December 18 Day 650: Return to the Sunnyside

Taking a break from grading, my husband and I drove down to Salem, OR to pick-up our youngest from his first semester at college. On the way, we stopped by Sunnyside Piazza because I wanted to see its new intersection art.

Three months ago to the day, I celebrated completing the manuscript for my labor of love, a middle grade work of fiction, Phoebe and Blaise: A Pattern of Correspondence. I spoke about it at this October’s Gathering 4 Gardner Celebration of Mind (the recording is being prepared and will be posted soon) and I have been working to secure a literary agent ever since. The parade of rejections has started but I am interpreting this as a rite of passage for a debut author. I will find the right person to support my vision and bring this manuscript to the public. I wrote the book for every middle school girl who loves problem solving but is in danger of buying into the stereotype that math is not cool. Elevator pitch “Hugo Cabret meets Griffin and Sabine and does some math.”

Long story short, much of the titled correspondence happens on the all-to-real message board at Sunnyside Piazza in Portland, Oregon.

The final resolution takes place at the annual repainting of the Sunnyside sunflower. During COVID, utility work in the Sunnyside neighborhood required repaving the street. Thus removing the original sunflower.

No more sunflower in the intersection. April 2021.

I was heartbroken when the neighborhood voted to replace it with an updated, more stylized sunflower. The new design was installed on the weekend of October 1, 2021. I saw a Facebook post about priming the street but never saw the completed project until today.

The result is very pretty albeit already worn.

My greatest concern was whether the new design respected the original tribute to the Fibonacci numbers. After visiting, I will say–not exactly and not as clearly as the original. But if I count everything that can be interpreted as an outer petal, I do get 34. See the linked YouTube below.

So once my book gets published, it will be a lasting tribute to the original design.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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