“It’s like sitting in your living room with a hot cup of coffee in hand”

A good café is not hard to find in this city. But a great one, well, that takes some searching. There are cafes on nearly every corner of this caffeine mecca. This morning I found a great one. The Wannabee. Don’t let the name fool you, its definitely not trying to be like any other establishment that serves coffee in Seattle. The owner, Wally, refurbished the entire inside of the building, spending over a year and a half building everything by hand. Inside is a hodge podge of art that ranges from kids paintings to Chinese lamps. There is even an old wooden statue of some saint that smells heavily of incense. Wally has effectively created a community center. Customers linger for a long time and seem reluctant to leave. There is even a three-legged dog that lies about, enjoying the company of whoever happens to sit next to her. It’s good to stumble upon small blessings unexpectedly.

When you come to Seattle I’ll take you there.

Now for an update on the garden.
After spending an hour or so weeding (I’m good at growing weeds) I harvested my first batch of completely organic snap peas. They taste sweet and fresh. If you have the time and space I would recommend growing some veggies of your own, it’s very rewarding. As far as the rest of the crops go, the lettuce, carrots, cucumber, potatoes and peppers are growing at a slower pace but should be ready to harvest in the next few weeks or so.

Here is a shot of the peas.


Thank You Mrs. Faber

Jeff (who is doing considerably well by the way) was given this basket as a gift by Mrs. Faber. Listen as he tells the story of how he is using that gift.


Creating Shade

A student at the University of Washington walks to class between rows of cherry trees planted by the graduating class of 1959.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
~Nelson Henderson

I saw this quote etched into a concrete wall. The wall sat at the entrance of a restored schoolhouse a few blocks away from my apartment. Of course it prompted me to begin thinking of the “trees” I was planting in my life, family and community. Questions like “what am I doing right now that will last beyond me?” and “what kind of trees do I want to plant?” came to mind as I walked home past new apartments that were built to last maybe 30 years. What place, if any, do the ideas of permanence have in a McSociety? Are relationships (i.e. marriage), like new apartments, only made to last for a short period of time, being torn down when they don’t look the way we thought they should? I want my children to have something to climb on, to sit beneath, to lean on. A safe place to come home to, a place with roots.

Right now, I only have a few tools; some rusty nails and a hammer with a broken handle. But those tools are enough to get started with and I will either pick up or be handed what is needed as I begin to build a life.



Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, Canada. Taken last fall on the road in front of Angelas parents house the day before her last name was changed from Ambrose to Oliver. I'm to tired to post anything new on here so this picture will have to suffice.

"How do you know when the Prairy is in you?, when you see a tree as an eyesore."

William Least Heat-Moon


Choice: Plague or Privilege?

While vacationing on the tiny island of Lopez a few weeks ago I asked myself the question we all tend to ask ourselves far to much (for those that have the luxury of asking), here is my life now what do I do with it? So, instead of trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with this life I took a different approach and looked at the things I was either passionate or growing passionate about.

Two things became very clear to me, 1) we (westerners) live in an extremely privileged society that might as well exist on another planet compared to the way 70% of the rest of humanity lives and 2) that because of this alien existence (that alienation extends to my lack of understanding for the world around me and therefore creates an ignorance of how to best interact with it) I also have the “privilege” of choice, or more importantly the plague of too many choices. Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice, says this about choice, “with so many options confronting us about almost every decision, there is a greater chance that we will regret the decision we do make. The myriad choices raise our expectations and create the anticipation of perfection. Regret after making the wrong decision or what is perceived as the wrong decision leads to self-blame, depression and, in extreme cases, suicide, he said. We are bad at realizing the downside of choice. Some choice is better than none, but more choices don't make things better.”

Once I realized that perhaps my difficulty in choosing one thing over the other could potentially lie in the fact that I simply had to many choices I decided to figure out what my passions were and then look into classes or careers that fit those passions. Here is the list I came up with. It’s tentative at best but the structure and idea behind a list of passions is a step in the right direction (a step in any direction is better than no step at all, right?). Read through the list and then consider making one on your own. I have found myself looking at this list a lot in the last few weeks.

People) Those in need or suffering.

Cultures) A better understanding of them.

Environment) A better understanding of the way I affect the world I live in. Learning about the conservation of what God has given us.

Sustainability) A fairly new concept to me but one I am very interested in. Building individual lives, communities and societies to last for generations to come. Forward thinking.

Stories) Creating and exploring new and existing forums for peoples life experiences to be shared.

Staying in touch with friends and family. Learning new ways to better communicate what I am trying to say.

Simplicity) Building a life on only what is needed. Deciding between what is needed to live a healthy life and what I think is needed that actually creates an unhealthy life.

So there is my list. Currently I am either practicing or learning how to practice most of the things listed above. Let me know when you put one together. I would love to read some other peoples lists.

On a completely different note, here is a random picture I found while looking through a c.d. of images from my Kyrgyzstan trip. I figuired this was a good way to end this post. Check out that beard! It appears I was attempting to play scrabble. I say attempting because I had just arrived in Bishkek and was operating on about 6 hours of sleep spread out over a 48 hour period. I somehow managed to stay up that entire first day in this strange Central Asian country.


The Avalanche

You can work all of your life as I’m not afraid of you...anymore” And so ends the absolutely breathtaking lullaby called Pittsfield, one of the 21 tracks on singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens latest album, The Avalanche. I don’t generally become anxious to hear an album before it is released to the public but if you’ve ever listened to anything Sufjan has written you would understand why I spent an evening cruising the internet looking for a “leaked” copy of the c.d.(I do plan on buying the c.d., I just wanted a sneak peek into the upcoming work of this musical genius). After a while I found one copy (yes, I found the whole c.d.!) and after listening to most of the tracks I will only say that this album will leave you wanting more and that’s a good thing in this case.

So here is my shameless endorsement for what I believe to be one of the most talented singer/songwriters to grace the airwaves in many years. His next album will be released on July 11th. You should be able to buy it at your local record store or directly through his record label Asthmatic Kitty.


Building A Life.

Do my blog titles sound to epic? I kind of like the drama I can introduce a blog entry with by the title I think up, kind of like a movie title.

So in quick fashion (I’m not feeling deep tonight) I would like to inform you of what the near future is shaping up to look like. In the month of August I will be closing the chapter on my volunteer work with YWAM. This last year has been a mixture of good and bad with a lot of life experience thrown in-between but I’m not sad to be moving on. This summer will consist of me helping my friend Marcus with a youth training program a few days a week, remodeling Pats house and preparing to attend Seattle Central Community College in the Fall.

Below I have included a picture of Pats basement as it looks right now. In the next 6 weeks I will be assisting Virgil (Pats brother in law) in constructing the room I will be renting. Yes, I will be building my own room for the next month or so, isn’t that amazing! I will post pictures on here as the progress gets underway. Pat lives in a 70-80 year old house, which is comprised of a basement, first floor and attic (second floor). In the last couple of months, Pat and Virgil have become good friends of mine. They both have their eccentricities but I like that about them, it makes them more honest and accessible.

I cannot give you an update on Jeff (my friend who’s in the hospital fighting cancer) right now because I have to track him down. I went out of town for a week and I believe the hospital moved him to another location. He gets shuffled around a lot and it makes it very hard for me to keep in touch with him.

So there is my “update” entry. Hope you feel informed. Email me with any specific questions.



“We used to go to church to reveal the worst aspects of ourselves, our sins. To tell our stories. To be recognized. To be forgiven. And to be redeemed, accepted back into our community. This ritual was our way to stay connected to people and to resolve our anxiety before it could take us so far from humanity that we would be lost.”

This is an excerpt taken from a book called Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories by Chuck Palahniuk. This is the same author that brought us the book Fight Club, which Hollywood would later make into a big screen movie. This is a man who has written books about self destruction, pornography and murder. A few years back he was scandalized in the press for having an ongoing homosexual relationship and not telling anyone. People had a hard time accepting that the man who wrote a book of such machismo proportions could also be gay. But he was and all of their preconceived notions of what a man “is” were shattered with his confession.

This twisted, depraved and sick man is fast becoming someone I feel something in common with. The simple fact that he is willing to confront the most twisted parts of human nature with blinding honesty stands as a testament to his own search for redemption. While I do not advocate the way he seeks out redemption, I fully relate to his overwhelming drive and desire to find acceptance by any means possible. I to have sought (and continue to seek) less than holy means in my search for redemption. For that brief moment when everything in my being screams, “this is what makes you, you have finally arrived and now you are truly alive.”

And then I die all over again.


Low Cost At A High Price

How much is enough?

That’s a question I asked myself some years ago. Enough what, you might ask. Enough of everything. Enough money, enough material wealth, enough square space to fit all of my acquired material into. How about within a business context. Enough capital, enough growth. Who’s to say when enough is enough?

After watching a movie called Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of Low Price I once again asked myself the question of how much is enough? Is saving .99 cents really worth it when you are destroying entire towns and the livelihoods of the people in those towns?

Check out the movie when you get a chance. I personally think its one of the best documentaries I've seen in a long time. You should be able to find it at your local library.



For 10 dollars and 50 cents the Greyhound bus carried me from Mt. Vernon back into the heart of downtown Seattle. I rode through town after town looking at the casino lights and bar signs promising a very twisted form of redemption and hope. The dull, grey sky overhead cast a pale hue around tree, town and road.

When I first contemplated moving here I had fears that the less than sunny weather would affect me in such an adverse way that I would not know what to do with myself. In fact, just the opposite has happened. I do not know what to do with this city when the sun breaks through scattering its harsh rays into all the dark corners we use for hiding.

This city is grey and I’m ok with that.



She agreed to an interview under two conditions, that she could use a made up name and that I wouldn't take pictures of her face. She said there were men in her past, men who had abused her, who she didn’t want finding her. “Kirsten” was the name she gave me. I met her at a Tent City (for more on tent cities read this post "Grass, Sun and Shadow") moving day.

She told me about how being part of a community like Tent City had helped here to stay off drugs (heroin in her case) and find the accountability she needed. She was living at Tent City while waiting for her husband to come home from fishing season. It was March 13th, the day before Mothers Day, when I took this picture. I recorded her talking about the little girl who gave her the rose and how it made her feel. She started crying towards the end of the interview, her beautiful blue eyes brimming with tears as she recounted the kindness of that one small act.


A ferry ride.

My eyes skim across one of the 175 islands that make up the San Juan Archipelago in the extreme northwestern part of Washington State. The rich smell of ocean and pine forests meets me in a rush as the ferry I’m riding pushes through the moisture-laden wind at 10 knots per hour. I close my eyes and let the beauty of the moment sink into my mind; this is a memory worth encapsulating. I’m trying to let the wonder of life overcome me. The realist in me tends to silence what my imagination once believed.

I’m learning to let go.


An introverts self portrait.

I spoke with Dr. Hairston, my counselor, yesterday and he suggested much to my surprise that some of the hardship I deal with in life may be attributed to the fact that I am an introvert in an extrovert world (studies say that 70% of the world is extrovert). So after 25 years of not knowing what my temperament was I now have a glimpse into a world I didn't even know existed. He gave me a book to read, The Introvert Advantage, (I'm not a big believer in books changing peoples lives but this one is definitely doing some good for me) and the little bit I have read has made me reevaluate why I have done the things I do. It has helped me to understand that when I want to be alone it doesn't mean I am depressed or that I am running from something (although sometimes that is why I want to be alone) but simply that I need that time to recharge and collect my thoughts. Yes, this is a big discovery for me and a timely one at that since I will be leaving today for my friend Pats cabin to spend a week by myself. I'm looking forward to the peace and quite that awaits me there.

So in the spirit of introversion I took a self portrait to show you how I perceive myself. As a man standing in the background, watching everyone else live life while at the same time keeping an eye on himself.

This is a shot of my good friend Sam. I think it's one of the strongest portraits I've ever taken.