Friday, December 20, 2013

The 3rd Web Based. . .

"Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin 
finds me in kind of a strange mental space.  Although I usually love this time of year, with the bright lights and all of the festivities, and all the folks running around desperately trying to figure out what special gift they can find for their loved ones, I'm inexplicably finding myself feeling kind of "blah" about the whole thing.  Very weird, because this has been a wonderful year, with only a couple of exceptions.  I've decided that next year I'll go back to actually sending out cards again, because from what I'm hearing, this practice is going the way of the dodo, and, being the contrarian that I am. . .  Actually, I'm hoping that that will renew the feeling of involvement and excitement that is lacking this year; if it doesn't, I'll know that I'm starting to turn into The Grinch!  :)

I wound up taking a couple of photography courses at Tacoma Community College last spring, had a great time, and learned a lot.  They were the "intermediate 1 & 2" classes, and I signed on for the "advanced" class at the start of the summer, but it was canceled due to lack of interest.  That was kind of a bummer, because as most of you know, I need something to motivate me, and I found that I wasn't getting out with the camera as much without the class "pushing" me.

Now, having said that, one evening getting towards dusk at the end of June, I was working at the computer, and the phone rang.  It was a neighbor asking me if I was seeing what was going on out front, so I looked out and darned near killed myself running down the stairs to grab my camera.  In my almost 50 years of living down here, I've seen an incredible number of beautiful sunsets, but I have never seen anything like this:

And it was literally changing, second by second, so I'm standing out there on the deck, shooting, for about 3 or 4 minutes before I notice, up in the left hand corner of the viewfinder, a big red "X"!  No memory card. . . D'oh!  So I scrambled back inside, slammed in a card, and got back on the deck, and started shooting again, while roundly proclaiming myself a friggin' idiot! It continued to change, and 20 minutes later:


I'm not kidding you, guys, even in my younger, "crazier" days, I have never seen a light show like this one, not even back in the '60's(!), and I don't expect that I'll ever see one again.  The "take away" from this li'l experience was the old Boy Scout's motto:  "Be Prepared!"  I'll never again leave my camera laying around without a memory card in it.  If you're wondering how I got that first shot. . . I didn't!  About a month after, I was talking to a neighbor, and she said that she had gotten a shot, so I bummed a bunch of photos from her.  (Thank you, Lizzie!)

Last year, I told you all that there were 2 new "additions" to the family, in the form of kittens, who have been an absolute delight.  However. . . Once again, "Quigley-luck" has raised it's ugly head; in April, I noticed that Sia, the calico, was favoring a back leg and I figured that she had just pulled a muscle, but took her into the vet anyway, only to learn that she has dysplasia; I didn't know cat's even had that, but, of course, I wound up with one!  I debated surgery for awhile, but after talking with an animal surgeon up in Seattle who specializes in hips, I took his advice and decided against it.  Nine months later, and at the end of fall, I'm finding that she's having less trouble with it if I keep her active and playing with "flying things" (toys), 3 or 4 times a day.

In June, my friend, Barlow, from Pennsylvania, came out and spent a week with me.  We spent one afteroon bumming around Tacoma, checking out the parks and the mansions in old town.  We stopped and did some shopping and then returned to The Beach, and I fixed us a Ceasar Salad, and we watched some Monty Python.  He headed off to bed about 12:30, and I was taking a shower before coming upstairs, where I sleep when I have visitors.   I had just finished drying off and the phone rang.  Ya know, a phone call at 1 a.m. is never gonna be good news, and it was my neighbor asking if both the kittens were in the house.  I told her I thought so, but I had just gotten out of the shower.  She told me I'd better check, so  I walked out onto the deck because I had left the door open, and Sia had fallen off the deck into the water.  She was clinging to a piling and howling her little heart out.  I grabbed my sneaks and went for a quick "midnight swim" to retrieve her.  The poor li'l girl was in the water, up to her shoulders and that water is really cold!  She was shaking like a leaf, so I brought her in and rubbed her as dry as I could with a couple of big fluffy towels, and then spent about 45 minutes with the hair dryer on low, getting her dry and warming her back up.  She didn't dig it, at first, and she still wasn't crazy about it at the end, but she was dry and had quit shaking.  She climbed up onto my lap and was purred for awhile, and then got up on the top of couch and spent some time straightening her fur. Darn, good thing it wasn't Kydai, or I'da been down there with the hair dryer all night, 'cause her fur has a dense soft undercoat, very much thicker than Sia's.

The heated slate floor that I put in last summer proved to be a wonderful investment last winter, and this summer.  In the winter, I set it at 65•, and in the mornings, it was a pleasure to get up to a house that was reasonably warm, even if the fire in the wood stove had died.  And this summer, when I turned it off, it acted as a "passive air conditioner", and kept the downstairs nice and cool during the hottest weather.  All of the cats wound up spending a lot of time laying on it!

In October, I exercised my passport, and returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) for the first time since '69, for a week, and my old friend, David, and I put about 600 miles on his car, just roaming around within a couple of hours of Halifax.  Because of the changing season, all of the trees were sporting their fall colors, and the countryside was beautiful.

A few miles from here was Lunenburg, one of the most picturesque little towns that I've ever seen:

Looks like a model railroad display, doesn't it?  No crowds and you can see the main street running up the hill, in the center of the picture. There was no traffic, and the weather was sunny and bright, the whole visit.

About 35 miles down the road was one of Nova Scotia's landmarks, the Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove :

Definitely a different type of "beach" than we're used to out here!

Here at Salmon Beach, an extremely high tide will run 12-14', and twice, in  extremely vicious storms, we've had 16' tides, which caused an amazing amount of damage.  The Bay of Fundy has tides that run up to 56-60'; the highest tides in the world!  Every year they "lose" a tourist or 2, stupid enough to ignore the plentiful signs along the coast (see the sign in the lower left hand corner), telling them to stay off the mud flats.  This picture kind of demonstrates how dramatic that is, and David tells me that at high tide, all you see are the trees, surrounded by water.

I was extremely happy that I had taken "Google Earth" for a spin around Halifax, before going back, because what was once a quiet little city with a working waterfront has somehow, in 44 years, turned itself into a smaller version of Seattle's waterfront, complete with condos, shops selling plastic lobsters (made in China!), whale watching tours, and crowds!  They say, "Ya can't go back!", but you can; it just wont be the same.  Still, I had a grand time with my friend, And it does look as though they were expecting me; I found this sign outside of a music store in Dartmouth, a city right across the bay from Halifax:

The trip was so much fun, that this spring, I intend to head down to Arizona, to meet up with another old friend (also into music and photography) of mine who "winters" down there, and see if we can hit 3 or 4 of the national parks: Bryce, The Arches, and The Grand Canyon.  I haven't figured out whether I want to drive or fly; if I drive, I could always catch Yosemite National Park, but after the fires this summer, it might be better to put that off for a couple of years!

You guys know that I love cars, and in September, another old "motorhead" friend of mine got me into the Kirkland Concours d' Elegance as an "events photographer".  I hit several car shows every year, but this was truly something special!  It was the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911, and there were a lot of them in the parking area south of the event itself, but they paled in comparison to the cars in the Concours itself.  Most of the cars were. . . well, I started to say, "Classics", but I think that most of you would think I was talking "muscle cars"; not so:

A 1963 Mercedes Benz 300, whose seat belts (2) the owner paid $11,000 for, because they only sold something like 11 of the cars with seat belts as original equipment (they were optional, back then), and he found a set of "new, old stock" in the basement of a garage someplace.  He also found a set of original, fitted, beautiful leather and brass studded, hard shell suitcases that were made for this model, to fit the trunk, and paid a measly $45,000 for them!

The standout car for me though, was the 1934 Alfa Romeo Roadster:


I heard someone say that the owner paid $22 million for it; I felt like Alice in Wonderland, wandering around this crowd of people, who are noticeably different than the owners of cars at the "Good Guys' Car Show" that I go to each summer.  There were also a lot of contemporary "exotics", but somehow, they were overshadowed by all this old "heavy metal".  By the way, these pictures are just a hint of what the cars actually looked like; the finishes on these machines appeared so "deep" that you could have swum in them.  Now I've kind of got my sites set on attending the Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance, which is a 5 day affair in California, which, they tell me, makes our show appear fairly drab. . .

The first weekend of November, we had an incredible windstorm, and about 1 p.m., I'm enjoying one of those wonderful Pacific Northwest windstorms that you all know that I'm so fond of, when the phone rings.  The caller ID tells me that "Anonymous" is trying to get hold of me, and I never want to talk to him, so I just ignored it, until I heard one of my neighbors telling me that I might want to get up to the parking lot.  A tree has come down, hitting my beloved Subaru. . .

I got dressed and hauled up the hill, and was "kind of" relieved to see that it "only" took out my windshield. . . Well, that's not exactly true, because you can see that there is a slight divot in the passenger side fender, right above the wheelwell, and bent up the back corner of the hood.  I went to get my keys, so I could call my insurance people and found that I'd left them down the hill, but that was OK, because I needed to get a tarp, some rope and my camera, anyway.  Back down the hill, grab the stuff & my keys, and  back up the hill, and I fired up the camera, and found that it's "dead"; been awhile since I used the little "point & shoot".   After a 15 minute search for the insurance card, I called the insurance people, and they tell me that it'll be a 20 minute wait, because lots of people are calling, and I looked at the cell phone, and it was about to run out of juice, so I told them I'd call back.

Back down the hill for another camera, and back up the hill. . . again!  Oh, yeah; safety glass?  All over the interior of the car!  I tarped the car, and came back down the hill and called the insurance people again, but only had to wait 10 minutes, to find out that, yes, indeed, I'm covered, but. . . $1000 deductible!  On the other hand, the windshield is one of the "flash thaw" windshields, and I expected that it would be close to that, never mind the ding in the fender, and the hood.

And, of course, I didn't have the "rental reimbursement" option, so I was now a "hardcore biker";  Thank God the bike didn't suffer any damage!  Although I have the ability to get out on my bike, there is no desire to do it, because there is no enjoyment for me in riding in the wind and rain; all the tupperware (full fairing) acts like a sail, and makes riding work, and not fun, so I usually don't.  I had to go to work the following Monday, and while the ride there wasn't bad,  I came out of the studio and found that it had started raining, and the streets were slick, and it was dark, and it was at the height of rush hour, so I elected to ride through town, rather than the freeway, which is a madhouse!  Not moving very fast let the rain gather on my helmet's face shield, and since Tacoma is in "economy mode", a lot of street lights are not on, and I was pretty tense by the time I got home.  NO fun!  Two weeks later, and just before a week of weather in the mid-20's, I got the car back, and they did a beautiful job of putting it back in shape.

Here's a couple of seasonal musical treats for you, from one of my favorite vocalists; go full screen for them as the photography is beautiful, and hopefully, you can put the sound through your headphones, as laptop speakers just do not "make it"! :

Well, you guys are probably getting as tired of reading as I am of trying to extract memories of the high points of the year, so I'm going to wish you all a very "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" and a safe and "Happy New Year!"