Sunrise, Sunset

I have lived in Western Washington for almost 8 years.  It has taken this long to come to the realization that the best time to be outside is at Sunrise and at Sunset.  Yes, it is cold on winter mornings and buggy on summer evenings, but the sky, the wildlife and the light is worth it.  When it is raining hard I will let the ducks enjoy the great outdoors.  But weather permitting, my New’s Years resolution is to appreciate the coming and going of each day.

Our sunsets get to be a bit dramatic around here.


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The Gratitude Challenge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Gratitude Challenge is an interesting idea.  We are asked to list 3 things that we are grateful for and we are asked to repeat the process on 4 succeeding days.  I will change the rules just a little and make the list all at once.  It’s a long list.  Lots of things have happened in 67 years, so I will probably just list a few that strike me as important.

Most people will thank their parents for bringing them in to this world and for teaching them to be good human beings.  I am also grateful for my parents for these reasons and many more.   I can’t fathom how much they loved me.  I had the feeling that they would have done anything for me, and they did.  So I am very grateful for them.

I am grateful for all my brothers.  I will never forget the love that my brothers showed my parents during their last days.  How could I not be grateful?  And we still have great times together.

I am thankful for my teachers; almost all of them.  Somehow, they taught me the joy of learning.  They made an incredible difference in my life.

I’m grateful for my beautiful wife who brings joy to my life every day.  And I am grateful for my two wonderful daughters.  I am very fortunate to have them.

I’m grateful for my Aunt Carmen and my Uncle Nick who loved me like a son.  And I am grateful for my extended family.  I have a large one.

I’m grateful for the friends that I made from

  • High School at Pius X
  • College at Loyola University of Los Angeles
  • the choir at St. Emydius and St. Raymond
  • work at Hughes Aircraft and later Raytheon

I’m grateful for the friends that I make from

  • Blessed Teresa parish
  • the Trilogy Community near Redmond

And for the people that I encounter on the street.

OK.  So far this was easy.  Now comes the hard part.

I am grateful for the Church.  She has provided me with

  • liturgies and rituals that create a deep connection to the past
  • a community of caring and loving people who reflect the divine
  • an environment for self-reflection
  • support during life’s transitions

I am thankful for technology and the information age that has

  • allowed me to do, and continue to do, interesting work
  • connect with friends from my past

I am grateful for the art and science of photography that has

  • allowed me to connect with a distant artistic side
  • make many new friends

I am grateful for hidden talents.

I am grateful for my cousin Gary.

I am grateful for the place that I live.  As a boy, this is where I wanted to live.

And I am grateful for the country in which I live.


These are a few things that come to mind

In keeping with the spirit of changing the rules as appropriate I will not nominate anyone.  Every individual has their own life to live and will respond as they think best.

Thanks go to my friend Kathy who provided this opportunity.












The Ghost Plant

The rare wildflower called Indian Pipe, or Ghost Plant was spotted by my friend while hiking in the Redmond Watershed Preserve.  I simply had to photograph this wildflower.  I carefully planned the 4 mile hike into the wetlands.  I packed my micro four thirds camera, macro lens, special Gorilla tripod, and black velvet fabric for the background.  This morning, the weather was perfect.  Everything was set.  With the help of a friendly jogger, we found the precious wildflower.  I began to set up my equipment when I noticed that my brother did not seem to appreciate the value of our discovery.  Fortunately, a squirrel distracted him before he crushed the plant.Indian-pipe-step

Dragonflies in the Wetlands

I confess.  I am a birder and I am proud of it.  I’ve been birding now for 10 years and I like it more every year.  But, currently, we are in the summer doldrums.  The nesting season is over so there are few if any birds singing or defending their territory.  Migration is still more than a month away and the ducks won’t be back until November.  So I was looking for something to keep me interested for the rest of the summer.

About two years ago, a gentleman named Dennis Paulson gave us a talk on dragonflies.  I thought it was pretty interesting.  I bought his field guide for dragonflies of the Northwest and after looking it over, placed it on the shelf.  Not too long ago, I had a birthday and my daughters asked me for a list of things that I might want.  I listed Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West by Dennis Paulson.  This was a big book.  It stayed on the shelf for a while until this afternoon when my wife announced that she was going to clean the kitchen floor.  It was at that moment that I remembered the dragonflies, grabbed my camera, and set out for the wetlands behind our house.  I didn’t want to walk on the wet floor!

The experience that followed was almost like starting birding again for the first time.  Here are a few photos.  Click to expand!


Eight-spotted Skimmer

Eight-spotted Skimmer


Cardinal Meadowhawk

Cardinal Meadowhawk

Northern Spreadwing

Northern Spreadwing

Pacific Forktail Female

Pacific Forktail Female

Pacific Forktail Male

Pacific Forktail Male





The Woman in White

As a retired Aerospace worker, I find myself with plenty of time to read.  In fact, I even spend a considerable amount of time with fiction.  In the last few months I have re-read Doyle’s Canon (the many adventures of Sherlock Holmes), several Agatha Christie stories to include the ABC murders, They Came to Baghdad, Murder in Mesopotamia, The Murder on the Links, Five Little Pigs and many more.  I found these stories to be absolutely delightful.  Many were real page-turners. The other day I was looking at Project Gutenberg hoping to find a good mystery ebook to read.  I chanced upon a book The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  I never heard of this author before.  He was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and while both were alive he was over-shadowed by Dickens.  But now his books are being re-discovered.  You can learn more about him at

I have not quite finished The Woman in White, but it has really turned into a great page-turner.  I seem to ignore my daily routine just to read one or two more chapters.  Let me know what you think.

From Mars

My brother Gene pointed out this excellent link to a view from Mars:

Curiosity rover: Martian solar day 2 in New Mexico

If you see nothing but a blank box, here is the LINK>>

Great rocks. What a landing!
During the 7 minutes of terror, Lyn and I and the rest of the world were waiting for the first picture from the Martian surface. Lyn wondered what would happen if a Martian popped up in front of the lens? I wish it had.

Working out with Future Stars

Max and Jack are spending a few days with us here in Western Washington. Together, we spent a morning at Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park in Redmond.  Reneé and Ella joined us.  Here are a few photos from our stay:

jack throwing

Jack throwing the baseball

Jack throwing ball to his Dad

Jack throwing ball to his Dad



Jack waiting

Jack waiting

Max throwing the ball

Max throwing the ball

Reneé on the grass

Reneé on the grass

Phil throwing the Ball

Playing catch with your grandson is great fun!

Destined for the Majors

I know I am a little biased, but I am convinced that my grandsons are destined for the Majors.

Let me explain.

Here is a photo of Max, age 7, fielding a ground ball:

Max fielding a hot grounder

Max fielding a hot grounder

Notice the bent knees, the low glove position, his focus on the ball. The kid behind him may as well go to sleep.

And you should see him hit.

His little brother is also a talented player.

Here is a photo of Jack, age 2, completing his swing.

Jack at Bat

Jack at Bat

Notice the transfer of weight to his right side, the rotation of his hips and shoulders, the clean follow through with his hands, his focus on the ball as it leaves his bat. His swing demonstrates pure toddler power. Ted Williams had nothing on this boy.

I admit, his helmet is a little strange, but otherwise, he is on his way to becoming the Duke Snider of Redwood City.

Something Happened

Something happened Sunday.  It was special.  It happened during the dedication of our new church in Woodinville, Washington.  That something was a liturgy that lasted three hours.  It took that long to transform the new building into a sacred space.  During the liturgy the altar was anointed, incensed, lit on fire, set with white linen and then used as a place to offer sacrifice.  The entire church and assembly was sprinkled with holy water. Relics of the saints were sealed under the altar with a welder’s torch.  The walls of the church were anointed with holy oil.  The choir chanted the sacred words in an endless sequence of verses.  And when it was all done, we celebrated and applauded those who worked hard to make it possible.

Some people cried.  Others were just choked up.  I was in the latter group.  But few of us had ever seen a dedication before.  So why was the experience so moving?  One reason is that “they painted the walls.”  When the archbishop and our pastor made the sign of the cross with holy oil on the wooden beams along the walls of the church I felt like I had experienced this before.  Somehow this simple action brought back memories that were older than my life was long.  It made me feel rooted in the family of my ancestors.

Our Choir: photo Hal Luhn

Humans have been painting the walls of caves for tens of thousands of years.  Today, our cave is a church building.  We decorate and consecrate the building just as our ancestors did in pre-historic times.  I wonder if this desire to paint the walls and consecrate the altar is present within our DNA?  If so, then the celebration of this liturgy might be important to the survival of our species.  I don’t know, but I do know that this experience made me feel “at home” again.

Our New Church: photo Mike Rice