Sunday, November 30, 2008

Time Capsule

Earlier today, I found a digital memory disk that had been used about six months ago and then forgotten. It became like a time capsule of events last summer. The best pictures were taken of Whitney near the Little Spokane River.


Dakota is just a cool kid.

The other day, he and I reviewed how to make cordage and dolls with cattail leaves, and he took to it with enthusiasm. After only a few tries, he's become the expert. In fact, he decided to pull me out of the house to gather more leaves in preparation for other variations of his creative ventures.

The skills are wonderful in their own right, but it's even better to go outside and spend time in nature. Of course, we also got some great photographs.


Inge and Dakota...

My step-mother Inge paid a visit to my home on her return trip to Kettle Falls. She had dinner with my family and then enjoyed an impromptu dance recital performed by my daughters. Dakota sang a song, and then we all looked at pictures. We all had quite a wonderful visit.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Some things are just plain miraculous.

The day after Thanksgiving, I came home from buying shoes with Dakota and Rhonda told me to check the hot water heater. "There's no hot water," she said, "The pilot light must have gone out."

As much as I hate the inconvenience of household repairs, I hate cold showers even more, so I went downstairs immediately to check the pilot light.

What I found surprised me. The metal door covering the burner was missing and contrary to Rhonda's report, the fire was alight at full force. But to my shock and dismay, a bedsheet had somehow fallen into fiery opening of the heater. The edges of the cloth were just beginning to blacken and smolder. If I had arrived only a few minutes later, I'm sure the house would have burned.

But that's not the strangest part.

After I cleaned the area around the water heater, we checked the settings and discovered the temperature knob turned toward cold. I'm one hundred percent certain that no one in our family turned the knob, but the cold water may have saved our lives. If the water in the house had not gotten cold, I would have had no reason to check the pilot light, and I certainly would not have found the smoldering sheet.

We returned the knob to its normal position, and the hot water resumed.

I have no explanation for what happened, other than to suggest some kind of unseen protection.

As an interesting side note, every Friday I attend the sweat lodge with my uncle Pat, and every Friday he prays in our Indian language. Almost every time, he asks the Creator to protect our people from a standard list of tragedies, including death, illness, accidents, and housefires. I often thought it was strange for him to specifically name housefires in his prayer, but I will never think that way again. In fact, I will be sure to give him this report the next time I see him.


My grandma Alice attends the Assembly of God Church and leads a ministry dedicated to providing shoes to "needy and otherwise deserving" children. She and several other members of the church created the ministry six or seven years ago. They obtain donations at a local level and then purchase shoes for those in need.

Grandma called me on Friday morning and reminded me of her ministry. She then said she wanted to buy shoes for Dakota as a way to honor him for his performance in the recent production of Peter Pan. She Dakota falls under the category of "otherwise deserving." We met at a local shoe store and Dakota received a new pair of boots. Grandma probably didn't know that right about now Dakota also falls under the category of "needy." He has desperately needed a new pair of winter boots, but money has been short this season.

I thank grandma Alice for following her heart to create the shoe ministry, and I thank the Creator for inspiring people serve the needs of others.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgiving is a family event, made for the gratitude of all the ones we hold dear. This year was especially warm and happy for me. My wife, sisters, mother, and children enjoyed the day with me.

This is the second year I took charge of the turkey, and I must say it was a triumph once again. Of course, I had to post the obligatory photograph of my work... :)

After dinner, my mother and sisters asked me to teach them to make cattail people. We all stood around the table with the cattail leaves in hand, laughing about our creations, although this photograph shows us in a moment of particular concentration.

A Light Snow

My sister asked me to collect more cattail leaves and to teach her how to make the little people I blogged about earlier. As a result, I hiked down to the marsh to gather more, and as I stood in the field, a light snow began to fall.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cattail Meditation

A sample of cattail cordage...

Yellow grass and cattails...

The damp cold air sticks to my skin as I walk down by the river. Trudging through the tall yellow grass, my feet fall into the mud, soaking my shoes and socks. My feet are now thoroughly chilled, so I decide to hurry home.

Halfway up the hill, the dry cattails catch my attention. I remember the little cattail people we made with my friends last year and I decide to stop. I take the leaves into my hand and begin to twist the natural fibers into cordage. Such a simple act, making cordage, but I find it purely meditative. A distinct calm settles over my body and mind, while every hint of cold disappears from my feet. Suddenly the air seems more clear than before and a bald eagle flies overhead.

The moment was simple and yet transformative; a reminder of my connection to the present moment.

I took a handful of cattail leaves, brought them home, and made another person. It's hard to explain; those little people really are quite magical.

Monday, November 24, 2008


When I woke up this morning, I looked out my window and saw the bright blue sky shining over the sparkling white frost. This would be a good day for photographs in nature. I put on my running shoes and started off for the waterfalls near the Little Spokane River. There I found a world covered in white and the sun just beginning to reach above the trees.

As the sun gradually rises over the treeline, layers of sunlight melt the frost in stages across the meadow, creating strips of varying colors.

Concrete footings are all that remain of an abandoned dairy at the bottom of the hill.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This is my 1,000th post on the Sulustu blog!

My cousin-in-law Chris Chandler and her children are the subjects of my 1,000th post on this blog. She called me earlier this week and asked me to take pictures of her family. We originally went to Corbin Park, but all the leaves have already fallen, so we went to Bowl and Pitcher instead. It was a bright, cold, and sunny afternoon, with the river and evergreen trees as a backdrop; perfect for pictures.

Check out my Flickr page to see all the shots we took today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Plant Teachers

Jars of an herbal remedy I recently prepared.

Our indigenous ancestors developed a deep knowledge of the relationship between plants and humans. They understood the physical interaction between a wide range of plant substances and the human body, and also recognized a spiritual aspect of plants capable of interacting with people on a psychological level. What is more, many plant medicines recognized anciently are now supported by modern scientific research.

Much of the traditional plant knowledge from the Spokane area has been lost, but I've had the good fortune to inherit a few fragments of information from my family and community. And as I deepen my understanding, the plants show their wisdom in greater detail. I've already witnessed several impressive cures from minor family illnesses, including fevers and various stomach ailments.

If nothing else, the plants change the way I experience the world. They cause me to stop and notice the small details of nature, like the snowberries or the rose hips that recently caught my attention during a morning walk near my house. Where I once saw a mass of undergrowth and nameless weeds, I'm beginning to see communities of plant teachers like yarrow, Oregon grape, kinnick kinnick, and others. And as I begin to name the plants, they become more "real" and meaningful to my life.

It's the beginning of a relationship, to be sure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Strike Party

Peter Pan concluded its final performance this evening, and followed the show with the final "strike party." The parents and children gathered for an evening of food, prizes, and acknowledgements. My children had such a wonderful time! They're already counting down the days to the next audition.

Against the Gray

Walking on my usual hiking trails, I observe the world has turned nearly completely brown. The brilliant autumn colors wither into dull lifeless tones just before winter. But a few surprises remain. The snowberries stand out like shining white dots against the gray, and rose hips hold the last drops of summer in their deep red fruit.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Dakota got to play the part of "Kangaroo" the Lost Boy of Peter Pan. I'm not sure if the original production named any of the Lost Boys, but Dakota got the name anyway.

Theater has been a blessing and a saving grace for my son. After years of struggling to find his place in the world, he may have finally found his calling. Now he belongs to a creative, enthusiastic group of people who wholeheartedly accept him and encourage him to embrace his talents. I thank God we found this group of people for our children.

Stage Crew

My daughters were not selected to play a role in the production of Peter Pan sponsored by Christian Youth Theater, but they did volunteer to work backstage. As you can see from these photographs from the Green Room at the Bing Crosby Theater, they have truly enjoyed their experience. The last show runs this coming Sunday, and then they will get the chance to audition for the next production.


Spokane Metro Magazine published my photograph (shown above) on the back inside cover of the current issue, November 2008. They found my photograph through a public search of my Flickr account and then contacted me for permission. I was both honored and flattered, and of course, I agreed to let them print my picture.

Their website says in part: "Welcome to Spokane Metro Magazine, a smart, stylish and sophisticated guide to city living. Each month we'll tell you interesting stories, introduce you to fascinating people and leave you with thoughtful commentary. Through the contributions of the best writers and photographers in the area, we'll acquaint you with the people and places that make Spokane such a great place to live."

If you get a chance, check it out.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Palouse

Another drive to Walla Walla this morning brought me through the Palouse Country of Southeastern Washington. The Palouse is characterized by rolling hills, wheat farms, and historic towns. The photograph above shows the court house in Dayton.

Main Street in Waitsburg, Washington.

The Palouse...


Related Posts with Thumbnails