Mount Ellinor

Part of S’s 17th birthday celebration: a camping trip and hiking Mount Ellinor, the southern-most peak along the eastern front of the Olympics. Some of the trail looks like this:IMG-1089That was an easy bit. There are occasional scrambly parts too.

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About half-way up, and already above the clouds.2017-08-12 13.21.27

At the summit!2017-08-12 15.04.43

Lake Cushman to the right; the Hood Canal to the left.2017-08-12-15-06-00.jpgI adore my S girl to the moon and back and I love that she wanted a hike for her birthday. 🙂


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.




2016-08-17 10.56.53Our street on the Upper West Side. Manhattan was a study in contrasts: heat wave, air-conditioning blast; subway heat/noise/crowds hell, Central Park Ramble shade/birdsong/open space heaven; inexpensive meals at the apartment, pricy meals out; lovely conversations with native New Yorkers, S getting yelled at on the subway; goingdoingseeing, restingwaitingstaying.

2016-08-17 10.58.00We stayed very close to the Museum of Natural History, which is the first in a short series of Holden Caulfield sites for my students.

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2016-08-17 19.29.05Next up: Rockefeller Center:

2016-08-19 09.42.26And last, ducks in Central Park:

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2016-08-17 11.29.41Looking back at the San Remo apartment building on Central Park West. We walked past it every day on our way to the subway.

2016-08-17 12.02.14-1In Shakespeare’s Garden.

2016-08-17 11.37.11I was impressed by all the runners and cyclists using Central Park in the August heat. We brought our running shoes and clothes, but I didn’t go running once–that goes on the list for another visit.

2016-08-17 13.32.13Something Rotten on Broadway was a hit with everyone. Amidst the humor, catchy songs, clever allusions, and showstopping dance numbers, it’s a thought-provoking exploration of what a marriage is.

2016-08-18 16.37.08Beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

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2016-08-18 17.22.10My favorite skyscraper: The Chrysler Building.

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2016-08-18 17.09.17The kids were more excited to sit down and read in NYC’s libraries than nearly anything else.

2016-08-18 17.18.06Cool Lego lion downstairs in the children’s section.

2016-08-18 11.47.25K, B, and I toured Juilliard (fun to see where so many talented people have studied, including my aunt C) and then sauntered over to the Met Opera House.

2016-08-17 18.33.41Laundry dropped off at the neighborhood cleaners: done, folded, and ready for pick-up after a day of us being out and about.

We made our way to Chelsea Piers and then boarded the 1920s-style yacht Manhattan II for an architecture tour around the entire island of Manhattan. Narrated by a delightful member of AIANY, this was one of our favorite experiences.

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2016-08-19 14.01.11One World Trade Center (at a deliberate 1,776 feet tall, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere).

2016-08-19 16.08.45The Empire State Building, among others of interest, as seen from the Hudson. Right about here was where Captain Sullenberger landed his plane.

2016-08-20 12.15.15Last day in NYC: thunderstorm; the Guggenheim’s soft white curves.

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2016-08-15 13.43.30Philadelphia: my dad’s birthplace, first capital of the U.S., home of some seriously beautiful historic architecture, and current relatively affordable city. K, B, and I toured the gorgeous campus of Curtis as private guests of the director of admissions. It would be a bit of an understatement to say we were impressed.

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2016-08-16 10.53.33We also visited Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution were debated and signed.

2016-08-15 13.31.41We stayed in a lovely B and B tucked into a quiet side street in the Rittenhouse neighborhood, which is where we found a molto delizioso lunch.

We toured the Philadelphia Mint (no pictures allowed, for obvious reasons) which was interesting. Its first director was David Rittenhouse, who was among other things, an astronomer who studied the 1769 transit of Venus. Later that year, Benjamin Franklin published Rittenhouse’s findings in the Journal of the Royal Society of London–the first time American science was presented to an international audience. (source)

Who else studied the 1769 transit of Venus? Captain Cook, whose expedition to Tahiti was undertaken for the express purpose of viewing Venus and who inadvertently found New Zealand in the process.

If I could return to this city in short order, I would–I didn’t plan enough time for Philly, but wanting to come back isn’t a bad way to leave!

Washington D.C.

2016-08-12 19.25.28Wallace’s #5 Metro bus from Dulles airport to L’Enfant Plaza in downtown D.C. is the best. Before we boarded, I saw the driver engaged in a very animated discussion with someone sitting on the bus and assumed that there was a problem. Once we stepped up onto the bus, Wallace greeted each person with a remarkable amount of enthusiasm and conversation, and I realized I had misunderstood the overseen interaction–a good reminder that things are not always what they seem. Wallace’s energy transferred to driving style as well; lots of honking and jouncing in the pothole-ridden service lane.  In fact, I can say with assurance that the kids were looking travel-stunned here only because we weren’t under way yet.

2016-08-13 11.45.59This Cubano pizza (DF, GF) at Pi was amazing. Would you believe mustard and pickles belong on a pizza?

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2016-08-13 13.16.34The Library of Congress is like a palace to democracy, books and access to them being the foundation of freedom.

2016-08-13 13.28.21Waiting for a tour of the L of C to begin: appreciating the cooling properties of marble walls. We walked through 101 degree heat (tied with the record from 1981; humidity of 78 percent gave us a heat index of 111 degrees, which The Washington Post called “obscene“) and then decided to use Uber for most of our other excursions during the Hadean heatwave.

2016-08-13 13.38.04Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and civilization. She’s contemplating a scroll listing various fields of learning.

2016-08-13 13.39.17Main reading room.

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2016-08-13 14.23.15A closer look at a page from a Gutenberg Bible (this is one of only three complete copies extant) printed on vellum, with the illuminations added later by hand. A hand-lettered Bible such as the Giant Bible of Mainz would have taken years, while this three-volume printed Bible would have taken a fraction of that time.

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IMAG0147Photo credit: K

2016-08-13 19.44.38D.C. date: Dress up for The Bombay Club and go for a stroll past the White House on your way back to the hotel. (After learning our lesson in Sydney, we called ahead for dress code during a heat wave: at The Bombay Club, shorts are okay but men should wear a collared shirt and jacket.)

2016-08-14 16.10.53Nearly at the end of a long day of museums, ending with the National Gallery. We saw the Spy Museum, the Hope Diamond, the Air and Space Museum, a text from my brother that he was also at the Smithsonian that day too (what are the chances?!), and lots of beautiful, inspiring art.

We took a sunset/moonlight tour of the National Mall, which is a spectacular time to be walking around the monuments and memorials.

2016-08-14 19.21.41As we progressed, the wind picked up and lightning began streaking overhead, lending the tour guide a little extra drama to his presentation: “The sacred conversation between Washington and Lincoln–CRACKBOOOM!–isn’t interrupted by the placement of any other memorial.”

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2016-08-14 20.45.51Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

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Urban Hiking


We spent Memorial weekend in Vancouver, WA visiting the Zs in their new house, playing rambunctious games, and doing a little urban hiking.

The beautiful St. John’s bridge (a 1931 construction) crosses the Willamette into north Portland, and from there the Wildwood Trail in Portland’s Forest Park takes you deep into birdsong and up and down lush green ravines.


Half an hour north of Vancouver WA, Battle Ground Lake State Park is gorgeous, and even on a Memorial weekend, not too crowded to enjoy.


The lower track circles the lake, while the upper path leads to campsites.


On our way to see the new Austen movie, Love and Friendship, we walked by the Vancouver library. A fenced-in vacant lot sits next door–filled with flowers. Seed bombers, your work is gorgeous.



Cross-country Skiing in the Methow Valley

2016-02-15 10.43.32The Methow River just outside of Winthrop. Methow [met-how] is an Okanogan word meaning “sunflower seeds”.

2016-02-15 11.32.09The Methow winter trails include 120 miles of groomed nordic trails for classic and skate skiers.

2016-02-15 10.10.48K’s wearing the ski coat my dad bought me when we moved to Salt Lake City during the winter of my junior year of high school.

2016-02-15 10.19.56This was the second day of skiing–the kids all did very well, though we were all sore. I love K’s face here as she keeps her balance. 🙂

102_9733Such a muted winter landscape outside of Twisp. We saw nine bald eagles!

102_9721Our favorite restaurant in North Central Washington!

102_9737Sunshine on our drive back. We saw blackened forest, orchards, and scrubland recovering from the devastating Okanogan Complex fire this last summer; with a covering of snow, the ruination wasn’t always obvious. It brought to mind Richard Wilbur’s “First Snow in Alsace”: As always, winter shines the most.



New Year’s Day at Hurricane Ridge

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Hurricane Ridge, in the northern part of Olympic National Park, is at the end of the thick red line. This is the first time we’ve visited in winter; though access is relatively straightforward, the road is icy (all vehicles have to carry chains to go up). On a clear day, it’s a magical and awe-inspiring place.
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Grandma K gave me her set of gently-used x-country skis several years ago. They’re excellent skis, (Järvinen, a Finnish maker) but everything decays eventually and yesterday the ski pole baskets broke off bit by bit as I was getting my ski legs back under me. It’s been way too long! Resolutions to come skiing more often were flying thick.
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Just behind B, you can see a blue tint to the depression in the snow–snow accumulation of more than a meter tends to reflect blue light. Magic: making a deep footprint or a hole in a deep embankment was creating a brilliant turquoise well of color.
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Seattle Evenings Out

Of the books I’ve read this past year, my favorite is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. He spoke at Benaroya Hall’s main auditorium this last Wednesday evening to a sold-out crowd, including giddy me along with B.DSC_0056

That evening Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction, which was announced as “breaking literary news” and applauded with whoops. Coates’ Between the World and Me is on my to-read list for this summer.

This interview captures a little of Doerr’s delightful personality. His talk was on the beauty of failure, and at one point he told the audience to read Wislawa Szymborska’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech. So now I have, and  here’s part of it that I’ll use with my seniors close to their graduation:

inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners – and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.”

Last night we saw the extraordinary Mark Morris Dance Group at the Moore Theatre. Waiting in the restroom line, I was standing by someone who said to her companion, “Did you like Anthony Doerr’s talk?” Her friend replied, “Yeah, he was just fabulous. He was…goofy!” 

It made me wonder how many people there had gone to both events and how many people circulate in Seattle’s arts scene. I thought of my Proust professor’s lectures on Belle Époque Paris and how, though the city population was somewhere around two million, the arts scene was small enough that regular attendees would have been familiar with each other.

This article on the reason for theatre (and I would argue, art of all kind) and its inability to reach a huge number of people continues to intrigue me.

A four-hand piano version of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 accompanied the dancers’ performance of “The”; I watched the pianists as much as the dancers.

MMDG was humorous, transporting, inspiring. Modern dance makes me want to write poetry and talk to strangers and leap around outside–all at the same time. I usually sort of carry on as usual until the feeling subsides.

S’s 15th Birthday

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S at 15: invisalign, never wears makeup, excited to be in Victoria, B.C. for the first time, loves extreme dot-to-dot, regularly makes up new recipes, considering medical school and psychiatry, vivacious, confident, helpful.

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Butchart Gardens in early August is a riot of bloom and a green oasis in a rather dry year on Vancouver Island. We wondered how much water they must use to keep it all so lush, and pondered the use of finite resources in the pursuit of beauty. The gardens are accessible to the public (though not available to all due to cost of entry and location), and serve as a sort of living museum as well as natural art gallery.

When we saw this gorgeous mimosa tree, we told the kids about the mimosas in Alabama that gracefully spring away from touch, relatives of the sensitive plant we have growing on our kitchen window sill. I waited while S went to see if this one would respond to her.

People are funny–when the leaves didn’t flinch from S, K and A had to see if they would have a different effect on the tree.

In Victoria proper.

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This chalk art cracked me up because it looks like this game A’s been playing called “Goat Simulator”. It’s hilarious and horrifying in equal measure, with the goats licking things and dragging them around by their long stretchy tongues. There were a couple of others that took my fancy:

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In the gorgeous Munro’s Books, where we found plenty of good reads for the ferry ride back to Port Angeles:

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And back at home, look what Grandma V made for S: A memory quilt that includes fabric from 6 decades of sewing clothes and quilts!