deception pass Washington

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Christmas Lights

We have a local businessman who I believe is a aeronautics supplier of Boeing who occupies a significant amount of an industrial section of town nearby. Normally it is just 8 large buildings and nothing special. He gets involved in local politics – a couple times running for city council. And let’s just say we really wish he would keep his politics to himself. He tends to be inflammatory- especially towards the Muslim members of our community. Fortunately he has lost both times he ran for office.

But at Christmas time he lights up the neighborhood. He places lights on many trees, stations reindeer and other Christmas-theme figures on both sides of the street by his buildings – including on one of the buildings you will see in the pictures below – and even has a large lit multi-string Christmas tree with a star on top of one of his many buildings. I couldn’t get a good pic of it today because of the clouds and sunshine, but it is amazing.

These pictures were taken today of the many lightings. The colors stand out more in the dark and it is a real treat. I hope you enjoy the these lights and the Christmas lights where you are. One of my favorite childhood memories was heading home from church downtown and seeing the lighted houses on the hills around our route home. They sparkled out from among the trees – a December treat for the holidays.

Christmas tree lights
manger scene
Santa Claus
first caroler
second caroer

Leave a Trail

I found this quote at a hotel we were staying at last week when out of town. I have always liked Emerson, a 19th-century America philosopher. He and Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau were men of wise words – who also liked to challenge authority and march to the beat of their own drummer – to quote Thoreau. They were the conscience of the country, so to speak, not afraid to speak their minds in contrast to the prevailing opinions on serious issues like slavery. They were ahead of their time.

I resonate with the sentiment of Emerson’s quote. I am an explorer, a bunny-trail wanderer, and a seeker of new things and new places. I hate routine and the notion of “we’ve always done it that way”. Set practices, schedules, and places are helpful in training others and maintaining order when needed. But discoveries are never made within the confines of walls. Advances in medicine were usually made when people challenged the status quo. Bloodletting as an aid to health was an established practice in colonial days and anesthesia was not discovered until well into the 19th century, due to archaic views of the human body. It took courage for people like Joseph Lister to start using more humane surgical practices.

I often wonder who was the first to harvest and ingest wild mushrooms or determine which berries were safe and which were deadly. Somebody must have sampled fearlessly. We take most of our food for granted, and we have federal standards of safety for food, but those only were developed in the early 20th century. And even now there are plenty of people who won’t vary their eating habits to include new foods when the only danger is that their taste buds might revolt.

Another thing that we need to explore is what is important to us and what we are willing to sacrifice for. Thoreau famously spent a night in jail over taxes he opposed. It may have been connected to his opposition to the Mexican-American War in the 1840s -which Abraham Lincoln and others also opposed. It was related that he was visited by Emerson, who said “what are you doing in there?” To which Thoreau replied, “why are you out there?” In other words, he was chiding his mentor for not being willing to sacrifice freedom for a cause.

This gets me thinking that I should re-read Waldon Pond – Thoreau’s most famous work and rediscover nature some more. I would recommend it to you along with his Civil Disobedience. You may not agree with him, but it might give you food for thought. And perhaps lead you to make some new trails where there is no path.

Snow for Now

Goodbye to November – it went quickly and said farewell with snow – and a brief power outage yesterday. We were fortunate here with just about 3 hrs of power loss and about 2-3 inches of (now) slushy snow. I took a short walk to pick up my morning coffee at a shop around the corner and managed to soak my tennis shoes thoroughly – they and my socks are drying off downstairs. But I got my coffee and didn’t have to go anywhere this morning.

I did have a couple of meetings scheduled – on zoom – but they got canceled because other people on the calls because some folks couldn’t get to work to connect. So I will do other tasks and gaze out at our snowy/slushy parking lot from my home office, past my shelf companions. The lineup includes a tie-dyed pterodactyl, two crocheted owls -thanks Sweetie – and an Edgar Martinez statue – thanks to a Seattle Mariners giveaway (yea, Mariners!).

November brought the finishing of my 80-day FB video challenge, which was very satisfying, including doing the last few outside on my phone when we were down in Corvallis dealing with my late sister’s estate. You should still be able to check out some of the videos since they are saved on FB for 30 days.

Here is another snow view – from the golf course around the bend. Trees shielded some so you can see the grass/snow contrast. I hope you all stay safe wherever you are and whatever the weather has brought you. Like all things in life this too will pass, so I hope you are able to enjoy it while it lasts.

Let the Flow Begin

You have to turn on the faucet in order for the water to flow. That is a metaphor for getting started on projects. Sometimes we spend so much time planning that we don’t get started doing. Research is important and planning is also, and making the right decision is vital. But if we don’t actually start nothing gets done. Another phrase is “even God can’t steer a parked car”. Sometimes we agonize over decisions fearing we might make the wrong choice. But not choosing is also making a choice -not a good one.

What projects are you putting off for fear of choosing wrong? What actions are you postponing because you can’t make up your mind how to start? Are you waiting for some sign to indicate which way to go? Perhaps there are some things you need to find out or questions to ask before you move forward. Those are first steps to take that will make your project start easier.

Perhaps there are people you need to be asking questions of to make sure of what you intend to do? Then those would be your first steps. Sometimes we hesitate at moving because the step seems too big. Cut the size down by asking advice, getting help, and making sure all the details are in line.

But after all that you just need to step up and start. Turning on the faucet so that the water can flow. You can then adjust the volume and temperature and direction of flow once the water is running. You can’t do anything with a dry faucet.

Timing

Timing is everything it seems. The reason why I did not drink much coffee in Phoenix, but waited until we moved to Seattle? It was too hot – plus I had not developed the taste yet. The time for drinking a hot mocha is on a cold morning when you can wrap your hands around the cup and warm yourself up. In Phoenix you need a nice iced drink to cool you off.

Today I went in search of a nearby coffee shop, but instead I spied the shop in the photo above. It is a favorite place of mine, but not today. At 27 degrees it is way too cold for ice cream. So I walked on to see the sights. I know, I could have, should have, put a jacket on, but hey I’m weird and impulsive so I just walked on. Not a long walk, but an energizing walk. It wasn’t breezy so just cold crisp air.

I also was not dressed in shorts. It’s not the time for it. I wear shorts longer than most – from March to the end of October – but then the jeans come out. I have seen walkers and runners recently who are still braving the cold with shorts, but not me. It’s not my time for it.

As the proverb goes there is a time for everything. You just have to figure out your timing. My wake time is early morning. For my sisters and my wife that time is later – all of them night owls. Some are overly ruled by time – you “can’t wear blank after blank”. Some are seasonal – white after Labor Day. Some are age related – you can’t wear such and such after a certain age.

But you should within reason make up your own rule. If what you do doesn’t harm anyone then do what you feel like. Some would say that after a certain age you shouldn’t wear tie dyes. But I am a rebel and a child of the sixties, in my sixties, and I wear tie dyed shirts all the time.

see ?

Live today, the way you want to. Today is the time to live fully you.:)

Conversation or Presentation?

Have you ever been talking to someone when a glazed look covers their face and you know you have lost them? They may be still looking at you but their mind has gone elsewhere. I had that recently with a speech I was giving to a local Toastmasters club on my style of speech delivery. I deemed the speech a failure because I didn’t see them nod or otherwise react.

I realized later that I hadn’t totally lost them – since I could see them all looking at me. But it was kind of like when students are looking at the teacher in order to appear attentive, but not really taking it all in. I’ve been there, done that, so I know the feeling. Some commented later in a way that indicated they had learned, but what I had done was a presentation, not a conversation.

Each speech needs to be a conversation and I pride myself in having a conversational style. In this instance, I failed to follow my own advice and did not do things to draw my audience in. One thing I reminded myself to do next time was to start with a question – like the one I started this post with – that my audience could relate to.

In conversations, we use words, vocal variety, facial expressions, and movement to engage the audience. And in return, we listen and look for reactions from the audience to fine-tune our speech. Are they laughing at our jokes/humor? Are they nodding in agreement, or displaying body language to indicate disagreement? Are they following us with their eyes as we move about the stage or mirroring our expressions? Eye contact works both ways.

A speech should not be a dichotomy of speaker vs audience, but rather the speaker with the audience having an educational moment. The conversation should be two-sided. This applies to ordinary conversations as well. We tend to pontificate or rant or drone in our interactions with others primarily because we are so intent on making our point that we ignore the other(s) we are talking to. We should be talking with them, not to or at them.

I leave you with an updated version of a childhood mantra that we all learned from our parents. They told us to “stop, look, and listen” before crossing the street. I would advise in our conversations and speeches to “pause, look, and listen”. Pause, take a breath and let your point sink in – especially when delivering humor – don’t run over laugh lines. Look at your audience and see if they are hearing you, and reacting. And listen for sounds of reaction. And then adjust accordingly so that the conversation is positive. Make sure you are having a conversation, not just making a presentation,

No Comment

It’s a phrase we hear a lot from, mostly from public officials when confronted with questions from a curious press when they can’t or don’t want to divulge further information. Sometimes it is valid – unable to comment on an ongoing investigation to avoid tipping off suspects or other involved parties. And sometimes it is just awkward – they want the matter to just go away.

Sometimes they don’t know what to say and don’t want to say “I don’t know” We have a tendency to do that – we feel like it betrays our intelligence – that we are supposed to know it all. It isn’t true but it seems to be an automatic response.

There are also instances where we don’t know what to say and so are silent. Dealing with someone grieving is awkward – there are no good words to say. I believe that actions speak louder than words and being there is often sufficient. But when someone asks us to comment they need feedback and we should be ready to share.

That is why I was surprised at what I found recently when searching other blogs. I wanted to see what other people were blogging about and give them feedback – as well as solicit interest in my blog. What I found were many blogs where there was no way to comment – no setup to leave comments. I read some really good posts but had to go away empty. Some were official blogs for Toastmasters groups where I guess you have to belong to the group, or sign in with them, in order to comment.

I found a “contact us” button on a few and left a comment about the issue. Hopefully, I will hear back, but otherwise, I just move on and keep on searching. I can’t imagine that someone would go through the trouble of setting up a blog and creating posts with no setup for comments. Unless like the public official they don’t really want any comments. I hope you will comment on my blog – it is set up to facilitate that – and I welcome any and all comments. Thanks:)

Group Dynamics

We have learned this couple weeks that there is power in numbers. Many individuals were motivated to turn out on Election Day and vote. And the heavy turnout helped stave off a red wave, reducing it to a trickle. It showed that people were still engaged and felt strongly that we should continue to go forward and not give up important gains. Of course there were others who were disappointed and just complained.

But what if the group action did not take place? What if we see ourselves as alone? Are our actions insignificant? No. It matters what we do even if we are not joined by a crowd. It is important to be true to who we are and stand out in our own place. We are a country that is committed to recognizing individuals and protecting individual rights. It has been a struggle sometimes, but it is at our core. The Bill of Rights garantees individual rights to all, not just citizens. So whether you are a leaf like this one.

Or like this:

Or one like this:

You are special, not just for being part of the falling leaves, but in who you are. You are enough and special. Just like I chose these individual leaves to photograph this morning. I love the leaf carpet, but I am also attracted to the individual leaves. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Too Soon

Yes, they are pretty. Yes, they are stylish. Yes, they bring a nice glow along the street. And yes they are festive. But they are too soon. It is not even Thanksgiving and already the first Christmas decorations are up in the industrial section of our nearby neighborhood. This is Santa and his sleigh.

And down the road are his reindeer – a pair here and then there are 5 more sets further away – didn’t take pictures of all – that would be overkill.

The man who owns a local business puts them up every year, along with a Christmas tree on top of one of his buildings. I really shouldn’t be surprised – he has about a dozen buildings for his business. And when he runs for city council his mailings are full color, double-sided. He hasn’t won a seat – thank goodness for that (very opinionated) – but it’s not for lack of trying and being over the top.

And he’s not alone. Many stores have already set up Christmas displays – with at least a couple of rows of Christmas lights for sale. Black Friday advertisements have been out for a while – hoping it won’t be as crazy this year (but then I don’t imbibe).

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the holidays and have fun memories of both Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up. They were almost the only time we ever had a fire in the fireplace which was a real treat. I enjoyed the office decorations around the holidays. Though with covid and working from home – and now being back in the job hunt – the decorations took a hit.

But I wish people wouldn’t just rush through the year and gobble up time like a smorgasbord of competitive eating. Time goes by too fast as it is. We need to learn to slow down and savor life as it happens. Learn to use your senses to enjoy your surroundings – and the people who inhabit them.

Signs of Responsible Nature Engagement

I walked along both the Sammamish River and Lake Sammamish River over the weekend, enjoying nature and other hikers and dog walkers. I have walked the length of the Sammamish River trail from its entry into Lake Washington to its source at Lake Sammamish, on weekends over a period of a few months. The trail is very well maintained and there are beautiful sights all along the way, as well as scenic trails diverging from the main trail. And there is also a nice coffee shop – Riverside Roasters (Redmond)- where you can warm up on a cold day, just a few a couple blocks off the main trail.

Yesterday I finished the last stretch of the river trail and then cut across to join the East Lake Sammamish Trail which heads down to Issaquah. I came to Sammamish Landing and found some interesting signage regarding fishing and the restoration of natural habitat. The area is very built up, so people need reminders of how to aid in nature restoration. There is fishing allowed but with guidelines.

There is a sign (above) talking about the preservation of a native salmon species and it lists ways to protect, reconnect, and restore the salmon’s native habitat. I love that it lists specific actions in bullet point form. We often want to help but are confused about how. This sign gives specifics.

The sign also instructs fishermen, with graphics, on their responsibilities. Which type of fish they can keep and which type do they need to throw back? There was a fisherman active on one of the park piers while I was there.

And out on the pier, there was a sign about and receptacle for recycling used fishing line. I had not seen a sign like that before, but I think it is a good idea. I’ve only gone fishing twice in my life – both times unsuccessfully – so I just gaze out on the lake from the pier.

Another time I plan to drive to the landing – a small parking lot across the main drag so will need to get there early – and hike further down the lakeside to see what other sites I may see. For now, I saw plenty of birds also enjoying the lake – as the group below. It may be winter, but there are still plenty of snow-free sights to see.:)

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