2020 in Ten Significant Photos

2020 in Ten Significant Photos

Today is December 19th, also known as March 294th, around our house. 2020, man. 2020. I think we can all agree it’s been a terrible year. If not personally, then nationally and globally. And we still have twelve days left. Feels like it’s been forever and yet, somehow, no time at all.

The tradition around here dictates I need to assemble a post wherein I share ten photos from the year representing the most significant moments of my personal past 365-ish days. Normally, I look forward to this, but 2020 was tougher than most. This time around, I wasn’t so eager to ponder how the year went. I didn’t want to dwell on the events that have unfolded. But I did. And below is the culmination of that effort, for better or worse.

The rules are simple but firm, pick ten photos from your past year that are the most significant to you: positive or negative—significance can be found in either. But it can’t be more, it can’t be less. Some moments will have to fall by the wayside—and that’s intentional—culling is essential. It’ll help create a more realistic picture of your year. Some years will be harder than others, and sometimes you’ll need to discover significance in the smaller, quieter moments. The ten are irascible, and they’re relentless. It is the way.

So, enough talk! Let’s take a look at my 2020 distilled into ten significant photos.


The Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland

We began our 2020 by going on a trip to celebrate Kari-Lise’s birthday. Ah, those carefree halcyon days. Feels like a lifetime ago. This time we took an extensive food-focused trip to Portland and Hood River, Oregon. It was easily one of the best trips we’ve taken together and a wonderful way to celebrate Kari-Lise’s birthday. We ate and drank and tasted so many incredible things. I had planned to put together one of my standard travel posts a few months after we returned, but 2020 had other plans. It’s odd to looking back. It feels like a different era.


Amberlynn being cozy. (Photo by my brother, Nick Alexander.)

Not long after our return from Portland, my brother Nick and my sister-in-law Hallie welcomed their second child, Amberlynn, into the world in February. With Liesel and Blakely arriving last year and Amberlynn this year, I now have three nieces that have all shown up in a very short time. Can’t wait to watch them grow up and spoil them rotten. I’ve yet to meet Amberlynn. (Details why in the next photo. You can probably guess.) But, I’m looking forward to the day I do.


Pandemic hair. Pandemic mask. Pandemic isolation.

So, the obvious one—the COVID-19 pandemic. I could wax poetic about everything that’s happened in the last ten months, but we’ve all been dealing with this. What can I say that hasn’t been said already by a thousand other folks? I am tired of staying at home. I miss my family and friends. At the same time, I know it’s the right thing to do, and I’m blessed that I have a job that allows me to do it. Please do what you can to stay safe and healthy. Be kind. Wear a mask. Social distance. Avoid groups. Get your vaccine when you can. All that stuff.


Not where you want to find yourself at 3AM

2020 was the gift that keeps on giving. Early in the pandemic Tyrant, one of our two old dogs (he’s fifteen!) started having breathing issues one Saturday morning, and we had to take him to an emergency vet. That turned into early morning calls and early morning trips to the pharmacy. The same weekend our other old dog, Suge (she’s fourteen!), had a cyst that burst on her back leg, so she ended up in the doggie hospital for minor surgery. Two dogs. Two hospitals. Many vets. All in the middle of a pandemic. It was an exhaustive and stress-filled four days. Thankfully, both dogs are doing well. Suge is back to her rambunctious self. Tyrant is still sleepy and lazy and gets to take doggy pills three times a day.


Welcome to the CHAZ

Black Lives Matter. I don’t know why that’s a difficult concept for some people to grasp. This summer was similar to summers in other parts of the country. Protests. Marches. Police action. Bits of violence. For a brief moment, Seattle had the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and offshoot of the protests, which drew most of the country’s attention. The outgoing President might have declared Seattle an “Anarchist Jurisdiction” (whatever that means,) but the tales of chaos were greatly exaggerated and largely overblown. Ignore your weird uncle on Facebook. The CHAZ only lasted for a few weeks. Demonstrations there have largely faded away. But the BLM movement rightfully continues, and I don’t think it’ll stop until we see systematic change.


Kari-Lise in front of the titular Night Garden

Kari-Lise revealed Night Garden, her latest solo show at Roq La Rue, and it was wildly successful! It’s strange to have a gallery show in the middle of a pandemic. There was no official opening. No opening night crowds. No afterparty. But the show premiered online and ended up selling out. I feel like I broken record repeating the same thing I do every show, but I think this series was her best work ever. I’m incredibly proud to see how she continues to evolve as an artist. Can’t wait to see what she does next.


Pork chop sandwiches! (Technically pork butt, but references.)

So, I’ve always liked cooking, and this year was no different. If anything, this year I cooked even more, since I had more time at home. I feel like I dialed in my meat-smoking game and got a little better at baking (like everyone else, but I’m still not great.) This little BBQ sandwich was 100% made from scratch. Smoke pork butt. Steamed/Fried sourdough half-way buns. Homemade dill pickles. Homemade pickled onions. Stone ground mustard. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, I made it more than once.


Sunset on the Colvos Passage

In October, we briefly escaped one house to retreat to another. We rented an incredible cabin on Vashon Island, only a ferry ride away from Seattle. We spent a week on the island. We hiked, explored, cooked, relaxed, read a ton, soaked in a huge bathtub, took showers in an outdoor shower. I also took the time to revamp this website. And we were able to do it with proper social distancing! It was a chill and relaxing week away from the world and unplugged from a stressful news cycle. We loved it so much we are planning a return visit in January. So don’t be shocked if a similar photo appears in next year’s list.


I voted! You voted! A lot of us voted!

One of the wildest and most important elections in my lifetime happened, and what an election it was. Records were smashed. Norms were abandoned. Lawsuits were filed and quickly tossed out when no evidence could be presented except for wishes, hopes, and dreams. (Turns out wanting something to be true won’t make it true.) It was great to see so many Americans actively involved in the civic process. King County, Washington (where I live) had an 85% turnout, which I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It made me really proud of my city, county, state, and country. Nice work, America. Let’s keep this trend of civic involvement going.


New floors and a fantastic built in room divider bookcase built by my pal Steve.

It’s hard to encapsulate this in a single image. Like much of the world, 2020 became the “Year of the House” for the Alexanders. This had been the plan for us before the pandemic set in, and we had been saving toward it for a while. We bought this place in 2010, which means we’ve been living in our house for a decade, and it was past time to put a little love back into the place. That means, among other things, new paint, new roof, new floors in several rooms, lots of love pour into the garden, new countertops, that fantastic bookcase in the picture above, and we’re in the middle of a bathroom remodel. It’s been awkward, stressful, and a bit odd at times juggling all this work with the pandemic, but we think it’ll be worth it.


In Conclusion

Looking back at everything that happened in 2020, I was surprised to find how much significance happened even while I spent most of my time here at home. The ten photos above don’t begin to cover everything that happened. My sister-in-law’s father, Tom, passed away, a dear man, and we could only send condolences from afar. Friends and family got sick, and not just from COVID. Pets passed away. People lost jobs. There were the forest fires and the awful weeks of smoke that blanketed much of the PNW. MURDER HORNETS.

But it wasn’t all awful events. New hobbies were found. New skills explored. Moth & Myth continued its wild growth and is leaping into a new phase of business. Friends published books. Friends made art. Friends had shows. Friends wrote new books and game systems. We all learned how to video conference (for better or worse.) There was good to be found even among the muck. I’m not going to miss 2020. It might have been an awful year, but it’s probably been one of the most notable years of my life.

So, how about you? What did you experience in 2020? What are your ten? Assemble them and leave a comment with a link! Let us all know about the significant events in your year.


Want to revisit my photos of past years? The experiences then seem almost charming now. Just click on any of the links below and check out my pictures from that specific year. I find it fascinating to watch subtle changes year over year.

2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 20182019


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"Night Garden" A New Series of Painting by Kari-Lise Alexander

Night Garden

I usually can lead into one of Kari-Lise’s show announcements by inviting locals to come out to an opening wherever it happens to be. But since America is still reeling from the pandemic and in-person events are still a long way off, I get to invite all y’all to the fancy virtual opening celebrating Kari-Lise’s latest series Night Garden coming this Thursday, July 9th at Roq La Rue Gallery here in Seattle.

This new series displays a substantial shift toward the new-contemporary movement while still retaining elements of Kari-Lise’s roots in lowbrow and pop-surrealism. Night Garden is fraught with wisps of gothic romance intertwining with introspective observations on the artistic journey with a nod towards growth, hardship, and one’s learned experiences. Realism remains a major aspect, but there’s a seeing a shift towards something else. It’s exciting to see. Her lavish colors, deep shadows, and the way she plays with shifting depth still amazes me. Yeah, I might be biased, but I find this new series enthralling, and I think you will too.

I’ve included a few of my favorite pieces below. Or just head on over to Roq La Rue’s website and see the full show! Be amazed with me!

Kari-Lise Alexander — "Night Garden" oil on linen, 36"x46"
Kari-Lise Alexander — “Night Garden” oil on linen, 36″x46″

Kari-Lise Alexander — "Rose" oil on panel, 9"x12" (Left) and "Bloom" oil on panel, 9"x12" (Right)
Kari-Lise Alexander — “Rose” oil on panel, 9”x12” (Left) and “Bloom” oil on panel, 9”x12” (Right)

Kari-Lise Alexander — "The Artist #2" oil on panel, 15”x30”
Kari-Lise Alexander — “The Artist #2” oil on panel, 15”x30”

While there isn’t going to be a traditional opening, the show can be viewed in person at Roq La Rue between 12-4 PM on Saturdays (masks are required, and no more than four people will be allowed in the gallery at a time.) If you live here in Seattle and are bored at home and looking for something safe to do, you really gotta see these pieces in person. Be sure to contact the gallery with inquiries about any particular piece.

Finally, follow Kari-Lise over on Instagram she shares a lot of amazing things and often documents her process. You can see her past work over on her website. If you’re interested in getting the insider scoop on what she’s doing before anyone else, I recommend you sign up for her newsletter. It’s an excellent way to stay up to date on what she’s doing.


🎬 Watch Overlooked Details

If you haven’t taken the time, make sure to watch the short documentary about Kari-Lise’s work: Overlooked Details, An Artist’s Journey, directed, edited, and filmed by Scott R. Wilson. (It partially documents her work on Inflorescence in 2013/14.) It’s fifteen minutes long and very much worth your time. It’s a raw, heartfelt, open, and vulnerable glimpse into her journey. I’ve embedded it below, and I recommend watching it full screen. You can view the full credits here.


🖼 Kari-Lise’s Previous Series

Interested in seeing Kari-Lise’s previous shows? I’ve written about them before, and I’d encourage you to check them out. Her work has always been incredible, but it’s also amazing to see her shift as an artist documented through the years:

✨🎨✨

Yeah, It's Still Weird

Yeah, It’s Still Weird

Lately, I haven’t been blogging as much as I’d like. Like everyone else, this shelter-in-place/stay-at-home/stay-indoors/quarantine/pick-your-homebound-term life has disrupted a lot of my normal flow. Creative work still haunts me, but it’s easy to find myself distracted and not doing the stuff I want to be doing. I know I’m not alone. A lot of my fellow creators are feeling it as well. That being said, it’s odd—in all honesty, the day-to-day in the Alexander household hasn’t changed all that much. We’re both fortunate we can work from home, and work has certainly continued. Recently I’ve gotten a few questions from readers, so in the vein of John Scalzi, I’m going to answer those questions through a self-interview.

So hey, where’s Gleam Upon the Waves?

Hmmm, right off the bat, eh? I figured this question would come, and I have an answer for it. Work has continued in fits and starts, despite me feeling weirdly oppressed by the world right now. It’s sitting at 106k words—which means it’s grown a little (sidebar says it was near 100k when it was “done”) as I’ve clarified or added bits and pieces to the whole. It feels like it’s in a pretty good place now. The initial goal was to try a launch in 2020. But, like everything else in the world, I’m playing that by ear now—we’ll have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, I’ve also started working on some short stories set in the universe as well, and I’ll be releasing those for free. So stick around. Follow along, we’ll be back to the Territories before you know it.

What about map stuff?

I haven’t completely abandoned my mapping projects. But they’ve taken a backseat to other creative work after finishing my goal last year. I’ve found a few wonderful sources that I feel will be great additions to the set as a whole, and I’ll keep plugging away with the intent to release more sets. In the meantime, if you’ve used my brushes in your maps, please shoot me a message and let me see ’em! I love seeing how they get used.

Also, over on Twitter, John Hornor Jacobs asked if I had any brushes to help people map out dungeons. I don’t, but the request got me thinking. I could see some benefits and uses in floorplan-style brushes. As with my other sets, I’ll want to make sure they’re historically accurate and rooted in antiquity. So, we’ll see how I do finding sources.

 Anything new around here?

Yeah, actually. I have a few new posts in the works, and I still have more Raunch Reviews coming. I have a Trip Report queued, but I haven’t launched it yet. It documents our trip to Portland we took back in January for Kari-Lise’s birthday. It was a blast and mostly filled with loads of eating. But, it feels kinda odd looking back now, with the world in so much turmoil January was like a lifetime ago. So I keep hemming and hawing over releasing it or not—I will eventually—but it makes me miss restaurants, people, and normal life.

There’s also a plan in the works where soon I’ll begin interviewing my writer friends. They’re good people, and they write good books, and—since I don’t have anything fresh right now—I decided I should step out of my own book world and promote them. So stay tuned!

So, like… how are you feeling?

Fine, and yet weird. Kari-Lise and I are both healthy. I’ve been dealing with some allergy issues, but they’ve mostly subsided. We’ve been at home for three weeks now, and as I said, our day-to-day hasn’t changed all that much. I’ve got some low-key anxiety these days, which isn’t something I’ve really experienced before—mostly me worried about the health and livelihood of friends and family.

I know a lot of freelancers, artists, and small business owners, and the economic downturn has been particularly rough on all of them. So please keep them in mind when we emerge from this. Those books, movies, music, poetry, art, and so on—those things keeping us sane as we’re all at home—yeah, artists made those. Art is essential, especially in times like these, let’s remember that on the other side.


Hopefully, that answers some questions. If you have anything else, you want to ask me, feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment below. Life in my household has settled into a bit of a rhythm. We’re looking into making our own masks for the times we need to get out of the house. We avoid social media these days. Seattle remains on lockdown for the foreseeable future—at least through May 4th, but I think it’ll be extended. I honestly don’t see how any of this changes until widespread testing is available for everyone. Until then, we’ll all be living in a perpetual state of what-if and rolling the dice with the health of friends and family, and it’s hard to operate in a society where that is happening.

I’m very grateful for our governor and the local officials handling the virus here in Washington State. The response has been phenomenal, and I feel very proud to be a Washingtonian. They made hard decisions early, and it’s made a big difference. Seattle was once the hotspot for this outbreak, and every day we fall further down the list. Staying home saves lives and it shows.

I know I’m not alone in feeling grateful for the doctors and nurses who face this daily. Those people are heroes, and they deserve our utmost admiration and honor. I’m also thankful for the people still making sure we have power and internet and running water. I’m grateful for the folks who make deliveries, carry the mail, pick up the garbage, and work in the grocery stores. They’re also heroes. It’s been encouraging to see validation that “low skill” workers are, in fact, critical to our society. They should be compensated accordingly for their labor and service—I just wish it didn’t take a pandemic to open some people’s eyes. My hope is we’ll see a change when this is all over.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Wash your hands.

Love in the Time of COVID

Love in the Time of COVID

With everything happening around the world today, it feels like a strange time to write a blog post—yet, here I am. As many of you know, I live in Seattle, Washington. One of the United State’s hotbeds during our outbreak of COVID-19—the novel coronavirus currently wreaking havoc across… well, everything.

As it stands, Kari-Lise and I are currently doing our part to social distance ourselves away from others, and we’re lucky that we’re both able to work from home. Not everyone can, and that adds a lot of extra stress into people’s day-to-day. Since last Wednesday, I’ve really only left my house to get groceries.

It’s been surreal watching this roll across daily life. People have lost their jobs. Events have been canceled. Much of the city is on lockdown—schools, restaurants, bars, churches, gyms, theaters, etc. are closed. Businesses have reduced their hours, some have closed completely, a few permanently. Nothing here is normal. Everything feels slightly off and a little uncertain. Time stretches past in long intervals. It’s easy to get distracted reading and re-reading the same gibberish over and over. There’s an odd pall hanging over everything you do and a mild panic bubbling beneath the surface. I have a few friends both here and abroad who suspect they might have contracted COVID and knowing that gets your mind spinning. Thankfully, all are staying home, resting up, and all seem to be on the mend.

At the time of me writing this, Washington State has passed a thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19—hopefully, with the city shut down and the stay-at-home measures in place, we’ll start to see a slowdown sooner rather than later. I’d love for all of this to be over in a few weeks, but honestly, I don’t see that happening. I don’t know how this is sustainable. It boggles my mind that corporate America isn’t demanding comprehensive and expansive testing. We’d be able to properly quarantine and care for the sick and wouldn’t have to shut down entire swaths of a city based on assumptions.

Regardless of the next two weeks, it’s becoming more and more clear to me that this pandemic will have a profound impact on the economy, our society, and ultimately our culture. It’s important to reflect on this. The world as we knew it won’t ever go back to the way it was, it never does, it can’t—it’ll emerge different, changed by what we’re experiencing now, hopefully for the better.

I’m not sure if a post like this is helpful or not to the grand dialog as a whole, but it’s useful to me. I’m usually not as open on here about the day-to-day of life, but perhaps I should be—being vulnerable in times like this is how we can come together and build empathy for our varied experiences. Humans are stronger together, and one way or another, I’m sure we’ll get through this. Until then…

Be kind to everyone. Give grace. Don’t horde. Help where you can. Love each other.


The image above comes from the cover of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s El amor en los tiempos del cólera, or as we know it in English: Love in the Time of Cholera—of which I shamelessly stole as a title for this post.

Have questions for me? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

The Vision of Graces - A three-person show at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle Washington, opening June 13th, 2019

The Visions of Graces

If you’re in Seattle next week, and you’re looking for something to do, might I suggest swinging by Roq La Rue Gallery on Thursday, June 13th from 6:00–9:00 PM for the opening of The Visions of Graces, a three-person show featuring my brilliant partner, Kari-Lise Alexander, the always incredible Laurie Lee Brom, and the inimitable Syd Bee. (Be sure to check out Syd’s show from April, Dear Illusions, as well—it’s a stunner.)

Each artist is bringing three to four pieces, and I’m excited to see them up on the walls. I’ve gotten a few glimpses at what’s to come, and I cannot wait for everyone to see the work these talented women have been creating. It’s going to be great. I’ve included a few small previews of what’s to come below, but you’ll soon be able to see more.


Kari-Lise Alexander


Laurie Lee Brom


Syd Bee


A Vision of Graces opens Thursday, June 13th and will run for a month. Both Kari-Lise and I will be at the opening, so if you drop by, be sure to say hello. You can contact the gallery with inquiries about any particular piece. I highly recommend signing up for the Roq La Rue newsletter as soon as possible so you can receive the show preview. You can sign up by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there!

✨🎨✨

ECCC, St. Patrick's Day, Public Transportation, and You

ECCC, St. Patrick’s Day, Public Transportation, and You

Emerald City Comic Con is this weekend in Seattle, and I will be in attendance alongside upwards of 90k other people. It should be a good time. (If you see me, say hello. I’m the big guy in all black—no not that one, or that one, or that one, no… I’m the other one.)

It is also Saint Patrick’s Day on Sunday which means there will be two other events bringing even more people downtown. That can make the city core a little chaotic at times. Since I live and work in Seattle, I figured I’d offer up some advice for those coming in from out of town. (This was born from a twitter thread, but having this all in one place will be handy.)

The con begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center and surrounds just a few blocks up Pike St. from Westlake Park. Thursday and Friday should be fine (though the Friday night commute might be a little hairy.) Saturday and Sunday will be busy. Along with the typical beer-drinking St. Patrick’s Day revelers two themed-events are happening over the weekend.


Saturday:

The Irish Heritage Club’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is on Saturday at 12:30. It starts at James St. and 4th Ave. and heads north where it ends at Westlake Park. Here’s the route.


Sunday:

The 35th Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Dash is on Sunday and runs from 6:30-12:00. It starts at Seattle Central runs down 4th Ave, turns around and spring and comes back. Here’s the route.


That combo is going to draw a lot of people in green downtown. If you’re driving in, expect a bit more traffic than usual, and know that parking will be harder to find. Your best bet is a garage which can be expensive, but they’re convenient as long as they’re not full. Two main garages service the WSCC, and you can find pricing here. You can expect similar prices at other garages nearby. Those will fill up fast.

There is, of course, another option…


Transit:

Your best bet in my opinion, if you’re driving into the city from out of town, is to take the Sound Transit Link Light Rail—parking will be cheaper near stations outside of downtown, and it’s a single line. so it’s impossible to get lost. Convenient and cheap!

There is a stop directly under Westlake Park called Westlake Station and an exit for 5th and Pine (follow the signs) it’ll lead you past Nordstroms and deposit you on the other side of both the revelers and race. From there its only a few blocks to the convention center.

Plus with a Day Pass (about $5), you can skip the long lines for food around the con and ride up to Capitol Hill or down to the Chinatown-International District where you’ll find much better food than anything downtown and quieter crowds.


Hopefully, a few people will find this advice helpful. Whatever you do, I always recommend giving yourself more time when events overlap. Personally, I plan on taking the light rail every day—it should make things nice and smooth.

Have a question? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email, I’ll do my best to answer any questions.

I’m looking forward to hanging out this weekend. Hopefully, I’ll see you at ECCC.