Citified Observations From The House Of Eight

I think I should first of all thank Melisa. I could thank many others as many others have contributed to the formation of the following thoughts but I’ll just stick with thanking Melisa since she is the one who has most recently helped to still this roiling mass of thought inside my head long enough for me to actually write it down.

Thank you Melisa.

I have answered the call of the inner nomad once again. This time it's landed me on a bed in Pete’s parent’s basement. I lived with Pete earlier this year in an old apartment that is no more. The first thing the new owner did was kick us out and completely gut the inside. He tore out the funky kitchen with its cabinets that never stayed closed. He ransacked the bathroom and tossed out the original claw foot bathtub that always made showering an interesting experience.

In some ways this gutting of the old place to make way for a much shoddier, homogenized and expensive new one was what broke me. I mean there are many things that have broken me over the last few years but this was the last straw. It was time to leave Seattle and this was the proverbial kick to the rear I needed to make the move.

So I journeyed to a much smaller (and saner) town near the Canadian border. After a series of minor events that led to the temporary derailment of my plans in this new town I ended up in the place I now write this entry to you from; on a bed in the basement of a rather full house. My presence certainly has not detracted from that fullness.

I’ve been crashing on this bed for nearly three weeks now and I’ve only loathed a few brief moments of those three weeks. Pete’s family is large, seven siblings in all. Two are out of the house but when you throw me into the mix it comes to a grand total of eight.

So I’ve been cultivating this theory for a while now (I don’t pretend to portray this theory as anything original. It’s more like common sense we as a people have somehow forgot). The theory comes from things I observed in my own life and the lives of others while living in Seattle. Seattle is just the city I happened to be living in when I cultivated this theory but this theory is not exclusive to Seattle; it could occur anywhere.

Here is the theory in a nutshell: To live holistically you must live intergenerationally. Meaning some of the most physically, spiritually and mentally healthy people and communities I’ve observed are very connected with their past, present and future. They have natural daily interactions with people who have gone before them and people who will eventually be standing where they are now.

I have now come to realize that much of the neurosis that I came to experience while living in Seattle came from a lack of connection to those ahead and behind. It was the blind leading the blind. Cities tend to make room only for those who can hack it. If you are not willing to compete on the same ravenous level as everyone else, to sacrifice your well being and have an aversion to unhealthy and rapid change than perhaps big cities (at least big cities in hyper capitalist America) are not for you.

Most days I found myself surrounded by people my age asking the same questions from the same people and getting the same answers. We felt very alone.

And that brings me back to the house of eight. I am not alone here. Actually I am so “not alone” that at times I take bike rides as a sort of introvert breather. But this is a healthy fullness. I am surrounded by ages that range from 10 to 50 something. I interact and gain perspective from a variety ages at different stages in their developmental stories. I can share what I have learned through my own personal story and learn from the personal stories of others, young and old. This is how life should be lived.

As Americans we have become disconnected, discontent and as a result found our lives in disrepair. Personally, I believe we have become all of these things because, simply put, we are utterly lonely people.

Before I wrap this entry up I would like to point you to an article that you might find interesting. I found this link through, yet again, Melisas blog and I found it to be very interesting. It is called “Why We Hate Us” by Dick Meyer. While I don’t agree with everything Meyer says I do believe he is right on about many of his observations.

Well, there’s my two cents, anyone else want to throw in theirs?


Fun Times!

Things of note in this photo.

1. The water fountain to the left provided not only cool, refreshing water but an interesting conversation with an airport worker who had moved from India to America some years back. His Indian accent was still beautifully intact.

2. I have driven by the advertised casino and it is even more depressing than you might imagine.

3. The mechanical equipment on the far right hand side of the image is called a Genie Lift. Last summer I helped build a rather nice vacation house for the inventor of this machine. He is a rich man.


Lummi Drive-By

This dark and ominous cool front moved in over the San Juan’s and across the bay as I took a right at the four way stop. I usually go straight. Straight past the yellow fields and a grove of green leafed poplars. Straight past the lonely casino with its hotel rising up stories above the surrounding landscape of neglected barns and small farmhouses. You wouldn’t happen to be walking by this casino and decide to stop in for a quick game of blackjack or a run at the slot machines. No, this casino and its location demand at least some amount of premeditation. There is nothing else out here.

Today I didn’t take the straight road home. Today I turned right and immediately found myself in another nation altogether. The sign on the side of the road told me so. It read,

You Are Now Entering The Lummi Nation.

I was on Native land now.
I suppose I am always on Native land if I stop to think about it. But this Native land was marked not only with a large road sign stating the invisible line of demarcation, no, this land was marked by many other signs that were soon to follow.

Trailers. Yes, trailers. Abandoned trailers with all the windows busted out. Rundown trailers. Neglected trailers. Trailers that had once been painted. That “once” being sometime 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. That “once” was not recent, not now.

Handwritten signs read “50% off”. 50% off of what I wondered? Then the shuttered and locked homemade fireworks stands came in to view. Fireworks, of course.

Rain pelted the windshield in between the quiet swipes of wipers set on their lowest setting. Outside I passed small piles of garbage left on the roadside.

The road took me by the Lummi Island ferry landing. Native fishing boats bobbed up and down in the choppy water just to the left of the dock. I thought of the many embittered statements I’d heard made by white men in this part of the country about Native fishing rights and how it restricts non-Natives from many of the fishing opportunities they believe they are entitled to. I felt no sympathy for the white mans plight.

As the road curved along the bay and the city came into view I thought about how different these two nations were. One had thrust itself upon the other in such a violent and destructive way that it had broke these people so thoroughly that they never really had “recovered” from that breaking.

I understand that there have been steps taken by the American government in the last few years to try and somehow make amends for the past. I understand that Natives are somewhat “responsible” for taking care of the land they live on, the homes they live in and the families they raise in them.

During the rare occasions when I bring up Native issues (most of which I know really nothing about) I seem to come up against an immediate defensiveness that does not surprise me yet still takes me off guard.

It is this strange idea that the “past” wrongs perpetrated upon the Native American population are something that the Natives should have been able to somehow “move past” by now. I mean after all this is America, is it not? The land of the free, right? We have the American Dream and that dream states that with a little bit of pluck and some elbow grease anyone can be whatever they want in this great nation. The inference here is that anyone in America who is not “living the dream” only has themselves to blame for their “dreamless” state of being. It’s the same argument I hear about African Americans. The level of ignorance displayed in this statement is understandable.

What do those making these kinds of statements know about being a part of a culture that was crushed so thoroughly that it will probably never fully recover?

I often wonder what happens to those who live in America and have no desire to neither strive for nor live out the American Dream? To me it feels as if the American way of life is an either “all in” or “all out” way of existing. Either you play by the rules; accrue debt by going to the right schools, buy a house which you will never be able to afford much less pay off and then proceed to spend the most precious years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes of your short life working a job to try and keep the banks and credit card companies at bay.

That’s the traditional “all in” way of life. That is how this country is set up and that is how it operates. For those who choose to opt out of that system (or to simply never opt in) there is a resounding “Get The Fuck Out!” that seems to resonate from within every ivory tower this system is built upon.

Either you decide to go all in or you can get the hell out. That seems to be it, plain and simple.

No concessions are made for those who wish to live a simple life. It appears as though life cannot be simply lived within this system.

Ok so I got a little carried away. Eventually I left the Lummi Nation and entered the one I was born into. I then realized that it didn’t matter whether I had taken the right or gone straight because either way I still felt like a foreigner in a strange land, Native or American.


8 o'clock Cascades

Rolling down to Seattle from Vancouver (click image for a larger view).


Week End

After having my head stuck in the hull of this big old boat made back in the 30's (today I painted the bilge, same as yesterday) it was nice to take a quiet bike ride into Fairhaven. Wins, the local fast food joint, was nearing closing time as I snapped off a few tired photos of a couple enjoying an ice cream cone and some french fries.

I walked around this little town and listened to the sounds of a week coming to an end, spilling out of bar room doorways and restaurant windows.


Sunset Propaganda

Doing a little light reading (courtesy of the wonderful folks over at Crimethinc.) while watching the sunset.

Settlers Night

Isaac, Leah and Maren.

Focus on the pieces.

The Settlers Posse. Don't mess with the West.



I am throughly enjoying the new town I have moved to. I rode around with the Day girls today (the Days are my friend Pete's family that has basically adopted me for the last week i've been up here) and tried to stay out of the rain showers that rolled around the bay.

After checking out the farmers market and drinking some really good chocolate milk from the local co-op grocery store I pulled into the Hub (Bellinghams non profit community bike co-op) and started helping out wherever I was needed. I figure one of the best ways to meet people in a community is to put in some volunteer hours at the local bike shop.

So after a couple of hours of stripping junk frames of their useful parts I had a beer and a good conversation with Kyle (basically the dude who runs this place).

I took this wonderful trail home and decided to ride down to the marina in an effort to catch the last rays of a setting sun. I like this town and the people in it. I am just really glad to be here. Seattle had worn out it's welcome in my soul and I knew it was time to be moving on.

So move on I did.


A Joke

I'm not sure about this post. By that I mean this could potentially be the dumbest thing I’ve ever posted on my blog. Generally you will find me writing rather serious and pensive discourses on everything from living in the U.S. to questioning what I am doing with my life and why. Oh, and don’t forget the “dark and moody” black and white images I post every so often.

So here is not so much a deviation from that “seriousness” but more a look at how ridiculous our nation has become.

For those of you who have not been keeping up with the American presidential race, and trust me, I only know about this because it pops up on Googles news page everyday, you have not missed anything of any real worth.

I would encourage you to continue to remain indifferent to this three-ring circus we call an election unless of course you have nothing better happening in your own life and need to ride the wave of emotions created by the antics of the media crazed celebrities and presidential candidates alike.

The other day John McCain, your usual rich, white, male candidate, aired a television ad claiming Barack Obama, the non-traditional black (He’s sort of black, his mom was white so that makes him “half-black”. The color of his skin is only a big deal because America is a super racist country) candidate as being nothing but an overblown celebrity.

The ad showed pictures of Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears along with footage of Obama making speeches. It was mildly entertaining.

In response to this ad Mrs. Hilton’s “P. R. staff” (I don’t know the technical name for the people responsible in making big P.R. decisions for celebrities) came up with a ridiculous and ingenious idea: lets make a mock ad with Paris Hilton in it making fun of McCain and then propose some scripted ideas about how she would go about solving the “energy crisis” in America.

This all sounds really dumb and like a huge waste of your time, right? I know, but here is what prompted me to even blog about something as trivial as these smear campaigns: one of these two guys will be our president in 3 months time. This is why to me, and so many other people my age, America has become nothing but a huge joke.

These are not some random ass hats running for class president (although from watching the way they act you would think they are still in junior high). No, these guys are running for one of, if not the, most powerful political positions in the world.

And it depresses me to think that America has become a joke. Not because I think it was once some “great shining light” for the rest of the world and now isn’t. America has always been a greedy, slave driven nation state. No, it depresses me because when I talk to my grandmother America is no joke. It’s a place she loves, a place she can be proud to speak of. I hate that, I hate that chasm between my grandmothers America and the one I exist in.

Hilton’s ad is nothing but a nod to the joke that America has become. I get what Hilton, or whoever wrote her script, was trying to say. Not the words she spoke but the significance behind it. Here is a celebrity made famous because of some steamy sex tapes responding to an ad endorsed by someone that could very well be the next president of the United States! This is modern America at it’s best (or worst, depends on if your talking to me or my grandmother).

Ok so I was wrong. This post did become a bit more serious than I had originally intended it to. Hope you enjoyed it.

Wedding Games



Here are a few random images I've shot in the last month. If you frequent my flickr stream you will recognize a couple of them.

Housemates brushing their teeth. I loved living with these folks.

My favorite field on Orcas. Last summer while living on the island I would sit in this field and look up at the stars.

One of the cats that live in the house I am housesitting.

Auroras prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.


North To The Future

I spent the day, this day, bumming around Bellingham, drifting from street to street, floating into the library, walking past the now defunct cannery/Georgia Pacific paper mill that takes up a large portion of the downtown waterfront.

The pirate ships were due for a “mock” battle in Bellingham Bay sometime shortly after 6 and I wanted to see them with their sails up (earlier in the day Chris said they looked awesome with their square sails drawn taught by the wind). I looked out at the bay and saw nothing that looked like a pirate ship. But then again half the bay was obstructed by a large Horizon cargo liner.

Upon realizing that my position was not a prime spot to view the sailing from I proceeded to move a little further up the bay. But not before I helped green haired Casey and punked out Dooger push a rather large metal buoy over a series of driftwood logs. The purpose of this pushing had no explanation. The buoy was a challenge and I suppose me, Casey and Dooger were up for the challenge.

After more heaves than hos I can say with all confidence that we kicked that buoys ass!

Then I left and drove further down to the marina. I walked out onto the point and saw there, before my eyes, two wooden ships rigged with more sails than I have fingers sailing out slowly into the bay. And they were magnificent. I had been told one of the ships, The Lady Washington, was used in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movie.

It really felt as though I had been transported back 100 years. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to see entire harbors full of these tall mast boats. And the skill required in order too sail one of these behemoths, that is a staggering thought by itself.

I watched the sun backlight the sails then noticed another ship on the other side of the bay. The Alaska Ferry was making its nightly summer departure from the Fairhaven dock. A boat full of people all headed way north.

Thoughts of fishing and what it might be like came to mind. Looked at a statue built as a memorial to all the fishermen who had been lost at sea. Walked past crab pots and stacked bundles of fish netting. I then thought about how all of these things, the boats, the gulls, the traps and the nets were all very romantic images of what I thought fishing might be like.

I left thoughts of fishing on the pier and made my way back to the house I am staying in, the place I will call home for the next week or two.

Welcome to Bellingham.