Friday, March 25, 2011

O Charlotte, R U A Q-T?

O U Q-T, O R U A B-U-T?

Maybe this question, carved into paving stones in the city’s center, is really just a way of giving Charlotte, North Caroline, a voice? If she were to ask me, I’d say she’s a beauty, all right.

One of the prettiest places in the Uptown Neighborhood is “The Green,” an open space in the financial district that’s filled with literary teasers, fountains, statuary, etc.
The bricked walkways are covered with alphabet coded writing as shown in the picture, whimsical hopscotch games, and scattered pieces of bronzed paper imprinted with poetry, which appear to have blown against light posts and park benches. Some poems are just lying on the ground on bronzed papers. All this is in a partial city block in the heart of the financial district.
I was skeptical there’d be enough to hold my interest in Charlotte for a week, what with its big claim to fame being the NASCAR Hall of fame. But was I ever wrong!

Its art museums are world class. The Levine Museum of the New South houses a spectacular permanent exhibit on North Carolina’s evolution from rural (cotton fields) to urban (finance and industry) since the civil war. The museum’s long-term temporary exhibit that it sends out to other cities for year-to-two-year stays is called Courage. I wept my way through it, as I learned—first hand—how it was to have attended a black separate-but-equal school, and grasped in a new, visceral way the significance of Brown vs. Board of Education.

And—for the record, I loved the NASCAR Hall of Fame! More fun than I could have imagined, especially a simulator that let me, a participant, feel the pull on the steering wheel as my stock car sped around the track. I crashed my car at 136 mph and did several (simulated) 360s as I worked to get it under control before it hit the wall (which, of course, it did anyway).

Do visit Charlotte it you ever have a chance.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bothell industry

Here is a reminder of the power of intent and industriousness on our local scene. Hubby took this picture on March 5, just a mile from our home on the Sammamish River. Yes, this is the work of beavers!
When we checked again on March 16, even more progress had been made.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grandmother's picture

Recently, my cousin was contacted by an artist requesting photographs of our maternal grandparents. It seems he's been commissioned to do a painting to commemorate one hundred years of real estate development in Spokane, Washington. Our grandfather, as one of early real estate men in Spokane, is to be depicted in the painting, along with our beloved grandmother.

My cousin referred the request to my sister, and to make a long story short, Sis and I both began to dig around in our trove of pictures for good ones of our grandparents. Interestingly, my sister and I realized--maybe for the first time--that our grandmother must have been the photographer for her family, judging by how few pictures of her we could find from her wife-and-mother days. Our grandfather had several professional photographs taken, as well as snapshots, but Grandmother's pictures are scarce, indeed. I was ecstatic when I found this picture. That twinkle, that smile . . . I have never forgotten it.

I was five when she died, but I still have vivid memories of her--burned into my psyche by her loving and focused presence when she visited from Spokane. She taught me to knit, to sew, to tie a knot in the end of thread--and listened to me as though I were the most important person in the world.

This picture--of her holding a giant fish she caught on Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho--was probably taken sometime between 1912 and 1915.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Half empty or half full?

The old adage about seeing the same world from different points of view proved only too true this past week at our house.

One of the biggest challenges about living in a condo has been the absence of a dedicated laundry room. Instead, we have a multi-purpose room that we’ve dubbed “the washroom” in a playful take on its dual purpose. Toilet & basin (to the right of the door) serving as a downstairs lavatory. Washer & dryer (to the left of the door), serving as the Laundromat.

The washroom has two wall switches just inside the door. The switch closer to the door turns on incandescent lights illuminating the toilet and basin side of the room (and rather invitingly, at that), and the switch farther away turns on an overhead fixture in the ceiling that floods the entire room with fluorescent light (handy for doing laundry).

From the first day we moved in, I occasionally would find myself thinking about how glad I was that the first switch I'd reach for controlled the "pretty light," because the lavatory function of the room is used more frequently than the laundry function, and . . . this was important. . . the room was definitely more attractive when lit just by incandescent light.

What I didn’t know was that Hubby was also thinking about those light switches. However, he was having an opposite reaction, burning with annoyance about what felt to him like a sloppy builder’s error. He objected to the illogical placement of the switches in which the switch closer to the door turned on the light farther away, and the farther switch turned on the light closer to the door.

Only last week did Hubby and I learn what the other one had been thinking when he surprised me with an “improvement in the washroom.”

Yup—he’d reversed the switches one morning when I was away and was mightily pleased about it by the time I got home. I, on the other hand, reacted by thinking about that catch-all promise we spoke aloud almost forty-nine years ago . . . for better or worse . . . and tried to be nice about it.

Since last week, Hubby has installed a lighted switch and dimmer for the incandescent lights. His reasoning is that a person entering the washroom and needing to turn on the light will be instantly drawn to the lighted switch, thus choosing the switch farther away from the door (the pretty light). He assures me that, if I still don’t like the new placement within a few more weeks, he’ll change it back.

Now we are laughing about it, and—in fact—it was he who suggested I write about it on my blog.