Monday, May 30, 2005

palouse falls...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

canyon above palouse falls...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Palouse Falls

My family took a small trip to Ritzville; not necessarily the prime vacation spot, but we stayed with good friends. They introduced us to a game called the Settlers of Catan, which we readily enjoyed.

We stayed the night and on Monday, we drove to Palouse Falls. I can't imagine a more "in-the-middle-of-nowhere" kind of place, but it was relatively close, and I had never been there.

Perhaps it would be more honest to say I don't remember being there, but something about it seemed vaguely familiar, like a distant childhood memory. We used to visit my uncle in Walla Walla when I was a kid, so maybe we stopped at the falls then. I also remember a childhodd dream about a waterfall pouring into a massive bathtub. The falls have that kind of effect, so perhaps my dream was also inspired by such a visit.

The falls were quite impressive in their own right and worth the drive.

We hiked a number of trails, trying to find some way to reach the base of the falls. Along the way we found a series of beautiful rapids perhaps a half mile upstream. You could see where the water carved basins and ripples in the stone. We continued downstream and found a trail that looked like it might lead to the bottom, but it seemed too dangerous, especially for children.

We did arrive at the top of the falls and saw several massive columns of stone. It was strange; I saw those stones in a dream perhaps only a month ago.

McKenna was my hiking buddy along the trail. She was so cute and just talked my little ear off. She talked forever about how trails can be dangerous; and how some rocks can hurt; and if she fell into the water she would just swim real hard until I reached her, because I'm "super-daddy" and would never let anything bad happen to her. She held my hand the whole way. It was sweet.

Overall, we had a wonderful time.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

american flag...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

cemetery on memorial day...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Memorial Day

My family visited the cemetery this afternoon in observance of Memorial Day, and to visit the graves of my great grandmother Alice F. Meier and my great grandfather Donald E. Olsen. They were divorced in life, but buried only a few yards away from each other. I'm not sure if it was intentional to place them so close to one another in death when they were so far apart in life.

I have very few memories of my great grandmother Alice. She suffered a stroke when I was only four or five years old, leaving her with a speech impairment and partially paralyzed on one side. My great uncle Skip cared for her at home. When we visited her at home, she occassionally wept for no apparent reason and my mother or father would say, "Great grandma's feeling sad. Why don't you give her a kiss and make her feel better." When I kissed her on the cheek, she stopped crying and sometimes smiled at me.

Tears fill my eyes as I remember those simple moments; a sign of the love our elders have for their children and grandchildren. Thirty years later, I remember the love my great grandma Alice had for me, even though she could not say the words, and I feel such tremendous gratitude.

The memory of love lives forever.

Unlike my great grandmother, I have no memories of my great grandfather Donald Olsen. I hear stories of his alcoholism, violence, and drunken rage against his own family. To this day, my grandma (his daughter) has nothing kind to say about him. I didn't live through his cruelty, but I can't help but think forgiveness is the key to redemption. I don't blame my grandmother's bitterness against him, but every year I place a flower on her father's grave.

Maybe some day our father's will be reconciled to their children in heaven, and grace will fill our eternity with joy.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

civil war re-enactment in spokane...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Civil War Re-Enactment

My family witnessed a re-enactment of the Civil War right here in Spokane. I knew such re-enactments took place on the great battlefields of the Old South, but I never knew they were so popular this far west and north.

I was immediately impressed by the authenticity of the costumes, weapons, camps, and other artifacts from the 1860s. The battle scene featured real cannons, Civil War era guns, and the smell of black powder. Volunteers set up authentic camps, cooked over fires, displayed authentic medical instruments of the age, played music, and offered information about many aspects of American life in the 1860s. Many times during the battle and touring the camps, I felt transported back in time and was overwhelmed by the solemn realization of how real these events were, and the terrible consequences of any war of a nation against itself.

Not long ago, I watched a television documentary about the politics leading up to the Civil War, and felt echoes of a nation still divided by opposing ideologies and politics. I wonder if liberal and conservative factions in this country will ever make allowances for one another, or if we'll continue the road of conflict.

On a personal note, my family loved seeing Grandpa Ron and Grandma Linda. They visited over the last few days, but not long enough. We'll miss them in the coming weeks and months.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

thank you cards from brentwood elementary...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Thank You Cards

I received homemade thank you cards from students at Brentwood Elementary who witnessed my Native American presentation several days ago. The cards included artwork produced by the students and many kind thoughts.

One group of students in particular caught my attention: "Dear Mr. Moses, thank you very much for coming to our class room. Also, we liked your items that you brought, they were really cool! Third, we loved your singing. In conclusion, we appreciate the Spokane Tribe more because of you."

Considering the difficulties I experienced these last few years, I find the affirmations encouraging.

Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Monday, May 23, 2005

spokane fish hatchery...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Spokane Fish Hatchery

Nothing exciting today, except that I over-extended myself and walked to the Spokane Fish Hatchery near St. George's School. I think my children would love to see the fish; we'll have to visit some time soon.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Wild Yellow Roses

A very low-key, mellow day; I worked in the yard and tended my garden of Native plants. I recently planted a wild yellow rose which I uprooted from an abandoned farmer's field near Long Lake Road. About a year ago, my auntie Janice asked me to get some yellow roses for her garden, but I never followed through until a few days ago. I got one for her and one for me. It's kind of a silly thing, but I prayed in the sweat that our roses would survive. It would be a wonderful blessing and a reminder of my uncle Sam's spirit.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Double Birthdays

May 21st marks the second anniversary of "the Crash," when all the world fell to pieces and we ultimately lost our two beloved sons, Anthony and Derrick. Today might have been especially difficult, had it not been for birthday celebrations in honor of our two nieces: Shanoah and London. We celebrated Shanoah's 8th birthday at Mission Park, and London's 1st birthday at the home of her parents in Spokane Valley. Our children certainly enjoyed the double celebration, and I enjoyed a welcome relief from my grieving. Blessings to both my nieces!

Friday, May 20, 2005

wellpinit prairie with sherwood mountain in the background...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Hotel Rwanda

Very rarely would I feel inclined to comment online regarding movies I watch, but every once in a while I see a film with such enormous impact I simply have to say something. My wife rented Hotel Rwanda, based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu hotel manager in Kigali who saved more than a thousand people at a time when a million of his Tutsi countrymen were massacred by Hutu militias. I'll say nothing more of the plot, except to mention the utter disregard shown to Rwanda by the United Nations in general, and certain western powers in particular: the United States, Great Britain, France, and Belgium. Scenes of genocide left me speechless, and western indifference further outraged me beyond words. I was sickened to know these atrocities occured during my adult life (1994), and yet we know know so little about it in the west; and then to think similar acts of violence are happening in Sudan at this very moment; it was almost too much to bear. This film moved me like no other; I wept like a baby.

Later that evening, I sweat with my uncle Pat and used my prayer in behalf of all those who suffer discrimination and hatred because of race, ethnicity, nationality, tribe, religion, sex, social class, or sexual orientation. In spite of my heartfelt prayer, I felt powerless, like I had not done enough to stop violence in the world.

Perhaps one small contribution I can make to my readers (all 3 of them) is to urge them to become educated regarding human rights issues around the world. A good place to start is:

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sun Bear's Legacy

My wife and I drove out with Kim and Trenton to visit my friend Edward. He owns a sizable chunk of land near Corkscrew Canyon Road that once belonged to a man by the name of Sun Bear. I don't know much about Sun Bear, except to say he established a non-profit organization known as the Bear Tribe, dedicated to teaching respect for Mother Earth and preserving spiritual practices from a variety of traditions. He died in the early 1990s.

The Bear Tribe no longer uses the site in any kind of organized manner, but a certain spirit of the land remains. Edward guided us through the area, scattered with cabins, stone medicine wheels, a "longhouse," a spring, and remnants of sacred doings from years ago.

Apparently people continue to visit informally and hold the land in reverence. In the short time we toured the site, someone visited unawares and placed an offering of fresh flowers at the center of one of the medicine wheels. We never saw the person, only the flowers, freshly cut and still unwithered by the sun.

When I was a teenager, I heard some disparaging comments about the Bear Tribe from other Native people, but I don't recall the exact nature of the criticism. I'm sure it had something to do with prejudice against "New Agers," but in spite of this vague and somewhat negative memory, I felt a strange power emanating from the land. The land itself is sacred, and holds echoes of the ones who most recently resided here and used the land for a sacred purpose.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Riverfront Park

Whitney and I walked through Riverfront Park on the way to the Spokane Public Library. We crossed the river by Cavanaugh's and stopped to watch the marmots. There were mother marmots, and babies, and one even walked right up to me and touched my shoe! I imagine they expected to be fed; later in the day, we saw a couple handfeeding the marmots. It was a beautiful day!

a marmot came right up to me in riverfront park...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

a view of downtown spokane from riverfront park...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

dakota's birthday...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Dakota's Birthday

Early in the day, Rhonda and I drove to the top of Mt. Spokane while the kids were at school. More than anything, I wanted to share a moment with my wife at a place we both appreciate. The views were breathtaking, and on the return trip we a saw a Great Blue Heron standing on the side of the road. The heron was startled when I stopped the car, but she perched long enough in the trees for me to get a photograph. I take it as a good omen.

A little later I took a hike along the Spokane River and photographed an abandoned bridge.

Dakota celebrated his 10th birthday this afternoon and decided we should all eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Spokane. Of course, his parents agreed and made a mini-adventure out of it. We parked near the old Fox Theatre and informally toured the Davenport Hotel before dinner. We watched as the kids pretended to be royalty at a ballroom dance. We also photographed some of the old buildings downtown. After dinner, the wait-staff gave Dakota a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a single candle. We all sang "Happy Birthday" and told him how blessed we feel to have him in our lives.

It was a good day.

view from mt. spokane...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Discarded columns behind the old Crescent Building...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Monday, May 16, 2005

first wild rose of the season...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Sam Moses at Wellpinit Powwow...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses. Posted with permission of Janice Moses.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Sam Moses Memorial

My great uncle Sam Moses died on March 1, 2005, and this afternoon, my family honored him with a memorial dinner and giveaway. Friends and relatives from all over gathered at the Green House in Wellpinit and enjoyed a beautiful meal together; in fact, I've rarely seen so many people in the Green House at one time. Several in attendance stood and shared memories of Sam, words of wisdom, and teachings they received during his life among us. Friends from across the river brought a drum and sang some of his favorite wardance songs, and keeping with our tradition, the family distributed my uncle's personal belongings to everyone who attended.

Nearly everyone who shared words this afternoon remembered Sam's big heart and devotion to family. Time and again, people expressed gratitude for his kindness and for his refusal to gossip or badmouth others.

I was deeply moved by everything I saw and heard today.

Before my father died in 1994, he and my uncle Sam were very close. Out of respect for both men, I stood on the floor and shared a few words, and also sang one of my father's songs. Dad's been gone for 11 years, and just when I think I've "gotten over it," I stand on the edge of another passing and all the old feelings come rushing back. I suppose there is no "getting over it;" the love we share as a family never dies, and on days like today their love returns with tenderness and deep emotion. The ones we love are never really very far away.

I'm sure Sam, my father, and all the others who went before us were pleased to witness our gathering today.

After we left the dinner, my children and I stopped at the cemetery at Sacred Catholic Church to visit the graves of our loved ones. As young as they are, my children expressed a great amount of interest in knowing about our relatives.

In the interest of historical photography, I stopped at St. Joseph's Catholic Church near Ford, Washington. The church is no longer used as a place of worship, but is maintained as an historical site. I love to introduce my children to all different forms of spirituality, culture, and belief. They enjoyed seeing the statues inside the church, and of course ringing the bell.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

a fireplace still stands in the ruined house...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

looking out the door...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Stone House

I took my children on a hike by the Spokane River, just below T.J. Meenach Bridge. We saw the remains of a ruined stone house. Does anyone know the history of that house?

Friday, May 13, 2005

the spokane river below nine mile falls dam...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

The Beginning of Wisdom

According to my custom, I drove to Wellpinit to sweat with my uncle Pat Moses. I stopped several times along the way and took pictures of the scenery.

During the sweat lodge ceremony, I felt deeply moved by the mystery of life. I reflected on the changing circumstances of life, and was reminded of another tradition when the Buddha said: "People naturally fear misfortune and long for good fortune; but if the distinction is carefully studied, misfortune often turns out to be good fortune, and good fortune to be misfortune. The wise man learns to meet the changing circumstances of life with an equitable spirit, being neither elated by success nor depressed by failure," (The Teaching of Buddha, published by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1966).

This teaching has proved true in my own life. Some of my darkest experiences have given the greatest blessings.

snake by the little spokane river...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

rattlesnake on the trail's edge...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

On the Little Spokane River

This afternoon I took my dogs for a hike near the Little Spokane River, just beyond Rutter Parkway. We started at the Indian paintings, and walked all the way to the entrance of Spokane House (my apologies to the state park people, I didn't see the 'no pets' sign until I was leaving). We encountered some interesting animals along the way.

On our way to the Spokane House site, we encountered a snake by the water. My dogs Kelbie and Bo didn't even notice and walked right over the top of it; however, I stopped and got a very nice photograph.

About a quarter of a mile from Spokane House, a large osprey flew overhead and circled above us at least a dozen times. I wonder if that was natural behavior for an osprey, especially since we were near its nest.

On the way back to the car, we encountered a second snake on the main trail, and once again, the dogs were oblivious. The snake lay very still at the edge of the trail, but when I attempted to pass, it recoiled somewhat and rattled its tail! Before today, I had never stood so close to a rattlesnake in the wild; in fact, I'm not sure if I ever saw a rattlesnake in the wild. I carefully passed by on the opposite side of the trail and managed to get a fairly good picture (using the zoom feature on my camera, of course).

Later in the evening, as I drove home from Wellpinit, I saw a third snake on the highway! I've not seen a snake in years, but today I saw three. Is this coincidence or some kind of message?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Native American Presentation

My son asked me to do a Native American presentation at Brentwood Elementary. I used to present fairly often, but not within the last few years. Education is necessary, but it hurts me to see how many people still cling to old Hollywood stereotypes.

After some reflection about past presentations, I agreed to present. Dakota's teacher arranged for the entire third grade to attend and not just his class.

Dakota and I prepared a general powerpoint about the Spokane Tribe, and I brought several items for the kids to see: feathers, a drum, a flute, etc. I sang some traditional songs and felt deeply impressed the songs were blessing the children, even if most of them would never know it or understand. I felt a powerful surge of spiritual energy throughout my entire body as I sang, and I knew the spirits were happy. The kids seemed genuinely moved, and several of them told me afterwards, "That was amazing!"

I'm glad Dakota invited me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Transcending our differences

As our nation has become increasingly divided between liberal and conservative factions, I have often thought we must find something to transcend our differences.

Elie Wiesel once said, "The essential questions have no answers. You are my question and I am yours - and then there is dialogue. The moment we have answers, there is no dialogue. Questions unite people, answers divide them, so why have answers when you can live without them?"

Monday, May 09, 2005

A tree fort on Temple Hill.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day on Temple Hill

My wife and children attended church services this morning. I wanted to attend out of respect for Mother's Day and to hear my children sing, but I didn't sleep until almost 8:00 this morning; I pulled another all-night fit of insomnia.

We had dinner with my wife's family at the home of Steve Merchant, her second oldest brother. Steve lives on a beautiful hillside near Mt. Spokane covered with Native American medicines and foods: sunflowers, brown camas, wild strawberries, and I'm sure many others. Steve's house sits on Temple Road; an appropriate name considering the presence of so many sacred plants. The entire hill is a temple; a mountain of Amotken, the Lord.

When we arrived, Dakota and I spent some bonding time learning about the plants and their various uses. I got to teach him a little about what I know, and he got to show me a fort he built with his cousins.

Rhonda and I watched an LDS film titled "The Work and the Glory;" about a fictional family who became aquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and converted to the early church. The film affected me in ways I did not anticipate. First, I was moved by the portrayal of conflict when family members hold differing beliefs and values; and second, I was moved by the portrayal of Joseph Smith and his spiritual calling. While I tend to disbelieve the literal and exclusionary version of Joseph's testimony, I nonetheless felt moved to reflect upon my own dreams, visions, and spiritual experiences. Joseph seemed to know the direction of his work somewhat early in adulthood, whereas I fail to understand what God wants me to do with spiritual information I receive. In spite of personal doubts and concerns, I took comfort in the title of the film. I resolved to accept God's will for my life, and to remember: whatever he may require of me is not my work and glory, but his.

We also visited grandma and grandpa great in their home on "Temple Hill." I deeply respect them for their kindness and generosity. Even as I distance myself from the LDS Church, grandma and grandpa great always treat me with utmost dignity and respect. Besides, Rhonda's grandparents are Mormons of impeccable character, and yet they embrace a much more compassionate and moderate philosophy than most conservative Mormons I know personally.

Grandpa showed me his war medals and told me about a brief encounter he had with General MacArthur in the Philippines. During the Second World War, grandpa operated a catepillar and helped build roads in areas occupied by the Allies. On one occasion, General MacArthur's jeep got stuck in the mud, and without a word, grandpa pulled it free. As the general drove away, he waved and said, "Thank you soldier." Grandpa says he would never want to fight another war, but he's proud of the work he did. As I listen to his words, I too feel pride for his service to this country.

I continue to experience withdrawal symptoms from my medication, but today was a beautiful experience.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Manito Park

My daughters and I visited Manito Park on the South Hill, including the Japanese Gardens, Duncan Gardens, and the Conservatory. We had a delightful time seeing all the beautiful sights and appreciating a wonderful photo opportunity.

Japanese Gardens in Spokane.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Conservatory at Manito Park.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Long Lake after a rainstorm.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Petroglyphs near Tum Tum, Washington.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Grandfather's Lodge

Like so many other Fridays, I struggled to leave the anxieties of city life and make my road to Grandfather's Lodge. All too often I tend to avoid spiritual devotion at the very moment I need it most. Life in Spokane exterts a strange influence over my mind: it feeds my addiction to convenience and partially blocks my sense of spirit; but when I finally get past the mental obstacles and simply get in my car and drive, the clouds lift with each passing mile.

On my way to Wellpinit, I saw and felt the spirits in many forms: a pair of moose feeding in the Little Spokane River, ancients rock paintings near Tum Tum, rain showers washing the sky, the sound of wind in the trees...

During the sweat my emotions came forth to be healed. I felt an outpouring of grief for my two sons who were taken, pain because of all the suffering my family endured over the last two years, rage for the ones who caused our suffering, struggle to find forgiveness, and fear for all the uncertainties of my future. All these feelings and others I cannot name came pouring from my heart as I wept. Thankfully, these were not tears of despair, but of healing. When I closed my eyes and listened to the songs, I could see the spirits gathering around as if to say, "Don't worry. Everything will be all right. We've seen your heart and now we'll do our best to help you."

I left Grandfather's Lodge feeling cleansed and renewed.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bitterroots in Bloom.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Root Digging Near Davenport

My sister Kim and I drove past Davenport, Washington this afternoon and dug white camas (lomatium canbyi) and bitterroot (lewisia rediviva). I suppose we went a little too late in the season. The roots already started drying up; not to mention we suffered drought conditions earlier this year, resulting in fewer and smaller roots than I remember seeing in many years. On the other hand, I hear the roots are quite abundant this year around Wilbur, so I may have to make another trip in the next few days.

My sister and I had a good visit. Every time we pulled up a root, we joked about being "camas warriors" on a successful "hunt;" as if camas had anything to do with hunting.

Our family has visited the camas fields every year for as long as anyone can remember. In fact, our ancestors used to camp several weeks every spring until they collected enough roots to last the whole year. They preserved the roots by either hanging them out to dry, or by baking them in earthen pits. Nowadays, we depend more on supermarkets and fast food than we do bitterroots or camas, but we continue the tradition of root digging as a vital link to community, spirituality, and culture. Roots are spiritual medicine; and like a sacrament, they remind us of who we really are in relationship to life and the spirits. They connect us to all that is.

When my father died, I inherited certain ceremonial duties and obligations, including the responsibility of feeding the people. In accordance with instructions left before his death, I offer a traditional dinner as soon as possible after first snow, and again when the snow finally melts in spring: venison, salmon, camas, huckleberries, bitterroot, and moss.

Gathering Indian foods is my obligation and also my honor. It is my connection to personal healing and life.