Ski to Sea

While everyone else heads out of town for the Memorial Day weekend, residents of Bellingham, where I live, are making last minute preparations for what is the biggest weekend of the year in town. Memorial Day in Bellingham means the annual ski to Sea Race.  The race began 100 years ago as a way to promote the area to outsiders.  Originally, individual racers competed in  the 116-mile race which was repeated for the three following years before it was suspended during World War I.

It didn’t resume until 1966 and when it did, it became a three-leg relay race. Today, the 85-mile race begins on the mountain and ends in the bay with seven legs and eight racers.  Thirty-two hundred racers on 400 teams compete in several different categories, from “competitive” teams that  include Olympic-class athletes to the “Veteran” teams whose collective ages must total 385 years.  The teams start off with the cross-country skier, followed by a downhill skier, a runner, a road biker, two canoers, a mountain biker and finishes with the sea kayaker.

   For four years, I was the kayaker for my team, the Angst Ridden Mamas.  My team surprised ourselves in our first foray into the race when we won third place in our category.  But this year, I’m not competing in the race; I’ll be marching in the “Grand Parade” that takes place the Saturday before the race on Sunday. But the parade is not the only event of the weekend besides the race.  There’s also an art show, a classic car show and a  used book sale at the library, not to mention the huge block party that takes place at the end of the race in the area of town known as Fairhaven.

In short, it’s a hometown celebration of enormous proportions that draws people from all over the region and racers from all over the country, even the world.  And this year, I’ll march in the Grand Parade with the synchronized umbrella drill team that is making its second appearance in the Ski to Sea parade.

   So while others are heading off for the Memorial Day weekend, I’ll be here along with thousands of others celebrants, enjoying yet another big Ski to Sea weekend.

Gettin’ Funky with FPB

I listen to music while working in the studio and over the years have found that the music to which I work best is either jazz or funk music.  Classical, which I love, is too demanding of my attention, rock and hip hop are too distracting and country, well, I’m not a huge country fan to begin with.

But jazz and funk lets me work while enjoying some good music.  I also find that it’s good when shooting in the camera room because it seems to relax anxious clients but is upbeat and helps to set the mood for a fun session.

So yesterday, the music was playing when a client came in to place an order happened to the be new CD recently released by my own son’s Seattle-based funk band, The Fabulous Party Boys (FPB).  The band just performed this past weekend at the Wild Buffalo in Bellingham, along with Megatron, a band that seldom plays together anymore.   FPB has played the Wild Buffalo many times over the years and has developed a loyal following both here and now in Seattle.  By the time they started to play at about 10:30, the Buff funk music fans were flowing through the front doors.

The Fabulous Party Boys onstage at Bellingham’s Wild Buffalo.
 I was there not only to hear the band but also to shoot some new promotional photos for them.    The Buffalo is one of the better venues in Bellingham to photograph live performances because they have good stage lighting and it’s a big space so that it’s easy to move around.

My client had never heard the music of FPB, until yesterday.  The band’s new  CD, titled “Shower Together” features eight original cuts written by members of the band.  “It’s so refined,” my client said, “I didn’t expect them to sound that way.”In fact, if you’ve never heard this group you might be surprised by the complexity of their music.  Tempos change, rhythms and riffs are complicated and intricate and the playing is precise.  The members themselves are pretty modest when it comes to their musical abilities but each are trained musicians whose technical skills allow them to execute melodies and rhythms that lesser players might stumble over.  The end result is music that, as one Seattle reviewer put it:  …”is a wonderfully energetic and eccentric piece of funk…the band manages to radiate more soul in five seconds than most bands do in their entire career.”

You can have listen to the funky phrases of FPB yourself at:  http://www.myspace.com/thefabulouspartyboys/music or purchase their CD through Amazon, iTunes, CDbaby, or, if you happen to be at my studio, from me!   Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Back 2 Bellingham

I knew little about Western Washington University until my husband and I considered moving to Bellingham from Los Angeles.   As it turns out, the University and its nearly 15,000 students was one of the reasons we chose to relocate in Bellingham.  Not only is it a valuable asset in the community but it is an outstanding academic institution.   Now, I serve as an advisory board member to the University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts.

This weekend, May 18-20, WWU hosts Back 2 Bellingham, one of  the year’s biggest events on campus.  The schedule is chock-full of a variety of tours, performances, presentations, open houses, activities, parties and receptions, both on campus and off, that are open to all.  Nearly 4,000  alumni, parents and students come to campus from a dozen states and the greater Puget Sound region.  For the past two years, members from every class year from 1958 to the present have attended.  In short, Back 2 Bellingham is Western Washington University’s homecoming, spring parents’ weekend, and a student recruitment weekend all rolled into one.  It brings an incredible  infusion of visitors to the university and Bellingham.

My portrait of President Shepard was made
for the University as his official portrait.

President Bruce Shepard welcomes members of the university’s President’s Club at a reception this evening, May 18, to recognize donors and advocates of WWU.   Two years ago, Shepard and the University hosted a series of “100 Conversations”  with people from throughout Bellingham, Whatcom County, the state and beyond to gather the thoughts and ideas about the role the university needs to play in our society in the future.  It’s all part of the university’s efforts to raise awareness of WWU’s nationally recognized programs and faculty.

I hope you’ll check out Back 2 Bellingham here at: http://www.wwu.edu/back2bellingham and discover WWU for yourself.

Love Connects Us

Part of the work of the Interfaith Coalition of Bellingham is keeping together families who are experiencing economic hardships with counseling, temporary housing and support services to help them get back on their own feet.

The Interfaith Coalition of Bellingham launched its capital campaign to build more temporary housing for Whatcom County families in economic crisis with a special presentation this evening
I was asked to make photographs for the campaign’s posters, brochures and presentation and was delighted and honored to do so.
The Coalition, which began in 1981, now has 47 congregations, of diverse faiths, represented in its partnerships.  You can learn more about the work of this coalition and its upcoming capital campaign here:  http://www.interfaith-coalition.org/index.php

Do You Remember Mother’s Day?

This photo of my mother was taken on Mother’s Day two years ago during a visit in Kansas with my parents.  It’s one of my recent favorite personal photographs of my Mom, who at the time, was 88.

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It has become more difficult to get good photos of my Mom in the past two years.  My Mom, you see, suffers from dementia.  While she still seems to know who I am whenever I visit (or at least she seems to know that I’m someone she should know), it’s harder to get her to focus when I photograph her.  Although she smiles, she is easily distracted and sometimes doesn’t understand what I mean when I say “Smile.”  Such a simple request for most of us can be a source of perplexity to her.  I cherish the few moments when she does have a glimmer of recognition or understanding and I am pained by the times that she doesn’t.  But it is the way of her life now and, unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to reverse or correct it.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease still mystify medical researchers although tiny advances are being made to unravel the causes and unlock the differences between the various forms of dementia.  It can’t come too soon for all the individuals and families who live and struggle with this debilitating condition on a daily basis.
While May 12 is designated as Mother’s Day this year, for my Mom and me every day is Mother’s Day because she doesn’t remember and I’ll never forget.

Pat in the Fields

My friend, Pat, has accompanied me on my photo expeditions to the tulip fields in Skagit Valley for the past several years. I captured this moment of her in the fields during our last foray there.

Courtroom Classic

One hundred years ago today, May 10, 1912, ground was broken for the construction of the Federal Building in downtown Bellingham which houses the Federal District Courtroom, seen here.  The courtroom, with its beautiful oak woodwork, plaster medallion vaulted ceiling and arched, pane windows is a visage from the past. The setting resembles that of many a courtroom drama, real and imagined, and instantly calls to mind scenes  of “Inherit the Wind” or “To Kill a Mockingbird.”   Bellingham’s Federal Building is now owned by the city.  Studies and discussions are underway to decide how best to restore and repurpose this historic building so that it might continue to be the cornerstone of downtown.Image

I made these images after staging a photograph here for the cover shot for the current issue of the Cascadia Weekly.  For me, staying a few extra minutes to photograph this lovely interior was a bonus.  Afterwards, I was given a tour of the rest of the building by the planner/consultant who’s working with the city’s agency to find funds and grants to preserve this structure.  Let’s hope they do.  It would be a sad thing to lose this fabulous architectural edifice.

Since the late 1960s, the Federal Building has been the site of regular weekly Friday afternoon protests, probably the longest continually running protests in the country.  About 4 p.m., the protestors, many of them with graying hair now, gather on the corner with signs bearing the slogans for the week, usually along the lines of “Peace Now” or “Bring U.S. Troops Home”.  Members of the group all seem to know one another and after their hour-long demonstration, which sometimes extends longer, they often share a bite of whatever food they brought with them.  People walking by on the sidewalk or driving by in their cars give them a thumbs up or a friendly honk on the horn to show their support.  And they know, rain or shine, that the protestors will be there again next week, just like they have been for the past nearly 50 years.