It’s February Second

Happy Groundhog day!

It was also known as Imbolc or Candlemas in the old European Calendar. These mid-season holidays fit between the solstices and equinoxes in what is called the Wheel of the Year. Candlemas is the final deadline for Christmas or Yule decorations to come down. But you are wondering about the weather, here is the full poem for the day:

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another flight.

If Candlemas day be clouds and rain,

Winter is gone, and will not come again.

~ E. Holden

The US tradition honors the groundhog, or marmot depending on what they are called in your state, as the local weather prognosticator. Other countries honor the fox, the robin and a host of other animals. The animal chosen is not important, nor is the forecast supposed to relate to a whole country, but is said to describe a local micro-climate phenomenon. So don’t look at the TV News, look out your window. Today is was overcast and cold in the morning but sunny and mid-forties by 9 am so a groundhog, robin, fox, or human would have been able to see their shadow. I guess we are in for a longer Winter. Actually,  I was greeted by these when stepped off the porch today. They are right on time, next the true crocuses will come up and then the camellia will bloom, then the riot of bulbs will begin and we’ll have narcissus, tulips, muscari, and iris until the lilacs and then the roses take over. Are your crocuses opening up yet?


Some fun links:

The American Ground Hog: Click here to visit Punxatawney Phil’s official site.

For some of the science behind the tradition, yes, there is a wee bit of science, see the Farmer’s Almanac article.

The History of Ground Hog Day in Seattle on My

Most importantly, watch Groundhog Day again. I love this movie.


Peru at SAM: The Seattle Art Museum


Photo: Daniel Giannoni

 Going, Going, Gone…

The Peru exhibit is over now and I wanted to share a little of what we saw there with you. According to Seattle Magazine, ‘Seattle is the only U.S. venue to host Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon, a rare and astonishing collection of sculpture, metalwork, paintings and textiles spanning a whopping 3,000 years and several cultures.’ – Brangien Davis, Seattle Magazine 

Did you catch that? Seattle is the only place this in the US where the collection will be shown, pretty cool, eh? Some of the pieces in the collection were from Machu Pichu and were discovered by Hiram Bingham III.  He took over 46,000 of them back to Yale with him where they lived until 2012 when they were finally returned to Peru. Seeing how Peru just got them back, one can understand why they are loathe to let them out again. I have a picture of Bingham in the gallery below, if he reminds you of Indiana Jones, there is a good reason for that, Indie was actually modeled after the Yale Historian and tomb raider.

Why is Peru significant?

K, Peru is a South American country that, alone with Meso America in this hemisphere, holds cradle of civilization status. This means that it attained a culture with a level of complexity and advancement, with or without writing, that places it in the same club as ancient Egypt, China and Mesopotamia.

What did we see?

We took a few photos before we saw the NO  PHOTOGRAPHY sign and the rest in my slideshow are from the SAM website. The exhibit was a good combination of history and art and this is something SAM seems to do particularly well based on other shows we have seen here. I would have liked more textiles but just because that is my thing. There was a beautiful blue and yellow hanging that I waited in line for specifically to read what dyes could have given those colors only to find that the “dyes” were in fact macaw feathers traded with the Amazonian tribes, still bright after 700 years. Another complicated textile design turned out on closer inspection to be eight strips woven in two long narrow strips, each in two colors on a backstrap loom no doubt, then pieced together in alternating sequence, with a border in a narrower pattern. Clever, but not complicated.

There was a jug found in a temple that had obviously Lunar symbolism on it. I can’t find a picture of it online to share with you but it had 4 little guys each depicted at different angles, one facing front, one facing left, etc., which I figure have to represent the phases of the moon, below was a dragon with heads at each end with each head swallowing a black stone (even now our symbol for a new moon in the calendar or almanac is a black circle) and along its back were 29 glyphs (because there are 29 days between New Moons). Unfortunately there wasn’t any placard explaining any of it so no one would know about it all unless they knew what to look for.

There was a small bowl that was half silver and half gold to represent the combined energy of the Sun and Moon. I also found it intriguing that Aztec Mummies were buried with gold trinkets on their right side and silver on their left side as those are the same sides of the body said to correspond to solar and lunar energies in Western tradition. There were several examples of turquoise that were interesting because they were much more blue than the color we associate with turquoise, really almost a royal blue. Quite different from the aqua or sky-blue colors of Kingman or Sleeping Beauty mine turquoise from the American Southwest that we are accustomed to.

In spite of the lack of a written “language” they did have pictograms and a way of keeping historical data by tying knots in different colored cords. There was a beautiful example of knotted cords in a case showing the different colors of fiber and different complicated knots. Unfortunately each “scribe” had their own system of knots and colors so while it was useful for the keeping of records, it was was not transferable for the sharing of information. You can see my bad sketch of it below. 

There were two more rooms about the Spaniard’s encounter with Peru which had all the amazing European-style silver and gold work you would expect and then another about the post Colonial era but we were mostly interested in the PreColumbian era so we went back that direction again.

Many items had stories,  for instance the ornament pictured above:

This spectacular Mochica gold forehead ornament from the fourth or fifth century A.D.—a representation of a terrifying sea god surrounded by eight tentacles—was intercepted in a London gallery by Scotland Yard, subsequent to a 2004 tip from an individual informant. Instantly dubbed by some newspapers the “Peruvian Mona Lisa,” the famous Mochica octopus was recovered in 2006 by the Peruvian authorities and returned to the Museo de la Nación in Lima. It had, according to archeaologist Walter Alva, been discovered during the illegal excavation of a tomb at La Mina in the Jequetepeque Valley, which had been extensively looted in 1988. The present exhibition of this masterpiece of Mochica goldsmithery, which quickly became a symbol of the war on art trafficking, is its first showing outside Peru since its incredible recovery.

We followed our tour of Peru with a stop at the  Pike Brewpub at the Pike Place Market, We haven’t been down here in years and the brewpub has really grown but it winds around so many levels that it is hard to really tell. The pub has turned into kind of a museum as well with copies of early Kent Valley settler Meeker’s pamphlet on Hop growing and various ephemera about the history of beer making in the Washington territory.

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We have a fresh dusting of the lovely, clean, white stuff today!

Granted, it is 41F so it won’t last long but  it is pretty. Rob and Gracie were so excited to run around in it this morning that it is already plowed under in the  dog yard. Gracie apparently decided an extra layer was needed over her sweater because her blanket is out there too. I searched the archives and found some fun old posts…

Previous Snow posts:

Rob and the Snowman

Snowshoeing at Crystal Mountain

And these two written by Scott:

Winter in Seattle

Snow Dog Action Photos


On the News Front, no pun intended

I was on the front page of Well, the tattoo was anyway… I’ve been interviewed for various magazines that are running the mastectomy tattoo angle this year but this is the first article that has a picture besides Tina’s old file copy. Tina and I got together and did a real photo shoot. So this one actually has my face! I am not ashamed to say it took me awhile to get with this… The last time I did any modeling was for the MSNBC documentary in ’94, ya, back before I was 50.

Anyway, writer Diane Mapes did a great job with the article, most of the comments on the story have been positive and I have gotten some beautiful emails from women. I’ve been recognized several times out and around Seattle and people have been really complimentary.

Click here for the article and pix

Click here for Diane Mapes Blog

I also had a blog reader send me this entry from Hoax-Slayer. I guess the whole FaceBook photo ban thing has achieved urban myth status.

Click Here for Hoax Slayer

Lightning Over Seattle

Lightning Over Seattle

And Thor speaks! We were awakened early Saturday morning by an unusual sound here, a full-on thunder-storm. Thunder and lightning… LOUD! We’ve had a much drier Summer than usual and even this storm heralded very little rain. This is just one of the pictures, in the slideshow in the King 5 article. Photo from King 5 News, Photo credit Anthony May

What a gorgeous Spring Weekend!

Seattle certainly demonstrated some spectacular weather for Easter and Passover celebrations this weekend. I always equate crocuses with Easter because they were usually just blooming by then in Chicago, but ours bloomed back in  February here.

The Hyacinths and Tulips are putting on a show right now along with the Cherry blossoms that you can see all over town. What a beautiful time of year! In fact, while much of the country is still dealing with snow, we could have started camping weeks ago. I hope you enjoy these small samples from the garden:

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The Masters of The Scottish Arts Concert

Last night, February 1st , we saw pipers, drummers and dancers from Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the US at Benaroya Hall in Seattle WA. The show is an annual thing and benefits the Celtic Arts Foundation and the related Winter School Programs. The foundation also sponsors other events including Burns Night, St Patrick’s Day, events at The Highland Games and a Scotch Tasting.   Fred Morrison’s Kansas City Hornpipe including his funny story about the Newark Howard Johnson’s, John Scullion’s drum solo and Laura Risk’s Fiddle solo were real stand outs for me,  but the entire show was excellent and all the performers and audience seemed to be having a great time. I have an extra copy of the very informative concert program that tells all about the performers and sponsors and also has a lot of historical information as well, just drop me a line if you’d like to borrow it. The show was great and I can’t urge you more strongly to get there next year!


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