24 June 2006
Volunteer Park is home to the Asian Art Museum, as well as the site of the old water tower which serves as a unique 360° panoramic viewpoint of the area. If you’re out of shape like I am, your knees will tremble and your face will flush, but the climb to the top is utterly worth the exertion. Your gaze will travel from the boaters on Lake Washington to the Space Needle and downtown high rises to the majestic slopes of Mount Rainier. As one climber announced to his companion when they reached the top, “Oh, the mountain is out!” And when it is, you will have spectacular views.
After walking through the exhibits at the museum, I continued my exploration of the neighborhood. Broadway is one of the main thoroughfares for shopping and eating – and entertaining people watching. I highly recommend a stop at Piroshky, a tiny shop that serves delicious combinations of savory stuffings in handmade rolls. Madison Street and 15th Avenue are also two more areas with eateries and boutiques to peruse.
The real highlight of the neighborhood, though, is a drive along Lake Washington Boulevard. Driving south will give you unparalleled views of Mount Rainier, and a drive north will provide easy access to the many parking turnouts. You can pick a spot and plant yourself with a good book, or watch the many boaters and swimmers enjoying the water.
How to keep occupied on Capitol Hill:
St. Mark’s Cathedral
Seattle Asian Art Museum
Empty Space Uncommon Theatre
Capitol Hill Neighbors
23 June 2006
So tonight I find myself in the Capitol Hill area in search of the arts center. The format and the content of the play intrigue me on a couple of levels. It’s a semi-autobiographical work by Lauren Weedman about her experiences working as a volunteer case manager with the woman at the L.A. Twin Towers Correctional Facility. I’ve written and performed monologues before, and I wanted to see how an entire show could be carried by just one person.
The theatre is a traditional black-box style, with seating for 150 people. As soon as I see it, it takes me back to another impromptu theatre experience four years ago. My friend, Szejn, and I had traversed our respective countries (me from Utah, and he from Calgary) to meet in Montreal. It was a sorely needed 4-day break for me, a time to decompress after several months of high demands and stress at work.
One night, we decided to attend a local production we had seen advertised in a local paper. I cannot remember the title or any of it predominant themes. What I do remember is a long, raised platform consuming the length of the performance area -- actors running full pace from one end down to the other, circling back to the starting point behind the curtains, and reappearing in a continuous loop of scurrying fanatics. I don’t think there was nary a word of English in the entire play, but a fare amount of French, some Russian, and another mysterious tongue. It’s an odd memory, but one I’m happy to share with my friend.
Lauren brought tremendous energy and skill for characterization to her performance tonight. For one hour and forty minutes she portrayed a slice of her life in all of its humorous, muddled, and honest combinations. Her work as a volunteer resonates with me because of similar experiences I’ve had working with incarcerated populations. You don’t forget the nuances of the first time you enter a maximum security facility. Her work as a writer resonates because it reflects life.
17 June 2006
Four miles off Highway 99 W in the corner of Benton County is the intersection that forms the hub of Bellfountain. The hill on the northeast corner proudly displays a well-kept community church. To the southeast is the Bellfountain Cornerstone Christian School, already at recess for the summer. On the southwest corner sits an abandoned, dilapidated storefront and two weed-encrusted gas pumps. Painted in script on the front of the pay station are the words, “Gone Fishing.” One gets the impression that this is a permanent fishing trip. To the west is the town park, the location of that family reunion so many years ago.
When I returned to Salem, I called my Dad to see how we were related to the names on the grave markers I had photographed. I should have called him prior to my trip. I didn’t realize that so much of his immediate family history is rooted in the rolling farmland around Bellfountain.
The community park sits on land that once was part of the Humphrey family farm. Over time, great-uncle George divvied up the land among his four sons. It’s where my grandfather, Eston Bruce Humphrey, and his father, Walter, were both born. Since then, it has changed hands outside of the family. The patch of hillside where the old cemetery is fenced off has a good clan of Humphrey men and their Perin wives resting underneath the douglas fir trees. It was a good reminder that I need to have more conversations like that with my Dad.
*The title is inspired by the 1985 film, The Trip to Bountiful, in which a woman in her twilight years yearns to return for one last visit to her childhood home in Bountiful, Texas. Geraldine Page was awarded an Academy Award for her work in the movie.
10 June 2006
That was ten years ago, and I’ve thought many times about attending another balloon fest. When I found out about the Balloons Over Bend Festival a couple of months ago, I quickly made plans to go. Tonight was the balloon glow at Pilot Butte State Park. I arrived just in time to watch the balloons glow in the twilight for about ten minutes before deflating and packing up for tomorrow’s morning flight.
Since I don’t land in Bend that often, dinner was the gnocchi genovese at Giuseppe’s Italian Ristorante. The gnocchi is seared crisp on the top, and served with grilled leeks and sautéed pancetta and mushrooms over a creamy gorgonzola sauce. It’s definitely a good idea to bring a hungry dining companion with you.