My Take

I recently drew a cartoon which describes my take on the current support many evangelicals have toward anything Trump. This cartoon is pretty pointed, and I respect that some of you may not want to see this kind of political message pop up, so I’ll let you decide. Also, I recognize I’m painting with a pretty large brush. If you’re interested, you can see it  here.


A summer, a winter more, then…

This particular homestead lies in a very desolate location. A half a mile further along the deep-rutted road which segments the barren landscape, there once lived neighbors, but their homes are no more than vague patches on Google Earth; tall grass and sage fully entangle the former victories of pioneer life.

But this place survives. Despite the wildfire which ripped through these fields a few years ago, it remains unscathed. And when the heavy snows descend on its remaining rafters, it abides the weight. And so I drive all the way out here to visit this elderly grandparent, knowing one day I will find it has passed. Until then, I record the widening lines of its cantankerous hulk, which stands defiant in the face of time.

One Winter from Rubble

The Secret of Leaves

When I listen to the courtyard leaves,
secret whisperers of corners and cobbles,
their dry tongue twirls with syllables
of sacrosanct reds and yellows.

My skin, as their skin, is traced in line,
my silver hair in sync with their season.
I too have parted from the nourishing root
and wait to wither on these courtyard stones.

But that is not my end. I will reenter the soil,
feed the roots and sprout the leaves
and burst into the communion of color–
then I will know the marvelous secret of leaves
that even in death, have beauty to spend.

–Brad Skiff

Red Leaf

I approve this post…

They’ve already begun.

Those horrid campaign commercials, sponsored by some super PAC claiming it is “responsible for the content of this ad”. I’m being generous in assuming their “content” is at least equal to the content of my cat’s litter box.

Politics is fraught with tripwires: votes taken by our elected officials on complex matters, each with all sorts of amendments tacked on to them, are commonplace. As we enter the official election season, darkly disturbing images and overdramatic narrations drizzle relentlessly from our televisions. This candidate claims to be pro-family, but he voted for the wholesale slaughter of the endangered, white-spotted pygmy grouse, perhaps the cutest animal ever put on God’s green earth!

Politics is a nasty business indeed, made worse today since most of us have direct newsfeeds that gleefully buzz our phones with the latest horrors. How do we avoid inevitable political fatigue, which I believe is responsible for the burgeoning class of uninformed voters, those who tune out the mayhem and cast votes for parties out of habit?

First, avoid anger and disgust. Political commercials are designed to manipulate your emotions. That’s their intent. Recognize that fact and either chuckle at their absurdity or tune them out altogether. There are many reliable news sources on which to form your opinions (but certainly not Facebook reposts!).

Second, reexamine your affiliation in light of your current party platform. I hear friends say they are from the “party of Lincoln,” and yet, they remain ignorant of the “southern strategy” employed by the Republican Party to secure the votes of southerners who were angry with civil rights legislation. Once reliably blue, now the home of the “Lost Cause” runs deep red. Conversely, the Democratic Party at one time wholeheartedly embraced those same convictions. Parties change, and that’s a fact.

Third, consider whether or not you are a one-issue voter, driven to the polls because of a single perceived plight on the American soul. Ponder the impact other issues have on your neighbors. Someone close to me did this, and she discovered that beyond the one issue dear to her, the opposing political party ultimately reflected her overall concerns much better.

Finally, be sure to vote. I don’t care what your politics are, but I do care that our democracy is respected with the votes of informed, stable citizens governed by confident purpose, not inflamed into rage by ignorant half-truths. Otherwise, this guy wins:

Best invention ever


This is the inside of the lighthouse pictured in my previous post. I slightly overexposed the image so the walls would vanish in white, leaving the spiral staircase.


The Light and the Lighthouse

This is the Admiralty Head Lighthouse at Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island. Having grown up near here, I’ve visited this place many times. My fifth grade class came here for an end-of-school picnic, and I carried along my first camera: a plastic Kodak. Often I was drawn to the old warrens and concrete bunkers of the hundred-year-old military compound. As kids, my friends and I would giggle in the sour darkness with nothing but a plastic pen light.

Now I live a long way off, and I only get to visit it once a year. Thomas Wolfe wrote, You Can’t Go Home Again, and while he’s existentially correct, certain places, I believe, are immune to this maxim. For me, standing near the lighthouse at dusk, is one of them.

If you really think about it, I bet that in the whirling cacophony of your typhoon life, you have a place like this, too. Find a photo. Close your eyes and remember, not just the sights, but the sounds and the smells. Or, make an excuse and just go.


Marker of the Season

Fall. Time to rediscover all those horror films that seemed so banal during the hotter months. But as the nights cool and the leaves yellow, they call to me…

This is the headstone of Thomas Coupe, who is interned in Sunnyside Cemetery, just outside of Coupeville, Washington (if you’ve even seen the film, Practical Magic, the town scenes were largely filmed there). I’ve been visiting this particular cemetery for many years. Several pioneers who settled Whidbey Island are buried here. Ebey’s Prairie and the wind-swept bluff nearby are photogenic, indeed. But this little cemetery always possessed such atmosphere, and all the ivy, shadows and wrought iron gates (and even some wooden ones) fueled my early love for photography.

I visited this spot again recently and discovered the ivy has been trimmed away, the few ancient wooden gates and fences have been replaced or removed altogether, and the rough edges gentrified. I’m not really too torn about this, after all, it is a respectful, place for remembrance. But to that side of me that enjoys horror films and decrepitude, I morn the loss of an old, influential friend.

Coupe's Stone2