Friday, August 19, 2016

Behemoth



     As many times as I have flown on an airplane, I have never lost the wonder of takeoffs and landings. I may snooze through the instructions from the crew on how to buckle my seatbelt or locate emergency exits, but I am always alert and looking out the window as the plane hurtles down the runway and leaps into the sky. I don't want to miss it. I still find the physics of flight incredible, and I don't ever want to take it for granted.

     When my husband and I were in Seattle this summer, we booked a tour of the Boeing facility in Everett. My husband has been enamored with airplanes since he was a boy and knows all of their names as though they have been personally introduced. Even though I am not an airplane aficionado, I also enjoyed the tour.

     We were thrilled to see a Dreamlifter unloading as we ended our tour. The Dreamlifter is currently the largest air cargo plane in the world, and the plane that transports sections of the Dreamliner from Japan and Italy to South Carolina and from there to the factory in Everett. Like a rare bird, there are only four of its kind. We watched as the entire mid-section of a Dreamliner fuselage was unloaded from the belly of the plane and stored in a  nearby hanger beside its cockpit. I was reminded of the Bible story of Jonah inside the whale.




     Then we watched as this behemoth of a plane lumbered down the runway for takeoff. It seemed too large and slow and heavy to fly...







But, of course, it did.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Blah Blah Blogging - Russian Bots



     From time to time, I check the statistics for the number of pageviews I have received on my blog. I want to know if there is anybody out there in the blogoshpere listening to me, or if I am sitting alone at my kitchen table talking to myself. Either way, it doesn’t change how often I post or what I write about. But it is fascinating for me to see that anybody in the whole wide world with a computer can drop by my place for a visit.

     I realize, of course, that many of the numbers I see in my stats represent robots; so when I checked my statistics recently and saw a huge spike in pageviews coming from Russia, I knew that the robots were swarming. What I don’t know is why. Are they monitoring my shopping preferences? Is there a conspiracy to find a chink in my armor and hack my computer or infiltrate those who visit me? With all of the international travel that he does, do they suppose that my husband works for the CIA? There is a normal amount of paranoia that follows these thoughts, and I am wondering if just using the initials CIA (twice) in my post will attract even more traffic from the bots.

     With the online presence of virulent viruses lurking nearby waiting to sneeze on me, invisible spiders crawling across my posts, cyber thieves crouching at my backdoor, and phishermen trolling for data, one feels vulnerable.


     At times such as this I create my own unreality. I blame it on having grown up in the cold war era and watching too many Dr. Who episodes with salt-and-pepper-shaker shaped robots gurgling: Ex-ter-min-ate! So it is that, each day, as the attack of the Russian cyberbot hordes on my statistic pages subsides and the number of American pageviews increases, I feel more at ease.

     Surely, none of the American bots could wish to harm a little gray-haired old lady such as myself….right?


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Watch Out! There Are Trolls About!



     There were forest trees the size of giants on our vacation out west this year, and the ghosts of mountains haunted our horizons. We flitted between island and mainland on ferry wings, and I ate swordfish for the first time. Swordfish, you know, are the unicorns of the sea.

     So it seemed only natural that I should also visit a troll. This one lives under a bridge in Seattle. Thankfully, he was turned to stone a long time ago and offers no threat to either billy goats or other passersby.


I have fist bumped a Pharaoh before, but never a troll.


     The tats on this fellow are not his by choice. Some narcissistic little trolls who have not yet been turned to stone have been at work here. I saw their work in the mountain forest too, carving their names into trees so that we will never forget that trolls are, above all, despoilers.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tidelands



     Many of my memories from the first half of my life are framed by salt tides, islands, bridges and ferries. I took all of these things for granted then. Not anymore. My husband and I took a couple of days away from family on our summer vacation to celebrate our anniversary. We sailed from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island on one of the many ferries that link the islands of the Sound to the mainland.






     We drove the length of the island from the bridge at Deception Pass in the north to the southernmost ferry dock in Clinton before sailing to Mukilteo on the mainland.





     Our day spent among the tidelands of the Puget Sound with the ghosts of mountains presiding over the horizon ended in a marina restaurant in Everett where we ate swordfish and watched the sun set over the islands.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Between the Mountain and the Sea




     After our trip to the mountains we went to stay in my sister's beachside cottage. This isn't her cottage, but I think it is the most intriguing house on the lake. Thornewood was constructed from a 500-year-old Elizabethan manor brought in pieces to America 100 years ago. It was featured in Stephen King's movie Rose Red in which my sister performed as an extra.

     On lazy afternoons we sat beside the lake reading, chatting, eating fruit and other toothsome tidbits, and watching the eagles prowl the sky.



     Two evenings near sunset, we took a boat ride around the lake. I like to go fast, feel the wind and the spray in my face and hair until the thumping of the boat jars my bones and reminds me of my age.







     Another evening we hiked through the woods along an old railway line for a picnic beside the bay.




     Sometimes there are seals and Orca whales to see in this bay, but all we saw that evening were trains on the working tracks behind us. I counted the cars in memory of my mother.


She would have been pleased.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Green and Pleasant Land



     I was born in a green and pleasant land between the mountains and the sea.

     Time and tide have swept me inland to a fruited plain where cornlands break in waves along the western shores of the horizon and the only mountains rise as brick and mortar pinnacles above canyons of business and industry.

     I often hunger for my homeland and when I return, a trip to the mountains stands as high on my list as a visit with friends and family. It is not gentle land up among the peaks of these ancient hills, but steeply fierce and rocky. Above it all, like a frosty old troll squatting over a nest of beaky squabs with its winter hair flowing down its back, around its shoulders and into its lap, looms The Mountain. Of course, the peak itself is illusive and is often cloaked in cloud as it was on the day my husband and I visited last week.




     We stopped at Paradise, a lovely alpine landing between the cold shoulder blades of the peaks, and hiked up into the flowering meadows with the sound of wind and waterfalls breathing in our ears.








Along the way, we met a few of the lodgers.








     After our climb among the creeping clouds and mystic mist, we sheltered among the giants in the forest. As is often the case, there is something about the enormity of creation that makes one feel smaller.






Monday, July 4, 2016

Not Fireworks




     We went for a walk after breakfast. Over the river. Through the woods. The flora was spectacular. Sudden bursts of light and color like fireworks to celebrate the day.















And then we came home again.