Lifelet: A Double Sunrise?

We are blessed daily with one of my favorite views in all the world – the ever changing Puget Sound and Elliott Bay looking towards Seattle from Bainbridge Island.

Seattle Sunrise with Ferry

Each morning whether clear or cloudy is a study in an artist’s color wheel.  Some days the pinks and oranges slowly emerge from behind the Cascade Mountains.  Other days the multitude of grays, fog and rain close in around the water.

And some days are meant to be painted.  The following sequence shows the original photo, the Google Photos Stylized Photo and my abstract painting of this sunrise:

Seattle Sunrise

Stylized Seattle Sunrise

Abstract Seattle Sunrise

For the last couple of days, I’ve had the painting on my table in our living room.  By accident, I placed the painting so that it catches the morning sun and the evening sun.

Double Seattle Sunrise

In the middle right, you can see the sunrise shining through the “sunrise.” I just created a double sunrise.  Is this like a double rainbow? Can we build a myth like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Whatever it is, I like the photosynthesis.  There are at least four phenomena going on here:

  1. The original excitement at seeing the sunrise and grabbing my camera to capture it.
  2. Google Photo’s automated enhancement of the colors it “saw” in the original sunrise photo.
  3. Translating the observed experience and the photography into an abstract painting.
  4. Seeing the morning sun shining through the sunrise in the painting and the capturing a a photo of the “double sunrise.”

Each of the phenomena is about being awake enough to see the world around me. Each of the phenomena is about being interested enough to record the observation. The “recording” creates another artifact to remember the initial observation.

This blog post is another attempt at a meta-photosynthesis.  That is a new thought.  I’ve just created a synthesis of multiple photosyntheses.  Well, this discussion got circular in a hurry.

Somewhere in here is a personal creative process:

  • Be awake and observe
  • Take a photo
  • Paint it
  • Write about it

Or as my colleague David Robinson always reminds me:  Experience First, Make Meaning Second!

As I reflect on these steps of my personal process, I can feel the learning effects of sleep and memory.  Of all the observations I make in a day, what rises to the level of consciously being awake to observe and photograph.  After living with the memories and the photographic artifacts, what leads me to paint something in the abstract.  Then what rises to want to explore these right brain processes with some left brain writing.

As I sit here writing this blog post with the morning sun blinding my screen, I wonder if the title should be “triple sunrise.”

Now I know I need another cup of coffee.  Wake Up!

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Lifelet: Infinity and Beyond?

“What is the next number beyond infinity?” my oldest grand asked.

I love these questions.  And I have no idea how to answer her in a way that she might understand.

“Do you know the symbol for infinity?” I ask trying to buy some time.

“Yes, we learned that in kindergarten today,” she replied.

“Can you draw it for me?” I asked.

“Sure, granddad.”

Infinity and Beyond

“So what is the circle around the infinity symbol?” I inquire.

“Silly.  That is what is beyond infinity,” she shared.

“But you still haven’t answered what is the next number after infinity?” she reminded me.

“If you take your crayon and go around and around the figure 8 of the infinity symbol isn’t that beyond infinity?” I question.

Realizing that I wasn’t doing a very good job explaining to a six year old, I switched tactics and asked her if she wanted to make a painting out of the infinity symbol.  Using our collaborative technique that we enjoy, we painted infinity and beyond.


In the wonderful world of synchronicity, I am reading Sharon Stanley’s Relational and Body-Centered Practices for Healing Trauma.  She uses the infinity symbol to signify oscillating attention.

“Oscillating attention between the polarities of “forgotten” experience and sources of vitality differentiates neural states that may be fused, then allows them to link as new neural connections. Oscillation can be expressed visually with the infinity symbol, the figure 8 on its side. See Figure 8.1. Differentiations of phenomena reveal the opposites contained within an experience, and linkage brings the opposites into a more expansive form, leading to perspectives that integrate polarities.”

Stanley, Sharon. Relational and Body-Centered Practices for Healing Trauma (p. 124). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Infinity Oscillation Polarities

Just as I have difficulty explaining to my grand what is beyond infinity, I look forward to trying to understand what is beyond oscillating attention.

Until I can figure out an answer of what is the number beyond infinity, I think I will continue to oscillate the young lady’s attention.

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Lifelet: A Pueblo Prayer

So what does our garage curating philosopher sign say today?

A Pueblo Prayer

The message catches my eye:

“Hold onto what is good, even if it is a handful of earth.” – A Pueblo Prayer

My mind immediately races through all of my strolls through vineyards with Alan York and Barney Barnett.  How many times we reached down to grab a handful of dirt.  We wanted to see and feel and smell the power of biodynamic fine wine growing.

I also realize that the prayer is probably longer.  While on the ferry to Seattle,  I find the full prayer:

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.

I search to see if someone has creatively combined the text with imagery.  I stop and stare at the beauty of the face embodying the prayer.

Hold On – Pueblo Prayer

Hold on – to what is good, to my beliefs, to what I must do, to my life, and to my hand.

As I reflect some more, I remember the title of a poem my wife used for the title of her grandmother’s autobiography – “The Long, Far View.”

The Long, Far View – Katharine McAfee Parker

There’s a long, far view to take of a day,

And the nights are made for rest,

There’s a long, far view of a life and a death,

And the long, far view is best.

No small thing lives.

No great thing dies.

I know. I know.

And so I try to live each day with a long, far view,

And the years go swiftly by.

The journey to Seattle this day goes swiftly as I “Hold On to the Long, Far View”.

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Lifelet: Intertwining stories of love and church

Father John Madigan stood with no notes at the front of the alter at Bellevue’s Sacred Heart Church at the Easter Vigil mass and mesmerized me with his welcoming of new Catechumens to the Catholic Church.  We were there to celebrate the wife of a close friend and colleague joining the Catholic community.

Father Madigan asked us to remember when we fell in love with the person we might marry.  “Remember the stories you share of meeting that person and then meeting your loved one’s family.  As your love grew together, your stories also grew together.  And then as you each meet the other’s family, now a larger set of stories are intertwined.  Our lives in the largest sense are the intermingling of our stories.  A key part of those stories revolves around being invited to dinner.”

Father Madigan gently invited us to remember our shared stories with our loved ones and how those stories grew and expanded over the years.

Then he shifted gears addressing the Catechumens directly: “Tonight your shared journey and stories have led you to join in the shared stories of the Catholic Church. Each of you has a story of what brought you to your discernment journey to join the church.  During your RCIA sessions you shared your stories.  To celebrate your stories we are inviting you to dinner to join with us in the Lord’s Supper.  Your individual stories will now be a part of this community’s shared stories.”

Father John Madigan baptizing a Catechumen

Shared stories.  Intertwined stories.  Shared love.  Invitation to supper.

What a beautiful reminder of the value of rites of passage in our lives to generate stories.

As we prayed for our friend’s discernment and journey to joining us at the Lord’s dinner, I was reminded of my own choosing to join the Catholic Church 25 years ago.  I reflected on how my stories have intertwingled with our family and our community through the years.

Thank you Father John Madigan for bringing the story of Jesus, and the Easter Vigil alive for us this day.  We welcome all the new Catechumens as they join us for our communion.

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Lifelet: Finding Rainbows

This morning I turned the corner and there was a welcoming rainbow.  Our house has a wide range of crystal objects in curio cabinets and hanging from the windows.  Depending on whether the sun is out and about at sunrise (not always a common event in Seattle) and the time of year, different objects catch and split the sun’s rays.

Today it is a crystal goblet in my brother in laws’ “Creative Woodcrafter” custom cabinet refracting the sun (fortunately not redacting the sun).

Rainbow Surprise

I stop for a minute and marvel at the synthesis of man made object and the rays of nature.  How blessed to reflect on the beauty that starts my day.  Even before I have my first cup of coffee, I can just BE and absorb this small beauty gift.

The real beauty of Seattle weather comes in the late afternoon after a rainy day.  The sun will come out for a short time and I start looking for a rainbow.  Soon one will show up somewhere on our fifty mile expansive view of the Puget Sound.  A special delight of our window onto the world is that we can see full rainbows.  This photographic panorama captures a double rainbow.

Rainbow Pot of Gold is the Bainbridge Ferry

As I take this picture, I feel the tug of racing out of the house to find at least one of the pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Then my reality brain cuts in and I realize the water is really cold.

We see rainbows in every direction.  Often the ferry enters the picture as well.  I can’t resist capturing the rainbow as the white of the ferry becomes almost translucent in this magical intersection of light and rain drops.

Rainbow Gallery

As the ferry chases the rainbow, I wonder if the ferry captain is seeking the pot of gold or hopes that the gold jumps on to the car deck.

Following the Rainbow

The ferry chases the rainbow away and the joyous colored light fades.

I recall the image I pursue in all my business endeavors – building the innovative rainbows of my software product visions.

Building My Rainbow

Lately, with the gift of another generation of our family, I turn to how can I build a better rainbow of a life so that my grand children can thrive.

The most precious rainbows are the ones that my grands wear that go hand in hand with their fascination with unicorns:


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Lifelet: The Easter Bunny is Back

Many moons ago my wife took a cake decorating class before we had children.  Now that our waists have expanded and our children have their own families, the cake decorating creative outputs don’t show up very often.

With grand children, the cakes still arrive on happy occasions.

When I limped into the house last night after a very long day consulting, I turned the corner into the kitchen and there was the Easter Bunny cake.  A needed smile jumped onto my face.

Easter Bunny Cake 2019

I look forward to the smiles that it brings to the grand children this weekend.

Easter Bunny Cake 2016

Isn’t it amazing how the Easter Bunny doesn’t age as the grand children grow oh so fast.

Easter Bunny with Family 2019

Some traditions are a joy to eat, oops celebrate.

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Lifelet: Mourning Rain

How fitting that I start the day looking out at the rain and grays of the Puget Sound.  Seattle is barely visible to the East.

Puget Sound kaleidoscope of grays

The grays match my mourning mood.  The Mueller report is being released today.  Even CNN showed a little humor this morning in the redacted subject line of their daily email.

CNN gallows humor

As I sit with my morning coffee observing the ferries on their hourly to and fro, I am once again amazed at how much fascination I have with these shades of gray.  When I first wake up, there is this undifferentiated gray curtain hanging over the water.

Staring and eyes roaming, I see that there are clouds in the sky.  Their outlines a bit blurred but they are there.  The gray of the water is different from the gray of the clouds.  And there are multi-gray ripples as the light wind roams the water’s surface.  The gray curtain slowly decomposes into separate objects.

Looking down, not out, color springs to the fore.  Yay, the azaleas are starting to bloom.  The green of the hedges and trees start to shine through the dismal gray.  There is color here.  Slowly the Japanese maple tree maroon red distinguishes itself from the greens.  There are blossoms on our lonely Japanese cherry tree.  That is a miracle.  Evidently the deer can’t reach that high.

Color emerges

My mind wanders back to the days coming events.  Will the Mueller report shed light on the dangers of our incompetent government or will the LGBTQ rainbow colored redactions continue to hide the blindingly obvious?

Be. Here. Now.

Be. Here. Now.

One Day at a Time.

One Step at a Time.

Moving. Flowing. Flowering.

I refocus to bring myself back to the grays in front of me.  I slow my mind. I focus on the sounds of the grays.  Pitter pitter pitter as the water drops bounce off our plastic table on the deck.  A dull roar comes from the roof as the rain intensifies.  A crow caws.  The low throat-ed growl of the Victoria Clipper rumbles across Elliot Bay.

Here comes the ferry.  I hear it before I can see it.

The rich smell of my Nespresso coffee breaks my reverie.  Time for a sip of the bitter nectar of awakening.

Who knew there was so much “color” in the mourning rain?

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