Monday, June 30, 2014

It's past my bedtime.

Thursday, June 26. It's a little after midnight. And on 360 days of the year I'm deep in sleep by now. But tonight I can't bring myself to go to bed. It's quiet, as quiet as it can be downtown in a city of 600,000 people. My view is of the Seattle commercial harbor, the ferry terminal and of the surrounding high rise buildings, some of which have people staring back at me.

I don't want to go to bed. I will miss this view. I will miss Seattle, where the daughter I'm not supposed to blog about and I have enjoyed this week. With us came a friend and her daughter, and during the day the daughters took a class at UW while we worked. In the late afternoons and evenings we played. This being the third week in June, it did not get dark until 10pm. This picture is of our pop up office here in Seattle, the very place I sit right now.

I really like it here. I wonder if Dave would like it. We've started talking about what to do once The Pinks are out of the house. Travel is the highest priority to us. Could we live here? It's obvious why so many Californians have migrated here. Mountains. Water. Great food. Biking. Hiking. Skiing. Environmentally conscious. A lower cost of living.

Our rental apartment is two blocks from Pike Place Market, the tourist hub of the city and location of all things edible. We're ten floors up with floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. There's a pool and gym and library here, and a 24-hour concierge, which we've not used. The wifi speed is acceptable.

Yesterday my friend and I took a biking tour in the afternoon. My goal was just to survive. I'm not much of a biker. It seemed like a good way to see the city and get some exercise, too. Our tour took us 16 miles on streets, through city parks and on bike trails from downtown past the Seattle Center and Space Needle, and up along the Puget Sound to the Ballard Locks. There we saw a few pleasure craft go through the locks and a lot of commercial fishing boats docked for the summer, including a former Deadliest Catch one which is now a museum. The salmon finish the last leg of their migration here on a fish ladder (who knew?!).  These are the same locks my family went through on our 28' Bayliner nearly three decades ago when we moved from Alaska back to Lower 48. I texted my dad a picture of the locks and he, of nearly photographic memory, knew exactly where I was. The picture above is from an art installation at the locks. The Ballard neighborhood was where the Scandinavian people first settled in the Seattle area. Today it's quite trendy and we came back for dinner at Delancey, of Orangette fame, the next night.

We followed the Lake Washington ship canal across the Fremont Bridge into the Fremont neighborhood and stopped for a snack at the artisanal chocolatier Theo. It's a bummer that my bike had no basket or I would have done some serious damage there. From there we headed south back downtown and past the (only 600, no more no less our guide told us) houseboats and Amazonia, the part of the city that is home to and some biotech companies. We stopped again to watch the seaplanes land on Lake Union. I didn't fall off the bike and for that I am proud. It was a long ride and a scary one once we got back into the rush hour traffic! I find that as I get older I like to push myself out of my comfort zone.

On another night the four of us took the ferry 35 minutes across the sound to Bainbridge Island. The cute little town was a ten minute walk from the ferry terminal and we had dinner at a mediocre restaurant with a Chamber-of-Commerce view. And then ferried back, jealous of the people who commute to work this way. I could so live there.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What the teacher said.

In town last week I glimpsed the woman who taught one of my daughters kindergarten. Then I threw up a little bit in my mouth. During the last parent-teacher conference with her, she said something off-the-cuff about my daughter, hopefully in jest, maybe not. Years later those words have stayed with me and are no less bitter.

A friend recently confided that her son's teacher said something about her son that did not sit well with her, either. It was not a fact-based comment, it was an observation and not an especially kind one. Again, her intent may have been humor but it didn't come out as funny, especially in the context in which it was used. It bothered her enough to mention.

And finally, one of my children's teachers told me about something one of her son's elementary school teachers said about her now-adult-son. The teacher who spoke those ugly words two decades ago was wrong, very wrong about this child's potential. But those words have remained in her mind and have, fortunately, helped this woman become an exceptional educator.

Do the opinions or judgments of a teacher have more weight than those of our friends and family? Perhaps so, for the same reason people hire me as a consultant. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. But as a consultant I make recommendations for improved outcomes based on my past experience. Teachers don't remain in their students' lives long enough to know if those predictions will come true. Nor do they work with students long enough to influence the outcome, like parents do.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Are you Smitten?

We tried Smitten on Friday, the first day of summer vacation. Smitten is artisanal ice cream, until recently found only in the city. Each serving is made on demand using liquid nitrogen. It tasted fine but was nothing special. Berthillon is still my favorite. And locally, I really like the obscenity which is Fenton's.

Remind me to take time off work next June. And to not sign up for any volunteer activities. The weekend before school was out Thing 1 and I volunteered at both a Habitat for Humanity community opening and a Special Olympics fundraiser. The year-end academic and recreational activities of three children is a lot to juggle.

Speaking of three children, those of you with older children forgot to mention how fabulous it is when one of those children gets their driver's license. Many of the fears I had of my innocent child getting behind the wheel of a car were greatly reduced when I realized how helpful she could be, not only chauffeuring herself to and from her appointments but running our errands and picking up a sister on occasion!

Preparations continue for the B'Not Mitzvah. Thing 1 and I had coffee with the fabulous Harry Glazier yesterday. Harry is going to photograph the ceremony and festivities for us. I'm excited to work with emerging talent and look forward to his fresh point of view.

The invitations are still in various stages of assembly on the dining room table. The Hebrew intensive begins tomorrow. Panic is beginning to set in as the kids vocalize who they want to invite, based on who they were in or out with during the latter part of the school year. I hate this part. Even my father brought it up while we were riding his horses today.

Up next, introducing Thing 1 and Thing 2 to The Event Planner and meeting with The Balloon Lady.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Repetitive Tasks

It's interesting the things you do differently on the second go round of a life cycle event. 

Eldest Daughter spent a lot of time looking for the perfect dress to wear on her Bat Mitzvah. Thing 2 liked the second dress she tried on. We went through many iterations of the guest list for Eldest Daughter. This time it's much easier and frankly, we're a lot more decisive.

We're a lot more lax on learning the material this time around, maybe because the Youngest Pinks have the whole summer? They also want a celebratory party where the guests can dress informally, and we're good with that.

Eldest Daughter had beautiful, custom invitations. This time I ordered something from Etsy and we're DIY. That's where we are today, the mindless creation and assembly of the invites. There is something peaceful, something zen about a simple, repetitive task.