The Daily Muse

Thoughts from an Austin Garden  -- June 2008


Last update: June 24



Agave neomexicana in a pot with glass beads used as mulch.


June 10 - morning


Sorry about being so slow to update the site, I have been in full garden survival mode as this summer has gotten off to a brutally hot start. Compounding the difficulties, it has also been consistently windy - it almost feels as if we are experiencing Southern California's famous Santa Ana winds. There are times when it feels like a giant hair dryer is being applied to the region. As a result, it has been a little difficult keeping the garden green and growing. Regardless, I am still enjoying my time in the garden - I am just taking things a little slower after our very hectic spring.


The end of spring has been accompanied by the end of the torturously long prelude to this fall's Presidential election. I began the season very hopeful, but now worry about whether the battered Democratic contender can survive the coming onslaught. Once again we will be confronted by our old companions hope and fear - and we are most certainly entering this new phase of our shared lives with lowered hopes and heightened fears as the echoes of damning sermons and depressing economic news compete for our attention. People are wondering if we are ready to "turn the page" or will we retreat to the comfort of familiar anxieties and resentments. I suspect that the only way that we will be able to move forward is with hopes tempered by the reality that there is so much to be done and no guarantee of progress. Progress is not inevitable - just look at the past eight years. If things are to change, if the page is to turn, we must be ready to move beyond both our facile cynicism and resentful jingoism.  (A resentment it seems is shared both by Rev. Wright as well as the usual blow-hards of the right.) For far too long we have demanded that our leaders lie to us - that they have magic answers for our every fear and desire. This morning as I look in the mirror I am asking myself - am I ready for a nation that asks me what I can do for it rather than what it can do for me? It is an old and familiar question - but one we have happily ignored.



Heart leafed skull cap - a nice blue/grey combination.


June 16 -  evening


Lime Kiln Lighthouse - San Juan Island, Washington State


I just returned from a short trip to Seattle and the San Juan Islands... I have hundreds of photographs to go through and edit including dozens of images of the Japanese Tea Garden at the Seattle Arboretum, one of the finest in the world outside of Japan. Look for many new images in the coming days - but for now, I am going to bed!



"Ruffles" the largest male of the "J Pod" of Orcas that call the San Juan Islands home every summer. That dorsal fin is almost seven feet tall!



One of the female orcas.



Mt. Baker - one of the volcanoes that can be seen from the San Juans.


June 17 - evening


St. Ignatius Chapel - Seattle University.


OK, so I am going to tease you just a bit - and I hope entrance you as well...


Before I literally dive into my pictures of the Japanese Tea garden in Seattle and the many images I shot in the San Juan islands, I want to share another of the highlights of my recent trip. For many of you, this may seem like just a side-bar, but fans of modern architecture, in particular modern sacred architecture,  will recognize the significance of my "pilgrimage" to the Chapel of St. Ignatius. One of the most celebrated buildings of the last two decades, the chapel of St. Ignatius is located on the campus of Seattle University. Designed by New York architect, Steven Holl, the chapel looks quite modest on the outside, but the interior is an amazing celebration of light, color, and form. Holl chose "a gathering of different lights" as the organizing principle for the chapel calling the space "seven bottles of light in a stone box." I don't think I have ever seen a more masterful orchestration of light. It was serene, uplifting, and well worth the hike across town. I have wanted to see this building since it was dedicated in 1997 and I was not disappointed. My photographs do not do it justice but I feel compelled to share them. I hope you enjoy them.


(And, by the way, I intend to steal Holl's idea about bouncing colors off of walls in my garden some day!)



One of the "bottles of light."



Shadow playing against the textured walls.




The nave of the chapel.



The view looking straight up into one of the "bottles." The wall on the left is the wall behind the altar pictured above. The yellow color is bounced off of the back of the wall and into the chapel.




In the "Blessed Sacrament Chapel."



A Statue backed by an opaque window.




Etched glass window.



Anointing oils.



Reflections in the Baptismal fount.



While I was there many people stopped in to pray, meditate, or quietly study.



The exterior seen over a reflecting pool.



One of the bottles of light as seen from the exterior.


June 19 - evening


Wisteria covered structure at the Seattle Japanese Tea Garden.


Well, it took a couple of days, but I have finally finished editing my images of the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden in Seattle. I have to say that even after seeing the famous gardens of Kyoto last year, I was extremely impressed by the garden in Seattle. It is carefully arranged, filled with memorable vignettes, and exquisitely maintained. If you go to Pacific Northwest plan on spending a minimum of two hours at this jewel of a garden. Because of the sheer volume of the images I took, I am creating a page dedicated exclusively to this garden. You will find a link to that page below. Enjoy these few images as you journey to that garden path!



A stone footbridge near the entrance to the gardens. The Japanese iris were in full bloom.



The garden is centered on a large koi pond.



I wasn't the only visitor enjoying the pond.



A manicured pine.



The Japanese maples were amazing! Where ever we went, we saw these plants growing effortlessly, even in the full sun - I was a wee bit jealous (to say the least.)


Continue to the full Soul of the Garden profile of the Seattle Japanese Tea Garden


June 24 - morning


Seattle as see from the Bainbridge Island Ferry - one of the commuter options in this beautiful city.


I am still working on all of those images! There are links to two new new groups of images below... In the meantime, here are a few random garden images from the streets of Seattle:



Lavender, sedum, and more. A mixed border along a residential street.



Another mixed border spilling out over a retaining wall.




Peony along a wrought iron fence.


Links to more images:


Seattle Skyline and Modern Architecture


San Juan Islands



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