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Posts Tagged ‘Snohomish County’

How will we know it’s us without our past?

John Steinbeck

There is a Bothell I used to know. It is an increasingly distant memory, a mist flickering on the moors of my imagination. What remains of that Bothell amounts to the dying embers of a fire that is being stamped out by an oversized boot called Progress.

In the early 20th century, progress was a large house for the Ericksen family, Bothell pioneers. Gerhard Ericksen was a state legislator whose legacy lives on although most people don’t know his role in the building of Bothell. The Ericksen family only owned this house for a few years. Then it became home to a different family who stayed for quite a while.

The Bothell the Ericksens helped build was not a city that decimated its natural resources and constructed seas of soulless boxes priced beyond what many could bear. It was a Bothell that coexisted with much of its natural environment, that built individual homes with sufficient space between them.

This is summer 2019. Unable to bear the high property taxes any longer, and with property values going through the roof, the strained owners of our eclectic beloved shopping center sold out to developers. An out of state company headquartered in Atlanta stepped in.

Fences went up, buildings started coming down. I was told that the City of Bothell didn’t have the money to save any historic buildings at Country Village on the Bothell-Everett Highway south of Canyon Park. The developer did not respond to questions.

The free-roaming chickens were rounded up and rehomed. People started to take mementos from Country Village without permission. There were online auctions and some of us asked what protections the ducks would be given. We were assured that the duck pond would stay, but that did not mean a thing for the surrounding land that the ducks have nested and lived on for generations.

Have you ever watched Disneyland burn? That’s how losing Country Village feels. For decades we shopped there, ate there, fed ducks there until they banned it, saw Santa there, sang songs there, took photos of the reindeer there. Country Village is where people went for haircuts, Moso bags, toys, antiques, Pirate Day. You could stop by for no other reason than to sit on a bench near the pond and enjoy a bag of kettle corn.

There was a peace there. Malls don’t have this peace. Urban shopping centers don’t have this lifeforce. The feathered fowl, the willow tree, the aging arches and old wagon lent themselves to a calm in the frenzied Seattle metro bustle. No matter how busy it was, you could hear yourself breathe.

On this sweltering day I stepped inside the northern arch to photograph one of the buildings that, to my amazement, was left standing. A security guard approached and related how people were waltzing into the property despite signs indicating that we needed to go no further than where I was. A red dragonfly hovered above his car as we talked at length. Who were you really, dragonfly?

Above is one of the two buildings that I learned would be left standing until April 2020. If someone does not move the buildings by then, they too will be lost forever. So I put the word out– free houses! But there they stand, and now it’s October. They have less than six months to live unless we find a kindhearted soul to save them.

This is the front of that old building. I stood there and stared into the ragged trellis of 2 X 4s designed to protect its interior. But for how long?

How long have these houses stood here unmolested? And now they waste away in hopes of a savior, a moving truck, new land to live the rest of their lives. I remain perturbed that there has not been an organized effort to save them. There are so few like them left.

I still have books I bought in these buildings as a kid.

The Ericksen House served as Whitehouse Antiques in recent years. They had quite the collection of candy and chocolate in addition to metal signs and antiques. Visitors would wind their way through its midsection, then clomp downstairs to circle the basement where, inevitably, someone would always trip at an unexpected step down. Then you’d clomp upstairs past the records on the wall and visit the old bedrooms that were either too hot or too cold.

In an era of big box homes with tiny to no yards, it’s disturbing that a historic beauty like this could go the way of the dodo. Experts tell me that because of vandalism and remodels much of the interior isn’t original. But the bones are still there. And it’s still significant. And it’s still one of a kind.

Descendants of the Ericksens marched in the 2019 Bothell Fourth of July Parade.

This is now October 2019. The former Country Village site looks like someone scraped away all of its trees and creatures and structures with a merciless metal spatula. Someone meaning Progress. This is what’s happening throughout King County as forests are being razed for huge developments, like the travesty in Black Diamond where thousands of cookie cutter homes will transform that wild, tiny mining town into Anywhere, USA.

The land regulations that allow this alarming displacement of wildlife and construction of myriad buildings that are grossly unsuited to the surrounding habitat are supposedly environmentally sensitive. “People need somewhere to live” they tell me. Why do they have to wipe out the local biome and pack people in like sardines? “We need affordable housing,” they say. Then why can’t longtime locals like myself even afford half of one of these supposedly affordable units?

This is the land where we ban plastic straws but tear down acres of proud ancient trees without regard for the inhabitants who’ve been there for thousands of years. There is no empathy for the mountain beavers, coyotes, deer, possums, raccoons, bears, birds, fish. Many of the new inhabitants have no connection to the surrounding environment or local history.

What’s that in the distance? To the right?

What’s that to the left? Oh. The same generic buildings that will soon fill the entire site. That seem to be dominating the Seattle metro area. That are consuming the I5 corridor from Chehalis to Bellingham.

This is what’s left of the duck pond. The rest of their habitat has been destroyed. I don’t know how ducks will be able to roam a high density complex of concrete freely, but Progress knows.

Look north and there it is, its footings being sheared away by loud machines. The Ericksen House is still standing proudly in the face of impending destruction. It’s nightmarish seeing this, and only this corner, of the village left.

It seems illogical, implausible, impossible that in a community as collectively wealthy as Bothell that we cannot find enough of us to band together and save this.

This is not a sinkhole. Not literally. But these buildings will be sucked into the sinkhole of Progress next spring without intervention.

The arch that used to say “welcome” now serves as a billboard for the demolition company.

Near. Far. But near could soon be so much farther that we’ll never see it again.

Will the road signs have to be changed too? Or will they stay and remind us of what Progress has cost?

As if there weren’t enough of these on the former back lot already, here are over a hundred more… along with thousands up and down the Bothell-Everett Highway. As an out of town visitor said, this road seems to have turned into a nonstop block of high density from downtown Bothell to Everett. Where is the wildlife supposed to go? Where are the lower to middle class people supposed to go?

After taking that photo I looked south. This cloud looked like a hand, a tidal wave, an angry face, or perhaps, if you tilt your head to the left, a mighty angel sheltering something with its wings.

If buildings could talk, these two might be reciting lyrics from the ’80s, the decade Country Village was born.

My defenses are down
A kiss or a frown
I can’t survive on my own…

Send me an angel
Send me an angel
Right now…

Above is the Ericksen family plot in the Bothell Pioneer Cemetery near UW Bothell, established 1889. Like the house they built so long ago, their graves face east, hoping for new life.

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History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.

David McCullough

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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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Purple Candle 2

This week the trial of Alan Smith began in Snohomish County Superior Court. Smith is accused of murdering his children’s mother and estranged spouse Susann Smith in February of 2013. News coverage has been sparse so far, but the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter  has followed the case all along and will continue to post updates. Matt Phelps and crew– thank you for keeping this in the public eye.

Murder trial begins for Bothell man accused of killing estranged wife

In May of 2013 I wrote the post below, Murdering Susann Smith, which has hundreds of comments attached. I didn’t know when I penned it that it would become a gathering spot for people wanting more information about the case and to share what they knew. The neighborhood where this happened was concerned about their safety and disgusted by what went on at the Smith house after her murder.

For a long time, the primary suspect in the case was free and making a very public affair of his relationship with his new girlfriend, who later committed suicide after giving birth to their child. I still have trouble typing that, especially in light of what he allegedly did to Susann. He treated both women as disposable, as if he was God and had every right to hurt them and then get rid of them. Eventually the police had enough evidence and arrested him.

The brutality of Susann’s death does not resemble a burglary gone wrong as the defense claims. It was targeted, personal, and intended to inflict maximum damage. It shows wicked rage and a deep, seething hatred that had built up like a volcano. I’m surprised that the defense is going with that, that a burglar did it and Alan was at home asleep with his kids when this happened. My knee jerk reaction was, “you’re kidding me.” That is not the angle I thought they’d take, especially in light of the advance planning the police said went on and the evidence.

Returning to what I said in the first paragraph, the media hasn’t taken much of an interest in Susann’s murder. Stories about Alan having sex in his front yard after her murder were read around the world, so the original horror got lost in mankind’s voyeuristic attraction to the sleaze of it all. Imagine if every person who read the public sex story or commented on it in a public forum gave just one dollar to an agency that helps domestic violence victims. Millions of dollars could have been raised.

I’d like to provoke some coverage in the interest of raising awareness of domestic violence and related homicide. Susann Smith was one of 29 victims of domestic violence homicide in Washington State in 2013 and one of two in Snohomish County. This is not rare; it has happened many times before and will happen again. But there is a lot we can do to stop it, and I encourage you to visit some of the domestic violence-related links on the right sidebar to learn more about what you can do to help.

Susann was a beautiful woman who was devoted to her children and I suspect that I would have really liked Susann if I’d met her. But news outlets go for the money making stories, and this case didn’t involve a 21 year-old with perfectly curled hair extensions, false lashes, selfies of her drinking with her girlfriends on Facebook, and a bunch of sordid sexual drama in the marriage. Despite Susann originally being from Germany, I didn’t see this murder case get much international coverage until Alan Smith made sure everyone was seeing how cool he thinks he is by exploiting a woman with mental illness.

Perhaps Susann’s family hasn’t wanted the coverage and just wants to make life as normal for her children as they can. This has undoubtedly been traumatic for both sides of the children’s family and more media coverage might twist all sorts of facts and sensationalize particular elements of the case. But I want people to know that there are many more out there like the man who killed Susann, narcissists who think they’re too smart to get caught and who present a life-threatening danger to their victims. I’ve said it many times before, but men and women alike should be intimately familiar with Sandra L. Brown‘s books How to Spot a Dangerous Man and Women Who Love Psychopaths.

Within a few weeks, a female judge will be deciding Alan Smith’s fate, and I expect that any conviction will be followed by appeals. If you’re a praying person, now is the time to pray. Pray for the Susann’s family. Pray for her children. Pray for the suspect’s family and for Love Thai’s family and little boy, that he would grow up unaffected by all of this sorrow.

Prayer opens windows, inviting God in to comfort the grieving and achieve justice. A trial like this can be like putting the victim’s family through her murder all over again, and this time it might be even worse because some have traveled from another country to be in the courtroom. It might be the first time they’ve been that close to the evidence.

Many people are murdered every year. The utter brutality in this case, which is so blatantly personal, is what’s stood out to me all along. It doesn’t surprise me that the Reporter has noted that Alan Smith has looked blank much of the time. If I am correct about his psychological inclinations, he’s a human shark. He won’t feel remorse or regret over Susann’s death except to the extent that it affects him. He’s not beyond God’s reach or redemption, but that’s between him and God and not something anyone else can work out for him.

Whatever comes of this trial– and I pray that justice would come crashing down like fire from heaven so that no one else can be hurt by this guy– I am reminded that the Creator is keeping score. Yes, Alan is innocent until proven guilty. But his outrageous behavior after Susann’s death, including moving back into the house where her blood had soaked the floors and walls– and planning to move his children in there– has not shouted “shaken father trying to normalize his life.” It’s been more like a chest-beating victory cry to the world, and he only has himself to blame for that. No one did this to him. No one did this for him. No one made him do it. And if he’s guilty, he will have to live– or, if the judge sees fit– die knowing that.

This might come across as judgmental. Perhaps. But I’m a woman who’s spent a lifetime up close and personal with narcissists and sociopaths who are willing to badger, belittle, abuse, exploit, and even want to kill women who stand up for themselves. I have experienced various levels of this in my personal life and in the workplace and have two related degrees. There are elements of this case that resonate with me, and ultimately I don’t see “awesome” or “criminal mastermind.” I see cowardice. I see someone who couldn’t own their feelings or actions and robbed two beautiful children of their mother in some sort of demonic act of vengeance.

It’s in God’s hands. And if I were an abuser, or someone who exploits others, or a killer, I’d be at least a little concerned about what He’s going to say when He asks for an account of my life. Who will have the guts to say, “she deserved it” or “it was coming to her?” In light of my belief that what we do in this life determines our station in eternity, that this is the testing ground for what comes next, “oh God, what have I done?” is a much more realistic answer. And the sooner those words are spoken, the more likely it will be that the person saying them won’t choose a forever separate from God’s love.

I can’t provide up to the minute news coverage of this trial but will post things as they’re sent to me or as I come across them. I will approve comments as soon as I can. I don’t make a dime from blogging so you know this isn’t financially motivated. This is about keeping the spotlight on domestic violence, achieving justice for those involved, and remembering a woman who was put through the worst kind of hell for having the courage to move on.

The next Susann Smith could be in the same room with you– what are you doing to help them to safety?

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Please take the time to become familiar with the Document the Abuse website and the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit featured there. If you are affected by domestic violence, make it impossible for your abuser to get away with it no matter what happens.

Also, check out Susan Murphy Milano’s Times Up! A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abusive and Stalking Relationships. Susan was our fearless leader at the Time’s Up crime victims advocacy blog until she passed away a couple of years ago. We continue our crusade for justice in her memory.

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.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/wildninja.wordpress.com.

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From the Washington State Department of Natural Resources

From the Washington State Department of Natural Resources

Monday, March 24th, I was perusing blog posts about the Oso, Washington mudslide, some of which were written by people knowledgeable about local geology. I was disturbed by what I found. By Tuesday, the major news stations and newspapers around Seattle had started to publish stories asking the same question—were there red flags indicating that the mudslide would happen? Could a landslide happen again soon?

I’m not an expert, but the more I learn about the geology in this area, the more concerned I become about the possibility of another slide and the more I question whether rebuilding in the same spot—if that’s on the table– is a wise idea. As a society we see rebuilding as a sign of resilience and so might not question the wisdom of doing so. (more…)

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Oso Aid

 The Oso Chapel is hosting a community prayer and share meeting on Wednesday, March 26th, at 7 P.M. Details here

The death toll has risen to 14 in the Oso mudslide as rescuers have been giving their all to reach any survivors before a storm hits on Tuesday. It was actually area residents who found several of their neighbors’ bodies. There are still many unaccounted for– over a hundred missing persons reports have been made to the authorities. Entire families are missing. KOMO reported that a family dog was rescued from the rubble, reinforcing hopes that there could still be people rescued from this nightmare as well. (more…)

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From the Seattle PI. Lindsey Wasson/AP.

From the Seattle PI. Lindsey Wasson/AP.

From the Oso Chapel’s Facebook page:

Oso Chapel will coordinate a Community Prayer and Share meeting this Wednesday evening, March 26th, 2014 at 7 P.M. This will be an opportunity to share, find comfort, and relay specific needs. We want to be a help and a blessing. (more…)

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UPDATE, 3/24/14: PLEASE SEE THE NEWER POST ON THIS BLOG TITLED OSO AID FOR MORE WAYS TO GIVE AND HELP BOTH PEOPLE AND ANIMALS. THANKS!

Oso Mudslide. Marcus Yam, The Seattle Times.

“It’s much worse than everyone’s been saying,” said the firefighter, who did not want to be named. “The slide is about a mile wide. Entire neighborhoods are just gone. When the slide hit the river, it was like a tsunami.” -From the Seattle Times (more…)

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Michael Saffioti. From http://www.nydailynews.com.

Michael Saffioti. From http://www.nydailynews.com.

Yesterday the Everett Herald reported that no criminal charges will be filed in the death of Michael Saffioti. Saffioti died in the Snohomish County Jail July 3rd under questionable circumstances.

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130102/NEWS01/701029888#No-charges-in-death-of-Snohomish-County-Jail-inmate%0A

During a previous incarceration, the Herald reports, Saffioti became known as Bubble Boy among inmates because of the way his food needed to be prepared. He had a severe dairy allergy among other medical problems. (more…)

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