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Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Moonrise on Independence Day, July 4th, 2020 in Seattle was 9:11 P.M. By that time the penumbral lunar eclipse was happening, causing a slight shadow to fall upon the full moon.

People asked me what I was waiting for when they saw my camera. One woman seemed to think my wait was pointless until– SHAZAM! The moon came out from behind the trees.

Glorious…

A passing boat had this patriotic light display on it.

Then the fireworks started to happen.

It was amazing to see the fireworks light up the water next to the shimmering trail of moonlight.

This picture reminded me of a face, specifically that of Gypsy in MST3K.

The moonlight stretched further and further across the water as if extending a path to onlookers.

As it darkened, Saturn emerged like a pinhole was poked in a dark canvas. I expected to see both Jupiter and Saturn, but only saw Saturn (I think…)

What a blessing to have this light show going on along with the fireworks.


©2020 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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Independence Day 2020… the first Fourth of July in my lifetime without parades and fireworks and the usual community mingling. So imagine my delight when I learned of Lakeview of Kirkland’s drive-thru parade for their residents and seven veterans!

Lakeview is a senior living facility south of downtown Kirkland, Washington. Among their seven veterans are two World War II veterans– and I love those guys and gals. They have a twinkle to them and loads of character. So I put the word out and raced to Kirkland.

Upon arrival, I found employees directing traffic, flags everywhere, and a carefully socially distanced parking lot where Lakeview residents could sit far enough from the vehicles coming through but close enough to see them. I was thrilled to learn that one of their seven veterans is a female veteran.

After driving through and thoroughly enjoying the patriotic cheer from a generation that loves our country, I went up the road to rally the troops via cell phone so more people would atttend. As one car passed me, they dropped a flag in the middle of the roadway and didn’t stop. “Ironic!” I thought, because I couldn’t find my medium-sized flag earlier. So I pulled over and picked up that flag.

I’d seen Tim Hickey, a well-known Kirkland do-gooder, driving around earlier, and was standing near the entrance when he pulled in waving his flags. It was great to see a few other vehicles out on the road waving large flags today too. Seeing his campaign signs truly made it feel like the Fourth of July because it’s so very American to see candidates out and about on this day.

Unfortunately, some residents had already gone inside when I took these photos, but you can still get a general sense of the festive atmosphere.

I am not entirely sure what I captured in the above photo but it’s funny. Maybe the dog was singing the National Anthem.

These flag waving ladies were eager to see who (or what) else pulled into the parking lot. Right about this time a ridiculously cool vintage Porsche pulled in.

I had to zoom in because I was nowhere near the building, so was glad to get this shot of these America-loving, festive locals.

The decorations, distancing, and everything was spot on. One item that came up in conversation was the lack of participation from the larger community in traditional American holidays. That is exactly why we need community celebrations and parades– so our neighbors who aren’t American or are new to America can experience the joy of people of all political beliefs and faiths coming together to celebrate what we have in common.

The staff was friendly and attentive to residents.

Again, I didn’t want to get too close so was zooming in and snapping random photos.

They even decorated the sidewalk!

Yes, heroes do work at Lakeview. They worked hard to ensure that residents, especially veterans, still had a fun Fourth of July. Good job all!

After this I decided to hang the flag out the window as I traveled through several cities. A few people honked, just a small fraction of those I passed. If you watch people’s faces when they drive, a majority don’t seem to have good situational awareness. They’re either looking ahead, not turning their head right or left, and seem fairly oblivious to anything going on outside their vehicle. If they’re stopped, they’re often looking down. So I doubt many of them even noticed.

On that note, I decided that if we can’t have fairs and parades and fireworks, I was going to stir up some good old fashioned patriotic sentiment anyway. For over half an hour I stood at one of the area’s busiest intersections and waved the flag at cars going by. Here’s what I found:

  1. Some never looked anywhere but straight ahead or down, either oblivious or not wanting to make eye contact
  2. Some seemed embarrassed or sheepish, like young girls
  3. Many waved and honked, mostly couples, families, or those over 30
  4. Only one truck full of gross younger men yelled something obscene
  5. Pedestrians and bicyclists almost always said, “Happy 4th!” and waved
  6. Young employees in a nearby business came out in a group and cheered and waved
  7. A majority of passers by did not respond, but I was pleased by how many did

Earlier I’d seen an older man waving a small flag near a business I needed to stop at. I was going to tell him how much I appreciated that. As I got closer, I realized he was yelling, “Spare change? Spare change?” It brought me back to the original premise of today, that there are many seniors struggling right now. Even those who have a nice place to live may be severely lacking in opportunities to be joyful and connect with other human beings. So I’m greatly pleased that Lakeview hosted this well-orchestrated event that protected their residents while allowing them to party with their neighbors.

Happy 4th all! Feel free to go stand on a street corner and wave a flag yourself!


©2020 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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This is the cottage I call the Feriton Fairy House. Where is Feriton, you may ask? It’s on Google Maps… right smack where the Google campus is in Kirkland, Washington. KirklandHistory.org has a well-researched explanation of why this area is called Feriton. Most Kirklanders are unaware of its historic name.

Located just north of the walking and biking trail through the heart of the city known as the Cross Kirkland Corridor, you can pass by and completely miss this gem built in 1945. The area is dominated by commercial and industrial sites from the CKC southward, and larger, more modern residential buildings on the other sides.

This is what you might see as you travel towards Houghton (PCC, Met Market, Northwest University) on 6th Street South.

Here is what you might glance at while traveling northward.

You might think it’s just a shack on property worth most of a million waiting to be swallowed up by another condo building. But stop for a moment. Look closer.

The closer you get, the more idyllic this setting becomes. The busy road and the bike lanes start fading away. You become aware of the tinkling water of a creek. You begin to marvel at the lush grounds and old trees.

Linger longer. Who lived here? What was its purpose? I’ve met the owner and know that he still cares for the place. There is nothing worth stealing, yet this little island of calm on the edge of downtown is priceless.

The Feriton Fairy House has seen better days. Yet it’s that worn, down home feel that lends itself to the fairy tale realm. You can weave many stories centered around this house. You can imagine a World War II veteran having lived there since he came back from France. You could conjure up a tale of three raccoons that live inside and argue over how to make the best buckwheat pancakes for their woodland neighbors. Perhaps a wise gnome in a blue cap lives there and only comes out in the moonlight.

Even when you’re walking by across the street it doesn’t seem like much.

Just cross the street, though, and you seem to be staring at a little slice of the shire. Imagine this without the fence, without the adjacent busy trail, without the sidewalk and sign. It seems like another time and place.

You’re standing in the middle of a city near the campus of a major corporation yet here is this splash of country. Follow the creek under the roadway and you’ll find a friendly willow and magnificent magnolia soaking up the hydration on the other side.

We often take one glance and keep moving. There is value in stopping, looking, breathing in, tuning the distractions out. We can fail to see great beauty when we pass by too quickly or stand too far off. It’s when we pause and explore, when we get a little closer, that we can find an oasis in the arduous busyness of life.

There’s no two-car garage here. No upper stories or pretentious balconies. The beauty here is in its simplicity. Standing on the edge of this property, while you’re drawn into the pastoral setting, you cross a threshold into a timeless state in which you realize this is what Kirkland once was.

May this cottage continue to stand as a monument to a simpler time when we wanted less and were grateful more.


©2020 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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This video’s a little older yet I’ll bet modern t.p. manufacturing methods are remarkably similar. If nothing else, it’s strangely relaxing to watch.

My grandma, who grew up in the Midwest during the Depression, said that the Sears Roebuck catalog was something you ordered from, read voraciously, and wiped with. Yep, it hung on a hook in the corner of the outhouse. When you were done reading it, you cleaned with it.

This man says that he’s solved America’s toilet paper crisis…

What do you know… Grandma would be tickled pink to know the toilet paper of 80-some years ago is making a comeback.

***BIG CAUTION!!*** Please do not flush anything other than human waste and regular store-bought toilet paper. Even though wipes and other products marketed as flushable may go down the toilet, they do not break down like toilet paper. This can and does cause sewer backups, which are especially unsanitary considering that COVID-19 can live in feces. We don’t need this virus erupting onto our lawns and streets, then draining into our streams, ponds, and lakes. Most storm drains do not go to a treatment plant, but directly into our waterways.

You can read more about the dangers of wipes in my older posts, Those Wascally Wipes and The Truth About Wipes.

Just before I posted this, I found that The Moron Brothers, a bluegrass comedy duo from Kentucky, has come out with yet another hilarious social commentary– and it mentions the Sears catalog!

Success is like toilet paper, it only seems important when you don’t have it.

Richard Jeni

©2020 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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As I said in yesterday’s post, being bored is impossible when you enjoy history and genealogy! You always have places to go, photos to take, research to complete, and stacks of paperwork to sort through. So hearing people say they’re bored during this time of social distancing sounds rather alien; some of us are finding more to do than ever.

After finally catching up on email in the wee hours of the morning, I realized just how many online learning opportunities there are right now. In particular, many museums and historical collections are putting the word out about the resources they have online. Here are just some of the many free gateways to personal enrichment available.

The Smithsonian Institution, Ten Museums You Can Virtually Visit. This article includes links to The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, The Anne Frank House, The Vatican Museums, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The London National Gallery, NASA Research Centers, The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, San Francisco’s De Young Museum, and The Louvre.

The National Nordic Museum here in Seattle has digitized Nordic American oral histories and an online collections portal that could keep you busy for days. I still miss the old building and the old name, but their relocation and relabeling has renewed their outreach power.

Our beloved local HistoryLink is an online encyclopedia of Washington State History. They have thousands of essays, fun slide shows, a roster of Washingtonians who gave their lives in service for our country, resources for schools, and how-tos for self-guided walking tours. Their weekly newsletter is a great way to get to know the area.

HistoryLink featured Washington State University’s Early Washington Maps collection this week (go Cougs!). From that page you can find your way down other rabbit holes, such as the amazing WSU Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections page, the United States Geological Survey Topos Index, and the University of Washington Digital Collections site.

D’Adamo Personalized Nutrition mentioned that Travel + Leisure posted Stuck at Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch. This article lists links to the British Museum in London, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the MASP in São Paulo, and the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

You can get lost in the British Library Medieval Manuscripts Blog. It’s not just the language but the art that draws you in. The Digital Collections of Trinity College Library in Dublin are also a gold mine of art and literature.

Seattle’s Burke Museum is promoting Burke from Home. There are activities for kids, virtual exhibits, and extensive information about local flora and fauna. I love their pages on animals and am thrilled to see that Rod Crawford has a Spider Myths page on there. People scream when they see spiders, blame them for all manner of skin blemishes, and kill them on sight. Crawford sets the record straight and encourages us to practice respect. As I tell the big gnarly spiders hanging out in the shower sometimes, “you don’t bug me and I won’t bug you.”

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution have more than 30,000 pre-1840 American objects in their collection and many are featured online. They have an online quilt index as well. Now would also be a good time to get in touch with your local Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution chapter to ask for help connecting the dots to your suspected patriots.

Universe Today featured Five Space and Astronomy Activities to do at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak. You can choose from Re-live Apollo 13 in Real Time, Citizen Science, Astronomy Outdoors, and Read and Listen. Slooh.com, Space.com, and NASA’s interactive Solar System Exploration are also excellent places to sharpen your space skills. There are also a great many space-related videos on YouTube (due to the classes and educational shows on YouTube alone, boredom should not exist). How ’bout some honey in zero-g or the Wired interview with Chris Hadfield that discusses if space smells like burnt steak.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society is offering free webinars for another 10 days or so. Some free genealogy courses are listed at Lisa Lisson’s site as well. Washington State has the nation’s best Digital Archives at a state level. Start clicking around and enjoy!

The American Battlefield Trust offers virtual tours of Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields. Seeing King’s Mountain on that site this morning was profound. My ancestor and his four young brothers fought in the Battle of King’s Mountain. One was killed, one was “shot through” but recovered, and my forebear was nearly killed but lived to a very old age.

The Battlefield Trust employs that fascinating 360-degree interactive technology that allows you to explore every nook and cranny of a site. Much closer to home, Seattle Now & Then often does that too. The articles, archives, photography, and other bonuses from Dorpat & Co. are engrossing. From their sidebar you can enter other portals such as the Globe Radio Repertory, where you can listen to dramatized versions of classic literature. That gem is parked on the Internet Archive, which could keep you busy until our sun burns out.

Collective Evolution posted How Your Kids and You Can Learn and Explore the World for Free While Quarantined. This mentions museums, but includes virtual aquariums, opera, symphonies, and world landmarks that you can visit courtesy of the world wide web. I like how they are emphasizing music– today’s kids may think music is a snap track with a scantily clad auto-tuned 20 year-old wailing about her first world problems. There is a whole ocean of actual music out there.

There are undoubtedly many more opportunities to absorb beauty, wonder, and knowledge online. Know of a good website? Please a link in the comments section. With this bottomless pit of information at our fingertips, there’s no excuse for being bored. If we lose the power grid as well, there are these wonderful objects called books which also contain endless enlightenment. Books are easy on the eyes, don’t need batteries, and can go just about anywhere with you.

Now you can’t be bored! Sir Isaac Newton’s Self-Quarantine tells how Newton’s time alone led to some of his most world-changing discoveries. Perhaps you or your kid are the next Newton. There is much more to you than you know. What divinely deposited gifts lie within, veins of talent that have been waiting for a pause in your life to be discovered?

Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths.

Epictetus

3/23/20: The Smithsonian came out with this mega-list of extreme awesomeness, 68 Cultural, Historical and Scientific Collections You Can Explore Online: Tour world-class museums, read historic cookbooks, browse interactive maps and more.

3/24/20: Did you know this about Shakespeare? Shakespeare and the Plague


©2020 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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Wow. Check out this powerful post from The Irish Aesthete, one of my all-time favorite blogs. Author Robert O’Byrne quotes an excerpt from the prayer known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, otherwise known as the Lúireach Phádraig or Faeth Fiada.

The photography and thoughts on The Irish Aesthete are impeccably researched and brilliant. O’Byrne has done his entire country a service by meticulously documenting the condition of countless historic properties, many of which lie in ruin. His zeal for heritage conservation has always inspired me. His attention to detail is phenomenal.

Because of his blog post, I looked up the full text of this prayer:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

Because I enjoy hearing hymns and prayers in my ancestors’ mother tongues, I wondered what this sounds like in Irish.

St. Patrick, by the way, was not Irish. His native language would have been Cornish, Breton, Welsh, or Cumbric as he was taken to Ireland from Brittania as a slave. He later returned to Ireland to spread Christianity. There is speculation that the patron saint of Ireland was a Welshman (Cymru am byth!). The original color associated with him is blue, but here in America, we unabashedly parade in all things green.

It seems quite unreal that the Seattle area won’t be able to gather at the usual spots for St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow as restaurants, bars, and most social gathering places are closed by order of the governor. Gatherings of more than 50 are prohibited. But by all means, celebrate wherever you find yourself. About 33 million Americans claim Irish heritage, yet we like to say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. The more the merrier.

Here’s a little something to get you started from a Celtic punk band from Sweden fronted by an Irishman (!). Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!

From the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Cabo Roig, Spain Facebook page

©2020 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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The National Archives and Records Administration building in Seattle is slated for closure, which could send countless invaluable records, including tribal records, out of state and far away.

To understand the purpose of this building and why it’s important to keep these records in our state, please see Seattle Now & Then: National Archives and Records Administration on Sand Point Way, 1960.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has an extensive page of news links and resources that include how to contact government officials. Wyman is also floating the idea of locating the NARA records next to the new Washington State Archives building in Olympia when it is built. Please feel free to contact her to express your support.

This is an important nonpartisan issue that needs the support of millions of Washingtonians. Please makes your voices heard.

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If the Ericksen House in Bothell, Washington isn’t moved in March, it will be destroyed. The house and its neighbor have been sitting there patiently waiting for someone to move them. But despite being *FREE*, as in, COMPLETELY FREE BUILDINGS, no one has come for them.

I wrote about these buildings in last October’s Necrotic Bothell. Trying to get anyone organized or excited about this has been like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. Or throwing popcorn at a rubber shower curtain.

It doesn’t look like this property has been treated with very much respect. This is where I began a particular book collection as a kid, so it’s always been a special spot for me for that and other reasons.

Do you believe in miracles? In last minute saves? I do. Join me in hoping that some benevolent soul will step forward and give these buildings a new life in a safe place. Soon.

This just underscores the disheartening lack of support for historic preservation in the greater Seattle area. There are a great many wealthy people around here, but it seems like it’s mostly us regular folk who get involved in trying to save our significant structures.

While I’m on this topic, the historians and genealogists among us are abuzz about the federal government’s decision to close the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) building in Seattle. This would send this priceless collection to California! (Insert primal scream and wild gesticulation here.)

Please RAISE YOUR VOICE. Tell our elected officials, NARA, etc. that removing such a facility from Seattle altogether is NOT OKAY. Please take a moment to learn more about this and find out who to contact. Many of these materials were already brought here from Alaska and none of it should be moved out of our state. This affects our local tribes as well.

Rumor has it the big guns, the titans of Seattle history, will be speaking out on this soon. Follow their lead. This is definitely a time at which locals need to rise up and find a viable alternative that will allow these records to stay in the area.


©2020 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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In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself. No one cares twopence about any one else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history… That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts.

C.S. Lewis

“When did this become a thing?” I asked myself indignantly. I’d always hoped that as we Gen Xers progress through life, we would grow out of our myopic high school cliques. In high school and even long before, I was appalled at the cruelty kids could show those who were unlike themselves. To be accepted by the cliques, you had to conform, and that often meant dialing down your empathy to outsiders to fit in.

The obvious answer is that it’s always been a thing. The thing being to ostracize, mock, and isolate ourselves from those who are different than us. We find it safer, simpler, easier to coexist with people who look like, act like, believe like ourselves than who have different hair, different brands of clothing, different politics.

In the 2010s there was a disturbing resurgence of high school politics amongst adults. We argued about who started it, with both sides pointing their fingers at each others’ leaders and actions. Now, locally at least, it’s in vogue to treat those of different belief systems as lesser. Simply saying that someone is different from us doesn’t suffice; we might now consider them inferior, as if their faith choices or party preferences make them a substandard hominid.

Those who know me personally know that I have strong views on topics like faith and politics– and there are times when I come down like a thunderbolt on matters of principle. That is the glory of the First Amendment and a free country, that we have the precious right to speak openly and publicly. My beliefs come from a lifetime of hard knocks and a desire to see people unchained from governance, philosophies, and ideologies that limit their autonomy and identity.

Friends know this about me and respect my freedom to do so. They know they are free to disagree. They are aware that my loyalty to them does not depend on their approval of my ballot or latest blog post. I can treat them with respect even when their views are the polar opposite of mine. If the friendship no longer works, we are free to move along. You win some, you lose some, yet those who stick around are generally the ones you’re the most authentic with.

In matters of love, it is imperative that we find someone who shares our values. That is a separate conversation. But in matters of friendship, when in our adult lives, as we ripen and grey, did it become cool to disassociate from those who don’t share our political and religious views? It’s quite normal for our closest friends, the knights of our round table, to share some of our deepest beliefs. Yet why can’t we have friends who share our interests and not our faith or party?

This trend perplexes me. Some of my most cherished friends and family have very different beliefs than my own. We’ve been together too long, or been through too much together, to talk about politics and religion when we have precious time together. We may campaign for radically different candidates and might never set foot inside each others’ religion. We might have moral or ethical reasons for not supporting each others’ stuff. That “stuff” is not what our relationship’s about, though. We love each other as we are and stay off the contentious topics that could divide us. They understand that I’m outspoken about my “stuff” and I respect their right to be outspoken about theirs.

In the Seattle area, being of a certain political persuasion can result in stereotypes, assumptions, and just weird behavior. “Oh you’re one of those,” I’ve heard. I can be having a wonderful conversation, then the other person realizes I’m not necessarily in agreement with their preferred presidential candidate. Suddenly a hilarious and warm discussion becomes strained when I’m “outed.” I don’t see how that has anything to do with the commonalities we share or that it’s even relevant to the conversation. But it’s a thing, a measuring stick that judges our friendship compatibility quotient.

Similarly, there are times I’m deep in a jocular dialogue with those who are closer to my political beliefs, but then I’ll mention a cause I’m passionate about and lose them. Some of the causes I’m most involved with tend to be considered more “the others'” causes– such as animals and nature. Inwardly I’m thinking, “I’m sorry, why do I have to be exactly like you to be worth your time?” I never thought I’d see this dynamic escalate as I veer towards middle age. It’s like High School, Part Deux.

I love a good debate. Not an argument, but a reasoned, logical, articulate back and forth that fleshes out the fundamentals of an issue. I don’t mind intelligent debate with friends when the primary goal is to understand each other rather than change each others’ minds. However, when is the last time you saw a true Lincoln-Douglas exchange on a political stage? Instead, candidates attack each other personally– “moron!” “putz!” “bastard!”– rather than offering rational explanations of how they will try to fix current affairs. In like manner, we emulate this, attacking people personally instead of explaining our values and convictions. It’s spreading. It’s scary.

Why ostracizing those different from ourselves is so serious is that it could cause a new civil war. It’s certainly caused a social chasm in the Seattle area. This isn’t being a doomsayer, this is calling out the reality of what this growing problem could cost us. If we turn on our family and friends for not being our clones, we’re lost. If we cut off communication because someone doesn’t vote the same, we’ll become even more suspicious of them. If we are a member of a non-religious or non-political organization or circle of friends, and start bringing politics and religion into it, we could shatter the group and its mission.

We all belong to organizations or circles of friends that share our values. That’s where our values are affirmed and we can fight for what we believe is right. But those are not the only islands we should live on. We’re part of a larger community, state, country that must hang together or assuredly will hang separately as Ben Franklin said. If people in my historical circles begin to associate only with those who agree with themselves politically, for example, we’ve just cut out some of the strongest advocates of preservation. We lose our effectiveness. If a cultural organization, united because of descent from a particular ethnic group, starts making one side of the political spectrum or the other feel unwelcome, the group could lose its under 50 crowd and become obsolete.

We have Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and all manner of venues via which we can blare our steadfast convictions to the world. I do. Those I like and love know they can take it or leave it. I love sharing my reasons for not giving up no matter the odds and why I believe in a life after this. I want them to have hope and know that nothing is impossible. It is not a requirement for my friendship or devotion, though. No one at a holiday meal has to plow through a 2500-word diatribe on my defense of Civil War monuments before we eat. It is not relevant to the occasion. If politics and religion do come up, then I believe in equal air time. If it becomes a one-sided bashing session, one may tactfully switch topics and redirect those present to a more joyful subject.

You can be passionate, outspoken, contentious, outraged, and risk public ridicule while doing so without being a jerk to your friends personally. I fear that being able to exercise one’s rights while maintaining relationships with those who disagree is becoming a lost art. We can value what we have in common, what drew us together in the first place, and not discuss the topics the knives come out over when it’s not necessary.

Some of the men and women I most admire don’t share my politics or religion. I admire them because of their expertise, their kindness, and very often, their outlandish humor. Being in their presence makes me more joyful and more knowledgeable. Their positive qualities help others be better human beings. Why would you not want to be around funny and smart people? Because they voted for the other guy? I understand maintaining certain ethical boundaries with others and severing toxic relationships. But in general, why can’t you go grab a cold one and kick back with someone who voted for the other guy?

Life would be very boring indeed if we limited our interactions to people who looked, talked, or voted like ourselves. Being exposed to other viewpoints challenges me to improve my rational defenses of my own “stuff” as well. Friends can offer constructive criticisms, help us practice empathy, and aid in building bridges to be able to mutually problem solve with people who aren’t like us. If one of Washington’s five volcanoes blows, I’m not going to run solely to those who worked on an initiative with me, I’m going to seek out the best qualified people to help my community survive.

We can hold to our values, fight for our freedoms, and still cherish diversity in our friends. A true friend knows us as we are and enjoys what we have in common. We have geek culture friends, workout friends, church friends, service organization friends, book club friends, foodie friends, slow stroll in the woods while discussing existential crises friends. We have friends for all reasons, all seasons. Plus those aforementioned morons and putzes and bastards might be the best cycling partner or the most well-connected advocate to advance your ministry to the homeless.

Imagine how bland and colorless life would be if only the Republicans were allowed to go to restaurants with you, or the gym was only open to Democrats, or only Libertarian friends were allowed to call you at 2 in the morning when they had a startled-from-their sleep-level epiphany about their third to last passionate romantic entanglement. It’s also noteworthy that those whose “stuff” we disagree with often have the deepest scars in common with us, be it betrayal, abuse, or abandonment. Survivors come in all shapes and sizes.

Yes, there are limits to what we can tolerate and I am not equating all values or belief systems. There are many dangerous people in this world as well, people who take advantage of our kindnesses and good deeds. We can and should pay attention to that gut instinct that tells us we are playing with fire. I am saying that we can practice a little more respect and empathy for those around us. We can be strong advocates for our causes and still be able to work with those with differing views.

The bottom line is that we can have friendships that are founded upon non-political and non-religious interests. It may not be fashionable to do so, but we will become an increasingly polarized and suicidal nation if that keeps slipping away.


Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.

Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.

Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus

©2020 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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Perseverance and Spirit have done Wonders in all ages.

George Washington

Presidents’ Day in Seattle this year was an unusually sunny Monday flecked with dramatic clouds. As they do every year, the Sons, Daughters, and Children of the American Revolution gathered on the University of Washington campus to pay tribute to its namesake along with compatriots from other historic organizations. For those who don’t know, membership in the SAR, DAR, and CAR are open to all who can prove lineal descent from a man or woman who served in or supported the American Revolution.

The morning’s festivities began in Kane Hall with local historian, photographer, author, teacher (in short, polymath– is there something he can’t do?) Jean Sherrard presenting photos and commentary from the acclaimed Seattle Now & Then. In 2018, Sherrard and the godfather of Seattle history, Paul Dorpat, published this epic collection of historic photos accompanied by modern views taken from the same vantage point. It’s a tome that allows you to stand in the present and gaze back into the past simultaneously. The contrasts between now and then are educational, enriching, emotional, and jarring all at once.

Sherrard was accompanied by veteran journalist, editor, photographer, et cetera Clay Eals, but not Paul Dorpat. Dorpat was unable to attend as we’d hoped. That meant we would miss the Felix-Oscar dynamic. If you’ve heard Sherrard and Dorpat speak together as they often do, they play off of each other like old married comedians. They come from different eras, but in a Statler-Waldorf-esque fashion they wryly ping topics back and forth as they explain the context of each image on the screen. It becomes even funnier when they rely on Eals to interject. (Thinking of you, Paul!)

Sherrard’s resonant voice and deep well of knowledge is more than enough to keep this presentation engaging on his own, though. He has the bearing and gravitas of a Founding Father which made this especially appropriate on a national holiday. He also has the timing of a seasoned stand-up comic, so his discourse on architecture like the Sinking Ship Parking Garage causes you to wonder if you’re at Laughs or the local historical society. It cracks me up when I see people looking around as if they didn’t expect history to be funny.

You’ll never look at local landmarks and relics the same way after you attend a Dorpat-Sherrard event. You might even find yourself ridiculously motivated to save such things. I encourage you to subscribe to their blog, where they post often and feature Sherrard’s photographs, which cannot be described as anything less than pulchritudinous. Some people take pictures. Others gaze into the soul of their subject and make you feel as if you’re witnessing more than a mere mortal should be allowed to see.

After having our minds blown in Kane Hall, we marched westward to the more than 100 year-old statue of George Washington in Red Square. This statue, as I’ve discussed in previous posts, was made possible by the Daughters of the American Revolution and local schoolchildren. It’s fitting that we return every year to honor our first president. As is the case with all presidents, he was not a perfect man, but there is no such thing, and he is unique in the annals of history. I am proud to honor an imperfect man, whose courage helped birth our nation, as my ancestors did.

Both men and women serve in the SAR Fife and Drum Corps. The amount of work they do and the number of events they attend each year is astounding.

Here the SAR color guard is setting up. Note the period uniforms. Every piece of equipment and clothing, every flag has colonial roots and a meaning.

One year when these men brought their muskets, someone called the police. A UW canine unit showed up, and most of our photos from that year show the officer and dog posing with us. This year we didn’t have any such incidents. We always appreciate the students and passersby who stop to participate. Someone inevitably asks, “what are you doing?” We’re happy to explain. We’re also thrilled when they ask for help researching their genealogy so they can join.

Which century was this photo taken in? If it weren’t for the no skateboarding sign, or whatever it is, this could easily be another place and time.

Look who that is. On the right. By George, it’s George. It was somewhat of a transcendental experience to watch George Washington standing before… George Washington to pay tribute. This George knows himself exceedingly well and participates in a variety of events.

Mid-ceremony, some loquacious seagulls caused us to look skyward where there were not one, but two bald eagles cruising directly over our event. This picture only shows one, but what a glorious and significant unscheduled flyby! This was especially meaningful given a discussion about the symbolism of eagles a few days before.

The organizations present take turns lying wreaths at the foot of the statue.

Blur out a couple of background details and you could once again picture this in the late 18th century.

Another joyful aspect to this year’s ceremony was the perfect amount of wind that unfurled the flags as we took photos. The weather can be too cold, too wet, too icy, too breezy, but this year was just right.

Looking good, S, T, V, General Washington, & co.!

As the ceremony was concluding, our great bronze orb suddenly darkened. Looking to the south, we saw this resplendent dragon billowing eastward.

You can see the eye, snout, fire, legs, and wing. I was in awe of this behemoth, bestial cumulus. It didn’t occur to me until later why this, too, was significant. The Green Dragon Tavern in Boston was known as the Headquarters of the Revolution.

Oh Creator, I love your sense of humor. And I love that these men, women, and children come together in nonpartisan organizations to promote history, unity, patriotism, and education regardless of their differences. That ability to love one another as we are and act together for the common good is the glue that holds this democratic republic together. I pray that it continues for centuries more.


©2020 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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