Sunday, November 29, 2009

Almost December.

Last week was extraordinary, by any account. There were any number of ups and downs, including having to call Metropolitan Sewer on the day before Thanksgiving. Having James here for such a nice long week was outstanding. We had eleven around the table for Thanksgiving, some of whom are shown in the photos above, with treats from both Iran and India to savor along with all the American standards. Unfortunately for the bird, I did not think to take a picture before the carving had begun.

Then keeping with 25 years of tradition, we had our holiday photo taken yesterday -- Suzie came and snapped some 15 or so photos, any of which we could use. The most likely candidate is shown above.

We are buttoned up for winter, with the sprinklers cleared and shut down, and a nice thick layer of compost on everything. Bring on December!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Almost Thanksgiving on the way to Christmas

Every year I have a little discussion with myself, which leads eventually to me pulling out just a few of our favorite holiday ornaments....before Thanksgiving has arrived. Above, brass French horn and trumpet with wreath of bells. They've hung in that same place on the fireplace all the years we have lived here.

Here's a music box that Sabrina gave James for his first Christmas. It plays "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

Front hall doesn't get creche and other items until later -- but there's enough here to let our Thanksgiving Day guests know that the holidays are upon us.

Piano photos and poinsettias....Sabrina and family on left, and Cassandra and family on the right.

Holiday photos from previous years, including the small one which must be somewhere around 1990 when the whole crew was here.

James' train from his first Christmas, with a small assortment of other items we've had for years.

In this house, Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday of the year. This year, we will be something like 10 around the table and the conversation will go on and on. I wish for everyone who reads this the same kind of happy and certain day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Giving back.

When I started ASA, I was determined to observe a better balance between the new company and the rest of my life. We talked a lot about that at the Santa Fe think tank. I am honored to be part of the board of the Seattle Public Library Foundation. Together with Friends of the Library, we have been able to lobby the Seattle City Council to restore $800,000+ of the $2.4 million cut from the 2010 budget. The budget for purchasing books and other materials remains untouched by budget cuts. I consider my commitment to the library to be a form of giving back.

Now I've found another way to give back. I have accepted an appointment as an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington, whose spring campus is pictured above. I'm going to teach once in awhile in the University of Washington's Information School, and be included on selected research projects. This fits well with ASA's Institute for Research and Innovation, but also becomes part of my long term strategy to give back to the region that has enabled me to grow and thrive.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Little James with all of his names...."

I have no wish to embarrass my son, but it is his 25th birthday today, and I think I'll take a few liberties. James was born at 5:41am in Swedish Hospital and moved directly into its neonatal intensive care unit. He was diagnosed with acute renal failure and respiratory distress even though he was of a good weight and size. He stayed in the ICU for ten days, and for an extra couple of weeks after that, he had blood drawn daily at Children's Hospital. So he has always been somewhat of a miraculous child, precocious and feisty at the same time. I will spare you all the stories in between, but note that the man sitting in the museum gallery above is a man of firm opinions and well-thought out beliefs.

While he was in ICU, my husband wrote a little jingle for me to make into a lullaby for him once he was home. It goes like this:

Little James
with all of his names,
came into the world on Tuesday.
We gave him six hugs,
wrapped him in rugs,
and took him home the next Thursday.

I spared James that poem on my Facebook post today, choosing instead the small poem that Leroy wrote for me to embroider on to the quilt that I had made for his crib before he was born.

Lambs wake
on a high hill.
My heart
is still.

Happy Birthday, James Harrison Sowers Searle. Your mother is still your biggest fan.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship." -- Peter Drucker

"What do you see as the next big thing in terms of technology innovation?"

"What do you see as the next big thing in terms of business innovation?"

"If you were building an organization today, versus running an established organization, are lessons from prior economic periods relevant? Why?"

"How do you see the nature of organizations changing -- e.g., more green computing, less offices, more virtual work, more expertise based networks?"

"Since the theme is agility in times of transition, what are the major economic, social and technological trends you see impacting organizations today and in the future?"

These are just the warm up questions that three of us will be answering at the UW Innovation in Information Management fall conference. Nothing like having real questions that you can sink your teeth into!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


When I was a child, Sundays were all hustle-hustle, get to early mass and then drive 23 miles to visit my grandparents all day. Sundays also meant staying dressed up until we were back home in the evenings. If we were very lucky, we got to go to my uncle's farm just outside the town that my grandparents lived in. We got to change out of itchy fancy clothes and play with our cousins. That was special.

These days, Sundays are long lazy breakfasts with the newspapers, eaten and read by the fire in the living room. I have a large overstuffed leather chair and ottoman that is my special place.

Late mornings and afternoons are scatterings of errands, finishing laundry, and a late afternoon manicure. Evenings are quiet time with my husband and sometimes guests for dinner.

What hasn't changed in all these years are Sundays after dinner, with the sense of preparation for the week to come, the ordering of lists and review of the week that's just past.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Every day is different.

Seattle is a wonderful place to live because it is such a small town and because people care about one another. I worked early, then drove to Queen Anne to have my hair fussed over my Anna the Bold, one of the youngest survivors I met when I started to train to walk in 2007. Being anywhere in her space just gets all the juices going. She's a pistol. While I was there in the salon, I recognized a friend I had not seen since 1984 and spoke with her....she's as accomplished and diplomatic as she was in those days when we saw one another at the Seattle Art Museum. Her husband was SAM's legal counsel and a role model for me in those days -- literate, funny and a very good attorney.

Then news that one of our fellow walkers from 2007, the cousin of my good friend Jenny, is awaiting more test results after finding a spot of cancer in the liver. Her name is Faith and I hope that name serves her well with what is to come. Eliminating cancer is a goal, but each case is personal, is different, and is heart-breaking.

At the same time, in Connecticut, our old friend Elizabeth perseveres with wit through cancer treatments as well. She is a poet and a teacher, and I hope she will make a book out of her experience. She soldiers on.

This afternoon I taught 30+ graduate students for about 90 minutes. My focus was risk and change in the financial services sector. It was thrilling to get such good questions and to be able to reflect a year after the collapse of WaMu upon the whole situation. It won't take much work to make it a publishable paper.

In between all these events is my regular day, with emails and phone calls and meetings. I would not trade my life for anyone else's. I am glad I can recognize the differences among the days -- that's how I know I am enjoying myself.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another way to see history.

Here's an interview I did last summer, when I still had work-life balance. I'm one of a number of former bankers interviewed. It's interesting how each reporter has a different angle to start from. In this story, it appears that all executives had something done to them. I certainly had options and made the decision to stay on only for six months to transition my programs over.

However it happened, there's no doubt that I have ended up exactly where I want to be, and that it would have been harder to get here without that train trip. And without Cathy's "reboot your life" think tank in Santa Fe, which was part of that trip.

Exercise builds strength.

I had a great workout with my trainer this morning. I get stronger each week, able to do more, lift more, repeat sets more. It's pretty clear that I connect strength with the ability to exercise and stay fit. And exercise cleans out the mental gunk as well.

Yesterday, I ran across Diane, my next door neighbor and two of her friends. They walk to the Y every weekday morning and take a 6:30am class. Monday it was chi gong, yesterday aerobics. And so it goes. Build this habit now, and maintain it for the rest of my life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Consider again the November trees..."

"...which lift their arms to say that they have only temporarily yielded; that next spring they will again assert their determination to live. Those trees, like the frog now sleeping under the mud, are on our side. " From Joseph Wood Krutch, The Twelve Seasons, 1949.

I love this book, and consult it whenever it seems to me that time is whirring by.

My first walk at Green Lake since sometime this summer before my foot surgery. It was memorable, even if it was only a mile long. It's my right knee, not my feet, that kept me at that conservative distance.

I think only Seward Park rivals Green Lake this time of year. I have photographed these same vistas for three or more years, and love them more each time I do.

Everywhere one looks, there are leaves still on the trees -- not quite the November that Krutch is describing, and leaves to scuff one's feet through on the ground. Magical colors.

Here are the most charming pumpkins that Leroy carved yesterday for our Halloween visitors. He does this carving with a scalpel. None of these pumpkins is more than 4" in diameter.

Here he is setting them out and -- the most fun for him -- playing with fire to keep them illuminated for the kids.

You can see his two larger pumpkins in this shot.

And here's a close up of one of the large ones, carved with his buck knife.

I am feeling good about progress I'm making on current goals. I've eliminated the most obvious forms of sugar from my diet -- including yesterday's big bowl of Halloween candy for the kids. I am in the gym with Tami, my trainer, two mornings a week. I think I'm ready to add several walks during the week, as well as another session at the Y on my own with the weights. I'm looking forward to work this week, because it includes a University of Washington lecture I'm giving on change management and risk -- a nice diversion from thinking about and working on bio-events like H1N1, which seems likely to consume much of my time until the end of the year.