Tag Archives: travel

‘Chain Letter’, or ‘the one where I talk about my writing process’

One of the finest human interactions is that simple, thrilling moment when you share a secret. A memory, an aspiration, your true opinions, a thought you’ve kept to yourself. You blurt the out sometimes. Others you keep forever. For me, secrets typically crawl out slowly like new roots that grow and turning past obstacles seeking nutriment. They live just under the surface.

When asked recently by a good friend and storyteller, Selena Chambers, to discuss writing as part of an unfolding chain letter style response to a question writer’s often put off, I began to think about the root system of my secrets. In this post, I’ve tried to unfurl what’s hidden and to share a little about the process of digging the secret things up and handing them over at the surface.

1) What am I working on? Followers of this blog know that I’m a transplant. First from the Midwest to the South and, more recently, from the South to up to True North, or Vancouver, British Columbia. When you move, there’s lots of anticipation about what will happen to you there. I anticipated all kinds of thing, but never how much of my thinking would turn to comparison and exploration here. My writing, both on and off line, centers around defining the concept of home now that I live somewhere dramatically different.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? This blog seems to be capturing the change in scenery that I’m used to reading about once it’s been lived through. As in, what I’m trying to do here is to keep a record of how things around me change – how I’m changing – as it’s happening. I’m trying to be an observer of what I would otherwise come back to in ten years and describe to you as something that happened to me in the past.

3) Why do I write what I do? This particular project happened as mechanism for helping me figure out what I was noticing around me. The place I was in, new trees, new climate, new people, plastic shoes, all these things felt a little too whirl-wind-y. Taking those experiences down, photographing them, and logging them here has helped me to identify what it was that I liked about this new place I live. Instead of random ideas floating around me, I’ve used this place to grab them as a would a butterfly with a net. To examine them rather than simply ‘look’.

4) How does my writing process work? I’m a journalist by training, so I write about things I have actually seen, but I am cultivating the imagination at the same time. It’s this second part that alludes me most. I would argue that if – like me – you can’t answer this question in a straight-forward manner, then you aren’t treating writing as work. If you can answer it, then I’d argue that you shouldn’t, because you’ve found a way to wrangle down fleeting thoughts, to gather the wandering herds of imagination. No matter how close to the surface that gets, it should stay a secret. So far, I’ve found myself between these two places – there’s a bit of a process, but I could be better to define it for myself, not for others.

One thing that’s true about the writing process is that it depends entirely on reading. Lately I must admit that I’ve been absorbing all sorts of paper-based reading material from Lacan lectures to a wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest identification manual to a novels about an old man in Guernesey. When my hands aren’t full of paper, I’ve been finding real pleasure looking around brainpickings.org which always has great, often literary posts. And, if you’re in the mood for reading material, do stop over at selenachambers.wordpress.com – the author of which has inspired some of my most excellent real-life moments and – happily – this post.

 

 

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Spring Breaks

If summer is for vacation, then spring is for weekend trips.  Longer days are here and I’ve got the urge for going, but the weather isn’t right for long day in the sun just yet. Luckily, there’s lots of neat little places to explore nearby and we’ve been making the most of the weekends lately. It’s still a bit gloomy out, but a few recent excursions have made taking on the last  of Vancouver’s days of rain more of a pleasure than a burden.

Washington, the Evergreen State, the place who’s unofficial motto – Alki , or “Bye and Bye” – has been especially good at taking some of the sting from my summer yearnings. Recently we visited Blaine – a town where you can ride in historically significant ferry boat and then get coffee from a building shaped like a boat. A little further south, a nice little rainy Sunday found us in Edison – a little town named after an inventor and the former home of Edward R. Murrow – eating some delicious Irish soda bread from the bakery and watching ducks in the sloughs. A little later, we thought about out friends in Ireland as we talked the cliffs at Deception Pass.

Blaine Harbor's The Plover

Blaine Harbor’s The Plover

Coffee from a building shaped like a boat

Coffee from a building shaped like a boat

A drive over Deception Pass

A drive over Deception Pass

From the cliffs near Deception Pass

From the cliffs near Deception Pass

But all travel hasn’t been southerly. In fact, one of the nicest spring days yet was spent east in the Chiliwack Valley where we trekked along the Trans-Canada Trail. Further up the elevation rise outside the Fraser Valley, we got pretty significantly snowed upon for (what I assume will be) the last time this winter.

Snow over the Chiliwack

Snow over the Chiliwack

River in early spring

River in early spring

There have also been some neat in-town events lately too that are occupying the weekends. At the Museum of Anthropology I was happy to visit the dream world of Mexican artist in a dramatic show called The Marvelous Real. Paintings, sculpture, music and more all pointed to observations of this world by some of the most culturally creative artists I’ve seen in a while.

I always feel gross taking cell phone shots in the museum...

I always feel gross taking cell phone shots in the museum…

I also stocked up on all things animal hair at Fibers West which always makes for a nice way to spend a spring Saturday. Here we heard all about skinning goats and combing fleece and even took home some to spin. Best of all, we got the news of a sheep festival of sorts complete with shearing demos and info on farming coming up in September. My fantasy farm-living self can’t wait.

A display only a knitter could love.

A display only a knitter could love.

So much yarn I'm spinning!

So much yarn I’m spinning!

As the weather warms, I’m still hoping to visit the Gulf Islands and maybe even head out into the Washington rainforest. Does that mean I’m finally coming to like the rain? I’d have said so except for this lovely little Sunday sun shower we got this afternoon. Don’t worry, sunshine. I still like you best.

soon, sunshine.

Soon, sunshine.

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The Differences

Dear Readers. I have ventured far from home and have neglected this space in favor of Florida. This holiday, I sunk into a deep relaxation unlike any I’ve known. I went home. The other home and, for the first time in a long time, settled in.

The holidays are always a bit emotional, especially for those of us who live far from those we love, but this year all of that was hidden under the extended time we had to be there. The weeks wrapped me in the contentment of an old quilt and was strong enough to give me time meditating on the differences.

Things are different down in America, down South, and in Florida. People talk differently, dress differently, spend their time differently. As far as I can tell, it’s these differences that make us like or not like something. ‘I’m glad to be here because here people do this or that thing. I like this or that thing better that that other thing from over there.’ Does that make ‘here’ better? More ‘my speed’? I was on this idea so much that I made a list.

Junebugs, pick up trucks, state roads, and styrofoam. Lizards, restaurant inside gas stations, spanish moss, trailers, sandy feet. Screen doors, coolers, creeks, cypress knees, and sensor lights. Saying ‘hi’ to everyone you pass. Waving with your first to fingers to people you pass while driving a car. Vegetables cooked in salt water. Drive through liquor stores. Parking lots. Sweet tea in a to-go cup. Wind chimes. Sand dunes. Woods with floors lined in pine straw.

Then I thought that is this very desire – the need to classify differences – that should be avoided. These things, the strange things, or, in my case, familiar things, are not all there is.  Can we not turn our sensitivities, our perceptions, to what we have in common instead? Would we even want to?

Today, back in Vancouver in the rain and the grey, I’ll make a little promise to look instead  for commonality. The noise of the water on the shore, flip flops, people who like boats. Sea gulls and sunburns to come. My list so far is short, but I’m working on it. Perhaps this will ease the sickness for the homes I have and, if I’m lucky, maybe those I’ll have in the future.

 

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Summer, according to my phone.

Recently, I was asked what thing about people bothered me the most – as in, did I have an irrational fear of the elderly or an instant dislike of people who perpetually told you the gritty details of their health problems. It was one of those things that you can only talk about with close friends, but we all have ‘peves’ with each other and it makes for pretty good fun to identify the minimally terrible and often hilarious things about your friends that you so enjoy.

One of the things we didn’t bring up was over-use of cell phones that seems to have become socially acceptable. It’s a practice of mine that I don’t use my phone when I’m talking to, sitting with, or generally in the same area as someone I know. Right next to hand written letters, I think people sharing time with each other is one of the greatest things about friendship and family. These days, so many conversations between two or more humans is perpetually stopped or distracted by looks into pockets or screen-based chats. Hopefully this is a trend that will die out as we realize how rude we are being to each other. Not trying to sound like a bossy old lady, but one can only hope.

In the meantime, I must admit that I remain undecided about the addition of phone cameras into our lives. While I’m certainly no professional, I have appreciated photography since I was given access to my dad’s old 35mm Cannon with detachable lenses when I was eight or maybe twelve. Seeing the working mechanisms of a little dark place that made printed copies of things that otherwise exist only in memory made me want to take pictures, study photographer’s styles and techniques, and generally appreciate thoughtful and interesting documentation of the world.

Perhaps mistakenly, I often don’t carry a camera these days because I can rely on my phone to take snapshots. This brings me back round to the over-use issue and, like I said, I actually don’t know where I stand on this. Yesterday, I purposefully didn’t bring a camera or my phone to the release of a hand full of Harbor Seals that I had helped care for as a volunteer at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Center. This was the annual volunteer-led release where the people who have helped feed and clean and grow and heal get to carry cages down to the water and release now-healthy seals. The beach is usually cluttered with friends and family and yesterday was no exception. The dry beach where we were was pretty shallow and everyone was standing as close as they could almost piled on top of each other. Amidst the crowded bodies, all arm were up and out; everyone was ready with their phone cameras.

What I’m afraid of is that this sort of photography removes us from the moments we are experiencing. There’s no zoom on those things, after all, so we must push our way to the front and sometimes get so close that we loose the perspective of a regular camera man – one where you take the whole scene into account, where the background matters too.

On the way home, I looked though the things I had photographed this summer and found another layer to the argument – I had not remembered several of the events documented with a quick snap, or should I say finger press, of the camera phone. For this, spy-camera-sized and instantly obtainable photo ability, I guess I’ll have to say I’m glad. But I still think we should put phones down more often and really look around, listen to each other, and try to remember the events of our lives. Here are a few that, thanks to having the phone,  I’ll remember from this summer.

My first 'swim' in BC waters. Can you believe it took so long?

My first ‘swim’ in BC waters. Can you believe it took so long?

Weird things downtown.

Weird things downtown.

That afternoon we went to a neat forest on the riverside with some good friends.

That afternoon we went to a neat forest on the riverside with some good friends.

Neon.

Neon.

Wine and sunshine.

Wine and sunshine.

Cute street scenes.

Cute street scenes.

Tomatoes!

Tomatoes!

Jorts!

Jorts!

A day at the pool in Stanley Park.

A day at the pool in Stanley Park.

Visits to a muddy border.

Visits to a muddy border.

A picnic at Green College.

A picnic at Green College.

A paperweight at the Vancouver archives embellished with the humor of an antiquarian.

A paperweight at the Vancouver archives embellished with the humor of an antiquarian.

Finding this map of what Coal Harbor was going to look like once.

Finding this map of what Coal Harbor was going to look like once.

The plan I made for my Green Streets garden.

The plan I made for my Green Streets garden.

The walkway into the Anthropology museum.

Appreciating the walkway into the Anthropology museum.

Finding a view of the fireworks form our bedroom window.

Finding a view of the fireworks form our bedroom window.

Meeting this guy.

Meeting this guy.

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Insta-bog

For plenty of reasons, Vancouver is a pretty green city: composting, greenways, community gardens, and Stanley Park (which is the subject of one of a couple of 2013 pet projects) to name a few. A green place that people don’t talk about so much is Camosun Bog located off, you guessed it, Camosun Drive in Point Grey.

It’s one of those places that was meant to disappear like the rest of the undevelop-able parts of the city. A piece of what was once a much larger bog habitat, it remains because a group of people stood up, volunteered to care for the place, and made sure (in work that still goes on every weekend and in writing on this bog blog) that at least this one little part wouldn’t be drained or disturbed.

Bogs are neat because they feel old. Ice age old. Remember that guy they found from thousands of years ago who pretty well looked as is if he’d just gone to sleep in freezer? That was the work of Sphagnum Moss, which has amazing qualities of preservation. It’s thick across the ground, but is easily disturbed. Like almost all little systems in nature, once the moss is uprooted, trees and shrubs move in and the place changes.

There’s also bog blueberries and huckleberries growing within the undulating carpet of green that rolls over rotting log and leftover stump. If you arrive in the morning or the evening thrushes, towhees and warblers can be seen flitting around in the nearby pines. They were mostly asleep in the heat of the July afternoon when I was there last. That emptiness worked to enhance the sort of eerie quality of the place. I’d (once again) forgotten my camera, but I did snap a few  photos on the phone and managed to find a few Instagram settings that seemed to give the appropriate sense of drama.

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Explore(r)

This afternoon the weather is perfect; a cool breeze, blue sky, and warm sun are wrapped around the city and it feels like the forecast might just have enough teeth for it to stay like this a while. I walked a while this afternoon and contemplated how it’s been a while since I’ve been anywhere else.  In the early spring I had a excellent trip up the West Coast but since then we’ve been city bound.

In thinking about where I haven’t gone lately, I return to the notion that travel defines us. A trip can shape our outlook on the year and keeps us looking forward to something in the months leading up to the departure. We decorate our spaces ‘here’ with our best pictures from ‘there’ and we repeat stories from places other than home because those are the stories that become our favorites.

I also thought about how it’s almost our third anniversary with Canada. I certainly define myself as a person “who travels” and hope to see more and do more with each passing year. But what does it mean to stay put? To move and stay and live in a place that’s foreign? How long do you have to be there before you stop being a tourist? Is it when you know how to get around? When you accumulate all the spices you’ll ever need in your new house? When you can know that this is going to be one of the best days of summer because you’ve seen a few now and you can tell?

What I landed is the idea that maybe the thing I want to be isn’t ‘traveler’ so much as it is ‘explorer’. Not so much about racking up miles or ticking off lists, but to come to know a place through time, through experiences. To choose your path home by finding the one last street you haven’t yet walked. To learn the names of native trees and the animals who live in the woods. To get to know the guy who runs the market and how to find a quiet place even downtown.

This is a different type of travel. It’s slower. It happens more in your head than in your feet or on your passport. It’s not the kind of thing that works really well for stories. You can’t really get by telling an acquaintance about that time you learned which color slug was the native species without making a weirdo of yourself. A few years gone, I know the slug and I have a few sunny days to remember. I can tell Canada that I know it a little. I think it will listen to me in a way it couldn’t if I were only here a week or even a month. I’m an explorer, I will say, and I will come to know at least this one little peninsula here at the edge of the world.

Little roads, close to home.

Little roads, close to home.

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Internetsplorations in a Wet, Cold World

So it’s raining and cold and something like five days until June. There’s half a bottle of last night’s wine left over and I’ve spent the morning finishing that while cruising around the internet.

Favorite links?

On Pinterest, I spent some time grooming my collections of bunnies and ideas for the kitchen,  and built a new group of inspirational snaps for my other life on the practical wine drinker’s favorite site, Vinderful (which is also a great place to hang out day while drinking) took over a good bit of the morning.

I also found a bunch of new Instagramers to love including one from Sweden, a girl on an amazing trip, one person using a real camera, and a surf photographer who I’d gladly trade places with today.

On Brain Pickings I found a review of this book which I almost assuredly need to read and a great article on masculine charm over at The Atlantic. On the re-read list this morning was also a wonderful set of articles from S.J. Chambers about retracing Mary Shelly’s travels.

I’m also planning time for some time with Anna Karenina and a few cups of tea. One of these days the sun will come out. Till then I’ll be thankful for a grey, inside-time Sunday.

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Inside with wine and reading to ring in June-uary.

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Museum of Anthropology

On a recent trip to the UBC area we made a little stop at the Museum of Anthropology to check out the visiting installation of art from Arabic artists. This is Vancouver’s first major exhibit of modern work from places like Iran and Turkey and we were curious to have a look. The exhibit, called Safar/Voyage (“voyage” being the word safar translated from Persian) and encompasses views on the world as seen through the eyes of modern middle easterners.

The exhibit is on now through mid September.

The exhibit is on now through mid September.

The works display an interaction with themes of tradition, border crossing, a sense of belonging, living with violence, and a search for identity. The pieces have clear messages hidden both within the physical forms of the art and also within the context of the visual elements.

What I found perhaps most interesting about the exhibit is that it includes so many different kinds of media. There are paintings, brass sculpture, video installations, photography, neon, and even a hand-woven carpet. I found the dramatic clash of media helped to tell the story of people seeking, journeying, finding, or, perhaps, not finding. I saw strength as well as sadness in most of the pieces – pride despite victimization, courage despite hopelessness.

Photos weren’t permitted but you can see some of the exhibit’s pieces online. A neat feature, but there’s reason enough to visit MOA just to interact with and appreciate the scale of the large instalation pieces or to spend a few moments with the photography and paintings.

MOA also offers access to an amazing collection of cultural relics from all over the world. The central rooms display thousands of artifacts from clothing to tools to visual art and furniture in glass cases (allowing you to see the front, back and sides of the pieces). There are also drawers full of additional pieces in cabinets throughout these Multiversity Galleries. It feels a bit like you have been granted access to the museum’s behind-the-scenes catalog — a browsing system available there steers you to specific interests or you can just wander through shelves of masks, pottery, hair adornments and other objects by region or time period.

I always like looking into the restoration rooms that are restricted but offer a nice view into the world of preservation anyway.

Restoration, preservation.

Restoration, preservation.

A healthy collection of art and objects collected from in and around British Columbia is always on display as well as an incredible goruping of European ceramics. I am always intrigued to visit the totems in the Great Hall and, especially in the lovely May weather we’ve been having, sit outside near the Hida houses.

Tour guides will talk about the history of original settelers here and a little about the ethical issues that arise in the display of First Nations carvings and ceremonial artifacts. Not knowing very much of the cultural history of this area myself, I always try to tag along a tour for at least part of my visit and hear what I can. To see the impressive size and skill of the carvings begs for an understanding of where they once stood and what they were meant for. The glass and concrete of their current museum home seems at odds with the naturalness of the shapes. It also seems, for all it’s modern stregnth, unable to contain the spirit of the works even now.

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Maybe just a visitor in the museum’s Great Hall.

 

 

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Filtered Victoria

On last weekend’s spontaneous trip to Victoria I forgot to pack the camera. Luckily, the 21st century leaves us with options.

A snapshot of BC’s capital from the viewfinder on my cell phone (with the help of Instagram… not that such a lovely place even needs it!) will have to do as a recap for this trip. Super easy to get to from Vancouver, Victoria is a nice little plae to spend a few days; it’s a little like England with tea and gardens and a little like beach destinations back home littered with postcard and tee shirt shops. This place is growing on me every time we go.

We weren't the only couple enjoying the double-decker bus ride.

We weren’t the only couple enjoying the double-decker bus ride.

Tea.

Tea.

Vancouver has a serious lack of meadows.

Vancouver has a serious lack of meadows.

Ms. V herself at The James Bay Tea Room (one of my favorite places ever).

Ms. V herself at The James Bay Tea Room (one of my favorite places ever).

Who needs wings when you can catch a ride?

Who needs wings when you can catch a ride?

Now here's an idea I can get behind.

Now here’s an idea I can get behind.

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North, South, West, West.

I don’t think I’ll ever get too old for a road trip. There’s something that just feels American (or, as I’m learning, North American) about renting a car, buying a map, bringing a camera and hauling yourself and the best possible company along some roads you’ve never been down.

Some of the roads I just traveled with my sister I will probably never visit again. Today, the day she packed up and flew to her home back in Florida, this feels a bit tragic. That one thing we saw just doesn’t look as cool as it was in the photo. What was the name of that place we stopped for ice cream? Did we turn there, or here after that one city? Why do we wish so much to try and preserve these adventures in the first place? When will we get to do this again?

Looking through photos this afternoon, I want only to preserve the idea of the West. We drove through about 1,400 miles of it and spent the better part hugging the coastal roads of the Pacific. From that, what’s sticking with me are the images of the coast. The edge of the world. The fault line from Monterey, CA to Tofino, BC. The Pacific is lovely and big and cold and beautiful. One guy on a boat we rode on called it “majestic.” I’m hopeful my memories (and possibly the snapshots) can continue to be called that so as well.

Here are some of my favorite views of the sea from our trip.

Highway 1 in Big Sur

Highway 1 in Big Sur

Water in the air, water in the sea.

Water in the air, water in the sea.

Purple mountains of another sort.

Purple mountains of another sort.

A giant's reflection.

A giant’s reflection.

View from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

View from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

For a moment this one felt a lot like home.

For a moment this one felt a lot like home.

A sea of glass.

A sea of glass.

At dusk.

At dusk.

The lazy lives of Harbor Seals.

The lazy lives of Harbor Seals.

Best animal ever?

Best animal ever?

Pinky the Humpback whale near Ucluelet.

Pinky the Humpback whale near Ucluelet.

Calm water surrounding rocky cliffs and a grey sunset.

Calm water surrounding rocky cliffs and a grey sunset.

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The Desert. California. Oregon. A Train. My Sister.

A recent quiet around this place is due entirely to the most awesome thing that will probably happen all year: my sister is here! After a nutty trip up that started with me meeting her in the desert and picking up a rented Honda Civic, we drove up the coast of California and landed on a train ride in from Portland. She is staying here for a while in a land where it’s still forty degrees so we’ve put away our flip flops once again. For a brief moment, we wore tee shirts and our toes were free to feel the sun. Back in Vancouver, we are making the most of snowy mountains and the sunny days that are here this week.

More to come from here, but I thought I’d share a few photos from our drive. California is as beautiful as people say. The rocky coasts and hugeness of the landscape took us both by surprise mostly because we didn’t think much on what to expect beforehand. The wine is better than we thought (both of us pretty dedicated to all things French in that area). The oranges and the tacos, the lovely people and the incredible wildlife left us wanting to return soon.

Holy Sheep!

Holy Sheep!

Farm roads

Farm roads in the Central Valley. 

Like little sun globes

Like little sun globes. 

We had a beautiful day here. Snow still on the ground at the Sequoia groves and the place almost entirely to ourselves.

We had a beautiful day here. Snow still on the ground at the Sequoia groves and the place almost entirely to ourselves.

Sunny and warm at the bottom, snowy majesty at the top.

Sunny and warm at the bottom, snowy majesty at the top.

Nothing so pretty as wildflowers at the beach.

Nothing so pretty as wildflowers at the beach.

One of several natural bridges we stumbled upon. This one is inside Big Sur.

One of several natural bridges we stumbled upon. This one is inside Big Sur.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium had an amazing Jellyfish exhibit including this little spotted guy.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium had an amazing Jellyfish exhibit including this little spotted guy.

If you ever can't find me you should check to see if I'm here.

If you ever can’t find me you should check to see if I’m here.

Why is California so pretty? In part, stunning blue seas and the beauty of hills colored in color.

Why is California so pretty? In part, stunning blue seas and the beauty of hills colored in color.

Here we saw Elephant Seal pups and big males both waiting for the right time to head to the ocean.

Here we saw Elephant Seal pups and big males both waiting for the right time to head to the ocean.

Golden Gate as viewed from the Red and White tour boat.

Golden Gate as viewed from the Red and White tour boat.

Happy cows do live in California.

Happy cows do live in California.

Wine country.

Wine country.

Sea Glass Beach at Ft. Bragg, CA.

Sea Glass Beach at Ft. Bragg, CA.

Giants in the Redwood forest.

Giants in the Redwood forest.

Portland, my dear, I hope to see you again soon.

Portland, my dear, I hope to see you again soon.

First real train ride ever was a success.

First real train ride ever was a success.

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a glimpse of seattle

"Space Needle" What a cool name, huh?

“Space Needle” What a cool name, huh?

On the way home we planned for a day in Seattle as we’ve never really explored the place despite it’s proximity. Checked out some of the neighborhoods, the channel, the exhibit of King Tut at the science center (no photos, please) and the zoo. The traffic is a little nuts there, but I’d like to head back someday on the train and spend a little more time here.

A display explaining the lift system on the channel that was unfortunately not operable... someone didn't read the instructions properly and the little boat gave up.

A display explaining the lift system on the channel that was unfortunately not operable… someone didn’t read the instructions properly and the little boat gave up.

Rushing water at the canal.

Rushing water at the canal.

I mean no disrespect when I say this little guy reminds me of banana Laughy Taffy

I mean no disrespect when I say this little guy reminds me of banana Laughy Taffy

Thanks Komodo. I needed a good reminder that we humans haven't been in charge all that long.

Thanks Komodo. I needed a good reminder that we humans haven’t been in charge all that long.

Paseo Caribbean restaurant in Ballard. Bright colors and amazing food!

Paseo Caribbean restaurant in Ballard. Bright colors and amazing food!

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My heart belongs to N.O.

After missing the last few years home for Christmas, we’ve booked tickets and will soon be south-bound. I’m really excited for family times and for warm weather and for lounging around with old friends. Also, the idea that we might make a sneaky little trip to one of my favorite places in the world, New Orleans. Skip the Bourbon Street and the ghost tours and head straight to the regular restaurants and quiet neighborhoods. Talk to the person who owns the book shop or take a side trip to the aquarium. To celebrate (and perhaps solidify) the potential for a visit, here’s a look at my last trip there a few years ago.

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Hope

So the interior is mostly yet unexplored, but we did make it as far as Hope, B.C. and Manning Park recently. The hills mountains take off out there and it’s home to the remains of a huge landslide which moved something like 55 meters of rocks down into what was a valley. Seeing it makes this song sound totally different.

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There’s also a much chances for appreciating fog out there. Image

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We also met Clark’s Nutcracker, Cascade Golden-MantledGround Squirrel, and Gray Jay (who is called a by several names including a variation of the name of a mythical Boreal forest trickster. In English you’d say Whiskey Jack).

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The park also has some incredible lakes blue like the sea tucked away between the mountains.

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At one point we had driven up to a view point quite high and were looking down on the valley all coated in deep green fir trees and talking about being small.  Within a few minutes, the echo-y clucks of ravens were heard bouncing off the trees and two turned and landed to check us out. Ravens, also new to me, are smarter than us. They look you up and down can tell things about you like a sage or a grandmother. We’d be tolerated for a bit it seemed when their arrival was followed by the appearance of two nutcrackers who had clearly learned where to get treats up here in the woods. The six of us stood together there and looked around at the world of sky we were lucky enough to join them in for a time.

This was too nice a moment for the camera.

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