Seattle’s Green Lake

I was in Seattle for the Memorial Day weekend, visiting dear friends, attending a wedding. Every morning I enjoyed a three-mile walk around the lake. It is a pleasure to share Green Lake with you.

What a treat it is to have this sparkling emerald gem of nature in the middle of a bustling cosmopolitan city.

It is a large lake, as you can see. The surface area alone is 259 acres (1.05 sq. km).

And it is a busy park, to be sure. In addition to the residents getting their daily constitutionals, there are many planned activities and numerous facilities. I liked going before 7 am when it was quieter and more subdued.

More info: Green Lake Wikipedia.

I have visited Green Lake in all seasons, but I found the end of May to be one of its most charming times with lots of bright green budding growth on trees, plush carpets of verdant grass, and many sweet signs of spring.

There were always several crew boats rowing on the water. The distant microphoned calls of the coxswain were a familiar sound in the overcast, cool morning.

One day there was an outrigger club getting set up for a race. It was raining that morning, but no one seemed to notice or care. In fact, it rained every day.

Other vessels we saw on this freshwater lake were motorboats, kayaks, and sailboats. We saw several swimmers, too.

It was a fun surprise to see Seattle’s most iconic landmark, the Space Needle, while walking the path. The city has painted the Needle in its original color, Galaxy Gold, to commemorate its 60th anniversary.

Green Lake Park has a plethora of trees–tall, stately cedar trees, willows, and many conifers and ornamentals, too. Every so often I would spot someone’s severed fishing line dangling from one of the willow trees.

One afternoon we found a tree with a special prize in it.

In spite of the path filled with strollers, dog walkers, and joggers, and the grassy areas lively with holiday picnics and friendly visits, Athena and I spotted a chickadee feeding her young nestlings. Black-capped chickadee.

The chicks were tucked inside a hole in the tree trunk (above). The hidden, invisible nest would audibly light up with the shrill voices of several demanding chicks every time a parent came in with food. It was entertaining and endearing; giant dogs and humans walked past the tree, crows too, unaware, while the two parents doggedly caught insects, delivered them and repeated the process over and over.

There are busy roadways around the entire circumference of the lake. Streets are lined with businesses and rows of houses, and all are festooned with the ubiquitous rhododendrons. Tall, fluffy bushes in a variety of cheerful colors. There’s nowhere on earth with more thriving rhododendrons than the Pacific Northwest.

Aerial view of Green Lake. Courtesy Wikipedia.

In this expansive, populated city, how refreshing for humans and wildlife to have an oasis of flora and fauna reminding us of the joy and miracles that abound in nature.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

Markets Around the World

In the spirit of the holidays during a stay-at-home pandemic, please join me for a magic carpet ride around the world visiting a few lively outdoor markets.

We’ll start in North America and Mexico, cruise over Europe, look in on Australia, and end our magical adventure in South America. (Pre-pandemic photos.)

Outdoor markets are a good opportunity to observe the locals and their livelihoods; and purchase tasty treats and souvenirs directly from the source.

First up: Santa Fe, New Mexico. The local artisan market is located at the Palace of the Governors, an adobe structure built in 1610. Exquisite turquoise and silver jewelry are the specialty sold here.

I bought a pair of earrings from this jewelry artist in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Her busy hands quietly worked the fine details of her craft as she tended her table.

Urban markets, in their bustling atmosphere, showcase locally grown specialties and cater to big crowds.

Here are two popular California Bay Area markets.

Local produce is in abundance, usually harvested that morning or the night before and bursting with freshness.

Each market locale has its home-grown specialties.

Salmon, cherries and apples highlight the Seattle markets. Pike Place Market opened in 1907 and remains a popular and fun tourist attraction.

This Ballard neighborhood market (below) was a joy. We pitted five pounds of cherries with our friend after we left here, made jam.

Watermelon in Mexico…

… and grapes in wine country.

The celebration of outdoor markets at Christmastime requires mentioning the Christmas Markets in Germany and Austria. Classic holiday markets featuring sparkling light displays, outdoor stalls, traditional foods and beverages. Although I have not been to these markets, several friends have brought them alive for me.

Before we cross the Equator, I have to check on the magic carpet’s fuel level. It’s a good time to take a few minutes to click into the famous markets in Vienna…the first of which was held in 1298.

My friend and fellow blogger Mike Powell has dazzling photos from his visit last year: Vienna Christmas Market and Vienna Christmas Lights.

The magic carpet is in good shape, so we’ll glide on over to Australia to The Rocks Market in Sydney. I have spent many hours here buying souvenirs, but one of the most memorable items was quickly eaten up: a giant garlicky meatball.

I like all the markets–busy with people in their life’s work, live music and savory aromas.

But it is the remote village markets that are my favorite. Foreign lifestyles, rural and non-commercial, sometimes a foreign language barrier, yet still universally human and earthly.

We came across this busy African market in Arusha, Tanzania.

In Kenya we arrived by motorboat to this village island market in Lake Baringo, Kenya.

Across the globe in the shadow of Peru’s towering Andes Mountains, various crops like potatoes, corn and grains are terrace-farmed and sold.

All the big, lumpy bags in this village’s market are filled with potatoes.

While in the Amazon valley, we spotted these just-picked bananas being brought down the Madre de Dios River to be driven to market.

Traditional textiles of Peru date back over 10,000 years and remain an attraction for quality craftsmanship and fine alpaca wools. We found many markets selling woven tapestries and clothing throughout the Cuzco region.

I bought this purple sweater from this weaver.

I hope this magic carpet ride revived a few of your memories of markets or farmers or good times. I extend my warmest wishes for sweet moments in your holidays.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

The Lights of Seattle’s Great Wheel

Seattle's Great Wheel, candy canes during holidays

Seattle’s Great Wheel, candy canes during holidays

Seattle’s Great Wheel greets residents and visitors every night in a dazzling salute. There are 500,000 LED lights embellishing this ferris wheel, adorning the skyline for miles.


Perched on the shoreline at Pier 57, it stands 175 feet (53.3 m) high, and extends 40 feet (12.2 m) over the waters of Elliott Bay.


The Seattle Great Wheel

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

The ferris wheel is open for riding year round and in all weather, click here.


There is one man who lights up the Wheel:  Gerry Hall. He is in charge of the lights, including repairing broken ones (they repel down the ferris wheel).


While his job title is General Manager, and light displays were not originally under the job description, he took an interest in the lights and started programming designs as a hobby. He creates the mesmerizing light design from his laptop in his living room.


Seattle and the Puget Sound

Seattle and the Puget Sound

The displays have become more sophisticated and elaborate over the four years since the Wheel was constructed, with flashing, swirling, and even messages. There are holiday themes, like the candy canes pictured here, and other Seattle-based themes.


Home football light shows are a big hit, including a recent time-lapsed spelling of S-e-a-h-a-w-k-s, proud Seattle’s National Football League team. Just last week I was watching a Seahawks game when they showed the Great Wheel radiating blue and green (team colors) with a flashing football spinning in the center.


More images here.


He receives requests of all kinds, and in a recent interview said that “gender reveals” are a current favorite. Couples expecting a baby who do not know the gender yet, stand in view of the Wheel. Their doctor or friend find out the gender, call it in to Mr. Hall, and pink or blue flashes up for the expecting couple.

Image result for seattle great wheel ferris wheel images

Photo: Geoff Vlcek, Courtesy My Modern Met

I once arrived in Seattle by boat at night, having come from Victoria. Glowing purple lights adorned the entire Wheel, bejeweling the waters below.


It was a passionate greeting saying, “Welcome to this spirited city.”


Photo credit: Athena Alexander unless otherwise specified.


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Blaring Red Trumpets

Chihuly glass sculpture

Chihuly Trumpet sculpture (Space Needle in the upper left corner)

This robust sculpture resides in Seattle, at the base of the Space Needle.  A tower of scarlet glass trumpets, it stands over six feet tall, at Chihuly Garden and Glass.


The artist, Dale Chihuly, was born in Tacoma and has spent many years in the Pacific Northwest.  The entire exhibit is a permanent collection, displayed indoors and out.


I spent a wet and rainy day at the museum in Seattle last year, and it lit up the gloom in the most extraordinary way.  The garish colors, colossal sculptures, and outrageous creativity are a true indoor marvel.  Then you go outdoors, and more brilliance awaits.  Info here.


Outside there is a refreshingly unique garden studded with glass plants and this sculpture, an edifice of glaring red blaring trumpets.  Click here for more of Athena’s photos of the Chihuly Garden exhibit, part of a series I wrote.


What I like most about this wild, one-eyed sculptor and his art is his message:  be bold, be brave.

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander


Chihuly Photos, Series 4 of 4

Chihuly Collections Cafe

Chihuly Collections Cafe

A restaurant filled with hanging accordions!  Today is the last of the Chihuly series, featuring the Collections Cafe.  All this week I have been sharing the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit that I had the opportunity to visit in Seattle over the recent holidays.

This is the restaurant inside the museum.  I would not have been inclined to go in (it’s not very noticeable from inside the museum) except that a friend at the Christmas party, a Seattle resident, told us about the innovative displays and delicious food.

Dave Chihuly has extensive collections of things that reside inside this Cafe.  The biggest and most bold of the collections consists of two or three dozen vintage accordions.  They all hang down from the ceiling, high above the diners who sit at the tables enjoying the exquisite cuisine.  That is what’s in this photo.

When you first walk toward the long and narrow restaurant, a wall of hundreds of bottle openers greets you.  They’re from college days and other places along his path.  We were seated at one of the far-back tables so we had the opportunity to walk the entire length of the restaurant and view all the collections.

Chihuly Collections Radios

Chihuly Collections Radios

On one wall are dozens of colorful antique radios in a shelved display.  Other interesting collections are displayed in the tables.  Many of the dining tables are a display case built underneath the glass tabletop.  Displayed inside the table were many small articles, neatly displayed, with a whimsical and colorful theme.  There were Christmas decorations at one table, transistor radios at another, small cameras, old tin toys, shaving brushes–all displayed in these table cases.  But there was only so long you could hover over some poor stranger’s Brie and Pear Ravioli to study the collection in their table, ha.

It was a dark and rainy day and even though there were large windows to the outdoors, by 3 pm it started to get darker.  That was when I could take my eyes off the collections and enjoy the brightly-lit wall of his drawings.  The theme of the entire exhibit echoed here in the restaurant too in the form of a back-lit wall  (see left side of first photo) of 36 drawings.  The riotous colors and unique designs of Dale Chihuly’s drawings came alive.

I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I enjoyed showing you around.  I’ve received comments during the week from many people all over the world who relayed their experiences and glowing reviews of Chihuly exhibits they had visited.  This makes me smile.  It’s always great to witness appreciation and reverence for a brilliant artist living in our time.

[All photographs in this series courtesy of Athena Alexander; no reproduction or usage without permission.]