Monday, November 24, 2014

Adventures with Rick and Rose to the Elwha

I received a phone call this morning inviting me to go and visit the Elwha River sites where two 100-year old dams have been removed in the biggest dam-removal project ever completed. Rose, my pal and her husband, Rick, wanted to go and see how much the landscape had changed. They've been here for almost 20 years.

Port Angeles foliage; only around for a few days.
I arrived in the region just as the dam was being removed, so I never saw it in operation.

You can read more about the history of the Elwha here and see a documentary about the un-damming of this wild river. It's been a long process of fixing a river and the fish that inhabit it, along with all the tribal impacts to native peoples.

Rose leads the way toward the Elwha River.
The sun was shining in between raindrops and what I've learned about the NW is that you do NOT do something just because it is raining. For one thing, it might stop. For another, if it doesn't, you never get to do anything... so we go.

The old growth forest reaches upwards and all the leaves that were providing shade this summer are now acting like spongy carpets on the trails.

I was traveling with two folks who, like me, know the importance of leaving marks or signs so we could find our way back from river's edge because at this time of the year the leaves and downed branches make trails harder to see.

We stopped at the Lower Elwha dam, now gone, then walked over to the river's edge, then drove to where Glines Canyon dam used to be (pictures at the end of this) and then drove all the way up to the beginnings of the Anderson trail to the Olympic Hot Springs... we'll go there another time.

Information about the dams is posted at both sites.
Following the removals and the clean-up, fish began returning this fall, reinforcing the belief that if you remove the dams, they will come...

We didn't see any fish swimming upriver but there were plenty of folks with the same idea we had; to get out and enjoy the wonderful weather.
Rick and Rose looking over the former lake;
the remains of the Glines dam are in the back.

Looking over the free-running Elwha from the remains of
the dam. The silt will nourish further downstream.

New cut of the wild Elwha now the lake is gone.

New snow on the Olympic peaks...
The recent rains brought snow down to the 5000-ft. levels. There may be enough to act as a refrigerator and to keep it for awhile. It's below freezing down in the valley as I am writing this.
The Olympics feed the Elwha...

And now the Elwha may feed us, on many levels.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cold... isn't news

But me writing novel during the month of November is, and even more impressive is that my ten-year old granddaughter is also writing as well.

I suspect she is making better progress than I am... according to the statistics, I should be generating something like 1,675 words a day. I can just about do that over the weekend.

I haven't talked to her about her plot, but mine is about two teen-aged boys who get kidnapped by their bi-polar father and how the journey of lifetime takes a lifetime to forget.

Based on a true story told to me awhile ago, I tried to find the storyteller again and last I heard he was possibly in Tennessee, but attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. If my story gets optioned, I'll let the publishing house hire a detective to track him down.

Learning that a salmon patty is NOT gluten-free... sigh.
The other bit of news for me is that I've pretty well determined that I am gluten-intolerant.

I'm intolerant of other things, too - people who justify all their behaviors as being God-directed, waiting in long lines, too-early Christmas messages presented as "holiday" messages, public radio and television stations masking advertising as 'donors,' service people at stores who are unable to give clear directions on the phone on how to drive to the place where they work, seniors who act proud of not being able to use computers or smart phones and mechanics who don't bother to ask me if I know anything about the internal combustion engine before they start talking down to me about what they think is wrong with my car.

That's only a partial list... LOL! Seriously, after a week of eliminating ALL wheat products from my food sources (and that stuff is hidden in a lot of crazy places!) I am feeling better, sleeping better and - finally - losing weight. My final clue was a flour-based chocolate chip cookie - just one - which left me feeling bloated, thirsty and gave me a headache an hour later.

And the next day someone asked if I'd read "Wheat Belly" by William Davis, M.D. when I was complaining about not being able to enjoy that cookie. So I got it, and surprise! All my complaints and others were outlined as being a "wheat addict." I'd even told a friend recently that if I could only have two things on my menu one would be warm French bread with butter and chocolate cake with real vanilla buttercream frosting.

Chicken Almond salad with green onions and celery... yum!
So, interesting observation.... no more wheat, no more cravings after five days being wheat-free. Who'da thunk it? I've been learning a lot about how the wheat of the past, the wheat that was in my early life, is NOT the same wheat today. Did you know that scientists, in their effort to create faster-growing, more cost-effective acreage yield, have created a strain of wheat that is smaller but it is also truly incompatible with many human digestive systems?

Get this book and read it for yourself. If you are pre-diabetic, diabetic, having digestive problems, arthritis symptoms, craving sugars, feeling depressed or feeling like you can't think clearly (to name a few issues created by wheat allergies) you may be gluten-sensitive, too.

I think that when I was living in Colombia I didn't eat much food with flour in it and I was walking a lot, so it was healthier for me. But as soon as I came back to the U.S. I started eating all those things I couldn't get further south. And it didn't help that my adrenal glands were struggling as well.

So I cleaned out my pantry of everything containing wheat... crackers, flours, pastas, salad dressings with blue cheese and bread mold in them (used to ferment cheese), sausages, soups, any ingredients in seasoning mixes that might have barley malt, barley extract, dextrin and maltodextrin, corn chips and trail mixes. I'm still discovering foods and ingredients that are truly gluten-free.

I'll check back in with y'all in a week, but based on my personal research, I'm pretty sure that at the least this is going to be a healthier option for me.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Money Won't Buy Love

This is not my story, though I have made some expensive choices in past relationships.

Perhaps because of those mistakes, it has made me more aware of the kinds of people who prey on others who are needy.

The Olympics are lovely in the dusky light.
Recently, here in Washington State, there have been a number of stories of women (though certainly there must be men who have been taken advantage of) who, through on-line dating sites, have been convinced they have met the Love of their Life. The other aspect of this vulnerability is that most of these people grew up, and were dating, at a time when fraud and scams were incredibly rare. They just can't quite believe they are a really excellent target.

Recently Dr. Phil did an hour-long program with a woman who had been persuaded to send over $250,000 dollars to a man she never met, someone she talked to every day (sometimes many times a day) and who now was at the risk of losing her home and becoming alienated from her family because she refused to believe this man was scamming her. Even with all the evidence Dr.Phil presented, she continued to talk to him and was prepared to send him more money.

There is, for these people, an addiction being fed by hope and dreams.

You can find a Malaysian comment thread with stories of women who have had the courage to tell their stories.

This is the story outline:

A man, recently widowed (or after several years of being alone after a divorce), has joined (not a real match site) in order to meet someone he can marry. His target 'audience' is another lonely heart, usually older, and with information that indicates they are financially secure - and eager. Older women are not as savvy about what they put in their profiles and they give away a lot of personal stuff without realizing it. 

Going on a cruise is one way to meet a lot of people.
It is curious that the pattern is about the same. After about three weeks of daily phone contact, the guy promotes a meeting but then suddenly, the night before or several days before, he has to go abroad (Malaysia, England, South Africa, someplace far away from the U.S.) for some kind of business. He has some flimsy excuse why he cannot use Skype for face-to-face conversations, so no one really knows who he is.

He uses a throw-away phone to call, so the number and his location cannot easily be revealed. 

The photos used to depict this character are usually stolen and have no relationship to the real individual. Oh, and he is often 'connected' to an adult child who lives apart, but who can 'vouch' for him. This other character may even communicate with the target.

I have had two friends caught up in these scams. One listened to me and got out early with no more damage than that to her ego and is now happily involved with a man who is truly who he says he is and who cares very much for her.

The other one refused to listen to my warnings. And when I became seriously worried and spoke to our mutual pastor about what I feared was going on, she cut me off, saying some cruel things. It is my belief that she took out a loan on her home, eventually selling it to pay off the loan, and as she was leaving the area, she announced that she was sending him another $3500 for a one-way ticket back from Malaysia so he could drive her belongings to her destination. The last I heard she had left without picking him up at the airport.

We all want to have a connection with someone, to not feel as if there are no witnesses to our lives. But desperation, especially for older divorced or widowed individuals, seems to drive common sense out the window.

The idea behind dating sites is a good one, bringing people together with like interests. But no amount of money for membership fees will guarantee that the people on the site are really who they say they are. If you know of someone who is considering going on a dating site, caution them about these scams. And the old adage "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is..." is one of the few things that still has value.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Wooden Boat Festival

The Wooden Boat Show in Port Townsend, WA, 2014.
Although I've been a boater for years, and I've been to many boat shows, the Wooden Boat Show in Port Townsend, Washington, is by far one of the best I've ever seen.

One of the schooners preparing for the race in bay
off Port Townsend, WA.
It wasn't just that all those boats on display had been crafted by hand, but all the folks there seemed so happy and the energy was really high.

View from the water, under sail...
And, I went sailing again for the first time in a long, long time... and it was such a joyous feeling!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit map at trailhead, Sequim, WA.
The locals (on the Olympic Peninsula) call it "the Spit," but the real name is Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.  Established in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson, it is 636 acres of a variety of tidelands, beach and upland forest, including one of the longest natural sand spits in the world.

Fortunately it is less than five miles from my home and is a grand spot for walks; long ones or short ones. Even on drizzly days, it is a delightful escape from the moderate traffic of the area.
Upland forest trail heading toward "the Spit."

Today the weather was perfect for a rather long trek, but I didn't tromp all the way out to the lighthouse. That is a 10-mile round trip and I don't think I've trained enough yet.

The walk starts in the forest, and pleasantly meanders gradually downhill until that last 1/8th mile when it is somewhat steep, but on a wide, smooth trail.

Then the trail opens up and suddenly you can see the upper end of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and across to the island of Vancouver, B.C.
The waves from the Strait of Juan de Fuca create the Spit,
and the bluffs nearby are gradually eroded.
On this gorgeous day, there were plenty of people sunning themselves and even a few were swimming in the water. One woman was walking the beach water line looking for stones in the shape of a heart. She said she collects them. This, in spite of the admonition on one of the signs that the taking of wood, stones or other items from the area is forbidden.
People do a lot of rearranging of the stones on the beach.

Judging from the number of stones in varying stages of being grinded away by the salt water action, I cannot think that there is a great risk of them disappearing because folks are collecting them.

Do you suppose there is someone who has catalogued them and is keeping track of where they all are? A fine government job!
Well, it looked like a heart for a bit...
it's the white one.

When I visited the Pacific coast, up at  Rialto  Beach, I noticed the stones there are being shaped much rounder. Here they are being washed flatter. Even so, I found myself walking and looking down and here is what I found:

A ship loaded with freight heads out to the Pacific Ocean.
Naturally I left it there. I imagined getting back to the Ranger kiosk and having them force me to empty my pockets and then suddenly a large crowd would gather and I would be further humiliated by getting caught... wondering now what the Federal Register lays out as the punishment for removing rocks. No wonder the indigenous peoples are in wonderment about all our rules.

All kinds of creatures, feathered, finny and furry, take advantage of this refuge.

During the spring the seals use the protected harbor beach at the end of the Spit for their pups. In the fall and the spring, the migrating birds take a break from their journey and other native birds are here all year.

This is the sea grass that is essential for nesting birds.
I didn't see one bird on the ground anywhere today. Perhaps they took a holiday. Of course there were seagulls.
The hotter-than-average summer has made the waters in the
Strait less than frigid. 
On my way back up the path I found myself passing a couple who were dragging their feet. Noting they were considerably younger than me, I asked them if they'd had a nice day, curious to learn why they seemed so tired. "We've just completed the walk out to the lighthouse and back," the guy told me. "It seemed shorter heading out than it was coming back," his female companion added.

The Olympic range is off in the distance. The eroding bluff
is to the left in the photo.

I feel so fortunate that I live in such a beautiful area. And that this portion of accessible loveliness is pretty close to my home.

When my son was out visiting we walked along the bluffs. There has been so much erosion, portions of the path I walked a year ago have disappeared and the Rangers have re-routed it.

I have no idea at what speed it will progress, or what will happen to the park itself if the bluffs simply disappear. At least the scientists can't blame the erosion on global warming. Or can they?
Waves on the shore; small now, but come back when the
fall winds whip them up and see them then.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


This word has been winding itself around and through my brain for days now.

I had to go and look it up to be sure I understood the definition.

Here it is, folks: the word entitle is a verb meaning to give a person or thing a title, a right or claim to something, to call by a particular title or name or to designate a person by an honorary title. It originated about 1350-1400 in middle English.

Entitlement (by current definition) is a noun meaning the act of entitling, state of being entitled and finally Webster's defines it as "the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment compensation." Its origin is newer, about 1825-35, but there was no Social Security back then.

It seems to me that this "right to claim" portion of the word is being lost. When we speak of 'entitlement programs' we are saying these are programs which can be claimed or given, and yet many of these programs have a limited audience.

We once were 'entitled' under the Constitution to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which had a wide-ranging audience.

Some people feel, or more correctly - demonstrate -  a certain entitlement because they drive a very expensive car or live in an exclusive neighborhood, that somehow because they have acquired these resources they are 'entitled' to more respect or considerations.

And in some cultures or neighborhoods, a certain family tree or religion creates in the minds of those individuals, that they are entitled to more or less of something.

So I'm thinking that some of the greatest conflicts in our world history go back to this word of being 'entitled' or having an 'entitlement,' an assumption of deserving something.

If we are talking just about Social Security, I did the work, I earned the return of those funds now when I am older and retired. In my opinion, that is not really an 'entitlement,' but a return of value for effort.

But when we are talking about land, it really never can be owned - only leased - to live on and do business. So are we 'entitled' to land? Not like the nobles of the 1300's. We receive a title to land because we have purchased it, but if you fail to pay the taxes on that title, guess who will own it next? And if you are in the way of some corporate plan, you will be forced off that land. There is something quite ethereal about land when you think about it.

When we die, we no longer "own" it. I like the Native American concept of caring for the earth, recognizing we are supposed to be protecting it for the future generations.

I am entitled to the pursuit of happiness by the U.S. Constitution, and if I am not happy, it is not the obligation of anyone else to turn things around for me. That is my task. But an awful lot of people seem to be having a different attitude... "Make me happy!" And what if we decide we don't want to pursue that objective? Are we entitled to make another choice?

In the end, when each of us was born, we received no entitlements at birth, other than the Social Security number which is a documentation of birth, a title, not a guarantee. (It's probably different in other countries.) Then it is up to us.