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№ 75 Posts

The observer effect

Path, Kalaloch, March 2010

Awkward to emerge from under the darkcloth and find a patient few waiting to use the trail. I know I talk to myself but when surprised by company I can never remember exactly what I was saying. The expression of the crowd sometimes gives a few… hints. Suffice to say profanity fairly assures a largish elderly crowd.

It’s true that I often post a picture just to have an excuse to blather on about something, but this week I’m sensing a trend towards mutual irrelevance. Fact is I’m trying to keep a few things in suspension. Not sure if the effect is due to  a sense of being watched, but after 2+ years of blogging, there must be someone out there with an embarrassed expression.

edit: more or less loss


Stumps, Highway 112

Random thoughts of the last few seconds

I hope a hurricane doesn’t come through the BP spill

I’d like more coffee in less cup…but how?

Don’t spare the bottleneck in that RL Burnside remix

hmmm…this didn’t suck this much yesterday

Paltry descending spiral, life. As I near utter desensitization, the landmarks continue to whiz by but interest gets no closer.. There’s a sort of implied dead reckoning as anticipation of interest..any interest..keeps missing in all dimensions of duration, scope, and reference. The errors compound as the next fix sails by, but logic refuses to sign on, and there’s no snapping out of the building inertia of it.

I’m a morose moron of late. Did I hit my head? Often? Maybe it’s just middle age, but I’m seeking comfort instead of inspiration. Visual comfort food, soft angles and light. Even the printing processes I’m working with lately favor bright child-like colors applied with simple tools. The craft of it is reassuring in times of lean creativity. It’s little wonder children and lunatics are amused with crafts, the purpose is soothing, and ravings or destructive energies are distracted for a breath-catching moment. Still, in the end it’s just more unsupervised half-assery with lots of paper towels, and enthusiasm seems to dry and harden in step with the materials, and there are half-finished thoughts everywhere.

The landscape seems sympathetic, this little gathering of stumps, a landscape of truncated notions.

Shred

Maintenance, Crescent Beach Rd, April 2010

There is a trend towards over-pruning here- the vegetation tends to grow at such an alarming rate that it can easily overwhelm the infrastructure if left unchecked. Generally the alder and blackberry is targeted most, but it’s difficult to pick and choose with a 5′ square articulating deck Flail-Master mulcher.

Darkeyes

Stone pile, Joyce Quadrangle, February 2010

3 13s this week, stoopid tired but hey Saturday is here 2 days early. I’ve been gearing up to migrate to win7 and listening to  Jack Teagarden and Louis Armstrong, which  sort of stuns technology-induced anxiety by giving it a reference outside of itself. But even after two pots of coffee I’m no closer to actually doing it.

A walk near what is dear

House, Crescent Beach Road, April 2010

My fidelity has been shrinking on some levels, and maybe expanding on others and as such I’m a little unbalanced in my habits and cautions of late. My outings now encircle the house, mostly on walks of less than 2 miles. I’m suddenly suspicious of the local. Powerlines, the bend of a marginal alder mimicking the road, and cozy destination squatting in the crook of a familiar road. Rain borders on introversion,  like a personalized curse from some nightroaming hag offended in a dream.  There is a domestic immediacy to all I want to photograph, like I’m shuffling though the landscape in inmate slippers, pinning butterflies in a ledger. My work hasn’t changed so much as gotten smaller. Maybe it’s just backlash, like a gear that has to overtravel before it can finally start going in the opposite direction.

Can I interest you in a mason jar and a dab of vaseline?

Spec Road, Joyce Quadrangle, March 2010

Man, photographers. Gear and more gear. Starting to hate it. The more low-fi my work gets, the paler the remorse of discredited craftsmanship, and yet the more fevered and trembling the distortions on the ground glass. And more crap just gets left at home. Whether from an over-indulgence of intolerance and spite, or an uneasy preference over the real resolution of things it’s not easy to say. As for the end result…well it’s almost like the quality is being sucked from my picture from the edges in while I look at it.

Where will it end… Maybe I’ll end up with a sack of roadside recycling instead of a camera bag, an itinerant tinker, clinking through the landscape in a contrapuntal din of glassware and glib ravings, developing all my pictures in a constant trickle of incontinence. Better than having your work be defined by the equipment you own I suppose.

Step back sonny, and let the paying customers through!

An immovable force

Switchback trail, Lower Elwha, February 2010

The Elwha River Valley has been undergoing some changes. The lower bridge has been demolished and rebuilt, and the lower and upper dams are scheduled for removal.  In the planning stages since 2000 or so, now they’re getting fastracked with the extra $54  million or so of stimulus money for the $308 million (estimated) project.    The reasons for the de-reclamation are myriad, but mainly this:  the salmon runs that once numbered roughly 400,000 adult returns in 70 miles  of available habitat at the turn of the last century now number less than 3,000 adult returns in under 5  miles of available habitat.

The dam was built under the direction of Thomas Aldwell, who had  previously bought up most of the  land around the river. With the help of Canadian financier  George Glines began construction of the Elwha Dam in 1910.  Aldwell build the dam on the cheap, not building fish passages and also deciding not secure it to the bedrock. On Halloween 1912 the foundation of the dam failed. The dam had been bedded on a deep gravel deposit and water pressure overwhelmed the the foundation, the resulting torrent destroying property and displacing yet again an often-imposed-upon settlement of the Elwha (Klallam) tribe. Various methods of repair were attempted but it was finally decided to fill the hole with debris and seal the fill with a poultice made of fir boughs and limbings weighted in place with dirt and rock. Later a layer of gunnite was poured on top of the fill. What resulted, and what still exists today, is a jimmyrigged assembly of trees, rocks, dirt and concrete held in place by gravity and the original concrete structure which bridges the blowout.

Although state law required fish ladders at the time the dam was built,  Aldwell sidestepped  the regulation by building a hatchery instead. The hatchery was short-lived, closing in 1922 after only a few years. (Another hatchery did open up much later, but under the auspices of the WDFW. ) The dam is keeping salmon from a combined 70 miles  of mainstem and tributary habitat.  At its peak, the Elwha once supported spawning runs of Chinook, Coho, Chum, Pink, and Sockeye Salmon as well as Steelhead, Cutthroat, and Bull Trout. Sockeye, Chinook, Chum, and Pink Salmon are all currently thought to be extinct or close to extinction on this run.

Despite the spectacularly disastrous and compunctionless supervision of Aldwell, the lake behind the lower dam was named for him anyway, most likely by himself personally.  But this too will soon pass.

While you were sleeping

Westbound Road, Joyce Quadrangle, February 2010

I took several months off to reboot. Not sure if I’m back in the swing of it so much as just temporarily re-engaged. One of my favorite dawn strolls has been…what’s a good word here? Destroyed? That really has too much finality to it. Re-purposed is a ghastly word but it suits, at least for the moment.

Chanteys

Rosario Strait, October 2009

My father was the keeper of the Eddystone light
And he slept with a mermaid one fine night
Out of this union there came three
A porpoise and a porgy and the other was me!
Yo ho ho, the wind blows free,
Oh for the life on the rolling sea!

One night, as I was a-trimming the glim
Singing a verse from the evening hymn
I head a voice cry out an “Ahoy!”
And there was my mother, sitting on a buoy.
Yo ho ho, the wind blows free,
Oh for the life on the rolling sea!
“Oh, what has become of my children three?”
My mother then inquired of me.
One’s on exhibit as a talking fish
The other was served in a chafing dish.
Yo ho ho, the wind blows free,
Oh for the life on the rolling sea!

Then the phosphorus flashed in her seaweed hair.
I looked again, and my mother wasn’t there
But her voice came angrily out of the night
“To Hell with the keeper of the Eddystone Light!”
Yo ho ho, the wind blows free,
Oh for the life on the rolling sea!

-traditional

Seconds before the snow

Silver Fir woods, Joyce Quadrangle, December 2009

I love walking in the woods right before a snow fall. It kept threatening and not quite snowing and prolonging the anticipation. So much the better- it didn’t stick anyway.