About Susanne Swanson

After years of working in accounting and technology where rules are clear and numbers add up I bring this blog to you from the other side where roads are meant to be traveled, memories like flowers unfurl slowly and cats have been known to talk.

Seattle’s Seward Park, Rain or Shine

Perhaps we should have waited for dry weather before visiting this beautiful Seattle Park but after a few stormy days we needed to get out of the house.  And so, armed with rain gear and resolve we headed out to the west side of Lake Washington and found Seward Park almost deserted, save for a few brave joggers and dog walkers.

Seward Park sits on the Bailey Peninsula which extends into Lake Washington, and includes 300 acres of old growth forest, miles of hiking trails, shoreline and beaches and picnic areas. We took the 2.4 mile paved loop trail around the perimeter of the park which gave us views of the lake and Mercer Island, and many varieties of trees including douglas fir, madrona, oak, maple, and weeping willow.

Bob and I grew up in Seattle and have childhood memories of picnicking and swimming at Seward Park, and visiting the fish hatchery, which has long since closed down. Neither of us had been here much recently and we were reminded what a special place it is, thanks to our city forefathers.

Seward Park was established by the City of Seattle in 1911, under the comprehensive plan created by the Olmstead Brothers in 1903.  The firm was notable for many high-profile projects including the roadways in the Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia National Park, and Yosemite Valley.  John Charles Olmsted, the firm’s senior partner was the stepson of Frederick Law Olmstead, considered to be America’s first landscape architect and who designed many notable urban parks including Central Park in New York and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

We’re still enjoying the benefits of the comprehensive plan that not only included Seward Park, but also other gems such as Lake Washington Boulevard, Washington Park  and Arboretum, Volunteer Park, Green Lake, Woodland Park and Discovery Park.

We decided to return a few weeks later to explore more of Seward Park, without the rain. Visibility was much better and we were treated to views of Mt. Rainier. 

This time we took one of the trails through the center of the park and enjoyed the old growth forest in solitude.

When we emerged from the forest the lake was calm and reflective and we caught a glimpse of the Seattle skyline.  It wasn’t so long ago when I spent everyday in one of those skyscrapers, not traipsing around Seattle’s parks.  Time for us to reflect too.

~ Susanne

After the Storm

We heard the wind howling in the night but woke to overcast skies and promising sunbreaks.  We thought we could beat the storm’s next wave and so headed out to Coulon Park for a morning walk.  We found everything windswept, clean and fresh, and eagles soaring overhead.

Golden Larch trees were clustered together and at their peak color.

This tree stood alone, uncovered, desolate and beautiful against mostly blue skies.

Sailboats were safely moored and undeterred as always.

But skies grew grayer over the boat launch.

We made it back without wind or rain. We love this walk.

~  Susanne

Tiger’s New Chair

This is Tiger and I appreciate how Sue takes care of me, even in the small things.  The problem was Benji.  (No surprise there.)  I was here first but when he moved in he took over all the best places to sleep.  Like the chair in the living room.

Well it’s a small chair and he’s pretty small himself so I let it go, being the tolerant cat that I am.   I moved on to the couch but it wasn’t long before he claimed that too.

Enough is enough I thought, so I had a few words with Sue.

And you know what?   She got me a new chair.

And it’s the perfect fit.

I’m keeping this one.

~ Tiger

Temporary Morning Brilliance

“Susanne, are you awake? You’ve got to see this.”

My husband the early riser had been out for his morning walk when the sun was starting to rise.

I was awake and jumped out of bed hoping to capture that temporary morning glow before it disappeared.

A few minutes later the sky returned to an ordinary pale grey.

Temporary

WordCamp Seattle

Today’s post isn’t about my usual suspects.  It’s not about my cats (though Tiger’s picture is on the badge below.)  And it’s not about trails and travels in the Pacific Northwest (though I did take the light rail downtown to my destination.)

No, this post is about my experience at WordCampSeattle 2017.   What’s that you say?

According to the WordCamp Central website: “WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.”

I haven’t been blogging that long (a year a half) but when I discovered there’d be a WordCamp in Seattle this month, I thought, why not?  It would give me the opportunity to learn more about the software and meet other users.  When I looked over the schedule I realized that the Workshop (“Learn to Use your WordPress Website”) was worth the price of admission alone.  Adding in the other sessions and all the free stuff (see SWAG below, their word not mine) the $40 fee was a real  bargain. And it included lunch.

What I Got Out of WordCamp

  • More familiarity with the WordPress  ‘Community.’  The key-note speaker mentioned that WordPress makes up 28% of the internet. As an open source project it’s a collaborative effort and they welcome contributors.  How a software organization can operate without employees is still somewhat mysterious to me but this website helped a bit.   make.wordpress.org
  • The workshop was good. The excellent instructor led us through Dashboard functionality as we followed along using a temporary installation of wordpress on our laptops. By the way, you too can have a ‘sandbox’ to practice in by downloading it from (sorry to say) poopy.life.
  • One thing I learned in the workshop was that you can make your own minor customizations to a theme using CSS. I don’t know CSS (called the gateway drug to coding) but I’d like to learn the basics so I can tweak a few things.  We shall see.
  • I also picked up some good tips and tools from the session entitled, “Get Google to Love Your WordPress Site.”  I realized my Tags are good but I think my Categories need some improvement to help google better identify my content.
  • Finally, I continue to learn the differences between wordpress.org and wordpress.com (which is what I use for my blog.)  WordPress.org came first and is the ‘self-hosted’ version you install on your computer. (You have to pay for your own web hosting.) It has greater functionality and can be modified to your heart’s content, assuming you have the technical know-how.  And you have to handle all the updates, backups and maintenance yourself.  WordPress.com is a spinoff and easier to use for the less technical among us.  You don’t install it and you can’t modify the core code.   It has similar though more limited functionality and themes and they host it for you for free.  WordCamp seemed to be more focused on wordpress.org.

Was it worth going?  Yes, if you like these sort of things.  And I do. Perhaps this is due to my background.  I spent the last half of my career supporting financial systems using PeopleSoft and Oracle software.  I used to attend their User Conferences and always learned something useful to bring back and apply.  Of course, they were in San Francisco.  Maybe that had something to do with it.

So there you have it.   WordCampSeattle.

Maybe you’d like to attend one in your part of the world.  The price is right.

~  Susanne