Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dungeness Spit

Last week, my mom asked me if I wanted to walk the Dungeness Spit with her, the longest natural sandbar in the United States. It's just north of Sequim, WA, and I've been there twice before, but never managed to walk even halfway. However, this was a long time ago, and she promised me that it was only five miles. Five miles, I can do that even on a bad day, I thought, so I agreed.

Turns out it was five miles there and back - JUST on the spit, not including the mile walk to get to and from the spit from the parking lot. Getting to the lighthouse at the end wasn't all that bad, in fact, it was pretty nice. Very overcast, rather blustery, even rained a bit on the way out. I enjoyed it immensely. However, after puttering around the Lighthouse, taking some pictures, and getting cold, I realized my hips hurt. I thought - hmm, that's stupid. I walk 5.5mi, and it's my hips that are hurting? I figured it would go away, but it didn't. So by the time I finished walking the 5.5mi back to the car (which took about 3 hours), I was barely coherent from the pain. So that part wasn't fun. I'm assuming it was just the walking on the sand part, legs don't like sinking into the sand step after step. Next time I decide 11mi sounds totally do-able, I'll smack myself. Of course, I've never had that problem before, so I guess it would be difficult to predict that sort of reaction.

Anyway, for my hiking class, we won't be going on any sand. Just hiking in the Olympics and Cascades. :) I'm quite pleased I had the idea to take this course, it's going to be a lot of fun. The instructor is really into ultra-lightweight packs, so I won't have to do any of that 40lb pack/massive hiking boots garbage that M. had to go through when she took the class in 2001. I think the overnight trip will be most interesting. Last time I went camping, I had no problem sleeping on the ground, but it was a thick sleeping bag in a nice tent. I have a feeling I will forgo fluffy sleeping bags and big tents for more practical sleep needs, since I'll have to carry it all in with me. Should be fun! But no more of this walking miles on sand and rocks stuff. No thanks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"Paranoid, insular and inept"

This is a recent description of the military junta in Myanmar. They continue to rule in the same way they have ruled since quashing the 1988 rebellion through brute force and placing Nobel Peace Prize Winner (1991) Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest after she won elections. Recently, they cut off the internet, and are now restricting visitors to the country.

The part I find most fascinating about all of this is the influence of the monks. When I went to Myanmar, there were monks everywhere. They are constantly interacting with the people, although they didn't really seem to say much, other than an 8 year old monk who told us that his parents wanted a monk in the family and he was the one chosen to join. Their moral support really invigorated the protests, and now the military has basically occupied the monasteries to prevent more of this sort of behavior. Myanmar is Theraveda Buddhist, a minority part of the Buddhist family, and is a very devout country. It would seem that the junta has decided not to kill the monks in the protests, as they are currently killing the civilian protesters, because of the public uproar it would cause.

There's not much about President Bush's policies that I like or admire. There's not much to admire. But at least someone is paying attention to Myanmar now - certainly no one was in 1988. The scale of poverty in that country simply breaks your heart. It's about time they got a better deal than they have been, but petty dictators seem to have a way of holding on long after they ought to have been gone.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Last week, I convinced my mom to buy a carton of nectarines. These very quickly attracted gnats, which didn't make her at all happy, so I had to do something with all those nectarines - and fast - or they were all going into the garbage. So, I did what any sane person would do, and instead of freezing them for future use in, say, smoothies, I made nectarine butter. Half a dozen pint-size and half-pint size jars each. I now have more nectarine butter than I possibly know what to do with. I remembered that Market of Choice used to provide small containers of nectarine, apricot, and apple butter with their cheese medleys, so I decided to dip my chipotle cheddar into nectarine butter as a snack tonight. It was SO GOOD. Seriously. You have to try it.

My grandma is joining in on our day spa excursion in celebration (which, of course, I am paying for) of my new job. Massages, manicures, and chipotle cheddar in nectarine butter.... doesn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oh, the places you'll go.....

Today I had my third interview in my job hunting process. Thankfully, my job hunt is now over! I have been offered a position at a boutique law firm with only five lawyers here in Seattle. I will be a legal assistant/secretary, doing a lot of dictation and IRS forms. I start on Monday, and I am ecstatic! It's a good job with excellent benefits in the location I wanted. Two of the lawyers commute by ferry as well, so they are very nice about coming in at an odd time (8:35-8:40am). Best of all, it's a salaried position, so I will be judged on the work that I do, not the hours I keep. Mom and I are going to a day spa on Thursday to celebrate. :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Circle of Life

My title, which is in reference to a rather exciting and rousing Disney anthem - if you're six - is about how every animal on the African savanna (incidentally, most of which are in grave danger of extinction by 2050) depends on each other for survival. In this case, I am using it to refer to the fact that everything we do as humans has a reaction somewhere else, and usually the ones to suffer are animals who are doing no harm to anyone.

This picture is of a common pond frog from Wisconsin, according to Yahoo!, which has been infected by parasitic worms as a tadpole and now has two extra deformed hind legs. Why, might you ask, is this frog saddled with two useless legs, which will certainly make it more vulnerable to predators? The answer is an increase in nitrogen and other chemicals found in fertilizer that leach their way into ponds and waterways from farmland, and in a fairly complex chain reaction, cause deformed frogs.
I have been asked before what the difference between organically produced and conventionally produced food is before. The area I live in is quite conservative, mostly due to the high numbers of military personnel stationed here at various bases, and for some reason, a lot of conservatives in this area think that the label 'organic' is a liberal Seattle trick to get them to pay more for produce. The difference is that organic produce uses no pesticides or fertilizers. Conventionally grown produce does. I can't tell you how sick it makes me to think that because of our irresponsibility in finding ways to feed ourselves, we're destroying the natural environment in which we live. And honestly - that poor frog ... that's just wrong.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Costco processing

I have a Costco card for one reason and one reason only - I have a film camera, and I LOVE their processing (I also like getting Odwalla Superfood at $3 cheaper per jug). The Costco in Silverdale now does everything in house, so things are even better than they use to be now. It's also the cheapest place around to get some pretty decent prints of photos. Since I have elected to remain with my film camera, low costs for development are absolutely essential. It does make me feel somewhat better to know that the cost of prints for digital photos is the same as for film (I just have to pay extra for the processing). I have also begun to get the CD of my photos, which is vastly preferable to scanning if one has the money, and the quality is so much better than I expected! I'm very pleased with the investment I made. I have probably, since I take so many photos, balanced out the price difference between the film and digital versions of my camera at this point. But it's still fun to hear the film advancing and the shutter opening and closing and all that. Here's my favorite picture I've ever taken:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hat shop

Every time I go into a hat shop, I have the irresistible urge to try on half of the hats, even though I don't wear hats. There was this cute little shop with Victorian clothing, patterns and accessories in Virginia City, and I just had to try these hats on. Yes, that makes me a dork - but it was fun!

p.s. Today is another interview... I hope I do well.

Hoping this is that window

In the Sound of Music, Maria says that when God closes a door, he opens a window. I always liked this better than the other phrase, when God closes one door, he opens another, because if there had been two doors, you would have seen them, but missing a window is an acceptable mistake to make. Anyway, I was passed on for the first job I interviewed for (seriously - four interviews... no job) because the attorneys couldn't agree between me and another person, so they scrapped us both. Well, yesterday my recruiter told me about a new job opportunity with a really fantastic firm that offers better benefits and pay and they're interested in setting up an interview Monday. So, I guess this is the window. It's always good to have options... and I hope that this time is the charm. :)

Today I'll be dropping off my film (way too many rolls, I don't even want to think about how much this is going to cost me) in Silverdale and also dropping off the t-shirt Mom and I bought for my Uncle P, the one who roped me into helping with lieutenant assessments, in Virginia City, MT. It says:

Feed the Bears.
Squat with your spurs On.
Let your kids ride the Elk.
Picnic on poison Ivy.
Drive fast and pass on Curves.

We thank you for your support.
Montana Paramedics

Monday, September 17, 2007

Farm Life

One of the best things about visiting the farm is how slow the pace of life here can be. Yesterday, I spun some Cotswold sheep fiber into yarn, enough to add to my collection of handspun yarn that I made back in June when I visited. I didn't dye it, so it's the same color as these sheep (if they were clean), which is to say it's a dusty off-white. It takes hours to spin, but it's rewarding when you're finished. I'm planning on knitting it into a large winter shawl. I don't knit well, I prefer crochet, so we'll see how this one turns out.

The animals are very demanding. They have to be led out to their feeding pastures each day. There are multiple varieties of sheep and goats, but especially the Cotswold sheep and Angora goats, Angora rabbits, and Alpacas. There are also cattle, horses and everything else you'd think of that lives on a farm, but those are over at the neighbor's, my grandma's relatives' place. It's a huge family farm, the farmhouse we're currently staying in was built around 1909.

Staying here always reminds you of how separated you are from the earth and from nature when you live in the city and buy your beef in a styrofoam container wrapped in plastic. When we visited about eight years ago, we all took a nap after our drive only to be awoken by shouts of "Fire!" The small lamb barn next to the rabbit hutch had caught on fire, and my grandfather, who was partially disabled due to a stroke, was attempting to fight the fire. We all ran down, and my dad managed to contain it to the small barn with a garden hose until the volunteer fire department arrived while my mom and brother and I attempted to get the rabbits to safety away from the fire and smoke (we put them all in the back of a truck together -- a lot of unplanned pregnancies resulted from the event). A couple of lambs died as well as an adult ewe. We were lucky that the wind was blowing the opposite direction or the large barn with all of the hay, sheep, and cows would have burned as well.

Just as frightening as fire can be, especially for a farm around harvest time, is the lack of water. You never hear as much talk about the weather because someone is seriously interested in the weather as you do on a farm. In fact, my aunt said grace over dinner last night and her final petition was for more rain. Too much rain, the crops rot. Too little, they become too dry and die. Everything we eat and live on in the civilized world is grown on farms just like this (my grandma's operation is organic and hormone/chemical free, but her relatives' portion of the farm is conventional), and they're being hit hardest by the increase in overall temperatures and the changes in weather patterns due to global warming. People in cities don't see this, of course, beef doesn't moo, it shows up at the store already packaged that way.

I enjoy being on the farm for a couple of reasons, not the least of which because I rarely ever feel stressed here (the barn fire being the one glaring exception). I plan on staying an extra day and returning tomorrow. I hope that I hear back about my interview soon... today is supposed to be the day.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Montana madness

For the past week, I've been in Montana (taking the long route through eastern Oregon and southern Idaho) and it's been so much fun. I'll be posting pictures soon enough, but there were so many amazing places I went on this trip. I assume that I'll be working nonstop from now until I don't know when, so this was sort of my last fun trip without worrying about finances, rent, or really anything else, thanks to my mom.

So far, I've visited:
  • Union Historical Hotel - along with the Model T's and Model A's in front
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • Virginia City, Nevada City, and Bannack ghost towns - LOVED the picture taking opportunities
  • Yellowstone National Park - we only got to go through part of the lower loop, but that includes Old Faithful and the bubbling paintpots
  • Lewis & Clark Caverns
  • Gates of the Mountains - where the Missouri River meets the Rocky Mountains
  • Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Heritage Site
  • Great Falls nightlife
One of the best things about visiting places with my mom is that she's super active for a American, so we can do lots of things we couldn't if she weren't so into going interesting places.

Of course, I went with my Aunt T (who is a whole two years older than me) on the last bulleted outing. I kid you not - one place we went had a large portrait of John Wayne on the wall, along with line dancers and a mechanical bull. You don't get much more Montana than that.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


........Town P ....................Town E
Female 3650 .....................70,353
Male 3163.........................67,540

Median age 39.3 .............33

White 88%.......................86%
Hispanic 4%.................. 5%
Asian 3% .......................3%
Black 1%........................1%
Native American 1% ....2.5%
Other 4% ....................2.5%

Median income $44,000.......... $33,070

Median house cost $245,800 ............$187,000

High School 86.8%..................91.5%
College 29.5% ........................37.3%
Graduate school 10.2% .......15.4%

Below poverty line 9.1% ..........19.3%

Lesbian couples: 0.2%........... 0.6%
Gay men: 0.3%................ 0.3%

  • There's more competition for females in both towns
  • The midwest may SEEM like the homeland of the WASP, but they don't hold a candle to the Pacific Northwest
  • I'm surprised at the poverty numbers in Town P. I thought they ran all of the poor people out of town by now
  • I am surprised that the numbers of homosexual couples are so similar, considering Town E's reputation
  • My belief that my hometown's housing prices are out of control has been confirmed
  • My not knowing anyone who dropped out of high school has been explained - very few people dropped out of my high school
  • There are a lot of old people in Town P

Saturday, September 08, 2007

San Juan Island.... sans camera

Today mom and I went to San Juan Island with some friends of hers from Bellevue. It's an absolutely lovely place. I went there once before, to Friday Harbor, when I was in high school by whale watching boat. I got seasick. That wasn't so much fun. But today was wonderful. If I had been organizing the trip, I would have done things quite a bit differently, but I wasn't. For example, it's not exactly a large island. I would have preferred to rent a bike and see the island that way. Instead, we rode around in a big van. Also, we went on a short hike, and one of the ladies is rather overweight and could barely manage the 2.5mi or so. She's a lovely person, but she would probably do well to be more active. There was also a huge kayaking group, and it was such a beautiful day today, just as good as yesterday.

Unfortunately, I had only a disposable camera that I bought at the general store in Friday Harbor. Still, the place is simply so beautiful that my pictures will be good regardless of the inferiority of my equipment. There was one point, walking along the coastline, that I had to stop and just absorb the beauty all around me because it was so overwhelming. I didn't appreciate my home enough while I lived here before. I won't make that mistake again. Speaking of cameras, I believe I'm going to buy myself a new lens if I successfully get this job in Seattle. My current standard lens is fairly low quality, and I want to take better pictures. The camera body is quite good, but the lens really makes or breaks the picture, and I can see that clearly with the difference between the pictures I take with the telephoto lens and my standard, because the standard is a low quality consumer product and the telephoto is a medium quality product. I would like to get an actually good lens and see what I can do with it.

Last night, I saw '3:10 to Yuma' with M. It was wonderful!! I have always loved Westerns, it reminds me of going to visit my grandpa. We always watched the Sunday morning Western re-runs. I don't know how many reruns of Bonanza and Gunsmoke I've seen, but Marshal Dillon (played by James Arness) was my hero as a kid. (The Westerns were mainly because we weren't allowed to watch anything else but painting shows and the news, and you can only take so much Brillo-head before wanting to watch something else). Anyway, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale OWNED their parts, and Ben Foster did a fantastic job as Charlie Prince. I really, really enjoyed the performances in this movie. When I get Netflix, I'm going to order everything Christian Bale has ever done that I haven't seen yet. I am, as ever, completely blown away by his talent.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Kayaking in Liberty Bay

My uncle P. told mom and I at our barbeque on Saturday about a kayak rental place in P-bo that he and my aunt used to rent kayaks from and go tooling around Liberty Bay. So, mom and I made plans today to go kayaking, and it was a blast! It's not too expensive, either, so it was easy on the pocketbook and hard on the shoulder muscles, exactly what we were looking for. :) It's absolutely wonderful to be back home in Kitsap. I love this place more than anywhere else in the world, and that includes Vienna. So, that's a lot.

Today was my phone interview for the legal assistant position in Seattle. It went well, so I'm heading in for another interview on Monday morning. After that, there will be another final interview, if I pass muster, with the lawyer that I will actually be assisting. This will be a total of four interviews, but all that I'm concerned about is making a good impression and getting a good job. This particular job has benefits. Benefits! I'll be able to go to the dentist... most exciting. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fire Officer Assessments and Legal Assistantships

Today and tomorrow, I have the pleasure of assisting my uncle, a fire chief in my county, with his fire officer assessments. He roped me in on Saturday because he didn't have enough actually qualified bodies to perform the assessments. My aunt has also been roped in. :) Anyway, it was quite interesting, I'm assigned to the presentation-resume portion of the assessment. Some of those dudes are seriously ambitious. They definitely have a better work ethic than I do to do all of the community service, training, and regular work that they do. Plus, 3 of 5 were married, so they have families to consider as well. One thing I came away with today - if these guys are any indication of the kind of men we have serving in our fire departments, I feel perfectly comfortable about paying taxes to pay for their stuff.

On another note, it appears that the only field I'm remotely qualified to enter that would actually pay my bills is legal support staff. Unfortunately for me, I didn't go to school for all these years to be an assistant, but getting one's foot in the door is quite difficult. So at the moment, I'll be happy with whatever doors open and then go from there. It does appear, however, that I will be moving to Bremerton, within 15-30 min walking distance from the ferries. Those of you who know anything about Bremerton and are now groaning and telling me I'm crazy, you just be quiet. Bremerton is having a resurgence, and the downtown area isn't so bad. Besides, I won't be able to hack my commute for more than a couple of months before breaking down. A bus, two ferries and another bus is simply too much if I want to reach wherever I'm working in Seattle by 8am.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I have uploaded pictures that my brother very graciously scanned for me while I was in Singapore, and I will finish uploading the rest later this evening after I finish scanning the rest in. You can say what you want about film, but I love it. :) Anyway, if you're interested, take a look - I've also updated my Favorite photos section. Here are my three very best pictures from Istria, for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ape Caves

Two days ago, I had the pleasure of going with my mom, her friend, and his friend and son to the Ape Caves at the foot of Mt. St. Helens. They're called the Ape Caves, not because there are any apes in this part of the world, but because the explorers who found them in 1951 were part of a local club called the 'Apes,' a somewhat less popular variation of the 'Eagles,' I would imagine.

Anyway, it was about 2.5m total crawling and walking through caves, which was at first boring - the lower cave was almost entirely walking until the very end when we got to army crawl - but got better, as the upper cave was mostly giant rock falls. I was afraid of the dark when I was a kid, but have since moved on to water, so dark enclosed spaces aren't much of a problem for me, and it was really quite fun to climb around in a cave with nothing but a tiny light clipped to my Glacier National Park visor (better souvenir than one of those resin figurines). The third picture was taken of three of us inside a lava tube created by a tree - the tree burns while the lava flows around it, but doesn't entirely burn up until the lava has cooled, at which point a tube is formed. I don't recall how long it was, but it was quite fun. At one point, I felt rather like a gopher. Anyway, if you ever need something to do on a weekend or day off, check out the Ape Caves. Much fun.

Tomorrow, we're planning on going hiking at Rainier. I haven't been there in quite awhile, and I'm really looking forward to taking some pictures with my camera. I got my Singapore pictures developed, and even if I do say so myself, some are really quite good.