Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snowshoe at Dusk

I went for a brief, yet hilly, snowshoe this evening at the Arboretum. The snow is deep and fairly dry. As I lurched down the trails I felt lonely and vaguely like Mary Shelley's monster or the big-foot in the famous video. Luckily I missed running into the cross-country skiers that I came up behind. I didn't feel much like talking, not to mention it would feel weird me being alone. In the dark. In the snow. Monstrous.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanks HDT; I Think I Will

"Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary."
Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Is That REALLY How You Spend Your Time?

Ok, so I thought that the guy on Sunset Hill with the perfectly manicured lawn, the penchant for removing every pine needle as it fell, and the same damn pink petunia borders every blasted year was... well, you know, OCD or at the very least boring and unimaginative. However, the new guy down the road from us takes the cake. Not only did he blow all the leaf litter onto our dirt road with his gas-powered leaf blower BUT he used said machine to blow all the pine needles off the basalt out-cropping on his property. Now, mind you, this is no small pile of rocks. It is a nice park-size thing probably as big as his house that looks very natural. Or, at least it did, until he 'maintains' it. He had done this once before and I thought maybe it was a fluke and maybe he was taking out his frustrations on any weed or needle that dared land on his outcropping. But, alas, no! I don't believe any weed, or grass stem, leaf or pine needle will ever have a snowball's chance in hell of lasting more than a week. And I thought that the pine needles cascading over the tops of the rocks had a nice softening affect on the scene. I bet his socks are perfectly arranged in his drawer and his spices are alphabetized...OMG! Get a hobby or something! (I will try to get a picture of this some time this week)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Magpies, Goose Eggs and the Headless Horseman

It is no longer safe around our house. You have to beware of the hulking dark shapes in the woods. I wouldn't want to be curb stomped by an angry momma moose! With that in mind I went for a late afternoon hike instead at Palisades Park. The light drizzling rain enhanced all the woodsy, decaying leaf smells.

As I approached the road crossing I was surprised by a burst of black and white from the trees and I counted at least 60 congregating magpies. They weren't as loud and obnoxious as they usually are so they must have been getting ready to roost. Or maybe they know what is in store for them the next few months, weather-wise. About the same time I spotted a large empty egg on the ground. It was white and I figured that it had to be a goose egg. Since it is so late in the season maybe someone near here raises geese. I guess it is possible that the magpies robbed Canada geese nests earlier in the year and the empty shell survived the dry summer months. I have often observed magpies stealing eggs from robin nests. Regardless of how it came to be there I soon spotted a second one and know it has to be the work of those crafty thieves.

About half way through my 4 mile hike I took a short rest at the base of the basaltic cliff that is the main feature of this park formally known as Rimrock. This undeveloped and relatively undiscovered park is a real treat. It overlooks the city of Spokane and the view at sunset from the top can be stunning. There are miles of trails and it is a great place to wander on foot, mountain bike or by horseback. I found myself thinking that if this area existed where I grew up, in flat-as-a-pancake Western New York, it would be a full State Park. It would be treasured and likely loved to death.

As I walked through the fading light of deepest dusk and through weeds higher than my head my memories were stirred about similar walks in my teen years in the fields near my house. Then I started thinking of earlier memories like the scary Halloween witch and caldron while out trick or treating when I was really little. That really scared me as a child (around age 4 or 5) and made me chuckle today. The headless horseman then made an appearance in my minds eye as well. Wouldn't that be a great costume to re-create? You would have to scare people from a distance so that you didn't run over anybody....hmmm, like at dusk at the far edge of a U-pick pumpkin patch! You would have to practice a very loud maniacal scream!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Song Stuck in My Head

"In the morning when you rise,
Do you open up your eyes, see what I see?
Do you see the same things every day?
Do you think of a way to start the day?
Getting things in proportion?
Spread the news & help the world go 'round.
Have you heard of a time that will help us get it together again?
Have you heard of the word that will stop us going wrong?
Well, the time is near & the word you'll hear
When you get things in perspective.
Spread the news & help the word go round.

There's a time and the time is now & it's right for me,
It's right for me, and the time is now.
There's a word & and the word is love & it's right for me,
It's right for me, and the word is love."

----YES (from the song "Time and a Word")

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Birthdays should be celebrated, thought about and enjoyed! We went to a jazz/world beat show on top of the Saranac building in Spokane which is the only totally green building here. It was a benefit to raise money for our cool community radio station KYRS. Jan and I went to the wooden boat show in Couer d'Alene and then to Joe and Sunny's house for a BBQ. Fun times!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Short Hike with Heifers

On Wednesday I did short hike in my favorite area east of Fishtrap Lake near Sprague, Washington. It was hot and lots of cows on the blm land. I did not see much bird life but on the way home just back on the paved road I drove through a swarming of thousands of dragonflies. I had never seen so many in one place before and wonder what brought them out to that dry flat field?

Tuesday Evening Bike

I went for a 'short' bike ride on the Fish Lake Trail. On the initial gravel section overlooking a large but nearly dried out pond I saw three Great Blue Herons soaring away in their arcing flight. It was nice to get to smooth pavement after crossing the railroad tracks at the F.L. Trailhead. The orange tinted clouds where reflected on the surface of Fish Lake as I passed above. Fish were feeding all across the lake sending out ripples across the calm surface. There were an abundance of bugs along the trail this evening and I kept my head down as much as I could to keep them out of my mouth and eyes yet glancing up frequently to avoid the other trail users. In one open section a pall of dust had settled over the fields and houses near a dirt road that reminded me of the fog that is so common in our area in November and February.

I turned around at the Cheney trail-head and as I sped back racing the darkness the bugs grew thicker. With my head down I suddenly saw a dark patch of movement in front of and to the right of me. I had to swerve to the left while shouting and luckily the Porcupine turned back to the right. I nearly ran over him on my bicycle! I also could have swerved too violently and fell on him although I was probably traveling too fast for that. It was a very close call. As I got back to the gravel section I had to be careful with all the potholes but I had no real problems the rest of the way. The full moon over the canyon wall stayed with me and guided me back safely to my car.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lasting Summer

We have a month to go of Summer so here is a perfect quote that I found today:

"Never could I have enough; never stay long enough. The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we really live, so that the longer we can stay among these things so much the more have we snatched from inevitable Time."
- Richard Jefferies The Pageant of Summer

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Early Morning Head Clearance

I needed to get outside to clear my mind and de-tox from the recent stress that I have been under. With resolution comes a search; a return to the state of inner peace where I dwell. I almost always turn to nature in order to do this. Here is where I manage my internal happiness.

I got up at five, grabbed gear, food & water and headed west towards Hog Lake. It was cloudy and cool but a very pleasant temperature to hike in and, extra bonus, no bugs! I hit the 'trail' at about 6:15 am and had decided to explore a trail I hadn't know about before. I saw it on the bulletin board at the entrance to this chunk of BLM land. It headed south along the creek formed from the outflow from the small Hog Lake Dam at its southern end. Very wild and green with interesting rock formations like most of the other areas here in the 'channeled scabland' areas. It was very fun exploring someplace new and close to home. And the bird-life was everywhere; wrens, thousands of swallows, cinnamon teals, yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds, gulls, hawks, wood ducks, and robins.

I explored several overlooks above these small lakes, seemingly only visited by hunters, then I headed inland a bit and found the horse trail that I knew to be around here. I followed it south and then west up to the highest point in the immediate vicinity which happens to be out in open country with only an occasional lonely Ponderosa Pine. Quite a contrast to the lowland canyon by the stream/marsh/pond topography. I headed back on this higher ground, exploring as I went. I knew that I would eventually find game trails down to the stream area. I did and came out pretty close to where I had parked. I really like this open country to hike in! You really can't get lost as long as you pay attention to the lay of the land.

I then drove to the north end of Hog Lake to more familiar trails because I wanted to check on the waterfall which all but drys up in the summer. It was flowing nicely and as I approached the sun finally began to come out. I mountain-goated the talus slope of sharp angular basaltic rocks that ring like chimes when they fall against each other. A very beautiful day and very renewing for my spirit!

Home by 10:15 am and was safe and warm when the hail, snow and rain hit...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Downside of "Near Nature, Near Perfect"

My widely dispersed neighbors and I watched the baby moose grow up over the last two years. Occasional sightings were shared over the fence or over a beer in the evenings. As it grew it became less awkward and began roaming some on its own preparing for its future in the adult realm.

Then one night its luck ran out as it tried to cross the road. Or, I suppose, it could have tumbled down one of the many small cliffs we have in this bare-basaltic flood-scoured area near Spokane. What I saw early Sunday morning made me sad and dismayed. As it crossed the dirt road near the intersection with the main road I saw it walking with a very wobbly, unstable right rear leg. It could hardly bare weight on the obviously broken extremity. In talking the next day with my neighbor she had thought it was walking strangely the week before.

I called and spoke to a Fish and Wildlife Officer who told me that they normally leave injured animals like that alone as long as they are still able to get about. They have seen elk and deer survive for 2-4 years with only three legs. They only come out to euthanize them if they are unable to get up.

Monday I rode my bike and walked on the trails around our 'neighborhood' trying to locate the moose but to no avail. As I passed near the red-tailed hawk nesting tree I got a scolding and an escort out of there. A reminder, as well, from the natural denizens of the area to not interfere.

(Note; the photo is from October 2008 from our back porch)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Michael Pollan's book that I just read titled "A Place of My Own; The Architecture of Daydreams:

"With this more substantial shelter about me, I had made some progress toward settling in the world" - Henry David Thoreau; Walden

"If I were asked to name the chief benefits of the house, I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace." - Gaston Bachelard; The Poetics of Space

"No good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art." - John Ruskin

"That I had dreamt it and then had a hand in making it a fact was more gratifying than I can say, but now I was looking past that, or trying to , wondering, pointlessly perhaps, about how this building I'd helped to shape might come in time to shape me, where the two of us might be headed." - Michael Pollan

"As Venturi's comment suggests ("the relevant revolution today is the current electronic one"), the relationship between the information society and architecture may resemble a zero sum game. The culture of information is ultimately hostile to architecture, as it is to anything that can't be readily translated into its terms - to the whole of the undigitizable world, everything that the promoters of cyberspace like to refer to as RL (for "real life"). - Michael Pollan

This last quote speaks to my main reason for having this blog in the first place:

""Information overload" is something we hear a lot about these days, and there does seem to be a growing sense that technology, the media, and the sheer quantity of information in circulation have somehow gotten between us and reality - what used to be called, without a lot of quotations marks or qualifiers, nature." - Michael Pollan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Big, fat, buttery, creamy Buttercups! Like minature thermonuclear suns brightening up an other-wise dreary day!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yesterday & Today

It was a weird weather week here in Spokaloo. First there was dense fog, then sun and then drizzling rain but no cold weather to speak of. It is the first week of February and we have had no snow for weeks and weeks. In fact our cold snap was in November before winter even arrived. This winter has been so mild that it really feels like spring. I have been sleeping with my windows open and sometimes driving with my windows down. I've been killing ants in the kitchen all week and even crushed a mosquito on the outside of my car already. Then there was the flock of Canadian Geese flying around in a circle because they were even confused. If we have summer instead of spring I wonder what summer will bring...Hades?

Yesterday it was sunny so I got out the bike and did about 10 miles on the Fishlake to Cheney paved railtrail. It was nice but the lake is still frozen over. There were several groups of walkers out enjoying the fine weather (it was near 50 out yesterday). I saw the kingfisher who lives along the trail. It felt really good to get back on the bike.

Today I just had to get out of Dodge so I went up to Mt. Spokane through the fog and went snowshoeing in the Sunshine! Very nice up there : ) I saw many moose tracks and saw a pair of bald eagles on the way home on the Mt. Spokane Road. I was trekking for 2 1/2 hours total. I turned around when I crested the ridge between Beauty and Kit Carson Peaks. It was much quicker on the way down! Great exercise along trails 100 and 110.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Miracle of You (dedicated to my family)

(14 billion years ago)
The laws of physics exert their power over the young cosmos. Gravity begins to coalesce matter into clumps that ignite to form the first stars.

SOL (4.5 billion years ago)
Our solar system forms including the planet that becomes our future home.

LIFE (3.5 billion years ago)
The first thermophilic microbial colonies form. They exist without much change for 3 billion years. Eventually the vast diversity of life begins to rapidly evolve 500 million years ago.

Looking Forward
Looking Back....

Here each of us stands; Here and Now. Each of us a living, breathing miracle embodying the processes of time, chance, nature and struggle. Think of ALL who have come before...

Your parents' urge to strike out on their own and then... a chance meeting. Your grandparents meeting in a much smaller world, falling in love and then starting families. Your great grandparents or great-great grandparents coming from Germany and other countries on a ship; all of them making the crossing of a vast ocean successfully and without dying of a disease before having children. The Smith's, Olson's, Heck's, Ritz's, Boggs', Phipps', Copelands's, Gilbert's, Thiel's, Peppenhagan's, Wiepert's, Wilde's, Haack's, Schultz's, Peck's, Dorwald's, Blum's, Jarmillo's, Griffith's, Hash's, Boone's, Van Bibber's, Bryan's, Van Cleve's, Maugridge's, Uppey's..George Boone I and Ann Fallace (Anali and Mallory's Great X 11 grandparents). These ancestors cover just 350 years and represent only a partial list of those who came before. If Governor Bent hadn't stalled the Indians long enough, his wife would have been killed too. She would never have lived to re-marry and have more children. If that famous BAER had KILT D. BOONE instead of the other way around then he would have never had children. If disease or accident had felled any of these ancestors before they had sired children the chain that leads to you would have been broken. We wouldn't be here.

Now look further back in time, through wars, invasions and occupations of Norhtern and Middle Europe. Conquests, poverty, eking out a living just enough to survive and procreate, not succumbing to plagues or famine. Having children in sometimes horrible circumstances; rarely out of romantic love like we are able to today. Further back to the days of the Roman Legions and before that into pre-history. Generation upon Generation of our ancestors living, reproducing, dying. For thousands of years living during and before the ice ages in primitive villages. Huddling around fires for warmth, telling long forgotten stories of their ancestors; watching the stars and waiting for the return of the sun. The great expansion of humankind from the golden crescent and long before that the original exodus from Africa; our earliest Human ancestors. It all points, through countless generations, unerringly to YOU.

Now consider the eons of hominid progression and survival. The earliest primates and before that the first mammals; shrew-like creatures in the forest canopy. Their reptilian and amphibious ancestors evolving and passing on their DNA to the next individuals over the vast periods of time that our human minds have difficulty fathoming. Earlier and earlier this scenario unfolds until the earliest life, those mats of microbial cells clinging to a thermal vent under and unnamed ocean on the primordial Earth.

If ANY of those links had been broken YOU, WE wouldn't be here. YOU are the miracle of miracles. The unbroken chain since the begining of Life! Let not a day pass that you do not feel the powerful force of life coursing through your veins. The complete, undeniable special-ness of each of us.

"We are made of star stuff, contemplating the stars" - Carl Sagan

December 21, 2009