Sunday, August 22, 2010


The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle. It’s true.  I visited there for the first time last weekend, and the truth hit me over the head. It surrounded me. The weather, a perfect, sunny, humidity free, 90 degrees, was a welcome break from our current heat wave. We have pretty sky here, but it’s flat and big, with nothing but clouds to break it up. Seattle is eighty kinds of blue, with every other color mixed in, coming at you from unexpected angles, poking through trees, reflecting off buildings, trying to out do itself when sky meets sea.
Not far into the cab ride from the airport,we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Gorgeous! Aesthetically, the landscape begs to be taken in. Wyoming natives, we’ve seen a few landscapes in our travels. Seattle offered us something unique. There was a texture we hadn’t seen before; ocean, trees and mountains all woven together in the fabric of the city.
“Local Color” - such an understatement, especially at the Public Market.  And the people, everywhere. Despite my affinity for “people watching” crowds aren’t my favorite places. One sunny Saturday morning riding the monorail, seeing the view from the top of the Space Needle and trying to navigate the farmer’s market was enough. I would love to go back when it wasn’t so crowded. Also, I marked seeing the original Starbucks location off my bucket list. I can now die in peace.
We did enjoy a surprisingly delicious lunch at a Vietnamese Bistro.  Yes, that’s correct, a Vietnamese Bistro. It wouldn’t have been my first pick, but it was one of the best meals I’ve had in ages. My entire family agreed. My daughter Allie unintentionally ordered the largest bowl of soup I’ve ever seen. Everything was wonderful.

I looked up the origin of the word ‘bistro’ just to find some logical connection with the Vietnamese. According to Yahoo!Answers: “The word stems from the Russian word быстро (bystro) which means 'Hurry'. Russian soldiers occupying France after the Napoleonic Wars would frequently demand that French civilians serve their food quickly, shouting the word that evolved into the neologism 'Bistro' at them.”  A perfect term for inpatient Americans. I, for one, will continue to seek out bistros of random ethnic origins in future.

I wish I’d known this bit of trivia when standing in line at the Southwest Airlines counter for forty five minutes on the way home. There was a charming couple in front of us; they were on their way home from a cruise celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Visiting with them made the long wait in line pass by quickly. My daughter was not so lucky. The elderly gentleman behind us was in a frenzy. He was late for his flight. He was so busy complaining and barking orders at everyone in front of him to “Hurry Up” and “Keep the line moving” that he failed to hear the employee who came asking anyone who was due for a flight in the next hour to move to the front of the line. His wife, also apparently orbiting the rest of us in her own universe, kept throwing her bags in front of her, right into my daughter’s legs. I don’t know where they were going or where they’d been, but the blue of Seattle, the joy filled weave of the local fabric, was lost on them.

The two couples, who both appeared to be retirement age, stood in stark contrast to one another. One chose to vent their anxiety on everyone within earshot, the other chose to share their joyful memories. Sandwiched between them, my children and I were given a front row view of the effect each individual has on the dynamics of the communities they participate in. I wish I’d known the origins of the word ‘bistro’ at the time - an eating establishment founded on the principal of being rude and rushing the help seems tailor made for the couple behind us. But I felt blest to be visiting with the couple in front of us, and grateful my children were there to witness the gift of friendliness on communal level. Their brief companionship was a fitting end to a wonderful trip, and I wish I could give them just a moment of Seattle color to keep, to say “thank you” for reminding me to embrace it, so I could take it home. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Maybe --

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Mark Twain

Blog post ideas just aren’t popping up as easily these days. Maybe it’s the heat. These past few days have been hot enough to give Purgatory a climate upgrade. Maybe it’s just August. There are a few things besides the heat I will remember about the summer of 2010. My boys were gone for a significant portion of it. This was both good and bad. After twenty three summers of full time motherhood, it was a change. They were gone so much that I missed them.  We don’t have much time to transition before Peter begins high school next week and since he is my youngest, I’m feeling a bit lost.

Doves nested on my front porch – twice so far. My working knowledge of mourning dove trivia is significantly greater than it was last spring. I guess it was the bird’s eye view of their reproductive cycle that tweaked my interest.  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one)

Several new and interesting characters were introduced into my life story, some becoming friends and others sparking my imagination (unfortunately not enough for a decent blog post).

Three weeks at a writer’s workshop was not only educational, but eye opening and inspirational. I now ponder the difference between a dash and a double hyphen and wonder if it is at all kosher to use lines edited by others and left discarded and unused. One writer’s trash is definitely another’s newly discovered metaphor. Most of my valued friendships from the conference were initiated and fostered while waiting in the line for the women’s restroom. Coffee, once again, was the instigator of forward progression in my life.

A man named Larry Schnakenberg disappeared from a local park in June and after hundreds of people searched and distributed flyers and emails, he was discovered 20 days later wandering around the same park. A 58 year old husband and father, Larry provided no reason for his disappearance, but it was apparent he chose to leave and remain in hiding. A local detective commented to the Kansas City Star, “It isn’t a crime to want to be alone.” No, it isn’t. And I hope his family isn’t punished with fines; they have suffered enough. But Larry’s behavior leaves an entire community scratching their heads wondering what in the world happened. People who are entirely self-focused, for whatever reason, have a tremendous amount of power over those of us who are not. Worth remembering.

Despite the heat, my gardens look good. My water bill will not.

During a visit to Independence, KS with my Aunt Martha we enjoyed a lunch at a café she lovingly dubbed, “The Jesus Restaurant”. It’s actual name, “The King of Kings Café” is a bit showy, but it fits. The inside walls of the dining area are lined with a mural depicting Jesus playing with children in a field. I was envious of the owner’s determination to make his livelihood a testimony of his faith. That’s what I’d intended to do, with the blog, and with my writing. I hope my life’s work will eventually be a testimony of my faith. But its slow going right now. Sluggish. I can’t seem to feel even a flicker of that evangelical spark that used to motivate me.

Maybe I’m not so unlike Larry after all, just putting down my keys and walking away from God on my own lonely path. It’s not that I don’t believe or don’t want Him anymore, I just want to be alone for awhile. Possibly I’m just tired of the grind; the heat is dragging me down. Maybe God is just waiting for me to go buy the paint, so He can help me finish my own Jesus mural -- to surround myself with it, to share it with others along the way, to remind me to share my blessings with others. Maybe --