Wednesday, November 30, 2011

White wine in the sun

This new Christmas song by Tim Minchin is the first I've heard this year that actually hits you squarely in all the right sentimental spots. You might even get a little misty. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...well, maybe a wet Christmas.

A year ago today Bellingham was looking like a Currier and Ives print. Casey was just eating it up...he never seems to get enough of the white stuff.

Tomorrow - High 46, Low 32, and boring

For the next 10 days - Highs around 45 and lows near 30. And I'm not going out on any kind of a limb here - snow in December is very unlikely.  Sorry, Case. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Favorite weekend photo

Stella demonstrating squatters rights, or maybe the right to peaceably assemble in a bread basket, on the dining room table. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Agile dozer

Look who can still fit - and actually nap - in the old rocking chair. We thought those days were long over a couple of years ago, but it looks like Mr. Agile has still got it, when he wants it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Windswept collie

With another windy, rainy night in store for us, we thought we’d check out the Bay at sundown. You can probably tell that Casey pretty much had Marine Park to himself, but was a little wind-blown from the looks of things. Gusty winds just happen to be one of his least favorite weather hazards, and he's had his share this week.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hope at Thanksgiving

Mt Baker (10, 781 ft)

Check out this piece by Williams Rivers Pitt. It seems to send the perfect Thanksgiving message, even though referring to Monadnock as a mountain at 3,165 feet is a stretch.  Kind of cute though.

 In the Shadow of the Mountain

by: William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

(Photo: freefotouk)
Very soon now, I am going to slide my chair back from my desk and turn off this infernal machine. I am going to do the dishes, take out the trash, give my insane cat three days worth of food, and watch out the window for my wife to come home from work. When she gets here, I am going to throw our bags in the trunk, get behind the wheel, and aim the car north towards New Hampshire, where my mother lives.

It's fantastic drive, one of my all-time favorites, second only in my mind to the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California. While that road is everything that is the West Coast, the road to my mother's house is everything that is the East Coast. Once you get out of the city, which doesn't take long, the way is all small, winding country back roads that seem made for filming BMW commercials on. I don't have a BMW - I have, in fact, a rather battered ten-year-old Toyota - but it's fun to pretend. There are miles of ancient stone walls that run alongside the road, a testament to the pitiless, obdurate New England work ethic that defines this little corner of the world.

We will pass farms and fields, a couple of large lakes, and finally come to a left turn just outside a town so small that it has exactly three buildings to its name, one of which is, of course, a soaring white-board church that is every New England white-board church that was or ever will be. After the turn, the road goes to dirt almost immediately, and for a few miles we are back two centuries in time, with nothing but the wind in the woods and the crunch of the tires to fill our ears. Sometimes there are deer, sometimes there are moose or the occasional lone coyote, and the locals will tell you there are six brown bears in the neighborhood. I've never seen one of those, which is probably for the best.

After a fashion, we will come to my mother's driveway. We will pull up to the house to the sound of her two dogs going berserk. They will charge out the back door and fly to the car, heedless of any notions of personal safety, jumping all around until we finally slide to a slow stop and get out to accept their inevitable slobber-flecked mauling. My mother will be at the door to greet us, and in the distance behind her, as ever, will be the silent sentinel that is Mt. Monadnock.

No one has been able to adequately explain to me what a mountain is doing there to begin with. The White Mountains don't get going in earnest for many miles to the north, the land around Monadnock is almost uniformly flat, but there it is all the same, this bald knob of stone looking down on my mother's house. Someone once told me the reason why the top of Monadnock is bald is that, more than a hundred years ago, sheep farmers whose stock had been getting plundered by wolves herded those wolves up to the top of the mountain, and then set the whole thing on fire. I don't know if that's true or not, but it is one hell of an image to contemplate. Imagine, a century before electric lights stole the mystery of country darkness, looking up to see the top of that mountain wreathed in flames. It would have lit the land for miles around. Like I said, it may be nothing more than local Apocrypha, but there aren't any wolves in those woods anymore, so who knows.

I will be three days in the shadow of the mountain, eating and drinking and playing with dogs, with my wife and mother at my side. I intend to think very few deep thoughts in that time, other than to count and contemplate the blessings in my life. My wife's MS is very much under control - burn in Hell, you bastard disease, you don't scare us - and my mother is in her glory. I have a new nephew named Connor who is all the cute things in the world rolled into one little ball of awesome. I enjoy my work, am surrounded by friends, and have the great privilege of being able to avoid any aforementioned deep thoughts for this little expanse of time.

When we return after the holiday, I will get back to the business of chronicling the Occupy movement, of writing the obituary for the not-so-supercommittee, and begin preparing myself for the year-long horror comedy of the Republican primary season. There is plenty of bad news to go around, but it can all wait until Monday. I know how lucky I am to have what I have, and I intend to steep in it like a contented little tea bag until I am forced to stop.

May all blessings and good fortune be upon you and yours. It is a hard world right now, and luck seems difficult to come by. Cherish what you have, and hold on to the hope that more and greater blessings are just over the horizon, waiting like the dawn to come shine down upon you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve take-out tradition

OK. It’s Thanksgiving Eve and another family tradition is in full swing – take-out family-sized pizza and beer (or red wine)…or whatever. With a day of catering to family and dinner prep ahead of us tomorrow, it’s a no fuss option, and no one's going to mind chowing down on a Rudy’s extra-large half vegi, half pepperoni pizza.

Tonight’s seasonal brew is Full Sail Wassail Ale out of Hood River, Oregon. This year’s batch rates way better than last year’s with just the right mix of malts and hops. The color, aroma and head should appeal to IPA snobs and ale lovers alike - an excellent option to Jubelale, our favorite so far this season.

Something tells me it's not the caramel malts, but the pepperoni
that got Casey's attention.

Gastropod buffet

Casey was knee-deep in maple leaves and alder leaves, and who knows what else, on an excursion this week between showers, which is an accomplishment by itself. The slugs are going to be working overtime cleaning up this detritus compost.

Just what would the Evergreen State do without them anyway? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Full content troubadore

If you've never had a chance to see the incredible singer/songwriter Jim Page, here's a glimpse at what you've been missing.  This backstage interview, conducted by local musician Dana Lyons, took place just before his appearance in Bellingham last week.  Veterans For Peace and Whatcom Peace and Justice Center hosted his full house performance at the Fairhaven Performing Arts Center.  His stirring new song My Declaration begins at 9:14.  Enjoy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Snowfall flirtation

It sure seemed like snow today.  You could almost taste it, and the paths and leaves crunched with patches of ice.

With warm El Nino moisture moving into the state, it looks like it was the last chance at the white stuff until sometime after Thanksgiving.

It will also the last opportunity Casey will be able to roam the interurban for a while without getting sloppy.
Of course he could care less.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Favorite weekend photo

No squirrel escapes the watchful gaze of Casey Mac.

Jolly Roger 2011

So many great seasonal ales, so little time to sample a reasonable selection.

This week we had to check out Maritime’s Jolly Roger Christmas Ale, and you know what…this year's batch wasn't that impressive. Maybe on tap, maybe…the bottled serving was pretty forgettable. Just an average malty amber, but Casey thought the head was worth checking out. That's something.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Perfect utilization of space

With the temperatures dipping down into the 20s for the first time this fall, the only Occupation that interests Casey and Stella is sharing hearth space. And these special buddies are certainly no strangers to some good old interspecies spooning. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Encore: Pray for Peace

It's been over a week and people are still abuzz about singer/songwriter Jim Page's appearance at Fairhaven's Firehouse Performing Arts Center. After more than two hours from a decades-long repertoire, it was obvious that the audience needed a few more hours to hear all it needed to hear from a long list of favorites. Luckily, Jim had time for Joe Paquin's Pray for Peace. Consider this video clip an encore we all deserve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Raindrop reverie

What else does a domestic house cat do to kill time on a rainy day like today? Watching the wind and the rain from a sunroom vantage point must seem like an IMAX presentation, at least in Stella's housebound world.

And an occasional wind swept crow or errant maple leave just makes a diversion like this, from a perch on a dry indoor chair back, all the more engrossing, at least from a feline perspective.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pile on

As far as Casey and Stella are concerned, there is no comfort level quite like a couch pile on.
(Do we have to get up?)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Standing Room Only at Fairhaven's Firehouse for Singer/Songwriter Jim Page

Last Thursday, a full house of Bellinghamsters were treated to more than two hours of singer/songwriter Jim Page's troubadore magic. Portions of the set were previously unrecorded songs, making the audience - if you can call it that since we all seem like family at this point, having listened to Jim for decades - wonder when the next CD was coming out.

Jim, a favorite of the peace movement for decades, agreed, on short notice, to put on a show for VFP Chapter 111 and our Bellingham's Whatcom Peace and Justice Center and was especially impressed with the venue, Fairhaven's Firehouse Performing Arts Center.

With any luck he'll be back for a return engagement soon, in the meantime check out below one of our favorites Everything Is Round.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Good boy

Is this a good boy, or what? This prone position is brought to you by Victoria's new training program to instill a little discipline into Casey's busy schedule of working the crowd for a handout. Tonight he's actually got to wait in the kitchen until we're finished with dinner. Imagine that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Occupy Bellingham's encampment

The first decent day weatherwise in an early stage of the Occupy Bellingham encampment

A lazy sunny Saturday afternoon brought small crowd's of Bellinghamsters to sightsee the progress of our local Occupy work groups, and the latest stage of the encampment at Maritime Heritage Park in downtown Bellingham. Live streaming is available on and they'll be right here for the duration.

Vic and Casey checking out local speakers at a small assembly
A small turnout of 99 percenters, but at least it was a nice day

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Looks can be deceiving

Another sunny fall day on Whatcom Falls trail, but looks can be deceiving. Today almost warranted wearing gloves while getting in a jog in the waning hours of late afternoon. Probably would have had to take them off halfway through, but still...we'll be scraping ice in the early mornings in no time at all.

Any time now

If patience is a virtue, then Stella is one good kitty when it comes to waiting for the fireplace furnace to come to life. As far as thermostats go, she's a believer.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


That's gotta hurt! And one of Casey's favorite toys too. What did Mr. Lion ever do?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

By Invitation Only

This is a third edition entry of Marsha's Splendorosa blogging party By Invitation Only, describing something we have always longed for, with no financial barriers.

In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me to be static things. In physical terms, I move through them; yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me.
                                                                                                               John Fowles

Rather than post about something I have always wanted to do, but have never done, it seems more meaningful to list things I wish I had known about sooner. That’s true about a lot of things I guess, but it would have been nicer to have attained such a firm grasp of the obvious before I was dealing with Medicare open seasons, for god sake.

The older I get the more difficulty I have dealing with the wishful thinking of shoulda-woulda-coulda. And it can be just as difficult coming up with the perfect bucket list, especially when you’ve been lucky. The more I dwell on it the more I start to realize - and it’s not from lack of imagination - I have pretty much done everything I’ve dreamt of doing.

But there is one thing...    

While I suppose a trip around the moon and back is still not out of the question, it’s just sometimes easier escaping to therapeutic respites within minutes and short walks from home. Giving in to the gentle coaxing of big collie eyes, pushing away from cyberspace traps, cascading emails, social networks, as well as cell phone disruptions, I  just escape outdoors for a walk in the woods, allow them to move through me. On our infrequent crisp, sunny days this time of year…there’s nothing more sustainable or rejuvenating.

 And John Glenn didn’t go on a space shuttle ride until he was 77.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeding frenzy?

On the drive to a trailhead today late in the afternoon, we just had to pause to let Casey check out a black tailed yearling. It’s never enough to just slow down, a pacing border collie in the backseat means stop, roll down the windows, and wait until the young deer’s had it with its excited onlooker.

This youngster couldn’t have cared less about an audience today, much less Casey. This year so far we haven't come across one blacktail in the open on a hike, but there's always been plenty of rustling in underbrush thick with payback watchers.