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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Random Acts of Camera

Late afternoon sunlight caresses Quan Yin, Chinese Goddess of Compassion.
Sometimes it's not about a picture of the whole subject, but about having some fun with cropping.

Early morning...and a rose bush gone wild.  

Purple asters mixed in with fennel for a Fall cascade.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011... Associated Ministries Hunger Walk

This Sunday,October 2, the Thirty First Annnual Associated Ministries Hunger Walk will be happening. The mighty runners and walkers will be putting those boots on the ground in Fort Steilacoom Park, 9601 Steilacoom Boulevard, Lakewood, Washington 98498.
Has this walk helped in feeding the hungry? This comes right from the website: "This annual event raises more than a quater million dollars for hunger relief!" The wonderful folks at Associated Ministries say that much more money is needed.
This is what Helen McGovern, Executive Direcotr of the emergency Food Network says: "Money raised through the Hunger Walk will allow us to purchase at least even semi-trucks full of nutritious food for those in need." She contines: "they have never seen the demand on local food banks as high as it is right now."
Here's the schedule:
12:00-1:30 p.m. -Registration
1:30 p.m. -Run Starts
2:00 p.m. -Walk starts
3:00 p.m. -Food and fun!

for map and directions:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Variety and Color In Plenty At Federal Way Farmers Market

Above and below: Surely nothing hits the spot in the summer quite like fresh produce brought home direct from
the Federal Way Farmer's Market! All photos copyright 2011 by Mizu Sugimura.

The Federal Way Farmer's Market (FWFM) has become a popular Saturday stop for many area residents over the past few years between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. One of my dear friends is such a market stalwart that she actually made it into a frame in this year's FWFM video online.

Two weeks ago I was invited to accompay her to the market, set up now at it's second location at the north side of 320th Street (just up the gentle incline kitty corner to the Federal Way Transit Center) on a roomy site overlooking busy mall shoppers at The Commons. This year market organizers began experimenting with a select sample of vendors to cater to area crowds on Wednesday nights between 4:00 pm - 8:00 p.m. creating a different yet exciting vibe through the end of September.

Above: MMMMMMN! Now THIS is a peach! Photo by Mizu Sugimura.

Arriving there at mid-morning we discovered that whatever warm summer sun shone overhead the previous week had all but disappeared, dampening down the temperatures and painting the skies overhead into a scene resembling a typical Pacific Northwest day in mid-October. This year market managers have experimented with a distinct sample of vendors to cater to nearby crowds on Wednesday nights. The Wednesday's evening market creates yet more opportunities for local residents to enjoy something different in the heart of the town.

Fortunately the liquid sunshine that fell that day couldn't damper our spirits. One of my favorite produce purchases that afternoon was a novelty to me. It was round like an onion but varigated like a watermelon so I asked if it was a squash! After I inquired the vendor pulled out a trusty pocketknife, selected one of his samples and both peeled and sliced a sample for my tasting pleasure. Wow! It was both tart and lemony. Salads will never be the same at my house again!

Above: Dreaming of radishes.

Above: Who says ears of corn can't hear!

Above: There's simply no end to all of these
heartbreakingly perfect potatoes!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Waiting For Impact

How do you feel on a morning that you shouldn't really be here?  Let me tell you.  I'm looking at the tide rippling its way out of Joe's Bay, the sun playing peekaboo in and out of clouds scudding across the Sound, looking at leaves trembling in the breeze, and light of the morning playing through my suncatchers, like a moving stained glass window...and I'm feeling so lucky, so happy to be here, in this crazy world.  It is so good to be alive and not broken!

Yesterday was Anna's doctor's appointment, so we headed to West Seattle, then to a friend's house near Husky Stadium, for a visit.  Traffic was beginning to build up for the afternoon as we merged onto 520, heading west towards I-5.  The lane we were in came to a full stop from congestion up ahead.  I braked and kept my eyes moving, as my father taught me, from front window to side mirrors and then the rear-view mirror.

What I saw made my heart go cold and heavy...and time slowed down to details, in sections of seconds.  I made some kind of noise because Anna quickly turned in her seat.  We both saw a small black car coming up on us...FAST!  I wondered if this was to be the end, held the steering wheel, pushed my foot further down on the brake and closed my eyes, trapped, waiting for impact. 

At the last possible moment, the young driver managed to swerve, missing us, but then lost control and smacked head-first, into the concrete median wall.  I opened my eyes at the sound and saw back end of his car raise high in the air, as his head went into the deployed airbag.  The line of cars in front of us began to move so I pulled a little further forward, allowing traffic room to pass through and told my daughter to call 911.  In shock, Anna still kept her cool and gave the operator the situation and our location.  Meanwhile, the young man got out of his car, dazed, with blood streaming from his nose.

Barely two minutes had passed but cars were now amassing behind and beginning to weave between his Chevy and our little Nissan.  Anna relayed that to the 911 operator and asked if we should stay, as witnesses, or move.  A car had stopped in the lane behind him and the people were talking to the young man, seeing if he was alright.  The operator told Anna that she had her phone number and we should continue on home.

We talked about what just happened as we joined the southbound auto-flow out of Seattle, to 16 west and over the Narrows.  We had to stop for prescriptions in Gig Harbor, and it was then we both began to feel the shock wear off and the oncoming tightness of our bodies' reactions.  Anna told the woman filling her prescriptions what had happened and repeated what she had told me.  She said, when she looked back at the car coming for us, she saw the guy was looking down in his lap and then suddenly looked up, just in time to pull at his wheel and spare us. 

It was the woman behind the counter who suggested that might have meant the young man was texting as he drove.

This morning, my little world in the Aerie above Joe's Bay seems more beautiful than ever.  I drink the view in and give my thanks for still being here.  I hope that young man is alright, with nothing more than a broken nose.  I hope he is grateful for living through the impact of this lesson.  We are fragile beings, hurtling ourselves through the air inside these high-powered machines.  Every move we make, every moment our eyes and mind stray from being Captain of the cockpit, we risk not only our own, but everyone's life on the road around us.  This should be our first thought as we strap ourselves in.

Kudos and thanks go to the 911 operator who led Anna calmly through giving information and then instructed us to leave the scene.  Indeed, this morning I give thanks for all 911 operators and First Responders.  Bless you in your work...and in your commute!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later

I can't seem to call it an anniversary, rather, a marker of time and our steps to remember.  I remember trying to get in touch with my son first, perhaps near the hell, with me three thousand miles away.  Oh the relief of hearing his voice.  It was the only call that seemed to go through for me that day, and the next two weeks were spent trying to find everyone we knew.

What I did know, was that 'my firemen' guys, were decimated.  I sang to them, I served them in a Queens bar for years.  Two days after, this song just wrote itself...then Uptone Studios in Tacoma donated time, and musicians, singers, kids, dogs...all came in and poured our hearts into this song.

Then mayor of Gig Harbor, Gretchen Wilbert, included the CD in GH's official gift to NYC, and a NY Fireman came a year later, hugged me and said thank you.

In the following few months, after that awful day, everyone was more patient, more kind.  It seemed an enemy without created more of a family within.  Firemen everywhere were treated with respect and loving kindness, for the realization of what they truly lay on the line, every day, with their job.  But we began to forget the heroes in our backyards, and each other, a few months in.

I find myself a bag of emotional guts today.  With our humble thanks to heroes everywhere, the musicians of Tacoma send this out, with love.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Late Summer Pictorial

Seems like ages since I had fun putting some pictures on the blog, so come and walk with me on these warm late summer days.  We can watch the sun dance upon an incoming teal tide.
Most of the honeysuckle flowers have given way to bright red berries, but a few remain knotted with purple clematis on the side gate.
Blackberries are everywhere, in every stage from hard green knuckles to soft, sweet, dark pearls.  Huckleberries are just beginning to turn blue, making me think of my friend Trish's Huckleberry Buckle...mmmmmmm, yeah!  Apples are large and green, ripening for some autumn applesauce.  These are the glorious days, when friends drop by with squash and lettuce spilling from their arms, oh happy harvest!
I love to spend quiet mornings in the side "Buddha Garden," welcoming each day.  I chose flowers that were the colours of the Dalai Lama's robes, to honour the Buddha of Compassion.
Glorious evenings to enjoy, especially at the house of good friends on the west side, overlooking Case Inlet and the Olympic Mountains.  Enjoy these days in paradise!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Birthday Gift

Friday, September 9, is my birthday. I had the privilege of leading my religious community in prayer today, the eight. Fifty years ago, on September 7, I first joined the Society of Jesus. Since I entered, Malcolm X, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy have been cruelly killed.
In one of my classes I had the opportunity to meet Huey Newton. While I worked at Seattle University I attended a lecture given by Elridge Cleaver. I have visited the grave of Frederick Douglass. I have spoken to FBI men following an arson fire in Tacoma, Washington. I was targeted in Tacoma by a local hate group.
I have attended the funerals of my grandmother, uncle, stepfather, mother, and three of my closest women friends.
I have begun to consider my own dying. And this evening I had an opportunity,at the Mass, to talk about my wonderful grandmother. She wanted to be a nun, was sold to an African American minister who married her. She got away from him, married again, was abandoned by her husband. She and my mother took care of me and made sure I got to attend a very good high school and college.
I highlighted my grandmother's courage, prayerfulness, commitment to service, and love for God and all people.
She and my mother taught me how to love deeply and persistently. What a great gift they are to me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Most Precious Sunday Afternoon

The one thirty pm worship gathering at St. Leo's in Tacoma, hosted by Native Americans, is becoming one of my happiest moments. I enjoy feeling welcomed and accepted there. I value the sincerity, honesty, and affection. of the members of that Catholic group.
Many of them have seen very hard times and they continue to keep working to encourage other Native Americans and other human beings to live honestly and compassionately.
Father Pat Touhy, a member of the Society of Jesus, was the leader of worship. He is a creative, open, and loving human being. He is the beautiful man on the right in the picture.
The little child in the picture kep the Mass going, moving, talking... what a joy to be around such a beautiful person. His mom and dad are thoughtful and warm human beings.
I left the Mass that Sunday feeling refreshed. I am so very grateful.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Come to the Table

On Sunday, August 28th the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington D.C. was supposed to have been dedicated.  Though Hurricane Irene has delayed the event until sometime in September, this commercial’s invitation to, “Come to the table of brotherhood,” had been taken literally by my daughter Anna.  She requested our family come to the table together and that our conversation take on this ceremony and celebration.  So we gathered on that Sunday for a delicious dinner of pizza, fruit-salad, and peach crumble, all made by my son, on this late summer evening.

We enjoyed a wonderful conversation between two generations who had lived in New York, tasting the full flavour of a delicious American melting pot.  I raised my children, now adults, not to, “…judge by the colour of anyone’s skin, but by the content of their character,” after I was raised in a home of prejudice and assumed righteous order.  But it is never a matter of simple choice made, no further work necessary.

Silence is the biggest perpetrator of prejudice, so we must vow to keep this conversation going, with our selves and each other.  After my last post (the Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial Wall on Bainbridge) someone opined that the wartime incarceration of Japanese-Americans was for their protection.  Anna and I knew better and, because of conversations we were fortunate enough to be a part of, we could carry the conversation forward. 

When I asked someone to refrain from prejudicial jokes, I was informed it was certainly NOT prejudice…as long as that ethnicity was NOT in the room at the time.  Yeah…I’d laugh at the backwards logic (and assumption of anyone’s purely Caucasian family tree) but it’s chilling in its implication of NOT being invited to the table, and it’s sad to see the conversation broken down to righteous, chilled…silence.  Women of every ethnicity understand the slap of dismissal. 

All relationships require ongoing awareness, for growth, and we must realize prejudice is so subliminally stuck, for lack of conversations.  We separate by unnecessary ethnic description, by complicit silence at slurs and jokes.  We separate by not respectfully asking about each other’s lives, cultures and beliefs, by not listening to each other’s stories for the common thread of humanity.  We separate by not believing that everyone’s different story is what makes this country.

Dr. King, we’ve made some marvelous strides, with a lot of work, since you were taken from us.  There’s many a mile in this journey yet, but if we all gather at the table, Sir, we will give each other the nourishment to see your dream become America.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Debt... A Study In Human Interaction

I enjoyed going to the Narrows Theatre and seeing "The Debt" Saturday afternoon.

I've decided (thank the good Lord, to get out more and see and feel and
enjoy life. For me, it's time to clown!!!
(If anyone knows where I can go and catch some live jazz in Tacoma, without a large cover charge, please let me know... I'm missing the music and the jazz loving folks a lot.)

The star in the film, Helen Mirren took me on a very important journey in this family. This was no either/or film... bad girls and good girls. No she choose to lead a violent life because she and her companions believed that, in the name of justice, they had to kidnap a medical doctor who had killed thousands of people in a prison camp during World War II...kidnap and conver up what they had done for years.

The questions I came home with is could I choose to live a life based on lies for a month, a year, many years and would I be willing to live with the consequences of telling the truth about my fears and failures.

The Debt is a beautifully put together film that, I am sure, will get you thinking. Anybody who has seen Debt, what do you think?