Monday, April 25, 2011


My family dressed up on Easter Sunday and walked to the park for a family picture. The sun was shining and the temperature finally rose above 60 degrees. It was a beautiful day for remembering resurrection and new life.

Click on the picture for a larger image.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Whitney celebrated both Easter and her 12th birthday with family and cousins. The kids looked for Easter eggs and ate birthday cake all in the same day. Of course, the original intent of this blog was for our family to stay connected, despite the great distances between us.

As you see these pictures and watch the video, it will feel like you were here singing with us.

The kids posed for this picture after finding Easter eggs in the front yard.

Wedding at the Bing

Emily Bayne from Christian Youth Theater married Cliff Calasopa in an original and elegant ceremony at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane. My family attended the wedding, along with many other families from CYT.

Candles were set on the stage...

Emily's face was partially hidden by a feather.

The bride and groom sang to one another, accompanied by a lone saxophone player.

The wedding was a beautiful ceremony.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

Members of the Spokane Tribe and others from the community gathered by the river to observe Earth Day and to honor the water.

The people also gathered to meet with members of the Mother Earth Water Walk, a group of indigenous women and men who are raising awareness of water as a human right and of other environmental issues. Four separate groups set out from the shores of North America, each one representing a different cardinal direction. The western group started its journey in Aberdeen, Washington. The eastern group started from Machais, Maine, the southern group from Gulfport, Mississippi, and the northern group from Churchill, Manitoba, on the shores of Hudson's Bay. As their website indicates, "The walkers, journeying over 10,400,000 steps and carrying the healing and sacred salt water from the four directions will converge June 12 in Bad River, Wisconsin. The water will then be united in Lake Superior, where the first Water Walk began."

The Spokane community is fortunate that its meeting with the Mother Earth Water Walk happened to coincide with Earth Day.  

The water ceremony took place at the totem pole in the heart of Riverfront Park. The Spokane people gathered in this location for thousands of years, until the establishment of a city in the late 1800s. It was fitting that we should return to that place.

As a side note, the Plateau tribes did not use totem poles. Sometimes non-Indian people put up totem poles in the Spokane area as an attempt to respect the local indigenous people. It's ironic and discouraging that people try to honor us but don't take the time to learn about our culture. 

Most totem poles in the Spokane area are strongly out of place. However, the ones in Riverfront Park are perhaps more appropriate. In 1974, the island in the center of the river became the site of the Canadian Pavilion, and was renamed Canada Island. The totem poles were built to honor the tribes of Canada in general and the tribes of British Columbia in particular. Canada Island is a reminder of our cultural ties to the north.

One of the walkers was presented with a jar of water from the Spokane aquifer. She spoke of the sacredness of the water and the need of people to care for the earth.

People of all ages are walking thousands of miles as a show of reverence for the earth.

Deb Abrahamson directs the SHAWL Society and is a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. She helped to coordinate a meeting between the walkers on local indigenous people. In this photograph, she is holding a basket filled with smuk'ʷšn (arrow leaf balsam root). She presented these plants to the group, along with other traditional foods.

Francis Carson (pictured above with Deb Abrahamson) brought his drum and sang several songs in honor of the water and of the people.  

Pat Moses and Yvonne Swan spoke to the group.

Pat represented the Spokane Tribe.

Yvonne represented the Arrow Lakes Band of Canada.

Francis Cullooyah represented the Kalispel Tribe.

Spokane mayor Mary Verner also addressed the people.

The sun appeared during the ceremony and provided a welcome relief from the dreary, overcast skies. This marmot on Canada Island emerged to warm himself in the sun.

The old YMCA building in the park is being demolished. After the ceremony, I had the chance to speak with Mayor Verner and to ask what the city plans to do with this site. She explained that they are going to restore the site to its natural state, as much as possible. She also said that a channel of the Spokane River that once flowed under the building will be restored.

Various pictures from around Riverfront Park...

After everything, I had the chance to take a few pictures around town, like this one of the Spokesman Review Building (above) and of the horse statue outside PF Chang's (below).

Canada Island sits between two channels of the Spokane River.


Now that we're pretending it's springtime, my son has been getting me out of the house to go hiking. I love spending time outside, but I especially appreciate the opportunity to strengthen my relationship with Dakota.

By the Little Spokane River...

The dog entertained us by jumping into the pond.


Kate is one of my co-workers (on the left; Pamm is on the right). She arrived in my classroom the other night with several hand-made marionettes. It was certainly an unexpected thing, especially in a college setting, but she told a fascinating story about seeing these animals in a dream. She decided to honor her vision by creating these marionettes using wool and a felting process.

Her sharing inspired me for a couple reasons.

First, Kate honored her vision by making something tangible. I was always taught by my elders respect my dreams, especially if they tell me to make something or to perform a specific task. I can't say that I always follow their advice, so Kate gave me a welcome reminder of my cultural teachings. 

Second, it seems we rarely take the time to share with our co-workers in meaningful ways. So often, we maintain our professional face and forget the potential for real human connection. Kate shared her vision with us, and in the process, she created a greater sense of community in our workplace.  

Eagle Woman.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Whitney Turns 12

Whitney is observing a major milestone in her life as she leaves her childhood behind and becomes a young woman. Today, we celebrated her 12th birthday at Rancho Chico, where she wore the traditional birthday sombero while the waiters sang in both Spanish and English.

It's hard to believe my baby is turning 12!

Dakota joined us for lunch.

Rhonda is a very devoted and loving mom.

Whitney looks more grown up than ever.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cell Phone Photographs

My daughter sent me a delightful little series of photographs she took on her cell phone during a nature hike with her sister and a friend. They took several dozen pictures in all, but these were some of my favorites. The resolution is very limited and grainy, but I found myself smiling at the way they arranged the shots and tried to capture their view of the world. They're already developing an eye for composition.

I just had to share these pictures from my daughters, the emerging artists.


Signs of spring are appearing more slowly than usual. Just this morning, the Spokesman-Review reported that this has been one of the coldest Aprils in Spokane since the National Weather Service began keeping records more than 130 years ago. The temperature has yet to exceed 60 degrees.

The cold weather just never seems to end. The sun made a brief appearance this morning, but soon gave way to another round of snow flurries.

During my morning hike, a hawk perched atop an electrical tower, then flew away. In moments like this, I wish my camera had a better zoom.

The serviceberries are straining to bloom against this unseasonable cold.


skʷkʷec - night

A late evening fog scattered the light and cast a dramatic effect onto otherwise normal objects. Under these conditions, the neighbor's lamp resembled a glowing fire under an ice-blue sky, and my back yard was transformed into a work of art.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April Snow

April showers bring May flowers, or so the saying goes. But what about snow showers in April? Do those count? Will the snow freeze the flowers instead?

During my morning hike today, the clouds dumped blizzard-like snow onto the countryside.

Nature is trying to stay green, despite the snow.

Here's a picture of the snow at a different shutter speed.


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