Monday, March 31, 2008

Marine Naturalist Training

The Whale Museum’s Marine Naturalist Training Course began today with a series of lectures at Friday Harbor High School. Out of the 20 students enrolled, a few of us work or volunteer at the Whale Museum, others, who came from as far away as Portland, Oregon, came to enhance or change their current careers and most of us came with a desire to engage more meaningfully and actively in our surrounding environment. Upon completion of the course graduates will be certified naturalists eligible to join the newly forming, Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists.

photos: the Whale Museum

Cindy Hansen, the Museum’s Education Coordinator welcomed the class followed by Shann Weston’s introduction to the concept of the Salish Sea, an ecosystem that defies international boundaries to include the Strait of Georgia, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Shann spoke about having a sense of place and warned us about videophilia, the tendency for we screen fixated humans to get our “nature” from nature programs on television or online instead of going outside. Later when I was talking to Kim from Orcas about which Orca she might want to adopt (a Whale adoption is included with the course), I found myself recommending Ruffles or Granny from J-pod. As a selling point I mentioned that they were both movie stars due to their roles in the movie Free Willy II. I was telling Kim that she could always watch the movie if she wanted see them. I realized as soon as I said it that, “Oh no!” I was recommending celebrity whale videophilia!

Charismatic Mega Fauna
Watercolors inspired by Center for Whale Research Photo IDs

Greg Hertel gave an overview of the geology of the Salish Sea. He explained how a mosaic of materials, some traveling as far as equatorial sea-beds in the tropical Pacific, were pressured by volcanic, tectonic and glacial forces to form our unique landscape. Did you know that tectonic plates move at about the same rate fingernails grow? Greg shared a quote from William Durant, “Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice.” Our options when confronted by change? Move, adapt or die.

Glacial Stone Beaverton Valley

Cindy gave us an overview of the Salish Sea Orca or Southern Residents (J, K & L pods). She made several cases for the possibilities of Orca culture including the greeting ceremonies of Southern Residents, Orca language and the fact that Orca, Long Finned Pilot Whales and humans are the only known creatures to go through menopause. What this means is that Granny aka J2, and women my age have social value beyond breeding. I was glad to hear it although I have never doubted it regarding the matriarch of J pod. Finally, Dave Ellifrit from the Center for Whale Research concluded the lectures with a summary of Orca identification using photo ID. He gave us tips for recognizing individuals among our local Orca populations. We finished up at the Whale Museum where Exhibit Hall Manager Nikki Ruggiero gave us a tour.

photos: The Whale Museum

Friday, March 28, 2008

Vouri as Captain George Pickett

Captain Pickett

Mike Vouri playing Captain George Pickett

Now that the pig is dead dear reader, forgive me if I skip ahead just a little. Mr. Cutlar has words with Charles Griffin, before but not long before, Company D, 9th Infantry, US Army comes to the rescue. It is he who was in charge of Company D that requires me to leap ahead. Leading the local infantry was none other than Captain George Pickett, the same Pickett who later led the ill fated Pickett's Charge for the Confederacy, the last fight on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Author, actor, historian and National Park Ranger Mike Vouri, author of the definitive book on the Pig War, The Pig War: Standoff at Griffin Bay will perform his one-man play in the character of Captain, then General George Pickett for a donation-only dress rehearsal at 7:30 P.M., Friday April 4 on the Whittier stage of the San Juan Community Theater. The rehearsal is in preparation for an April 17 (6 p.m.) appearance in the Microsoft Auditorium of the new Seattle Central Library. Vouri will be accompanied by folk musician Michael Cohen.

Officers Quarters, National Park Service, Mike Vouri
Captain George Pickett had the officers’ quarters built in 1860 on San Juan Island.
Captain Pickett shared the quarters with 1st Lieutenant James W. Forsyth.
This building is the only remaining structure from the original camp.

The Old McRae Place aka The Officers Quarters

Between the Pig War and the National Park restoring the Officers Quarters the the house was occupied by a series of families including my father's. My dad was 7 years old when his family moved here from Wolf Springs, Montana to farm at American camp. When I was a little girl my grandparents lived here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

At the Public Library

Tom Phillips and Alan Boyne

On March 28th at 7:00pm hear Tom Phillips and Alan Boyne perform songs and stories from The Entertainment Value of the Right Hemisphere.

On March 29th at 7:00pm you can hear more of Alan’s stories from Neural Origins of Silly Rationalizations.


Author Talk with Lezlie Winberry
March 29th @ 2:00 pm in the Meeting Room

Lezlie will talk about her book When I Cried Out which tells the story of "an ordinary mother" and takes the reader through the challenges her family "overcame in the midst of tragedy."

"Talley's Folly" Opens this Weekend

Island Stage Left presents "Talley's Folly" by Lanford Wilson
Thursdays - Sunday @7:30 27th March - 27th April
(except 6:00 on Sunday 20th April)
Opens tonight at the newly HEATED 4H building at the Fairgrounds!

Krista Strutz and Daniel Mayes pair off in this enchanting romance.

Set in a dilapidated boathouse towards the end of the second world war, two social outcasts - a German Jewish accountant and the daughter of a wealthy and bigoted Missouri family find each other on a summer evening by the river and reveal their secret fears.

"Most tender, wisley funny, chargedly understated dialog fraught with the essence of the greatest drama on earth." The New Yorker

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Pig Incident

A Dramatization of the Pig Incident

The following is a fictionalized account of the killing of the pig that instigated, or at least gave a name to, the Pig War. It opens the first chapter in David Richardson’s, Pig War Islands. Richardson takes poetic license with history and yet, this is pretty much how I have always pictured the event.

The light June mist of a Puget Sound morning had clung, dead still in the dimness of dawn, about the drizzle-dulled green of island tree tops. Now, it thinned rapidly before the warming rays of a sun climbing fast and yellow from behind the distant Cascade Mountains. A brace of russet tailed hawks awoke to the golden light and began chasing one another in an indolent fashion. Suddenly they swooped, shrieking, into a still-bedewed clearing and nearly brushed with their wings against the roof of Lyman Cutlar’s rude log shanty.

It was not the cry of the hawks that roused Cutlar from a profound and youthful sleep, but the clop-clop of a horse’s hoofs striking the pebbled dust of the trail outside. Cutlar passed a weather-tanned fist through sandy hair and hauled his lank frame from the bed, aiming as he did so a playful thwack at the inviting fanny of the Indian girl asleep beside him.

went to the window and muttered something unprintable. The passing rider, a negro*, had reined his mount to a walk and seemed to be laughing at something across the way. The tall youth followed his gaze and repeated the oath. It was that damn black boar again: it had pushed through his garden fence and was rooting up his potatoes with its ugly square snout. This was too much. Lyman Cutlar seized his long, thin-barreled Kentucky rifle and threw open the door.

Jacob, the black man, whipped up his horse and disappeared down the trail. The boar – he felt the sting of Cutlar’s switches before, when the tall settler discovered him similarly engaged --- began a waddling retreat from the garden, a half-masticated tuber still protruding from his dirty-pink muzzle. He got a few yards away and Cutlar’s rifle spoke sharply. The pig fell in a heap, twitched obscenely, and died.

*Jacob was a native Hawaiian, or Kanaka. Mr. Cutlar’s use of the “N” word in reference to him seems to have confused his origins.

p 13, Pig War Islands

Monday, March 24, 2008

Growing Potatoes at American Camp.

Potato Patch at American Camp - National Historic Park Archive

No dear readers, I have not forgotten my Island history. Concerns for Tibet have taken precedence recently but relating to my last history post, The Quest for the Mighty Spud, if you will recall, Lyman Cutlar rowed all the way to Port Townsend to procure his seed potatoes. Cutlar was probably hoping for a fine crop like the one in this photograph. This photograph was taken when the Firths farmed at American Camp, the farm that my own family, the McRaes farmed from the 1920s to the 1950s.

If you recall, Cutlar, who planted his spuds very near the place in this photograph, had staked out a homestead near Belle Vue Farm and consequently, very near Charles Griffin’s notable pig.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter ~ Happy Spring!

Rabbit, Albrecht Durer, German Renaissance

The Easter Rabbit comes to us from a Saxon tradition. The Hare was said to be the favorite animal of Eastre, the Teutonic-Saxon Goddess of spring and fertility.

People from all around the world have decorated eggs from time immemorial in celebration of the fertility of spring.

Ukrainian Easter Eggs

In Christian Tradition Jesus Christ rises from the tomb on Easter Sunday.

Head of Christ, Italian, Florentine, 14th century
Tempera on wood, gold ground

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nancy Pelosi meets the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
(AFP/Manan Vatsyayana)

His Holiness the Dalai Lama met today with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Dharamsala. Thousands of Tibetan exiles greeted Pelosi as she made the first high-level official visit to see the Dalai Lama following a wave of unrest in Tibet. Pelosi called for independent international monitoring of the situation in Tibet.

AP photo: Chinese troops move into Tibet

Meanwhile in spite of news blackout witnesses report more trucks continue to carry armed Chinese military envoys into Tibet and ethnic Tibet regions of China arresting more than a thousand Tibetans.

Yahoo News: Arrested Tibetans

Horsemen in Outer Region Tear Down Chinese Flag
The Dalai Lama Threatens to Resign

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Demonstration in Seattle Friday

photo: Rob Holmes ~ Tibetan Nuns Project 2008 Calendar

I received the following notice about a demonstration in Seattle Friday from Anne at the Seattle office of the Tibetan Nuns Project.

from Alan Ness:
"Sometimes a small wedge can move a large boulder

Tibet/Burma – Dignified Demonstration

What: Demonstration of concern for Tibet and Burma. Focus on releasing monks and nuns, our brothers and sisters.

When: Friday March 21, 2008, between 4 and 6 PM. Join us for any length of time.

Where: In front of the Federal Building, 915 Second Avenue, downtown Seattle.

How: Walking Meditation. Bring your malas and your compassion. I will bring a sign: Tibet/Burma: Release monks and nuns. Wear uplifting colours.

: Everyone welcome; focus on all Tibetan and Vipashana sanghas. But ALL Welcome!

Why: Because my brother was imprisoned in Burma, and my sister was imprisoned in Tibet. Help me get their release.

You can feel compassion regardless of whether
you view the other person as a friend or an enemy.
It is based on the other's fundamental rights
rather than your own mental projection.

H. H. The Dalai Lama

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stand with Tibet ~ Support the Dalai Lama

Stand with Tibet
Support the Dalai Lama

Petition to Chinese President Hu Jintao:

As citizens around the world, we call on you to show restraint and respect for human rights in your response to the protests in Tibet, and to address the concerns of all Tibetans by opening meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Only dialogue and reform will bring lasting stability. China's brightest future, and its most positive relationship with the world, lies in harmonious development, dialogue and respect.

link to: Sign the Petition

Here are some links with more information on the Tibetan protests and the Chinese response:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Call Your Congressman

Congressman Rick Larsen
Co-chair of the bi-partisan U.S.-China Working Group

Washington DC
Phone: (202) 225-2605
Fax: (202) 225-4420

Phone: (425) 252-3188
Toll-free: (800) 562-1385
Fax: (425) 252-6606

We who have freedom of speech need to use our speech on behalf of those who do not have it. Please call Representative Larsen or your own congressperson today. Time is critical as the Chinese have threatened an increased crackdown after midnight Monday (4pm GMT).
Call and ask to speak to someone about the situation in Tibet.

You will probably speak to a legislative aide or simply have your comments recorded by an office administrator, which is fine.

Tell them:
1. The U.S. should speak out forcefully against China's brutal crackdown in Tibet.
2. Please urge the U.S. government to strongly support the Dalai Lama's call for a United Nations team of investigators to go to Tibet as soon as possible.
3. The U.S. should do everything in its power to urge China to withdraw military and security forces, release those detained, and allow peaceful protest. China must halt house-to-house searches; and authorities must refrain from any further arrests of Tibetan protesters even after its so-called surrender deadline has passed on Monday at midnight. China must immediately allow foreign journalists back into all Tibetan areas (Tibetan Autonomous Region as well as the Tibetan areas of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan).

Larsen represents the Second Congressional District of Washington state, which stretches from northern Snohomish County clear to the Canadian border, encompassing all of Skagit, Island, San Juan and Whatcom counties.

China's Deadly Crackdown

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tibet: Tanks Roll In ~ Dalai Lama Speaks Out

As pieces of news leak through China's communication blackout possible 100s of Tibetans are feared dead. The Dalai Lama pleads with the International community to find out what is really going on as heavily armed Chinese riot police go door to door in Lhasa.

China Cracks Down ~ Dalai Lama Speaks

Al Jazeera English - News

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lopez Protests Five Years of War in Iraq

New Priorities Vigil
Tibetans are not the only ones protesting these days. As the United States commemorates five years of war in Iraq.

Organized Nationwide by
Lopez village- across from the Love Dog

Lopez Village Event
19 Mar, 5:00 PM
We will have New Priorities vigil to mark the 5th year of the Iraq war, and to express the hope that our priorities will turn away from war in the future.
Address: Lopez Village (Map)
Location: Lopez, WA 98261
Host: Ann Marie Fischer
Status: Public, open for RSVP, 3 Guests (Max 50)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tibet: Police Open Fire On Protesters

Crackdown Continues Resulting in Casualties

Sakya on San Juan

Sakya Kachod Choling ~ On San Juan Island

One of my dear readers gently pointed out to me that though she appreciated my recent posts, wasn't I getting rather far afield from being "On San Juan Island"? And "when was I coming back"? While it is true I could hardly get further from San Juan Island than Tibet and yet, as a Buddhist and member of the Tibetan Buddhist center on San Juan Island I feel a personal connection.

I also feel it is my duty as a citizen blogger living in a country where we still have freedom of speech to speak out when authorities clamp down on communications just as Buddhist monks are getting beaten up, arrested and worse. My first political posts where about the situation in Burma. Please indulge me dear readers and I promise to bring it all back home.

My Teacher, Lama Jetsun Kushok

Unseen Dharamsala

Yongdon: Tibetan Photographer and Blogger

Photos of Refuge Life Taken by Refugees

Please visit this blog from Dharamsala,
"An innovative arts project for Tibetan refugees
to describe their lives through photography."

Chinese Crackdown in Lhasa

Riots Blaze in Lhasa

Smoke Rises as Riots Continue in Lhasa Tibet

Due to the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa Tibet the above photo from TimesOnline.UK above was the only image I could find of Lhasa. According to the BBC Three monasteries have been shut down, communications have been cut off, roadways blocked and monks are being beaten and arrested. Tibetans have taken down the Chinese flag and set fire to Chinese businesses and cars.
The sound of gunfire has been reported.

I cannot hear about the arrests of Tibetan Monks by Chinese authorities without remembering Palden Gyatso's visit to Friday Harbor. Palden Gyatso spoke at Skagit Valley Collage. This wily monk, small, with big ears, almost yoda-like, spoke of his experiences as a Chinese prisoner for 31 years. Gyatso made it his mission to smuggle instruments of torture out of Tibet to show the world what the Chinese were doing. The reason he has no teeth is because the Chinese stuck an electric cattle prod in his mouth. That has not stopped him from speaking out. I had his book, The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk for a while before I read it. Knowing about the torture I was afraid it would be a dreary read and yet once I started reading it I was riveted. Gyatso's story is an action packed adventure as well as an inspiration.

Meanwhile, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave George Bush just vetoed a bill banning torture. Republican presidential candidate John McCain supported George Bush's position defending the use of torture including water-boarding. The vetoed bill would have restricted the CIA to using only the 19 interrogation techniques listed in the Army field manual.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

100 Tibetan Exiles Arrested



According to UK Associated Press more than 100 Tibetans were arrested by Indian officials this morning in Northern India. Beginning on Monday the Tibetans who are joined by 9 citizens of the US, Scotland, Germany, Poland and Australia commemorated the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China by undertaking a march from Dharmsala, India, the home of Tibetan government in exile, to Tibet, planning to reach Tibet in time to coincide with the start of the Beijing Olympic Games. Demonstrations in support of Tibetan freedom are taking place all over the world including a protest by 300 Buddhist Monks in Tibet's capital city of Lhasa. The protesters began a hunger strike within hours after being arrested.

Icelandic Artist Björk Sings, Declare Independence
for Tibet at Shanghi Concert
Bjork now banned in China

"Its lyrics include: "Don't let them do that to you. Raise your flag!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quest For The Almighty Spud

The Continuing History of San Juan Island:
Quest For the Mighty Spud.

The Mighty Spud

In those early days leading up to the Pig War, San Juan Island had plenty of fish and plenty of game. And what does a man need to go with his meat? Potatoes of course! Here we have Lyman Cutlar, another failed miner and a sure-shot from Kentucky, living on, what from all handed down reports, was a ramshackle homestead with his native wife and their child and he was in want of potatoes. In fact, so the story goes*, Cutlar wanted potatoes bad enough to row the 40 miles across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Townsend to purchase his seed potatoes. He then had to haul them up the hill from Granny's Cove and plant them in his, so they say, rather poorly fenced garden.

The Incoming Tide ~ Winslow Homer

*The Pig War: by Mike Vouri

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Obama For Obama Phenomena

The small fishing village of Obama, Japan has generated its own style of Obamamania supporting the candidate Barack Obama. First to notice the coincidence was the local Buddhist Priest who alerted the Mayor. The Mayor sent Barack Obama a set of the lacquered chopsticks that the town is known for and a good luck charm to help him win the election. In another happy coincidence Barack Obama’s birthday, August 4, is celebrated as "Chopstick Day" in Obama, Japan. The village of Obama was once an important gateway to the city of Kyoto, home of the Emperor during the Edo period. Residents of Obama are hopeful that their connection to Barack Obama will bring good fortune to their town.

For a more in depth look at the Obama for Obama phenomena please check out this series of reports from from Obama, Japan by American Barack Obama supporter the lovely and vivacious Alcillene Wilson.

In Obama for Obama Part 1 of 4
In Obama for Obama Part 2 of 4
In Obama for Obama Part 3 of 4
In Obama for Obama Part 4 of 4

And don't forget, you can get your Buddhists For Obama buttons and bumperstickers at Cafe Press: Link to Cafe Press

Blog World

On San Juan Island Joins VerveEarth

I am please to announce that On San Juan Island has been invited to join VerveEarth mapping the internet's content onto a global map.

photo: NASA

“Your blog On San Juan Island caught our attention. We are searching the internet for the world's best blogs by geography, and we found yours for Washington. I would like to invite you to our site which plots the content of the internet on an interactive map of the world. VerveEarth is an entirely new way to surf the net. It shows spatial and geographic connections that a blog search engine could never reveal.”

link to: VerveEarth

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hollywood Cave Man Discovers Agriculture

Actor Steven Strait as D'Leh the Mammoth Hunter

I love Cave People Movies so of course I had to see 10,000 BC, now playing at the Palace Theatre. I loved it! I only regret that I did not leave my established notions of history and geography outside of the theatre. This movie jumps around in time almost as much as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Forget trying to figure it out and just enjoy watching the handsome dread-locked hero on his wild romp to rescue his fellow tribals while making friends, facing down a Saber Toothed Tiger, vanquishing false gods, getting the girl and discovering agriculture along the way. I think you can see from the picture above why D'Leh the Mammoth hunter may have happily switched to a more plant based diet.

I did come home and check a few dates. If you leave the theatre a little confused maybe this will help.

Paleolithic (Stone Age) - 2.6 million years ago to 10,000 BC when agriculture begins
Woolly Mammoths Northern Europe, Northern Eurasia and North America – Extinct around 10,000 BC except for an isolated breed in Alaska that lasted until around 6000 BC
Ancient Nubian Culture – 3700 – 2200 BC
Egyptian Old Kingdom – 2649 – 2150 BC

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Forward

Waking, Walking, Singing, in the Next Dimension? ~ Morris Graves

Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour on Sunday
for Daylight Savings Time.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Support Your Local Diva

"Lucia's First Love"
March 15th at 2 p.m. at the Gubelman Room
San Juan Community Theater

The talented Corinne Stevens, opera singer and lyric mezzo-soprano, is holding a fundraising concert to raise money for attendance at the Franco American Vocal Academy in Pèrigord, France this summer. Pianist Sarah Willson from Skagit Opera will accompany Stevens. The evening will follow a young woman's first love from introduction and infatuation to conflicts and betrayal. The story will be told through the world's most beautiful music, featuring German lieder from Schumann and Schubert, Italian arias from Puccini and Mozart, English art song from Vaughan Williams and Britten and more. How does the story end? Four endings, ranging from "death by betrayal" to "forgiveness and happiness" will be auctioned off during intermission and the lucky audience member who wins will decide the evening's encore song and the story's ending.

Admission is $20; tickets for sale at the door.

All donations to benefit tuition and travel expenses to the Franco American Vocal Academy (total costs: $14,000) are fully tax-deductible, thanks to fiscal sponsorship from the arts advocacy organization Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions can be made by credit card online through Fractured Atlas (link to: Corinne Stevens click on "Sponsorship" for details) or by check made payable to Fractured Atlas and mailed to:

Corinne Stevens
PO Box 1915
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Just Say No to War

Hillary Clinton in Columbus, Ohio. Photograph: Mark Duncan/AP

Today is my 56th birthday and while I was hoping to get Barack Obama as a nominee for my birthday, I do have to hand it to Hillary Clinton. She makes being 60 look pretty darn good. All the same, her admirable sparkle and pep does not mean I forgive her for voting for the war. She should have listened, if not to her own conscience, at least to Senator Byrd.

Link to: Arrogance of Power, Today, I Weep for my Country... by Senator Robert Byrd, Speech delivered on the floor of the US Senate March 19, 2003. Senator Byrd voted against the war and eloquently sought to persuade his colleagues to do the same.

As the war drags on and on... Here is our own Senator Patty Murray Monday, February 4, 2008. Senator Murray also voted against the war. She serves on the Senate Budget Committee.

"For seven years America has paid dearly for the investments this President has failed to make. Our economy is lagging, our infrastructure is crumbling and we are paying for a misguided war on the backs of our grandchildren."
Senator Patty Murray

And then, there is John McCain...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

First Lady Fashion Statements

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's
signature pillbox hat, 1961, Bergdorf Goodman
Worn by Jacqueline Kennedy to the Inauguration Ceremony
Washington, D.C., January 20, 1961
Metropolitan Museum of Art

While I'm sure there are issues of more critical concern, wouldn't it be great to have some style in the White House? Not since Jackie Kennedy have we had the opportunity to bring style into the White House that Michelle Obama provides.

About the puffy sleeves in Michelle Obama's wardrobe, “They really make her stand-out from the other First Lady wannabes who don't seem to have a signature look. Michelle owns the puffy sleeve. It's her pill box hat. It's all hers.” says blogger Black Snob. Link to Black Snob for the full: Michelle Obama Fashion Retrospective.

Again from the blog Black Snob, "I already nominated this suit as the hottest red suit in politics. Hillary wore a great red suit to the State of the Union. Cindy McCain's fond of a hot Red State number. But Michelle gets still points for pushing the envelope into chic, puffy sleeve territory. Wearing just a nice, tailored red suit would be too safe for Michelle. She can't look like Hillary or Cindy. She's got to jazz it up. She's got to put her stamp on it. Puffy sleeve trumps all. Could Hillary pull this off? We think not."

But wait, there's more: link to Michelle Obama Dresses Better Than You for yet more brilliant fashion observations from blogger Black Snob.