Saturday, May 31, 2008


Whew. I rolled into Bellingham at around 4:30 this morning. California is beautiful, and San Francisco is a world-class city. Davis is a cool town in the middle of nowhere with beautiful summers and unbearable winters - sort of the opposite of Bellingham.

Then on to Pacifica, another wonderful town that sits on the coast by the PCH (see picture I took on Wednesday maybe?). Pacifica is an old-school California town, and like Bellingham has a grittier older side to it. I like Pacific Northwest towns like this: modest homes with higher density and some character. Two nights here in Pacifica (actually just south in Montara) with trips into San Fran, Marin, ferry rides, BART, and driving (literally) around the bay seeing how waste vegetable oil is collected from restaurants. All this compacted into a few days of many meetings and late nights.

But Bellingham is more my speed. I took the car back today (a day early) and then got on my bike to ride into town. Thankfully I no longer needed to be confined to a car, as biking all over is my favorite part of living here. Like many days, I ran into a friend for coffee and then back home for an afternoon nap. Time to relax for a few days. Or so I can only hope...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We made it to UC Davis last night, a wonderful campus with an overabundance of bicycles and nice warm weather (probably soon to become very hot) with a very tropical feel to it. This morning was spent working outside near the hotel we stayed in, which was very close to campus. So this morning I worked in the sunshine basking in the warmth. Davis is a wonderful bike and pedestrian city and the people seem to be quite warm and friendly. Considering that most of the other places I've been to in California develop the infrastructure around the automobile, I found Davis to be quite refreshing. It's not a big surprise that people in biking communities are more friendly, fit and aware.

And the college is quite remarkable in its programs and curricula devoted to issues pertaining to the impacts of the current fuel crisis and its effects on transportation, agriculture and other resources. I went to a conference for a few hours today, but needed to leave to get some work done. So I am sitting in a cool coffee house just off the UCD campus. The shining sun is tempting, but finishing my work will allow for an evening out with the two people I came down here with. And the drive totaled sixteen hours, with numerous stops for food and other things. Fortunately, the car sat parked at the hotel today.

Gotta run.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ski To Sea

Today I did nothing with regard to Ski to Sea. In fact I didn't leave the house. Trip to California for the next few days and finishing work -work, yard work, etcetera, before I leave. And trying to establish an itinerary for my couch surfing sojourn back east. Well now that I've matured, I usually stay in the spare room. Come to think of it, it's been a while since I couch surfed.

But it was a slow day that started with a few hours engaged in conversation - both in person and on the telelphone . Glad to have a housemate to keep the homefires burning, and a pit bull-boxer mix for added protection.

Here is a picture taken down by the waterfront at the end of Cornwall last week. A really neat part of town and newly found for me. I heard this is a jello-like piece of land built on a landfill and would giggle nicely in an earthquake.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Here is a before and after picture of the lot we sheetmulched in Happy Valley today. Cardboard covered by wood chips and soon some planting will take place. With the help of about twenty people, we were able to get a third of the lot covered. This will generate topsoil while preventing the grasses, horsetails and morning glories (and hopefully blackberries) from taking over.

Needless to say it was a long tiring day but it was also great to help launch this city-owned permaculture garden. It was slated to be a continuation of a road, but there are wetlands in the back of the property - a beautiful little pond with herons, foxes, and many other animals. I little oasis in the middle of these apartment buildings. Although this garden is a few miles from my home, we hope to launch these all over Bellingham as the price of fuels continues to drive up food prices and people become more aware of their food supplies. The days of the 3,000 mile Caesar Salad are over (or the average food travels 3,000 miles to reach your table).

The weather was perfect and people were out and about. People come to Bellingham for the holidays, especially Ski To Sea, which occurs every Memorial Day. Except for Lake Tahoe, people left every place I've ever lived for the holidays.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


More of the same happening here. Cloudy, chilly and the spring (or lack thereof) is causing much consternation among the 'hamsters. Yes, nice weather would be welcome, but June is notoriously crummy (its referred to name is "Junuary"). But next week I will be traveling to California and the following week it will be back to the East Coast for a few weeks. Thinking of being back there already makes me miss Bellingham, even though I am sitting here at the Public Market typing this. Weird, huh?

I guess it makes me more grateful to be in a place in which I am really content. Although I aspire to acquire no more material items in life, I am quite rich in the surrounding acquaintances community that I've developed here in the City of Subdued Excitement. But I do look forward to getting back to PA and Ohio to visit family and friends.

And the sun is peeking through so I should remain positive. The next few days should be wonderful and warm, so I've been told. We set up another permaculture work party set up for Saturday, so pictures will surely follow.

Above is a picture of the industrious past of Bellingham down by the docks. This will someday be turned into tasteful condos (an oxymoron if I've ever heard one) and parks and probably more Genirica crap like Vail or Sedona. I like the grit of this old part of town, where the homeless and seals watch the sun set.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Oops. I have forgotten to make my daily web log entries with the same alacrity of spirit that I once had. I missed a day here or there, but will still post regularly - hopefully daily. But much is happening and now that the days are growing longer I find that I shut of my computer at the close of business and have no desire to turn it back on. Computers suck major time out of my life. And although they replace most forms of media in my life, my pursuit of "news" has mostly waned.

But here is a picture of one of the beautiful rhododendrons blooming in the yard. Someone once described my house as "the one with the big rhodies in front." I can live with that.

We have another permaculture work party scheduled for this weekend. There is a movement afoot in Bellingham regarding turning lawns into gardens, and like many other things in life, I do not know how I ended up in the center of this trend. But it is fun to organize these events and the gardener types are wonderful people. Besides, I am learning a tonne about gardening in this time of steadily increasing food prices and uncertainty about the future food stream in our world. Time to get back to work, as it's nine a.m.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Today was a glorious day with perfect temperatures and a productive day of yard work (and seeing how eighty years can take its toll on a wooden house in the wet Pacific Northwest, while simultaneously realizing how remarkably well a 1928 wooden house holds up in the rainy Washington climate).

Her are more pieces of glass that mry housemate made, along with the flowers from the yard. It is corol how her art adorns the house and makes the day a bit brighter.

And opening (literally) all the windows on a fine spring day for the first time all year is very refreshing. Fortunately, little square houses have excellent cross ventilation. I look forward to a beautiful summer.

Heat Wave

Bellingham broke a record today and the temp was 82 degrees. It was good to finally feel warm after freezing my ass off for the past seven months. Tomorrow the storm windows come off and so do the little covers for the holes that ventilate the crawlspace. I doubt they helped much, as the house seemed cold and drafty all winter despite any efforts. But I'm back to $28 gas and $48 electric bills, so things are warming up.

But with the doors (and soon windows) open at night, the gulls flying far overhead can be heard making these jay-like hoarse screeching cries. They sound like those flying reptiles on the Lord of the Rings. But is a sign of spring to hear the outside sounds (and seeing the number of cyclists double overnight. And not having to carry rain gear every time you go out.)

Above is a picture of the Ski To Sea Junior Parade yesterday that went down Cornwall (a few blocks over). I wish more enthusiastically supported this wonderful event (Ski To Sea) , but I seem to be busy during this time.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More Bikes

Here is a picture of the Celebration Station (I didn't choose the name) for the Bike To Work And School Day today. We were right up the road at the Sunnyland Elementary school and we had a wonderful turnout with incredible weather. Getting up at 5:20am sucks, but it is already light out at that time of the morning (or soon after) and the people that helped me run the station did most of the work.

But is was a great time and I am glad that people are realizing that biking may be a viable means of transportation around a city with an extensive trail network and general ease of getting around. And yet sadly enough, many parents drive their chubby kids the three or four blocks to the school.

Then we turned to the carbon-based motorbike, and my roomate and I jumped on the BMW R60/6 and rode down past Lake Whatcom and through Alger to have lunch down at the Oyster Bar in Edison. I actually got a sunburn (and we sat outside to soak up the rays), and will need to take more care in the summer, as I recently purchased a half helmet and goggles instead of a full helmet, so I am much more exposed. After lunch we shopped a bit (some great shops in Edison, including a killer bakery). But it was a great day and I am pushing 19 hours of being awake, so I will sign off.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Mt. Baker reappears afters weeks of obscuration. I saw it tonight. And the day was wonderful with clearing and plentiful sun in the afternoon.

A day spent at a conference for a local group called Sustainable Connections. Bellingham is at the forefront of many green technological advancements, and this group is offers many facets of support to local businesses - both mom-and-pops and larger industries. I also heard a wonderful and powerful speaker named Sharif Abdullah, a very positive voice to hear in these turbulent times. I saw him speak last night too at another function with a group with which I'm more active. I also saw him a few months back and he is one of the most powerful people that I've ever met.

Gotta get up at 5:30 tomorrow, for a beautiful day in the high seventies. Tomorrow is Bike to Work and School Day. Fortunately, some friends are helping me do the bulk of lugging the stuff (like refreshments and schwag) to a station at one of the local elementary schools. And he has a trailer. Pictures tomorrow.


This is a very busy week with Bike to Work and School Day, a conference this morning (which I am running late for), business meetings, and the requisite down time to relax in the evenings and not be bothered by the nuisance of computers.

Gotta run. More later.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


So much for writing earlier. Someday soon. But what started as a morning meeting at 8:15am ended with not returning home well after six. And a day of caffeine and little food. Until tonight. My housemate and I went to BGO and broke the cardinal rule of shopping while hungry and went a little overboard on the chocolate.

No more to write. A heavy drizzle all day with low clouds that hugged the hills around Bellingham. Although I tire of the rain, it is indeed beautiful and ethereal. Some day we may see sun. This weekend I have been told?

And the picture was taken last night somewhere between my home and the Meridian Haggen.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Here is a random picture taken on a random street on the Lettered Streets neighborhood of Bellingham. Some of my fondest memories of biking in Bellingham are on this grid of streets on very flat terrain past little houses with lots of friendly neighbors. Actually, maybe this picture isn't so random, as I am glad I got the sweet c.1971 VW Westfalia in great shape in the picture. I took this picture today on my way to a friend's place - a fisherman turned businessman here in Bellingham that made a killer clam chowder from all sorts of clams that he caught just recently. And with fresh herbs picked from his garden. Sheer heaven.

And I think that they would wince at this statement, but even many of the conservative businesspeople in Bellingham are quite aware and earthy.

I need to get sleep, as I noticed dark circles under my eyes. I think a motorbike trip to Victoria B.C. might be in the works in the near future too. Victoria is actually south of Bellingham, and the ferry is less than an hour away.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


"I want to disturb my neighbour,
'Cause I'm feelin' so right;
I want to turn up my disco,
Blow them to full watts tonight"
- Bob Marley

Well I didn't turn the music up too loud today, but having a stereo that offered fine acoustics prompted me to listen to the loud sound of my coming of age, including some Steely Dan, Grover Washington (Mr. Magic was the first song that I decided years ago that I wanted to listen to really loud whenever I picked up a decent stereo - and today I did), Bob James and, of course, some reggae.

A nice Sunday - some work, some leisure, and fine food throughout the day. Sunday mornings are usually pancakes from scratch (today with strawberries), with a more creative medley in the afternoon. It's amazing how experimenting with different spices can make for some pleasant surprises. Today, the magic was in the ginger and tomatoes.

Oh, and here is the picture of the back yard. Small, yet it is a start at 400 square feet. And I forgot about the beauty of the petals from the apple and crabapple tree flowers that were scattered all about last night on the ride home after the driving rain. Very pretty and magical looking as they covered the ground.


Here is a picture what sheet mulching looks like. You lay down three layers of cardboard and mulch on top. Ideally you add some compost underneath, along with anything else that might add nutrients to the soil. This is not my yard, but one from the bike tour a few months back. I, with the help of a friend, laid cardboard down on a 20'x20' section and took two pick-up truck loads of mulch - basically stuff that Whatcom County dumps in a pile for people like me to use on their yard for landscaping.

But roughly one eighth of the yard is now no longer (grass). This will take about a year to break down into soil, but I can still plant some bushes and trees. Hope to have a picture tomorrow, it's just that I forgot to charge the batteries for the camera. And fortunately it poured for a few hours tonight and saturated the newly laid mulching.

But it is late. I biked home just at the end of the storm (around midnight), but a beautiful tail wind of about twelve knots (which happened to equal my cycling speed) made it feel like there was no breeze on my face.

It looks like work travel plans may take me to the Golden State in a few weeks. Personally, I'd rather stay in Bellingham, but the time has come to take to the highway. Much is afoot in the business facet of my life.

Friday, May 9, 2008


So I recently acquired a stereo that a friend gave me in exchange for some work performed. It was exactly what I was looking for: an analog receiver (late seventies Techiniques vintage), some old (but excellent sounding) Boston Acoustic speakers and a turntable. And a CD player too. I haven't had a stereo to call my own since the eighties. So this will be a summer of loud Van Halen albums - a good band to listen to in the sun and warmth.

But today was a day of work, and off to a work send-off for someone moving to Portland to launch another facility there. It's at Boundary Bay, always a fun place to go to in nice weather (as today is).

Gotta run.

Oh, and above is a picture of the Roeder Home, oddly enough a family with roots in Vermillion, Ohio - the next town over from where I used to sail on Lake Erie. (Actually, I dug up a picture of me and a friend in Vermillion from years back - to the right). But the Roeder Home is considered a mansion in Bellingham. Funny how everything around here in nature is so grand and magnificant, yet the homes (well the older ones, at least) are modest, functional and small.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I heard a story once of someone describing the winter weather in Washington to a relative living in the sunny south: "There's only one cloud in the sky," he said. "It stretches from Ketchikan to Kelso." (The former is in Alaska and the latter is in the southern tip of Washington State.)

That is the type of day today is: Cloaked in light grey fabric velvet is the sky today. Beautiful. I had a breakfast meeting and wished I brought my camera, as the sentinels of Cornwall Park were absolutely beautiful this morning while riding my bike through the mist enshrouded trees on my way home from a morning meeting.

Back to work, with hopefully a productive morning, and an afternoon break to watch the Rockford Files on The Channel. This is the peak era of quality television programming - especially the glamorization of California (from an East Coast perspective) in the mid-seventies before it was raped in the eighties and trashed in the nineties. (Just my opinion.) Those are my nostalgic sentiments as I sit on hold on the telephone waiting to get a quote on shipping a big truck across the US via rail.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Another picture taken of the state park up in Birch Bay during the Monday ride. What a nice day and a cool ride on the motorbike.

It turns out that a friend I work with told me to think positive thoughts about things like the letter from the IRS. Sure enough, it was for a client of mine for whom I am the accountant of record. And just a standard letter at that. My friend was right - no worries. But is nice to think that right now a silly letter from the IRS is the greatest worry in life. Well that and getting labeled by a SUV while riding my bike.

I write this in the afternoon after a day of work. We had a meeting that all three of us bike to. The president was quite impressed that all three of us biked to the meeting. But the more I see the cost of owning a vehicle escalating, the more I realize how lucky I am not being enslaved by the silliness of owning one. But I digress.

Off to the food bank to volunteer in a bit. Then to a meeting for the Bike to Work and School Day.

And I do not know how the rating crap got on this web log, but I will try to eliminate it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another Day

I think after being on this planet for many years, I have finally come to the realization that there are things in life over which someone should not stress. There are people in Myanmar that are really in desperate situations and I am sure that the people in Arkansas and Virginia that were recently struck by devastating tornadoes are have a bit more to worry about than I do. Fortunately, Bellingham is in a place where we are protected from tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and all the other horrible things in the world. Yes, there is an occasional earthquake, but fortunately there are few major faults (of which I am aware) in this area. The only trade off is eight months of rain and clouds, and the bone-chilling dampness.

But I try to convince myself that all is well when I need to retrieve a nasty-gram from the US Postal Service from the IRS tomorrow. What could the IRS possibly want from someone like me that has earned so little over the past few years? Ho hum.

But I am still riding high on yesterday's motorbike ride to the Birch Bay State Park. We stayed a bit too long watching the shore birds, and needed to rush back via I-5. It was fun riding along the interstate on our 1975 BMW motorbike with no faring and all the people in cars whooshing by us going nowhere as fast as they could. It was fun to have someone riding with me, especially when it is my cool house mate.

Monday, May 5, 2008

New Day

I am going to attempt to write on this web log in the mornings when I am fresher and it is a good way to begin the morning versus realizing at midnight, "oh crap I need to still write tonight." So I thinkthis will be a fresh start.

Here is a picture taken last July Fourth aboard a little twenty-two foot sailboat that I was sailing in the bay.

On a much sadder note, a wonderful relative of my cousin's husband that I met a their wedding last year in Philadelphia lost their 19-year old son to a sudden illness. I didn't meet the son, but did get to socialize with his father at length. Life is so fragile and every day is a gift. I think I will take a motorbike ride today along the bay. I am sure you will see pictures soon, as long as I remember to take the camera.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


More rain. Supposed to be nice today, but it never happened. So tomorrow may be nicer. When the weather is like this things just sort of turn blah. And it was cold tonight. On my ride over to Fairhaven, I realized that I was wearing a layer too few. Although shorts mat be the preferred clothing of choice from this point forward. And it seemed to warm up into the evening. And clear up.

Not much more to say. Other than another cool picture taken of the tulips down in Skagit County by my housemate.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Here's a picture looking down the street of the little place I call home. I am lucky to have found Bellingham. Everywhere that I 've ever lived - people have always aspired to bigger and more. Bigger home, cars, paychecks and debt. I am glad that the general view in the Pacific Northwest is towards more modest lifestyles. But the clothing or equipment that people do own is usually upper end (things like outdoor gear, etc.). It is socially acceptable to a minimalist and place value in the person versus his or her "things."

I wrote the previous paragraph earlier. Now I just got in from my moonlighting gig and a friend picked me (and my bike) up (a surprise) - and off to a few bars we went. More the college or singles types of which I frequented many in a past life. But tonight it was fun to people watch and see the nightlife of Bellingham. Boundary Bay is more my speed, but the Callaloo and Royal were interesting places - I've just been to too many bars like that in my life.

And I did my part today to help keep Mother Capitalism strong and mighty: I spent a good chunk of my meager income tax check on a new half helmet, goggles, and used leather boots for my motorbike. I've heard that leather uppers on riding shoes are good to prevent your ankles from getting injured (or ground off into hamburger) in a skidding accident. But tomorrow and Sunday I will probably be riding it. More later.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Another day and an unfortunate cyclist's death here in Bellingham. A 17-year old kid pulled out in front of a biker cruising down the hill and killed the cyclist. The student was driving to school in the morning, and sad part is that the schools was a half mile away and was easily accessible via a dedicated bike path. And I wonder why two thirds of Americans and overweight and third are obese? Tough question.

But whether young or old, and whether on a bicycle or motorbike, you treat every car as though they do not see you and are going to hit you. Cell phones are worse, as these people are the equivalent of drunk drivers (not my conclusion, but that of the many studies that have been conducted). At least the drunk drivers are predictably out at certain times of the day or week, whereas the drunk driver equivalents (ie, cell phone users) exist at all hours of the night and day.

And my housemate told me today how much she hated driving compared to biking. I think I have another convert to two wheels!