Sunday, April 30, 2006

We Interrupt Our Usual Jaundiced Diatribes to Sing the Praises of the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Thersites2

My wife, Carol, already has had an interesting and successful enough life for any two people. She's a former ballerina with the Lyric Opera of Chicago/Chicago City Ballet, who's danced for the Queen of England and shared the stage in operas with Luciano Pavarotti (who actually eats the food on stage and spews bits of grapes as he sings), Jose Carreras, and Placido Domingo; then had a career as an actress; then was foolish enough to marry the Ugliest Man Who Ever Came to Troy and had two children, spending the hardest years of their childhood as a stay-at-home mom wondering whether she was losing her mind singing Barney's "I Love You" to toddlers all day. A few years ago, during a (ecumenical, not evangelical) mission trip to Old Delhi, India where she helped identify people on the streets with early-stage leprosy so they could receive effective medical care and taught low-caste children dances to help them learn to support and trust each other, she decided to finally obtain the bachelor's degree she left unfinished in the 70s to take the job with Lyric Opera, and now (at 51) is an undergrad in the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of Oregon (allowing me to take over the stay-at-home department now that the hard part's over and our daughters are fun, independent and good company).

Today we learned that she and her partner, Sebastien Rake of the U of O School of Architecture, have been named finalists in the extremely prestigious, international Berkeley Prize architectural design competition. There were over 200 submissions, and after two rounds of cuts Carol and Sebastien are the only Americans among the 8 finalists. The ultimate winners will be announced later in May, but the company they're in even at this stage is astounding -- and a humbling reminder that we Americans aren't the only ones on the planet with good educations and creative ideas:

[Apr-28-2006] The Finalists in the 2006 Berkeley Prize Essay Competition are announced. HERE ARE THE EIGHT FINALISTS FOR THE 2006 BERKELEY PRIZE.

Andrew Amara, of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

Li Kang, of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China

TEAM of: Soheil Karagah, Parisa Davachi, Ehsan Noorani, Parima Davachi, and Mohammad Afshar, of Islamic Azad University of Qazvin, Qazvin, Iran

Craig Miller, of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Qurratulain Poonawala, of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan

TEAM of: Sebastien Rake and Carol Bellows, of the University of Oregon, Eugene, United States

Ashween Ramhotar, of RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Petrina Yeap, of the National University of Singapore Singapore

So: Kampala, Glasgow, Karachi, Melbourne, Singapore; cities in China and Iran -- and Eugene, Oregon.

The Berkeley Prize website is here. Carol and Sebastien's essay, on the topic of children in cities, is the bottom post here.

I'm the luckiest guy on the planet, and I want the whole world to know about my wise and insightful life-partner. Wanna hear something really nuts? I mean, off-topic crazy? The political fights we engage in are, in the final analysis, just means to truly important ends, like healthy children, strong families, beautiful cities, good design, sustainable and accessible prosperity -- and love. Especially love; without it, the rest falls apart. It helps to stop from time to time and remember what we're really fighting for.

Feel free to tell me how lucky I am in the comments. Anyone who attempts to blather about how lucky she is to have me will be blacklisted for lacking discernment.

(And if you know of a good landscape architecture firm that's offering challenging internships this summer, or that might be interested in hiring a sharp, sophisticated, award-winning and -- a novelty -- adult landscape architect in about a year, please let me know!)

Images copr. 2006 Carol Maurey Bellows. BACK TO VICHYDEMS HOME


Eyes Wide Open said...

Wow. That is such exciting news about Mrs. VichyDems :)

Carol creates beauty and also has a beautiful heart from what you tell us about her background.

She's unlucky, true, for having landed up with you but mercifully was given a lot of other gifts to compensate for that tragic misfortune.

Nice work, Carol.

Keeps us posted as to the final results. I don't want to jinx anything by saying good luck but I promise when Sen. Feingold is in the White House I will write to urge him to have Carol re-design the grounds.

MichaelBains said...

That opening pic is beautiful!

Inspiring stuff T2. Thanks and Congrats to the Lady!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, guys! Michael, the opening shot is a garden she designed for a new hospital being built here in Eugene, as part of earning a national credential in healthcare garden design. (That's a fascinating field, btw... one of the few times they've been able to quantify aesthetics; patients with views of nature use measurably less pain medication than equivalent patients in the same ward with views of a wall.) It's located immediately outside a cardiac rehabilitation gym, steps away from the emergency room entrance, and in on the path that hospital staff take from the parking lot to the staff entrance. And it's next to a parking lot. So she had to consider all those constituencies: what do people need to put them in the right frame of mind as they transition into their stressful work environment? What views, based on scientific data, will help cardiac patients heal? How do you keep staff who want to smoke in the garden out of the cardiac patients' view? Can the E.R. issue pagers to family of patients, so they can sit in the garden and decompress or pray or cry without feeling like they're out of contact with their loved one? Weeks of thought in that one C.G. picture of pretty plants!

She'll read your comments, and be glad. Thank you.

lucretia said...

I think it's wonderful! Out of the whole world, your wife Carol and her partner Sebastien were the only winners in the U.S.! They are most skilled and creative. Her mission to Old Delhi was used by her to the most. How many others would have done it??

About Liciano: If I were a coloratura (sp?), I think I would gag on my top note looking at the spiniach, hamburger, and eggs wrestling in his mouth!