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David and Diane.jpg

~ Excerpt, "Black Rook in Rainy Weather"

  by Sylvia Plath

"On the stiff twig up there

Hunches a wet black rook

Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain-

I do not expect a miracle

Or an accident.......


Of whatever angel any choose to flare

Suddenly at my elbow.  I only know that a rook

Ordering its black feathers can so shine

As to seize my senses, haul

My eyelids up, and grant


A brief respite from fear

Of total neutrality.  With luck,

Trekking stubborn through this season

Of fatigue, I shall

Patch together a content


Of sorts.  Miracles occur.

If you care to call those spasmodic

Tricks of radiance

Miracles.  The wait's begun again,

The long wait for the angel,


For that rare, random descent."

In May 2020, David was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Through the surgeries and treatments, he has continued to do what he loves–scientific discovery, art, writing, learning, and giving back to humanity through his participation with the Washington Research Foundation and The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation.  He finds inspiration and strength from family, friends, colleagues and by deliberately choosing to live with hope and humor and love.  


Plath’s poem captures how we feel and how we have lived since 2020.  It’s a good day if we are together and don’t have covid.  We try to appreciate those bits of joy, wonder, or laughter that can take you away from the reality of sadness and pain.  There are brief miracles, and it requires shifting focus from what you want to what you have. 


Words are inadequate to thank Kat Galas (sister) and Michael Galas (nephew) for their advice, labor, and technical skills to enable building this site. Thanks to Elaine Skeffington, David’s long-time lab manager, executive administrator, and friend for her technical competence in the organizing and refining of the site.  Thanks to the contributors who spent hours crafting their tributes according to my “rules” to make them informal and personal and not traditionally academic in order to capture the person and the scientist. Thanks to our DC friends who organized the DOE contributions. Thanks to my Seattle friend, Jacque Boyd, for encouraging me to do this.  We welcome all feedback and input and new contributions.


Lastly, I have to thank David for being an extraordinary human being and personal and work partner.  His enthusiasm for life and amazing intellectual capabilities are too big to be confined to knowledge about just one thing.  This site is an attempt to capture the diversity of his talents while remaining true to his beliefs about mentoring talent in others.  It takes courage to live an unconventional career and life. It takes courage to be an optimist.


With gratitude, 

Diane Isonaka

November 2022    

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