Scattered showers & Central Library

Seattle Central Library, 4th and Madison St
Seattle Central Library, 4th and Madison St

We’re easing into the cooler season, and our weather predictions include “scattered showers.” This is one of my favorite types of days in Seattle. Scattered showers mean it will be warm, and then it will rain lightly, and then it will be warm again. This is different from ‘”partly sunny with precipitation” (cloudy), or the more straightforward prediction of “showers likely,” (cloudy). Scattered showers give a whimsical randomness about where rain will fall. It allows a precise question as to where the clouds were during your day. With “scattered showers” you can take it personally.

“Did you get rained on this afternoon?”

“Yeah, but just the last part of my bike ride.” or “No, I just made it home just before it started ”

This September condition, rain clouds followed by sunshine, is quite brief, and full overcast is on the way.  A favorite destination when I’m among scattered showers is the downtown Seattle Central library. Autumn lighting makes its own show upon, and inside this ultra-modern building.

The Central Library is a wonderfully strange-looking aluminum mesh and glass building designed by Rem Koolhaas. It opened in 2004, and the reflections on the exterior, and patterned shadows on the interior make for a futuristic, flexible environment. It has few traditional walls or ceilings, and the natural light fills the massive structure with an open, comfortable feeling. But the neon shaded escalators, and a curving blood-red 4th floor hallway offer a challenge–don’t get too comfortable, things are happening here.

I love that the library has room for activities as well as traditional book and media resources. Citizenship and ESL classes, afternoon story-time, computer classes, author readings, music, and film, and a variety of lectures are hosted in library meeting rooms, performance arts areas, and the auditorium year-round.

In contrast, I also love the library’s 10th floor because it is a very quiet place. When were you last in a quiet public place to read, or write? It sounds as if it should be an easy thing to find, but I go to this floor because it is silent. I tip-toe to the desks in the study area.  My reading attention stays focused so my imagination can take-off. It’s a wonderful space especially during an afternoon with scattered showers.

Library entrances are on 4th and 5th Ave (between Spring and Madison Streets) It’s a hike uphill from 3rd Ave. transit. Sometimes I start a few blocks north at University St. Station to avoid the steep incline. I’m not alone in trying to avoid hills–perhaps it’s a Seattle thing? At 2 p.m. Sat., Oct. 10th, the Seattle Central library is hosting an interview with David Williams, author of “Too high, Too Steep; Reshaping Seattle’s Topography” I read it’s about the different re-grade projects that allowed for certain types of Seattle development. The interview is in Microsoft Auditorium. Check the website Seattle Central Library  to learn more.

Thank you for reading, Margaret

September 22nd


This is the last day of summer and with the Autumnal Equinox comes the celebration of our wedding anniversary!

Today, I walked to the Pike Place Market and it is a joy to be there on a Tuesday afternoon. I had lots of room to see the produce, enjoy a sample of a perfectly ripe mango, and also a large purple grape? I saw plenty of people downtown, but not many crowded walkways or strollers at my heels today.

Also, The President of China is visiting Seattle, and traffic is supposed to be terrible. But if you’re walking, just stay away from the Westin Hotel, and soak-up the sunshine. And, if you get a chance to get to the market this week, enjoy the dahlias–a beautiful flower for a celebration.

(photo note: I couldn’t get our dog Nemo out of the picture–I think he knows autumn is my favorite season.)

Thank you for reading, Margaret

“Doc Maynard”


There’s a new addition to the water taxi fleet, and some much-deserved recognition of our own Doc Maynard, an early resident of Duwamps — which he renamed Seattle to honor his friend Chief Seattle.

Arriving in 1852, Doc Maynard hosted the first post office in his store. He was friends with the Duwamish, and convinced tradesmen, and settlers to reside here including a ship captain’s wife, Mary Anne Conklin, (a.k.a. Mother Damnable), who ran a hotel and brothel. Doc Maynard knew the town would grow. Most famously he convinced Henry Yesler to place the first steam-powered saw mill on Elliott Bay. Maynard and Carson Boren made room for Yesler’s Mill on the waterfront.

Walking around Pioneer Place twenty-something years ago, one would remember Doc Maynard’s as a live music venue. It was one of several affordable clubs to enjoy on a bar-hopping night– very much in the spirit, and personality of Doc Maynard. Now, the “saloon,” owned by the Underground tour, is a private venue used for arranging the tour groups–it serves no alcohol.

The city of Seattle remembered Doc Maynard with a couple of street names. Six blocks in Chinatown between 6th and 7th Ave, are Maynard Ave S., and there’re a few blocks in Georgetown too, but it seems fitting that Doc should be back on the waterfront of Elliott Bay.

Because the float at Seacrest Park in West Seattle is too small for new water taxi to land, the Doc Maynard is going to have its first route from Seattle’s waterfront to Vashon Island. Whether a daily commuter, or an afternoon adventurer you’re going to have an easy crossing with great views. When you venture down Yesler Way to the King County Water taxi pier, say “Welcome back Doc Maynard!”

Thank you for reading, Margaret

9/11 Fourteen years ago

In Seattle on 9/11/2001 we had a blue sky morning just like they had New York. I remember the public radio announcer being unclear as to whether the commercial plane crashing into one of towers was an air traffic control error, or a terrorist attack. For most of us, the story unfolded with terrible news updates all morning and afternoon.

Our usual jet traffic over Capitol Hill and the Central District was halted. I remember seeing other parents as we brought our kids to school. One father asked me anxiously, ‘Did you tell your daughters what’s happened?” and I said that I had. Others decided not to tell their kids that morning. Perhaps they wanted to protect them, but I remember telling the news to my daughters because I thought even though we didn’t understand it, they did need to know.

Seattle isn’t regarded as a big church-going area, but because I had volunteered to tutor ESL that day, and I went to St. James Cathedral on First Hill. I wanted to explain in person that I wouldn’t be leading a session. My student was the mother of a toddler, and we usually brought our little ones to play together while we worked on a lesson. In fact, she only was stopping by to tell me she had another appointment and couldn’t meet. New York was far away for us. My little daughter and I walked outside, and then went in a side door of the Cathedral. They were getting ready for mass.  It was perhaps an instinctive response– this is a place to go when one doesn’t know what to do.

When we left the Cathedral, we walked a block toward Madison Street, and my heart was touched with amazement at what we saw. There were more than a hundred people standing in absolute silence. They formed a long line from the front door of the Puget Sound Blood Center, down the walkway and around the corner continuing a long way down the sidewalk. They solemnly were waiting to donate blood. In Seattle, sometimes our holy communion looks different from other traditions, but it is all part of our love.

Thanks for reading, Margaret

Welcome to Autumn, and New City Adventures

As the season changes, I’m reminded of conversations with those beginning new jobs, starting classes, and adding new activities. September feels like the right time to let oneself be more open to change. Seattle is changing and growing quickly, and we have to find new ways to move, explore, and enjoy our places and experiences.

I’m a tour guide, and I love to meet visitors. Often comparisons and interesting observations emerge while strolling among Seattle’s favorite places. Beyond the summer tourist season, I walk for exercise, and I find that it helps me think more clearly. Sometimes I have a destination, and other times I wander.  My writing is meant to share local history and familiar places along with new influences, and discoveries . Welcome to autumn, and Thank you for reading, Margaret