Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Swimming Across America in WA #2

This will be the second year for Swim Across America in Seattle on Lake Washington. It takes place on Saturday, September 11 and here is the link for all the information about the long distance swimming event, which gets under way VERY early in the morning... good place to see the sunrise!

I was a volunteer last year and have offered again for this year but have not heard back as yet. Whether or not I am doing that, I will certainly be there to support the swimmers.

The upside-down triangles are prayer flags which are filled out by anyone who wants to remember someone who has been affected by cancer or by family members paying tribute to the swimmers or for groups to recognize someone. Last year I honored the late competitive motorcycle rider, Andre, who wrote the blog "http://motocancer.blogspot.com/" He was afflicted with Multiple Myeloma.
My dream is to not have to put anyone's name up there for this disease or any other kind of cancer.

As you can see, the weather was ideal for this kind of an event. I will be intending for a repeat version for this year as I cannot imagine how much harder it might be to complete such a course in the rain or other inclement weather.

As the swimmers complete their two miles, there is a group of volunteers ready and waiting to help them out of the water, give them refreshments and a towel. When it is all over and done, the donations received will be going to the local Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, as it did last year.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe for Rain Soup

The temperature dropped, the rain fell down, the pressure was low and it was time for "Rain Soup."
Start a pot of water boiling... and while it is doing its thing, add some salt.
Then hopefully you have some:
* carrots
* mushrooms
* onions
* shallots or green onions
* parsley flakes
* black pepper
and a chopper/grinder you can put it all into.
Once the water is boiling you dump all the bits and pieces into the pot, and let the pot simmer for at least an hour. Taste and see what else is needed. I added some ginger, some cinnamon, and several tablespoons of potsticker sauce (somewhat spicey).
Serve with Brie or cheddar cheese and crackers of your choosing... or whatever else you might like to have with it.
Then you can watch the rain come down and still feel cheerful, I hope.

What I Saw Today

Sometimes I go looking for things to cheer up my MM readers and other friends, sometimes I simply stumble onto a special sight, and occasionally I rant and rave about an issue near and dear to my heart. No more rants for now.... here's something I thought was special.

As I walked out of my apartment this afternoon, the light caught my eye and when I focused in on it, this is what I saw... an elegant weaving by Mistress Spider in a filament so fine that if the light wasn't shining on it, I would have probably walked right into it - echhhhh.
Grabbed the camera and caught it.
It's Mukilteo Farmer's Market day so I wended my way to the landing. Luck was with me and I got a parking place pretty quickly. And fortunately I wore a fleece jacket because the wind had picked up and was whipping up the waves as well. In fact, the incoming ferry had to stand off because they probably had a following wind and made it to the landing more quickly than expected. Can you see how the dock sections are pitching up and down? More than a few people were walking out on them to have a bit of a ride - but for some it was wetter and a little bit more than they expected and they wobbled their way back onto land rather quickly.

But then I noticed something else rather special, only I wasn't sure at the time why it might be. If you look closely you can see an older man filling up a plastic bag with sea water. I put that shot here for you.

Then I watched him try to carry it and it spilled out. He went back and refilled it. The next time he was successful and he began walking up the ramp with it.
My curiousity was too much... and I surrepticiously watched and waited to see where he was going with it. It appeared that his wife was waiting to clean the sand from her feet before putting her shoes back on, and he went to her and held the bag so she could put her feet in and clean them up. I think they may have had their son with them as well as he seemed to be helping, too. This touching effort was really a private thing, but like the Watcher on the Wall, I recorded it, to show that this seemingly small act can be replicated - for the good of all concerned. I know there are lots of MM caregivers who are prime examples of this selfless giving... hats off to all of you for all the symbolic bags of water you carry.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Travel Rant

I feel a rant coming on. My rant today is about traveling. On the way back from visiting Jey-hu's mother who took a tumble and got a terrible 'green-stick' fracture to her humerus (upper arm long bone), we saw an accident on the I-5 headed south. (So glad it wasn't on our side; and sorry if anyone was hurt.) However, if the accident was caused by someone with a couple of cats, dogs, children, texting on the phone, yelling at a passenger, or other distraction, I hope you realize you have inconvenienced over 200,000 people.

How did I come up with this figure? Well, some who know me know my math skills were never great, but Jey-hu can do multiplication and division in his head and this is how we arrived at the number.

There are 5280 feet in a mile. About 1800 cars will fit in that space, allowing for the fact that some cars are much shorter and trucks of course are much longer. Figuring on three lanes of traffic for one mile, that's 5,400 motorized vehicles of one size or another. But, the traffic jammed up for about 10 miles, so now we're talking about 54,000 vehicles with an average driver/passenger of 1.5, making 81,000 people fume. But their delay or frustration when they arrive home could affect another 2.5 people, so now we have a total of 200,000 more or less unhappy folks. All because one driver lost control of his or her responsibility.

AAA, in their recent Washington membership magazine, said that 'distractions' cause over 50% of the accidents today. Now in Washington it is illegal to be on the phone or texting, though some people still risk a ticket to do it. But yelling at a passenger (How successful is that?) can increase the risk of making a bad decision by 25% according to some study because the driver is focusing on the issue, not on driving. Traveling with pets which are not contained has caused problems as well, especially with cats. A woman in Texas was arrested and her 15 cats were removed from the vehicle because it was considered a serious hazard. She had to go to trial and the State won. Anyone who has traveled with even one cat knows how little tolerance that breed has for riding in cars. And sometimes traveling with a couple of kids is harder than having 15 cats.

All that being said, at least in the U.S. the roadblocks are quickly dispersed and drivers are on their way in a reasonable time... unlike China... 60 miles and nine days... read the link!


So that is my rant for today... Please drive carefully; you could be affecting thousands!

(PS: the photo is of the bridge over Deception Pass here in Washington state.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Miracle of Flight

Last weekend we crossed off another objective we've been meaning to accomplish. We went to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, right next to Seattle's "Sea-Tac" International Airport. Every time we have passed it the comment is made, "We have to go and see that one of these days..."

Well, we still have to go back and see more of it because it is huge in space and massive in terms of the amount of information. And they are big enough now that they are offering a changing menu of other things to see and do, including an upcoming photographic exhibit called "Spirit of Flight," which I hope will be around for awhile. And sometime this fall they will show again the various styles of gear worn by airline attendants over the years.

We decided to go aboard the retired Air Force One Boeing aircraft (first picture) that flew President Kennedy to Dallas and to see the inside of a retired Concorde jetliner. (Jey-hu is standing - in the shade - next to the wheel of the Concorde, to give you some idea of how big it is.)

It was a late afternoon choice on a blisteringly hot day and by the time we arrived, it was already 3 p.m. Too late to start to see everything well... when you go, be advised there is enough to keep you busy all day. There is a small restaurant on site. It is wheelchair accessible, all except the outside aircraft displays.

So we saw the outside planes and zoomed through all the exhibits, barely taking time to stop and read about the people and places. There is a wonderful exhibit showing the beginnings of Boeing, another one about how rockets evolved, some very informative stuff about the space station including a mock-up of a portion of it, and perhaps the item I liked best was a "Land the Space Shuttle" game where you sat inside a little space with a joystick and a screen which simulated being able to see the field where you are landing. Oh, and there were plenty of gauges and instrumentation to see whether or not you were right side up or otherwise. (Not the frame shown below... that is in the early years exhibit.)
I could have sat at that all afternoon. Sadly there are only two of them and the little boys around me, standing in line for their turn, were fidgeting because "that Granny is taking too long, Daddy." Guess what? I got the shuttle to the landing strip the first time!! I didn't land it very well because I forgot the flare at 2000 feet, but at least I didn't destroy it completely in the desert like someone else I know, even after he tried it several times....

There are full-size models of the gossamer wings that got man started trying to imitate birds, smaller models of the planes that made history, but plenty of other full-size aircraft that boys and girls of all ages can sit inside to pretend they are flying or for grand-dads to show their grandchildren what they flew or what their fathers were flying in. Women in aviation were not in large numbers back in those days.... and still are limited today, but perhaps more because the little girls weren't drawn to flight the same way little boys were. Perhaps that is changing. In any event, there is a very large area for tots to play around and I peeked in, thinking about small ones I know. There was a very cute miniature Blue Angels jet in there and a little angel with corn rows was smiling from ear to ear looking up at her Daddy as she 'flew' around.

The displays are informative, all of the equipment inside is in great condition and there are planes from various countries as well, not all Boeing. Since I cannot post all the photos here, you can go and see a few more on this site: Flickr (click on the set "Museum of Flight") or click on the link for the museum above - or both.

Some years ago I took my son to Cape Kennedy (formerly Cape Canaveral) to see the Saturn V rocket - a real one - and all the Apollo Project history, including a real spacecraft module, and we went to the IMAX movie there which was impressive. This was all to share with him my experiences as being involved in that effort. The reason I mention it is because at this museum there is a substantial exhibit for this project, including a mock-up of the Lunar Excursion Module and other artifacts. More on that in another post. Hope I haven't worn you out!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


And more boats... we went to the Shilshoal Marina, north of Seattle, for a boat show today. I have a MM friend who loves being around boats and water, at least as much I do, I've surmised. So I took some pictures with him in mind, because he has plenty of other things on his... These are for you, B...

It was so hot... 103 degrees in the sun! I kept finding a space of shade and
standing in it while I waited for Jey-hu to go in and inspect all the large, multi-thousand dollar boats. He enjoyed himself and I was happy to see him wandering and dreaming. I went aboard a couple of them, but I am such a realist that I know it is unlikely I will ever own a boat again and am happy to simply sit on a dock and watch them bobbing about.

If you look closely at the stern of the powerboat in the center of the photo, the name is "Obsession," and well defines how I rationally see these items today.

And yet, like an addict, I cannot stay away. I am drawn to them like a fly to the spider's web, all the time thinking, "I can fly away anytime I want." But my hands feel the tension in the lines tying them to the dock, my body flexes as I get on board in the same old smooth and easy way it once knew as a daily activity, and the smells assail me with memories of "when I was a liveaboard," and I wonder if I really will ever be able to NOT dream about another one... a smaller one...

Day at the Beach

Temperatures are climbing in the NW, so we traveled to Alki Beach to enjoy the breeze and sand. This beach is part of Seattle's extensive Parks and Recreation system, identified as the West Seattle area. With over 135 acres, you will find a huge expanse of sand, real sand - not pebbles - and plenty of room to bike, walk, roller skate or use anything with wheels that is not motorized on the wide walkway. While the ocean water looks appealing, the average temperature ranges from 49-59 degrees even on the hottest days. No one stays in it for very long!

In November of 1851 it was cold and stormy, according to the records, and the first white settlers landed on this beach. Chief Seattle (Learn more about this remarkable man by clicking on the link.) was there with his tribe to welcome them, helping them to quickly build a cabin for protection against the coming winter weather. (I will restrain myself from making comments about what happens when you welcome strangers onto your land.)

Across the water from downtown Seattle, this destination beach is part of the mouth of the Duwamish River, derived from the word "duwampsh" which means "many colored" in the Chinook language. Myth or fact: this was a name under consideration for the city which is known today after Chief Seattle.

The popularity of this area grew. More and more people came and played games on the sand, and by 1902 the city saw the merits of having an electric streetcar line to bring people from downtown. Around this time a fellow named Charles Looff decided to build an amusement park which was opened in 1907. It was located at Duwamish Head, where a few pilings remain to show that it ever existed. Called "Luna Park" after the one at Coney Island, NY, it had several - heated! - saltwater pools, a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, restaurant, a carousel and a chute that carried people in small boats into a 'tub' of water.

It had at least two decades of activity, but shortly after the Crash of 1929, there was a fire that razed the Park in 1931. Coincidence? In any event, the City of Seattle acquired the site in 1945 and by 1954 had it filled in to what is seen today.
We had an early supper at Duke's, a place that was started by one of Jey-hu's friends although no longer owned by him. The food was delicious. I had their famous langostino chowder with a wild greens salad and one half of a fish taco. It was enough to completely fill me up so I didn't have room for their equally famous desserts - chocolate chip cookie with just a morsel of vanilla ice cream or marionberry pie or a volcano of chocolate cake with cream inside covered with caramel... yikes. I've probably gained three pounds just re-thinking these sweet treats!

We almost waddled out of there, though Jey-hu wanted to stay and watch the Seahawks play Tennessee. If we hadn't moved, I am sure I would have succumbed to at least one of the devilish desserts. We walked awhile, then sat on a bench to watch the sun set. I noticed a rainbow of people in various activities (like eating ice cream - right), and heard a wide range of languages - English, French, Turkish, Russian, and Spanish with accents of people from either Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Mexico.

The sunset was lovely... if not particularly spectacular. I forgot to mention that we spent the earlier part of the afternoon at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field near Sea-Tac International Airport. That would take up a full blog by itself. I will do that next.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Night on the Town

It was going to be at least 80 degrees after the sunset, and we had plans to get to the harbor before it went down, but we missed the drama of watching it go over the Olympics. But we did get a few nice shots and had fun walking around snapping pictures. Hope you enjoy them all...
This is a shot of the high rise office buildings directly behind the ferry terminal in Seattle.

While this shot of the seagull on the pier at Fisherman's Wharf is not particularly sharp, I really liked what was happening with the water colors around it.

I really, really tried to get this little boat into the range of the crescent moon, but he had other plans. (The moon was off to the left.)

The planners of the public spaces have put water fountains with unusual shapes in various areas and while this one is not lit up from within, the lights from behind and around it, coupled with the flash from my camera made for some interesting shapes.
Finally I leave you with this sweet shot of a couple enjoying the sunset and moonset (because it was also on it's way over the horizon) and we headed home to compare the results of our night on the town having photography fun.

A Creative Solution

She walked into the waiting area of the airline departure lounge with her head held high. And on both sides I saw flowers. How perfectly lovely they are, I thought. I wanted to get a better look and pondered how I could approach without seeming maddeningly intrusive.

If I'd been traveling with anyone else, I might not have had the courage to do this, but when I'm alone I seem to have a different kind of bravado.

I found the right words and she was more than willing to allow me to look and even better to take this photograph... I thought about what a creative solution this was for her situation (she said she has alopecia and is not under chemo treatment), and how others might gravitate to it... provided the tattooist was approved by the medical team.

What do you think?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Canaries in Combat Boots

Often as caregivers we are so anxious to improve an awful situation, we take a somewhat heavy handed approach, like a canary in combat boots. We forget that the 'other person' is wrapped tightly too, struggling with what may be an end-of-life crisis and in our own stress we push too hard, making things worse.

I was reading another care-giver's blog and direct you to it for some sane advice.

But it is a good reminder for all aspects of daily living, I remind myself. Recently I was tasked to help out a neighbor with his canaries, over 100 of them, as he and his wife wanted to take a weekend away and he discovered in conversation that I had had birds, loved them, and was able to care properly for them.

These lovely birds are delicate, but they are not weak. In fact, when offered uncooked corn on the cob, they act more like piranhas on meat than birds. They peck each other, shriek, chirp, flap their wings at their opponent and generally act quite aggressive for such small feathery things.

So what did these little creatures teach me this weekend? That putting food in front of them does not automatically mean they will eat it and my job was simply to provide it. Some of them were ravenous, but others were totally disinterested. It was not a judgment of me or my delivery. It was where they were at.

We can learn... whether as caregivers or as companions. There are boundaries we do not need to cross and we can save the combat boots for battles that really have to be fought by us for our loved ones. Just a thought.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A beautiful desert crossing

We drove from Denver, Colorado to Phoenix, Arizona in 14 hours or so. At first we seemed to be stopping every two hours for certain small individuals with small bladders, but as we got into the driving cycle, everyone found a way to schedule their relief along with filling up the tank of the SUV.

The desert was incredible... lush, for this time of year, and the colors were so bright it almost hurt my eyes. I tried to capture some of it as we raced across it... Utah and Arizona... I finished up my documentation of the trip with a sunset shot that was inadequate as we did not stop.

I think the "Hole" shot is in Utah, but the last shot is in Arizona, near (relatively speaking) Monument Valley.

But the last shot of the "Ragged Rocks" was taken by my daughter as I was driving... there is a hint of the pink that heralded the end of the day, but not the end of the drive as we still pushed on for several hours afterward.