Sunday, June 28, 2015

Waiting For The Ferry - Again

It was warm this morning: 73 degrees when I got to the ferry line.

I was first in line.

It had taken me only an hour and forty minutes to get there, a record time.

I bought a cup of coffee and a small bag of Tim’s chips: my favorite breakfast – genuine Northwest cuisine.

By the time I was finished savoring each individual chip and waiting for the coffee to cool below the scalding level I had surprisingly little time left before the ferry would heave into view and I would be motioned to drive on board.

I decided little though the time would be I would use it looking for interesting images to capture.

I got a few.

anacortes goldfinch 062815 00000

anacortes boardwalk 062815 00000anacortes ferry 062815 00000anacortes grasses 062815 00000anacortes reeds 062815 00000anacortes white flower 062815 00000anacortes yellow flowers 062815 00000

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The US Supreme Court: It’s Real Good When They Decide Our Way…

… but they issue invalid opinions when we don’t like their drift.  Or we don’t even like their decisions.

“Money is Speech” was hard for me to swallow (Citizens United).

But I swallowed it.

The Court is one of my most revered human institutions, and even when they see things in a manner that I don’t see them, I shrug and say “I DO believe in Madison and all those other guys from 1787; I guess the Court did the best they could do and we the people need to move on and keep America going.”

And the Founders knew that the Court with its power of final decision on laws would be a moveable feast of political and philosophical viewpoints.

That’s probably why they made the appointment for life and said there would be nine of them

It has worked.

So when I hear members of the Universal Church of American Bigoted Pseudo Christians all in a pack and in full cry shrieking “the Court has no right to decide things that affect American life” (actually, I always thought that was what the Court was there for, to be the final arbiter of the churn of stuff that would inevitably spin off of the ballot box and the two houses of the legislature – balance of power – remember? I become nauseous.

So, in the wake of yesterday’s equality under the law decision for gay people as far as marriage, I have been puking my guts every time I see (on my iPhone PBS app since I unplugged Comcast long ago) one of the little men or the little women who are members of the Church of Universal Bigotry telling me the Court had no right to grant equality under the law to people who differ from them, that God (an arguable presence at best) has/did/should have/would have/will get around to it, dictated marriage as a sacred union (so why is divorce so popular) between a MAN and a WOMAN, and that that union is the ONLY WAY IN WHICH NORMAL CHILDREN WILL BE PRODUCED – etc. etc. etc. -

I couldn’t help but to have noticed that the President and his Vice President and their families spent a good portion of Friday past with a lot of people honoring and grieving for nine people who were shot down by a product of the sort of union described above (A UNION BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN etc. etc. etc.) but I probably have missed some white christian value nuance inherent in the shooting down of black people in their churches.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Update So Far This Century

On a whim I composed and sent this email to a very long term, but not often contacted, friend of mine.

We used to sit in one or the other of our boats floating in the Willamette River and talk about how relatively hopeless existence really seemed to be.

That was before gunning down (fill in the number and nature of the victims) our fellow citizens had become a a national sport participated in by various stripes of our fellow red blooded American gun toting counterparts; it was before most of the wealth of the world had mysteriously been sent through some magical unidirectional dollar absorptive membrane to those who already possessed most of that which had been absorbed; it was before we had realized that we have cooked our atmosphere and then had shrugged and said “what the fuck”; it was before we had converted from a democratic republic to a Manichean donkey roast; it was before a lot of other things that need not make this list any longer had happened: I wonder today what had us so upset.

But anyway, here is what I said to him.

Mysti and I have been on the Island for most of the last month and a half.  During that time – at first just by inertia, but later by design – I have not listened to any news or seen any TV (I got rid of Comcast Cable a couple of years ago so that isn’t hard; we have no TV here on the Island) and I have been feeling pretty good about life: the lettuce is getting to a place where we can begin to have those great Island salads; we got the native plants that we bought in March planted where they are finally supposed to be; the hummingbirds have finally decided they really like our nectar recipe, and we haven’t seen any rain – except for an evening respite from the sun a couple of days ago – for weeks.

So when I turned the iPhone KUOW app on half an hour ago I was a little concerned about having some sort of cultural crisis.

I was well advised to be so worried.

And so it goes.

lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00002

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Shootings in America; Russians in Ukraine and all the Rest of the Bad News

These and other never ending and/or recurring drumbeats of the news of the day have finally reached the point where I can’t even talk about them any more.

I have, however, gotten verbally overwrought in the past:

to reference a couple.

But life is too short for all of that.

My life is certainly likely to be so.

Luckily there are things that are important.

Here are some pictures of them:

lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00000lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00001lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00002lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00003lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00004lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00005lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00006lopez tiger swallowtail 062015 00007

Friday, June 19, 2015

Waiting for the Ferry at Anacortes

There is a nice boardwalk skirting the beach and traversing the fringes of the woods.

If I have an hour or so to wait I like to walk that route and see what I can digitize.

My most recent walk on the ‘walk was pretty fruitful.

anacortes baby cottontail 061715 00000

anacortes baby cottontail 061715 00001

anacortes baby cottontail 061715 00003

anacortes salmon berry 061715 00000

anacortes blue heron 061715 00000

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Why Don’t They Just Leave Things Alone–Part One

When I was a little kid my little sister and I were having dinner with our mother.

My father, as was frequently the case, was in the land of the missing for that particular meal.

I must have been five and my sister must have been three.

Her name was Annie.

Since she has been dead for 63 years that must have been a long time ago.

So it is odd that I would remember it.

And I probably wouldn’t have remembered it except for a peculiarity of the menu that evening.

Our mother was eating something that looked as if it had come out of science fiction.

It was sort of cone shaped and was made up of an apparently endless number of funny shaped things.

She would – interspersed with the rest of the food she was eating – take one of the things and dip it in something and then bite off a miniscule part of the thing and then put the rest of the thing in a big bowl put on the table especially for the deposit of the things after they had been bitten.

We had seen her indulge in this odd practice on other occasions but the thought of asking to try whatever it was had never occurred to us.

And our mother never offered to let us try.

Then came the evening I am remembering.

For some reason one or the other or both of us asked to try to dip one of the things and bite it and see what they were all about.

It turned out that this was what our mother had always planned.

In later life when this story came up she would just say that she knew we would never have liked artichokes if we had been given one to try ourselves, so she just indulged frequently in her love of the thistles and let us watch and draw our own conclusions.

On that particular occasion the conclusion we drew was that we loved the things and our mother was left without any artichoke to eat – except the heart; she didn’t tell us about that until she had removed the residual leaves, cut out the thistle stuff and wolfed down the butter dripping sections of the base of the flower all herself.

From then on we were a three artichoke table.

Now to the point.

For years artichokes were a seasonal thing, like pomegranates; they would suddenly appear in large volume, would quickly go to three for a dollar and would stay around for a few weeks and then would be gone until the next “season” arrived.

They were always from Castroville and they had thorns on each leaf; and the base of each leaf had a large fleshy place that when dipped in melted butter or mayonnaise was just the right amount for a bite.  One knew it was time to take the rest of the leaves off and cut the thistle stuff off and cut the heart up into dipping sized pieces when that fleshy base  of the inner leaves became too small to eat.  And, if one knew one’s range well enough, those artichokes could always be cooked to the exact degree of tender doneness in some known number of minutes – pour in the water; pour in the vinegar; put the range on high; set the timer for fifteen minutes; turn the heat to simmer after fifteen minutes; and after another twenty five minutes the artichoke was perfect, including the heart.

And the flavor of the things was always life enhancing.

Somebody sometime back decided to change all of that.

The first sign was that artichokes seemed to always be in the markets; they had lost their seasonality.

The next sign – part of the first, actually – was that they became three dollar apiece items.

Coincident with that was the fact that they were never labeled simply as artichokes any more; they were jumbo artichokes.

And they were not beautiful cone shaped collections of somewhat loosely aggregated thorn tipped leaves any more; they were instead round, tightly compressed collections of thornless leaves; and the leaves were not shaped like a slightly rounded spear tip any more, they were sort of round and nondescript; and their fleshy bases were not very fleshy and not very substantial.

And trying to cook one was impossible.

No amount of time would yield a leaf that when pulled gently yielded with a little resistance; this was the time honored test of whether the artichoke was read to eat or not.

The jumbo three dollar variety would jealously hold their leaves no matter how hard the pull, leaving the cook with a never ending pot with a boiling artichoke waiting hopefully for the pull test to indicate that the thing had finally become edible.

Ultimately the never ending boiling pot would induce a hopeful state of mind in the cook that would yield a leaf that “seemed” to yield, leading one to conclude that the artichoke was ready to eat.

But that was always the gateway to disappointment: when set on the table the rest of the leaves would barely yield; the flesh that they yielded was not of a size or quality of taste any where near that of the artichokes of yore; and the heart, if one persisted through all that leafy disappointment was mush.

So why didn’t “they” just leave a perfect thing to be perfect?

Why did they have to improve it so we couldn’t afford it and didn’t want to eat it if we could?

Why did “they” make such a thing a year round staple of the produce counter?

I am in the question business; I am not in the answer business.

However I find myself asking the same questions about peaches, pears, strawberries and raspberries.

I am expecting any day to need to start asking those questions about avocados.

Recently during a three or four week span my local Safeway had artichokes just like the ones Annie and my mother and I ate on that evening so many years ago.

I didn’t think too much about it except to be exceptionally happy to be able to join Marcel Proust in quite a number of his moments as I ate an inordinate number of artichokes for those three or four weeks.

And then they were gone.

I guess they must have been seasonal.

I often take the little sticky labels off of avocados or organic apples or whatever I eat that has those little stickers.

I don’t know why I do it; it is sort of a ritual; and I always stick them on a loose piece of paper laying around in my cooking area (I organize my life on sheets of lined yellow notebook paper folded into fourths, so there are always pieces available for sticking the labels on).

It had turned out that these artichokes that I had been savoring had those little sticky labels on them, so there quickly became a quarter folded yellow sheet with several labels on it.

One day after the artichokes had made their apparently seasonal disappearance from the market I was cleaning the kitchen and decided to recycle the yellow label bearer.

Before final disposition, I took a look at what was printed.

And it gave me hope for a better future.

heirloom artichoke

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Oystercatchers in the Front Yard

A couple of days ago a flock of eight of these ungainly birds landed in front of our house.

They immediately started looking for food.

They were so engrossed in looking for lunch that they pain no attention to me and my camera.

So I was able to get some images.

lopez oyster cactchers 053015 00004

lopez oyster catcher 053015 00006

lopez oyster catcher 053015 00011