WAITING ROOMS


‘INUIT MOTHER AND CHILD’ watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

We are all in some sort of waiting room. Some with anticipation and some with trepidation. It depends upon where you are waiting; grocery store, post office, assisted living facility or doctor’s office. The grocery store is a toe tapper, while you wish the person in front of you would hurry up and count her change, and return the unwanted can of beans. The post office could go both ways; did you get a bill or a check? The people in the assisted living place, are waiting for God, and it could also go both ways. The doctor’s waiting room is far and away the most interesting.

Our hospital is getting older and seems smaller, and the number of patients has increased; drawn by the advent of Silicon Valley technology. For lack of space, various disciplines have been combined in spaces far to small to contain them. While waiting for my rheumatology doctor, I watched mothers and children waiting for pediatrics, There were also cardiology and oncology patients cooling their heels.

A beautiful young woman dressed with a jeweled head dress offered a seat which I gladly took. She was from India and her husband had come here to work for Google. She misses her parents and the fact that her daughter has never met them.

Two young fathers carrying their babies checked in and I remarked to myself that fathers never came to pediatricians appointments, let alone carrying their offspring. Another sign that times have changed. The day of the stay-at-home mom is over.

As refreshing as these fellow waiters were, a dark cloud arrived in the shape of a grumpy looking gentleman in his late 70’s dressed in baggy work pants and jacket, checked in with the young woman at the desk and obviously was disgruntled by having to give a co-pay. Mumbling all the way, he threw himself into the small chair with a scowl. He gave a challenging look toward the check in counter and groused: ” I pay enough as it is around here. Now you expect me to wait here?”

I was glad to go in to meet the cute young woman doctor who is always a pleasure. After chatting and acquainting her with any new problems, I told her about the current state of the waiting room, including a description of Mr. Grumpy. She laughed and said “I think he is my net patient.” I hope she was able to make his day a bit better.

LADY IN THE MIST


Lady in the Mist

Amazing who jumps out of the mist when you aren’t looking! Now trying new paths in paint, I find it disturbing to sit and stare at a piece of paper wondering just what I will paint. After several days of abstraction and distraction, it occurred to me that what I am really attracted to in depicting in paint is people.

I had had an image in my mind which never seemed to come together. After painting, washing, scrubbing I ended up with a pale nothing.

As I prepared to toss it in the bin, I turned it around and this image showed up. Where my tree root had been was actually a lady leaning forward. I have no idea what is of interest to her in what was meant to be greenish rocks, but there she is! I decided to let her remain a misty image perhaps from a distant past.

MILO ONE


Piles of milo

You only have to know one thing; you can learn anything. It’s amazing what we don’t know, but comforting to know that there is so much we can still learn.

Colorful milo grain lies in orderly piles on the Kansas plains, confounding the uninformed as to just what they are. Tiny beads of gold and saffron fall in random design after the harvest, ready to serve as fodder.

Seeing the fabulous photos taken by Shoreacres prompted the return of my paintbrush, for how can one resist mountains of red, orange and yellow lying where Mother Nature put no mountains.

IT’S IN THE GENES


a-hat-for-all-seasons “A HAT FOR ALL SEASONS” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Is there a different category for each of those tiny gene things we confidently assume make up our personality? Just because Great aunt Hattie was an accomplished oboe player, will that make us a musician? If Uncle Henry cashed it in at the ripe old age of 102, does that mean we will follow suit?

Of course not, what a silly thought. But what about the clothes shopping gene? I can only answer for myself, and I’m sorry to say that because of the women in my family and their example, I have not only spent an inordinate amount of time and money in the rag trade, but have passed that gene on to my female descendants, including a ten year old great granddaughter, to my shame.

Call me shallow, but I even remember the new coat I had at age 11 when we went to see “Gone With the Wind”. The Depression made it difficult for people to indulge themselves, so that pink coat was a one-off experience for me.

I can’t remember a time when shoes have not attracted my attention; either on someone’s feet or in a store display. Perhaps it was the effect of the shiny Mary Jane’s my Grandmother bought me. I spent a lot of time washing their soles at the end of the day. One of my first jobs in dressing window displays was trying to make men’s work boots attractive. This was before I made a business of doing it a few years later.

No one can go into the clothing trade unless you truly love clothes. My grandmother, mother and aunt were accomplished seamstresses who also had a great deal of good taste, and I became comfortable sitting at a sewing machine as well. One of my daughters at age six was annoyed with me for not mending the hem of a dress as soon as she wanted it, so she grabbed a needle and thread and did it herself. I think sewing may be a lost art among the young today.

My mother in law tired of sewing soon after I married and gifted me with her old electric sewing machine. They were not always electrified. As a small child staying with an auntie, I slept in her sewing room, where her old foot pedal Singer machine stood.

My ‘new’ sewing machine was a Damascus Grand. It had copper fittings inside and when it need repair, there was only one old man in town who knew how to fix it. It perked away for years, keeping me and the girls presentable, eventually turning out clothes for the grandchildren. When it finally gave up the ghost, we made a lamp out of the head, which stands now in my studio.

We seldom throw things away, sometimes keeping them long after their usefulness is a memory. It is fortunate to have a friend of the same size and taste as your own, and closet cleaning is a fine time to share. Some years ago a friend called and asked if I could come help her clear out her closet. You can only do that with a close friend. At the end of the afternoon, glass of wine in hand, she decided she could bear to pass along a pair of light green sling back shoes I had admired. A few days later she knocked on my door at 7:30 a.m. to say she really wanted them back. What could I do? Sometimes we become too attached to our belongings.

So saying, I said a sad goodbye to my collection of ‘never-to-be-worn-again shoes by loading them into the trunk of a friend’s car. She is happy.

EXCELSIOR!


blissful “Blissful” terra cotta sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

EXCELSIOR
~~~~~~~~~
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, ‘mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
Excelsior!

His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,
Excelsior!

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,
Excelsior!

“Try not the Pass!” the old man said;
“Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!”
And loud that clarion voice replied,
Excelsior!

“Oh stay,” the maiden said, “and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!”
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,
Excelsior!

“Beware the pine tree’s withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!”
This was the peasant’s last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,
Excelsior!

At break of day, as heavenward
the pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,
Excelsior!

A traveler, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Sill grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,
Excelsior!

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star,
Excelsior!

THE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITES Kate’s Journal


Navajo Grandmother“Navajo Grandmother” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

In the early days in the Southwest, I saw many Navajo grandmothers, many looking much like this lady, sitting comfortably in a large chair in the back of a son-in-law’s pickup truck. I was told by this lady that it was the custom, as she didn’t have a lot to do with her son-in-law. In fact, she did not speak with her son-in-law.

Women owned and cared for the flocks of sheep, and these sheep were owned by her daughter. After shearing, the fleece was taken to market in their pickup, with grandma in the back.

Sheep near Taos“Sheep Grazing on Reservation” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In our euphemistically imbued age of political politeness, the middle years are referred to as the youth of old age. We are urged to “get it while you can”. “The end is near.” “From now on it’s all downhill.” To a certain extent that is all true. But we still have energy, imagination and inclination to do great things. The middle years are a whirlwind of work, creativity and preparing for the inevitable.

When you leave middle age you bump into other unexpected adventures. Children leave and get married which brings lots of other experiences, that of becoming grandparents possibly being one of the most pleasant. You have been cautioned to do your traveling early because when old age strikes you may have the time and the money, but you no longer have the inclination. You become an appreciator rather than a participator. As an inveterate collector of other people’s art, I have become an admirer rather than an acquirer.

As you leave the middle years you realize that in the early days you fight because you don’t understand each other, but as you grow older, you fight because you do. Either way, marriage has a certain amount of misunderstanding and disagreement, some of which may cause you to wonder how you ever got into it. But you persevere and realize that if you were being graded on your performance, you probably flunked. Luckily, there is a do-over; it’s called apology.

The bright side of marriage, especially that of long standing, is that you understand that you are not alike and never have been. This person who attracted you at an early age may have done so precisely because he or she was different from you. Marriage can become a home schooling effort, each learning from the other.

WHEREIN THE PYRAMID?


146“Renaissance” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Five thousand years ago in Egypt, long before the pyramids at Giza, the mighty king Djoser ruled a land dry beyond belief from a seven year drought. His vizier Imhotek, physician, scientist and architect, designed a limestone step pyramid at Saqqara as a tomb memorial, commemorating the good works of Djoser, and hoping to bring about an end to the drought.

Saqqara_pyramid_ver_2

Where is the magic in the pyramid shape?

Danish churchDanish church

oxford martyrsMemorial to the Oxford martyrs

Finnish pyramidSectional wooden pyramid made by Finnish artist

Transamerica pyramidTransamerica Pyramid

The Transamerica Pyramid building in San Francisco has been called an iconic symbol of tomorrow. Is that what a pyramid stands for? Is the shape a symbol of rebirth, of renewal? We all hope for a better tomorrow.

A SHORT VACATION Kate’s Journal


dancer“Dancer” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Dr. Advice does not cook. I mean he REALLY does not cook, so in preparation for my short vacation for a tune-up, I am preparing a bit of sustenance in advance. So far a chicken vegetable soup, a chocolate cake and a few enchiladas. He used to feel sorry for our friend Emmett Oliver after Georgia passed away when Emmett stocked his fridge with frozen dinners. Personally I think that was very smart.

This appointment for surgery popped out of the blue a day or so after the stress test. One of those “voices” informed me that the doctor was ready. There was no chance to say “Wait a darn minute–HE may be ready but I haven’t finished reading the brochure”.

Having a bypass of a leg artery may or may not correct my “spaghetti” legs. I don’t think there is a need to drag out my dancing shoes again, but perhaps I can pass along my wheeled transportation. It seems a very positive endeavor. I just hate to be rushed.

90 YEARS YOUNG Kate’s Journal


Sam In Sitka>”Sam in Sitka” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

It’s a real treat to live with someone whose memory goes back further than your own. A convergence of the Universe, including planets, constellations and one tiny dwarf planet, gathered at our home last weekend to usher Dr. Advice into his tenth decade.

An awesome hustle and bustle took place preparatory to the celebration, during which I was only allowed to sit like a bump on a pickle and watch while our daughters do what they obviously do extraordinarily well–get a party going with all the bells and whistles.

Friends and family exchanged “Sam” stories, the tiny planet dangled from the fig tree, the only granddaughter dropped off the world’s largest floral arrangement, caught her Uber and flew back to London, old friends “caught up”, new friends were interrogated and judged OK, and food and drink did the hostesses proud.

So now, after having studied the DMV rules for several weeks, the patriarch of our family was discovered good for two more years, having misread the cut-off date.

Welcome to 90 dearest friend and husband, you’ll always be 18 to me.

THE NEWNESS NEVER WORE OUT Kate’s Journal


Episode 34 Kirkland 1969-1974

051 “Inuit Mother and Child” watercolor by kayti sweetlanhd rasmussen

There was some success selling my sculptures in Seattle, and a minor bit of chicanery. If someone doesn’t try to cheat you, you haven’t made an impression.

For our second Christmas in the Northwest, Dr. A with the aid of a large truck and a large friend, brought home an enormous tree which reached to the ceiling of the barn, and became home to a number of enormous papier mache elves, while several more elves, dressed in colorful velvet clothes, straddled the rafters. The California family arrived in full force. and audience participation prevailed while serving up the old Rasmussen Christmas breakfast, with a few aebleskivers thrown in.

We learned that a family isn’t complete without a new generation, and in 1973 our California daughter gave us what we knew to be the world’s smartest and cutest grandson. It was troubling that he lived in California while we presently lived in Washington.

The flu can make a wet dishrag out of you, and in the midst of feeling sick and sorry for myself, alone on Valentine’s Day, our youngest daughter announced that she wanted to get married on St. Patrick’s Day. Better than that, she wanted to get married in our barn. Dr. Advice was traveling two weeks out of every month, so he was slow in getting the news, good or not so good.

marvin Oiver Large print by Marvin Oliver, Professor of Indian Studies, University of Washington

It’s amazing how fast a wedding or a climatic catastrophe (there isn’t much difference between the two) can get you out of bed. The amount of time spent on wedding arrangements today can give you plenty of time to change your mind on the whole thing. We had a month, and our daughter was in the middle of finals.

Handmade invitations, wedding clothes and food appeared in the appropriate time with the help of friends including pickled oysters from the Hood Canal from Georgia and Emmett. When everything else was set, we needed someone to marry them, and believe me, it isn’t easy when you do it at your home cold turkey. After a number of rejections, including all the regular churches, someone had a relative who was an unemployed Mennonite minister who would come.

The day of the wedding gave a display of weather the Northwest is famous for; rain, snow, hail and brilliant sunshine, not necessarily in that order. The bride walked down through our meadow on the arm of her handsome father and into a warm and cozy barn with sunshine pouring down through a large window near the ceiling. The groom was a lapsed Catholic, the bride was unaffiliated, and we were just guests, and we built a chuppah which was covered with daffodils and daisies. The new grandson slept peacefully in my arms throughout the service, undisturbed by the festivities.

North Coast Shaman “North Coast Shaman” sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

We sent the new couple off with the bride carrying a small cage of crickets (don’t ask) and found that the Mennonite minister had not signed the wedding certificate. Ominous? Everything got straightened out eventually.

There are strange sights in the country which you don’t usually see in the suburbs, a lot of them involving animals. A small Shetland pony being led down our road at 5:30 Christmas morning would be one of them, an entire line of cars at morning commute time regularly stopping to let a row of ducks cross the road, a couple of escaped horses stomping through our newly planted lawn., and of course, the belching goat.

One of our friends was a weaver of lovely things, which led me to try my hand with the warp and woof, but without her expertise. It seemed a shame not to be able to even weave a reasonable set of place mats and napkins, but it was a nice feeling to sit and try on a rainy morning.

The barn allowed us to have more parties involving more than four people. On one such occasion, a woman guest left in a huff when her husband told a raunchy joke. She just didn’t fit in or got tired of her husband’s boorish behavior. At another party, planned to entertain guests from California, fell apart when the belly dancer planned for the entertainment, refused to come when she discovered one of the guests was Jewish. Later, when our house was for sale, she wanted to buy it to use the barn to teach belly dancing in. She couldn’t come up with the money.

Seattle is one of those places where float planes fly in and out to Lake Union, taking you to places further north, and if you want to, you can go even further north to see the Iditerod races, fishing and meet new friends.

A 12 pound turkey graced our table on our last Thanksgiving in Kirkland. Complete with all the trimmings; potatoes, gravy, dressing and pumpkin pie, it brought home the fact that we had a 12 pound grandson waiting in California. Not that he was eating all this stuff by then, but you couldn’t ignore the weight or cuteness similarity.

Dr. A had supervised the building of the Alaska pipeline, caught a respectable number of fish, and made a lot of new friends, so we semi-reluctantly pulled up stakes and headed back to California.

chilcat blanket

Addendum: This post was written without using the word “I” even once. In this day and age of people like Donald Trump who seems to have a monopoly on the word, and even nice people who don’t realize they are doing it, it seemed a good lesson.