Read, Watch, Listen: Methow Valley, Lovecraft Country, Roanoke

There is a bowl of steaming hot quinoa, spinach, and great northern beans in front of me. Bolstered by generous helpings of cayenne, black pepper, curry powder, and Sriracha's garlic chili sauce. Chow hall food, fancied up by the quinoa instead of Uncle Ben's instant rice. A tomato and onion would be nice, but I ate the last of those for lunch. It's almost perfect. I wish it were in a 50-year old earthenware (not sure if that's a word) bowl instead of this cheap plastic. I feel bad for people who don't like tomatoes and onions. (I'm grateful for good food in a cheap plastic bowl. I use too many parentheticals.)

I thought about getting takeout tonight, but nothing appealed as I walked around the Hill. Places were busy. I'm glad, even though it still seems weird to see people eating inside. I saw a couple of places where limited capacity meant an empty seat here or there. I'm not the COVID police. People are making the best decisions they can in uncertain times. Almost everyone I saw on the sidewalks was masked. In cases where we were not masked (I drank a ginger ale on my walk home), most of us would mask up before passing one another.

I need to make a list of Hill meals to get before a move that, while not imminent, is inevitable. Shakshuka from Corvus and Company is at the top of the list. Something from Harry's Fine Foods and Cook Weaver. I can't leave without trying Ezell's fried chicken. Maybe something from Dingfelder's.

I've always loved reading about New York delis, which before COVID were going through a transition that saw traditional delis closing and newer deli-like places opening. This article at Haaretz is a great read, if you can disregard the grammar. I suspect it was transcribed, dropping all the contractions and possessives. I haven't had pastrami since pastīrma in Turkey. I think they're related. Look them up. Food history is fascinating. It sounds like the horse warriors from the Steppe pressed pastīrma between saddle and horse. That's just cool, and I feel lame for having just bought mass produced staples at QFC. Hope you caught that pun.

Quinoa is a perfect food. I chuck in a bunch of spices when it's simmering. I have no idea if the quinoa actually absorbs those spices. It sure makes my tiny kitchen smell nice.

I'm not sure why I don't eat quinoa more often. A few years ago it seemed to get really expensive, but (anecdotal observation) now it seems like there must be more competition. I read a few years ago that the farmers in South America who grow it got a raw deal. I wouldn't be surprised. I need to read some more on it because those stories seem inevitable and counter-intuitive. If you grow a crop, you want to have a market for that crop. I think one reason people tune out some issues is because it always seems that if something becomes popular, you only have to wait a few months for a Huffington Post article telling you you're a terrible person for buying that product. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

If you're new here, I occasionally talk about the idea of finding home. A couple of years ago I toyed with the idea of starting a podcast or something with that theme in mind. I've always been transient. There are days I embrace that, and there are days I just want to plop down in a small community and never leave. I don't think that's uncommon. I still want to explore the idea because I think it's timely and relevant. A lot of people in the COVID era are questioning where they want to live.

Porches and backyard gardens sure seem nice right now, a lap pool divine*. But I think it's too early and almost always a bad idea to make grand "back to the land and small town" conclusions. There's going to be a significant migration, no doubt, but the Spanish Flu ended. COVID-19 will end eventually. People in their 20s are going to want to be around people in their 20s at theatres, bars, clubs, restaurants, plays. 3,000+ years of human nature backs me up on that. If you're 20-30 (or 20-90) and considering a move to the big city, go for it, especially if it's in a place that will be slower to feel the effects of climate change. Sure, you might want to wait a while, but don't give up on that dream of living in communities densely packed with artists, actors, and musicians. If this post inspired you to move to a city and write a play, there had better be tickets waiting for me at Will Call.

I went a little off-track there. I wanted to talk about Ashley Ahearn and finding home. I can't remember how I found her on my now nuked Instagram account. Former Seattle journalist covering the environmental beat. A few years ago she headed inland to the Methow Valley's ranch country. 85% of Instagram is garbage, 15% is awesome. (I should have figured out a Yogi Berraism there.)

Crosscut's Hannah Weinberger has a great interview with Ahearn that gives me some much needed hope about our collective potential to co-exist. So much so that it rekindled my goal of eventually getting to Montana after a detour through the southwest. Of course Montana might get bypassed for Canada, Scandinavia, Ireland, or Berlin. (Search Engine Optimization reach for the stars - governments of Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, and Germany, if you're looking for an obscure, unknown, unread blogger, get in touch. I can probably boost your tourism by two people. Hi mom and dad!)

Lovecraft Country continues to impress. I'm hooked. It's not for everyone, though. It gets trippy and very non-linear. But it is beautifully filmed, and the acting is incredible. The most recent episode is set during the Korean War. I realized that I couldn't remember anything about the origins of that war. Inexcusable given that my grandfather served there. I was lazy and went the Wikipedia route to research it at least a little. A fascinating, complicated mess. Vulture's Stephan Triplett has a (spoilers!) fantastic recap of the most recent episode.

It's time to temporarily retire my Matt Moore surfboard hat. Matt Moore is a famous surfer with a small shop in Carpinteria. I wandered into the shop a couple of summers ago dreaming about surfing. I ended up having a long conversation with Matt. There was no way I was leaving that shop without a hat.

I love that hat. But there's a 2020 problem. The crossed surfboards from a distance look military / Proud Boysish. A worker at QFC tonight was looking at if funny and asked me about it, with some suspicion. Before you roll your eyes and say "ugh, Seattle", it's something I've been thinking about. It looks very U.S. Cavalry, and the militia folks love all things military insignia. I was already thinking about retiring it. The QFC person confirmed my instincts.

If I ever get access to a time machine, I'm going to tell my younger self two things - learn to surf you idiot and buy Microsoft stock.  And maybe replace those two things with information that will actually benefit others.

Well said.

I almost forgot the Roanoke part. When I first moved to Seattle I was still into The Walking Dead. I ended up giving up on it, but while I was still interested an old friend of mine and I would watch it at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern. Awesome neighborhood bar. Trying to watch a show there could be very frustrating, but it was worth it, especially when they were serving spaghetti and deliciously buttered bread. Sue was the bartender on those nights before they moved away. Portland I think. I read a "this day in Capitol Hill history" post at the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog talking about a change in ownership at the Roanoke in 2019. I wasn't aware of that and realized I haven't been there in a couple of years. I hope I get a chance to get a beer there before I leave. I hope Sue is doing well.

*A lap pool would be nice. I miss swimming at the Y. Even better - getting off my lazy ass and swimming in the Washington lakes. I think I missed my chance. Really not happy with myself on that one.

**We constantly get suggestions about what to read or watch. Most of us never follow up on those suggestions, and that's ok. I think it's fun to hear others talk about what they're reading and watching, and whether they'd recommend those things. If you watch Lovecraft Country and hate it, my feelings won't be hurt. But I'd sure like to hear what you're reading and watching.