Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bird dog brilliance

Upward facing dog.
0600: Feline companion nestled at foot of bed; spouse up and out the door, replaced in a heartbeat by one smooth operator.  The early bird gets the first belly rub around here.  

His sentiment, you ask?  "Life is good!"

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Variations on the theme of two

Bovine companions ponder the view from the barn.

Extraordinary women, breath-taking scenery.

Mother and daughter stride.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What's in a name?

Our beloved "Aunt Maude", actually my great-great aunt,
making her way through Watsontown, PA on a winter's morn.
When Mika and I first set eyes on our newborn child, there was no mistakin': he was Joshua, decidedly not Jesse, another name we had settled on if our child had been born a son.  

As the story goes, Joshua's mother was smitten with the name Heron early on, but advice from a well-meaning relative put the kibosh on that faster than the long-legged bird can spear an unsuspecting fish.  Yes, Josh has thanked me more than once for tossing that avian moniker back into the pool.  Heron Sinanan.  Hmmm; I think not.

But Maude; now there's a fine name!  As in Harold and Maude, a true classic.  Or my grandmother's aunt, Maude Wolfe, a soft-spoken, never-married, dear-heart of a woman who lived to see triple digits in an era when heart disease commonly claimed lives decades earlier.  And then there's our own sweet Maude of Autumn Morning, born November 1, 2000, the last of nine puppies born to Abby and Oscar.  All three Maude's embody the full
grace of the classic name.  Don't you agree?

Content beyond measure after a meal and a long woods walk,
Maude settles in for a mid-morning nap, Bowen Island, 2012.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A poet's lens

Double-dip: Jen and Mika take the plunge,
 Edmonds Beach, July 24, 2012.
Birthday Haiku

Early light beckons.
Into the water they go,
two crazy people.

We love each other.
My son gifts me with his time.
A mother's blessing.

Long bus ride carries
mother and son to ball game.
Felix kicks Yank ass.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pennsylvanian born and bred

Four generations pose for the camera
at The Maplessummer 1957.  
Left to right, Geraldine Schmucker Sheffer;
Marianne Sheffer Derick; Jennifer Derick; Kittie Wolfe Schmucker.
To the women whose values helped to shape mine; salute!  Looking back, looking ahead, and firmly rooted in this time and place, I walk with confidence on the trail you blazed.

In gratitude,
your Jenny

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dirty work

If mud play is on your schedule this summer, may I suggest you research the level of exertion involved?  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fast friends

Day-old friends pause for a picture before hitting the
mineral waters of Soap Lake.
Few things bring greater joy than this: two young children, strangers in one moment, friends in the next.  "I'm from Russia," she said, as he approached her in the shallow waters of Soap Lake.  "I'm from the United States of America Seattle," he replied, and the rest, as you can see, is history.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hold the balloons please

Dear Del,
Del and Josh share a moment.

Tomorrow is your birthday.  I don't know if you have any special plans, but knowing you as I do, I would wager you'll lounge around, find a sunny spot, nap a while, and sidle up to your food and water dish when the time is right.

I just want to say you are the dearest girl I've ever known; feline, canine or otherwise.  Your patience far surpasses; your sweet nature and soft kisses tilt the whole marvelous thing toward BIG gratitude.  

In short, I love you.

Happy 12th dear girl.

Love, Mom

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The passage of time

Radiant women on holiday in the UK, August 2010.

A mere two summers ago, Faith shot off this newsy, upbeat email before she drove from Ashland to BC in her funky camper with her beloved dog, Gracie.  It warms my heart to revisit it tonight and be reminded of the vibrant, joyous life she lead.  Oh how I loved this woman.

July 19, 2010

Hi My Dears,

 I'm sure you're getting excited about your tug boat trip coming up! I hope you are feeling better, and that your cough is better...I think that will be a fine way to spend your birthday! I will bring your present with me to give in person, as you won't be home. But Very Many Happy Returns in advance! 

My plan is to go to North this week and take my time. Me and Gracie ambling up the coast, rockin out to random tunes, and then Vancouver Island for the week, and then over to Bowen on the Friday. I hope my time will overlap with you, as you mentioned the 2-4th?

I miss you and love you! Have a great time staring at eagles and sea birds, and gazing at Mika, he may not like the staring thing. Love you and see you soon!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Refreshing, but with a twist

With the best of intentions, I served him a glass of iced herbal tea with a gentle endorsement.  "Try this, dear; it's herbal tea.  No sugar, just tea."  Glass to lips, he sipped.  "Hmmm," said my eyes as I took in his hesitant demeanor.  And then, as tactfully as he could muster: "It's refreshing.  But it looks like bile-stained infected urine."  

Wow.  I've said it before and I shall say it again; what a guy. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thunder and stories under the big-top

As the story goes, Mika and his laboratory accomplice
nearly blew up the family home on Athlone Street.
Hailing from the Appalachians and now living on Ocracoke Island, Master storyteller Donald Davis delighted his glasses-wearing audience this morning in a chilly garden sanctuary at the First Annual PowellsWood Storytelling Festival.  Huddled under the tent in colorful shawls and layers of fleece to the rumble of summer thunder, we clutched hot coffee and listened as Donald took us on a journey in a life story workshop designed to tap memories and help us shape personal and family stories.

Engaging doesn't even begin to describe this powerhouse of telling. He's equal parts archeologist, literary magician, and old shoes: earthy, non-pretentious, and blissfully comfortable.  Sporting his trademark bow-tie and somewhat dressy attire--at least by Pacific Northwest standards--Donald kept us riveted for 3 full hours, weaving concepts and processes common to storytellers with his own homegrown cache of personal stories.  

What a wonderful summer treat for us all, sandals and socks notwithstanding!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Of wrens and poets

Just now the wren from Carolina buzzed              
Through the neighbor’s hedge
a line of grace notes I couldn’t even write down
much less sing.

Now he lifts his chestnut colored throat
and delivers such a cantering praise-
for what?
For the early morning, the taste of the spider,

for his small cup of life
that he drinks from everyday, knowing it will refill.
All things are inventions of holiness.
Some more rascally than others.

I’m on that list too,
though I don’t know exactly where.
But, every morning, there’s my own cup of gladness,
and there’s that wren in the hedge, above me, with his 

blazing song.

The Wren from Carolina, by Mary Oliver

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Human Rights in Women's Health: A conversation with world leaders

Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi, breast cancer survivor and
 Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The Role of Human Rights in Women's Health forum convened yesterday at the South Lake Union campus of UW Medicine.  The inspirational panel included distinguished speakers from a deep pool of global activists, many of whom live in our region and carry out their work here and abroad.  

I was drawn to the unique forum primarily to hear multi‐disciplinary perspectives that bridge academic theories and practitioner experiences.  My notes reflect a common theme that emerged with each successive speaker: the challenge of balancing the right to the highest attainable standard of health to cultural practices.  How can we create systems that identify and address barriers--domestic violence, discrimination practices, lack of portable water--and result in empowerment with respect to cultural norms and practices?

 UW Bioethicist Maureen Kelley, PhD, emphasized the importance of 'bearing witness to effect change by looking upstream and downstream."  She held respect and integrity for cultural practices front and center, encouraging us to consider this: "Who are the local activists (in the region where you are seeking to effect change) and how can you partner with them?"  Though many stories involving maternal mortality in impoverished communities are viewed as tragic, she implored us to think otherwise: "This is not merely a tragedy; it is unacceptable, fueled by poverty and gender inequality." 

Dr. Nana Twum-Danso, a brilliant, articulate newcomer to the Gates Foundation, balanced personal stories with scientific data.  Her passion for bringing leaders together to improve health care, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is palpable and uplifting.  Those who organized, lead and participated in the forum are hopeful that this is just the beginning of a long, fruitful collaboration between global health and justice leaders to develop innovative women’s health programs internationally.  

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, in his South African address in June 1966, expressed the fervent hope and faith that such a forum can inspire: 

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Monday, July 9, 2012

Do tell!

Lifelong learner and master storyteller, Eddie Sinanan,
seizing the moment in a cedar grove with young Nadya.
Thanks to the morning paper, I found The PowellsWood Storytelling festival, one of many enticing events going on this season in our beloved corner of the country.  I've registered to attend the morning session on Friday as an early birthday gift to myself.  

Savory, refreshing, and just down the road: bring on the stories and the telling!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


A day paddle in late summer in chilly Juneau: such industry!
Summertime.  A good book and a comfortable chaise in the shade; sign me up.  In fact, sign my dear spouse up as well, for reading is his all time favorite past-time.

A man of few words, this one, but oh so carefully chosen.  On our early evening dog walk I asked, "Do you have any aspirations for this evening?"  
"Aspirations?  Yes, I have many.  I hope to not aspirate."  

What a guy.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Open house!

Evidence of a life of leisure following retirement:
 my mother's early spring calendar, 2003.
My mother was quite stellar at entertaining.  She prepared lavish spreads, readied the house, turned down the lights, and flung wide the door.  When things seemed just as she imagined, she'd take her cocktail, give a quick wave of goodnight and climb the stairs to her room, letting the party linger on until it extinguished itself.

My calendar reveals that we're hosting a party today, a celebration of success and thanks for the staff and faculty who run the Surgical Specialties Clinic at UWMC.  The food is ready, the flowers arranged.  A bouquet of balloons is awaiting a tie-up out front and the cooler is stocked with beverages (yes, Carol, beverages) as diverse as they come.  

I'm intending to fully participate, and, thanks to my yoga practice, I am confident I can pull it off.  

Welcome to the party!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Skipping A to get to B

B grateful:                                            
blue sky
berry muffin
birch bark fluttering
blackbird banter
baskets of blooms
bowl of blueberries
beautiful day         

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dog days of summer

Now that our warm weather has arrived
in earnest, let us not forget the great gift of rest.  
Eli, Maudie and Delilah are master teachers in the art of napping.  

We are in good hands.

Eli hunkers down.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Jenny in paintball battle mode, circa 2000.
Not one for overt violence, ahhh, but tonight, if I could, I'd take aim at the neighbors who are setting off fireworks right in front of our home. 

A few more hours to go, then peace returns.

Monday, July 2, 2012

One foot in front of the other

Back-to-back walks are under way for those preparing to walk in the Komen 3-Day this year.  I owe a deep bow of gratitude to my physical therapist, Dean Caswell of Olympic PT, for getting me to this day.  This past weekend I logged 21 miles over two days and things are feeling good from head to toe!

Plenty of thoughts and feelings rise up and spill forth on these long walks.  Cousin Faith nudges me often with her steady support at the most auspicious moments, reminding me of the mysterious and miraculous.

Life is good!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunshine on a rainy day

CAP: A bright light of intelligence and kindness, and a man for all seasons.

When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people. As I grow older, I admire kind people.  

Rabbi Abraham Joshua