Friday, August 31, 2007
Well today was a rainy day. And cloudy. But it cleared up around four for an absolutely beautiful evening. I didn't listen to the weather and got soaked on my bike riding to a clients' place today. Fortunately, I've found (so I think) that arriving very damp at a place of work is acceptable in Bellingham. But the days seem to always begin cloudy and rainy and end with clearing by sunset.
Today was a really unproductive day. Lots of errands, the library, the sunset, a few coffee shops (where no work was performed), and a lot of riding around town. Later, I went to a movie - Talk to Me - and would recommend seeing it. I put the television away in the garage, so movies are my source of audio/visual entertainment.
I do need to sign off and get some sleep. There is not enough time in the day, but I will look forward to catching up in November, where I can also begin some indoor projects.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The neighborhood where the church and house are located is called Sunnyland (as you shake your head at its name's silliness in a mid-January drizzle when the sun is merely an urban legend, and your fleece and bike rain gear become an integral part of your daily wardrobe) and today it is named perfectly, although I was in a meeting tonight until 8:30 and missed the sunset.
Not much more...the same old grind. But good things are happening on the jobs side. Hopefully favorably. I am reading The Four Hour Work Week. (Someday I will discipline myself enough to drastically reduce my Internet and e-mail usage.) But regarding his style, it seems the author despises work in a subtle way. I sort of like it. But then again, he probably doesn't ride his bike to work.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tonight was the night to volunteer at the Bellingham Food Bank, something I've been doing for the past year. I find it one of the more consistently enjoyable parts of the week, with plenty of laughs and familiar faces.
I was reminded that Labour Day is upon us this weekend. I am actually looking forward to summer being over and autumn setting in. I may have mentioned it in a prior post, but in the summer it stays light very late. Conversely, in the winter, especially on cloudy afternoons (which are most days), it can start getting dark around 3:30. Sort of a drag, but time to catch up on sleep and rest. (I just finished watering the garden and it is 10:45pm.) I've never seen such dramatic shifts in the weather, although there are many microclimates due to the bays and mountains.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Today I realized that I should not be a gardener. The best thing that grew this year are tomatoes and carrots. I really don't even like tomatoes, and this year it looks like a bumper crop. I never even ate my first tomato until I was into my late teens. Oh well.
On another note, I think I'm entering the James Taylor phase of my life. Early James Taylor.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Cannot write much tonight, as I need to drive to Seattle tomorrow to present to a prospect. So that means ironing the uniform: blue shirt and khakis. It's about an 80-mile trip with a heightened sense of stress the nearer one gets to Seattle. This city is huge and has three major interstates - one from the east, and two north south. Needless to say, traffic sucks if you plan your trip at the wrong time. It is so nice to not deal with that horrendous traffic. But the city does have a cool vibe, so it will be fun to spend a few hours there. Hmm, maybe I 'll even have lunch there.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Here's a picture looking up the street (to the north) from my front yard. It was taken a few days back.
Sore feet and legs today. We practically ran down the last 1,000 feet (of the 1,300 ft vertical) and the bare feet didn't help matters. Justin was his name and as he came bounding up (or actually down) the trail behind me, seeing me carrying my shoes, he said "you must be hardcore." I was thinking more along the lines of clueless or reckless. Hardly hardcore.
I needed to relax a bit, so I rode over to see a movie at the Pickford: Rescue Dawn. Personally, I'd wait until it comes out on DVD. But I put the television away in the garage, so I was craving a movie or something to veg out in front of for a few hours.
It's been cloudy and I've been running into people that are moving to avoid going through another Pacific Northwest winter. Many people (like Californians) can't handle the overwhelming clouds and head back after a few years. Some come in the summer and fall in love with the area, only to become horribly down when the weather becomes perpetually grey and dreary, or ethereal and mystical - depending on how you look at it.
Seattle is notorious for its constant overcast skies and precipitation, and Bellingham is even cloudier and rainier. People that move here strictly because of the cheaper housing market are apt to not be very happy in Bellingham. Oh well.
I think I am happy here. Of course I miss people and places from my past, but there are still plenty of friends and memories to be made. Time to get back to writing a biz plan. G'nite.
Today I went to a picnic and then out to feed some friends' cats. I took the car out today and since I was driving happened upon a trailhead near Chuckanut Ridge. When I left this morning, I had no expectation of hiking today. So I was wearing a pair of sandals that were a little loose, and had no water or food. On a total whim, I swung into the parking lot.
It was a three mile hike to Cedar Lake and Pine Lake and the trail was very steep, straight up. So I took off my Keens and went barefoot after about a mile in. I recently read about barefoot hiking, so I thought I would give it a shot. Hell, hobbits do it and this trail wasn't nearly as rocky as Mordor.
So I ended up hiking about five miles in bare feet today. Coming back down the trail I met someone conditioning with a 30 pound pack, and I tried to keep up with his faster pace (and I did) as we talked. But because of my faster gait coming down the steep trail, my poor unshod feet took a beating. They are bruised and burning, but no blood.
A good day.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Every Thursday I awaken at the ungodly hour of 6:15am in order to be at a breakfast meeting at seven. It's basically a business networking group, and after seeing each other every week, you get to know each other and need to break out and have a party at a more reasonable hour.
Well tonight was the dinner party at one of the members' houses. Now I am all opposed to development, especially up on Chuckanut Ridge. But with this being your view (see picture), I couldn't see why we couldn't build just one house up here. Unfortunately, about thirty other people have the same exact thought. (And possibly about 800 others, but I won't even go there.)
I rode my bike here all the way on the Interurban (about ten miles each way). Going home was funky, as the trail was very dark, in spite of the waxing gibbous moon. After many twist and turns and quick hills, I ended up getting quite a bit lost. Well probably not that lost, but it seemed like it.
The wind usually blows from the southwest here. So I pointed my bike to the wind (or just off my left cheek) and eventually found some familiar landmarks. I saw the radio antennas ahead on Orcas Island, and coasted down Harris Avenue into Fairhaven, then home.
(And then there was the fast inner tube leak I had on the way there, but fortunately the host was a biker and had a patch kit I could use. How many twenty-five cent patches can one put on an inner tube?)
Thursday, August 23, 2007
- Sterling Hayden
Yes, I believe I had a meltdown earlier this week. Fortunately things always turn around. When one door closes, another opens - as Bob Marley says.
It didn't help that I became engrossed by a 500-page book called Wanderer by Sterling Hayden. The friend that lent it to me told me she couldn't put it down and finished it in three nights. It took me five. His writing style reminds me somewhat of Kerouac. And the lifestyle is somewhat early beat. I am glad when I pick up a book like this, as it reinvigorates my passion for reading.
I know, I need to get some different picture subject matter. But I always forget to carry my camera. Tomorrow I am going to a picnic, so I will be sure to take some pictures somewhere along the way. This pic is another along the Interurban Bike Path.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Today was a slow day. Writing a business plan with writer's block is a drag. But a 1979 Billerica, Massachusetts Grateful Dead bootleg helped. I came out of a slump.
After the crummy weather the past two days, people were out en mass - maybe because they realize that perfect evenings will soon be a memory replaced by seven months of drizzle soon to be upon us.
I was involved a few months back with the "Bike To Work & School Day." A woman that runs it asked me if they could do a photo shoot of my hip bike, along with me on it. It was for a for some brochures for a local organization: Everybody Bike. Some day you may see some professional pictures taken of me.
On yet another note. I recently decided to entirely quit smoking cigarettes (west of the Continental Divide). Not that I ever smoked much - maybe a pack every few months. But I do have one remaining, and think I will make some tea and smoke my last cigarette forever. We'll see.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Another day. Fortunately a bit brighter in more ways than one.
I met a friend for coffee this morning and lamented how I wasn't ready for fall just yet. "Don't worry," he reassured me, "there is still plenty of summer left." Sure enough the sun came out and it Bellingham shed its fall attire for another stretch of sun, dramatic puffy clouds (like always) and a beautiful sunset. (The clouds in the Pacific Northwest have more layers than a French pastry.)
Speaking of France, I came across another blog of someone traveling through Spain and France on a Vespa 150cc scooter. This idea has since been added to my ten-year dream list:
- bike across the US
- canoe the entire Mississippi
- cross the Pacific on a sail boat as crew
- and now, spend two months touring France on a Vespa scooter
The picture is of Blaine, a border town that appears to be a retirement community, at least from what I see passing through. This picture was taken last Thursday.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Not a good day. Rain. Chilly. With work, one project ending, another deal gone bad and not much in the pipeline. In a stress-induced moment, I sent a resume off to a regional CPA firm. Tomorrow I may send an application to a growing local health-care company that is hiring and right up the bike path. It will be back to the life of florescent lights, hermetically-sealed buildings, Dockers, and nauseating office smells and sights. Right now, there are many emotions creating unpleasant hollow feelings. But it is a roll of the dice to see what path needs to be chosen for me. It never works out as I plan, but it always seems to work out.
You see, I work with companies to write business plans and help to get them funded. I found out today that there are really no private parties lending any money to small businesses at this point, due to the meltdown in the sub-prime market. Small businesses are the engine of the economy and do most of the hiring. Big businesses, on the other hand, are the ones scaling back headcounts to increase productivity and profitability. Any of us that has ever worked in the corporate world knows that this means that when someone leaves, the job duties are spread amongst the remaining workers. Increased productivity means doing more with less. But I digress.
There are many ominous signs (from what I am reading) that the economy is going to tank in the next 12-24 months. As a matter of fact, I've met no one knowledgeable in economics that feels there are good times ahead. Consequently, this is not a good time to be self-employed with two months of living expenses liquid in the bank. I need to go into retrenchment mode and let this blow over, which by my estimate will be five years out (at least). Henceforth, time to jump back into the game.
And for this reason I am selling my soul (again) to The Man. But an East Coast education goes a long way out here, so I'll see what transpires.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The grossest thing that's happened to me since I moved to Bellingham was thinking that I was pulling the wet root of a plant and having a slug squish between my fingers. The slugs in this town are as big as Volkswagens. Look at the picture of the small one that I took tonight before my bike ride. It almost is almost five inches long.
But we did get some refreshing rain and I can easily see Bellingham sliding into autumn. Not just yet, but after a hot dry summer, I will welcome it. The city itself seems to sigh a breath of relief as the rain reinvigorates her and everything springs back to life.
Not much more to say. Gotta make some blackberry crisp.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
She was an older hippie type that glanced over and matter-of-factly, yet pleasantly responded, "every day the sunset here is beautiful." I wouldn't have been surprised if she ended her sentence with "silly" or something similar, but she didn't.
Today was a day of reading, a dinner party, and picking blackberries. They grow in abundance everywhere and you see people on the side of the trail or in the parks picking them. I have a few of these plants taking over my back yard too. Tomorrow I will make blackberry crisp, and hopefully freeze a few and eat a lot over the next few weeks while they are in season. I gave a bag of them them to my wonderful neighbors across the street. Tomorrow I am going with them to church (gasp) and then to a picnic.
Since the winters are so crummy here, I never pass up an opportunity to do something when asked. August, I've been told, is the only month one can be assured of good weather.
But it hasn't rained in over a month, so all the lawns are brown and dormant.
Here is a better picture of Fairhaven. I end up in this part of town a few days out of the week. This is next to the building at which I work (from where the prior picture was taken).
Tonight I had no plans. But I was riding up the trail and I came across an outdoor concert at The Hub, a funky non-profit bike shop that is right off the bike trail into town. Now it's funny how I've been in town for only a year (plus) but always seem to run into familiar people. Tonight, I met a fellow Food Bank volunteer.
So I hung out at The Hub for much of the evening to listen to bands and a really cool modern dance troupe from BC the was starting a West Coast tour. (I wish I could remember their name.) Their performance was bicycle related, of course. Since Bellingham is twenty miles from Canada, it would make sense that they begin their tour in here.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tonight I am beat, so I don't intend on writing too much.
To the right is a (not very good) picture of where I work Fridays. I took it a few weeks ago. The building in the front is where they build Aluminum Chambered Boats. You can also see the Alaska Ferry in the background. Bellingham is its southern terminus on the Alaska Marine Highway System.
This office, along with a few others, is in Fairhaven, a once hip, now trendy part of Bellingham. If you click on the Fairhaven link and the bocce tournament picture appears, that building in the background is where Sheri works: Village Books.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I try to remain positive, but things by far aren't always wine and roses (although roses do grow exceptionally well out here). Below is an e-mail I sent to a friend, which pretty much sums things up on the other side of life. Sonny is an old friend and veteran of The Six Mard Gras. He and his family recently moved from Albuquerque to Massachusetts
It's not entirely great out here: You have your share of Californians coming in and basically wanting to make just like the place the are fleeing because they trashed it with sprawl and strip malls and crappy tract housing.
Bellingham is filling up with those types of people, but fortunately they stay out in the suburbs where all is safe and they can go from their vehicles directly into their garages (or gated communities) and only deal with those preselected people with similar looks, world views and income.
For me, the money runs out in October, but at least my cushion of savings seems to grow every month. But as a friend told me, when you work for yourself, every day you wake up unemployed.
And Sheri and I also split up, so that has been a tremendous drag. But probably no more stressful than growing a business. Few things in life suck more than a shitty marriage. We both love (and will stay in) Bellingham - just in separate parts of town.
I hope to keep the house, as it is an old coal miner's (or lumberjack's) house, but it has some charm, is super convenient, and (if I were a gambling man) I'd bet it will outlast any of the crap built today. You know how it is Sonny - you have an old house too. The siding is old-growth cedar which is tremendously rot resistant. Not like the new crap they grow today. Actually they recycle alot of buildings they dismantle, as the wood of this is type is no longer available.
Gotta get back to work.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Tuesdays have traditionally been my Day of Leisure. However, today started off busy. Meetings in the morning. Then I went to the coffee shop around three for an afternoon work session. At 3:03, I got a phone call asking me if I could be at the marina by 3:30 for an afternoon sail. I told him absolutely not. But I could be there by 3:45. It's only ten minutes by bike to the marina, so I left in twenty or thirty minutes.
Five of us went out. The boat was a meticulously maintained Cal 30-ish. Beautiful winds from the southwest then shifting to the northwest. This will be the nicest day this week, as clouds, cold and rain roll in this weekend. (I wish I had a picture of it, but all I can find is a picture looking out the back door taken in the Spring.) These are all very seasoned sailors, but I tried to hold my own. Christ, I can't tell the cunningham sheet from the boom vang sheet. But it quickly came back.
At any rate, time to work for an hour or two. The work needs to get done sometime. Gotta feed the machine.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Many people in Bellingham are woefully underemployed. They come to Western Washington University, graduate, and don't leave. Consequently, there are not many jobs. And those jobs that are available get filled by overqualified candidates.
Others move here realizing that a ten year old VW may need to be maintained to last another ten. Downsizing one's life is not all bad. Actually the first time I jettisoned some long-held stuff, it actually was freeing. And besides, even forty year old Volkswagens are not uncommon in Bellingham.
My fifteen minutes are up so I guess I am not full of words tonight.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
But the problem is, I love to ride my cruiser around town.
I ride it pretty much every day. Rainy days, sunny days. To the store, the coffee shop, to clients’. Pretty much six days out of the week. If nothing more, then to watch the sun set. (Like tonight). I think it is the best $250 I’ve ever spent.
Here’s an article I wrote a few months back about my views on biking. I think the first ever published. Since grade school, at least.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I was riding my bike past the theater and decided to go see a movie. A very odd movie at the indie theater (The Pickford) called Crazy Love. Strange, strange movie, and a strange world in which we live. Wait till the DVD comes out.
The picture above is coming back from Lummi last night looking at Bellingham from the north. It's actually been chilly (high sixties) but the moist air makes it feel colder. Once the sun comes out, everything gets hot though.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I am lucky to meet with different people out here in Bellingham that work in all sorts of exciting businesses. I recently met a woman that has been very successful selling items on eBay. Lots of items. She's been doing it very successfully for years and has all sorts of books and DVDs on selling on eBay. I hope to help her launch her next endeavor.
Here is a picture taken at her mother's home near Lummi Island (background). The mountain behind Lummi (in the picture) is Orcas Island - the highest point of all the San Juans. Click on it and you can see better. They were kind enough to invite me out for dinner tonight at their place. A short ferry ride takes you to the island, although I've never been over there.
I used to work out here for a friend that owns a yacht charter business that lists some of the nicest boats on the West Coast (click here). We used to work out of this house in the Spring, when he was staying here. I have been able to score some beautiful offices from which to work. Hopefully I will post more pics of these office views. Time do get back to work.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
One of the most interesting things about out west - especially in Bellingham - is how people you meet on the street, in the store, etc. will stop and talk to you at length. No one really seems to be in a hurry. I met an old long-haired (yes, Bellingham is very liberal and full of hippies) on Cornwall and, although usually in a rush, I decided to slow down a bit and listen to what he had to share.
It turns out that we talked for almost an hour and I came to the realization I saw no reason to rush going forward. I needed to enjoy the time that was rapidly passing me by. Yes, life is still hectic and bills need to be paid, but I am finally glad I can downshift a bit and I can be more aware of the essence of time and my surroundings.
Yes, there are still people rushing around chasing their own tails, and I am glad they keep the mighty wheels of Mother Capitalism turning, while I ride the wake. Everyone seems to be in such a hurry with no destination in mind. Good for them.
The picture above is another taken a few nights back of the bike/walk trail. Today was actually very cloudy and in the high sixties while the rest of the country swelters. It felt like an October day back east.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
I wish I could say I was more productive today, but I wasn't. I fearfully cling to the edge of not having to go back to the corporate world. I might just make it here in Bellingham doing consulting and not selling my soul to The Man.
Live simply, work efficiently, and set no alarm.
I found another picture of a sail we took in December (above). The day was quite chilly and then the sun went down and I froze - in spite of foul weather gear, sweater, thermals, gloves, hats, etc. I didn't complain though, as your sail is only as enjoyable as the most miserable person makes it. This day was around freezing.
There are 178 islands in the San Juans. The one in the picture is either Lummi or Orcas. Or maybe not.
Monday, August 6, 2007
The coolest thing about living is Bellingham is the ability to bike just about everywhere. I am lucky to only need to drive one day out of the week and that is only for about five miles. There are many bike trails throughout Bellingham, with the Interurban Trail going right past the house. It's nice to see more people riding or walking down the street than driving.
Unfortunately, with more people moving to Bellingham, the traffic is getting worse and most of the drivers are getting more uptight. The further outside the city center you go, the more generic and car dependent it gets. It's their loss, so who cares. In town though, there are many more bikes, and people are more friendly and wave and smile when they pass one another.
The picture is taken of the main street downtown (Cornwall Ave) right outside the coffee shop I frequent daily. The cool cruiser locked to the parking meter on the right is my sole means of transport around town.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Here is a picture I took tonight during the (almost) nightly trek down to watch the sun set and read for a bit. This is from the the bike path that runs over the Bellingham Bay.
Last night I was fortunate to attend a dinner party in Sudden Valley hosted by a couple that I do some work for. She heads a non-profit here in Bellingham that reaches around the globe working for peace, education, and microlending to women. The organization is called the Sound Essence Project. Now in the past year, Susan has been to Burundi, North and South Korea, Israel and Palestine and spoken in front of the UN.
This week she is leaving for a one-week trip to Mongolia where she makes an annual pilgrimage for peace and education. Some of the families she worked with are involved in the non-profit and live both in the US and Mongolia. Last night was a reunion of the people form the States with the Mongolian families. Being in the midst of this happiness, warmth and good energy was tremendous.
The link above shows pictures of their last trips.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
The last picture (shown below in yesterday's post) was the only sunny day this year in Bellingham. The remaining 364 days have been drizzle and clouds. I took this picture today. It rains 400 days a year in Bellingham.
Actually, I'm kidding.
I took this picture last winter and came across it on my computer. It's about four blocks from the house and heading into town. It is a typical winter day: rain or drizzle in the morning followed by clouds the rest of the day. This goes on from November through May. And we're so far north that the sun rises around seven-thirty and sets around four. Some think it is dreary and depressing, but I think the changing weather is beautiful.
Someone once told me that the summers in Bellingham are the most beautiful summers anywhere. Period. I increasingly think he was correct. Usually the summer days are cloudless in the low seventies with a nice southwesterly breeze coming off the sound.
The clouds will come in a few months, but right now that time is far away.
Here a picture along the bike trail on the way to where I work.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Click here to enlarge picture taken July 4th
I was riding my bike to work along the path the parallels the shoreline of the Puget Sound. The summer flowers were in full bloom along this one portion of this trail that descends to the park. I wanted to capture the moment, but didn't have a camera, so I made a trip back later in the day with camera in hand. The light was bad, so I decided to pass, and instead rode on to visit a friend who earlier piqued my interest with his blog.
He told me all about the technique for getting traffic to your blog and it almost overwhelmed me. Personally, I just want to write an online journal, and if you find it entertaining, stop back. I hope to update it periodically. Ideally daily, but that's a lofty goal. Eventually, this writing will condition me to finish one of my many stories I nearly completed. I write business plans to help pay the bills, so I am trying to break that habit, and return back to the free flowing style once possessed prior to being tainted by the world of business writing.
Oh, and I hope to only write for fifteen minutes per day, as I do not want this to envelop my life; there is too much to do here in Bellingham and time is fleeting. Tempis Fugit, I think is the term.
Five bells. Time to end the writing for the evening. Bon soir.