This last weekend I went to Poulsbo for their annual Viking Festival. Poulsbo was founded by Norwegian loggers who were drawn to the Puget Sound for its logging, fishing, shipping, and shipbuilding industries. Since 1968 they have held the Viking Festival to celebrate both Norwegian Constitution Day and their more distant Norse past.
The parade was good, fairly standard as far as small town parades go but with lots of cool costumes. However the star attraction of the festival are the reenactors who dress up in authentic dark age attire and set up living exhibits. Here are some pictures from the event:
Here in Washington we have several majestic forests. One thing that makes our forests particularly striking is how the trees are usually covered in sleeves of vibrant moss. Some of the moss species are like wool or carpet, others resemble shaggy fur like that of a mountain goat. Often it is something of a cross.
I think living surrounded by so many beautiful trees may have been part of what inspired me to get into bonsai. Microcosms have always intrigued me, and good bonsai are just that. Yes they are kept artificially small and they are artificially shaped and groomed, but they mimic their (often literal) siblings in nature. I’d love to one day do a bonsai of Washington species with sleeves of moss growing on the branches and trunk. However I’m not sure if that is possible, since bonsai are much more sensitive than free growing trees. Certain mosses are often used as lawn on top of the soil, there is even special bonsai moss spray for that.
I don’t own the picture below, it was taken from a fair use website
Most people associate the word froth with good things like beer, root beer, or shampoo. Not me. The first thing that comes to mind is something unpleasant. I live in a rural area with lots paths, many of which are by creeks and streams.
My family has two horses and we used to have more and ride them all the time (I only rode maybe five times if that, wasn’t my thing). None of us have been riding in at least ten years, it’s a very time consuming hobby and we donated all of our tack years ago. Lately I have been going on plenty of walks down those trails. However lots of our neighbors still go on trail rides, and plenty of people from the area come to do that. You can always tell if someone went riding recently if there is a manure pile in the middle of the path. Near the water there is another way to tell: a white frothy mass flouting in the water that happens when a horse urinates in it.
And that is why “frothy” isn’t a word I’m fond of.
I’m from Washington, it’s not as cold as Alaska but it’s still pretty cold. We’re best known for our rain, which I think is a major reason why it gets so cold. Hell, as I type this post it’s raining so hard by typing is muffled.
I’ve always preferred frigid temperatures to hot ones, probably because I’m a life long Washington resident. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the cold, mind you; but cold doesn’t suck the life out of my like excess heat does. We do still have some very hot days, especially in late July and August. Some nights I can barely sleep because it’s hot even at night.
Rain by contrast I find soothing. I fall asleep much quicker when it’s pouring, and I feel more energized but calm during day pours. My only issue with rain is it makes things difficult when you want to do anything outside. I’ve been going on lots of walks lately. Walking has always been one of my favorite things to do, and I have been walking a lot since I made a commitment to take weight loss seriously.
Homesickness has never been an issue with me. Ever. I just don’t get homesick. I never got homesick in college and I never get homesick when I’m traveling. When I’m traveling and it’s hotter than it gets hotter than Washington than I do miss how cool it is here, but I won’t miss home itself.
Some of you might Remember that I went to Tanzania in 2014. I actually adjusted to the weather there rather nicely. The first few days I was baking, but after that I didn’t notice the heat. One time it started to rain unexpectedly, and it was an almost magical experience.
Some people know them as panthers, mountain lions, pumas, catamounts, or painters. Where I’m from we call them cougars. Here in Washington alone it is estimated there are over 2,500 cougars in the wild. They are majestic, yet intimidating creatures. Even though most Washingtonians are surrounded by the woods, most people have never seen a cougar in person or given them much concern. My neighborhood is a dirt road so when word gets out one was spoken everyone on the street makes sure all their guns are out.
I have seen a cougar up close. One day me and my dad were driving to town and we saw one. We had just reached the paved part of the main road when a cougar leaped from one side of the road to the other. All I saw was a tail and a flash of tan fur. For a moment I thought I saw a giant monkey, as nonsensical as that sounds.
This year I’m spending my Thanksgiving all alone. I was going to go back home and had a round trip Amtrak booked to go to Washington and back, but my mom told me she thought it would be wise if I cancelled the ticket and stated in Oregon. She’s right. I’ve been busy and stressed out, with barely enough hours in a day and days in a week to stay on top of my homework. That train departed on Tuesday and I had a revision draft of an article due yesterday. Tuesday was also the day I gave a student presentation that forms 35% of my grade in that class, I hadn’t been scheduled when the ticket was bought.
I always found Thanksgiving break to be ill timed, since the semester/quarter is usually only for like two more weeks or so not counting finals week. During undergrad the break generally helped me charge my batteries to soldier through the last leg of the semester. Now that I’m in grad school I simply can’t afford to take almost a weekend off, let alone an extended one. Especially when home is a six hour train trip away, compared to a half hour car ride.
As for my Selfsgiving dinner I’m having turkey breast, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, marshmallow yams, and stuffing.
Here in Washington State there is a bill known as Initiative 522 that would require the state to label all genetically modified foods on the the package, something which is already a reality for all my readers from any EU member. Many others such as Russia also require GMO labeling. I strongly support 522, as I believe that consumers should have the right to know what shit is in what they buy. We already have labels for high fructose corn syrup, fats, carbs, calory count, and so forth. Like any other bill no matter how reasonable, there has been a sizable opposition.
According to those ads 522 is just beaurocratic red tape that would hinder everyday people with excessive regulations. I’m sorry, I am not going to be convinced that a bill is bad because some third generation “family farmer” (who probably works on corporate subsidized land) on TV tells me its bad. God, these are the same people that lobby for the right to kill endangered wolves! Sure, the Rancher’s Association and Grocerery Manufactur’s Association oppose 522; but that should be obvious why. What the slick ads don’t tell you is that Monsanto is the top donor to the No campaign, and other major players inlcude DuPont, Bayer, PepsiCo, The Coca Cola Family, and Nestle. Rather, they use some astroturf commoners to spread their agenda. You need to dig into the No website to find out the corporate backers. Just compare those who back No: http://www.votenoon522.com/coalition/#other to those who back Yes: http://yeson522.com/endorsements/ . Painfull, isn’t it?