This is Nova
After we lost Elroy in the spring, Dennis became our only cat again, but we all knew it wasn’t going to last. Eventually, we would be ready for another at. While I have always been concerned Dennis would not take well to the intrusion, he’s been a pretty good social animal for the most part.
So one late August evening, we made a trip to the Whitman County Humane Society and had a look. There were two cats we were considering, a litte grey tabby named “Angel”, and a grey kitty named “Viola”. Both would be challenging creatures and would need a lot of time and love before they came around.
We ended up bringing home Angel that same night. She got her new name soon after.
The first night was very rough, and my hand was much worse for wear. But we’ve all gotten over it, and while she still is pretty timid, she absolutely adores Dennis. And he seems to love her too (even if he does have to put her in her place on occasion).
These days, it’s like clockwork. When Dennis jumps on the bed, Nova will be there shortly after. While I expect that Dennis was hoping to get some time away from her, I am glad she follows him; it’s the chance I get to pet her. Rarely do I get the chance, and I cherish each of them.
Nova is certainly Jayda’s kitty, and that’s just fine.
So this happened.
Jayda and I met three years ago during a staff appreciation/Beer Chasers Wednesday night at Birch and Barley. A few weeks later, we both ended up at Stanley Hot Springs and spent the weekend talking to each other. The weekend ended when I drove her home. I had hopes, but my own timid self prevented me from asking her out.
Fortunately, Jayda made the effort. On the next Wednesday, we chatted over beers, went to Black Cypress for cocktails, and just like that, we were dating. Two days later, I cooked her dinner (a too-spicy stir fry), and we’ve basically not been apart since.
When my dad died, she watched my house when I flew home for a week. When I returned, she was at the airport waiting for me. It was then that we were no longer just dating; we were living together. There was no sensing in her moving back, I justified.
While we have been essentially “married” for a while now, it’s nice that we’re finally married in the legal sense.
Future. Even in the modern COVID era, life together is life lived. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Those that know me knew right away that she had me. She’s changed me. It started right away.
After a 5 minute ceremony officiated by my best friend, it was off to a winery for dinner, drinks, and merriment. It is the same now, but different. Each morning, I wake, look to my left, and smile. I plan on doing this for a long long time.
Over the past few days, we’ve been camping with close friends on the Lostine River. We never left the campsite, never hiked, never did anything but sit by the river, play games, and enjoy life.
It was a trip that was planned to be just a little more. Oh, there still was going to be a lot of sitting along the Lostine, enjoying the mountain water, and generally being lazy.
But there was to be a small ceremony too. Due to the pandemic, that was not to be. Next year, perhaps a little sooner.
For now, at least officially, I’m still single. This wasn’t the weekend it was meant to be, but our day will come. We’re ready, we’re just waiting for the world to be ready with us.
When I converted from a live wordpress site to a static copy using a protected wordpress instance, I thought I would be done with it.
Of course, that wasn’t to be. We still can’t have nice things, after all. The static output plugin rebuilds the site every few hours, taking away the primary advantage of static content—those pages that don’t change, don’t change.
I’ve now converted again, this time to jeckyll. Like all software, it sucks. I’m not a fan of writing posts using vi again. But at least it’ll be predictable, and safe.
Several years ago, I switched from writing static HTML for this website to using the wordpress platform. I kept it up to date, including plugins. I use two-factor authentication, and an add-on plugin to monitor itself and report issues.
That didn’t prevent the website from being hacked and used to inject malware. I cleaned it up. It happened again. I cleaned it again.
And all was good, for a while.
This weekend, I get an automated email, “an admin account was created outside wordpress”.
Huh? I did no such thing.
But sure enough, there it is. User ‘wordpress’, user id ‘123456’. Because of the two-factor, nothing was going to get very far, but dammit, that’s it.
No longer do I have wordpress installed in a convient location, where I can write from anywhere and upload. In all frankness, I’m terrible at maintaining this site (content) very well anyway—I always was good about maintaining the code, because wordpress is so clearly dangerous.
Now? I have a machine on my own network, where nobody can get to it but me, and what you are reading is a static export. Nothing to log in to.
It’s not as easy to use, and there’s no longer any way to allow comments, but at least I won’t need to worry about a naked wordpress.
For the past few days, I have habitually opened my web browser and gone to facebook. It’s only when I get there that my fingers catch up with my brain and I remember I disabled that account, remember?
Facebook is evil. It always has been, of course. This isn’t new. But the thing is, facebook is a special kind of evil. It’s the kind of evil that makes friends into ex-friends, because even while you are not anonymous there, you do get empowered by the cult of like-minded thinking. It doesn’t really matter which side of a spectrum you are on, the cult thinking pervades.
Over the past few months, I had essentially stopped posting there and started lurking only. It was occasionally worth it.
I’m sure I’ll miss a lot of the social side of social networking, but frankly, I’m excited to re-invest in other networks. I’ll go back to using flickr again. I’ll try to post more here. I’ll still be around, I just won’t be there.
My friend Trevor has invited me to join him on a motorcycle road trip he has been taking for the past several years. For various reasons, I’ve not been able to take up the call until this year. I’ve been missing out.
Pullman to Wenatchee - 200 miles
Because the starting point was in Wenatchee on a Friday morning, we left Pullman on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, I had a full day of work, and wasn’t able to leave the office until about 5. We managed to be on the road by about 5:30 and took a reasonably sedate trip west to our staging point at his brother-in-law’s house. There’s really nothing much to say about this section. US-195 and WA-26 to Washtucna are well known to every WSU student from Western Washington. We know every intersection, every curve, and where the deer “should be.” I-90 from Ritzville to George is a pair of 2-lane ribbons of concrete with hardly a corner to break up the monotony. Between those boring roads is WA-261. 261 starts well, with some tight climbing corners, but after a scant number of miles, it turns into the roads that the central part of Washington are known for: straight, efficient, and boring.
Still, we were chasing the sun, which turned a vivid red while setting as we passed Moses Lake. By the time we got to Wenatchee, it was dark. It wasn’t a day for twisty roads, those would be coming soon enough.
Pullman to Nelson - 291 miles
The first 120 or so miles were as tedious as the day before. US-97 is a busy 2 lane road hugging the Columbia. While the bikes ahead of me had little trouble weaving through traffic, it seemed that every RV clogging the road had a timid vehicle behind it, creating a very effective rolling road block. For the most part, I kept up, but at one point near Omak, I completely lost the group. Fortunately, some had pulled off the highway and were watching out for me as I obliviously passed them by. Once the order of travel was re-established with familiar jackets in front of me, we continued at a healthy pace to breakfast.
Tonasket marked the transition from miserable highway to joyous road. After a lovely breakfast and a stop at a bathroom that ingeniously used a jug of water and some rope as a self-closing mechanism, it was time to continue. Quick splash of fuel, and we were off!
Or not. A mile later, I see Todd nursing a bike up the hill. I pull over to discover the issue. The bike isn’t running and the fuel pump is hot to the touch. Shortly after, Don comes back to us, making our group of 2 stragglers three. Fortunately, this is an older carbureted bike, so the pump isn’t integrated into the tank and is a simple affair to fix. $75 for a new universal 12V low pressure fuel pump, some clever work with some vent pipe as a hose adapter, and a couple wire splices over the next hour and we’re good to go. I send off an update to Trevor by text and we head off towards Nelson on WA-20, turning north near Waucunda. The rest of the group had gone to Molson for a look around, so with luck, we’d not be too far behind them.
A mile into the climb out of Tonasket, Todd stops again. I pull in behind, but the bike is running fine. Just a bee in the helmet. We’re off! For sure this time. Unfortunately, we get caught behind another RV. RV’s trapping me in the curves has already become a theme. It took a while, but I eventually pass and realize that as I expected before the trip started, as long as I can keep up to get to the curves, I can keep up in the curves. Washington 20 is a joy of a road. In the North Cascades, the mountains are stunning. Here, the scenery is less spectacular, but the road winds along tight canyons, more than making up for it.
Don has ideas. We’re going to take the 1-lane Forest Service Road north past Bonaparte Lake to Chesaw Road. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell Todd or I this, and when the road appeared suddenly on the left, he took it without a lot of warning. Todd missed the turn entirely and came to a sudden halt on the gravel side of WA-20 and was fortunate to not end up on his side. I made the turn, but my tires let me know that I was pushing it. What’s a little adrenaline on a road trip, anyway? Winding along, we find pot-holes, cows, and a road that rapidly narrows with forests on both sides. Fortunately, I have bikes with brake lights in front of me to let me know what’s coming; they have a lot more space in the single lane than I did.
At Cheesaw Road, we stop for a while and enjoy the nearby lake views, before heading on to Midway. At this point, we still assume we are behind the main group. At the border, we stop. There are two bikes ahead of us, nobody behind. While we wait, we hear a very distinctive sound of pipes behind us. Reunion at the border! After being processed by a friendly Canadian customs agent (“1 bottle of whisky. no firearms. No maam, I’m not carrying stuff for them”), we’re in. And off. Another RV, and I’m quickly dropped again. This section of Hwy 3 isn’t all that great anyway, so I don’t mind. We eventually regroup at the next gas stop, where the human scenery was slightly disturbing. Torn shorts might have looked good on a fit 20 year old, but were distinctly out of place where we saw them.
I got stuck in traffic again, so I was alone for the rest of the drive to Nelson. Fortunately, I was able to get into a zone as I travelled over Bonanza Pass. At 5036’, the Miata was surprisingly strong and happy. I knew I was never going to catch up before Nelson, so while I travelled at a rapid pace, I didn’t try to set any records. Just enjoy the road.
At Nelson, I couldn’t find parking for a while. I eventually found a set of “commuter” meters that allowed 12 hour parking (for $5 a day, using canadian coins). I had no such coins, so I had to drive back to the center of town, take advantage of parking where the meters were covered, go to a bank to get cash, then go to a salon to get the $20 note converted to loonies and toonies, then go back to the edge of town again so I could finally park. Trevor, who was waiting for me at the Hotel was look very nervous by the time I re-appeared with my bag of clothes and a bottle of Whisky. He gave me the choice of bunk, so I made him sleep up top.
Nelson to Vernon - 220 miles
Nelson holds a car show every year, and the trip is timed to take advantage of it. We walked the street for an hour or so, looking at the classics and a few modern cars as well. There were MGs, the 60s muscle car era was well represented, many hot rods from even earlier. There were fords with Chevy 350s in them, some E-type Jags, even a tiny pre-war Morris sedan of some sort. As we walked along, a Citroen DS drove past, nearly silently and floating on its air suspension.
After getting our car fix, it was time to go. The direct route to Vernon is to go back the way we came along the Crowsnest highway, then go north through Kelowna. That’s the direct route, so of course we went north-east to Kaslo.
Shortly after leaving Nelson, I saw a 60s Ferrari going the other way. I figured it was late to the car show. Soon after arriving in Kaslo for breakfast, I saw an E-type drive by. Then a GT350 Mustang. Another E-type. Porsche 356. They all had round stickers on the side. “Going to the Sun Rally 2018”. They all were coming from the West.
The reason this drive goes to Kaslo is Highway 31A. Trevor has been talking up this road for the past two days, so my expectations were high. Those expectations were surpassed. The road surface is very good (there were a few frost heaves, but not much). The corners are well banked and well marked. It may be the most spectacular 30 miles of road I’ve ever driven. Aside from a solitary RAV4, there was no traffic to pass and open road in front of me. There wasn’t a lot of oncoming traffic either, and what there was just added to the joy. Millions of dollars in cars drove past me, and they weren’t static displays. These cars were in the wild, being driven.
From New Denver to the ferry crossing at Fauquier, the road straightened and lost some charm, but the day wasn’t done yet. After Fauquier, I once again was dropped by most of the group. I managed to keep up with Don as we traversed corners marked at 20kph, as we passed road signs that invitingly read “narrow winding road, next 4 km”, and as we climb up and down some rather inviting mountains. Eventually he pulls over to put on warmer clothes and I blast ahead, now alone. 30 miles or so from Vernon, the road opens up and traffic flow increases such that the fun is mostly over.
I eventually arrive at the Tiki, where the group is gathered. Interesting place, the Tiki. It’s a block from the homeless mission and clearly in a seedy part of town. By next year, it may be gone. There were tents under the nearby creek bridge. I was panhandled as I parked. But the company was good, and the beer flowed. No regrets.
Vernon to Pullman - 352 miles
Trevor and I had already decided that we would be going directly home to Pullman rather than go back to Wenatchee on Sunday. Dave would be joining us, but head to the Tri-Cities instead. The idea of Hwy 97 again didn’t thrill us and the idea of sleeping in our own beds was very appealing. We’d stay together as a group through Kelowna, then take Hwy 33 to Rock Creek together, before splitting and going separate ways.
Until a badly timed stop light in Kelowna held me back, I was keeping up. Unfortunately, after that light, I never saw our group again until reaching Rock Creek. I had to rely on Carplay and my fortunate choice in wireless carriers to get me there, as I really didn’t know which turns to take. Apple didn’t lead me wrong. It was cold, but I was wearing a jacket and gloves. The heat worked. The road was twisty, the deer stayed away, and I took advantage of the mostly empty road.
Eventually, I reached the intersection with the Crowsnest highway, where the group had been apparently waiting for me for “some time.” It was the only time I really felt like my 4 wheeled transportation really slowed them down.
Trevor and I headed to Midway, crossed, and headed south. Just a the Canadian border agent held up Canada’s friendly reputation, the US agent was as surly as we expected. Back on US soil, the three of us headed south on WA-21 to Republic for fuel (both for bikes and for us). One massive breakfast later and off to Wilbur.
Between Republic and the Keller ferry, WA-21 winds along a narrow canyon-like valley with high cliff walls and beautiful flora. This is very fortunate, because we had plenty of time to look at it—the entire length of the road was recently chip-sealed and our speed was limited.
After Keller, the road climbs up using several tight switchbacks before straightening and diving due south to Wilber. I was really looking forward to this bit of road, but unfortunate timing meant I was stuck behind a Hyundai for the climb. The Hyundai made a go of it, so it could have been worse, but the end result was still a disappointment.
From there it was goodbyes to Dave and US-2, WA-23, and US-195 to home. Green Hollow Road, a small winding road that parallels US-195 between Tekoa and Colfax called out to me, but by that point I was tired enough that the siren-song of that particular road wasn’t quite loud enough.
I dreamed about dad last night. In my dream, he was a football coach, walking around a high school, looking at the last tree on a playground, evaluating it as a use for a football field. I was sitting on a bench, and I lit into him and two others. If you take this grass away for football, where am I going to play?
You’d play football.
But where do all the kids that don’t want to play football going to play?
I got a look of “why wouldn’t you want to play football?” So I repeated. At this point, mom and Corey showed up, and he looked to them for help. They asked the same question. Deflated, he realized they too would be opposed to taking away the last field.
That’s where s woke up. Initially, I smiled on waking because I haven’t had a vivid dream in a while, and this one involved dad. But then a bit of melancholy crept in; this version of dad is wrong. He didn’t care about football, and he certainly wouldn’t be the type to take away general playground to do it. So at 4:30 am, I now wonder what the dream was supposed to be, and why my head went there.
But still, dad.. I smile. And I go back to sleep.
Ronald William Whiteman
April 4, 1949 - March 26, 2018
Dad (left), celebrating the completion of the arena at home, something my Mom had wanted for many years, and finally had. Photo Credit Megan Whiteman
Over the years, Dad had many roles for many people. Educator. Enforcer. Competitor. Confidant. Friend. Storyteller. I was lucky enough that he was all of this to me. For almost 69 years, he was always there in some way. I may not have appreciated it at the time, but I knew I could always trust him to do right by me.
Life is defined by memories, for it is memories that tell the stories of our lives. With dad, the memories are many and vivid. They shape my past. I learned to drive with dad. I learned about what it means to put just a little too much gravel in the back of a pickup with dad. I went hunting with dad, learned to shoot with him, and learned that I don’t really enjoy walking around in the cold, wet, woods, attempting to find the deer that was there the week before, but certainly not there now.
My love of sports car was developed by spending hours with dad, working out how to keep an old unreliable British car on the road. It was dad that gave me a working mechanical knowledge, something that still helps me every day. We went on a long road trip in his old MG when I was young, and I’m very happy that we got the chance to go on another trip in my not-so-old Mazda once I was older.
I learned to SCUBA dive because of Dad. We never dove together, but we did snorkel a few times when I was young. We always wanted to get together and dive again, but just never quite got together to do it. I think we would have enjoyed it.
I took dad out mountain biking once, and while I never got him to ride the trails again, I know from the way he told the stories of that trip, he enjoyed it. If not at the time, certainly in hindsight. We shared a sense of adventure and love of the outdoors.
Dad loved to fish. I can’t say I picked it up as strongly as he liked, but I enjoyed fishing with dad too. One late-night trip in an open boat on an empty river, fishing for sturgeon was especially memorable. It was cold and wet, but we were happy, sitting on aluminum benches, waiting for the fish that never bit. Salmon fishing was more adventurous—out on the big ocean waves, sometimes so big that they registered as on the fish-finder. I never failed to “feed the chum,” but I loved it anyway. I just wish we could have caught more salmon and less shark over the years.
I wasn’t able to get home fast enough to say goodby to Dad in the end. As somebody that has never been religious or one that believes strongly in the afterlife, I’ve felt for a long time that a person lives on in the memories of others. If the afterlife is indeed defined in memories, then Dad will be around for a long time to come, and we can all smile each time one of those memories resurfaces.
Thank you Dad, I’ll miss you, and I love you. Forever and always.
… and I will fly 400 more.
When I visited Salt Lake City during the summer of 2016, I was invited to return the following winter to see what the fuss was about regarding Utah snow. By invited, I mean “you will be coming, figure it out.” OK then. Plans didn’t really come together until January, but in mid February, I found myself driving to Lewiston one Friday morning to start my weekend.
Two days on snow, one powder, one packed down groomers. One hill, both days very enjoyable. Wait, no. They were terrible. There were wolves. Don’t go to Snowbasin, I’m told, I really should just go to Snowbird instead.
Or at least, that is the story to be told. Despite the price tag, the accommodations, and the connections to Sun Valley, Snowbasin is a local hill and the locals like to pretend they can keep it that way. That isn’t to say the place isn’t friendly; I was welcomed and spent two days happily bombing along on genuine Costello skies, caring only about what the next run would bring.
I am very privileged to have the ability to run off for a weekend of skiing like this, and fortunate to be able to ignore most of the world, even for a little while. Reality could wait a day or two, this was a vacation. I have good friends, a good job, and a good life. For that, I am grateful.
Never under-appreciate the value of a comfortable life—most people don’t get one.
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