Tag Archives: Vashon Island

Yesterday’s Post-Calm After the Storm

Thanksgiving was stormy. Yesterday dawned clear and gentle and a little lazy.

A lovely pause after the storm, and the busy rushes of being present for my grandmother after her fall and feast preparations.

A walk on the beach before someone had to drag the branch  off of the driveway so I could get out…what luxury it would have been to be stuck in that peaceful morning! I’ve never had Paris, but at least I had Vashon.

There is snow on the Olympics that wasn’t there before:


Winter peace to all.

Sniping at sandpipers

I’ve been feeling kind of beach-y this week. Between the noise and dust from a nearby construction project  starting about seven in the morning and a seasonal allergy that makes it difficult to breathe so I have trouble sleeping and am prone to sneezing fits, I am a bit crotchety. It’s not really a Crisis, but it adds an edge to every minor setback in life.

I decided to go to my dad’s (he lives at the beach) and make a project I had in mind: a planter of concrete and beach rocks to replace one that falls over when the wind blows.

Naturally I couldn’t just follow the directions in the book. I tried to add complexity to the project. I came over yesterday to create a stand with feet (I like planters to not be flush against the ground). That seemed to go fine. I came over today to finish up the project. I started working and things were not going well. Then my back started aching.

So Sam and I went for a walk on the beach, Sam fished and I breathed and sniped at sandpipers, and other birds (with my camera not a gun). Sandpipers (actually most of these are Kildeer, a similar species) are well camouflaged, nervous and pretty fast movers, and I am kind of shaky so this is a bit of a sport. The birds, and there were a lot of them, don’t seem to mind Sam.

KSM20160727-DP-Crisis-02After our walk I went back to work on the project, building up the sides of the planter like a rock wall against a trash can. There wasn’t enough wall thickness between the base I made yesterday using an old 5 gallon bucket of my dad’s and the trash can I had; I made the mortar mix too dry and it couldn’t get into the nooks and crannies of the rocks. Being stubborn I persevered until there was a mini landslide.


KSM20160727-DP-Planter-01I washed off all of the rocks and decided that, instead of giving up entirely, I would try (gasp of horror) following the directions, and use the remainder of the 5 gallon bucket as a form.

So far the follow-the-directions one is looking okay…fingers crossed. It won’t be big enough to replace my problem pot, but if it turns out I can plant a few pansies and think of the beach.

May Day at the Beach

May Day, last Sunday we went to the Beach for the first time in a while. I had just arrived home from a trip to China, where the weather wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t truly clear, except the one day after it rained (see  Kites and Umbrellas about the rainy day and Kites and Kids to see the clear day).

In the Puget Sound region we take a lot for granted, beautiful scenery and clear, clean, extremely breathable air come immediately to mind.

Are we there yet?

We picked up our friends, Ginger and Asta, and took them over to visit their friend, Sam, who lives on the beach with my dad. It was more like July than May, in town I think the temperature got over 80 deg F, but there was a nice breeze at dad’s place.

Brave little Asta.

Hard to believe that one year ago little Asta was so nervous that she always got car sick and had never, to our knowledge (she was a shelter dog), been out of the desert. She hit the beach running after the two other dogs when she arrived in Seattle last May, but now she heads out on her own. Not afraid of anything: she even will chase a Great Blue Heron (more brave than wise). I have sometimes pondered whether she somehow senses that my uncle’s ashes were spread on the beach there and it somehow makes her feel at home, he was her person).

Richard went sailing, the dogs and I explored the tide flats, Dad mowed, Sam went fishing. A one day slice of paradise for all!

My new car seat cover earned its keep:

Tired dogs are happy dogs!

Happy May to all.

Taking the Bus No.2

More about why I like buses. In the first post about buses I explained a bit about the sense of community I feel on a bus. Buses also allowed me to escape a bit as a pre and young teenager.

By the mid ’70’s Harlan’s bus was no more. King County Metro began to serve Vashon at some point. Because of our location (within walking distance of the ferry) I am not clear about when this happened because I could walk across and catch the #18. (Eventually Metro added the 118 which rode the ferry over and served the island).

“Walking across” doesn’t mean that you are performing a miracle. It means that you walk onto, then off of a ferry boat. When I was 11 or 12 I started walking across and taking a bus to Pioneer Square, which had been recently gentrified, to go to Shorey’s Bookstore. Once a well known destination and now no longer in existence, although it put up a better fight than most. Or I might go all the way downtown to the used bookstore upstairs from the Bartell’s Drug Store at the end of the Monorail (They shortened the monorail so it ends at Westlake Center mall, and tore down the funny triangular building). In those days I spent all my allowance money on books.

We lived in an isolated location, it was hard to visit the few close friends I had, my parents didn’t get along, and our home was often unpleasant. Those bus trips to town, and the books that came home with me, were an escape from that. Having an escape is a way of maintaining hope.

Times have changed, I would never have let my son go to Pioneer Square or downtown alone at that age. I sometimes wonder about that. Seattle is much bigger and less friendly feeling now, Pioneer Square is a strange place, upscale rubs shoulders with derelict.

Did I maybe feel somehow unsafe somewhere deep inside on those solo journeys? Were my parents negligent? Or was it a change in our culture? James was 12 in 2011.

Is there something you did as a child that you wouldn’t let your own kids do?

Taking the bus

I know that this is strange but I like taking the bus.

When I was a kid we lived at the end of the trail, it was about 1/4 mile uphill to the nearest road and 1/2 mile, relatively flat, to the ferry dock, our mail box was at the point where we popped out of the trail on to the road 150 or so feet from the foot of the dock.

My mom didn’t drive until I was 9 or 10 so we walked, Grandma drove us, or took the bus and ferry except on weekends when Dad brought the car home for grocery shopping etc. In those days Vashon had one bus, Harlan’s bus. I think Harlan took three or four round trips to Seattle weekdays: early morning, late morning and evening. I don’t know how far south on the island he went, we only ever took the bus uptown (to Vashon, it was literally uphill to the town on the crest of the island) or downtown  (to downtown Seattle).

I was well into adulthood before I understood that there were cultural references from New York City in the use of “uptown” and “downtown”.  To me they were a literal description of where we went: up to Vashon, and while Seattle wasn’t down from where we lived (nothing was), it did have a waterfront and was lower than the town of Vashon.

This time of year I think about going shopping, which almost always makes me think about Harlan’s bus. We would walk down to the ferry dock and board the bus on the ferry.  A half mile doesn’t sound like much but my memories are from being 3-5 years old, and my legs were a lot shorter then. We rode in on the late morning bus and went to the elegant shops that aren’t there any more: Frederick and Nelson was a favorite, the Bon Marche was up there also. Nordstrom’s was a store that specialized in shoes, not yet whatever it is now (I really am not sure, it is pretty trendy, it no longer carries every shoe size like it used to, and, worst of all, its cafe is very, very noisy).

The beautiful Christmas decorations, a nice lunch, a visit to Santa and shopping. I hate shopping. It sucks the energy out of me.

So we trundled back to Second Avenue and got on Harlan’s bus to go home, loaded down with packages. It was dark when we got off the bus on the ferry and walked up the dock to the road, then the trail carrying more than was comfortable. We would sing songs on the way home. One that I remember was

“Show me the way to go home, wherever I may wander, wherever I may roam, you will always hear me singing this song, Show me the way to go home.”

(If you actually know this song please be gentle with my memory I was only a little girl and we only sang it a few times a year, when we went shopping downtown.)

On Harlan’s bus there was a sense of community. Only islanders took it. You were all from the same place going into town and going home to the same place at the end of the day. If there was a shortage of seats people squeezed together to make room. People on the bus gave me candy or coins sometimes. It was after we got off the bus that things got hard.

This started out to be about traveling on buses. I was going to tell you about taking buses in Weifang, but I wanted to start by explaining why I like buses. Maybe I will try again tomorrow.


Still there…and yet

I grew up on an island, on the beach at the end of the trail. Our front yard was the beach and the back yard the woods.

Little me
Little me

I was a wild child. One might almost say “feral”.My parents were loving, in their way. They were very young and caught up in the challenges of life. My dad was working a regular job, moonlighting, going to school and building the house we lived in. My mom was trying to be hip, having other children then suffering from depression, which became progressively deeper.

KSM20100901-My_Playground-03-720pxEven as we lived there things changed. The large big leaf maple had to be cut down because time and tide ate away the soil at its roots and it started to pry the foundation of the house out of the ground. Dad made enormous progress and the addition was twice the size of the original cabin. My parents marriage broke up and the house was never finished and eventually sold.

There were good times, mostly alone,  playing in the woods and on the beach and I have been working to try and reclaim that joy.

KSM20150421-My_Playground-04-720pxThe beach is still there. The woods are still there. The house is still there, although it looks pretty posh now. The trail is still there, although it has been rerouted over the years due to mud slides.

A few years ago I walked down the trail again. When I started I planned to be bold and knock on the door to ask if I could see what things looked like. When I came to the gate that marked where the county trail ended and private began, I looked at the gate, hesitated, then turned away.

You can never really go back.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ode to a Playground.”