Thursday, December 31, 2009

Skating Through Life

As Jethro Tull says, we're "skating away on the thin ice of the New Day."
Happy New Year, everyone, and here's hoping we'll glide smoothly through 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bloom: The Elephant Bed

"Bloom: The Elephant Bed" is an art installation by John Grade at our new art museum, The Lightcatcher. It's difficult to capture the utter serenity of this piece in a picture alone. These paper sculptures hang in an enclosed room, and seem to emanate a calm presence. I'd like to spend an hour just sitting on the floor alone with them, basking in their peace. Here is the artist's statement:

"Floating inches below the surface of the sea are tiny microorganisms called coccolithophores. Individually, they are too small to see, but grouped together they form such large masses that they can be seen from satellites blanketing hundreds of miles of ocean, coloring the water a bright turquoise. Unlike any other type of phytoplankton, each coccolithophore surrounds itself with a microscopic plating made of limestone (calcite).

"When a coccolithophore dies (they have a life span of a few weeks), this outer shell slowly sinks to the ocean floor. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, these shells accumulated and formed a sedimentary layer that can be seen today as the white cliffs of Dover along England's southern coast. Geologists named this exposed accumulation of calcium made from the casings of coccolithophores, the 'Elephant bed.'

"Over the past decade there has been controversy over the role of coccolithophores as they relate to the health of the world's oceans and global warming. They thrive in areas of the sea that are otherwise largely lifeless, primarily in sub-polar regions. Generally, when coccolithophores inhabit an area, they dominate and supplant other forms of phytoplankton. In the past two years, coccolithophores have begun to cover large areas of the Bering Sea. This surprises some scientists because the Bering Sea is usually a very nutrient-rich body of water. In the long-term, coccolithophores appear to be a positive force in the reduction of greenhouse gasses. With the formation of each calcium shell, a small bit of carbon is removed from the environment to become part of the shell that will eventually sink harmlessly to the ocean floor. But an immediate concern arises when a coccolithophore takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere (for sustenance) because it is simultaneously releasing a small portion of it into the sea. This can cause the upper layers of the ocean to become warmer and stagnant-- essentially creating a 'dead zone' in the ocean suitable only for sustaining more coccolithophores. Over the past ten years, coccolithophores have been a growing presence in the world's oceans as they cyclically bloom in greater numbers.

"One of my goals with the installation of Bloom is to employ scale so that we can tangibly encase ourselves within a form inspired by the shell of a coccolithophore. I am also interested in impermanence, at directing our attention to what is compelling within a state of decay or disintegration. The sculptures that are gradually lowered into the pool of ink will collapse, sink and flake apart slowly while the remaining sculptures will dissolve almost instantly when we walk them out of the museum and directly into the bay at the close of the exhibition."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Goldenlit Grasses

Goldenlit grasses
warm in the afternoon.
The quick winter sun passes
and much too soon
they'll be silverlit grasses
in the light of the moon.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Skyviewing Sculpture by Isamu Noguchi

The crows are too far away
to hear their conversation.
Are they discussing the blue sky
or where to find lunch?
I think they're an old couple
who need no words to communicate.
They sit
the sun soaks their black feathers
and they say nothing
and everything
loving each other.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Old City Hall

Lizziviggi took the girls to the children's museum at the Lightcatcher building and snapped this shot of the old City Hall building. Once the municipal center of the city, it was replaced by a larger, more modern building closer to downtown. The Whatcom Museum moved into the building in 1941 and has occupied it since. The museum is now housed in three buildings: The old City Hall, the Syre Education Center seen just to the right of the City Hall building, and the new Lightcatcher building in the foreground.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Red Box

A British Red Box stands as a reminder of the pre-digital age in a Fairhaven green.
Is this a Sir Giles Gilbert Scott original or a knock-off? It looks aged enough to be an original, but I'm no expert.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twirling Christmas Princesses

Christmas princesses a-twirl
Christmas dreams will unfurl
Tonight, in the warm beds
Of many boys and girls.
EJVig and I wish all our wonderful friends near and far a very merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ornamentation

The tree was decorated with ornaments

The lens was ornamented with greasy little fingerprints

The combination created this warm, fuzzy photo.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Morning at the Lettered Streets Coffeehouse


I sit under the backwards espresso sign
sipping my coffee
perusing a travel book about Turkey.
The borrowed pages
smell like paprika.
Droplets gather on the steamy window
and travel down in groups.
The women behind me talk
about their trip to Africa.
The glowing sign faintly buzzes
and I leave half my coffee undrunk.
It is winter
there are no flowers on the table
and I will never go to Turkey.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Am I Blue?

This pretty glass flower always catches my eye when I head down the stairs to my workout at the Y.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Old Town and Mount Baker

This another Port Townsend shot taken from the ferry as it pulls away from the dock. The Water Street Hotel where I stayed is the red brick building to the left of Mount Baker. It was built in 1889 by a local pharmacist but fell into disrepair. The building was restored and currently houses a hotel, brewery and art gallery.

The hotel has an old world feel with 10-12 foot ceilings, a central atrium that rises from the second story to the third, and shared bathrooms for several of the rooms. On the street side of the building with nearly floor to ceiling windows, my room offered an excellent vantage point for watching the comings and goings of Water Street.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reflecting on the Past


Earlier in the month I left my car on Whidbey Island and traveled to Port Townsend on the Keystone Ferry. After spending the night at the Water Street Hotel in the historic downtown district, I grabbed a cup of coffee and set out for a day of urban hiking. The night before I had explored downtown thoroughly looking for dinner, so I climbed the stairs to the residential district for a day of looking at historical homes.

For those who have never been to Port Townsend, the downtown area is at sea level and the residential area is built on top of a bluff overlooking downtown, providing for an almost perfect separation of residential and commercial areas. The only exception is upper downtown, a two block area of businesses that includes the East Jefferson Fire and Rescue Station 1-6 which houses Old No. 3, a 1941 Howard Cooper 1000 gallon pumper.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Skywatch Friday: Silver Linings


Every cloud has a silver lining.
Lots of clouds
Lots of linings!
These decorate the sky
over the blue waters of Puget Sound.

Click here for more silver linings!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Alaska Ferry


Can you picture yourself
Stepping on a boat
And riding it to the edge of the world
Where winter darkness unfurls?
You'd disembark in starlight
Day cloaked in December shadows
And take your breakfast with the moon
Months away from the sun's spring bloom.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Black and White and Fed All Over

I stumbled across this old picture when I was looking for something else, and thought I'd pull it out and share it. Technically this picture was taken in Blaine, not Bellingham. EJVig and I lived there for a couple years. It's about 25 miles north of Bellingham, and right on the Canadian/US border. I'll have to take some pictures up there soon. But for now, there's this one-- our four cats dining on the checkerboard floor of our Blaine kitchen. From left is: Calliope, CJ, CoCo Puff, and Jo Jo. Calliope is no longer with us, and I miss her every day. She was my very first kitty, and even though she hated most other people, she loved me totally. Aw, I miss my bitchy kitty!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

White Pine with Buddhas

Three Buddha statues contemplate a Japanese White Pine at the Garden Spot Nursery, my favorite place for Christmas tree shopping.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mountain Time

One more from Leavenworth, Washington-- the city clock tower with the Cascade Mountains looming behind it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa Claus

Old Saint Nick watches the children in amusement at a store in Leavenworth, Washington.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Leavenworth, Washington

EJVig took our daughters on the train to Leavenworth, Wash., for a little getaway. He snapped this picture yesterday. Leavenworth is a charming little pseudo-Bavarian town at the base of the Cascade mountains. It's always a popular tourist destination, but especially so at Christmastime. I'm glad they had fun, and even more glad they're back home, safe and sound!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ladybug, Ladybird, Ladybeetle... A bug by any other name is just as cute


Ladybird, ladybird,
Fly away home
Your house is on fire,
And your children all gone.

All except one,
and that's little Ann
And she has crept under
The warming pan.

--Anonymous

What is it about old nursery rhymes always being dark and depressing? Thank goodness for the Pixar generation! Never mind the classics, I like some sweet with my bitter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Garth Stein at the Chuckanut Radio Hour

Garth Stein, author of the best-selling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, was a guest on our local radio program, "The Chuckanut Radio Hour." It's a shame the picture is rather dark and blurry, but I wasn't able to use a flash since the show is recorded live and therefore must be quiet.

"The Chuckanut Radio Hour" is recorded in front of a live audience and then broadcast on local radio station KMRE 102.3 (it's broadcast from our American Museum of Radio and Electricity, which I shamefully have not done any posts of yet. I'll try to remedy that shortly.). You can also listen online here. It's an old-fashioned radio hour, with live music, author interviews, poetry, essays, and a short comedy serial called "The Bellingham Bean," which follows the lives of a group of people running a coffee shop.

Garth Stein's latest novel is written from the point of view of a dog. The writers of "The Bellingham Bean" ran with that theme. Here, he gamely voices Elmo, the fictional Bellingham Bean's hamster. He's in the middle, with the rest of the Bellingham Bean players on either side. Normally, the authors on the show just do an interview and a reading, so it was particularly fun to see him do this. He was a very convincing hamster. ("Hamsters," by the way, are what we residents of Bellingham call ourselves. Just in case you were wondering.)

The Chuckanut Radio Hour is on every Saturday at 6 PM PST and Sunday at 9 PM PST. Their website doesn't look updated, but you can get podcasts of their first year here. If you want to hear this show, it will be broadcast December 12 & 13. Again, if you're not local, you can still "tune in" online here-- just remember we're PST.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Heliconia Growing

This glass art installation, called "Heliconia Growing," can be found inside local bookstore Village Books. It is by Bellingham artist Christopher Morrison. Heliconia is a genus of flowering tropical plant-- the type of which doesn't grow in this area, so it's nice to have a cool-climate sculpture instead!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Looking For a Good Home...


Waiting bravely in line
Knowing they'll know
which family is the right one--
It's when their faces light up
like little Christmas trees.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shooting into the Sun


They tell you
"never shoot into the sun"
A Very Important Rule of Thumb
They don't come from
Washington.
I haven't seen the sun
in a long, wintry month
And I'm shooting into it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Waiting for Breakfast


The City Daily Photo theme day for December 1st is "Waiting." Oh, there were so many pictures to choose from-- who knew the hidden theme of waiting underlies so many of my pictures?

Anyway, I chose this charming little threesome and their pet turtle, waiting patiently for their breakfast. Apparently they're not satisfied with plastic bananas. If my memory's correct, shortly after I took this picture my daughter served them cheerios, which were supposed to be donuts. Of course, they could just be waiting for someone to clean their house... or maybe for better furniture. Luckily, their patience was rewarded, and both things have happened since I took this shot back in July.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Waterfront Tavern

Like all towns, Bellingham has its dark side. Being in the corner of the country, with mountains on one side and water on the other, at the edge of Canada, Bellingham is the perfect location for writers, exlporers, artists... and serial killers.

The Waterfront Tavern on Holly Street has the unfortunate history of being the favorite drinking place of at least four killers. The first, Ted Bundy, killed at least twenty women. Angelo Buono, Jr. was later convicted in the Hillside Strangler case in Los Angeles. James A. Kinney murdered a woman found off Mount Baker Highway. And our most recent one: John Muhammad, the DC sniper, who was just executed on November 10. He killed 10 people.

The Waterfront Tavern, perched on the edge of the bay overlooking the now-defunct Georgia Pacific factory, has long attracted all types for its cheap beer at the earliest hour in town-- 8 o'clock in the morning. Now, with plans for the paper mill's demolition and removal in the works, and a prettier, tourist-friendly waterfront on the way, the Waterfront Tavern may be able to upgrade its clientele, too.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Zodiac

According to the Northwest Schooner Society, the 136 foot Schooner Zodiac is the largest working schooner on the west coast. It is currently in use as a charter ship operated by Schooner Zodiac sailing out of Fairhaven.

Click HERE for more of this ship's history from the Northwest Schooner Society

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Double Decker

Fairhaven Fish and Chips currently occupies this iconic double decker bus in the historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham. Incorporated in the late 1800's, Fairhaven joined with Whatcom, Bellingham and Sehome near the turn of the century to form modern Bellingham. A quaint collection of Victorian homes and brick building, Fairhaven has become one of Bellingham's main tourist destinations.

Click HERE for a brief history of Fairhaven provided by Western Washington University.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twilight at Midnight

I admit it: I went to the new Twilight movie on opening night at midnight. Now, another confession which will earn me the ire of Twihards everywhere: I'm not even a fan. I got halfway through the book series before I finally decided it wasn't going to get any better, and I only watched the first movie because my sister assured me it was hilariously bad. So I don't really have a good answer for why I was at the second one, other than it's kind of fun to be the snarky person making wiseass cracks throughout the movie. I'm happy to say I wasn't bludgeoned to death by a mob of fourteen-year-olds wielding lip gloss, angry at my disparagement of their dear Edward.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The White Chair Waits


Lake Whatcom.
The white chair waits
for summer...
Wistful
for wet swimsuits
sandy feet
cold beer.
Winter lasts
long enough to wonder:
Was it all a dream?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sentinel


Ellen Sollod's "Sentinel"
stands at the intersection of Holly and Bay Streets as a symbolic entrance to Bellingham's Arts District.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Larger than Life


If one recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12 is good for you, 3000 must be better. And who knows what the recommended daily allowance of Horny Goat Weed is?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Fishermen (and one fisherwoman) line Whatcom Creek right before its outlet into Bellingham Bay. All are hoping for a bite from a Coho Salmon, and all will probably get one-- they are abundant here this time of year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Toppling Trees

Trees were blown sideways all over the county yesterday due to winds that gusted up to 58 mph. This one, in Bayview Cemetery, took a few headstones with it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spirit of the Falls


The falling water
extends a ghostly hand.
It reaches for the sun
while the rest of its body
rushes to the sea.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Lightcatcher Building

Bellingham's new addition to the Whatcom Museum held a grand opening ceremony yesterday. Designed by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, the new museum's stand-out feature is a translucent wall called the "Lightcatcher".

Click here for the architect's Lightcatcher page and more information.

Don't those professional photos look great? Sigh...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Skywatch Friday: Playground Rainbow


No children are outside
to witness the rainbow.
Instead they're inside,
faces lit with TV's glow.
No young eyes open wide,
Legs don't race to find the end.
Discouraged, the rainbow fades.
I guess I don't exist, then.

Clouds, sunsets, blue skies, and more rainbows.