Friday, April 19, 2019

Remembering Mary

A week ago today, the world lost a very special lady: Ken's aunt by his former marriage, Mary Turner. She was 93 and a spark of inspiration and light.

All of our annual pilgrimages to the East Coast have routed through DC or Baltimore so that we'd be able to visit Aunt Mary who lived in the SE sector of Washington DC near the RFK Stadium. She was an incredible woman who was born in the segregated South (Georgia) and whose bi-racial parentage didn't allow for her white father to live with her black mother and mixed race siblings. She moved to DC and worked in a supporting role in the government, raised a family of 5 children and lived in the same walkup on 14th Ave for decades. It wasn't until late last year that she was forced to sell her home due to ailing health and move into an assisted living facility.

Over the 15 years I've known her, I spoke like how I would to one of my fellow mom friends, commiserating about potty training or the kids' eating habits. We exchanged similar opinions and thoughts on politics which, like me, she closely followed. But she loved MSNBC's Ari Melber, even saying to me once, "Did you see my boyfriend on TV last night?" in a slight Southern accent. It made me giggle and when I would offer up some other interesting tidbit of news, she'd say with a lilt in her voice, "For real?"

She loved Pacific Northwest Smoked Salmon so I would send her a box every few months. I also began to include Fran's Chocolates and photos of the children. She really loved seeing the kids and when Sidney was a baby she insisted on buying her an outfit for a wedding we'd be attending later in our visit down the Shore. She was always so generous and also baking her infamous and delicious pound cake for us to take.

In the last few years, her eyesight deteriorated to the point that her home was outfitted with supports for a person who is blind. At that point, I would try to find things to send that would delight her other senses: lavender hand lotion, a fuzzy lap blanket, spiced tea. But she would also request the Pizzelle cookies my Italian side of the family makes around Christmastime. She told me how she'd put the tin away when there were guests, as to savor them alone because they were her favorite.

Our last visit with her was in June of 2018 where we walked slowly down to the park to watch the children play and burn off some energy before we made the usual three hour drive down the Eastern Shore to Ken's folks' house. Her steps were slower and she used a walker but she was still out there with us and enjoying the city that she spent so much of her life in.

The last time I spoke to her this past March as she was settling into another assisted care facility and we spoke of an upcoming visit in July that we planned to make to the East Coast that would naturally include visiting with her too. She was excited to see us again. But after a serious fall later in the month, she just couldn't recover. Her daughters have been kind enough to have kept us informed and updated on her situation.

She was very dear to us and a unique, loving soul that I for one am ever so grateful to have known. RIP Mary.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Emerald City Comic Con 2019 #ECCC: Friday, and only Friday

Things I learned at the Con:

1. For the first time in my life, I realized Tauntauns have two sets of nostrils!?!?!

2. I don't dress up for Cons because that's not why I go and with my precious 6 hours, I need to move through the show quickly--in comfort. BUT I can't deny, I love to SEE the cosplay. And this year, as Cardi B would say, it was poppin'. People brought their A-game and I noticed a surge of confidence and creativity. I didn't have the opportunity to really capture the MANY, MANY incredible costumes, but here are two that uh, caught my attention...

Some nightmare called Pyramid Head from the Silent Hill video game. Yikes.

Mojo Jojo

3. Panels are the best for...


➨resting one's aching feet
➨scarfing down one's lunch [ALWAYS BRING YOUR OWN SACK LUNCH & WATER TO THE CON] 
➨learning something from professionals who know stuff

I listened to panels on 'Tropes in Writing,' 'Women making Comics' and 'Skybound Comics Illustrators/Authors.' All instructive, inspiring and illuminating. However I couldn't get into the Main Stage Conversation with George "Mr. Sulu" Takei this afternoon (who may or may not have a passing resemblance to my father.) Just too many people in Seattle wanted to see him. Nevertheless, I'm eager to read his upcoming graphic novel memoir about his childhood during World War II and his experiences in Japanese-American Internment Camps--something my family had experience with too.

4. I always prioritize a lot of time to say hello to friends and meet comic creator heroes. This is what makes a Con unique and worth it for me from year to year. Since I read more and different comics as the years go by, my list changes.
This is Artist Rich Werner who brought us the original 'Plants vs. Zombies' game/franchise. (He also did an inspired commission for me years ago called the Shark Dentist that was a gift for my dad.) But that painting behind him is a 6-year masterpiece that is so gorgeous in real life AND is available in print form at the Con and on his website ( His wife, Halle, a fellow Coug & former RealNet coworker of mine, won't let him part with the original--AND I DON'T BLAME HER. 

Rich Werner

Also, imagine my shock when upon entering the Artist Alley section with comic authors & illustrators, that my former WSU Cable 8 Grad Student Advisor, Mitch Cook, had a booth and has been WRITING COMICS for awhile now. Wow! πŸ‘€
I was also thrilled to meet for the first time: Emi Lenox of Plutona, Sana Takeda of Monstress, Agnes Garbowska of DC Super Hero Girls.

5. Star Wars--especially the 'Ultimate Experience' walk-through display by the 501st Legion, Garrison Titan--totally delivers as the premier fandom. (Yes, I see you Trekkers. It's not that I don't like you but I don't "like like" you.) Straight donations and raffle proceeds go to Seattle Children's Hospital and last year their debut year for the Star Wars Experience, they raised over $25,000 at Emerald City ComicCon. 

I love this photo op so much. How ingenious.

Porg Moms and human moms have the same reaction to kids complaining about dinner.

My favorite find of the day. I will be getting this framed to hang in the house. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Thank you, Next: Bye 2018, time to gear up for 2019

Of all of the experiences I had in tumultuous 2018, I think election text banking on behalf of candidates across the country made a notable, lasting impact. Maybe it was because it was the culmination of a year spent trudging through outrage. Maybe it felt like I was fighting for our nation and sanity. Or maybe it was because there were moments when across the expanse and through the mask of technology, there could still be connection. 
One such example occurred when I texted a woman named Brandy, waiting for her OB appointment in North Carolina. She is registered to vote in NC House District 9 (which coincidentally was the one that had those election fraud accusations). But voting was the last thing on her mind back on November 5th--the day before election day--as the second hour just ticked by for her in the waiting room. She was frustrated and a little freaked out, as moms-to-be sometimes are. So then it became just two people talking to each other and trying to help. Here's the exchange:

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

So this year has been a lot of finding out how to help and doing small things that hopefully inspire, motivate and illuminate. Much of it is learning a bunch of things myself that I'd never taken the time to understand, specifically in how the law and our government works. But also understanding other people's life experiences and how to be an ally to others who need support. 

2019 will be a continuation of all of this and to encourage people to participate in our community and our democracy--which, as we've seen, don't work well without us.

Friday, April 20, 2018

I See London, part 3 the final chapter

Previously, on EvidentlyBlog...
Part 1 and Part 2

And now, the conclusion of "I See London" -- a travelog.

Harry Potter Store, British Museum: Highlights Tour, Hamstead Heath Bus Ride
Dinner @ The Blue Door Bistro, Dessert/Drinks @ City Garden Bar

Oops here's the final chapter of our London trip last month. It's not that I forgot about it so much as I have been mulling over my thoughts. But first things first...

Let's be honest, Harry Potter is such a big deal now in our house that we couldn't skip picking up some goodies. This is a cool store situated in Kings Cross Station itself. Lots of fun and crowded as one would expect.

Okay so here's the part I've been mulling over. The British Museum: a crown jewel in a city with real crown jewels, a world-class museum that ranks above all others, a collection rivaled by none. 

I didn't visit the British Museum during my time here as a student in the 90's. I certainly went to other museums (the Victoria and Albert Museum being my favorite) but just never made it to this one. We took the highlights tour which in some ways is a relief so that you know you're seeing noteworthy items but also you get a human guide who can answer questions and efficiently move you though this enormous place.

These days, I see things with more clarity especially when it comes to culture and identity. Artifacts are products of a culture and, out of context, they can seem like something to gawk at and 'exoticize' people or groups (as is also done with People of Color). But as we walked through the museum and looked at the displays, I kept kept thinking: 'These things don't belong here. SOMEONE STOLE THIS.' Things such as contents of Egyptian tombs, sculptures from the Pantheon, an Easter Island Head carving, beadwork/weavings from Pacific Northwest Native American Tribes(!)--All these items have home area museums and cultural centers where their artifacts can and should live in context. Whereas, an item in the British Museum is mounted, illuminated by a bright light and placed behind plexiglass with a small placard off to one side sterilely explaining its significance in London F**king England.
We are beyond this 'let's display stuff because the public would never see it otherwise.' With photos, video media and the Internet--you can see and learn about anything from the privacy of your own home without changing out of your PJs. Or, you can travel all over the planet via an airplane to see animals, cultural artifacts and meet people of other backgrounds in their actual environments. And I'm certainly not having: 'we can take care of these things better than the home country because--uh, reasons.' Nope.
My problematic favorite, the Victoria and Albert Museum (also in London), is currently in trouble for continuing to hold onto KNOWN STOLEN Ethiopian artifacts and the remains of an Ethiopian noble who died in England over a century ago. (LINK BELOW) V&A has the audacity to tell Ethiopian officials that they would *loan* the items back to Ethiopia if desired. Not good. As I often have to tell my children, "that doesn't belong to you, so give it back."
The Pacific NW Native American Displays and a British Columbian First Nation Totem Pole really hit a nerve for me. It did not feel right to see that there. Not at all. Now I know that *some* of these cultures/nations might have gifted artifacts of their own free will to the British and/or colonial powers, so in some cases, it's not technically 'stealing'. But still. But STILL.
If larger museums like the British Museum or V&A are concerned about preservation and restoration of the world's vast artifacts, how about working with local museums & cultural organizations to help them catalog and take care of their stuff in their places of origin? Loans are fine as long as the pieces go back to whence they came and are controlled by those originating cultures/countries.

UPDATE 5/4/18: V&A has the audacity to tell Ethiopian officials that they would *loan* the items back to Ethiopia if desired. Not good. As I often have to tell my children, "that doesn't belong to you, give it back." 

Radio piece from The Takeaway on WNYC

The Lewis Chess set is what the one in the first Harry Potter movie was based on.

The Portland Vase in Roman Cameo Glass

Paintings from inside an Egyptian tomb

An Easter Island London

Carvings from the Pantheon

The Thinker. A bit smaller than I imagined though.

So the British Museum... not our favorite due to finding increasingly problematic artifacts as we wandered through the exhibit rooms. The Native American Displays and a British Columbian First Nation Totem Pole just really hit a nerve. I know that *some* of these cultures/nations gifted artifacts of their own free will to the British and/or colonial powers, so in some cases it's not technically 'stealing'. But STILL. If larger museums are concerned about preservation and restoration of the world's vast artifacts, how about working with local museums & cultural organizations to help them catalog or take care of their artifacts in their home countries? Loans are fine as long as the pieces go back to whence they came and are controlled by those originating cultures and/or countries. 

Outside of Parliament...again because Ken left his scarf the previous day and we retrieved it.

Camden Town

This is a place called Sky Garden which you can have food, drinks, music on the 36th floor of a fancy building in the financial district. There are also lots of plants, hence "Sky Garden." But it tries a little too hard to be cool and the logistics (service, music, atmosphere) are subpar. So we enjoyed the view from this establishment but wouldn't recommend.

In the Tube, traversing the crazy fast and steep escalators

Primrose Hill, Camden Town, Regents Park Walk
Dinner CΓ΄te Barbican, Barbican: Experimental Theater The Encounter 7:30PM

This was my favorite day in the city. It was the only sunny day we had there and it was a perfect 63 degrees. We followed a suggested walk around Primrose Hill/Camden Town/Regents Park in our Lonely Planet guidebook (which is helpful and has non-touristy excursions and fun) and loved it.

View from Primrose Hill

Along Regent's Canal

My first and possibly last cronut. Verdict: Meh. 

Camden Town on a Saturday. Don't do it.

Neato light fixtures in a pub we stopped at.

Strolling through Regent's Park

The Barbican is one of my favorite places. It's part school for the arts, part performance center. Edgy, experimental stuff here is common. When I stumbled upon it in the 90's, the way the water feature integrated with the buildings blew my mind. But more importantly, in a country with such rich tradition in theatre, pushing boundaries to expand that artistic form is crucial. The Barbican delivers.

We watched a performance that required the use of headphones in an astonishing and transcendent experience. This performance was like no other I've ever seen. This review describes it perfectly HERE.

At the end of the day, we hit 25,000+ steps/15 miles! 

Such a great time. Such a needed getaway to recharge. Such a modern, vibrant city to run around in with my most favorite accomplice. London, can't wait to see you again! πŸ’‚πŸŒ