Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summer Bucket List ~ A Day of Crabbing

A Day of Crabbing @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After an early morning at the balloon launch, we drove over to the coast with our best friends and spent the whole day crabbing for John’s birthday. (John and Russ have been best friends and Char and I have been best friends for almost 30 years. Now we live about two miles from each other, have kids the same ages, attend the same church, swim on the swim team together, and are homeschooling in the same community together. It doesn’t get better than that!)

65 crabs caught, 12 given away, 53 cooked and ready to eat.

Crabbing @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lots of playing on the beach. It was beautifully sunny, but the breeze was quite cool.

Crabbing (2) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Everyone took turns riding the the boat and getting the crabs. Luke was having a blast.

Crabbing (3) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Levi spent most of his time on the beach hanging out with McKinnon and Monet.

Crabbing (4) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Char worked hard to get the crabs ready to boil. She’s a crab master.

Crabbing (5) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesCrabbing (6) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Pot after pot after pot of crab legs.

Crabbing (7) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We had a bit of waiting for the men to finish with the crab pots in the evening, so Levi and McKinnon enjoyed a game of chess. Then we all went out for a late bowl of clam chowder at Mo’s.

Crabbing and Chess @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I love these people.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Summer Bucket List ~ Hot Air Balloon Launch

Hot Air Balloon Launch @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Every year, at our local Art and Air Festival, more than 30 balloons are launched right at dawn from the park field for three mornings in a row. Russ took the boys years ago, but Lola hadn’t ever experienced the launch.

Sunday morning, this family of not-morning-people (well, Russ is a morning person, but the rest of us…) woke up in the dark and packed into the truck to watch the sun rise and the balloons inflated.

Spectators are able to get up close and personal while the balloons are being filled. If you haven’t heard 30+ balloons all being filled at the same time, you can’t quite imagine the sound. Whooooooosh!

Hot Air Balloon Launch (3) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesHot Air Balloon Launch (6) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

While we were waiting, a man was blowing gigantic bubbles, and Leif and Lola were having a blast chasing them. (This was a teeny tiny leftover bubble).

Hot Air Balloon Launch (5) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesHot Air Balloon Launch (4) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesHot Air Balloon Launch (7) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesHot Air Balloon Launch (2) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And then we drove to the coast to go crabbing all day with our best friends, but that’s the next post…

Hot Air Balloon Launch (8) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Summer Bucket List ~ The Albany Historic Carousel

Carousel (4) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We have waited since Levi was little (they began planning and working on this project the year he was born) to see the finished carousel in Albany, and it just opened last week!

A vintage 1909 Dentzel Carousel Corporation mechanism was donated to the project and volunteers have spent more than a decade carving and painting the menagerie. Each animal takes 1,000 – 1,500 hours to carve! Another 400 – 700 hours to paint. And then they sit for six months to dry! Completing one animal costs between $5,000 – $10,000. The carousel will eventually hold 52 animals (and another 11 replacement and seasonal animals), but it opened with somewhere around 30. [See paintings and descriptions of the animals here.] We have visited the studio workshop several times over the years to see the animals in progress.

Carousel (3) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The building itself is beautiful. Light and open.

We met Shannon, Ben, Rilla, Sweden, Lindsay, Bob, Daphne, Baby Avonlea, Nana Debi, and my parents for our inaugural visit.

Carousel (5) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

So lovely.

Carousel (2) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Hope is a baby Masai giraffe, and at 7’6″ she is the tallest animal on the Carousel.

Albany Carousel @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Baby Avonlea was delighted to ride.

Carousel (6) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Watch a documentary about the carousel here.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer Bucket List ~ Thor’s Well

Thor's Well @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Way back in June—yes, June—we drove over to the coast for Father’s Day.

I have lazy perfectionist syndrome. It’s paralyzing. I took a thousand pictures of the gorgeous day, and then it was too overwhelming to go through them all and pick all the best ones and edit them and get them posted with commentary. So I posted nothing. Which is, of course, much worse than just picking a few and posting them without editing.

I did edit the above picture of Thor’s Well because that was the main item on my summer bucket list (especially after being in the area earlier this summer). It was really quite incredible to be standing on the rocks nearby, the thundering waves deafening, and the spraying mist overpowering. During high tide, the water comes up the rock “well” in a surge and then sucks back down as if the ocean is draining. It’s magnificent.

The weather was crazy that day. Sometimes clear. Sometimes completely overcast. Weird cloud banks here and there.

Thor’s well and the two pictures below are in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.

Cape Perpetua @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesCape Perpetua (2) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Before we headed to Thor’s Well, we waited out low tide at Neptune State Park just south of Cape Perpetua. It is one of my new favorite beaches. Picnic benches on a cliff overlooking the beach, lots of rocks and caves for climbing, tide pools, sandstone cliffs, and no crowds.

I took this next picture from far away so you couldn’t hear the fighting [wry grin] and because my boys don’t let me pick out their outfits anymore.

Neptune Beach (7) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

It wasn’t very warm, but the kids went in the water anyway. Russ went in with his clothes on because he’s funny like that.

Neptune Beach (4) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesNeptune Beach (5) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesNeptune Beach (3) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesNeptune Beach (6) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesNeptune Beach (8) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And the requisite dramatic cloak picture:

Neptune Beach (2) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Not perfect, but posted.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Great American Eclipse

Total Eclipse 2017 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


But I’ll try anyway.

In Annie Dillard’s essay “Total Eclipse,” she states that “seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane.”

After experiencing the total eclipse on Monday, I have to concur. Even the 95% partial eclipse was nothing compared to the full descent of day to night; taking the glasses off and watching the shadow overtake us across the field; the chill in the air, the owls hooting and the crickets chirping, the stillness, the smell; the 360 degree sunrise at the horizon; bare eyes taking in the spectacle of the dark circled moon with the sun’s corona peeking around the edges; the emotion.

It was powerful.

This is how James Fenimore Cooper, in his short story “Eclipse,” described his reaction to the 1806 total eclipse:

Men who witness any extraordinary spectacle together, are apt, in after-times, to find a pleasure in conversing on its impressions. But I do not remember to have ever heard a single being freely communicative on the subject of his individual feelings at the most solemn moment of the eclipse. It would seem as if sensations were aroused too closely connected with the constitution of the spirit to be irreverently and familiarly discussed. I shall only say that I have passed a varied and eventful life, that it has been my fortune to see earth, heavens, ocean, and man in most of their aspects; but never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly manifested the majesty of the Creator, or so forcibly taught the lesson of humility to man as a total eclipse of the sun.

[Go read the whole story here and be moved.]

Our celebration began the day before when friends from the north (Portland) drove down to stay with us for the event. We enjoyed each other’s company—chatting and eating. After a dinner together in the yard, we were joined by more friends and family for a short birthday celebration for Leif (he had turned 11 on Friday during a week full of other activities) and then our annual viewing of The Princess Bride on our large outdoor movie screen.

Monday morning, we packed up a huge breakfast spread and traveled two miles down the country road to join my parents and sister’s family for the eclipse. We set up our outdoor griddle and made eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns to add to all the other delicious food and ate while basking in the slowly diminishing sun hanging in a perfectly clear blue sky. Our August has brought a week of 100 degree weather, rain, and perpetually smoky skies, but God granted us perfect conditions on Monday.

The leaves’ shadows on walls became crescents.

Crescent Eclipse Shadows @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We were surprised by the gradual coolness and the eerie light. It was unlike dusk. Unlike a cloudy day. Annie Dillard described it this way:

The sun was going, and the world was wrong. The grasses were wrong; they were platinum. Their every detail of stem, head, and blade shone lightless and artificially distinct as an art photographer’s platinum print. This color has never been seen on Earth. The hues were metallic; their finish was matte. The hillside was a 19th-century tinted photograph from which the tints had faded. All the people you see in the photograph, distinct and detailed as their faces look, are now dead. The sky was navy blue. My hands were silver. All the distant hills’ grasses were finespun metal which the wind laid down. I was watching a faded color print of a movie filmed in the Middle Ages; I was standing in it, by some mistake. I was standing in a movie of hillside grasses filmed in the Middle Ages. I missed my own century, the people I knew, and the real light of day.

When totality drew nigh, we meandered down the road to the open field, where trees would not obscure our view of the distant horizon, the purple mountains shrouded in a light haze from the wildfires. The field had recently been plowed, and the three little girls were more delighted by the clouds of dust kicked up by their feet than the fading light.

Dirt Field @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We turned our backs to the eastern sun in the last moments to watch the western horizon darken and the weight of shadow descend across the opposite field. We saw the snake shadows rippling on the ground.

Eclipse Watching @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And then darkness. Venus bright in the day-night sky.

A low, pale, rosy glow as we turned in circles to view our first ever 360 degree sunrise.

The ink-blot sun.

Eclipse @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Like falling out of an airplane.

We tried to make time stand still. Eek out each of the 111 seconds we were gifted. Impress the moment on our memories.

And then a brilliant diamond burst out from the glowing ring and we quickly donned our glasses to continue watching the filtered alien sky.

After a few more moments of watching the world come back to life—the light, the warmth—we returned along the road home. To play. To talk. To eat. To be.

But enough is enough. One turns at last even from glory itself with a sigh of relief. From the depths of mystery, and even from the heights of splendor, we bounce back and hurry for the latitudes of home. [Annie Dillard]

Eclipse Walk @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime moment of splendor.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

“Eclipses suns imply.”

Eclipse Reading @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Our house is in the path of totality. Our state is preparing for an apocalypse. [grin]

As we’re gearing up for this momentous experience, we’re doing a little light reading (what else?). Levi finished American Eclipse about the 1878 eclipse in the West and said it was wonderful. As soon as I finish this blog post, I’ll be cracking it open beyond the first few pages.

I did happen to glance at the page sandwiched between the preface and the prologue. On that page is an artistic image of a sun and moon and this quote:

Eclipses suns imply. 

–Emily Dickinson

I had to read it multiple times before my brain registered the words, the poetic so out of order in our pedestrian culture.

When her meaning hit my brain, I immediately thought of a C.S. Lewis quote:

“The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”

It turns out eclipses can cause existential pondering. Check out this astonishing essay, ‘Total Eclipse,’ by Annie Dillard. In it she recounts her experience of the 1979 total eclipse. [The essay link will only be available until August 22, so go read it now!]

The white ring and the saturated darkness made the Earth and the sky look as they must look in the memories of the careless dead. What I saw, what I seemed to be standing in, was all the wrecked light that the memories of the dead could shed upon the living world. We had all died in our boots on the hilltops of Yakima, and were alone in eternity. Empty space stoppered our eyes and mouths; we cared for nothing. We remembered our living days wrong. With great effort we had remembered some sort of circular light in the sky—but only the outline. Oh, and then the orchard trees withered, the ground froze, the glaciers slid down the valleys and overlapped the towns. If there had ever been people on Earth, nobody knew it. The dead had forgotten those they had loved. The dead were parted one from the other and could no longer remember the faces and lands they had loved in the light. They seemed to stand on darkened hilltops, looking down.


The mind wants to live forever, or to learn a very good reason why not. The mind wants the world to return its love, or its awareness; the mind wants to know all the world, and all eternity, and God. The mind’s sidekick, however, will settle for two eggs over easy.

Her very last paragraph struck me to the bone. Do we turn “at last even from glory itself with a sigh of relief”?

I just want to quote all of Lewis’s essay ‘The Weight of Glory’ here, but I can’t so go read it. (In ‘The Weight of Glory,’ Lewis revists the idea that ‘food hunger implies,’ not that we are guaranteed to have it or enjoy it.)

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the stagering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition [and two eggs over easy] when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Have you read The Great Divorce? It’s a picturesque vision of how terrifying glory can be, and how many turn from glory itself with a sigh of relief.

“Will you come with me to the mountains? It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened. Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows. But will you come?”

Will you come?