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№ 75 Posts

Blind landscapes

Salt Creek Delta, December 2008

Visit a place often enough, and the geometry becomes confounding. I wonder if the impact is the same for a casual observer of a photograph without the inertia of stored visual moments, and of known boundaries. In the fog things can appear new and placeless without the expected margins, highlighting form and giving even blind repetition a friendly nudge. Which gives the scene the impression of the rarely glimpsed, and the stumbled upon.

You can’t get there from here

Port Angeles Harbor, November 2008

The waterfront trail in Port Angles runs alongside the old site of the Rayonier Mill, a gated, toxic wonderland with seep tendencies. Having qualified for the EPA’s Superfund program the site is being cleaned up, but the dilapidated guardhouse and busted security cameras stand in punitive memorial of the town’s industrial heritage…

Further down the trail, park benches are the somewhat more utilitarian memorials of the town’s patrons and, perhaps, civic leaders.

Skinny Woman Blues

Kalaloch, September 2008

I’ve been overdoing it lately, blues-wise. RL Burnside, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James..Oh, the humanity!

Now, I don’t want no, no skinny woman
I want the woman, she got-a plenty of, Lord!
I don’t want no skinny woman, I want some
A woman wit’ a-plenty of meat
Now, we can roll all night long, an this woman
Won’t have to stop ‘n eat

-Sonny Boy Williamson

Or another favorite:

Hey Miss Maybelle let me be your hoppin’ frog
drink muddy water sleep in a hollow log
Hey Miss Maybelle let me be your hoppin’frog
I got 10 little puppies and 12 shaggy hounds it takes them 22 dogs to run Miss Maybelle down

– RL Burnside

A cautious invincibility

Hurricane Ridge, November 2008

I think it will be a good year for storms. Just around town I’ve already seen encouraging festerings and festoonings on high, voluminous arrays dwarfing the highest surrounding peaks.

I love inclement weather, working in it, shooting it in. On some level it reminds me of being a kid bundling up and caroming through mudpuddles, snow banks or just piles of leaves. A down-stuffed buffer zone, cautiously impervious and wanting to test it. Even all grown up, what’s the worst that could happen? A tub and a whiskey after?

Tiny industry

Lake Crescent,  November 2008

Another from the same day, further along the trail. The trail is the Spruce Railroad trail, which connects Fairholm and the Discovery Trail along the northwest shore of Lake Crescent. All the abundant spruce was meant to be harvested for airplanes during WWI, but the railroad wasn’t completed until 1919, hindering it’s usefulness somewhat, and not a single log was ever run for the war effort.

Hard to imagine the scope of the project now. The ‘Milwaukee Road’ grade is now little more than a well worn foot path around such dramatic but very, very small tableaux; tiny coves, stunted trees and corkscrew trails, giving the illusion of a 1/4 scale enterprise, perhaps attended by Lilliputians and Rube Goldberg contraptions that run on steam and wishful thinking.

‘Your face is crap without shadows..’

Lake Crescent, November 2008

Only some short forays to the Lake so far this fall, for the spectacle of the big leaf maples, the mosses and the damp perpetual twilight of the Lake’s boundaries. I have a special hat for this trail; the rain under the canopy like a chronic condition, dripping well past sun and blue skies, grandfathered in somehow.

There is a density here like a warble in the manner of things, a buckle in the casualness of the moment, something that is difficult to portray except through failures; harsh light, flare and overbearing shadows. It somehow reminds me of misremembered conversations deep in drink late and early hours, fringed in numb poetry and practical impossibility, with people I once thought I would always know.

Useless gestures under a canopy of blue

Ediz Hook, October 2008

I feel my brain is still lagging behind my intent, so tired I be, but I did want to keep posting. Not sure if this is wise… I think I must be loosing some basic strings, because I’m feeling dumber than normal- I wonder if all the work and exercise is ratcheting up the testosterone or something and it’s blocking crucial beta waves. It’s fun to be manly, but it’s a hollow thrill, and the crash is predictable.
What’s happened?

There’s a man going around taking names

Ruby, September 2008

I’m finally back to work and listening to Johnny Cash again. I don’t know, the two seem inseparable, a kindred toil and * you for asking.  Whiskey will be along directly. I need a tee shirt with the image of Cash giving the bird, just letting it fly,  like he started uncoiling the gesture at birth. Oddly, the gesture has always seemed more confiding than confrontational, more welcoming than exclusionary.

It is really, really kicking my ass this time around. Work that is, not the Man in Black. There are two of us, both 40+, framing a 3000 sq ft house. I’ve lost 20  lbs in 2 weeks and I wasn’t fat to begin with. But it is truly a relief to be back to work. Sleep comes under a new gospel, a weightless deep grave that tips the elements and upends the cosmos. Life is simpler when you’re exhausted, and it’s all too easy to see salvation in the rafters.

Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still.


It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks
In measured hundred weight and penny pound
When the Man comes around.

Inevitability training

Crescent Bay, November 2006

Oof, my scanner is down again. More literal snaps from the archives.

This was taken after a monumental (for us) 16″ snowfall several years ago. Not as much snow down at sea-level, but we are about 350 feet above this and got buried. This was a November just months after I finished building the 5×12 camera and one of the first hikes of significance I took it on. I was fortunate in finally finding a backpack where everything fit very well, with a decent harness for the 40+ lbs. Still, fully outfitted with boots and tripod I’m around 300lbs and tend to settle in the deeper stuff. It’s a 3 mile round-trip down to Crescent Beach and back. But it was a good way to stay warm, as out power was out most of that week.

Shoveling snow is of course another proven method. Earlier, I’d climbed up and shoveled off the roof instead of the driveway to the amusement of wife and neighbor alike. I was worried about 14-16 inches of snow half melting and turning to ice and collapsing the 4/12 pitch roof. Not much point in clearing the driveway as we wouldn’t start to see snow plows for a few days yet.

Yet another method to keep warm is sawing firewood from rock maple and oak woodscraps with a thin dozuki saw. As it was mostly too cold to sleep, I’d get up at 4 AM some mornings and dig out the firepit and build a fire with whatever scraps I could spare. I’m glad the camera was finished at that point or I might have been tempted to burn it.

All good prep for the upcoming… winter. I am attempting some preliminary leanness in good faith, but am irrevocably soft in spots. Which tends to take the poetry out of such withered optimism.

There’s always one that doesn’t want to go home

Lake Crescent, August 2008

I wonder how many pets get inadvertently left here on the peninsula after family vacations. Everyone seems to have a story, if not one strictly from here. I remember our ancient Scottish Terrier ‘Slash’ falling out of a moving van in the hills of Tennessee when I was young. We recovered him- although whether lucky or not wasn’t immediately apparent- the dog was a terror and promptly bit my dad. My wife’s and my newest dog Emily was a Clallam County Humane Society rescue, after being found wandering by the side of the highway in Sequim.

Our recent trip to Idaho and eastern WA involved two lost dogs- one was just a pickup slowing to ask if we had lost the dog they’d seen back down the highway. The other involved a friend’s border collie that disappeared in the Quincy Lakes Coulees. Blaze, a charge of our friends, was also a CCHS rescue, a sweet dog, if utterly inbred and nuts. The long trip in the back of our friend’s pickup with 2 other wound up dogs and a horse trailer clanging behind was enough to send him yipping off into the void when she arrived late that night to the campsite and dropped the tailgate. The unspoken assessment was that coyotes probably got him the first night, but I actually found the dog hiding in a draw by Dusty Lake two days later. Sadly, only a brief reprieve- Blaze ran off again a couple days ago on a horse ride in the lower Elwha area.

Anyway, all this reminded me of when I turned off 101 around Lake Crescent to take this shot last month. A camper across the street with a family I thought had stopped to enjoy the dramatic view was instead looking for a dog. The father trying to gather up the family, saying ‘There’s always one that doesn’t want to go home. Cmon let’s go.’