Monday, December 26, 2016

A Christmas Eve Day Hike

It has already snowed a couple of times this year in Seattle. When I left the city for higher elevations in the country, there was even more snow.  I went on the most wonderful hike at Wallace Falls. There was a scattering of snow covering the foliage near the parking lot, which was all very exciting. But as I ascended higher and higher to the top of the falls, I was surrounded by the most exquisite winter wonderland scenery. The snow shrouded forest was so magical, I can't imagine a more perfect place to spend the day of Christmas eve.

This sign was at the beginning of the trail. I love this! I think all nature trails should have quotes from works of literature at the entrance. Here is a link to the poem this quote is from if you would like to read the poem in it's entirety: The Tables Turned by William Wordsworth.

The hike was never silent because always was the sound of water. Sometimes far off when the trail veered away from the river, sometimes loud as the river rushed nearby.

The forest was mossy and soft at the beginning of the trail. Moss prospers in the PNW, where the forests thrive in unlimited rain and clouds, and even the pauses of moisture in the summer are mercifully brief.

I love finding little growths in the forest. Little mushrooms are the best. Fungi is so strange. Probably there is a planet out there where all the living growths are fungi and mushrooms. There are forests of giant mushrooms, and fungi spores constantly floating through the air.

The reason people go to Wallace Falls are for the waterfalls. There are three levels where you can behold the majesty of the falls. The waterfalls are beautiful and grand and powerful.

The forest is one of the best places. Trees are so comforting and peaceful and spooky all at the same time.

The best part of the hike was the top where the snow still clung to the branches and cloaked the ground. Instead of following a trail I was following the footprints in the snow. The sun rays were melting the snow and throughout the hike I would hear the plop of snow tumbling off branches. Sometimes the whole forest looked like it was snowing but blue sky was glimmering between the tree branches above. The snow was falling from the branches not the sky but it didn't matter where it fell from, it still created that magical world snowfall creates where everything is slow and silent and muffled and hushed. 

The most amazing thing happened toward the top of the trail. I saw a bobcat. It leaped from the brush silently and gracefully and bounded forward. It was at a turn in the trail and by the time I rounded the turn, there was no evidence of the bobcat except for this paw print pressed in the snow. It was so spectacular! I have never seen a bobcat in the wild before.

Everyone loves snow around Christmas time, so even though it didn't snow in the city Christmas Eve or Christmas day, it was great seeing it in the woods. Christmas day was icy cold in the city though. Most people were gone, visiting their families in different places. The streets were empty and the town quiet.

The Christmas season came and went so quickly this year. I got my tree rather last minute, but look at it! I love it! In the lower left you can see a little ghost of Christmas skulking by the tree...just kidding...that's my cat!

I didn't have much time for Christmas crafts this year. I didn't even make cookies this year which is quite unusual for me as it is one of my favorite Christmas activities. But I did make this hat for the holiday party at work. We had a had decorating contest. I work at an animal rescue and all the animals on the hat are animals currently for adoption. It was fun to make! I am going to keep it for next year. I'll take it out of the box and reminisce about all the animals. But then, hopefully they will have all found their forever homes, but you never know. We had a dog almost two years before she finally found her home. It takes some dogs longer than others, but they all find their forever home eventually.

The holiday season is almost over... which is sad and happy at the same time. The merriment of the Christmas season is nice, but there is a certain understated merriment that the daily rhythms of life provide. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Late Day Locks and Windstorm Wondering

I spent some time at the locks. It was toward the end of the day and the sky was slowly getting darker. 

Here are all the things I saw on that particular day at the locks.

The sun setting over the water and the train bridge, creating an orangey glow.

A flock of little water birds floating together. These little birds are coots. The group name for coots is cover.

A grassy hill with speckles of daisies.

Barnacle stairs inviting me to descend into the salty water.

Kelp creeping toward land.

A bridge for trains.

Ever persistent blackberry bush growing among cement.

A disagreement on the proper etiquette of camping.

Little flowers in bloom.

The lifted bridge.

Reflections in a strange buildings window.

Lights matching the moon.

Today there is to be a windstorm. We have been promised and threatened this windstorm for the past several days. We are anxious and excited and reluctant to decide how we feel. It was suppose to start this morning, then at 2 PM then at 3 PM. It is only breezy now, but the gusts are gathering strength.

A meteorologist (amateur or professional, I'm not sure) claimed it would be the storm of the decade. A storm to rival the Hanukkah Eve storm which happened before I moved here so I don't have that day in my mind to compare. One time while living here though, we had a windstorm that created waves on the normally placid Lake Washington. I was driving over the bridge and the waves swept over the railing and crashed around the roadway. Someone told me that during that windstorm they had to grab onto a pole as to not be blown away.

With all this in mind, I am imaging something pretty ferocious today. I'm imagining not just leaves, but whole, thick branches swirling through the air, slapping against the sides of buildings and collapsing with tinny thumps on top of parked cars. I am imaging hats flying off heads, scarves untwirling themselves from around necks and into the wild air, coats flapping back like capes, hair being blown into wild nests. I imagine umbrellas sucked inside out so their wire skeletons are completely exposed. I am imaging dazed birds pounding their winds as they fight to fly against the pressure of the oncoming wind. But I hope the birds and all the other animals find somewhere safe to huddle and wait out the wind. I saw a cat outside earlier and I wanted to tell it to go home! But it would have just looked at me that way cats do, eyes slanted, an expression of disinterest on it's fuzzy face.

A long time ago when I lived on the North Coast in California, we had a wild windstorm overnight. It was exciting to hear the wind pound against the window, to know outside the world was swept into a kind of frenzied chaos. The next day was calm, but all the trees that lined the freeway were toppled over. there roots exposed. It was sad. They had once been strong, thick trunked trees. They must have been trees for at least thirty years. But it all ended in one night, and they weren't trees anymore, they were wood slumped along the freeway.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

6 AM Pictures

One thing about starting work really early in the morning is that sometimes I find sad, strange, confusing and lonely things to take snap shots of. There are remnants of parties, destruction, and short lived joy. The people wandering around early in the morning are similar. Everyone is either in a sleepy haze or jittery with the remaining energy of the night before. Except for the many people who are awake so early because of poverty, or insanity, or addiction. No one is quite their true self's at 6 AM. The world is a sad and strange place early in the morning.

Here are a bunch of 6 AM pictures from various journey's to work.

Large, melting ice cubes.........................

What were they for? Keeping drinks cold in a cooler? Some sort of weird party game where you slide around a parking lot on giant ice cubes? Melting ice sculptures? They may have been something grand once, but when I encountered them, they were shrinking into puddles of water, soon to be evaporated back into the sky.

Deflated emoji balloon.......................

At one point, this balloon was swollen with helium, proudly bobbing above party goer's heads. But as the night wore down, it slowly drifted downward. Maybe someone accidentally kicked it outside as they stumbled away from the dying party. It the morning light, the balloon's crinkled in face just looks manic. It looks like it is desperately trying to hold on to the frantically giddy energy of the night as the bright morning sun rays beam down on it. 

A bunch of bottle caps spilling from a ripped plastic bag...................

Somewhere, there are a bunch of containers without lids. Whatever is held in the lidless containers is at a constant risk of tumbling out and spilling everywhere. Or maybe on another street there were a bunch of sad looking containers abandoned on the side of the road. 

An orange clown wig behind a barbed wire fence............

Was there some sort of crazed clown roaming the area overnight, then as the sun begins to rise, he sheds his oppressive clown accessories in order to blend in with the ordinary folks? Or maybe there was a clown who decided he was done with orange curly hair, he wanted purple, spiky hair? Or maybe, when it started to rain, the clown melted like the Wicked Witch of the West and the only thing that remained was his lone orange wig. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Book Time!: Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

I found out about the author Jonathan Carroll from my local library. At the downtown library, throughout the fiction section, they have little placards where the staff recommends certain authors and explains why. By Murakami's name, the placard not only endorsed him but also recommended some similar authors including Jonathan Carroll. Murakami is pretty much my all time favorite author so I was excited to get immersed in fantastical worlds of Murakami-esque authors.

The first book I read by Jonathan Carrol was 'The Wooden Sea.' I think this is still my all time favorite by him. The Wooden Sea is actually number three in a series. I usually never read books in a series out of order. I only do this if I don't realize they are part of a series. Unfortunately, this has happened more times than I like to admit. But despite not reading the other two books, I was still enthralled!

But it had been several years since I've read any work by Carroll when I found myself bookless. It is an awful feeling to not be immersed in a book and to not have one lined up to read next. I decided to fix this conundrum by exploring my neighborhood library. Last time I did this, I left the library with a mystery novel that ended up being torture porn. The mystery itself was intriguing, but the descriptions of torture were so intense and awful, I could no longer read the book, and still shutter at the memory of the descriptions. Even worse then the shuttering, I still don't know 'who-dunnit!"  With this memory in mind, I tentatively chose another book at my local branch, but at least this time by an author I was familiar with who had never described any sort of torture in previous readings of his novels.

The book itself was quite interesting and fantastical! It is a little bit sci fi, a little bit fantasy, a little bit mystery and a lot of surreal strangeness! The story starts out on a couple on the verge of a divorce. We slowly learn more about the couple, their life together and their life away from each other. We meet some of their friends and colleagues. But then weird things slowly seep into their ordinary world! The two main characters Dean and Vanessa get whisked away in a dream like narrative, and soon their reality becomes a dream like world. But as Dean, Vanessa, and their friends discover, their is logic behind the dream world, their is control behind that which seems wild. We soon learn of those whose responsibility it is to keep the world ordered: The Mechanics. I don't want to give away too much though!

Sometimes I dislike stories that rely to heavily on dreams within their narratives. But the dream worlds of 'Bathing the Lion' had enough threads of logic and enough connection the the characters waking life, that it felt interesting and impactful rather than a needless diversion.

One theme this book explores is identity. If we don't remember who we were in the past, how does this effect who we are now? If we are one person living one life in a dream, how much of that world we imagined and the person we are in our mind reflects the person we are in reality? In a dream we may love people we don't love and hate people we don't hate. What do these feelings we experience in our dreams mean for our waking life. For the two main characters in Bathing the Lion, Vanessa and Dean, they feel different about their relationship in their dreams than they do in their reality.

My favorite character was Dean's dog-loving colleague: Kaspar. One thing I have noticed about many of Carroll's books is he often has characters with really positive relationships with dogs. It is easy to tell Carroll has great respect for our canine companions. I always respect an author that infuses compassion for animals among their works. Carroll's dogs have souls that are just as developed and real feeling as his human characters. Carroll's dogs aren't tokens. They aren't gimmicks to make the readers go "Awww! Shucks dogs are cute!" They are dynamic characters with hearts and feelings. Carroll views dogs the way the world should view dogs. In 'Bathing the Lion,' Kaspar has a pit bull friend whose presence in the world makes it a more wonderful place.

Overall, 'Bathing the Lion' was a really entertaining read. I felt I was on a whimsical adventure! I would recommend this book to people who like the fantastical, and realities that aren't quite realistic. And of course to dog lovers!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sunset City

Oh, sunsets! It always feels like such a treat to witness a beautiful sunset. I still remember the first time I fell in love with the beauty of sunsets. I was a school kid coming back from a field trip at the State's capitol. We had fancy buses that had TV's and I remember they were playing 'The Sandlot' which was a very popular movie in my day. But out the window was a beautiful sunset and I was too enthralled with that to pay the movie any mind!

While walking home recently, I saw quite the lovely sunset. One thing I like about sunsets is it is not just that they make the sky beautiful, but the lighting from sunsets makes everything glow with a lovely rosy hue. 

A common sailors saying is "Red sky at night, sailors delight! Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning." Sailors are known to have all sorts of interesting superstitions. A sailors life is very unpredictable. While sailing across the turbulent sea, a sailor is at the mercy of unpredictable forces. So superstitions can be a comfort. One sailor superstition that I really like is that black cats are good luck! I wish the world would see black cats as good luck. Black cats have the most difficult time getting adopted because people think they are bad luck.

 There may be no proof regarding the superstition of black cats supposed luck or bad luck, but there is proof that red skies at night are indeed a sailors delight. Red skies mean that the sky is full of dust particles that the setting sunlight is streaming through. This means that there is high pressure in the air. High pressure indicates stable air flowing in from the west. Stable air flow means good weather, and the sailor can rest (more) assured that his days of sailing will be less full of danger. Of course good weather can't predict whether or not a sea monster will emerge from the murky depths and gobble up a ship full of sailors.

If the sky is red in the morning, it means that the good weather has already left. It also means there is much water in the air. Watery air means rain! Rain means storms! Storms mean wild rides for sailors!

Where I grew up, we had lots of smog. The smog would sometimes make the sunsets all the more glorious. There is something sad about the very thing killing off the natural world simultaneously increasing the beauty of the natural world. It seems counter intuitive. Sometimes I feel guilty finding smog sunsets beautiful. I know what they are made of, but I can't help to find the blast of colors captivating.


 "Is the Old Adage “Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight. Red Sky in Morning, Sailor’s Warning” True, or Is It Just an Old Wives’ Tale?"Is “Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight,Red Sky in Morning, Sailor’s Warning” True? Everyday Mysteries. Library of Congress, 2 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. <>.