Rainier Beach

On That Dark, Dreary Day

The air was frosty cold on that dark, dreary day in Seattle. Like most days, the first decision centred on coffee – the where, not the when. From that decision, all other decisions would follow. 

It was Monday. Had it been any other day, the decision would have centred on the when, not the where. On Mondays, the RedWing cafe was closed. On this Monday, the where led to another place – another suburb. 

Walk to the end of the block on 63rd Avenue – turn right – walk another block – turn left – cross the street. Wait at the Bus Stop. Watch cars passing, thankful for the warmth of a coat that is redundant back home in northern New South Wales. Wait for the bus.

The bus stops – you board the bus and feel the instant warmth from the heated interior. You wish for a traffic jam – anything to delay the inevitable moment of reaching your destination and facing the cold.

Change buses at the Interchange. The cold bites at your heels as you walk to the bus that will take you the rest of the way. Again, the warmth of the bus, albeit short-lived. Only a few stops this time. 

Then, the coffee. Starbucks. Because you know what to order at Starbucks. You know how it will taste. You slowly drink your coffee. But you are not ready to face the cold, so you order another coffee.

You watch the people. The young couple with the four-year-old – Grandparents arrive – they go through the motions. Grandpa wants to be somewhere else. The College student staring at the screen of his laptop, looking for inspiration. People come and go. You stay, until you can’t justify staying any longer. The morning coffee has dragged on. It is almost lunch time.

Put on your coat – leave the warmth – brave the cold. 

Take the bus back to the Interchange; find the bus to Rainier Beach. Feel the warmth of the heated interior.

Leave the bus, turn right and walk to the corner where the solar-powered flamingos stand – waiting to illuminate the path at night. You wonder how solar power works in that climate.

Turn left and walk along 63rd Avenue. Feel the cold, but embrace the experience.

Home – where all other decisions can now be made, on that dark, dreary day in Seattle.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments

Day 21 – UBC – Does it Matter Where I Sit?

When I visit a friend or relative’s home for the first time, I usually ask “Does it matter where I sit?”. Everyone has their favourite chair, or seat in the house, and I am wary of plonking myself down on my host’s favourite chair. And one of the most common questions asked of writers is: Where do you write? Like the rest of us, writers probably have a chair or place that they prefer, while writing. I know I do.

Old Habits Are Hard To Break

We all have habits, right? Some good, some not-so-good. And some of us are more bound by habits and routines than others. My morning routine of ‘coffee first!’, is sacrosanct. Pity help anyone who stands between me and that first coffee of the day. Once I’m caffeinated – I’m fine, and the immediate vicinity is once again a safe place to be.


Part of my routine features the chair I sit in to write. My favourite chair in summer is by the door, leading out to the verandah.  The chair is comfortable and rocks just slightly, and with a breeze coming through the door, writing is easy.

My Outside Space

If I want to write early in the morning, this is my ‘go-to’ place. Of course, there’s another little habit that goes with that seat – when I sit out there, I have to have a coffee beside me.

Where Do You Write?

Inside? Outside?

On the Move

While travelling this great planet of ours, I’ve discovered a few places I like to claim as my writing-chair. Top of the list would have to be coffee shops and cafes.

Here are some of the places I’ve sat, with iPad and keyboard stragically placed, and churned out a blog – or two. Usually while sipping about eleven or eight coffees.

My Local

Re Cafe Nate: my neighbourhood coffee shop in Murwillumbah. It can get a bit busy here because the locals all know how good the coffee, food and service are, but it’s a great place to write; thanks Josh, Desley and Don.

West End Brisbane

Between The Bars: West End, Brisbane. This is my home-away-from-home coffee shop. Great coffee and great service; thanks Nick and Mal.

Seattle: WA

RedWing Cafe: Seattle, US. Tucked away in Rainier Beach, this is the best place for just hanging out and writing, on a cold winter’s day. The coffee, food and service are outstanding. And that’s all the encouragement I needed to sit and write. Thank you Anthony, Sue and the fantastic team who kept me fed and caffeinated while I wrote, early this year.

Berhampore (Wellington) NZ

Rinski Korsakov: Berhampore. What can I say? This was just the cutest place – with a table in the front window for people-watching, when inspiration waned. Luckily, there was no shortage of great coffee and carrot cake, when I frequented Rinski’s in September 2017.  Thanks Jet!

Where do Famous Authors Write?

J.K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, came up with the idea for the series while on a delayed train, but wrote in cafes in Scotland. Could it be the coffee that provides the inspiration?

If you have ever asked a writer – “Where do you write?”, what was their response? Do they favour cafes, or a park bench? Do they prefer a log cabin in the woods, or a bench on a busy street?

My guess is, writers have a favourite place when it comes to the serious business of writing. Inspiration, on the other hand, can happen anywhere.

Write On!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 2 comments

Day 11 – UBC – Story of the Yellow School Bus

It was the night before Christmas Eve, the best part of the shopping was done, and all that was left was to make it home before the cold night air chilled us to the bone. But wait! Is that a yellow school bus? I have to take a photo!

And the rest, as they say, is history.

When you are a tourist in Seattle, and it is almost Christmas, the difference between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is enormous. The air is seriously cold, and darkness descends on that part of the world when it is still late afternoon. And that is how it happened. It was a combination of yellow school bus and darkness. Oh, and a smattering of ‘the power of thought’, as well.

Take Some Vegemite With You!

My American travel-buddy decided it would be a good idea to buy me some Vegemite for Christmas. Have you ever tried buying Vegemite in Seattle? It wasn’t such a good idea then, and I doubt it ever will be again. After ‘store-hopping’ across town, from Rainier Beach to Bellevue, no Vegemite was to be found – anywhere.

Disheartened and disillusioned, we boarded the bus that would take us back to Rainier Beach – where the store-hopping venture had started. On the way to the store in Bellevue that should have had Vegemite – but didn’t, I had noticed a Best Buy (a bit like our Aussie JB Hi Fi ) store. And since it was still only afternoon on that cold day in December, it made sense, since we were going to be passing it anyway, to take a small detour. We would get off the bus, walk a few blocks back to the Best Buy store, then take the next bus home to Rainier Beach. Nothing could be easier.

Pick up the Sign!

As we walked along the path that would lead us to the Best Buy store, a wooden sign – sort of like a small billboard – had fallen across the path. Since it took up a considerable amount of the walkway, the thought crossed my mind that I should pick it up and stand it against the fence. The words ‘someone might fall over this’ actually formed in my mind, and hovered, as another more compelling thought swirled around and cancelled it out. For some obscure reason, I convinced myself that the simple act of picking up a fallen sign could have unpleasant ramifications – I wasn’t sure what they could be, but the thought of them won out over ‘pick up the sign!’.  So I didn’t. I stepped over the sign and continued walking towards the Best Buy store.

The words ‘Best Buy’ and ‘quick detour’ are not synonymous. I have a habit of gravitating to the technology section of the store and finding myself lost in a world of gadgets, and gadget cables. By the time we left the store, it was dark. No problem, we thought – just a short walk back to the bus.

Is That a Yellow School Bus?

But wait! Is that a yellow school bus? Wow! Just like the ones you see in the movies. I’ll have to take a photo. It was too dark to see whether I had captured the best angle of the bus, but at least I could adjust any short-comings with editing software. I put my iPhone (camera) safely inside my bag, turned around, and tripped over something in the dark. I landed with a thud, almost face down, on the cold, hard cement. Keeping very still for a few seconds, I mentally took stock of any possible injuries. When I was convinced that everything seemed to be intact, I slowly got up. But it didn’t take long to realise that all was not well. I was holding my left wrist in the palm of my right hand – for a good reason. It hurt! And somehow, it seemed to be more floppy than I remembered it being before the fall.

The thought of calling Uber for transport home, crossed my mind, but then I decided the bus would do, and continued walking to the bus stop. Since we had to go back into the city anyway, I decided to buy a brace for my now, very sore wrist. Optimistically, I had almost convinced myself that I was only sporting a sprain, and a brace would tide me over until it healed.

Oh, did you guess that what I tripped over was the sign I should have picked up earlier?

Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

My glass half-full mentality didn’t live up to its usually high standard on that occasion. By the time Christmas was over, I wasn’t so optimistic, and decided to have an x-ray. The verdict? Broken. Well, more like ‘smashed’. Apparently it was a Smith’s Fracture – there was a much longer and more technical explanation but I can’t remember all of it, so Smith’s Fracure will do. At the appointment with the specialist, it was decided that surgery would be the probable next step, and it would be better to be had in the land of Oz than in the American medical system.

To their credit, my travel insurance kicked in, and despite a few long-winded discussions in the process, an earlier flight home was arranged. I was in a full-cast, from below the shoulder to below the wrist, with a quirky bend at the elbow. Travelling without insurance doesn’t make any sense. Not only did the insurance company cover the flight home, but the seats, or should I say, flat beds – were in Business Class. I have nothing but praise for the Aussie company that takes care of all my travel insurance needs, and I would never leave home without them.

To Have, or Not to Have? That is the Question

And as for the surgery? I managed to heal faster and better than expected and was able to avoid surgery. Should I have had the surgery? Probably. Will I have issues in the future because of that decision? Possibly. I’m not a good patient and rarely step inside any medical facility. So the prospect of an operation wasn’t something I wanted to give much thought to. Luckily, I found a way to deal with the initial pain after having the cast removed. As long as I applied Magnesium Oil to my wrist each morning, I was pain-free.

The yellow school bus photo stayed tucked away in the memory of my iPhone. I couldn’t look at it for a very long time. But it’s okay – I’ve passed through the denial and anger stages and I’m now comfortably resting in the acceptance phase. That is why I have written the story of the yellow school bus in this blog.

I’m okay with it, now.

But, I doubt I will ever look at a yellow school bus again, without flashbacks to that cold, dark, late-afternoon in December, in Seattle.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 6 comments
And The Sun Came Out Today At RedWing Cafe

And The Sun Came Out Today At RedWing Cafe

The Long Way To RedWing Cafe Coffee

Because there is no rain (yet) and to prove that RedWing Cafe coffee isn’t the only thing I think about, I actually took a slightly longer way to the RedWing Cafe this morning. The comparative warmth of the sun peeking through some dark clouds in the distance, and lighter ones close by, made it an easy choice to take longer to get there. In the process, I took some photos of the beauty of this part of Seattle. We’re staying at Ranier Beach and almost every direction we take as we leave the house has a fabulous view of the water.

The view from Cooper Street

There are so many things along the way that seem unusual for this time of year, apart from the weather of course. I didn’t get a photo of it, but there is a huge Holly bush in a front garden on 61st Avenue S. When I say unusual, I mean it would be  ‘unusual’ in my part of the world, but very ordinary in this hemisphere. Trees stripped bare of their leaves; holly bushes; cloudy skies; cold weather; ivy climbing across buildings; moss and wet leaves underfoot. Nothing that we would expect to see this close to Christmas in the Land Down Under, but here, it just looks and feels like winter. Coupled with the sights and sounds of Christmas all around, the winter scenery brings to life all the Christmas Cards ever sent or received.

View from the end of 63rd Avenue

What Better Way To Spend Winter Than Reading

On long, cold winter days there is nothing better than being snuggled up somewhere warm, with coffee in one hand and good book in the other. The trend towards community libraries is something I have noted lately in Australia and it is certainly a big deal here. Conveniently close to the RedWing Cafe is a cute little library that people can borrow from or share books with.

Borrow a book or leave one to share

And Now, The Coffee…

I could have spent hours taking photos of interesting things along the way, but my first RedWing Cafe coffee of the day beckoned. The usual 15 minute walk had dragged out to almost 25 minutes and I was starting to feel the first signs of caffeine withdrawal. So, with my camera securely stowed in my bag, I soldiered on down the last hill. As I turned the corner from Water Street S into 57th Ave S, the RedWing Cafe sign stood out like a beacon on a starless night. I had arrived.

My second Seattle home: The RedWing Cafe

Yes, the sun is actually out; it just looks a bit dreary because the ground is still wet from the recent rain. First task: order the coffee and some coffee cake. Luckily, my favourite table was empty so I made my way over, taking the first layer off as I walked. With coat securely hung on the peg, I retrieved my iPad from the bag.

Coat securely hung on the peg; I’m ready to write

Once my iPad was set up, I had to decide whether to peel off another layer.

Decision made: I’ll just leave my outer jumper on. I’ll wait until the warmth of the coffee warms me from the inside before stripping back to the long-sleeved t.shirt.

With iPad set up, there is only thing left to do

Without coffee, nothing gets written. Period. (Nancy Kress)

That’s better!

And now, with coffee and cake safely delivered, I’m ready to start writing.

Life is good!

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments