Barricaded

By Dick Gillett

As I stepped outside my front door last week, anticipating a delicious macchiato at Herkimer Coffee on Phinney Ridge, I was unexpectedly confronted by a barricade. About five or six feet across, it stretched across the handrails in front of me, its multiple strands caught by the morning sun. At its center was a spider, only half as big as the head of a pencil eraser—the architect and engineer.

My wife, ever-admiring of the skill and determination of spiders, was close by and counseled me to leave the spider’s work intact and go out by the back door. I scoffed at her suggestion and crashed through the barrier, the tiny spider sinking to the ground as its net fell.

At Herkimer, I made a full report of this incident to Chad, one of the baristas that I’ve known the longest. He heard me unsympathetically and scoffed at my accomplishment: “Greatest Generation, indeed!” he said.

I scoffed . . . and crashed through the barrier, the tiny spider sinking to the ground as its net fell.

Kelly, the other barista on duty, heard my story and made a face. She related that as a young girl a spider had been trapped in her ear, and later had been bitten by a spider. Little sympathy there, either.

A harmless incident, not worth the telling? Perhaps. Yet as we encounter more and more spider webs these summer months, both my wife and I continue to be astounded by how these tiny arachnids accomplish such immense engineering marvels, the materials for which emerge from their own bodies. Think of their ambition! Even more, ponder their willingness to get up and try again after going down with their creations. Are these lessons worth pondering in our complex and confounding world?

·     ·     ·

Author Dick Gillett is a Member of PNA Village, a retired Episcopal priest, and a regular contributor to our blog. His many articles include ““Generation Nice” at Herkimer Coffee”, “Martín’s Journey to the White House”,  and “Cell Phones, Conversations, and the Common Good”.

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When Did We See You a Stranger?

fall-2016-houseofhank-me

By Dick Gillett

Angelina (not her real name) has been cleaning our house in Green Lake regularly for almost ten years. Last Tuesday morning—November 15—when I greeted her at the door, she responded with her accustomed cheerful smile and greeting. Although she easily speaks English, we spoke in Spanish, a language I grew up with in my native El Paso.

I asked immediately how she was adjusting to the election results. She put on a brave face, but then teared up. “ We have done a lot of crying,” she admitted. Angelina and her husband are from Mexico, and are undocumented. Their daughters, aged 14 and 11, were born here and thus are U.S. citizens. Her husband is disabled and cannot work.
She said that as the election results became clear, she began to feel ill, and went to bed. Her children started crying and became terrified, but Angelina reassured them: “No nos van a matar,” she said. “They won’t kill us.” Such is the level of fright in our community, especially among children, as a result of the 2016 election vitriol.

“No nos van a matar,” she said. “They won’t kill us.”

Angelina spoke of a neighbor’s anguish after the election. This neighbor’s work ran later than usual that day. Her school-age son, accustomed to letting himself in the house after school, started fearing his Mom had been picked up. Terrified, he went to a neighbor’s house. The neighbors, American citizens, took him in. His mother arrived to find her son gone, and likewise panicked. Finally she located him at the neighbor’s house.

Angelina is an independent contractor whose work must support her whole family.
“I keep good work records, and I am proud to pay taxes,” she told my wife Anne in English. She worked early on to learn English, and her children go to an all-English school, although she speaks Spanish to them at home. It’s clear that a week after the election, Angelina remains deeply shaken.

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” responds Jesus lovingly to the righteous who had seemed to doubt their own faith (Matthew 25:36). In these last days, we in the churches have been given the mission of giving thanks for, and welcoming, all the Angelinas and those like her and her family—immigrants, Muslims, people of color, native Americans, LGBTQ people—who make up the human family.

Can we take it on?

·     ·     ·

Author (Rev. Canon) Dick Gillett is a Member of PNA Village, a retired Episcopal priest, and a regular contributor to our PNA Village Connections blog. His many previous articles include, “Martín’s Journey to the White House”“”Generation Nice’ at Herkimer Coffee”, and “Johnny Cash & Global Warming.”

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Guns

By Marilyn Zuckerman

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the PNA. Please feel free to comment and join the conversation.  

Glock 22

The Seattle Public Library Permits Concealed Guns

Nobody asked me
if I wanted to sit next to a guy
carrying a gun
he can pull out at any time
something triggers his paranoia—
a suspicious movement,
a foreign face
or the librarian who has asked him to be quiet.
It’s the moment he’s been waiting for
ever since he bought the gun,
learned to use it at the shooting range
banging away at a moving silhouette
wearing a sign that says
KILL ME.

·    ·    ·

Shoot ‘em Ups

In the old west
the shoot ‘em up takes place in town—
in the old saloon, the brothel
or the boardwalk outside the barbershop—

These days, it can be anywhere
the church
the synagogue
a shopping mall
post office
your office building
a college dorm
the library or on the road.
Not with a Colt 45
but an AR-15 blazing at so many rounds a second,
the shooter—your husband or the boyfriend you
dumped,
the neighbor whose lawn was soiled by your dog.
There’s the guy who killed his five children
because he was mad at his wife.

Or the quiet fellow you pass every day
who shot up the kids in the schoolyard with an arsenal
he picked up at the local gun show,
whom everyone said kept to himself and was so polite
you’d never imagine—

·    ·    ·

The Gun

Known as the AR-15
built in 1958
as a selective-fire weapon
for the military only
but sold to Colt
for civilian use
as a semi-automatic rifle
Popular among civilian shooters
due to their accuracy
light weight
auto-loading assault style
air-cooled
gas-operated
and magazine-fed
The most wanted gun in America,
there are  millions on the streets today.

·    ·    ·

Colt AR15A4

Orlando

A Plagiarism (after Jonathan Lethem)

Once again elegies, services, and memorials for the dead after yet another mass shooting in America brought about by the violent misuse of guns. The following is a collage of remarks about our “American Olympics of murder” from several voices around the country. Every word that follows has been said before in newspaper essays, speeches, sermons and addresses on the floor of Congress.

One person did that?
Yes…but with a weapon designed only for mass killings on the battlefield, a weapon so dangerous that soldiers keep their versions locked up when not actually training with it. …No one can ever eliminate violence in a modern society. …The success of the AR-15 has led to increasing militarization of the entire consumer firearms market in America. If we had gun laws like those of most countries that resemble ours we would have lower levels of gun violence. This massacre is therefore further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a night club. Now there are speeches of condolences, the service for the dead, tears have been shed—and everyone goes home.

·    ·    ·

Acknowledgements:
Anonymous
Natasha Singer, The New York Times
The Guardian
Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
Tom Diaz, Violence Policy Center
Congressman Christopher Murphy
and at the last, President Obama

http://marilynzuckermanpoet.com

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Cheese, Goats, and Kids at the Phinney Farmer’s Market

By Richard Gillett

Cheese, Goats and Kids!

This goat farm is a family enterprise: Collin Medeiros, his wife Rebecca, and four children staffed the booth on opening day!

Attendance at the June 3 opening of the Phinney Farmer’s Market broke records in both revenue for the farmers ($23,729) and attendance (1975 people)!  Among the new vendors this year is Burton Hill Farms, a Grade A certified goat dairy farm on Vashon Island. The farm has 50 goats; 14 are currently milking.

Goat cheese is a specialty at Burton Hill, with naturally aged Feta Cheese and also a special blue cheese. But there’s also goat milk for lactose intolerant people, goat soap, and other products. Last Friday (June 10) was popular at the booth—I bought the last 4 oz. block of Feta fairly early on in the session (Market hours: 3:30-7:30).

Collin Medeiros told me that his 13 year old son George would be milking goats that evening. His five-year old, Peter, has a favorite goat—Mississippi.

So it seems that kids go together with kids!

Phinney Market

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The Working Class at Herkimer Coffee

The Working Class at Herkimer Coffee II (pnavillage.org)
By Dick Gillett

Stephen bent over his loom, quiet, watchful and steady. A special contrast, as every man was, in the forest of looms where Stephen worked, to the crashing, smashing, tearing piece of machinery at which he labored.
—From Hard Times, by Charles Dickens

It’s 9:01 on a Wednesday morning as I enter Herkimer Coffee up on Phinney Ridge for my usual caffeine fix. Along the shop’s left wall, an array of people sit at tables, coffee cups within reach, laptops open, heads down—as if the factory whistle just blew and the working class had filed in and bent over their machines.

In contrast, as a “retired worker” I mosey in and take my “work station” in front of barista Chad, who sees me and reaches for the macchiato cup; he knows my drink.
In casual conversation, he and Sean, the other barista on duty, both reveal they grew up as only children, which was my also my situation. (Naturally we understand this makes us special).

This brief palaver serves to lighten me up a bit after reading the print edition (I’m afraid I’m a print news junkie) of The New York Times. The paper continues to tell us about the unending crisis of refuges flooding into Europe, Putin’s Russian jets now in Syria, and the latest special absurdity of much of our domestic political news.

The Working Class at Herkimer Coffee (pnavillage.org)

Of course the laptop “working class” image above is my fantasy. But in my mind, it serves to separate me from my fellow human beings of the succeeding generations. (For instance I don’t have a laptop and only clumsily use instant messaging.) But as it frequently does, the sight of younger people at Herkimer’s—busily working away (or goofing off)—fills me with a certain longing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have an intergenerational dialogue? An honest-to-goodness dialogue about our insane world, inasmuch as we are all bound together as citizens traveling on Planet Earth?

On the other hand, there would be those who with much justification—seeing as how we of the older generations have screwed up pretty much everything—would say, “And what do you, old-timer, have to tell us to our edification?” My response might be, “And how do you, one or two generations removed from me, see yourself and your families, especially your children, in relation to our current and future world?”

Could a starting point be a reflection on Pope Francis’ recent visit to the U.S.? I hear that there are intergenerational dialogues going on here and there on such topics, some even within reach of our Phinney Neighborhood Association. Might our own PNA Village be a catalyst for such?

·    ·    ·

Author Dick Gillett is a Member of PNA Village and a retired Episcopal priest. He has written numerous articles for our Village blog including, “Martín’s Journey to the White House”“Johnny Cash & Global Warming”, and “Monthly Book Group at Couth Buzzard”.

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Village Member Survey

cropped-pna_village-logo.jpg

The results are in!

The 2015 PNA Village survey showed that 84 percent of our members are very satisfied or extremely satisfied with Village membership.

Check out the “Top Ten List” and read the full report

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Wonders of Green Lake

Ann Rodgers and Friend at Greenlake Spring 2015

By Ann Rodgers

Dear Village friends:

I wanted to make sure you knew that this is possible on the Green Lake walk.  I have been feeding the red-winged blackbirds for about three years now.  It is a delightful feeling when one lands on your hand!

Ann Rodgers and Friend at Greenlake 2015 close up

woman feeding birds by hand

Related posts:

https://pnavillage.org/2013/11/23/my-fun-in-the-village/

https://pnavillage.org/2013/06/08/walking-the-talk/

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Monthly Book Group at Couth Buzzard

By Dick Gillett

Would you like to know what a group of seniors in the Phinney Ridge area might be reading these days? Books on aging, right?

Dancing Fish and Ammonites coverWell, sure—books like Embracing Life, by David Goff, or The Healthy Aging Brain, by Louis Cozolino, a book that looks into the neuroscience of the brain (said to be readable for non-scientists), or Dancing Fish and Ammonites, by Penelope Lively.

On the second Wednesday of each month, the Phinney Village book group meets at 11am at Couth Buzzard Books (8310 Greenwood Avenue). Surrounded by cozy bookshelves and sipping coffee, the group meets for a little over an hour and instead of selecting a book to read together over a period of time, we go around the table and report on what we’re reading or what we’ve recently read. With 10 or 12 of us generally present, there’s enough time for a brief report from each person and questions or comments.  In March, this group will celebrate its first anniversary! As one who came aboard last April, I find myself astonished at the range and depth of books we are collectively reading.

"All the Light We Cannot See" book coverThis month, for example, Roger reported on a World War II historical novel, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. This tale centers on a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide during the war years. Next, Don (a confessed “map nut”) reported on the book, Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities. One of the book’s global maps portrays countries’ sizes in proportion to the number of languages spoken there. Which place do you think would be the largest?* (You can likely guess the size of the U.S. )  In the brief discussion of this book, Terry asked a great question of the group: What will happen to our young people who navigate only by GPS?

Do you want serious history? In previous months, Marian reported on Indian Summer: The End of the British Empire by Alex Kunzelman and Terry reported on a book on Afghanistan under British rule. This month Tom reported on The Philosophical Breakfast Club by Laura J. Snyder. This book relates the story of four young students in the 19th century at England’s Cambridge University. Inspired by the philosopher Francis Bacon, they sought to promote the use of science for the public good and ended up designing the first mechanical computer.

"Strange Maps" book coverWe’ve also heard about books about books—and they’re more interesting than you might think. Marguerite reported on a book about the history of libraries, The Library at Night, leading to comments about Andrew Carnegie’s passion for building libraries, including a number of them here in Seattle. Don shared Bound in Venice, by Alessandro Marzo Magno, about the first book printed—only five centuries ago in Venice.

But lest the hour get too weighty intellectually, Marguerite offered Dial C for Chihuahua, a hilarious mystery by Waverly Curtis in which a Spanish-speaking Chihuahua detective shines a light on human foibles!

To learn more, you can email our convener, Nancy Spangler: nancyespangler@gmail.com.

New Guinea

Find these books!

Seattle Public Library

IndieBound

Goodreads

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The House II

By Marilyn Zuckerman

Zuckerman home deck (courtesy Louise S. Wright Design)

(Photo courtesy Louise S. Wright)

Deck Afternoon

Hello Louise,
I’ve been sitting
on your beautiful deck
imagining I am
on the deck of a steamer
although I am listening as well
to the pileated woodpecker
ratatatting away
a few blocks below me
(unless it was a neighbor
driving nails)
but, no it had that intermittent
woodpecker tattoo.
So thank you.
M

Pileated woodpecker

The deck for me is the star of the show for one who can no longer travel. It is my ship reaching out to the Sound and to the mountains and to go on sea voyages. So I’m almost surprised not to feel the swell, not to get seasick.

When one is of ripe old age, it is easy to imagine many things as one watches the sea and the earth with its billions of years – earthquakes, mudslides, floods and death that old trickster lurking.

My Ship

Sitting alone
on the deck in the dark
in a steamer chair
counting airplanes and Christmas lights
instead of stars
watching the storm break
breathing fresh air
staring at the Sound
for this is what I came for

I said I wanted a deck to see the world from, a balcony of cables so slender you could forget they were there. I said I wanted something spacious, I wanted sun and shade and now here’s the railing burnished red, there the fragile cords fine as threads. Now someone as restless as me is calmed by the scene before me – the sea, the trees tumbling to the ground, the wild wind singing.

Crows: An Anthropomorphic Poem

Crow on a Branch by Kawanabe Kyosai (1831–1889)

What do two crows say to each other
sitting on a wire above the deck
staring as I am at the sunlit waters of Puget Sound
They are:
talking
courting
smooching
grooming
sometimes posing in haughty indignation
beaks at dueling position
a high wire act
as one sidles over in sad supplication

She: seductively
maybe we can stop tormenting eagles
and settle down
spend more time together
He: sleepily
we’ll see
though he has clearly
begun to feel
the lure of a quiet life

when one flies off
the other follows in hot pursuit

·    ·    ·

Dedicated to Louise Wright who designed not only the deck, but so much of the house.

These poems form the second installment in an ongoing sequence about the construction of my home—read the first here.

 http://marilynzuckermanpoet.com

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A Guardian Seagull

seagull on rail

By Charles Forsher

October 13, 2014

This morning, as I’ve been doing for many months now, I visited a pocket park near my home that overlooks a very old railway drawbridge. Today would likely be the last day I could sit and enjoy the park before our rainy season begins. Of course, Seattle’s rainy season consists of days on end of rain—sometimes light, sometimes heavy—that can cancel plans for a long sit on a park bench.

In good weather, one of my favorite pastimes at this particular park is feeding the local crows. I bring two ounces of sesame seeds and a few slices of bread with me for each visit. Over the past week some seagulls took note of my beneficence to the crows and began interrupting our get-togethers. While not interested in the sesame seeds, they’ve gobbled up the crow-sized pieces of bread and blocked the crow’s access with shrieks and half-raised wings. My crow friends now seem terrorized and reluctant to help themselves when I throw the bread.

Today, on this last possible morning for our sunny park bench tradition, the seagull disruption continued. This time I waited patiently for the seagulls to lose interest and fly off. After they’d gone, I noticed several crows waiting nearby as if in secret, so I resumed breaking up my wheat bread and tossed some out. I am not by nature a praying man, but here I petitioned the unseen to please hold back the seagulls so I could feed the crows one last time.

I quickly collected a tribe of a half-dozen crows. After a brief hesitation, and as if my prayer had overcome their own terrors, the crows merrily set to consuming the strewn bread.

Before long a lone, large white seagull appeared overhead and circled several times before landing on a thick wood railing at the edge of the park. I continued spreading small pieces of bread to the crows, and they kept eagerly snapping up the pieces tossed.

The seagull just watched us.

Amazed, I took the second slice of bread and shared it around. By this time the morning fog had evaporated and a late morning sun cast its shadows wide. My crow friends flew away sated but the lone seagull stood sentinel on the wood railing. Staring. This vigil continued for the longest time.

Had some agency conveyed my request to this bird?

Only when a smaller, gray gull flew in and landed on the empty brick patio did the white seagull shriek, in a manner strongly suggesting to the newcomer, ‘Leave…NOW!’ The interloper departed but the lone gull continued to stand and watch. By now I had the uncanny feeling this seagull had answered my prayer.

Not long after, the seagull disappeared and I was left alone once again. I did not see it fly away.

·    ·    ·

Author Charles Forsher is a PNA Village member.

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