Wednesday, December 31, 2008


(1) Zoolights 2008 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

Clockwise from upper left: (2) panda; (3) sea star; (4) Cheshire cat; (5) Cheshire cat smile.

(6) Rainbow.

Clockwise from upper left: (7) dancing abstract lights; (8) snowflake; (9) colored hedges; (10) tree.

(11) Humpty Dumpty taking a great fall and splatting upon the ground in a mess of yolk and white.

Monday, December 29, 2008


The plaque in the house read Chateau de la Mer ("Castle of the Sea" in French). The paperwork and brochure read Chateau del Mar ("Castle of the Sea" in a mixture of French and Spanish). This split personality was obvious in the architecture and construction of the house.

Chateau de la Mer front door mat.
46° 59.608N, 124° 10.033W

Warning: strong current.
46° 59.638N, 124° 10.211W

Neon green Insung bag.
46° 59.369N, 124° 10.387W

The flooded sand dunes.
46° 59.367N, 124° 10.248W

Bird of prey perch.
46° 59.251N, 124° 10.394W

Beached jellyfish.
46° 59.296N, 124° 10.391W

Large log.
46° 59.289N, 124° 10.448W

Tangle of kelp.
46° 59.360N, 124° 10.405W

Motor vehicles prohibited.
46° 59.652N, 124° 10.357W

Sunday, December 28, 2008


We follow our map. We travel from inland sound to ocean shore. We can hear the roar of the waves. We can smell the brine on the wind. We lick our chapped lips. We settle into our cabin to weather the night.

"A shore, then, is the ultimate boundary between two worlds. If you're not at sea, you're on the shore."
—page 326, Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, from the entry "Shore" by Luis Alberto Urrea

Saturday, December 27, 2008


How to get from here to there, and back again.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

LUKE 2:1-20

Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Johnson & Jewelers.

J.C.'s Music.

Dog Daze.

Studio 210 Hair Design.

Puyallup's Christmas tree in Pioneer Park.

Valley Bank.


The Rose Restaurant.

Liberty Theatre.

White star (side streets).

The Holly Hotel.

Monday, December 22, 2008


These are some of favorite winter and Christmas stories. I read each of them at least every other year, many of them more frequently.


"Winter of '19"
by Ivan Doig
from Dreamers and Desperadoes: Contemporary Short Fiction of the American West, edited by Craig Lesley

"Terrible as the winter had been, then, March was going to be worse. Scan the remaining hay twenty times and do its arithmetic every one of those times and the conclusion was ever the same. By the first of March, the hay would be gone. One week from today, the rest of the sheep would begin to starve."

This tale of survival is harrowing. I always feel sick reading it, yet feel compelled to read it every other year or so. Three men—a man, his brother-in-law, and his son—head out in snowy weather to secure hay for their flocks of sheep. A blizzard means that they may not return. Their knowledge of the land may or may not save them. Nature is indifferent to their plight. I know how it ends and I still am on edge the entire time I read it. Doig's short story is masterful.


"Strawberry Mouth"
by Peter Veerhelst
from Tonguecat

"'Look,' he said, scraping a frost flower off the windowpane. At that same moment he screamed, and with that scream the house came alive. My mother had to use boiling water to separate my brother's finger from the frost flower. A fingerprint of matte, red glass was left on the windowpane."

The first lengthy chapter of this novel, "Strawberry Mouth," is about a world that is suddenly, unexplainedly, locked in ice. The king even bans the word winter from books in an effort to stave off its effects. People are dying from the extreme cold, believing it to be punishment of God or the gods, which it very well may be. The Titan Prometheus comes to this frozen world to bring it fire and relief, but it may be too late. The rebellion is beginning terrorist attacks against the monarchy, its military, its police force, and loyal citizens...


"The Dead"
by James Joyce
from Dubliners
as collected in The Portable James Joyce

"At that moment the hall-door was opened and Mr. Browne came in from the doorstep, laughing as if his heart would break. He was dressed in a long green overcoat with mock astrakhan cuffs and collar and wore on his head an oval fur cap. He pointed down the snow-covered quay from where the sound of shrill prolonged whistling was borne in."

The celebration of a Christmas party masks the sorrow and loneliness of its characters. The snow is almost a character is in its own right, symbolizing people of the short story in their frozenness and isolation.


"The Junky's Christmas"
by Williams S. Burroughs
from Interzone

"It was Christmas Day and Danny the Car Wiper hit the street junk-sick and broke after seventy-two hours in the precinct jail."

This isn't a pleasant story. In fact, it is rather bleak and drear. But it is ultimately saved by a glimmer of hope at its conclusion. This is only a tale that Burroughs could tell. I also have an audio version of him reading the story in his drab monotone.


Polar Bear Night
by Lauren Thompson
pictures by Stephen Savage

"The night is keen and cold."

This book is a favorite of the child and I. We read it quite often. A small polar bear cub leaves the comfort and warmth of her den and wanders about at night. She encounters sleeping arctic animals—a walrus, seals, whales. She walks across the snow and ice, beneath the aurora borealis. She returns home to the warm fur of her mother.


"Christmas Means Giving"
by David Sedaris
from Holidays on Ice

"I knew something was up and, sure enough, two weeks later I came to find the exact same snapshot on the Cottinghams' Christmas card along with the words "Christmas means giving." That had always been our slogan and here he'd stolen it, twisting the message in an attempt to make us appear selfish."

This is a slim book that contains six short stories that are crazy Christmas silliness, satire, or (usually) both. My favorite is "Christmas Means Giving" where a family competes with their neighbors to be the most "generous." It is one of the most lacerating, excoriating, honest critiques of our consumer culture and its attendant violence that I have ever read. It is also a nice counterpoint to the tongue-in-cheek hilarity of the earlier "Santaland Diaries."

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I walked three miles to work in the snow this morning and three miles back home this afternoon. I passed a total of nine trucks on the way to work and around fifty on the way back. The streets are mostly silent.

6:15 a.m.
Valley Avenue East.
All is quiet. Puyallup and Edgewood slumber.

6:18 a.m.
Automotive & Diesel Performance.
They perform engine and body repair. They also have a 24 hour towing service. They seemed to have plenty of business, even this early in the morning.

6:18 a.m.
Railroad tracks.
A freight train will roar through here in twenty minutes, the rumble of its engine and the shrill shriek of its whistle echoing up the hill.

7:00 p.m.
The crest of North Hill.
Almost there. Five minutes ago, I was barked at by two large dogs who wanted to be the only ones wandering about on the deserted streets. A rooster on a nearby small farm will crow in three minutes.

12:30 p.m.
The crest of North Hill.
Return trip. This is the same location as the previous picture, five-and-one-half hours later.

12:30 p.m.
North Hill Farm.
A tractor is clearing private driveways of snow one-quarter mile back.

12:35 p.m.
A North Hill farmhouse.
These people mow their fields for alfalfa. Their children are sledding on the farm acreage, screaming with joy as they fly down the hill. The smoke of fir and alder wafts from their chimney. The smell is faint in the cold, but welcoming, comforting.

12:45 p.m.
Looking down upon Puyallup from North Hill.
The city is buried beneath a blanket of snow. More snow is starting to fall.

1:00 p.m.
Near the bottom of North Hill.
I am almost home. I am trying to walk in the paths laced with tire treads that are only an inch of compact snow and ice upon the pavement, as opposed to the six inches of deeper snow on the shoulder. As trucks approach I move into the deeper snow until they pass. I will soon be home, ready for an afternoon nap.