Seattle, Dante’s Inferno Ballet, Back to Anchorage 2014


View of Seattle skyline from Regina and Deke’s apartment; the orange things that look like a cluster of salmon eggs in the bottom left corner are buoys. The Space Needle, and the construction cranes for South Lake Union buildings are at the south end of Lake Union.
Jim and Teri headed for Seattle on February 13 to spend much of the next eleven days working on a friend’s ballet of “Dante’s Inferno.” She drafted Jim to be a demon (non-dancing); Anthea was already working as the webmaster and production assistant. I tried and tried to make one email with the whole trip in it, but it got stuffed way too full. So here’s an account of some of our non-ballet doings, and next up will be a review of rehearsals and the ballet.
Valentine’s Day in Seattle

The weather was quite acceptable, for Seattle in February, and we had much of the day to wander around the city seeing our favorite spots. Everywhere, people were carrying bouquets of flowers. On the University of Washington campus, this guy had the flower and was writing the note to go with it. Note the sandals with bare feet — an indication of the pleasant weather (but also a puddle beneath the bench — it wasn’t entirely dry).

The shelves at Bartell’s Drug on University Avenue (UW campus) were stripped nearly bare by 4:30 in the afternoon.
There were plenty of flowers at Pike Street Market, along the streets, growing in planters. Going from Anchorage in the winter to Seattle has something of the quality of Dorothy finding herself in Technicolor Oz.
Regina and I spent some of the evening (Jim and Anthea were at rehearsal) singing sea shanties on a fine wooden boat at Lake Union with a group of Seattleites who assemble monthly. Sea shanties were work songs originally, designed to provide rhythms for hauling ropes, swabbing decks, and other repetitive tasks. “Wae, Hae, blow the man down,” a popular shanty, was sung by Popeye (in a 1937 cartoon), Chip and Dale (in a Donald Duck cartoon, 1957), Pirates of the Carribbean (Disney), and is the basis for the SpongeBob SquarePants theme. The Seattle shanty singers mix familiar staples that everyone belts out lustily, many more esoteric tunes, and two or three original compositions (sometimes from Regina).
Saturday, Tacoma in the rain
On Saturday, February 15, we went to Tacoma for a memorial service for one the Carns neighbors from Longview days. It was a chance to remember a very fine engineer (Bill Hoss), to see family and friends, and to experience Northwest liquid gold — rain. Six deer clustered near the front door at the home where the memorial service was held, feeding on the grass and bushes. They were sure of their exalted position, and entirely uninterested in all of the people coming and going.
Hellebores were blooming throughout the Northwest, despite unseasonable cold and several inches of snow during the days just before we arrived.
We were back in Bellevue for a several hour rehearsal on Saturday evening.
A ballerina’s foot at rest.
Masks, most created and made by Glenna Burmer of Burmer Music, LLC. The green one is my favorite. [Photo by permission.]
Sunday, February 16
We started the day as many good Seattleites do, with breakfast out. Here are Regina and Deke at the Portage Bay Cafe, which is very up to date — the Porcetta and eggs special featured locally-foraged nettles, fennel pollen and seed, and free-range eggs, pork, and potatoes (the free-range potatoes are hard to come by, but are especially tender).
Jim and Anthea, fortifying themselves for the ballet rehearsal ahead on Sunday.
Jim, demonized, at Sunday rehearsal.
Monday, February 17
We did laundry at the Lost Sock Laundromat (it would be hard to lose a sock there because very helpful people were keeping a close eye out for people like me who couldn’t figure out the coin slots quickly enough to suit them). On Capitol Hill we walked past a yard entirely covered in carefully cultivated moss. For afternoon entertainment, Jim and Anthea spent several hours at rehearsal in Bellevue, and I set out to take the measure of the Bellevue Square shopping mall.
Emerald green moss, an entire yard full.
The Microsoft store was a popular spot on the first floor of the Bellevue Square Mall; the Apple store was equally popular on the floor above.
These shoes caught my eye; there were many people taking a break from the bustle of the mall, but few with such splendid feet.
Bellevue skyline at early sunset.
Tuesday, February 18, Portland
The dancers and demons got a day off, and Jim and I seized the chance to go to Portland. The weather seized the chance to dump another couple of inches of rain on the Pacific Northwest. The main attractions in Portland were Powell’s Bookstore and friends; we didn’t take as many photos.
The view, during most of the 3 1/2 hour drive to Portland.
I-5 is a major truck road, running from Canada to Mexico, with logging trucks common in the Northwest stretches.  We often had trucks ahead, trucks behind, and trucks passing on the left. For those of you who regularly drive the freeways, this is unexceptional, but it is always a surprise for those of us from the far north whose main roads are all two lanes.
Wednesday, February 19
By Wednesday, the skies turned blue again for the drive back to Seattle. This shows the skyline from near Boeing Field, going north. On the far left, bottom corner are the red cranes at the docks, then the arcs of the sports stadium, then the skyline. The Space Needle is just to the right of the stadium girders, and the Smith Tower (once Seattle’s tallest building) is the pyramid-topped skinny white building to the lower right.
SuperBowl may have been a couple of weeks in the past, but SeaHawks pride was still evident everywhere.
The 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington from Seattle to Bellevue; we saw quite a lot of it. An eagle lived at the west end, and usually sitting on a light post or flying across the road when we saw it.
Thursday, February 20
Thursday marked a full day of rehearsals for Jim and Anthea (who was the webmaster,  production assistant and assistant stage manager for the ballet). I spent my time walking around downtown Bellevue. It’s a city of tall glass buildings and straight lines, softened by clouds, and sometimes trees.
Buildings reflected in buildings.
Warmups in the theater. Ron Tice (choreographer) to the left on stage, and marvelous Gordon the stage manager to the right. The dancers seemed to be rarely at rest — they were always warming up, dancing, or moving just a bit, even while waiting, like birch leaves.
Cyclamens (shooting stars), with daffodils and primroses in a planter at the Bravern Shopping Center/residences near the theater.
Part of a Chihuly chandelier in the Lincoln Place complex in downtown Bellevue.
Not all of the Bellevue dancers were rehearsing for the ballet. These girls were in the Bellevue Square Microsoft store, dancing along with the Disney princesses on the TV screen. The older girls were excellent, the little one, getting a good start.
Friday, February 21
Friday was opening night for the ballet. We had time in the morning to stop by Regina’s for espresso, get to Capitol Hill to spend a little while at Elliott Bay Bookstore, and eat an early lunch at our favorite Tutta Bella pizza place near the University.
Artsy selfie, me outside a weathered thrift shop window on Capitol Hill, mirror inside.
Saturday, February 22
Two shows on Saturday, leaving us the morning to get to Uwajimaya in the International District for Japanese cards and books. A few Seattle days were sunny. More, like Saturday, were rainy or foggy or both.
The photos of the Space Needle always show it unobstructed by wires, signs, stoplights, and the like. This is its more typical environment, a bit hazy in the fog.
Downtown Seattle, fog in the distance.

Sunday, February 23
Regina and Deke and a couple of their friends wanted to try out the amphibious Duck ride, one of the ultimate tourist experiences in Seattle. I agreed to go along; Anthea and Jim preferred to husband their resources for the ballet. Although the trip had its embarrassingly tourist-y moments, we got new views of the city from Lake Union, and a chance to banter with the driver. Plus, we learned lots of useful things. Such as, Elvis made a movie in Seattle in 1962 at the time of the World’s Fair. He brought his Cadillac and had it washed daily at the Pink Elephant Car Wash (a going concern still today); he put some of the staff in his movie. The Beatles stayed in the Edgewater Hotel (at Pier 67 on Elliott Bay) in 1964, smuggled in by an ambulance. They fished from the windows in Room 272 (the hotel is built at the water’s edge on the Seattle docks) as did Led Zeppelin who the driver said left a shark in the bathtub, causing the hotel to forbid further fishing from the windows. [The hotel website says that the Rolling Stones, KISS, and Frank Zappa also stayed there.]
The hour and a half was bitter cold. The Duck is designed for warm, dry weather; we had neither, although the rain wasn’t really trying hard. Matt, the driver, clearly knew what he was in for — note the hat. He is trying to encourage us to clap our hands and sing. We are not cooperating. He was knowledgeable and entertaining.

Cormorants and very expensive houseboats (there’s no other kind) on Lake Union.

Looking east on Lake Union, yachts and more houseboats on a gray day.

A flowering tree, at the end of the Duck ride. Not all in Seattle was glum and gray.

Monday, February 24
For our last Seattle day, done with dance, we stocked up on chocolate at Trader Joe’s, and spent a couple of hours at the new Museum of History and industry on Lake Union. Jeff Bezos of Amazon paid for much of the first floor which emphasized technology; a variety of donors contributed to the second floor. 
An early version of the logging truck that we saw on the road to Portland.

We shared the museum with a dozen groups of kids on field trips.

A lot of Alaska history was in the museum too, from salmon to gold. Sometimes Alaskans have the feeling that the rest of the country still feels this way about the state.

February 25 — Return to Anchorage
Here’s how we know that we’re home.

Mt. Redoubt, the active volcano, showing over the airport runways near sunset.



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