Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wild Food

My friend Matthew completed a rather unusual and creative project by eating only wild foods for an entire month. The challenge initially began as a way to save money on store bought food, but it expanded into a school project. He described some of his experiences on a personal blog:

A small group of supporters gathered to celebrate the conclusion of his wild food challenge. For my part, I personally support his project because of my interest in native foods and because I wish to encourage people to become more aware of their natural environment. The more we learn about the living things growing on our lands, the more we feel inclined to protect those lands.

Our menu for the evening included wild turkey, boiled amaranth seeds, venison soup cooked with home grown carrots and beets, and a cobbler made with huckleberries and apples from an abandoned, 'wild' tree, topped with a crust made from cattail flour and ground curly dock.


After several years of homeschooling, Dakota has returned to the mainstream high school. So far things seem to be going well for him. Participating in the choir has made the transition a little easier.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Several weeks ago, Dakota finished his eagle project. Some folks were interested in seeing the end result, so I am posting these photographs for their benefit. I have to say that things turned out well. My son has made me very proud.

Friday, November 25, 2011


On Thanksgiving morning, I attended an inter-faith service at Temple Beth Shalom where representatives of several faith traditions spoke about faith, gratitude, and peace among diverse peoples. The service was sponsored by the Spokane Interfaith Council, Second Harvest of Spokane, and Temple Beth Shalom.

Rabbi Michael Goldstein led the service.

Before the service, I asked permission to take photographs inside the synagogue. The rabbi gave permission for pictures on any day, except for the Sabbath (Saturday). These prayer shawls were hanging inside the cloak room of the temple.

Sister Mary Euchrista represented the Catholic faith. It was a happy reunion for me because years ago, she completed her student teaching in my classroom at the Medicine Wheel Academy.

Mona Ali represented the Muslim community of Spokane.

Geshe-la also spoke during the ceremony and represented Tibetan Buddhism.

Hebrew writing was displayed in the temple lobby.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mapping the Heritage

My friend and co-worker Carole Parks is helping me to document the heritage plants of Drumheller Springs. Her work will partially fulfill credit for her graduate degree, but will also help prevent further encroachment upon the indigenous plants of the area.

As my readers may recall, I got involved with the preservation of Drumheller Springs after several local environmental groups planted ponderosa pine on the digging grounds once used by the Spokane Tribe. Camas, bitterroot, and other native foods were disturbed by the planting of new trees. This encounter led to a meeting with the Spokane Parks Department and the Spokane Lands Council, and as a result, the Lands Council agreed to remove the trees.

Since that time, I have been working to explore legal and institutional options to protecting the indigenous plants of Drumheller Springs.

When Carole and I visited the land this morning, some of the native plants still had visible parts that she was able to collect for her project.

We also explored some of the other nearby features, including the mural on Ash Street, painted by George Flett and company.

Many plants are still visible, despite the change in weather.

As an aside, I have always been fascinated with these white berries, even though I can't think of any practical uses. I once heard a traditional story that described these berries as the service berries of the land of the dead. Unfortunately, I was never able to locate that story again. In any case, the Spokane Language may corroborate this story to some degree. The Spokane describe these berries as "corpse berries," or tmtmniałq.

If anyone knows of any traditional stories or uses for the plant, please send me an email.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We Still Live Here

We Still Live Here - As Nutayunean is a brilliant PBS documentary showing the revitalization of the Wampanoag Language of Massachusetts.

The Wampanoag are perhaps most often remembered as the people who greeted the English Pilgrims at Plymouth and saved them from starvation. In return, the English persecuted the Wampanoag, stole their lands, and actively sought the destruction of Wampanoag culture. Among Indian people in North America, these are the ones who first confronted the loss of language, indigenous identity, and traditional knowledge.

And yet the Wampanoag survived. They continue to live in communities near Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard.

The documentary begins with Jessie Little Doe, a Wampanoag social worker, who received a dream from her ancestors. They asked if her generation was willing to reclaim the Wampanoag Language. She shared her vision with others in the tribe, and together they began a journey to reclaim their language.

As someone who cares deeply for my own language, this film both inspired and motivated me to continue my efforts to learn and to teach others.

The film is about 55 minutes long and is certainly worth an hour of your time. But you have to watch it right away - the free internet showing of this film ends on November 24. Click the following link to view the film.

A few quotes from the film:

Death is not permanent for languages. They can come back.

We had asked elders and spiritual leaders, “How do we regain our language?” And we were told that it’s not your language that’s lost, it’s you, and that a day will come when a child will be born and they will bring you back the language.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


My children are performing at the Bing Crosby Theater in CYT Spokane's musical production of Annie. In the scene above, Whitney plays one of the orphans as she interacts with Miss Hannigan.

This has been an exciting show for Whitney. She has a number of important lines and gets to wear a microphone for the first time.

Whitney with the orphans.

Dakota plays the part of Drake, who is the butler to Daddy Warbucks. In this scene, he is present when Rooster attempts to deceive Warbucks and claim Annie as his own child. In return, Rooster would receive a $50,000 reward. President Roosevelt is also present, seated in his wheel chair.

Drake the butler.

Dakota also uses a puppet on the Iodent radio show, though I was never sure why a person would need a puppet on the radio.

McKenna plays the part of a townsperson in Hooverville.

Another shot of Hooverville.

Mariah also performed in this play.

Small doses of comedy are scattered throughout the play. In this scene, Daddy Warbucks is presented with the original Mona Lisa, but he decides he doesn't like it. "Send it back!" he says.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Anthony's Wedding

My foster son Anthony got married in a simple ceremony at the bride's home.

The wedding was a surprise to almost everyone in both families. For my part, I met the bride only once before, and I met her family for the first time just two hours before the young couple took their vows. Even so, Anthony had asked me to perform the ceremony and I agreed.

When the bride appeared and walked down the "aisle," Anthony beamed with happiness and then cried. And when they exchange vows, they both cried. In all the years I have known Anthony, I have only rarely seen him express emotion in this way. The ceremony was simple, but quite beautiful.

I wish Anthony and Nicki all the blessings of the Creator as they build a new life together.

Monday, October 31, 2011


My girls made their own Halloween costumes this year. McKenna was a "Borrower," a mythical, mouse-sized person from a children's story. Whitney was Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch.

We had an agreement at work to all dress up for Halloween, but ony Jessica and I remembered. For that reason, no one else gets to be on the blog today. (Ha).


Before leaving Portland, our little group had to make one last stop to Voodoo. It probably doesn't even deserve another mention, but I really liked the pictures we took. In the first picture, we actually had to wait in a long a half a block long, just to get inside. In the second picture, street performers sang a rather raucous, self-composed song with the guitar. The weirdness continues.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Keep Portland Weird

Over the last 20 years, I have visited Portland dozens of times, but only recently have I begun to truly appreciate its unique character. Yesterday morning, we spent only a few hours in the downtown area, and yet I feel like I'm seeing Portland through new eyes. In short, Portland has an originality that I find deeply refreshing. It certainly has all the characteristics of any American city, but it also embraces its difference.

Of course it helps to explore a place with fabulous friends. Thanks Pamm and Jim for making this trip an awesome experience.

In our wanderings through the city, we happened upon the 24 Hour Church of Elvis set  within the external wall of a building. Somehow it reminded of a mismatched conglomeration of things - part drive through window, part ATM, part carnival attraction with a liberal sprinkling of random and bizarre art.

Of course, I had to get Pamm to pose in deference to the Elvis shrine.

And me... ;)

Actually, I don't really care that much about people's devotion to Elvis, but I loved the randomness and the humor of the shrine.

Afterwards we went to Powell Books. It was amazing! I have never seen such a massive collection of books for sale anywhere in all my travels. We had to request a map just to find our way around the store, and they had almost any book imaginable.

It may sound strange, but I took a picture of these Japanese books simply because I realized that I had never seen so many Japanese books all together in one place. It just goes to show how culturally sheltered I can be in Spokane.

Across the street from Voodoo Doughnuts, we found some bizarre writing on the wall. One said, "Black honey comb... To Whom does this nightmare Bee Long?" I have no idea what it means, but I found myself intrigued by the message.

I've said before that I actually love exploring the world through the lens of a camera. It often inspires me to notice the tiny details that I might otherwise ignore, like the writing on a wall, the color of a fallen leaf, or the shape of some artistic flair on a building. As strange as it may sound, I actually use my camera as a practice in minfulness.

This sign says it all: "Keep Portland Weird."

I love it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Had me some voodoo this morning, and by that I mean a Voodoo Doughnut.

My co-workers and I flew into Portland, Oregon to attend the Faculty and Staff of Color Conference, but we arrived early enough to enjoy a few hours soaking in the delightful weirdness of Old Town Portland. Voodoo Doughnut is just one of several off-beat places to attract our attention.   

Choosing the appropriate voodoo is not an easy task. Many of the doughnuts have unusual or unconventional names, like the Gay Bar, a doughnut decorated with 'all the colors of the rainbow,' or the Old Dirty Bastard, a doughnut sprinkled with Oreo Cookie crumbs and peanut butter.    

With so many bizarre choices, I finally selected their signature creation: the Voodoo Doll, a doughnut shaped like an actual doll. This doughnut includes a straight pretzel that can be used for stabbing and causing the doll to 'bleed' a red raspberry filling. The whole concept is just a little creepy, but certainly more original and entertaining than most other places.

Now that I've tasted Voodoo, doughnuts will never be the same. This will become a personal pilgrimage site for sure every time I return to Portland.


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