Monday, December 28, 2009

December Excursion

Port Townsend, WA ~ founded in 1851, is a city of 8,925 which prides itself on its historic charm, maritime heritage, and stunning natural setting.

What a lovely place... one I'd actually (think) I'd like to live in. On the water, mountain view (of both Cascades and Olympics), abundant wildlife and flora, fabulous art community and by all appearances, a lovely diverse and welcoming environment.

They're actively restoring 100+ year old Victorian buildings... with embellishments and bold color.They embrace the arts, support all levels of their community (The Boiler Room) with their Sunday Soup for Everyone... the corner bookstores and oddity storefronts.

I'm in love...

Perhaps, it's time to rethink our mailing address- or maybe, like many things - it is far better from an idealized distance, than the mundane reality... food for thought. A destination to look forward to....

Lo-Fi Entertainment

Sunday, we drove north and ended up in Port Townsend. It was the basic idea... we wanted to see their "Victorian Christmas" decorations before they were mothballed for another year. After a delightful day of leisurely driving, many stops to take pictures of vistas and wildlife, we encountered upon a group of Street performers. The Crow Quill Night Owls... hot jazz/jug band... complete with tubthumping and kazoo.

They were very enjoyable, very talented and a joy to watch. We picked up one of their (very environmentally friendly packaged) CDs and took a few pictures. They have a new fan.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Let It Snow

Today brought a little snow - only flurries with minimal accumulation (maybe a quarter inch). It was absolutely beautiful... like being in the middle of a snowglobe that was being ever so gently shaken by Nature.

At times, the flakes were tiny and very cold, and then you'd look back out the window and they'd be HUGE... like the cornflake snow in old black and white movies.

It felt pristine and serene. Magical.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Frigid Beauty

This winter has been odd for our area. First torrential rains... not just our usual winter precipitation, we don't mind that. We do live in the Olympic Rainforest - rain is expected... but not the 6" more than the usual accumulation we received in November.

Now it's December, and boy, is it cold! Many people don't remember this kind of cold - I know I don't. We've been below freezing for more than a week, often in the single digits. Now, the Hood Canal (a salt water body) has frozen! It's surreal to myself and others who live in an area purported to be "mild," albeit... wet (and consequently, green).

Today, I watch a seagull slip across the ice when it landed by an iced-in sailboat. A crust of ice crossed nearly the entire span of the Hood Canal, between Union and Tahuya, with only a small sliver of flowing surface at the center-most point.

Another notable event locally came in the form of odd happenings at a historic waterwheel... it even made the regional news!

The Dalby Waterwheel frozen immobile. The waterwheel was originally installed by Ed and Ethel Dalby in 1924. It was relocated and restored at another location in 2006.

Keep in mind that none of this is snow - it's been dry during this entire cold snap. Sunlight rarely or only briefly touches many areas due to the abundance of old growth firs, pines and cedars, and the reach of shadows from hills and the Olympic Mountain Range.

We're expecting warmer temperatures soon... and at least 10 days of rain (sigh) - so this unusual event will soon only be a memory, captured in few frantically shot pictures.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In Memorium


Today, Washington State paid tribute to four fallen officers - shot down, in cold blood, in their prime. The memorial service processional included 3000 cars; and, in excess of 120,000 uniformed officers from every corner of our nation, in addition to police brethren from Canada attended the 3 hour service. One of these officers grew up and worked locally. All four were people with stories, and lives and worth knowing.

Thank you for your, and your families', sacrifice. May you know peace and your families find solace.

For more information, go here.
Little Blue Boat
"Little Blue Boat"

Recently, my family underwent great emotional duress following a false accusation of wrong-doing. It took nearly 7 months to close the matter... and many hours of lost wages, countless sleepless nights and a sense of helplessness I would never wish on another (although, being human, I did briefly entertain the thought of the mischief-maker's HUGE discomfort... but that's not my place to decide nor implement).

We've stayed strong as a family - being together, spending quality time doing things together and eschewing things we previously gave an inflated importance to... There have been tears, and raging and at times, a prevailing helplessness. We got through it together - and together we have been vindicated and exonerated. We survived the rough waters and made it home - together.

I cannot think of many things much sweeter than our victory hug and the overwhelming relief that our lives are ours again.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yuletide Procession


Living in a rural community, our traditions are held closely and anticipated very eagerly each year. Not to say that larger communities don't as well... we, I think, just place a bit more importance on these events staged so close to our homes and consisting of so many faces we know personally.

Last night was our Christmas Parade. Although it starts at five, crowds amass long before the first police siren is sounded. The goal... prime viewing, of course. We staked our "usual" spot, just in front of a business owned by friends. It was their first anniversary as a business - so the added boon of warmth and snacks were appreciated too.

Several businesses set up booths offering free cocoa and cider, the Grand Marshall handed out balloons (many of which escaped long before dark), and families set up camp... blankets, camp chairs, all-terrain strollers...

The parade began with 10 seconds of silence. For those that are familiar with Washington local news, this was in honor of four fallen police officers, recently gunned down in a coffee shop with no provocation. One of the officers, the only woman, had worked in emergency dispatch and as a patrol officer in this very town. Although I never met her (she moved on to another town before we moved here), a great sense of loss and heartbreak is shared by this small city.

Finally, it was dark and two patrol cars lit up and hit their sirens. It was rather interesting to watch the variety of reactions. Some children were thrilled and cheered, while other children covered their ears and cowered in their strollers... and parents assured them that the noise would be over soon. Personally... my children would have probably been cheering, or at least not in anyway upset. Both have been known to sleep through events like tractor pulls, hydroplane races and such.

I've noticed that smaller towns place a high emphasis on public safety and the people associated with it. Sure, police and fire vehicles are common in almost any American parade, but prior to attending this procession, I'd never seen Public Works equipment and monster towing vehicles... towing a large tow truck (with a car on it), that was towing another tow truck, etc., etc., etc. It was rather like this long tow-train. Don't get me wrong - I liked it. I'd just never seen anything similar before.

One of the best parts of parades is people watching. Children are always very excited, wriggling about - but staying close to loved ones... all the lights and sounds are a little scary. Teenagers roam around in packs, meeting up with friends and trying to look unimpressed with the parade. Adults, with children, either look harried trying to keep Junior under control and out of the line of the oncoming procession, or bored and wishing desperately it would hurry up and end. They have things to get done at home. Grandparents are usually pretty obvious - they're the ones, just as excited as the little ones. Oohing and Ahing at the sounds and lights, pointing at unexpected parade treasures like giant goats pulling the cart, instead of the tiny ponies they originally thought were there.

Occasionally, you encounter the ever-present rude people, who have no concept of anything but their own pleasure and needs. You know the kind - will step in front of someone obviously taking pictures, or will knowingly jostle a neighbor, but refuse to apologize or even acknowledge it... or better yet, look indignant because you didn't apologize for being bumped by them. But, I digress...

The usual muscle and vintage cars were festively lit up. My favorite was probably the blue Olds Cutlass. Illuminated John Deere trackors, goat-powered carts, a high school marching band, cheerleaders, Miss Forest Festival and a 20 foot tall Paul Bunyan. Nothing says Christmas like a giant man with an ax... LOL. This area's history and ecomony is reliant on timber and aqua-culture... in fact, a local high school's mascot is the "High Climber" (a lumberjack).

Finally! It's time for the big show... and Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on top of their customary fire engine. Children and adults alike cheer and watch them approach, pass and disappear into the distance. The crowd disperses quickly and before the sidewalks are even cleared, the street sweepers and clean up brigade arrive to set things right again.

Today, the streets decorations remain, the town is tidy and our small community has been given the official go forth and be merry edict.

Happy Holidays to everyone...

Friday, December 4, 2009


Mr and Mrs Claus in a Hurry
Mr. & Mrs. Claus in a Hurry (2008)

Tomorrow marks our local, annual holiday parade. I'm looking forward to it. Unlike parades telecast over our nation's airwaves, this one is closely defined by the residents vs. a reaching out to as diverse an audience as possible.

I live in a rural area - this parade is hosted in my county's only "city." Last year, we were treated to festooned tractors, twinkling muscle cars and mini 4x4 monster trucks. Local schools played and Santa made his arrival heralded by our local Fire District.

I'm looking forward to what kind of images I capture with the newer camera. I'm debating whether to take the tripod or not. I want good, clear images, but I hesitate at the thought of being confined by the need to "set up." Not sure yet... but I think I may repeat last year's adventure without a stabilizer and enjoy a series of pictures that, although are not as sharp... express motion, adventure and the heart-tripping joy I associate with holiday events.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bad Moon Rising

December Moon
Driving home from work on Tuesday, I was overwhelmed by the brightness and clarity of the rising moon (this was at 5 o'clock).