Where’s The Liquor Department?

Shortly before I left work this evening, Phillip sent me a text message, asking me to buy some tequila on my way home.

Ever since Washington voted to privatize our liquor sales (an idea I voted against, by the way), the only place to buy alcohol in our neighborhood is QFC. I’ve written before about how much I dislike shopping at our QFC. Well, I dislike buying liquor at QFC even more.

The liquor department at our QFC is closed off from the rest of the store, and the liquor in the back is locked in cabinets. (They’ve had a problem with shoplifters, apparently.) Tequila is in the back.

So, in order to buy liquor there, you walk in, look through the cabinet doors, decide what you want, then walk back up to the cashier. If it’s busy, like on a Friday evening, you have to wait in a long line, because there’s, at the most, two cashiers – but usually just the one. Then, when you reach the front of the line, you tell the cashier that you want something from the cabinets. The cashier closes up their cash register, grabs the cabinet key, and walks back with you. They’re usually impatient with you, because they’ve left a long line of people waiting at the register. I find it an unpleasant experience.

I miss the State Liquor Store, the one that used to be on Broadway. It had its bottles all along the walls, in open shelves, with the cashiers in the center of the room. You could take your time, look at the bottles, read the labels, and ask the cashiers any questions you might have.

So, I got Phillip’s message this evening, and I decided not to stop into QFC to buy tequila.

I walked into the Bartell Drugs on Third Avenue, across the street from the bus stop. An employee was opening a box at the front of the store. I asked her if they had a liquor department.

(Correction: It was a Rite Aid.)

“Oh, thank Jesus, no,” she replied, “The one up the hill does, the one, um…”

“Oh yes, the one on Fourth, next to the library?” I asked. She said that was the one.

I thanked her and walked up to the Bartell Drug on Fourth Avenue. I looked around, until I found an employee opening a box in the aisle. I asked him if they had a liquor department.

“We do,” he replied, “We keep it locked up behind the cash registers.” He pointed toward the front of the store.

When I thanked him, he added, “We keep it locked up because if we didn’t…”

“You’d have no liquor department?” I suggested.

“Exactly right,” said the Bartell employee.

I bought a bottle of tequila and a bottle of rum from the friendly cashier. (Bartell Drug employees are always extra friendly.) Then I caught a bus home.

I got the impression that, in general, neither QFC nor Bartell employees are happy about liquor sales.

(Edit: And Rite Aid employees don’t seem too happy, either.)


Sloshing Through The Snow

Phillip and I agreed to kept up our tradition of seeing a movie on Christmas Day. When Phillip and Karen started this tradition, long before they met me, nobody went to the movies on Christmas, Phillip tells me, and they had the theaters to themselves. These days, it seems that half the city goes to a movie on Christmas.

Phillip wanted to see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. I wanted to see The Shape of Water. They were both playing at Thornton Place Cinemas, in Northgate. So we bought tickets to both. We figured we could make it a double feature if we dashed between theaters, and missed the previews during the second show. We bought our tickets in advance, with reserved seats, so we wouldn’t have to hunt for seats.

Then it snowed on Christmas Eve.

The snow was still there on Christmas Morning. We don’t have great tires on our car, we don’t have chains, and we live on a hill. With Seattle snow, there’s always the danger of it melting and freezing. What looks like snow could very well be a layer of snow over a sheet of ice. Plus, we have a lot of steep hills. Phillip and I just don’t drive in the snow, unless we absolutely have to.

Suggested by Phillip

Unfortunately, we’d bought four tickets to shows way up at Northgate.

Fortunately, route 41 runs directly from Downtown Seattle to Northgate Transit Center (right next to Thornton Place Cinemas), every half-hour, even on a holiday schedule.

Text alerts warned us of possible snow delays in the Metro service area. Of course, the Metro service area is all of King County, and King County is roughly the same size as Rhode Island.

We left our apartment with our traveling-in-the-snow-by-bus mindset: Ignore the schedule, and allow a whole lot more time than you think you’ll need. The streets in our neighborhood were bare. The sidewalks were slushy. We could drive, we agreed. We also agreed that we were better off taking the bus.

With Seattle’s microclimates, it could be snowing at Northgate and clear on Capitol Hill. Or, we could drive to Northgate on clear streets, spend six hours in the theater, and find our car in three feet of snow. We agreed to play it safe on the bus.

We got to the stop on Olive Way just as a 10 was pulling in. We got to the platform at Westlake Station just as a 41 was pulling in. Despite the 41 going 40 mph up the freeway (chains on dry pavement) we got to the theater two hours before Jumanji, our first movie, started.

Fortunately, Thornton Place Cinemas has plenty of places to sit and talk and read and play on our phones.

Even with bathroom breaks, and a refill on Phillip’s Diet Coke, between shows, we made it to The Shape of Water just as the previews had started.

Jumanji and The Shape of Water were two different movies, and both enjoyable. Jumanji was silly and fun. The Shape of Water was beautiful and moving.

After the movies, we walked over to the Northgate Transit Center, and got there moments before a 41 left. We rode as far as Convention Place Station and had a 10-minute wait for a 49 up to Capitol Hill. It was the first time we had to wait for a bus today.

We had dinner at La Cocina, and then walked home.

It was a perfect day.

Three Bikes

Phillip and I changed the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide alarms this morning. Then we walked up the hill, played Pokémon Go, had lunch at The Deluxe, and went grocery shopping.

Along the way to The Deluxe, we saw a trio of bike riders. (I’m guessing they were a Mom, Dad, and adult Son.) They were riding together. One was on an Ofo share bike, one was on a Spin bike, and one was on a LimeBike. (Maybe they were doing some comparison riding, or maybe they just happened to find the three bikes parked together.)

I had breakfast at The Deluxe, while Phillip had lunch. We asked to be seated next to the fireplace,  and we were. Temperatures were in the mid-30s in our neighborhood.

I used to enjoy shopping at QFC. Now, I view it as something you just have to do sometimes. The store’s three levels are laid out in a way that I’m sure makes sense to marketing experts. It never has made sense to me. Tom’s Toothpaste is on a shelf away from all other toothpaste brands. Gallons of milk are in one corner, while quarts of milk are in the opposite corner of the store. Paper towels are on the upper level, next to laundry detergent, while toilet paper is on the middle level, between soup and tortilla chips. Or, it used to be. That’s the other thing: The layout of the store changes on a weekly basis. Drain cleaner used to be downstairs, in the hardware section. Then it was upstairs, where paper towels used to be. The next time we need to unclog a drain, it’ll be somewhere else (probably next to the olive bar).

QFC was very busy today.

Outside of the library, a stranger wished us a Happy Holidays.

Different Commutes

Today was the 10th anniversary of the Seattle Streetcar. In celebration, both streetcar lines were free all day. This didn’t mean a whole lot to me, since my employer pays the full cost of my ORCA card, so technically, the streetcars are always free for me (unless you factor in the cost of the labor I put in to get that ORCA card – which I don’t). Still, I love our streetcars, and I thought this was pretty cool.

It’s been too long since I last rode the First Hill Streetcar, and a whole long longer since I’ve had the opportunity to ride the South Lake Union Streetcar.

I left work this evening and walked down to Jackson Street, getting stopped by “Don’t Walk” signs the whole way. (I was in no hurry. As always, I’m a fan of the slow commute.) I got to Jackson just as a streetcar was pulling into the stop. (Oh well, I’ll wait for the next one.)

I stepped onto the platform as the streetcar was loading passengers. I reached the back of the streetcar as the “Doors Closing” signal started sounding. (Oh well.) But the doors stayed open. It seemed that the driver was waiting for me. I quickened my pace and stepped into the streetcar. (Thanks, driver!)

I wanted to snap a photo or two on my commute home, but I had no waiting time on the platform, it was too crowded inside the streetcar to get a photo without someone’s face in it, and it was too dark outside to get a reflection-free photo out the window. (There were empty seats here and there, but many people seemed to prefer standing.)

It was a quick ride home, but with the walk down to Jackson, I got home a little later than usual. (It was not one of the more direct ways home.)

Yesterday, Phillip and I met up at Pacific Place after work, to see a movie. I rode a Link train from Pioneer Square Station to Westlake Station. Then I went up through Nordstrom, and over the sky bridge to Pacific Place, where I found Phillip waiting for me.

It was an hour until the movie started, so we had dinner at Johnny Rockets.

Cristina met us at the theater, early enough that we could have waited dinner for her, but we didn’t know when she’d arrive. (Sorry, Cristina.) The three of us hung out in the lobby and had a nice chat.

Michael found us after we’d found seats in the theater.

The movie, by the way, was Coco. It was wonderful. I highly recommend it. I’d love to own the DVD someday. I’m pretty sure all four of us were crying by the end. (There’s a little more to the crying, which I may, or may not, expand on later.)

After the movie, we all said goodbye, and Phillip and I walked over the bus stop near The Paramount, where, we learned, Hilary Clinton was speaking. We just missed a 49 bus, and had a 13 minute wait for the next one. (It was a pleasant night out, so it was a nice wait.) Then we walked home from Broadway.

And, of course, last Friday I rode home via the U District on the 74 bus.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll have a more typical commute home.

Thoughts In The Dark

Seattle got hit by a big windstorm yesterday. Even though I know tall buildings, even one as old as the one I work in, are built to withstand more than that, it was still unnerving to hear large booming against the windows all day long. Downtown never lost power, however.

I took light rail home. The walk home through the wind and rain seemed preferable to standing at a bus stop at 4th & Pike in the wind and the rain. I would have taken a coworkers’ advice and cut my walk in half by catching a bus outside of Capitol Hill Station, except that a fire truck outside of Hot Cakes had all lanes on Olive Way blocked. Buses were at a standstill. So I walked home.


We were in the red

Our microwave was blinking 12:00 when Phillip got home. Our apartment building had lost power at some time during the day. Even though the Seattle City Light web site showed most of our neighborhood without electricity, we somehow had our power.

I braved a couple of games of Cities: Skylines and The Sims 4, knowing that, at any moment, the computer could suddenly go dark. But our electricity stayed on. We had dinner and I went to bed.

There didn’t seem much to blog about. (“Today, there was a lot of wind and rain.”)

I woke up sometime around 11 o’clock last night. It’s funny how sudden silence can wake you up. Phillip was up. He had a flashlight in one hand and something glowing green in the other. It took me a while to figure out what had happened. We had lost power. That glowing green rectangle was Phillip’s cell phone.

I got up, booted up my cell phone, set an alarm for the morning, and went back to bed.

The power was still out when the alarm woke me up this morning. The apartment was dark.

When I was a child, my family had a joke that if the power went out during a hurricane, we could at least have fun watching TV by candlelight. This morning, that joke sort of came true.

I’m glad I bought a smartphone. It’s a flashlight, a phone, a clock, the internet, and a book during a power outage. (And, thanks to Pokémon Go, I have a powerful backup battery/charger so running the phone’s battery down wasn’t an issue.) This morning, I surfed the internet by candlelight. The outage map for Capitol Hill looked pretty much the same as last night. There were no outages Downtown or in the U District.

A long time ago, I used to think I was clever by using a cell phone to reset clocks after a power outage. This morning, my phone was the best tool I had during the power outage.

We have a windup lantern that would have come in handy, except that neither one of us could remember where it is. We did, however, know exactly where the candle, the solar-charged flashlight, and the phones’ battery packs were. In some way, we were prepared, and in other ways, not so much. However, as Phillip pointed out, this was the first time we’d been without power for more than three or four hours. Also, it’s not like we’re isolated in our high-density neighborhood. There’s a lot of places within walking distance, and much of it had power.

Of course, we didn’t have hot water. I don’t like taking cold showers. But I like the idea of going to work without a shower even less. I had a quick cold shower by candlelight this morning.


Looking better this morning

The sun was coming up, and the apartment was a little brighter, but still without electricity, when I left for work.

I figured that even if route 47 was running with diesel buses or the backup batteries on trolley buses, it would probably be stuck somewhere by Seattle City Light repair trucks. (Of course, I wouldn’t know if it was, since Metro never has explained to me why I never get text alerts for the 47.) I figured other routes might be sharing space with repair trucks as well. I decided to walk up the hill and ride light rail. I hadn’t received any alerts about Link and, besides, if the station was out of power, there are buses nearby. At times like this, it’s best to have options.

There were a lot of large City Light trucks, and a lot of crews, hard at work, all over the neighborhood.

Nearer to Broadway, lights were on.

The train to Downtown was crowded. I wasn’t surprised. At times like this, it’s best to travel underground.

Of course, electricity was the main topic of conversation at work this morning.