Saturday, June 30, 2012

Those Sweet Grandkids in Seattle

Before I get on that plane to Paris, just wanted to post a few photos of my four Seattle grandkids. They are each quite wonderful, smart, lively little human beings. Here's to Charlie Bean, Lulu Bell, Kelan Bain and Lauren Grace.
All these photos were taken in June during their year-end school activities which included an outdoor ice cream social at Charlie and Lulu's elementary school. The day waas gray and the temperature was 57 degrees. No one was chilly except the Texas Mameau.
Photos of Keland and Lauren were taken at Kelan's second grade musical performance where Kelan played one of the 'sharks' to great effect. Lauren sat next to me in the audience.
Soon I'll be sending them all greetings from Paris. I think the temperatures in both places are similar, by the way.




Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Hat For Giverny


Today ES painted a canvas hat for me to wear to Giverny and wherever else, while on my trip to Paris and environs. I love the hat I bought in Big Bend in January, but I didn’t really want to take a taupe hat to Paris. 
So, a week ago I looked on line to see if the hat was made in white. Thought it could be used as a canvas. And ES would be the painter and perhaps channel the spirit of Monet. Or more like it, introduce himself to Monet with a painted hat.
A brimmed white hat arrived in the mail two days ago, just in time for a weekend day in ES's studio.
I told ES that I envisioned scraps of flower printed fabric mixed with his dotting and stripes. I spent the day with him while he painted this hat, offering plenty of advice.  
Many more dots, lots more color, some stripes under the brim to toughen it up. Make it like a painting.
I suspect this hat may be worn not only a Giverny, but at Versailles, the Tuileries and Paris flea markets too. The man did it. This hat is goregous.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hedy's Birthday Dream

What a gift Hedy gave me today. Here's an email she sent me, word for word. I love it.


Happy Birthday Mary Margaret!
This is the absolute truth:
I woke this morning at 1:15 am from a dream. Mary Margaret, (in the dream) you were offering a workshop on climbing interesting outdoor staircases at impressive & beautiful buildings. The stairways had lots of vines, flowers climbing along the sides. Diane is climbing the stairs with us and other unknown, unremarkable people. The Landscape Professional of Texas Litter Crew is filming our climb, which will be presented at a big reception for your birthday. The film shows us carrying impossibly heavy, but fashionably slouchy handbags. I had to get up and write it all down.

What I Am Happily Doing On My 70th Birthday


Seventy years ago on this day, my mother labored to give birth to her first-born daughter. I was born about 2:30 EST, delivered by old Dr. Hackett in Olean, N.Y., a small town in western New York State. The nurse was reassuring when my mother arrived at the hospital, "Don't worry, Mrs. Thompson," she said, "Having a baby is just like shitting a pumpkin." And so, apparently it was. I could write some metaphorical statement about my birth and Cinderella's pumpkin as ornate and magic carriage, but I'm leaving that potential connection unexplored.

70 is a BIG birthday and as part of the on-going celebration, I have a BIG birthday trip planned. A week from Saturday, I fly to Paris, where I will meet my friend Aggie Eyster and spend two weeks in an apartment owned by a member of her family. Two weeks in Paris. What an invitation. My daughter Mary B immediately said, "Mom, make this trip your birthday gift to yourself." 

So, today on my 70th birthday, I am making serious preparations for Paris, anticipating an intimate dinner with ES this evening and receiving birthday greetings via Facebook. Birthday wishes woke me up this morning. My iPhone began to give off little alarms shortly after 7:00 a.m. This is a first, I thought, still to sleepy to reach for my phone.

Today might be characterized as a typical Mary Margaret Hansen day at home. And what might that be like, specifically? Well, I decided to do the following in no particular order:

1. Read another chapter of 'the exhaustively researched and opulently illustrated' "Versailles" by Jean-Marie Perouse de Monteclos.  Last night, I read twenty pages of Nancy' Mitford's old biography 'The Sun King'. For some reason, I've been focusing on Versailles and have exactly six days left to peruse "Paris Walks" and guide books.  I did make plans for a second visit with Ginny and Bill Camfield, hoping they will mark my laminated accordion map with 'places to see, eat and walk in Paris'.

2. Wash all of my Bakelite bracelets in the kitchen sink and then choose which ones to wear in Paris. I've never washed my bracelets. Why now?
2. Plow through at least one more closet in search for that pair of little white, many-times polished Mary Jane shoes that once belonged to Alex Camfield-Heitman. Why am I searching for little white shoes? Because they are iconic and I have photographed them in many places for many years. 

Several weeks ago, it occurred to be that if I flew these little white shoes to Paris, I could photograph them in Versailles' Hall of Mirrors, or under a metal chair in the Tuileries or next to a tomb in Cimetiere De Montmartre. 
Do you think I can find them? Anywhere? I've searched every box in my studio, twice.  I've gone through the cache of items I store at Lee Office Solutions and at PEC Corp. I am systematically going through every closet in my house. I last used them in an installation in Marfa, September 2005. That would seven years ago, but as I rarely throw or give things away, those iconic little white shoes have to be somewhere. 

Last night, a good friend called and gave me suggestions for places to visit in Paris. When I told him about the little white shoes, he laughed and said, "You know, if you don't find them, you aren't supposed to take them." I know that. Still, I'll be searching for them for another week. 

I must like traveling with talismans, taking something from home that seems particularly suited to my destination. Years ago when I spent a week on an island in Maine, I took an eiderdown comforter purchased on eBay. Just thought it would wonderful to sleep under in Maine and it would also make a fine photograph. The photograph ended up in a collage.
I packed a vintage silk parachute for my trip to Bonaire with Beth. I thought it might be great blowing in the Trade Winds on a beach. Beth ended up wearing it and I have to say, she looked regal and quite Merchant Ivory when she wrapped it around herself and struck a pose. Of course, it's all in the eye of the beholder. My eldest daughter saw this image and declared, "It just looks like somebody wrapped in a wet sheet." Or words to that effect.
Actually, this idea of taking something with me is the counterpart of collecting objects from far-away places. Years ago, I read about 'objets trouves', those collected objects that are carried from the very place in which they are likely to have context, like a beach pebble shaped by waves. "An objet trouve," wrote Paul Shepard, "...the found object...is a compelling presentment, an initiative taken by an incomprehensible world on my behalf. My part of the bargain is to grasp such pieces, wrench them from their setting, take them home, and, by arranging them in some new configuration, bring them into my life."

Shepard writes more, "We can take pieces home...and play a game of composition, miniaturizing the universe. Thus do we incorporate ourselves in it despite the disarray that it seems to be."

Do you see that I am doing exactly the reverse by taking objects from my life into new settings, putting a part of myself in the Hall of Mirrors and documenting it? The little white shoes are important.

3. I also decided it might be nice to wear my mother's Georg Jensen bracelet in Paris. This entailed a look through 'important papers and objects' high up on a closet shelf. The bracelet is not there. I searched my bureau and the bracelet is not there either. I know it is in this house, just like the little white shoes. Am I not supposed to engage in a 'reverse objet trouve'?

My bureau drawers revealed brooches I made in the 1980s with hand colored photos. Should I wear several of these on my lapel while in Paris? I found two scarves I bought from a Paris street vendor in 1981. Should I take one of them to wear now? 

Or should I do what I did in Turkey in 2009? My good friend George Beatty asked me to photograph him in front of mosques and temples and amphitheaters.  

After a day or two of this, I asked him to return the favor. Perhaps this is the way to see and remember Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre's Pyramide, street markets, the Seine?

All of these activities may seem like digressions from real tasks, but this is precisely how I've happily spent this day at home. Immersed in thoughts, making connections, seeing tableaus, searching for objects or books that illustrate where my mind takes me. I did not even open a Paris Guide book. Oh, well.

My birthday has been filled with all of these musings and searches and iPhone greetings. It is now mid-afternoon and time to make my bed, carry out the recycling, empty the dishwasher, shower and dress for the rest of this day. ES will be here at 5:00. I can hardly wait to tell him what the nurse told my mom 70 years ago about a pumpkin.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On the Occasion of My 70th Birthday, June 22, 2012

Back in 1955, I was skinny, wore thick glasses and had no breasts. Mother said I’d be a late bloomer and assured me that things would work out. Adolescence isn’t forever, she told me. I believed her, absolutely.

Mom was right. I bloomed in my 60s. If accomplishments mean anything, and they do to me, I’ve crammed more good stuff into the last ten years than any other time in my life. Luck and synchronicity abound, for sure, but there are other ingredients that propelled these ‘blooming 60s.’

The ability to draw on fifty years of acquired wisdom and experience is formidable and informs every new project or job I choose to undertake. This array of accrued resources also becomes a context from which to scheme and dream. I do just that on mornings when there is no immediate need to rise from a warm bed and I can meander through the trove of ideas and insights that appear as jetsam after sleep.  

Yet another advantage I came to possess during most of my 60s was status as an older, single woman with a livable income. This bountiful triumvirate cannot be underestimated and is the great secret among older women. Life is very good at this age and stage. I had the freedom to pursue just about anything. This privileged status is counterbalanced, in my case, with an on-going life lesson. My enthusiasms often run rampant, testing the outer limits of my physical and emotional stamina. Sometimes these multitudinous enthusiasms override common sense. When this happens, which is more often than you might think, my good friend Sally advises that my stamina is finite. She is right. My life lesson? I do not have to act on every good idea, just because it surfaces. Edit during those early morning meanderings and choose wisely. How easily I forget.

Three years ago, a long lost lover reappeared in my life and this time around, the outcome was different. We are together, enjoying each other immensely as we explore what 'together' means for us. You must know that 'together' is a really big life change for me.

There is more. These blooming years have not solely been about doing and dreaming and a new togetherness. The years were a lot about a family that lives as four generations. This clan of ours spans 90 years, gathers for holidays and a summer picnic and yes, often communicates through social media. My children gave birth to grandchildren and each of the four is smart and good looking. My siblings and I spent sad and difficult years providing support and hospitable living spaces for our very old parents. Almost two years ago, Mom died after a heart-rending decline, her life papered over with dementia. At the end, she was unable to articulate the straightforward wisdom she so readily shared all the days of my life.

So yes, Mom, just as you predicted, I’ve been a late bloomer. I may still be recognizable to high school friends as the skinny girl with glasses, but I’ve grown up.  And perhaps, because it took so long for me to bloom, I am old and wise enough to enjoy the blooming all the more. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Drawer Full of Bibles

Two days ago when Mary B and Queta were dismantling the rosewood bookcases to wrap and load in their U-Haul, we found a drawer that Kate and I had not emptied.  It was chock full of Bibles that belonged to Mom and her parents, Reverend James A. Bain and his wife, Della Hawn Bain. And in among the bibles was a copy of E.B. White and William Strunk's "The Elements of Style," that must have grammar and  English usage book. It had Dad's name in it.

Kate picked it up and said, "This is our bible."
She's right. Each of us had to buy a copy of 'The Elements of Style' for freshman English at Cornell University. I still refer to it and apparently, so does she. And so did Dad. If you want to know how to say or write something properly and 'with style,' this book is a readable must. By the way, E. B. White is a Cornell graduate and is the author of that well loved children's book, "Charlotte's Web."
Mary B immediately held out her hand and asked if she could have Dad's copy. It went with her to Portland, along with the Gero stainless flatware.
As a family of wordsmiths, I have to agree with Kate, "This is our bible." Somebody stored it away in the right drawer.

Moving On, With Stuff

It is Father's Day and a really big day for this family of mine. We are dispersing ever more of Dad and Mom's possessions, emptying this house of belongings gathered and cared for over two long lifetimes. Queta and Mary just left to pick up a one-way rental truck. John carted off things he'll store at Kate's until he returns in July and can pack for shipping to Houston and North Carolina. Caroline arrives at 9:30 with two kids in tow to pick up the things she checked on that master spreadsheet that Kate and I sent to seven grandchildren.
We are sharing so many stories about this trove of belongings. Yesterday, Mary was teary eyed as she looked at the Gero stainless flatware Mom and Dad used on their table for forty years. Mary picked up a long ice tea spoon and said, "When I was little, Bama would hand me one of these spoons to eat ice cream covered with Hershey's chocolate sauce. This spoon reminds me so much of Bama." Mary asked for the Gero flatware and she now she has it to use every day, just as it has been used for 50 years.
After an entire week of contemplating, I decided last night that I really would use Mom's china soup terrine and so at last, it was covered with bubble wrap and newspapers and stowed in one last box I'll ship to Houston. Don't you love it? Why did I hesitate over this one? My sister Kate chose a matching casserole dish and a relish dish. We're both happy with our decisions.
Yesterday, Queta found two of Dad's hand hooked rugs high up on a garage shelf, totally overlooked. We spread them out and John said, "I remember that rug. I used to sleep on that rug. I'd come into Mom and Dad's bedroom in the middle of the night and curl up on that rug between their beds." 
Lago Oil & Transport, Co. provided twin beds for all employee households. Some couples shoved their beds together and their youthful babysitters considered this scandalous. At some point, Mom and Dad pushed their twin beds together and we have a photograph to prove it. Here's John lounging on Mom and Dad's beds way back in the day.
Mom was a great cook and we all loved 'Bama's Beans'. Laura chose, not only the kitchen tile topped table, but the original bean pot. It's well used, with little cracks around the rim where juicy beans bubbled over the lid time and time again.
For decades my mother and my grandmother shopped at Syracuse China's factory outlet store in Syracuse, NY. This longtime company produced china for railroad dining cars, hotels, restaurants and school districts as well as for home use. My mom had a weakness for dishes and we ate from Syracuse china plates all our lives. She bought this complete set for twelve in August 1953 for $100. How did Mom remember these details so clearly? 
Mom used to tell us how she packed it up in one of those overseas round blue international shipping containers and sent it to Aruba. Just days ago, Kate and I persuaded John to take this set of china, thinking of the annual Thanksgiving dinners that he and Trish host for extended family and friends. How could they go wrong? These dishes have been on our family table for 60 years. (Sadly, Syracuse China closed its doors in 2009 after 138 years of operation. Wikipedia pronounces that production was moved from North America.)
Here's John and Dan moving a Lago dresser destined for Lauren's bedroom. I hear that Lauren herself emptied the drawers of her old dresser and organized her clothes in the 'new' dresser. All by herself. 
Her parents hauled the old damaged dresser to the street with a 'Free' sign and within an hour a young couple stopped their pickup at the curb, said they'd take the dresser for their new nursery and away it went. This happens a lot in Seattle. Put something on the curb and it's gone by morning.  I should do more of that in Houston. No waiting for heavy trash, if the throwaway is not quite trash.
John found a cardboard tube that held Lago's 50 Year Commemorative Calendar. I'd never seen the calendar, which has six watercolors of landscapes and places we remember well. I love this image of the refinery across the Big Lagoon. Pure and simple, it's home. 
I've got more stories and more pictures, but the wifi connection is suddenly erratic, so I am off to bed. This week has been suffused with the narrative of our lives. We are dispersing Mom and Dad's possessions, and yet, at the same time, their belongings seem to be tying us all closer together. We are passing on 'their stuff' and it appears that our efforts are all about family. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

John and Kate and I spent the evening at the kitchen table sorting through a stack of Mom and Dad's papers. Discovered almost 20 years of IRS files, a three page typewritten synopsis of Mom's experience of WWII that included information about Pearl Harbor, her students going off to war and never returning, D-Day and my brother John's birth in July 1945. It's quite a saga and was something I'd never seen before. We also found the original 1969 invoice for the rosewood bookcases ordered from Norway. Also a file from Dad's school with a list of teachers for every year he was there as principal. Page after page of teachers names and when they arrived and when they left their classrooms for marriage. Dad will enjoy taking a look at this list.
We shut down operations for the night at 10:00 p.m. and here I am still puttering around with this blog post. Off to bed. It is too late to be yawning over Rockbridge Times.
Just imagine the magnitude of all this stuff. John is overwhelmed. Kate and I are a bit more used to the volume of banal greeting cards and random papers. We have to look at everything, because there are gems in the middle of each pile. We are doing our job, Mom. We are doing a very good job.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Old Times In Pictures

Several days ago, Kate took a car load of boxes to her house that were filled with our family photograph albums. When I was here in April and we began this process of emptying Mom and Dad's house, she took a carload of file boxes full of four generations of family papers, letters we wrote home from college, letters from my grandparents sent back in the 1950s to that faraway place called Aruba.
My family has a rich family treasure trove, going back four generations. If you are into that kind of thing and I am, I have just realized how much those boxes mean to me. I began to miss them almost immediately after Kate loaded them into her car. I realized that at the end of each day I spend in Seattle visiting family, I return to this house of Mom and Dad's and open a box to pour through its contents, be it pictures or letters or random memorabilia.
The good stuff is now all over at Kate's house and I miss having it right here to dip into and sort through. We've sorted thought a lot of possessions this week, but for me the real treasures are the stories and the pictures. It's not Mom's silver tea set or a Royal Copenhagen china platter or a piece of vintage crochet.

It's the 1950s photo of the vintage crochet on Gramma's cherry library table that draws me in. It's the letters my brother wrote from Haverford College in 1964. For me, these are the things that tell our family's stories.

I believe I'll be spending more time at Kate's when I am next in Seattle. It's about those boxes in her basement.
And just look at this photo of Dad, taken around the time that Caroline was born. Pretty fine looking fellow.  I put his photo on Facebook today. George Clooney, move over.



Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spa Day With Distinctly Irregular Beats

My body feels soft after a full body scrub and fifteen minutes in the sand room where the temperature is 150 degrees and the sounds of waves lapping against a shore permeate the space. I am now quietly ensconced in the lunch room with a cup of hot green tea and a sweet potato noodle vegetable dish on order.
My skin has taken such a beating these last six to twelve months. Common excema exacerbated by newish medications. I will be dealing with this situation now that I know what's causing red itching blotches, but in the meantime, the Korean spa just north of Seattle is a welcome respite. Especially during this busy week of sorting and packing and making decisions about the sale of Mom and Dad's house.
Spa day was a gift to myself, and yet a weird thing happened in the gushing hot tubs this morning. I've been here many times before and this was the first time that I felt the vibrations of the water jets. The same feeling I get from idling beside a car with heavy boom box amplification. My heart feels the vibrations and, crazy as it may be, it sometimes begins to mimic the other beat. And so it was this morning. I have another episode of atrial fib.
In 40 minutes, I have full body moisturizing session. That's the one with oil and milk and honey, which I always think harkens back to Old Testament biblical stories.
I'll stay quiet for now and get myself to the charcoal heat room which is good for circulation and detoxing. Then I'll follow the instructions to wash my hair and show up when #5 is called at 1:00.
The spa day is good even with atrial fib. Probably the quietest, most peaceful thing I could be doing. Just need to stay out of the hot baths. Who knew water jet vibrations would mess with me?

P.S.
Atrial fib comes and leaves silently. My heart righted itself as I lay in the charcoal hot room. All of a sudden I knew I had a regular heartbeat again.
So much for water jet hot tubs.



So Many Stories, So Much Stuff

There are so many belongings in this household of Mom and Dad's, this house in Seattle which they left over five years ago for adult senior living facilities and then adult family homes. Mom's gone now, but Dad is still alert and very much interested in this process of transferring his belongings to children and grandchildren. Day by day, we fill Dad in with stories of his grand children's choices and their reasons for choosing. His eyes light up and he says, "That's wonderful. I'm glad to hear that."
So, here are some of the stories that will define this time that could be fraught with indecision, worry and even angst, but is seemingly overpowered with heartwarming interactions and decisions. Dad's first grandchild is Caroline Shirley, named for both her paternal great grandmothers. Her number one choice on those spreads was a six by six foot hand hooked rug that Dad made in the 1970s in Aruba. He hooked many rugs throughout his years in Aruba. This one was a kit from Norway and the biggest one he ever tackled. I asked Caroline why she made this her number one choice and said, "Because Grandfather made it. I'm a crafter and I like to make things too." When I told Dad that Caroline chose his hand hooked rug, he said,"That's good. I thought no one would want it." When I told him why she wanted his rug, he beamed with pleasure.
 Dad's only grandson, Chris, decided with his wife Heather, that the dining room table and chairs were just what they needed. Newly married, they are furnishing their first home. I've eaten at Mom and Dad's table (or one just like it) since 1951. The table and matching chairs are old Lago Oil & Transport Company furniture, originally purchased by Standard Oil,N.J. for employee homes in Aruba. We moved there in 1951. I grew up with Lago furniture and I have a soft spot in my heart for it. Sometime in the late 1970s, after Mom and Dad retired and moved to Houston, Mom began what she called Monday lunches. Everyone in our extended family could drop by for terrific home cooking and lots of conversation. Always plenty of stories told and retold about times past. I've taken my place at this table that Chris inherited several thousands of times.
Chris, invite us to Gig Harbor for a Monday lunch or a Saturday lunch. Whatever works for you and Heather. Someone is sure to bring Bama's beans or her barley casserole.
Jeanne McGrady wanted the Lago buffet. Said she was entertaining the family on Boxing Day every year and intended to have ever more family gatherings. So the buffet is hers. She and Dan and the kids picked it up on Sunday afternoon and I saw it in its new digs last evening. Well, it absolutely makes the room. Both the dining room and buffet never looked better.

Carrie's first choice was Mom's carved Indian screen which was the first thing you saw as you walked into their Houston townhouse. They carted it all the way to Seattle, but I don't remember that they ever used it again in their living room. The stores in Aruba would get a new item and dozens of folks from Lago would decide they couldn't live without it. I think the carved screen was one of those things.  We never got the full story from Mom, but it seemed to me to be more exotic than most of her choices. I any case, our family home, like most in Aruba, was eventually filled with furnishings from all over the world. A bit of a mis-mash, but 'so Aruba'. There was always this sense that folks were buying these things to furnish their dream homes back in the States, whenever that time came. They'd have their own household of beautiful things.
Enough stories for one night. It's very late and tomorrow is Korean spa day. Body scrub at 10:00, followed by time in the hot rooms and lunch and then, a full body moisturizing treatment that includes coatings of olive oil, milk and honey over every inch of me, plus ice cold cucumber slices on my face. Maybe, all of this will be as restorative as the Caribbean salt water? That's the hope.
More stories. More stuff. Next post.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday Morning: Sing and Testify

Today was Seattle First Baptist Church's 'Music Sunday 2012'. Once Dad and I were settled in his fourth row pew on the far left and the service began, I discovered that every moment of song would testify to the ways that music creates community and brings us closer to whatever is 'spirit'.
With the first hymn, 'God of Grace and God of Laughter', I was home. The words and the melody spoke to me and I sang. Dad was quiet, listening to me. I regretted not hearing his tenor voice and suddenly I missed Mom. Thing is, I never ever hear or sing a hymn without tears or a lump in my throat, because church choral music is Mom. Always has been. And it's Dad too. As Mom always said, "Your dad's tenor voice colors the whole section."
Dad leaned over after the hymn and said, "You did a nice job of it."
The older I get, the more wonderful it feels to have a parent who is still on this earth and whose eyes light up when I enter his room. We three siblings have been lucky these last few years. Dad praises and appreciates and says he is so proud of each of us. There's a lot of love.
Within moments, the choir director involved the entire congregation in a three part round.

                   "Sing for joy, all the earth, to the Lord your God and Maker!
                     Play for God and all the earth, and delight the great Creator.

                    Poet, painter, music maker, all your talents bring;
                    Craftsman, actor, graceful dancer, make your offering.

                    Come to us, creating spirit, tune us to your word.
                    Harmonize our different voices. Let our praise be heard."

Then came to offertory and the piano and organ began to play off one another. I began to think about black church music and how a congregation manifests spirit with song. Some singers stay in the church with gospel music and others leave for clubs and rhythm and blues. A split and yet, I think there is no real split. It is all soul and spirit.  Suddenly, I also had more empathy for Evangelical churches that bring drums and electric guitars to services. Their music seemed banal, but it must touch their congregations in much the same way Seattle First Baptist Church's 'Music Sunday' was touching me.
Whatever works?

I remembered Barbara Ehrenreich's book, 'Dancing in the Streets, A History of Collective Joy'. Here's what her website says about us all:

"(she) explores a human impulse that has been so effectively suppressed that we lack even a term for it: the desire for collective joy, historically expressed in revels of feasting, costuming, and dancing.
"Drawing on a wealth of history and anthropology, Barbara Ehrenreich uncovers the origins of communal celebration in human biology and culture. From the earliest orgiastic Mesopotamian rites to the medieval practice of Christianity as a “danced religion” and the transgressive freedoms of carnival, she demonstrates that mass festivities have long been central to the Western tradition. 
"In recent centuries, this festive tradition has been repressed, cruelly and often bloodily. But as Ehrenreich argues in this original, exhilarating, and ultimately optimistic book, the celebratory impulse is too deeply ingrained in human nature ever to be completely extinguished."


This morning's church service got even better when the choir began to sing 'High Lonesome Mass', accompanied by Bluegrass Band. The banjo did it. The choir sang, we sang. Everyone was part of the music.
And here is the affirmation of faith this morning:
     "We believe in a god who is never confined to our imagining,
      is never in bondage to our beliefs,
      and never held fast in our dwelling places,
      ...We celebrate this God who leaps free of all our boundaries,
      in love stretching out from horizon to horizon,
      and in mercy bending deep into fragile human hearts."

Something I could grab on to. The sermon was short and offered a definition of Baptist testimony. Baptists believe testimonies, not creeds. It's a listening to one another's stories. Music and testimony. It was quite a morning. I've always felt we are all made for music and dancing. It's the way we catch the spirit. Who knows? My lapsed Presbyterian self might not be unchurched if I could attend Seattle First Baptist - and if 'Music Sunday' were every Sunday.



Saturday, June 09, 2012

Morning One In Seattle


There are so any ways I can write about this first day in Seattle. I'll begin with the morning, because lots happened, lots of little things that eat up time and don't, as Cindy used to say, "move the meter"one whit.
I unlocked the garage at 8:00 a.m., intending a grocery store stop to buy fruit and vegetables and maybe a piece of that fresh Alaskan halibut that I absolutely gorged on in April. After shopping, I planned to dash to the airport to talk with United Airlines Lost and Found. I left my scarf on the plane last night and had little confidence in their on-line 'lost item' form that I filled out before falling into bed. I bought that scarf in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. I love it, I wear it often and I didn't like United's message that they would try their best to locate the lost item, but with such a volume of mislaid belongings, it might never be seen again. Or words to that effect. Of course, I was going back to the airport.


After that, I planned to meet with Jeanne's friend, "the organizer and disperser of family possessions". Kate and I need help clearing out the house this week. As a for instance, the pantry, bathroom drawers and medicine cabinets need to be emptied. How about dealing with stuff in the garage? That would include the task of buying kitty litter and dumping it into those latex paint cans to absorb any remaining paint. And that is just a beginning of what we need to be doing.
Long story short, at 8:00 a.m., I unplugged the cable that attaches to the car's battery to keep a charge when no one is here to take the car for a daily spin. Turned the key in the ignition and heard sputtering sounds. The cable hadn't done the job.
So, what was my default? I called John, who talked me through the process of pulling the battery charger off a shelf and hooking clamps on + and - electrodes.
"Let me know when you see a green light," John tells me and then he laments that there are three male family members in Seattle and yet, he, who is in Houston, is the one guiding me through a battery charging process. I don't respond to his gender biased statement. I just want to be reminded of what steps to take to make the car run.
It doesn't take that long before the engine is indeed running. Many thanks to John. However, I decide to drive over to Carter Volkswagen in Ballard, just to be sure about that battery before I head to the airport. There is not a soul to talk to until 9:00, so I wait with the car running until technicians begin their Saturday workday. I am assured that the battery is just fine.
With that news, I turn off the engine at Ballard Market and stock up on red raspberries, Chinese cabbage and, not Alaskan halibut, but fresh cod. I buy a couple of bananas for my breakfast on the run.
Sea-Tac is next. The drive is direct and the parking is easy. At the baggage claim desk, I am told that Lost and Found is not open on Saturdays.
"Well," I say, "I am here right now. My flight number was 1017, my seat was 14C and my scarf is an animal print in shades of brown." I do not mention the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
I do continue to stand at the counter expectantly. It works. The young lady says she will take a look and she vanishes into a restricted area. I watch the door and moments later, she returns with my scarf. I am really happy that I drove back to the airport. Only 12 minutes in the parking garage and by heaven, there is no charge.
I call to say I will be back at the house in thirty minutes, drive away from Sea-Tac with confidence, but find myself on I-5. Not the highway I wanted. At least, I am traveling north and I see the Seattle skyline. There is a promising exit sign and I follow it, thinking it will lead to the more local road I took to the airport. But, I am suddenly in Boeing land and spend fifteen minutes retracing my way back to
I-5.


The Seattle Center exit is backed up for half a mile, so I choose to continue north to UW. Much further north than I need to be travelling. And then I navigate west to Magnolia. A long and scenic 45 minute return trip. I call to say I'm terribly delayed. The good news is that my Grand Bazaar scarf is on the seat beside me. And I have red raspberries to munch on.
This was my morning. A battery recharged, a stop for fruit and vegetables and fresh cod, a scarf retrieved and a decidedly round-about drive from Sea-Tac to Magnolia.
It has taken me forever to draft this post, because I have used my iPad as practice for that July trip to Paris. The time it's taken has been interminable and I may decide to lug my laptop in July. Far easier to write and rewrite on a laptop, as I am wont to do. I don't think iPads are made for writing and rephrasing and rewriting again. Or maybe I write everything longhand in notebooks with heavy textured paper? Dash off picturesque sentences in the moment? We'll see. I digress here.
Another post tomorrow about my afternoon with Dad, dear sweet Dad, and then my early evening walk in Discovery Park with golden light and changing skies.
In the morning, Dad and I will got to church. I'm committed for the next two Sundays. He loves to go to church, even though he can't hear a word that's said. He does hear the music and sees a few friends and that seems to be enough.
Off to bed. It happens to be midnight Seattle time.