Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

May 31, 2007

Columbus the Bear

This poor little lost bear swam from one of the islands in Puget Sound to the Des Moines/Federal Way area. Brian is a first responder for his company, Weyerhaeuser, and yesterday was on "bear alert" as the entire Weyco campus was closed down, including all of the public trails and the very popular Rhododendron Garden. Traps were set out last night and he was caught this morning. He's so cute....if he had pointy ears, he'd look like Sagan. Isn't he cute?

Apparently he's been dubbed "Columbus" because of his penchant for exploring. Since Columbus was lost, it's an appropriate name.
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Officials say a bear that was spotted throughout south King County over the last week has been captured.The 205-pound black bear was found in a trap on the Weyerhaeuser campus in Federal Way on Thursday morning. The trails around the campus were closed Wednesday after the bear was spotted earlier in the week.

Wildlife officers believe it is the same bear that swam from Maury Island to Des Moines on May 25. The caretaker at the lighthouse on Maury Island saw it all. He told state biologists the bear was swimming fast -- it took him only one hour to make the two-mile swim. The bear came ashore around Saltwater State Park.

At the same time, the state says a commercial boat radioed the Coast Guard saying they had seen a swimming bear.Soon after the bear arrived in Des Moines, surprised neighbors started calling Fish and Wildlife agents saying "hey there's a bear in my front yard."

"He wandered right up here and he actually looked at me," said Phi Tieskoetter. "And I wondered 'Hey, is this actually a bear or a dog?' And he looked at me and I was like 'Holy cow, it's a bear.' "

Wildlife officials have named the bear "Columbus," since he appears to be quite an explorer. "This is the breeding season," said State Wildlife Biologist Rocky Spencer. "And if it's a male searching for a receptive female, he might go a long way for that. It's hard to say. "The bear caught Thursday was sedated and will likely be transported to a remote area of the Cascade Mountains to be released.

May 28, 2007

In the Bead Zone

Paper crafts have pretty much consumed my crafting life over the past 8 months or so. Lots of scrapbooks, cards and photo albums have been created and updated. I haven't had a lot of time to tackle all the bead projects I have planned, or work with all the fantastic beads I've scored over the past year or so. I made the time this weekend to get into The Bead Zone.

I forgot how focused and driven I get when I do beadwork till I start doing it again, then I can't seem to stop. I call it The Bead Zone. Since Saturday, I have made 10 necklaces, fixed and/or restrung 6 necklaces, put new hooks on 3 pairs of earrings, made 2 bracelets and a watchband. Boxes and beads stacked on my craft table, I will start working in the morning, taking a really quick lunch break and working into the evening. I can't stop thinking about new designs/projects and I can't wait till morning so that I can delve back in. The TV is on, just a din in the background.....poor Brian is saying stuff and I'm like, "mmmhmm" although I really do try to look up and pay attention.

I am a jewelry addict. I love jewelry. Always have. The sparkly and more colourful, the better. Being able to make my own jewelry has worked out really, really well.....although I seem to spend more money on jewelry supplies and beads than I would if I were buying one necklace in a department store. What can I say, it's an expensive but fun habit.

If you click on the pictures, they will get bigger so that you can see the detail.

I tried to take pictures outside but the sun just wasn't hitting the front of the house very well. This necklace is made with beautiful lavender/rose coloured beads, with garnet & pearls.

Found these fun beads up in Poulsbo.
I used dark amethyst beads (real amethyst, not glass) with lavender & clear swarovski crystal. The pendant is a really pretty shade of purple crystals.
This one came out way too washed out, which is too bad because the large beads are pale yellow and very light purple/pink, so I added yellow and pink swarovski crystals along with delica seed beads, and multicolour crystal bead caps.
Here's a pair of earrings. The large beads are black, blue and white swirly waves which I accented with pearls and Montana blue swarovski crystals.

This one's got a lot of fun texture as the red beads have raised white "dot" flowers. I added dark red and pale sapphire swarovski crystals along with silver beadcaps.

Michael's Crafts has a great selection of beads now, and that's where these aqua & copper beads were bought.

Assortment of lampwork beads paired with cobalt & sapphire swarovski crystals.

Lampwork beads by Austin Hamilton of British Columbia.

May 24, 2007

Hello Dalai, Well Hello Dalai

This Sunday on Brian's "Shakedown Street" Blog Talk Radio show, the topic will be "Who Is the Dalai Lama?" Learn about the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of how they select each new Dalai Lama, and hear how the current Dalai Lama made a frightening and dangerous escape across the Himalayas into India when the Chinese destroyed Tibet. Tune in at 4:00 Pacific, 7:00 Eastern, to learn more about this amazing man!

Here's a classic Bill Murray bit from "Caddy Shack"

Carl Spackler: "So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one -- big hitter, the Lama -- long, into a ten-thousand foot crevice, right at the base of this glacier. And do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga...gunga -- gunga galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consiousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."

May 23, 2007

And yet, I feel safe

The west coast is beautiful, but living here can come at a price. The closer you get to the coastal communities, the more Tsunami Warning signs you see.

My personal fave is this one, with the guy frantically trying to climb up the cliff before the big giant wave hits him. There's also a story about the time, sometime in the 1980's I think, that there was supposed to be a tsunami that would make landfall in the San Francisco area. So a whole bunch of people went down to Ocean Beach to watch. Fortunately for them, by the time the wave got across the Pacific to SF, it was tiny.
The Western United States is located on the notorious "Ring of Fire" (cue Johnny Cash song), that danger zone of fault lines, quakes, plate tectonics, volcanoes, geothermal activity and tsunamis that ring the Pacific from SE Asia, up eastern Russia, over to Alaska and down the coast from Canada to Chili...including all of the Pacific Islands. Did you know that Yellowstone National Park is actually a giant volcano? If you stand in Yellowstone and look around at the mountains that ring the park, you are actually standing inside the crater looking at the top edge. That is why there are so many geysers and hot springs at Yellowstone. The Napa Valley in California is also very geothermic, with its own Old Faithful Geyser and hot springs in Calistoga.

The volcanoes in the Western US are in the Cascade Mountains, starting with Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta in northcentral California near Oregon, and Mt. Bachelor, Three Sisters and Mt. Hood in Oregon. Washington, however, claims the rest: Mt. Adams, Mount St. Helens, the crown jewel Rainier, Glacier Peak and finally Mt. Baker up at the Canadian Border.

The domes of these volcanoes are unmistakable as they dominate the sky and punctuate the Cascade Range. I first saw Mount St. Helens when we were on our way to Oregon a few years ago. The only other time I'd been past it, the day was overcast. But the day we drove to Oregon was clear and sunny. We rounded a curve in the highway and holy shit! There it was! This giant scar on a barren mountain.....although life has since returned to the area since the cataclysmic eruptions in 1980 & 1981. St. Helens has recently become cranky again, with minor ash eruptions, but major enough to close all access to it by road and trail for months a year or so ago.
This is a picture of a Volcano Evacuation Route sign. These signs are sprinkled all over the valleys in Puyallup, Auburn, Orting, Sumner and all of the other towns we drive through on a daily basis. Every person: Man, woman and child, all knows what "lahar" means and what they have to do when they hear the warning sirens wailing (if the warning sirens can be heard, which has been a problem). Schools have "lahar drills" where everyone evacuates and walks, or runs, in an "orderly fashion", in the direction of the nearest hill.

Because our volcanoes are covered in snow and glacial ice year round, the eruptions are vastly different from those in Hawaii where you actually see the red hot molten lava erupting and creeping down the side of the mountain. Therefore, we use the term "lahar" instead of "lava", because a lahar is a giant mud flow created when the snow and ice melt during the eruption. All of the signs point up to the hills. Yep, when ya live in the Ring of Fire, ya gotta have a plan. And that's our plan: "Head for the Hills". Makes sense, at least on paper, right? But here is the fundamental problem with "the plan": If there is one little fender bender off to the side of any of the highways, just one, mind you, that accident will bring traffic to complete gridlock with a ripple effect for miles in every direction.

The roads in Western Washington are unable to accomodate the unchecked and rampant development, especially here in East Pierce County. Small, two lane state highways are gummed up every day, including weekends. So you have to wonder how effective a "Head for the Hills" plan is when there is a giant mudflow of rocks, ice, dirt and giant fir trees bearing down on Eatonville or Graham, and which is arriving in 30 minutes or less (hey it's a better record than Dominoes Pizza). Especially since the lahar will follow all of the paths of the rivers, and there are a lot of rivers that start on, or near, Rainier. And a lot of communities and homes are built on the rivers.

For example, on my way home, I take River Road. This is a picture I shot of Mt. Rainier from River Road.

The Puyallup River is off to the left of the photo, below the greenbelt, although last winter when we had the torrential rain, the river was at road level. River Road is actually built on top of a very large levee, because to the right of this picture, it's all farmland which sits well below the road. If a lahar is on the way from Rainier, everyone on River Road at that moment is toast. If there is one accident on this road, traffic gets backed up to Interstate 5, so can you imagine what it will be like when people try to evacuate for the closest hill?

When Brian comes home from his job in Federal Way, he drives down into the valley, before starting the climb back up to the foothills, which are well above sea level, he has to cross over the Stuck River. Ditto to "toast". Bonney Lake is in the foothills so the lahar would go around us and wipe out Sumner. Well, that's all well and good if we are home when it happens. And by the way, you never say, "if it happens", you say "when it happens" because that is the reality we accepted when we chose to live here. However, if we were at work when it happened, we would be totally cut off from home. We'd probably be safe'ish, but also unable to get home no matter what direction we tried. So we just keep our fingers crossed that it won't happen in our lifetime and we go about our daily lives, hoping for the best. Rainier may be sleeping, but she's very much alive.

As an interesting side note, we saw on the news over the weekend that a group of students from one of the local high schools has made it into the National Science Fair, for their experiment of using solar powered LED's on the Volcano Evacuation Route signs, to make them easier to see at night.

Are we in imminent danger? Probably not. Do we still feel safe? Yes. We made the choice to live in a very seismically dangerous area when we moved to San Francisco in 1989. We weren't there 2 months when the Loma Prieta quake brought the entire region to its knees. If we didn't run back to the east coast after that, then we never will. Mother Nature demands respect and so we pay attention to the warning signs, have a family evacuation plan and an emergency kit. But it's the price we willingly pay to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

May 20, 2007

Today on Shakedown Street

Brian's blog radio show is today at 4:00 pm Pacific, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. His topic is "can hemp save the planet?" And of course the answer is "yes". Tune in for what promises to be a lively show!

There's a link to his show on my blog roll as : Blogtalk Radio: Shakedown Street

For Val - The Big Fitz

In my "O Canada" post, I mentioned being fascinated by the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald. My US friends, at least those my age, will probably remember Gordon Lightfoot's haunting ballad from 1976, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". I was always riveted by that tale. How could a ship that big and that mighty be taken down in seconds, on a lake?

The "Big Fitz" as she was called, was the largest freighter in the Great Lakes at that time. She shipped iron ore pellets from one end of Lake Superior to the other. One fateful night in November, 1975, on her last run of the season and during a vicious storm, the Fitz sank in Canadian waters. The below map shows Fitz's course in red, and another freighter, the Arthur Anderson, which was sailing about 10-20 miles behind the Fitz that day, in black. The last thing that Captain Cooper of the AA heard from the Fitz's Captain McSorley was "we are holding our own". She disappeared from radar after that.
It's still unclear what made the Fitz sink. Theories abound as to it bottoming out on some shoals, to a rogue wave crashing over the middle, to the holds not being properly fastened and allowing water to fill them. 29 men perished. Shortly after, divers located her position, two large pieces split in two on the lake floor. Since that time, the original bell was salvaged from the wreck and has been placed in the Great Lakes Maritime Museum. At the same time the old bell was salvaged, a new brass bell with the names of the men who died was affixed to the ship under water.
As Captain Cooper got closer to the Soo Locks, he was asked by the Coast Guard to turn around and attempt to perform rescue and recovery in the height of the storm. He did so, despite jeopardizing his ship and the lives of his own men. I thought that was such a heroic thing to do.

Here's the story I got off the internet:

The Story of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The Fitzgerald began Sunday, November 9, 1975, loading 26,116 tons of taconite at the Burlington Northern Railroad Dock #1 in Superior, WI. On this 40th voyage in her 17th season, the Fitzgerald's destination was a steel plant on Zug Island in the Detroit River. The weather that morning was cloudy and cool with a light northeast wind. However, a deepening storm system was already taking shape in the central Plains.

By early afternoon, she was loaded and ready to depart. At 2:19 PM, the Fitzgerald left Superior and soon entered the open waters of western Lake Superior. The National Weather Service forecast at that time called for east to northeast winds increasing to 25 to 37 knots during the night, then shifting to north or northwest 24 to 40 knots on the afternoon of the 10th. Soon after she left, the National Weather Service issued a gale warning for Lake Superior, forecasting sustained east winds between 34 and 48 knots beginning that night ahead of the intensifying storm in the central Plains then moving into Iowa. Captain McSorley acknowledged receipt of the warning in a radio communication with Captain Bernie Cooper of the Arthur M. Anderson, another ore carrier that had steamed out of Two Harbors, MN, at almost the same time the Fitzgerald had left Superior. After reading the updated weather forecast, the two captains decided to travel closely together across northern Lake Superior and then southeast along the east shore of the Lake to the Soo Locks. By doing so, they could monitor each other and possibly avoid the higher waves that would be generated over southern Lake Superior on the 10th by the expected north to northwest winds.

At 1:00 AM on November 10, the Fitzgerald and Anderson were south of Isle Royale in western Lake Superior. The storm system moving northeast from the central Plains had continued to strengthen and reached north central Wisconsin by early morning on the 10th. The Fitzgerald reported northeast winds at 52 knots with 10-foot waves at 1:00 AM, and the National Weather Service soon upgraded the gale warning to a storm warning, forecasting sustained northeast winds 48 to 63 knots and 8- to 15-foot waves for the rest of the night. Captains McSorley and Cooper both expressed concern about the deteriorating weather conditions. At 7:00 AM, the ships were approximately 45 miles north of Copper Harbor, MI. The Fitzgerald observed northeast winds at 35 knots and 10-foot waves as the intensifying low pressure center moved over Marquette, MI. This report was the last weather observation she would disseminate.
By early afternoon on the 10th, the storm system had moved into southern Ontario, and the ships had reached a point about 10 miles northwest of Michipicoten Island in eastern Lake Superior, now heading southeast toward the Soo Locks. The weather report at 1:00 PM from the M/V Simcoe, a Canadian vessel about 15 miles from the Fitzgerald, indicated the surface low pressure center had passed north of Lake Superior: the wind had shifted to the west at 44 knots. At 2:45 PM, the Anderson observed northwest winds at 42 knots and 12- to 16-foot waves. The storm had become so bad that the Soo Locks were forced to close.

Captain Cooper, who could see the Fitzgerald on the Anderson's radar screen, worried that the ship might have moved too closely to shallower water about 35 feet deep off the Ontario coast near Caribou Island at 3:15 PM. He was concerned that the Fitzgerald could strike the bottom of Lake Superior as it was tossed around in the increasingly violent seas, damage its hull, and leak in water. In fact at 3:30 PM, Captain McSorley radioed the Anderson and indicated the Fitzgerald was taking in water and had developed a list. Two water pumps were running to pump out the water. The Fitzgerald had also sustained topside damage.

During the late afternoon of the 10th, ship observations show sustained northwest winds over 50 knots were occurring across eastern Lake Superior. At 4:00 PM, an estimated 75-knot, hurricane-force northwest wind gust struck the Anderson. Captain McSorley contacted the Anderson shortly after and indicated he had lost both his radars used for guidance, presumably due to wind damage suffered from this mighty gust. He requested the Anderson to monitor his position and course. The wind gust also knocked out the lighthouse and radio beacon at Whitefish Point. The implication of all this equipment loss was that the Fitzgerald was now sailing blindly, completely dependent on the Anderson for navigational guidance.

At 5:45 PM, Captain McSorley was in communication with the ship Avafors, indicating the Fitzgerald was suffering a bad list, had lost both radars, and was taking in heavy seas over the deck. Captain McSorley stated: "One of the worst seas I've ever been in."

At 7:00 PM, the Anderson, trailing the Fitzgerald by about 10 miles, was struck by two waves estimated at 25 feet or higher. At 7:10 PM, Captain McSorley told the Anderson: "We are holding our own." This was the last communication from the Fitzgerald. At 7:15 PM November 10th, the Anderson lost the Fitzgerald on radar as a snow squall enveloped the doomed ship.
The Anderson tried to contact the Fitzgerald again, but to no avail. A worried Captain Cooper called the Coast Guard at Sault Ste. Marie to report his concern about the Fitzgerald, but the storm severely impacted search operations. The Anderson turned out to be the primary vessel in the search and later that night discovered two badly damaged lifeboats and some other debris, but no survivors.

May 19, 2007

The Furchildren

Now that the lawncare/landscaper people dealt with our backyard, we are more inclined to go out there and play with our furkids. Here's Sagan in one of his fave places, a little hollow he dug under the sequoia. Last summer we were outside in our skychairs while the dogs ran around. Sagan had been in this spot for quite awhile. After he finally got up, Pepper went over and was sniffing around where Sagie had been laying down. Just as we remarked how cute she was for sniffing around where her brother was, perfectly on cue she squatted and took a leak right where Sagan had been laying. We both busted up. Couldn't believe she did that. What a handsome boy!!! He's come a long way from that skin-and-bones, starving to death 9 month old. He turned 2 in March and he's around 80 lbs. now.
Little Beanie.
Playing fetch.

May 18, 2007

Day trippin' to Poulsbo

On Monday, May 7, I took a little day trip up to the Nordic-themed town of Poulsbo, which is on the Kitsap Peninsula, west/northwest of where I live. The town is absolutely charming and I loved it.

I'm not a religious person, as you all know, but I love shooting photographs of churches. As you drive into town, this church is perched on the hill above the town, so I couldn't resist driving up there to check out the view.
And I was not disappointed in said view of the Olympic Mountains.
I loved the name of this cafe, "Ya Betcha". I should have shot a photo of the other sign that said "Yessir Surely Ya Betcha" on the back of the restaurant.
This is the main street in Poulsbo.

After I left, I drove down to Port Orchard. Unfortunately, the town was really run down and seedy; at least the part I was in was very run down and seedy. Still, I did like this totem pole down at the marina.
As with Mt. Rainier, I just can't seem to shoot enough photos of the Olympics. I do like the Cascades to the east of us, but the Olys in the west are so much more dramatic.

Looking west from Port Orchard at the Bremerton Naval Base with the Olympics as a backdrop.I was disappointed that there was no bridge viewing platform on the west end of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, so once again I had to shoot while driving. The bridge on the left is the one that was built after "Gallopin' Gertie" broke apart in a windstorm in the 1930's and is extremely narrow and there are a lot of terrible accidents. The bridge on the right is under construction and is supposed to open sometime this summer or fall. Considering the problems they've been having with the construction, I really don't trust it to hold up. The plan is to have the bridge on the right be for eastbound traffic and that will open up the old bridge to 4 lanes heading westbound. Oh, and the bridge is called "Narrows" because the body of water underneath the bridge is actually the Tacoma Narrows not because the bridge is narrow.

May 16, 2007

O Canada!

I love Canada. I do. I've always been fascinated by our neighbors to the north, ever since we went to Niagara Falls in 1975 when I was 10. And of course the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald intrigues me to this day.

Now that the summer ferry schedules have finally been posted, I am in the process of making plans for the annual "It's All About Me" trip to British Columbia. Usually I take the passenger-only Victoria Clipper out of Seattle, and stay overnight. However, that limits me to covering ground on foot, and means that I am speed walking like a crazy woman trying to hit all my fave stores and places. Last summer I drove up to Vancouver and stayed several days, and so I decided I'm going to stay a few days on Vancouver Island, and take my car.

So I'll be taking the MV Coho Ferry, pictured here, out of Port Angeles, WA. The trip is only 90 minutes across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, into Victoria. This ferry's car deck is enclosed; you drive inside the ship from the back.Here's a nice aerial of Victoria, showing the Clipper and Coho dock right smack in the middle of Inner Harbour. I hope that the weather is nice so that I can visit Mt. Malahat north of Victoria; apparently this is what the view looks like! Purty, innit?

And I hope to do the Prince of Whales whalewatch as well. Being from Cape Cod, I have always been very comfortable on boats and don't get seasick. This, however, is a very small, very fast boat so here's hoping I have my sea legs and nothing else.Last time I went to Victoria I paid for the package tour of Butchart Gardens. However they didn't really give us much time there b/f the bus left, so again, I powerwalked the entire place in 30 minutes and didn't get to savour it. This time, I want to take my time.And I'm gonna visit Chemainus, pictured below, home of about 30 some-odd murals. This here is the beach at French Beach Provincial Park. I'll be taking my metal detector with the hope of finding treasure. Finally, I will depart from Sidney, BC, on the Saanich Peninsula, north of Victoria... head home on the Washington State Ferry...(but not the one pictured here b/c you can see Mt. Rainier and I will not see Rainier from the ferry that leaves from Sidney)........which will cruise through the San Juan Islands....
...with views of Mt. Baker in Washington, if I am lucky enough to get a clear day.
The WA State Ferry, which has an open car deck, will arrive in Anacortes, WA (seen below), after a relaxing ride of a little over 2 hours. Thanks to Google Images for all of the pictures.