Tag Archives: Queen Anne

Walking in the World

White Point sign

BY KIMBERLY MAYER

There are people in our lives who have an influence they’d never know. My parents instilled a love for Cape Cod that we find in many ways living here on San Juan Island in Washington. The friend in California who suggested a year or so ago that I rein in this blog to a remodeling theme: remodeling a house, remodeling a life—the same thing, in my book. Our daughter, now living in Argentina, who upon visiting before her departure grew my daily walk by a beautiful mile or two. And in sending me a video of the works of sculptor Anthony Howe on neighboring Orcas Island, my cousin in Atlanta reminding me to stay with art every day. And to try not to stray.

They are all part and parcel of who I am, why I’m here, and how I see it.

“Walking the loop” began as a tradition while living on upper Queen Anne in Seattle and continues out here today. That first loop took me around the perimeter of the hill, overlooking the Space Needle and downtown Seattle, Lake Union, and Puget Sound. Today’s loop takes me alongside Westcott Bay, and through the red, white and blue nostalgic quality of Roche Harbor Resort where everyone looks good in the light. Finally, the road meanders through an old growth forest of cedar, fir, and pine where everything grows dark and green, and back to my home on the bay.

Where the road dips down to the shoreline I experience what I call a Cape Cod moment, framed by flatlands, grasses, marshes, and horizon. In the course of this walk I may pass only one or two cars on the road, a few more in summer, on an island where every driver waves.

This is the walk my daughter grew, taking it out on a point to new terrain, the posh end of White Point Road. Here I pass tennis courts where nobody’s playing, a pond with a dock establishing someone’s swimming hole, and a private golf course back in there somewhere, for I’ve seen it from the water. Horse fencing and regally high pampas grasses standing like sentry guide the way. Crushed white shells underfoot line the one-lane road at sea level. It’s as private as private can be, except for me, out on this point.

Here I gape at houses, something that seems to be my lot in life: the desire to see myself in other spaces, other places. On walks I finish unfinished houses in my mind, or tear them down and start again. As anyone in the field knows, design is never done. When the bones are good, I may mentally repaint it, or envision it clad in cedar shingles, dark, red, natural or a weathered gray.

At home, the short video on the kinetic sculpture of Anthony Howe awaits me. It’s mesmerizing. How did my cousin know to send this now? I needed it. Isn’t art what ultimately pulls us through? All the arts, always. And art as balm, particularly in troubling times. Which is where we are today.

“After reading the newspaper on Sunday, I sit quietly and simply look at art books.” Michael Graves

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Good Housekeeping

good housekeeping

We’ve been out on the island for about four weeks working on the house. Well the contractor has been working on the house, and we’ve been doing whatever we can to help move things along. After all, we are expecting houseguests end of the month.

After ferrying over from the mainland 2000 sq ft hardwood flooring, 300 sq ft tile, and 70 gallons of paint, Paul painted the eves and trim so the men could start shingling. Then together we whitewashed boards for the vaulted ceiling in the living room, and assembled some kitchen cabinetry—who knew it would arrive unassembled? And no, we didn’t buy at IKEA. Having fallen in love with the kitchen in the HGTV Dream Home 2014, Lake Tahoe, we drew inspiration and ideas from that. As its cabinetry was from Cabinets to Go!, that’s where we went. The salesman worked with us on customizing it to our space and our needs, but never mentioned it would all come in pieces. Lucky for him, my husband enjoys building.

Me, not so much. Lucky for me, our nephew flew out this week to assist. Now I might write. Remember writing? It had been getting away from me with all the remodeling.

So now we are three people living on a boat. Three people and a dog. It’s cozy. Both men are slim but tall. The dog, fortunately, is small.

Last weekend we had our first visitors at “the job site,” my name for the house. Bare to the bone, colorless and dusty, nothing but subfloors, scaffolding, sheetrock walls taped and mudded, electrical wires and boxes. Nevertheless, some friends from Seattle came to see what we’ve gotten ourselves into here.

What I would have given to be a fly on the wall of their Saab as they drove away!

The gardener in Lynn would be wondering why anyone would turn in a lovely patio and garden in Queen Anne for a rugged piece of old growth forest, and lose everything I will plant one day to deer.

The writer in Malcolm envies me the writer’s hut—a shed on the property that will be cedar shingled as well, and refurbished with windows, French doors, heat and electricity. While I didn’t care for the house at all, I was mad for the shed! (More about this dear little building later. Much more).

Teri, I think, would be doing the same thing as me in a heartbeat.

And Dan, the psychologist, thinks we are crazy to uproot ourselves at will and start all over again. I knew it by the eloquent way he kept commending us for our “bold vision,” and for striking out on “such an adventure”, i.e. better you than me.

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Goodbye to a Market

Warning: I’m in a dirty rotten supermarket sort of mood.

A sad thing happened this week in our Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle: the dear little Metropolitan Market closed its doors. Let me say, Metropolitan Market was one of the reasons we moved here. We drew an area about six blocks around “The Ave” and confined our house hunt to that. The idea was to live where we would always walk to town, whatever the weather, and no matter how old we may grow to be. We had found our village in the city. “Why drive, when you can walk?” is our motto, and Metropolitan Market was central to our lifestyle.

Now I don’t know what is coming in, but I do know that recent development in town would have it that every block look the same. Metropolitan Market was different, mid-century architecture, impeccably kept, the staff most personable, produce you could trust to be organic (vs. the supermarket trick, or so I’ve heard, of replacing an empty organic bin with the other variety), and the foods they made, the soups, cioppino, sushi, Dungeness crab cakes, and bakery goods, splendid enough to go on the finest dining table. It was where we all placed our order for fresh turkeys every November, and could find quality kitchenware, chocolates, magazines, and even literary journals. Outside, a plant stand to rivel any street corner in Paris. Come to think about it, Metropolitan Market was our only local nursery too. Now I really am depressed.

Plus I have just come back from a very crowded Safeway where the music is sick, the loudspeakers are loud, the prepared food is fried and the like—although nobody eats like that except maybe the construction workers on their breaks (the ones who are tearing the town down). I don’t know who is employed at Safeway or where they come from, and as for the floral department, their way with plants is to dye phalaenopsis orchids blue.

I simply have to find a way around supermarkets. Something I can walk to, such as the bucolic farmers market on Thursdays. Come winter, move downtown and shop Pikes Market? Everything that is anything is so much further now and it’s time to go from carrying totes to using that cart I bought. A rainproof canvas shopping cart, bright red so cars can see me on gray days. I haven’t taken it out yet because I have some things to work out. My cart questions: do I push it or pull it? Do I push/pull it down the aisles and put the groceries I want to buy into my cart, and take them all out at the register, or will I look like I am shoplifting and be apprehended? Or should I fold up my cart and put it in the grocery’s shopping cart when I arrive?

Didn’t I know this would happen? A long time ago, after my first marriage fell apart, I lived in NYC for a year. I wish I could tell you it was marvelous: The Met! Lincoln Center! Central Park! But it wasn’t. Not that year. I was half crazy with a broken heart, and Central Park wasn’t even considered safe in the daytime. I don’t know if you could call it a phobia exactly, but I developed an irrational fear of bag ladies that year. Not a loathing, more of a trembling. An apprehension that it could happen to me. I knew that there had to be a story behind each and every one of these ladies, and my best guess was that some man had left her in the lurch. I am not sure if I ever got over this fear per se, but I up and moved to California. And now, here I am, thirty-something years later, further up the coast, and about to take up a cart myself. Didn’t I know it?

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The Politics of Place

The city of Seattle is teaming with Eastern Gray Squirrels. My understanding is that the Woodland Park Zoo first imported these pesky little creatures in order to have something wild running amongst the visitors, so not everything would be encaged. In their effort to create a bucolic atmosphere for the zoo, they gave it to the city as well. The Eastern Gray Squirrel simply thrives here.

My neighbor over the fence is a bright, attractive woman. She lives in an art-filled house and approaches  her perennial gardens like a painting. When we first moved to Queen Anne, I called her Beatrix Potter for her habit of feeding the squirrels. Dizzy with all their comings and goings, I admit to having called a trapper in the early days. But that was a futile idea as long as the feeders were up and the word of a good buffet at her place had long been out. So we all live with a “mess” of squirrels (that’s what it’s called), and the high wooden fences between our city lots are their thoroughfare. Congeniality is learned by living in real neighborhoods.

Like most of my neighbors my politics are liberal, Democratic, and I like to think, progressive. But I have noticed this: it is often the Republicans who have the best-kept homes and grounds, and Beatrix Potter is one of them. And I admire that. I am into architecture, design, and gardens, and this has always been kind of a conundrum for me: a Democrat at heart, and a Republican as far as appearances go. While most of the Republicans seem to have weekly landscaping contractors who descend and maintain perfect lawns, perfectly trimmed hedges, keep window boxes filled, in short, everything ready for a magazine shoot, Beatrix, on the other hand, by doing her own gardening, actually falls in more with the general scheme of things in Seattle—where it’s so “blue,” it’s turquoise, and so “green,” it’s emerald. (The irony to me now is that she is the one with a heart of gold for the squirrels, and I was the one calling the trapper).

It has been said, “A Democrat falls in love; a Republican falls in step.” While the first part remains true for me regarding the upcoming presidential election, the second part, is not, not this time around. But might this be just what we have needed as a country, for the Republicans to lose their lock step? Perhaps they have always been too sure of themselves, and Democrats, too questioning? When it comes time I will have my Obama/Biden sign out there with the best of them in their lawns and gardens—that is, if they ever make up their minds on a candidate.

Recently Beatrix invited me to come and meet Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, Republican candidate for Governor.  Feeling a bit like an undercover agent, I went like a good neighbor. And guess what? I like the guy. Certainaly there are other issues such as education and he covered them well, but I was particularly interested to see if he was friendly toward same-sex marriages—something our current Governor Chris Gregoire recently signed into legislation. I wanted to know that Washington would not back down on this. And McKenna said he would indeed support it, “if that is what the people want.” An amiable guy, as I said.

O.K., now I have a confession to make: Remember the pristine Republican lawns and grounds I can’t-help-but admire in my neighborhood? During the presidential election of ’08, I know that by lingering there I may have inadvertently encouraged my little dog to pee wherever there were McCain/Palin signs. I feel bad about that, and won’t do that again. Unless it’s Newt, or Santorum, or….

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