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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Bothell’s Yakima Fruit Market is a family-owned business that has been around for 81 years. Sound Transit intends to put a bus lane right through it. Please stop by and grab a postcard to send to Sound Transit in the interest of saving this Bothell institution.

Right now it seems like Bothell is destroying all of its traditional community gathering places to be more urban, worldly, and generic. Country Village is gone. If the Ericksen House and Carriage House, the only two buildings left standing there after demolition, are not moved by April, they too will be gone forever. We should not lose the Yakima Fruit Market too. Let’s fight for our neighbors!

KING 5 wrote a story on this last month. Please take a moment to visit the market for pumpkins, Uncle Harry’s personal products, apple cider, an amazing array of produce, fall flowers, many local grocery items, nuts and snacks, and cool YFM t-shirts, buttons, and posters. The staff is friendly, the produce is always top notch, and the property is sprinkled with unique carvings and photo ops.

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Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

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©2019 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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Tuesday, March 12th, 2019. Kirkland, Washington. As traffic screams by on Kirkland Way south of NE 85th Street I pull into a gravel parking lot to get a better view of an old white house on the east side. When I’d passed it the previous weekend I wondered why I hadn’t investigated it before. I don’t go down that particular road much.

The house was clearly old with some odd newer accessories like the rickety deck. King County Assessor’s records say it was built in 1918. A quick look through online documents revealed that this was associated with, and possibly built by, an old Kirkland family, the Wolds. Thanks to Kirkland historian Matt McCauley for recognizing the surname.

This grand old house, which would have been large for its time, sits on a little bluff looking west at Lake Washington. McCauley said a local organization has a photo from the 1920s taken from this house showing ships in the lake. It must have had quite a view.

This upper window with its cheery blue trim almost looks like silhouettes of cartoon characters… with a strange purple tie and some sort of texting and driving warning.

What a place this must have been in its prime. You can just imagine Norman Rockwell-like turkey dinners in the family-filled dining room with a 1942 Willys Americar parked outside.

This is the north side of the lot, soon to become more soulless boxes. Our region is obsessed with human hamster hutches, building trendy boxes on tiny lots. I dread and already loathe what will likely come next as 101 years of this home’s history is scraped away and the trees are all torn down. Its wild residents will be evicted and have to scurry to already occupied neighboring land.

“Who knows if this will be here tomorrow?” I thought. I decided to take a quick walk up the driveway to document this piece of Kirkland history for posterity’s sake.

At least two types of Christmas lights still hang off this funny deck.

The front of the house. How quaint, how rare. This is a dying breed. There are only about 73,000 Americans who are as old as this house or older. That’s about the population of downtown Denver. Very few of them are likely to remember 1918. But this house does.

Looking west towards Kirkland Way and Lake Washington. Across the street is a dated commercial building that seems to be the hub for a moving company. Look at the stately old evergreen draped over the right part of the photo. This might be the last time you ever see it.

Evidently there have been problems here. Squatters, perhaps. Maybe it was a party house. It’s deemed unsafe.

This beautiful little tree and its elder siblings will likely soon be gone.

Some sort of overgrown creek runs across the south border of the property. I also noticed water running down the driveway. Looking at a map, this house straddles two addresses, 131 and 135. But its original address was 205 Cedar Street. It sits between busy Kirkland Way and idyllic Cedar Street.

For some strange reason I was glad to be there that particular day. I had to be there. It was like it was calling to me.

This foray into the past prompted me to think about another house almost as old. Behind the Zip Market on the west side of Market Street is an early 1920s house that seems to be in reasonable shape. It has an upstairs and downstairs with a huge backyard. The backyard has some sort of massive shelter in it that looks like you could store a ship underneath. Right next door is the sickly green wall of the Zip Market and assorted Himalayan blackberries.

To contrast this 1920s home with a neighbor, this is the palatial spread across the street. Kirkland is seeing these old cute homes torn down and giant, modern structures put in their place. It’s a wonder the smaller house is still there.

Kirkland doesn’t have a lot of old homes left as developers are inhaling our history and building boxes. Some of our oldest homes don’t have any historic protections. They can be torn down before anyone notices or has a chance to save them. This jewel, whose name escapes me at the moment, was built the year Washington became a state, 1889. Bless the people who care for this landmark.

Fast forward to the afternoon of Friday, March 22nd, 2019, today. I just happened to mention “the old white house above Kirkland Way” at work. I was told, “they’ve torn half of that down.”

What??!!! I ran over there after work and this gruesome scene was seared into my corneas. No wonder I had such an urge to photograph this place just 10 days ago.

No……… once again a piece of Kirkland’s history fades silently into the past without many noticing and even fewer caring.

The Seattle area had temperatures in the high 70s this week which is exceedingly odd. It was warm enough today and sunny until about 30 minutes before I got off work. Immediately upon exiting my car to take these photos it began to rain.

No one was on site. The mechanical executioner assigned to this home’s destruction was silent. Yet the house had been disemboweled, a gigantic gash leaving its once private insides exposed to the elements.

Besides the wise trees that seemed to be trying to guard it from prying eyes, the first thing I noticed was the cool old door just hanging into space. Why aren’t such elements salvaged before the house is torn down? I feel so strongly about this that I made a call to find out who the demolition company is and left them a message asking what I have to do to rescue any old architectural features, like doors and doorknobs, even if I have to dig them out of the rubble.

It’s like it’s missing half its face, a wounded sentinel staring westward, knowing another volley will come yet still standing proudly.

Besides the revolting swastika, which was originally called in Sanskrit “conducive to well being” before the Nazis got a hold of it, this is a fascinating cross section showing how the house was built. Look at that old wood. It would have been so much better if someone would have salvaged and repurposed some of it.

This also reminded me of what houses could look like in a strong enough earthquake. We have five active volcanoes in Washington, two of which are highly dangerous, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. Earthquakes could trigger them and vice versa.

Some of us remember the May 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens well. That was a beautiful Sunday morning. When we woke up the next day it was like we’d landed on the moon because everything was covered in ash.

I took a few pictures trying to read the title of the book and to see what else is in there. Is it a Tom Clancy book? A light, a stuffed animal, a laundry basket…

It just now occurred to me which book that is. That’s Till Armageddon: A Perspective on Suffering by Billy Graham! That is profound. If you’ve never read or listened to Billy Graham, you’re missing out.

No one is exempt from the touch of tragedy: neither the Christian nor the non-Christian; neither the rich nor the poor; neither the leader nor the commoner. Crossing all racial, social, political, and economic barriers, suffering reaches out to unite mankind.

Billy Graham, Till Armageddon

Billy Graham wrote that in 1981. The premise of the book is that no one is exempt from suffering, but God can use suffering and provide comfort and solutions. He also discusses how our present sufferings ultimately won’t compare with the coming glory.

Ironically, Billy Graham was born in 1918, the same year this house was built. He graduated to glory just over a year ago.

Probably every one of those nails was driven by hand.

Is that a stuffed dog? A fake pineapple? Who gave who the card that came in the yellow envelope? I noticed two photos ago that the white paper begins “Lord.” I can’t make out the green paper. There is another book buried in there. Who were you? Why were you suffering? What are you seeking?

Note the dangling mouse.

101 years it stood. Had it not been neglected it might still be here. Tonight part of it is. Tomorrow there might be no trace.

This link says this property was sold for $800,000 in July of 2015.

Rare development opportunity in the City of Kirkland! RM 3.6 zoning allows for detached, attached or stacked dwelling units for maximum density. Close to the interstate. All utilities on site. Easy access to property from Kirkland Way and surrounded by multi-family units.

And that’s exactly what keeps happening: maximum density. Our tax burden is so heavy and property values so through the roof that we keep building on tiny lots reaching towards the sky. Alarmingly, our overtaxed infrastructure hasn’t hardly grown with the development boom. The same crowded roads are expected to handle tens of thousands more people and their many vehicles. They call this progress.

There was one bright spot during this sorrowful goodbye. Do you see it?

Bursting from the western slope, a clump of daffodils laughs like it’s still 1955 and the family’s coming to grandma’s for meatloaf and apple pie. I wanted to rescue them, to transplant them to a safer place. But now I realize that they are laughing in the face of Armageddon.

As the old trees groan in anticipation of tractors and chainsaw blades and the ground realizes it will soon be bearing a much heavier burden, these daffodils are a reminder of happier times. They are a final burst of defiance and a reminder that one day nature will reclaim this land.

101 years this house lasted, a century and a year. In 1918 German U-Boats were sinking ships, the Spanish flu pandemic began, and curiously, the Ottomans and Germans found themselves surrounded by Allenby’s British and French forces at the Battle of Megiddo. Tel Megiddo in Greek is Ἁρμαγεδών, most commonly known in its corrupted version as Armageddon. Besides being a place and the prophesied location of a hellish future battle, it can be defined as an event of great destruction.

205 Cedar Street is quietly enduring its Armageddon as its neighbors race by and barely notice.

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The reality is that old houses that were built a hundred years ago were built by actual craftsmen, people who were the best in the world at what they did. The little nuances in the woodwork, the framing of the doors, the built-in nooks, the windows—all had been done by smart, talented people, and I quickly found that uncovering those details and all of that character made the house more inviting and more attractive and more alive.

Joanna Gaines

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©2019 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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Rainier Viking Festival 2018 31

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.

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Kirkland Fire 9-12-18 1

“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.

 

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Veterans Day 11-10-17 13
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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Trueblood House 8-17 1

Disney Pixar’s Up House

August 15th, 2017: It happened! One year from when Kirkland’s historic Trueblood House last moved, it finally landed in its permanent home. Thank you to the amazing new owners who made room for it and took on the expense.

Today’s journey began here on the southeast corner of 1st Street and 7th Avenue where the house has been moored in a church parking lot atop a trailer.

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Looking south about 12:40 P.M., you can see the preparations being made for the house’s move around the corner.

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Later on… thar she blows!

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It certainly isn’t every day that you see a house in the middle of the street, especially a late 19th century structure complete with a stained glass window.

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Note the balloons. They are a color-appropriate homage to the Up house! What a cheery and festive touch.

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Here Nickel Brothers moving begins to navigate the turn east onto 6th Avenue.

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They couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather.

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See the house. The house is relatively level. Onlookers are making predictions as to how long the house will stay in the street.

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Then– GAAHHH!!! The house suddenly began tilting to the left as a gathering crowd collectively gasped. Was the house falling off the trailer?!

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Oh, it looks like it’s tipping, doesn’t it? Evidently the trailer has hydraulics and they shifted the house to navigate past the massive maple on the south side. As you can see from the branches lying on the sidewalk on the left side, that tree got an impromptu haircut to facilitate safe passage as well. Also note the downspout on the right that caught on the tree. It didn’t fall off.

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Now it’s about 3:40 P.M. and the house is being backed into its new lot. This shot shows just some of the many trucks involved in the move. Communications lines had to be taken down and put back up, there were pilot cars– many different companies helped make this possible.

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It really does look like it’s going to float away.

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These workers kept cutting boards and placing boards and making sure everything was perfect as the house was slooowly backed into position. Note that the house is suspended over a huge hole in the ground. More on that soon.

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Just beyond that center bush is a refrigerator that was said to have come out of the old house. Not only was it handy stadium seating for this event, but a cohort remarked that it was also the ultimate cooler.

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Then the move became even more interesting as this big boy was backed in to assist.

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This was a great moment I almost didn’t catch. One of the movers brought balloons over to this mini-onlooker who was rocking his own PPE. Because this was taken on private property, children’s faces are omitted, but it still captures the joy.

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The behemoth newcomer was chained to the trailer to assist as the first truck backed up.

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So much work went into this move. Some people stayed for hours watching the carefully choreographed moving mambo.

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Here you finally have a sense of the yawing abyss. There were men down in there keeping an eye on things as the house sometimes creaked and shuddered into place.

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There it is. This is a cause of rejoicing for the local community, especially the local history buffs.

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The cavalcade of bucket trucks put wires back up with amazing speed. This is one of the last lines to be restrung.

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They had to get it just right before leaving for the night.

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As I texted to friends, “It’s sitting on giant Jenga blocks, then plywood, then the trailer.” The cribbing is holding an estimated 60 tons. Although the primary truck will stay hooked up to the trailer overnight, it is due on a ferry by tomorrow afternoon. So work will begin again in the morning.

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Overall, this was a fantastic experience. Thank you to the new owners for their hospitality and for saving a landmark. Kirkland’s first doctors lived in this home and some of those in attendance had lived in it for years to decades as well. This is a well loved house and I’m grateful that– albeit in an enhanced version (you’ll see)– it will live on.

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Russell: [reading from his scout handbook in monotone] Good afternoon. My name is Russell, and I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54, Sweatlodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross the street.

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross your yard.

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross your… porch?

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: Well, I gotta help you cross *something*!

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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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Upside Down American Flag 2

Today in Seattle tensions are mounting as a group of people demand the removal of a Confederate monument in Lake View Cemetery. This happens from time to time. You might remember Destroying the Seattle Confederate Memorial  from two years ago in which I mention the diverse parties involved in its dedication.

Earlier today I was informed that Lake View Cemetery might be somehow obscuring this monument in response to calls to remove it, so I called to ask for the facts before I commented. Lake View has respectfully removed vulgarities from this monument over the years just as they would from any monument there. Evidently they’ve been very busy so it will likely take them some time to answer. I should add that they are consistently responsive and helpful, and that this famed burial ground houses people from all walks.

This afternoon I noticed that a story written by a major Seattle news source reported that the inscription on this memorial says “Erected by Robert E. Lee.” It was almost funny because Lee died 56 years before this monument was placed. But this omission of the rest of the inscription, intentional or not, was potentially inflammatory. We don’t need more fuel on the fire of civil unrest. The actual inscription reads “Erected by Robert E. Lee Chapter Number 885 United Daughters of the Confederacy 1926” prefaced by “In Memory of the United Confederate Veterans.”

Because of this omission I contacted this news source and asked if they would correct this on a factual basis. I pointed out that the modern UDC is very clear about standing against racism– in other words, know these women before you criticize them. What followed left me gobsmacked. This is not verbatim but it does convey the sentiment.

I was told that anything supporting the Confederacy supports white supremacy, racism, and slavery. I said, “So anyone who supported the Confederacy is white supremacist, racist, and pro-slavery?” His answer: yes.

“What about the larger issue of secession?” I asked. (No answer.) I was told that the South fought to keep slavery alive. I believe I said something about expecting more factual reporting and objectivity, but anyway, asked if they would correct their article, politics aside. I haven’t even looked to see if they did after this experience.

That belief, that anyone who supported the Confederacy is white supremacist, racist, and pro-slavery, underscores the ignorance and assumptions that are dividing our country in two. We are losing the republic by not having our facts straight and not respecting other citizens’ freedoms. Angry, self-righteous, narrow-mindedness that denies others freedom of speech and expression will be the death of our union if we don’t get a grip.

Freedom of Speech 1

In my Generation Xer lifetime I’ve witnessed a remarkable shift from critical thinking, fact-checking, and intelligent civil discourse to politics and activism based more on emotions like anger. Facts seem to have become increasingly unimportant. It’s now hip to wield a broad brush and make scathing generalizations about anyone who disagrees with you, attacking people rather than policy or politics.

In the age of social media we go online calling others Nazis, fascists, racists, bigots, and haters not because they actually are those things, but because these are the labels we slap on those who disagree with us. The frightening aspect to this, one that threatens civilization, is that we are losing track of– or don’t care– what these terms actually mean. Merriam and Webster seem to be anachronistic relics of a less enlightened era.

Nazism advocates totalitarianism. What is totalitarianism? The state rules. The state makes the rules. The state gets total control. Nazism is also equated with fascism. What is facism? It’s similar. The state rules, usually with a dictator at its head. There is no freedom to disagree and there is strict social and economic control. Some fascist states have ruled without employing terror but both ideologies might employ it. Racism tends to be more prevalent in totalitarianism. Scholars can debate the finer points all day but here’s the bottom line: Nazism, totalitarianism, and fascism are all about control and the state controlling individuals.

Here’s an example of irony: Antifrees. At least that’s what I call them. This Antifa group, claiming to be anti-fascist, labels those who disagrees with them fascists and then resorts to violence to protest “fascists.” Do you see what’s wrong with this picture? Antifa and similar organizations are the actual fascists by denying others’ individuals rights and using violence to try to force others into compliance. They are judge, jury, and executioner, showing no respect for the right to have a differing opinion in a free country.

Whatever they call themselves, this  and similar terroristic, thuggish, accusatory ideologies have been tried before. They’ve resulted in hundreds of millions of deaths. Call it totalitarianism, fascism, Nazism, Communism, or what have you, these systems of thought have the same basic idea that causes the same problems: one group has control of a nation and it crushes dissenters. This is accomplished by polarizing and punishing those who advocate for individual rights. These are unquestionably undemocratic philosophies as well.

Note that if you label someone “extreme right,” and they’re just a Reagan Republican who believes in less government, you’re way off. Isms want more government and fewer rights. Isms exist at either side of the traditional political spectrum. A better version of the spectrum would be to put all the liberties-sucking, control-driven, dictatorial ideas on one end and little to no government or governmental control on the other. Extreme isms always bring death. So can anarchy. Stay away from those edges.

How about the ‘phobes? It is hip right now to call someone a ______phobe if they disagree with you. If you speak out against elements of Islam that contradict our Constitution or disregard women’s, human, or animal rights, you an Islamophobe. What is a phobia? It’s an extreme, irrational fear. Irrational implies that there’s little to no logical basis for that fear. It’s just a knee jerk reaction that’s likely unfounded and unfair. It doesn’t matter if you track human rights violations like female genital mutilation or domestic violence; you speak out on one issue, you’re a ‘phobe on all counts.

Xenophobe is another term thrown around like popcorn in the bed of a ’64 pickup on a bumpy back road. You might be against immigration for financial reasons and want to take care of homeless veterans or the elderly or foster children in your own country first. But– shazam– you’re a xenophobe because you’re clearly against foreigners. Xenophobes shouldn’t be concerned with our astronomical national debt and the financial train wreck we are leaving our children.

How dare you take care of your own people first. Worse yet, you’ve shown the desire to put your nation first. You’re a patriotic nationalist! Nationalists surely must be racists. Using popular warped logic, that makes you a fascist! If you are a fascist, then you are a Nazi! This is the new math of politics. It doesn’t care about facts. It just accuses. You are an ist of every ilk no matter what you actually, factually believe.

Freedom of Speech 2

Then there’s the very popular label of “hater.” “Hate” has nearly lost its meaning. If you agree with the possibility that a local criminal is a sociopath, you’re a hater. If you advocate for punishment instead of reformation, you’re a hater. If you’re a churchgoer and peacefully disagree while showing respect to those different from you, but take a public stand on a moral issue, you’re a hater. “Choose love,” they say, using “love” as a reason to ostracize others.

It’s getting to the point that unless you agree that anything goes, you’re a hater. Superman’s Bizarro World where up is down and backwards is forwards is consuming our culture. True hate and intolerance are unacceptable to me. Calling someone a hater or intolerant because I disagree with them is just an excuse not to have a rational, constitutionally-based defense to my beliefs ready.

It is alarming to see a nation devolve into high school bullying. What happened to the ability to sit down and have a civil conversation with someone different than ourselves? Instead I see a profession that claims to be objective engaged in 24/7 obsession with manic oppression. The media seems to have gone mad, tilting at windmills, laser-focused on perceived slights when much larger injustices and issues plague our world.

After various media personalities become incensed, emotional, and loud, social media erupts with “so and so demolished or destroyed so and so.” I listen, and most of the time I just see a feelings-charged freak out with no real facts or logic behind it. Most of these tirades can’t even address the original “offense” point by point. It’s just lashing out. So-called entertainers do this night after night and people laud their rationale as if it’s the best way to fight against figures and philosophies they frown upon.

The current national climate is also like domestic violence: “You are what I say you are!” Remember that? For those who’ve been in abusive relationships, a huge portion of our population, you know what it’s like to be called filthy words you never deserved that bear no resemblance to reality. If anything, the abuser was projecting onto you words that described themselves. If you yell, “Fascist! Nazi! Bigot!” at me and try to shut me down because I have an opinion that is different from yours, think about that. Who’s trying to control who?

Most importantly, you don’t have to agree with what your neighbor/spouse/friend/congressman/coworker/pastor/teacher/pet sitter is saying. They have a right to freedom of speech and expression backed by the mighty U.S. Constitution. Yes, this is a constitutional right. You don’t have to be happy about it. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to listen or agree or applaud. That is your right. But you have no right to try and limit someone else’s rights. Your rights end where their nose begins. Their rights are just as important and guaranteed as yours.

Returning to the Confederacy issue that sparked this post, there is a swelling movement to tear down all Confederate monuments. Using the sanctimonious statement I encountered earlier today, all Confederate monuments are a celebration of white supremacy, racism, and slavery. On that note, tearing them down sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Why would anyone want to celebrate that? Hold on. Could there are have been other reasons for these monuments? Could these be freedom of speech? Have we bothered to read the history or understand why or are we just making assumptions to feel superior about ourselves?

Of course slavery is one of the horrors of human history. Speaking of that, there are more slaves now than there ever were before. How many of these masked protesters would go into battle to save even one trafficked girl? Per my Christian beliefs, racism is denying that we are all made in His image and have equal value. Devaluing or persecuting someone based on the color of their skin– as if they even control that!– is astoundingly ignorant. I’ve often said that supremacists of all shades need to go have DNA tests and, hello, Jesus wasn’t a white guy. I’m sure that most Americans agree that slavery, racism, and race-based supremacy are detrimental.

Because we generally agree that these things are bad, we want to erase symbols of them. But the cry to tear down Confederate memorials is ridiculously subjective. It dictates how others can or can’t memorialize their dead and their history. They say, “because it is Confederate, it needs to go!” Let’s try this logic on other quasi-random concepts:

-If the state of California were to successfully secede from the union, a movement largely driven by Progressives, then their names should be stricken from history and it should be illegal to memorialize this act in any way.

-The State of Washington should be renamed because George Washington owned slaves. So should D.C.

-Anyone who believed in preserving the union but owned slaves should not be considered a Unionist. Take down all likenesses.

-Any Southerner who fought out of loyalty to their family, state, or states’ rights is a supremacist bigot. None of them ever changed their views either.

-Because our English ancestors oppressed our Scottish ancestors– or our Arab ancestors sold our African ancestors into slavery– or insert any conflict between people groups on any continent– we should disavow that people group in its entirety. Don’t value anything admirable. They’re just evil.

-If I say you’re a racobigofascitotaliphobahateaholic, you are. Disregard the long-accepted and objective definitions of these terms and just go with it. It’s what the cool kids do.

-There’s a monument to William Henry Seward just next door to Lake View Cemetery in Volunteer Park. His family owned slaves. Should that statue be removed despite his own opposition to slavery and tremendous sacrifices on behalf on the Union? Some Alaskans didn’t want sculptures of what they deemed an imperialist white man in Juneau.

-If there’s a monument that offends me, I have the right to vandalize it, desecrate it, and tear it down, even over someone’s grave. Their remains and resting place are no longer sacred.

-It doesn’t matter if a monument is on private property. It should be subject to the same laws that public property is. (Totalitarianism, anyone? That distinction must remain.)

-Symbols of Christianity and Judaism are offensive to me as well as the Confederacy. I demand that those be taken down as well.

-Should we progress to book burning? Why not? (Does anyone see parallels to the “isms” here? See why some consider this Marxist revisionism?)

When does it stop? Where do we draw the line? This could go on and on. If it does, it becomes one group taking freedoms from others and dictating what is acceptable. They could even demand replacements that enshrine ideals and individuals that are just as offensive to huge groups of other Americans. Instead, we need to have dialogues, conversations, respectful exchanges. We need to study our history and stand in others’ shoes for a moment to try to understand where they’re coming from.

Freedom of Speech 3

I don’t have the right to go break anything I think is bigoted. If I did, I’d be down in Fremont right now taking a sledgehammer to the abhorrent monstrosity that is the Vladimir Lenin statute. Oh, no big deal, millions were murdered in the Red Holocaust, but it’s just a neat piece of art that blends nicely into Seattle’s kitsch. If it offends someone who came to America to escape such oppression, they just don’t get the joke.

As I said in another forum today, some of us have been telling Seattle to take the Lenin out of its own eye for a while. The hypocrisy of having Lenin there while demanding that other monuments be taken down bothers some more than the actual statue, which could be construed as an homage to one of humanity’s greatest mass murderers. Some have wondered if Ted Bundy and Hitler would be okay there too.

(It could be argued that the structure celebrates what was good about Lenin. Or it’s just art that’s well done. Alright, then please stay on that track when addressing other monuments.)

Broad brushes. Grandiose generalizations. Feelings freak outs. These can be lazy and disrespectful ways to get your points across. Many of you know not to try these tactics on your children– “You always do this!” “You overreact every time!” “You make me crazy!” Your kids will out logic you and/or suffer because you aren’t acting like an adult. It’s okay to use this behavior with adults you disagree with though?

We need to return to our roots. People will die if we continue to allow these subjective labels, violence, and terrorism to continue. Try empathy– understanding the backstory. Try respect– you can speak respectfully even during strong disagreements (think Lincoln-Douglas). Try objectivity– being true to the classic definitions of words and concepts we throw at others. Try having friends who believe differently than you and celebrate what you have in common instead. Try patriotism– being proud of the diverse people who make up this country and the checks and balances our differences provide.

Ultimately there are forces in this world that are savoring every moment of Americans turning on other Americans. If we divide ourselves, we destroy ourselves, making us subject to some other nation or coalition that is an ism– something that won’t value our rights or property or freedoms. Have you considered that we’re playing right into some greater evil’s hands by so flippantly labeling and deriding our neighbors?

Don’t be a useful idiot. Be a passionate individual who expresses yourself and intelligently speaks out for what you believe in. Exercise your American freedoms and use them to achieve justice for others. Having both strong Democrat and Republican role models growing up, I greatly admire people who blaze with enthusiasm for their core values and can advocate for them without alienating their neighbors. They are the people who draw varying opinions into conversations, not insult them and spit them out. They are the brave souls who actually achieve reform and change the world rather than dividing it.

I understand why some want the Confederate memorial in Lake View Cemetery removed. But I disagree with actually removing it. It would be removed on the basis that it’s about racism, white supremacy, and slavery. It is more than that. It is a part of our collective history, a history that should never be forgotten. Americans should be allowed to commemorate their ancestors and graves especially should be off limits. We should not cave in to terrorism and criminal behavior either. If this is taken down, it will just cause even bigger fires. And is this the best thing Seattle has to do considering the state of its mayoral office and widespread human suffering?

We are Americans. To survive we must stay united. We are allowing ourselves to be divided by petty preconceptions and money-making mayhem manufacturers. Allowing one side to issue orders to another about what is right and acceptable without any constructive dialogue or fact-checking is just unleashing the wrecking ball that will take us out. Leave the dead where they lie and focus on saving the living. Let’s leave future generations an intact democratic republic instead of a black hole.

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Update, 8/17/17: Here is verbiage from one of the online petitions demanding that the monument in Lake View come down. Note that these petitions claim that this monument was raised in the name of white supremacy– they are completely ignorant of the monument’s history. They obviously haven’t bothered to talk to the UDC or read their explicitly anti-racist creed. It’s their own version of reality, demanding that a structure on private property be subject to the same rules as public property.

How dare they blindly accuse this group of women as being white supremacist and racist. How dare they trample on others’ freedom of speech. They claim the monument serves no historical purpose– wow. One petition says that because you can see it from the road, it should be considered to be in the right-of-way and the land it’s on should be treated like a public place (!).

This is radical, dangerous thinking that ignores facts, didn’t even attempt to have a dialogue, and wants the government to force a private property owner to do their misinformed bidding. These sentiments are divisive and tear at the very bedrock of our Constitution. They have no right to prevent someone else from memorializing their people on private land. I’m sure some supporters mean well and are trying to do the right thing, but some just plain want to label and control other people’s business in some misguided quest to sanitize our nation of anything that disagrees with them. This has happened before, it got out of control, and hundreds of millions died.

This isn’t bigotry. This is history. Deal with it and stop falsely accusing others.

Erected in 1926 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, it was built to memorialize and commemorate the hate that ripped our country in two. It seeks to remind everyone that – despite losing a war – that White Supremacy is still alive and revered as a positive trait for (white) Americans to have. The fact that it still stands is a testament to how desperately White people clench to their race-based power.

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See also Rantz: On private statues, Murray should mind his own business

With respect to the mayor, he should mind his own business on political speech or historic symbolism when they’re erected on private property. It’s not the role of the government to chill free speech rights, even if we find it abhorrent. He knows he has no power to compel them to remove the memorial, so all this statement does is serve as a heavy-handed dose of virtue signaling that injects him into a national conversation that he should have no part in.

And perhaps, given the allegations against the Mayor, I’m not sure he should hold himself up there as a moral authority in any fight to stand up against oppressors.

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While Depeche Mode’s politics likely differ from my own, they knocked it out of the park with this song. This is the kind of fearless statement that can and should ignite constructive dialogues.

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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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