, and if you are too, you can sign up for their mailing list.
Perhaps, though, one of the truest of winners for "best of the month" was the Equinox, and the start of Spring.
By god am I glad that I somehow suddenly have hours of daylight left after I finish my work day, as opposed to crossing the lake in the dark. And gosh, it sure is nice that the cherry blossoms and magnolias are out.
Also, Seattle Central Library has a real cool main branch building, where I enjoyed killing some time.
Outside of these lovely activities, I had a nice hike to Lake 22 (post forthcoming), had an excellent experience getting sized for mountaineering boots at Ascent Outdoors in Ballard, and greatly enjoyed a wilderness navigation course last Saturday, which included quite a lot of bushwacking up and down a ridge, in the name of "following a bearing." Hey! I learned useful stuff!
Worst of the Month
I've had a relatively busy month at work. I've also spent a good while nursing what I think is a sinus infection, after most of the birthday celebrations. For this reason, I've done a lot less than I'd otherwise have planned, and ended up running around doing some things very last minute. Whoops! Much as I like writing for this blog, I do not like writing for this blog more than I enjoy being healthy.
I've complained about Google's poor customer support, and how badly Google Maps has been running on my phone since I got it "returned" from their customer support office (re: since they sent me a "new" refurbished phone.) Well, it turns out that it is actually completely unable to pick up a GPS signal without either being connected to cell towers, or to my car. Meaning it is worse than useless as a hiking navigation aid. So, I'm going to have to start up the whole customer service song and dance again, because like, they literally sent me a broken phone to replace my broken phone.
In terms of kitchen sins, I had absentmindedly switched the wrong stove-top burner to "High" when I was planning to boil a pot for some pasta. Turns out, I had left a pyrex glass dish resting upon that burner. Let me tell you, that glass sure does explode and get everywhere. I am still cleaning glass shards! (But I am fortunate to have not been injured.)
Somewhat hilariously, the backpacking stove I've been using since 2020 was recalled for having a "flammable coating." So hello to the mindless consumerism of needing to buy a new backpacking stove.
What I'm Enjoying
Spots for Bird Photography
Well, for starters, I've been enjoying the places nearer to my home and work where I can sneak in a nice daytime birding session. Union Bay Natural Area, near University of Washington is really pretty, though it has a few more joggers than I'd like for birding.
Meanwhile, Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland is a pretty stellar location, easy enough to stop at if I car commute to/from the Eastside. It's a small park, but it's home to wetlands and lakefront boardwalks that make it a very nice spot to try to see some wildlife.
It goes without saying that in a month with plenty of celebrations and out of town visitors, I'd end up being at a whole slew of restaurants. These are the ones that stood out:
- Talarico's Pizza in West Seattle has delicious pizza, with some of the largest slices I've ever seen anywhere. They were ridiculously accommodating for a large, staggered group of people late on a Thursday night. They're probably one of the few places where I could have a group of ~12 people, and where three pizzas was definitely too many, and two would have been sufficient.
- Chelsea has long since been hyped about O Sole Mio, a pizzaria and bar in Vashon, and let me tell you, it is worth the hype.
- Lest you think I only ate pizza this month, let me tell you, I was also impressed by Fitchi House, a pizzeria and maker of Turkmen dumplings located just outside the U-District in Wallingford. My god, their samsas and fitchi are juicy and hot and delicious.
- Ciudad in Georgetown is freaking delicious, and really has a lot of wonderful takes on both vegetable and meat dishes. I am a sucker for their potatoes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and merguez sausage. Definitely a nice spot.
- Nue in Capitol Hill remains a great time, with its eclectic variety of eats.
- Chelsea's pal Matt sure cooked up a mean meal, including salmon, mashed potatoes, and... a pre-cooked Dungeness crab that was on sale for a killer bargain price at Metropolitan Market. And, it turns out that Dungeness crab is delicious.
The Eurovision 2023 tracks certainly dominated a lot of my listening, but I've also been really enjoying some of the Owen Pallett remaster bonus tracks that have made their way to Spotify. I've also found myself enjoying Nilüfer Yanya's debut album more and more. Barış Demirel's new mini album is the kind of Turkish trumpet chill rap fire that I'm excited to listen to more. I'm also vibing with some of the early release tracks from Daði Freyr's upcoming album, and I'm super excited to give a listen to the new Kate Gately full-length that just dropped.
KNKX remains my favorite radio station, but unfortunately they're in pledge drive season, and I do not have a great tolerance for seemingly endless long-winded speeches about the importance of keeping the arts alive through voluntary donations.
With that out of the way, let's turn our attention to Eurovision 2023, from whose entrants I will choose the three tracks that go on the ridiculous official Where-Is-Steve playlist
Eurovision 2023: A Follow-up
In terms of music, we've already gotten a hastily written Eurovision 2023: First Impressions post. So here's a mini-follow up with some extra thoughts.
- We did Croatia's entry (Let 3's "Mama ŠČ!") dirty by listening to it first and failing to appreciate its unhinged genius. First off, the national final live performance by the group absolutely smashes with our middle aged men belting out some absolutely unhinged operatic vocals and basically nailing a great performance. Plus, the band have been rather at the bleeding edge of good taste for a while, and I have to respect their antics. To quote an example from Wikipedia, "In December 2006, the band was sanctioned by police after performing naked at an open-air concert in Varaždin. The band's defense that they had not been naked because they had corks in their anuses did not convince the judge"
- Speaking of impressive national final entries, Poland's National Final Winning performance from Blanka is ridiculously poor, and all but verifies that her victory involved some unscrupulous behind the scenes machinations. It's worth a listen, if only if you want to see how good your tolerance is before switching it off.
- In the battle for Baltic Ballads, Lithuania's entry is a lot better than Estonia's. I struggled to concentrate on the lyrics during first listen, and I just find the backing vocals and yadda yadda from Lithuania much more cathartic, while the lyrics for Estonia are weirdly hollow and bring it down. Hmmm.
- I probably underrated Moldolva's entry because I was so hype about it. It's good.
- I do really have a soft spot for Australia as well.
And beyond those statements, the two songs that I am currently most pumped about (and thus, the two going on the playlist) are from Austria (still), with Finland in second place.
|1. TEYA & SALENA - "Who the Hell Is Edgar?" (2023)|
Austria's track, "Who the Hell is Edgar?" is a fun, upbeat number.
|2. Käärijä - "Cha Cha Cha" (2023)|
Meanwhile, Käärijä's "Cha Cha Cha" is much more aggressive, but still so damn infectious.
And lastly, I have to put a loud word in for Danish entrant Reiley's earlier single, "Let it Ring," which samples the ubiquitous default ringtone for many a phone, along with some real solid zingers in the lyrics like:
"Now I don't even miss you, I just miss your calls"
"Just 'cause you got my number
You ain't got my time"
|3. Reiley - "Let it Ring" (2021)|
|Check out the playlist page for all the songs I've highlighted in one place!|
Mmmmmm. This is what pop songs should be.
As far as posts on this blog are concerned, well... maybe I'll get back on track some day. Everything I've teased remains gradually on its way.
You may have noticed that the "52 Frames" and "Articles of Note" sections were dropped from this particular post. Guess what -- both of them apparently have enough legs to stand on that they have dedicated posts that you'll see live in the next couple days. One is about how and why I finally broke my streak of doing weekly photos since January 2021. The other is about... well, Sound Transit's boondoggle of a plan for line expansion in Downtown Seattle. (Apparently, all of the most notable articles I read were about this topic.)
My plans for April fit neatly into two buckets. I'll be in New York City for about six days, similar to how I was around last year. I'd have made it a longer trip, but my calendar is squeezed by Scrambling Class commitments, which include some hands-on instruction on snow and rock, an in person lecture, and a separate weekend class on "Wilderness First Aid." I had hoped to have the energy to also squeeze in a short backpacking trip right about now, but I simply don't have the energy, or enough of a desire to catapult myself far enough away from Seattle to go hike somewhere that I can overnight without avalanche risk. So, there you go.
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Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy these 5 similar posts:
- 2023-03-19 —Eurovision 2023: First Impressions (feat. Chelsea & Brit)
- 2023-01-31 —Wishing & Wandering - 2022 & January 2023 In Review
- 2022-12-31 —December 2022 - The Month In Review
- 2022-03-21 —Eurovision 2022: First Impressions (feat. Chelsea)
- 2023-02-28 —Snow, Sunshine, & The Year of the Rabbit - Looking Back at February 2023