Tuesday, July 31, 2007


My family received passports yesterday afternoon in the mail. We ordered them because of an upcoming trip to Mexico we plan to to take together in September. Of course, receiving our passports made the trip seem all the more real and exciting. I can hardly believe we're really going.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Today was something of a non-event. I stayed home with my family, had dinner, and played cards. As the day drew to a close, I went for a walk in the hills behind my house. I saw the foundations of the new north-south freeway and a new storage facility. Boring, I know, but it was all the excitement I found for today.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Library Date

I renewed my library card this afternoon, a simple act to be sure, but one of my daughters' favorite dates is a trip to the library. They love to choose their favorite books and bring them home to read. Afterwards, we had lunch at the food court. It was a simple, yet delightful day for us.

Farmer's Market

My girls and I paid a visit to the Spokane Farmer's Market on Division and Second. I didn't even know we had such a market, but I was happy to discover it. The kind woman in the top photograph sold us two live plants, one basil and the other rosemary.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ominous Sky

After the fire, the sky behaved in a strange manner. First, the sky produced an amazing double rainbow, followed by eerie looking clouds against the sunset. As the sky grew darker, a brownish haze settled over the city, appearing quite ominous and unnatural.

Refinery Fire

Sitting at work this afternoon, one of the other staff members said she saw black smoke on the horizon. We all ran outside, and sure enough, we saw a thick black column rising into the air from just a few blocks away. Some oil trucks at Whitley Fuel, LLC had caught fire and created quite a spectacle. I've not yet heard anything about the cause.

Loon Lake

My family spent the afternoon swimming at Loon Lake. Rhonda's friend invited us to her house on the lake. The water was wonderful and the weather perfect. Makes me wish I had my own lake house...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Schill-Guffin Wedding

This afternoon I performed the wedding ceremony of Jason Schill and Paden Guffin at Waitts Lake, Stevens County, Washington. Paden is the daughter of my good friend Tony, so it was an honor to participate. The ceremony was brief, but very beautiful.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Nick is moving to Salt Lake City...

Amy and Kameron visiting Spokane...

Yesterday afternoon we bid farewell to our good friend Nick who is pursuing new adventures in Salt Lake City. Some time ago, Rhonda introduced him to the Great Life Foundation, he completed the training, and now he has really taken off. We wish him well in all his future endeavors, and hopefully we'll get the chance to see him soon.

As Nick planned his move, he invited Amy and Kameron to help him drive. They were in the same group with Nick, and both Rhonda and I staffed various parts of their training. It was wonderful to see them both again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Power Outage

The power went out on our block last night, but only affected about 4 or 5 houses. Unfortunately, our house was one of the few to lose electricity. However, the strangest things happen without electrical devices like television or computers: people actually talk with one another. My family practically camped on the living room floor playing cards under the light of a lantern. We visited and laughed until the lights finally returned about 4 hours later.

When I was a kid, I remember reading comics by candlelight when my parents weren't able to pay the electric bill. It seemed like such an adventure; I never knew it as a bad thing. In a strange way, I'm glad my kids got to experience life without power at least once. Maybe now a real camping trip is in order.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I know I'm working backward now and getting things out of order, but I really wanted to include this photograph of Rhonda at the rose garden in Portland. She looked quite lovely that day. And besides, Dakota is visiting relatives in Arkansas and called this afternoon. He seems a little homesick, so I imagine he would like to see a picture of his mom. If you're reading this Dakota, be sure to leave a comment. Love you.


I forgot to mention our trip to Chinatown in downtown Portland. We got a few pictures of the entrance, but there were a few scary-looking drunk people nearby, so we hurried off to the next place.

We had dinner in a Chinese restaurant, which I really enjoyed. While we waited for our food, we read our Chinese zodiacs at the table. The girls surprised me with how much they seemed to enjoy comparing our respective characteristics. Unfortunately, they didn't offer a children's menu, or even an American menu. It took some convincing, but we finally got the girls to agree to eat with us. They aren't very daring to try new things, but they actually liked some of the food once they tried it.

Mystical Places

Mystical places hold my attention like nothing else. Even though the Stonehenge at Maryhill is a modern creation, I feel a faint shadow of ancient times when people were more connected to the earth and skies. I wish there were more places like this in the world to remind us who were are in relation to all that is.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Among the enigmatic projects completed by Sam Hill during the last century, a replica of Stonehenge is perhaps the most intriguing. The structure overlooks the Columbia River, just a few miles from Maryhill Museum. Sam Hill built the monument as a memorial to local men who perished during the First World War. He mistakenly believed the original Stonehenge had been a site of ancient human sacrifices to Pagan gods. As a Quaker, Hill viewed the war with horror and regarded the death of our soldiers as a continuation of human sacrifice to the modern gods of war. He hoped this monument would help inspire peace around the world.


On the way home form Portland, my family stopped at the Maryhill Museum, near Goldendale, Washington. Maryhill is perhaps the most unlikely gallery in the Pacific Northwest. The collection includes several works of Auguste Rodin, items from the court of the former Queen Marie of Romania (including one of her personal thrones), and many fine examples of Native American art; and yet the museum sits atop a barren hilltop overlooking a lonely stretch of the Columbia River.

Maryhill was built by Sam Hill, who was something of a wealthy visionary at the beginning of the last century. He had planned the house as one of his personal residences, but upon the urging of his friend Queen Marie, he decided to dedicate the house as a museum instead.

For my part, I was intrigued by the vision that inspired such a unique establishment. We enjoyed our visit and appreciated seeing the many fine works displayed.

City of Roses

Riding the train from the Portland Zoo, we stopped at one of the most beautiful rose gardens I've ever seen firsthand. It was a bright sunny day, with a clear blue sky and Mount Hood visible on the horizon. The roses were planted in elegant rows, filled with all varieties and colors. I could have stayed all day.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

House of Butterflies

The Butterfly House was my favorite place at the Portland Zoo. Visitors enter through a set of double doors to prevent the butterflies from escaping. Once inside, the environment resembles a greenhouse filled with a multitude of flowers in bloom. Butterflies of all varieties are flying everywhere, landing on flowers, and even stopping on people. It was amazing! I could have spent hours there, had it not been for so many other people waiting for their chance to see.

Portland Zoo

We visited the Portland Zoo during our recent trip. The last time I went, my father was still alive, almost 20 years ago. Of course, much has changed. Last time, it took us about 2 hours to see everything. This time we spent 7 hours walking the many exhibits, and we still didn't see it all. The facilities were greatly improved, with magnificent, natural-looking habitats.

I enjoyed our visit, but I have mixed feelings about zoos in general. Something about seeing the animals trapped behind bars and glass causes no small amount of grief within me; however, I sometimes think there are millions of people in the world who would never give a second thought to endangered species if they didn't have the chance to see them up close. I wonder if these few representatives will inspire enough people to care about saving the natural diversity of our planet.

After visiting the Portland Zoo, I certainly feel a deeper concern for the continuation of animals everywhere.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Portland Temple

Sunday morning, my family made a pilgrimage of sorts to see the Portland Temple. Rhonda and I got married there thirteen years ago (1994). Unfortunately, the gate was locked when we arrived, but that didn't stop us from remembering the sacred events we experienced there. We got a family picture outside the gate, minus Dakota (he's in Illinois with his grandmother).


During our visit to Multnomah Falls, we witnessed a wedding party taking photographs amid the natural beauty of the area. Makes me wish Rhonda and I had done the same. Immediately after our wedding in the Portland Temple, we had lunch at the lodge below the falls. It would have been very easy for us to take pictures there.

Multnomah Falls

During our impromptu trip to Portland, we stopped at Multnomah Falls to show the girls where we had our wedding dinner. All these years later, I'm still impressed by the natural beauty of the falls.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Grandma Great and Rhonda at the airport...

Grandma Great spent the last couple weeks with us, and I have to say her visit was most enjoyable. Sadly, her time with us ended this morning, and strangely, her absence leaves a void in my heart.

We took her to the airport this afternoon and wished her well for her return trip. We embraced near the gate, and quite unexpectedly I felt myself begin to cry. "I love you grandma..." my voice trailed off behind a veiled sob. "I love you too," she said, then turned and walked away. Only once, she looked back and waved. She smiled and all the children waved back.

Such a simple moment, but it was filled with tenderness and love.


Closeup of fireworks in downtown Spokane...

Panorama of downtown with the lights of Division Street at left...

My sister asked about the fireworks. I'm sure she will not be happy unless I post them, though I thought I didn't get a good view this year. Here you go...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


This year our family watched the fireworks from the top floor of the Banner Bank Building. We couldn't hear them as we did in previous years, but the overall view was spectacular. We actually saw other fireworks going off various locations around the Spokane area. It was fun.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Sunday afternoon, I took a family portrait for Pavel Grishko at Finch Arboretum. Pavel is Glenda's boss at Ceragem. Last Christmas, she offered my services as a gift.

I was very happy to take their picture as photography often gives me a window into the lives of people I wouldn't normally get to meet.

Pavel's family comes from Russia and endured religious persecution for their beliefs. They've made a new life in the United States and now cherish many of the freedoms we take for granted. Their story is truly amazing.


As the birthday festivities moved from one venue to the next, we left our dinner and had an 80s dance in Rhonda's honor. She always wanted to have a dance, but for some reason we never did it. We decided this year would be different. We invited a few dozen guests and listened to our favorite songs from the 80s. We also heard a few songs from the 70s. Our friend John Champion was the DJ, who even supplied the disco ball. Between disco and 80s, we had a marvelous blast from the past on Rhonda's 37th birthday!

Birthday Dinner

Rhonda celebrated her birthday dinner at Rancho Chico, one of our favorite restaurants. In all, about 12 or 14 family members sat together and enjoyed the meal. Of course, Rhonda "got" to wear the "Sombrero of Honor" and listen to our birthday serenade. :)

The Moon

The moon made a spectacular appearance Friday night over the Spokane Reservation. The clouds raced over the hilltops and created ethereal shapes in the bright lunar glow. I'm reminded once I heard the moon sing during a ceremony. I was surprised to notice her voice sounded metallic, like the humming of a large bell. As always, I'm inspired and awed by her presence in the evening sky.


Stanton practicing the chords...

On Friday afternoon, I visited my friend Stanton near Tum Tum and rehearsed a song for Rhonda's birthday party. Stanton simply listened to a recording of the song and picked out the chords on his guitar. He then played the background while I sang.

The song I chose was "Somebody," by Depeche Mode, which is spoken from a man's perspective who looks for the love of a woman who will speak honestly and listen deeply in the relationship. He says, "Though my views may be wrong, they may even be perverted, she'll hear me out and won't easily be converted to my way of thinking, in fact, she'll often disagree, but at the end of it all, she will understand me."

Somehow we chose that as "our" song way back in the day when we were newly married, though we had no idea how much our lives would one day grow to resemble the song. My wife and I started with very similar views, and slowly grew apart in our political and religious ideologies. Even so, our relationship intensified through the pain and our love took on more meaning than ever before.

I performed the song on Saturday to Rhonda's surprise. She was delighted and everyone else seemed to enjoy the song. Several people asked if I wrote the song. They were amazed how well it fit our relationship.

Thank you Stanton for helping me express my heart on Rhonda's Day.


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