Monday, June 28, 2010

Clarence, Dog Wonder

I have some sad news. Clarence, the dog to whom I paid tribute just a few weeks ago, was suddenly diagnosed with cancer. By the time they caught it last week it was pretty advanced, and he left this doggie life for the next one on Friday.

I scoured years worth of photos looking for every shot I've ever taken of him. I have a few good ones but it's sad that for a dog I spent so much time with I don't have more, not even one of the two of us.

Here are some from a trip we took to the Poconos in May of 2006:

These are from a fondue party in April of 2007, one of the many dinners he attended; always shy but popular:

This is him wishing my sister a happy 21st at the satellite party I threw (without her but in her honor) on May 13, 2007 (randomly the Poconos pictures were also taken on May 13):

Finally, this is a shot from my trip to Philadelphia this April. Adam loved to dance with Clarence, pick him up, and generally do silly things with him, which Clarence always lovingly tolerated (and sometimes probably enjoyed).

Even though I am light on photos, I have awesome memories.

He was one of those dogs that had personality for miles. Here is a short list of his many fine attributes.
  • He loved attention and would make this hilarious groaning noise if he wanted you to pet him or pay attention to him.
  • His favorite spot was on the couch and would stare at you if you were taking up his seat.
  • He would sit on your feet or stand with his butt against your legs to keep track of you at all times.
  • He was totally lazy and would sometimes not even take two steps off the front porch before peeing and retreating right back to the couch.
  • He would smile at you when he was happy, and when he got really excited he would actually grin at you like a madman.
  • He lived to kill the squeak in a squeaky ball.
  • He was the only dog our friend Elizabeth not only wasn't scared of but actually liked, which tells you a lot.

He was a total love, gentle as a mouse, and also a scaredy cat. He startled really easily (which was sort of funny for a Rottweiler, a breed with a reputation for being ferocious), but this got better as the years went on.

That is thanks to Adam and Lydia, who provided him with a safe, comfortable, and most importantly loving home for the last two-thirds of his life. It is suspected that his first third was not so wonderful, and I for one am grateful that he got to experience what it means to be a loyal dog to loyal owners before leaving us.

Clarence, you are and will continue to be missed!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Volunteer Park Conservatory: Saved!

Well, the universe has aligned itself because a day before I even wrote my "save the conservatory post" the mid-year budget was announced. I just got this email from the Parks Department in response to one of my e-mails and thought I should share it with all of you.

Dear Ms. Archer,

Thank you for your letter of support for the Volunteer Park Conservatory. We are delighted that the Mayor's midyear budget, announced June 14, included no cuts to the Conservatory. Attached (as a PDF titled "Midyear budget") is the press release that went out about midyear budget cuts to Seattle Parks and Recreation and to other City agencies.

Again, thanks for your support.

Laurie Dunlap
Superintendent's Office, Seattle Parks and Recreation

"Creating community through people, parks and programs."

If anyone would like to see that pdf, let me know and I'll happily forward it along.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Save the Volunteer Park Conservatory!

A few days ago I learned of some troubling news: the Volunteer Park Conservatory is on the chopping block due to budget restraints.

The Conservatory is one of my absolute favorite places in the city. If you have never been, go. Walking into those calm, humid rooms - warm even on the coldest of days - is like taking a year's worth of deep, healing breaths.

They cultivate exotic orchids; plants are rotated with the seasons; they have an entire room dedicated to cacti; a jade plant that has lived for more than 80 years calls the conservatory home. They also exhibit or tour exotic plants, and it was thanks to the Conservatory and the participation of the UW that I - and hundreds of others - got to experience up close and personal the wretched, rotting smell of the corpse flower in 2005 (and again in 2008).

In short, it is one of the city's gems and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say it would be tragic to let this landmark close.

A few facts:
The conservatory has been open for almost 100 years
It is one of only 3 Victorian-style greenhouses on the West coast
More than 150,000 people visited last year
It is run by five employees and a team of volunteers
It is largely funded by visitor donations

How you can help:
Email Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher at
Comment on why you want the Conservatory to stay open here.
Vote up to 3 times to keep the Conservatory open here.

There are more people you can contact (including Mayor McGinn and Councilwoman Godden) and other ways to help, including a petition you can download in order to gather signatures, listed on the Friends of the Conservatory website

The budget will be finalized in September. If this is important to you, please spread the word NOW before budget talks go any further.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Many-Named Woman

It's funny how adapted I am to being called just about anything. Depending on where in the world I am and who I'm with, I can go by any of the following.

Currently my most common name. It's what I'm called at work and home, and how I introduce myself to all new people. I made the switch when I was 21 and living in Spain, since in Spanish 'Beth' is an ugly, gutteral noise that sounds like someone is trying to spit something out of his or her mouth.

My childhood name and what my immediate family and more stubborn hold-overs from my past will always call me. If you are a really dedicated follower you may have noticed a comment from my last post in which one such family member referred to me as 'Bethie,' something I try to keep as un-public as possible. It's hard to out-run childhood.

I've managed to convert most people to something else, usually Elizabeth or Archer, and it's genuinely weird/confusing/annoying when someone who I haven't known for at least 20 years calls me Beth.

If I'm in South America or New York with Beth and Kim who I met in Argentina, I'm called Ellie, spelled like the boys' name Eli. This is the natural shortening of Elizabeth in Chile and Argentina (and probably all of Latin America). I did not pick it for myself; it's one of those cases where you introduce yourself as something and the person immediately starts calling you something else. It was started by my Chilean students and continued without my saying a word to any new people in Argentina - that is, I still introduced myself as Elizabeth, and they naturally called me Eli. Luckily I think it's very sweet, unlike other shorter versions of my name.

Two people call me this, with two different pronunciations. One is a woman I work with who pronounces it like the era in English history. Another is Amber in Korea who pronounces it more like Elizabeth-Ann, and sometimes just Beth-Ann.

If I'm in Philadelphia it's unlikely that I'll be referred to as anything other than Archer or Arch. I think this speaks volumes about east coast mentality, in a good way.

This is strictly reserved for Robyn, and people who are nearby when Robyn calls me that.

Oh, how long have I hated the name Liz, or worse, Lizzie? However, there is one person in the world who gets away with calling me Liz and that's my roommate M. For some reason it doesn't bother me coming from him.

If I hear someone exclaim "E!" I know I'm around Annie and/or Will, two friends I made as a result of driving Will's car - at the time a complete stranger I found on Craig's list - from Seattle to Philadelphia in 2006. I have no idea how they started it, but it stuck.

I have long worked with a freelance writer who, from the outset, adoped 'Babs' as a suitable professional nickname for me. This is similar to and just as inexplicable as the laser hair removal technicians I got surprisingly close to (it's amazing how you can bond when you're half-naked and someone is repeatedly shooting a laser at you) calling me 'Eliza,' 'Sissy,' and 'Mary' without knowing that's my mom's name, but never once calling me Elizabeth.

This was tried and abandoned by more than one person, and occasionally comes up in conversation as a joke.

A long-time nickname given to my by our neighbor and family friend Barb, a dual reference to my regal name and how bratty I was as a child.

This is what baby J calls me, though he calls just about everything 'Boo' at this young stage in his vocal development. I hope to one day convert him to Auntie Eli when he can form the L sound.

Did I leave any out?

I'm not really sure what the relevance of this post is, but I just got to thinking about my many names and decided to write them down. In other news, the weather has remained mostly miserable, though the sun came out on Saturday and again today; sadly, more rain is projected. At least it's not raining oil... condolences to all living organisms in the Gulf of Mexico. Sorry our oil dependence messed that up for you.