Sunday, October 31, 2010
This last week, I attended the Washington State Faculty and Staff of Color Conference in Vancouver, WA. The speakers, workshops, and fellow attendees gave me a sense of belonging to a wider professional network. In all, the conference inspired me return with greater insight and dedication to my teaching.
Between sessions, I had a small window of opportunity to capture of few scenes near the hotel:
The interstate bridge was about a block away from the hotel.
Murals depicting military scenes lined the train tracks near the I-5 bridge.
Walking downtown, I looked through a window and saw a man blowing glass.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Wild horses seem to increase in numbers on the Spokane Reservation. Several crossed my path the other day on Wellpinit Mountain, like this one that stopped to exchange a look in my direction. Horses hold a special fascination. They submit themselves to the process of domestication, and yet they remember their freedom and retain the ability to reconnect to their wild roots.
Annie Humphrey is a Native musician who reflects something of this spirit in her songs:
Thunder, fire and torrent
Hunger, need and fear
Slavery, grief, confusion
Freedom waiting near
The sound of spirit horses
Hoofbeats in the sky
Snow and blood and ashes
And dreams too strong to die.
Find us spirit horses
And teach us how to ride
With seven generations of promise
At our side
Mothers, fathers and children
Creatures young and grown
Called by mighty drumming
Of sacred hooves on stone
The sound of spirit horses
Dancing on a storm
Mercy for the people
Old ways, new dreams reborn
A motivational speaker recently asked an audience to list five things that nourish the soul. I sat for a moment and reflected on my personal list. This is what I wrote:
1) Hiking and spending time outdoors.
2) Collecting indigenous plants.
3) Going out with my wife and kids.
4) Taking digital photography.
5) Visiting the sweat lodge.
After we made our lists, the speaker asked us to check each activity that we actually did within the last seven days. She suggested that people who fail to make time to complete at least two items each week from their personal nourishment list run a higher risk of burnout. Given her analysis, I'm happy to report that I checked all five items on my list. This particular photograph represents three out of five possible activities: I spent time outdoors while collecting this Oregon grape on my digital camera.
What is on your nourishment list?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
This afternoon I found some old pictures that had been forgotten, but seeing them again warmed my heart. Grandma Great is so far away; we all love her and miss her, especially the kids.
Grandma Great and Whitney (several years ago).
Here's Dakota as a little boy. It's amazing how quickly he has grown into a young man.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Yesterday, the folks from Westboro Baptist Church staged a handful of hit-and-run protests at college campuses throughout the Spokane area, including Gonzaga, Whitworth, and Eastern Washington. They even protested a high school and a conservative Bible college. The Kansas based church has gained a toxic reputation for it virulent anti-gay rhetoric and its practice of protesting military funerals. According to Westboro Baptist Church, God is punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality.
Each Westboro protest lasted little more than 30 minutes, but the local community mobilized large counter protests at every scheduled picket site.
Some time between my various meetings and daily appointments, I had the chance to witness the counter protest at Gonzaga University. When I arrived, hundreds of people had already assembled by the main entrance, many holding balloons and handwritten signs. Despite the large numbers, a palpable silence settled over the crowd. The energy of the moment caused an unexpected wave of emotion to rise within me.
A prayer was offered, but my next meeting was about to begin.
As I drove away, I was struck by the power of so few people to create such a huge reaction. Westboro Baptist Church claims only a handful of members, all from one family, and yet their bigotry overshadows an entire nation. It's difficult to understand. I can only imagine that their visit to Spokane reminds me to treat others with dignity and respect, even those who may disagree with my religious or political ideas.
If indeed we identify anyone as an "enemy," then we are reminded that the same Jesus Westboro claims to honor commanded us to "love our enemies."
A sign reads "God loves everyone."
A sit-in on the Gonzaga campus.
"Gonzaga University Day For Justice 2010."
"Love Sees No Color."
"Choosing to Act With Love."
The counter-protest on the Gonzaga campus.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
My appreciation for the land continues to grow.
The other day, I picked two and a half gallons of elderberries with my mom and my sister. My intention is to create a cold/flu syrup that my children would be willing to take. We already know a number of effective cold remedies, but my children cannot stand the bitter taste. Hopefully the elderberries will create a more tolerable medicine.
Elderberries have been used for many years as a common folk remedy, but recent scientific tests have confirmed traditional wisdom. While they do not necessarily prevent sickness, elderberry extracts have been shown to shorten the duration of colds and flu.
Some elderberry links worth reading:
Elderberry Prevents H1N1
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Last Friday afternoon, my family visited the farms at Greenbluff to pick pumpkins and apples.
I remember visiting Greenbluff as a teenager, but I never went back until last Friday. Now that we've gone, I don't know why I stayed away so long. There's something deeply satisfying about going to the field to pick food from the ground with our own hands, even if we didn't grow it ourselves. In any case, we supported our local farmers while creating a happy memory for our children.
We first visited Knapp's Farm. They had quite a variety of pumpkins, squash, and gourds already picked and ready for purchase.
The farm also had a collection of old cars and tractors. The kids loved taking turns sitting at the driver's seat.
The kids also loved running through the straw bale maze at Knapp's Farm.
Of course, the pumpkins are the main attraction. The kids wandered through the patch looking for the perfect pumpkin to bring home.
A yellow pumpkin flower was still blooming.
The pumpkin flowers are covered with thick hair. I'm actually surprised that Rhonda agreed to wear this hairy flower for the picture.
Grandma Treat with the kids...
Dakota pulled the cart up the hill.
Dakota and grandma sitting on a hay bale.
I got to push the cart up the second part of the hill.
In the end, we bought about 100 pounds worth of pumpkins, some for carving and some for eating. We paid about $30 total. We also bought honey made from bees living on the pumpkin farm.
The sun was shining that day, creating picturesque scenes amid the many orchards, farmhouses, and barns. From now on, we plan to return every year.
After the pumpkins, we picked apples at the Pit Stop Orchard.