“And this is what we mean by friends.  Even when they are absent, they are with us . . . even when they are weak, they are strong; and even when they are dead, they are alive.”
— Cicero

A light in the darkness -- the Macy star and Westlake tree, Seattle

A light in the darkness — the Macy’s star and Westlake tree, Seattle

“Listen to me: everything you think you know, every relationship you’ve ever taken for granted, every plan or possibility you’ve ever hatched, every conceit or endeavor you’ve ever concocted, can be stripped from you in an instant.  Sooner or later, it will happen.  So prepare yourself.  Be ready not to be ready.  Be ready to be brought to your knees and beaten to dust.  Because no stable foundation, no act of will, no force of cautious habit will save you from this fact:  nothing is indestructible.”
— Jonathan Evison, from The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Today’s post is in memory of Alden, my daughter’s best friend, who died one year ago.  Sometimes it is difficult to find the strength to stay open to the joys of the season.  I am privileged to witness my daughter’s courage in this regard.  My heartfelt best wishes to everyone who is suffering the absence of beloved friends and family this holiday season.

” . . . simply living demands all the courage that we have.”
— Adam Gopnik, from Winter: Five Windows on the Season

The Best Day of the Year

December 19, 2012

Macy's star shines over the Westlake carousel, Seattle

Macy’s star shines over the Westlake carousel, Seattle

Westlake Park with holiday lights

Westlake Park with holiday lights

“Gray skies and December lights are my idea of secret joy, and if there were a heaven, I would expect it to have a lowering violet-gray sky . . . and white lights on all the trees and the first flakes just falling, and it would always be December 19 — the best day of the year, school out, stores open late, Christmas a week away.”
— Adam Gopnik, Winter: Five Windows on the Season

I couldn’t resist using this quote, just perfect for December 19th.  In Winter: Five Windows on the Season, Gopnik explores the ways winter is a time of human warmth rather than the more ancient view of winter as a sign of our withdrawal from grace.  I especially liked the essay called “Romantic Winter,” a sentiment that could only arise after the invention of central heating!  “Winter’s persona changes with our perception of safety from it . . . The romance of winter is possible only when we have a warm, secure indoors to retreat to, and winter becomes a season to look at as much as one to live through.”

It’s true.  After a drizzly evening in downtown Seattle enjoying the festive lights, I was happy to return home to my warm, quilted bed!




"Strings of street lights" at Westlake Park, Seattle

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style.
In the air
There’s a feeling
Of Christmas  . . .
— from “Silver Bells” by Ray Evans

The colors and sounds of the holidays cheer our dark days of December.  Here are some photos from an evening in the city:

Lobby of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle

Carolers in Nord Alley, Pioneer Square

Gingerbread Exhibit, Sheraton Hotel lobby

Carousel and Macy's star, Westlake Center

Santa photos behind the plate-glass window at Nordstrom's

Wish upon a star

“O Star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy Perfect Light.”
— from “We Three Kings of Orient Are” by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins


From Hiroshima to Hope

August 7, 2010

From Hiroshima to Hope, a peace celebration at Green Lake

Kimono-clad for the celebration of peace

I attended an event last evening at Green Lake, From Hiroshima to Hope, to help remember victims of war and violence and to share prayers for peace.  At dusk, participants sent paper lanterns afloat in the lake.  It was a beautiful and festive celebration.

Three little girls hiding behind two fans

Waiting until dark to light lantern and set it afloat

Lanterns alight with hopes and wishes for peace

Launching a lantern in Green Lake

Floating lanterns

Let There Be Light

December 9, 2009

Extravagant holiday lights on North 81st Street

I appreciate the holiday lighting displays in some yards and neighborhoods. . . a gift of light to the world during this most dark season of the year.  I have not yet hung lights this year.  I kept last year’s string of white icicle lights hanging until they burned out in mid-year.  I haven’t decided whether to hang lights this year.  If I do, they will be LED lights.

A single candle brings the light of the season to our home.

Candle in front of a favorite Christmas card from two decades ago


So absent the light strings, I lit a single candle on our fireplace mantle.  It is amazing that one small flame fills the room with the soul of the Christmas holidays.

I like what Garrison Keillor has to say about Christmas lights:

“Lighting. It made Garbo a star and it can make your Christmas. Winter is the dark time, so you want Christmas to be brilliant and sparkly areas. Outdoors, the shadows lengthen, wolves close in around the brave little house, but put a candle in the window —- voila! Drama! It’s the Little Match Girl! Lights! Illuminate! A pool of light on the serving table. The tree lit up with colored bulbs. Candles everywhere, dozens of them. If necessary, hold a small flashlight between your knees to give your face that irresistible glow. Smile. Show teeth. Shine. ”