Monday, March 31, 2008


This is the first official sunset taken of the summer. Yay. This picture was taken from downtown. tonight around 7:30. This is the old, gritty, industrial heart of Bellingham that brought livelihoods to ten of thousands over the decade: the Georgia-Pacific plant. Nestled around the plant were boat yards and myriad other businesses that serve those that earn their living from the sea.

The plans, however far out - some say too far out to even matter, are to build condos, some parks and a marina for forty-plus foot yachts. Great. Another vacation playground like Lake Tahoe that remains barren and deserted for seven months of the year. But this will certainly evolve into a huge debacle that I am sure will cause opinions to be voiced.

But I least I took some cool pics today that I am sure you will see for days to come. Back to work.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Today I had a vision of what my garden will look like some day. And I think I have enough materials to build a chicken coop (and my neighbors too are looking into some hens). Bellingham, I've been told has a law allowing three hens (no roosters) in the city limits. They were out planting all morning in the drizzle, while I was still in my visionary stages. But we did bike to the library and over to look at apple trees at a local nursery for plants. Actually, I was looking for trees, and they didn't have many. I will return there for a wide array of native fruit bearing plants, as a friend gave me a gift certificate for it. But more importantly, I need to get the fruit trees in the ground, as we are getting towards the end of the spring planting season.

But a give fell from the sky this past week, sent from the god of blue shirts. Actually the package came via the USPS from my bother back east, and it was his castoff blue button downs of Jos. Banks and Brooks Bros ilk. Ever since the dot-com days, I've been enamoured by the functionality of good quality 100%-cotton blue button downs. The others that have diligently served me for years are getting quite worn and begging to be retired. Living in a town with neither of the aforementioned purveyors of decent shirts, this was always a challenge. Well that, and the fact that Brooks Brothers shirt quality has gone to shit. And in general, I find shopping to be quite a bore.

Ending the evening with a Grateful Dead 1989 Alpine Valley Wisconsin show. I am waxing nostalgic this evening, but they were some incredibly fun times.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


And yet another infrared picture taken of the side of the house towards the street. This is where the bikes get wheeled from the back gate to the street.

Today was a crazy day of rain followed by a few inches of snow followed by more rain followed by sunsets. IT is nice to see the arboretum from the front window, but today it was fogged in most of the day. I've been told that arboretum is a good weather indicator in Bellingham. If you cannot see it, that means it is raining; if you can see it, that means it is going to rain. Makes sense.

It is pushing ten and I am supposed to go to a party tonight. I would rather stay in, but I might try to get motivated to go. It is good to get out, and the extent of it was taking Maggie for a walk to go down to get a movie. And some chocolate, of course.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wake of the Flood

Line up a long shot, maybe try it two times, maybe more
Good to know you got shoes to wear, when you find the floor
Why hold out for more?
- Garcia/Hunter

So today I woke up to freezing weather, flurries, rain, clouds, but at least no wind. The title up top is of a Grateful Dead album. And the quote above is from a song on the album named "Here Comes Sunshine."

I sit here at a coffee shop working, seeing some friends, winding down the weekend. Still a bit of work to do, and it looks like skiing will be on Monday and a work-filled weekend with tomorrow night being a going-away party later for a friend and his partner riding motorbikes to, and then across, Mexico.

Another infrared picture - this one of Maggie in the back yard. You guessed it. There's not too much going on ill Bellingham. I heard the daffodils are blooming in Lynden, but not the tulips. Too cold I think.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Here is a picture my housemate took downtown using infrared film. I think it was taken last last week looking down Railroad.

Today was quite cold, and snow is predicted for the higher elevations. I might go cross country skiing this weekend up to the mountains, so I will need to dust of the ski equipment. I preferred living five minutes from the mountain versus two hours, but it will still be nice to get out in the snow. I prefer to look at the snow in the mountains versus being in it. And I am getting the itch to get the road bike back out too. Tonight I put my new tires on the KHS, and realized how horribly aged the ones were that came on it. Too much to do with too little time.

And then there's hiking, camping, the motorbike, sailing, and, oh, work too. Looking forward to spring. But spring is usually rainy for the most part in Bellingham, so I guess I am looking forward to summer; but spring usually offers a few nice days too, just not consistently. Long time residents here say the winters get no easier to withstand. Some leave for warmer climes, but I think the summer is so much more enjoyable after the cloudy and drizzly fall, winter and spring.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Here is the 42' trimaran S/V Seafire that sailed Mexico and the South Pacific for five years. A beautiful, solid boat. But this was taken a few days back on the friggin' cold and windy day. (If you click on the picture, you can see the details of this vessel.) It's located about twenty miles from the house in Sandy Point.

"Will you still be singing it on that cold and windy day?"

Some day I will sail the Pacific. And this seems like the perfect, fast boat. I look at its sleekness with awe.

But D.B. Cooper was all over the news, both locally and nationally, and I've been told it is the world's only unsolved skyjacking. And another link.

Now that spring is in the not-too-distant future, camping gear selection is in the works. I think I can get gear for very little (not to mention my housemate having a super cool WWII backpack she said she'd let me use). The mantra off many of my otherwise pricey outdoor activities: Go cheap, go now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

D.B Cooper Revisited

A few months back, I posted an article on D.B. Cooper, a hijacker that jumped from a plane and escaped, never to be found, after parachuting out somewhere over the Cascades near the Oregon border. Well a friend from Philly sent a link of some kids finding his possible parachute. Hopefully, they will never find his remains and the bulk of the missing $200,000. Let the legend live on.

But to the right is a picture of the third yard we toured on Saturday. This was a smaller city lot that was quite a little urban wonderland complete with doves and chickens. I think I might get some chickens, as I have a perfect spot for them in the yard. And a friend that said she'd help me build a hen house. By some accounts you can have three hens (no roosters) in Bellingham, by other accounts there is no limit. Three hens should suffice.

Back from Seattle today and it looks like next week may be more traveling to the dry side of the state.

Monday, March 24, 2008


This picture was take last night after a band of pretty bad showers blew through. And it was cold as hell. But we still managed to pull a great sunset out of it. Today I sat on my butt most of the day typing at a laptop and yapping into a cell phone.

But in the afternoon I biked off to do some work on a cycle. I joined an alternative currency institution that trades products or services for terra dollars. So I work doing bike repair or perform some other service (although the last thing I want to do is the stuff I do all day) or I can sell something. Working on bikes is an evolving hobby and a service that seems to be lacking on the exchange. So the bike needs some parts, and I will return at another time.

About the dollar though - in case anyone hasn't noticed, the dollar is free falling and nothing evidently can really be done. Or they (who are they?) are intentionally crashing the dollar to hyperflate away the debt, or something about the Amero? The Euro has increased 83% since the first time I went to Paris (well they were still French Francs then, but just about to switch). Ah, the days of one-star hotel rooms for 140FF in the Quartier Latin where Rue Descartes meets Rue Mouffetard.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


So today Bellingham Herald ran an article on the yard we turned into a garden last week. And the rain returned too. Although it looks like it may clear. I look out my living room window to the SSW, which is from whence the wind and weather blows.

I am writing much earlier than normal today. I don't know why. Maybe because I just came across the link above. The picture to the right is of the second home we toured yesterday in Bellingham. This was a place that was owned by a very knowledgeable permie and I felt like I was in a classroom most of yesterday.

But today unraveled and later I found myself up at a friend's boat near Sandy Point. I think an ugly section of the Jersey Shore was picked up and set down near Bellingham, and they called it Sandy Point. Except the waves were much smaller. But he sailed on this trimaran for about five years with his family throughout the Sea of Cortez and the South Pacific.

We hung out there for a bit and checked on his friend's trimaran. Then back home. Looks like something like Ten Commandments. Actually, it is called Barabas, but when you only get one channel, you take what you can get. I could turn it off, but I am tired and need something very sedentary and mindless and the television fits the bill.


Although I usually do not take pictures of people, today I did. Here is a picture of the permaculture bike tour down Broadway towards Eldridge to our first home. This was a great day with great weather and wonderful people on our bike ride around lawns of Bellingham that were being turned into gardens. Keeping twenty plus bikers together was like herding cats. Well maybe not that bad, but keeping on a schedule was a challenge.

But the people that opened their homes to us were wonderful and it was a fun time that lasted before eleven until well past midnight. The picture to the right is the first house at which we stopped. On to many other followed up by a social event back at the Yellow Submarine (I am thinking up cutsie names for my little yellow home). There are some very interesting people in Bellingham and I am very lucky to have met them.

And there was a DQ Blizzard of my housemate in the freezer that exceeded the 72-hour rule, so I ate it.

"Close your eyes and you'll be there
It's everything they say
The end of a perfect day
Distant lights from across the bay"

- Fagen/Becker

Friday, March 21, 2008


I think that's what they are called. My neighbors gave me these last spring and this is the second year of their blooming. They are beautiful and bright and a sign that spring is here. These are planted a few feet from the front door.

And tomorrow the bike ride is predicting weather of mid-fifties and mostly sunny. Holy Cow. Talk about luck. And showers the rest of the week.

Tonight was spent preparing the meals - veggie chili and oyster stew, as tomorrow will be biking and socializing the rest of the day. And so far things are going quite smoothly with the food preparation. I finally made it to the local Trader Joe's for some wine for the party (but not beer). TJ's was the rage when it came to Bellingham, and still is. I didn't find it overly exciting, although they are very generous in their donations to the food bank. And it is only five blocks or so from my house. Then we went to get the beer at Haggens. More work, then to bed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


This picture is taken downtown on Magnolia Street looking southeast towards the hills and later mountains. It was taken a few weeks back.

So things are quite busy upon returning home. On the personal front and especially on the work front. A busy, full weekend but at least the weather will miraculously break on Saturday when a group of us will be touring gardens around the neighborhoods throughout Bellingham. Actually what were once lawns have been turned to gardens with a wonderful variety of plants that looks quite natural and very cozy.

I was recently told that the largest agricultural product in this country is grass clippings. I wonder if that is true. But I look forward to the day that I no longer have to cut grass, or pay someone to do it (although I've only done that once before in my life). So I have little to say tonight, although I can only tell you of things to come. My thoughts are on planning mode, so you'll have to wait for the pictures and review. And my permaculture yard is still a vision. Some day...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The blue skies of Southern Nevada are now a memory, although the sun did peek through for a bit today. But still it was nice to bike around today and get some work done. And some yard work.

Gearing up for the weekend of having people over, but at least the weather will be nice on Saturday. Showers predicted for every day on the ten-day forecast except Saturday, where it will only be partly cloudy and fifty-four. I'll take that.

Not to talkative tonight. Time to get some sleep.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The people we stayed with were very thrifty in a city of excess. They collected and knew glass and would frequent these places. I scored a pair of four dollar Bill Blass khakis here. It is very difficult to get inexpensive 100% cotton khakis anymore that are not coated in teflon. Even LL Bean stopped making them. Ugh. The search for uncoated khakis continues and they are getting harder to find. I like these pants that I bought at this Mormon-owned thrift store so much that I wore them for the next two days.

And it looks like this Saturday may be a party at the canary (in-the-coalmine) yellow house in Sunnyland. Monday is my birthday. Any local hamsters that I forgot to e-mail, I hope to see you here. And it begins with a permaculture bike tour around noon.

Time to get some work done. Busy week.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Made it back into The Ham this afternoon. What an interesting place: Vegas. Beautiful weather - very warm and sunny, yet the people are quite hard and cold. Conversely, Bellingham welcomed me with its damp drizzle and warm people.

But we were lucky to have stayed with some wonderful hosts in Las Vegas that showed us all over the town and took us where we needed to go. They had a beautiful place that reminded me being in Florida. I am not a desert person, nor am I a big city person.

As always, I missed riding my bike, even in the rain that greeted me on my way to the bus trip home from the airport. I noted to the hostess how Las Vegas is not a very bike/pedestrian-friendly city; she cleverly offered that is a bike/pedestrian-enemy city. Most of the roads are six- or eight-lanes with huge vehicles speeding up and down the boulevards with shiny wheels. I would not feel safe on those road on a bicycle or a motorbike. But I've aged and mellowed and have become softer living in the Pacific Northwest. One speed is all I need in life (note my review in link, second down) .

But it was great to see the sun and get a slight sunburn. At least the sun exists, if it was a thousand miles away. Wait, it's 93 million miles away, but you get the point. A few more months of drear in Bellingham, interspersed with a few days of old sol here and there. I do miss the 300+ days of sun when I lived in Tahoe. But 300+ days of clouds is not so bad. I am glad to be home. And Maggie was happy to see me too.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I never thought I would think this of a pit bull and boxer mix, but Maggie is indeed a cute dog. And so incredibly behaved.

So spring is in full swing. The periwinkles and primroses are bursting forth with their vibrant colors, and it looks like most of the plants survived a relatively mild winter. A day of a refreshing afternoon nap, which I am told helps although I never have time to indulge. More rain today and clouds. On to sunny Nevada tomorrow for a weekend of R&R.

This blog will be silent until Monday night as I take a break, and also give the little Dell laptop a break.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


So in a few days I leave Bellingham to get warm. Not a whole lot more. Finished a project today. Only to begin another significant one. Tomorrow is a day to do some last minute things, or in actuality throwing a bunch of stuff in a bag for a long weekend. And leave the computer home.

This picture is looking southeast up Holly Street taken in Downtown Bellingham. Taken a few days ago.

Unfortunately not a whole lot to say. Watched Darjeeling Limited today, which was a refreshing flick. A nice break in the midst of a busy day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


So tonight was a an offshoot of a Peak Oil Task Force that is forming here in Bellingham. Basically an ad hoc group that may be augmenting the official City of Bellingham task force. I am glad someone is noticed that there are problems when a commodity central to everyone's life in the US happens to be increasing at over 25% per year. And I won't even get into the fact that we have an administration in the White House that stands to profit handsomely from the oil industry's success. Things are afoot with this (arguably, by some) dwindling resource.

Some may say this is a crazy notion, as they believe that oil will be plentiful for the next few decades or centuries. But expecting to rely upon the mainstream media is worthless. And the story told be the majority of scientists, engineers and economists is not too rosy. I'll side with them over CNN or FOX, thank you.

And then home to watch the apropos Viva Las Vegas; I will be traveling there this weekend to warm my body and see the some cultural excesses. What an actor that Elvis is. I knew he'd win the race and get the lady.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Another picture to the right of the weekend's work.

I am hung up on daylight saving thing. First off, I do not know if we just came off daylight savings time, or if this is now daylight savings. Hmm. But I am staying up later and need to change my cycle. But I didn't get home until well after eight tonight. Coffee shops, wind, rain and Harry Nilsson to end the night.

Not much more to say. Talked with a friend living in the Bay Area for a bit, and found our lives were on very similar paths since we both departed Lake Tahoe. One of those people you haven't talked to for months (or more) and it seems like you talked to them yesterday.
"One of these days
I'm going to sit down and write a long letter
To all the good friends I've known
One of these days"
- N. Young

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Yard Waste

"Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?"

- B. Dylan

The more I think of a grass lawn, the more ridiculous the concept seems. All the chemicals we dump on them (and have our kids and pets rolling around in them the same afternoon), the hours we spend maintaining them, the tremendous costs, the impact on the environment (I was told today that one lawn mower emits the same pollution as 44 autos traveling at 50mph). Why do I even have a grass lawn? And my lot is a 1/10-acre city lot, and still seems large. And besides, I like gardening - so why not turn the lawn into a garden?

And today we did that for a willing participant. We mulched an entire yard and eradicated the grass, and at the same time created potentially another inch of topsoil (naturally it would take a hundred years to build one inch). This entire yard will be developed into an edible lawn: berries, tubers, nuts, leafy vegetables, fruits... I will do this soon to my yard, although it will be in another week or two. Not the whole thing either, but maybe 15'x15' for starters. Unfortunately, the planting time for trees in Bellingham will soon be behind us, so time is of the essence.

At any rate, back to do some work work, as this planting task took up much of my weekend - along with about forty other wonderful Bellinghamsters. I am always very grateful to meet these wonderful co-inhabitants of this interesting town. I two weeks there will be a follow-up bike tour in the neighborhood. And possibly a party back at my place.


So this was a full day of turning a yard into a permaculture exhibit in an adjoining neighborhood. Basically removing all the 'ornamental' shrubs and plants in the yard, and putting in plants that can be harvested and eaten. And meeting some more very interesting people in Bellingham. But in a few years the yard will be transformed into an interesting 'forest' of virtually all the plants being edible.

Tomorrow we need to finish up, but it is 2:30 new time (spring forward) and I need to be up in, oh, seven hours or so to finish up this project. Maybe I will be a bit late and sleep in. Eventually I want to do this in my place, and minimally hope to get some blueberry bushes in, as well as an apple tree or two. I love apples.

Then to a friends' party and hence me being out so late tonight.

When attempting to insert a picture into this post, I received error bX-p52j72. Sounds scary. So no picture tonight.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Very tired tonight. Midnight and I still need to catch up on lost sleep. And I need to be up sort of early tomorrow. I realize some people are perpetually sleep deprived. I am a wuss. I like my seven hours and have grown used to it.

Here is a picture yesterday in a sleep-deprived blur as the lowlands were bathed in a sea of fog as the Cascades poked through in the distance. This is looking east from I-5 as we whizzed by.

Tonight a permaculture workshop, and tomorrow we garden and transform a yard into all edible plants. I will most likely catch the bug and then you will be reading about it here. Bellingham has some really interesting people living here. And I am glad to have met quite a few of them.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Today we drove to Aberdeen to look at equipment for a biofuels plant I am involved with building. Pretty much a day spent with engineers learning about the equipment needs for our plant. To date, I've been shuffling spreadsheets, so actually getting out in the field and getting my feet muddy is exciting. This picture is of a biodiesel plant operating in Aberdeen.

Unfortunately, Aberdeen is a pretty depressed coastal town - a past falling victim to the logging decline in this area. One could argue that this decline is attributable to the tree huggers (like me) wanting to protect habitat for those silly animals like the Northern Spotted Owl. Others argue that it is because the peninsula is pretty much logged out and cannot really sustain much more timber cutting. Yet others (like me), understand that it is more profitable for the lumber companies to ship raw logs to places like Asia, and if they wanted to retain these timber jobs, they would have the milling done here in the states versus sending it overseas. But the companies can increase their margins by having this done offshore. That's life in the global economy. Oh well. And it is refreshing that I recently heard on the radio that the federal officials view the high-growth jobs in the next decade in the retail and food service industries. Sounds like a robust economy when the job prospects are as store clerks, and waiters and waitresses.

And of course Aberdeen has the ubiquitous McMansions on the outskirts of town where retired baby-boomer couples can move into their new 4,000sf homes (with views, no doubt) while the downtown core rots. And the fact that we passed a shop (twice) where my ex and I picked up seafood upon the commencement of our round-the-country trip in 2006 didn't help matters much.

Oh well, I am tired (can you tell?) and wrote early tonight, as I do not know when I will be crashing after minimal sleep last night.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Cannot write tonight. Need to be up at the ungodly hour of 3:45am. Ugh. But I saw the price of a gallon of gas is approaching the price of a frou-frou coffee drink. I think I would rather spend the money on the latter, although I haven't graduated much beyond a drip with room. Or if I am living on the edge, an Americano.

More tomorrow. After a trip to Aberdeen (right).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


This evening we visited a bio-methane plant north of Bellingham. Basically cow crap and other waste products turned into methane gas through a rather impressive array of tanks, pipes, noise and a rather large genset.

This small facility generated enough electricity for hundreds of houses and potentially could be a revolutionary way to produce electricity, fuel vehicles and generate heat. Imagine that biogas will be created from all the crap that we sent to landfills. And animal and plant waste. And pretty much any other organic waste. Surprisingly enough, cow manure is one of the less efficient feedstocks for biogas generation. But unfortunately there is so much animal waste, so finding a use to neutralize this is tremendous. And turning it into energy is even more tremendous.

That's all for tonight. More exciting things are around the corner once the weather breaks.

Monday, March 3, 2008


This is the first boat I bought back in the nineties and learned to sail on, plying the lakes of Western Pennsylvania. It was a fourteen foot wooden craft with Sunfish rigging. Now she resides at a friends place in Cleveland stripped of paint and ready for repainting. I personally liked the blue. They were the ones that named her Smidgen. I never really had a name for her.

On the home front, rain and a forecast of sun tomorrow for Vancouver. So I guess that means Bellingham will receive something similar. Sort of busy, but dealing more with the vicissitudes of life. To think how the difficulties in life morph into varying points of relativity. Today I was struck with one of those pangs of holy shit, this can't be happening to me, but then realizing that it will be okay. It always seems that things always work out. After decades on the planet, I've finally realized this. I am sure you will hear more of my travails, but right now I feel like playing some music on the guitar even though it is late.

I am fortunate to to have a house mate (and other friends) between whom we can volley our little life dramas. Crazy world, this little speck of a planet hurling through space.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


This picture was taken last week downtown on Cornwall looking south.

Wow. Today was a day I did pretty much nothing outside other than turning the compost pile and working on my cruiser. Phone calls to and from family and friends, plenty of coffee as a few friends stopped by, conversation, two movies were watched, some work and a hope of getting to bed soon.

And having a roommate involved in art makes for neat pieces of artworks added throughout the home. And that is cool. So far, this experiment in cohabitation has far exceeded any expectations that I had. I will probably post pictures of some of the art pieces at some point.

It is interesting too that this place feels more like Canada than the US. The one TV station we receive serves Bellingham, Vancouver and Victoria (which is located further south than Bellingham). The AM station I listen to at night is Canadian, as are the many influences of our northern neighbour flowing into our town. And both Vancouver and Victoria are both much closer than Seattle.


Here is a picture of Mount Baker erupting today. Just kidding, but it is a cool picture sent to me of some volcano erupting somewhere. To think I live less than fifty miles from one of these (as the crow flies) is quite amazing. It is visible from my back yard (the tip of it) and occasionally you can see steam coming off of it.

Today, we had a social at my place for an alternative currency exchange. Basically, these were quite widespread during The Depression as a way to offer and obtain services in currency units other than the US dollar. And in case you've been asleep for the last few years, the US Dollar is in a free fall, as compared to the Loonie and Euro ($.85 equaled one Euro in 2000; now it is $1.55 to one - do the math, that's an 82% appreciation of the Euro versus the Dollar). All other indicators from what I've been reading indicate that things could get far worse in the next few years. I wonder why this is a non-event in our media? I guess stories like "School Bans Hugs Over 2 Seconds Long" is more important. I wonder when it first became so obvious that our media - the overseer of our society's freedom - so miserably failed us?

Time to sleep.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Today I splurged and bought two new tires for my road bike on eBay. I do not feel that replacing the bald tires on this bike every five years is overindulgence. And I liked the red tires (they match the white and red frame - cheesy, yeah, I know - and these are rather hard to find, so I snagged two for a song. For it's age, the KHS Flite 500 is still in great shape (but the road bikes generally don't get beat up like the mountain bikes). And I really haven't ridden this bike much in Bellingham, but hopefully the new treads will motivate me to maybe take a ride across the border into White Rock, or over to the islands.

Then I rode the cruiser in the pouring rain to see a movie at a human rights film festival on Western's campus. And was able to speak very briefly to a hundred or so people in attendance for a group that I volunteer with; you'll certainly hear more about them, as we a conducting a permaculture workshop next week.

But I think I beat this silly cold. Bought some tea that was for colds (containing things like echinacea) and drank a full pot. And biking in the rain may have worked it out of my system too. Tomorrow is busy, but Sunday is a movie and napping day.