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Elastic Plastic


Here under weight of suspended waters in crushing lightness I lay buoyant drowning.  How sublime this that blankets an existence in brine turning bone to gelatin mass and rubbers tallowed skin, deforming into elastic tendrils seeking up to the green green light above.  I would that I might swim in waters warmed but instead relent and sink back into craggy darkness, a sleep enriched coldness seeping into tendons raw and tight from a life long of running out front doors onto streets all doors locked, no light escaping from windows shuttered to wash out shadows made under enfeebled stars roaring possibilities, embers in breasts heaving to suck air, a light touch knocks with plastic consequence one chance at a time waiting for nothing but to move on and on and on ever anon.

Sun’licious


I took a little over a week to go and visit my friends and family back East in western and central New York including a quick trip up to Niagara Falls while there.  My parents, having been married for now fifty years warranted a celebration by the family.  My sisters and their children all converged on Skaneateles, New York to quietly celebrate and reminisce under the humid warmth that is central New York.  The humidity of New York cannot be fully described; it is better left to the uninitiated to experience.  While the humidity saps you of your strength the heat and light breeze under the shade of a tree nestled into a hammock soothes and sends one into a bliss that cannot be simulated by spas or any other proxy: sun’licious.

As I meandered down Route 20A from Orchard Park to Skaneateles I was reminded of how much of western and central New York are places of rolling hills, small villages and independent farms.  On my morning runs from my parent’s home it took me less than 90 seconds to be running along farms and up over hills with vistas that stretched over miles and miles of tilled earth.  My father’s former office is within 2 miles of the house making me envious to think that sans the 190+ inches of snow they got this winter one could easily run to work every day; the only dissatisfaction is that it is too short (a quick 2 miles) to make a worthwhile morning run.   Equally surprising to me is I could have circumnavigated all of the town and some of the surrounding farms every morning in one of my middle distance runs of 15km; back in Seattle I barely get out of my neighborhood with one of these runs.

On my return from far afield I found myself yet again under the less than welcome long hand of overcast clouds that have become my personal scourge over Seattle.  While I had hoped to camp at Olympic National Park for a few days I opted instead to drive down toward Bend, Oregon to Goldendale, WA for an overnight camping trip.  I love a good roadtrip and the vistas once you get over the passes on I-90 are well-worth the first 90 minutes under the pending hazy gloom of rain and clouds.  The near eastern side of the Cascades is one of arid color and a valley irrigated with farms both independent and incorporated.  I must confess that the campground I hastily found was not one I can recommend to anyone, but even still I did find a quiet meadow a few miles from the campsite that allowed me an unobstructed view of Mount Hood while enjoying many, many hours before and after the sunset at 9pm.  I had hoped to get some astrophotography done that night, however I had neglected to note it was near full Moon and thus there was little in the way of crisp dark skies to photograph.  Nevertheless, the hours by myself in the dark reminded me I have an over-active imagination: I was quite certain aliens were on their way to abduct me.

I woke early on Friday to drive back to Seattle.  Instead of retracing my steps I instead took Highway 410 out of Yakima to drive through both Wenatchee and Mount Rainier National Parks.  It might surprise people outside of western Washington that much of the mountain trails are still inaccessible to hikers due to the some 80 or more inches of snowfall resting on trails.  And while there is a warm front that has settled itself over all of western Washington melting much of this as I write and you read and which means that Mount Rainier is primarily covered in clouds, the drive is still worth the time and $15 park fees.  In some ways seeing Mount Rainier shrouded in clouds is paradoxically a better way to appreciate it.  Clouds come and go within minutes and sometimes tens of seconds.  The view now obscured will snap into shades of snow blue and sky azure that require you to remain ever vigilant.  And it is not just the moments waiting between and amongst clouds that deepen your appreciate, but even on the road itself can surprise and even transcend the ordinary.  As one point when Mount Rainer in the near distance, two crows broke off from a tree and flew in front and above my car.  For a mile or more we glided in formation down the road while we three enjoyed a quiet moment with Mount Rainier framed by trees appeared in front of us.

Parent's hometown of Skaneateles, NY

Niagara Falls

Morning, arise! in Yakima

Mount Rainier

Crisis of sorts


There in the jars on the shelves amongst the specimens rests things; things that are more than not not kept but instead even more forgot and never more than least remembered and that till the light of a setting scene lays them out in pink and auburn hues in alien silhouettes dancing to music you cannot hear but still your heart knows and finds sympathetic beat. In your hand now lays the room ruddy temperature glass jar, your thumb wiping back the years to peer inside, inward through hazy fluid to what lays innermost and indiscernible. It jostles and tries to find a new equilibrium amongst the halting steps of this, your renewed waltz, that it from slumber it finds itself awoken to. One. Two. Three. Four. Onetwothree. One two three four? Who awoke whom? And who leads whom? And who has been shelved and put away to become in some later days, days that now converge today, foreign object to a landscape barren except for the endless shelves of jars?

Niagara Falls


On July 8th I drove up to Niagara Falls while out visiting my very good friends in Buffalo, New York.  Like so many things that when in your backyard you often do not see it in the same light and joy that visitors do; until that is you return as a visitor.  And Niagara Falls is, or was that is till Friday, that way for me.  Having completed by undergraduate studies at SUNY Buffalo and being born and raised in central New York I never truly appreciated Niagara Falls as a destination spot; nor could I ever get past the kitsch that is Niagara Falls the tourist trap city, both US and Canada sides.  The summer heat (read humidity) is back on in New York and thus it was a bit overcast when I drove up from south Buffalo.  I parked on the US side at Goat Island where there is a US reservation to take in the US side.  And like everyone will attest the falls is a subdued affair from this side.  Where it is at, as it were, is over on the Canada side.  So I decided with only Washington state driver’s license in hand I would see about getting past the border patrol.  After a gentle reprimand that I needed my passport and a smile from myself I was allowed across into Canada.  Oh Canada!  Home of half my heart.  I was back and ready to take some snaps.  There is something lovely about the Canada side besides the grandeur of the falls; it is the simple fact that Canadians, unlike Americans who assuage man-made order for nature, love gardens and managed greenery and thus the path up along the way to the falls has all the appearances of a lovely stroll falls or no falls.  On returning to the US I was more firmly informed that I needed some form of identification identifying I was a US citizen.  When asked what I looked like on my passport I quipped “goatee: like a member of Russian mafia” to which he immediately laughed and let me (re)enter the other half of my heart’s home.

See all the pics of Niagara Falls.

 

Lake Serene


Lake Serene is situated east of Seattle on Route 2 a bit past Gold Bar, WA which is itself near to Wallace Falls State Park.  There is some 2,000 feet in elevation gain from the trailhead to the Lake Serene.  There is a small diversion of about 1 mile up to a viewpoint of the falls some 1.6 miles from the trailhead.  It is definitely worth the time it takes to hike up to see the falls up close.  Once back to the main trail it is another 2 miles to Lake Serene which, as of today, was just at the snow line.  I always love walking into a snow-line in the middle of summer after a few hours sweating up the side of a mountain; drenched in sweat there is nothing quite like walking into a natural refrigerator to spend some time relaxing.  Given that it was already 4:30pm when I arrived at the lake I did not spend more than enough time to cool down and take a breather before heading back down before the loss of light while in the shadow of the mountain.  It was an amazing afternoon all the more given that I did not leave Seattle till nearly 1pm and still got back to Rainin’ Ribs (best bar-b-que in North Seattle) before closing time to pick up some smoked baby-back ribs for dinner while working on these pictures.  And to the bit of sunshine in a blue jacket: thanks for the smiles.

You can see all the pictures here.

Wanna Be


You just wanna be a woman playing with a bow and arrow; you have been a temptress. In fields I smell desiccated flowers, poppies crumble under the laden gaze of youth remembered. Under trill and drummed beat query comes: “Did you really want?” Yes, I did and I do. How could I surrender? How can I ever?

There is just the remains, the remains of something I cannot hope to recall with ever less than clarion acuity. This scene languishes under the shade of trees drooping deeply into black waters near the shore, the pebbles jostle slightly under lapping pushed by a breeze from offshore, out of sight, beyond my reckoning as I am too cooled and brought to sway where I stand looking out beyond hope, over years to moments I wish to hang all the great moments that would make today instead That Day, Another Day, a day unlike This Day.

Or in other words, this is what happens when I listen to Portishead while reading “The Pale King” by DFW on my way to work.

Nekid Solstice


Fremont was once a place within Seattle that put the hippie in grunge. Or maybe that was the grunge in hippie. Nowadays it is, like much of Seattle, at a cross-roads between its past written in the PBR-soaked sweat of folks who, in their twenties believed that dirt under nail and in hair was simultaneously both a political and fashion statement, are now in their forties and fifties with an economic clout they once directed their art-vogue-french-laden-Leninist angst against. In a word, they have become The Establishment, even if the PBR has not changed. This is not localized to Fremont or even Seattle, it is just the nature of economic growth. Still, Fremont is a place where its past and present mingle side-by-side with a steady-gazed aplomb, contradictions never colliding on most days of the year.  Most days of a year except one day: summer solstice.  This is the one day when whatever ironies and juxtapositions might normally cast their shade over Lenin Square is forgotten in the streak of body-paint, glitter and bicycle parts. On June 18, 2011 some 500 persons elected to wake-up, grab their bike and leave the shirt and the pants at home, instead opting for a bit of body paint to cover up their naked truth. More so, this year was a celebration made moist in the irony that is the Pacific Northwest: it rained on the start of summer. Or as a visitor from elsewhere might note it merely misted; just enough to dapple the hand and blush the cheek to what wobbled to and fro and bo-jangled up and down under the cycled beat of individual expression.

View the rest of 2011’s Solstice Celebration.  And if you find tits and tats and bobs and babbles a bit too much then you might enjoy this instead.

KenmoreAir


Today was a day of airplanes. Lots and lots of airplanes: that is what KenmoreAir is all about. KenmoreAir is located just a few miles north of my home. They are the vestiges of what I suspect is an Age of the Air that is now mostly regulated to the big guys, at least in the “civilized world.”

I did not expect to feel much taking these photographs other than to revel in the beauty of a well-crafted, well, craft.  I spent an hour or so talking to a gentleman who had some 3,000 hours operating his once Cessna 206 alone.  Three.  Thousand.  Hours.  That is a lot of hours that he and his wife flew around the Pacific Northwest exploring.  Living.  And I envy them every one of those seconds.

More so, in getting my nose in those cockpits, as it were, awakened in me memories of a day when I gloried in taking to the sky with my father.  It was not till I was 16 and heading down to Florida that I flew for the first time in a commercial jet, even though I had hundreds of hours in small craft.  I grew up in the cockpit, first learning IFR (instrument flight rules) long before I learned the traditionally more basic VFR (visual flight rules).  I was too young to see out the cockpit, but young enough to not be intimidated by the array of instruments.  I recall flights which ended with me elbowing my dad to wake after having lined us up for final approach, never once thinking it odd that a ten-year-old had been operating an aircraft for hours unaided by an adult.  My father and I would punch holes in the sky and eve took two weeks to head to Alaska from New York; we ended up stalled at Yellowstone Park after a week into the trip and realizing we were only half way there.  So we punched more holes in the skies before returning home.

So there I was this afternoon recalling the feel of controls while mixing fuel till the engine begins to sputter and bringing it back from the edge to ensure optimal performance.  I remember; optimal indeed.  Thank you, KenmoreAir.

LIGO


I have been wanting to visit LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) for quite some time. It is not merely a physics experiment on the highest magnitude, it is an astro-physics experiment of the highest caliber.  LIGO is one of two facilities in the United States funded by NSF to attempt to detect gravity waves by measuring the very distortion of space-time.  Yes.  It is that fucking awesome.

LIGO is located out in Hanford, Washington which is more remembered for its nuclear waste legacy than it is for pushing the envelope of our very understanding of the universe.  But there it is. LIGO.  Out in the middle of nearly nowhere (at least relative to Seattle and western Washington) are two lasers both running some 4 kilometers in length, directed orthogonal (90 degrees) to each other.  At present LIGO is in the middle of an upgrade in order to increase its sensitivity by two orders of magnitude.  It is a ballsy gamble given that LIGO, as of yet, has not yet made any detection of said gravitational waves in the some four years it continuously collected data.  But that does not stop them, or us, from hoping that these upgrades will herald in an age when even the tremors of space-time, perturbed by the interaction of large stellar bodies such as two stars orbiting each other, are detected on a regular basis.

While I was out visiting LIGO I dropped down to Fidelitas Winery in Benton City.  Some 16 bottles later I drove over to Prosser, Washington where I was hoping to also stop in on Maison Bleue which, unbeknownst me, is by appointment only.  Bummer.  I instead hung out in Prosser at Wine O’Clock for dinner while listening to the blues band at the nearby winery.  Some few hours later I saw the clouds encroaching upon the valley so I decided to head out in hopes of camping in Yakima, WA.  But by the time I reached Yakima it was both quite dark and quite obvious that the clouds were there to stay the night, completely negating the desire for me to stay up trying to catch some starry skies; instead, I drove back to Seattle where I got home in the very hours of Sunday; it was one helluva day.

Life at LIGO

LIGO Mirror

Olympic Peninsula and Ferries


Yesterday was one of those perfect days that it is hard to fully describe either in words or pictures. The weather was so clear and sunny when I woke at half past six that I almost skipped out on my typical Saturday long-distance run. But even that proved to be a particularly excellent run, both for the company thanks to Loka, Danielle, Jeremy and the rest of the crew, but due to the vistas we caught along our thirteen miles.  Given the rarity of day like this I had decided to do some ferry riding and tour a bit of the Olympic Peninsula.  I had thought I might change my route by starting downtown; however, it was Doug at Cafe Solstice that reminded me of activity downtown prompting me to go up to my established route starting from Edmonds, WA to Kingston, WA.  It took the typical hour from the time I arrived at Edmonds to get on the ferry which gave a little bit of time to relax in the and read.  Once on the ferry it was reasonably crowded with folks, enough so that I got some great shots of kids and folks enjoying the sun.  But I think I burned the most film, as it were, on birds, especially the seagulls who flew along and above us as we made our crossing.  Once in Kingston, I drove up to Hansville and Skunk Bay for some more shots of the Cascade mountains.  I then headed south to Point Gamble where I caught Seabeck Road down to Seabeck and Holly to catch some glimpses of the Olympic mountains.  I tried to time my crossing back to Seattle from Bremerton at sunset which was around 9pm PST.  This allowed me to get some twilight shots of downtown Seattle.

Space Needle

Inquisitive cow

Waiting for the ferry