Sunday, January 18, 2004

I Take A Day Off

A fire, a market, and ghost soldiers. An interesting Sunday.

I slept 12 hours last night, which might finally catch me up after the Providence trip and beat the aches I've been feeling for the past week. On awakening, I had the choice between working (or at least claiming to be working) on a few projects or taking the day off. I chose the latter.

Drove north along I-5 past Boeing Field and saw the smoke rising from the area between the airfield and the sports stadiums - an area of docks, warehouses, and light industry. As I drove north the smoke darkened and took on a thick, black, pillow-like texture that drifted north towards the city proper.

I took the next exit, and got there after the fire trucks had deployed, and about the same time as the press. The area near the fire was the aforementioned light industry and warehouses, but mixed with some private housing and commercial shops. Most of the crowd gathered near a local grocery store/resturant, and they pulled up the blinds so the diners could get a good view.

It was a manufacturing plant, the middle of three identical warehouses that dominated its block - a metal fabrication operation, making dumpsters, ship containers, and other heavy items. The outer walls themselves looked metallic and unharmed, but the timbers and roof had already caught fire, and the HVAC units disappeared as they lost their support and collapsed into the building's shell. Details are here.

Channel 7 was interviewing people watching, keying on those that weren't wearing jackets (locals who might know something). Channel 4 had a crane camera up a responsible distance away. Three sets of cameramen clustered with the paramed team, getting the shots of the boom hose fighting against the now-visible flames. I counted a dozen engines from my vantage point, and there were firemen on the roofs of the adjacent buildings, trying to keep the flames from spreading.

I watched for a while from across the main road. The police sealed off traffic easily, and the crowd (I'd say about a hundred people) were well-mannered and out of the way. The firefighters had to move the media away in order to get one of the trucks in, then made up for it by having one of the firefighters get the cameras to a closer-but-still-safe vantage point. I stayed for a while (until the air conditioning unit fell in), then headed north under the grey-black cloud into the city.

Hit Pike Street Market for a few gifts for Kate for her birthday. Kate's birthday was well over a week ago, and even though she swore she just wanted dinner out, she had a few things she's been wanting, and this was the first chance I'd had to get out to get them since Christmas. The south surburban malls had proved singularly unhelpful, so I counted on the Pike to have what I was looking for.

For the non-Seattlite readers, Pike Place was at one time the "Fresh Produce" sanitary market in the city, perched on the hillside overlooking the piers and rails (where a lot or the food came in). Its a four-to-seven story structure, honeycombed with shops, craft-sellers, food joints and still, fresh produce. For Pittsburghers, think of the Strip District stacked on its side. (Oh yeah, Pike Place is the place where they throw fish. If you're out of town, you do the fish-throwing thing).

Anyway, it was pleasant shopping there, because the Pike is between seasons - Christmas season has just passed, and Tourist season hasn't kicked in. As a result, the vendors are a bit more chatty, the street performers (it is awash with them as well) a little more bouncy, and crowds a lot more subdued. Ended up talking with people; talking about jade with the storeowner from who I bought an imperial jade pendant, and chatted about plastic casting and toy soldiers with a vendor named Daniel Leen, who made replica jewelry based on Northwest Coast native designs (I picked up a pendant from him as well, of Raven Bringing Fire, which seemed appropriate given the blaze earlier in the day). And I found a new beret for Kate at the place ("Lidwear") where I had got her her scarf-hat two years previous. For myself, of course, I snacked my way through my travels - Cookies and cheese and piroshkis (the tip jar at the piroshki joint states "The Cold War is over - We Appreciate the Change!"). Picked up mozeralla and rosemary garlic bread as well.

And then out to Kite Hill, to see the soldiers, but they were gone. Again, for those from not around here, Kite Hill is a low bare rise on the former Sand Point military post which has been turned into a park. About two years ago, the Monolith appeared there. This year someone had set up nine plywood figures, eight of them soliders with mirrored faces facing a saluting officer. The park authorities stated the squad of figures could remain until March, when the kite fliers take over the hill in earnest.

Except the soldiers were gone. The area was alive with people who came out to see the soldiers, only to find that they have disappeared (which then asks the question that if people are seeking the art, does the art still achieve its goal if its not there?). I haven't seen any news on this one yet, but it was a good day for a walk, and most of the people I talked to were good natured about the sudden appearance, and equally sudden disappearance, of the art. Maybe they'll turn up in Greenlake, like the Monolith did.

Back home in daylight, and got the presents wrapped before Kate got home from work, so I got to surprise her. Dinner of shrimp pasta with a jaelpeno pepper sauce, and she loved the gifts (AND I found her sunglasses, which she was sure she had lost as well). She's curled up downstairs watching Cirque du Soliel on the CBC channel, and I'm updating, then retiring for the evening.

An interesting day off. How was yours?