House on the Hill

She has a small pallet board homestead

She stands about 5′-2″—wind-blown Jet-Black hair. Dark skin, she Weighs maybe 90lbs. Because of her small size, her striking features, I think she might be South American. She wears jeans, plaid shirts, sometimes a black jacket over the shirt.
She has found a place behind Seahawk stadium, facing 4th avenue. Small empty green space, slight incline, a small tree to the north side of the clearing, small bushes on the street side.
She has built a small pallet board homestead. Shes lined her home with tarps, pieces of wood she has found.
The home sits on pallet boards as well. She steps up to the opening that is used as a door, pushing the tarp to one side, then steps in. Her place appears to be about 3 or 4 feet deep, 7 or 8 ft wide.
The area that she cleared for herself is clean. The grass is pulled, weeds are pulled. I have seen her collect garbage that blows its way into the area.
I have driven by in the mornings and have seen her sitting in front of her place eating. She uses a bowl and utensil. I begin to wonder where she has come from, how long she has been there. As the city has cleaned out other tent towns and homes over the last couple of years, she seems to have survived this, her house always clean, always separate from others, no one has moved into her territory. I have wondered why.

The small tree on her homestead is about 20 feet away from her door. She argues with it. I have seen her shake her fist at it. Break a branch, throw it on the ground. Then stomp to her house.
I have seen her stand at her property line, next to the street as cars and buses, trucks buzz past. She doesn’t seem to notice us. She stares past the hustle. Her dark eyes are busy with things on her mind. And She is busier than the street in front of her.
She looked my way last Sunday, I was hoping to see into her eyes, but we never connected there. She turned again to the tree, waved her arms, stomped to her door.
Behind her, lights of Century Link Stadium.

Somedays I wish for a Zombie Apocalypse. The good news though, Seahawks are 4-0

I have more than once heard: A society is measured by how they treat the most vulnerable.
I think it’s evident how we measure up.

I’m going to rant a little bit.
I like my job. I find it interesting. It’s a job like no other if you’re a people watcher. It’s been said that bus drivers encounter more people than Presidents or the Pope on a weekly basis.
So, that is what gives me a license to rant.
Today, 3rd and Cherry, I have seen this man several times this past year. He sits in a provided manual basic wheelchair, the kind Hospitals give to people who need them just before they are sent back into the street or shelter.
He has no legs. He is far too skinny to look healthy.
He has one arm.
He struggles to use this chair. I have seen him trying to push the wheels forward. It’s, to say the least: Awkward.
Back to today. 2 pm. He sits on the street side of the sidewalk, facing uphill on 3rd and Cherry. His head is tilted to the side, his eyes vacant. His one arm dangles next to the wheel. He looks exhausted. He is in a dangerous place as a car speeds up the hill and misses him by a couple of feet.
I see a Prostitute that I have seen with him before. They have struck me as friends, not business. She is a blond, short polyester skirt, stained with street muck, white leather jacket; blond hair pulled back. White skin that is blotchy red, she is moving as quickly towards him as she can to help him.
My light turns green. I move south on 3rd ave.
I am repulsed by what I just saw.
A man with no legs. one arm living on the streets. His best friend, a drug-addicted Prostitute, who probably has a heart of gold. Nonetheless, her occupation creates a risk to her longevity, and her obvious drug addiction also creates risk.
Why do we allow this? Is this the best we can do?
I have more than once heard; A society is measured by how they treat the most vulnerable.
I think it’s evident how we measure up.
The same trip, on 1st between Holgate and Lucile.
Another man has his sweatpants down to mid-thigh, his jockstrap is down too, he is scratching under his testicles, he sees me and tries to wave me down. He has a grin on his face, desperately tries to get me to stop.
I don’t stop; I can’t have that on my bus, I have people that I am responsible for their welfare and safety.
I drive down streets, where both sides of that street have homeless, drugged, handicapped mentally ill. These streets have garbage everywhere, decay, destruction as we build high-end high rises.

I’m a little angry at this point. I have to say, this kind of sequence of events is not outside the norm. This is the world we have built, and its no different in just about any big city across this country, and I’m sure other nations as well.
We are Irresponsible people.
I am one person; I fully admit that I do not have the money or resources to change anyone’s life. I simply have enough money to get by day to day and save a little for tomorrow and hope for the best. There is also only so many good deeds that I am capable of doing and still take care of my own life.
I recently saw the Walking Dead.
It’s a great series, not just for the acting, writing, effects, and eye candy. It’s great because of the portrayal of what happens when we don’t take care of each other.
The people in that series return to tribal status. They have found themselves with a group of people; they work for the better good. When they don’t, things predictably go wrong.
So, they bone up; they take care of each other the best way they can. It’s not always about being a better fighter, sometimes its intelligence, creativity, choosing to walk away, or learning to enjoy the moment. Every person has a place there; every person is important to their tribe.
We obviously do not do this.
We have the wealthiest nation on earth. We have the most powerful nation on earth.
We have a divided nation. The have’s are telling us, that there is nothing to be done to help the homeless, the poor, the disabled, the druggies. Nor can we afford to educate people. They say we can’t afford to help people that won’t help themselves. We cannot afford healthcare; it is not a right; it’s a privilege.
They think these people are lazy, unworthy.
They say this while the rich, the extremely rich get more tax breaks, broader control over the planet, more overall control over consumers. In other words, we spend our money foolishly on the wealthy.
We are a sick Nation, there are days I try my best in my own world to help the people around me, and I do these things selfishly because my world is better because of it. Then I feel better about my world.
I am a Seahawk fan. I am thrilled that they are now 4-0.
Isn’t it great that we have young millionaires playing a game. Owned by the super-rich who makes more money from people with enough money to buy tickets and merchandise to support this lifestyle.
( I say this knowing that so many of those players and teams do good things in their communities.)
Is this the best we can do?
Seriously, who would you rather talk to about life?
A football player, or a teacher, or a social worker. Who would give you the most wisdom regarding life?
I pull into a stop at Chinook street under the West Seattle bridge,
I lower the bus for an elderly man pushing his belongings in a rigged up cart of a dolly and plastic milk boxes.
It tips and spills his items out of the top milk box, some toilet paper, a half loaf of bread, a peanut butter jar, some clothing. He cusses. The 2nd milk box holds a pup tent. A young man with a skateboard who was waiting for his turn to board bends to help him. The old man starts to cry, and it’s obvious he is embarrassed; the young man gets things stacked again, pats him on the shoulder, then boards.
It’s about 230 pm.
I am pissed.
I have tears in my eye.
I drive slow to Avondale, where I take a left, head up a hill.
I am thinking a Zombie Apocalypse just might be deserved.
I am not kidding.

The Prayer

He unrolls his prayer rug to face east, kneels with his arms reaching in front, the drops of rain sticking to his skin, darkening his white tank top

Turning North on 6th from Holgate, 5:40am, on the sidewalk just east of Salvation Army.  A man, dressed in shorts, white tank top, bare feet carrying a prayer rug, it’s sprinkling out rinsing the soot of the recent fires in Oregon that have been sending their smoke North to Washington and Canada, there has not been much wind in the past week, it is smoggy, thick with the smell of smoke, you can feel the air stick to your skin and the sprinkle of rain creates a darkening mist just above the ground.

He unrolls his prayer rug to face east, kneels with his arms reaching in front, the drops of rain sticking to his skin, darkening his white tank top.

His pup tent door is open to the sidewalk, it is also facing east.

 I continue to drive by as I hope Allah is listening,

I as well speak to the great Creator, asking for wind, and perhaps if he feels it appropriate, a downpour of rain to help all the creatures of his world as I pull into our parking garage.

It’s noon, I pull into the Burien Transit center, drop a small group of riders off, There by the building 5 policemen have a man on the ground, he is kneeling, his hands cuffed behind him a small crowd surrounds the scene.

  I continue clockwise around the building and come across a small flock of pigeons that have been slaughtered a few are missing heads, it does not look like they had been run over by a bus, I wonder if the handcuffed man had something to do with this.

I’m at home, close to 9pm, in my yard, through the haze, my binoculars are focusing on the moon that has begun it’s crescent phase, it has a slight red tint to it.

The Kiss

I have watched a man walk his dog during that time frame, a good looking Pit bull Labrador mix that has a brindle coat.

I have been driving the same route in the same time frame for about a year now, and at different times almost two years before that.  I have watched a number of people on this route and know some of their routines.

I have watched a man walk his dog during that time frame, a good-looking Pit-Bull Labrador mix that has a brindle coat.

He had been walking her up and down 35th sw, happy dog, smile on her face when she greets people, she has that squirm and her ears go down when she meets people, and she loves them all. 

He is over 50, shaggy beard carries a ball for her, I have seen her run and catch, fetch be distracted by birds, dogs and people as she brings it back to him. 

I have seen her become grey, and this past year, she has slowed.  He had stopped carrying her ball early last summer, she was walking with her head down, her tail swings slow left and right, she stops, her nose in the air and sniffs, he patiently waits for her to move again. 

I missed seeing them over the past few weeks, saw them today. He lives by a stop, I am letting on an old gentleman that needs the ramp as he scoots his walker past me I watch the pair, I’m saddened:

Her back legs are not working right, her hip overly swings, her front legs are weak as she shakes to walk.  They are at the end of their front walk of his house where it meets the sidewalk grass, she stumbles falls, whimpers, she seems blind now, scared, he bends down next to her, lifts her front torso up, kisses her head and sooths her.

I am taken by this moment, I leave my door open and watch this grotesque, horrible but beautiful moment. 

I know he is talking to her, softly, as his lips are to her head, he slides his other arm under her back, to her hips, then lifts her, she subtly jerks, he whispers again, holds her as he stands and kisses her head again, she relaxes, her head loose over his arm, her tongue out, he is holding his head against hers in a hug as they turn towards his door. 

I close my door and start to pull away as he carries her to his door.

Orange Needle

Crows are present, they have found stops like these offer foods for the day, materials for nests, a reason for territory arguments

This August morning started with greys and mists, sun orange behind clouds the warm light casting mild shadows.

Its early enough the sounds of cars, traffic and people are still singular sounds, muffled by their distance. I am at a stop at 12th and Lane. This stop is often busy with human services and care, by this stop is a small tent city know for its drug use, crime.  Some are waking up, some are returning home, they are moving around, one lady makes her way to 12th, She doesn’t seem to know she’s on the street, nor does she see me, she drops her pants, her skin is blotchy, potted, she pees, then vacates her rectum a few yards in front of me.  She cleans herself with a towel she tosses to the sidewalk.  My door is open, I smell the garbage that’s littered, wrappers, beer cans, broken bottles, clothes. I can smell alcohol and the garbage in the air. A siren in the International district echoes between the buildings.

Crows are present, they have found stops like these offer foods for the day, materials for nests, a reason for territory arguments.

Two Crows look to be molting, they are skinnier than most, not a jet black, more of a light charcoal, feathers hang loose from their bodies unpreened,  their movements are quick, they seem angry, they have found an orange needle the kind that is handed out by the state, they are pecking it.  One goes to pick it up, the other pecks at its beak, the needle is dropped, the crows fight each other. Viscous, not normal territory squabble.

I had to ask myself, are they fighting over the needle for its drug?

They are rolling on the ground, talons out, pecking for eyes, one flutters away chased for a bit.

I close my door, continue south across the Rizal bridge,

I can see T Mobile Park lighted in Pink, in the distance behind, Puget Sound then the Olympic Mountain range rises above the park, its peaks are blue to white, to a soft glow of the yellow sun touching grey clouds.

In the Park

 

 

7 am at Westwood, the park across from Target, there is a woman lying face down, sleeping, she is brunette, grey hoodie, she has the brown skin possibly an Islander,  her pants and underwear are off, they have been folded, placed next to her elbow of the arm her head rests on.  Her right knee out and almost equal to her hip.

An empty bottle of Jack Daniels lays on the other side of her clothes.

I can’t help but to look at the details of the situation.

It was not sexual for me,

There was some concern of perhaps rape, but her folded clothes, empty bottle, her deep, seemingly comfortable sleep led me to believe she found a comfortable spot.

I pick up the radio and call TCC

The Grass is long in this park, it is due

for a mowing, dandelions are tall, some yellow buds are turning white at the end of tall stalks where one has found itself to be standing behind her entrance.

It’s a warm morning, nearing 80 at 7am, a woman in her 80s that I often see walking, stops, approaches her, tries to wake her. The sleeper raises her head, then turns it the other way.

The elderly woman has a cell phone to her ear as she reaches for the woman’s pants and gently lays them across her rear.

I open the door to the bus, call to the elderly woman that I have called this in, she responds, “I just called too, the police will be here, 2nd time this week I have found her like this”.

You ok mam? “I’m fine, I’ll stay with her.

Thank you, mam, have a good morning.

TCC responds, I tell them to disregard.

A male in his 30s is doing his morning run, stops where the old woman is, they have a brief conversation, he turns his back and faces the street keeping his eye open for the police.

I pull out, start my route, heading east, sun in my eyes.

Crucifix

Earlier that summer the President had people gassed out of a park so he could walk to a photo op, posing with a bible being held upside down and backwards.  When asked by the Press if that was his bible, his answer was “It’s a Bible”

 

On the corner of 1st and Lenora, South West corner there is a man passed out. Like laying on a cross,  Arms stretched out, legs stretched straight, and downhill, shoes had been kicked to the side, his face staring straight to the sky, mouth open eyes closed,  he slowly begins to get soaked as a light rain has started, his empty liquor bottle rests against the building next to him.

A ferry blows its horn from the dock below, as a car heading south on 1st rushes by whooshing a puddle that just misses the man.

Speakers are blaring Bible quotes spoke in a foreign language by a young group of men I believe are fundamentalist,  they hold the bible,  dressed in purple and gold Toga’s  the crowd walking by them are mostly homeless and druggers There is no interaction between the two groups it’s as if they are from two dimensions sharing the same street.

A young couple begin to cross the street towards the man, think better of it as they decide to go around him instead.

His mouth has gathered enough rain to choke and wake him, he spits out a bit as he lowers his head again, this time with his mouth closed. I see him blink a couple of times then return to his sleep.

I check my phone, then facebook, there is a post that has a picture of a Black Jesus, and a White Jesus, the caption reads, if Jesus was Black, would White men be Christians?

Below that pic is a cross that says, remember the Crucifix

She Sells Flowers

 

 

Flowers picked from roadside green spaces, Snap Dragons, Paint Brush, Cow Parsnip, Cut leaf, Coralroot, cut, arranged in found bottles that had been rinsed, but not washed, whiskey, mayonnaise, mustard, mason, whatever bottle found then arranged by height, 20 or so, the tallest in the back, short in front, a handful of flowers in each, not too many, less is more, amongst the offering of arrangements, small hand size American flags, coasters of the Space Needle.

A Red White and Blue ribbon weaves its way through the back row of flowers, the display sits on a tie dye silk throw

Her Mid length, non-washed brown curly hair holds to her head like a helmet, Green and white pin striped button down shirt, holes in the elbows, missing buttons reveal a black bra, her jeans dirty, worn in the knees, rolled cuffs, dirty feet wearing whitish sandals. I think she was once attractive.

How much for the arrangement in back? She didn’t look me in the eye as she said “the ones in back are $7 comes with the vase”

I like the one in the Jack Daniels bottle, “Lovely” she said as she reached for the jar, handed it to me with her eyes down, her body odor was strong, it had a back odor of excrement.

She had a small wagon that I believed carried her goods, her purse sitting in it. She reached for it after I paid her.  She struggled to slip the money in, a needle fell out, the kind they hand out for free at the clinics, orange tip and cap.

I had seen her on Broadway for over a week now and curious about her goods spread out, the staging was attractive, the arrangements seemed to be done with the “right touch”

I was driving by today when I decided to make a visit.

I think she is an artist at heart, there are people who you look at, see their work and it fits together, yes, you can tell they painted that.

As I walked away, I admired my new flowers, beautiful in their contrast of something pretty and something that was used and thrown away as garbage, unwashed, taken to be used for something perhaps better.

Walking towards the train station, a bike road by me, the handle bar hit my elbow I dropped, then breaking my vase on the cement.

I kicked the bottle together, picked up the large shrouds of glass, threw it away in a garbage can.

Ill buy again from her, maybe she will show me her eyes.

The Beautiful

Somehow the warmth of the air brings us inside the perfume of flowers, trees, breeze bringing us nearby kitchens, clicks of glasses with ice, somehow the light and shadow with its strong contrast creates a focal point.

 

 

She walks south on Freemont ave, Red Dress hangs just to the knees, small white floral pattern, brown sandals perfect with the summer dress, her dark hair pulled back to a pony tail, Olive skin, her right hand holding white daisy’s, her left gently swings lose, each step graceful like an ice skater, her head glides like on a rail, she moves through the shadows of the trees, the light dancing on her like she is center staged, people notice her, girlfriends holding hands of their lovers join their lovers in a long look as they hold their breath.

Summer is the time for such moments,

Somehow the warmth of the air brings us inside the perfume of flowers, trees, breeze bringing us nearby kitchens, clicks of glasses with ice, somehow the light and shadow with its strong contrast creates a focal point.

She walked through the sidewalk crowd lost in her thoughts, provoking thoughts of others

She is early 20s, she lifts her hand with the flowers and smells them as she passes an elderly couple, He uses a walker, she has her on his arm , white hair, white wrinkled skin fresh to the sun step into the shade of the tree and  watch her walk by, he kisses her hand then they turn back slowly moving on their way.

A 40sh male riding his bike slows to look at her, loses the rhythm of his pedals, he shakes his head as he regains his rhythm, energy well spent.

I turn my bus west on 46th, 12pm on a Monday, its quiet on this street, not so many shadows as the sun is now overhead, not so many trees, cars on each side.

I think of the time I met my lover at a QFC, we bought Sushi and Ice Tea, we walked to a near by park and talked, we had winter jackets on, hers a light blue, mine kaki, I did not notice it was cold.

The Ladder

Driving South on the Aurora Bridge, Lake Union on the right,

Puget Sound on the Left.

 Chesheeahud was a renowned Duwamish chief and travel guide to Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Lake Sammamish in the days before roads were built in the City of Seattle and its suburbs of the “Eastside”. Chesheeahud was the leader of a Duwamish village on Lake Union. Chesheeahud had a cabin and a potato patch on land given to him by pioneer David Denny at the foot of Shelby Street as late as 1900.

 Landscapers have been busy at the “Canlis” Shrubs have been trimmed, lower branches from Maples removed.

There is a ladder that is leaning against a Juniper, left behind as the workers moved on.

 Crossing the bridge,

A Black Lives Matter sign hangs from its right side and drapes over the sidewalk the breeze picks up, it swells like a sail similar to one of the boats below.

Chesheeahud’s to become also known as “lake John” (canoe was a full-sized Salish style canoe, with gently up-curving bow and tapering, angled stern.  Carved from a single huge log of western red cedar, large canoes of this shape had almost disappeared by the end of the 1800s. This was by the Nuu-chah’nulth from the coast and western.

 A young man, 20 something, dressed in white shirt, vest, tie, nice  jeans leather shoes leaves the bus at 39th and Freemont, I pull forward he slaps the bus and waves, he has left his computer behind.

At 46th and Phinney, then drop him at 65th and Greenwood, I pick up a regular, older man, 70? Wears a grey flat cap, light blue jacket, jeans, white tennis shoes, his line before Covid was to pay a $1, say to me “its only fair” we both will shake our heads with appreciation for the corny greeting,

He awkwardly enters the back of the bus now and seems to feel he is missing something before he sits down.

 

“John was a Lake Indian. His illahee [land], which was given to him by his cloish tillicum [good friend], “Dave Denny,” was on Portage Bay, Lake Union, at the foot of what is known now as Shelby Street. There he had his cabin and a small potato patch. He buried his chickamin [money] at the base of stumps. Back among the stumps he built his “sit down” house,. of which he was very proud and which we would not allow any one else to use.”

 

One person is left on my bus, an older Japanese woman, English her second language sits in front with her cane and mask, I had picked her up at 4th and Jackson by the International District, she leaves my bus at 100th   where I pick her up in the mornings, Her husband is with her , his White Fedora, White Jacket that matches his white hair, he pays her fare, walks her to her seat while he does, he makes sure to let me know he is leaving and where her stop is.

Her Husband is now at 100th, there to greet her, helps her off the bus and both bow and wave goodbye to me.

 Chesheeahud and his wife, known by her Pastid name “Madeline”, were often referred to as “the last of the Lake Union Indians,” since they were in fact the last Duwamish family to maintain residence on the lake as the city grew up around  “Debadidi” (David Denny) and moved with many of his people to the Suquamish Reservation across Puget Sound.

I have continued the route, left my layover at Shoreline Community College, a dozen or so people on my bus, I cross the  Aurora Bridge Southbound, the Olympics are still white with shades of blue as they meet the sound.

On my left is the “Canlis”, with a ladder that has been left behind as workers moved on.

 Sources:

Dailey, Tom. Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound, http://www.coastsalishmap.org/

Gould, Jim, Professor Emeritus of History and International Relations, Scripps College, Claremont CA. The Montlake Neighborhood,  http://montlake.net/mcc/mcc_history_Jim_Gould.htm

King County Landmarks & Heritage Commission, Change of Worlds, http://www.changeofworlds.org/object.cfm?object=

Thomas Speer