Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mount Spokane

From the summit of Mount Spokane, Dakota and I enjoyed a magnificent view. He and I rode our bicycles from the summit to the base, a total of 15 miles. What an amazing experience!

Steve's Tree

Dakota, Linda, and Ron climbing the mountain...

Linda contemplating the tree...

Ron and Clayne converse near Steve's tree...

During our bike ride, we took a small detour to visit the location of Steve's death. He died more than a year ago while snowmobiling on Mount Kit Carson. At the time, Steve rested his back against a small tree after feeling heart related symptoms and went to sleep.

He never woke up.

Steve's brother-in-law Clayne Perrins is a park ranger on Mount Spokane and helped bring his body off the mountain. He marked the tree with a ribbon and served as our guide yesterday.

I had visited the tree when it was still covered in snow, but this was my first visit in the summer. Everything looked very different, but I began to feel strange as we got closer to the exact site. I felt a welling of emotion, especially when I saw many of our old offering still hanging from the tree. I made prayers and honored the place made sacred by Steve's passing.


Dakota and I went on a cycling trip with his grandpa Ron. We started at the summit of Mount Spokane and cycled down Mount Kit Carson Loop Road, and connected to Mount Spokane-Day Road. We traveled a total of 15 miles.

The summit of the mountain had to be a full 15 or 20 degrees cooler than the normal elevation at home. The cool temperatures combined with the wind chill factor caused by our downhill speed made for a very cold ride. If I ever make that ride again, I'll definitely wait for a hotter day. The cold was very uncomfortable.

Notwithstanding the cold, I had a very enjoyable ride down the mountain. We passed through some of the most beautiful country in the world, including a few amazing huckleberry patches. I'm already planning my return.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


For the second consecutive day, Whitney is in the family spotlight. She performed a dance yesterday at the Spokane Opera House, and today she gave a talk in the Primary. She spoke about the blessings she received since her baptism.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Whitney had her dance recital at the Spokane Opera House this afternoon. She performed a jazz number, and I have to say, she was the cutest girl on stage. Afterwards, she received flowers from her grandma and posed for this photograph.


Had breakfast at Frank's Diner this morning, and saw Carl slaving away over the hot grill. When he noticed me, he ran out from behind the counter and gave me the best hug ever. I've known him since he was an rowdy 7 or 8 year old kid in my primary class. Since then, we've become friends with his parents and siblings.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer Solstice

Yesterday, I attended the Summer Solstice observance with Edward. Maybe later I'll be able to say something more about it.

Edward & Christine

This story is a little too long to tell adequately, so I'll apologize in advance.

I dreamed Edward into my life a few years ago. In my dream, I saw man with white hair who takes care of bees. A voice told me this man would be very important in my life. About two weeks later, I met Edward at the sweat and was surprised to learn he in fact raises bees. Since then, we have shared many important experiences. That's all I can say about it now.

Christine welcomed me into her life from the moment I met her. She opened her heart and always makes a place for me in her world. I appreciate her friendship and kindness.

Sue is in the picture with Christine. She also lives on the hill near Edward and Christine. She attended our soul dance a couple times and shared some meaningful experiences with us.

More on all of this later.

Mike & Candace

Mike & Candace attended the Summer Solstice Ceremony yesterday.

I met Candace years ago when I sang a prayer song for the Spokane Symphony and shared a few words about my spirituality. Candace is a member of the Symphony and heard me speak. She was very moved, and later called me to express her feelings. Since that time, Candace and I have developed an interesting friendship via email and a few occasional visits. We have addressed a wide range of topics related to spirituality and dreams.

Through Candace, I also met her husband Mike. He and I also shared a few emails, and I found He is quite a deep thinker. He has a great appreciation for nature and the invisible forces behind all that exists.

I'm thankful for both Mike and Candace in my life.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Old Murder Trial

Browsing the internet last night, I stumbled upon an old photograph of my grandfather Gibson Eli in a digitized archive of the Spokane Chronicle, April 10, 1937.

His wife, the former Josephine Andrew, was called to testify in federal district court when her father Baptiste Andrew stood trial for the murder of John Joseph. Later articles indicate the killing did in fact occur, but the court found the killing justified when they learned Mr. Andrew's wife had run off with Joseph. Somehow I doubt such a killing would stand justified today.

To my knowledge, my grandfather offered no evidence in the trial, but simply appeared in the photograph as the husband of the star witness. He can be seen on the far right of the photograph.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Home Repairs

As mentioned, my wife and I have been anxiously engaged in finishing a number of pressing home repairs. I don't care to say any more, except that I really hate this kind of stuff. I was just cursing a few minutes ago. Here I am in my dismantled shower feeling tired and discouraged.

OK, I will say this, we remodeled both upstairs bathrooms. In one, we simply replaced some of the trim and other minor details, but in the other, we had to replace floor boards, shower tiles, and other repairs outside my skill range. Thankfully with got help from Mike and Carol.

You know, they're building their own place out by Ford. I may have to lend a hand some time soon for their home projects. I'd be glad to, actually.


I was busily working on home repairs when my daughters came in the house with a look of disgust and fear. "What's the matter?" I asked. They pulled me outside by the hand and showed me the biggest dragonfly I ever saw resting comfortably on my car door. They wanted me to kill to it and insisted they could not resume playing until they knew for sure it was dead.

Instead of killing it, I ran inside for my camera and took pictures. After a short while, I finally shooed it away and made my daughters feel right with the world again.

Seeing this dragonfly reminds me that my sister and several others coincidentally asked me what meaning these interesting insects hold in Plateau Salish culture. Actually, I never heard any Salish stories about dragonflies, so I didn't know how to respond. Any thoughts?

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Photographs by Klea Brower.

The children's primary did a fun little activity for Father's Day. Four of us fathers were asked to visit the primary dressed in nondescript white robes and a paper mask over our heads. They asked us to disguise our voices and answer questions posed by the children. The kids would collect as much information as possible and attempt to guess our identities.

I'm not sure how I got roped into it, but I really enjoyed it. In the end, Whitney was chosen to remove the mask from my head. The kids were beaming about it for hours after. It was so much fun.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Rhonda and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary today by remodeling our bathroom. Afterwards, we took the family to dinner and I presented her with a gift of sapphire earrings. The gift was based on a dream of using precious stones for spiritual purposes.

Of course, I haven't written much these last few days because of our remodel. Hopefully, I'll write more later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I attended my first graduation as a faculty member at the Institute for Extended Learning. What an amazing experience! Many of my students walked across the stage and received a GED or high school diploma. That alone inspired me and made me remember why I love teaching.

Of course, it was wonderful to walk into the room with my fellow teachers dressed in our academic regalia. It really is magnificent to see, but later on, I joked that my graduation robes cost me $70,000, so I wanted to get the most use out of them as possible.

The top photograph shows me standing with my co-instructor Terry Gamon. We worked together this last quarter, and I have to say I truly admire this man. He works hard for the benefit of our students and tries to instill confidence in everyone. I've learned a lot working with him these last few months, and look forward to many new experiences to come.

Skyway Cafe

My sister Michelle invited me to lunch at the Skyway Cafe near Felts Field (a small airport on the east side of town).

Strangely, we lived about a mile from Felts Field for several years, but I never went. As such, I was quite surprised to find a restaurant adjacent to the runway and the control tower. From our table, we could see small airplanes and helicopters coming and going.

I would describe the food as "home cooking," which was really quite enjoyable.

Thanks to Michelle for showing me a new place in town. I may very well bring my wife and kids in the near future.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Almira Wheat

Driving home from Ephrata, Rhonda and I retraced part of our honeymoon journey.

Almost 13 years ago, we spent our honeymoon in a strange collection of places. We passed the weekend on the ocean shores of Lincoln City, Oregon, and later drove home to Spokane. After a day, we decided we wanted just a little more honeymoon on a shoestring budget. We camped near Mt. St. Helens, visited Olympia, then drove home on the back roads of Highway 2.

On a whim, we stopped in the tiny town of Almira, Washington, just to say we "honeymooned" there. We took our pictures on the main street of town, then continued our journey home.

All these years later, we passed through the same country together for the first time since our wedding. I'm reminded of the beautiful wheat fields and the wide open air. After all this time, I still love the spaces of Eastern Washington; and to share it with my wife, the day was perfect.

Dry Falls

On the way home from Ephrata, Rhonda and I stopped at Dry Falls to view the ancient cliffs and photograph the magnificent landscape. Something about the sagebrush, the sun, and the wind makes my spirit feel alive.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Sadie was baptized this weekend by her step-father Steve. We drove to Ephrata to witness the event and lend our support. Of course, she was radiant all dressed in white before the ceremony.

Children of the Sky

Children of the Sky, you walk across the clouds and dance over endless fields of blue. You are my superheroes, my guardian angels, and my hope for tomorrow. No doubt you walked as spiritual guides before your birth upon this earthly place, for when the sky goes dark, I see your faces like a thousand stars, lighting my feet across the heavenly road. And when you sleep, you visit me in a Land of Dreams, where the pure light of God is always smiling upon us.


Daryl and his daughter...

During our visit to Ephrata this weekend, we got yo see Daryl and Connie Stocking.

Daryl and I have an interesting history. We met some time in February of 1992 while riding a bus from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala to Retalhuleu. He could probably tell you the exact date. He always remembers numbers, dates, and complex math problems.

Anyway, we were both serving an LDS mission and became friends.

After the mission, he called me from his home in Idaho Falls. I'm not sure what came over me, but some time during our conversation, I told him he needed to move to Spokane. "You'll find a wife here. You're never going to find the right marriage partner in Idaho."

Oddly enough, he followed my advice and came to Spokane. Less than two weeks later, he met Connie and got engaged. They were married in the Seattle Temple and settled down in the Spokane area. They even lived with us for a while down on Felony Flats.

As if the story weren't strange enough already, I also found out he and I are distant cousins. We share a common ancestor from colonial Connecticut, way back in the 1600s.

You would think being related, serving the same mission, and living in the same town would give us plenty of opportunities to build a really close friendship. Sadly, we live in parallel worlds, and rarely cross paths. He eventually moved to Ephrata, and now we see him even less than before.

Well, I decided to break the trend and make sure to visit before leaving Ephrata. Luckily, I caught him right before he left for a two week military exercise in Yakima. We probably stayed more than an hour and I remember why I liked Daryl so much. He's the goofiest guy you'll ever meet, but he's very humble and sincere. I know he'll be my friend for as long as we're both alive, and probably longer than that.


Dixie is an angel with the clearest eyes, but everyone agrees, she is also quite the fussbutt. She cries at the slightest provocation and no one can comfort her; except for me. I'm not sure why, but I've always been able to make Cassidi's babies stop crying. Of course, I usually sing a few Indian songs while I rock them back to sleep... that always helps.


Dixie also had her blessing, right after Sadie's baptism.


Ryan gets his own blog entry just because he took us out an let us shoot an old wrecked car on his property. He also cooked a mean BBQ (ribs and hamburgers).

Ryan is a cowboy of the first order; he drives a big truck, lives in a field, has a cow named Dinner, shoots guns, and wears big belt buckles. On the outside, he's everything I'm not, but we had such a great time during our visit with him and Cassidi. On another level, he's not that different. I never thought I'd say this, but it was fun being hicks for a day.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Pat Moses officiated the funeral of Denali Nakai McCullough, son of Ronny McCullough and Melissa Suszka. The child was born premature on June 7, 2007 and died the same day. I assisted with the burial and the graveside service.

Melissa said she named her son after Mount Denali because "his heart is as big as that mountain."

The child was buried on June 8, 2007 at the Hubert Cemetery on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


This may become the strangest blog entry I've ever posted, but I'm going to write it anyway.

A certain circle of friends have followed this bizarre little story for several months, so they'll understand. The rest of you, please try to keep up.

You may recall some dreams and spiritual insights symbolized by a phenomenon in nature known as a puffball. They contain some kind of spore, I think, and can endure extremes of temperature and drought. Somehow they became a metaphor related to the way evil replicates in the world. It feels natural to attack evil, but if a person tries to crush it, the puff will burst and hurl spores into the environment, spawning a new generation of evil.

Of course, it's only a metaphor. I don't really believe puffballs are evil. Somehow they're just teaching me a lesson about life and the universe.

Do we attack evil, or do we address it in some other way? What is the best way to stop the spread of suffering and evil in the world?

* * *

I found this particular puffball in the afternoon during my break. Strangely, I found it detached from its surroundings, but completely unharmed, ready and waiting to open onto the world. Oddly, it comes at an interesting time, as I am looking into my own shadows as a human being, and working to heal the darkness within me. I don't believe in accidents, so here we are. I'm confronted with teachings all around me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Dakota played Elvis Presley in a recent school play, "Back to the 50s." He sang "Blue Suede Shoes" surrounded by screaming girls wearing pink poodle skirts. It was a lot of fun to watch. He really is an amazing singer.

Time Machine

My children traveled back the 50s in a school play this morning. This photograph is a fun rendition of their most recent adventure.

Back to the 50s

The time machine...

The audience...

My children participated in a school play written by their grandmother, "Back to the 50s." The plot follows a group of present day high schoolers as they discover a time machine and travel back to the 1950s. Hip hop meets the sock hop as the kids interact through a series of exciting musical numbers. The highlight of the show was Dakota singing "Blue Suede Shoes," by Elvis Presley. The kids did a phenomenal job!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Year of the Butterfly

Just one day after seeing butterflies near Stanton's house, we received a visit on the flower bush in front of our own house.

When I was a kid, my father told me nature chooses one insect every year to dominate over all the others. I believe this may be the Year of the Butterfly.

The first time I remember observing this phenomenon for myself, I was about 9 years old. My father lived in a trailer house on the Spokane Reservation, near Catherine Andrew's place. My brother and I stayed with him in that house the summer after Mount Saint Helens erupted.

It happened like this. My father ran an errand and left the two of us alone in that house. It was a bright sunny day, and I remember I looked across the field and saw some kind of cloud moving toward us. "What is that?" I asked my brother, but he didn't know any more than I did. As it approached, we realized it wasn't a cloud at all, but a swarm of insects.

Now my brother and I had recently watched some B-rate movie about killer bees, so we believed we were about to fall victim to a deadly, stinging swarm. We ran home as fast as we could, but paused long enough to warn the neighbors. They just laughed, so we continued home and locked ourselves inside the trailer.

When the swarm arrived, we saw they were not bees at all, but ladybugs! Millions of ladybugs descended on our house. They were flying into the glass, thumping on the side of house, and crawling under the door. I wasn't sure if I should be afraid or filled with awe. Maybe I felt a little of both.

The rest of that summer we saw ladybugs everywhere, but never like that first day.

A year or two later, we returned to spend the summer with our dad, and this time there were no ladybugs. Instead, we found hundreds of praying mantids. I didn't even know such a thing existed in our part of the world, but they were everywhere. In fact, one time all us kids were riding in the back of my dad's pickup truck when one of the other kids screamed and pointed in my direction. A huge brown praying mantis had landed on the back of my shirt on my left shoulder. I screamed too and shook it from my body. Of course, I also wondered why they were all brown. We had always seen them as big green bugs in books and on the television.

One year all the treetops were filled with beautiful white moths, and another year there were swarms of flying termite looking things. Other years they were less pleasant, like the time we had thousands of yellow jackets. Two years ago there were thousands of blue dragonflies, and finally this year I've seen more yellow butterflies than I've ever seen before.

I'm not sure what it means. Are there any scientists out there who can explain this phenomenon? Has anyone else noticed this kind of occurrence? And what do you think it means on a spiritual level?

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Stanton playing the guitar...

Dakota jumping into Long Lake...

A butterfly we saw today...

Today was dedicated to friendship. We had lunch with Stanton and Elizabeth near Tum Tum, then went swimming in Long Lake. This evening, we attended a post-retreat dinner, dedicated to the women who attended Rhonda's last women's retreat. This was a day for building relationships.


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