More Afloat Than Not

August 2023 in Review

✍️ 🕑 August 2023 • Series: Month in Review • Tags: kayakingfloatinggood eatsprideart installationssealsherons & 2 More Tags • Places: National Nordic Museum Ballard Locks & Fish Ladder Mr. B's Meadery Gas Works Park Alki Beach Yakima River Snoqualmie River

Whenever I talked to someone, the refrain was the same.

“You’ve got plenty of time. What are you worrying about?”

But I’ve moved apartments enough times. I know that you can never start packing early enough. That it is always, always a long and painful process, and that I will be scrambling to get things done by the deadline…

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…but, besides hauling sofa sections in the back of my station wagon, going to work, and saying goodbye to my old neighborhood, I had a lot of other things going on in August. I was reading, kayaking, celebrating pride, visiting an art installation at the last minute, and yes, travelling out of the country and state.

So, let’s unpack some of it. 😁

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What I’ve Been Up To…

FLÓÐ & Industry

I have a confession to make, dear readers. One that will absolutely not surprise you.

I sometimes read The Stranger, Seattle’s alt-left paper, which happens to include a feature where they suggest an activity to do for every day of the week.

August 3rd’s suggestion was a soon ending art installation at the National Nordic Museum in Ballard.

The installation FLÓÐ sounded promising. It was a multisensory experience incorporating light, sound, space, and scent by Icelandic musician and artist Jónsi, perhaps best known for leading the band Sigur Rós.

I had been meaning to visit this museum. I was a fan of Jónsi’s music. I’d be damned if I was going to miss it.

So after work, I parked my car, laden with moving boxes (can’t miss an opportunity there either) near some gritty Ballard marina or another, paid my admission fee, and stood in line for a long while, awaiting the art.

Quoth the artist statement:

It’s basically about ‘the big wave,’ a wave that takes us all and destroys everything in its path. The effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, flooding, and intensified natural disasters, are happening all around us, and this piece is a reflection of that dire reality.

Eventually, I made my way into a large, open, dark room. Speakers played music from all sides, and lights near the center of the ceiling turned on and off, moving, throwing patterns on fog machine mist and the listeners.

The music ebbed and flowed, from white noise, to multi-tracked melodic falsetto singing, with the sounds of the ocean between. The aromas reminded me of birch and Irish spring shampoo.

Like many other viewers, I sat on the carpet, observing the lights, the patterns they cast, and the other visitors. The media looped, and once I had been there long enough for a full repetition I departed.

I visited the rest of the museum, and found it less captivating. It would be a nice introduction to Nordic cultures for someone who didn’t know anything about Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, or Finland. It had some cool artifacts and handcrafts from settlers. There were some naive feeling pro-government perspectives on Sámi rights.

By the time I was leaving the museum, they weren't admitting anyone else into the installation.
By the time I was leaving the museum, they weren't admitting anyone else into the installation. open_in_full   info

After I left the museum, I walked around the Ballard Locks, and ordered some Thai takeout.

I saw a great blue heron, as close to me as one ever was, and seals gleefully consuming upstream swimming salmon without really having the means to photograph them well.

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On my way to pick up the food, I wandered the backstreets, by railyards, storage units, and glorious(?) graffiti.

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I stayed at Chelsea’s that night, and so did Emi and Jarrod who were on their way to a wedding.

Need for Mead

Seafair happens every year in Seattle. There’s an air show from the Blue Angels (whose loud engines shook my eye exam room). There’s boat races and stuff. Traffic is a mess. It’s a big hassle.

Last year, I watched some aerial festivities with H.H. whilst we were repeatedly yelled at for being more than 40 ft from the shoreline of Seward Park.

This particular Saturday, Chelsea and I skipped almost all of that and instead knocked one particular item off her list: trying a flight of every single mead available at Mr. B’s meadery in Fremont.

Fremont is home to many 'quirky' things, including this famous Lenin statue
Fremont is home to many 'quirky' things, including this famous Lenin statue open_in_full   info

Mr. B’s has eighteen separate meads. They came in flights of six on wooden trays, cut with a honeycomb pattern. Each sample was pretty small, like a dixie cup, and we split each of them. Many of the flavors were quite good. Some impressed less.

These were our respective rankings:

Steve (Still)

  1. Birds and bees
  2. Persephone’s Heart
  3. BBA
  4. Rye barrel
  5. Lavender
  6. Mixed berry blossom
  7. Star child
  8. Mellow yellow
  9. Mango
  10. Ginger beast
  11. Black & blueberry
  12. Raspberry coconut
  13. Strawberry vanilla
  14. Love Potion

Chelsea (Still)

  1. Star child
  2. Persephone’s heart
  3. Birds and bees
  4. Ginger beast
  5. BBA
  6. Mellow yellow
  7. Black and blueberry
  8. Rye barrel
  9. Strawberry vanilla
  10. Mango
  11. Lavender
  12. Raspberry coconut
  13. Mixed berry blossom
  14. Love potion

Steve (Sparkling)

  1. Unicorn
  2. Holy Buddha
  3. Sparkle berry
  4. Citrus

Chelsea (Sparkling)

  1. Unicorn
  2. Citrus
  3. Holy Buddha
  4. Sparkle berry

If you can make heads or tails of that, then maybe it will come in handy. Who knows.

After the mead, Chelsea and I went for a stroll, and I was pretty insistent we should walk to Gas Works Park and hang out for a bit. Seafair festivities were ending for the day, but there were plenty of boats and people about.

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What was missing from Gas Works, unusually, was the restroom. It had been demolished, and I guess they were planning to construct a new one. A few portapotties in the parking lot had long lines.

I could smell an aroma of urine near where the bathroom used to be, where people had taken matters into their own hands.

Floating Down The Yakima

Floating down the Yakima is (perhaps) an annual tradition. At least, I did it last year with a few friends/colleagues, and got to witness a river kayak lose its bouyancy due to some wave trains and a missing skirt.

Our launch site
Our launch site open_in_full   info

This year, we did it again, except with a larger group and no incidents whatsover. The water level was high, so there were pretty much no rocks to avoid. Just wave trains and relaxing in the sun.

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Near this barn is an excellent place to stop for lunch.
Near this barn is an excellent place to stop for lunch. open_in_full   info

The current was swifter than last year, and there was no road construction impacting our river exit, so all in all it was a shorter trip.

I carpooled with A., and on the way back, we stopped in Cle Elum for a burger. I was quite pleased to have a lemon lavender milkshake, and very impressed with the food.

Twin Pines is a certified good eat.
Twin Pines is a certified good eat. open_in_full   info

An Unexpected, Smokey Adventure (Full Divulgance Forthcoming)

Adventuring to Spokane, Northeast Washington, and Southwest B.C., which despite the forest fires, included lots of beauty. (More on this, eventually…)

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Floral Interlude

I do believe I took both of these photos on the way to Alki Beach Pride. And so, I’ll show them to you while you’re on your way to read about it.

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Alki Beach Pride

August 20th was the day for the 2023 edition of Alki Beach Pride. Chelsea and I went with a couple friends.

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The website explains the origin thusly:

Alki Beach Pride was created by two Black women who were inspired to pioneer the first-of-its-kind event in the state of WA. Compelled by the history of the forgotten stories of Stonewall, Stacy and Jolie aimed to create a fun, urban, inclusive, and family-friendly event that celebrated diversity, centered equality and committed to engaging with LGBTQ and their families during a fun-filled day at the beach.

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And indeed, it was fun to learn about volunteer organizations that help people match their voice with their gender identity, to see rainbow balloons everywhere, and to win a little flag by spinning a wheel for the Alki Senior Citizen center.

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The only downer was the forest fire smoke lingering in the air…

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Floating Down the Snoqualmie River

For some reason at work, we had “morale budget.”

In the past, “morale budget,” which could have been used to organize some fun activity, instead went to waste because no one actually planned anything.

However, one of my longer tenured colleagues was determined to plan a floating trip with the ephemeral funds, and fortunately I was around for it. So was Chelsea, who was my plus one.

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We met at Fall City Floating, and were given robust inner-tubes with a solid bottom with a couple of holes, and a frisbee with a string attached to it as a sort of paddle. The river was a bit slow and low, but paddling was mostly uneventful and stress free.

This was a fun work event, and I hope for another one some day.

Saying Goodbye to Capitol Hill

In the midst of moving, I did my best to say goodbye to Capitol Hill, the neighborhood where I rented a basement apartment for two years. See the dedicated post for a brief writeup and downright excessive quantity of photographs.

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Renting Kayaks at Meydenbauer Bay Park

mostly because a member of our party flipped and couldn’t get back in the boat. We weren’t too far from the shore, but it was not particularly fun towing boater (Chelsea’s job) or boat (poorly rigged to the side of my yak) to shore.

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An Alki Sunset

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Move a box here, move a box there.

Decide to go for a walk, buy an overpriced sandwich, and shoot some overpriced film.

Rinse and repeat.

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The Final Crunch

Actually moving was a pain in the ass.

It was a blessing that someone from work quickly bought my humongous L-shaped desk base, and (even more miraculously) decided to take the two salvaged closet doors I had been using as a top.

Throughout the month, I kept making good progress on cleaning stuff out, but not enough that I felt I could rest on my laurels. I mean, it was just a constant source of stress, since (as you’ve read) I was apparently doing a lot of stuff outside of working and moving.

My landlord had detailed instructions on what they expected for move out, and they included (for example) that any holes left by tacks or nails on the wall should be:

“filled and painted so as to be unnoticeable (e.g. the holes are NOT smothered with a swipe of spackle and then painted which then will require the wall to be repainted); That is filled holes are really not even visible.”

In addition to that, my landlord wanted to schedule a walkthrough of the apartment on move out.

Naturally, I scheduled this for an early morning hour on the last day possible. A day when I had to get myself to the airport later that afternoon.

I did everything that seemed reasonable to me, but I was certain I’d miss something…

Most of my dealings with my landlord were actually with his son, who lived upstairs. But his son was under the weather, so the old man himself arrived. I pointed out some things that were wrong with the place, in the hope that maybe they’d be fixed before the next person moved in.

I learnt that I maybe should have cleaned the outsides of my windows, and the oven (which I’ll note was filthy when I moved in, and which has a broken self-cleaning mechanism).

But the thing my landlord was most upset about was completely unexpected to me. We walked into the space that had been my living room, and he asked where the mirror was.

“What mirror?” I replied.

Apparently, he had bought some expensive, nice antique mirror that he thought looked really good above the fireplace thingy. It hadn’t been there when I moved in.

He called his wife, who confirmed that the mirror hadn’t been there for a few years.

“I hope it’s with our daughter,” she said.

“Well, what good would that do?”

“At least it’s in the family.”

And so, I walked out of my walkthrough, thankful to be done with it, and ready to start living with Chelsea full time.

And I walk over to my car, which I parked on the street a few blocks from the apartment.

And something doesn’t look right.

I look down and sure enough, a bolt is missing, and one of two exhaust pipes is sagging in the back.

For fuck’s sake.

What I’ve Been Enjoying

Three Songs

1. Cut Copy - "Hearts on Fire" (2008)
Youtube Spotify

First of all, I was moving this month. My favorite moving soundtrack has long since been In Ghost Colours by Cut Copy, on account of my roommate Sam basically his CD on repeat when we were moving between neighborhoods right after I graduated college.

I’ve never even listened to any of their other albums, but you can just picture me bopping to this and shouting something about a Roland Jupiter 8 synthesizer. Right?

2. Radiohead - "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi" (2007)
Youtube Spotify Bandcamp

Second of all, Chelsea reminded me last month of just how fucking good Radiohead’s In Rainbows is, and this track is a highlight. It’s lowkey, a bit of a grower, but splendid as hell and I won’t say otherwise.

3. Mabel Matiz - "Derin Olur" (2023)
Youtube Spotify
Check out the playlist page for all the songs I've highlighted in one place!

Of the year’s full length releases, perhaps none was so eagerly anticipated as Mabel Matiz’s Fatih, since no other figure in Turkish pop crafts artful songs the way he does. The album is long and dense, very moody at times, but also with an abundance of tunes I would really rock out to.

This is a tune I would rock out to.

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I found enough stamp cards for Eliot Bay Books that I knew I had to go pick up a book. I’m pretty behind in actually trying to write about stuff I read on this blog, but I’ll say in brief that I enjoyed the hell out of Karin Tidbeck’s The Memory Theatre, which expands on the setting of two short stories found in their collection Jagganath.

Not too much later, with my attitude whet for weird flights of sci-fi/fantasy, I finally got around to reading some Samuel Delaney, with The Einstein Intersection sticking out at me at a used book shop in Spokane. And that one is dated and weird, but compelling, and leaves me interested in checking out more of his work some day…

I relate to this very lovely flyer from Spokane, WA
I relate to this very lovely flyer from Spokane, WA open_in_full   info

What’s Next

When I started trying to get this post out the door, I had no idea how much stuff I had to add to it. 😊 Apparently, I did a lot of stuff, and thought it was worth this many words and photos.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering what the September 2023 in Review post will bring.

I think the answer is NOT THIS MUCH STUFF.

But I’ll tell you that I ended August in Sitka, Alaska.

If you bear with me (pun intended) long enough, you’ll eventually get to hear about it. Pinky promise!

Thanks for reading!

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