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October 25, 2005: Through the glass brightly

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This morning I flew up to Seattle. It�s a business trip, of course, since we�ll only be up here for two days, and both will be full of meetings. But I�m taking advantage of the location to work in a quick visit to see my little sister and her husband, and of course my very favorite little girl in the world (that would be my niece).

It�s very different being here. Our office in Sacramento is in an old building with a somewhat funky layout, and sits right beside the river. So when I look up from my computer in my office in Sacramento, through the huge picture window directly next to me,I can see docks and boats and trees and water, and sometimes a river otter or a pair of coyote puppies or a tree vibrantly alive with an entire flock of tiny sparrows. In Seattle, the office is in the heart of downtown, only a block away from the eclectic new library building (which in itself takes up an entire city block). When I look out the plate glass windows here, I can still see water, but it�s off in the distance, and the view is instead mostly buildings � an assortment of architectural styles and sizes. Directly across the street there is a man swinging from ropes as he washes the windows. Considering that I am currently in an office on the 17th floor, and that as we left to go get sandwiches for lunch he had reached our level, and that the building he is attached to goes up many floors further than ours, I imagine that this is a task which takes days to complete. Assuming, of course, that a person can actually handle the thought of dangling from ropes down the side of a 17+-story building (definitely not something I would volunteer to do).

I wandered the office a little bit, before settling in to do actual work, just to check out the views from all three sides. The view that was the most distracting was toward the bay, because a few blocks from the office they are building the new extension for the art museum, atop which is a high rise office building. It was sometimes very hard to remain focused on the person talking to me when over their shoulder I could see building materials being slowly raised 20 stories above ground, or watch the tiny little blue construction elevators slipping up and down the side of the building, tiny figures of people visible through their steel mesh walls. I asked someone how he managed to not be constantly distracted by everything going on � the crane, the building, the window washer � and he shrugged and said that after a while it�s no longer interesting. Still, even though I see the same old scenery out my office window back in Sacramento, I can still be momentarily arrested by the site of the blue heron gliding down to land in the tangle of downed trees across the river, and the entire office will come to a complete stop every time someone spots the turtles on the bank below our balcony. So maybe, even here, occasionally someone pauses mid-sentence as the window washer hoists himself ever upward, or the crane hoists another load of mirrored wall panels to its destination somewhere within a high-rise-to-be, and sometimes, once in a while, someone pauses on their way to pick up sandwiches for lunch, and looks up at the amazing buildings that surround them, and is reminded of just how beautiful a place it is to be.

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