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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shadows and Creativity

I've been remiss for neglecting my blog. Actually, I've been more hectic than usual - attending meetings, writing lesson plans, traveling to other cities and communities - you name it, and somewhere in the midst of my busy schedule, blogging became a burden. Nothing kills creativity like a nagging sense of obligation.

But oddly tonight, I had a few moments to reflect.

Several weeks ago, I attended an educational workshop at Clover Park Technical College in Tacoma, WA. As the meeting ended, I had a few minutes to explore the community and to take a few pictures.

I feel a certain sense of freedom when I can temporarily forget my obligations and simply follow my feet. I parked my rental car in downtown Tacoma and just started walking in the first direction that caught my attention. In time, the scenery revealed itself in a natural, organic sort of way - like when I encountered a totem pole standing near a glass high rise office building. Something about the contrast of ancient and modern structures forced me to reflect upon the role of indigenous traditions within contemporary society.

Eventually, I found myself on a rather pleasant street lined with coffee shops and art galleries. These chairs were arranged outside an antique store.

The City of Tacoma has preserved much of its architectural heritage.

I also happened upon a very unusual place called "The Garages." Essentially, the building functions as a municipal parking garage with a twist: the entire structure is covered both inside and out with intentional graffiti.

It's hard to imagine that people would actually park their cars on these old wooden floors, but indeed they did.

Placards were posted in various locations to provide guidelines for when people could paint the walls and when they could not.

"The Barry" (for those who care). ;)

A standard receptacle for collecting parking fees stands outside the garage.

My mind often works in strange ways. As I explored the various graffiti installations, I got to thinking about what some folks call the "human shadow." In essence, the shadow is comprised of all the parts of our personality that remain hidden from oneself. Often times people keep 'undesireable' parts of themselves hidden in the shadow, either intentionally or otherwise. In any case, the more people repress the shadow, the more it tends to cause problems. A healthy individual finds ways to acknowledge and even honor the shadow, and as Robert Bly once said, "Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us." That's not to say that we should give free rein to every awkward, angry, or unseemly impulse, but rather, we should find ways to respect every part of ourselves. By doing this, we are able to access deep wells of energy and creativity.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Anti-Columbus Day

Yesterday evening, I participated in a most unusual celebration. A small group of Whitworth undergrads invited me to observe Anti-Columbus Day by giving a lecture on Native American issues. When I arrived, the students were making fry bread from a recipe they found online. Earlier that evening, they had played an adapted version of an ancient Mesoamerican ball game - also found online. They freely admitted that they possessed very little direct knowledge of Native people, but their sincere desire to learn inspired me.

I spoke about the history of the Spokane Tribe without whitewashing the inconvenient details of the American conquest. I spoke about Colonel George Wright and the horse slaughter, the boarding schools and sexual abuse, and many other other unfortunate aspects of history. After all, these stories belong to the long-term legacy of Columbus. But I also spoke of courage, dignity, and the will of Indian cultures to survive into the next 500 years and beyond.

No doubt, I shared some difficult stories, but these young students listened with deep interest and respect. They give me hope for a more equitable future in this country.

Not long after I spoke to the Whitworth students, I found quite a compelling TED video by Aaron Huey regarding the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Usually I don't forward videos, but this one deserves to be seen by a wide audience.

Friday, October 07, 2011


My daughter McKenna recently celebrated her 14th birthday in a simple family gathering in our home. Her brother made a magnificent cake from a recipe he learned on youtube and her cousin gave her a wonderful card home made card.  It was a beautiful day for all of us.   

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Catch Up

At the end of summer quarter, I took a month-long break from work. Actually, I would have worked right through my vacation, but the budget just did not accommodate my particular needs. Despite losing my normal income during that month, I decided to take a positive outlook and to enjoy my time away from the classroom. I had hoped to find some prolonged relaxation, but it seems all the free time simply added to my responsibilities. Meetings appeared unexpectedly on my calendar in different places around the state, and my leisure time quickly evaporated. Unfortunately, my blogging suffered the most.

Oddly enough, my regular work schedule has basically returned to normal, but I find myself more able to accomplish things than before. My routine has been revived and now I'm breathing normal again. Weird, I know.

So now to catch up on my blog...

A few random pictures can show what has been missed over the last few weeks. My youngest daughter has begun middle school and now all of my children have officially abandoned the grade school stage of life. Admittedly, I feel very strange knowing that two of my children attend the same middle school, and my oldest child is only a couple years away from graduation.   

In these first few pictures, my daughters (and a friend) are dressed in bright colors for a middle school 'spirit day.'

Toward the end of summer, my son and I hiked to the waterfalls by the Little Spokane River and just happened to catch that magical moment when the sun casts a warm golden light over everything. I insisted that he pose for at least one picture under one of my favorite juniper trees.

As we continued hiking, the sun began to set behind the trees, casting long rays of light through the tree branches.

Monday, October 03, 2011


A few weeks ago, we saw a baby snake slithering on the sidewalk just outside the entrance of the school. Some students noticed and walked a wide circle to avoid it, but others were oblivious to the potential danger and almost stepped on it. The snake measured less than six inches long, and yet it showed an aggressive disposition by shaking its tail and striking at bypassers like a rattle snake. I didn't notice any rattles on the tail, but just to be sure, we captured the snake under a plastic container and removed it far away from people.

Afterwards, I compared the photograph with online descriptions of local snakes. Turns out it was probably a gopher snake or a bull snake, but not a rattler. Even so, it sure put on a good show.


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