Three summer days

IMG-0970Antelope Island, UT. The littlest bison are prone to sudden scampers and the birdsong is glorious.

IMG-1076Hood Canal, WA on the Kitsap side. Early in the morning, I couldn’t see or hear another soul. Good place for walking and thinking.

IMG-1080Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill was a really lovely setting for the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s free concert; Borodin’s String Quintet in f minor with cellist Edward Arron was intense and lyrical.




Family photos


A surprisingly bright October morning at Fay Bainbridge with a fabulously talented photographer friend = family pictures to share!




The family picture wall in our house is full of the kids as babies and really young children. Photos can be a sort of stagnant story we tell ourselves, and it’s time to update the visual story.

Part mythology, part mirror, portrait photographs have the potential not only to capture a particular moment, but also to show us who we are.

I’ve been reading and analyzing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray with my seniors, so a portrait’s potential symbolism has been on my mind.

Some of K’s senior photos! We love this beautiful person so very much.




Photo credit: M. W. at 


Summer 2015: Reading and Running

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Sophie sailing

S has been my personal trainer these last couple of weeks since school let out. Usually that means 15-20 minute runs where she’s convincing me that I can keep going, and sometimes it means cycling with me to take A to his twilight camp on the east side of the island. Occasionally it means coaching me on my push-up form and cheering me on as I hula hoop longer than a couple of minutes. The athlete of the family, she runs cross country in the summer and fall and sails in the spring. She’s picked up ways to encourage others from her fantastic coaches; as I try to recover fitness I left behind for a spring of full-time teaching, S is honest, funny, and endlessly supportive. The first snapshot is from the 4th of July one-mile fun run, which S ran with me (and B). The second is from her first regatta this spring, held in our own Eagle Harbor. My student J is sailing with her; he skippered the BHS team in the Nationals this year.

Something else I’m able to do in the summer is more reading for pleasure and curiosity. Here’s one example:
Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach.

I was listening to this on audiobook at the beach, lying quietly on my towel in dappled shade, when I involuntarily and suddenly said, “Yuck! Ugh!” Then I sat up and looked around, hoping that if anyone were within earshot, they would assume it was a bug or something. No one was close by, which was good, because despite halfway wanting to retch, I also wanted to keep listening and take my chances with more outbursts.

Having long ago decided to be an organ donor, this book inspired me to plan to donate my body to a medical school (the UW’s willed body program is here).

B took me down to the gross anatomy lab once at his medical school, where there were a few other students at work in the evening. My memory of the experience is primarily olfactory; formaldehyde and other volatile compounds saturated my hair during the few minutes I was there. However, I also remember how otherworldly the atmosphere was–quiet, cool, respectful, with my newcomer’s sense of amazement that these people had lived full lives unknown to me.

So hey–If I can figure out a way to keep S as my personal trainer for another 60 years or so, I’ll be a very fit donation for the medical students to learn from!

Summer vacation part 3: Oregon Coast

The last leg of our trip followed the coastal highway up to Tillamook, Oregon.

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Whale’s Head off of Hwy 101.

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At Beachside Recreation Area right off Hwy 101. Pros: The showers are hot; the beach is just a few steps from the camp. Cons: The campsites are close together; highway noise only dies down late at night and resumes earlier than you’d like to wake up. We made a salal-berry cake from the berries around our campsite that was really very good!

B brought the little guitar that S began her lessons on a couple of years ago and played quietly at the campfire every night. Usually my favorite part of camping is solitary runs or rambles in the morning light, but this time it was that hour in the darkness around the campfire.

I got a lot of reading done too, which has been my foremost goal this summer in preparation to teach AP Lit. I re-read Jane Eyre, worked through most of Pride and Prejudice, and began Donna Tartt’s all-consuming The Goldfinch.

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Once we hit Tillamook and met up with the Zs, we veered over to stay in a hotel for our last night. At the McMenamins Grand Lodge, B found a frisbee golf course.
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Evening Sendoff

For C’s last evening with us, we went to a tiny beach that is my new favorite on B.I.

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C and the rest of our family discovered the deliciousness of roasting pineapple pieces over the fire, thanks to Uncle D and Auntie C.
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Friend C, A, and cousin D.
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In a calm little cove, the wake from the Bremerton ferry crossing through Rich Passage provides some excitement.
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The last bit of sunset reflected in the glaciers on Mount Rainier. C, you were an absolute joy to spend these last few weeks with; generous, unfailingly kind and helpful, curious and whip-smart, you’ll enrich this world wherever you are.
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Miscellaneous July

At the All-Comers Meet.
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A and his beach house.
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This was the first time we made s’mores with C; one of the American foods she took back with her to France was graham crackers so she could make them there. Also tucked into her bags: corn tortillas for making quesadillas and chai rooibos.
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At the Pearl Django concert in the park.
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Of course, the Public Market!
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And at the great gross gum wall.
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A and D tentatively practicing snorkeling–rocks and seaweed never looked so fascinating!
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Sea stars, fog, Olympia

C and S finding sea stars at superlow tide at Point White Pier
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On the grounds of the Washington State Capitol in Olympia
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K and C inside the Capitol
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C and S learning about the massive chandelier, the largest ever made by L.C. Tiffany.
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A’s listening face in the Capitol–he was captivated by the guide’s presentation.
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Several blocks from the Capitol itself is an old-fashioned ice cream and soda shop with that particular mouth-watering waffle-cone aroma and an opportunity to explain to C what “soft-serve” means.
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One day, we boarded the ferry for Seattle around noon and found ourselves enveloped by fog. The kids told C how it was like Hokianga fog, dense and low and visible from the outside as something with a definite border, a cloud lying down for a nap near the water.
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Kayaking Eagle Harbor and Crabs for Dinner

Today we spent several hours getting un coup de soleil (sunburn = a blow from the sun; isn’t that charming?) paddling tandem kayaks around the harbor. We saw a lot of birds, minnows, and crabs and the kids taught Tasha how to swim by letting her doggy paddle instincts take over several feet from shore.

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The seven of us pushed off from the dock at Back of Beyond.
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This afternoon, B’s colleague L brought us some fresh-caught-and-cooked crab–the season just opened on July 4th and already they have too much to eat. B washed off a wrench and cracked the shells and it made for a great summer dinner!

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Cousins’ week on Bainbridge

My kids now have 14 cousins, but most of them are cute mewling young’uns. Two cousins, however, are right around the same age as my crop of kids. AZ and DZ now live a few hours’ drive away, close enough to visit often, and close enough to come for a week of cousin time!


We rode the Seattle ferris wheel.

The Puget Sound that day was the color of AZ’s eyes, a rare bright blue.


DZ was apprehensive due to an early scary experience with a ferris wheel (I thought they were always pretty tame, but I guess I haven’t been a very small child on an open-carriage ferris wheel in awhile). The carriages on this wheel are completely closed in, so people will ride rain or shine, and after a full circuit he started to enjoy it.


The boys found a pocket park.

We stopped to watch a snippet of a chess game.


DZ and A.


K, S, AZ. Tasha is not hydrophilic. She’s interested in seaweed and dead crabs and other smelly stuff, and she’ll lap at the salty water, but there’s none of that doggy paddling stuff for her.




We spent two afternoons at Fay Bainbridge Beach and Pritchard. I ran into a couple of my friends at the beach, who had been observing the kids as they played in the water. I pointed out my niece and nephew, and they said, “We were just saying that those kids weren’t raised in a coastal area. Your niece pulled a jellyfish out of the water and your nephew said, ‘Is that a crab?!'”

We also fit in some blackberrying, a movie marathon at the library, the All-Comers track meet, waffles with homemade blackberry syrup, and a lot of walking here, there, and everywhere. On our way to the high school track, DZ told me, “You guys REALLY need to get another car.” I said, “We only have one car on purpose, D. When we lived in New Zealand we only had one car and we walked a ton, and you know what? Everyone got fitter and happier. So we’re trying the same thing here.” He looked at me with a sort of pained smile, trying to understand his strange relatives.

When in Rome, boy. AZ and DZ, we love you!