Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mt. Spokane

Blogging today from the Las Vegas airport 
and trying to get caught up. 

Before our trip,
Whitney and I visited the summit
of Mount Spokane. 

The pictures deserve to be seen. 

The sun over Mount Spokane. 

Whitney had never seen the summit of Mt. Spokane. 

Man-made rock formations. 

Exploring the rocks atop the summit. 

Father and daughter. 

A green field at the base of the mountain. 

Sunset at the end of our trip to Mt. Spokane.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Last week I caught these pictures of the sun setting over a wheat field near Deer Park. There's not much of a story behind the photographs; just something beautiful that I thought to share with my readers. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

American Idol

Dakota recently auditioned for American Idol and gave a wonderful show. He had to perform in the rain, but his spirits was not dampened in the least bit. At the end of his first audition, the judges had some great comments, which you can hear at the end of this video. He made the top ten and got to perform a second audition. 

The winner got two free tickets to Oklahoma for the next level of auditions. Dakota didn't win, but we are very proud of him. Every public performance increases his confidence and his skill.   

Dakota auditioned with a friend. 
They both made the top ten. 

This was Dakota's reaction
when he found out 
he made the top ten. 

My Crazy Family

My brother and his family came back to the States for the first time in several years. 

During their visit, we had a barbecue and a couple dinners at my sister's house. Most of the time, I left my camera sitting on the table, and I really only took a handful of pictures. Of course, I've been so busy, that I never downloaded the pictures until long after my brother went back to Europe.   

So, I finally downloaded the pictures yesterday, and I discovered that everyone took a crazy self-portrait. It's funny too, because they all succeeded in doing this without my knowledge.  

Now I'm wondering what kind of conversations they had when I wasn't listening. They must have thought it was terribly funny, and they probably even laughed when they pictured my reaction. And of course it is funny, especially since I am the blogger of the family, and they must have known that their crazy mug shots would be posted on the world wide web for all to see. 


To my family, I say when you see this, remember that I love you. These pictures really did make me smile. It was wonderful to see you and to be together again as a family. 


Rhonda celebrated her 42 birthday this month.
It was a very happy occasion with friends and family. 

The girls baked a cake,
but it literally fell to pieces
when it came out of the oven.
Everyone laughed
and enjoyed eating
crumbs dipped in frosting.

We saved the candles for a beautiful birthday flan. 

Dakota and Josie with frosting mustaches. 


During the last six weeks, I have been immersed in my classes at Gonzaga. I've hardly had a chance to think about anything else, though some important events have happened this summer. For the time being, my readers will have to be content with a few short posts as I play catch-up on my blog. Fortunately, I've taken a few pictures, so you can at least see what I've seen. 

More to come...

The view from my class. 

Buildings on campus. 

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Complexity of Color

Describing colors seems like a straightforward concept, regardless of the culture or language. In my mind, I imagine a process of naming a color in English and then finding the appropriate translation in the target language. For example, in Spanish, the color blue is azul and the color green is verde. It seems simple enough, but the reality is far more complex, especially when we begin to compare the English language with indigenous languages.

A recent BBC documentary examines the difference in color perception across cultures, and what they discovered is not as simple as one might think.

Researchers visited the Himba people of northern Namibia and asked them to describe the color of various natural objects. Much to my surprise, they said the sky was black and the water was white. But these are not simply different color names; the researchers found that the Himba have totally different categories of color. They also found that the way people categorize color even affects their ability to perceive differences between them. For example, the Himba have words to describe multiple shades of green, and as a result, they were able to perceive these differences much faster than Europeans. In contrast, the Himba do not have separate words to describe blue and green. For them, these two colors fall within the same category, and so the Himba were less able to tell them apart.

This video inspired me to take a closer look at the phenomenon of naming color.

I found this article that addressed the naming of colors within traditional Japanese society. Like the Himba, the Japanese did not historically have separate words for blue and green. Before the year 1,000 AD, they only had one word: ao (blue). In time, the language changed to allow for a greenish tint of blue, which they called midori; however, this did not become a separate color until the 20th century. Ironically, Crayola crayons and teaching manuals essentially insisted upon separating ao from midori, and as a result, a new category was born.

Vestiges of the past survive. According to the article, the Japanese still describe vegetables as blue. They also say that traffic lights are blue, not green.


The BBC video and the Crayola article got me to thinking about the categorization of colors within the Spokane Salish language. The naming of color in Salish has always been problematic for me because the colors do not align well with English. To be honest, I was beginning to think that someone simply forgot to translate all the colors. In the Spokane language, I have never found a name for orange. To complicate matters even more, a single word (qʷin) is sometimes used to describe both green and purple. Thankfully, these articles have restored some sanity to my mind and have given me a different perspective for understanding my own language.

This all reminded me an event that happened several months ago when I had the opportunity to hear a Spokane tribal elder give thanks for the green grass of spring. However, when he offered the same prayer in Salish, he called the grass: sqʷaʔyoleʔxʷ. Even then, this caught my attention because the root word was qʷay, which means blue!

A simple search of the Spokane dictionary revealed that other "green" things were once described as blue by the historical Spokane people. Some examples:

hi qʷay - it is blue (also applied to spinach).
čqʷaʔyačst - a tree turns blue in spring.
sqʷaʔyoleʔxʷ - the blue grass of spring.
sqʷayc'eʔ - a blue or green blanket.
čqʷqʷay'c'eʔ - a watermelon (a little bit blue on the outside).

As I have studied Salish, I have struggled to understand the language categories of my ancestors. Likewise, I have watched others experience the same struggle. Now I realize that our mental categories have literally been altered by the dominant culture. Our minds have been changed, and if we believe the BBC documentary, our very ability to perceive color is different than it was 100 years ago. And now that we have separated colors based upon a European model, can we ever go back to seeing the world like the elders before us?

These articles also highlight the need to abandon any expectation of line-for-line translations between English and Salish. They simply are not possible. When we translate ideas between the two languages, we are really only offering approximations. In some cases, the concepts are so different, that we really cannot describe them in the other language. This presents a vastly more complex understanding of language that makes translation much more difficult, but also exciting and rich.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


As Rhonda celebrates her 42nd birthday, I feel moved to reflect upon the last 18 years of marriage. But even before the actual wedding date, we had already known each other for four years. By these numbers, the span of our relationship has endured more than half our lives. 

Our marriage is based upon a deep sense of friendship. Over the years, we have always seemed to find comfort in the feelings we share, and no matter how many years have passed, we can still lie awake at night as we hold hands and speak of the beauty and the mysteries of life. 

But more importantly, our relationship stands upon a spiritual witness of our oneness; a witness that has strengthened us through every challenge, disappointment, or disagreement. 

Our marriage is a blessing, and on a day such as this, I give thanks. 

(This is one of my favorite pictures of Rhonda from a few years ago). 


Related Posts with Thumbnails