October 31, 2009

Dia de los Muertos - a Celebration

Nov 1 & 2 are the days of Dia de los Muertos, a celebration of remembrance. The Day of the Dead. That time in Mexico and other locations where people gather and remember. Most often the gatherings are held in the cemeteries and go on for the days. How like the wonderful people of Mexico to show the rest of us a way to bring love and laughter to the topic of death.

Traveling to Mexico isn't necessary to get a taste of the holiday. The Tacoma Art Museum, again this year, has made it easy. The traditions of sand painting and Ofrendas (altars) have been set up for your viewing. These photos touch on what is there. Tomorrow, Sunday, there will be music and more. If you are in the area I'm told it is a wonderful gathering. We always seem to have other must dos when those guitars are strumming.

If you can't make it, I've tried to catch a bit of what resides on the two floors of the Museum in these shots. The Ofrendas are upstairs on the left in the photo looking down on the floor from above. The sand painting was great to see up close but hard to capture regardless of where I stood. Photos are not allowed of art work in the Museum. However you can shoot the architecture, sand painting and Ofrendas.

The altars often have dried flowers, Marigolds being the favorite, along with items that are reminiscent of the person, people, animals, etc being honored. We have seen some in New Mexico that simply radiate with color and flowers.

I hope you have a chance to take a moment on Dia de los Muertos to honor those now gone. And to enjoy some memories that bring a smile or laugh to your day. I'm guessing they would like that.


If ghosts and goblins scare you
You've got no cause to worry
Just go along your merry way
But hurry, hurry, hurry!


October 25, 2009

A Fall Finale of Sorts

And for the fall finale of sorts, I'll make this brief. The least I can do after my last post. Above are some of the colors here at home this season. Also a before and after sample of some big sunflower heads I picked up for the birds at the last farmers market of the season. They were a hit as always. Plump when I left for work, nearly naked on my return. Sunflower seeds ARE yummy.

And these shots are from that windy lunch walk through Wright Park last Friday, except at bottom right. It was taken a week earlier. Of course that isn't really the finale. Undoubtedly I will end up adding another bit of autumn here and there. However, for this weekend... that, that, that's all folks! Happy Sunday.

Fall Comes to the Nisqually Watershed

When fall comes to the Nisqually watershed it's no more shy of color than it is shy of water when visited by floods in winter. The lower portions of the watershed are protected by Alder Dam. Above the dam Mt. Rainier Park and the like have felt the river's force and witnessed it's course shift at will. Standard mountain snow melt carries with it significant levels of debris; silt, rock and trees. With a changing climate and receding glaciers, the volume of water and debris appears to be changing as well.

The image on the left at the bottom was taken at Longmire from the community building parking lot looking toward the river bed and bridge. This area hasn't been accessible for quite awhile due to damage done by flooding. A short distance downstream a once popular camp ground belongs to the river once more. Two images up is a rock faced ridge seen from the same spot. The massive amount of rock carried and deposited by flood waters in contrast to the beauty of the land, plant life and orange/red color tucked into the bluff is riveting from that spot.

Other images show views of the Ashford/Elbe areas along with Ohop valley, further down the road. A project is afoot on the Ohop. Around the turn of of the last century another of the Army Corp of Engineers channelization projects focused on the Ohop valley and its waters. The intent was water control and exposing more rich farm land. And it is, rich and beautiful farm land. Of course the side effect of that action changed the speed the water traveled, (now channeled instead of meandering) which changed its temperature, the health of the nutrients it carried and left little chance for fish to make it upstream and spawn. The full project will return miles of this water course back to it's natural crookedness. The first phase is nearing completion. After natural plantings and support work are done, it will be left to settle in over winter. Next year the channel will be opened to this newly naturalized section. More sections will follow.

This Ohop undertaking is possible due to the collaboration of a multitude of people working together over time. The Nisqually Land Trust, The Nisqually Tribe, property owners, jurisdictions, agencies, the Watershed Council and more supported the idea of taking action on a BIG dream.

Standing alone in the Ohop Valley last week, looking at this amazing project, I was once again reminded of what a great time it is to be alive. We humans have misused our planet in untold ways, evidence is everywhere. BUT...evidence of healthy, successful change exists as well and needs to be given voice. Not only to educate the folks not paying attention, but to support those who work daily to protect and steward our futures. There are many important BIG dreams. We need to encourage those who dream while making the dreams real through funding. If we don't, we will wear down the dreamers who are usually the doers as well.

Clear as mud right? Well probably not. The catalyst? I listened to a friend speak at a meeting (that Nisqually morning) about the overwhelming reality he faces as the Land Trust director knowing that the few thousand acres of land acquired to date is a drop in the bucket compared to what needs to be protected to offset tree loss projections. His vision of protection jumped from a few thousand to forty thousand acres. He and others have been tireless and inventive in acquiring funds for existing Land Trust lands. It takes that. Being tireless and inventive. And a strong, caring, enthusiastic spirit. He definitely has that. Throwing in ample doses of humor and sarcasm will give you his full recipe for success. But...the numbers, projections, studies, stories and economy paint a picture he is struggling with.

That looming 40,000 acre number didn't just fall from the sky. It is a direct result of the economic challenges that are toppling some of the timber companies in that area. As a result, they are selling their lands in sections to developers. Today timber companies manage and rotate crops the way farmers do. Their harvest practices have improved immensely through the years. They make pretty good environmental neighbors when following the rules. Plus those rules and practices yield more healthy wood stocks. A win win. However, when business fails they under the gun to divest. And my friend, a dreamer and doer, found himself low of spirit and overwhelmed with reality; the speed of what's coming and how to stop it.

So why is this a great time to be alive? To be encouraged that people are worried? Because concern initiates action. Help people like my friend, the dreamer and DOER, restore the planets health acre by acre, project by project, plant by plant, fish by fish. Pick your species, they all need help. I hope you'll join with me in taking action today! And if you are so inclined, here is a link to the Nisqually Land Trust.

October 24, 2009

The Fall Accounting Begins

And so the promised fall accounting begins. This gathering up of recent images was a bit more time consuming than I anticipated. I'll add more tomorrow. After culling through many hundreds of shots, these first few give you a sense of some of the things going on a few miles in either direction of us.

Timing. Just as the plants and trees are putting on their show, heavy rains and blustery winds have appeared as well. Catching color in stillness has been nearly impossible. Photos from a lunch walk through Wright Park Friday, which will be up tomorrow, were taken with drifts of leaves on the move and branches swaying. Apologies in advance.

It was wonderful really, to be out there with leaves flying and the winds whooshing about. The temps were in the 50's so it wasn't uncomfortable and I almost had the park to myself. We were very much alive...that wind, those trees and I. By Monday most of the fallen leaves will have been gathered up and on their way to the composting facility. So glad I got there when I did.


October 23, 2009

Changing Daily

The colors in our yard, region and state are changing daily. Some fading, some growing richer, some shifting colors completely and others picking up where they left off in spring. Amazing. Just amazing, all these fall gifts. I'll be posting this weekend with the colors my camera has been catching from Mountain to Sound the last two weeks. Have a great Friday!

October 21, 2009

It's Almost THAT Time

It's almost that time.

Makes me want to get small
dress up and wander about
in the darkness
hunting for the perfect candy
by the light of pumpkin grins
and be frightened
by other small friends
whose voices
don't go with their faces.

October 15, 2009

A Dash of Color

And here is a dash of color for you. While out and about over the last month I managed to catch site of a few places where flowers were still blooming. Here are a couple of the photos until I have a chance to upload more. Above is a taste of the recent change-out at Wright Park conservatory.

And this artichoke is from the gardens at
Tacoma General Hospital.

October 14, 2009

Outing to Olalla

When someone asked me why I spent last week's vacation where I live, instead of traveling, I had to smile. Traveling is wonderful to be sure, but this is the Puget Sound area of Washington. If I can't find something beautiful to look at nearby, I must not be looking. But I was looking and did indeed take a few drives just for that purpose. One outing was to Olalla, a little community twenty minutes away.

I stopped and watched the fishermen down by Al's grocery. Some were taking it easy fishing from the bridge while others were waterside doing some longer casting. Could have watched the fellow in the center of the photo above cast for hours. So graceful. That little splash to the far right was his landing.

Driving the roads hugging the Olalla area gave me two different perspectives. One road makes a narrow wind up the hill for some stunning glimpses of the sound.

Back down the hill and just past the bridge the cormorants were taking in the view with me from water level. Less glare and more color down below.

The other hugging road runs through Olalla valley. Farms, fields and horses here and there. The Olalla area has different temps and fall color wasn't as noticeable on this day. It was definitely in the air though. And warm enough to ride with the window open to enjoy those scents.

It was a lovely outing, a quiet eye feast. I treasure the area we live in. The seasons make sharp changes marking time with their passage. There is a wonderful range of lifestyles here, rural to urban, all close enough to offer change within minutes. So why would I want to vacation at home? Why not? But not because this area is better than another area. My answer has been the same no matter where I have lived. Beauty, or at the least something of interest is always there, you just have to look for it. Step out and see what you see. You'll be surprised at what you find, each and ever time, something new and different. Pinky swear.

By the way, the Olalla bridge is also the sight where folks gather annually to ring in the New Year at high tide by taking the plunge into cold water on a cold day. Traditions...

October 12, 2009

Earth's Intelligence

"If we surrendered to earth's intelligence

we could rise up rooted, like trees. "

Rainer Maria Rilke

October 10, 2009

Take a Moment

Take a moment
Just a wee slice of time
Step out
Into the fall air
Feel the sun
Take a breath
Take a color
Come winter, they will be your fall reflection

Ornamental Grape - At this time of year I can't take enough photos
of it. Good thing it's right outside my door.

October 9, 2009

Happy Trails Indigo

We are missing our girl Indigo. For sixteen years she has been our bud and my shadow, side kick and occasional therapist in a "being there" sort of way. Turning eighty in cat years had her spending most of her days sleeping this last year which was fine, after all who doesn't like sweet dreams? But, a couple of big challenges with no cures befell our little octogenarian this last month. So, we did what we had to do... but don't you just hate it?

Not to be forgotten and ever the persistent soul, Indigo Kit Kit Jones is still a presence. She has been clinking her bowls, padding along the floors, occupying her place beside the computer and stealing my pillow in the night...just as if nothing had happened. Never missing a beat. Except she isn't here in person of course and I'm sure I haven't emptied any cat boxes in the time between then and now.

Indy developed a good deal of patience in the last few years after loosing her hopper. (A term my dear friend Chris invented and a malady they shared.) With that hopper on the fritz she covered far less ground. To keep her frustration to a minimum I sent her on imaginary trips which became the Indy Goes series. Indy Goes to Cambria is above. She always traveled with her trusty food bowl and that "feed me" look. During the development of each piece she would take her place on the desk and gaze at the screen. That was the journey, something to watch.

When Indigo finally decides we are OK, I suspect her future travels will take her far and wide. No trusty bowl needed, nor hunger to keep her attention from the beauty around her. Hope she works out the thumb thing and drops us a line once in awhile. Happy trails Indigo Kit Kit Jones, you are magic and greatly missed.

October 3, 2009

Coming Out of the Shadows

And I am, coming out of the shadows that is and startled to see the date of my last post. This past month has been filled with ups, busy times, a few downs and ending on what looks to be an up. Always a good thing, those ups! I didn't want to leave the house this morning without touching base here to thank the folks who have kept checking in and finding nothing new. I really appreciate it. Just need to re-find my footing on occasion.

This work week was busy, busy, busy and many of the weeks to come before the end of this year are looking similar calendar wise. But NEXT WEEK that little black book was wide open for some reason and I going to take full advantage of it by taking some time off. Nothing fancy planned. There is enough work to do around here that I could take the year off an not be caught up. But for this week I have a few doable goals and the hopes of a couple of photo drives for good measure. Or therapy, you pick the descriptor.

I do want to put the plug in for a couple of local activities going on and coming up:

...Today is FarmFest in Pierce County, WA from 10am to 4pm. Many of the local organic farms will be open to the public and are welcoming folks to come and learn about their processes. Included is another event out at the Longbranch Community Center (on the Key Peninsula) related to things FIBER. Guess where I will be first? (As I write (11:00am) handspuns and the like are vanishing before I get a chance to see them. Ackkk)
...Next Saturday will be the Donkey Creek Chum Festival in Gig Harbor running about the same hours as above. The local fishermen, the environmental community, etc will be out celebrating the return of the Salmon to Donkey Creek. This annual event is fun, well attended and a great chance to really feel the return of fall as well. I along with other local Watershed Council, Conservation District and Shellfish Partner group members will be manning (womaning actually) the Salmon Painting booth. Come down and print a tee-shirt or other items. A fun, albeit messy, time awaits you. And lots of laughs of course.

That's it for now. Time to go visit some pumpkin fields with the camera and enjoy the lovely work of local crafts women and men. Maybe even hug a Lama, who knows!
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