Saturday, December 30, 2006

Winter Days

Made an unexpected trip to Wellpinit this morning when a relative called to request my help moving. She's leaving the United States to accept a teaching post in Alberta, Canada. More on that later. It was a beautiful, bright winter day; excellent for taking pictures.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Lazy Days

Lazy days of Christmas break, and yet no time to blog...hmmm... What shall I do? Nothing to say at present, except that I'm looking forward to the new year.

This photograph is from the Spokane Reservation, showing the snow covered fields, reflecting moonlight.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Nativity

My mother took my entire family to see the new Nativity movie. We enjoyed the film. I thought the depiction of the wise men was a little silly, but the actual birth of Jesus brought tears to my eyes; it is the story of the ages after all. For me, I just thought of the human side of both Joseph and Mary, and how they must have doubted and feared. And yet, in the end, so many people arrived to bear witness of the divine king. It was beautiful.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Monkeys for Christmas

Who would have thought monkeys would give my daughter her greatest delight Christmas morning? She received several monkey dolls and a Curious George movie. She was thrilled. My other children were equally happy with their gifts this year; Dakota received a Game Boy and McKenna received a remote control car. As their father, I received the blessing of knowing they were happy with their presents one more year.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Angels

Whitney and Shanoah as angels...

This evening, my extended family shared Christmas dinner and a small gift exchange with my wife and children. Everyone loved the turkey I cooked. Afterwards, the children wrote their own Christmas play based on the Nativity story. McKenna played the part of Mary, Dakota played Joseph, Kaleb played all three Wise Men, and Whitney and Shanoah played angels. They even quoted scripture with absolute innocence and perfection. It was beautiful.

Passing the Torch

Every year Glenda makes Christmas dinner, but I figured I'm getting old enough to to learn how to make a formal turkey dinner (at the tender age of 35). She coached me through the entire process, including the stuffing, candied yams, gravy, and more. It was delicious and just perfect! I never knew I could cook so well. I was so proud of that turkey, I had to include it on my blog. Everyone laughed at me when I pulled out my camera and tripod, but I don't care. This is an important moment in my life. ;)

Now Glenda says she'll never cook Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner again. She passed the torch to the next generation, and it will fall on me to prepare holiday meals in the future.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Dinner With Paul

The Merchant Family Christmas dinner was greatly reduced this year, but still very pleasant. After Steve's passing, his wife and kids decided to escape Christmas altogether and take an extended road trip. We had a much smaller dinner than usual with Paul and his family.

During our visit, McKenna decided she wanted me to take pictures with her. She chose the backgrounds and poses. It was kind of funny, actually. She was so adamant. This one was the best.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Winter Night

The ancient songs move under a darkened winter sky, heavy with grief mingled with destiny; for the tears of previous generations bring the promise of new lives growing up from the frozen earth. And when the spring comes again and showers the land with warmth, the shadow of our pain will water the green grass and make flowers bloom upon the fields of the heart.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Solstice on the Hill

Walking down the hill...

A group of friends observed the Winter Solstice on Edward's hill with prayer, songs, and fellowship. Afterwards, we enjoyed a hot bowl of soup and singing Christmas carols, accompanied by guitar. What a wonderful evening!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Good King Wenceslas

A member of Rhonda's ward asked me to sing a part in "Good King Wenceslas" at the ladies Relief Society Christmas devotional. I can't tell you the last time I sang in an LDS ward, but I agreed to participate in exchange for the good press in the community. :)

I always associated King Wenceslas with Christmas, but I never knew the story. Actually, the Feast of Stephen mentioned in the song falls the day after Christmas on December 26, and "King" Wenceslas was actually a duke in one of the ancient kingdoms of Middle Europe. He was known for his kindness to the poor and for promoting Christianity to the people of that region. I understand he died as a martyr for the faith before the age of 30.

The ladies did a marvelous job describing the origins of many well-known and beloved Christmas hymns. Many songs came as a result of direct inspiration, and several even appeared in dreams. It reminded me of something I once heard my father say when I was still a youth. He said all songs come from dreams, even the ones we hear on the radio or in church. The songs have a spirit, even if we don't know it. He mainly referred to Native American songs, but he included all songs in his belief.

Whatever the case, the Spirit of Christmas certainly lives in the music.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Princess

People hear me say my daughter reminds me of a princess, but I rarely discuss my reasons for saying so. McKenna certainly demonstrates a sense of royal entitlement, and often expresses admiration for the reigning families of the world, both past and present. Whenever she plays make-believe, she usually commands the others with a calm regal directive, fully expecting her subjects will follow and obey. When I arrived home from work this afternoon, I found her playing in the front yard with her sister. She wore a green princess dress, which originally belonged to Whitney, I might add. Of course, I can't help smile. She is such an adorable princess after all.

Evidence of the Storm

Several days ago, a windstorm knocked out power to more than 1.5 million people throughout Washington and Oregon. Apparently, several people even died as a result of flooding and falling objects. On the other hand, Spokane saw very little by way of physical damage, but the wind did uproot this tree across the street from my workplace on North Market Street.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Let the Children Sing

A teacher at Dakota's school heard him singing and invited him to record backup music for a CD he's making. He went to a studio with several other classmates and recorded "Let the Children Sing." I'm very proud of his accomplishment and his talent for music.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mahatma Gandhi

Rhonda rented the movie Gandhi, released in 1982. I vaguely remember seeing clips of the film in high school, but I was not prepared for the deeply emotional response I would have as we watched tonight. Especially toward the end, when he fasted for the end of violence between Hindus and Muslims, his devotion to forgiveness and non-violence moved me to tears. I'm not sure I could ever possess such greatness of character as he demonstrated throughout his life.

In the film, Gandhi said to man who killed a Muslim child in retaliation for the death of his own son by Muslims, "I know a way out of hell. Find a child, a child whose mother and father have been killed, a little boy about this high, and raise him as your own. Only be sure that he is a Muslim and that you raise him as one." Who knows if Gandhi ever truly uttered those words? Nevertheless, such deep forgiveness truly is divine.

An internet search gives the source for this quote as a Reader's Digest article from February 1992, though I have not yet confirmed it.

New Camera Arrived

The new camera arrived; same model as before: the Kodak EasyShare z760. Whitney is posing here for my debut blog with my restored photographic abilities. Awesome.

My Life

I've been slacking in the blog department, mostly because I've not had a camera, and honestly, a blog without pictures is pretty boring. But just in case people were wondering, this is a detailed play by play of my life over the last few days:

1. My hours will be cut back next quarter at work. Damn.
2. I substituted for a life-skills class on the AEC. Fun.
3. My family got to see Derrick.
4. We sweat on Friday.
5. Thrya served some great soup afterwards.
6. Had dinner with Glenda's Ukrainian co-workers.
7. John and Michaeline invited us dancing for their anniversary. Funny.
8. Hip hop isn't my favorite.
9. Practiced singing "Good King Wencenslas" at church.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


A while back, I applied for a full-time job with the college, and even interviewed for the position. Well, I received a call today saying someone else got the job. I'm feeling the sting of disappointment, but I'm still hopeful something better will come along.

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Camera Ordered

I can't stand it any longer; I had to order a new camera. Last year I waited until Christmas, but this year I turned to eBay, and won the bidding with a moderate discount. This will be my only Christmas present gift this year, but I don't care. Life is bland without the ability to take pictures. Now that's the sign of a true addict, isn't it?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Pageant

Our neighbors invited us to watch the Best Christmas Pageant Ever at the Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church. Most of their family members had a role in the play. When I was a kid, this particular show was one of my favorite Christmas productions. Sorry, still no pictures.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

His Lordship the Governor of Virginia

Dakota's school did a re-enactment of Colonial America, with each student acting a specific part from that time period. Dakota played the part of Governor Francis Fauquerer of colonial Virginia, and of course, he gave his speech with the best British accent out of everyone. He is such an aristocrat by nature, and a master actor.

I borrowed the camera from the neighbors, which I think you can tell by the quality of the pixels. Oh, I miss my camera.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Belief Creates Experience

I've heard it said the world reflects our inner experience. In other words, what we believe about the world actually creates our experience. People who see only darkness find plenty of things to confirm their perception. On the other hand, people who see goodness also find experiences to support their view of reality.

This concept re-appeared in my life this morning.

Driving south on Monroe Street, the angle of the sun made the wet pavement look like a shining silver ribbon. The beauty of it caught me off guard. I had been somewhat preoccupied with rather mundane concerns up to that moment, but I suddenly found myself vaulted into an experience of transformation and awe. For one brief instant, the world was filled with spirit and love.

That experience made me reflect on what I see when I look at the world. What kind of life do I live? Is my life as happy and fulfilled as I would like? If not, what do I need to change about my BELIEFS such that I have a different experience?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hostage Crisis

Empire Glass on Newport Highway provided glass to replace a window pane at our house. As I drove up to their place of business, I saw dozens of police officers and a gaggle of news vehicles next door, with transmission towers looming over the parking lot at the Ramada Inn. As it turns out, some guy is holding his girlfriend hostage in one of the rooms. It's a crazy turn of events right here in my own neighborhood, and here I am with no camera. Sadly, I know little more than that.

Read more about it here: KXLY.

Stolen Camera

Sadly, my camera was stolen earlier this evening. I only want to say my previous camera was broken last year about this time, so I'm wondering if I have some kind of camera curse. What's up with that anyway? I'm feeling kind of lost and pathetic without it.

Well, I'm taking up a collection to buy a new one. Anyone interested in supporting me in this?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hallelujah Chorus

The choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

For the third year in a row, Matthew Cudney invited me to the Messiah Sing-Along at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Spokane. This year his mother and sister flew in from California to join us. We had a very enjoyable time.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Oh, Christmas Tree...

My sister and I took the kids for a drive in the woods to cut down our own Christmas trees. The ones we find in nature never look quite as pretty or full, but when it comes to saving $50 or more, I think it's well worth the trouble. Actually, we had a great time trekking through the snow to find the "perfect" one. For one brief moment, the sun broke through the clouds and created this amazing view. Some moments really are perfect.

We stopped for a few minutes at my uncle Pat's house and Tony drove up on his snowmobile. He offered to let me drive, so I spent the next hour or so giving the kids a turn to ride. I'm usually quite reserved when it comes to danger and speed, but by the end, I found myself going quite fast. The kids loved it, so I'm sure we'll go again.

Wedding Reception

Mr. and Mrs. Jordyn Archer.

My wife and I were invited to sing for our friend's wedding, but as it turns out, they decided to get married before and not tell anyone. They solemnized their union at the Hitching Post in Coeur d'Alene, with only the Justice of the Peace and each other as witnesses. No matter; we ended up singing for the reception instead. That was fun. It was especially fun to MAKE fun of Jordyn. In this picture, he refused to smile for me, so this is what he gets. (Jordyn, you were warned).

Jordyn's mother held the reception in her home, and I must say the place was beautiful. I don't care what anyone says, marriage is a sacred event no matter where it happens.

Under the Moon

Downtown Spokane almost looks deserted under the twilight moon with hardly any lights in the buildings, and one lonely tree seeming to stand taller than the city. Actually, to get this view, I had to hike down a steep hillside near Peaceful Valley. With all the snow and ice and my tread-less shoes, I almost slid downhill into the river below. Seriously. I had to grab hold of whatever vegetation I could find to stop myself from falling over the edge. That would have been fun, or not. Despite the obvious danger, I think this picture was worth it.

Snow Covering

I woke up and saw the land covered with snow... oh wait, that was a few days ago. I've been slacking and haven't posted since we came home from Seattle. This is a photograph of the blue spruce in our front yard from our first major snow the other day. Isn't it beautiful?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Seattle Trip

My family arrived home late last night from a small weekend trip to Seattle. As promised, I processed the pictures and posted my favorites below. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Snoqualmie Pass

Driving conditions over Snoqualimie Pass were miserable, not so much because of snow and ice, but because hordes of holiday travelers were crossing the pass after spending Thanksgiving weekend on the coast. Most of the time we drove less than 10 miles per hour, and several times we came to a complete stand still. Going over the pass set us back about three hours. By the time we reached the east side of the state, road conditions had deteriorated into dangerous patches of black ice, causing us to get home much later than we would have liked. But thank the Lord we arrived safe and sound. My children are now sleeping peacefully in their beds.

The Seattle Temple

Sunday morning we toured the grounds of the Seattle Temple. The building itself seemed somewhat bleak and uninviting under the dark, overcast sky, but the surrounding gardens and statues seemed to welcome us. I have many happy memories here; from the first proxy baptisms I did in 1984, to my first endowment in 1990. After Rhonda and I married, we used to visit this temple at least once a month. So much changed since then, it seems like a distant memory, but I never regret any time I spent in the Seattle Temple learning how to be in relationship to the divine. My relationship to God changed and grew, but this place played an important role in my early spiritual development. I remember the temple with tenderness and honor.

My Other Favorite

This is my other favorite picture from our trip to Seattle showing Dakota near the waterfront. He looks so happy here exploring new places in the world. I'm very proud of his enthusiasm for learning and experiencing new things.

The Seattle Aquarium

My children loved the Seattle Aquarium best of all. Of course, I felt the same way when I was their age. These photographs come from my two favorite places in the aquarium. The first is a giant tank where the fish swim above and all around the people; it's like being inside the fish tank. We used to call it the "bubble" when we were younger. My other favorite place is a tank where people can touch the starfish, sea anenomes, and other aquatic creatures.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is probably my favorite landmark in Seattle. I love the way I feel around all the people, cultures, interesting shops, and food. Something about me feels alive there the way it doesn't in other places; I have nothing but positive memories. For example, every time we visit the market, we have to see the statues of Buddha on the lower level. It reminds me of when we went there with Derrick years ago and he had to have his picture taken next to the Buddha.

Honoring the Water

Visiting the beach, we saw these brave souls kayaking on the Puget Sound. It looks like a lot of fun; only if the weather were a bit warmer. I suppose they honor the water in their own way. On the other hand, Whitney helped me sing a song from the Spokane Tribe to honor the spirits of the water. Oddly enough, we're a landlocked tribe, but we still have songs from the ocean. I guess the sea is powerful enough to inspire our ancestors to render it proper reverence and respect through song. I certainly feel that way every time I stand on the beach, no matter where I go in the world.

The Lighthouse

Dakota walking on the cold, windy beach.

The lighthouse at Discovery Park.

After visiting the Indian Cultural Center, we visited a nearby lighthouse. The kids had asked to visit the waterfront, even though the wind and rain chilled us to the bone.

My Favorite

This is my favorite picture of my daughters from this trip. They looked so sweet wearing their matching coats and showing their loving, playful spirit. This picture is more spontaneous and unscripted than usual; and while they posed for a two or three dozen photographs over the weekend, this one shows their truest, most endearing nature.

Indian Cultural Center

Guardian of the Spirit.

My family looking at old canoes.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, my family drove toward Discovery Park, and took a long, winding road through a grove of trees. The road ended at a place called Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. As it just so happened, there was some kind of event going on when we arrived where people were selling a variety of coastal Native American crafts.

Outside, we saw this amazing terra cotta Indian sculpture, salvaged from the White - Henry - Stuart Building when it was renovated in 1976 (it was originally built in 1909). The statue now stands about six feet tall and had tobacco offerings at the base. Apparently, people have begun to see some kind of spiritual significance in having this old man near the cultural center. A marker refers to this piece as the "Guardian of the Spirit."

A little later, we saw a handful of old canoes once used by the Coast Salish people. When I saw them, something quite unexpected happened to me; I literally started to weep. I'm not sure what it means, or why I felt that way, but seeing those old canoes moved me beyond words.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Snowball Fight

Whitney gearing up to make a snowball.

On the way over to Seattle, we stopped for a snowball fight along the side of the road. When I was a kid, I absolutely hated snowball fights; maybe because I always ended up getting pummeled by really mean kids who liked to pack the snow into hardened ice-rocks, leaving bruises, welts, and other minor injuries. Of course, playing in the snow with my own children is a very different thing; no one aims to kill or maim the other, and we generally just try to have fun. Actually, I loved it. I mean, I really loved it. We laughed so hard we almost cried for joy. That's what winter was always meant to be.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


We spent the day taking in the sights in downtown Seattle; Pike Place Market, the Aquarium, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, and others. The kids loved it, and I loved watching their excitement. I'll post more when the pictures come in.

Oh, I almost forgot; I took the kids to see some of the places I used to live, my old school, and my old church. They were very interested in learning more about their father's childhood history.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Next Level

My family left Spokane this morning for a short break away from home. We braved the snowy pass and are now staying in a Kirkland area hotel. We plan on visiting the Seattle waterfront tomorrow. Our kids haven't seen this part of the state in more than five years, so I'm really glad they'll have this experience. I'll post the pictures when we get back to Spokane.

Earlier this evening, we had dinner with my friend Tresa. She previously lived in the Boise area and completed the Spectrum training in my same group (LT-24) back in 1998. We had a wonderful time remembering our training experience and re-kindling previous commitments to self-awareness and personal growth. In fact, her husband led us in an improvised process around the issue of enrollment. I expressed my personal hesitation around enrolling others into the training and he proceeded to uncover other areas in my life where I hesitate in a similar manner.

As a result of this process, I realized something rather profound about myself. When I completed the training 8 years ago, I was so focused on resolving painful issues in my life, I didn't have much space in my life for looking at issues of enrollment, money, or abundance. I'm not suggesting pain has gone away completely, but I'm not focused on it. Pain doesn't drive me anymore. For the first time in my life, I'm beginning to look at my relationship with things like money, power, professionalism, and abundant living.

At one point he asked us, "Do you have everything you want?" I had to say I do not yet have everything I want, so why not? What holds me back? What would my life be like without my personal hesitations and reservations? Where will I go from here? I'm not exactly clear where I'm going, but I'm clear where I'm not, and that is the first hurdle. I'm ready now for the next level.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Thanksgiving day was both blessed and unusual this year.

The day was blessed for all the normal reasons, such as good food, happy visits with loved ones, and the sound of children laughing. Rhonda's family came over for dinner and spent a wonderful time with us eating and playing games.

It was unusual because of a whole different set of circumstances. We invited one of Anthony's friends for dinner, and when I went to pick her up, there were two cop cars outside her house. I still don't know all the details, but some runaway girl had been hiding out nearby, and so the cops interviewed me just because I showed up on the scene. Later on, I went to see K in the hospital. He was recovering from being "jumped," which resulted in several broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Regardless of the events of this day, I still took time to give thanks for my life, my beautiful family, and my children. I also gave thanks for having a warm house and that people don't ever want to beat me up, and that I don't have police officers looking for me. Yes, I give thanks for all this and more. :)


One of the great things about holiday dinners is the way all the cousins get together and play. These three in particular are absolutely inseparable. I think I have pictures of them together from every family dinner or gathering in the last few years.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Home Away From Home

When I was a kid, I used to think the Spokane County Courthouse and Jail was my father's home away from home. Nowadays, I'm beginning to get that same impression for someone else I know... :) I made my weekly visit, and left sad and reflective, as usual.

Alberto and Yoana

Several weeks ago I visited Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, Utah. I saw this couple taking turns to pose for photographs with a small disposable camera. I offered to photograph the couple together and promised to send a print copy. My computer crashed in the interim, but I finally fulfilled my word. Only very rarely do I ever stop strangers to ask for pictures, but I'm glad I did.

The Covenant

The Old Testament tells the story of King Josiah who ruled over ancient Israel when he was only eight years old. While still a young man, he authorized an extensive renovation of the Temple, where workers accidentally uncovered an old copy of scripture, or the Book of the Law. A priest read the book aloud in the presence of the king, causing him to weep. I'm not sure if the people no longer owned copies of the book, or if it simply fell into disuse, but the king realized his people had gone astray from its sacred teachings. He caused the book to be read to all the people, who joined him in renewing their covenant to the Lord (2 Kings Chapters 22 and 23).

Something happened recently to remind me of this story in my own life. About eight years ago, I completed a training through a company called Spectrum. The training provided a safe place for me to peel back the layers of limiting beliefs and to remember who I really am. Contrary to the way I normally lived my life, I discovered this one truth:

I am a courageous, passionate, worthy man.

This statement became an agreement or covenant between me and the universe. It is a reflection of who I really am on the deepest level. When I honor my commitment, I experience the world as exciting and clear; but when I betray my commitment, I tend to behave in exactly the opposite way; I become timid, fearful, anxious, lethargic, worthless, and irredeemable. This covenant has become a measure of integrity and honor.

Several years after completing the training, I forgot my commitment and fell into a time of deep darkness and depression. Through incredible effort, I slowly returned to my original self and began to experience goodness once again. After Spectrum closed, I started staffing the Great Life in Utah.

As if to remind me of my word, I was digging through some old junk in the garage, and I found an old written copy of my agreement made all those years ago. I was stunned! The paper was wrinkled, stained, and had holes in the center, but the message is the same. I felt like Josiah, who had lost the Law and then had it restored to him. I'm grateful to remember my own commitment and sense of self-worth.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Terry Walker

Looking for an old friend online, I discovered instead her obituary. Terry Walker was my best friend's mom when I was in grade school, and became like my own flesh and blood relative. She introduced me to the LDS religion and was directly responsible for my baptism. The last time I saw her alive, she had come to Spokane for my missionary farewell. This photograph is from that day. I'm sad to see she's gone; I pray God's blessings upon her family.

Soul Dance

My wife and I co-facilitated our first workshop in many years. We used to do this kind of thing a lot, but then life got hard, and our workshops sort of fell by the wayside. It felt good to resume our work together.

We held a Soul Dance Workshop in the beautiful surroundings of Heartsong near Tum Tum, Washington. A handful of people joined us, and had positive experiences. More on this later...


Related Posts with Thumbnails