Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Seattle Weekend (Photo Heavy) : Raclette, Blues, Contra, Portage Bay Cafe, Beery House, Third Place Books

I stayed home this weekend! Oh yes! Yes I did.

And the verdict on a weekend in my home town? Absolutely fine.

Neighborhoods Covered:
Phinney Ridge, University District, Beacon Hill, International District (Chinatown), South Lake Union, Ballard, and Capital Hill.

The weekend started Friday night at contra dancing (does it ever not?) at the Phinney Neighbourhood Center. After a peculiarly long bus ride, I made it to the hall where we twirled and weaved and grinned our guts out. The night was capped off with a glass of dark chocolate porter at the Barking Dog in Ballard and someone found themselves headed my way and dropped me off at my doorstep (oh, the luxury!).

I woke Saturday and got all dappered up for the day - St. Patrick's day. My just made javelina shirt had the green needed to keep myself safe from any crazy pinches.

Megan started my day off at 11 AM. Megan is, right now, pretty much one of the only Christian friends I hang out with. She's got a few more years on me in age - and with that comes wisdom and know-stuff that she shares with me. I'll tell her many things I won't tell anyone else (poor soul!) and the straight talk is refreshing for thought-sorting. Yeah. Megan rocks. We went over to Third Place Books, strolled a bit, and parked the car at a park and finished up the conversation there.

At 3:15 PM, Michael came over and we got to skitter down to the neighbourhood park and stomp down the tall grass over mud and reflect on lexicons and language acquisition.

4 PM brought Alex over and the three of us jammed a wee bit. At one point we had three accordions going at once. We had the ol' electric one (that was "Made in West Germany"), the standard one, and the melodeon.

6 PM meant it was time for raclette! Raclette is one of the finest of Swiss meals for me and it brings back so many memories that tickle me with delight. The basic gist of it is that you melt the cheese on a tabletop grill in individual mini-pans. When it's bubbly and gooey, you pour it over little baked potatoes you've chopped up and eat it with sides of pickled vegetables (we had artichoke hearts, peppers, corn, mushrooms, and pepperchinis). We also had legit-German bread (made in Germany, shipped over frozen, we baked it to bready-goodness), sausage the local butcher had made, truffle butter (ohhhh!), and  prosciutto!

We also played a round of Ticket to Ride, which I recommend (I won with 135 points), and watched some Schoolhouse Rock: Science.

With the raclette came gluhwein (hot spiced wine) and Guinness, and so Michael and I walked to the bus stop to head back to the city. 2.6 miles later we were on the docks of Log Boom and, eventually, our bus came at 10:28 PM. He gave me some of his challah and, together with the fish in my pack that Mrs. Kuehl had given with me, I felt prepared to feed the 5,000.

By 11 PM something, I was in the alley behind the University Bookstore in the U-District for the Burn Blue Thank You Celebration Dance! It was free and I was there until almost 3 AM.

This dance was so important to me. I hadn't been blues dancing since August, back in Portland.

Even though I know a bounty of blues dancers and love the community, what many don't realize is how little I've blues danced.

Five times in Seattle.
Once in Portland.
Once in Austin.
And then Urban Blues Recess, Aspen Blues Recess, and Northwest Blues Recess.

And that's it.

And no blues for the past 7 months.

The blues community had seemed a bit closed off and I had messed up in being too, well, aware of if I was giving my partner a good dance. I was so caught up in making sure they were ok that it was ruining my experience.

I went to this dance with a totally different mind set. I was going to be me, I was going to dance how I dance, follow without inhibitions, and see what happens. I was going in with the mindset, "I want to dance with everybody."

It was incredible! I felt amazing, as blues dancing does to you. There was nothing magically unusual about the dances or the night - the beauty lay in my changed perspective lived out. I felt so loved, through the night! There was one partner I did have a harder time following (and then I have to remind myself that these people are dancing 3-6 hours a week every week for the past more-than-a-year). But, I relaxed, told myself to do what I could and have a blast, and it worked ever so fine.

A bounty of folks asked me where I was from - they had seen me in Bellingham, Austin, Portland, and couldn't exactly pin-point my stomping grounds. "Seattle!" was my answer. "Why haven't I seen you here?"

As 3 AM approached, I went home with Larissa and Maggie to Beacon Hill to crash the plush-lovely couch. A few dreams later and I felt refreshed enough for the day ahead of me.

My best, best mate, Joelle, had her birthday on Monday, but I was honoured to be invited to celebrate with her family on Sunday at the Portage Bay Cafe.

I bussed an hour to the one in the U-District (where Joelle told me to go) and only then turned on my phone to get a call saying that, really, they were over at the South Lake Union location. Luckily, it was only a short bus ride away and I was there by 1:28 PM, before the food arrived.

Local, organic, and sustainable - the Portage Bay Cafe had real food that sat well with me. Oh so delicious! We shared the Dungeness Crab Cake Benedict and Steel-Cut Oatmeal, all loaded up with toppings (fresh fruit to the max) from the topping bar. I was satisfied. And, as usual, I managed to run into John Anderson.

Post-brunch (more like lunch, by that time), we ran over to Uwajimaya, Seattle's favourite Asian food market. Good-byes were said as they headed back to Olympia and I made my way to Capital Hill.

James & 5th is where I caught the 4 to the Beery House! The Beery House is home to two of the most welcoming, beautiful people in Seattle. Max and Teresa open their home up, frequently, for quirky-good house concerts and events that never, never fail to inspire and make me re-appreciate this world. Performing were Stevhen Kojii Iancu (The Dolomites) Global Monster Gypsy Music and Natsumi Suzuki - Izayoi (Tribal Fusion Dance). Let me just post the description to this event before I attempt to convey it to you myself.
The DOLOMITES are an amalgamation of international-outernational sounds from all over the universe. At this current moment in History we call the sound JAPANESE ALiEN GYPSY MUZIK… but in 30 years it could be SPACESHIP Galactic THRASH…The DOLOMITES Library of sounds covers many genres including Balkan, Cumbia, Gypsy, Dub, Tribal, Roots musik, Future musik, 8 Bit sounds , animal sounds , natural and supernatural sounds etc. with multiple dimensions and depth charge. The leader and founder, Stevhen Koji Iancu, was a touring member of Gogol Bordello , as well as a guest member in Balkan Beat Box, Reverend Glasseye, Gypsyliana, Mad Juana, and Yerba Buena. The Dolomites entity has been an ongoing and roving project since it’s original inception in 1999 in a Art Punk House in Portland Oregon. The Dolomites have shifted bases from New York City to Tokyo, Japan to Earth 3.3 and back to California. The Dolomites family consists of over 100 different members in several different U.S. States and Countries including Mexico, Romania , Japan and Earth 3.3. creating a unique and always fresh show that is never the exact same from city to city, country to country, and planet to planet.

I was reminded that I can move my mouth how I want, make sounds how I want, and altogether deny what I've been taught of "normal."

Our attention was caught in the beginning as the duo performed a hysterical (I rarely use this term, so you know I mean it) rendition of the Muppet Show. With Izayoi on Stevhen's knee, both sharing an accordion... oh! I don't even think I can begin to do any justice. I'll share the pictures I have, though.

Walking into the doors of the Beery House was like coming home. I immediately felt bombarded by the warmth and community that my city has to offer. Familiar faces, shared memories, and that penetrating feeling of love.

We gathered on the floor, squirming in excitement (ok, maybe I was the main one squirming), knowing we were in for a treat.

Mid-concert, we even got the chance to celebrate Icel***'s birthday!

Oh! Here we have it! If you're impatient, start watching at 0:56. I love it when Noam walks in at 2:25.

Post-concert, we all continued to bask in the each other's company. Then - in walks Danny and Adam! A flying hug! Apparently I had invited them multiple times... which I don't remember doing. But I love seeing them.

After more community time, Danny, Adam, and I hit the road (Jack!) and they dropped me off in Mountlake Terrace. I hopped the bus to Third Place Books where I found myself lost in the classical section, turning pages until closing times.

I wandered down the Burke Gilman trail, just opened, in the dark. There's one point where the trail becomes something of a tube - both sides are fenced off or walled off and you can't escape except for forward and back. The second, the very second my phone died, the creepiest person I had ever encountered on the trail came yelling down the trail with crazy bug eyes. I'm still alive so you know nothing happened. But, can't say I liked it. Can't say I felt safe.

Back in in our village, me and my parents met up to try and get a DVD of Tin Tin (no success) and I was carted home.

I love my city.
I love Seattle.

The End


  1. This is an absurdly busy weekend, but it makes Seattle look like so much fun!

  2. Your life kicks tuchus, Maegi.

    I cannot find your email for the life of me... after an impromptu road trip with Carole and EJ to Yakima tomorrow, I can certainly help you give Silas some TLC.

    1. Ahh! Milo! You are the best. I had him fixed up again and then he broke on my way up the hill. Poor guy. I hereby official declare you his Fairy Godfather.


Your words make me grin.

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