This Has Been A Tough One

Each week, I try to take on a different topic in this little corner of the Internet, to share an experience, a perspective, a funny story, whatever.

There were lots of directions I could have gone this week. Saying farewell to the Northlake Tavern in the U-District, a special occasion destination back when I lived just up the hill at Terry Hall at the University of Washington. It first opened back in 1954, but now, after all these years, it’s going to be sold to someone who is going to change it into the newest location of a local chain, Mario’s Pizzas. The amazing part of this story is that the owner and I used to work together in the kitchens at the dorm at Terry Hall.  He was one of a trio of brothers, who had come to the U.S. to attend school at the U.W.. Never in my wildest imagination did I think Abdoullah would graduate and then take over the Northlake Tavern and that legendary pizza. I’ve already reached out to him and said I’m going to do everything I can to get in and see him this month before he closes so he can focus on a health issue.

That tends to happen to us around our age. Man, those U-Dub dorm days seem so long ago….

Or, I could have gone in the direction of the Seahawks after that draining need-a-couple-of-miracles Sunday and the fact we’re actually going to the playoffs. I had an idea for another topic–how there are really two of each of us. The person our friends and acquaintances see us as, and the person we know when we’re by ourselves. I promise, that’s going to be a definite future blog.

But instead, I’ve been haunted by the topic of my last writing and the passing of local radio show host, Dori Monson. To keep new readers up to speed, Dori was a home-grown boy who eventually became the most listened-to radio show in the Seattle area. Every weekday, from noon-3pm, he’d confirm to some that there was someone out there who actually thought like they did; others, he would drive crazy, but yet, they’d continue to listen.

Then, while using up vacation time during the holidays, his heart decided to give out on him at the very young age of 61. (and, as I like to say, getting younger every day)

Over the past week, knowing darn well he was no longer with us, I would still react to a story I heard or read with the feeling, “Oh, I’ve gotta email that to Dori!”

Then I remembered.

One friend let me know she a sorority sister to Dori’s wife. I never knew that.

Another friend grew up across the street from Dori in Ballard and when we started talking about him, she recalled the things they did together as neighbor kids. A version of “Work Ups”, a baseball-type game you’d play in the streets with whoever was available; they rode their bikes together around those “mean streets of Ballard” as he liked to say; they played “Batman”, with Dori insisting that he was the only one who could be the Caped Crusader.

Both, stories I would have passed along to Dori via email and then, he would take the time to respond and thank me for sending.

What bothers me so much about Dori’s passing is the suddenness. Living his radio dream, having a family and friends he loved, all that success and then just having it all just yanked out from under him.

He, like myself, was also quite the workaholic.  If it were a contest, he would win, because after getting a taste of six hours of sleep a night, I’ve come to really like it. But for me, still, most workdays are 12 hours long and the ones that aren’t are longer. Yet, when that 5pm mark arrives, I’ve trained myself to shut down and whatever needs to be done can just be added to tomorrow’s workfest.

One of my long-held beliefs is that there is no way I’ll be able to get everything done that I want to do during my time here, so I constantly feel this sense of urgency to get things done.  I don’t want to leave a bunch of un-finished projects behind. So, if I think of something–a new project, an aspiration, a bucket-list item–I’ll put it on the master list and make sure I eventually take that on.

Even in my retirement years, I’m envisioning finally getting back to those screenplays I wrote, polishing them up and submitting them to some folks I’ve met over the years. I want to put my life story down in writing, not for the world, but for my kids, grandkids and those beyond, so they know what all went on during my time here.

In a way, I believe Dori also knew his time here was limited. His radio shows were all archived, with KIRO playing “The Best of Dori” to fill his time slot until they decide on an heir apparent. To his credit, Dori like to push himself beyond his comfort zone, to try new things, regardless of the results. I remember when he put his one-man show together and I really wanted to go catch one of those productions, but I just couldn’t work that into the calendar.  Fortunately, someone smartly videotaped the last show he did down in Federal Way.

This may be more Dori than you’d be interested in, but he did a nice job of getting up in a theater in front of a bunch of fans and telling stories about his life.  This is from 2019, so coming up on four years ago and before the “great pandemic”, so I’m glad he got it in when he did. You’ll notice he occasionally needs to rest his knee that was starting to go out on him.

I was fortunate enough to have had my path cross his, if only in a minor way, but it had a lasting effect on me and how I do things.

Dori would always get uncomfortable when it came to saying good things about him, but sir, you taught me a lot–about broadcasting, about keeping family important regardless of what happens with your career, and the ultimate reminder that our amount of time he is not guaranteed.

Thank you.

This has been a tough one.

Tim Hunter

PS Fellow KLSY-kateer and cartoonist Frank Shiers did this touching cartoon. He was lucky enough to work at KIRO for a while and with Dori.

 

It Really Happened

I have to be honest, something like this has never happened to me before.

Oh, there was that time I went “ghost hunting” with my producer, Bryon, at a south end cemetery on Halloween years ago and we talked ourselves into believing we saw some misty figures off in the distance. I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law, but for the sake of a bit on the radio, sure, I saw something.

And I’m still not totally convinced I saw an actual ghost a couple of weeks ago, but it’s probably the closest thing to it that I’ve experienced.

So, it was a Sunday afternoon. That morning, my wife and I made a rare cameo appearance at a service at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard. We had bumped into Pastor Gretchen at the grocery store the week before and she reminded us that All Saints’ Day was coming up, when everyone was invited to bring along a picture of someone they had lost and put it up in a window of the church. And so, we brought along a picture of my wife’s father, Ernie, who passed away last year.

After church, we enjoyed a rare day of not much to do, watching the Seahawks on TV and then after the game, running a couple of quick errands. As we headed home, we traveled west on 125th Street in Seattle, which happens to run right in front of the Evergreen-Washelli cemetery, where Ernie enjoys his eternal rest. I drive by that spot a lot and always look over his direction, just to make sure all is well. But this time, as I glanced over while I was driving, I immediately got chills. There, in the cemetery, not far from Ernie’s final resting place, was a man of his stature, in a blue oversized coat, just like the one he used to always wear, walking a big puffy white dog. Since I was driving, I’d check to make sure I wasn’t about to run into anything, then over to the cemetery, then back to the road and so forth until the cemetery was out of view. I didn’t stop, as I wasn’t really sure what I was seeing, plus, I didn’t want to say something that might freak out my wife.

But I was pretty damn sure that was Ernie.

I told Victoria about the sighting later and she found it “cool.” So, she didn’t freak out. If I had known that, I might have slammed on the breaks and yelled out, “Look!” But I didn’t.

I don’t know what’s in store for us in heaven or whatever awaits us after this life, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that wherever we end up, we get to spend eternity enjoying the things we loved. Ernie loved walking that dog, and people recognized him around his neighborhood as “that guy who walks the big, white, fluffy dog.”

And for probably 10-seconds, I got to see him again. Or, I think it was him. It had to be him.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget. And I know, one thing’s for sure–it really happened.

So, I thought I would share.

Tim Hunter

With Apologies To Facebook

I don’t know about you, but Facebook remains my go-to social media platform. Frankly, I forget about checking Twitter; Instagram is one of those things where I notice the logo on my phone and go, “Oh, yeah!” I visit Linkedin twice a week to post my weekly biz newsletter and my jokes.

But when I’m on the go and I see something cool or a funny sign, or I get one of my silly ideas, I shoot the picture or video with my phone, think of something dumb to attach to it, and then post it on Facebook.

You know, like this:

                                                                                                                                                Oh, yeah, like I was just going to walk by this…..

Now for the first time that I can remember, I’ve actually got some pictures piling up in my photo collection that never reached their usual destination. So, with apologies to Facebook and with the goal of getting all caught up in one fell swoop, here are just a few of the gems I meant to post there, but just never got around to it. (Or, I may have, but I don’t remember)

LET’S START WITH WHIDBEY ISLAND–A couple of weekends ago, we went there and stayed at a waterfront AirBnB and it was so out of the way, we HAD to relax. One of the evenings, Samantha, my daughter-in-law, was playing around with her time-lapse feature of her iPhone and I thought I’d do it, too. So, I captured this beautiful Northwest sunset.

This doesn’t even really do it justice.

However, lesson learned–Tim, would you stop being so impatient!!! If I had just let it go, it would have eventually ended up here.

Uh, yeah….

PLAYING TOURIST IN YOUR HOME TOWN–When you live in a cool spot, as we do, there are always a ton of fun things to do. But you’re living life, working a job, on the go, commitments, etc. and you just never get around to the fun stuff. For example, my wife and I have yet to experience “The Great Wheel” along the Seattle waterfront, even though it’s been down there 10 years.

But with a couple of Victoria’s cousins in town–Judy and her husband Bill from Santa Barbara and Francine from Oklahoma–we hit a couple of those hot spots.

First up were the Ballard Locks, where ships from the salt water Puget Sound come to be raised up 25 feet so they can enjoy the fresh waters of Lake Union and Lake Washington. That’s importing or flushing 8-million gallons of water in just 8 minutes.

As part of the locks, you can go to the fish ladders and watch the salmon traveling to their place of origin to spawn and die. Each one traveled hundreds, if not thousands of miles during their life’s journey. Just amazing.

And of course, right next to the locks is one of our favorite places, The Lockspot. Had to experience that place, famous for their fish & chips.

I’m the one on the left.

The next day, we headed to the Seattle Center, site of the 1962 World’s Fair, which Francine remembered attending as a little kid.

We opted not to go up the Space Needle, but did explore the Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum and not just words, but pictures also don’t adequately convey the eye-candy you get to experience there.

Looking up the master, Dale Chihuly on Wikipedia, the guy’s actually 81-years-old now and still creating visual masterpieces out of molten glass.

By the way, I discovered a hack you may have already known about when it comes to taking pictures with your phone. I wanted to get a group shot that was close, but that would include the entire Space Needle. I laid down on the ground and this was the best I could do:

Then I thought, “What if I use the Pan feature, but instead of doing it horizontally, do it vertically.” It worked beautifully.

A MINI-REUNION–I enjoyed a great lunch the other day with a couple of other former Destination Marketing refugees. Some of us left willingly, others were ‘retired’. Funny, but whenever we get together, new stories about a place I haven’t worked at for 7 years continue to emerge. Ironically, both of these gentlemen became recent authors. Scott Janzen penned about his days in the ad industry, while Chris Settle did a more inward reflection that included some stories from that previously mentioned agency we all share in our resume past. He changed the names, but some of the un-named knew who he was referring to and weren’t happy. Ah, life.

So, this week when I sat down to write my weekly blog about what going on in my life, I realized that Facebook wasn’t a part of it. I was actually busy being present and enjoying all these events as they happened and not doing a play-by-play on Facebook, to keep people posted on everything I was doing every minute of every day.

And I kinda liked it.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Now you’re all caught up with me and Mark Zuckerberg will never know.

Our secret. Sorry about that Facebook.

Tim Hunter

BACK IN THE LUTEFISK SADDLE AGAIN

There are lots of things we haven’t done in three years.

When we kicked into COVID mode and shut down almost every tradition and festival imaginable, things went away with no guarantee they would come back.

Two of those things that were put on hold was the Ballard Seafoodfest and the FIshermen’s Fall Festival and that meant I wouldn’t be hosting any lutefisk eating contests as part of my annual collection of weird crap I do.

In fact, the Fall Festival people have already canceled this year’s edition and so last Sunday, when I grabbed the microphone at Seafoodfest, the corniness, the bad jokes and puns, all came rushing back to me like Marjorie Taylor Green at a Qanon garage sale.

But then I realized when I say Ballard Seafoodfest, it may come off as just another summer festival. Far from it. And so, I thought I’d do a quick seminar on “How to Seafoodfest.”

The Salmon Barbecue

They do it every year, and the aroma just pulls you in. The salmon is prepared in their secret, amazing way, with lots of alder smoke present in the end result.

A Quick Stop at Skal

It’s a Viking bar in Ballard and one of our faves. We watched it being built and admired how the owner, Adam, hung in there with every curve ball you could imagine. For special occasions like Seafoodfest, they offer “Walk-up shots”, where you can grab a quick shot of aquavit and a polse (a Norwegian hot dog, wrapped in lefse)

Booths and Ballard Businesses

Besides the Lutefisk Eating contest, Sunday is a bonus day because you get all the booths, the live bands, and the beer gardens, plus all the stores you probably never got a chance to explore are open, AND, the Sunday Ballard Market is opening for business.

            Now, Let’s Talk Lutefisk

Yeah, there was pent-up demand for the annual Lutefisk Eating Championships. Normally, I’ll get there prior to the competition and we have to beg the crowd for a few more competitors. This year, all 10 slots were filled, including these two.



Sorry, I don’t remember their names but they were from Santa Barbara. While on the flight up, their mom saw the competition coming up Sunday and knowing they’d be there, she signed them up. They were incredibly good sports and made a go at it, but they were bumped out on the first round. And I should mention that their mom told them it was a SALMON eating contest.

Special thanks to Debbie, Cory and the gang at Mountain Pacific Bank who always staff the contest every year, as well as The Landmark, which dares to allow their kitchen to be used to prepare it. Oh, and of course, that lutefisk is from THE place to buy yours, Scandinavian Specialties in Ballard.

Congrats to one of the usual suspects, Al Johnston, who showed up to regain his title this year, and special thanks to Seattle City Councilman Dan Strauss who helped out as a judge and kept his distance.

Yeah, if you’ve never been, I know northwest summers have lots of options when it comes to festivals, but I hope you’ll include a little lutefisk in your summer plans next year.

We’re always looking for new competitors.

Tim Hunter

Before The Parade Passes Me By

So, for years, I’ve been the voice of a couple of parades–the Bothell Freedom Festival Parade and the 17th of May Norwegian Constitution Day Parade in Ballard.

That includes at least 15 years in Bothell and another 10 in Ballard. So, I’ve got a combined 25 years’ worth of farting around and making smart-Alec remarks about what goes on before me as the parade passes me by.

In Bothell, my co-hosts over the years have included Joyce Goedeke, Joy Johnston, Judge Michelle Gehlsen, Dr. Eric Murray, and Bothell Civic Leader Mike Rue. While behind the mike in Ballard, I’ve hung out with Dori Monson, M.J. McDermott, Karen Pauley and Bjorn Nalum. Yeah, you can tell by the rotating names, I’m hard to get along with.

However, several weeks ago, I got the email that Bothell no longer needed my services and after a decade of doing the play-by-play for the city cable channel, I was officially retired. That’s fine. Time moves on and because of COVID, it’s been three years since the last time I had done a parade. I get it.

Now, normally, the place where I broadcast in Ballard over the loudspeakers to the crowd is where the judges make their decisions on who wins which awards, and it is THE place to be at the Syttende Mai Parade. But this year, things took a turn.

I was informed that my co-host of the past couple of years for the 17th of May parade was not going to be able to make it this year. Then, I was told the judges would no longer be based at my broadcast location, but rather an earlier stop along the parade route. So, it would be just me, on my own, from a new location in Ballard known as Bergen Place Park–I was still honored to be able to do it, but needless to say, my enthusiasm was dampened.

Then, I got an idea. A real Norwegian that I have a great rapport with, Ozzie Kvithammer, could be my new co-host. Slip him a couple of Aquavits and God knows what could come out of his mouth. He agreed, so brace yourself.

If you are planning to head down to Ballard for the big parade on the 17th of May, by all means, get within earshot of our broadcast to the crowd at 20th & Market and I promise, we’ll be at least entertaining. If nothing else, you’ll want to say you were there when we actually said THAT over the loudspeakers. The streets start packing in there around 4pm, the parade steps off at 6pm.

I’m down to just one parade, but I’m looking very forward to making this one really count.

Tim Hunter

Next Up…

After a brief bask in the glow of my annual April Fool’s video for National Gullible Day, it’s time to move on to my next big project.

I really should look into smaller tasks.

What with the pandemic making events like luncheons and parades uncertain possibilities, next up on my ever-growing to-do list is taking on a virtual 17th of May celebration for Seattle’s own 17th of May Committee.

For those new to the party, the 17th of May is the day that the Norwegian community here in Ballard celebrates “Constitution Day.” A big deal in Norway, with lots of parades. In Seattle, we have been celebrating the occasion for over 100 years. In fact, that annual stroll down 24th and then a left turn on Market Street is the first Seafair-sanctioned parade of the Parade Season. You’ll also see it referred to as “Syttende Mai”, which due to my absorption into that community, I’ve become really good at spelling.

In a “normal” year (remember those?), there would be a luncheon at either the Leif Erikson Lodge, the Nordic museum or both, then after some live performances in Bergen Place Park all day long, the official parade would step off around 4pm. Or 6pm. It depends on whether the holiday falls on a weekend or not.

This year marks our second non-normal 17th of May in a row. So, the committee asked me to produce a virtual 17th of May luncheon at noon on the big day. The event is free if you’d like to tune in to the 17th of May Committee’s YouTube Channel. It’ll make its broadcast debut at noon that day. Afterwards, you’ll then be able to watch it whenever you want on that channel.

Tuesday of this week, I headed down to the Nordic Museum in Ballard to film some of the traditional festivities. I’ve got a couple of other folks grabbing footage and in no time at all, I’ll have a bunch of video to edit and assemble before May 17th. Right now, I’m feeling really good about it. Actually, having done the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce‘s virtual Julebord last year, I pretty much know what needs to be done.

Some special guests you may

recognize without their masks

The jury is still out on whether they’re going to try and organize a car parade down Market Street, although a group of us organized one last year to keep the streak alive.

So yeah, here comes the next big project. I’m producing a virtual 17th of May celebration, in-between my many other duties. That’s my self-chosen life. I just like things being busy. I wonder where that came from?

For funsies, here’s my brother-in-law, Kris Templin, warming up for his performance of “God Bless America” with me playing my mouth trumpet.

OK, break’s over. Back to work.

Sure. It’s work.

Tim Hunter

The Norwegian Tradition Continues

Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood has long been a gathering place for Scandinavians, particularly Norwegians.  Through the 1800’s, people in Norway heard about this place called America and how this spot on the west coast felt similar to their homeland, while also full of opportunity.

To this day, lots of fishing fleets are based in Ballard. The TV show, “The Deadliest Catch” brought it into our living rooms. The area became known as, “Snoose Junction.” The biggest party of the year is always “Seafoodfest”, with three days of bands, crafts and lots of seafood.

But this year is different, as you know. Seafoodfest has been officially scrapped for this year, while other traditions are being postponed with a hope of rescheduling. But there’s only one 17th of May and this year, the annual Syttende Mai parade through downtown Ballard was canceled.

For us, we had turned the celebration into a two-day affair, grabbing a room at the Hotel Ballard and living there for a couple of days. There was a big luncheon at noon, followed by assorted happy hours and then, the 17th of May Parade that marched down 24th, and made a left on Market Street. For the past 7 years, I’ve had the honor of announcing the parade from the official grandstand.

Again, this year was different and the parade, the luncheon, the singing at Bergen Place, all canceled. That meant a 130-year-old tradition was at risk. I mean, c’mon, they even marched over a century ago during the Spanish Flu outbreak. Of course, that could have been what fueled that Second Wave we keep hearing about.

One day, I thought, “What if a few of us got together, maintaining our social distance, and put on a Syttende Mai parade of our own?”  I passed the idea along to a few members of the community and the next thing you know, we had a plan.

We had to walk a fine line because, in accordance with the Governor’s orders, there were to be no gatherings.  The official parade organizers wanted nothing to do with this, because they didn’t want to risk losing their official Seafair-sanctioned status. So, we kept it to a handful of people, who dressed up and, at the exact time the big parade would have stepped off, we began down the route in our cars, wearing masks and honking our horns.

But rather than telling you, why don’t I show you exactly what happened.

The streak remained intact. The tradition continued.

And if even for a couple of hours on that pandemic Sunday afternoon, the spirit of Syttende Mai lived on.

Skål.

Tim Hunter

Hey, Swedish Hospital–Let My Visa Go!!!

Going back to the old testament, Moses led the Children of Israel (many of whom were full-grown adults) through the desert for 40 years before finally delivering them to the Promised Land. It was the ultimate example of how a man always refuses to stop and ask for directions.

Look at that desert on the map and you would think that, at some point, someone might have said out loud, “Uh,  Moses, that last sand dune looks really familiar.”  But he persevered until he got them to the promised land, although he wasn’t able to actually go with them. I believe his actual words found in Exodus 34, verse 27 were, “What a ticker!”

So, even after four decades of effort and trying to do the right thing, it still didn’t work out.

I know that feeling, on a minor scale. You see, 9 days ago, after another successful Lutefisk Eating Contest at Ballard Seafoodfest, my wife and I headed back to our car which was parked in the Ballard Swedish Hospital parking garage. Yes, it cost money, but we felt it was a safe place to leave our car and it was.

As we went to leave said garage, I came to the gate. There was no one there, but I had done this kind of thing before. I put in the parking ticket, with the strip showing like it demonstrated and then the machine asked for payment. I stuffed my VISA card into the same slot (like they do at SeaTac airport) and suddenly, I knew something was wrong. The machine grinded and grinded away. I couldn’t get my card back out. It turns out there was a slot below for the credit card and I had mistakenly stuffed it into the parking ticket slot. OK, my bad. I was an idiot.

I pushed the “Call for help” button and confessed my moronic sin to the voice that answered. She informed me that they didn’t have anyone on duty, took my name and phone number and said someone would call on Monday so that I could get my credit card back.  All would be fine.

Monday rolled around. No phone call. I called the phone number for the garage and no answer, just a recording and a beep so I could leave a message. I gave them my name and phone number, recapped the situation and asked them to call me for an update.

On Wednesday, Deja vu. No one had called back, so I left another message, asking for someone to get in touch with me. I would come to you, just let me know where to go.

On Friday, I was pretty ticked. So, around the time when their office was supposed to open, I called. It was the machine again, asking me to leave a message. Oh, and I did.  It was a good one. The summary–I’ve called multiple times, you haven’t called me back and I want my VISA card.

That afternoon, I did get a call. I’m theorizing she got the short end of the office stick and had to deal with the cranky customer. She explained that they had no credit card with that name on it and that the person in charge suggested I just get a new one. I explained to our loser of the office pool that if I do that, it’ll come with a new number and I would have to change the card on file for around 15 different accounts. That would be an incredible  pain. Can you please check one more time to see if my card is sitting in a box somewhere?

She asked for my phone number and said she would check. That was the last time I heard from here.

Today, Monday, 9 days after their machine ate my credit card, I was informed by the latest voice to call me that they don’t have my card and that I should just get a new one.  I’ve been watching my account, to see if it was improperly used and I’ll be doing that for a while, but in the meantime, I’ve ordered a replacement.  With the same number, because I don’t feel I should be punished for an inept parking lot system. I believe my card is somewhere in someone’s desk and it’s just too much trouble to track it down.

So, here you go, Swedish Hospital. Let’s make you famous.

Let my VISA go!

Tim Hunter

PS: And Swedish, this is what the VISA logo looks like, if it helps.

It’s not anywhere I want it to be.

 

 

 

 

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE #172

This week, I’m taking you down to the streets of Ballard where every year, a champion is determined. Yes, several people actually compete to be the winner of Ozzy’s World Famous Lutefisk Eating Contest, during Ballard’s annual Seafoodfest. So that you don’t have to see or smell it, I thought I’d give you a front row seat on the Internet.


Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE #161

This week, I take you to Grand Opening weekend for the brand-new Nordic Museum in Seattle (Ballard), chatting with three of the key folks–Marianne Forsblad, along with the museum’s Jan Colbrese and Eric Nelson.

                                       

 

Might as well toss in this article about the museum from AAA