Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dry days

What's there to say today? We continue with the smoky skies. It would be nice if it would rain, but I don't see any rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, just hot, dry weather. July and August are the hottest, driest months in the Pacific Northwest. The rest of the year, it's pretty reliable to get either a mixture of clear and rainy days or mostly rainy days. It's only this time of year that we get dry weather, and we don't get that every year. It is tradition that during the Northwest Washington Fair, which is always the 2nd or 3rd week of August, we get at least one rain shower. This year the fair is August 14-19, so we'll see.

This afternoon I took a long, deep nap. My plumbing issues have disrupted my routine. I don't like disruptions, and I do like routine. Anyway, I think I sat down to give my dog some one-on-one time. Petting and cuddling with a dog relieves stress. In my case, my stress was so relieved I sank into a deep sleep for several hours. It was a good sleep.

Apply as needed for stress relief.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Twilight Zone

Yet another day of gray-white sky, no distant views, and yellow atmosphere. Last night I slept at my sister-in-law's house (plumbing problems at my home) and when I came outside in the morning, the sun was a red disk through the haze. It really was like that song line, "The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball." Maybe the person who wrote that lived in an area with a lot of pollution in the atmosphere. It was like this:

I did not take this picture. I downloaded it from Fox News. When I saw the morning sun shining like a red rubber ball, it was higher in the sky and looked smaller. But it was just as red.

This atmosphere gives a sense of weirdness to the day, hence the title of this post. The light is like twilight, and it's weird like the Twilight Zone.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Blowing smoke

Well, the smoky skies continue. Now there's a fire in the Chuckanut Mountains, about 30 miles south of where I live, in addition to the fires north of here in B.C.  Here is a map where I've circled my town, Lynden, and the part of Chuckanut that is in Skagit County (I live in Whatcom County):

I got the map by doing a screen shot of Google Maps' topographical image of the area, cropping it a bit, and using Paint to draw circles. Most of what's known as Chuckanut is in Whatcom County, but the news says the fire is in Skagit, so that leaves just that little triangle I've circled as the general location.

The air quality is bad, but I've spent the day indoors, breathing air-conditioned air. Nice.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Not a cloud in the sky

The other day, I saw a news item warning of excessive heat—telling people to stay hydrated (isn't it interesting we say that now, instead of "drink lots of water") and talking about the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Yuck, thought I.

So this morning, knowing we were in for hot weather, I was expecting glaring sunshine. But when I drove my car to work, my first thought on pulling out of our cul-de-sac and driving east was, "What a weird sky." It was overcast, but not in a way I had ever seen. I thought it must portend some bizarre weather. It was hazy, just hanging at a certain height, obscuring the hills.

On my lunch break, I saw on the internet that smoke from wildfires in British Columbia is blowing into western Washington. That's why the sky looked different from anything I'd ever seen in Washington before, because it wasn't cloud cover, it was smoke.

I downloaded this satellite image, so I could mark about where my town is, but the original is here, and the caption for the photo says, "Photo from NASA MODIS satellite taken on Aug. 1, 2017 showing wildfire smoke spreading south into Western Washington (Photo: NASA/MODIS)":

Sunday, July 16, 2017


I was going to go see Sherman Alexie at the Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham. He was on tour promoting his latest book, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, a memoir about his relationship with his mother. His mother died in 2015, and he wrote this book as part of his grief process. I ordered it and read it in preparation for going to see him, but then he cancelled the majority of his tour. He explains why on his website.

Some weeks ago, I saw a book on my co-worker's desk called H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. At my co-worker's invitation, I picked it up and paged through it. Chapter 2, "Lost," starts out with her account of the phone call from her mother telling her that her father is dead. I also saw references to her reading Elizabethan and other-era treatises on falconry, a literary touch that appealed to me. She wrote well. I gave it back to my co-worker and said it looked like a good book. My co-worker offered to loan it to me after she read it.

After I read the Sherman Alexie book, although she had not yet read the Hawk book, my co-worker told me to go ahead and read it, as she would not get to it for a while. So I have started it. I'm in Chapter 3, "Small Worlds." In it, the author is reading The Goshawk, by T.H. White, an author I like, though I haven't read this particular book by him.

Sherman Alexie, in his memoir, mentions a number of visions and feelings of encounter with his mother that he has after her death. Ironically, he claims not to believe in life after death. He says that, even though he doesn't believe in ghosts, he sees her ghost. In the letter I linked to above, he recounts more mystical experiences of his mother's presence, and he says:

As I write in the memoir, I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time.

As I also write in the memoir, I don't believe in magic, but I believe in interpreting coincidence exactly the way you want to.

I don't believe in the afterlife as a reality, but I believe in the afterlife as metaphor. And my mother, from the afterlife, is metaphorically kicking my ass.

It's frustrating. I do believe in the afterlife as a reality. I don't believe in magic, but I believe in miracles, prophecies, and visions. And I don't believe in ghosts, but I believe in the eternal life of the soul and the coming resurrection of the body. But I never hear from my parents now that they've passed on.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


So I was getting into my car this afternoon according to my usual method, which is to put my right foot into the floor well, keeping my left foot on the ground next to the car, sit down in the driver's seat, then pull my left leg into the car. Well, as I sat down, angling my left leg as necessary, I suffered an agonizing twinge in my knee.

As I sat recovering from the pain, a light bulb turned on over my head. Actually, it was already on—it was just the dome light in my car. But, in a completely unrelated event, I had an idea. Maybe the way I've been getting into my car is the root cause of my knee pain. Before the popping event on Friday afternoon, I had wondered what was causing my knee pain as I so seldom exert myself. It's not like I play contact sports. But I do bend my leg awkwardly getting into the car.

So now I'm going to see if a new method makes the pain go away. I shall sit down on the driver's seat with both feet outside the car, then swing both legs in.

A few years ago, I had a similar aha! moment with the plantar fasciitis I had been suffering. Plantar fasciitis is an excruciating pain in your heel. It bothered me most when I first got up in the morning, but I felt it at various times. Then one day I parked in a strip mall parking lot and, as I walked to the place of business I had come to visit, I walked across a grass median. I noticed that walking on the pavement hurt, but walking on the grass did not. If I had been in my car, the dome light would have turned on. I realized that, living in a basement apartment, my floors were basically cement, I walked my dog on the sidewalk, and just in general trod hard surfaces either in bare feet or thin-soled shoes. I bought thicker-soled, more cushioned shoes, including Birkenstocks to schlep around in in the house, and voila! my plantar fasciitis disappeared and never came back.

I confidently expect the same for my knee pain.

On my knees

I'm thankful that my knee is much improved today. It's not completely healed. It's still a little tender, and I still have to be careful how I move and walk, but it's much improved.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


My knee hurts. My left knee. For a while, recently, it has felt not-good, as though I had hyper-extended it. It felt stretched-out and often painful in the back of the knee. I felt like it was improving, though, until yesterday after work. I was jay-walking across Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham to get to my car to go home. The way was clear, except there was a car, far off, to my right, that would be coming through a green light into that further lane, so I walked quickly. Mid-way through that crucial lane, I felt something pop—I may even have heard it pop—in the back of my knee and the sensation was extremely unpleasant. I still had to hurry the last painful three steps to the sidewalk, and then I stood realizing the discomfort.

Writing this, I just remembered how, when I played Barbies as a little girl, my brother would occasionally rush in, bend the Barbies' legs forward at the knees, and then rush out again. My knee feels like I did that to myself.