Short Stop

I love beginnings. Just this morning i sat in a converted doublewide trailer. Some years ago it had been converted into a coffee shop called the Short Stop. No, that’s not right. Garrett, the backwards hat wearing local, he bought it from the previous owners. I don’t know what it was called before he took over. Why at 23 did he buy a doublewide coffee shop in the heart of Ballard’s industrial district?

I only know part of that story. And the parts that i know of involved a blonde haired beauty and a broken heart. He wanted her and she wanted a coffee shop so he bought her one, the same one she was working at the day he spotted her through the drive thru window.

But that was four years ago. She's gone now and he's still here, taking care of her dream long after his walked out the door. Garrett makes sandwiches, pours coffee and serves truckers, forklift operators and dockworkers. With his hands immersed in soapy water he tells me about his plans to put in a bar along the wall with enough power outlets to service his wifi customers. We then talk about local bars. He tells me about his favorites haunts and I share a couple of my own.

There’s a scratching that comes from the room next to me. It’s his puppy. A beautiful blue eyed husky named Sahara. His baby. He lets her out and she runs around, drinks some water and introduces herself to the few folks sitting around the shop. It's lunchtime now. Workers wearing blue overalls with their name stitched to the front come inside and order bowls of chili. Garrett’s busy now, too busy to finish his story. That will have to wait for another day.


Wake Up

I'm laying face down on the mattress. The gulls are screaming just outside the window and the sun hasn’t even come up yet. What are they on about? Don’t they have anything better to do at 7:15 in the morning? Of course not, they’re seagulls.

Well I guess I should be up anyway. I open the cheap plastic blinds and stagger back in surprise. The sky’s on fire. So that’s what they were on about. Where’s my camera? My pants? My socks? My shoes? I'm on the top floor of this old apartment building and from the south facing side you can get a semi-obstructed view of the city. I run out the door barefoot and disheveled. This kind of sunrise doesn’t last for long. The gulls circle overhead. Their quiet now.

I snap a couple of shots and then just take in the scene before me. Car lights flicker off the street below, a warm glow ebbs through the windows of nearby apartments. I walk back into apartment 408 and put on the kettle. It’s time for coffee.


Strange Art And The Blues

Last night I gathered a few friends together and headed down to the Conor Byrne. Upon arrival i noticed some rather large paintings hanging from the red brick walls. The content of the paintings was an interesting mix of Hollywood characters turned into religious icons. I was impressed enough to take a couple of pictures of these paintings created by a guy named Scot Hasenkamp.

But strange paintings hanging from brick walls wasn't the reason why I had journeyed here, it was just an added bonus. There were a couple of blues musicians plying their trade and I was in need of some good live music. Sam Marshall opened for Colin Lake and Wellbottom. Sam played his acoustic guitar well enough for me to buy him a beer after his set.

Colin drew a rather large crowd for such a small pub and nearly half of those folks were dancing in front of the stage by the end of the night. I don't know how long Colin played for because when i left at 12:45 he was still plucking strings.

The night went later than I thought it would but in the end I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

The Conor Byrne lit up like a firefly.

Scots take on life.

Sam sliding his way through the night.


Creative Types

Writers block. Saturday morning and I type and delete my opening sentence 8 times over. What I am trying to write about and trying to convey to you is about this group of friends I know in Vancouver, Canada. They’re creative and I want to give them props for their creativity. They make short videos showcasing everything from Utilikilts to deep fried mars bars. They call themselves “Becausewecan.tv”.

Over the years I have been privileged in meeting some extremely creative folk. Just this morning I sat and read a script sent to me by a German friend I met while traveling in Scotland. Her story drew me in and held my attention like a well-told story should.

It’s the creativity of others that pushes me to create. A big thank you to those who share what they create. It encourages me to share as well.



Its good to be home.


Tom Waits

So here is the man, the myth, and yes the legend. Tom Waits. My brother introduced me to him while i was making omelets in a caravan in Ireland. It was raining buckets outside while Matt poured on Waits best tunes. This guys been around since well before i was born. What have i been doing the last 26 years? How did i miss his stories?

Either way i know a bit of his story and i intend to follow it further.

I've downloaded this one song from his "Nighthawks At The Diner" album called Better Off Without A Wife. It has a hilarious line in it that goes,

"Yeah I got this girl I know, man,
she's been married several times.
And I don't wanna end up like her.
I mean shes been married so many times
Shes got rice rice marks all over her face."

Thank you Matt, and thank you Tom.


Glen Shiel

David pushed us through the Highlands toward the sea, foot on the gas pedal and drum and bass music blaring through the speakers. I don’t know what time it was. Close to lunch perhaps. Stark barren hills flanked us on either side as we drove on, looking for just the right place. Sunlight filtered in and out of view, rain came in fits, fog lifted then dropped again. It was as if the mountains were being shaped and sculpted that very morning.

Now we are at the parking lot at the base of the chosen hill. We climb from the car, dawn raincoats, backpacks, sack lunches and hats. We begin to make our way up the little trail. We talk about life and how much we love it. Rain pours on us and wind blows through us. Still we climb. I dodge mud pits and sheep droppings.

Water rushes down the hillside in its search for the quickest route back to the sea.

After some time we reach a peak. We are no longer sheltered by the hillside. It’s cold, very cold. I'm soaked through, my shoes taking on water with feet sinking fast. I fumble around inside my bag for a camera. My hands are so numb that it becomes a task just to press the shutter. Dave poses for a shot, I follow suit and then we quickly huff it down the hill.

The car is warm and dry, with heat spilling out from an open passenger door. I have to strip naked and change in the parking lot with rain whipping all around me before I can climb in. The music is back on and we are driving down the road again. I look out the window and smile, my head bobbing slightly as the beat plays on in the background.


Searching For The Sun

Hadley phoned Ryan at the Fremont PCC. She was helping me to track down a copy of The Sun Magazine, by far the most worthwhile magazine I have chanced to lay eyes upon. Ryan said he would call back. So I waited next to the table stacked high with little plastic containers of organic ginger snaps, organics figs and organic peppermint sticks. If you were looking for an organic sugar overload you could find it right there on the little table just in front of the cash registers.

After a few minutes Hadley reappeared and told me that Ryan found a copy and that it was the only left in the store. On top of that Ryan (I was beginning to feel like I should know this Ryan guy) had examined the cover and noted that it was a bit “soiled” and as a result he wouldn’t sell it to me; he would give it to me. I'm stoked.

All I had to do to acquire this magnificent body of work was hop on my borrowed bicycle, glide past Greenlake, huff up two hills and cruise down Fremont Avenue. So with water spinning left, right and center from the tire channels I traveled past Getty Images, past one of Googles headquarters and into the bike rack at the Fremont branch.

Ryan Walker. That’s who I was looking for. I was ushered to the back of the store, the place where only employees could enter. I met a man hefting boxes on top of trolleys. He introduced himself. He thought I was a new hire. Ryan came in and led me to the front register where my perfectly new and unsoilt copy of The Sun awaited me.

The same Sun with a qoute on the cover that read, "The central conceit of this whole culture is that...the fish in the oceans are waiting there for us to catch them, that the trees in the forests stand ready for us to cut them down, that the animals in the zoo are there for us to be entertained by them." See Manifest Destiny.

I thanked him and asked if they were hiring. He handed me an application and told me to mention on the app that I bike. Over 85% of the employees rode bikes to and from work. I felt as if I already had the job.

Its good to be home.


Jet Lag Recovery Method #1

Laughter. Yes, full on doubled over nearly puking can't breathe because its so funny laughter.

While in Ireland my brother and I were exposed to a show the likes of which i had never seen before. The creativity and wit that went into the costumes, sets and story lines was inspiring to say the least. Two British blokes came up with this show made fun of everything from old fisherman's tales to modern day artist types. They called it The Mighty Boosh and the BBC of all companies picked it up.

Today I found my favorite episode on Youtube and nearly wet myself and the couch I reclined upon.

This is an excerpt from that episode, "The Legend Of Old Gregg".


The Morning News

An illuminated lamp shade
hovers over a head of hair,
both sharing the same shade of color.

One made of faux brass
the other withered skin and bone.

She in her pink robe
flicks open the morning paper,
brings a mug to her thin lips.

And in those movements
she finds the comfort of
small predictability
in a wholly unpredictable world.

The coffee is hot, as usual.

The paper reeks of ink and death, as usual.

And the little bulb burns diligently
above her wizened head, as usual.


Days Past

Over the next month I plan to try and write a few short stories telling of some of the experiences I've had over the last two months while traveling throughout Ireland and Scotland. I'll be editing photos and posting them when i feel compelled to. I hope you enjoy this look backwards through the last couple of months.

The following is a journal entry I wrote on the evening of October 23rd. I had stood at the edge of a field and watched car headlights plow through the misty, moonlit evening.

Standing in the moonlight waiting. Waiting for the No.15 to return from its 8:01 drop off in Comrie. No, I'm not catching the bus, I'm capturing it. I'm hijacking it's taillights, headlights and various other running lights for a scene i am trying to create.

A scene with mist covered trees, illuminated mountian tops and headlights trailing across the road below. My patience paid off and the bus came by again, this time headed for Perth.

Two more trips back and forth and the bus will have called it quits for the night, leaving travelers to devise their own way home through the darkness.



4 days on the island. 4 days without sun, only wind, rain and fog. Rocks, old rocks, and heather, dead heather, lie silently just outside the caravan door. It's early, 7:45 I think, and John is feeding the hens. John MacLeod, a man in his 50's who remembers when there was no electricity to speak of on the island.

John now walks up the drive to the metal shed he built some years back, fluorescent light spilling out through an open doorway guides him back inside.

I watch all of this through a rain blurred window. I try to take a picture worth remembering but it all happens so fast and the images comes out blurry, just like the window.

The lights off in the shed and John is inside the house now. We gather in his kitchen around a table for two. He switches off the radio and in doing so ends the Gaelic weather report being given. Even though they say it in Gaelic i understand what the report will be for the day, rain. We bow our heads and John says a quick, familiar prayer. One he has prayed since he was a young boy.

The porridge is hot and the bread evenly toasted. We discuss the weather, the day and how we are feeling about both. This is Harris during the winter; wet, dark, subdued, dull and grey.

As the locals say, "Welcome to another fine day in Harris."