Friday, October 31, 2008

"Dark is the new black, darling....."

It's Halloween and time to rumble for the technology group at my company.

Mr. Slapshot on the left is actually the manager of our continuity of operations program.

Here's the winner of our spirit award with the refs and myself.

This is a top view shot of my truly awesome zucchini race car built for me for this morning's race. On one side, it has my racing name -- Princess of Darkness -- and this blog entry's headline on the other.

Here I am racing against a great guy and colleage of eight years, Denis. Eventually he beat me in the stock class.

What is this silliness all about? It is actually the kickoff of the United Way Giving Campaign for the technology group here in Seattle.

Fred and Marianna are the referees and detail folks behind each year's race. This was the 15th such race, the end of an era for my company. We have $850 to turn over to be matched before being sent to United Way.

As I have said so many times before, you always get back more than you give, especially when you are having fun at the same time. 2009 is going to be a very tough year for so many in our region, especially the homeless, a special focus of the United Way program. We must each do what we can in our own way to make a difference.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Libraries for all.

I had a remarkable experience earlier this evening. I went to City Hall to sign in and speak in front of the Seattle City Council on behalf of the library's books and materials budget, of which the proposed budget is $2.2 million short. I stood in line to sign up for 90 minutes, then waited another hour or so to speak. The council chambers were packed with groups waiting to speak on critical human services parts of the budget, including senior citizen centers, chicken soup brigade, mentoring programs, and the Boys & Girls Club. I was glad to see Jean Godden chairing the session. She is a former newspaper columnist whose ear I used to tickle regularly on behalf of the Seattle Art Museum when I worked there. You have to feel sympathy for the council in these tough economic times, trying to balance a budget that is $7 million too high right now. I did get to work in my view that the two greatest privileges of American citizenship are hot showers and free library cards.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

When I grow up, I want to be a French horn player.

I got in a nice walk around Green Lake again today, though my right hamstring is still very tight.The trees are spectacularly colorful, with little kids running through the leaves that have fallen so far.Walking is always a time I can listen to music, but I've had even more time this weekend.

Leroy and I went to the opening concert in the "Mostly Mozart" series at Benaroya Hall last night. It was splendid,featuring both Haydn and Mozart pieces. The highlight was John Cerminaro and his French horn, playing "Mozart's Concerto No. 4 in E-flat major." If ever you thought a horn could sound like a voice, this would be the piece. The acoustics in the big hall are perfect for this smaller ensemble, and for the French horn.

I have always had musicians surrounding me in this family. Cassandra is a professional soprano with the Phoenix Bach Choir and Conspirare, and her husband composes and trascribes music in his spare time. Leroy writes and transcribes music and plays trumpets and euphoniums. James is in a lull now, but played classical piano and jazz bass trombone. Grandchildren sing and play musical instruments, and one also composes music. I toyed with piano lessons a few years ago, but truly have not played or sung since high school, where the trumpet was also my instrument.

After listening last night, though, I would like to be reborn as a French horn player, with the subtlety and grace of John Cerminaro.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile." -- W.B. Bryant

Here's the last hydrangea of the season, tucked in with rosemary from the front garden.

I like to do the small bushes and clean out beds and move things around.

I depend upon Antonio to clean up the larger bushes and trees, and he is here this morning.

Here's a good idea of what he'll be working on....

The pre-pruned garden is a kind of wild splendor, or so I have told myself as I've worked away on the peripheries the past couple of weekends.

We have had a glorious run of weather this week. I have pots of geraniums with lobelia still blooming, and may try to winter them over since the winter looks to be mild. And pumpkins! Leroy will carve them for our Halloween night outdoor greetings to neighborhood kids next Friday evening.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Consequential Stories.

I am so glad I attended the Swedish Medical Center's Women's Wellness Luncheon Benefit yesterday. In addition to an inspiring luncheon program, I wandered through a wellness fair with booths and displays related to women’s health. The funds raised benefit Swedish's patient assistance program. I've said many times that cancer does not discriminate, and the stories we heard yesterday from women helped by the fund truly run the gamut. The smallest amount awarded is $50 and the top amount something like $2,000. What a difference a few dollars have made in the lives of so many.

The two speakers I found most compelling both have beat back cancer more than once. C.J. Taylor, the keynote speaker and a healthcare professional, has had both breast and ovarian cancer and more than once in each case. She is a remarkable woman, one of the pioneers for early detection and testing in the Northwest. The other speaker who closed the event is my own Martha Harris, the flower lady par excellance. She moved her store from University Village some years ago, to Madison Park, where I still trek several times a year to buy one-of-a-kind items for the garden and to ask for a bouquet of their design in the Kosta Boda vase that James and Leroy got me years ago. The most I ever specify -- and those who know me know how much a gesture of trust this is from me -- are colors for the bouquet. Not in all those years have I known that Martha too is a survivor with a gleaming sense of humor.

For those looking for a quiet new direction to keep them centered during the winter months, I recommend a CD that was a luncheon giveaway. It is by Carolyn McManus, and is called "Loving Kindness Meditation & Forgiveness Meditation," available on Amazon. I listened to it this morning, and have since ordered another 3-CD set on Amazon featuring other mediations she has produced as part of a wellness series.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Colors of Cancer

A colleague at work, also a photographer, sent this graphic along to me this morning. Everyone seems to be wearing pink or a pink ribbon this month because it is breast cancer awareness month. Now we know what ribbons of other colors signal. Tomorrow for lunch, I'll be at the Swedish Hospital Women's Wellness Lunch, at a table hosted by my colleague and friend, Julie, a breast cancer survivor. She's really at the genesis of my commitment to raise funds for breast cancer. Her graceful and heart-felt good example left a deep imprint on me and everyone else she has worked with. I've walked in her honor for two years, and will do it again next year.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Art of the Fugue

In music, a fugue (pronounced /ˈfjuːg/) is a type of contrapuntal composition or technique of composition for a fixed number of parts, normally referred to as "voices".[1] .... Since the 17th century[3], the term fugue has described what is commonly regarded as the most fully developed procedure of imitative counterpoint. A fugue opens with one main theme, the subject, which then sounds successively in each voice in imitation; when each voice has entered, the exposition is complete; this is occasionally followed by a connecting passage, or episode, developed from previously heard material; further "entries" of the subject then are heard in related keys. Episodes (if applicable) and entries are usually alternated until the "final entry" of the subject, by which point the music has returned to the opening key, or tonic, which is often followed by closing material, the coda.[4][1] In this sense, fugue is a style of composition, rather than fixed structure....
-- Wikopedia

Sometimes music can mirror life in an eery fashion. Tonight in the first of the "Basically Baroque" concerts this fall, Gerard Schwartz conducts fugues. Were we prescient or what, nearly a year ago, before the fabric of our economy had torn apart, when we ordered these tickets?

The weekend is almost upon us, and I am looking forward to a couple of walks as well as planting spring bulbs in my garden.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Thought makes every thing fit for use." -- Emerson

James cooked Leroy's birthday dinner last night: a beautiful rib roast, fresh green beans, salad, rosemary diamente bread, and an amazing invented squash-ginger-carrot soup, with roasted pistachios on top. He is as accomplished and curious a cook as his father.

The meal was amazing, and followed an afternoon photo shoot by our photographer friend Suzie. The photo shoot for a holiday picture in October means that my cards will go out on time this December.

As I write this, James is flying back to Pittsburgh, where he leads a well thought-out life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A perfect autumn day.

I am a contented person. My son is home. I have taken the day off.

His visit is a perfect excuse to decorate a bit early for Halloween.

I have decorations that are from his childhood, or my own.

Though no jack-o'-lanterns outdoors yet, inside we have many. well as witches to greet visitors.

I love to decorate, using a mix of familiar and new elements.
If it's not clear yet, I am the kid in this scenario.

The long weekend also gives me more time in my garden.

It certainly does not look like it is time to cover everything up!

I will remember time like this always. When my eyes look, they see this time through past years. The garden is an inventory of years from the plantings that James and I have done.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Stockholm Photos

I love to travel to other countries, but this year my son James has beat me to it. Here are three photos from his recent trip to Stockholm.

He traveled to Stockholm to read a paper at a conference and, because of a German friend with Swedish relatives, he probably saw more of the city than most tourists.

A shot that his friend Martin took...he's wearing his conference badge, so I'm guessing on the morning he was to present, with the requisite cup of coffee to wake up....

And I am guessing that this is the royal palace.
There is so much of the Mideast that I would like to see, but I think my timing would be very bad right now. We still have a standing invitation from curators in Egypt to come tour the Cairo museum behind the scenes, and then take the boat ride to Luxor and the pyramids. Perhaps next year, it will be possible for Americans to travel in greater safety to this part of the world.
On the local front, the walk sponsors have been persuaded to stage it here in Seattle from September 11-13 next year, rather than October, where they originally announced it. Given the way the wind and rain are whistling around the house this weekend, October would indeed have been a bad idea in the Pacific Northwest.