ghost tree stumps in the ocean

Ghosts on the beach

A few weeks ago, Cobalt and I visited one of the ghost forests along the PNW coast. These forests were formed as a result of the great Cascadia earthquake on January 26, 1700 (super interesting story for how they figured out that date). During the quake, pieces of forests along the coast dropped away and the trees found their roots in salt marshes. These trees don’t like salty water, so they died, leaving behind eerie tree skeletons that remain to this day.

A tree trunk on a beach. There's a puddle around the trunk, in which you can see the reflection of alive trees on the hill behind the beach.
A ghost tree far below the rest of the forest, which stayed away from that pesky salt water.

I first found out about ghost forests from reading Sandi Doughton’s book “Full Rip 9.0” and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. Unfortunately, the closest ghost forest to Cobalt and me requires a boat to get to it, so we haven’t visited that one yet. The easiest ghost forest to get to in the area is the Neskowin Ghost Forest because it’s just hanging out on Neskowin Beach on the coast of Oregon. Anyone who’s willing to cross a shallow creek can see those ghost trees. So when Cobalt and I decided to take a vacation to the Oregon coast, I made sure we paid them a visit.

Two tree stumps on a beach
Cobalt and I liked these two because they look kind of like ghosts!

This ghost forest is interesting because apparently the trees were completely buried until the epic 1997-1998 storm season exposed them. Now they host an assortment of mussels and barnacles, and sometimes even tide pools, so it’s double fun — see the ghost forest AND sea stars (can you find the sea star in the top photo?).

the top of a tree stump covered in barnacles and mussels

Cobalt and I got there just after low tide and spent the next hour or so meandering through the forest and searching for crabs (crab pictures coming soon). The weather was perfect: cool and misty, which made our ghost forest experience even more creepy. It was unfortunately pretty crowded, despite it being 8 a.m. on a Thursday. I guess everyone was excited about ghost forests and/or tide pools.

A tree stump rises out of the beach
I think this one looks kind of like a moray eel. :)
A tree stump on a beach with a green hill behind it
Cobalt and I liked this one because it looks like a face.

A tree stump on a beach

This was not the first ghost forest we’ve seen. We found our first one on accident. In 2019, Cobalt and I were exploring the area of Alaska near Anchorage and we drove past the Girdwood ghost forest. This ghost forest is much newer than the Neskowin ghost forest though, it was formed during an earthquake in 1964.

White tree trunks rising out of a green marsh, snow capped mountains in the background
Cobalt was driving so I snapped this picture from the car. These trees look like skeletons to me, rising out of the marsh.
The strawberry supermoon

Looking for strawberries in the sky

Hi everyone! How is July going for you so far? I hope good. I just got back from vacation, so I actually have photos to share for once. Waaaaat. I know, right? It’s been a while.

I think they split roughly into three posts, so let’s see if we can Get. This. Done.

Post number 1 (if you couldn’t tell from the featured photo): The strawberry supermoon! In case you were wondering, apparently the June full moon is named “strawberry” because it falls during strawberry season? Thanks

So up here in the PNW, we have a thing with clouds and fog. It’s not great for viewing celestial events (ex: we missed The Great Conjuction last year because of an epic rain/snow storm — cue Cobalt and me watching it on TV because we found an observatory live-streaming it. Oh what a time to be alive.). On the night of the supermoon, we had some low-hanging clouds, but it looked like the fog was going to hold off. So we headed outside. And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then Cobalt, who is great at finding things in the sky, said “I think that’s it over there.” There was a bright spot hidden behind the clouds. I played with my camera settings a little to see if we could pull out a moon.

A moon shape hidden in the clouds

We found the moon! Now to wait for it to get out of the clouds…

Note: I am not very patient, so you get lots of moon-emerging pictures now. :) I mean, if you wanted the picture of the moon not in the clouds, just scroll to the top of this post. Done. OK… on to the emergence.

the moon is slightly more visible now
For some reason the moon looks like a giant Communion wafer to me… maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing…
Moon emerging from the clouds
Still getting strong Communion wafer vibes with this one…
Moon still emerging from behind clouds
At this point, the moon was more visible without crazy camera settings and Cobalt was getting excited too. I like that the top is so well defined.
Moon with a cloud in front of it
Oh you thought you were done with clouds? Hahahaha… :|
Moon with one whisp of a cloud in front of it
OK clouds, now you’re just teasing me. Also this cloud makes the moon look like it has a mouth.

Once the moon had emerged from the clouds, the adventure was sort of over for me. I mean, I took some photos of it obviously, but it just didn’t feel as epic. Plus it was late, so it was time to go to bed. I’ll leave you with one more fun photo: grass + moon!

Moon and street light out of focus and grass in focus in front of them
Which one is the moon and which one is a streetlight AGHHHHH HOW WILL WE KNOW?! :)
A mixed-race family posing in front of a Christmas tree

Mixed-race reflections for Loving Day

In honor of Loving Day today, I thought I would write an essay about being mixed-race. Also featured: a portrait I took of my awesome family for Christmas 2018. Thanks to the Lovings, my parents could get married and Cobalt and I could get married. Hurrah!

Last Tuesday I participated in a panel of mixed-race writers. One of the questions they asked us was “What is your biggest obstacle as a writer?” Many people discussed the lack of representation of mixed-race people in our media.

How does seeing people who look like me in movies or books affect me?

  • I think of crying in the dark movie theater during the opening scenes of “A Wrinkle in Time”: a brown girl with curls everywhere working with her white dad in his lab. My thoughts drifted to building radio kits with my white dad and my Black mom, to them helping me build an “apparatus”  — made from a ginger ale bottle, wires and a tongue depressor — that dispensed cat food for my eighth grade science fair project.
  • I think of the scene in Melissa Valentine’s “The Names of All the Flowers,” the one where her family is standing in the airport, her white dad with his chest “puffed up like an orange bird,” his Black wife and brown kids with all sorts of hair around him. I was transported back to our family reunions, being surrounded on all sides by Black people. And somewhere in the mix, my white dad.

These instances certainly help. But when I was preparing for the panel, the biggest obstacle that came to my mind was my own self-sabotage and self-silencing. Not feeling seen and feeling like I am not allowed to be my real self.

I’m always hustling and following rules instead: smiling when I want to cry, staying when I want to run away. Being what I think people want from me — quiet, contemplative — even though it makes me feel like I’m a robot.

Other people seem to be just fine saying whatever they want to say, doing whatever they want to do. But when I try, no one responds. Or if they do, it’s to tell me that I am too much: My voice is too distracting, I am too informal, I am so wiggly.

I’m trying to be better. I police myself, anticipating when someone might be upset with me, when I will be out of line, and then course-correct before anything happens. Sarah is in control.

The advent of Zoom everything provided a rude awakening for me. For the first time, I was face-to-face with what I looked like in any given situation: a meeting, a panel, a conference.

I watched a video where someone interviewed me over Zoom about my job. In the video, my interview is juxtaposed with two other writers’ interviews and we go back and forth answering questions. The other two writers are calm, composed, while I am wild. Smiling and gesturing and laughing. I’m all over the Zoom box. Can you hear me? Can you see me? Is what I am saying making sense? If you paused the video at any part when I am speaking, I would be a blur across the screen.

I was mortified.

What is wrong with me? No wonder people have a problem with me. I thought I was reining in all the crazy, but obviously that is false.

My co-workers said the video looked good, that they liked the energy I brought to the interview, that it was clear I was excited and passionate about the topic. But I couldn’t see that. Surely there must be some way to be excited and passionate while also being in control of your arms, your words.

Back on the mixed-race panel, again everyone was calm and composed, thoughtful and elegant. I turned my Zoom self-view on to keep tabs on myself. Was I sitting up straight? Was I in the middle of the box? Did I look interested? Was I looking at the camera?

Then the moderator asked the “obstacle” question and chose me to answer first. “Sure!” I said. I glanced at my notes to remind myself of where I wanted to start. On the page was a joke to myself about how I grew up acting as if I could pass as white (“Oh I’m a quarter German!”) even though I am obviously brown.

“Sorry,” I tried to regain my polite poise. “There’s a joke to myself on this one….” and then I started giggling again. “Well, I guess I should just explain it to you…” The hands came out. I couldn’t see the audience, so I had no idea if they thought the joke was as funny as I did, but I still pantomimed the whole thing just in case. “Look at me! How is this face white-passing? Hahaha anyway, I hope you enjoyed that… Now I want to talk about self-sabotage.”

The whole time the self-view gave me away: the flapping, the gesturing, the head bobbing.

But I decided that I didn’t care. Forget that poised person who looked like she was perched on a shard of glass in a way that avoided getting her butt cut. I was tired of trying to stay in the lines that I’d drawn for myself.

Besides, was I really going to silence my discussion of self-silencing?

So I let it all out for once, and the joy of being Sarah tumbled out of me.

Note: I think it’s important to highlight how many times I tried to silence myself while writing this essay. This is a constant, evolving process. 

A lush green forest with a trail and a tree growing out of a rock covered in moss

In the valley of the silent Potassium

When I get angry or sad, I shut up.

I shove it all deep inside me and I make myself small, watching the world from behind my eyes, the windows of my self-imposed prison.

We don’t really need to get into the why — maybe it’s that I tell myself that a person who looks like me is much more desirable if I am happy, smiley and agreeable, that it’s not socially acceptable for a person like me to express the rage that boils inside of me — or the how.

All I can say is that it’s been the case for my whole life, and that recently, it’s become the all-encompassing state that I live in. At first, it was just a happy, agreeable mask that I wore. But then it shifted. I stopped being able to talk around certain groups of people. Instead of being my gregarious, flappy self, I saw my brain consumed with a whirlwind of thoughts that left me powerless to speak as I sifted through all of them trying to figure out what they meant, what, if anything, was worth sharing, what to do with all of them.

Then, with the murder of George Floyd, COVID-19 and all of the drama, I just stopped talking all together. Instead I spent my weeks draining my energy trying to appear competent and thoughtful at work and on the ice rink and I spent my weekends falling into a severe depression because I had no more energy left to do anything else.

I tried so many things to help myself. I stayed off social media, especially on the weekends. I couldn’t handle the photos of people’s seemingly perfect lives, as if nothing was going on, as if they were unaffected by everything that has led to so much trauma for me. I couldn’t handle the rage other people were displaying, even though I agreed with most of it. I couldn’t handle what people were saying, and how they were saying it. It all just made me retreat further into my brain.

Working with my hands has always helped me not really forget how I’m feeling, but at least divert some of the energy stuck inside of me into something else.

  • I made stuffed whales — at first for a friend’s new baby, but now I have a growing pod on my desk.
  • I made up a pattern from scratch for stuffed sharks in the style of the whales, and now the best ones sit behind me in all of my Zoom/Teams calls every day.
  • I learned how to make matcha souffle pancakes, practicing the recipe each Saturday morning until I was happy with it.
  • I set to work perfecting the best buttermilk biscuit recipe, and once I did that, I started working on a variety of biscuit toppings. The newest one is a peach and rosemary concoction topped with homemade whipped cream.
  • I bought five pounds of clams and turned them into a decadent and creamy clam pasta sauce.
  • I took photos of things in the sky, both comets and birds.
  • I designed a figure skating step sequence that forces me to think about how the steps tie together, what it really means to be “on an edge” and what’s physically possible when you tie steps together.
  • The list goes on.
three stuffed sharks, two are blue with purple bellies and one is orange with a cat on its belly. The orange one is upside down on top of the other two, which are right side up.
A shiver of stuffed sharks posing for my iPhone camera.

It’s all great. The stuffed animals are soft and huggable, even the early shark attempts, which I have deemed “shark blobs.” The food is tasty. My photos are neat. The figure skating is challenging (in a good way) and I’m stronger than ever. But it all still feels like grasping at straws. At the end of the day, I don’t really feel any better. Still lost. Still afraid. Still lonely. Still broken-hearted. Still disappointed in everything. Still angry. Still silent, because I don’t know what to say about all of it, and to whom.

Yesterday, we went for a hike through part of what is called the Valley of the Silent Men. It was a trek to get there and suddenly we were on a tiny, twisty, easily lost trail in the middle of a huge forest. Everything was covered in a layer of moss. Trees somehow sprouted from the tops of giant rocks. And it was silent, hauntingly so. How could a place so obviously teaming with life be so quiet?

And I recognized myself in this forest, buzzing under the surface of nothing.

Please don’t use this post as an excuse to connect to me if we haven’t talked in a while or as a place to provide me with advice or cheering. This isn’t a cry for help, and it’s not even really for you. This is my attempt to break the silence, to free myself a little. Even though I know it won’t change the situation I’m in — that we’re all in whether we admit it or not — I want to be able to talk about it.

The comet in the top left of the photo. A tree in the bottom right.

NEOWISE update

Now that our fine comet friend has shifted so that it is visible in the evenings (~80 minutes after sunset, so ~10:20 p.m. Washington state time), it has been cloudy almost every single night. Yesterday it was cloudy all day too, but when I looked outside during our evening Zoom exercise class, I saw blue sky all of a sudden! After class, Cobalt and I went for a walk to get a better idea of the weather. It was relatively clear above us, but still cloudy to the northwest, where NEOWISE has been hanging out in the evenings. Maybe the clouds would continue to roll away in the two hours before NEOWISE was due to be visible in the sky?

We decided to attempt another comet sighting after dinner. We packed the camera and its tripod and headed off to our favorite area to see things west of us. It’s still in the city, but you have to go through some trees to get there, and then you end up looking across Puget Sound. Anyway, we got there at 10 p.m. but then had to turn around because the site has been closed during the pandemic to keep the number of people in the area down.

We drove north and finally turned down a street with a pretty good view of the northwest. There was one couple with masks and binoculars looking up, so we pulled over.

The viewing conditions were not great. The spot had tall trees blocking our view of the sky. And on either side of the trees were VERY BRIGHT streetlights. Also, other people showed up, driving down the street with their headlights blaring and then taking forever to get out of their cars and turn off all their lights. Everyone was staring at the sky, but no one was having much luck finding NEOWISE.

I was having trouble even setting up the camera. Because everything around us was so bright, I couldn’t find or focus on any stars through the viewfinder. And my glasses, which help me see the crisp pinpoints of light, were getting fogged up thanks to my mask. I was getting frustrated.

I took a break from the camera and pulled out a handy article from Sky and Telescope, which has very specific instructions and diagrams for finding the comet: Find the big dipper, it says, and then count three fists below the dipper. Then move a little to the right. I handed my phone to Cobalt to ask him if he could make sense of the diagrams while I struggled with the camera. “I found it!” he said, and motioned for me to move the camera even MORE underneath one of the streetlights. If I squinted to where he was pointing, I could just barely make out a blur that looked vaguely like the bright comet we had seen last week. Or maybe I was just imagining things.

I pointed my camera in that direction, adjusted the lens to “infinity” focus (no way to focus on something you can’t see… plus that streetlight was REALLY bright) and took a picture. This is what we saw 5 seconds later in my display screen.

The night sky with a comet tail barely visible at the bottom of the photo.
A TAIL! We found the tail!

COBALT HAD FOUND IT! Nice work, Cobalt. All of the other comet-viewers had given up by then, so it was just the two of us discussing how to tweak the camera settings without losing the comet. It’s always fun to photograph something COMPLETELY blind, using the display screen to give us any indication that we’re on the right track. Cobalt mentioned multiple times that we were so lucky to be in this digital photography age. Phew! Here are some more pictures from our adventure.

The comet in the top left of the photo with a small bright blur to the right of it. A tree takes up the bottom right of the photo.
I wonder what is next to NEOWISE in this picture. It shows up in a few of my pictures from around the same time, seemingly making an arc in the sky. Is it the International Space Station?! Someone who knows more about space, please weigh in.


The comet tail coming up from the bottom of the photo. You can sort of see the ion tail too coming off the top.
Did you know that comets actually have TWO tails? The main one is all the dust created from the melting ice/debris released when the comet passed the sun. The other is made up of ions released thanks to the solar radiation. I like this picture because I can sorta see the ion tail (it’s on top, kinda blue). Can you see it? :)

These photos were taken with a pretty long exposure (between 1 and 10 seconds) and a really high ISO. As usual, I have MOAR photo ideas that I want to try, but we’ll see if we get to go find the comet again. It is supposedly getting close and closer to Earth (it will be the closest on July 23), but it is also getting dimmer and dimmer. We’re lucky we have a telephoto lens and a camera that lets us take long exposures, but I’m worried that without binoculars, we won’t be able to see it by eye soon. :(

Anyone else have NEOWISE adventures that they want to share?

The comet NEOWISE in the night sky

It’s NEOWISE to meet you

One of these stars is not like the others (hint: it’s a comet)…

Sooo on Friday The Seattle Times had an article about the comet NEOWISE and how we could actually see it from our often-times cloudy city of Seattle — as long as we were willing to be awake just before sunrise, which right now is around 3 a.m. Now you know me and my love of taking pictures of fun objects in the sky (the moon, solar eclipses, etc.), so I said CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

We got up at 2:45 a.m., thoroughly confusing the cat, and headed out in search of the comet. All we knew was that it should be near Venus and in the northeast. We had found a pretty good spot for photographing the moon a few months ago, so we decided to try that. Sure enough we saw Venus poking its head up over the mountains to the east. Then it was time to find the comet. It was relatively easy to see without binoculars — we just looked for a star that looked a little bit fuzzy. Maybe it helped that there was a tree next to us with a branch that was pointed straight at the comet. Here! Here! It’s right here!

We stayed with NEOWISE for about a half an hour, mostly with me furiously clicking away on my camera, trying to get the perfect shot. It was pretty dim, so I had to focus manually. But because it was pretty dim, it was also hard to focus manually. In addition, I wanted to do a long exposure to capture NEOWISE and its brilliant tail, but the longer I left the shutter open, the more everything shifted. So it was a lot of trial and error, but I think I got a pretty good shot or two!

Anyway, at some point the sun had come up enough to make NEOWISE even harder to see, and we were feeling sleepy. So we said good night (good morning?) to the comet and headed back home to bed.

It sounds like NEOWISE should be shifting to the early evening hours a little later this month, so keep an eye out for it! It’s pretty neat! I’ll certainly be looking for it. I have so many more photo ideas that I want to try now that I’m more awake. :)

The comet NEOWISE in the night sky

Photographing (and competing in) a synchronized skating competition

A synchro team doing a wheel element with one skater in the middle
This team is doing a “wheel” element — note the three “spokes” — with one skater doing a really cool spin in the middle. Pretty!

Hi team, sorry it’s been forever and a year (pretty much, right?) since I wrote in here. I’ve really missed it, and you. Lots going on with me as usual, so I’m not making any promises that I’m going to be a regular poster again (though I have lots of cool photos to share). Today I want to write about synchronized ice skating. This is my second year on a synchronized ice skating team (and my second year as a figure skater in general). This year we skated to a Star Trek medley, which was super fun.

A GIF of Potassium's team doing an intersection
My coach made this GIF of our “intersection” element from a recent performance

Last weekend, we had our first competition as a team near Vancouver, Canada. It was a lot of firsts for me too. My first synchro competition, my first time skating on international ice, my first competition on international ice and (for you nerdy figure-skating people out there) my first competition getting GOE scores. Wow, tons of firsts.

In other news, I’ve been wanting to try to take pictures of figure skaters for a while. It seems challenging, right? The skaters are moving fast, so you need a high shutter speed to capture them. But also it’s not exactly bright in the rink, so you need to balance that fast shutter speed with some other camera settings to make it bright enough to see what’s going on. I was already dragging around my skating bag and a bag with makeup, clothes, skating stuffies (obviously) and other accessories, so I thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to add my fat DSLR to the mix. Instead I rented a Fujifilm X100F from our local camera shop. Cobalt and I have been obsessed with this camera since we discovered its predecessor, the X100S, back in 2014. It’s a compact point and shoot that looks like a film camera, but it produces really nice high quality digital images. It also seems to be really good at taking pictures of people. So I put it (and my ability to learn how to use a completely new camera while also competing in a competition) to the test while we were in Canada.

A synchro team doing a block element
This team is doing a “pivoting block” element.

I have mixed feelings about the results. I wish I had had more time to learn how to use the camera. I got the basic settings (shutter speed, ISO, aperture, etc.) down, but I wish I had known a little more about what I was doing. Oh yeah, also it was my first time photographing figure skating, so I had to learn that on the fly too. What did I want? Shots of teams doing cool things? Individual skaters’ fun facial expressions? What could I realistically get with this fixed-lens point and shoot when I am used to my giant telephoto lens on my DSLR? So many new things.

Team LMSSC Junior does a block element in their short program
The Lower Mainland “Junior” team showing off some fun footwork in their short program

So I thought I’d spend the rest of this post doing two things at once — sharing my takeaways from the competition interspersed with some of my favorite pictures of the other teams. Maybe it’s too much… I apologize in advance. :p

Let’s start with a brief intro to our overall organization, The Washington Ice Emeralds, which hosts multiple teams of all different skill and age levels. My team and one of our youth teams competed at the West Coast Challenge. Here are two pictures from their Pixar-themed program.

Washington Ice Emeralds Youth Team 2 doing an artistic line element
This element is called an “artistic line.” The team is skating backwards right now.
Washington Ice Emeralds Youth Team 2 doing a circle element
Getting into a circle element

Some neat photos from other youth teams below:

A youth synchro team doing an intersection
This team is about to do an intersection. I love their faces.
A synchro team doing an artistic line element
Nice lines from this team!

For our competition, we had to perform the program twice, and then our final score was a combination of our scores from both performances. It was definitely a good learning experience. Canada does levels by age instead of by skill, and my teammates are 19 to 50+ years old, so we had to skate at a higher skill level than we actually are. Since we had a harder program than many of the teams skating at our actual skill level, it put us in a weird place between the two levels. We got fourth place out of the four teams in our level, but we likely would have gotten second place (based on scores) if we had skated at our skill level. Anyway, it was still super inspiring to see all of the adult teams skate and see where we fit in.

Team Sakura skating
Team Sakura (we didn’t compete against them)

Some of my favorite things:

  • During lunch after our first skate, someone came up to us and told us how much they loved watching synchronized skating on television. I actually don’t remember what else they said because I was stuck on the fact that Canadians get to watch synchronized skating on TV!
  • After our second skate, we were walking back to the locker room and we ran into the next team (I think they took first place). Everyone started cheering really loudly for everyone else. I had my stuffed whale shark and my teammate had her stuffed bear — someone on their team had a stuffed chicken. It was a really awesome feeling.
  • Before we went out on the ice, volunteers went around and collected our skate guards in these boxes with convenient skate-guard shaped holes. That way no one accidentally went on the ice with their skate guards on (=a fall, but also embarrassment). The guards were laid out for us when we returned from the ice.
  • Being in awe of some of the amazing skating and talent! I have so many skating (and photo) goals now!
Team LMSSC Junior skating
The Lower Mainland “Junior” team had an “Us” themed long program that my whole team loved.
Team LMSSC Junior skating
So dramatic!
Team LMSSC Open skating
This is the Open team from the Lower Mainland Skating club. They had these crazy dresses…
A larch in front of other larches

Looking for larches

Move over, aspens. There’s a new fall tree in town.

This weekend, Cobalt and I went on an epic hike in search of larches, trees I had never heard about until a few weeks ago. These needley trees look like your typical evergreens during the summer, but then in the fall the needles turn yellow and fall off, like your typical deciduous trees. So cool!

In addition, it’s been two years since Cobalt and I have lived in Colorado, and we missed our fall tradition of seeing the glorious aspens turn yellow against the bright blue Colorado sky.

So when we found out that the Pacific Northwest has larches, we knew we had to go find them.

It’s not exactly easy. Larches in the state of Washington live at high elevation (~5,000 ft) in the northern part of the Cascade mountain range. So we had about a three-hour drive to wiggle northeast to the Cascades and then up.

But it turned out to be a beautiful day for a drive. To get to the Cascades, we drove through tunnels of orange and yellow trees that were shrouded in fog. Perfect for people who love fall and Halloween. Then as we climbed into the mountains, the sun came out and we were surrounded by outstanding views of the craggy mountains in this mountain range. Seriously, it was jaw-dropping.

My co-worker had recommended that we do the Cutthroat Pass trail, because it would definitely get us high enough to see larches (the trailhead is about 4,000 feet), and it would possibly be less crowded than other popular hikes in the area. The weather was too perfect though, so I think half of the state of Washington had the same idea we did.

Anyway, the trail was great! It was coated in snow, which ranged from a little dusting at the beginning to more prominent snow as we climbed. But the sun was out, so we weren’t too cold. We had INCREDIBLE views of the surrounding mountains, and we started to see larches nestled on them as the trail went on. Then suddenly, at about 6,000 feet, we found ourselves surrounded by these beautiful turning-yellow trees…. and all the other humans who had come out to find them.

We found them!!!
Cobalt admiring the view

Cobalt and I wandered around the larches for a while, taking pictures and getting to know them.

Getting up close and personal with a larch….

Their needles are thinner than those of other needled trees I’ve encountered, so they felt feathery and soft. Their softness and the way they were organized on the branches made the branches look like yellow pipe cleaners jutting out of the trunks. For some reason, the twisty nature of the larch branches made me think of skeletons. Not sure why.

Similar to other deciduous trees, each larch needle turns yellow in its own time. It makes for a gorgeous mix of yellow and green on any given tree.
Looks spiky but soooo soft…

After meandering through larches and humans, we found a large rock in the sun and decided to stop for lunch. We enjoyed our excellent views of the larches and the light breeze that swept across the area while we munched on carrots and cheese.

Also part of the lunch view: This neat mushroom!

Then it was time to head back down. :(

These little puffs caught my eye as we headed back down. I like that you can see the larches in the background.

These trees are magical. I can’t wait to go back and visit them again next year — or maybe next week. I miss them already.

Leaving you with some mushrooms and a baby tree!

We’re watching you

I seeeeeee youuuuuuuuuu, Potassium….

Hi everyone! It’s been forever and a day since I last posted on here, and I really miss it. I think I was stressing myself out about having the most amazing prose accompanying the prettiest pictures from the coolest places on each post. And I’d put all this work in and wonder if it was even worth it. Who was I doing all that work for? So I stopped posting.

But I really missed having a place to record what I’m up to every week, even if it’s nothing glamorous. Chances are I’ve taken at least one photo that I’m particularly proud of or that I think sums up my week. And after all, this blog is supposed to be “a day in the life of an active metal,” so shouldn’t it be showing snapshots of my life? Really, this should be a place for me — a sort of online photo album, if you will. If y’all think my photos are cool, well that’s neat too.

So today you’re getting this bird on top of my bus stop. I posted it because I think it sums up the running story I’ve been writing in my head while I walk around Seattle lately: The birds are out to get me. I know, very “The Birds” of me. But seriously, let’s discuss:

  1. A few weeks ago, I was walking to the bus stop and a bunch of crows were cawing at each other on the power lines above my head. Then one of them swooped down so close to my head, I could feel the air moving. It was seriously like a scene out of The Birds. Crows continued cawing at me for the rest of the walk….
  2. Then, last week, I was walking to a meeting and I was suddenly swarmed by a huge flock of pigeons taking off.
  3. Later that same day, a crow tried to drop a shell on my head. It fell and broke near my feet. I looked up, and the crow was eyeing me from the top of a building.
  4. And then this photo: a crow on top of my bus stop. Its feet made really neat/ominous noises above my head… Yikes

See what I mean?

Anyway, that’s all for today. More posts to come soon (though no promises on any normal posting time. Life’s too crazy for that), as long as I don’t get attacked by birds….

Nature vs. nurture: a ghost story

Helllooooo friends! I hope you have been enjoying spring (or autumn if I have any southern hemisphere friends). Cobalt and I have been having a good time getting to know our new city. There’s always something fun going on on the weekends. We participated in Independent Bookstore Day one weekend and Free Comic Book Day the next! But while we’ve been having tons of fun with all of that, we really wanted to get out and explore the wilderness too.

So last weekend we went on an adventure to a ghost town with our friend Titanium! This particular ghost town only existed in Washington for ~20 years! It sprung up with a coal mine in 1900 and then it slowly started dying 15 years later when the nearby trains switched away from coal. Then a fire wiped out most of what was left of the town. Yikes. Bad news. So don’t get too excited, the only town-y parts left are a few walls and a foundation here and there. But it was still cool to wander around and wonder what it would have been like to live there.

Also, it was really incredible to see how nature has slowly reclaimed all of the remaining human-made objects in the area. Moss is not deterred, folks. It will grow on anything it seems.

Enough chit chat! Let’s get to the pictures!

This was labeled as a Retaining Wall on the map from the hiking guide I borrowed from my coworker. It was about a mile from the townsite though…


The sun was highlighting these leaves in such a way that I saw this as an opportunity for a black and white photo. So here you go.


Pretty sure this abandoned car is not from the time of the ghost town. It looks like it’s been there a while though. It’s fun to look at people’s pictures of this car through the ages. It’s definitely becoming part of the forest as time progresses.


See what I mean about that moss? Slowly claiming the backseat as its own.


Even the railroad pieces are being twisted by nature…


Human-made or natural? It’s all starting to blend together!


Apparently someone still lives in this town… PS: Look how green this concrete foundation is. I didn’t do anything to the color in Lightroom. Further proof that nature is relentless.


Cobalt in what’s left of the schoolhouse. Look at the size of the trees in there!