Friday, December 23, 2005

"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." -- Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Risk is the price you pay for opportunity

Charles Abrams
(a great friend, may he rest in peace)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Mud Puddle

What took you
Long, she asked,
To come home
From school

It was the
Mud puddle
My brother said
He had to walk
Around a
Mud puddle

He got in trouble
Because he forgot
To say the mud puddle
Was large and fascinating

He forgot to say
He stopped to throw rocks
In it, steer small
Wooden ships across it
And wage imaginary wars

The mud puddle was
Intriguing and complex
And time ran away
From him

He got in trouble
Because he didn’t
Explain the nuance.

Life is a lot
Like a mud puddle.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Time passes
After the death
Numbness abates

Exhaustion is replaced with
A bounce in your step

Life, for a moment,
As exquisite
And vivid and rich
As life can be

Drifts once again
Toward the banal

Then a wave hits
An emotional tsunami

Out of nowhere
A wave

A wave of recollection
And grief and pain and loss
Powerful for just a moment
Then passing away

I miss you Dad.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Eulogy for my Dad, Ed Erickson

On behalf of my mother, Ayleen Erickson, and my brothers, Wayne and Dale, and our children and extended family I want to thank all of you for being here today to help us celebrate the life of my Dad, Ed Erickson.

My Dad lived a large, full and abundant life. Central to his life was his love for our Mom, Ayleen. On August 14 of this year, they would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. They created an environment together where we learned to soar, limited only by the scope of our imagination. Dad set no limits for us. He encouraged us, as his own father had encouraged him. He was proud of his three boys and his seven grandchildren.

Dad knew adversity as a child and his belief in the value of hard work was a core element of his character. We all learned to work hard at an early age.

In the book he wrote about his family, “From Homesteading to Stump Ranching,” he wrote about work. He said,

“A five year old soon learned that work was as much a part of his life as play. At the age of seven you were assigned two cows to milk and I can also recall I was tied to a horse-drawn mover so as to keep from falling off the seat. Horses would walk the uncut hay and when they got to the corner, they would step around the corner and then continue. It was my duty to not touch the reins but just to raise the cutter or sickle bar when the horses made the turn. This I did by pulling back on a tall bar. I was proud and pleased to be able to help. Dad was in the next field and I’m sure keeping close watch on my progress.”

His father, Peter Erickson, was a powerful force in my Dad’s life. He and Dad’s Mom, Julia, carved a life for their family out of the scrub land of Northern Minnesota and what Dad called a “Stump Ranch” just east of Issaquah, by Preston. Peter could do or make most anything. That was a trait my Dad embraced. His father died an untimely death in a logging accident in 1942. Many times I heard my Dad say that he wished his own father could have met his boys and watch them grow up. He would say, “If only Dad could see you boys now.” It was his greatest regret.

Yesterday, when we laid my Dad to rest, we included with him the pocket watch his Dad was carrying the day he died. My Dad always kept it in the bedside table next to him.

Dad so strongly conveyed to us that sense of family and history and value. He also was full of style.

Yesterday Dad wore a beautiful custom made pinstripe suit and monogrammed shirt from Beck’s of Bellevue. He was always well dressed.

When I was young he quoted to me from Hamlet:

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy
But not expressed in fancy, rich, not gaudy.
For apparel oft proclaims the man.

He learned that from a high school teacher in Issaquah. Dad said, if you don’t have much money buy at least one quality garment. It will look good and you will feel great wearing it. I thank Dad for that.

Dad was a master with wood. Many of you have seen the product of his talents. The 42 foot cruiser Kullan was a marvel. He built it in 14 months in the back yard of the Yarrow Point house while also building the three campuses of Seattle Community College. He was up at 4am working until 7am and then would put in a long day at the office only to work on the boat again at night. He did the same thing in Ellensburg, building a new 3500 square foot house while working as Superintendent of Schools and building a new High School. We were in awe of his energy and wondered how he did it all in what seemed to us as young boys, such an effortless manner. He knew how to do most everything.

He built amazing fine furniture. We were all surprised at Christmas to receive identical tool chests, with felt lined drawers for fine tools. Another year we all received slightly different beautiful oak coffee tables. Every granddaughter received exquisite doll houses. Grandpa spared no love or care on the smallest detail.

Mom and Dad spent many a wonderful summer for almost 30 years cruising the San Juan Islands on the Kullan. We remember dropping anchor in small coves. Catching dinner (halibut, shellfish,) and picking berries from the shore so Mom could bake a berry pie. By the way, Dad could pick wild blackberries faster than anyone else. It was never one for the pail; one for me. His bucket filled quicker than anyone else’s.

That wasn’t the only bucket he knew how to fill. One time in Ellensburg there was a cow milking contest pitting two teams against one another. Both teams were made up of “college” and “city” people. Dad was on the college team and the other team had no knowledge of Dad’s background. When the contest started Dad was quickly getting milk from his team’s cow while the other team was getting nowhere. The other team said it was not fair to keep Dad’s hidden talent a secret.

He taught us to hunt and fish. He loved hunting and trained our Brittany Spaniels, Rex and Brit to point with perfection. As young adults we were invited to join Dad and his pals on the Clockum Ridge outside Ellensburg at Elk camp. Elk camp was fabled, and somewhere during the tall tails, hearty food and cutting firewood we learned the true meaning of life.

His Scandinavian roots (which he shared in part with Mom) were important to him. When he started school in Minnesota he couldn’t speak English as only Swedish and Norwegian were spoken at home and with neighbors. Consequently he got a slow start in the educational system. He quickly adapted and became fluent in the American Dream. Dad finished with a bang however, being the last living graduate with four degrees from Washington State University. We have his cap and gown here, but Dad was equally at home in his bib overalls. And, he related with equal ease to people from every walk of life. He made friends easily and they became life long. Some of you are here today.

Dad had a great sense of humor and was a wonderful practical joker. You could always count on Dad for a Scandinavian joke. One we heard once a year or so involved Ole and Helga (they always had classic Scandinavian names). Ole and Helga were married in Northern Minnesota. After the ceremony, they got in Ole’s car and headed out for their honeymoon. As they drove down the road, Ole laid his hand on Helga’s knee. Helga said, “Ole, you can go further.” At which point Ole drove all the way to Minneapolis.

As kids we learned a few idiomatic Swedish and Norwegian phrases. We could say “How are you?” Name our fingers in Swedish and most important, we learned to say I love you. Jag Elskar Deeg.

So Dad, Thank you for being a wonderful father, our role model, our hero and for being a great husband for Mom.

Jag Elskar Deeg.
Ed K. Erickson

Ed K. Erickson, 89, of Yarrow Point, WA passed away on July 15, 2005.
Eddie Kenneth (“Ed”) Erickson was born on August 22, 1915, in Trail, Minnesota to Peter and Julia Bjerklie Erickson. In 1924, Ed moved with his parents and four sisters from their northern Minnesota homestead to Preston, Washington, where they managed a small farm and Peter worked as a logger. Early Ed learned the value of hard work, a trait he exemplified throughout his life and conveyed to his family. He chronicled the compelling story of his family’s history in “From Homesteading to Stump Ranching,” which can be found at In 1935, he graduated from Issaquah High School. He attended Washington State College (later University) and in 1939 received the first of his four degrees (BA, B Ed, M Ed, and Ed D) from that institution. He was active in student affairs including Phi Delta Kappa (education honorary), Phi Delta Phi (scholastic honorary) and Intercollegiate Knights, and in 1939 served as national president of that organization. Always handsome and impeccably dressed, in those early WSU days he was referred to as “the blond bomber,” according to his wife Ayleen Frederick, whom he met while both were undergraduates. They were married in 1940 in Ellensburg on the Frederick family homestead and had three sons. In 1956 he served as president of the Washington State University Alumni Association and served on the board of the WSU Foundation for many years. In 1990 he received Washington State University’s Outstanding Service Award. He began his long career in education as an industrial arts teacher at Moscow High School in Idaho. He later taught at Bothell High School and Clover Park High School in Washington. During World War II he established the Clover Park Vocational Technical School to train men and women for the war effort. In 1948 he was hired as Superintendent of Schools in Issaquah, Washington. In 1952 he moved to Ellensburg, Washington, to become its Superintendent of Schools From the superintendency he moved to Central Washington State College (later University) working in campus planning and development and ultimately, teaching prospective teachers and becoming Professor and Chairman of the Department of Education. In 1966 he was appointed President of the newly created Seattle Community College system. There, he lead the construction of its three campuses and was named its first Chancellor. In 1995 he was named Chancellor Emeritus of Seattle Community Colleges. In early 2005 he was honored for his pioneering work when Seattle Central Community College named its newly reconstructed theater, The Erickson Theater Off Broadway. His professional work in education concluded in 1974 when he retired from the position of Assistant Superintendent for Vocational and Technical Education for the Seattle Public Schools. He mentored scores of students, teachers and administrators during his career. Upon retirement Ed was able to spend more time with his beloved Ayleen on their boat, Kullan. Ed built the 42 foot Kullan, a work of art with its fine teak interior and rails while President of Seattle Community College. It was one of many examples of Ed’s extraordinary talent. From the family home he built in Ellensburg, to beautiful hand turned bowls and gavels, to fine furniture, he loved to create beauty from wood. His small retirement business was called, “The End Grain.” In addition to travel, boating, gardening and woodworking, Ed enjoyed his long term association with PEMCO, on whose board he served for nearly 37 years. He also served on the board of the Washington School Employees Credit Union and was a founder and board member of Evergreen Bank. He was active in the United Methodist Church in Bellevue and their group of Wednesday Wonder Workers who helped keep the church shipshape. His many other community activities and associations over the years included Queen City Yacht Club, the Masonic Lodge (Fairweather 82 where he was a member for 61 years), Lakewood Kiwanis Club, Ellensburg Rotary Club, Circumnavigators, several vocal quartets where his melodious harmonies stood out and a stint on the Kittitas County Hospital Board.
Ed is sorely missed and fondly remembered by his family and his many friends and colleagues as their role model and hero and for his wonderful sense of humor, common sense and unwavering strength of character.
Ed is survived by his wife, Ayleen, his three sons, Ron (Dia Armenta), Wayne (Patricia) and Dale (Deborah), and seven grandchildren, Matthew, Anna (David) Seidzik, Julia, Jessica, Elizabeth, Ben, and Jake. He is also survived by seven nephews and his brother in law, Wes June. He was preceded in death by his four sisters, Magda Brundage, Stella Moodie, Ellen DeLauranti and Ida June. Graveside services will be held at 11am Tuesday, July 18, 2005 in Ellensburg, Washington at the IOOF Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at 2pm, Wednesday, July 20, 2005 at the Bellevue First United Methodist Church, 1934 108th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA. Remembrances may be made in Ed’s name to the Seattle Community College, Office of Advancement, 1500 Harvard Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122 or the Washington State University Foundation, P.O. Box 641925, Pullman, WA, 99164.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

You Know His Name (4)

He was charming
He moved with an easy
grace and had
the most refined manners

He sounded so

Once on the job
he made idiotic
mistake after mistake

His supposed
sophistication was
apparently little more
than a thin veneer

Composed primarily of
his British accent

Sunday, February 27, 2005

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

Sunday, February 13, 2005

"I am simply asking for a theatre in which an adult who wants to live can find plays that will heighten his awareness of what living in our time involves."

Arthur Miller

Thursday, January 20, 2005

You know his name (3)

It was the disease of

Twenty years ago
everything was okay

Then, little by little
there were small changes

Each change was imperceptible
But with the passage of time
the changes in the aggregate
became glaringly apparent

He had no idea he looked
so utterly ridiculous
But the entire world
knew he had a combover

Monday, January 10, 2005

No hands

It was three miles
or more from Mike's
house all the way
into town.

Riding with arms
straight out for balance
and pedaling strong
and steady.

I was eleven and
never felt more free
and alive than that
particular day.

I remember it still
and sometimes talk about it;
about the time I rode
all the way from Mike's
house into town
with no hands.
You know his name (2)

He was a compelling speaker
Connecting with his audience.

Empathetic, he looked you
in the eye and
felt your pain.

Then he continued
to talk, and talk and talk

Now your eyes
glazed over.

He "had you at hello"
but now it was
time to say goodbye.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I recently had surgery on my right shoulder as a consequence of injury from both a bicycle accident and repetitive use including lots of swimming. The healing and rehabilitative process is going very well. So well, in fact, that I am giving serious thought to competing in an Half Ironman event in six months. In any event, I look forward to a great triathlon season this coming summer.

Last year was fantastic. I had a great experience at the Half Ironman in England with a fourth place finish in my age group and an overall time of 5:57. More about that in an earlier posting. I did five races in the Pacific Northwest. I placed well in all of those events and as a consequence was ranked number 1 in my age group for the 2004 season. That was exciting. I think the toughest race last year was the Whiskey Dick Triathlon in my hometown, Ellensburg. That race includes a one mile swim in the Columbia River, followed by a brutal 25 mile bike over Saddle Mountain which starts with a 12 mile climb into a strong headwind. There is a 9 mile run into the consistent Ellensburg wind off the bike. Then, to make matters move complex I was stung my a bee on my right thigh 3 miles into the run. I will do that event again.
In art as in a boat, a bullet, or a coconut-cream pie, purpose determines form.
Edward Abbey