Friday, April 28, 2006

Sunset At The North Pole

This is a sunset at the North Pole, with the moon at its closest point.... A scene you will probably never get to see, because no one else has EVER seen it, either.

It is the result of photoshop. Oldeupher sent it to me, and says his friend Bill, a physics teacher, indicates:" The angular diameter of the sun and moon when viewed from the earth are nearly the same - about half a degree. If the moon is at a nearpoint, the moon will BARELY cover the sun if they are aligned, resulting in a total solar eclipse viewable in a region on earth on the order of 1(or less) to 50 miles wide. If the moon is not at its nearest to earth, even if the moon is perfectly aligned, the eclipse will be an annular one, with a "ring of fire" ie. ring of sun still visible. The size of the moon shown in the photo is WAY too large. It must have been taken with a longer focal length lens and put into the photo. The visible part MAY also be too wide. It seems like that, but of course with the greatly enlarged moon, it is hard to tell. Makes a pretty photo, just not a physically possible one."

Hungry for more? Check out the Northern Lights.

Wanted: Good Problem Solving Skills

Everyone is concerned about social security reform.

The President says: "Every year we wait to address this problem will make any eventual solution more painful and drastic." He says people could set aside part of their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. He is willing to listen to any good idea. He says, "Some in Washington want to deny that Social Security has a problem, but the American people know better."

And this, from the Cox & Forkum Archives: "Democrats are a problem. On modernizing Social Security, most of them are reactionary liberals, committed to preserving an antiquated system. But at the moment, Republicans are an even bigger problem for the White House. For a reform measure to win approval in Congress, Republicans must be united. True, the conventional wisdom in Washington is that entitlement reform requires bipartisanship. With only a handful of Democrats likely to sign on, however, that won't happen. So that leaves the matter with Republicans, and they are anything but together."

"The Democrats are on the ropes and in no position to resist President Bush's proposal for a partial privatization of Social Security. So it is up to cowardly congressional Republicans to stand in the way of progress -- which some of them are, of course, doing. This article provides a good overview of likely resistance from Republicans -- as well as the likely outlines of any Bush administration proposal." Cox & Forkum Archives,

Now, what does that have to do with my post? I've just applied for my Social Security!

There is no use trying to figure out solutions to the 'ABOVE' issues - that is, if you are me....because the real problem with Social Security is what happens when you enter the front door, and discover that 20 people are ahead of you waiting in line.

I waited 20 minutes, and they cleared out only 3 in the line. That means 17 more to go.

Anyone applying for anything with Social Security knows that when you enter, you take a number. I was 157, and they were only on 137 when I sat down. After 20 minutes scanning the cramped room, listening to whining children and crying babies, I decided to take my number and go home. I figured I could wait there for another hour, have a cup of coffee, and drive back.

My guess was good - when I returned, I waited only 10 minutes, and my number was called. Then, when I got to the window, they told me that the person who handles retirement benefits was not there!

Now, I ask: Could they have posted a sign warning about that? I'm sure I wasn't the first turned away, nor the last.

Work In Progress

My blogging has really been put on the back-burner while I've been getting our garden in, the sod put in place, and the patio organized.

We took the pygmy goat corral out, and also the little barn. That opened up the entire patio and expanded our yard. Now we have room for a couple of chairs and footstools, a little cofee table - and more grass to mow.

Since it is just George and I now, I decided against a picnic table, and just kept things simple. Dinner is served on trays, and put on the footstools. A roof extension from the house keeps the patio shaded all day - that is nice for summertime.

Our front porch catches the afternoon sun about 2:00. It can get too sunny there in the afternoon. However, the cats have enjoyed the front porch in the wintertime where a spot of warm sunshine is a welcome treat. A few times I've seen both our cats curled up together here, like they were still kittens in a nest. We have quite a few people walking by everyday, and they have enjoyed looking at our cats here.

This is the Nemesia (Berries and Cream) and white Bacopa that I put in a cedar planter - it has really taken off. It sits in a small spot of sunshine at a far corner of my patio, quite happy and fully expressive.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Remember These Predictions?

Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances." -- Dr. Lee DeForest, Inventor of TV

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives." -- Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." -- Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." -- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?" -- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip."640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us," -- Western Union internal memo, 1876

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" -- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible," -- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper," -- Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make," -- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out," -- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible," -- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this," -- Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy," -- Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." -- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929."Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value," -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented," -- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.

"The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over Niagara Falls to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required." -- professor of electrical engineering, New York University

"I don't know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn't be a feasible business by itself." -- the head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." -- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon," -- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

And last but not least..."There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." -- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment

The Puyallup Spring Fair

The Puyallup Spring Fair was held this last weekend in conjunction with the Daffodil Parade. I'll have to admit that when I get over to the Fair, I head over to the animals first, and try to find a favorite - pygmy goats. Often, there are newborn goats, and I take my video camera and zoom in on them.

Cattle are next, with all the activity in the barns. These are the cleanest cattle you will ever see, with owners making sure that they look great for 'show'.

I take a long time in the Domestic Arts Building - I love the quilts, the jams and jellies, the homemade pies, and all of the embroidery. The Arts and Crafts are usually next, and they do not allow any photographs in that building. We have people all over the United States entering their photography here.

The Spring Fair is not as grand in scale as the Fall Festival, held in the middle of September, but it is a great place to people watch. I enjoy sitting with a warm, buttery scone with raspberry jam. And, I enjoy watching people walk away with those giant, stuffed animals that are fun to win — but not so fun to lug around the rest of the day.

This year’s Spring Fair featured a Charreada, a traditional Mexican-style rodeo, with skilled charros (cowboys) in colorful Mexican costumes, and mariachi music.
Beginning centuries ago as a rural entertainment based on the working skills of cowhands, the charrada has become the official sport of Mexico. With its history, gallantry, pageantry, and contests the rodeo inspires artistic expressive forms such as painting, poetry, music, folk dance, novels and films.

The PC Gamers Exposition featured the latest in gaming gadgets, and Rocket’s K-9 Comet Frisbee Dog Stars had a show featuring five Frisbee-catching canines competing one on one in the “Acrobatic Idol,” “Survivor Speed Catch” and the “WWWoof Smackdown Double Dog Challenge.”

The Swifty Swine Racing Pigs were racing around a track for the coveted prize of a peanut butter cup at the finish line......just good fun for the Fair crowd. Also, the Spring Fair has a litter of piglets - and this is the most popular feature for the kids.

This photo is the fall harvest - squash, cukes, tomatoes, zuchinni, corn. We've got a lot of growing to do until then....right now, the only the seeds have sprouted and an entire growing season is ahead of us.

Just A Little of This And That

Well, George had a meeting last night, so I wasn't very motivated to cook anything for dinner....can you tell?

I worked most of the afternoon outside, as I have all week, continuing to lay sod, seed my vegetables, and work in my garden. I've set soaker hoses, and so it is just a matter of turning a switch and walking off.

I've been watching "American Idol". If you've been watching that, I'm sure you are wondering who is going to make it to the top. I think Elliott Yamin has the best male voice; however, Taylor Hicks has showmanship and charisma, and he has experience in the field. None of his songs have impressed me. If he could have sung "Rainy Night in Georgia" when they did their romantic songs, perhaps his vocal style could have been enhanced, but he hasn't been able to really feature his style on this show.

Katherine McPhee and Paris Bennett both have wonderful voices, but there is no "wow factor" over all there - just good voices. Both these women will have musical careers, regardless of whether they win or not.

You wanted a photo of my new fireplace? Well, here is the fire, up close - propane, not woodburning. They put little chunks of vermiculite on the bottom to make it look like coals - quite an unusual feature. The logs are like small scattered branches, not that older look of just 3 logs placed neatly. This looks like a true fire, but with none of the mess.

We use it only in the early morning when we get up, and again in the need for the furnace to run now.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Daffodil Festival Parade

There were thousands of people lining Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma on Saturday, to enjoy the 73rd annual Daffodil Parade. The parade traveled through Tacoma, Puyullap, Orting, and Sumner.

The Daffodil Festival began in 1926, when the Charles W. Orton family was hosting civic leaders from 125 towns in Western Washington. They celebrated with a garden party, featuring the many varieties of daffodils in bloom at this time of year. The Commander at Fort Lewis, Major General Robert Alexander, brought a military band and riding horses. The festivities became a yearly event. Eventually a yearly parade was held, featuring floats and marching bands.

This year there was a jazz festival with music on four stages, vendors, arts & crafts displays, flower show, hundreds of classic cars, and family and kids' activities. Many people came early, and put their lawn chair on the curb, with a cooler of pop nearby. People were viewing the parade from a parking garage, and from balconies along the street.

I just ''happened onto the parade" on my way over to Watson's Nursery, where I was going to get a few shrubs for the back yard. A police barrier prevented traffic from going through the intersection, and there I was, stalled in my car! What a pleasant delight, and I had a front row seat.

I regretted not keeping my camera in the car, as many of the floats and banners were quite colorful. So I found a website sponsored by our local newspaper, running images of the Parade. People were encouraged to share their images - so these are a few.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gig Harbor - Washington

After our canoe glide on the weekend, we drove into the little commercial fishing village of Gig Harbor for a picnic lunch.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, with many of the locals ambling down to the docks to check out the pleasure crafts.

Gig Harbor can sport some pretty fancy sailboats and cabin cruisers. Most of these boats looked so clean I wondered if any of them were really used.

A 30 minute parking limit for boats is the rule, so when we walked the boardwalk, most of the boat-owners were just sitting in their boats, drink in hand. It felt rather odd, like they were specimens, waiting to be viewed.

We were walking along Grandview Street, the main thoroughfare of Gig Harbor, and 'bumped into' our daughter-in-law, Annie. She joined us in our walk, and we took in the little shops, the boats, and the people. Annie and her husband Rue live in Gig Harbor with their daughter, Daisy, who is nine.

Gig Harbor is generally known as the "wealthy" hub of Pierce County, with a lot of gated communities and waterfront property. Commercial fishing and boat building dominated the economy in its early history, but now it is primarily a residential area adjacent to Tacoma via use of the Narrows Bridge.

There is a Maritime Festival in early June, at which time there is a 'blessing of the fleet'.

Arbor Day was celebrated last weekend with a poetry contest, and the Farmer's Market lasts from now until October, with many local truck farmers bringing in flowers and produce.

Gig Harbor is known for its quaint, artsy charm. Galleries and shops are filled with the work of talented local artists and craftspeople. The natural splendor of the place has always attracted creative types, especially those working in the visual arts. For nearly a quarter century, the Peninsula Art League has sponsored exhibitions, workshops and classes for artists to learn and exhibit together. Membership includes about 180 people - sculptors, photographers, potters, jewelers, glass artists, fiber artists and painters who work in every imaginable medium.

Gig Harbor hosts a yearly Summer Art Festival that includes 162 booths hosted by the Peninsula Art League.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Wild Ride On Square Lake

The photos here look pretty tame on Square Lake on the Kitsap Peninsula, but when we put the canoe in the water, the wind blew us, sideways, about 100 feet....not a friendly greeting. But other than the wind, it was a gorgeous sunny day, with temps in the 70's.

We'd canoed this lake once before in the summertime, when the beach is loaded with children and people picnicing. It is a shallow lake with a very scummy bottom, not especially great for swimming, but good for tubing and paddling.

On this day, only the caretakers were there, having a cup of morning coffee in their RV. They said that the $5.00 fee is waved, that they want more people to enjoy this little lake. They spend 3 monthes camped here in their RV as hosts, then pack up for a month and travel the USA. At trips's end, they return once again as caretakers for 3 monthes. They say it is a great way to spend retirement, and it allows them a little income, and great outdoor living.

I recall this lake having so many lily pads, and all of them bobbing in the water at the same length from the bottom of the shallows. The lily pads here are actually a deep maroon, laced with veins of orange. (The intense sunlight makes for a faded image here.)

George was eager to have me look up at an immature eagle perched right overhead, but I was so busy sitting at a slant trying to balance the wind, that I waited until we were in a little quiet cove before I checked him out. Kingfishers, Canadian geese, and a blue heron were our company for the day. We paddled through thick reeds at the end of the lake, where there is also a beaver dam and muskrat dwelling. A deep gorge down in the bottom of the lake appears to go into a cave - but George says it is the entrance to the muskrat's dwelling.

The still photos here are pretty poor, but the video that I took has filters that screen out glare and deepen the color. Those images of sweet little maroon lily pads floating by on a vast blue expanse turned out pretty good. I favor the video, as it also captures the birdcalls, and the pull of the canoe through the reeds. And, wouldn't you know it, the last two glides that we've had we've gotten phone calls! Just as we are trying to get out of the wind, George told our friend on the phone that "we've got to get the canoe around a bend.....we'll call back if we make it."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Holding On To The Grass - William Stafford

Artwork by Larry Carlson

Sunset reaches out, earth rolls free
yet clings hard to what passes.
Light pours unstinting, though darkness
cuts the horizon and leaps for the sky.
Beyond, in a shadow vast as the world,
a silent upland springs blue where it stands
morning and evening. Its own being,
it never changes while the light plays over it.

We could go there and live, have a place,
a shoulder of earth, watch days
find their way onward in their serious march
where nothing happens but each one is gone.
Some people build cities and live there;
they hurry and shout. We lie on the earth;
to keep from falling into the stars we reach
as wide as we can and hold onto the grass.

"East of Broken Top" ~ by William Stafford

Friday, April 21, 2006

No Rental Agreements Needed Here

If you look closely, you'll see a little fluffy wren sitting on this old birdhouse out my window. There is something so urgent about her. You see, she keeps coming back to this place, sitting and chirping, exploring the doorway, sitting on the roof ---- telling her mate that this is 'the place' she has chosen for her nest.

But, he comes over, hops on the roof, explores the doorway, looks around, and flys away! He will not nest here.

The little female has urged him to reconsider many times over the past weeks, but he just looks inside and flys away. Meanwhile, she fluffs out her feathers with a protest. She doesn't care that this little house is too close to my back door, or that our cats could walk over and stick a paw in the door. This must be a new experience for her, and she is not paying attention to the prudent instincts of her mate.

When I built the birdhouse out of scraps 10 years ago, it was just for fun. No bird has ever lived in it, and I want to remove it....but now I've got potential tenants. I need to wait until she has either convinced hubby to settle down, or he has convinced there are better accommodations elsewhere. I sure wish one of them would make up their minds.

The Cherry Blossoms Are In Bloom

This is the view out of my studio/guest-room window upstairs. It looks down into part of our backyard, with the little cabin I built for my grand-daughter, and the old garage on the right.

Not shown, is my vegetable garden that runs the length of the backyard, with nine growing beds for flowers and vegetables.

It was in this little room, sitting in a big chair by the window, that I imagined where I would plant everything - from a bird's-eye view.

For 10 years the entire backyard was devoted to growing flowers and vegetables. Now that age has taken it's toll, with the attendent aches and pains, I've planted a lawn where garden paths used to meander. We've removed the little goat corral, the rabbit hutch, the chicken coop and 'run'. My days of 'intensive farming' are over.

Right now, the cherry tree is in bloom, and the squirrls are ruffling the leaves under the pin oak, to recover all the acorns they planted. There is a lot of chatter in the forsythia from the wrens and chicadees, and it looks like we will be having a peek-a-boo day, some rain, with sunbreaks. In time, these windows will be open, and fresh air will fill the house.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Remembering My Dear Friend Carol

Carol was the dearest friend I ever had. She passed away suddenly when she was 29, of a massive cerebral aneurysm.

As I held her, sitting on the floor of her apartment, I spoke reassuring words, and her eyes searched my face for an answer. She couldn't speak. She couldn't squeeze my hands. I told her that everything would be O.K., that her three children would be fine. The ambulance was on its way.....

It seems like that happened just yesterday, and her face is as vivid now as it was that last day when her life ended. Yet, that was 31 years ago. And, her children have all grown up and scattered. My life moved on too, carrying the memory of this dear woman.

As we approach the
Most Great Festival of Ridvan, that period where the founder of the Baha'i Faith disclosed his mission to his family and friends in the garden of Ridvan in Baghdad, I think of my formative years in this Faith, and how it was fostered with this friendship.

Carol was a servant to the Baha'i community, a travel-teacher, a secretary to the administrative body of the Faith. She fostered endearing relationships, often with the homeless and homesick youth at the Job Corp out on the Montana prairie. Her home was a haven for many gatherings.

Carol was the one who taught me how to make tamales from scratch - she even carved her own tamale press. She also taught me how to make my favorite chocolate cake and whole wheat bread, with honey and molasses, three loaves at a time. I baked her bread for 30 years, until my household shrunk, and then one loaf was enough. I remember the beauty of her hands as she kneaded the dough, as she held children, and as she would push her long hair over an ear.

Carol had parents who were Baha'is, and a brother who pioneered down in Bolivia for the Faith. I'm sure her children remember her at this time of year, when they think of renewal and the warmth of spring. Carol had perennial sunshine in her eyes, and her manner was demure and gentle. She used words sparingly. She never gossiped or spoke harshly.

She also made all her own clothes, and the clothes of her children. When she died, the clothes she wore that day were given to me - a red flannel, long sleeved shirt, and a pair of jeans. When I would miss Carol, I'd wear them.

Carol was an organ doner. Someone has corneas and vision because of her. And, two people have her kidneys. She would have loved knowing that. Vision and life are now available to someone else. So many of the Baha'is of Missoula, Montana, have now scattered, but if we all ever got together again - we'd be talking about our love for Carol. Everyone would have a significant story to tell of her service and devotion.

Pioneer Cemetary - Thurston County

On the weekend we took a long afternoon drive through the countryside. This time of year the pastures have greened up beautifully, cattle are grazing in the meadows, and many of the shrubs and trees are in bloom.

We like to take country roads that are off the main roads, and see where they lead. Our trip meandered through a beautiful little valley, along a creek boardered with willows, and ended up at this cemetary on a hillside.

It was a pioneer cemetary, with many
old gravestones still in very good condition. I walked around, and noticed someone who had fought in the Spanish American War; another man had served in the first World War. One gravestone said "Infant Daughter", another just said "Father". Some family plots were outlined with little concrete borders. One of these was under some large pine trees. Underneath, covering the entire plot, was a bed of Sedum, from corner to corner, spilling over the cement. I've never seen sedum used this way - it was lovely, and perfectly spread. Someone came up with a very good idea, as no other type of plant would have done well under those big pine trees.

Moss and lichen has covered up much of the engraving on the oldest gravestones, and even the sun, wind and rain had worn some of the surfaces so thin that names could only be imagined. But, this cemetary was cared for, and flowers had been put by the sides of many of the gravestones, in commemoration of Easter. Beautiful flowering shrubs were scattered throughout, very over-grown, and the wild Ajuga (bugleweed) lined the pathways.

Headstone Humor

In a Ribbesford, England, cemetery:
The children of Israel wanted bread
And the Lord sent them manna,
Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna.

In a Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery:
Here lies Johnny Yeast
Pardon me for not rising.

In a Silver City, Nevada, cemetery:
Here lays Butch,we planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger, but slow on the draw.

Lester Moore was a Wells, Fargo Co. station agent for Naco, Arizona in the cowboy days of the 1880's. He's buried in the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona:
Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs from a .44
No Les no more.

In a Georgia cemetery:
"I told you I was sick!"

Anna Hopewell's grave in Enosburg Falls, Vermont has an epitaph that sounds like something from a Three Stooges movie:
Here lies the body of our Anna
Done to death by a banana
It wasn't the fruit that laid her low
But the skin of the thing that made her go.

On a grave from the 1880's in Nantucket, Massachusetts:
Under the sod and under the trees
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here, there's only the pod:
Pease shelled out and went to God.

In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:
Here lies an Atheist
All dressed up and no place to go.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

You Have To See It To Believe It

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar were featured on the Discovery Channel. I was just fascinated by their personal story of home-schooling, personal responsibility, discipline, and hard work. This family has moved into a new 7,000 sq. foot home with their 16 children. If you read the articles here, here, and here, on them, you'll note that they planned their lifesyle, and can financially sustain it.

At first, I was astonished that a woman would willingly choose to have that many children, but she did....and may still have more. She succeeds with 16 in many ways most of us struggle with 2 or 3. This is definitely a story of triumph over all odds, a success story of a remarkable woman. Michelle says, "We are ordinary people with our individual weaknesses and imperfections but yet we serve an extraordinary GOD who delights in demonstrating His great power!"

Rarely have I seen such well-behaved, responsible children. All of the children helped to build their house, a double set of floorplans joined together. The 7,000-square-foot family project has 10 bathrooms, master and guest bedrooms, a laundry room with four washers and eight dryers and two dormitory-style bedrooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. The house has two kitchens, with commercial ovens, dishwashers, and gadgetry. They drive a mini-bus to the grocerystore, and everyone helps to do the shopping.

The Discovery channel will continue to keep viewers updated on this remarkable family. Not all large families thrive as Michelle Duggan has. The largest family in America, with 17 children live in California. The Chernenkos immigrated from the Ukraine and do not yet know the language.

Scrapbook Art - Someone's Treasures

These drawings were in a large scrapbook at the Tenino Railroad Museum - they were cut-outs from magazines of the day.

There certainly was an innocence and sweetness associated with children, painted with such endearment here. Cards and
illustrations like these are in the Antique stores here in Tacoma. I've collected quite a few, and have made my own scrapbooks out of them.

I especially enjoy the depiction of children and is almost a bygone era to see this simple relationship. I enjoy seeing the pets dressed up, like a family member, in amusing clothing and hats.

Nowdays, the sophistocation of computers and video-games has caused children to enter an entirely different world.
Only very young children take an interest in images such as these....and notice the hand-made horse, another delight.

A Mixed Reception Here In Seattle

The leader of China, President Hu Jintao, has arrived in Seattle. He has talks planned with Microsoft's Bill Gates, a tour at Boeing, and then heads over to Washington to visit President Bush.

China and the United States have put disputes aside over human rights, military spending and energy security, to focus on talks aimed to reduce U.S. anxiety about China's growing economic, political and military power.

While in Seattle, it is hoped that President Hu Jintao will address China's online censorship and the arrest of cyber-dissidents. It is still difficult to do any online journaling, such as blogging, without the possibility of intervention and scrutiny.

If China wants to expand its influence in the world, frank and pragmatic discussions are necessary. There is still a stormy tension between our two countries, with Bush pressing for democracy throughout the world, and Hu Jintao working in an autocratic mode, with the hope that he will show that China can emerge as a great power without following the violent path blazed by other superpowers.

There is a mixed reception with the two day visit here - and I suspect it will get a lot of media coverage. Already, there is talk of demonstrators organizing protests against the religious oppression in China. Practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement labeled an "evil cult" in China, are planning a march. Taiwanese-Americans will be asserting that island nation's right to continued independence, and Tibetans are calling for an end to China's rule of their homeland.

Flags are flying at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, scores of reporters are covering the event .... we'll all be watching the local news.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

For My Coffeebreak Today - Yummy

Off The Beaten Track

The 82 year old proprietor of the Tenino Depot Museum was quite surprised when he saw George and I walk into his little museum out in rural Thurston County on the weekend. It is 'out in the middle of nowhere', and when we walked inside he said it was the first day of the season for the museum.

We smiled, signed our names in the guest register, and told him we were just exploring, driving through the valley, and the museum looked interesting. So, we checked it out.

The sandstone building housing the museum was built in 1914 as a Northern Pacific depot and was active until after WW II. On the main line betwen Seattle and Portland, eight or nine trains daily stopped here at the height of train travel. In 1965, NP sold it to the town and with the help of a Federal grant, it was moved ten blocks to a city park and converted to a museum. The building was kept the same as much as possible and now houses the original press used to make the original wood money, along with old logging tools, old quarry tools, railroad memorabilia and many local artifacts, including a 1920s doctor's office.

While I explored rock samples, petrified dinosaur droppings, barbed wire, and old typewriters, George got acquainted with our host, the last living lumbermill operator of Bucoda, Washington.

He was eager to share the history of Tenino, starting with the stage coaches that carried passengers over to Olympia. They were always getting stuck in the mud, and when the railroad crews came to build the tracks, the area became a trading center for the southern part of the county.

By 1887, the town had a population of 75, two general merchadise stores, a hotel, two blacksmiths, and a telegraph and freight office. In 1888 sandstone quarrying became a valuable part of Tenino's economy.

Skilled quarrymen, stone cutters, and stone masons helped to create an increase in population. By 1910, rock for government breakwater projects at Grays Harbor brought the number to 1,000.

Contracts to supply granite from a quarry in the Skookumchuck River gorge necessitated building a railroad line from Tenino to the gorge. The project ended when the government cut off funds for harbor improvements in World War I. When the Great Depression hit this area, the sandstone quarrywork halted, and the little town of Tenino began to fade away.

I'm not sure what this large machine on the railroad tracks is used for - it was nearby. Perhaps it does some sort of track repair. An active railroad runs through the area, and the Museum helps to keep the history of railroading in Tenino alive. I'll post some photos below.....

Farming, Railroading, and Banking

The light in the museum was poor for photographs, but I managed to get a few items here - part of a barbed wire collection, railroad lanterns, and currency bags.

The railroad line, operating from 1878 until 1916, had only one passenger car and a freight car. For $1.00 a ton, freight was loaded anywhere on the line, and passenger tickets were also $1.00.

Stops were made whenever necessary. Farmers flagged down the train anywhere along the line and freight was dropped off the same way. Cows often held up the entire schedule while the conductor chased them out of the way.

Tenino made news all over the world during the Depression when it made "wooden money". The scheme grew out of a Tenino Chamber of Commerce plan to issue emergency scrip to relieve the money shortage caused by the failure of the local bank. The original scrip was on paper and given to bank depositors in exchange for assignment to the Chamber of up to 25% of the depositor's bank account balance.

Shortley afterward, the scrip was printed on "slicewood" of spruce and cedar. It immediately became famous as the original wooden money. Eight issues were printed between 1932 and 1933, with a total of $10,308 of the wooden currency put into circulation. It became a collector's item, and only $40 was ever redeemed by the Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

The weekend weather forcast predicted torrents of rain and wind, not the greatest day for a canoe glide. But, we loaded up anyway, and took our raingear and hiking boots.

We scouted a few lakes down in Thurston County, but the waves were formidible, and the sky very ominous. We found some cliffs along the Skookumchuck River, and climbed them. But George's shoes weren't that great for climbing, so we turned our attention to the Nisqually Delta.

The Nisqually Delta is a wildlife sanctuary north of Olympia, pictured here. Two old barns serve as research facilities for the Center. We walked along a road that lead to a dyke, across open wetlands caused by the tides of Puget Sound.

The Delta is a rich and diverse area supporting a variety of habitats. The freshwater of the Nisqually River combines with the saltwater of Puget Sound to form an estuary rich in nutrients and detritus. These support a web of sea life in the marshes and on the mudflats. Salmon and steelhead use the estuary for passage to upriver areas. In the photos here you can see that the tide is up, flooding the marshlands.

Spring brings many songbirds - goldfinches, warblers, tree swallows. Woodpeckers, hawks, and small mammals are found in the woodlands and croplands nearby. Grassland is a perfect habitat for the nesting places of the Canadian geese, who are here now. Several acres are now 'out of bounds' for walking, due to protecting nesting sites.

Even though it was pouring rain, we slogged ahead for about a mile and a half, getting our hiking boots wet, and our coats soaked. I wore gloves and a scarf. It was in the mid 40's, and the wind had quite a sting. When the rain let up and a rainbow came out, I took these photos.

Bobby McFarrin - Beyond Words

What a treat! On Sunday I watched
Bobby McFarrin perform on TV at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

A virtuoso a capella singer with a four-octave range, Bobby McFerrin has been called "one of the natural wonders of the music world."

McFerrin encompasses the worlds of jazz, rock, the classics and others to create his own unique, experimental vocal stylings. I listened, just mesmerized to the profound, intricate sounds, most of them without words. Some of his recent music evokes chants and sacred music, done in a duet with another vocalist playing a cello. Just spell-binding!

An accomplished orchestral conductor, innovative composer and advocate for music education, he has won ten Grammy Awards.

He has worked with jazz musicians Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock to the Vienna Philharmonic. His CDs include Simple Pleasures, Medicine Music, Paper Music and Beyond Words, among many others. There is no doubt, I'll be heading to our library, to check out some of his recordings - I want more!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Next Time Don't Blow Dry It..... OK?

More here.....English Angora Rabbits

Form 4868

Anyone need this? I always hold my breath......

Mr Data Reads Psalm 23

An Engineer's Interpretation of the Shepherd's Psalm:

The Lord and I are in a shepherd-sheep relationship, and I am in a position of negative need. He prostrates me in a green-belt grazing area, and conducts me into lateral proximity with a non-torrential aqueous accumulation. He restores to original satisfaction levels my psychological makeup.

Notwithstanding the fact that I make ambulatory progress through the non-illuminated geological interstice of mortality; terror sensations shall not be manifest within me, due to the proximity of omnipotence. Your pastoral walking aid and quadruped-restraint module induce in me a pleasurific mood state. You design and produce a nutrient-bearing support structure, in the context of non-cooperative elements.

You enact a head-related folk ritual, utilizing vegetable extracts, and my beverage container exhibits inadequate volumetric parameters. Surely it must be an intrinsic, non-deductible factor that your inter-relational, emphatic and non-vengeful attributes will pursue me as their target focus for the duration of the current non-death period. And I will possess tenant rights in the residential facility of the Lord, on a permanently open-ended time basis.

"The Habit of Worry"

Oldeupher sent me this amusing story, and I thought I'd share it:

Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, "It's their life," and feel nothing?

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my son's head. I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" The nurse said, "When they get out of the accident stage." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind, a teacher said, "Don't worry, they all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, "They're trying to find themselves. Don't worry, in a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be adults." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments. My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my mother's warm smile and her occasional, "You look pale. Are you all right? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?"

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life? One of my children became quite irritable recently, saying to me, "Where were you? I've been calling for 3 days, and no one answered. I was worried." I smiled a warm smile...... The torch has been passed.

My Basket Is Ready - Always Ready

My grand-daughter, Daisy, and I dyed these eggs a few years ago, and they are still sitting in the basket, just as we left them. They've sat on a little shelf under my laundryroom window, collecting dust.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Collecting Eggs

Five years ago I had a Rhode Island Red hen that laid brown eggs, and an Arucana hen that laid blue-green ones. Every morning I'd hear a couple of cackles and squaks, and I'd go outside to check out their new eggs.

Maude and Henrietta had a little chicken run along my fence, complete with a nesting hutch made from the innards of an old chest of drawers, and a roosting hutch that I built. At night-time, Maude and Henrietta had a ritual, chattering together as they settled in for the night. One would face outward and the other inward.

Pictured above are their eggs, now bleached out by the sun. Also included in the photo are a few bantam eggs, the small ones, that a friend gave me about 10 years ago, and everything is nestled in old squash tendrils that I saved from my garden one summer.

Yes, I save little treasures, even something as simple as hen's eggs.

The Paint Job

A woman answered a knock at her door and found a destitute man. He wanted to earn money by doing odd jobs. He asked, "Do you have any work that I can do?"
She asked, "Can you paint?"
"Yes," he said, "I'm a pretty good painter."
"Well", she said, "Here's a gallon of green paint and a brush. Go behind the house and you'll see a porch that needs repainting. Be very careful. When you are done, I'll look it over and pay you what it's worth."
It wasn't more than an hour before he knocked again. "All finished!" he reported with a smile.
"Did you do a thorough job?" she asked.
"Yes, I sure did!" he replied, "But lady, there's one thing I'd like to point out to you. That's not a Porsche back there. That's a Mercedes."

Preparing For Life In The World

Bill and Melinda Gates were featured on the Oprah show this week, addressing the 'most serious problem' facing America. Images were shown of run down schools and indifferent students who dropped out of high school because of boredom, drug-abuse, and other reasons. The focus of the show was to show how serious the issue has become - that kids today just aren't interested in the process of education, or the work necessary for graduation.

Of course, that has impact in the decades ahead - we will have a work force incapable of shouldering the responsibility for sustaining progress. Many youth will find themselves stuck in minimum wage jobs for the better part of their lives, because they didn't finish school.

"For generations, Americans have worked to ensure that their children's lives will be better than their own. This core belief has remained strong even in a rapidly changing world, and a good education has long been considered the key to success. Yet while the kind of education young people must acquire to succeed today is drastically different, the nation’s schools have not changed in decades."

It is amazing, that the richest country in the world cannot convince most students of the value of a good education! Yet, if we go to developing countries, we see young girls in Afghanistan eager to learn. The Oprah show advocated 'better buildings and materials', yet, we don't see favorable conditions for academic environments in Iraq. There, buildings are bombed out, cement dwellings are the classrooms. Students sit on the floor and listen. In parts of Africa students bring their own chair.

Boredom is the real reason most kids stop the academic process. They don't see relevance, don't feel inspired. I wonder, if a two hour class-day would be the answer. Then, the remainder of the day would be devoted to life-experiences, hands on experience doing a variety of jobs. Learning through doing. That would wake kids up to the issues they will need to face 10 years down the road....a real wake-up call.

I also advocate doing homework as a group, collectively, where team interaction teaches the role of one's place, one's unique contributions. Getting the job done would be a group effort, resulting in relationships and interactive skill-building. I wouldn't be having a kid spend three hours every day working on homework alone at home. When school is over, life-enrichment classes would take over - team sports, hikes in the country, swimming, art and music. It would be a day of activity, rather than passive learning. Kids today just sit in a stupor, for most of the day - at school, then at home with video games and TV. No wonder they are bored.

Preparation for life in the world would also be an exploration of history and culture - travel would be a part of the academic learning format, with exchange students living and working abroad to get a better understanding of the differences in cultures and countries.

Graduating from high school would mean that several years of experience working for wages would be part of the completion of credits for graduation. In other words, much of what I advocate for students today is a complete overhaul in the curriculum and processes of learning. Learning one's place in the world, learning how to contribute in a positive way, and learning how to be productive are at the heart of a good education. We don't learn that just with listening and books....we need experiences to teach it, with hands-on learning with a curriculum that is not 50 years old. It is not that kids just need academia.

They need experiences, starting in grade school, that wake them up to their places in the world, surrounded by meaningful vital relationships that instill enthusiasm and self esteem.

And, lastly, we need parents who have high expectations, who help their children round every curve by paying attention to the process. When nothing is expected, nothing is gained.

Wired For Success

I've learned the hard way to protect my vegetables when they are sprouting. Otherwise, just as they are popping up, the crows will yank them out of the ground, or the cats will scratch the soil and disturb my seeds.

By putting old grass clippings around the onions, and a soft plastic wire over the soil, I have managed to deter pesky critters.

So far, I've sprouted my peas and carrots, the onion sets have come up, and the parsley and spinach have been put into rows. Today, I'll seed my dill and cilantro, and purchase my tomato plants. I'm spending most afternoons working out in my yard is too gorgeous to stay indoors.

When I've finished, I've been driving down to Ruston Way, to sit a spell at the beach. People are walking their dogs, skateboarders glide by zig-zaging. We've got a lot of people fishing on the pier, and I've enjoyed watching them.

I've taken my video camera along, and yes, I've filmed a couple of frisky pigeons with 'spring fever'. They've been nuzzling, cooing and kissing, running circles around each other. He fluffs up his feathers and struts back and forth. She reminds him with little head nods that it is nesting time......unabashed lovers, a sweet little pair.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lighting Up the Night

A perfect pansey for evening. I enhanced the colors by holding a flashlight behind the petals......