Monday, June 22, 2015

Diversity Day Photos 2015

Diversity Day is an annual event in Walla Walla.  It is held in Pioneer Park with wonderful music represented by many cultures, great food and activities for families.  I participate annually at this event in offering an activity for children with my Baha'i Faith community.  This year children built "A World without Prejudice" with blocks made of log rounds and driftwood.  It was delightful to see the co-operation among all of the children who participated.  The event is a reminder that race unity is possible.  As always, many races were represented and they were all beautiful- the photos can testify to this fact.

"Ye are all the leaves of one tree."  Bahá'u'lláh

Sunday, June 21, 2015

An Ailment of the Heart

Two of my neighbors, one in a southerly direction and a second to the west, both suffer from an ailment that is a most unfortunate one.  I have seen the pain on their faces.

It’s not genetic, cancerous, contagious or medically curable, yet it is an isolating and debilitating ailment.  It’s not caused by an accident or failure to eat well, get a good night’s sleep or to follow a doctor’s orders.  It is tragic ailment. 

A few nights ago I entered a neighborhood cul-de-sac, just wandering slowly on a walk with pup.  I had finished mowing the lawn and had on a t-shirt that I had almost thrown-out in a cleaning purge and then kept to use as a rag.  The shirt had been tossed onto the washer and it caught my eye as I headed out to do the weekly mowing job and decided to wear it.  My gray hair was in a ponytail to get it off of my face.  I wore some old shorts.  I was probably slightly limping with my hip acting up.  I’ve been walking evenings close to home on streets that I am most familiar with to pamper the ache in my hip.  Pup paused on the edge of a lawn sniffed for some dog that had visited previously and dropped a few dribbles of pee.  She had already pooped by the evidence of the poop bag hanging from the leash.  A scream rushed rancor into the cool of the evening air.  I saw her, a lady at some 70 yards ahead, but I looked in back of me thinking that she was yelling at someone besides a gray-haired lady.

Her words registered.  “GET THAT DOG OFF OF THE YARD.  MY NEIGHBOR WOULDN'T APPRECIATE IT.”  Looking back in her direction, I saw her face contorted into a shrewish grimace and more words spilled out.  I didn’t catch them and she turned to her husband to express her contempt of me, begging him for acknowledgement for her rude demeanor.  I was puzzled.  I hesitated, thinking that I should approach her, introduce myself and apologize letting her know that her wish was one that I could certainly honor.  After all it is a small and relatively inconsequential request.  She turned and advanced down the drive yelling more.  Her dyed hair flouncing and her ailment painful to witness.


The street is not marked “private” and her own two large dogs accompanying her on her strident campaign down her drive wore no diapers, so I had to assume that they, like most dogs peed on the ground, marked their territory and loved the smell of other dog’s pee.  It wasn’t like this was a peeless street.  The incongruity of her anger, dogs by her side, made me walk away slower with m small dog in tow trying to make sense of her rudeness.  “GET OUT OF HERE,” she yelled one more time.

A most unfortunate ailment.  The other neighbor who has the same the kind of affliction was embarrassed the moment that I had smiled at her and told her that I would keep my dog off of her yard (which is half rock).  My response so embarrassed her that she stumbled trying to get back in the door.  You see this ailment is always self-diagnosed.  She knew she had been discourteous.  Disrespectful.  She knew, just like the first lady.  Both causing heartsickness to themselves and to others.  An ailment of the heart.  Most unfortunate.

The cure?  They could be kind to all who cross their path.  Be civil.  Be neighborly.  Treat elders with respect.  Act on those signs.. which both of these women have on their houses.  (One actually has three of the signs in a variety of media.)  Be welcoming. 

Be healthy.  Take heart seriously.  


Monday, June 15, 2015

My Ten-Year-Old House Guest

 “You know when you go on a vacation some place and you wish that you didn’t have to leave?” said my ten-year-old house guest.

“Yeah, I know.” I said.  “I once stayed in a stone cottage by a stream in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, when I was about your age.  That is why I bought this house with its stream gurgling downhill.   It reminded me of that place.”

“I don’t want to leave here,” she said and smiled.

I told her that I hoped one day she might have a house like mine on a stream. 

She was a delightful guest and I shall not forget her.  Before she left she offered to pick raspberries.  I gave her some that I had picked earlier in the day to take with her, as I thought that she would be leaving shortly and didn’t have time to go out and gather any.  When her parents came down in a bit, ready to leave, they asked where she was.  They found her in the garden picking me raspberries to replace the ones that I had given her.  She was one thoughtful kid. 

She has made me think of how memories of childhood vacations, odd moments here and there, manage to stay in some mind folder marked worthy of keeping.  I traveled extensively as a child.  My folder should be crammed, but it isn’t too stuffed.  Really.  I wonder what she will remember of my place.  The stream, the swing, sleeping in a Queen Anne antique bed by the length of a window looking out on hazelnut trees, the raspberry bushes thick like a woods or our conversation.

I was a quiet child, but I remember a few people distinctly.  I remember the adults who took time to have serious conversations with me or laugh with me.  Children deserve these kinds of relationships.  And really, there sometimes isn’t any difference between the wisdom of a kid and the wisdom of an adult.  Each distills some quality of an experience, share their views and the conversation becomes worthy of filing.  A child’s view is sometimes so fresh and sincere.  I don’t want to forget how to make those kinds of observations.  Or at least I shall try to keep delightful and thoughtful kids around me, like this kid, who was visiting and didn’t want to leave.     

(I wish that I had her photo.  You would have loved her smile.) 




Monday, June 8, 2015

San Juan Island Views

Ferry Dock Piling
The mention of the San Juan Islands elicits sighs from anyone who has visited them.  I only was on them for four and a half days, but I couldn’t get enough of them.  Art and I squeezed in hiking  woods along waterfalls, kayaking around islands, beach walking, ferry riding, hot tubbing, eating lots of crab and sitting.  I tried making these sliver views for you.  (Maybe you will go visit the islands after seeing these photos.)

Top Photo with Mt. Baker and the Bottom One Is the Sundown from the Deck
Tide Coming in Rapidly into Crescent Beach
Ferry Engine Wake
The sundown played well from any view.  At an Airbnb called “Sweet Retreat Near Eastsound” the hostess, Vicki, made us feel welcome and where we sat for hours on her deck.  You can see us there smiling.
View from the Deck.  
Post Dinner with Binoculars and Smiles
Yes, It Was That Good!
 There was a constant flitting of birds and a call identified by Vicki as an olive-sided flycatcher.  We even saw this pileated woodpecker.  I apologize for the photo, but his head was hammering so fast that it came out as a blur.
Huge Pileated Woodpecker 
I just want to say that kayaking was on the list of “unlikely in my lifetime”.  With Art in charge of the rudder on our double person kayak, we circled a number of islands including “McConnell Island”!  We rowed about five miles and stopped to examine jellyfish, starfish, watched a light brown raccoon forage and was regaled by island owner stories from our guide, Michelle.  I’d easily go again, so “kayaking’ is on a new list along with “return to the islands”. 

Say, What?
Starfish Number One
An Oddly Colored Raccoon.  It's the Diet.
Five Miles Later
Bye, Islands...

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Island Warp

I’m on holiday tamping down fast time on an island.  On the ferry over Art and I stood first outside listening to the engine rumble, watching the bow cut the waves and the cormorants slide back and forth with fish and nesting material in their mouths.  Wandering back inside to the relatively empty lounge, the slower island time began to reset my clock.  Sitting awhile, I noticed the windows with their reflection of people seemingly in the water, silhouettes with island sun hats. 

And disrupting the usual arrangement of rows of chairs, someone unhinged to the norm and instead operating on island vision arranged chairs in a less formal snake formation. 

Here anything will begin to rust.  A ferry.  You.  Sit long enough and your intentions rust.  You will begin to forget that time is important.  Art and I sat on the deck at our island lodging the first evening.  An hour.  Two.  Three.  Then at around 9 in the evening the sun went down.

The sun even broke the rules, here on the island, making a square reflection of its round bottom.  Impossible?  Not under island rules.

Bathroom doors sprout faces entertaining you while you sit.  Or if the door slides open the bay view will entertain you.  Sit awhile.

What it you were to get lost?  An island would be a great place to become disoriented.  Any direction that you might go would eventually lead you back to the beaches.  And this island, should you mistakenly climb up the tallest mountain, you would find a compass to reset you. 

And there are mysterious messages carved on tower windows for you to contemplate.  Sit awhile. 

Dogs greet you on the beaches, detour you from you plans and ask you to throw sticks for them.  You pause and you do here on island warp time.  Here on Orcas.