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Tonight while driving home I heard this song and was struck by its message. Let the past go… you don’t live there anymore. Walk into the new life being given to you.

I suspect that I’m not the only person who’ll be encouraged by this tonight. In Christ you are a new creation, a child of the Most High, and He wants His best for you.

You are good enough because of His grace. What happened before doesn’t matter. What you’ve done is forgiven. What matters now is that you trust Him enough to start to live again… and step into the amazing future He’s been planning for you since before you were born.

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Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. –C.S. Lewis

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©2016 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.

 

Vorticity

Gorgeous and spellbinding.

Rubberbands 7-16

At work.

Had recently bought a basket from the dollar store for our rubber bands.

Noticed an unopened package of colorful rubber bands. Mixed them into the bland-colored ones.

Somehow it’s mesmerizing.

Happy Treason Day 7-16

At a Fourth of July parade.

A brigade of Minis drives by.

One had these hilarious signs on his car.

No, it’s not about Brexit. It’s about us fierce rebel Americans deciding we were better off without colonial overlords.

Oh yeah.

Dinosaurs 6-16

Concluding a meeting at a historic house.

There’s a front garden. I wander towards the sound of splashing water.

There are dinosaurs in the fountain.

Shouldn’t all fountains have dinosaurs?

Thank you God for the little things that make life so interesting.

Those little things that bring laughter at unexpected moments.

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©2016 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.

 

Bravo Brexit

Union Jack

Kudos to my British cousins for putting their national security and therefore the well-being of their own people first, which is the foremost duty of a civilized nation.

Cue Andrew Roberts in the Wall Street Journal (h/t NWO):

Surely—surely—this is an issue on which the British people, and they alone, have the right to decide, without the intervention of President Obama, who adopted his haughtiest professorial manner when lecturing us to stay in the EU, before making the naked threat that we would be sent “to the back of the queue” (i.e., the back of the line) in any future trade deals if we had the temerity to vote to leave.

Was my country at the back of the line when Winston Churchill promised in 1941 that in the event of a Japanese attack on the U.S., a British declaration of war on Japan would be made within the hour?

Were we at the back of the line on 9/11, or did we step forward immediately and instinctively as the very first of your allies to contribute troops to join you in the expulsion of the Taliban, al Qaeda’s hosts, from power in Afghanistan?

Or in Iraq two years later, was it the French or the Germans or the Belgians who stood and fought and bled beside you? Whatever views you might have over the rights or wrongs of that war, no one can deny that Britain was in its accustomed place: at the front of the line, in the firing line. So it is not right for President Obama now to threaten to send us to the back of the line.

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©2016 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.

Clouds

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On the way home tonight I was in awe of the dramatic clouds sailing across the domed canopy of the sky. Somehow the heavens felt bigger as I watched these gargantuan airships hover over the hurried traffic of earth.

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Last night we had some astoundingly heavy rain spells. Before and after there were moments where the sun stabbed through the storm clouds in a brilliant contrast of light and dark. That weighty but thrilling electricity heralding a storm clung to the damp air.

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At times the skies looked like portals to a land beyond. You can imagine yourself running through the clouds, keeping up a furious pace so you don’t fall through. But if you do, you know that you will fly.

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The wind has been busy this week. This restless weather seems to be signaling some sort of shift, like some massive blessing is about to rage forth from the floodgates of heaven in measures we can scarcely comprehend.

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What do you see when you look at the clouds? I see freedom. I see hope. I’m reminded that no matter how lofty our aspirations, God is infinitely greater. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands said the Psalmist.

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How often as we race about our lives do we fail to look up? The sky is above us all the time, swirling and churning in a perpetually changing display of magnificence. Yet sometimes I fail to look up. When I do lift my head, I am released from the moment’s worries and just want to feel the sun or rain or fog on my face to remind me I’m alive. Going about our daily routines to pay the bills, we become numb, jaded, laser-focused on ensuring our own survival instead of trusting that our Creator is in control.

In the beginning He created the heavens and the earth.

He said, “Let there be light” and there was light.

He saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness.

He said, “Let there be a vault between the waters” and He called the vault sky.

It’s all far too deeply embedded in our souls, all too beautiful to be some random cosmic accident.

When you walk outside in the driving rain with your face turned towards the stars and your bare arms outstretched as wind envelops you and thunder pulsates, every cell in your being exults in the power, the genius, the deeper magic, as C.S. Lewis called it, of a Creator who knew exactly what He was doing.

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©2016 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.

 

 

Saving St. Edward

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Just across a shining sea from the Emerald City, up a meandering path through an enchanted forest, sits a castle.

Ages ago, an order of religious men built this castle to train their priests. It had a divine purpose. There they lived and worked.

Decades passed, and almost half a century later, its original purpose waning, a large governing council purchased the fortress and its surrounding land to give to the people for their enjoyment.

But as is the case with many kingdoms whose rulers write more checks than their subjects can cash, funds to maintain the grand old building were sparse.

The castle fell into disrepair. The people flocked to its large lawn and acres of woods and the local wild animals were grateful for the safe haven as much of the rest of their world was being torn apart by development. But inside the great walls, the elements were seeping in to slowly break the building down.

Rescue attempts were formulated and discussed. Councilors and merchants tried their hand at daring plans to salvage the most iconic piece of architecture in the area. But the people could not agree on whether their money should be spent trying to save this landmark or if they should allow the merchants into the enchanted forest to ply their trade.

Here we are. And there she stands, unsteady but proud, water damaged but determined to survive, waiting patiently for a savior.

Ten years ago, I finally gained access to the building during an emergency exercise. As a medical team leader in an earthquake drill similar to the one occurring right now, Cascadia Rising, I was triaging “patients” as all the faults of the building started jumping out me. “Get those people away from the window,” I remember saying, because in a strong earthquake the vintage glass would rain down on the victims.

But there was more. The obvious water issues. The bits and pieces coming loose. The suspicious old pipes beside and above. Strange spots on the ceiling. Peeling paint and creepy radiators. A general state of disrepair despite the resident park rangers doing everything they could with what they had. Most of the building was and still is off limits. They don’t give tours. They say it’s for safety reasons. I like to believe they have a dragon living in the basement.

The castle of which I speak is the St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington. High on a hill above Lake Washington in the middle of a  300 plus-acre state park, it is one of the most historically significant buildings in the area. Kenmore doesn’t have a lot of notable historic buildings and in an era where quaint old homes with spacious yards are being razed to accommodate soulless oversized boxes, the park is a much-needed refuge.

Throughout the park are trails of varying degrees of difficulty. There are ball fields. There’s an amazing playground and a grotto where weddings are held. It has medieval-looking stone benches and a sort of combination pizza oven/sacred altar. When my cousin’s boyfriend proposed to her there, she started screaming in glee, and two men came running through the woods to rescue her.

Weddings are held there and in the seminary. The city holds summer concerts on the expansive lawn. Cultural and community groups gather for celebrations. Generations of families have played in the park. At night bats and birds, eagles and deer, raccoons and squirrels go to sleep amongst the trees after the humans have left.

Washington State Parks, the state agency the land and building belong to, has been up front that there are no public funds to save the seminary. In a series of public meetings, they’ve solicited community input as to whether private investors should be involved or the building mothballed or torn down. They’ve cited the millions of dollars it would take to restore and retrofit the building. A wall could be left up as a monument, they’ve said, but to remove this iconic piece of architecture would be to rip out the heart and soul of the park.

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Citizens have many passionate opinions on whether to save the St. Edward Seminary. A few show up at public meetings with their torches and pitchforks to disrupt, to criticize the government, to be heard, to pontificate. The ever-vigilant Kenmore police chief Cliff Sether has had to intervene at least once at community meetings. But most local residents respectfully voice their legitimate concerns about how a building of this size and age can be best handled in one of the last best wooded pieces of the sprawling Seattle suburbs.

It’s crystal clear that the building cannot be saved without private intervention. McMenamins tried. There was some sort of tech company that got involved. St. Edward’s next door neighbor Bastyr University had an interest for a time. Citizens have brainstormed ideas on how to raise enough money to save the building but keep it in the public’s hands. So far the only idea that sounds halfway logical belongs to Kevin Daniels.

Who’s Kevin Daniels? If you’ve heard of Starbucks Center, Merrill Place, Union Station, or the Frye Art Museum, you know Kevin Daniels. Kevin is a soft-spoken real estate guru who has a genuine passion for preserving historic buildings. A couple of his projects have been so ambitious that given the requirements and regulations involved you might look at him and say, “dude, you’re crazy.” But Daniels and his team have plans for St. Edward, and while it’s not the absolutely ideal use of the building, right now it’s the only practical way to save it.

Someone asked Daniels recently why he’d want to buy a shuttered Depression-era concrete building with quirks like internal gutters and he offered several solid answers. Most notably, he was married on the grounds. The seminary is exactly the kind of the project that he dives into and wrestles through until every detail is resolved to his (and the government’s) satisfaction. He has faced rampant rumors and open disrespect but remains willing to attend community meetings to address concerns from all sides.

Specifically, Daniels wants to turn the seminary building into a lodge-style hotel and restaurant. The restaurant would be accessible to the general public, and for us public utilities aficionados, yes, he plans to voluntarily install an appropriate grease interceptor to help protect the grounds. This would make the seminary the gathering place it was intended to be when Washington State Parks purchased it all in 1976. The hotel would have its own parking and there would be a cooperative effort to ensure that parks visitors stay in their allotted parking and vice versa.

Citizens have expressed concerns about the increase in visitors to the park and the possibility of drunk people stumbling around where their children play. There are traffic concerns. There will be environmental impacts. There are questions as to how many dump trucks full of debris will be headed down Juanita Drive through Kirkland since Kenmore’s bridges across the Sammamish Slough in the other direction need millions of dollars of help themselves. Kudos to Mayor Dave Baker for his work on the bridge upgrades, by the way. Trump can make a deal? Ha. Baker can.

Daniels assures people that all of this is being studied and they will have numbers to present to the public. The public has also been assured that events can still be held on the grand lawn, like concerts and the Skandia Midsommarfest. While it’s possible there could be a few drunk rowdy people, that’s what law enforcement is for, whether that winds up being the park rangers on the premises or the local police. Leasing out the seminary as a hotel is a leap of faith as far as a business venture, but it is going to allow the building to become a public gathering spot, and you bet park goers will stop for a drink or a bite. Daniels also plans to acquire the 10 acres at the northwest corner of the park that everyone trespasses on now. It will become park land, saving it from becoming more soulless boxes with no yards.

My family has Finn Hill roots– Finn Hill being the name of the 400-foot high half-Kirkland, half-Kenmore mini-mountain St. Edward sits on– and if someone randomly asked me what I thought about making the seminary building a hotel, I’d scoff. As a conservative highly protective of plants and animals, my knee jerk reaction might be, “that’s crazy.” Even after learning of Daniels’ plan, I had my reservations. A hotel in the middle of a state park? Would that just invite trash and bad behavior and elitist out of towners who freak out when they see the woodland creatures many of us are used to?

Then I learned Chris Moore approved of the Daniels Real Estate plan. He and his team have been handing out orange “Save Our Seminary” t-shirts, a great way to raise awareness. That was the tipping point for me. Moore, Executive Director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, is the guy you must know if you care at all about historic buildings in our state.

Moore is the expert I email any time I hear of an issue with an old building because he inevitably is willing to talk to the owner or knows somebody who can facilitate a discussion about how to circle the wagons to save it. Somebody wants to tear down a theater in Everett? Somebody’s renovating the Kirkland Cannery? What’s going on with that historic house the developer might tear down? He has his finger on the pulse of the historic preservation in our region and really knows his business. So for him to have combed through the details of Daniels’ seminary plans and come out with a very public “yes” was exactly what I needed to know.

The government doesn’t have enough of our money to make this happen and has many other matters to attend to right now, namely making our crumbling public infrastructure a priority. My gut tells me the Daniels plan to turn Kenmore’s castle into a hotel and restaurant is its last chance. Is there any other money on the table? Is there another developer out there with this kind of vision? Is there someone else as tolerant and patient as Daniels willing to be put through the wringer for crimes he never committed?

A discussion of the seminary is not complete without addressing some of the feelings community members have about the Catholic church’s victimization of children. It has been discovered that a group of priests who came out of that seminary were responsible for child molestation. They were– and perhaps still are– shameless predators who need to be held fully accountable for the violation of innocents. A few people see the seminary as a monument to pedophilia and believe it should be torn down. Some believe a high degree of penance is in order.

But Washington State Parks is not responsible for that. The City of Kenmore is not responsible for that. Daniels Real Estate is not responsible for that. The St. Edward Seminary is being given a fresh start. It has an opportunity to be reborn. It is being reinvented and repurposed. This is a victory over whatever darkness came out of it before. This is also a prime opportunity for the Archdiocese of Seattle to specifically address what happened and detail what’s being done to bless the survivors. Windows long closed will open. Doors propped shut decades ago can be torn down. It’s time for walls, both literal and metaphorical, to be demolished so that the light can get back in.

Ultimately, this hasn’t been a seminary for a long time and any negative history should not stop revitalization attempts. It should instead encourage them. I understand why people feel so strongly about this, but if what was once used as a curse can be forged into a blessing, let’s seize that opportunity. With proper law enforcement and community cooperation, this building can become a happy place. Besides its recreational use, we never know, in an age of power grid hacking, possible EMPs, and lurking war, what purpose that building might serve in an emergency. I suspect it has a greater importance. In time we will know.

It’s taken 40 years for the right leadership and money to come along to morph this brick beauty into the people-friendly place State Parks intended it to be. While I don’t know if the local clergy would bless a place where alcohol is served, why not invite priests and pastors from local churches to bless the reborn building? This could be done during a grand opening celebration to which the whole community is invited. A grand opening celebration could also be an opportunity to raise funds for survivors or to collect goods or donations for local charities.

If this plan goes sideways, I would likely be among its first critics. I am fiercely protective of local wildlife and yes, staunch conservatives can also be tree huggers. As a coworker of mine pointed out, knowing how I feel about the local environment and how we’re driving the wild animals out, it says something that I can live with this plan. Increasingly locals are complaining about how many small furry mammals there are outside or how inconvenient trees are (they cause yard work). I wonder why they don’t go live in a flat lifeless desert if the Pacific Northwest’s natural environment causes them so much angst. The trees and animals were here first. Some of us Puget Sounders like it that way.

Again, I wish State Parks could make that building into an amazing conference center or something more public, but they can’t, so Daniels seems to have the next best solution. To save Kenmore’s castle, there has to be some give and take. No one’s going to get everything they want. Kevin Daniels has been very open and very fair, plus he’s already chalked up some major successes with similar projects. If you have questions, ask him. If you feel that city council members need to provide facts or figures, email them. If you know of a way to help, speak up. This process and all information must be transparent. With a project this controversial, there is no room for secrets. There can be no surprises.

Once upon a time, a derelict castle on a hill was given new life. The demons of the past were purged. The yellowed tapestries were replaced with new works of art. Its walls were braced, its roof reinforced, its deep places dried out. Leaders dreamed of tomorrow over their meals. Locals and guests strolled in and out, finding a new unity in a central gathering place. Conversations and ideas were born. Coalitions formed to ensure proper protection of the non-human residents on the grounds and that extended into cooperative efforts deeper in the community.

Can you see it?

With a little cooperation, diplomacy, and transparency, the castle can be given a new song.

The heart of the park can beat again.

St. Edward 3

I call architecture frozen music. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Daniels Real Estate’s plans for the seminary can be found here.

Thank you to Daniels Real Estate, the Kenmore City Council, Washington State Parks, Friends of St. Edward’s, The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and various community groups for their work to find a mutually beneficial solution.

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©2016 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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Tonight the unmistakable crunch of backhoe on wood and metal led to taking these last intact photos of the house on the northeast corner of 10th and Market in Kirkland.

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This dated home, 4 10th Avenue, was built in 1955 according to King County records. Next door to some swanky newer buildings, it’s sat empty for a while and seemed to be an unkempt rental house before that. I’d often thought about how cute it would be with a little care. Every year blackberries explode near the curb and hang over the sidewalk.

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Once upon a time, a World War II veteran and his industrious wife raised three children here or so I would like to believe. You could imagine the laughter within the walls and the stories the previous occupants could tell. Now it looks like three days after an EMP attack when neighbor begins to turn on neighbor in a quest to survive.

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The backhoe stopped for a moment to allow a direct glimpse into the carnage. While the condition of the property has long been out of character in what’s become an expensive, attractive neighborhood, it’s still depressing to see it go. Most of the older homes around here are being torn down and even some historic homes nearby are in danger of being lost forever.

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The older homes like this that are being lost are often replaced with much larger multistory boxlike structures that don’t have the character of the originals. This demolition is also a reminder of the loss of affordable housing in the region.

To many leaders, affordable housing is packing human beings like sardines into apartment buildings with little noise protection or privacy. Not terribly long ago, affordable housing was actually being able to buy a quaint little house with a yard for your kids and large dog to play in. Now the middle class struggles to even achieve that as they are tapped to subsidize others’ housing.

Average rent in Seattle for a one bedroom unit is over $1600 now. The median home price is over $550,000. That’s more than half a million. It’ll burst at some point, and then we’ll be asking why we built monstrosities with 2000 more square feet than we actually needed. On treeless lots, unnecessarily destroying wildlife habitat, while we claim to be so environmentally sensitive.

And quirky little ’50s homes with trees and bushes and a little garden in the back will start looking mighty appealing again. If there are any left.

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There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home. -Kenny Guinn

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©2016 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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