Friday, July 31, 2009

Cool

Fortunately it cooled down quite dramatically today. 75 degrees around five o'clock, I saw. But tomorrow is a day we have our Summer Tour where we bike around to different urban gardens in Bellingham and have the owners explain how they've turned their yards into food production. Hopefully I'll get some pictures.

Tonight an evening bike ride turned into watching a band at Honeymoon downtown. And running into a friend that I hadn't seen in quite some time. Not much more excitement. Tomorrow's a big day, as people may be arriving around ten, and I need to get some bread in the morning.

Oh, and the picture was from this past Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hot

Today was hot. But I really dislike air conditioning, but in town it wasn't hard to find something absolutely frigid, like I recall places to be Back East all summer while the temps lingered there in the nineties for weeks on end.

I tried to recall the hottest place I ever slept, and that turned out to be in in the nineteen eighties living on the top floor of a fraternity house at 35th and Race Streets in West Philadelphia in a loft with my face being merely feet from the roof tossing and turning after the hundred degree heat pounded the flat tar surface all day. So yeah, ninety degrees and a breeze ain't so bad.

Working the Food Bank tonight and then on to watch the sun set. I can never see enough of these. My batteries died and by the time I motivated myself to replace them ad shoot this video, Old Sol had disappeared (see video).

At least the heat will break and tomorrow. People talk about crummy sleep. Me too. The temperatures will continue to slide into the more seasonal seventies with night time lows in the fifties. And hopefully the one week of intolerable summer weather that Bellingham has will be behind us.
video

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baker

Today a day of remembering what sweltering heat feels like. I think it was in the high eighties. I explained to a friend what it was like spending a month or two in weather like this with matching humidity. All the fans are sold out in Bellingham, I've been told. A day where it actually wasn't too hot when you are doing something sedentary, like reading, but as soon as you did anything, you break into a profuse sweat. But now it's night and coolness has settled on the city.

Not much more to say. The picture above is one that my housemate took of Baker Lake (I believe) this past weekend. In a few weeks I hope to head up to the mountains to camp. so much to do in town, but I will make a few more out-of-town journeys by the end of the summer. To sea by boat, to the mountains on foot, and across SR20 (the North Cascades Highway) on my motorbike. Too little time.

And

Monday, July 27, 2009

Breeze

Here's a picture of Mt. Baker from the back yard atop a little ladder as I was putting up a place for the clematis to reach toward the sun. The mountain is about fifty miles away, and the ridge is about fifteen. There's a sign company behind my house, and that's alright by me. It used to be that their outside intercom would start paging just after eight, but now I'm up at six when the rooster crows (and to let him and the two hens out). My neighbor was saying it how the crowing reminded him of visiting places like Mexico. So we decided that here in Bellingham you live the same sensation and is costs much less. And the water's much better.

But today I learned that two blueberries does not a smoothie make. So I added an aging kiwi and banana, and a bruised apple. And some yogurt and ice and it was the perfect thing for a hot day. One week of the temperatures in the high eighties is enough for me. So I donned a Hawaiian shirt of my fathers that might be older than I am. How some worldly things are so fleeting in life while others seem to hang around.

Fortunately there was the everpresent relief of the ten knot breeze off the bay. The older homes (and maybe the newer ones, but I don't know) seem to pull the breeze through nicely and the sight of curtains blowing in the breeze is refreshing. Since air conditioning is unnecessary here, it is wonderful to hear the stillness and quiet of the night with windows open and the whistle of the distant twelve-ten southbound BNSF.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Herbs

Here is a picture of the front yard when the cardboard was used to take out the grass. Sine then, I've dumped yards and yards of wood chips on the front yard to build soil and nutrients. Next year maybe I'll put some blueberries in. That's a decision to be made later.

But for a mall yard in its second years, things are starting to come together. Tonight's dinner was tempeh and rice with fresh oregano, basil, green beans and munching on blueberries while I was gardening. I can finally envision what the yard will evolve into.

Fortunately my neighbors have been accommodating through this effort and many passers-by have offered compliments of this transformation. A quite productive afternoon of getting caught up on the yard work, which is finally coming together.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rain

Okay, so a friend told me the consiricy theorists are all crazy, and that the information on the internet (such as FAA or NTSB official reports) should be online and available for review. A cursory review on Google shows very little, if any discourse by these agencies. The more one reads into, the more questions to be raised. I started typing them, but backed off. I am amazed at the number of my friends here that believe 9/11 was an inside job, while most of my eastern friends accept the story as has been fed to them by our government and mainstream media. But I should stop there.

Time to close the chickens in for the night and head out. Rain tonight. Sort of soaking, but the uncommon lightning and thunder was odd. At least the sky's clear now.

And the picture above is last Sunday's Deer Harbor on Orcas Island. And my favorite Steely Dan song just came on. Time to fly.

On the water down in New Orleans
My baby's the pearl of the quarter
She's a charmer like you never seen
Singing voulez vous
Where the sailor spend his hard-earned pay
Red beans and rice for a quarter
You can see her almost any day
singing voulez vous

And if you hear from my Louise
Won't you tell her I love her so
Please make it clear
When her day is done
She got a place to go

I walked alone down the miracle mile
I met my baby by the shine of the martyr
She stole my heart with her Cajun smile
Singing voulez vous
She loved the million dollar words I say
She loved the candy and the flowers that I bought her
She said she loved me and was on her way
Singing voulez vous

And if you hear from my Louise
Won't you tell her I love her so
Please make it clear
When her day is done
She got a place to go

Thursday, July 23, 2009

9/11

video
Another picture from last Saturday. We were cruising at 8.4kts for quite some time.

But back to Bellingham. And a friend let me borrow Loose Change 9/11, a movie that really doesn't surprise me, and snippets of which I read here and there over the past few years. Most people here in fringe Bellingham believe 9/11 was an inside job. Too many questions have gone unanswered for me (like this) to buy into the official story told to me by my government. And that is a shame.

In high school I dated a girl that was on the plane to hit the first tower (although I hadn't spoken to her in many years), and had ties to one or two others through friends and family (like my cousin's husband's boss's brother being a pilot on one of the planes). I wonder if the truth will ever be told.

Much wealth was created in this tragedy that fortunately led to two highly lucrative, yet failed, wars that are in the process of bankrupting the United States. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Garden

Tis the time of the year where you are lucky to have an omelet with kale and oregano for lunch and a salad with peas for dinner - al from the back yard. Some day I will be able to also provide the eggs and potatoes. And the hops came back after what I thought was a devastating winter. All the other crops are doing well as summer is in full swing. The squirrels and rooster both have taken a liking to the blueberries, so decisions will soon need to be made strategically against those too who favor the yummy blueberries.

A weekend ahead of me and Magilla, as my housemate heads out to kayak and camp. The weeks are full of work and other things, only to look forward to a full weekend of play. Hopefully it will be relaxing and I can catch up on gardening. And a thousand other things.

Need to pick up chicken feed tomorrow. Those eggs-to-be-seen are getting to be pretty pricey. But I cannot wait for how good fresh eggs will be. At least the chickens seem to like their lives. But I wonder if the eggs will taste like blueberries.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mooring

The white mooring ball is where we spent the first night near the ferry landing on the southern side or Orcas Island. I took this picture from the ferry upon our departure on Sunday afternoon. Deprived of sleep, still, with the hopes of sleep somewhere down the line. We are sort of north and sort of west and so the nights fall later than normal while the sun rises earlier. So that translates into less sleep.

So a daily regimen has become getting up around six to let the chickens out, and never really getting back to sleep. And days like today where I finally sit down to rest at 10:30 at night. And a day spent today renting a car to drive to Seattle and back. Summer rates are higher at the car rental places, but renting once a week is still far cheaper than owning a car. And I certainly don't miss the headaches of insurance, repairs, et cetera. It's so nice to hand the keys back.

But on the other hand, I sit here dreaming of a trip up to the North Cascades on SR20 on my old BMW R60/6 motorbike in a few weekends. Is that much different than the nice little car that I disdain? But I have done my share of cross country trips and will probably do a few more. But riding on a motorcycle is very refreshing and I feel I am babbling so I am signing off...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wind

video
Here is a video taken Saturday in the later afternoon somewhere near San Juan, Whidbey and Lopez Islands. The winds were sustained in the mid-twenties. with seas three-to-five feet but building to eight-to-ten. What really created tricky navigation though was the flood tide rushing th rough the channel between Lopez and San Juan Islands, creating a soupy cauldron of sea for us to push through.

But it was a great time and for being away only a short time. My friend has a ton of sailing books aboard his boat, and one that I was lent is called Adrift, an interesting story that discusses the cchallanges faced by a sailor adrift in the Atlantic Ocean. I do not know why we intentionally place ourselves in harm's way in such situations. Sailing by any stretch is dangerous, tiring and generally unpleasant. But the feelings quickly come back to me of my attraction to the smells and sounds and sensations of the water, and on the ferry ride back we were already making plans for our next trip - hopefully to Victoria in a few weeks.

But now it is Monday and I am bac to the daily grind. I am writing this afternoon from the food co-op in Mt. Vernin waiting to catch the 80x back to Bellingham in an hour or so.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

HR46

So I go home late this evening and was not able to find the little memory card reader to view the pictures and videos of the trip this weekend. Some very serene and pretty, like the picture this morning when we finally made it over to Deer Harbor to tie the boat to its new home at a mooring ball in this idyllic setting, or the tempestuous seas that greeted us at the passage between San Juan and Lopez Islands late yesterday afternoon when the ebb tide clashes with 30 knot winds out of the west coupled with eight foot seas from the starboard aft quarter tossing us about like an empty Pepsi bottle. One crew got seasick and the rest of us were woozy.

But we made it to Orcas okay and more pictures will follow. And more details. Oh, what fun.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Buses

I am hopingto catch the 12:55 Greyhound to Seattle and maneuver my way to Bothell to meet my friend to sail his Hallberg-Rassy 46 to Orcas Island tomorrow. So I have little time to write and will be back late Sunday. Pictures are sure to follow.

I might as well make a day of traveling to Seattle and fortunately my computer will stay behind.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flying Monkeys

Many nights of the summer there can be heard above an expansive screaming flock of birds that I think are terns. A few hundred feet above the ground they fly, screaming in a chorus that sounds exactly (or to the best of my recollection) like the flying monkeys in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And now they are gone and the night is once again silent, except for the radio playing softly in the background.

Time for sleep. This weekend is on for the delivery of the HR46 from Seattle to Orcas (pronounced OR-kuss) Island. Forecasted S SW winds at 10-20kts. Eighty or so nautical miles. Perfect.

Late

This is what part of a one-tenth (of an) acre city lot looks like where most of the plants in the picture can be eaten. And Magilla is diligently protecting the chickens, as you can see.

The larger tree is actually a cherry tree. And the smaller one is too. What a score. And I being the dufus that I am, thought that they were crabapples for the past two seasons and left the wonderful fruits for the belligerent, pesky starlings.

Peas, kale, chard, blueberries, salmonberries, raspberries, jerusalem artichokes, beets, lettuce, squash, potatoes - all can be seen in this picture. And this is only about six hundred square feet. And now all the fruits and veggies are ripe and there for the picking.

A really damp and cold morning with a clear, star-filled evening. But I forgot how one forgoes sleep in the summertime. By the time the sun goes down, and the fresh dinner is prepared, it is pushing eleven. And up with the chickens at 6:10 (like this morning) and listening to the CBC out of Vancouver makes for a pleasant entrée into the day. So to bed at one; up at six. Why do I always think I'll begin taking afternoon naps but never do? Oh well. There's too much to do in Bellingham to sleep at this time of year. I think my body, list most mammals, requires less sleep in the summer and significantly more in the winter.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Troll

Well I've never seen this piece of art (the Fremont Troll), the my housemate had this picture on her camera.

Well today it was confirmed by my neighbor that I am a dumbass. Sixty five miles into a bike ride and about to collapse was most likely attributable to drinking only water most of the ride and eating only one Clif Bar. I guess it could've been far worse, so hopefully I learned to take enough nutrients the next trip out on my faithful road bike.

But today's cold weather made way for a great sunset and we went down to watch the sun set at the park. And although the wind was modest at ground level, once my kite go carried above the trees, it was quite steady. I read that this type of kite (below, I have the red one) is called the French Military kite and was used in the nineteenth century for reconnaissance to lift French troops far into the air to view the enemy. All I know is that it flew effortlessly and it was quite relaxing lying on the large granite stones while the kite kissed the sky.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

SR9

Yesterday's ride was longer than anticipated and had its share of ups and downs.

Among the best: State Route 9 all the way the Acme and Nooksack and Sumas. A beautiful ribbon of highway with moderate traffic, a comfortably wide (and clean) shoulder berm and some sweeping vistas of the mountains to the east. (The picture if from the web and looks like it was taken in the winter.)

Odd: Sikh raspberry farmers all over southern BC with huge houses (some looked like compounds) working diligently on their crops in the full beards and turbans. Raspberries are in season right now and the time to harvest is quite limited.

Acre after acre, farm after farm of raspberries with a few blueberries interspersed. And the loud recorded cries of birds booming from loud speakers, in an effort to thwart the voracious starlings and blackbirds, was also quite uncanny. Ever farm seemed to have slightly different recordings blaring from their fields. And occasional shotgun blasts, or other forms of deterrents.

Having taken much longer time than I'd anticipated, I passed back through customs in Lynden, and fortunatley, like an oasis saw the Edaleen Dairy on the right hand side of the road. I stopped there for some much needed energy in the form of ice cream. Bonking in BC was a little frightening, especially ine I was quite lost and there were far fewer stores where I could buy some nourishment (actually there were none), as were the cramps which I never usually experience.

But altogether, it was probably 80 miles or so, excluding the morning and evening rides. Mapquest shows 49.01 to the Canada border. And this morning I am surprisingly not too sore, as the low clouds rolled in and the air turned chilly.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

$$$

A beautiful day today filled with hopes of later riding up SR9 into Sumas and possibly Canada. Last weekend I rode Route 9 down to Sedro Woolly and it was mostly very beautiful. The vistas where you look up into the foothills of the Cascades is breathtaking. But this morning I am working at a friend's place in Happy Valley listening to a 1977 show (I think I heard this one before) trying to funnel all the thoughts that have been flowing through my head in the past few days into a few paragraphs. Down time to leisurely peruse the Internet is rather limited in my life these days, mainly because I concentrate on working during the day and turn it off after seven in the evening. What doesn't get done that day can wait until tomorrow. And the Internet can suck time out of your life with surprising alacrity.

But an item that has been increasingly interesting is the notion of this Federal Reserve banking system that has gone out of control. Now I've only really scratched this surface on how the bank works and its control of the economy, and with increasingly tightened credit by the banks while the institutions to whom the Fed lends continue to shore up their balance sheets at additional debt authorized through the President and Congress. And speaking of balance sheets, The Fed used to only buy quality paper like treasuries and other government backed seucirites to the tune of a half a trillion a year. If my memory is correct, this has recently rocketed to over four trillion dollars, and most of the paper they are buying is crap, including toxic mortgages, and credit card debt

Now the government tries to reign in this orgy, and they are called socialists. But neoliberal economic policy has evolved into such an utter failure in the past thirty years that we need some form off control. Abolishing the Fed has been a notion for decades, and its policies of freeing or restricting money to manipulate the economy has probably done more harm than good.

From an older Ron Paul speech:
From the Great Depression, to the stagflation of the seventies, to the burst of the dot-com bubble last year, every economic downturn suffered by the country over the last 80 years can be traced to Federal Reserve policy. The Fed has followed a consistent policy of flooding the economy with easy money, leading to a mis-allocation of resources and an artificial "boom" followed by a recession or depression when the Fed-created bubble bursts.

And oddly enough, I've never met anyone that has a thorough understanding of the Federal Reserve tell me that my views are crazy. This is stranger than fiction.

Not that I am a Ron Paul supporter; I lean more towards socialism. I still am confused why socialism is such a bad word in our country, as many other industrialised nations embrace it. But the basis of socialism and capitalism are much more closely related than the current crony-capitalist system presently in place. Lying in bed this morning I listened to Obama's weekly radio address followed by the Republican both spew the same shit in different flavors. People just do not understand that many of the jobs created in the last recession are not coming back. Period. Capital is virtually eliminated from the small business owner who has created most of the jobs compensating for the corporations continued belt tightening and continued downsizing.

And then you have the grim prospect that most of the jobs being created will be in the service industry requiring virtually no education (look a this interesting BLS table of projections through 2016), we can look forward to an economy based upon wages historically paying less than the trades, consequently deriving lower tax revenues across the board. I read somewhere that this too is the first time in history where actual wages are decreasing in this country, versus real wages, which have been lagging inflation for decades. But this is a textbook definition of what to expect in a globalised economy, as industry continues to shift offshore.

Oops. I really went off there in all sorts of directions. Caffeine does that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

South


So today I rented a car to travel south to Kent and Bellevue for business. Although I love Bellingham, it is always neat to see some of the other parts of Washington. Especially when someone else can drive and I can look out the window and daydream.

And coming down the hill by Boeing Field on I-5 offered a wonderful view of Seattle in all its splendor. And then the call came from the pinhead banker explaining...well I won't even get started today on our derelict banking system and the access to capital for those small businesses creating most (all?) of the job growth in this country while the large-cap companies continue to shed job or offshore them. And then there's the privately lheld Federal Reserve - accountable to no one and oversteppig its bounds now with all these toxic loans on its balance sheet while it steps into this brave new world. Congress and the rest of obviously don't seem to be alarmed by this recent transformation.

But I've been us for eighteen-plus hours. More tomorrow when I can think.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blue

Actually today was quite grey. And drizzly. But it was so very refreshing after the weather we've had. A day of low clouds in the fifties. So today I rode my lunky cruiser (foul weather) versus my nice weather bike. Although it's much heavier, I could take the rail trail (I think that's what they call it) along the bay with the sun having long set. Coming down the Taylor Street dock with the mist on my face looking upon all the sailboats anchored near Fairhaven was indeed one of those magical moments. It's always nice to get wet on nights like tonight, and I am always grateful to come home to a warm, dry house.

And another score was the opportunity to deliver a boat from Seattle to Orcas Island next weekend. And not just a boat, might I add, but a Hallberg Rassy 46. This is a boat that I used to dream about when I was working at a photo processing booth in undergrad while I used to wile away my idle time reading SAIL magazine. But I do have my bareboat certificate and logged probably 5,000 miles, much of it single-handed, so I could probably skipper this boat. But I am releived that I won't be. More stories sure to come.

And the blueberries are ripening well.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Food

video
It's nice to be able to prepare a meal from the bounties of local fare. The veggies are starting to come out of the garden and things like lettuce and kale and chard will be around for the rest of the season. Last year, we were eating lettuce from the garden until the first heavy frost, which occurred at the end of December. For varieties survived through the entire fall. And the kale actually becomes more tasty after the first heavy from. I look forward to expanding the garden next year.

And a friend stopped by my friend's shop yesterday to drop off some fresh-caught oysters harvested from the Lummi Nation (his partner is a Lummi) and I scarfed a few of them for dinner last night. Oysters are beautiful animals with their relic shells covered in barnacles and seaweed. And steamed with some salt and lemon, they melt in your mouth. But on a more somber note, oysters will probably become exctinct in my life time due to the possible increased acidification of the oceans attributable to the changing climate. I am surprised this was not a more newsworthy item when I read it in the Bellingham Herald a few weeks ago (relegated to a small line item tucked away in other less important news). I guess these are changes we will need to get used to.

Back to work on this cloudy Monday morning. I hope we get some rain. We need it. I prefer the days when it showers in the mornings and clears by noon for a beautiful day. But summer is here and that means virtually no rain for Bellingham for the next three months. I can live with that.

And the chickens (above) are doing quite well.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence

A nice reprieve yesterday from the rigors of my everyday life. I took a bike ride down SR9 through Sedro-Woolly with a few bucks in my pocket and my left my cell phone home. Although only gone for a few hours, I realize why it's nice to bike ride the many miles from home and cleanse my body and soul.

And this morning waking up only moderately sore, I wonder if I can ride sixty or more miles day after day after day on my planned trek across the good ole US of A in a few years. I look forward to more trips like this in the future, and hopefully I can soon start building my equipment by fitting a ike for a cross country trip.

But a long trip during the day made for an early evening catching up on sleep with a scared, shaking dog hiding in the back room. Thankfully fireworks are only legal in Bellingham one or two days a year. And I was going to go off on a rant about the media reports I've read of the child slave labor used in China to produce fireworks, but then I figured that this Lenovo laptop that I writing on right now too is probably produced by oppressed workers in horrid Chinese factories. But I won't.

The picture came from here. I will start taking more soon to post.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cozy

Back at home in my comfortable little coal miner's house in Bellingham, Washington. It amazes me how the people in my visits could never conceive of a lifestyle not centered around the automobile. The thing I always miss the most are my bicycles, and the most refreshing thing is getting back on (after an absence) and see the friendly people around town. Don't get me wrong, many of the Bellinghamsters live the typical suburban lifestyle where they drive everywhere and rarely need to encounter another human outside of their secured vehicles, but I am fortunate to have fallen in with those more inclined to be outside.

And the weather continues to be great, so all sorts of people are out on their bikes - a thoroughly welcome and refreshing site. And the number of cyclists still appear to be increasing - most notably among the older demographic here. Unlike many other areas where bikes are ridden primarily for pleasure or exercise, people here seem to bike because it makes so much sense and this city (and county) is ideal for cycling.

And after staying with many people in my recent travels back east, it is always so nice to come back to my home here. It is a good place to be in life when you are satisfied with your modest lifestyle in the city of subdued excitement.

Oh, and the picture was stolen from this site.