Akutan Memories/King Crab season, 2013

I was gifted a fancy DSLR camera in 2012, and spent a few years taking pictures incessantly, which I did nothing with.  They sit in my google drive collecting (cyber)dust.  For the 3.7 people reading this, here you go.  I’m interspersing the photos with journal entries, quotes from books I read on that trip, and commentary because I have a cold and I can’t watch anymore bad movies today.

The backstory:  I’ve worked for an Alaska seafood company on and off for 17 years.  My work was primarily in Bristol Bay, but here and there I managed to take a job in another part of the state, mostly for the adventure (the $$ during the non-summer seasons for an office clerk is far from mind blowing).  In 2013 I left Bristol Bay after 2.5 months, had a week off in the States which I spent road tripping to Montana, flew up to Petersburg to work for almost a month, went straight to California for an astrology apprenticeship, had a week off at home in Portland, and then flew to the Aleutian Islands for crab season.  That was an excellent year.


What a burden longing was– to stand on the continent’s soft edge, waves always and endlessly arriving, the surf breathing for you, and that old, old dream of paradise stirring deep, as if it were a place you could locate, a place where you could never stay but would instead spend the rest of your life yearning to return to.” Sherry Simpson, The Accidental Explorer

“I made it to Akutan safely, after 8 hours of airplane terror including the most harrowing landing over wild waters and between mountains that the wind was trying to fling the airplane into, 2 hours in the Anchorage airport, 1 beautiful day of exploring with a dear friend in Dutch Harbor, and 4 hours of seasickness on a big boat. Internet sucks but I’ll check in as able. Aleutian Islands: no motherfucking joke.” 10.14.13  

Dutch Harbor, from on high
Dutch Harbor, from on high


WWII fortifications on Ballyhoo Mountain.  Did you know Alaska was invaded by the Japanese?
WWII fortifications on Ballyhoo Mountain. Did you know Alaska was invaded by the Japanese?
from inside a gun fortification lookout (technical term, I’m sure)
perhaps got a little overzealous with the photoshop saturation setting, here.  But it was an astoundingly beautiful place
perhaps got a little overzealous with the photoshop saturation setting, here. But it was an astoundingly beautiful place
3.5 hour flight to Anchorage, 3 hour flight to Dutch, and then a further 4 hour boat trip on the Sea Trader to reach Akutan (seen here at the Akutan dock upon arrival/survival)
3.5 hour flight to Anchorage, 3 hour flight to Dutch, and then a further 5 hour boat trip on the Sea Trader to reach Akutan (seen here at the Akutan dock upon arrival/survival).  I later learned I was lucky to get there so swiftly- planes from Anchorage to Dutch are frequently turned back at the destination due to high winds, and have to just fly the 3 hours back to Anchorage and try the next day.  Boat rides between Akutan and Dutch can take something like 12-15 hours in bad weather.
The first mate of the Sea Trader, who later became a beloved friend, was curt and unfriendly when I came on board.  I asked to be allowed to stay on deck, both out of fear/claustrophobia and curiosity about the islands.  He said if I was on deck, someone would have to stay awake to watch me, and their trips back and forth from Dutch to Akutan were often their only chance to sleep.  I was henceforth locked away in the galley with no portholes, and set to sea on the Bering in early fall weather.  I have rarely been seasick, but I spent the entire 5 hours hunched on this bench with my head between my knees.  Many curious members of the crew came to make conversation with me in this state, and I politely responded to their inquiries with my face in my lap- and managed not to throw up.
The first mate of the Sea Trader, who later became a beloved friend, was curt and unfriendly when I came on board. I asked to be allowed to stay on deck, both out of fear/claustrophobia and curiosity about the islands. He said if I was on deck, someone would have to stay awake to watch me, and their trips back and forth from Dutch to Akutan were often their only chance to sleep. I was henceforth locked away in the galley with no portholes, and set to sea on the Bering in early fall weather. I have rarely been seasick, but I spent the entire 5 hours hunched on this bench with my head between my knees. Many curious members of the crew came to make conversation with me in this state, and I politely responded to their inquiries with my face in my lap- and managed not to throw up.


“Made it to Akutan.  I have my own room, and the window looks out onto the rock face of the mountain and the trail leading up.  The first morning I didn’t need to start work until noon so I walked to the village.  The road out of the plant curves around the harbor- the whole village and the cannery are planted on a narrow strip of land that butts up against the mountain.  Once you get past the harbor there are boardwalks that run through the village, wide enough for a 4-wheeler but no vehicles.  It was very quiet- just the sound of the water lapping against the shore and the wind and the birds.  I ran into the teacher and, being an obvious, rare and therefore interesting stranger, he spoke to me as if we were old friends and invited me into the school to meet the kids, all 13 of them.  I walked past all the houses to where the boardwalk runs through the tall grass towards the mouth of the harbor.  The sun was in my eyes and the light was strange, both very bright and strangely weak.  Just past the end of the boardwalk you could see the waters of the Bering Sea and the pale blue horizon.  The light and the colors and the water and the quiet all reminded me of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when they reach the western waters and all become drunk with life force, and become quiet and calm and stop needing to eat or talk but just sit and look out on the waters and the light and feel a calm, overwhelming joy.  I feel like that.” 10.15.13



“We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different, we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?” The Snow Child 

Russian Orthodox church in Akutan
Russian Orthodox church in Akutan



“Walked to the village again this morning.  Saw a group of seals swimming across the main harbor, sleek heads bobbing up to take the air and then sliding back under, up and under over and over, graceful and coordinated as synchronized swimmers.  Listened to a small bird sing from a rock along the water- he stood facing me, chest puffed out, happy to have an audience.” 10.17.13



I struggled in Akutan.  I was used to Naknek, where I knew everyone and had some earned authority from seniority and hard won knowledge.  In Petersburg the month previous it had still felt like the end of summer.  Akutan is a cold, lonely place.  It’s strange to look at my journal and see how unhappy I was because my memories of Akutan are the wonder of meeting a place under the enchantment of still belonging largely to itself.  But I was anxious, felt like an outcast, felt caged in by the office which was in the same building as the crab processing area and so smelled like dead crab and machinery.  I felt useless at work, and slow. I felt caged in by the oncoming dark also, which came over us more and more every day as winter approached.  A friend of mine wrote a novel that included scenes set in Akutan, where she has never been, but in describing the winter darkness as “shamanic” she got it right.  I will probably never go back there, but it imprinted itself on me in those five weeks, forever.




“I went out to the dock at break today- needed to see the wild Alaska that I love and not these claustrophobic walls.  It has been stormy and the weather was wild, slapping up against the dock in wave after wave- a soft, milky blue green, the mountain across shrouded in fog and topped with snow, the seagulls riding the swells and fighting for tidbits in the water.  The Ocean Explorer pulling away, ponderous and slow, moving back out to the fishing grounds.” 10.25.13


“At the end of my shift we did a pollock fish ticket with about 15 other species on the ticket- squid, salmon, sablefish.  It was dark out by then and through the office window I could see the black waters of the bay, looking thick as oil, waves shining in the lights from the boats at the dock.  A crowd of seagulls waited on the roof outside the window, patient as old men with hands in their pockets for refuse from the boat as it unloaded.  I had this vision of all those kinds of fish out there in the water, and the gulls, the water, the mountains and the stars, and the boats moving slowly through, invaders in a wild land much bigger and wilder than we could ever tame with our little metal capsules and flimsy nets, and how that wildness seeps into all of us here.  No- how that wildness makes an answering note sing deep within us, a chord that is always there.” 10.16.13

img_20131113_154132 img_20131113_153626


“Even with the trauma, the crabstink, crying in the bathroom, the food, the darkness, the bedbug (just one thank the gods) it has been so worth it.  The beauty and the wildness of this place, the hills to climb and roam, the mountain greeting me every morning, the gulls and eagles and falcons, the small sparrows and starling, the terns with their oil black feathers and graceful long necks.  Sea otters rolling and playing in the water, the sea lions breaching and blowing- yesterday on the dock, 10 a.m., barely sunrise, we stood looking out to find a sea lion Masa had pointed out and then one breached just below us, she looked up and then dove under and with the angle and the closeness and the clearness of the water we could see her clearly, stretched out fins front and back, her ungainly body sleek and graceful in the water, diving down down down down at an angle until she disappeared into the darkness, I will never ever forget it.” 11.15.13


“It started snowing a week ago and the mountains and the dock were all covered in an inch of snow.  I went out every chance I got, all bundled up.  It was majestic, and wicked and deadly and sharp.  Slate blue water, deepening to midnight and lightening to a milky jade green where the waves slapped the dock.  Water running off the mountain across the bay had become icicles, flowing frozen into the harbor water.  Seagulls minced dainty through the snow, leaving three pronged tracks, and huddled on the edge of the dock, heads sunk into their feathers.  There was a pair of sea lions that must live in the bay- I never saw them out of the water, but they were there in the water every time I went out, heads bobbing through the waves, glaring at me with belligerent, bulbous eyes.  Always eagles, falcons circling high over ahead and ravens calling from atop Maersk containers and light poles.  One stressful day, I took an hour and a half for lunch and walked the dock, 40 mph gusts blowing the fur hood of my parka off my head, blowing white clouds of spray off the top of the water and making the surface ripple and dance, here, there, changing direction with the fickle wind, everything alive.  I walked out past the cannery gates and a little way up the trail near the creek.  The gusts of wind almost knocking me over.  I stopped maybe 30 feet up and looked out across the water.  The wind died down and then I noticed the water surface being pushed up from the mouth of the bay- like a tiny wave, a wake, or like something rising from the deeps, some god or angel, white caps at the forefront.  I knew a big gust of wind was coming, I braced for it, watching the water shimmy closer and closer until it slapped against the rocks at the base of the road, then five seconds later SLAP- it hit me full force, I staggered, shrieked, laughed out loud and waited for more.” 11.25.13file_000-2


“On their way out the door to head South for the season, the men from the Sea Trader (our only reliable form of transportation) cackled loudly as they called, “Good luck getting off the island!” A little bit unsettling. Thanks guys.” 11.13.13

Once the Sea Trader left, after the crab quota was filled and most of the processors were gone, the only way off the island was to take the hovercraft to the neighboring island of Akun.  Akutan is too rocky for a runway.  Akun is a small, flat island with a single air traffic controller working in a tiny building, a long runway, and a shipping container filled with chairs that served as a waiting room.  For ten days after the Sea Trader left us, the hovercraft was broken and we were all stranded.  I was arranging travel as part of my job and everyone was losing their minds, and I was losing mine.  We finally got it operational and I got myself on the hovercraft to Akun, and then an 8 seat airplane slowly ferried 40 of us the 20 minutes to Dutch.  In the shipping container waiting room was an inoperational coffee pot and 5 of the Chronicles of Narnia.

In Dutch Harbor I stayed at the Grand Hotel for a week.  I had fallen in love in Akutan, not just with the place and with the sea lions but with a human man.  I won’t talk about him much here.  That time with him was a sacred time, and a liminal one, a time between two worlds and between someone I had been and someone I was becoming.  I will treasure it always, though it was difficult to give it up, later, in the real world.

Dutch Harbor in December was breathtaking.  We had an entire week to wander around in the snow.  I come from a place where it snows enough to stick maybe once a year, and I felt like a child set loose in a wonderland.

Russian Orthodox church in Unalaska
Summer Bay

“We drove out to Summer Bay along ice glittered snow covered single lane road and then up into the hills past WWII gun ports and bunkers, tundra grass and berries submerged under a blanket of white, and out to Morris Cove, where we found the islands herd of wild horses.  I was entranced- I’ve barely ever seen a horse, much less a wild one.  Two of them walked towards me, curious and gentle.  I stroked their necks, one brown and one white, both with soft fuzzy fur coats, not the coarse hair I was expecting.  Long manes dreaded and unruly.  Big brown eyes looking at me with curiosity and no malice.  They soon tired of us and began eating the tundra grass growing next to the road.  Morris Cove somehow shelters them from the snow, sun drenched and golden.  On the way back we saw a fox, bright red against the white snow, skittish and quick.  He ran off before I could get a picture but I found his tracks down the road a bit, running down the hillside and onto a frozen pond.  Fox tracks everywhere, blue ice, the Bering Sea below in Summer Bay rolling towards the beach in slow swells, huge and undulating, splashing against the rocks at the feet of the seagulls, picking the shoreline for food.  Too cold outside to not wear gloves, our xtratufs crunching through the frozen top layer of snow.  Everything quiet and no evidence of the human world except us and the long abandoned WWII bunkers, everything magical and strange.” 11.27.13

C and the frozen lake
wild horses on unalaska island



tide, feather, snow

“To die falling off a ladder or being run over by a drunk means nothing.  But, for the man who lives and dies at risk, who puts his hands in the fates of the gods, death is never meaningless.” The Holy, Daniel Quinn

“After 7 hours of flight terror – after rocking and rolling our way out of Dutch Harbor, after flying for over an hour through solid, ominous grey cloud cover between Dutch and Anchorage, after leaving Anchorage and spending two hours in a plane shaking so hard my teeth were rattling and the attendant was falling in people’s laps serving drinks, after the ‘little bit’ of turbulence we were warned about during landing had everyone in the plane screaming and bracing themselves on the ceiling, after everything in the galley jumped off the shelves and rolled down the aisles, after the coffee pots smashed to the floor and coffee started seeping underneath my seat, after we all applauded when we landed in Seattle and the flight attendant thanked the pilot for landing us safely, after the flight attendant patted me on the shoulder and said, “I’ve been flying 6 years and never experienced a flight that bad”- after all that and 7, SEVEN! mini bottles of vodka, I am safely if not soundly on the ground in the Lower 48. And I’m never flying again.” 12.2.13




Inspirations 1.24.17

“Good stories reach into rich pasts to sustain thick presents to keep the story going for those who come after.”

I recently, and after a good four months of slow reading, finished Donna Haraway’s amazing book Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene.  It was possibly the most challenging and most rewarding book I’ve ever made myself struggle through to finish.  She writes in long, rolling sentences full of commas and adjectives that can be frustrating to follow.  But what ideas to finally submit into your consciousness!  I’m feeling distinctly sub-verbal tonight so I will copy here the blurb from Duke University Press.

“In the midst of spiraling ecological devastation, multispecies feminist theorist Donna J. Haraway offers provocative new ways to reconfigure our relations to the earth and all its inhabitants. She eschews referring to our current epoch as the Anthropocene, preferring to conceptualize it as what she calls the Chthulucene, as it more aptly and fully describes our epoch as one in which the human and nonhuman are inextricably linked in tentacular practices. The Chthulucene, Haraway explains, requires sym-poiesis, or making-with, rather than auto-poiesis, or self-making. Learning to stay with the trouble of living and dying together on a damaged earth will prove more conducive to the kind of thinking that would provide the means to building more livable futures.”

Some quotes:

“Staying with the trouble does not require such a relationship to times called the future.  In fact, staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing pivot between awful or edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salvific futures, but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unfinished configurations of places, times, matters, meanings.” (1)

Haraway calls for us to stop thinking, as she says in the quote above, of better times past or future or to live in despair of the end of all things, but rather to be here now, together, with other humans and non-human critters both flora and fauna.  She asks us to make kin with all of these kinds of beings that we share the earth with; oddkin is her word, kin that is not purely biologically or genetically based.

“Making kin as oddkin rather than, or at least in addition to, godkin and genealogical and biogenetic family troubles important matters, like to whom one is actually responsible.” (2, emphasis mine)

She references so many other writings, papers, books, albums, even video games, I could spend a couple years just exploring all the deliciously tantalizing material in the footnotes section, which is itself 60 pages long.  One point made with many references is that no creature is singular unto itself.  We all live in ‘tentacular’ complication and mixing with each other at all times (how many species of bacteria live in/on a human body, for example?)… therefore, how can any one being or even species truly live only for its own survival?

She says, “The critters of all my stories inhabit an n-dimensional niche space called Terrapolis… Terrapolis is n-dimensional niche space for multispecies becoming-with.  Terrapolis is open, wordly, indeterminate, and polytemporal.  Terrapolis is a chimera for materials, languages, histories.  Terrapolis is for companion species… not ‘post-human’ but ‘com-post.’  Terrapolis is in place; Terrapolis makes for unexpected companions.” (10-11).

I was reminded reading this section of two things.  The idea of “becoming-with” brings to mind Starhawk’s discussions of “power-with” as opposed to “power-over” (probably to be found in Dreaming the Dark and Truth or Dare, if you want to chase it down).

I was reading, just after finishing Haraway, the short piece “Chiapas: The Thirteenth Stele” by Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas.  He references over and over the desire by the Zapatistas to build a world that can contain many worlds within it.  Here he is:

“Whoever helps one or several zapatista communities is helping not just to improve a collective’s material situation, it is helping a much simpler but more demanding project: the building of a new world, one where many worlds fit.”

Haraway also references over and over the need to build a world that contains much messiness and difference within it, and not just amongst humans but an embrace of and kinmaking with the oddness and strangeness and difference of many other beings.  Not to say this is a book of “we are all one” messaging.  Not at all.  It’s much more dirty, complicated, and earthbound than that (another quote: “eating each other properly requires meeting each other properly” pg 73). Here is Tim Morton on this topic from another excellent and difficult book, Dark Ecology:

“Ecognosis is like knowing, but more like letting be known.  It is something like coexisting.  It is like becoming accustomed to something strange, yet it is also becoming accustomed to strangeness that doesn’t become less strange through acclimation.”

The last section of Staying With the Trouble is a sort of sci-fi story about Children of the Compost, a group of people starting in the present and extending out five generations through a lineage (I think not genetic, but oddkin) of people named Camille.  This is Haraway’s imagining of what ‘staying with the trouble’ could look like into the future.

I have been thinking incessantly about Children of the Compost, and about the zapatista idea of a world that can contain many worlds, and Morton’s concept of ecognosis, as I try to both write my own fictional world that deals with these issues and to structure my actual life to ‘stay with the trouble.’

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

What is the difference between fighting the existing reality, and protecting your kin?

There is a lot about the book I haven’t mentioned.  I will stop rambling and quoting incoherently now.   Here is a video of Haraway talking at Evergreen last spring (I didn’t see it!).  I am going to go watch it, and think(with) some more.


Oh also!  This TED radio hour on the Anthropocene (click on photo) was interesting, and relevant to all this business above ^^^.  I appreciated the first speaker’s message on changing our thoughts about what is wild, and was annoyed by the second guy who said yes humans are causing the sixth great extinction, but we are “extinction proof” and will just have to get used to living in a more managed, less wild world.



Tiny House Update


January 3rd marked the one year anniversary of moving into Wild Rose.  It was a difficult first year.

I’d never used a wood stove in my life, and learning to start a fire and keep it going was a challenge.  I have since learned that because my house is sealed so well, it creates a ‘negative draft’ which causes the house to suck air IN from the chimney rather than the chimney sucking smoke OUT of the wood stove.  House sucking air in when starting a fire means a lot of smoke billowing out into the tiny space.  This seems to only be a problem until the stove is nice and hot.  If I open the window directly behind the stove, it helps.

I didn’t have a proper floor the first 3 months.  The plywood subfloor is ugly.  I had rugs that were constantly covered in mud and dog hair.  I didn’t have a couch yet, and my desk was a piece of stained plywood attached to the wall that was too narrow.

I didn’t have enough lighting, and the house is very dark under the forest canopy and with the dark-stained walls.

I initially had an Origo alcohol stove with two burners, no oven, and a 2 gallon electric hot water heater.  My drain was installed badly (by me) and didn’t work well.  This meant no baths, very quick military showers, an ordeal every time I needed to use the sink to move all the water towards the drain with a squeegee, a lot of carbon monoxide scares with the alcohol stove, and did I mention no baths?

For a porch, I had some pallets piled higgeldy piggeldy outside the front door, and no covered area.

I was also in a new city with very few friends, it was winter, and my own propensity for loneliness and depression kicked in.  April/May were two of the roughest mental health months I’ve ever had.

And yet!!!  There is good news.  So much good news. After returning from Alaska in August I had the time and money to make some much needed improvements.  Being around dearly beloved friends during the fishing season and the Alaska sunshine kicked me back into a reasonable emotional state as well.  Here is what we did:

This was what the house looked like when I left for Alaska in June.  I intended to leave the area under the mirror open for dance practice, but a couch seem psychologically more important, which has turned out to be true.  It is a plywood platform on 4×4 supports with a 4″ layer of foam, wrapped in a sleeping bag (for ease of cleaning Bear hair).  This also created storage space underneath.  Lamps were acquired.


A dear friend stayed in the house with Bear all summer and she acquired a big plushy armchair and when she sent me pictures, it seemed like a big plushy armchair belonged in the house.  The desk also felt too cramped between the bookshelves.  When I initially built the kitchen, I used the desk I’ve had since high school as the counter supports.  I dug that out (adding new supports for the counter, pictures further down) and parked it beneath the big window.  The desk is a reliable old friend of mine and having it back in the main space felt right.

I had to take off the back legs of the desk and prop it up above the wheel well box.  I still have the legs and could reattach and put the desk in the middle of the room for a (tiny) dinner party or board game night, but have not yet tried this out.

The plant didn’t survive the transfer of care and feeding from Branwen to myself and has refugeed to the safer space of her room.

The couch is incredibly comfy and I sometimes sleep on it.  Bear sleeps on it 23 hours of the day.

The rugs were tossed out, being unnecessary with that gorgeous floor.


I built this little toilet box out of the remains of a kitchen cabinet that was too large when I rebuilt the counters.  The lid lifts up and hooks to the wall for ease of emptying the compost and urine jar.  To the left is a compartment for sawdust and a smaller one for toilet paper.  I also put down this weird floor that is 1×8 cut into (not square) squares and painted with paint samples from the Habitat store.  The jug is vinegar for the urine jar.  Pee can be incredibly smelly without vinegar.  In case you were wondering.


I finally covered the exposed wiring that runs from the electrical box to the light switches, and added some wider shelving to hold bathroom things.  The hooks on the wall are perfect for earrings and jewelry.


BATHROOM DOOR!  I don’t have many people over but not having a bathroom door was a problem.  The top bit is a picture frame with fabric inside.  I can change out the fabric or add paintings when I want a change.  The bottom is bead board and weathered old 2×4.  It’s held together with screws and strapping and works so well.

I recently shocked myself with a wet hand on one of the exposed light switches, so that needs to be dealt with soon.  The switches are too far back so all of the blue boxes need to be pulled out and moved forward, then I plan to make a custom light switch plate.


First bath!  I did not want to use propane at all in the house, but after 6 months of military showers and carbon monoxide producing alcohol stove cooking, I gave in.  I have a Takagi T-T-KJr2-OS-LP Outdoor Tankless Water Heater on the outside of the house.  The propane tanks live out there too.  I didn’t have any extra room in the kitchen and didn’t want to have to vent the propane through the wall.  I also got an RV oven/range from Craiglist for $250.  A friend helped run copper pipes through the walls to bring hot water to the faucet and propane to the oven.

I’ve always taken baths as a form of self-care and comfort.  It’s where I do most of my reading. The ability to take them in my house has been inestimably good.  We also put in a better drain and installed it correctly, so the water drains as it should and it is easier to clean out the tub for bathtime.


The skylight is lovely, but occasionally too bright.  I’ve had this little quilt for years and it was just the right size.  I sewed metal grommets into the corners and put hooks in the walls, and voila: skylight curtain.


Remodeled kitchen with the oven/range.  Slightly awkward but spacious storage beneath it and in the corner between the drawer unit and oven.  I use the oven almost every day and don’t know how I got by without it.


We also built a COVERED PORCH.  I sewed water repellent outdoor fabric into an awning.  The porch is in two pieces for relative ease of movement when it’s time to leave my current spot, and the awning will just have to be deconstructed and put back together at the new spot.  In the metal and plastic containers is recycling and dog food (saves a lot of space inside).  We’ve had a very sunny winter and I’ve spent a lot of time on the porch, bundled up, listening to music and staring at the trees.


The backside of the house.


winter sunshine


Haley’s toes




And finally, to unclutter my little part of the property I built a shed and proper wood bin out of pallets, scrap wood and leftovers from the siding.


compost left/firewood right


New plans are afoot; the city is working on a “Missing Middle” Infill Housing Analysis.  I spoke last week at a planning commission meeting about the need to legalize tiny houses and other small dwelling units.  The city is inviting folks from across the city to join a work group to get the codes changed by this fall.  Minutes from the meeting here.  I hope to be involved in the work group and especially want to talk about composting toilets, as plumbing infrastructure and hooking up to the sewage grid or a septic tank is one of the biggest hurdles/costs of tiny houses.  On a personal level, I’m in talks with my mother and some very close friends about starting a tiny house community in Olympia along the lines of the Simply Home Community in Portland.  Looks like we’ll possibly be setting up around the same time the city introduces new zoning rules.  Serendipity?  Maybe.  Seems to be how all the best things happen these days (alongside incredible amounts of hard work, planning, trust and love).

I hope you all are staying warm, wherever and however you are spending this cold January.


Pomes 1.14.17

I don't think this one is done, and I'm experimenting with line breaks and punctuation.

What it is, is not lost.
It lives in the 
           between things
where everything
has already happened.
It is never lost.
We are here.
You and I 
are here now.
It is not lost only
- - - changing
has always been
we hold
stardust of galaxies
we hold
oceans & rivers
we hold
colonies & villages
we hold
we hold
we hold
- - -  millenia
of love & knowledge
in our bodies.
Those that came before
held it too.
It changed in the passing.
It will change again.
When /our/ fingertips
touch those to come
when /our/ hands go 
to dust.

tree songs 1 & 2

stand still feel the sun
edges close
wind is danger
gather together brethren
keep the ancestors fed
descendents sheltered under
sweeping branches
cousins lost in orderly forests
don't remember who they are
connection is here
roots reaching to touch


small creatures crawling on my skin
each footfall a caress
stand, wait, accept
there are many ways to be a lover

Inspirations 1.12.17

Shields & Shards & Stitches & Songs by Dan Beachy-Quick

I read this little book of poetry in 20 minutes last night, and then read and re-read it out loud to myself because the language was so rhythmic and compelling.  The Shields are short 8 line pieces, eight of them, laid out on the page in the shape of a shield (I had them laid out here as they are in a book but WordPress isn’t having it).  Shards are fragments of the Shields, and Stitches even smaller bits.  Songs then picks back up again as new, longer pieces.  I love love love what the poet did here, using the same 8 lines to create 3 different poems.

Shield (1)

Be of ruin this rude maker.
Rubble be. Ruin be. Be not a stone.
Hellstone. Hailstone. Hellebore.
Take root in the broken and bloom.
Bloom blood into bitter lake
Or let dirt drink its fill. The bee moans
In it thin cup. Pollen and trouble.
Mark it in bronze, poet. Grab the tool. Beat it.

Shard (1)

Be                     maker.
be         be             stone.
the broken
drink its                       moans
thin cup                        trouble.
poet                       tool


Shield (7)

You be awe. I’ll be knife.
There’s an altar by the water.
You be creature. I’ll be priest.
Slack sails wait wind. Wind waits feast.
Least blood most blessed. You be what I lack.
Ceased asking why. Ceased open eyes. You
Alter in darkness alone. My girl of gold-hair
Life. Be antlers of deer. Be your own rescue.

Stitch (7)




Pomes 1.10.17

Untitled (Naked)
In the morning
the air is cold.
I light a fire and smoke
trembles from the woodstove
to greet me.
Last night I opened
the windows to share music &
sweet darkness with the
trees in the ravine,
and we passed an hour
in each other’s company-
as you would in wordless familiarity
with old friends.
But nightmares took me away on
screaming cacophonous wings &
though my body stayed,
I was gone.

In the soft newborn light I see
the trees are still there.
They never leave,
only wait with ancient patience
for my attention to return to them.
I slip out of crumpled nightdress
and stand,
naked to them as they are to me-
skin wrinkled and scarred as
the bark on the cedars.
All of us equally bared to the ravages
of wind & time.

My bath is steaming and ready.
The air is warming from the fire.
Outside the trees
drink the rain
and a breeze blows through
from the south.
They all shudder and sigh and
lean in a little closer.


On Reading Anna Moschovakis
I am in the bath reading Anna Moschovakis,
and watching the candlelight reflection on the side of the tub.
I wonder how to bridge this gap
between my body and other bodies.
My jaw is aching again from clenching my teeth.
I think others must not have these problems-
of gaps
of holding muscles so tight as to be absolutely still
I know that they do.
That doesn’t help.
I have the email of Anna Moschovakis.
Will I use it?
Probably not.


Owls and Animals/Alaska photos

I’m currently reading The Hidden Lives of Owls by Leigh Calvez.  It’s a good read.  I recommend.  I was reminded of a trip my mother and I took in 2014 to The Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, AK.  I took a ton of photos and never did anything with them, so here they are.  Also some from the Fortress of the Bear in Sitka,  Sitka Sound Science Center, and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center south of Anchorage.

I’m guessing which owl is which from the website.  I didn’t keep track at the time but only looked at them each as individual personalities.


Peek-A-Boo, Western Screech Owl.  I remember her being very shy and see now that she was severely injured by a car and is blind in one eye.



Boris, Great Gray Owl.  Bad-Ass.  Also came to the center due to a collision.



Glaucus, Barred Owl.  Sidenote: Barred Owls are an ‘invasive species’ in the PNW.  They are largely responsible (along with massive deforestation) for the decline of the Northern Spotted Owl due to superior survival skills (less picky about food and nesting sites).  A pilot study is currently underway in which Barred Owls are removed (killed) from Northern Spotted Owl territory near Mt. Rainier.  Leigh Calvez, the author of the Hidden Lives of Owls, quoted Aldo Leopold on this topic:

“The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the range.  He has not learned to think like a mountain.  Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.”



Pele, Peregrine Falcon.  Another car collision, found in a parking lot in Friday Harbor.


I can’t place this one, but they sure are pretty.



Tootsie!  A Northern Saw-Whet Owl.  She was smaller than my hand.


and very hungry.




073-2 081-3 082-3***


131-2 126-3

Musk Ox

109-3 091-7




056-5 048-5




200-2 199-3