Sunday, May 31, 2009

A bright morning.

Cascadia snap peas!  -- not exactly a cash crop, but enough to feed us and our guests next weekend.

I like the slightly cloudy look of this photo.  I'd just finished a morning walk through the neighborhood and around the ravine. Coming through the back gate, this lavendar seemed to be waving at me.  Of the herbs I grow, rosemary (for remembrance) and lavendar (for sleep and for sweet dreams) are my favorites.  I never remember exactly the right time to chop the lavendar back, so it has been more time than usual for it to get this size this year.  Probably had something to do with all the snow as well.

Having finished both newspapers, I'm jumping in the shower before breakfast with Lauren -- a perfect way to start the day.  

Friday, May 29, 2009

"A picture is a poem without words." -- Horace

I took my first "time out" today, following the library foundation retreat.  I ended up in Volunteer Park.  Here, Nagouchi's magnificent "Black Sun" sculpture, for which I have one of the artist's small castings, a gift from the museum staff and trustees in 1984. 

The Seattle Asian Art Museum has both classic and contemporary pieces on view.  Above, a contemporary woodcut from the Japanese artist Seiko.

Here, a much older Japanese pot.

I tried to talk the gardeners into coming to my house after they were done planting out the museum's beds, but I think they have other work to do in Volunteer Park today.

Flats of flowers to be planted out around the museum.

One last look at "Black Sun," with the Space Needle to the west, in the distance.

I've had a great day and am looking forward to one last quiet weekend with my husband.  Feels like summer, but it's still spring -- great weather for long rides on the Harley.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I shall move the world." -- Archimedes

I wanted to write a bit about Jennine's progress.  It is exactly a week since she had over 8 hours of brain surgery.   First of all, she's in a great hospital.  She and Marc told me yesterday that the Cherry Hill campus of Swedish Hospital specializes in the brain and the heart.  I think she feels she has had great care.

For those of you who have never met her, Jennine is an accountant and (like many on the team) a high achiever who expects a lot of herself.  Right now, she is dealing with a couple of setbacks that are probably very common in recovery from this type of surgery.  She can't read or watch television because she still has some double vision.  When we talked yesterday, she mentioned that she helped her mother with cross word puzzles by visualizing the puzzle.  So today I took in a CD player with some books on tape today.   I hope that listening to them brings her some relief from her own thoughts.  Her family is so supportive and present, but I'm hoping they'll enjoy the tapes as well.

I have no doubt that her progress will continue.  Ramona, her mother, is keeping up her blog every day.  You can read those updates by clicking on the pointer to the right of this entry.  The newest one posted today indicates that she may be going straight home on Saturday -- but you could still visit her tomorrow at Swedish Hospital.

Jennine and Archimedes, the great classical antiquity mathmetician, have a great deal in common.  He invented the mathematics of a lever, and that is just what she is looking for right now.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My neighborhood.

Though I usually walk at Green Lake, it's also possible to start walking right outside my door.  A few blocks to the south is our ravine, east of Cowen Park, which one can walk alongside, or down in.  Here are a few photos from the bridge.

Below are a selection of houses and gardens that I pass on my walk.

The house above is that of our next door neighbors, Diane and Roy, one of the most beautiful in our Ravenna neighborhood.

And this is the back approach to our home.   I expect to be able to spend more time in the garden in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"The world belongs to the energetic." -- Emerson

Now that I have made a habit of morning pages, the next step is to add a "time out"  -- an hour or so a week for trying something new, an enjoyable adventure.  Not about self-improvement, but rather about  getting back a sense of wonder.  

We have a library foundation board retreat on Friday until mid-afternoon, so I'm going to plan this week's time out for the rest of the afternoon.  Perhaps a visit to Volunteer Park?  I haven't been in the conservatory or the museum itself in several years.   

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009.

This holiday was originally called Decoration Day, to honor Civil War veterans, then later broadened to include all veterans of all wars.  From my childhood, this day meant a lot.  My father, old enough actually to be my grandfather, was a dental corps veteran of World War I.  He taught my sister and I how to march, salute, and make beds with square corners -- all of which he learned in the Army.  Each May,  the local V.F.W. sold poppies in support of disabled veterans.  And on what is now called Memorial Day, we spent time marching, just like the Marine Band below, then moved to the cemetery for a formal ceremony that honored veterans of all wars.  My father's name is inscribed on one of the military crosses there.  I have a photo that I cannot find right now of my son James, at about age four,  standing next to that cross and saluting.  Here are some wonderful Washington DC parade photos instead.

U.S. Marine band marches down Constitution Avenue.

Joint services color guard.

The Amvets float honors different groups each year, in this case the Tuskegee airmen.

I have been an antiwar activitist most of my life, but always try to take a moment to remember all those who died in service to our country on this day. The next time you run into a member of the military service, just step right up and thank them.  We take our freedoms entirely too much for granted.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Perhaps I am stronger than I think." -- Thomas Merton

Here's a scene from last year's walk.  Penny left, Ginny center, and Jennine right.  Now you know who you are thinking good thoughts about.

From her mother's update last night:  "She was up and sitting in a chair for breakfast, lunch & dinner. About 30 to 40 minutes each time. There is a clock straight in front of her and she says the two clocks are getting closer together. So her double vision is improving."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Earth laughs in flowers." -- Emerson

I slept late this morning then set out to please myself-- the newspapers, an energetic walk, the library and some dive bomb shopping.  I found these beautiful peonies at the end of my travels.

Esther and Bill gave us a beautiful peony bush in 2006, when we had our open house renovation party.  It was killed by an early frost.  I replaced it with one from Swansons the following year, and it met the same fate this past year.  It has finally occured to me that perhaps I should plant a couple of them on the north side of the house, where the soil has different characteristics.  The house I grew up in back in Iowa  had both lilac and peony bushes, with isolated spots to read near or under them.

For those who don't know the story, here's wikipedia:  "The peony is name after Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil; Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower."

Friday, May 22, 2009

"The brain gives the heart its sight. The heart gives the brain its vision." -- Kali

The Indian god Kali is not always the most reliable purveyor of truth, but in this case I believe he was right.

What a long day it must have been yesterday for Jennine, our Kindred Spirits teammate who had brain surgery.  Her mother, also a teammate and now blogging for her, notes that she went into surgery at 8:30am and came out about 5pm.   Her first words after surgery:  "Ouch, my head hurts!" The surgeons were able to remove about 95% of the golf ball sized growth.  

This is a remarkable woman for a couple of reasons.  Others know her much better than I do. She and I walked together on SuperBowl Sunday and I had a chance to hear about her mother's struggle with breast cancer.  You learn a lot about what a person values and how they love their family during such walks.  But you don't have to read my characterization of her -- if you take a look at Jennine's "J9" blog, which you can click through to from this page, you'll see what the shape of her love and anxiety for her mom looked like -- and then you will read the interesting and lively comments she has made on her own condition.  

Big heart.  Brain with vision.  A human being, just like the rest of us, but touched twice in the last year by cancer.  Please give her strong recovery a place in your thoughts over this long holiday weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Once in a while, you have to take a break and visit yourself." -- Audrey Giorgi

I found this quote on the website called   The site owners are  going to post my May 16th blog entry since it relates to the weekend session I attended.

Today was extremely productive, as I continue to refine my new business concept.  I am trying hard to remember to smell the roses and slow down.  Sometimes it seems unnatural to go at a snail's pace, either with ideas or actions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

" A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes...."

....and they come back to us as effects."  -- Herman Melville

Above, walking over the finish line of the 3 Day Walk in 2008 with three of my favorite survivors in the whole world: to my left, Mary Jo; with Ginny and Carol to my right.   I'm the one pointing at my husband behind the camera. I remember the sheer exuberance of the moment, the pride of the effort.  I pulled that picture out tonight to remind myself that we do make progress.

So much cancer around us all, despite all our walking, all the research, all the effort --  this past spring saw two friends die of pancreatic cancer.  I spent four hours with my friend Sabine, a brain cancer survivor, while in Austin.  She has beat all the statistics.  This afternoon, Valerie who has cut my hair for 12 years, told me that her partner of 12 years died of colon cancer last month, having been diagnosed in 2007.  And tonight, a note from Penny, asking for us to remember Jennine,  a Kindred Spirit team member who is having brain surgery on Thursday morning. It's so much to think about, to hold those folks close in our thoughts.

We are all connected.  For every bit of progress, it often seems there seems a corresponding loss. I know technically that cannot possibly be true when I look at the team itself:  survivors and supporters both.   Penny, herself a survivor of both cervical and uterine cancer, is testament to the miracle of early detection and cutting edge treatments.  Or Mary Jo.  Or Ginny.  Or Carol. From this effort and the dream of a world without cancer, we are all connected.

Please keep Jennine in your thoughts on Thursday morning.  If you want to read her own words, check out her blog, which her mother will keep up during her recuperation.  It is

Monday, May 18, 2009

"There are voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter the world." -- Emerson

I am very much a creature of fixed routines.  Though I keep a written journal as well as this blog, I generally do my writing in the evening.  In the morning, I usually rise, read the newspaper along with my breakfast, either do my chi-gong or walk, then come home and shower, to begin my day. 

At our think tank in Santa Fe, it was strongly recommend that we take up the exercise of writing three  morning pages by hand upon waking.  The pages are meant really to be stream of consciousness set rather directly after an evening of rest and dreams.  Sometimes the pages will be lists, sometimes ways of working out half-formed notions or ideas.  

Had I finished the Washington DC end of my train trip, I would have arrived home this morning. I did not manage to write morning pages consistently while on the trip, perhaps in part because the line between sleeping and waking was never more blurred.  This morning I see if I can rise a different way, and slightly alter years of habits.

For those interested in following some of my homework through reading, the reference book is called "The Artist's Way at Work: Riding the Dragon."  It is written by Mark Bryan, Julia Cameron, and Catherine Allen, the founder of The Santa Fe Institute, and published by Morrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Out of clutter, find simplicity." -- Albert Einstein

The patterns of a gardener over the four seasons are nearly reflexive.    Here, it was time to lift out the sturdy primroses from spring and to trim back the greenery left from the daffodils.  Divide and repot them deeper.  Then bring in the red geraniums and blue lobelia that signal summer is coming.

The lipstick red camellia tree is done but the white azalea bushes near the front steps have only begun.

My euphorbia has gone mad in the front rockery, where I pause to clean up the beds a bit after pruning out dead branches in my rosemary bushes down below.

All the while I work in the early morning sun, Leroy's horse is at rest.

Later today, I'll plant the primroses back into shady dark ground for the summer so they will be ready for their next cycle.   In the back garden, my lettuce and onions are ready for an endless stream of salads.   It is a beautiful day and, after we're back from the museum, we'll be able to eat dinner on the back terrace.   Utter simplicity!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"We have it in our power to begin the world over again." -- Thomas Paine

Since Thursday, I have been spending time quietly here at home.   Today, I'm looking at notes about my goals I made during the weekend think tank in Santa Fe, and putting them into a more finished form. 

  • To be fully present in the moment, rather than anticipating the next turn of events.    
  • To reach more often with the heart, not just with the head.
  • To live more simply.
  • To let go of negative thoughts.
  • To spend time with and thank good friends and close relatives.
  • To finish my "Art of Renovation" book manuscript.
  • To determine my "personal brand"  --how to best use my interests and talents in the future.
My travels this past month offered an opportunity to work on more than one of these goals. Slowing down long enough to spend real time with people I care about is a form of renewal that provides a strong foundation for the other aspirations shown here.

My list also includes more tactical items like  walking every day, swimming several times a week, finding a mat pilates class, and starting again to learn either piano or painting.  

As Thomas Paine says, all these are within my power.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” - Lin Yutang

The photos tell the whole story.  I am home.

Carnegie Gifts.

Andrew Carnegie left a number of buildings to the people of Pittsburgh.  I went through the rest of the buildings yesterday morning, before I left the city.  "Free to the People" is the grand Carnegie Library.

The cornerstone of the complex of buildings.

All Carnegie buildings have the names s of poets, writers, scientists, artists and composers scribed in a surround of the structure.  This is the library building.

The book as heraldic emblem.

Details on the staircase of the library.

More detail.

This is a well-used library, by students of the colleges and universities  as well as people of the city.

The third story of the building is the Pennsylvania research section.

Portia and her speech:  "The quality of mercy is not straineth...."

Several monumental statues in front of the Carnegie Music Hall.

And here is the great Irish composer, Victor Herbert.

As one of the librarians pointed  out, Andrew Carnegie built the buildings but left no endowment for their maintenance.  He was a canny Scotsman.  At least one of the Carnegie Mellon University buildings was constructed next to the train tracks so that it could be turned into a factory if the university idea did not work out.   Here in Seattle, at least two of the branch libraries I use -- University and Green Lake -- are also original Carnegie libraries.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Home again, home again, jiggety jig."

Not sure if that is quite right, but it's from a nursery rhyme I used to do with James.  Today is travel day back to Seattle.  James cooked me a splendid breakfast of whole wheat blackberry pancakes with veggie sausage to set me up right for the trip.  

I have traveled a fair amount of the country in these 22 days. The first two long train rides were perhaps the most beautiful -- from Seattle, along the Pacific Coast, to Los Angeles; and then from Los Angeles, across the desert to Santa Fe.  I flew to Austin, and had the chance to drive across a good part of Texas as well.  From Austin to elegant Chapel Hill, "the Athens of the South" as my friend Matt called  it.  I loved the trees and gardens.  I think it was on the freezing cold Carolinian that my cold got a lot worse.  But I still saw and did a lot while in Princeton with Mary and her family, and I'm glad for the extra time I had with them.  Coming to Pittsburgh to stay with James has rounded things off nicely.   I wouldn't have missed James and his world for anything.

Since I did business only at the front of the trip, I'll need to plot a trip back for meetings in New York and Washington DC.    

We're off now for the Carnegie Library and a couple of other visits before I leave Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunny Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

James finished his last paper for his master's degree, and we drove to the Carnegie Mellon campus to turn it in.  

Plaque and window just inside the door of his building.

Windows and staircases are beautiful.

Shot looking out of building from second floor.

And, of course, turning in library books is part of end of semester routines.

Shot from the car, the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh.  James had a philosophy class in the building this last semester.

As you would guess, Andrew Carnegie built a fine museum for the people of Pittsburgh.  The collection is broad and interestingly deep in some areas.  Above:  Monet's waterlilies.

European and American art is blended in several galleries.

Here, one of the pieces for this year's Carnegie International competition.  This sits near the entrance to the museum.

Another gallery piece from the Carnegie International.

Last but not least, a splendid David Smith sculpture.

We also drove through the south side of Pittsburgh after we visited the museum. Not sure that we will make it to Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water" before I leave, but I'd much rather have this lazy, relaxed time with James than rush about frenetically.

I'm resting now, and James & I will eat in a few hours.  I am so very pleased that I came to see him, and proud of all that he has  accomplished.  He knows a great deal about this city and its history, and has shared the city and his love for it freely.