Saturday, September 30, 2006

Good Planets Are Hard to Find #7

Again, we are blown away by the photos we have received in the mail. From stunning close-ups to breath-taking panoramas, Maine to Peru, we get to see for a moment the earth's beauty through someone else's eyes. It's quite an experience. We hope you enjoy these postcards from earth.

From Barbara P:
These are from a recent visit to Leaming's Run Gardens in Cape May County, NJ. So hard to choose which to send! I want to share them all with you so you can experience the peace and beauty of the place.

Janice B in Vancouver, BC
We get snow so seldom here on southern Vancouver Island that is something to be held in awe. This picture was taken looking up into the tree in the night sky ...

Mary from Virginia wrote:
I was about to open the gate in my back yard fence when I noticed a twig on the gate. I was reaching down to brush it off when I realized it wasn't a twig at all, but a pair of walking stick insects mating!

Turning to my right, I caught a picture of this chipmunk, eyeing me from atop my woodpile:

Lindsay A writing from Maine sent two photos and wrote:
These are two photos from my trip to peru and ecuador, respectively.

Yankee Transfer wrote:
This is a closeup of my favorite tree in our yard, taken in April of 2006. It's a North American Fringe Tree and it gives off the loveliest, light, lemony scent.

Barbara A from Delta, British Columbia sent two photos:
The first photo, from Mud Bay, was taken at low tide; one of those rocks looks to me somewhat like a half-buried alien. Shouldn't have tried walking on that stuff; it's really soupy goop. The birds love it, and it is probably full of all kinds of happy, muddy beasties.

Minekhada Park, farther up the Fraser Valley.

Whisker sent this sweet bunny photo:

Kathleen W sent two photos from northern coastal Maine

Dawn B wrote:
This is a male Eurasian Wigeon, taken in Bellevue this last spring. Behind the pretty boy is an American male Wigeon.

Jeanne wrote from Virginia:
Change of seasons. These three shots were taken within a few short minutes of each other on a recent camping trip in SW Virginia . The first facing into the sunrise. The second at about a 90 degree angle from the first. The third at 180 degrees. Amazing what the sunlight does to the colors?

Gary in Kauai sent these three photos capturing different aspects of the island.
A gnarly cypress-
Poli Hale Sunset on western Kauai-
Seed pods from a rare and endangered Hawaiian plant-
Pam of Tucson wrote:
The wonders of our world come large and small. As I processed photos of poppies taken in our friends' garden on Bowen Island, BC, I noticed the exquisite detail of the post-petal seed head. Enclosed are two poppy photos - one with petals, one without.

We are delighted to present these images and plan to keep doing Saturday's Good Planet posts as long as people keep sending in what the world looks like out their windows. When the photos stop, we'll stop. Until then, we thank all these photographers for sending in their view of the world.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sounding of Taps

The coffin holding the Constitution of the United States was lowered Thursday at Arlington National Cemetary.

Our country came home in a flag-draped coffin Thursday. We are grieving the loss of a precious loved one. Please join us by sharing your memories and stories, and finally saying good-bye to the idea of freedom and liberty. We weep because it was much too soon, but we understand that all good things must pass. Memorial service to be announced.

(Photo from the public file at Travis Airforce Base)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Waxing Crescent Moon

Autumn is about light and darkness in balance. As much day as night. The waxing crescent moon follows the sun across the sky all day, but is only visible at sunset.
In the morning, I walk down the hallway after putting the kettle on to boil. The early autumn sun is pouring through our bedroom window, reflecting off the door and into the hall. Our room is filled with eastern fire, as precious as gold. We can not see the moon for the sun.
At day's end, the moon is revealed out of the coming darkness. That perfect crescent, always a reminder of ancient symbols and worship, the flair on a sorcerer's coat.
We turn out the lights and look out the window at the only light in the sky, fixed on an image as old as time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

still at it

i have become very boring. not so much bored myself, but boring to others. we have rented scaffolding so as to reach the last high parts of the house in order to remove the siding and replace it with shingles. i feel the meter running on the scaffolding so i push myself to stay at it whenever possible. the high parts are four gable ends. two face north and i have completed them. they were comfy to work on even though we have been having rather warm sunny days. the last two, one facing west and one east, and both higher then the first two, are impossible, at least for this retired carpenter, to work on in the sun. i'm working on the eastern one now and it is broiling hot till about one pm. i putter around in the fall garden, distracted by my impatience, till i can get to work. when i finish that and move to the western side my workday will be reversed. early to climb up the scaffold and work till noon.

they, whoever that is, say that time flies when one is having fun. shingling is a sort of fun, but working ten feet off the ground demands all my attention and then some. time flies by in those circumstances too. i pay attention to, in order of importance, not falling, doing the job correctly, and staying calm and relaxed. i have a bit of a tendency to clench every muscle in my body when i'm up on a ladder or scaffolding. music helps. have i mentioned kpig?

that's me of course. putting up the last of the shingles on this gable.

i'm still up there, standing about eleven feet above ground level.

i could not work out a way to remove the siding, apply tarpaper, and put up shingles without moving the scaffold several times, so i invented rails for it. easier to move than disassembly and reassembly.

my other unpaid gig is bookkeeping for the local affiliate of habitat for humanity. after i was three weeks on the job, which meant about 6 hours of being there and learning the ropes, the director went off to south america for a month's vacation, leaving moi to take care of deposits, bill paying, and data entry. i am flattered that they recognize my competence, but i go in two days a week instead of the usual one, and must rummage through old transactions to figure out how to handle many things. their spreadsheet (excel) for tracking mortgage payments is very rudimentary and barely adequate, so i can't stop myself from working out ways to improve it.

and so, between planning scaffold placement and movement, along with actually putting shingles in place for my home project, and contemplating a proper database for mortgage transactions while keeping the books accurately up to date at habitat for humanity, my thinking area is fairly full. i haven't time to be bored, but i'm sure i seem a dull grind to others. robin rescues me with invitations to go see the salmon, or just take a walk around the neighborhood. her suggestions that i fix dinner are welcome also, as that takes me right into another realm of relaxation.

i reckon that the shingling will be complete, at least the scaffolding part, in about two weeks. the director at habitat will be back then also, so i'll be down to one day a week there. relief is in sight.

pictures on saturday. send em if ya got em. newdharmabums at

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Anomalous Vegetables and Bee Stings

We planted the corn late this year. It was definitely not knee-high by the 4th of July. We planned for a cool June and July (like we had last year), but were blindsided by a drought and record-breaking heat. So our corn is still growing, but has not yet yielded an ear. Although these look like they might be tasty someday.
What the corn has given us though is this anomaly. Or is it anomaly? We have no idea. We walked out to the garden the other day and found some of the tassels had what looked like kernels of corn.This just does not look right to us. Maybe someone out there has seen such a thing, but we haven't. Why would corn do this? We expected tassels, and we expected ears, but we did not expect tassels to look like ears. Here are the rest of the tassels, looking quite as expected.
Then, as if the corn wasn't bad enough, we went into the greenhouse and found anomalous tomatoes. One of our Early Oregon tomato plants had shot out a truss -- where the tomatoes were growing out of the flowers. The very light yellow petals were still there, and the flowers were extremely large. We've grown lots of tomatoes, but have not seen the fruit hanging with the flowers. We're not sure what's up with this.
Then, to round out the chaos of biology, my sister went to the beach on Saturday and was stung by a bee. Before she went to the beach, she checked online to see how the weather would be. Eight miles visibility. That's phenomenal for southern California. So she packed some fruit and cottage cheese and headed out to see how far she could see. Once there, she laid out her blanket and unpacked her fruit. Unfortunately, even though she could see eight-miles out to sea, she didn't see the bee right there on her lunch. It stung her. Here's a photo from Monday, she's having an allergic reaction to the bee sting that seems to be worsening every few hours. A doctor gave her a prescription for Prednisone, and told her she should see her regular physician and get an Rx for medication if she were ever to be stung again. At last report her hand was swelling.

I'm not leaping to any conclusions, but has the world gone crazy or what? And, I'm not even talking about what's going on in Washington. Don't get me started.

Monday, September 25, 2006

After the Long Journey

I dedicate this post to my mother on her 81st birthday. She is a committed reader of this blog, and is always excited to see what we've been up to. My mom and dad taught us kids to be tough and honest, to fight the good fight, even if it meant taking to the streets to stop a war. They taught their daughters to be fierce and forthright and their sons to be fair and kind. That is to say, they were radical, and we were very lucky. Thanks, Mom and Happy birthday!

There's something about watching salmon swim upstream that at once breaks your heart and opens your eyes to the unbelievable power and stamina of nature, the mesmerizing pull of genes, the intimate struggle to reproduce at the cost of one's own life. We've all seen video documentaries. We know what those wild salmon look like as they arc and leap to move faster than the current. But when you come upon them in the quiet woods and hear only the sound of water broken by the occasional splash of a tail or fin as it hits the surface, it's a different thing entirely.
Our friends told us the salmon were running. The story of how the salmon were reintroduced to this creek in 1991 is quite a testimony to ability of both creek and fish to recover from pollution and abuse. Since 1999 the salmon have come back, and they make this journey every year at the end of summer. These chum salmon are born in the Chimacum Creek, spend a short time in these fresh waters before they head out to sea. They spend several years maturing in the ocean, and if they are not caught by fishermen and baked, broiled or barbecued for your dining pleasure, they make their final journey back to this little creek to deposit their eggs in the gravel beds, and then die.
It's a short walk out our front door to the Chimacum Creek. We found the trail to a new part of the creek, a place we were told the salmon might be found. It's a quiet old forest back there, feeling more wild than many of the other places we walk. It took us a while before we could hear the water. Roger listened very intently. He said, "I can hear the salmon." It seemed crazy, but it was true. Before we saw the creek quite a way down below us, we heard the water and the splash of salmon.
Here's where they're headed, pulled upstream by something we still can't quite explain.

I shot a little video in an attempt to capture the sound and the moment:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Good Planets Are Hard to Find #6

When we first started posting photographs for the Good Planets six weeks ago, we had no idea how enriched our lives would be by it. We are receiving emails from around the world with views of the earth that we will never see with our own eyes. There are so many people who see the world the way we do, who notice the smallest detail, and the most dramatic expressions across a darkening sky. From Alaska to Tasmania there are people who grab their cameras and fly out the door to capture a moment on earth. Postcards from the planet. We thank everyone who submitted, and apologize to anyone who may have been left out. We live on a good and beautiful planet, and they really are hard to find.

Marcie F sent two photos; Tallahassee, and waterfall at Mt. Rainier.

Michael F sent this photo of Southern Israel.He wrote: This is a wadi in southern Israel, with dusk approaching -- our group's noise flushed a large flight of birds from the brush, which banked and soared in unison against the dwindling daylight. Taken late fall of 2001.

Daniel S. sent us this photo of the sky in Wyoming.He wrote: I took this last summer while traveling westward on I-90 in northeast Wyoming, heading towards Gillette.

Paul B sent this photo that captures the water flowing over rocks.
Susannah sent this photo of daisies blowing in the wind from Mud Bay Delta, British Columbia.
Liz O sent this photo from Connecticut.She wrote: (This) is fungus growing on a dead tree. Again, it's something traditionally kind of icky, but it's beautiful. I love finding beauty in small things and unexpected places.

Susan F sent these two photos of Okanogan in Washington.

Mark M sent this photo of a lilypad in Flowing Lake, Washington.
Brian sent this photo from Ontario.He wrote: This photo was taken in September 2006 on the northeast shore of the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. The blue, crystal clear water of Georgian Bay is almost shocking.

Greg sent these two photos from the English countryside.

Chris sent this of the horizon in Alaska.
Yankee Transplant sent this photo.She wrote: This photo of the clouds was taken in the wilds of Memphis, Tennessee. I leaned my head back in my camp chair while watching my girls play soccer, and this sight is what greeted me.

Laurel sent this photo.She wrote: These are Amish foddershocks in Kentucky on a sunny September afternoon.

Seavu sent us this photo of mums.She wrote: To celebrate the arrival of fall, I'm sending you a bouquet of big, gorgeous mums from Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Nio sent this flower close-up from Old Hill, New Hampshire.She wrote: I have pictures of Old Hill posted all over my site as I spend much time down there. I am beginning to know the area very well and see all kinds of wildlife. Spending time down in Old Hill allows me to connect with the mountains, water, sky, wind, and Mother Earth. It has become a very important place for me.

Tara sent this photo of Post Ranch hills in Big Sur.She wrote: See the lovely lavendar? Oh, did it smell GOOD!

Divajood sent this photo taken during her recent journey to Australia
Jeanne sent this photo she took during a camping trip. It was probably photographed somewhere in Virginia.
Evan sent this photo of the Thomas Point Lighthouse in Chesapeake Bay.

Kathy A sent this photo of a Lily of the Nile, agapanthus.She wrote: We have these lovely lilies of the nile in our front yard. The first five years or so, we had no blooms at all, because the deer ate all the emerging buds. This year, one hardy flower stalk is still holding out, even though its sister stalks have gone to seed.

We will be doing another Good Planets next Saturday. Please send us one or two of your favorite photographs. Thank you so much, everyone.