Friday, February 29, 2008

Gadding About

Sunday/Monday I rented a duplex. It is being remodeled, not available until March 20th. It will be crisply new, rather small, have the guest room I've promised all my friends (heads up! the guest room in Paradise will shortly be receiving!) and a lowrent version of the quintessential P.A. dual view. It's only a couple of hundred feet up and four blocks back from the bluff so has no looking-down-across-the-harbor effect; electric wires and nearby buildings, too. But by golly the Olympic Mountains in one direction and the Strait in the other.

On Tuesday, left work early to head over to Port Townsend, to talk and lunch with someone from my Zen Center life, and someone he knew in days there earlier than mine. Twenty-five years at least since I saw J. Leaving work, explained to R. that I was going to rendezvous with someone I hadn't seen in 25 years. Since she is 26, she found this datum completely indigestible. 'Just wait,' I said. 'Eventually you'll be my age and it will happen to you.'

Talk, lunch at the food coop, bookstore hopping, coffee break, waiting for ferry for J. to head back to Bellingham. At the metaphysical bookstore I got a string of prayer flags for the deck of my new apartment. (Forgot to mention, it has a deck...) This was my first visit to Port Townsend and it's easy to see the charms. Arty, literary, old hippie.

Tomorrow I go to Seattle to spend the night with G. and his family. I have seen him in more recent years, for one thing visited on my first NW spy trip when I was deciding where to move to; but the era in my personal history that G. belongs to, communal spouses and karma yoga and intercommunal newsletters and like that, reaches back OMG more like close to 40 years.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hearing The Gray Whales Coming

Might have to go out to First Beach at La Push tomorrow, to scope out where I will watch for migrating Gray Whales. There are not likely to be any up here yet, but how can I be sure if I don't start checking? And Orca Network's email said "It's about time for the Grays to show up in Island County, so keep your eyes peeled for those blows & flukes!" Well duh, they can't get to Island County without cruising past First Beach, peeling off from the northbound crowd to turn the corner at Cape Flattery, and heading on in through the Strait.

This paragraph amended after doing some reading. Still, though 'everyone knows' the northbound grays spend time at First Beach, feeding or perhaps more likely rubbing, the websites don't seem to agree when. Different websites say February-April, or March, or March-May, or just 'spring'. Assuming it's March or so, then it is the newly pregnant females, the males, and the juveniles; and not the mothers with calves who come along weeks later.

Report from Santa Barbara Channel (.) From the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Journey North's map. Orcanetwork's tutorial.

The state of Oregon apparently thinks the week of March 22-29 will be the peak of the migration in their area. (So, a couple of weeks later here?) The Oregon daily count site says, "They will start to return north about the first of March, starting to pass Oregon about the last week of March. The first whales heading north have been spotted coming out of Mexico - 2/14/08."

Technical papers: several from Cascadia Research. And "Winter Observations of Cetaceans off the Northern Washington Coast".

There will just be spouts, you know. At best, distant splooshing and little bits of cetacean backs. Still, I'll be standing with my feet on the ground, seeing them. In March or April or May. Or tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We're Having a Party, and Nobody's Gonna Come

Open house at the Library for the entire tribal community, 5-7 PM tonight. Nobody is going to come. We have left flyers at Social Services, the Health Clinic, and Counseling; on tables in the dining room; on the bulletin boards in the Tribal Center; in all staff mailboxes. We announced it in the February tribal newsletter. We just sent out an email reminder (which reaches only tribal staff, not Everybody). There will be treats, and we are having a drawing for a copy of the new book from our cousins down the shore, Totem Poles of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe. Nobody is going to come.


Perfect Sunny Saturday

There were lots of people apparently out fishing on the Sol Duc out towards the ocean Saturday. Traffic in unaccustomed places, small-boat trailers, SUVs with fishing poles on their carry racks. Many vehicles parked, people walking along the highway with fishing rods, etc. So I stopped and asked in the store at Mora to find out what is running. Winter steelhead.

The parking lot at Rialto was full. Well, duh: holiday weekend, warm day, good low tide, bald eagles in the trees: it must be the right time to go to Hole-in-the-Rock. The truly enterprising had on their backpacks and were throwing themselves into a late-winter through-hike around a point or two, to camp in solitude in the next cove or the next after that.

Rialto Beach ; click for large image

Everybody else who crossed Ellen Creek to get to Hole-in-the-Rock tightrope-walked the pile of drift logs at the back of the beach. I felt too unstable but also stubborn. I took off my boots AND my jeans and just waded over. Same on the return. None of the nearby beach walkers seemed particularly shocked by my large body and bright purple underwear.

Rialto Beach ; click for large image

My sister, who only knows Florida where the Gulf Stream brings warm water along the shore all year long, can't understand why I would go to a beach at all if I can't go swimming. Once I stop needing four or five layers of clothes just to hang out on the beach, as the days get warmer I might at least wade in, let some of that lovely foam wash up around my knees or thighs, or something. Hmmmm, better start remembering to bring my old 'beach shoes' tennies in the car, and a spare towel. Summer is coming. But year-round the water is a good 30 degrees colder than those Florida waters I grew up in.

Ocean temperature charts. Steelhead angler information from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Across Water to Another Country

Popped over to Victoria to visit W. on Friday. The M.V. Coho, fresh out of her annual drydock and back at home at the ferry dock in downtown Port Angeles, was looking very jaunty, with fresh paint all over, seats repaired, etc.

Looking past town and up to Klahane Ridge as the ferry pulls away.

We drove west along the Vancouver Island shore as far as Jordan River, wanting to look back across the Strait at the mountains behind the Olympic Peninsula shore (home!), but it was gray and rainy and mostly cloudy. No pix. Dawdled out there watching the surfers bobbing on the small surf of the Strait on a grey calm day.

Then came back, one eye on the clock to make the return ferry. At the end of the day we detoured to Esquimalt Lagoon, and the ducks were wonderfully plentiful, and paddling around right up to our feet. It made me so happy to have them dabbling and murmuring and squeeking right there in my arms (so to speak), so close you didn't need binoculars to see what they were like. Best ducks I ever had. Then ferried home again. "Where do you live?" asked the passport man. "Here," I said.

Esquimalt Lagoon, ducks, geese, swans ; click for larger image
Goldeneyes (and a couple of scaup); click for larger image
Pintails and wigeons Is Live

and the humpbacks are singing singing. Singing by the hour.

"Despite the constantly changing nature of the song, all singers in a population sing essentially the same version at any one time. In fact, all the singers in the North Pacific (that is, whales in Japan, Hawaii, Mexico and the Philippines) separated by thousands of kilometers sing essentially the same version of a song at any one time," it says on

These could be from the same population that we see up here in the NE Pacific in the summers (map), one of whom Orcalab recorded in Blackfish sound in October. Other links about humpbacks: (1)(2 ). The one we saw breaching, in August 2006, Ellen H.'s photo.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Elk Seeking

We did go looking for elk on Tuesday. Stopped by the meadow where M. had seen them at dusk on the weekend. No elk. We drove on up the Elwha; edged up to the fence at Glines Canyon Dam to think about its coming down (the ever-sliding date most recently given as 2012); and on up towards Observation Point until there was too much snow on the road. Came back down, admiring the river as we went. Stopped at the meadow again and sat by the side of the road for quite a long time. Waited for elk. No elk.

Along came a Park ranger. 'We're waiting for the elk,' we said. He laughed. 'They're on a schedule?' 'Well, they were here the other evening, wasn't it you who was here when I saw them?' asked M. 'I wouldn't wait too long,' he said, 'that was the only time I've seen them here for months.'

We went back to town, had supper, went to a talk at Park headquarters about watershed restoration. Saw slides and listened to tech talk about work on the Little Hoko River, the East Twin River, and Salt Creek. Some successful (as measured by return of salmon runs), some less so. The scientist didn't want to talk about the Elwha project. Questioners cornered him at the end : would it work, would the salmon come back to the Elwha. It was hard for him to answer, the Park was his host for the evening and he doesn't believe the Park's party line. Hatchery fish are not going to take, he said. A couple of species will repopulate, others not.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter Wanders On

Went out to the ocean yesterday. Needed my saltwater fix, and the Strait wouldn't do. So I studied the infrared weather radar image and decided there was going to be one of those magical spaces between storms. Wrong. It rained most of the time. In between showers I pulled the camera out from under the poncho and tried to capture what it was like.

High tide. Rain. There was the sound of the waves — the minute I arrived in the parking lot and heard them pounding on the foreshore I was already satisfied. Despite blue-ish cast of photos it was gray gray gray, everything was gray except the white foam. At the peak of the tide, the whole shore zone was carpeted with foam...

Tomorrow going out to the Elwha with M., in lieu of a supper date. She emailed, "Maybe we can see the elk come up from the river. If not elk, we can see the river."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Future of Washington Forests

I keep trying to give up on reading The Future of Washington Forests. Though I'm looking at the print version — the same document is also online — visually it's as hard to read as Wired Magazine. Colored backgrounds, curious design choices; charts that make no sense; enormous sidebars with no new information, just whole paragraphs from the text as pull quotes in shadowed fonts. I run into apparent contradictions and struggle onward. Total timber harvest has declined spectacularly since 1990 (see page 20 (6 of 34) of the Forests, Timber Supply and Forest Industries chapter, but lumber production is UP. Ah, perhaps because all other forest product industries are down: plywood, pulp, log export, etc.

You gotta speak their language. This paragraph appears to be about spraying with herbicides (I think):

"Private landowners practicing intensive commercial forest management are moving away from thinning young forests in favor of increased early vegetation control to promote fast growth and then harvesting at younger harvest ages. This reduces landowner costs but also reduces forest biodiversity."

The Forest Land Conversion chapter contains this stunning fact: "A 2004 study assessed forestland values for 38 counties in western Oregon and Washington and found average land values to be $1,483/acre in forest use and $165,947/acre in urban use."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Democracy! Plunge forward!

So the 31 voters from my precinct who dutifully caucused this afternoon voted 9 for Clinton, 13 for Obama and 9 uncommmitted on the first allocation. Then people made little speeches, and anyone who wanted to changed their choice on the paper sheets, especially the uncommitteds, and several of us watched as the sheets were re-tallied. Final result: 10 for Hillary, 20 for Barack, 1 remaining uncommitted (I think that person had left).

After applying the prescribed mathematics for tallying the percentages into delegate numbers, our 4 delegates were distributed as 3 delegates for Obama and 1 for Clinton. Then we had to choose the 4 delegates and 4 alternates. One by one people were nominated or volunteered to take themselves to the county caucus on our behalf; each was accepted by acclamation until we had 7 sacrificial victims lined up; and someone sighed and filled out the fourth alternate slip so we could all go home...

It was a pretty disorderly process, reminding me that it's a miracle that the Dems EVER manage to win an election. One person in my precinct group arrived with Edwards bumperstickers and harboring a grudge that 4 years ago the establishment Dems in the precinct caucus had pounded on the two Dean supporters until they went for Kerry and look how that turned out. He voted for Obama.

One lady at the next table over was wearing a peculiar hat with a large glittering peace symbol on it. Somebody else had put Kucinich posters on the walls. There were all kinds of handouts on our table, and resolutions offered by participants floating around to be signed. It was interesting and kind of moving to be there... But there must be a lot more than 31 voters in my precinct; a proper primary would be more, um, democratic.

Thanks to A. for the title line.


Fancy that. I've moved to a caucus state. This afternoon will be a new experience. Have no idea what it will be like. A distinctly unmodern prospect: to turn up and talk politics with strangers.

Reading News: For once have enough to read lined up, and a couple of interesting non-fictions on the go.

P.S. Backed out of the rental house. However elegant this temporary perch may be, I am anxious to be settled, see the next bit of future, get my things out of storage. But the little house on Washington Street wasn't right.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Here (Another Step)

I put a deposit on a rental house this afternoon.

I don't think it's necessarily a good thing that I have re-organized my ENTIRE LIFE to be closer to water. I mean, up until this year I'd have said that my life was organized around what the commune I once lived in called karma yoga, and what in my Buddhist life was called Right Livelihood.

And I threw it up in the air and ran like hell for the NW corner, 1400 miles away, risking all just to get closer to the ocean. That it worked out, that I was able to reach out and again catch hold of my librarianly identity when I got here, was accidental good fortune.

I've been in this new life long enough that everydayness has nearly taken over. Work, read, errands. Hanging around, looking out the (agreed: quite satisfactory) windows. I managed to head for the salt water one place or another three days in a row last week; but before that it had been a while...

Found this nice webcam page. Some familiar views of Here, or anyway Hereabouts; some new ones.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Salt Creek Tide

Sunday afternoon late, went with M. to Salt Creek County Park. It looks across the Strait at just about its narrowest point — it's probably fifteen miles from Salt Creek to the Sooke Peninsula west of Victoria. The tide was going out. "Oh my," said M., "I swim around that island." We stomped around a bit, but no clams rewarded us by squirting water up from their holes. Again, not much in the way of birds, just some gulls and a duck. One. But a whole lot of scenery.

We moved the car from the creek mouth into the campground area up on the bluff. M. went tidepooling briefly out on Tongue Point. I sat on the rocks and looked out...

Vancouver Island, looking mysterious and remote and snowy.
West along the Olympic Peninsula shore

Blue Sky Ocean

Wildly schizophrenic weather Saturday. I was out in the beautiful blue sky sunshine at Rialto Beach for several hours. An eagle or two. Seals in the Quileute River back behind the beach. Headed home all happy and peaceful with plenty of time to get home before dark.

But it was snowing as I came through the Park along Lake Crescent, dim and dusky well before sunset; and between Lake Crescent and Lake Sutherland it was suddenly snowing so heavy and cold that cars were skidding off the road. I was going really slowly, but when I tried to pull over to help some people who were off the road with their emergency blinkers on, myself drifted gently almost off. One wheel. Luckily nobody was hurt in any of the cars in the ditch, people were just waiting for tow trucks; and there were therefore several vigorous young men around to push my car and get my right front wheel back onto solid pavement. I put on the chains and creeped onward in the dusk and dark.

In the morning, around town and along the shore, the new snow and ice had vanished.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Ediz Hook, Late Afternoon

Work, then errands, then out on Ediz Hook yesterday afternoon. Not a lot of birds this time (except gulls, and not even vast lots of them). One turnstone still in handsome winter plumage on the Strait side among the rocks; one merganser and a couple of buffleheads inside.
Gull over the Strait of Juan de Fuca
The pilot station on Ediz Hook
Looking towards the mountains, harbor side of the Hook