Category Archives: Guest

Ron Edge's Wide View of Seattle's Largest Off-Leash Park – CLICK TWICE to ENLARGE

(Click TWICE to Enlarge)

Ron Edge visited Sand Point Magnuson Park Sunday last and returned with this panorama of the largest Dog Off-Leash area in the city – nine acres of “let dogs run free” (within in the fence) with its own dog-leg to Lake Washington where the happy canines can take a swim too.   The far-flung view is framed by the parking lot which, I suspect, runs continuous and without the 90 degree bend it seems to get in this panorama merged from several snaps.  It seems to be a peaceable kingdom on this sunny Sunday.

Lookout Mountain – The Battle of Waunatchie & the Scofield Family

(Click to Enlarge)

The aptly named Pulpit Rock looks down about 1000 feet to the Tennessee River valley near Chattanooga, in the southeast corner of the state.  Here Mr. and Mrs Scofield (it seems) and their daughter take to the rock.  Beside them, on the right, is a robust plaque interpreting the Battle of Waunatchie, named for a suburb of Chattanooga.  According to Wikipedia, this battle of Oct. 28-29 1863 was one of the rare night fights during the Civil War, and the fighting was confused on both sides.  Lookout Mountain served as a, well, lookout for two confederate officers who were surprised to see, by daylight, a large union force marching along the river.  When night well things went to hell.  About 1000 – very roughly – were lost or wounded, with the Union army prevailing in part by luck and low light in its attempts to control a supply line to Chattanooga across the river on Brown’s Ferry.  If you visit Lookout Mountain – a long ridge – on Google you will discover that it is now covered along its long summit with upscale homes.  Perhaps you will also find Pulpit Rock.  I did not.

More Green Lake Morphology with John Sundsten Ph.D.


Happily we return now with more landscapes by our friend the distinguished morphologist John Sundsten. This time he mixes Green Lake scenes with an example or two from his midbrain research as an Emeritus Assoc. Prof in the Department of Biological Structure at the University of Washington (We write it out for those reading this in Wisconsin.) As he explains in his brief and poetic introduction, John frequently walks the circle around Green Lake here in Seattle. Although he is older than I, he is Finnish and so both in fine shape and generally better looking than the rest of us over seventy. Ask any Italian and they will tell you that the Finno-Ugrics are generally the handsomest people on the globe, and the Fins return those sentiments with a strong attraction to Italians. At the bottom of this montage of John’s photographs, we have included one of his cross-sections of the midbrain, for which John offers a helpful analogy, that Jean has illustrated this lovely fall Sunday afternoon from the 45th Street I-5 Overpass.

Two examples of inspiring Green Lake morphology
Two examples of inspiring Green Lake morphology
When John Sundsten sees ducks in a row or two rows he also sees patterns of synapses and sub-arachnoid spaces filled with gray and white matter in great splendor.
When John Sundsten sees ducks in a row or two rows he also sees patterns of synapses and sub-arachnoid spaces filled with gray and white matter in great splendor.

Here follows John’s introduction, followed by more examples from his Green Lake walks and concluded with a slice of his research.

These views around Green Lake were made in the last couple of months or so (August-November). In my more or less daily walks around Green Lake there are always new things appearing to me, whether clusters or mounds of landscaped trees, or loner trees angled in strange ways, or unusual unnamed trees, or treetops against an endless sky, or tree branches arching into space, or tree bark crackling or peeling or canyoned, or stones left as solid reminders, or changing foliage moving in slow time, or long views of the other side mirrored in the water,  or lazy-sometimes-busy birds eating or claiming rights, or lakeside details of ferns and other growing things crowding each other. And every day it is different in color and tone, with unknown expectations like the initial wonder in a love affair.

[Remember – CLICK to enlarge.]

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The above is a transverse cross section (imagine one of a stack of poker chips) through a part of the human brain called the midbrain. The neuron cell bodies are stained a cresyl violet color. Unstained (more or less) zones are where the nerve fibers (axons) are packed together. The polygons encircle various neuron components found at this level. The midbrain does many things but perhaps most important is that it is essential for the maintenance of consciousness. One of the other things it does is to regulate  movement (along with many other structures). Note the very dense accumulation of stained neurons at the bottom of the figure. Some of these form the Substantia Nigra, which cells project to basal ganglia in the forebrain. When no longer functioning properly (a loss of a neurotransmitter, dopamine),  Parkinson’s disease results. Most of the non-staining regions are axons packed together, traveling through to other destinations. Imagine you are on the overpass at 45th and I-5, and you are looking through this section of the brain. The nerve tracts are like the freeway traffic; a lot of it is going to Everett (the forebrain) and a lot is going to Tacoma (the pons, medulla and spinal cord).

Below and by way of analogy only is 1-5 looking south from the 45th Street overpass on Sunday Nov. 15, 2009.  (by Jean Sherrard)


ASHES TO ASHES Reviewed by Sally Anderson

DSL welcomes guest blogger/reviewer Sally Anderson, who lives within two vigorous stone throws of the Chapel at Good Shepherd Center.  Here she reviews the remains – it is up only until this coming Saturday, Nov. 15, through 9 pm – of 21 biodegradable coffins hanging from the chapel’s high ceiling.

“Ashes to Ashes”

Chapel, 4th Floor, Good Shepherd Center (climb or find elevator), Wallingford USA
Open noon to 9 pm through Sat 11/15
Wayward Girls Productions (“Lift up your skirts and fly”™)

Artists include (but not limited to):

Maisoui Barham
Alex Branch
Johnny Chalapatas
Catherine Cross
Ben Darby
Jeff Hansel
Christiana Hedlund
Robert Howells
Wendy Lawrence
Matthiu Mendieta
Joshua P. Waddell
Mary Welch
Good Shepherd caretaker Mark Willson

“Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start,
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.”

– From “The Circus of Animals,” W.B. Yeats

There are some ladder-gones, and some ladder-beginnings, in this varied take on “the first comfort after death,” to borrow a sentiment from Paul, who joined me a couple of nights ago with “Nancy Appleseed” – Nancy Merrill – perhaps Seattle’s greatest proponent of the planting of trees… for an evening romp among biodegradable caskets.

21 friends and acquaintances accepted curator/resident Mary Welch’s invitation to create coffins for the (suitably) fleeting exhibit titled “Ashes to Ashes” that ends this weekend – Saturday at roughly 9pm – at the Chapel in Wallingford’s Good Shepherd Center.

The exhibit commemorates other endings as well: it’s the last in Welch’s Chapel Trilogy (preceded by “Closet” and “Seven Chairs: Interpreting the Chakras”), the last exhibit under the name Wayward Girls, and also signals the end of visual art exhibits in this intimate space, as the Chapel is better suited acoustically and architecturally as a venue for music, which will continue under the label Wayward Music.

Criteria for showing: the coffins had to be easily biodegradable, weigh 30 pounds or less, and “not stink” for at least 3 weeks. The artists had to both “justify” their materials and be able to themselves fit within, “whether curled up, laid flat, squished out, or the knees stretched out,” per Mary.

All of which left room for the use of beeswax, bamboo, burlap, and bubblegum; newspaper, grouse feet, rice paper, feathers, metal repousse, 16 loaves of Franz whole-grain white bread, silk, antlers, porcupine quills, ink, aluminum foil, leaves, stuffed toys, sugar, and postcards… and words. Lots of words. Some are incorporated into, or inside, the coffins. One submission appears to be a hanging series of newspapers; closer observation reveals, through a tiny cut-out square, that the newspapers are in fact hollowed-out in their centers in the shape of a body.

Each is paired with a paragraph or so of the artist’s imagined obituary. Mary’s humor tends toward the dry side, her caption reflecting her disdain for euphemisms about death:

Maisoui Barham’s, whose interpretation stands out as one of the most organic and complex, begins “They fed me – Now I feed them.” Materials include bones, feathers, fur, and “lightning-struck wood,” to name a few of many.

Johnny Chalapatas also wove elements of nature, using bamboo, burlap, jute, and seeks from friends’ gardens, stating that “Energy doesn’t end; It just leaves its container.” The soft, thready fuzz and whispy fibers of his piece create an oddly crisp shadow that is alone reason enough to visit the exhibit.

The coffins float ethereally from fishing line hung from the high arched Chapel ceiling. This lends a (fittingly) subtle extra dimension of fragility, and rewards with a remarkable play of shadows throughout, on the simple wooden floor and on the waxen flower petals, folded papers, spiky metals, and other fine details atop the coffins. In a happy accident of juxtaposition, the severe shape of the “Chinese Take-Out” coffin (“Thank You / Come Again”) seemingly throws a shadow with arms and feet, which turns out to be cast by its neighbor, “Bread Woman.”

The exhibit overall has a reverential air, from the gracefully muted lighting to the “sound experiment” by Steve Peters (CDs available at the pearly gate) which emanates continuously from a mysterious source.

While several of the coffins reflect the somber mystery of death, the group marvelously avoids a sense of morbidity. A couple are notably lighthearted. The obituary accompanying Matthiu Mendieta’s “cigarette” coffin reads, in part, “Always ready for the next drink and defiantly always on the go. Creative with a very dark sense of humor. May he rest in peace.”

The legend for Catherine Cross’ “Phoenix A-Z” reads: “Instructions for Disposal: 1. Insert dead artist. 2. Keep flat until after burning. 3. Burn / Cremate and Collect / Save ashes (carbon offset investment prepaid to US Department of Education). 4. Mix ash with at least ten yards of rich, well aged compost containing at least thirty percent horse manure. 5. Depending on seasonal and regional availability, Fill manure spreader or heavy duty chalk field liner with the ash and compost mixture. 6.  In a large gently sloping meadow facing the sea and bordered by woods, write the words “I Love You” in a smooth thick cursive font as large as the site allows. Add more compost as needed.”

On Wednesday, the exhibit was visited by a group of seniors. Curator Mary, who also does duty as gatekeeper, couldn’t predict their reactions. The next sound she heard was waves of raucous laughter.

Go see and listen. Ends Saturday night.


(Below: Good Shepherd on the night, Nov. 11, 2008, Sally Anderson visited its chapel for this review)

Paul in Wonderland (from Bill Burden)

(For those who missed my reading of it, here’s Bill Burden’s eloquent and wise contribution)

For Paul, at the Biblical three-score-ten —

Kind of in the manner of a eulogy for someone who has claimed the infirmities of age for at least the 40 years I’ve known him, but still seems to be hanging on.

In any discussion of “what’s next for Paul,” I think we have to get a handle on what Paul is going to “do” in his next incarnation.

First and foremost, Paul Dorpat is the least idle person I know. I sincerely doubt that he is looking to put his harness down and kick back in some senior paradise. He’s too busy.

As I observed during the years we shared a house in the ‘70s (including the time of the famous 40thbirthday bash) everything Paul did — everything — was purposeful. Not useful, as activities that add to our Gross National Product perhaps, but always with some specific end in mind.

How else could we have had the Helix, the Northwest Film Collective, the famous Sky-River-Rock-Fire movie and the ever-green and ever-satisfying Then and Now oeuvre?

And how else would we have the massive Wallingford Photo Walk project (I don’t think I’ve heard Paul attach a formal name or even description of what he is doing, but that term is how I think of it)?

As some of you probably know, Paul has been documenting, in digital photos, an area of Wallingford. He walks (an excellent exercise for our budding septuagenarian) and takes his photos, about 600 per day. Every day.

I have no idea how he catalogues all these photos (and if you know Paul’s movie-recording history you’ll know why I am mystified) but I pretty regularly get shots that have some story to share from his walk that day.

His goal cannot be just to capture the topography and the structures. 600 shots a day for more than a year-and-a-half would be way beyond overkill, or even compulsiveness (I think). I think he has in mind a specific, if daunting objective: to capture, in exaggerated hand-held, time-lapse photography how fleeting and insubstantial the “solid world” really is.

I think the goal is to get deeper into that physical presence, down to what’s really going on in there, out there, in this burning house.

So a picture of a tree isn’t enough. You have to see the tree with leaves, snow covered, dripping rain, spring-budded — not as an image in itself, but as critical piece of a composite yet to be completed.

So I think of Paul as one of the visionary mapmakers who can’t really describe the coastline until he sees all the tides, all the waves. Does it matter how many maps like that ever get made? And that the ones that do are pretty much the same scale as the world?

Key to his walks are the chance encounters with people on the street. Some know him from his walks and pick up in the middle of continuing conversations. Others may become the subject of a photo, a way to add variety to one of his “set” shots.” (In this setting I also think of Paul as “the king of Wallingford, on his progress around the shire, checking with the citizens).

He also takes shots of people, strangers, who interest him. Some of these have stories connected to them, but in others we are compelled to build a narrative, an explanation, based only on the cues inside the frame — a subatomic particle caught in the shutter flash between two entirely unknowable states.

Like this one, that Paul labeled “Out from wonderland, or To the Hole,” which I think proves that sometimes one picture can be “enough”:

Tonight’s theme may be “Paul in Wonderland,” but at least until he finishes his project, Paul seems to be in his wonderland right here.

Of course, the project that Paul was so committed to more that 30 years ago (Sky-River…), and worked purposefully on for many years, is yet to reach its final form. Actually that’s his NEXT project — he’s planning a video edit in the new year … but he will “need some help.”

Ultimately, perhaps Paul’s real job, from which he has never wavered, is to remain busy enough that old man Death can find no idle entrance.

Don’t stop now!