Sunday, November 28, 2010


As Thanksgiving came to an end, the snow returned in earnest. By Saturday, more than a foot had fallen and the total accumulation made me wonder if we're due for a repeat of two years ago. Hopefully not. The snow is beautiful, but only in smaller doses.

Actually, I'm surprised how happy I feel this winter. Usually I suffer from some form of seasonal affective disorder, but this year I feel strangely pleasant. Curious, I know.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Night Snow

During the early evening, I took some time by myself to photograph the snowy landscape. Using my tripod and a slow shutter speed, I was able to get a few good shots of the trees backed by a deep blue and pink sky. Oh, and I did make a few adjustments using Gimp.

I stood in place for a full fifteen seconds to get this shot. On the right edge of the picture, you can see a dark, translucent shape. That's my dog. Apparently she couldn't stay still that long.

Dinner & Dessert

Just about every year, I feel a certain obligation to photograph our Thanksgiving turkey. I know, it's kind of silly, but ever since I assumed cooking responsibilities a few years ago, I'm always surprised that things turn out so well. In my own mind, I have no special talent for cooking, but dinner really was quite the success. The bird was a perfect golden brown and both the stuffing and the gravy were wildly delicious and popular with the family.

Paul and his kids came over for dinner, games, movies, and a sleep-over. We played a rousing match of Peon, followed by Apples to Apples. I'm happy to say that the cousins had a wonderful time together. When it was time to leave, Paul's kids were begging to stay another night.

Oh, and I really should mention our pumpkins. This year I decided to create a new memory for my children by picking our own pumpkins at Greenbluff. The new memories continued when we decided to make pumpkin pies from scratch. We used "sugar pumpkins," which is a particular variety used for cooking because of its natural sweetness and relatively string-free pulp.

Dakota helped carve the pumpkins into smaller chunks, which is actually a little harder than it looks.

Once we reduced the pumpkin to workable chunks, we steamed the pieces to separate the flesh from the outer crust.

My kids helped me to add all the secret herbs and spices and then I mashed the pulp by hand.

My daughter McKenna helped me to roll the crust.

Well, I'm happy to report that the pumpkin filling was a great success. Seriously, the filling was better than anything I ever tasted from a store. Unfortunately, the pie crust was another matter. The crust came out of the oven so hard that my kids could not bring a knife through it, no matter how much they attempted to saw through. Dakota lifted the entire crust from the dish in a single rock-hard piece. (The picture above shows the pie sitting in perfect form, totally free of its dish). Everyone took one look at the pie and burst into laughter. In fact, I laughed so hard that I cried. Who would have thought that a failed pie would create so much happiness?

Never to be deterred, my family simply scooped the pumpkin goop with a spoon, mixed it with whipped cream, and ate it like a delicious pumpkin pudding.

This picture shows our pie sitting upside down, totally solid. Brilliant.

Monday, November 22, 2010

First Snow

The snow was almost three weeks late, but it finally arrived in full force.

Just this morning I awoke to the jarring sound of a hammer pounding on wood and metal. As I stumbled out of bed, I found my fifteen year old son sitting on the kitchen floor and hammering nails into the wooden boards of their old-fashion runner sled. Over the last couple years they used that thing so much that the original rivets dislodged from the wooden slats. But my son is never one to perceive such obstacles. He simply reversed the boards to avoid the previous rivet holes and somehow attached the wood to the metal frame with nails.

We have no hills on our street, but the kids took turns pulling one another on that old runner sled. The first snow is always such a magical event for children. But I have to admit that this year was even a little magical for me.

Urban Wildlife

This morning I had an unusual encounter with Spokane's urban wildlife.

I was waiting in the Albertson's parking lot at Wandermere when a robin-sized bird dashed over my windshield, followed by a hawk. The smaller bird took refuge under the covered walkway of an adjacent strip mall, but to no avail. The hawk seized its prey and held it to the ground long enough for me to capture this one fleeting image. A moment later, the hawk returned to the sky, while the little bird still struggled for life within the claws of its captor.

The whole scene happened too quickly for me to identify the smaller bird. And now as I review the photograph, I'm wondering exactly which species of hawk this is. I can't be sure, but it seemed much smaller than a red-tail hawk. Does anyone know?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Community Radio

The CYT Christmas Quartets recorded a program on KYRS Thin Air Community Radio, to be aired on December 19, 2010. Show times will be announced as they become available.

Afterwards Dakota said he was excited to sing for a radio production.

After the recording session, the group posed with Stephen Pitters, the host of Spokane Open Poetry.

As we left the studio, Dakota took some great pictures by the Community Building in downtown Spokane.

The River

My friend and I explored a few trails near the Spokane River.

A short distance above the Bowl & Pitcher, the water forms a cool, reflective surface before tumbling into the rapids downstream. The last rays of the afternoon sun warm the trees before tumbling into night.

A woodpecker bobbed its head back and forth from behind a tree like a cuckoo clock, while keeping a constant watch on the humans nearby. As we continued down the trail, the bird slowly adjusted its position and maintained a cautious distance on the far side of the tree.

From the markings on the head, I suspect this person is a downy woodpecker.

We hiked along the western shore of the river, following the shadows, and observing the late sunrays on the opposite shore.

An old tree, gnarled with age and exposure to the elements...

We left the trails at half past three, but already the day seemed to fade.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Christian Youth Theater of Spokane recently performed Seussical the Musical at the Bing Crosby Theater. As always, the show was a great success with its spectacular colors, dancing, and singing. My son Dakota played the part of a Who and Whitney was a crew member. He said it was the funnest show yet.

The Grinch in CYT's Seussical the Musical.

Amazing Maisy...

As a "Who," Dakota wore an orange wig and bobbled his head as he entered and exited the stage.

Gertrude and Horton...

The mayor of Whoville and his wife...

Whitney and other members of the crew...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nature Walks

During the last couples retreat, Rhonda and I made a commitment to spend time in nature as a couple at least once per week. We decided that our walks together strengthen our relationship and help to clear our minds from the daily clutter. This morning we took our first walk together since the retreat. The fall weather was absolutely beautiful, and as expected, we both felt a sense of connectiona nd rewal.

The sun shone brightly through the trees.

We took this picture while standing on a foot bridge over the Little Spokane River.

A bald eagle perched in a tree overlooking the river.

We explored many different trails near the river.

We also discovered the foundations of a ruined house overgrown with trees. Bottles and rusted cans littered the floor of the old house, including these cans of Olympia Beer. I decided to investigate the age of the cans. The Olympia website says that the company introduced aluminum cans in 1971. Since these cans are heavily rusted, and since aluminum doesn't rust, I concluded that they must be at least 39 years old.

Our new dog Roxie walked with us by the river.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Red Fox

mccallfox1, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

During the Couples Retreat in McCall, Idaho, we each took some time alone to reflect on the meaning of our relationships. For my part, I walked down by the river and listened to the sound of the water. When a branch cracked behind me on the hillside, I turned and saw a red fox looking at me from a distance of about 20 feet.

The fox seemed completely undisturbed by my presence. In fact, he sat calmly at the base of a tree where he stretched and yawned several times. I spoke to him and took at least a dozen pictures. We sat together for about 20 minutes, after which I returned to the lodge.

This may be the same fox we saw last year during family reunion. We stayed at the same place both then and now.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


The seasons are changing in strange ways. By this day last year, the winter chill was already heavy in the air with snow close at hand. This year is different. The air is still warm, approaching 60 degrees. A few trees have already shed their leaves, but most are still dressed in brilliant fall colors. Some are still green. I'm quite surprised, actually. Dandelions are blooming and songbirds are singing in November. The days are beautiful, but strange and disorienting.

The sun shining behind red leaves.


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