Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Third Race to Alaska Underway

Early setup and blocking of the road access to the Northwest
Maritime Center and Point Hudson Marina.
I volunteered again (second year) for the Race to Alaska (R2AK) and have to admit I was disappointed at the overall turnout. Not just the turnout for the Ruckus, the pre-race party, but the local public support (people wandering around and meeting folks) was diminished from the previous year.

It appeared to me that the race itself was lacking any Significant Sailors, those with regional, national or world-wide competitive skills to create a draw. Not that those who have elected to compete are Insignificant, not by any stretch! But for an event to have continued sponsor support and public support, there has to be interest.

Quote from the R2AK site: "It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear. There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.

It's sitting on a wet platform for hours on end, (or standing if you are going it on a SUP) with no engine, no resupply lines (or repair shops) for over 700 miles (whoever sailed in a straight line?).

Last year there were 15 world records established (or broken) and the reward for the winner is $10,000 cash, nailed to a tree, with a set of steak knives for second place and a sigh of relief for all the rest who make it. Out of 44 racers in 2016, 26 completed the course. Perhaps the locals are under-whelmed or had other things to do, but this is an amazing race by any standards.

I was on duty from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Chandlery (same as last year) and although we had some visitors, my impression was that we were lacking in folks who wanted to purchase R2AK gear (t-shirts, caps, pins, pocket flasks) whereas last year there seemed to be more demand.

Chart of the race course posted on the Cotton
Building gave everyone info about the race.
This year there definitely was better organization around the race itself, with plenty of good information for newcomers to learn about it and the racers. But the street was not filled with boats as it had been the year before, so it was a lot harder to talk personally to any of the racers in a casual way. And so it lacked the energy of "We're all gathered here to launch ourselves into this challenging event" feeling (in my humble, retired-PR, opinion).

In 2017 there were 64 entrants to the race, and of those 21 only had plans to go as far as Victoria. The tremendous gale  that blew up after the start (and all were forewarned of it's approach) and huge waves in Puget Sound eliminated at least 10 contestants for Ketchikan through various damages, (some of which may have been psychological as well as physical) although no one was lost at sea.

It was a battering that some will not care to repeat. (You can read about it here:

Stand-Up Paddle boarders have my utmost respect.
That left 34 boats to go the distance. I say 'boats,' but five of the vessels are actually stand-up paddle-boards (SUPs) (3), a rowing vessel and a kayak (the first ever to take on this task) and nine of the rest of the boats are 20 feet or less in length. So almost half the fleet is made up of small boats. That in itself is challenging since it is hard to provision a vessel for even a week with so little free space and this could be a three-week journey.

I follow the race on the Tracker (located here: and cheer for all the competitors because as a life-long sailor, I know it takes tremendous courage, stamina, resilience, and  hopefulness to do a long race, much less one like this. Here is another link for some updates by some of the racers firsthand: 48 North.

So I hope my readers will go to the R2AK website, get the tracker and follow some of these indomitable folks, comment on their progress, and give them the encouragement they will surely need to make it all the way to Ketchikan.

UPDATE: The third Race to Alaska was won by three brothers from Marblehead, Mass., as Team Pure & Wild/FreeBurd and the steak knives went to Team Broderna about five minutes later. It was a close and exciting finish by two awesome teams!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Sands of Time

The scent of wild roses mixed with ocean air is heavenly.
 Since I arrived on the Olympic Peninsula, I have enjoyed some wonderful walks on natural lands. One of my favorites has been the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, also known as Dungeness Spit.

When I first came here in 2013, I was taken for a walk along the bluffs and was transfixed with the fragility and the beauty of a place that is in a state of constant change.

I walked these bluffs several times that year and often each year I come back at least a few times, sometimes to share it with visitors. Below are some pictures taken from 2013.

In 2013, there was still some walkway left near this post.
Now the post is gone, the tree is gone, the paths are gone.

This was in July 2013 and there was still a path to the right
of the photo. That path was eroded last year and is gone now.
All of this bluff shown here is gone now. I'm estimating at
least 20 feet has been taken in the past four years.

This was a previous path; the Rangers have their work cut
out from underneath them...
Another view of the previous path... gone in 2017.

And today when I went for a walk to remember my friend Cynthia Little who has crossed over (one month ago today) as she was the first one to show me the bluffs with her dog, Keena, I was shocked to discover that in the last year alone, we have lost ALL the walkways!

And areas that were inland by 25 or 30 feet and were tree-covered are now open to the Sound with the encroachment threatening those walkways as well. Here are the photos from today.
The barrier prevents anyone from walking along the bluff;
that SW path was open last fall but I knew it was eroding fast.

A new sign, a new blockage preventing any foot traffic to
the east on the bluffs of Dungeness Spit.

Overstating the obvious; there's a 100-ft. drop there.

If you look closely, you can see a huge piece
of bluff is about to drop off.
While the view is still impressive, this view opened up this
last winter. Previously it was trees and undergrowth.
The light reflects off the Sound and this path may only be
here for another summer. This used to be thick with trees
and undergrowth. Ever-changing beauty.
Another view of the wild rose.
(I've done two other blogs on this area: "Hot Night on the Spit" and "The Dungeness Spit" if you want to read more about it and see some other photos.)
We have had a lot of gale force winds this last fall and winter, and also stormy seas. Both of these elements are part of the erosion of the spit. No matter how much the Rangers try to arrest the action, it will continue. The sands of time... sliding away.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spring Comes Slowly

What a lesson in patience Spring is teaching me this season!

I want it now!!

I want the smells, the color, the heat of a new spring morning.

But Spring this year says, "Wait. Patience. Enjoy THIS moment. Not the one that will be coming, but THIS very moment."

Dark-eyed Junkos used this birdhouse this year for their
clutch of hatchlings.
So I watch the Dark-eyed Junko pair feed their babies and listen to his irritated "chit-chit-chit" when I get too close to the nest. And see how they both trust me when I back away so they can continue to do their parental duties.

Today I weeded and trimmed the raspberry patch, added some organic soil for topping (it needs more) and repaired the metal guides that will keep the vines from falling down.

It was enjoyable to simply sit on my weeding bench and pull everything that is not raspberry.

A few bees stopped by to see if there were any blooms worth investigating and in the distance I could hear the local target range firing their clay pigeons into the air, motorcycles were zooming along in the sunshine, swallows were doing their vortexy circles and I was totally focused on my task.

(NOTE: I started writing this in mid-May and now at the edge of June, I am finally getting it posted. The message is still the same; appreciate now... no regrets for yesterday, no anxiety about tomorrow.)

Although I felt a little achy when I was done, it was satisfying and meditative. I'm learning... be here now. In THIS moment.

Multiple Myeloma and Issues with Sepsis

Son-in-law walks with one of the twins down to clear the
drainage pipe at the end of their field.
When I first started posting on this blog, it was because someone near and dear to me had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (MM).

It is wonderfully remarkable that after close to a decade of dealing with the disease (and two auto stem cell transplants and the final and best allogenic one) this dear fellow can celebrate another birthday, perhaps after he finishes mowing the big field or clearing the drainage pipe.

But I have other folks in my virtual life who are not faring so well with the disease. They both live in the UK and they both have recently attempted to arrest the disease with stem cell transplants.

And why, on my birthday, do I have the remembrances of bad news days? When I think I'm getting a call to wish me well for over decades of living, I instead get one that announces tragic stuff.

I want to see, after more than a decade of even identifying MM, that great strides are being achieved toward remission or even a cure. Tom Brokaw announced a couple of years ago that he was living with his diagnosis and he has the benefit of being in the higher echelons of income and status, so he quite likely has a better chance at life extension. And as more people who have public identities help to raise awareness and funds, perhaps this will come. But it is too damn slow for some.

The magenta spinnaker flies full before the
wind in Sequim Bay, Washington.
One hopeful aspect of dealing with the process of transplanting cells is overcoming the sepsis (poisoning of the system because of infection) following the 'cleaning' and replacing stem cells. The body is neutropenic (without resistance to illness and infection) having no white blood cells to work with and many folks succumb before their new cells can get working.

Dr. Paul Marik, affiliated with Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, VA, has started using a combination of Vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine to combat sepsis with some good results. (See www.pilotonline to read the story.)

As Marik pointed out in the story, it is difficult to get funding to promote a solution that does not provide a profit. This is all too familiar in all aspects of medical treatments, not just Myeloma. Any solution to ease pain and discomfort that doesn't use Big Pharma products doesn't get much mention or much credibility.

The deep magenta color in the magnolias reminds me of the 'color' of Myeloma funding... like the color of the blood cells that are needed to overcome it.

Magnolias in springtime; a time of hope.
Go here to learn more about the disease and if you care to donate, I know that friends of Mike and Emma will appreciate that although it may not benefit them, it might help others.

I will mention again that using sublingual Vitamin B12 for relief from restless leg or nerve pain in the extremities has been proven, at least in my case, to have significant and cumulative benefits. While I do not have MM, I do what I can to follow resources and post what I find here.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Red and Yellow with Grey

A friend who lives in the Hebrides Island (Scotland) recently posted a series of pictures on Facebook showing his world with red and yellow being the accent colors. I was impressed, intrigued and threw down my own gauntlet to meet his reds and yellows with those found on the Olympic Peninsula.

Ohhhhh, I should have waited.

It was March. And it was still cold. And wet. And rainy. And grey.

Outside my kitchen window, the building is a pale yellow
and the cones are a sort of red... almost.
And not wanting to give in with traditional and commercial photos of McDonald's, Les Schwab Tires and Econolodge, I started searching for various spots of color. Of course, I looked close to home first.

After that I drove around a bit, a good excuse to become familiar with my new-to-me car, which is also grey. (The salesman said he would give me an additional discount if I could decide that I liked grey.)

So I found a Robin and the hummingbird feeder is definitely red and yellow.

American Robin caught in drive-by shooting... 
My front yard with hummingbird feeder and Christmas
lights still waiting to be taken down.
Then it was off to Sequim to see what I might find and there is quite a bit of yellow and red when you start looking for it.

This is a great exercise in 'seeing' and I am glad I made the effort because when you start focusing on one thing, suddenly that item of focus begins to appear all over the place.

For days after I finished this 'challenge,' I was still finding spots of red and yellow as I drove about.

 After visiting downtown Sequim and a local market, I thought I was done, but I had to go over to Port Townsend and on my way back I captured this sweet shot of the mountains with the yellow strip in the road and the red taillights of the car ahead of me. It's one of my favorite views when I am heading home... love seeing the mountains layer by layer ahead of me.

Highway 101 heading west into Clallam County in Washington State.
So this was my March activity, and I probably should have posted it sooner, but right after I finished getting the photos, I had to have some emergency dental work and I was in a lot of pain for a couple of weeks. I am all better now, and so I'm posting this last shot just because I can and because it was the last local snowfall - my hopefulness for spring.

The last local snowfall... we got more than a dusting over elevations above
500 feet that day. I rushed to get the white of the snow over the ever-so-faint
green buds that were eager to come out.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lenten Season 2017

Rhododendron on Passover
THE WINTER has taken a long time to leave us this year. And while I haven't posted in almost five weeks, I've been busy and just have neglected my blog-dom.

Frieda (in Jerry's lap)
So, working backwards, I have been the go-between in getting a rescue dog into a new home... not mine.

I was surfing on FaceBook, just randomly reading posts of friends of mine and saw a chocolate Labrador which was a trigger for me, having had two of those precious creatures.

The woman offering the dog was not a personal friend, but the friend of a friend. She was looking to re-home a mature, fixed, female lab and I immediately thought of a couple I knew whose dog had recently died.

I contacted the husband, but he said they were not interested at this time, however they knew someone who was. It turned out the couple who did want the dog were connected to me by my former church affiliation as well as through my art group. I contacted the FB lady, gave her the name and number of the folks, they connected and two days later the dog was in her new home.

At the next art group meeting, the new owner came up to me in tears of gratitude, telling me how wonderful this dog was and how happy they were that I helped to make it possible. I asked if I could meet the new member of the family and was invited over. They have named her Frieda, after Frieda Kahlo, (one of my favorite artists) and fortunately her personality is much calmer than her namesake.

Pat and Jerry love her, and she loves lying on the coach snuggled up to Jerry or in his lap. I whispered to Freida as I was leaving, "Remember who is feeding you." (Pat)

Grey Owl landing on branch (may end up being part of a bedtime story
book) or a series of nighttime paintings... not sure.
My contribution to the "Whale of an Art Show" in Port Angeles, WA.
It is quite large (for me) as an 18 by 24-inch piece and it is titled
"Playdate in the NW".
And I've continued to paint, with one painting going in the "Whale of an Art Show" at the Heatherton Galley in Port Angeles and some others just for my own entertainment. The show continues for the month of April and tomorrow, the 14th, is the Artists' Reception. I'll be interested to see who shows up for it.
Screenshot of the Olympic National Park's webcam at the
top of Hurricane Ridge... still a lot of snow up there!
Passover began and I have a greater interest in understanding the Jewish traditions since I began studying the Hebrew letters of the alphabet this past year. פֶּסַח‎ The event is for the "Jewish people who celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses." (according to Wikipedia... but I want to clarify that it was liberation from slavery and thus their freedom as a nation, a nation that was led by Moses. Not that they were freed from the leadership of Moses, which the quoted portion suggests.)

This painting of a sunset over a lake in Lake City, FL, was initiated by a
photograph sent to me by Mr. Willie Harris. I decided to add him into the
scene and he is now the proud owner of the original artwork. He said he will
get it framed and I will hang in his living room... great!!
So, dear readers, you can see that I've been busy and I hope you are able to resurrect yourselves from your winters wherever you are and have a delightful spring season!!