My friend Michele patiently obliged me while I shot a bunch of pictures from Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill. It wasn't perfectly clear, but you can still faintly see Mt. Rainier to the right of the skyline.
On the one hand, I like that it's a gigantic atrium. I am a big fan of natural light and taking as much advantage of it as possible. I'm not in love with our Ikea bookcases, but they are white, which is nice because they keep the man-cave brightly lit and conducive to daytime reading.
On the other hand, what's up with this?
The escalators are fluorescent yellow. The chairs are bright orange. Everything is really stark and industrial-looking. I don't imagine it would be a relaxing place to study, although I'm pretty picky about library environments. Alderman gives me the heebie-jeebies because the ceilings are only like seven feet high and I get claustrophobia. (Part of it's my West Coast-rooted fear of earthquakes, although that's much less of a concern here.) My ideal library would be decorated in muted tones, with comfy squishy chairs, rather like the Suzzallo Graduate Reading Room, but less cavernous. I don't remember much about the incarnation of the Shoreline Public Library that existed when I was just learning to read, but I do remember it being very...brown. And that was fine.
Also, call me old-fashioned, but when I walk into a library, I expect to see, you know, books.
This is the Space Needle reflected in the EMP again. I like reflections, especially interesting juxtapositions of age or style. Here it's the futuristic (as of 1962) Space Needle and the iridescent amoebic EMP.
(Paragraph shamelessly copied from an email to Deanna)
We're in DC with friends right now, discussing at the moment how many of us are part Native American, and whether any of our ancestors owned slaves, and waiting for the Mysterious Apocalyptic Pizza of the Parousia which, like Jesus, has been coming soon for like the last two millennia.
We arrived here Friday and have spent most of the past few days with Justin's family. His dad was released from the hospital about a week and a half ago, having finally had surgery after contracting meningitis and another infection while he was in the hospital for the fluid leak. Fortunately he's feeling a lot better now, and friendly people have brought or sent food (a LOT of food) and flowers.
Today Justin and I drove around the Finger Lakes area, stopping at Glenora Wine Cellars for lunch and some wine. We're taking home a bottle each of Bobsled Red, which is kind of sweet, and Seyval Blanc.
The weather was splendid, low eighties and fairly clear. We also went to Taughannock Falls, which Justin says is beautiful any time of the year but is especially nice now with the leaves starting to change.
And, of course, with us here and Whitney on this side of the pond, there was the obligatory family picture. This was possibly the most sedate photography session we've ever had.
There were a bunch of black and white cats wandering around Erik and his neighbors' backyards in Brooklyn. These two were interested in me as long as I couldn't actually reach them. In the background you can see another one.
We're going to Ithaca, via Brooklyn. The pictures are on hiatus until I get back to my laptop (I'm using Justin's now).
Deanna: Justin did get your card. He's a guy and can't sufficiently appreciate the stamp artistry, but I do. Thank you! (Deanna's a hobbyist and professional stamper, which is pretty cool, especially if you're her friend and she sends you cards.)
I don't want to dwell today on what has happened since then. I thank God that the people I know or whom my friends know who could have died but didn't are still here. I mourn for those who are not.
My reaction that day and now is that I worship a God who created human beings, and we, made in God's image, in turn create things: poems (literally made-things), music, gadgets that make life easier and more pleasurable, skyscrapers...And I know that the peculiar sect of Islam in which the hijackers believed is false because they were certain that their God endorsed destruction of what God and human beings had made.
There are times for pluralism, for nuance and shades of gray, and there are times to cling to your beliefs with everything you have and proclaim their superiority. What we believe, we who grieve today, is better. The things we mourn, we mourn because they are the opposite of the things that are good, and that we take joy in because God takes joy in creating and sustaining them.
I can't read anything or watch anything or go anywhere without having to filter the memory of that day through the intervening wars and conspiracy theories and political posturings...I wanted to do one of those meaningful/futile? commemorations today, light a candle or stand in silence beside people of every color and faith or something, but it seems so difficult for anyone (even for me) to let the memory stand on its own and be, and yet I don't believe I can do it justice otherwise.
So I want to nurture this anniversary and keep it pure, for now. Tomorrow is soon enough for it to be 2006 again.
Today I took a walk through the Ivy Creek Natural Area, a preserve on the town reservoir, just a couple of miles from our home. There's a 1.5-mile loop trail running through it, with a number of other trails besides. I'm looking forward to exploring them as the seasons change.
I didn't see any rattlesnakes (hooray!) but I did glimpse a few groundhogs, a rabbit, and this shy turtle:
And of course the usual late-summer leafy and prickly things.
I don't feel so guilty about this one because Justin noticed it too.
We were listening to Weekend America in the car on Saturday. (It's co-hosted by Bill Radke, who used to do a news satire show called Rewind from KUOW in Seattle. I had a little radio crush on him back then.) They did a segment on the Church of Brunch, which is, well, exactly what it sounds like...a potluck and short period of non-religious singing and sharing for people who don't feel comfortable in churches but still want some sort of community.
One parishioner said something along the lines of, "I tried out a bunch of churches. I went to the Unitarian church and the Mennonite church, and they were all okay, but sooner or later all of them told me, 'If you don't do X, Y, and Z you're going to hell.'"
Justin and I were like, "The Unitarians told you that?" (I'm also skeptical the Mennonites did.) Wow. I'm surprised. I don't really know what else to say.
I really try not to think too hard about some of the music we sing in choir, because I love our director and my fellow singers and I figure we all do this to the greater glory of God, so if the music is excessively chirpy, well, whatever. We also sing Mozart. But sometimes I can't help going into theologian-mode.
Tonight at choir practice we rehearsed a communion song that I think I've sung before but tweaked me for the first time. It goes like this:
I myself am the Bread of Life...
Direct quote from Jesus. That's cool.
You and I are the Bread of Life...
We are? I did not know that. Somehow I missed it despite having read John 6 about eleventeen zillion times.
Taken and blessed, Broken and shared by Christ That the world might live.
See, I had this weird idea that at the Eucharist, Christ is taken and blessed, then shared with us, so that we can go out into the world as partakers of Christ and bring the gift we have received to others. I guess maybe this song compresses that idea (but not very clearly)? Or something?
I just want to note here that if I am also the cup of the new and everlasting covenant, I want to be a nice Chianti. Or a Malbec. You can be a merlot.
One evening right before I left with Sabina on my second and last cross-country cat-couriering trip from the Bay Area to Virginia, Justin and I went to visit our friend Jove's dad and stepmother in San Francisco. They live in a very nice rent-controlled apartment they've occupied for several decades (ergo: affordable!) right on the Hyde cable line. When the windows were open (which they were, a little, even in December, San Francisco being ever-moderate), we could hear the clack-clack of the cables under the street. And I realized for the first time that, under different circumstances, I might have loved the Bay Area, if an omnipresent sound like that had seeped into my ears.
It's that way, here, with the crickets at night. I love crickets. I had heard crickets, of course, before I first visited the East Coast, but it wasn't until I spent a couple of weeks on Long Island the summer I turned 17 that I realized how bugs are a pervasive part of eastern summers. Crickets chirp tentatively in the spring, then go full-bore in the summer, accompanied by cicadas that sound, to me, like sprinklers; in the autumn they decline, again, but when the winters are mild a few brave crickets persist into December here in the shallow south. I love nights with crickets, because they feel lush and remind me of my very earliest days in Virginia, when I was still getting used to the humidity and afternoon thunderstorms and aggressive kudzu.
Seattle has its own sensory enchantments, but what strikes me about nights in suburban places like my parents' houses is the silence. But I remember sitting up nights the few months I lived at my grandparents' house above Sand Point Way, when the cars going by on the street below made rhythmic clunk-clunk noises on the asphalt, and very occasionally you could hear the wind moving the soundgarden down at NOAA, or the soft patting of cats' paws on the lawn.
The crickets are what I missed in Berkeley. There are all sorts of good things there, but everything that strikes the senses is measured: the weather, the sounds, the smells, are the same, more or less, year round, and aside from perpetually blooming gardens, everything is restrained. Here, summer bursts forth in all its muggy, fertile, earthy goodness, demanding attention in a way beautiful but modest western summers don't have the gall to do.
So here is what has happened to Justin's dad, as near as I understand it:
1. Had brain surgery. Went as well as could be expected, no apparent side effects that were quite possible.
2. Back in Ithaca, he started leaking spinal fluid, quickly returned to the hospital in NYC for observation and possible surgery to plug up the leak.
3. While in the hospital, got meningitis, which has delayed whatever leak-plugging surgery might or might not happen.
None of this is life-threatening or even, as far as I know, likely to cause long-term issues, but it sucks for both his dad, and his mom, who's been with him in NYC the whole time. (The younger kids are under the supervision of Whitney and Weath for the time being and are back in school now.)