Thursday, April 29, 2010

Great Theater

And no, I'm not talking about any recent political developments.

In fact, I am talking about the play at Interplayers last night. I went with my friend Jennifer to see "Eleesymonia" (or something like that), about a mother and a daughter and another daughter (and, therefore, granddaughter) and their eccentricities and illusions. I suppose is the best way to describe it. We were left with much food for thought. It was a play thick with layers, and welcoming to the analysis. A modern play, it is left with its kinks and quirks, but it was definitely worth the trip.

It plays through this weekend - no Sunday performance. Check out times and dates at

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Office

In Spokane, my office is in the Undercliff Mansion, which is part of a cluster of old mansions known as the Marycliff Center. We are called the Undercliff because the mansion where we have offices is under a cliff. I have had offices here since 1998. I started in a small one with lowered ceilings - just perfect for a new lawyer starting out with her own practice. For a desk, I got a 1930s wooden kitchen table with the idea that I was there to work with my clients, as a team, rather than sit behind an imposing desk, dictating answers. By 1999, I was in a much larger room, but still with the kitchen table. I added an old voting box from Spokane's earlier days - a tall wooden box with a hole in the top to put the ballots and a place for a padlock (which I didn't keep locked). I kept it by the office door and told people that they were supposed to vote for their favorite lawyer as they left (which was funny, because I was the only lawyer - not just in that office, but the entire building).

Then two years ago, the building owner approached me and asked if I'd be interested in moving to the first floor - to what had been the billiard room (back when the mansion was a home), and the nuns' prayer room (when it had been the Catholic girls' school). It was a room with brick walls and three sides of cathedral style windows. I said yes, furnished it eclectically...

and got a new desk. This time, since what I wanted was to write, the purpose of the desk was to welcome me to it. I found it at a local antique store, and fell in love. It is of 1895 vintage, with scrolly legs (if that's a word) - a dark beautiful wood with a certain delicacy to it. I had a local carpentry shop put small rollers on the bottom of the legs - eight in all, as there are two legs per corner. And I got a round working table that I put to one side that would work as the working area for the law - as a place for clients and me to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

The other day, Larry Wooley from Beautiful Photo Studio - a family-run photo shop in our building - took a series of photos of the office. Below are some of the photos. Aren't they beautiful? Larry did such a wonderfully careful job - so much better than any photo I've taken. Their website is

And then this one is perhaps my favorite - the close up of the dragon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The King

So I was walking through the kitchen, and glanced in to the yellow room (a room for writing, specially designed), and this is who I saw lying across the writing table:

It appeared that Alex had chosen to own the yellow room yesterday morning... Which is funny, because it's more of a girl's room - it's where I wrote a play that emphasized females, and it's where I plan to write a screenplay that will emphasize a female. It's yellow and purple, with touches of green and white, and is intended to welcome in the light. But it's definitely for the girls. (It is not where I wrote the baseball novel, for instance.)

And yet there he was - Alex - the boy, all boy - solidly claiming the room as his own, laying across exactly the spot where I put my laptop when I write there. The King. Like the Winnie-the-Pooh poem: "I am the king of the earth and the king of the sky..." (I am the king of this room, whether you say so or not...)

Two days ago, I did learn something from my neighbor - the one who owns Venom, Alex's nemesis. Apparently every couple of days, "someone" is leaving a pool of cat piss at her back door. At first she thought it was one of her own cats. We have surmised, however, that it is one of mine. And when I say "one of mine," I don't mean Annie.

Yes, Annie. If Alex is king, then Annie must be queen, right? Except that isn't quite right. It isn't enough, frankly. Instead, Annie is - well, Annie is the angel. Or so I believe. And if I'm posting a photo of Alex acting as king, the least I can do is post a photo of Annie being Annie - the angel in us all.

Friday, April 16, 2010

When Economists Fight

What kind of punches do they throw?

So, this is funny. Apparently Paul Krugman, NYT columnist and economist, wrote a column last year that had a phrase in it about nationalizing banks and then this week Andrew Ross Sorkin, another NYT columnist, called him to task for it. Except it turns out that Krugman didn't exactly say what Sorkin said he said. And then people all around the blogosphere apparently debated the debate. Here's an article summarizing the whole thing, with all the links intact.

In the end, the NYT public editor came out and said Sorkin was wrong for oversimplifying:

I think the right thing to do is to simply acknowledge that, in trying to quickly summarize Krugman's nuanced position, Sorkin over-simplified and got it wrong.

What's funny is that the article in the above link summarized all of the goings-on with a headline about the Krugman/Sorkin feud and a synopsis as:

So, remember back on Monday, when it looked like Andrew Ross Sorkin and Paul Krugman were set to go all Aaron Burr/Alex Hamilton on each other, only with blogs? That was a fascinating time in our lives.

Funny. And you know, for as much as I enjoy reading Krugman columns, and would be naturally interested in what was happening in connection with his name... the real reason I clicked on the link to the summary article was because I wondered how Paul Krugman had gotten into an argument with Aaron Sorkin, of Broadway and Hollywood fame (you know the guy - wrote "West Wing," among other masterpieces). And as I clicked on the link, I thought to myself, you know, Aaron Sorkin's a smart guy - but isn't he wading into waters a little too deep for his knowledge base?

Imagine my surprise. There's more than one Sorkin in NYC?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

John Paul II

Expanding the possibility that a pope's problems could be beyond the current pope...

One thought I've been having, as Pope Benedict XVI is getting a thrashing in the press, is that he is somewhat inheriting things that actually belonged to John Paul II - in terms of what hasn't been or wasn't done on behalf of children in the Catholic Church. (It's sort of how, in 2008, John McCain inherited the rancor of unhappy Republicans that G.W. Bush had generated - only this inheritance would be way, way behind the scenes.)

I do know that Benedict, back when he was Ratzinger and in charge of the CDF (called the "Modern Inquisition" office), seemed concerned about Marcial Maciel, a money generator from Mexico and head of his own order called the Legion of Christ. I do know that Ratzinger, once he became Benedict, sent Maciel into a life of prayer and penitence whilst John Paul II had had that same Maciel on a fast-track to canonization. And I did know a fair amount about the allegations that Maciel had groomed young seminarians - recruited from isolated and often poor Mexican towns at tender ages of 10 or 12 - and ultimately abused them sexually. (Newsman Jason Berry, among others, have headed the exposure of stories about Maciel.)

And these past couple weeks, in light of this new wave of concern about the behavior of the Catholic church, I've wondered whether John Paul would continue to escape visible taint.

Not that he was a bad man - just that he made really really bad decisions, imo, when it came to the issue of child abuse. It is my belief, and it was his good treatment of Maciel - in light of such horrific allegations, by many of Maciel's own priests - that in large part brought me to believe that.

Maciel denied any wrongdoing. The Legionaries defended him to the hilt. Money seemed to line coffers.

And now, as it turns out, Maciel also fathered three boys and a girl by two different women. Two of his sons recently accused him of sexually abusing them. (The third boy, youngest of the three, was kept from Maciel, on the insistence of his two older brothers.) As I understand it, the findings of a Vatican investigation will come out by the end of this month. A college owned by the Legionaries went belly up over spring break last week. No money. The National Catholic Reporter apparently has been writing long articles about the group and their money.

What I found particularly helpful for a nutshell version of the money issues here, however, was written by Andrew Sullivan, and his description of all the cash being distributed, right and left, over the years, by the Legionaries to people like Cardinal Sodano, who's the one who talked on Easter day about how we need to ignore all that "petty gossip" out there about those men in the Vatican not doing right by the people who follow their lead....

Here is Sullivan's synopsis. Totally worth the read:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Building Spokane History

Brick by brick...

Over the weekend there was an article in the local newspaper (the Spokesman) that told how the repaving of Lincoln Street - a main road on the South Hill - between 17th and 29th Avenues had hit a bit of a snag. Turns out, way back decades ago, before asphalt took over, the road had been paved with red bricks. Rather than dig up the bricks back then, they had just paved over them. This time, when the construction went to dig up the road to repave it from scratch, they ran into beautifully aligned bricks that sat on their edge in sweet "v" shaped forms.

(It appears to be an article accessible without a subscription. So here's a link.)

The article quotes a local neighbor as saying, “Those bricks are just like new – as even and level and true as they were originally. Except for 100 years of dirt.”

There was also a rumor running through the neighborhood that the bricks came from "Henry Brooks' old brickyard" - what is now beautiful Cannon Park - which sits right there just east of Lincoln, between about 17th and 20th. According to the article, that's how Cannon Park was born - because of the dip in the land where the clay had been, there was a space ready for a small, man-made lake. And the city made it. Voila.

The article said that the bricks belonged to the construction company (!) - but that the company didn't mind if the locals picked up a brick or two in memory of the past. (I'm still stuck on the idea that the company owns these bricks. How can that be? How can there even be a legitimate contract that allows the city to bargain away its citizens' right to a piece of history???)

On Saturday, I went to the grocery store - Rosauers, a locally-owned chain, my neighborhood store - at 14th and Lincoln to pick up some groceries, saw the construction signs, remembered the article and thought, hey! I need some bricks! I knew picking up one or two was allowed by the Benevolent Construction Company (that otherwise planned to gather the bricks - hundreds of thousands of them, according to the article - and sell them down the road - yucky...), so I headed that way. I parked my car on a side street and walked towards Lincoln. It started to snow, and the wind whipped around. I shivered - it's April! - but kept on going.

And then, there they were. Thousands of bricks, neatly stacked on their sides, in "v" shapes, all running up and down the street. Mostly the exposed ones were on the sides of the street, near the sidewalks. But still I could see them and, in an instant, could imagine this brick-laid street from the 1910s, and 20s - maybe even through the 30s or 40s... Here's a not-great close-up of it - where you can kind of see the bricks in layers, going back...

And as it often can happen in moments like these, the synchronicities of life took over and there appeared an 80-something-year-old man who happened to be taking a walk right as I arrived at the street. We started laughing about the weather. He suggested that, if we waited long enough, there would be enough snow to have a snowball fight. I told him why I was there - he told me he remembered the bricks getting paved sometime in the 1930s - I told him I have this baseball novel about the 1946 Spokane Indians team - and the bus crash - and that he probably remembered that - he said of course, and how he knew Levi McCormack (one of the players - a Nez Perce Indian and leader of the team) and explained how most stores in town wouldn't sell alcohol to Indians back then - only Ralphs, at 14th and Lincoln, where the Rosauers now sits - and they always were nice to Levi - and how he had played golf with Levi and he remembered one time when Levi hit the ball a long way - (I'm not a golfer, so the length didn't impress me enough for me to keep the number in my head)... And this man looked at me in awe, so I looked back at him like, wow - that's impressive.

And then he told me how Levi used to live on 12th, over by Maple. I said - well, that's near where I live!! (How is that possible?) I grilled him about the location - sounded about three blocks from where I am now - and then I grilled him about exactly when, so I can go and look it up in the reverse city directory in the downtown library. How cool might that be? That I wrote this novel just blocks from where Levi McCormack once lived.

(That's already true about another story I want to do - a screenplay that involves Spokane at the turn of the 20th century - several of the "characters" of the screenplay lived just blocks from where I live now...)

So then I thought I should get this man's contact information, or name even, but he already was leaving, walking up Lincoln, too hard of hearing to hear me call after him... so I let him go. And turned to the man who had arrived with a pick ax. Told him why I was there - he nodded, told me he was there for the same thing. "Can I take your photo?" I asked. He blanched. "Well, how about if I take a photo of your pick ax?" I suggested. He thought that would be all right.

So here's a photo of the man's pick ax at the bricks:

So THEN I went to my friend's house to drop off a birthday present for her husband, and I told her the story from Saturday, and she said she'd been sick and hadn't been able to go get her own commemorative set of bricks (I'd picked up one and a half and a piece as a trilogy) and she said she thought perhaps I should give her one, and I said they're a set, I can't break up a set - and then she said she's the one who does all the research on Spokane's history, and that I should see her books stacked up, and then I said that I'm the one who wrote the $#!!* book, and we both were laughing as we each tried to outdo the other... And they really were bricks that belonged to her, I could tell, so I brought them in and we set them down in front of the fairy fountain that I gave to her a few years ago as a birthday present (birthdays around that house seem to do me in).... Can you see them on the patio there? Right in front of the fountain...

So then it was still only dusk, and I was driving home, and I thought, heck, maybe there's more brick still there.... And I went and there they were - thousands, still - and I grabbed one and a half and three pieces (a set of five, this time - seemed right) - and there they are, still on the floor of the passenger side of my car, waiting to find a permanent home.

And now I hear that the construction company doesn't even want local people taking any bricks away - what a neighborly approach - so there's nothing left to do but enjoy the few pieces of history that they did permit to leave.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Alchemy Day!

Lutherans have the best music. At least for singing.

I went to St. Mark's Lutheran Church this a.m. for Easter service. It was great. I kept singing that "alleluia" song in my head yesterday - you know the one - plays at Easter time - the "Christ the Lord has risen today" one - and I wanted to hear it and sing it in a room full of people, and I knew they'd play it at the service. It's a guarantee. And they did. It was the opening procession song. Loved, loved it. And then they played all kinds of other "alleluia" songs - Easter's such a time of spring and cheer - and they had trumpets and a timpani drum and a chorus that sang "Hallelujah" from Handel's Messiah ("King of kings, and Lord of lords...") ("forever, and ever, hallelujah, hallelujah...")

So great. I sang loud, hopefully not too badly, and definitely as part of the whole congregation. Best stuff ever. I like Christmas music too - certainly there's more of it - but those alleluia songs at Easter time are just full of life.

Easter's a favorite holiday of mine, especially as years progress and I appreciate better the rebirthing in the spring, and after dark soul nights. It is what alchemy means - the burning away - the phoenix - dying from the old and birthing into the new... It is the four-plus-one formula of alchemy - the tomato seed churning in the hothouse (with earth, air, water and heat - the four elements - urging it into fruition) - it is Ezekiel's chariot - the Jerusalem Cross - with the hands, the feet, the crown of thorns and then the piercing in the side... to birth the Sacred Heart...

I do place faith in Jesus' story - how the whole set-up, the whole ordeal was for us - that sacrifice - and that any dark night of the soul that I may travel is made easier because of that day on the cross. I also believe that we can learn from that story, understand our own burdens and joys from that perspective, grow from there.... And so being there at the church this morning - with all those Northern European descendants smiling at me, looking like my grandmother probably does this morning, accepting my attire (I probably dressed a little too casually) (my grandmother would not have approved!) - it was perfect. I don't think I could have found a better place to be.

photo credit: sleepyneko, found here

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Wild, Wild West

Okay, so this is a Huckleberries week. And I was late to the most recent party! So no postings by me. Still, the link is worth the read.

Yesterday afternoon, DFO (our fearless leader) posted an entry on Rocky Mountain Oysters - with a picture and everything! And the puns began, with DFO beginning the parade with a reference to Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham."

For those who might not be aware... well, just read the posting. But they truly are a type of cuisine. My rancher friends in Wyoming served them at a dinner party I attended. I tasted one. It wasn't awful. And I have driven past the sign in Montana that says to be sure and stop by for their Testicle Festival (though apparently the festival itself has morphed into more than that - and not in a good way).

What I didn't know - and what I found out from yesterday's comments on HBO - is that it's a tradition to dine on them after the "cutting" on ranches all throughout the West. (eww...)

photo credit: K.W. Sanders, found here