Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Several buildings collapsed under the weight of snow, including a portion of Trinity Baptist Church on Monroe Street. Fortunately, the main sanctuary appears unharmed, but a gymnasium on the back of the building was completely destroyed. The Rosauer's at Five Mile also collapsed.

For local news coverage of recent structural damage due to snow, click HERE.

UPDATE: Another roof collapsed over the pool at Global Fitness in north Spokane, nearly crushing three swimmers. Thankfully, everyone escaped injury. Read more about this HERE.

I drive by Trinity Baptist every day on my way to work, but I didn't even know about the collapse until I read it in the paper. The part of the building that faces the street is unharmed.

The Roof

With more than three feet of snow on the roof, and another 6 to 9 inches forecast tonight, I decided to shovel the roof; well, at least the flat part over the front porch. Several structures have already collapsed around town.

Monday, December 29, 2008


When I left for work this morning, heavy snow dumped from the sky like a plague of icy white locusts. Already treacherous, the streets nearly choked between massive heaps of snow on each side. Four-lane arterials narrowed to two lanes; two-lane roads narrowed to one.

These trees near my workplace are just waiting for a warm wind that would soon shake the chunks of snow to the ground.


These mountains formed outside the IEL building on North Monroe.

Mountains of snow and ice have sprung up in parking lots and streets all across the city. Where else can it go? I almost expect to see trucks dumping the snow into the river, like they did after the big storm of '68.

I don't even want to think about the cost.

A recent news report said the city pays more than $200,000 a day for snow removal, and this in a time of economic crisis.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Madonna Wiltse is one of Rhonda's best friends. They talk on the phone several times a day and share a mutually supportive understanding. Even when Rhonda and I have struggled in our marriage, Madonna is the kind of person who can listen compassionately to everything without taking sides. We've really grown to love Madonna and her family.

Her son Adam is in town on military leave, so they asked me to shoot some informal family portraits. These photographs represent a sample of our session.

Adam, his wife Reese, and their daughter Ellana.

Adam and Reese.

Madonna's daughter Jen, and her husband Dan.

Madonna and her husband Loren.

Reese, Jenni, Natalie, Quincy, and Spencer.

Ellana is the newest Wiltse family member, and quite obviously the most popular. She commanded the attention of everyone in the room, and when she reached her limit, she announced the end of the photoshoot through her cries.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

No End

Snowflakes on the needles of a ponderosa pine...

Late last night another intense snowfall covered the region, with no end in sight. The world is buried in white.

The dog and I braved the weather and hiked one of our traditional trails, but I got more of a workout than planned. My feet sunk into the snow past my knees, and as the dog ran ahead, he looked like a black dot on the snowy white landscape.

As I struggled through the knee deep snow, a red-tail hawk whistled twice and perched atop a tall pine. He waited only long enough for me to catch two quick pictures, and then disappeared behind the treeline.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Snowflake Collage

Early this morning, I managed to persuade a few snowflakes to pose for these photographs, which I then organized into a collage. I have to say, I'm very excited to know my camera captures this level of detail. It's a huge improvement over my previous camera.

Night Snow

After so many days of constant snow, we can hardly imagine a world not white, but the precipitation rested this evening and the temperature reached a sweltering 20 degrees.

I'm not much of a snow-lover, but the white earth-covering makes a beautiful background for photographs, especially those at night, lined with Christmas lights. This phrase gets way over used, but it really is magical. And then Rhonda and I lay in bed the other night listening to the silence, which is unusual because we live relatively close to a busy highway. It's never totally quiet, but the snow absorbs all the usual sounds.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


We are blessed by the explosion of stocking candies and wrapping papers strewn across the floor, showing that in spite of occasional hardships, we still enjoy the blessings of abundance.

We are blessed with children who are still young enough to wake at dawn Christmas morning with giddy anticipation, and who still respect the family tradition that requires everyone to wait in the hall until the whole family has properly assembled.

We are blessed with surprise visitors on Christmas.

We are blessed with LOVE.


The Moses cousins meet too infrequently, especially since Bradley's kids now live in Germany. At least Kim and I visit from time to time, and so our kids will have memories together. Whenever we do get a chance to visit, I'm always so pleased to see all my children, including my nieces and nephews. In the old Indian way, they are like my second children.


On most occasions, hot peppers are altogether detestable, but Christmas would have been incomplete without them. We finally wearied of traditional Christmas turkeys, and opted for a Mexican dinner instead, complete with carne asada, chicken flautas, black bean soup, Spanish rice, homemade tortillas, and yes, hot peppers.

My mom, my sisters, and their families joined us for dinner, and it would seem the food was appreciated by everyone.

Old School

For all the convenience of the electronic age, part of me still appreciates the personal touch of a handwritten card and a tangible photograph. Perhaps it's a little outdated, but we still love to send cards and letters. We like to receive them too, even though we got a late start this year. As the cards, postage stamps, papers, and envelopes lay scattered on our dining room table, I said to Rhonda, "Wow, these cards look like the old school Facebook before Facebook." She laughed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The snow fell in giant, crystalized flakes, like the one you see in picture books, with each of the six points clearly visible; I was just surprised my camera captured them so well.


And the snow keeps falling, with more in the forecast. It's so unreal, but beautiful in its own way. Of course, it makes traffic quite nearly unbearable. After a trying day of last minute Christmas shopping, I had to focus on the beauty and the lights.

Paper Snowflakes

Inspired by the snowflakes of the genuine kind, my kids and I made paper snowflakes for the tree. It's a simple form of therapy, calming to the nerves, and smiles all around. Besides, no childhood would be complete without paper snowflakes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Sunset

At the end of the day, a magnificent sunset cast a fiery glow over the frozen world; such beauty amid the darkness of winter

The Baby Yeti

This afternoon we discovered conclusive proof that the abominable snow monster is real. We found this abominable little thing rolling around in the snow at Holmberg Park.

Snow Snow Snow

The snow drama continues here in Spokane as yet another night of snowfall covered the region; one layer upon another. I honestly don't believe I've seen so much snow in my life. The kids tried to go sledding, but the snow was just too deep and powdery. What good is snow without sledding?

Holmberg Park under snow.

The snow plow finally found our street, clearing the snow from the road, but leaving a huge pile in our driveway. I read someplace that shoveling snow burns 12 calories per minute. If so, then we got a darn good workout.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Summit Quest Blog

After careful consideration, Rhonda and I decided to migrate the Summit Quest website to a Blogger account.

Our primary goal is to increase interaction between members of the Summit Quest community and to improve overall accessibility. Previously, the Summit Quest website contained mostly static content. With so few changes, the website gave little motive for visitors to return. In contrast, the blog will allow us to easily and frequently update important information.

We also invite previous participants to submit personal accounts of retreats, challenges, growth experiences, and traditions. Allowing more voices will deepen the quality and collective wisdom of the Summit Quest community.



My daughter participated in a grade school activity and inadvertently caused me to reflect on issues of modern colonialism and tribal sovereignty.

Every year, the fifth grade students at my daughter’s school study the original thirteen colonies and the American War of Independence. As a culminating event, the children participate in a school-wide open house where they invite the public to learn more about life in colonial America. Each child assumes a role from that time period, dresses up in the appropriate costume, and then presents a short speech. For example, a child dressed as an apothecary spoke to us about colonial medicine. A boy wearing shackles and a wooden pillory spoke to us about crime and punishment. Another boy wearing a white wig spoke to us about the legal system. Dozens of children participated, each one representing a different aspect of colonial society.

As a teacher, I was greatly impressed by the students and the evidence of learning they presented.

As a parent, I was also impressed. My daughter presented her role with grace and confidence. She wore a long dress, a simple white apron, and a bonnet. Standing beneath a large placard labeled, “What is a colony?” she delivered her speech like a pro:

“You may already know that England had 13 colonies, but do you know what a colony is? A colony is a place that belongs to another country, like a landlord and a renter. The colonies lasted in America from 1607 to 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed.”

As a father, I couldn’t help but think she was the cutest thing God ever placed on this Earth, but a rather innocent mistake in her words gave me pause to reflect. Several times, as she repeated the speech to other parents, she said the colonies lasted in Spokane from 1607 to 1776, instead of saying the colonies lasted in America. I gently corrected my daughter, but not before the words began their powerful effect on me.

Some of the parents chuckled, but the words sank into my brain like a time-release capsule. I had never thought of colonies in Spokane...

The teacher’s definition proposes a simple landlord/tenant model of colonialism, but according to another source, colonialism is “the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people.”1 Based on this definition, colonialism more than certainly applies to Spokane. In this case, the United States provides the control and governing influence over the Spokane Tribe as a dependent territory and people. In fact, colonialism still thrives in Spokane and throughout Indian Country a full 232 years after the Americans signed the Declaration of Independence, and 48 years after the United Nations passed a resolution to end colonialism.2

As indigenous people we often refer to ourselves as “sovereign nations,” but that sovereignty has limits. Specifically, the United States regards Indian tribes within its territorial jurisdiction as “domestic dependent nations,”3 and reserves the right to limit, alter, or amend tribal powers at will. This lesson raises huge implications. Specifically, the United States promotes democracy abroad while maintaining colonial power over hundreds of indigenous nations right here in North America. The irony saddens and astounds me.

Independence means different things on different levels. On a national level, tribal governments continue to struggle to maintain their sovereign right to self-governance. On a personal level, we declare independence from colonial powers when we teach our children to remember the language, traditions, and cultures of our indigenous ancestors.


1. colonialism. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved December 21, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/colonialism

2. Retrieved December 21, 2008, from

3. Retrieved December 21, 2008, from

Friday, December 19, 2008

Early Break

Classes were cancelled again today across town, so Christmas vacation began early for everyone. But with the early vacation, thousands of shoppers took to the stores. I regret to say Rhonda and I were among the masses who braved snowdrifts and nearly impassable streets to participate in the yearly ritual to commercialism.

Fortunately, I did take a few minutes to appreciate the natural beauty of winter in Spokane, like this picture overlooking the Spokane River.

Whitney falling into the snow...

Mail service resumed today...


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