Mountlake Terrace Library Blog

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Good Idea: Let’s move to Seattle. It’s lovely and green and has a better summer than we have.

Background: We lived in the Monterey Peninsula area of California for over 30 years. I never quite got California. Not enough deciduous trees to suit my Michigan soul. And where we lived should not be confused with sunny Southern California. The weather on the Monterey Peninsula is very much the same as San Francisco of which Mark Twain may or may not have said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” If you have ever stood out on the street in San Francisco in July waiting for a bus, you know what he means. So we became used to foggy, chilly Junes, Julys and Augusts. So, I reasoned, yes, it rains in Seattle. That’s why it’s green. Yes, it’s gray in Seattle, but I like gloom. And darn it, for two months a year there is warmth and sun.

Reality Check: As I write this, it’s cold, it rained yesterday and July is almost over. If summer is defined as those minutes when the temperature is 80 or more we have had 351 minutes of summer. When you can define your summer in minutes, you know you are in trouble. So people out there, it really does rain in Seattle, it’s dark by 4pm when the time changes in the fall and now you can’t even count on the summer. But hey, it’s green.

Good Idea: Let’s get a third dog. Better yet, let’s make it a collie.

Background: We started out with Freddy, a miniature poodle, and Gemma, a German Shepherd. Freddy provided the one-on-one companionship poodles are so good at and Gemma did the fetching and protecting. But when Gemma died unexpectedly, Freddy was left alone. I wanted another dog so Freddy wouldn’t be lonely when we went to work, so along came Tarquin, a toy poodle. All of that was a good idea.

But then I had another idea. We need a big dog to take Gemma’s role. I feel better with a big dog around. So along came Mildred Pierce, the collie. I got this brilliant idea, because I had grown up with a beautiful collie who looked just like Lassie. Remember, “What’s the matter, girl? Is Timmy in trouble?” Anyway, the collie I grew up with, Echo, was a wonderful dog who roamed the neighborhood and did good deeds, just like Lassie (which dogs were able to do in the olden days).

Reality Check: That was then. This is now. And Mildred, you are no Lassie, you are no Echo.

I know, cute, isn’t she?

If you only knew. One thing about collies. They shed. Yes, I know that German Shepherds also shed, but not like collies. There is long collie hair everywhere she roams. You just need to hang an article of clothing in the closet, shut the door and within minutes it is covered with dog hair. I know she plots her whereabouts depending on when I am getting ready to leave for work and whether or not I am wearing black pants. As soon as I come downstairs, she suddenly appears and is all over me like a cheap suit. When I walk out the door I look like one of her relatives.

And she barks. Not like Gemma who barked to alert us to intruders. She barks just for the sheer joy of hearing herself. And let me tell you, the neighbors do not share the joy. So now, even though the poodles don’t bark, they all must be kept inside when we are gone.

I don’t mean to belabor this, but I have to add that collies have long aristocratic noses and pea brains. That little lump on top of their heads is the brain, I think. When I found out that the breed originated from a cross between a Border Collie and a Borzoi, all became clear. Yes, the Borzoi gives the collie a “noble head,” but not much room for what should be inside it. And Borzois aren’t known for their smarts either.

But Mildred’s breed notwithstanding, two dogs are companions for each other. Three dogs are a pack. She barks, they all bark. And when the pack mentality kicks in, don’t be making your way down the stairs in heels holding something in each hand.

This is what a pack of dogs looks like.

Good idea: I want a Miata.

Background: Now that doesn’t seem like a bad idea on the surface, until you realize that when I said that, I had two small children and my husband worked an hour and a half away. So I would be doing most of the carting of the kids around – in a two-seater.

Reality Check: You get the picture.

Good Idea: We should spend our summer vacation taking our son on a tour of Eastern colleges.

Background: He wanted to go to school in the East. He certainly had the academic chops for it and all kinds of other 17-year-old credentials. Why shouldn’t those highly rated schools be just waiting to meet him?

Reality Check:
Let me just say that I have this problem – when I get an idea I think I am the only one who thought of it. So naturally I am surprised and sometimes horrified by the number of other people who thought it would be fun to tour houses in Magnolia or attend the greased pig races or whatever cockamamie thing I think is an original idea. I now know that if I get an idea, it’s one that everyone else gets too, except possibly coming to my garage sale.

So when the counselor at Dartmouth asked what number they were, I intelligently replied, “Huh?” He rephrased his question. “How many other colleges have you been to on your tour?” Tour? Like he knew that we were going to seven schools? You mean, other families are spending their summer visiting the highly rated colleges of the East too? Oh. And then we saw them. The other hopeful mothers and fathers, their freshly scrubbed potential freshmen and the little brothes or sisters who have been dragged along, whining. It was like a cattle call to try out for a Broadway show.
I replied to the counselor, “You’re the first.” He didn’t hear me. He had already moved on to another family.

Good Idea: I am going to cut my hair very short.

Background: When I was young, I was an actress.

Reality Check: My short, trendy hair worked out fine when I played “The Kid” in "Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd." Not so good when I played Miranda in the Shakespearean play "The Tempest." I had to wear a wig and looked more like Mary Todd Lincoln than a Renaissance ingĂ©nue.

Good Idea: I need a TIVO.

Background: I know that I watch too much TV. It started when I was about four, when I stood on a neighbor’s porch watching the only television in the neighborhood through their front window. When I was five, my Dad bought our first TV and I was hooked. So being aware of my addiction and wanting to take steps to combat it, I reasoned, that if I had a TIVO I wouldn’t watch so much TV, because I wouldn’t be a slave to the clock. I could watch it when I wanted to, instead of when the TV schedule dictated.

Reality Check: My TIVOs are like monkeys on my back. Sigh. Yes, that’s right. I have two. I am not proud of it. And when I turn them on and see all of the programs my Season Pass has recorded, it’s like my inbox in my email. I feel I have to do something about every one of them and get them out of that inbox before I can relax. And that doesn’t count the amount of time I spend rearranging my Season Passes, perusing my To Do list and searching for even more shows to add to my lists. So if you are looking for me, you know where I am.

So those are some things that seemed like good ideas at the time and turned out to be “What was I thinking?” moments.

But here are some really good ideas…I promise.

Really Good Idea: Take your kids to the library and sign them up for summer reading.

Reality Check: Studies show that when children do not read over the summer, they lose months of reading, vocabulary and other literacy skills.

Really Good Idea: Walk with us in the Tour de Terrace Parade on Friday, July 29. Pre-parade party starts at 5pm.

Reality Check: Participating in library events as a family promotes family togetherness.

Really Good Idea: Point your teen to our regular teen events at the library.

Reality Check: The community library provides many of the 40 Developmental Assets adolescents need to thrive, such as the perception that adults value youth, service to others and safety. At the Mountlake Terrace Library we provide regular teen programming from 4pm-6pm every Wednesday as well as special events. Teens can come to the library and participate in gaming, watch movies and do community service, all in a safe engaging environment.

Really Good Idea: Join a book club at the library. Or help your Friends of the Library group raise funds for library programming.

Reality Check: As per Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone people are isolating themselves more and more, not socializing like they once did or even going on as many picnics. Our community bonds are deteriorating. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, they won’t come to yours.” Gathering at the library for community events is a fun and interesting way to stay connected to your community.

Really Good Idea: Participate in National Night Out.

Reality Check: We'll be there. Stop by our booth Tuesday August 2 between 6pm and 9pm at the Evergreen Playfield. Find out more about all of the free services and events available at the libary. Book giveaways and activities for children will be provided as well as safety information. When the community gathers outside library walls, your community library stays connected.

And the next time you get one of those “good ideas,” check it out at the library first. We can save you a lot of grief.

Want to share your bright ideas?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top Ten Things You Must Do This Summer

Ah, summer.

It has finally descended on Seattle –albeit kicking and screaming-but it’s finally here. Now we get to enjoy our two months (give or take a few weeks) of nice weather before hunkering back down into the gloom.

But let’s not think about that right now.

Let’s talk about fun and (mostly) cheap things you must do to enjoy what Seattle and its environs have to offer this summer.

There are so many things to do and explore in Seattle and Snohomish and King Counties but these are my personal favorites. All of these activities have been personally tested by "moi," so I can vouch for the fun you will have!

1. Seattle Stair Climbing.
I adore outdoor steps, especially the hidden little gems that populate Seattle. I always want to know where they go.

Here are the stairs I climbed on a recent trek – almost 900 steps up and 300+ steps down -

but this was the payoff.

What better way to get exercise? Ok, couldn't walk very well for the next couple of days but nice to know I can still haul myself up and down steps!

For other stair climbing opportunities, look here. (And I am going to climb every one of these!)

2. Eat Your Way Through Pike Place Market.
Granted you can do this any time of the year, but on a sunny summer day it’s just that much more fun. Note: This day is not aimed at people who don't eat much.

Get there early to watch the Market come alive. Grab an espresso at the original Starbucks (before it is full of tourists) and a piroshky from the Piroshky Bakery a couple of doors down. Enjoy a blackened salmon sandwich sitting at the counter at the Market Grill for lunch and later have a martini on the deck at the Pink Door and take in the view and the sun. There are a wealth of options for dinner, but a personal favorite is the Steelhead Diner (can’t resist the poutine).

Later, walk past the gum wall to the Alibi Room for a nightcap and some people watching. If movie people are in town, you might catch a famous face.

When you are not eating, you can watch flying fish, shop for produce and crafts, listen to street musicians, relax in Victor Steinbrueck Park and take a picture with Rachel the Pig.

3. Take the Clipper to Victoria.
“More British than Britain,” Victoria is one of my most special places. It's a walking town so walk, walk, walk.

In addition to walking, I have my little rituals – shop for my supply of tea at Murchies, go next door to Munro’s Books to buy an autobiography only published in the UK by some obscure British television actor only I have heard of, take the “putt putt boat” across the Inner Harbour (note my cool British spelling) to the houseboats for fish and chips at Barb's, and teatime at the James Bay Tea House (locals laugh at you if you have tea at the Empress, but do it at least once). However, you definitely want to go to the Empress for drinks in the Bengal Lounge for a taste of Old World British Rule (at Current Rule prices), and as night descends, take in the lights that outline Parliament.

You don’t even have to spend the night if you don’t want to. You can get on the Clipper at 8am in Seattle and be in Victoria by 10:30 in the morning and have the whole day to enjoy Victoria and still return home in the evening.

A little bit of England just a few hours away.

4. The Ferry to Bainbridge Island and back.
One of the cheapest cruises you will ever take.

Walk on, enjoy the sea breeze, stroll around Winslow, have a bite to eat, and then head back to Seattle.

The trick is to plan your return for sunset or later so you can sail right into the jewel that is Seattle at night.

Or for another day cruise, hop the King County Water Taxi over to West Seattle.

A bus awaits to take you to “The Junction,” where the West Seattle action is, and then you can wind your way back on foot.

Here is how to do it.

5. Ballard Locks and the Fish Ladder
I will never forget the first time I visited the locks. My husband, my children and I were visiting Seattle for the first time and went to the locks to see the salmon make their way up the fish ladder.

There we were, noses pressed to the glass excitedly awaiting the leaping, flying salmon as they make their way up the ladder.

We waited and waited and waited.


Finally, along came one lone little minnow who reminded me of Don Knotts in "The Incredible Mr. Limpet." It was almost as if he was mocking us.

However, salmon or no salmon, the locks are situated in a beautiful park, and as you walk across the locks, you can watch a lock fill up, chat with the boat people as they wait, envy their boats, and then make your way over to the Magnolia side for a pleasant walk around the neighborhood. If you are feeling especially energetic, you can walk over to Discovery Park.

6. Take your dog to an off-leash dog park.
Or even if you don’t have a dog, go anyway. It’s a hoot. Or should I say a woof!

You can watch a yorkiepoo intimidating a Great Dane, a white fluffy Bichon Frise rolling around in the dirt much to its owner's consternation, German Shepherds fetching Frisbees out of the water and then shaking the water off themselves onto their owners, and the general sniffing that occurs as dogs say "hello" to each other.

A personal favorite is the scene around the communal drinking bowl.
Have you ever noticed that when a dog finishes drinking and looks up, there is total disregard about the water that continues to ooze out of both sides of its mouth? (Can be funny unless the water is dripping from a particular collie's long snout onto your wood floors. And she knows who she is. Never mind. My issue).

Anyway, along with the canine shenanigans, dog parks are often in prime locations. Mountlake Terrace has a nice new park in a wooded area by the Pavilion; Edmonds has one right on the Sound; and the one at Magnuson Park in Seattle is ginormous.
Your little Fido could think he was a free dog there.
(And for you etymologists, yes, ginormous is a word and made it into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2009. It’s definition? Humongous. )

7. Snoqualmie Falls
Lovely drive into the foothills.

For those of you who are of a certain age, it is difficult to not think of the TV show "Twin Peaks" when standing near the Salish Lodge overlooking the Falls.

As the mist rises, so do images of the dancing dwarf and FBI Special Agent Cooper drinking his cup of “damn fine coffee.”
(Speaking of "Twin Peaks," is it me or was Season 2 strange and obscure beyond words? I digress.)

8. Wine Tasting in Woodinville
When I moved here eight years ago, there was Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Columbia Winery and that was about it. And the tastes were free.

Now there are almost 100 wineries and tasting rooms populating the Woodinville area and tastings are anything but free unless you are a member. But on a lovely day, a drive into wine country for a picnic, strolling the grounds of the Chateau, or discovering a new wine tasting room or a new wine is a nice, relaxing getaway. You can also strike up conversations with happy strangers and bond over the experience.

Just be wary of “palate fatigue,” if you know what I mean.

9. Bumbershoot
This is an end of summer affair that is intrinsic to Seattle.
Hard to believe that it was once a free event, but it is still a good deal if you are a music lover. This year Hall and Oates are one of the headliners, so attending is an absolute must.
(What's the word for someone obsessed with Hall and Oates? And he knows who he is).

10. Visit Your Library. Make it a destination.

Free Activities abound at the library in summer.

Take your grandchild to a library story time.

Bring your baby to hear a story and play with other babies.

Get a library card.

Take a class.

Learn how to download free e-books to your portable device.

Check out some DVDs to share with the family such as "The Incredible Mr. Limpet".

Or check out Twin Peaks and tell me if I am wrong about the second season.

Sign up for summer reading.
It’s not just for kids.
Teens can submit book reviews on line to win an IPad 2.
Adults can submit reviews for the books they read for a chance to win a color Nook E-reader.

Attend our free weekly programs: puppet shows, "Whose Line is it Anyway?" fun for kids and teens, musical stories and stories from Cajun country, movies, global games and a live performance of the “Emperor and the Nightingale” by Last Leaf Productions (sponsored by the Mountlake Terrace Friends of the Library).

March with us in the Tour De Terrace Parade on July 29 – come early for crafts and a free T-shirt.

Win a bike!
Bikes for Books starts July 11 at the Mountlake Terrace Library. Children who read ten books and write a review of their favorite one can enter to win a bike thanks to the Mountlake Terrace Masons.

So what other incentives do you need to make the library a favorite destination?

Oh, I forgot, one more thing. It’s also nice and cool inside!

What are some of your favorite summer activities and destinations?