I am back from Texas (August 11) after having my usual wonderful time. My
precious mother is losing the ability for coherent speech. It is as if she
can't find the proper words sometimes and often substitutes the wrong words.
She can still talk albeit with problems. She still retains her old personality
however, and appears much more alert than most of the residents in that part of
the nursing home. Dad obviously is so much in love wither--utterly dedicated to
her well-being. All the workers there know him because of his frequent visits.
He was sixteen and she was fifteen when they met at Crowell High School. As
she, my mother, always told the story, they both passed each other on the stairs
in between classes, and each paused to look back in admiration at each other.
My father told me though that he had already noticed her before this. She has
always been incredibly lovely, and he was (and is!) amazingly handsome.
August 20, 2006, Sunday.--The new bridge that will span the Puget Sound Narrows paralleling and supplementing the existing bridge is coming along nicely with several new decks in position. The bridge deck was made in sections in Korea and arrived here earlier this summer. The suspension bridge has the upright towers and all the cable strung and needs only to raise the bridge deck to complete the job. I walked out onto the bridge and took some photos Friday and Wednesday morning and will soon put them on my website (texified.com). Yesterday was a beautiful clear morning and I am pleased with the photos. They raised one bridge deck Wednesday on the North side after I had taken some photos, and I noticed that this morning at 7 am they were raising one deck on the Southern part of the span. They have to delicately balance the weight and thus have carefully calculated when each deck is raised. When they raised the deck sections in the middle of the span it pulled the towers a distance toward it. The next section was lifted on the North side to balance the weight and this morning they lifted the Southern deck section that I mentioned. There are these amazing machines that sit on the bridge cable and lift these incredibly heavy decks into position from the barge below.
August 16, 2006, Wednesday.--I arrived back in the chilly Northwest August 11, after a wonderful time in the great state of Texas. In the airport shuttle taking me from the airport to my home area, I noticed the very cool air conditioner that was going in the bus, but then realized later that there was no air conditioner but only the outside air circulating through the vehicle. It was a bit more hot than usual in Texas on this trip compared to last summer with highs of 103-107 the norm. My father's car registered an outside temperature of 116 when he picked me up!
I put together about eight book cases with the help of my father and put all my old books into them, finally clearing out the living room which had been stacked with them since last summer. I also cleaned the front bedroom and in general made the place presentable. I bought this house from my grandfather's identical twin back in 1980 after I had already moved to WA. He was selling it, and I didn't wish anybody outside the family to buy it since it was next to my grandfather's place on an isolated cul-de-sac on Cedar Creek Lake near Gun Barrel City. The area is building up and I am afraid that somebody will build on the adjacent lots which would destroy the incredible privacy of the place. I'd like to buy them but I have been unable to find the owners. Kids on ATVs have been running through on the power line trail that runs through the ten acre plus tract, and I put up numerous no trespassing signs which, of course, will do little good.
by Ken on Tue 11 Jul 2006 12:05 AM PDT
Wednesday, July 10, 2006.--I have lots to do this last week before I go to Texas next Sunday, the sixteenth. Today I took the Volvo in for its required emissions test. Despite my apprehensions, it passed with flying colors. Of the two readings, one was a five--about 250 was allowed--and the other was a zero. The hood failed to release since it tended to catch on the left side, so I'll have to tend to that. I went to the testing center in Fife--there seems to be only two in the Tacoma area. The other one is near McChord and hard to find even with Mapco.
Afterwards, I went and got the license tabs since they expire at the end of July. This is the first time in several years it seems that I needed an emissions test. At the County City building, I was saddened to see that the Tulip Trees directly in front had been cut down. I love these type of trees. I first saw them on the campus of Towson University back in July, 1975, when I first interviewed for the job that I held for the school year of 1975-76. I remember picking up and smelling their shed blossoms. I was wearng a sport jacket and had to pull it off because of the heat. The tree has beautiful thick foliage and tall straight trunks. Perhaps they are about to do some construction at the County City building. I certainly hope they didn't just gratuiously cut them down because they had aphids that shed "honeydew" on the cars or some other ridiculous reason like that. They still have a row of these beautiful trees out by the street.
After getting the license tabs, I went to Borders and got this neat 300 page notebook and the book, Declare by Tim Powers, one of my favorite authors. I also got a Pilot G-2 Pro pen. These are refillable and are some of my favorite pens. I got coffee and started reading the book. Powers is such an interesting writer. I can't get enough of his works.
Yesterday, Craig, Jessica's boyfriend, and I picked up the two leather sofas at the furniture warehouse in Tukwila. I rented a U-Haul truck for this purpose. The sofas are lovely reddish brown leather ones. I have wanted one ever since seeing an old battered one back in 1972 that was owned by some friends of Kathy Dugan. I parked the truck on the street at the bottom of the driveway since I didn't want to chance taking the large truck up. We got the sofas out and hand carried them up the hill. I was panting like a bellows when we reached the top, whereas Craig showed no signs of any exertion. Steve came over with his girl friend and was able to help us with the second couch. Afterwards we had a nice steak dinner which was extremely tasty.
Jessica seems to have recovered from her four wisdom teeth extraction ordeal. However, she still has these holes in her jaws that she has to irrigate after every meal until they heal up. She says that the experience wasn't as bad as she had expected.
A Look at Some Pens
by Ken on Sun 04 Jun 2006 08:48 AM PDT
I was dong some online research on good writing pens last night. So, inspired, I splurged and bought some of the recommended variations at Rexall drugstore this morning. I will be trying them out and testing them.
A. PILOT G2: this was the one most acclaimed pen, and what I am using now. It is a gell pen, retractable and comes in various colors. I bought a three pack of three colors for $3.99. They have a contoured rubber grip, are refillable and have a fine point which I like. They claim to be water resistant and smear proff.
B. PILOT PRECISE V, EXTRA FINE POINT ($2.99): This is my favorite. It has a large tank of liquid thaqt you can see through a side window. It is not retractable or refillable. It does tend to bleed through the page if you leave it in one place very long. It is touted as "Ameridca's #1 Selling roller.
C. PILOT RAZOR POINT: LIQUID INK MARKER ($1.99): I didn't realize it wasn't a roller ball when I first looked at it, but falls into the category of a felt tip marker, I suppose, although, the tip is firm and not "mushy." It writes smoothly with its extra fine point.
D. PILOT PRECISE GRIP ($2.49), EXTRA FINE TIP: It has a rubber grip and appears to be an "improved" version of the Precise V above only it doesn't have the convenient side window. It does have a sort of side window, but I can't seem to be able to see the liquid. It has a silvery finish and looks better than the Precise V...not bad for 20 cents more.
E. PILOT PERMABALL, "PERMANENT INK BALL PEN:" 2 pack $3.99--The blurb says that its ink is "acid free, arcival and permanent." It seems to come only in medium point and claims to be able to write permanently on all surfaces (glass included; note: it won't write on my plastic mouse) and is water-proof, fade-proof and smear-proof. Note: I just smeared it on the page. It is not retractable and writes "scratchy" and is not smooth. It has a rubberized grip and tends to skip some. It very definitely is my least favorite of the bunch.
MY FAVORITES: Definitely te Pilot Precise V Fine Point (and its variations). No. 2 would be the Pilot G2 fine point.I was dong some online research on good writing pens last night. So, inspired, I splurged and bought some of the recommended variations at Rexall drugstore this morning. I will be trying them out and testing them.
A. PILOT G2: this was the one most acclaimed pen, and what I am using now. It is a gell pen, retractable and comes in various colors. I bought a three pack of three colors for $3.99. They have a contoured rubber grip, are refillable and have a fine point which I like. They claim to be water resistant and smear proof.
B. PILOT PRECISE V, EXTRA FINE POINT ($2.99): This is my favorite. It has a large tank of liquid that you can see through a side window. It is not retractable or refillable. It does tend to bleed through the page if you leave it in one place very long. It is touted as "America's #1 Selling roller.
C. PILOT RAZOR POINT: LIQUID INK MARKER ($1.99): I didn't realize it wasn't a roller ball when I first looked at it, but falls into the category of a felt tip marker, I suppose, although, the tip is firm and not "mushy." It writes smoothly with its extra fine point.
D. PILOT PRECISE GRIP ($2.49), EXTRA FINE TIP: It has a rubber grip and appears to be an "improved" version of the Precise V above only it doesn't have the convenient side window. It does have a sort of side window, but I can't seem to be able to see the liquid. It has a silvery finish and looks better than the Precise V...not bad for 20 cents more.
E. PILOT PERMABALL, "PERMANENT INK BALL PEN:" 2 pack $3.99--The blurb says that its ink is "acid free, archival and permanent." It seems to come only in medium point and claims to be able to write permanently on all surfaces (glass included; note: it won't write on my plastic mouse) and is water-proof, fade-proof and smear-proof. Note: I just smeared it on the page. It is not retractable and writes "scratchy" and is not smooth. It has a rubberized grip and tends to skip some. It very definitely is my least favorite of the bunch.
MY FAVORITES: Definitely the Pilot Precise V Fine Point (and its variations). No. 2 would be the Pilot G2 fine point.
Books, Books, Books
by Ken on Thu 18 May 2006 02:37 PM PDT
Yesterday, I was reading about the author, Neal Stephenson after becoming interested in him after reading Cryptonomicon, and saw references to other books of the cyber-punk genre. So today I went to the Half Price Book Store and Borders (right across the street, very convenient) and bought the following books: (!$$$)
Neal Stephenson: Zodiac, 1988, 308 pp.
QuickSilver: The Baroque Cycle #1, 2003, 456 pp.
William Gibson: Count Zero, 1986, 242 pp.
Mona Lisa Overdrive, 1988, 308 pp.
The Difference Engine, 1991, 429 pp.
Virtual Light, 1993, 350 pp.
All Tomorrow's Parties, 1999, 339 pp.
Pattern Recognition, 2003, 387 pp.
Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep, 1992, 613 pp.
A Deepness in the Sky, 1999, 775 pp.
Bruce Stirling: Distraction, 1998, 532 pp.
I look forward to reading these books and will put my impressions down as I go.
Two Books--Cryptonomicon and The Darwin Conspiracy
by Ken on Mon 15 May 2006 10:57 AM PDT
Yesterday I finished Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and a few minutes ago I finished The Darwin Conspiracy by John Darnton, 2005, 309 pages.
The Darwin Conspiracy is basically a whodunit that capitalizes upon some confusing aspects of Darwin’s life. Darwin, after his return from his Beagle voyage, became an invalid after a few years in England and never again showed the vigor that he exhibited on the voyage. For the rest of his life he was wracked by unexplained ailments which many have said were partly psychosomatic. He also waited almost twenty years before publishing his theory. This story deals with two Darwin researchers who uncover facts that lead them to believe that Darwin is a fraud and a possible murderer.
The plot is full of flashbacks from several points of view and all in all is well written. The author weaves parallels between one of the researcher’s life with that of Darwin’s and could provide an introduce into the history of Darwin’s idea for the novice.
Darnton has also gotten most of his facts correct, but there are so many incongruities that require a suspension of belief which I am unable to make even though I am a science fiction/fantasy devotee! (e.g. Would a native american with limited contact with Europeans be familiar with giraffes?.) The two researchers find letters written by Darwn’s daughter Elizabeth that seem to question the character of her father. Further research reveals various letters that drop with mysterious ease into their hands, and which reveals that Robert McCormick the Beagle’s surgeon had some previously unknown role in Darwin’s theory.
I enjoyed the book but I was left very disappointed with the ending. The ultimate explanation for all the mysteries was simply unbelievable. I thought that there could have been alternate explanations without resorting to what I considered a gimmick.
Cryptonomicon…do you like historical novels, puzzles and codes, spy novels, lots of action, philosophical speculation, computers and geeks, treasure hunting, Nazis and submarines, suspense novels? Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (1999) is all this and much, much more. This incredible book, over eleven hundred pages, held me absolutely enthralled. Do you ever find a book which is so good that you can’t put it down, but at the same time you try to slow down the reading because you really don’t want to finish it too soon? That’s the way I felt about this book. I am always on the lookout for good authors, and I am delighted that I found Stephenson…even more so because he has written many more books. I anticipate that I shall have a great time going through his works.
The book jumps back and forth through time, from the present to WWII; it also jumps between the viewpoints of multiple characters all of whom are fully developed to the point where you feel that you know them intimately. It deals with modern computer geeks setting up a new company intertwined with the story of the code breakers of WWII. It goes into almost mind numbing detail concerning aspects of computers and the subculture of geeks, combined with details of codes and code breaking. It was funny, scary and in parts totally surrealistic. My only criticism is the last portion which I thought was a tad weak. This was a thought provoking book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t imagine how I have missed this author, but I shall certainly make up for lost time!
What Freedom of Privacy?
by Ken on Sun 14 May 2006 21:27 PDT
The road to hell is paved by good intentions.
I just read an article written by a reporter with Knight
Ridder Newspapers entitled “Big Brother’s been listening for
decades.” There has been more interest shown
in this subject since it was revealed that the National Security
Agency (NSA) has been examining phone records between
· A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that :
o 63% of all Americans said that was an acceptable way to combat terrorism, with 44% strongly endorsing it.
o Only 35% said it was unacceptable with 24 percent strongly objecting to it.
The Knight Ridder article stated the following:
· The FBI since its inception in 1912 began gathering information on American citizens, recruiting waiters, socialites and others to eavesdrop on conversations and report suspicious talk.
· This information gathering increased with the Red Scare in the 1920s. with a database of more than 150,000 citizens under suspicion.
· FDR wanted a file on Americans who sent him critical telegrams.
· LBJ asked the FBI for the phone records of Spiro Agnew the Republican vice presidential candidate.
· Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (which revisionist history portrays as a champion of the underdog) approved wiretaps on Martin Luther King, Jr.
· FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover gathered information (including tapes) on Kings numerous extramarital affairs, sent copies to his wife and suggested to him that he should commit suicide.
· Illegal wire taps were conducted under the Nixon administration.
In a 1976 Senate Investigation, the committee concluded after investigating illegal wiretaps, break-ins and other abuses by government agents that:
Bush’s defenders say that the controversy is being blown out of proportion; “Let’s talk about this in a rational way. We’re in a war with terror and there are people out there that want to kill us. …They’re not tapping our phones and getting our conversations.” (Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama).
My personal opinion is that at all costs we should defend our basic rights as American citizens. Yes, in times of emergency the government usually steps out of bounds and tends to chip away at our freedoms. This is a common type of behavior in all governments in times of emergency. But such actions should be highly monitored by responsible people on both sides of the political spectrum, and very strong steps should be taken to immediately stop such actions when not warranted. The problem with this “emergency’ is that it is open-ended with no end in sight. I for one am not willing to have some of my basic rights eroded by well meaning people in a paranoid environment.
by Ken on Wed 03 May 2006 01:25 PM PDT
I have always been a voracious reader, although I think that I read a mite less than when I was a kid. My problem is that I find it hard to find new authors that I like. I recently updated my web site, texified.com (click on Interests), to include a list of books that I have recently read and books that I am currently reading. This is mainly for my own benefit so I can keep track of my reading.
I have no problems finding non-fiction that I like, but I find it difficult to find really good new authors. As a consequence, I continue to read and re-read my old favorites. This gets tiresome after a while!
We are having some beautiful Spring weather here, although today it is a bit windy, and yesterday after leaving my moon roof open, I found the seats covered with Douglas Fir needles. The azaleas and rhodendrons are reaching their peak just now.
I talked to my Dad last Sunday, and he was planning to go to Port Aransas again this week. I know that he gets very lonesome and restless being alone now.
by Ken on Mon 17 Apr 2006 09:55 PM PDT
Do you have any topics, any subjects, any areas of your life about which you have overwhelming emotion? Things that will cause you to stop, to crumble, to wither, to die inside if you allow yourself to think about them in any great depth? Subjects, that like a sore tooth being touched by your tongue, can only allow light flickering thoughts? I do. I gingerly skirt these areas of my psyche, lightly exploring them with gossamer thought feelers, knowing that if I really allow myself to confront them that I will be overwhelmed with emotion.
It's not that I will never explore these areas...it's just that they can be so raw, so excruciating, so intensely painful, that I prefer to view them behind a carefully constructed wall, knowing how they will ravenously consume me if I unlock the door. I prefer to tame these areas a little at a time...a process of gradual acclimation, rather than a full head on confrontation.
We all encounter crossroads in our lives. Times when we recognize (hopefully) that any decision that we make can have lasting impact. Sometimes we delay a decision, procrastinate, hoping that the situation will be decided for us. In such situations we can find ourselves being blown hither and yon...rudderless, without direction. And sometimes it does resolve itself. But however it is dealt with, we often recognize its presence. In such times, a clear resolution isn't always apparent.
On the Road--Jack Kerouac
by Ken on Sun 16 Apr 2006 01:04 AM PDT
I've been listening to this book on tape (cd) for the past few days as I drive about. I love to listen to audio books as I drive. I get so absorbed that I find that I arrive at my destination with very little memory as to how I got there! These "books" are readily available at the local library and are a real joy.
I read this book many years ago, but it's almost as if it's the first time. Jack Kerouac was considered one of the voices of "the Beats" (He coined the term) back in the fifties and he writes mostly of his adventures crossing and recrossing the country sometimes with the "holy goof" Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady). Cassady must have been an unusual person. He inspired several authors to write about him--Tom Wolfe, Ferlenghetti, Alan Ginsberg, Ken Kesey and others. Dean is truly incredible, a hustler, thief, saint, burning with a zeal to live, to experience...to burn like a roman candle. He is endearing, frustrating, amazing, stuptifying and beautiful. Kerouac and the rest burned their way through life, consuming even themselves in the process.
Balm of Gilead
by Ken on Wed 05 Apr 2006 03:03 AM PDT
The seasons pass with the regularity of a metronome. Spring is here with the daffodils and early Rhododendrons, the new green leaves on the understory bushes in the forest, the singing of birds maintaining their territories, pileated woodpeckers hammering on my roof pipes...and hayfever.
Also like a clock on April first, I smelled the sweet, wonderful fragrance of cottonwood buds and the sticky substance that they exude. For a couple of weeks this absolutely incredible smell fills the nights this time of year--better than any man-made perfume by far. This is the only place that I have smelled it so strongly. And each year at the first of April I am reminded of the Bible and the "Balm of Gilead" that is mentioned.
One thing that I haven't heard so far this April is the White Crowned Sparrow which usually begins its song at this time. Soon I expect to hear their "Oh me, pretty, pretty me, yep!" filling the air.
The Cashew Apple
by Ken on Fri 31 Mar 2006 09:58 PM PST
I saw Jessica for the first time since the trip today. She has quit her job and wants to go back to school. I am thrilled that she wants to do this, but it seemed a mite percipitate to quit the job first.
When I was in Panama, I noticed this tree on the Amador Causeway. There were birds eating this persimmon like fruit some of which fell to the ground. It looked like a ripe persimmon with a cashew nut of some sort on one end. I looked it up and sure enough it IS the tree from which they get the cashew nuts--Cashew Apple Tree (Anacardium occidentale). Apparently this native of Brazil is widely consumed in the tropics. The fruit-like portion, which is the receptacle of the blossom, has a large amount of tannin in it which can impede the uptake of protein which can be a problem when large amounts are ingested as in those that drink copious quantites of wine made from the fruit. Preserves and a candied version of this cashew apple is also made. The bottom portion which contains the cashew seed has a toxic substance in it which can act like poison ivy producing a rash on the hands. (You can see the photo I took of this plant on my web site, Texified.com; check out the Panama photos/Amador causeway.
The Perils of Havng a Tenuous Connection to Civilization
by Ken on Mon 27 Mar 2006 09:18 PM PST
The tenuous connection being the Narrows Bridge of Puget Sound. It was blocked today from 10:15 am to about 4:25, and partially blocked from 3:15 am to 10:15. This being a major arterial for the entire area, the traffic was naturally blocked up for miles and miles, including the neighborhood feed streets onto Hwy. 16. A large crane tipped over during work on the bridge and had to be removed. This is the only time that I almost was seriously convenienced because of living on the North side of the bridge. I say almost because I barely had enough time to get dressed, jump into the car and drive to work, luckily making it on time.
It was a beautiful day, sunny and almost mild for this area, but I spent most of it cleaning my "computer room." I got the floor clear, vacuumed it, and was amazed at the extra space this seemed to create. Now for the hard part--the desk which is covered with miscellaneous accourtrements.
March 22, 2006, Wednesday
by Ken on Wed 22 Mar 2006 12:25 AM PST
Sometimes I wonder why anybody would want to live in this miserable weather here. Yes, rain, and more rain, chilly...no wonder seasonal affective disorder affects many in this area. The lack of sun throws the hormones off...
I put some of my Panama pics on my website. On my desktop computer most of the photos appear too dark, and I end up lightening them. But when I look at them on my laptop or on other computers, they appear just right and the ones that I lightened are now too overexposed. It's very irritating.
It's hard to believe that I'll have been home a week tomorrow. It certainly has zipped by. My ears are almost through peeling now, but so far it's the only part of me that is doing that. They got really sunburned in Boquete on the Hot Springs trip.
Back to the cold Northwest 21March2006, Tuesday
by Ken on Tue 21 Mar 2006 06:05 PM PST
Needless to say I didn't get online at the Country Inn in Panama City located near the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. The Amador Causeway, a strip of land created from dredgings from the Canal, reaches out to some nearby islands and is a wonderful place to walk or jog or bicycle or skate since part of it is free from traffic. There was also excellent birding to be done here, along with fantastic views of ships either entering or leavng the canal, and also a great view of the Bridge of the Americas that spans the bay just north of the hotel.
We hired a great cab driver, Omar, who gave us an all day tour of the city with some great running commentary. I found that watching the ships pass at the Mires Flores locks to be really interesting also. For three dollars you can catch a cab that will take you clear across Panama City, and considering that the price of gas is about $2.70 a gallon, it is hard to see how these guys make a living.
Last Thursday we flew back. We got off the plane in Seattle and it was like walking into a cooler. I was sorry to leave the great country of Panama with it's diversity of topography and people. It was truly a wonderful visit. I hope to write up a more detailed account along with the photographs that I took, and will put it on my web site.
Panama:Chiriqui highlands:Boquete:Coffee Tour: Bird Walk
by Ken on Mon 13 Mar 2006 05:13 PM PST
We had a very busy day today. All morning was spent touring the Ruiz Coffee Plantation. Carlos, our indigenous guide, was extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of the coffee plantation since he had worked at this plantation since he was ten; he is now 26. He showed us the coffee plants and all the organic methods that they used to ensure the quality of the coffee while preserving the environment. He then gave us a tour of the processing plant where the coffee is processed. I plan on giving a detailed photo tour of this plant in the future. We were introduced to the owner who started the company and is still active in its work at 84. Last of all we saw where the coffee was roasted, had a sample, and bought some to take home. I finally found some postcards here!
Last but not least, Terry van der Vooren, previously of Holland but who moved to Boquete 8 years ago, gave us a birding tour. This was the highlight of my visit! The birds were fantastic, and I shall be giving a detailed list later on my web site: texified.com. Some of the bird species were so extremely colorful that it was hard to believe.
Tomorrow we shall catch a flight (11:30) out of David for Panama City for the last two nights of our trip. I hope that I have web access at the Hotel Country Inn there.
Panama:Chiriqui highlands:Boquete:Hot Springs
by Ken on Sun 12 Mar 2006 05:12 PM PST
Unfortunately, last night as I prepared for my shower, I found that some of my things had been stolen, probably on one of the bus rides. My binoculars, shaving kit, and battery charger for my new digital camera were gone. This upset me very much since I had been enjoying the country and the people, but of course such things happen everywhere.
This morning I got up at my usual 6 am, got a cup of delicious coffee and went out birding. Most of the many birds I saw were unidentifiable, but I was able to identify quite a few, the most memorable was the beautiful Swallow Tail Kite which rode the thermals in such an incredible display of skill and poise that it left one breathless. The hotel is set in the midst of a coffee plantation as I said before. This isn't so unusual since all the available space in the area is planted with coffee. The harvest had already taken place but there were still some green and red berries on scattered bushes. The hotel has this separate building/lounge with a wall of glass overlooking the valley. The glass barrier is great since the cool winds can blow quite hard, and this allows a person to enjoy the view without the discomfort. There is also an elevated walkway that leads out to a tree stand that goes all around this large tree with epiphytic orchids stuck to it. The number of epiphytic plants in the tropics is amazing, many bromeliads, orchids, climbing succulents are all over the trees. Also, philodendrons of various types wrap around the trees. I had forgotten that philodendrons had this climbing habit.
My father and I walked up the mountain road from the hotel and found new asphalted roads cut through the forest and through various stands of coffee bushes. It was a new housing edition being put in with the building lots laid out but with no building having commenced as of yet. There were some lots with breath taking views of the volcano across the valley, and if I had the money I would love to build a place on lot 20 which was perfectly situated. It was early morning and the birds were everywhere. The flowers and the view are hard to describe.
During this entire visit I feel as if I am trying to absorb everything...all the sights, the smells, the flowers, the incredible cloud and rain forest...I feel almost desperate in trying to inhale it all into me. I look and look everywhere, trying to miss nothing.
We went on this trip to the local Caldera Hot Springs. The entire area is of volcanic origin and upon the volcanic plateaus it is very hot and dry this time of year. The plateaus are dissected by streams and rivers and it is here it seems that most of the plants and animals occur. We made one stop to visit a large volcanic rock that had been inscribed with petroglyphs whose meaning was obscure. I was shocked but not surprised to see modern graffiti alongside these older inscriptions. The road to the hot springs was incredibly rough and rocky, not to mention steep and the vehicle had quite a time manuevering along despite the four wheeled drive. It was jeep-like with an open top and room for about eight people. A local policeman stopped us when we picked up two Canadian girls and said that the jeep had to have a covered top. He allowed us to proceed though.
The hot springs were three...each with varying temperatures starting with the hottest and progressing to the coolest. Each had volcanic rocks walling it around, and the entire set up seemed to be on these farmer's land. We shared the area with goats, chickens, geese, a large Brahma bull, etc. We had to walk quite a ways, but my father made it just fine. While soaking in one of the springs, a man and about four women joined me...it got a mite croweded. I asked the man where he was from since I didn't understand their language and he said the Chech republic. Beer and cold bottled water was provided. On the way back we stopped at this clear cold river where I took a swim. Everybody else just watched me which made me think that perhaps I was holding up the show since it was getting late, so I splashed about for a while in the clear cold waters in which numerous tadpoles swam in the shallows, and then got out, dressing hurriedly.
Coming back it became very chilly and if the wind hadn't been so strong I would have put on my jacket. We arrived back and ate again at the local cafeteria where the locals seem to go...total this time was $6 for two.
Tomorrow we are going on a bird trip and I hope to positively identify some birds!
by Ken on Sat 11 Mar 2006 05:48 PM PST
It rained incredibly hard last night and the sound upon the roof of Hotel Angela was truly amazing. I loved it! This morning we got up early and caught a water taxi at Bocas Marina. It was supposed to leave at 9:00 am, but I have learned that there is regular time and there is Panama time, so we didn't leave until about 9:30 crowded together on the narrow wooden benches. The "taxi" is about 18 feet long and had a cover and a tarp that you could let down over the sides. The water was rough with fairly high waves but the driver didn't let that slow him down. We leaped from wave to wave slamming down hard in between which did wonders for my back! Naturally, I was the only one sitting in just the spot to receive about half a bucket of salt water in my face with every other slam of the boat. In just a few minutes I was soaked. Although I tend to become sea sick if I can't see around me, I finally asked my dad who was in the seat in front of me to let down the tarp above his head. This helped and I remained relatively splash free the rest of the trip.
We reached Almirante and were beset by young boys asking if we need a taxi and help with the bags. Any time in Panama that anybody asks if you need help, they expect to be paid. I paid them fifty cents apiece and they carried the luggage and hailed a taxi for us. It turned out to be a good thing because we made it to the bus stop just as the bus was pulling out for David (pronounced Daveed; $7 for the fare). We squeezed into our seats while our bags were put on top of the bus under a tarp. It was still drizzling and everything was grey and wet, just like in the Seattle area. Despite frantic questions as to where a bathroom was (there were to be no rest stops), we left with that need unsatisfied and began this wild ride through the most beautiful mountains. Everybody cut across the curves in the mountains and I never knew when we would meet somebody coming around the bend from the other way. I found it better to ignore the driving and just enjoy the scenery. Beautiful is such an inadequate word to describe the area...lush cloud forest on the mountain sides with mist rising like thick smoke, flowers everywhere; New Guinea Impatiens had escaped and grew rampant along the road sides for example.
I sat besides this mother with the most beautiful little girl in her lap. She was about five, immaculately clean with her done up with ribbons...she was truly precious. I'll try and post a photo later. I noticed that the people that got on the bus, especially the women were extremely clean as if they had stepped out of a shower and dressed very neatly. All in all I have been very impressed with the Panamanian people.
After we passed through the highest divide with thick clouds and mist everywhere, the vegetation changed and the area appeared slightly drier. This became more evident as we descended towards David and eventually it appeared quite dry and brown. Claudio, the wonderful owner of Hotel Angela back in Bocas Town, said that the wet and dry seasons were much more evident on the Pacific side of Panama, whereas it was only wet and not as wet on the Carribean side.
Soon the forest was gone and dry fields stretched away. People kept crowding onto the bus as it made stops until they were standing in the aisles (12 people with me in the last two seat rows!). It was hot by the time we got to David where I was charged $.l5 to use the facilites...it would have been $.25 if my business had been more serious. We got on what appeared to be a school bus for the ride to Boquete ($2). There must be a better way to get to Boquete because this bus stopped almost at every corner and it took almost an hour to make the 38 km trip to Boquete.
We are now at the Hotel Los Establos (the stables) which is high on the side of a mountain above Boquete with an incredible view of the volcano and mountains which is continually wreathed in mist. In fact a fine mist falls almost constantly here. It's no bother since it is so fine it can barely be felt and feels nice on the skin. We had dinner at this local cafeteria in Boquete town (about $2.50 and $.25 for coffee which was delicious!), and visited some local craft stands where I bought a back pack for $5. Taxi fare here is a bit more expensive than in Bocas Town ($3 to $4), and the one disadvantage of this hotel is that it is too far to walk to town.
I saw many new bird species on the grounds which is a coffee plantation and hope to identify and list them later.
Panama: Bocas del Toro: Bird Island
by Ken on Fri 10 Mar 2006 06:00 PM PST |
Today after I saw these beautiful hummingbirds and several other still-to-be-identified species feeding on nectar from the blossoms on this flowering mimosa-like bush, we took a boat to bird island and vicinity. This island is just to the north of the island of Colon on which the town of Bocas Del Toro is located. To get there we went to the outside of the island which is exposed to the waves of the Carribean. There were many lovely places located in remote areas on the island and overlooking beautiful sand beaches. The waves were high at times and the guide/capital, Dimetri, was quite skilled at navigating the small boat through the worst of the waves. The scenes of the rainforest coming down to the sand beaches with the crashing breakers were beautiful beyond words. Bird Island itself is located a ways off the northern coast. It is a high island of what appeared to be calcareous coral rock. It was quite high and covered with lush vegetation, great trees and palms along with other epiphytic plants. No landing is allowed since it is a bird sanctuary, and even from a distance you could see the white Red Billed Tropic Birds with their long streaming tail feathers flying against the dark canopy of the forest. This incredibly beautiful bird is found only in this part of the Carribean and is the main reason that I wanted to visit it. The other most common bird species was the Brown Booby which had large numbers of nests and chicks. The day was beautiful and sunny in contrast to the rest of our visit thus far and I could feel my skin burning.
After we departed Bird Island we travled on around the northern portion of the island and over to the southern protected side where the waves were very gentle and the entire scene reminded me of Puget Sound with it's forested mountains in the background and the large expanse of calm sea. We stopped for a while at Star Beach were numerous starfish could be seen in the white sands. These starfish are quite different than the Puget Sound species with which I am familiar and have a classic perfectly symmetrical star-shaped appearance. Most of them were golden in color with some almost black. I swam and snorkeled here in the clear water and found that walking on the sandy beach was often painful as it felt that sharp pieces of shell were cutting my feet. There were no cuts upon examination, but the stinging feeling persisted which puzzled me. By a mangrove swamp where fresh water mixed with the salt, I could see that when I disturbed the water, there seemed to be two solutions of different densities which gave the water a blurry appearance. I assume it was the fresh water on top of the salt which appeared clear until you disturbed the water.
After this beach we went to this incredible resort with cabanas built over the coral reef with connecting board walks. We ate at the restaurant there and I was appalled at the service and prices. I definitely would never recommend anybody coming to this place for any length of time. Dimetri, our guide, threw the remains of his meal into the clear reef waters where an incredible number of colorful fish appeared to devour the food. I saw for the first time spotted parrot fish. Most of there others I didn't know except for the yellow snapper, upon which we have dined several times. I hope to look the others up when I get a chance.
This evening we went into Bocas Town where we had great tasting barbecue at Shelley's Bar-be-que, which appeared to be an incredible dump but had the most wonderful food. I had been craving barbecue for quite a while and this was truly delicious.
Tomorrow, much to my sorrow, we have to leave this wonderful Hotel Angela in Bocas del Toro and catch a water taxi to Almirante on the mainland where we will catch a bus to David about a four hour trip. From David we will catch another bus to Boquete in the mountains where we shall stay three nights. Hopefully I shall have access to the world wide web and will post another update when I can.
Arrival in Panama
by Ken on Thu 09 Mar 2006 12:31 PM PST |
I had a very hard time getting online, and I don't know if I will make it in the future, but I shall briefly give a synopsis thus far.
Can you imagine Bird of Paradise plants 25 feet tall? Bright crimson Ginger flowers growing wild beside the road forming thickets? Parrots squawking in the trees besides slow moving sloths? Bat filled caves, wet with dripping water, guano falling on your head from above, black hawks, red billed tropic birds, schools of tropical fish swimming around your head as you paddle through clear warm water, dolphins chasing sardines in calm mangrove bays, red poison arrow frogs, feet from the pounding Carribean surf, coconut palms leaning over white sand...I could go on and on...
I hope to post photos and a detailed account when I return, but needless to say this place has exceeded my expectations. The town of Bocas del Toro that I am staying in is your typical small latin town I suppose with black vultures rummaging the trash cans early in the morning, running about the streets like great gangly turkeys. The people are poor but extremely friendly and a joy to be around. The small hotel I am staying at has a great deck extending over the water, covered with a thatched palm roof with dangling Japanese lanterns. Great blue heron, Great Egrets, and Royal Tern fish the shallows in the distance where a lone mangrove tree has just started. The owner, Claudio, is a wonder, eager to help, to suggest places to go and things to do. There is always a coffee pot on with free coffee, and I love to come down before the sun rises, drink my coffee and watch the sky lighten and the world come alive. I hope to post more in the near future, but am not sure if I shall be able.
Saturday, we catch a small water taxi to the mainland at Almirante, and catch a bus to Boquete for a four hour trip to this mountain town. I really don't want to leave Bocas Del Toro, however. I definitely want to return.
March 5, 2006, Sunday Ready for Panama
I have never in my life fussed about so many details before a trip. I usually just throw something in a bag before leaving and go. Perhaps because it's a foreign country, and I am trying to keep below the weight limit of 25 lbs. Also, the trip will involve hot humid coastline and cool mountain areas which demands different needs. And of course I have to take my cameras, binoculars, bird books etc. :)
Anyway after cutting everything to the bone (barely having enough clothes to wear) and packing everything into the carry on bag, I was horrified to find that it weighed about thirty pounds! And I got some really light REI clothes that you can fold up very small. Now, as I said before this limit pertains to the small in-country flights not the major airlines which has a limit of about forty pounds. For the life of me I couldn't how to cut anything else. Most of the weight was in the field book and the guide book. When I took out these books AND my camera, it lowered it down to about twenty five pounds. So, I figure that when I board the small planes I shall carry the camera around my neck, and the two books in my hand! Also, after a bit of soul searching, I decided to carry an additional small day pack. The regulations say you can have one carry on luggage plus small personal items such as a brief case, computer, diaper bag, purse, etc. I figure that the empty day pack should qualify...don'tcha think? I have no idea if the local airlines will allow this, but I guess I shall find out. I think that a small pack will be esssential on the day trips. Anyway I finally achieved a point where I think I am ready to leave (I even printed out the boarding pass).
I'll leave work here early (about 11:30 pm) so I will get a bit of sleep before the taxi arrives at 4:15am. I'll catch the Kitsap Airporter Shuttle at the Inn at 4:55. The flight (Continental) for Newark leaves Seatac at 7:45 am and arrives at 4:03 pm, a little over five hours. The Newark to Panama flight leaves just over an hour later, 5:05 pm, and arrives at Panama City at 10:25 pm, another five hour flight. The Hotel Costa Inn should have a pickup there for transportion to the Hotel...of course customs has to be gone through! This should be at least another hour. So it will be a late night I'm afraid.Below is an outline of the itinerary:
March 6 Fly to Panama City. Spend night in the Hotel Costa Inn.
March 7--March 10 Fly to Bocas De Toro on March 7 and spend the next four nights at the Hotel Angela (no fancy hotels in this town!) These are a series of islands off Panama's Carribean coast. Hopefully can get some snorkeling in along with some hiking and beach combing. Also I want to check out the birds on a local island.
March 11 Travel to Boquete, a town in the mountainous coffee country, cool and misty. For some reason the local airlines doesn't fly this route on the weekends, so we will probably have to take a bus. .
March 11-13 Three nights at Hotel Los Establos right outside of Boquete, set in the middle of a coffee plantation. I figure to do some bird watching with a guide and perhaps a tour of the local coffee plantations. This would also be a great place for some hiking.
March 16 Fly back to Seattle via Houston this time! This cuts a few hours off the flight.
March 1, 2006. Wednesday
The Mountain was magnificient today. It was a clear and sunny, and Rainier was shining bright with snow as were all the smaller mountains of the Cascade chain that lay at her feet. Mist and clouds trailed down the slopes giving it the look of veils clinging to a bride.
I've started getting ready for my Panama trip, just last minute things that need doing. I am only taking one small carry on bag. The smaller in-country flights have a weight limit of 25 lbs, so I have to carefully manage what I take. The most bulk will be the binoculars, cameras and guide books I think. I was a bit disappointed in the Birds of Panama that I ordered. It is really too big for a field guide and is very heavy. It has magnificient plates of the birds of Panama though. I really hope that I will be able to get in some bird watching, and I hope to add some species to my life list. It really helps to have a person who knows the species along though. Perhaps I can get onto a guided tour.
I also have a generalized book on Panama and the regions which gives good summaries of places to go and see. The trip will last only ten days, but it should be a good introduction to the country. I was surprised to read that Panama is the only Central American country that has good tap water and is perfectly safe to drink. They also use the U.S. dollar as their currency...as does Ecuador I think I remember reading.
February 27,2006 Another misty day
by Ken on Mon 27 Feb 2006 08:19 PM PST
Wonderful Northwest weather today, a fine drizzle sheeting down, mixed with mist rising like smoke from the dark firs, the landscape silvery as through a shifting veil. I tried out a new coffee shop, Cutter's Point on 6th Ave.. It was a great place, large and roomy, a fireplace, leather sofa and easy chairs, free web access and delicious coffee. Everything was nice and cozy as I sipped my coffee and read "The Chronicles of Amber." I often go to the Cutter's Point near me which is much busier and smaller, but it has such a great southern exposure which allows the rare sun to shine in, that I can't resist it.
There was this couple there, the woman dressed as if she was going to some party with a dress showing her shoulders and half of the upper part of her arms and front. It was immediately apparent that they weren't married and were intensely interested in each other. It is always obvious when a couple is getting to know each other perhaps for the first time. They show their interest in many ways...the intentness of their glances, the way they laugh...their interest in each other is immediately discernable to all. I wondered how she coped with the cold with a quarter of her body being bare and all. I couldn't see any goose bumps...and I checked.
Saturday, February 25
by Ken on Sat 25 Feb 2006 09:47 PM PST
I thought that I would start this blog as a more flexible adjunct to my website--texified.com. Hopefully I can incorporate this blog site into the other with no problems.
I was especially interested in using this to post entries during my Panama trip which is coming up. That would depend on finding an internet cafe which I understand is common in that area. Also, I hope it will be more convenient to post entries and will thus lead to more postings!
26Feb2006.-- See HERE for further entries. I thought that I would start this blog site as an experiment since it's more convenient to update than this web site. This will be important during my Panama trip, since it is accessible from any access point.
24Feb2006.--The days roll on...already it is late February, and the crocus and daffodil are up, ice on the streets this morning, but a warm sun made all cheery. Meaning...don't we all search for it? Sometimes the search can become too intense and then, it is best I think, to pause, and to simply live each moment and each day. No thought, no contemplation, just sensation is best sometimes, just the appreciation of the wonder and the beauty that surrounds us.
I am restless it seems, tired of the mundane and needing something novel. This is in contradiction to what I wrote above...but perhaps not. Sometimes the usual is not enough...
Here's a nice speech. The winner for the 1968 Nobel prize in literature talks about Japan and poetry and other neat things.
17Feb2006.--Now it's my turn for a birthday. It seems as if they are coming all too fast!. I'm going out to eat at the Spaghetti Factory tonight to celebrate mine and Jessica's birthday.
We are having unusual weather here. A very strong wind from the north blew in last night dropping the temperature into the twenties (28 here last night) which is the coldest this winter. Very high winds blew all night and is continuing as I speak. The power was off when I awoke this morning but fortunately came back on. I could hear branches and fir cones dropping onto the roof all night. Living in a forest has its draw backs! Fortunately no trees fell (as one did in front of the house a few weeks ago which blocked the street), but a huge mess is being made. The Douglas Fir trees shed their limber branches very easily and the streets and driveways are littered with them. As the photo shows I have a mess to clean up in front of the house--again!
The weather was so cold that it froze the hummingbird feeders! I couldn't believe it when I went outside and saw that the water in the feeder was frozen. The female Anna's Hummingbird was sitting on a nearby twig and twittering at me! It was as if she was asking me to hurry up and do something! I immediately went back in and made a fresh batch. When I came outside to put it up, the little female landed on the feeder while it was in my hand and began feeding! It was if she was so desperate that she couldn't wait to begin sipping on that warm nectar. I felt so sorry for it I didn't know what to do. Later I put a second batch out with slightly more sugar in it just in case she needed the extra energy for this weather.
1February2006.--In every person's life there are life changing events; events that change a person forever. One of these major events in my life was the birth of my only child, Jessica. And today is her twenty-first birthday! I shall never, ever forget the moment when I first held her in my arms, moments after her birth and looked down at that tiny face. In that moment all my old life was swept away and I turned down a new path...my life changed forever for the better. Words can never, ever express the emotions that I felt...feelings of love, tenderness, dedication...and fear, fear that something might happen to her, and that must never be. I am so proud of my daughter, and she is so precious and beloved to me.
I had breakfast with her and her fiancée this morning, when I took this photo. I took a photo of him also, but I forgot to get permission from him to show his photo, so I am leaving him off. He is really something else; I couldn't choose a better choice for her, and I am so incredibly happy that they met and fell in love. Happy 21st birthday my dearest daughter!
12January2006.--It rained as heavy yesterday as I have ever seen here, with ice slush and hail. I attempted to take some photos on the Beach Walk this morning despite the gloomy dark conditions. You can see a few of them here. This park was originally owned by a dentist who owned and developed the land in the area. It was bought a few years back by the county who left it pretty much in the original state. With the construction of the second Narrows Bridge, they seemed to fee obligated to "improve" the park and paved the gravel road with asphalt, added speed bumps, guard rails, speed limit signs, etc. One of the inexcusable things they did was to channalize part of the brook that babbled its way down through the ravine which it had cut over the millennia. They filled in part of it with rip rock and destroyed completely the noisy little waterfalls which I had enjoyed so much in my walks. Fortunately as tree branches and debris have fallen into the stream, new barriers were formed and once again I am entertained by the sight and sound of this wonderful little stream. They also built a parking lot, and a "viewing area" of the bridge complete with cupola and telescope (which is filled with moisture now and unusable).
10January2006.--It rained very heavily last night. When I was driving home, it was difficult to keep the car on the road because of the standing water and high wind. I read in the paper this morning that a record of thirty three straight days of rain is being approached. Then they smugly point out that New York City has more annual rain than here. Of course, the rain that can be over in a day or less in New York is stretched out over a few weeks here.
I changed the hummers nectar a few minutes ago, the usual four parts water to one part sugar, since the front porch feeder was getting low, and the little hummingbird sits faithfully in a Japanese Maple tree a few feet away, feeding as the inclination strikes it. I saw that this bird appeared to be female and it chased away a male that would come up occasionally (still not sure of the species! )
I've been listening to Skeletons on the Zahara on disc as I drive. It's an amazing book and should rank at the top among adventure stories. I read that they are considering making a movie from it which would a must see for me.
8January2006, Sunday.--A late night (4am), and I am tired. Got a wrist watch yesterday, since the one I got last summer started losing time--sure sign of a waning battery. It costs about four bucks for a new battery, and if you have a waterproof watch (I can't be bothered taking my watch off while showering!), it often has to have a special press to put the back back on after installing a new battery (unless you have a screw-on back). This involves going to a jewelers to have the battery installed! The jeweler charges anywhere from $5 (I found one that cheap in Texas this summer) to $8 (here). When you consider that at Wal-Mart's you can buy new watches from $4-$8, it is often better to buy a new watch rather than replacing the battery. Last January I thought I'd get out of this cycle and just buy a new Swiss Army watch for a few more dollars and just replace the battery when it expired. The watch started losing time this July while I was in Texas, and I was never able to get it repaired, despite two visits to a jewelers, so I went back to the cheap watch route. The one I bought yesterday (Timex) has a screw-on back so, I think that I'll be able to change the battery with little problem.
Strange, today and yesterday there were very few birds in the Sound. I could see an occasional Grebe or Cormorant way out in the middle but nothing close by. There are usually numerous birds visible. The little hummer is still coming to the feeder. I see him at daybreak as I am putting on my boots on the porch. He seems to be upset with me since he makes this little chittering noise when he sees me.
6January2006, Friday.--It was bill paying day for me. I'd been putting off paying all these bills until I simply had to do it! Lots of taxes and insurance...amazing. It is all very convenient since I do most of it online, but I still put it off. I remember when I was much poorer but I had very few needs. In grad school I got by on peanuts and still had money left over to save. I look at my income for this past year and have to shake my head in disbelief...where did it all go?
Sometimes during my people watching episodes, I have to keep reminding myself that there can be goodness in us all--even nobility. Sometimes that's hard to see when one reads the news and sees the idiocies that people perpetuate. I try to emphasize the positive since by always looking at the gloomy aspect of things simply is not good for my mental health.
Some endings stand out more than others
Others are commonplace and fade from memory.
Some are known at the time...like the last time I talked to my mother
Or when I last held my red-haired love...
Other endings aren't known, but are
Only recognized as such after the event.
Like when I last saw my other love striding
Purposely out of the terminal to board
The plane in that little
Would I have run to her and held her
Close one more time if I had known?
Or when I watched you wave goodbye
From the rear window of that departing car,
How could I have known it was the last time
And that you were forever lost to me?
And the last time that I carried my daughter,
Or held her little hand as we walked along.
When I let go of her, what would I have done
If I had known
It was the last time?
5January2006, Thursday.--Why is it that discussing Politics or Religion can rouse some people to a frothing fury? Religion, I can understand perhaps more than politics since it deals with ideas that can affect us on very deep levels. But politics? I find myself reacting to what I consider ridiculous political statements, so I am not immune to this strange phenomena. I get much more incensed about politics say than to the subject of food. Food is much more basic to oneself than politics, so why this strange reaction to politics? I'll have to ponder this further.
The Sound was calm this morning despite the steady rain that fell. The usual grebes and Common Mergansers were feeding, but I saw another small waterfowl that I couldn't immediately identify although I suspect a Pigeon Guillemot (haven't looked it up yet). I noticed that the currents were progressing southerly on the Tacoma side which would mean that the tide was coming in, but on my side the current appeared to be going out (48 degrees F again). I also saw three Sea lions moving north in the center of the Narrows. Nearer to me I saw this huge Sea lion which I mistook at first for driftwood, it was so large.
It's amazing how much driftwood floats out with the tide. I am reminded of Twain's Huckleberry Finn in which he talks about the great masses of driftwood that float down the Mississippi during the rises. You can see great tree trunks and even large stumps drifting by.
3January2006, Tuesday.--I'm starting to feel righteous. I have almost cleaned my office/computer room up. It is absolutely the very worst that I have seen it. The piles of paper were beginning to become a safety hazard.
I saw a sea lion cruising north in the Narrows today. It breached only twice that I saw, twice in quick succession, giving out great gusts of breath that could be clearly heard. It was a mite cold on the beach--38 F.
2January2006, Monday.--I took down the Christmas Tree and all the lights. I also packed them up and put them in the attic. The piano tuner came at 9:30 am and is still at his job now, almost 3 pm! Prior tuners have taken no more than an hour. I have to hand it to the poor guy though. He has stuck to the job without eating, drinking or going to the bathroom!
While walking to the beach today, I saw what appeared to be an immature Bald Eagle. They tend to hangout in the forested area just to the south of my place. Lessee, I also saw a flock of nine Common Mergansers in the sound, along with various loons and Cormorants (unable to determine species because of the poor lighting and distance). I also saw a Scoter, possibly a Surf Scoter. Yesterday I saw what was either a Horned or Red-Necked Grebe. It's frustrating to identify these critters without a spotting scope. I'll have to take one with me soon.
While taking down the porch lights, again a hummingbird came right to the feeder about four feet away. I got a good look at the little fella. He had a greenish body, and a red patch on his throat. He seemed unafraid and sat there drinking for quite a while as I stood still just a few feet away. And dangit, I am still not sure of the species! In the summer all the hummers appear to be the Rufus Hummingbird, and I thought this winter one was the Anna's Hummingbird as I said before. But it has no red forehead as the Anna's males do. I shall continue to think upon this before making my final judgment. One thing that gives me fits is the winter colors these birds are sporting.
1January2006, Sunday.--Today is the one hundredth birthday of my beloved grandfather, Emanuel Alton Evans, or Granan as all the grandchildren called him. He was my mother's father. When he used to say that he didn't think he had long to l live, I would always tell him that he would live to be one hundred. When he reached 59, he said that he figured that he would only live perhaps another ten years or so...he lived to the age of 95, not quite one hundred, but he was ready to go on long before he reached this age. He passed on peacefully just before I was to see him on my annual Texas pilgrimage. He was such a wonderful person; I always considered him as my second father. My father is 81 and is so dear to my heart. My father's mother also would have had her one hundredth birthday this December 20th. She reached her 91st birthday still bright and alert as ever.
I saw two hummingbirds today, fussing over who had the rights to the feeder. Back a couple of weeks ago, as I was putting up some Christmas lights, a hummingbird appeared suddenly right in front of my face as he was checking out the feeder on the front porch. Just the day before I had been talking with a co-worker about Hummingbirds being sighted this time of year and had been speculating as to why and how on earth they had stayed pass the blooming season. Due to their homiothermy, or warm-blooded condition, they must maintain their body temperature at high levels, but since they are so very tiny, they have a huge surface area to volume ratio and thus radiate heat away at inordinate amounts. They must, therefore, eat constantly and actually go into a type of hibernation at night when they can't feed. Thus I was astounded that day to see a hummingbird with the temperature in the mid-forties. I immediately emptied out the fermented sugar solution which had been in the feeders since July and from which the hummingbirds had refused to eat, and prepared some fresh solution and put it into the feeders. I immediately began to see hummingbirds come to the feeder, but today was the first time that I have seen two together. I am of two minds about feeding them passed the growing season. On the one hand I don't want to be the reason that they don't migrate, but at the same time if they are already here, I don't want them to starve!
As far as I can tell the hummingbirds that I have seen have been juvenile male Anna's Hummingbird, which to my knowledge is the first time that I have seen this species.
31December2005, Saturday.--It has been raining...and raining and raining. Yesterday, on the walk to the beach, it was so dim at first that I could barely see. Out of curiosity I took the water's temperature which was 49 F. with the air temperature 46...today the water's temperature was the same and the air temperature was also 49. A couple of years ago during this same time of year, the water temperature remained steady at 43. The temperature of the Puget Sound water stays fairly consistent over the year normally, warming the area in the winter and cooling it in the summer. The climate of the entire area is rather consistent with little variation, mild and wet, cloudy and gloomy during the winter contrasting with about two wonderful sunny months in August and September. Here's some info on the area
Yesterday, I drove north along the Sound taking a road that stayed near the water which I have never done before. It rained steadily the entire time and everybody had their headlights on in the dimness under the forest trees. I didn't go far, just past a small town called Wauna. As with every where you go, new homes were springing up, especially in the areas with a view. I stopped by one house with a For Sale sign and picked up a flyer. The house was 88 years old, perched on a bluff that overlooked the Colvas passage in both directions, along with the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier (of course they couldn't be seen on this dreary, drizzly day), newly remodeled and cost only $585,000. :)
The forests here can be uninviting for an off trail hiker--dark, blackish green trees with sword fern, salal, huckleberry and blackberry forming impenetrable thickets. Actually the blackberry does this in the clearings since it doesn't like the perpetual gloom beneath the trees. You can't really walk through these forests, the tangle of vegetation makes this literally impossible without a machete, and this time of year you would be soaked to the skin in minutes. I say they are uninviting, but this can depend much upon one's mood and the weather. Likewise, on good trails it can be a delight. Also in areas of old growth, away from the second growth forest, the situation is totally different with wide vistas beneath great stately trees. Once you go just east over the Cascade crest the situation changes totally--sunny, open forests of Ponderosa Pine mostly, easy to walk through in most areas, and much more cheerful and inviting.
Having these days off during the holidays is really wonderful since I have the time to do more things that I enjoy without rushing around constantly. I dread already getting back to the grind.
29December2005, Thursday.--I took a long walk today and then went down to the beach. It was early with the sun just peeking up, and the ravine that the stream had carved over the course of thousand of years was dark. It was very cool, with the sound of rushing water and waterfalls. The birds, their hormones awakening by the lengthening days, were singing sporadically. Great Big Leaved Maples hung over the stream, their branches and trunks covered with moss and licorice ferns. As I approached the beach which was still hidden, I could see the sun shining on an Alder grove, causing their trunks to glow in the bright light at the end of the dark ravine, like a light in a tunnel. I paused for a while committing the scene to memory, and as I watched, the light dimmed as a cloud passed before the sun, and the bright clear light faded to pastels and mauves. The water of the stream was tea colored and very cold as I washed mud from my hands after handling a tree branch shaggy with lichen.
On the beach fly fisherman were at work, fishing for salmon and Cutthroat Trout. In the distance I could see the wheels spinning cable on the new Narrows Bridge. A tug passed pulling a great barge, heaped high with sawdust. I could just see the top of that great mountain, Rainier, the sun was rising behind it, just peeking over the southern shoulder of the volcano.
I leaned against a tree stump, it's serpentine roots washed clean of earth, and watched everything for a while before walking back up the steep trail.
1December2005, Wednesday.--I was planning on going into town today, but there was a stalled car on the bridge, so I came to the Cutters coffee shop instead. I was planning on visiting Borders and the mall to do some Christmas shopping. Recently at Borders as usual I succumbed and bought a book which I chanced across. It was The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe. I pretty much have to read anything Wolfe writes since he is one of the bright and shining stars. He has an incredible imagination and a great gift for writing in an engaging and interesting way. Some say that he is by far the best writer in the English language today, and not just in the science-fiction/fantasy genre in which he specializes. Like most books that I really like, I could hardly put it down until I had read it, despite feeble attempts to stretch it out. After finishing it, I went back and bought the sequel, The Wizard. The sequel is not quite so captivating (I have been putting it down at times!), but still entertaining as is anything Wolfe writes. I think that my favorite series of his is the four or five volume series called The Book of the New Sun. I also bought Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins, of course, is one of the preeminent popularizers of Evolution, well known for his book, The Selfish Gene.
It's snowing hard now, big fluffy flakes, but I doubt (hope!) that it won't stick. This is quite early for a snow, but I remember back in 1985 I had my first and only white Thanksgiving! It was years later that I had my first and only white Christmas.
28November2005,Monday.--Actually got a frost last night. The temperature according to the maximum/minimum thermometer in the back is 34 degrees F, with a low last night of 32. Yesterday afternoon it cleared off and I knew it would be cold during the night. As I passed over the bridge, talking to my father, the westering sun threw the bridge supports into relief and the mountain was rosy and clear. It was quite beautiful.
I guess the school board members in Delaware that passed the requirement to teach Intelligent Design on the same par as evolution were kicked out. My father still wants me to go with him to Panama in March and perhaps to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, which I have always dreamed of visiting. I have heard so much about the Galapagos, which of course was so critical to Darwin in the formulation of his theory.
27November2005,Sunday.--Most of the leaves are off the trees now, and there have been two frosts that I have seen on the car after work, although it has yet to frost at home. Strangely enough there are very few frosts at my house. I remember two years ago there were only three, but it did snow once. Last year there were no snows and about five or six light frosts. When I talk to my dad in Texas the temperature is always in the seventies or eighties there. Yesterday I saw the sun for the first time in about a week, but now it is cloudy and dreary as usual.
9November2005, Wednesday.--I just read an article about the Kansas Board of Education who just approved the teaching of Intelligent Design. There were some interesting comments by the board.
The voters apparently approved the banning of smoking in public places in the elections yesterday. There may be some problems since smokers must be at least twenty five feet from any doors or windows. Critics have claimed that the center of the street is the only place left! Personally I am glad there are restrictions on this type of air pollution. The repeal of the gasoline tax which was instituted in such a high-handed way by the governor is still up in the air.
8November2005, Tuesday.--Well, the weather typical of this area has set in. Yesterday was partly sunny, but the previous four days were filled with blowing winds and a steady downpour. The oak trees at work were stripped of their leaves and lay in great sodden piles. With the autumn rains comes the mushrooms which have been sprouting for the past month. I found one area which had large numbers of Amanita muscaria, the fly Agaric Mushroom which is mildly hallucinogenic. Apparently there are substances in it which causes nausea and extreme sickness along with the drunken effect, but when the urine of somebody who has ingested this mushroom is drank, the recipient experiences the hallucinogenic effects without the undesirable symptoms. Apparently there are aboriginal people in Mexico, Siberia and in Finland that have independently discovered this strange effect. One modification was developed by the Laplanders who feed the mushroom to their reindeer and drink their urine thus avoiding the ill effects! What I can't understand is how this was discovered in the first place! And at least three times!
The photo at right was taken down the street (click to enlarge). As you can see it's not only humans that seem to like the taste!
7November2005, Monday.--I tried putting my web pages into an earlier version of my web and published it to Bluehost. It appeared to solve some problems, but not others. This page seems to be updated which it wasn't before. I also eliminated most of the photo banners (which weren't showing up) that I had and just put the title of each page in a large font. The technical help at Bluehost have been worse than useless.
I got a disturbing email from my father Saturday which said that my mother had been put into a hospital for a blood clot in her leg. They gave her some blood thinners which seemed to have helped. I have no doubt that this is the result of her not walking enough. As I talked to my father on the cell phone I could hear crickets in the background. He was at my sister's and son-in-law's house, and they were out by the pool enjoying the balmy (80 degrees!) night air. And probably smoking their cigars also! My father doesn't smoke but he does love good conversation. I was envious since even in the summer time here it is too chilly to sit outside. I can't even enjoy my deck because of the chill and mosquitoes!
4November2005, Friday.--I've continued to have problems with the web site. The web looks perfect on my computer, but when I upload it to Bluehost, none of the banners show up, and some pages show up as white. I've written to them several times outlining the problems, but each time they suggest that I do something that that I had already done (as I had told them several times!). This happens each time that I ask them questions; I guess they really aren't interested in helping. I am not normally the type to besiege people for help since I prefer to help myself unless absolutely necessary. I have avoided updating the site before I have solved the problems.
Jessica's car was finally finished yesterday. Four times before they had said it would be finished on earlier dates. It looked great, all polished up and shining. Of course the damage never did seem bad. They say most damage was due to certain frame elements. The total bill was $4500.
28October2005, Friday.--I never used to have any sort of sleep problem. Lately, I've not been able to sleep for long periods of time. I go to bed and sleep five or six hours maximum. I always try to get in a short siesta, but lately I can only nap maybe ten to twenty minutes whereas I used to be able to snooze for an hour. When things are on my mind, I can usually go to sleep rapidly, but after a few hours I wake up with my mind in overdrive, going over and over things, hashing and re-hashing events, sometimes for two hours or more. It seems that my brain has to organize things, consider all the options, and put everything in it's appropriate cubby hole before it is satisfied.
24October2005, Monday.--I talked to my father yesterday. I guess all the family is talking about just now is the "family investment." This is an investment that most of the family became involved in at the urging of my vivacious sister (see photo!). After long last (supposedly) some sort of return is expected. If true then it is truly exciting and life changing. However...similar claims have been made in the past, extravagant claims as is this one, and nothing came of it. This is the most definite statement thus far though, and my sister is convinced. The excitement is catching, but I try to not really believe it, and tell myself that I would be surprised if I even regained my original investment. Why am I always so cautious and skeptical?
My father said that my mother is more alert, in fact more alert than any of the other residents. His dream is to place her in better circumstances if he ever earned something from this investment. "She belongs with me." My heart goes out to them both!
My father is talking about going back to Panama next February. "There are still some areas that I didn't see." I would love dearly to go with him. I was checking the real estate offerings out again and was amazed at the reasonable prices. There were some really nice acreages for sale. Some were fairly primitive but beautiful. There were also condominiums in Panama City and environs that were truly luxurious with beautiful views.
It was really foggy when I left the house a while ago, and I couldn't even see the bridge. Usually such fogs burn off as the day progresses and by the end of the day it is sunny with a bright blue sky. It is beginning to lift now.
23October2005, Sunday.--I woke up this morning to the sound of fog horns. A light mist was falling and dripping from the eaves. The air outside was cool but mild with the rich smell of forest mold and wet leaves. Yesterday morning as I started for school, the sun was just about to peek up over that great mountain Rainier, and the silhouette of the old bridge contrasting with the lights of the new one being constructed caught my attention. Unfortunately I didn't have my tripod. The work is coming along rapidly. They are stringing the cable now; 24 hours a day the pulley runs back and forth laying the cable which is only the thickness of a pencil.
21October2005, Friday.--I just talked to the body shop, the car won't be ready until about the end of next week--three weeks this has taken!
Another beautiful sunny day, as was yesterday. Of course it is only a matter of time before the great Southwesters come roaring in, the Pineapple Express it is sometimes called since it comes from the vicinity of Hawaii. These storms bring in warm air and rain. It can be quite pleasant the first few dozen times this happens since I like storms. Of course this begins to pall after a while and the storms can hardly be called storms since the winds aren't that great--not like back east. So I enjoy these sunny Autumn days with the smell of fallen leaves and the cool sunny days.
I'm sitting here in Starbucks, waiting for Jessica to get out of class and people watching. People, human beings, are such social animals. They obviously like being around each other and take endless delight in each other. Social behavior is fascinating and so obviously has its roots in the distant history of our species. We note, often unconsciously, every nuance of other people's behavior, picking up cues as to their mood and intentions. This in turn influences our behavior, causing us often to make quick judgments about them. We pick up their "vibes" often unaware as to why they affect us the way they do.
You see so many different people. For example this demure young woman standing in line for coffee. She seems so shy with downcast eyes, a perfect shy mouse, but then one notices the large tattoo on the small of her back, just above her low slung tight pants, and then the stainless steel post piercing her tongue...and then one wonders. Social cues...sometimes contradictory, we put them all together and form conclusions.
20October2005, Thursday.--I was reading Herodotus again yesterday, and was absolutely re-amazed at his writings. Here were many of the old stories that I have heard all my life--the story of Midas, and of Polycrates of Samos who threw his ring into the sea to avoid the inevitable consequences of his run of good luck. Everybody remembers that a large fish swallowed it and was found again by Polycrates when he dined upon it, causing him to realize that no man escapes his fate. Then there was the remarkable story of the people in Ethiopia who preserved their dead in crystal tubes of a clear crystal and propped them up in the town. This reminds me of a SF story that I read once where columns were placed over each tomb which would play music and project a moving image of the person. Herodotus is delightful with his stories. He is criticized by the historians for his gullibility sometimes, but he often places the caveat in his writings, "it is said, or the people say," so I believe that he wasn't totally credulous, but was simply reporting the stories that he encountered.
19October2005,Wednesday.--Autumn is upon us. The photo is of a Japanese maple in my front yard taken a few days ago. The Douglas Firs are shedding their old needles this time of year, and the pavement is coated with a fine mat of inch-long brown needles. Each time the wind blows, the air is filled with fir needles falling like a fine rain. In my neighborhood you can tell the time of year by looking at the streets and driveways. The trees shed various parts of themselves depending upon the season. There is the time when the fir trees drop their seeds, filling the air with little helicoptering seeds. At other times, the Madrone trees shed their old leaves (June). These are evergreen trees, but still shed their old leaves after the new ones come in. In late Spring these trees drop little tiny blossoms, each one a miracle of shape and form, looking like tiny vases. The dark streets appear white under these trees at this time. Also in late Summer the old bark splits and falls off revealing the smooth green under bark which ripens into a rich cinnamon color. Right now they are shedding their bright berry-like seeds which can be seen scattered on the streets.
The Douglas Fir go through their own cycle of shedding. In the Spring the male cones shed great quantities of pollen and coat the driveways and cars with a coating of yellow flour. You can shake the branches at this time and throw up great yellow clouds. Sometimes the pollen is so thick that it cakes up in the nooks and crannies of my driveway. A bit later the male cones fall and pile up on my driveway and deck. Next the new growing tips of the Douglas Fir sheds tiny brown papery cups which once protected the branch tips. These little cups pile up everywhere, blowing in the breeze. Later in the summer the large female cones of the fir drop off, and the little Douglas squirrels sit on overhead branches chewing the green cones to get at the seeds and dropping the remains all over my deck.
And of course, this time of year the Big Leaf Maples are dropping their great palmate yellow leaves, coating the streets with deep piles of fallow gold. These, along with the plain yellow or brown leaves of the Red Alder and the leaves of other deciduous shrubs, make the area quite colorful and beautiful--and of course, provides great exercise when I try and clean my driveway and deck.
"What a bother," you may think and perhaps you may agree with one fellow I once knew who cut down all the trees around his house because of the "mess" they made. As for me, I think that any inconvenience of these trees is far outweighed by the beauty of their presence. I can look outside and see green everywhere for I live in the midst of a forest, and I take great pleasure in the constantly changing panorama that they provide.
I am still having problems with getting my web site to display my pages correctly.
18October2005, Tuesday.--I uploaded revisions to my web site yesterday, and for some reason most of the page banners aren't showing up. This has happened before last month when If first uploaded the web pages. I got no help whatsoever from Bluehost, and eventually they just started showing up one day.
It is cloudy (as usual) with rain expected tonight. The natives always insist that this why the Northwest is so green. They are right of course, but sometimes during the middle of a dreary, rainy winter in the Northwest I yearn for sun. The natives respond that the temperatures here are very mild and that it never gets very cold or hot. True...but it's like living in a beer cooler; it's chilly most of the time and rainy most of the time. There are about two months during late July through about the middle of September when the weather is stupendous...actually gets into the seventies and even eighties at times. This summer it even got to 92 degrees in May! It never reached this high the rest of the summer. I could stand some cold weather if there were sun to go with it. About four years ago it rained for over a hundred days straight. Not much each day of course, sometimes just a light mist. It almost drove me nuts.
All that being said, I get uneasy here in the summer sometimes when there is an entire week with sun and no rain. Everything quickly dries up during that time, and I am glad to see a little rain. It's odd but the warm weather bothers me more here then it does in Texas when I visit there in August.
17October2005, Monday.--I talked to Dad, yesterday. He had a wonderful time in Panama, and except for a few minor glitches (misplaced car keys) all went well. He landed in Panama City and took a flight north to David, visited Boquette and stayed for a few nights on the Pacific Coast at a resort. He said that he had the resort practically to himself and was pampered by the staff. He said that he did get a little lonely here. I have always found that it is best to go places with somebody since loneliness can set in, and of course, we want to talk about what we are seeing and experiencing. Hopefully, we can go together someday.
He said that mother was going into have a tooth pulled, but I didn't get a chance to ask more about her. He was concerned last week because she didn't seem her usual alert self. He wondered if they were giving her some kind of sedative--which is unacceptable.
16October2005, Sunday.--I got an email from Dad. He has returned from his trip to Panama, and said that he enjoyed it very much. He saw some property in the northern part that appealed to him. I was worried a bit about him when I heard about the hurricane and flooding just north of Panama, the flooding in Colombia, and the earthquake in El Salvador. I was afraid his trip would be ruined by rain. I shall talk to him this afternoon and get more details. He caught a small commuter plane in Athens instead of going into Dallas which would route him via Miami on the way to Panama. Instead here he could park his car, go to Houston and then to Panama. He is 81 and seems thirty years younger to me. He has no infirmities of any kind that I know and is vigorous and active. It takes a bit of gumption for anyone to go to another country by themselves, and I am so happy that he did.
I woke up early again after about 5 hours sleep. I can't seem to break this habit of getting up early. A short siesta in the afternoon recharges my batteries and helps immensely though, seeing me through to my normal bedtime of 2 am. I just read, however, that everybody needs at the very least six hours of sleep and preferably more. Lack of sleep has been linked to just about every malady but athletes foot.
Starbucks, 9:15 am, the morning sun bright through a thin haze of clouds, here for the past hour reading Herodotus' account of the battle of Plataea in which the Greeks conclusively defeated the Persians and drove them from Greece. What a story!
Jessica will meet me here after her classes and I will break the news to her about the ticket she got in the mail for her accident. We were supposed to pick her car up today after some repairs, but they called and said the damage was more extensive than anticipated and the cost would not be $2,000 but $4,000 and would take at least another week! I don't understand the ticket which is just over $150 since she was cut off and skidded into a barrier. The car that cut her off didn't stop. It appears that the infraction involves failure to adjust speed to avoid an accident. But when somebody suddenly swerves into your lane, what can you do? I think the ticket should be contested.
Last night I came across references to some more books of interest, and while gratified to find them, I despair of reading them all. Actually it's not the reading part that discourages, since I read all the time, but the retention of the information which can be quite involved since they aren't excapism fiction.
A girl just walked by with ears, lips and nose pierced, black hair, with two streaks of blonde, and a blue bandana around her head, cheeks hollowing as she sucks on a cigarette. The nose ring is especially noticeable, silver, piercing the septum, and extending beyond her lip. I first noticed nose piercing around 1973.
September 7, 2005, Wednesday.—I haven’t had a day off in three weeks. G. at work has been taking lots of time off to work on some houses he bought in his home town, which has given me lots of welcome overtime.
The mandatory evacuation of New Orleans continues. The talking heads continue to exclaim over the incompetence of the government and blame them for just about everything except the hurricane itself. And I even heard somebody claim on the Art Bell show that some government agency Does have the ability to control hurricanes. I truly get tired of the quality of the news and turn it off frequently. Tens of thousands of refugees (or as the politically correct people say “evacuees”—the term “refugee” is a racist term according to Jesse Jackson) have been transported to Texas. And what Texas is going to do with thousands of poor, unskilled, welfare-dependent people in the future is unknown, especially when most of them will probably not go back home. And New Orleans? Will it be rebuilt, or turned into a quasi-tourist park? Unfortunately the rest of the stricken Gulf Coast area has not received the media hype that the hordes of poor, pitiful people, mostly blacks, that crammed into the Superdome have received. I don’t know if it is me or the media that has changed, but I have less and less patience with the incredible nonsense that they spout. Part of it might be the 24/7 news channels that desperately grovel for any tidbit of news to fill the time.
September 1, 2005, Thursday.—I am sitting here in Cutter’s Point, a coffee shop in Gig Harbor. It’s truly an amazing place, not because of the quality of the coffee but because of the clientele. Here you can see a cross section of a certain class of people that live in this town. The Barristas are twentish, blonde attractive girls that shriek constantly. They scream greetings to everybody and then shriek farewells to them when they leave. They also shriek at the top of their lungs in their normal conversations to each other and to the customers. Everybody seems to know everybody else and greet each other like long lost relatives. The customers are to a large percentage, attractive, tanned, blonde women in their twenties or, if they aren’t in their twenties, then they seem desperately to try to look slim, tanned and young. Looking outside the window at the recently installed patio, I can see a table of eight young women. Six of them are blonde, tanned, etc. The older women seem to have plenty of leisure and money. Most of them talk loudly about their various activities and this combined with the shrieking of the Barristas fill the small establishment with a cacophony that can only be compared to the monkey house at the zoo. Why do I come here instead of the Starbucks nearby? Simply because of the glass walled section that allows the morning sun to come streaming in. The Starbucks has a different exposure away from the sun, and I find in this gloomy, rainy place that I treasure every bit of sunshine and light.
When Hurricane Katrina roared through the Gulf states a few days ago, the newscasters were exclaiming at how the damage in New Orleans was much less than expected. The physical damage was heavy, but not truly serious and the city was spared the feared flooding from Lake Ponchatrain (sp?). Then that night the levees gave way…the city is now deep in water, being below sea level, and looting is rampant, communication and travel difficult and they are saying that they will totally evacuate the city. It will be at least a month they say before the levees can be repaired and the water pumped out. Also the damage to the east was very bad with great loss of life and property damage. The New Orleans Mayor predicted the fatalities in his city in the thousands. It seems strange that so much of our oil production and transport is concentrated in this area and is now disabled. I keep thinking that our leaders would have made some kind of adjustments to this bottle neck in the interests of national security if nothing else.
August 31, 2005, Wednesday.—Sometimes when I step outside I can smell the sea. It smells of iodine and wet living things. The smell is especially strong when the tide is out. I always stop and sniff, drawing the cool air deep into my lungs. There seems to be a certain energy to this air…full of a tingling sensation. I always go on, feeling revitalized.
I arrived back in Washington from Texas August 12. I left earlier than I usually do and spent about 26 days there. I worked on the house, removed all the books from the back room, painted it yellow, and had a burgundy carpet put in. Since I wished to put in shelves, and plan to have Mike’s friend, Andy, do this, I didn’t replace the existing shelving and books, but left them in the living room. I also put in wooden blinds on the windows. I like the look and look forward to having the shelves and books in.
Mother: what can I say? My emotions were so very strong when I saw her in the nursing home, and witnessed her confusion and memory loss that I was almost overcome. I was able to put all those emotions behind a wall with only a little emotion seeping through. Otherwise it would be overwhelming, and I had to be strong for my father who broke down occasionally thinking of what had happened to his beloved wife of 62 years. Perhaps I shall write of this later: about when Kyenae came down and when Dad, Jessica, Kyenae and I went to Port Aransas to stay in a condominium for three nights, and we came back and had a get-together at Gwenda’s the last night with mother there, when we took mother back to the home and noticed that she needed changing, and Kyenae began haranguing the help to do it immediately; Dad and I left while she was doing this, and when Kyenae came up to us, she began crying, a hacking, sobbing…and I closed the door to my emotions and left without looking back…
On the national front: Hurricane Katrina has devastated the gulf and the doom-sayers are saying oil may go up to a hundred dollars a gallon. Gasoline is already $2:52 at the cheapest Arco stations and approaching $3 at Enron, the bloated oil company.
Friday, March 25, 2005.--Here I am sitting in Starbucks at the table. I have been working on the computers the past two weeks. My laptop’s hard drive bit the dust a few months ago, and I eventually put another one in--or rather I Had another put in, a larger one of about 80 GB., which is double the old one. I didn’t think that I had the recovery disks so I also got a new Windows XP disk and loaded it. Later I found the file in which I had put the receipt for the computer and the 8 recovery Cds! I’m starting to worry about my memory, especially when I think of the condition my poor mother is in.
I bought Partition Magic and Ghost by Symantec and partitioned the hard drives on both computers. Everything worked fine until I was almost finished with the laptop when it crashed and refused to start. I spent several of the past few days researching the internet and getting information. Luckily, yesterday I was able to fix the boot drive and get back on. I then loaded the original disks to the C drive and the new XP with service pack two to the F drive which changed to the H drive after loading the original recovery disks. One problem after another it seems. For example now I can’t find the Partition Magic disk with which I can access the different operating systems on this computer, and of course it was deleted when…but never mind the details, they are intricate and confusing and has had my mind in a whirl. I do look upon the entire experience as a learning one that has definitely exercised the neurons. My next project that I was thinking seriously of doing is building a computer with all the latest gadgets. That may have to be on hold though since I must pay various bills …oh well.
Jessica was going to move back in after Steve said he wanted her to leave, but she didn’t really want to since she always ends up fighting with her mother, and after a big scene it looks as if she will be staying with Steve a while longer. She is enrolling at the local college and will be taking Anthropology and English while she works ($748 tuition). I am overjoyed to pay her tuition IF she applies herself. …I hope and pray that she does fine. I love her so much and feel so guilty for not being a good enough father. I don’t know what else I could have done…I hope that my love makes up for my failings in some way.
Mother is worse. As I talked to Dad two weeks ago (I call every Sunday as I go to work) he indicated that he is looking at a nursing home near Gwenda’s. I was devastated and could hardly maintain my composure as I talked to them. I can tell though that she is worse…last Sunday she asked me why I was calling her “Mama.!” “Call me Wanda like everybody else does.” Even though she might at times not know who I am, she always tells me over and over how much she loves me. What a precious, wonderful mother she is! How I love and value her and how overwhelmed I get when I consider that, bit by bit, she is disappearing.
On the national scene, besides the continuing wrangling over our invasion of Iraq, the Terry Shivo (sp) case is being overdone by the news. The poor Florida lady in a “vegetative state” whose husband has finally had the court remove her feeding tubes over the continued objections of her parents. The ancient Greeks felt that the blood of their kin couldn’t be on their hands so they left unwanted babies exposed on the hillsides…their death happened inevitably by natural processes. The state seems to think the same way--it’s perfectly fine to starve the woman to death instead of giving her a merciful death. Of course sides are polarized and politicians are weighing in. I personally believe that the state should err if need be on the conservative side…keep her alive.
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