Sunday, October 28, 2012

Photos from NY and Home Again

 With Gretchen at the MOMA party.

 Data After Dark Party

Pix (with Bryan and with Monique) from the shindig at the Liberty Theater on 42nd Street. *Somebody* had to get the party started!

Wandering around Washington Square on my last evening in New York before dinner with Cathleen at Il Corso. That's Freedom Tower going up in the background. 
Thank goodness I escaped before Hurricane Sandy hit!


M came to pick me up at the airport on Friday afternoon. It's been a lovely weekend of nesting. We made yogurt, bread, vegetarian chili (which is still baking in the oven), hummingbird nectar, grilled romaine for salads. He was suitably surprised at the Cuban cigars I smuggled home from Canada. We cleaned up the front yard and house a bit, did mountains of laundry, scrubbed the dogs and walked them in the park. Took a ride out to the Sonoma Coast to bask in the glory of late fall. We watched the first two awful episodes of Star Wars. Ran into Sean and Caitlin shopping at Goodwill. 

I'm so very glad to be home.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The New York Leg

I'm halfway through the New York show, and so feeling pretty good about it all. Busy, yes, but still managing to smell a few roses along the way. The weather has been wonderful, warm even. On my first night, I made a conscious effort to break out of my introvert shell and texted one of my colleagues to see if she'd join me for dinner. She did! Last night I had a few moments to break away from the conference hotel and visit the Madhus. I got to hug everyone, have a glass of wine, and watch some of the final presidential debate before hopping the subway home. I figured it was going to be my only chance to ride it, so what the heck. I took it a few extra stops to as to walk to the hotel through Grand Central station. Here are some of the things I also enjoyed yesterday evening:

That Gus's barks turned to cuddles before the evening ended. There is something so comforting about petting furry creatures.

I think the late '70's are back. New York denizens are sporting lots of golden bling and fur accessories. Hair is getting bigger. I'm keeping an eye out for shoulder pads.

A man yelling into his phone, an older woman screaming at noone on the street, a younger woman reasoning into the phone in line at the liquor store: "Well, I didn't call you because I knew you needed and wanted your space and that's why I didn't email you."

A ballerina stretching in her toe shoes as she spoke to a young man on the street, pale brocade costume and pale stone of the bank backdrop contrasting her ebony skin.

I saw my first Central Park raccoon, humping across the paved path in front of me, then peering down at me as he made his way up a tree.

The woman across from me in the subway car, dressed in working blue coveralls, sketching the dozing man next to me on a small pad. I caught her eye and we smiled at each other in delight.

Coming up the ramp from the subway into the glory of Grand Central, space soaring yet defined above the few of us moving through it, always on our way somewhere except for the business attired couple grounded in an embrace, caught up in the gravity of the great brass clock, unable to pull away from their kisses and tender words.

Food from my favorite Halal cart. Oh, how I miss the falafel, the mysterious white sauce, the yellow rice.

Construction crews digging up the streets, pulling wooden boards from beneath the pavement. How much wood is buried here? It's always felt like I tread stone upon stone here.


Vancouver was very pleasant. I didn't sleep well for a couple of nights, but that was the worst of it. I had chatty but nice seat companions on the plane rides (on the way back to the US, it was the second-ranked tennis player for BC, on his way to a tennis "man camp" (his words) in San Antonio with his dad and uncle), so learned a bit about liquor laws and Vancouver generally. One of the locals who co-organized the event took us on a little driving tour of the city, but it was raining and foggy. Apparently it's gorgeous there in summer, but we couldn't see much of the harbor and mountains. I sought out good coffee and decent food. It was fun spending foreign money.

View from the Delta Suites, Vancouver, BC Oct 2012

Morning walk, Vancouver BC

Harbor Centre through the dome


OK, off to another work party. Another party tomorrow night, dinner with Cathleen on Thursday, then home Friday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On the Road Again

I had a hard time choosing photos for this post. San Francisco is such a beautiful city, pale, golden, felted by fog, blue just within reach as sky or water, or just a dream away. It's my second night in the City; tomorrow I'm off to Vancouver for four, then to New York for five. I'm compartmentalizing the trip, "bird by bird" as Pointy Pal Rebecca reminded me--one piece at a time ends up as a whole. Then home.

However we choose to define "whole." Absence already makes my heart grow fonder for home. Knowing that absence was imminent, I appreciated more keenly the Saturday spent two-wheeled, motorcycling to the coast with M for one of the most beautiful days of the year. It's so good to share these small adventures with my husband, minor explorations of the beautiful land we're fortunate enough to call home. On Sunday, while I spent a few hours packing, I took time out to knit and watch football so the the dogs could press close, their spines to my thighs, their somnolent weight anchoring me, tethering me even now to their quirks and habits that make up my own routine. Not having them to walk and water puts me at loose ends a bit, changes the boundaries of my day. I'm glad for the change but just as glad to be back to the daily grind. I'm lucky to have that perspective.

Speaking of compartmentalization, one thing I've noticed about myself the last few years: where I used to draw a very bright line between myself and my work, that's blurred a bit. Not only because I really like so many people that I see on the job, but also because I meet so many lovely people at our events, even just in bits and pieces, people I may not see for years at a stretch. Today for instance, just by chance I sat at lunch with the sister of someone I met at a conference two years ago and had a really lovely time just small talking with her. There was a time when that was an effort for me, and after years of practice I guess it's finally become ingrained in a good way.

Maybe it's not the people I interact with, though. Maybe I just feel more at home with me. It's getting late and I'm not expressing this quite right. I'll think about it more.

It's been a fine last few weeks, particularly for feeling connected with family and friends. I've had a couple of meetings with the Pointy Pals. Niece Felicia and I met up with friend Rachel for a trip to the de Young Museum to see the Rudolph Nureyev exhibit. Rachel's school friend was leading the classical quartet playing as part of the opening, what serendipity. We saw ballet and rushed through the display of costumes, then had delicious South Indian food--an event in the City! The following Sunday, I hit the Harvest Fair with Caitlin where we watch sheep dog trials, went to a cheese and beer tasting, admired the mules, and generally gabbed. I seriously need to cultivate more girlfriend time. And, we met Felicia and Erin there for the wine tasting pavilion, what serendipity! M and I attended a fundraiser last week for one of the local ballet companies, held at the Lagunitas brewery and featuring line dancing.

Anyway, it all adds up to being ever more grateful for the life I lead.

Time for the bedtime routine! Even that's shaking me up for the next few nights.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Spokane Visit

With Grandma, Ginny, Dad by suzipaw
With Grandma, Ginny, Dad, a photo by suzipaw on Flickr.
It was a weekend well spent, which meant it went by too quickly.

Coordinating the visit with Dad and Ginny worked out great. We all converged in Spokane at a similar time on Saturday, so they picked me up at the airport and we went directly to Grandma's new digs at Harbor Crest. It's a much larger place than where she stayed in Wilbur, and I think it's really good. She has a much larger apartment, many more activities, the people, both staff and residents, quite friendly. It also seems to be set up for more visitors, which is nice. I think the only issue is the high ceilings, which make it a little harder to hear.

After a little time with Grandma, we made our way downtown to the Hotel Ruby, which we all agreed to describe as "funky." A good price, European styled in many ways, young staff, arty aspects all did their best to veneer the crumbling motel roots. It was very busy that first night and the voices of, um, exuberant people mingled with the trains rumbling regularly east and west just behind the hotel.

I rose early-ish Sunday morning and enjoyed wandering around downtown Spokane far more than I expected, mostly because of the architecture. Mod mostly glass apartment buildings from the '70s punctuated the brick and granite merchant buildings and religious edifices from the late 1800s, sprinkled with a few not-so-historic skyscrapers. The repurposed Steam Plant was an interesting place to dine, which we did the night we arrived. I was very glad to see the riverfront area in good shape, the Riverfront Park (home to Expo '74) prospering and well maintained, sprouting with art, and the homeless/drifters in manageable proportion. And then there was the train still running through town several times a day. We chose not to splurge and stay at the lovely Hotel Davenport, but I had coffee there one morning and we had a most pleasant dinner there Sunday night.

One of my favorite art pieces was a place near the Monroe Street bridge, a sort of overlook paved with a granite spiral engraved with the Sherman Alexie poem, "The Place Where Ghosts of Salmon Jump." It's a version of the Indian story of how Spokane Falls were created: Coyote was angry because the Coeur d'Alene chief refused to give him a wife in exchange for salmon, so he broke the Spokane River with his paw. The resulting falls kept the salmon from running upstream, depriving the Coeur d'Alenes.

Coyote was alone and angry because he could not find love.
No, Coyote was alone and angry because he demanded love.
Demanded a wife from the Spokane, the Coeur d'Alene, the Palouse.
All those tribes camped on the edge of the Spokane River, and he received only laughter.

Coyote rose up with his powerful and senseless magic and smashed a Paw across the water which broke the river bottom in two, which created rain which lasted for forty days and nights, and which created Spokane Falls, the place where salmon traveled more suddenly than Coyote dreamed, that place where salmon swam larger than any white man imagined.

But Coyote I know you broke the river because of love.
I saw you catch salmon on the falls after you had created them.
I know you slept all fat and happy beside the river, and pretended it was all done by your design.

Coyote, you're a liar and I don't trust you. I never have.
But I do trust all those stories the Grandmothers told me.
They said the falls were built because of your unrequited love, and I can understand that rage Coyote. We can all understand.

But look at the falls now and tell me what you see.
Look at the falls now if you can see beyond all the concrete the white man has built there.

Look at all of this and tell me that concrete ever equals love, Coyote.
These white men don't always love their own mothers, so how could they love this river which gave birth to a thousand lifetimes of salmon?

How could they love these falls which have fallen further, which sit dry and quiet as a graveyard now.

These falls are that place where ghosts of salmon jump, where ghosts of women mourn their children who will never find their way back home.

Where I stand now and search for any kind of love, where I sing softly under my breath, alone and angry.

Later in the morning we met up with Grandma's sister Barbara for Sunday brunch at Harbor Crest, which was pleasant and tasty. While they drove to Walmart in search of a new seat cushion for Grandma, I hung out and we talked and had our usual review of photos and family news. I so appreciate spending time with her.

I briefly returned to the park Sunday afternoon to ride the carousel. While there I was able to collect two of my three traditional souvenirs: a stretched penny and a floaty pen for M. I also consulted Zoltar, who admonished me to always cleave to the best and to what is right. Zoltar, thou art wise!

On Monday morning we had coffee and shopping at Atticus, then a few more hours with Grandma. I had lunch with her, then headed off to the airport with a chatty cabbie. I'm looking forward to my next trip up in the spring, especially now that I feel more comfortable with the lay of the land. Next time, I'm doing the tram over the falls!

I uploaded a small photo set.


I did experience one very minor irritation, a sign of our society going to hell in a handbasket: while luncheoning contentedly on too-cheesy pizza at Sea-Tac between flights on the way up, gazing at the runway and contemplating the visit before me, a man asked to join my table. I consented and he sat down, opening his laptop…blocking my view of the runway. I immediately felt shifty eyed, having to look around him in order to enjoy my view. He asked a few inane questions. I started feeling very uncomfortable and a little angry--I suspected him of being purposely passive-aggressive. Then he pulled out his phone and started a business call! I packed up my pizza and left, thinking that that was his goal all along, rehearsing my unspoken line telling him his rudeness changed my mind and asking him to leave. Next time! I had to go buy some cute socks in the gift shop to soothe my nerves.