Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Christmas Lamb

One of our neighbors went out to her sheep shed on Christmas Day and discovered a newborn lamb.  When my neighbor told me about the lamb, I thought: “What a COOL Christmas gift!”

The neighbor invited Leah and me to come over and visit the little fella. Leah got to hold the lamb -- I sensed that was special for her -- and I took a picture that, as I view it now, pleases me because of its simple sweetness.

I thought I’d post the image today as a way of passing along the gift of the Christmas lamb: From mama sheep to our neighbor; from our neighbor to Leah and me; from Leah and me to you.

I take the liberty of speaking for all of us in saying: “We hope you are having a good holiday!”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Proud Parent

We moved to this home in the rural Washington woods 17 years ago, and, though it might sound counterintuitive, one of the first things I did as we settled in was to begin to plant more trees.

Granted, there were towering trees already on the land: Two huge cedars frame my office window as I sit and type these words, and those two trees have many stately brethren nearby.  There is an expansive tree farm to the south of our place, and there is also State Forest land about a half-mile away and the quiet trails there are part of my route when I go running.  A neighbor who lives down the road recently told me she’s thinking about naming her place “Heavenly Grove Farm.”

In short, there are a lot of trees around here. Nevertheless, it seemed altogether logical to me that I plant even I did.

The local Conservation District has a plant sale every spring, and one can get a bundle of ten doug fir seedlings for $10.  The plants that I bought when we first moved here were cute-as-heck babies, most about 10-inches high when I put them in the ground. Today some of those doug firs are taller than our two-story house, and fruit trees we planted have now become quite a productive little orchard. I suspect that, over the years, we've probably planted over 200 trees.

Anyway, it snowed yesterday morning, and the trees looked amazing. I ran around with my camera taking pictures of my tree babies, now well on their way to being grown-ups, and I felt like a bit like a proud parent. I think I might put a bumper sticker on my car that says: “My trees are cooler than your honor student.”

If you click on the images,  you can see the trees at a size befitting their swell-ness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seeing Humanity

This is a very sad and difficult time for my friends in the Seattle Tibetan community, and also for the Tibetan diaspora throughout the world.  Tibetans living in Tibet are lighting themselves on fire -- self-immolating -- in desperate demonstrations against Chinese oppression and human rights abuses.

Despite the tightly-controlled news atmosphere in China, reports have leaked out that,  this month alone,  25 Tibetans have set themselves on fire. Most of these individuals are said to be in their late teens and early 20s, with the youngest, a nun named Sangay Dolma, just 17 years old.  Eighty-seven Tibetans have now self-immolated in the past several months -- this in a land with a Buddhist culture that values, perhaps above all else, what Tibetans refer to as “the gift of precious human life.”

I did photographs (above) this week as my friends gathered in Seattle to offer prayers for their spiritual brothers and sisters in Tibet.  And I traveled with them to the Chinese embassy in Vancouver, British Columbia (photos below) where the Tibetans prayed, sang,  and raised their voices for human rights and freedom in their homeland.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, announced that any Tibetan who survived a self-immolation would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of Chinese law.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Sometimes we human beings meet a creature that is new to us and wonderful, but common sense tells us that it would not be right or proper to get too close emotionally.  Even middle-aged males like me usually know better than to give our hearts to some winsome, pretty young thing,  simply because she awakens in us the possibilities of fun and frolic.

I should hasten to point out: The "creatures"  I’m referring to here are of the four-legged variety: Canines. Dogs. Man’s best friend.

What did you think I was talking about?

Leah and I are baby-sitting our grand-dog this weekend, a sweet girl named Pax, and boy do I hafta watch myself.  Pax is our son’s girl,  and last night, Paxie’s first evening with us, she sat on my lap and I petted her on her head and I had to keep thinking: “Watch your heart, man, watch your heart.”

Leah and I already have a dog of our own, a 14-year-old Australian Shepherd named Minnie who is a swell companion and beloved member of our household, but she has old girl health issues.  Minnie is mostly deaf, and she sleeps most of the time.  She can’t run with me, or even go along on anything but the shortest of walks.

Pax would be a swell hiking partner.

But Pax is our son’s pack-mate, and, come Sunday night, she’ll be back with him.  I can tell you already that Leah and I will miss having Pax around.

I’m trying hard not to get too attached to another man’s girl.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Few Words

When I’m in the mountains and behold something beautiful -- a venerable, moss-covered silver snag, perhaps, cloaked in the first snowfall of the season; or a wintery high country valley,  as picturesque as any Christmas card -- I wish I could report that eloquence fills my brain and poetry tumbles from my lips. I wish I could report that, I really do.

The reality, however, is that I usually exclaim something like: “Oh, Wow!”  or  “Oh My!” or even “Holy Shit!”  Even if I am alone, I  speak these words out loud, and if a friend is with me, he/she usually just nods. 

I’ve decided that it’s not that my friends and I are not smart enough or verbal enough to say something worthy when we view nature’s incredible artistry... it is that there are times when words -- any words -- are pretty much unnecessary. 

Friends and I were recently tromping through fresh, powder snow, hiking a route six miles in length, toward a pass at six thousand feet. We walked below the tree you see in the photograph above.  I looked up, realized that the tree was something special, and pointed skyward, so that my friends too would see. We all quietly pulled out cameras and took pictures.

Today I post photographs, my way of sharing a bit of the hike with you.

As far as a verbal representation of the day, I’m afraid I can’t get beyond “Oh Wow!”