Monday, August 31, 2009

Bloody Murder

Last winter my sister-in-law turned me on to Scandinavian mysteries. She highly recommended The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I ordered it from Amazon, read it, and loved it, despite the gory details of the crimes committed. It turned out to be the hot book of the season, and now it is out in paperback and I see it featured every where.
At the same time, I pre-ordered the second in what is a trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire. I finished that one last week, and now I can't wait for the release of the third book. I'll have to see if I can pre-order it yet.
Steig Larsson died shortly after completing these three episodes, which were very popular in his native Sweden. As they were translated they have drawn international attention. Their crimes are gory, but the heroine is such an unlikely and unusual character, and the twists and turns of the plot are so unpredictable and suspenseful that it's hard to put them down.
In between these two books I read a series of other mysteries by Scandinavian authors. Asa Larson sets her bloody murders in the far north of Sweden, in Lapland. Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer solves equally ghastly crimes in Norway. All have been very good reading.
I am currently reading something quite different, although death is still a very real part of the story. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a wonderful read. It is set in the Channel Islands, in 1946, immediately following the end of WWII and the German occupation of their islands. The story is told through a series of letters, mostly to and from a young woman author. The characters are charming and endearing and their stories are tragic, poignant and heartwarming. This is a must read!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Farewell to Teddy

I watched much of the wake on TV last night, and the funeral mass today. Many wonderful stories were shared about Senator Kennedy, Uncle Teddy, just friend Teddy, and "my Dad". They rounded out the portrait of a remarkable man, an man much deeper and more complex than I had any idea of. I just liked his politics. Now I equally admire the man.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Alma Mater

Last Wednesday, after we finished traipsing around the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, and feeling refreshed by our coffee shop lunch, we decided to pay a visit my Alma Mater. Seattle Pacific University ("College" back in my day) is at the base of the north slope of Queen Anne Hill. It is a small (about 3800) Christian liberal arts college affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. I am not an active alumnus, and had not visited the campus really since I finished my 5th year education certification in 1970. I had heard that the school now has a lovely campus noted for its gardens, as well as many new buildings which have been added over the years. We were pleased to find a lush oasis in this summer of brown lawns. The original loop is still graced by magnificent chestnut trees. This is where we attended required chapel every day. Many of the topics presented were actually quite interesting, fortunately. Alexander Hall, built in 1891, was the original building, and it was where my residence dorm was located my Freshman year.
Yep, those windows up there at the top, right. That was my room!
It has long since been converted for other uses, but I was impressed at how good the old girl/guy still looks.
The landscaping is so much more lush than when I was a student in the sixties.
And the campus has spread into the surrounding neighborhood.
The gardening staff has done a lovely job. Look at this color!
Across Nickerson Street, and down what used to be an unpaved dead end, we would go to sit beside the ship canal. Now there is a lovely park extending at least a block. It's an even better place to be idle and watch the idle rich float by.
Farther east it's also where that other little Seattle school, the University of Washington, has it's crew races.
I just read that SPU has a very good women's soccer team. Go Falcons!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Urban Trekking - Queen Anne Hill

Yesterday Caryn challenged me out of my contented complacency to get moving and have an adventure. While our trek was hardly risky, it was a new place for us to discover. I read about the public pedestrian stairways all over Queen Anne Hill in the latest issue of Sunset magazine. I decided it was time to take another urban trek and check it out.

We began with a stop at the Queen Anne Book Store to pick up our map. Tom immediately found a book to buy, too. Then we parked the car on a side street, checked the map, and set off. This narrow passage way was supposed to lead us to the first stairway.

Yep, there it is, the Comstock Grande Dame.
And then there were more.
We landed on West Highland Drive, a "Street of Dreams" of long ago. Here is the Comstock Mansion.
Not a bad little neighborhood for a stroll!
Kerry Park supplies the most famous view of Seattle.
I do love a mansion with a lovely landscape.
New mansions blend with the old.
More steps!
This trek is perfect for architecture students.
Overlook toward the Marina in Magnolia.
These steps descent to view an amazing wall, but they didn't lead any where, so we had to come back up.
I do love a house painted to match the flowers!
Art Deco?
A bit of the remaining Queen Anne style for which the hill was named.
History under our feet, cobble stones with brick gutters.
And then we returned to the coffee shop next to the book store for a a well earned treat - mochas and dessert for lunch - while we watched the urban villagers stroll by.
The book store beckoned us back, and our browsing resulted in enough books to keep us happy for a few more months.

Tribute to Teddy

Nobody does it better than Dianne. Take a side trip to see her blog.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not The Last Rose of Summer

We are enjoying the lazy days of late August, and feeling very blessed to be able to do so. Many of our non-retired friends are heading back to the classroom, and meetings, in preparation for the opening of another school year. Our only school responsibility was attending Tom's 50th high school reunion last Sunday. He is pictured here with his twin sister, Jan, who was on the organizing committee and acted as Master of Ceremonies. They and their classmates, who graduated from Puyallup High, Class of '59, had a great time visiting and catching up. I was the roaming photographer. We have been enjoying lovely weather: sunny, mild days with occasional cloudy periods with light showers. The shower this morning left raindrops on roses, roses that have sprung forth with a new late summer blush.
From the cutting garden I now have the asters of August on my kitchen table.
The sweet peas decided to recover from the earlier heat and bloom again, reaching for the sky.
The cucumbers are still producing as they climb their wire trellis.
And the tomatoes are slowly ripening. Last night we had our first calabrese salad, with fresh tomaotes and basil from the garden combined with fresh motzarella chese and olive oil. Yum.
Because I'm still healing from hand surgery I am "forced" to just enjoy our garden, without working in it, pick and arrange the abundant flowers, and lend A hand in helping Tom prepare meals that include fresh produce from the garden and fruits from farmer's markets.
What a great time of the year it is!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


My daughter Jill reminded me on FaceBook this morning that it was ten years ago today, in the morning, that she and her brother Jake stood on top of Mt Rainier!
This was one of a series of hikes and climbs that they did together as members of The Mountaineers, an out door adventure club based here in Seattle. Climbing Mt Rainier had been a goal if Jill's since high school, but allergy induced asthma in college had dimmed her chances of achieving her goal. But she trained hard and determinedly, and she made it. She is now a wife, mother of two, and a teacher living in Colorado.
Jake has gone on to summit more mountains, and has recently rejoined The Mountaineers. Last weekend he completed two alpine hikes in the Cascades.
That same day ten years ago Tom and I were at Emerald Downs, the newly opened race track here, celebrating his 40th high school reunion. I remember looking up at the mountain, of which we had a clear view, and saying '"Our kids are up there". We were very proud of their achievements, and continue to be.
Tomorrow we will be in Puyallup attending Tom's 50th high school reunion! How can that be????
Update on my hand surgery: I stopped taking pain pills after 24 hours. When I took the surgical dressing off after 48 hours, as instructed, I was surprised that the incision was longer than expected, hardly the one "band aid" job that I was led to believe when the doc said "Just cover it with a band aid". I am trying to be very careful not to use my right hand, but now I have overworked my left hand, and they both hurt! I'll spend time today with a book in my lap.