Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Picasso's "Dove of Peace"

I have been working on this post since I finished reading an amazing autobiography a couple of weeks ago by Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Christian priest working for peace in Israel. But it has been on hold because I have had a hard time summarizing the complex issues of the Israel Palestine conflict. I still haven’t figured out how to do that but in light of the recent shootings in Seattle over the past week, I felt the time was right to write about peace.... Also the quote in an inspirational book I read each morning was "Go in peace" from Abraham Lincoln today, so it confirmed that the timing was right.

This post isn't intended to be a political or religious discussion or a book review, but if you'd like to read a terrific and relatively short review of the book, I recommend this one. Moreover, I recommend ordering yourself a copy from Amazon and reading the whole book! 

Our recent trip to Jordan and Israel was life-changing for me. I didn’t realize it when I was there but it has had a deep and lasting impact on me and my views of the issues and people of the Middle East. The only way I can sum it up is that the experience opened my mind and my heart to this part of the world. Now I am interested in learning as much as I can about it. So when one of Sofia’s preschool teachers offered to let me borrow Blood Brothers, about a Palestinian family that had been exiled from their home I gladly accepted and I devoured the book. Now that I have visited Israel I can imagine what some of the places in the book look and feel like. Like our trip, it stirred many emotions in me. What amazed me most about the author and main character, Elias Chacour, is his unconditional love of his Israeli blood brothers and his sense of hope for people of the Middle East.

Elias has dedicated his life to promoting peace and understanding between Israelis and Arabs. It was a fascinating, sad, inspiring, educational book... I learned a lot and am eager to continue learning more.

Picasso's "Dance of the Youth" communicates peace, love and hope.

I certainly don’t have the answers to what’s going on in Seattle and the Middle East but I do know that educating ourselves about the issues and the solutions is a good first step. As I said, our trip really opened my heart and my mind and I am exploring the issues through books like this, discussions with friends, groups of peacemakers working on these issues locally and globally, and educating people about the lovely, peaceful people we met and places we visited through my blog.

In times like this when our lovely, “peaceful” city is mourning the loss of so many lives, I feel that the lessons of unconditional love and hope that Elias so beautifully exhibited are what will carry us through.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

High Five!

My sweet, darling Sofia turned 5 on Saturday. For some reason it seems like a big milestone birthday. Looking back over the last 5 years, each birthday has seemed significant but for some reason this one feels bigger. So, we celebrated big this weekend by going up to the top of the Space Needle! 520 feet above beautiful Seattle on a clear day was a big treat!

But before the big trip up to the observation deck, we celebrated big at home, with presents....

A new pair of Toms just like mine were at the top of her list....

And a big Town Hall LEGO set from dad ensures many hours of fun... yes, it really says age 14+ on the box. They have been hard at work on it since Saturday!

And a lovely letterpress card from dad with the sweetest of sentiments inside!

Grandma fulfilled Sofia's wishlist at Hanna Andersson with colorful summer favorites! Anything in those signature red and white boxes is sure to delight!

I even scored a gift in honor of Sofia's birthday, my very first Little Shirley vase in Hot Tamale Red. They are darling, colorful vessels made right here in Seattle, and quite possibly my new obsession!

Next up was Swedish pancakes... Sofia chose a pinkish-orange color this time. Not very traditional I know, but she loves coloring her pancakes!

Every May the pink azaleas and rhodies are in full bloom in our front yard for Sofia's birthday. They remind us of the day we brought her home from the hospital. We call them her birthday flowers. We look forward to the bursts of color every year signifying another year of her life.

Next up, the Space Needle. It was so fun being a tourist in our own city. I highly recommend it. It almost had the same feeling of visiting the Eiffel Tour.... almost! It truly is quite extraordinary. And they are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Needle so it's in tip-top shape and the top is even painted orange, its original color, which scores big points with me!

Where else can you get views like this? Truly extraordinary!

Puget Sound in all its glory! 

And Lake Union...

We finished the day with dinner at one of our favorite spots- Olympia Pizza on Capitol Hill, per Sofia's request. It has special meaning for us because it is the first restaurant where we took Sofia on Father's Day when she was just 2 weeks old, and Geoff and I celebrated our 40th birthdays there last year. We were delighted that she chose it, and she was treated like a true princess by the wonderful staff!

Happy birthday my sweet and spicy girl! High five to the year ahead and to many more big adventures. I love you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tulip Time

Happy May Day friends! I love May. While I was sad to miss the fabulous Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April, I enjoyed lots of beautiful, colorful tulips this spring. I feel like I've enjoyed my own mini, local tulip festival in my house and and in my neighborhood this year. It's amazing how much beauty is right around us and sometimes we don't notice it until we slow down and look for it. That is what happened to me this year. I just couldn't fit in a trip to Skagit Valley so I started seeking out beautiful tulips closer to home.

From the stalls at Pike Place Market....

To my neighhors' yards...

To the garden at Sofia's preschool...

To my kitchen counter...

To my kitchen table...

To this watercolor my mom emailed me last night from her Pike Place Market calendar...

“Watercolors Fresh Daily” by Sarah Clementson

I definitely enjoyed nature's bounty and my favorite tulip faces this year. If you, too, didn't get to visit the tulip fields this year, I hope you enjoyed this colorful display.

Happy May friends!