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Today a coworker told me about the Barbie Zombie Apocalypse House in Kirkland. I don’t care much for the undead part of Halloween but often use “zombie apocalypse” as an example of how humans might function in a crisis. People are being turned against each other by politicians at a time when we need to be standing united, meaning that if we have an earthquake, EMP, or other emergency, I’m not confident we’ll help each other survive. The book One Second After delves into this psychology.

This burst of spooky creativity showed Baywatch Ken, Disney princesses, and others rushing headlong (or headless) southward though the autumn leaves.

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Turn on some accompanying epic movie music, and you’ll surely feel the emotion of these bedraggled souls rushing down towards their hapless prisoner.

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Each character showcases a different kind of compulsion, confusion, or torment.

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It appears the Mattel posse has already deprived their captive of its flesh. At the time, I laughed because it was so absurd. But the more I’ve talked about it, I wondered if this was a spontaneous parent-child project, or a statement by a deep soul about our society?

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There are so many places this commentary could go. Are these wayward folks running towards a false god? An example of group think? GMOs gone wrong? Politically, are we forming gangs to devour our fellow citizens instead of finding common ground and working together? Is this what we are becoming, a species that is regressing instead of progressing, turning on each other instead of building each other up, trading beauty and benevolence for blood and brains?

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Part Gulliver’s Travels, part pirate ship… is this what we are doing to our republic right now by allowing ourselves to become more polarized and fractured? Is this what we look like on the inside as we allow various vices in to compensate for pain, emptiness, anxiety? I doubt the artist(s) meant it to be so deep but this whimsical Halloween decoration could stand for so much more.

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This Halloween, as we stand surrounded by tragic news and uncertainty, I hope that as a nation we can focus on what’s right, what benefits all of us, what will keep us together. Otherwise, if we don’t allow freedom of speech, freedom of expression, liberty, life… if we can’t let our neighbors speak their minds even when we disagree with them… we will lose our heads.

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We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. –Benjamin Franklin

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©2018 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Vikings Take Wilkowski!

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Raaaaaaa… nier…… Viking Festival (for those who remember the old Rainier Beer commercials). This past weekend the rollicking good Northwest Viking Festival was held in the town of Rainier, Washington… past Yelm… not quite to Tenino.

I believe this was the first annual Viking festival in Wilkowski Park. Admission was free but event organizers encouraged attendees to bring donations for the local food banks.

On a windy Sunday my horde and I did go. Upon arrival we found the Evil Frog Totem (or at least we called it that). I suppose it could have been an ancient billboard for a Norse chiropractor as well.

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From the main road it looked like there were just a few vendors and a limp bouncy castle (it was inflated later), but amongst the trees were a delightful assortment of vendors and activities.

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There were also tents showcasing how our Viking brethren would have lived before we invented IKEA and Marimekko.

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What really stood out to me at vendor stalls was the beautiful leather work. I ooed and awed, then a costumed kid walked by yelling, “it’s time to skin the beaver!!” “Was that a game?” I thought. One of my companions replied, “No, look, it’s a dead beaver.” And there the poor beaver was, sprawled on a table, dead as a doornail. Couldn’t do it. Had to move on.

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More pieces of beautifully crafted dead animal. I do wear leather; I guess the ancestral genes that influence us to make our own leather escaped me.

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And then, the village blacksmith. His work was fascinating to watch. I don’t know how he could stand the heat though. It was hot where we were standing outside the corral. I had to check to be sure I still had eyebrows.

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That’s the sound of a man… working on the chain… maAil… Actually, he was making a stabber of some kind. Whether a rapier or marshmallow stick, I don’t know.

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Strolling along, I was greeted by Mr. Cute, a very kind dog whose breed or actual name I don’t remember. His owner said he was so calm because he’d been coming to such events his whole life.

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Why yes they do.

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Marvelous swords and a wiggy hammer. It reminds me of the nursery rhyme in which “they all lived together in a little crooked house.”

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This gorgeous horse is Night. He is 27 years young and his person says he’s the mascot for the local senior center.

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As I petted Night, this nearby well-coiffed horse said, “Pay attention to me!”

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Excitement was brewing around the Ozark Trail (chair).

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Here is definitive proof that Vikings engage in commerce with Romans. Also note the 750W massage throne.

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Dear Santa: I want one of these for work.

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Oops he did it again.

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Tools of the trade. When I remarked that I’d like to crawl into this bed in this airy tent and take a nap, its owner said he discourages unauthorized bed use by setting sharp things on it.

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The Chicken Man himself hauls a load of fluid-infused projectiles towards the trebuchets.

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Catapults? Trebuchets? I’m not entirely sure. But my closest companion and I discussed all the ridiculous things we could use one for. It became readily apparent that we probably shouldn’t have one.

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Here was a stone carver from Seattle. I suggested to my group that we could go into business making grave markers and that went over like a lead zeppelin.

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A shopping cart with watermelons? Next to a catapult? Yes please.

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The Earl and Lady of Kattegat finally occupied their perches to observe the festivities.

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Young volunteers were fitted with shields and weapons downrange of the catapults. The one on the left couldn’t have too many shields. Shield wall!!

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Note the arrival of the black balloons. They turned out to be more durable than the multicolored water bombs.

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3, 2, 1, launch!

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The daring crowd of defenders grew.

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From my perspective I couldn’t figure out what type of fur this was. It seemed to be a whole animal with very short appendages. I said, “oh no, he killed a giant platypus!” It turned out to be elk, which was more apparent from the front view. This photo presented a paradox; ancient garb versus modern technology.

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Whoo hoo!

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We learned that most of the fighting had taken place on Saturday. Here two kids got medieval in the round.

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This was a great family activity. Some Viking festivals are overtly pagan to the point of being a religious event; that wasn’t our experience. People were friendly, with a local realtor and her precious deaf dog handing out free water at the entrance. They actually talk to strangers in Rainier. I’m more used to Greater Seattle culture in which people don’t say excuse me or use their turn signals and where many people show great discomfort if a stranger speaks to them.

In the restroom a little girl was screaming at her mother that she didn’t want to go to the bathroom. I told her I’d have been spanked if I talked to my mother like that. She did get a swat on her backside. I rarely see parents take control like that in my own biome. Instead they yell at the kids to comply but don’t back up their words, so the kids persist. Score more points for Rainier.

We did have a jaw-droppingly rude experience on the way out. A vendor had the biggest birdcage I’d ever seen for sale. I’d joked that you could put people inside it and then realized that wasn’t funny. But it was great for birds. A family member offered the vendor $20 and he said, “sold!”

Next thing I knew, a short, stout woman in a bright pink shirt was preparing to take away the birdcage. Confused, I asked the vendor, “what just happened?” After he’d told my relative “sold!”, the newcomer had said she’d pay $40 for it. The vendor grinned as he talked about the $40. I was aghast, especially since we were celebrating a birthday. It had happened so quickly that I don’t think I’d heard the woman barge in.

I stood on the sidelines while the woman took the top off the cage and found someone to help her move it. She did not apologize or bat an eyelash. The vendor didn’t either. I should have had the presence of mind to chip in my own $20 and buy it out from under the rude woman, but decided a vendor like that probably doesn’t deserve our business anyway. He probably wasn’t from Rainier.

Overall this was a fun day. I wish we could have left the festival on a more positive note but that was not the festival’s fault. This event will likely grow and I hope more interactive activities occur on both days, not primarily on Saturday. By next year I hope to have my “Straight Outta Asgard” t-shirt or a faux beaver ensemble complete with tooled leather accessories that I didn’t witness being made.

Thank you, Rainier, for using this great event for fun, charity, and education!

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When the age of the Vikings came to a close, they must have sensed it. Probably, they gathered together one evening, slapped each other on the back and said, “Hey, good job.” –Jack Handey

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©2018 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Where Waldo’s Was

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“I smell smoke,” the day began, as someone told me of a strong smell outside. “It’s not wood-fired pizza.” We soon learned that a stretch of NE 85th Street was closed because of a fire that destroyed at least a handful of local businesses.

As the day went on the news became “Waldo’s is gone.” Waldo’s was a longtime bar/open mic/dance spot that sat on the southwest of of 128th Avenue NE and NE 85th Street in Kirkland. Waldo’s actually went away eight years ago, but locals still refer to this complex as “the old Waldo’s.”

Online a lot of memories are being shared of what one 2007 Yelp reviewer described as “Headbangers galore!  Waldo’s reminds me of a dirty Seattle bar circa 1992… Waldo’s isn’t the place for a date… more like a place to go to people watch or reminisce about where you were when you heard Kurt Cobain was found dead.”

Others talk of meeting their spouses there, celebrating major events, or in my case, my 1994-ish shock at seeing a middle-aged woman in Daisy Dukes with her gingham shirt tied up to show her midriff. Regardless of how good or bad the atmosphere or food was, a lot of local life happened there. Which is why so many are talking about Waldo’s today.

Evidently, about 3 this morning, Kirkland Fire was called out to this building for a two-alarm blaze. Fatima’s Alterations, which has been there for 20 years, is a mess. The dry cleaners is a loss. You can’t even tell a hot tub store was inside. The roof has collapsed, rickety skeletons of walls remain, twisted metal abounds. The smell is like someone put old tires, chimney soot, and sweaty sneakers into a double boiler with a dash of charbroiled laptop computer. I still smell like it.

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Responding fire units did an amazing job of knocking this down before anything worse happened. Many workers were onsite cleaning up. This is what teamwork looks like.

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You really can’t tell how bad this is until you walk around on the sidewalk and peer in.

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A woman who lived blocks down the road described waking up to a horrible stench about 4 this morning. This was why.

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The view from 85th. Many cars were slowing down or pulling onto 128th Avenue NE to gape. Strangers asked each other, “Where were you? What happened? Who lost their business? Was it arson?” A dump truck driver slowed down to say, “too bad about Waldo’s.”

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I don’t know how. I don’t know why. I do know it was an older building that probably didn’t have a more modern means of suppressing fires.

While we reminisce about where Waldo’s was, we should also keep in mind whose livelihoods were there until last night. This fire scene will evolve and those whose businesses survived will adapt. Whether the decimated businesses there can rise again is another question. So let’s coin a hashtag: #RoseHillResilient.

KOMO has photos and video as well.

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Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient. –Steve Maraboli

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©2018 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

Sing a Little Louder

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Today on January 1st, 2018, we were blessed with one of the most beautiful full moons I’ve ever seen. I ran out onto the dock of Log Boom Park in Kenmore, Washington to try and capture the glory of the moonrise and light.

Looking down the dock to the south. This is at the northern end of Lake Washington, which divides Seattle and the Eastside.

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Phalacrocoracidae, commonly known as cormorants. There were also many ducks.

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The gargantuan full moon soars over the horizon.

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The color seemed unusual for this time of year, such a rich and buttery yellow-orange.

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And once again, the roosting birds, who seemed completely unfazed by the frigid temperature.

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And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been. -Rainer Maria Rilke

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©2018 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Veterans Day Seattle 2017

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This morning in Seattle Evergreen Washelli hosted its fabulous annual tribute to veterans. It is quite a sight to see flags all over the cemetery, color guards, and veterans of all wars.

When they asked any World War II veterans to stand or wave to be recognized, two stood up. Perhaps there were more, but each year there are fewer.

Canada geese were on patrol.

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The color guard begins the walk up the hill. As is tradition, local Cub Scouts were on hand to pass out programs, and they’re usually who hand out flags as well.

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Proud of our veterans! Note the female veteran to the left. The keynote speaker was also a woman.

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It’s great to see parents bring their children to such events. Kids need to know our history and learn that freedom isn’t free.

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Thanks in part to one of our longest stretches of sunny weather ever, there were still flowers in the grass.

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At 7:00 this morning volunteers, including children, placed flags on all the veterans’ graves. A sea of red, white, and blue flows from the bell tower.

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Veterans of all ages participate.

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The rifle salute. Some people bring their dogs to this event, and this is one good reason not to.

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Taps, always a sobering moment.

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The colors are retired.

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Another great event by Evergreen Washelli concludes. In a city of over 700,000, it’s crazy that only a few hundred people attend this service if that. It’s well worth coming out for, and a great way to honor our men and women in uniform.

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The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. -Douglas MacArthur

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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