Saturday, February 28, 2009

"The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe..."

Weekend mornings are my favorites. I can have a fire, sit in my reading chair and have tea while I read the newspapers. Sometimes I just keep reading all day long. This morning, however, I've been busy washing all bed linens and covers, trying to rid them of the gas smell from the temper-pedic bed. When this bed is removed and the new one installed, I'm hoping most of the smell will be gone and we can move freely on the second floor once again. Staying nights in the basement flat has been very nice, however, and reminds us both of the year that we lived down there while the rest of the house was renovated.

Now that I have but a month left in my job, I'm running a couple of scenarios to best map how to proceed in the months that follow. I had thought to fly east to start my train trip from New York the second week of April. But now that I will attend the Santa Fe retreat, I'm looking too at an alternate scenario -- one in which I would leave Seattle on the Coast Starlight train to Los Angeles, then take the Southwest Chief train to Santa Fe, then go south to Austin. Then from there to Chapel Hill, then ride the Northeast Corridor trains to Washington DC, then Pittsburgh, then Princeton. Depending upon time and my inclination, I believe I would still have segments left to ride to Chicago and then take the Empire Builder the rest of the way home.

There are so many variables up in the air right now that I'm going to let them sit for now, though I will try to talk with someone from Amtrack next week on routes I'm putting together from their schedule.

My friend Ruth sent a note to remember that "One of my childhood memories occurred while visiting cousins in Santa Fe, and chanting “Atchison, Topeka and San’ ta Fe” at a railroad crossing, waiting for a freight train to pass."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"When health is absent -- wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and..."

intelligence cannot be applied." I came across this quote from the Greek physician and father of anatomy, whose name was Herophilus. I thought it especially appropriate for what I have been going through the past ten days. No wonder I haven't felt well while training in the gym! In fact, I have not felt well since getting our new bed. I'm an asthmatic and now that all the pieces have come together, I realize it is a phenomenon called "out gassing" from the new bed. Tonight, I negotiated the return and exchange of the bed for one that has no memory foam in it and hope that will solve the problem. In the meantime, I'll continue to sleep down in the basement flat until this bed is gone on Saturday afternoon.

Several high points to my day today, not the least of which was my early birthday present from Leroy -- a Santa Fe weekend retreat with one of the finest group of minds you can imagine, hosted by an old friend whose book on sabbaticals -- whether intentional or unplanned -- is almost done. The dates exactly overlap the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which I will catch another year on another train ride. I really do need this retreat.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's uphill work.

I was back in the gym this morning with Jeremy after a week away. I knew it would be a tough workout before we started, in fact I woke early dreading it. Usually, after I'm warmed up and rolling, I have some feeling of mastery over the exercises, and can focus on my form and execution. This morning it was all uphill, messy and sweaty. Most of the work was upper body, including the dread Gravitron, but there's one step-up-on-one-foot-and-lift-the-weights-over-your-head-then-step-back-down-and-reverse-feet that caused me to wish myself elsewhere.

It's sometimes tough to sort out all the pressures in one's environment, and this morning they all came to a head in the gym. I hope to do better on Thursday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The world is my oyster.

I have just come back in from having checked the large pot filled with bulbs that James & Lauren gave me two Christmases ago. The heavy snow we had has not stopped them from swooshing up through the dirt to find the light. Spring is the great renewer of all things.

Earlier, I spent a couple of hours online with various social or business networks I'm a part of. Technology makes it easier to keep in touch with those we care about. I'm researching new tools I'll need come April -- a small laptop ("netbook") with bells and whistles, and comparing the Blackberry Bold vs the Apple iPhone. There are some places I'm going on my month long train ride where I'm not sure wireless will work.

I'm teaching myself how to load all my Picasa files to the internet, as I do another sort for the book manuscript; and I'm learning how to organize and then offload files for the 3 Day Walks by year. Now if I can only upload new tunes to my MP3 device!

Last night, we found the concert at Benaroya to be excellent. While it was billed around Mozart's famous "Jupiter" Symphony, the real surprise and delight was a double bass concerto by Johann Baptist Vanhal, who sounds more like Mozart than Mozart often does. It was clear that Rossen Milanov, the Bulgarian conductor, is loved by the musicians -- in addition to the the Vanhahl and the Mozart, his interpretation of Schurbert's Symphony No.5 was brilliant and joyful.

The world is our oyster.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Everything is new again.

I picked up my newspapers on the front porch this morning, and looked down upon these cheerful pots of bulbs and primrose. With the sun shining today, I'll prune from my forsythia, James' almond tree, and my own winter daphne to make spring come alive indoors.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Seattle Flower & Garden Show

Just a few photographs from this year's garden show -- most likely the last year that the show will be presented. My friend Suzie and I are both photographers, and the show always yields lasting images.

Who wouldn't want to have such a retreat in their back yard?

Part of the beautiful Ikebana exhibit at the show.

More Ikebana. See how your perception is changed by such minaturized vistas.

Another beautiful exhibit, using colors of quilts and quilts themselves in landscape.

More relationships between cloth and flowers.

One of three gorgeous standing exhibits at the entrance to the show.

Another entrance display.

And my favorite entrance display, for all of its subtlety. The show continues until Sunday and is well worth seeing for both the exhibits and the vendors as well. There's nothing more refreshing to the spirit than a whiff of daphne odora.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I got up early, read the newspapers with breakfast, then completed a document required for potential executive appointees. Among other things, it required me to list all jobs held since I was 21 years old. It was actually quite pleasant to locate and read the letters of reference I had carried first from Iowa City to Rochester, and then from Rochester to Seattle. Most of the rest of the material I needed was already on my resume.

Then I took a walk, picked up dry cleaning, and made a donation to Goodwill. I've been clearing out and reorganizing files in my study since that time, getting the 2008 tax materials ready as well.

Why is it that getting work like this done is a source of such satisfaction?

Now, all I have left to do is walk on the new tempur-pedic bed once it has aired out and reached room temperature. Evidently we should walk on the bed for the next several days so as to open its pores. The bed and the promise it holds is our 2009 annivesary present to one another.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Can spring be far behind?

It was a crisp, sunny walk this morning at Green Lake. I saw crocuses, snowflowers and iris beginning to send out shoots above the ground, hinting at the show we'll have in another month. The other signal that spring is nearly here was the Seattle Flower & Garden Show issue of Pacific magazine in today's Seattle Times.

I read two newspapers with my breakfast, then walked, then shopped for Beechers crackers and cheese and a bottle of Bushmills for this evening's celebrations. Then I had an otherworldly massage. Now it's time to go take a steam then clean myself up for this evening.

Since we've lived in Seattle, we celebrate our anniversaries with Hazard and Diana Adams. Today is also Hazard's birthday. As his card says, "experience has its advantages."
I would guess that the tree pictured above, near Bathhouse Theatre, also feels the same way.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sneaking up on our anniversary.

Leroy's after dinner location to read and take a nap has been enhanced by several dozen blue irises I ordered to celebrate our anniversary, which is Sunday.

According to wikipedia, "Iris is a genus of between 200-300 species ... [that] takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow, referring to the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species."

Walking Shoes.

I finally made it last night to Super Jock & Jill, to see Ty and get fitted for this year's first pair of 3 Day Walk shoes. Their customer service is superb, and I tried three different sizes and a different width to find the just right size. Brooks had redesigned its Ariel shoe somewhat, so that's why they fitted me so carefully.

I am out of excuses for training to walk, now that I have the shoes. And all the work I've been doing in the gym should count when I hit the path tomorrow morning at Green Lake. I've lost some more weight, am carrying significantly more muscle. I think I have enough time now during the day to actually get out more regularly to walk.

The other great thing about Super Jock & Jill is that they will take your old walking shoes, tweak them a bit, and then donate them to the city's emergency shelter for the homeless. So I came away lighter by two pair, and gliding postively gliding on my glisteningly white new shoes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


My eyelids are clanking shut, but I wanted to write a few words about the concert we heard tonight with violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Valentina Lisitsa. It was an extraordinary program of complex music -- difficult to play and requiring all one's listening sensibilities. It was quite intense, but what rewards! We heard little known and infrequently performed works by Eugene Ysaye, Charles Ives, Johannes Brahms, and Bela Bartok.

Sometimes artists play or write or paint with such sureness, such piercing clarity, that our understanding is magnified, beyond words.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A brain wedgie.

Last week my team and I moved about 100 boxes of office supplies and emergency food rations to Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. Happily I did not have to pack them, but I did lift and move any number of them on parts of the delivery. The following day I moved most of my office stuff from one work floor to another. David Kirdahy is part shaman, part chiropracter. He described my condition as that of having a "brain wedgie," meaning that both my atlas (C1) and the second cervical vertebrate were misaligned. He was able to fix me up, ensuring now that my head is screwed on straight.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -- Emerson

I like this quote because it is easier said than done.

The last several weeks have gone slowly, with most of the changes having to do with external events in my workplace. The world does not seem to want to change as fast as I do.
Thinking back to other Februarys, I suppose it is always that way just before the spring comes -- too much time for reflection, not quite time for dramatic action.

I need to leave a new trail.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I finished my EpiCenter workout this morning with Jeremy, and it struck me what a fortunate person I am. I have a trainer, a physical therapist, an orthopaedist, a chiropracter, and a regular doctor. That's at least three more professionals than most.

We talked about what the orthopaedist had said, and I noted that my left leg is about a half inch shorter than the right. He thinks I should be scrupulous about doing the physical therapy exercises now that I am walking again, since walking distances tends to magnify other problems. You would think that I could have figured this out myself -- but it is a lot of work to walk, to train in the gym and then to remember physical therapy when I get home at night.

I am working on paying more attention to myself.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Orthopaedics 101 with Dr. Daly.

I had my knees checked out this morning at the orthopaedic clinic. I hadn't been in since 2007, just before I started training for my first 3 Day Walk. The good news is that the knees are not markedly deteriorated. Both my quad and hamstring muscles are strong. Each knee has patella arthritis. Dr. Daly believes the pain I've had is a result of attempting too much knee bend or too much weight lifted when bending the knee -- both easy to adjust in the gym. He offered me an MRI to check out a few more things, but we agreed I'd be back for an MRI only if I have additional pain or swelling.
I train at 5:30am tomorrow.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Yo Pittsburgh! Yo Steelers!

I came back after our first Kindred Spirits training walk of the season, did some errands, then sat down to watch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at halftime and the rest of the SuperBowl. I fell asleep and woke ten minutes before the end of the game, but what a time to wake up! Both teams played very well, but the Steelers were and are my team. James called while walking home after watching the game back there. The background noise from Pittsburgh sounded like the late 70s Pioneer Square celebration when the Sonics took the NBA championship.

I'm sure I'll be able to catch a replay of the halftime show, which will be worth it, despite the NY Times somewhat sniffy review.