Magnificent Mount Rainier

Seattle doesn’t lack for scenery. I mean, you can be coming back from gathering wool (no, seriously, Starspider and I were at The Weaving Works getting her wool for felting), and you drive through the city onto the I-90 bridge, and Mount Rainier happens.

Mount Rainier and the curved arch of a portion of the I-90 bridge.

Mount Rainier and the curved arch of a portion of the I-90 bridge.

Usually, you don’t see it on cloudy days, but the cloud ceiling was high, so there was that blush of sunset in the sky as well as on the mountain, and all of that reflected in the waters of Lake Washington, and it was one of those moments that remind you why life can be pretty damned awesome even at rush hour. So I had Starspider take shots from the car, because I wanted you to share the moment with me.

I’ve subsequently had perhaps too much fun with those photos. Like this shot, clipped from a much larger one, which caught my fancy because it’s so unintentionally artsy. I’m sure someone could come up with some sort of poignant caption, and then maybe we could sell it as a postcard to people who are grabbed by weird things.

The cloudy sky and trees behind us, reflected in the sideview mirror, with the concrete wall of the bridge rushing by.

The cloudy sky and trees behind us, reflected in the sideview mirror, with the concrete wall of the bridge rushing by.

And then you have the mountain in the sinking sunlight.

Panorama of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington. The mountain is reflected in the lake as a streak of pale pink and gold.

Panorama of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington.

Now, these were shots taken in poor light through a window from a moving car, and what you see is being clipped therefrom so that the mountain is larger than a melting mini-marshmallow floating in a soup tureen, so they’re a little grainy. But some simple photo editing can turn them into something more than just hastily-snapped and imperfect pictures, or so I like to believe.

Detail of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington. With the contrast and saturation and things fiddled with, it looks a bit like a watercolor, dunnit?

Detail of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington. With the contrast and saturation and things fiddled with, it looks a bit like a watercolor, dunnit?

And if I darken it, I can foreshadow its inevitable eruption.

A darker version, with the mountain beginning to resemble the fire mountain it is.

A darker version, with the mountain beginning to resemble the fire mountain it is.

I can pour gold down its flanks.

A detail of Mount Rainier with the gold highlights of sunset enhanced, so that the mountain looks like it's got an intimation of a halo and a lovely golden mantle.

A detail of Mount Rainier with the gold highlights of sunset enhanced, so that the mountain looks like it’s got an intimation of a halo and a lovely golden mantle.

Or I can be minimalist, and show you how it was.

A more natural version of the same photo.

A more natural version of the same photo.

As the season progresses, that thick mantle of snow will become thicker, and on the days when the clouds part and we can see it from the city, it will look very much like an enormous scoop of sweet cream gelato. At sunset, it will become so pink you’d swear it’s strawberry. These mountains surprised me, when I first saw them: I’d been used to sharp and jagged peaks, not these rounded scoops that look so innocent and culinary. Then I learned that this is what a young, vigorous volcano looks like (unless it blows its insides out). As beautiful as these mountains are, as seemingly serene, they’re wildly dangerous.

And that’s part of their beauty. There’s nothing permanent about them, and their serenity won’t last, but in these quiet moments, they add dramatic beauty to the city skyline. They make me want to stop and stare and know every detail of them, from inside out.

Which will be quite easy at Rainier soon enough (geologically speaking), when it spills its insides out…

“They’ll be led, be bled, and time’s wheel will turn on after they’ve gone.”

There is a remarkable piece written by a man who once called for Salman Rushdie to die. It’s about the awesome power of books, and the fearful power of ignorance, and the power we have to change the future.

Read all of it. But in case you needed persuading, here’s a taste.

 

"Worse crimes than burning books." Image by Eric C. Castro on Flickr. Photo is of stacked antique books, with the quote "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. - Joseph Brodsky"

“Worse crimes than burning books.” Image by Eric C. Castro on Flickr.

And in fear anything can become real. The truth can become a lie, it can die, and writing a book can become a crime, because of the noise it made.

[snip]

But then what do eleven-year-old boys know? Not much. They can be led by old men who should know better. But then what do old men know if they never read and just follow orders of other men? They knew nothing, but this was nothing new. Men have been led by men forever. Men who follow rules will be ruled. They’ll be led, be bled, and time’s wheel will turn on after they’ve gone. There was nothing new they could show me.

[snip]

Every generation must decide its own future, and with every action and decision they write it. We’re all the authors of tomorrow’s history books. Growing up we made enemies that were never there. Old men, wise old men used to tell us things and we’d listen, but why, when it’s the young who have the new ideas? Those old men believed that we’d repeat our lives in the sky and that Salman should die. I don’t want to be that old man. I want to be the new. Look, here it is, our page today that will become history. If we’ve made mistakes, turn it over and start again, you’re allowed to, and on it let’s write something new.

"Writing in the Dark." Image by Howard Dickins on Flickr. Image shows an open journal in a dark room. A hand is writing in it with a glowing pen.

“Writing in the Dark.” Image by Howard Dickins on Flickr.

Guest Post: “I know better now.”

This is an email I received from my heart-sister Nicole, in regards to this post, on which she couldn’t comment because computers can be right assholes sometimes. I love this woman, people. You can see one of the countless reasons why right here:

 

I used to be one of those “just accept it” people, as you know. In fact, I used to be a card-carrying IFB, planned to go to college for an MRS degree kind of person.

I know better now.

And now that I feel my eyes are much more open, it makes me heartsick to see what is still allowed in what is called a developed nation. The idea that Americans are enlightened is a joke.

I want to help in any way I can. I’ll share posts, help promote you, whatever you need. You want to post on my blog? Say the word.

I am ashamed that for far too long I let things go, and by not doing anything, helped perpetuate a world that I don’t want my daughter to grow up in. I can’t do that anymore. I won’t. There’s no fucking reason for anyone to ever feel less-than.

Image of a dove and its baby snuggling together on a branch.

Oh, my fuck, yes. Exactly this.

And for those of you who haven’t been reading her blog, you’re missing out on a lot of excellent and thought-provoking posts. Go there. Now.

A few recent must-reads:

A rant-y post about a recent conversation about religion

How my faith made me kind of hate myself

Don’t love me anyway.

Caution: Emo Times Ahead

First of all: all of my love and thanks to you, my darlings, for standing with me when I needed you. Having you in my cheering section, virtual arms around me, and telling me to fight the good fight has definitely kept me from dissolving. Knowing that I’ve inspired some of you to fight the fight yourselves is immeasurably rewarding. There is a reason for doing this. What I lose is balanced by what we gain.

B and I… aren’t good. We had a talk wherein he told me I had to do this, and he was all for me doing what I had to do, that I’m right on these issues. But it’s clear he thinks I’m threatening his comfort, threatening to take away the happy fun good times and replace them with soulless corporate icky times (which, for various reasons, have a profound and negative impact on him), and no amount of me telling him that our supervisor is not going to become a humorless corporate drone just because I ask him to ease up on the unconscious transphobia and give the ladiez some equal time on the projector is reassuring him. He told me he loves me and wants to be with me, then left me crying in my parking lot instead of coming up for the Doctor Who and shrimp fest we’d planned that night. Fair enough, we were both upset. And he was kindly enough to me as a colleague at work the next day. Til he practically fled from me at lunch… and I went home sick… and I haven’t heard from him since.

Not a word.

Not a call. Not an email. Just silence.

And a part of me thinks he needs some time to process, and a part of me thinks, “Well, that’s over.” Because, you see, I’d told him to come to me when he was ready to close that distance, that I didn’t want to pressure him. But he’s nowhere in sight so far, not even a casual checking up with the “Hey, I know you weren’t feeling well, and I know the Help Center was pretty freaked out by what you had – you okay? Yes? Great. See you at work.” So what the fuck am I supposed to do or think?

What my mind has decided to do is leap to worst case scenario and the mourning process has begun, no matter how sternly I remind myself it’s early times yet. B meant a lot to me. He’s a fantastic person, caring and smart and willing to learn. We had plans and he added a lot to my life, but if my intelligence intimidates him and my little crusades make him miserable, there’s not much to salvage, then, is there? This weekend, when not spent at urgent care clinics and specialists’ offices, has been spent surveying the wreckage of a best friendship and scouting a life without him. It also means my brain has been occupied with listing other people I’ve lost for similar reasons. And gleefully battering me over the head with a list of friends I’ve neglected for no good reason.

This means I will, at times, become dreadfully emo. This could spill over into blog life, as I do things like share the current sad song I’ve got on repeat.

 Hush, hush, don’t wake up, it’s not morning
Hush, hush, sleep through this, I am warning
Why are you crying? It’s not a sad movie
Why are you crying, dear? There is nothing sad here
There is nothing sad, is there?
Angels fall in to save my soul
Sorry, Absinthe, you’re much too slow
All that glitters and all that glows
Will find a way in as soon as I go
Hush, hush, I dreamed I was happy
Hush, hush, you were happy with me
Hush, hush, feel the chill and it is real
Hush, hush, but at least you can still feel
Why are you crying? It’s not a sad movie
Why are you crying, dear? There is nothing sad here
If you want wings, just tell them so
These are the things that make us grow cold
Break the code and then just go
Love is something you seek and destroy
Then ask, “Why are you crying?”

This is the way I process this shit. And the excellent good news is, it gets better. We’ll either work it out or we won’t. If not, there was a life before B that I had, and it was great, and I’ll get used to it again. There’s still all of you. And there are coworkers who will appreciate what I’ve done and feel their lives are just that much better, and who themselves will be inspired to stand up and say when something’s bothering them rather than just let it fester. There will be people reading this online – as there already have – who will decide it’s time to take a stand and be silent no more. And the more of us who do this, the fewer there are who will have to deal with lost friendships over this shit. The less social drama there will be, and the more, “Oops, my bad, I’ll fix that. Woo-hoo, let’s go have some fun!” as opposed to the current, “YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON WHO HAS DESTROYED ALL THE FUN EVER.” Ordinary people will start babbling about everyday sexism and racism and microagressions and will be more cognizant of what they’re doing, and more willing to make things better for others, which will lead to a net increase in good times being had by all. This world will suck less day by day, for everyone except the dyed-in-the-wool haters, who are gonna be miserable until they make that change. As Grumpy Cat sez: “Good.”

There’s a decent future out there, just past the current bad stretch.

It gets better. But first it gets a little emo. And for that, you have my deepest, sincerest apologies.

Image is a stump and fallen log. Natural patterns in the wood have the appearance of an unhappy face. Caption says:Emo Log: always looking at its sadness. (Grammar and spelling corrected.)

Emo Log: always looking at its sadness. (Grammar and spelling corrected.)

Donate for Typhoon Victims

So the Philippines are being demolished. This is what global warming denial hath wrought.

As Super-Typhoon Haiyan moved over the central Philippines on Nov. 8 at 05:10 UTC/12:10 a.m. EDT, the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured this visible image. Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by NASA.

As Super-Typhoon Haiyan moved over the central Philippines on Nov. 8 at 05:10 UTC/12:10 a.m. EDT, the MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this visible image. Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by NASA.

Haiyan made landfall as an extremely powerful super typhoon, perhaps the strongest ever recorded at landfall, with sustained winds estimated at 195 mph (315 kph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.  Previously, Hurricane Camille, which struck the northern Gulf Coast in 1969, held the record with 190 mph sustained winds at landfall. After striking Samar, Haiyan quickly crossed Leyte Gulf and the island of Leyte as it cut through the central Philippines.

I’m used to storms weakening as they pass over land. This one barely blinked. The havoc it’s wrought will fit right in with what Katrina did to New Orleans. Hundreds are confirmed dead, thousands missing. Homes gone. Lives destroyed. So we’re needed. If you’ve got a spare dollar, donate it for some fellow human beings who desperately need all the assistance they can get.

We’re all we’ve got, folks. One thing we know for sure as atheists: there is no help coming from above (well, not above airplanes, anyway). There’s no supernatural aid to counter the effects of a super typhoon. Just us.

Let’s do all we can.

At Last, The Perfect Snark for the “Criticism Murderer Mah Freeze Peaches !” Contingent

You patrons of our fine Freethought Blogs establishments have undoubtedly run into the ridiculous folk who whine and howl about how we killed their free speech with nasty criticism. There’s one such meltdown just this week, which promised to be at least mildly entertaining – until The Denver Atheist took his ball and sulked home, thus infringing upon my right to pursue happiness at his expense.

Still. Must admire his ability to stick a flounce for over twelve hours, a skill which is vanishingly rare amongst those who cry about how meeeaaaannnn we are and say they’re really really leaving and they totally mean it this time. No, seriously, they’re outta here. This time – no, this time – well, definitely this time, they are so leaving because we are soooooo mean and awful that they’ll never be back again. Except for all those times they come back to tell us how mean we are and how right they are before leaving again for reals this time…

Our Freeze Peach Warrierz are nothing if not obsessively devoted to their causes, especially the cause of giving the rest of us headaches from chronic eye-rolling.

And really, what do you say to people stupid enough to argue that we are Taking Away All the Freeze Peaches by exercising our own?

The fine folks at Wonkette, who have some Freeze Peach Crusaderz of their own, have decided to turn a mirror shined with premium snark upon the doughty brigades:

But aren’t we free to write say what we want in this country? We are writing what we think is best for our blog and are not forcing our beliefs on anyone else. Why would you write a comment that disagrees, “sanwin?” Haven’t you ever hear of something called “freedom of speech”? Stop oppressing us with your words, which make it impossible for us to do freedom! This is Amercia!

I shall engrave this paragraph upon something gleaming and durable, with a blank space for the name, and present it to each intrepid Freeze Peach Warriur who comes round crying about how Criticism Equals Tyrrany. Because, really, such behavior thaws mah peaches right out. Sheesh.

I’m Still Among the Living

So this silence…. Well, there was a holiday, and I spent quite a lot of it catching up on housework, and then there was that trip to the craft store with Starspider. You know what, don’t ever turn the two of us loose in a craft store. Especially not when the sparkly shit’s on sale.

Long story short, I’ve been very busy blinging a bag. My favorite tote bag died, and I figured what the hell, might as well get one of those plain ones and do it up myself, y’know, iron on a few designs, piece o’ cake. Oh, and the straps need some padding sewn on. And holy shit, look at those rolls of glittery sort of rhinestone strips for a buck-fifty. Oh, and it’ll need pockets. Many. Pockets. Also big center designs for the little transfers to go round, let me just go spelunk the intertoobz for nifty Chinese dragons and possibly peacocks…

By the time I’m done, I should be able to summon planes and/or ships to any given desert island, or permanently blind unprepared people. Possibly set things on fire on sunny days. I like it a lot already. And Phase I is almost complete, so I’ll have actual content for you once again. Probably Thursday. In the meantime, I hope you’ve spent some quality time with our other bloggers, and had a great weekend yerselves. See you soon! I gotta go get more rhinestones….

Tranquility

A brand-new week looms, and promises to be, how shall we say, emotionally taxing for us all. Let’s have some beauty so that we may brace ourselves.

Ryan (Glacial Till) came for a visit, and we headed over to Washington Park Arboretum. They have an utterly lovely Japanese garden there, which is always a delight to wander about in. I have many and wonderful shots that will make appearances as time goes by and themes like carp or turtles or stone lanterns present themselves. For now, we’ll have some of the somewhat artistic bits.

Waterfall:

Waterfall, Japanese Garden

Waterfall, Japanese Garden

Magenta water lily:

Magenta Water Lily, dreaming of Monet

Magenta Water Lily, dreaming of Monet

White water lilies:

White Water Lilies

White Water Lilies

Turtle and carp:

Dark moon turtle, sun carp.

Dark moon turtle, sun carp.

Snow lantern and coins:

Snow Lantern Luck

Snow Lantern Luck

Lovely.

Now, you may think an arboretum is a botanist’s thing, but there’s some geology to be seen. Take the walk across the bottom of Lake Washington, and you can look up at quite a bit of geology indeed.

Geology at the Arboretum.

Geology at the Arboretum.

We’re looking from the ship canal across Lake Washington to the Cascades. In this view, you have a lake carved by the Puget Lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, and the hills round about are often drumlins, deposited and shaped by the ice. Behind us is a subduction zone: on the far horizon is the result of that subduction, a tall line of jagged peaks. Folks more qualified could talk about hydrogeology, and geomorphology, and I’m sure plenty more. So this isn’t a place where the geology leaps out, grabs you by both lapels, and screams three millimeters from your face, “Look at me! I’m some geology ya’ll better recognize!” but it’s definitely there.

One last story: in trying to find the way beneath the highway, we stumbled across an area where men whose preference isn’t women like to, erm, get full sun. I’ve never seen more guys flummoxed by the fact a woman has appeared among them. And I have never felt so at ease amidst a large group of naked men. My dear gay citizens: I’m so sorry I disturbed your peace. Carry on, and have a lovely rest of your summer.

Beautiful day with a wonderful friend, and so much more to look forward to before summer ends.

You Good People

I just want to take a moment to thank all of you on this side of the rift.

Not so long ago, I might’ve ended up on the other. Our culture had battered me with so many messages about how women were and should be treated and should react to that treatment that I thought all that shit was normal. Upset because some dude cat-called you on the street? Chill out, girl! Didn’t get that promotion? Well, most women just can’t hack it like dudes can. Why did that idiot stay with her abuser? Why did she get drunk knowing she could get hurt? Where does she get off saying women aren’t equal – we totally are, and if we aren’t, well, it’s probably our fault, ladies! Hey, I’m one of the guys. I’m not like those girls.

Being one of the guys really can insulate you from a lot of bullshit. It also allows you to perpetuate the worst of our culture rather than recognizing problems and fixing them.

You brought me out of that.

What feminism is: the radical notion that women are people. Sign me up! Image courtesy Julie Jordan Scott via Flickr.

What feminism is: the radical notion that women are people. Sign me up! Image courtesy Julie Jordan Scott via Flickr.

Watching you fight the good fights, listening to you explain how it actually is, investigating the evidence you presented, woke me up to some ugly realities. Some of it I didn’t want to face, but watching you battle these entrenched attitudes and all this wrongness, I couldn’t let you do it alone. I couldn’t just stand by and let you struggle to make the world a better place by yourselves.

So yeah, I write a little about it. But the biggest difference you’ve made is in the way I approach other people in my life. There are things I don’t let slide now. There are myths I’m equipped to correct, and do. You showed me how, and you gave me the knowledge I needed, and the courage, and now because of you good people, there are some folks walking around in the world who are just that little bit more aware. Like me, they didn’t know. They didn’t know that so many of the things they’d heard were lies, exaggerations and stereotypes. But you’ve given me the resources to give to them that correct those errors. And a lot of people who were perpetuating those myths turn out to be good people, too, who are happy to change their minds, and grateful to know better.

We don’t often see the difference we’re making, down here in the trenches. Not with the chaff thrown up by those who like the status quo just fine, and don’t want to see it change, either because they don’t want to believe they’ve fallen for harmful lies, or because the present conditions give them advantages, or because they would have to face the harsh fact that they are in fact predatory assholes. Those folks are loud, and fling a lot of shit, and make it difficult to see the people who are quietly changing their minds.

It's sad we still have to march to pound this simple truth into people's heads. It's awesome that so many of us are willing to keep hammering. Image courtesy msmornington via Flickr.

It’s sad we still have to march to pound this simple truth into people’s heads. It’s awesome that so many of us are willing to keep hammering. Image courtesy msmornington via Flickr.

You good people are changing the world. It takes time. It’s godsdamned bloody hard. Often seems like there’s no progress, and sometimes feels like it’s just getting worse. But don’t let despair lie to you. We’re getting there, even with the setbacks. The conversations we’re having now wouldn’t have been possible even a few months ago. People are speaking out who had no voice before.

I’m so glad you brought me around. I’m so grateful I was lucky enough to have been found by you. And I’m proud to be standing beside you.

Thank you.