Sunday, January 17, 2016

Eagles, eagles everywhere

I enjoyed a weekend in Lynden, WA, recently with my dear friend Carol. Met some more of her local friends and danced at the Bellingham contra. It was one of those special set of days with weather, folks and food that made it quite memorable.

North Fork of the Nooksack River... eagles looked like
sparrows there were so many of them!!!
My friend drove me to this magical place where the eagles were taking turns getting dinner from the river... I want to go back there because I needed more time to watch them and their patterns for better photos.
This is what it means to get "the eagle eye."
They seemed to be unaffected by the hoards of folks snapping digital shots of them.

I am using these photos to get a better artistic sense of these glorious birds as I have an eagle in a tree acrylic painting I am working on.

After an hour we left, as did almost everyone else, but there were still a lot of birds... truly wonderful and great for children to see this national bird up close.
Beautiful to see them in flight so closely!

I think this is a juvenile, but I bow to the orthnologists.
To get to this location, you head up to Bellingham and get off I-5 just after the main city exits. Head up toward Mount Baker and look for the Mosquito River Road. Or just ask the folks who live there; they know where they are. I will try and post an actual map.

There are a fair number of eagles in Sequim, too, and regularly people blame the disappearance of their cats and small dogs on some 'napper, but it's just these hungry birds of prey looking for a good lunch. 

I have them in the trees around my home, too. I just don't seem to catch them as easily as I did on this particular journey.

And the only caution is not to let your little dog Toto run around near the river... easy pickin's.

By the way, if you are going to make this trip, absolutely do not miss out on ACME. 

Go into the little general store there and get the local ice cream. It is so delicious, you will be planning your next trip with a freezer truck.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hurricane Ridge Trip

Standing on the porch at the lodge at Hurricane Ridge in the
Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, WA.
I think I smell snow in that leaden sky.
   The last trip to Hurricane Ridge was on Beloved's Harley under sunny skies and of course the road up there was dry and clear.

Mt.Olympus is off to the right, past the snow-made polar bear.
   Today it was snow-covered and, in at least two places, had tree debris from trees dislodged with by snow or wind.
 
   And this time it required chains on tires, so I wasn't about to put myself through that experience again. (I think the last time was from my house in East Fork heading toward Ketchum in Idaho.)
Looking eastward, sort of toward Seattle, WA.
 
   So I rode up with a shuttle service and a trip that should have taken about an hour was almost twice that with a faulty chain install on a rear tire that went "whap-whap-whap" for 18 miles up and 18 miles back.

    It was impressive at the top, though.
   Over a week of steady snow and wind with periodic mild warmings had created some very long icicles and snow statues from trees that were totally covered.

   I stepped off a path for cross-country skiers and sunk down to my waist... and the snow was really blue even a short distance down.
I love this color blue under these circumstances. I think it
might be less appealing if it was much deeper and I was in it.
   The most fun was enjoying the smell of snow, the crunch under my feet, and my body was remembering the guarded expectation of putting on skis, heading off for a powdery run, the wonderful exhilaration of feeling the weight shift back and forth while whooshing downhill.

The lodge to the left has an overlook spot below,
but it is covered in snow up to about six feet.
   When my kids try to encourage me to take up skiing again I explain that it's not a sport for seniors who have stopped it for a decade, and besides, it's significantly more expensive to rent all that gear now that it was 10 years ago... and just for a one-weekend experience?

   I have skied in N.H., Vermont (Suicide Six, especially), Massachusetts, Idaho, Calif., Canada and Austria. I have skied with some of the most interesting folks when I worked at Sun Valley and that includes volunteering with the Ski Patrol.

   Getting older should mean getting wiser, too.

   And so when I had my last downhill ski trip with the Scottsdale Sail and Ski Club, I decided it was time to enjoy it to the fullest and then sell my equipment.

   The two close calls I had with other skiers who were skiing out of control only confirmed it was time I did just that.

"Sandy Banks" in a snow bank...
Halfway down the ridge, after the tunnels, looking down on
Sequim, WA and Puget Sound.
   I can still cross-country ski or snowshoe, and perhaps I will do more of that this winter.

Unknown couple heading off on the Cross Country trail.

There is still a lot I can do to enjoy the times I go out into wintry weather, and I hope, dear readers, you have enjoyed this trip into a wintry wonder just a short distance from Sequim.

A White Christmas... really!

Snow sticking to moss-covered branches - Sequim, WA
 According to the National Weather Service, in order to qualify for the "White Christmas" label, the event must have "one inch or more on the ground, sticking" and so today, Dec. 25, I went in search of my White Christmas.

I found it about half an hour from my home, up on Palo Alto Road in Sequim, WA. Slushy roads and all, there was plenty of snow that was sticking and more was coming down as well.

I liked the deep red of the structure nearly matching the same
color of the branches in contrast to the deeper green of the trees.
My updated Canon EOS Rebel was up to the task of recording this momentous event, but I realized after a brief sojourn in the white stuff that I do not have the same desire I had decades ago for hanging out in it for as long a time as I used to do.

Perhaps I need to do more walking about... but the damp cold made its way into my feet and hands all too quickly and I was more than ready to return to the heated seats of my front-wheel drive vehicle.

The temperature was staying low enough to keep the road
covered and for the precipitation to fall as snow, not rain.
As we go about our lives, on what might appear to be a gloomy day, if we look closely we can see the subtle colors of life making lovely patterns. It is really about how we choose to see things, and the difficulty with folks who are struggling with mental illnesses or brain disorders is that their ability to appreciate is flawed - they are not. If I was a lot younger I think I would try to find a way to help these people divert their brain channels to the prettier and more colorful aspects.

This was a solitary Christmas as all my children were in different places and I used my time well. I did not feel sad or sorry for myself for the time alone. I slept late and made myself a colorful omelet, went out and took some photographs and later was invited to a small gathering.

As the day is winding down, I realize that it has been just what I wanted for Christmas... a day of peace and joy. I hope each of you are finding some of that for yourselves as well.

This last photo seems to sum up my day... surrounded by
other trees, I still am a single, somewhat different version.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lady Walpole's Reel

    I was about 12 when I started square dancing with Duke Miller calling the Saturday dances at the Peterborough Country Club in Peterborough, N.H.
    Eventually I discovered that I liked contra dancing better and gradually left squares behind for the most part. I still do go to them, but contra is where my heart is.
 
    One of my favorite contra forms is the Lady Walpole's Reel and so when I was considering my first stint as a caller, that had to be my first pattern.
    There is an event here in the Olympic Peninsula area called the Bob Boardman Memorial Contra, always the first Saturday in December, to honor a remarkable musician and to support scholarships for those who will carry on the musical torch of fiddling. (Follow the link to learn more about it.)

    This is a time when new musicians are invited to join the band and for new callers to have a go on stage. So I'd been thinking about doing this for awhile.

    But with my life being as busy as it is, I had been postponing practicing until mid-afternoon when I realized if I was going to be on stage, I'd better get somewhat prepared...
    Thus, I went looking for music for the reel so I could practice calling to it, knowing there was every likelihood I would have to call to another reel tune.

    What was the first thing that popped up?
    My mother playing the piano with Newt Tolman and his flute on a YouTube rendition (just the music, no video) in a lovely quick version of the Lady Walpoles Reel. (Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3UQc4lHWBg )

    It is interesting that their recording calls it "Ladies Walpole Reel" but Ralph Page always referred to it as I have titled this entry, saying that the reel was designed so that Lady Walpole was not required to dance much with her husband... partners in the dance formation do not dance with each other (swinging) until the very last call.

    Then I found Duke Miller's version, recorded back one summer a really long time ago. (You can listen to it here: http://www.configular.com/duke/tunes/C1_LadyWalpolesReel.mp3.)
    And as I wrote down his calls, listened to the music and thought about it, a niggling little voice was saying, "Man, this is harder than I thought."

    But I went to the dance, and Carol Piening, who was calling tonight, was very encouraging and coached me before everyone arrived.

Dancers at the Black Diamond Community Hall, Port Angeles, WA, doing
the Lady Walpole Reel (circa 1872) called by Yours Truly.
Photo by Jenna Rose
    After everyone was warmed up with a variety of dances, she said, "We are welcoming to the stage someone who has been dancing for 50 years and will be making her debut as a caller...."

    Introducing the dance, I said, "I want to dedicate this dance to my mother, Kay Gilbert, who was, in her own right, a great musician and who loved the music enough to help keep it going."

(She, with Newt Tolman, produced The Nelson Music Collection, saving some historic music by documenting it for the first time. Here is a link to the publication: http://www.amazon.com/Nelson-Music-Collection-Renn-Tolman/dp/1630419176, which now has a CD with it, thanks to his son, Renn Tolman's efforts.)
The Possom Carvers, Scott Marcksx, on fiddle, Chris Cooper, guitar,
(Jeannie Murphy was missing from the group) me and Carol Peining (hidden),
was coaching me to make sure I didn't rush the dancers. What a great group!
Photo by Jenna Rose
    And after a brief instruction to the dancers, the music began... I don't know what the name was for the first reel played, but when they switched to the Queen Anne Reel, (also known as St. Anne's Reel) I was   hearing Kay and Newt again... transported, I relaxed, got into the rhythm, easily calling the dance though to the end...

    After it was over, I was speaking to Carol about the importance the last piece of music had for me. Then Scott, the fiddle player, said the last piece was the first one he ever learned. It turned out that Carol knows Dudley Laufman and knew about Kay and Newt and the Collection... and round and round it went...

    I truly felt as if Kay and Newt were with me, that I was being guided and supported in the most mystical way, and after it was all over, even now as I write this, I realize what a gift this evening was.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Scandia Ball

The  61st Scandia Ball was at the Seattle Latvian Center in Seattle on Oct. 17, 2015.
61st Scandia Ball in Seattle, WA
It was my first time to go but not my first opportunity to dance some Scandinavian dances.

The ball begins with a Grand March around the hall.
In the N.H. town where I grew up there were a lot of Scandinavians: Norwegians, Finlanders, Danes and Swedes.

I first learned the Schottish at a New England contra dance.

Last night I danced many different versions of this energetic and lively pattern!!

Two friends from my contra dance group were here!
Today I am enjoying the memories of an evening with costumes and Swedish visitors... drat, didn't get to practice my limited Swedish on anyone, but had a wonderful 'vortexy' moment with a man from there: we were doing the

Långdans

 (mixer) where every seventh person was the one you were swinging... on the last connection, I met up with this charming Swede who recognized from my swing that I love doing it, it was an easy beat and that I am still imperfectly capable of swinging for a long period of time with someone else who is equally easy and proficient.

Musicians at play... interesting instruments!!
In his halting English he asked if I would care to do the next dance and I nodded and we started off on the Rørospols
 (which is a dance with lots of swinging, only they call that something else). We walked to the beat and then turned to swing and we just kept turning and turning and quietly laughing to each other in our eyes. When it was over, after many minutes of swinging, we shook hands and walked away... joy totally in that moment... joy in remembering it!

I learned the Telespringar, the Snoa, did a Familjevals, the Hambo, had several lovely Vals (Waltz both in Viennese style and Norska style) but missed the Godnatt Vals because my driving companion wanted to make sure we didn't miss the last ferry to Kingston.

Happily exhausted and looking forward to more dancing... tonight it's Country Western with Buck Ellard at the Sequim Prairie Grange...






Love never dies, but other things...

have endings... just as summer winds down and the earth prepares for hibernation... leaves fall, things change, but it is just a season.
A beautiful fall day off Deer Park Road, Port Angeles, WA
Although the trip to Victoria gets ranked as a high point in my relationship with Beloved, after ten months of being together and with his plans to move to Boise, Idaho, in a few months, it was clear our paths were diverging.

There was much about the journey together that has been a gift to me and hopefully for him, too. I cannot be sad about something that started so joyfully and had one final blast of fun as an ending.

I am intending my next adventure is a connection on more levels that just gets better and better... align with me?