Faces in a Crowd…of Accordions!

Notice all the faces in this group of accordion players getting ready for the big Accordion Parade down the main street of Leavenworth, Washington.  All ages, both sexes, no two alike.

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I’ll bet you could not tell that the man at the right with his back to you and the LIAC t-shirt is blind.  Yes, a blind accordionist, guided by the friend on his left.  Music makes every face a happy one!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/a-face-in-the-crowd/

 

A Weekend at Jazz Port Townsend

Back in March, Hubby and I attended the After Midnight Gala auction for the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, a wonderful jazz Big Band.  At that auction, we bought a weekend package that included two nights of lodging, and tickets to Friday and Saturday concerts, the weekend of July 31.  Port Townsend is across Puget Sound from our home in Everett, so the weekend started with a beautiful ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston.  We just love this ferry, and sometimes we just go for a day trip.  It was sunny and warm.  Here are some pictures of what we saw from the ferry on the way over.

This one was taken from the ferry before we even left port!  The State is doing some upgrades to the dock, and I am always impressed with the big machinery.

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Next, I turned my camera in toward the car deck, and I just laughed to see this vehicle parked next to us.  Check out the license plate frame.

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We really do live in one of the most gorgeous places in the world.

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That’s Mount Baker, which is north of us, nearly on the Canadian border.

We drove on west through Kingston and Port Gamble, and reached Port Townsend in the late afternoon.  Here are a couple of pictures of the place we stayed.  This is a private home, which was donated by the owner for the auction (one of the SRJO board members had stayed there and loved it).  We had our own little suite with a private entrance at the back.  Beware that monster!

Friday night’s concert (and all the rest) was held in a former blimp hangar at Fort Worden.  Here are some shots of the outside and the inside.  No photography was allowed during the concerts, of course.

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Friday night’s performers were two groups.  The first group was called “Keep on Keepin’ On”, with Justin Kauflin (an amazing blind pianist), Doug Weiss, Bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums.  The second group “The Haris House”, consisted of Niki Haris, a wonderful singer, backed up by Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Sullivan Fortner on piano, John Clayton on bass, and Joe LaBarbera on drums.  They were all fantastic, and had the audience captivated.  Jazz musicians tend to have a great sense of humor, too, and we all got lots of laughs.

Saturday had two performances, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.  Outside the hall in the afternoon, there were groups of student musicians who had been at the week-long jazz workshop, showing their stuff.  These kids are awesome!

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Saturday afternoon’s concert was incredible, featuring a lady who really screamed on her saxophone.  You don’t often think of sax players as ladies, but this one, Tia Fuller, really knows her stuff!  She was backed up by Sullivan Fortner on piano, Doug Weiss on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums.  Beautiful woman, great music, and lots of laughs-what more could you ask for?

Next on the program “Lifting Voices”, consisting of Cedric Dent and Niki Haris vocals, Sullivan Fortner again on piano, Jon Hamar, bass, and Joe LaBarbera on drums.

Last came the “All Star Big Band” of the workshop faculty, directed by John Clayton.  They did get a little snippy with the conductor, but then they’re all stars in their own right!  Soloists were Jeff Clayton on alto sax, Adrian Cunningham on tenor sax, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Sean Jones and Terell Stafford on trumpet, Hubert Laws on flute, and vocals by Dee Daniels and Niki Haris.  The rest of the band consisted of Mark Taylor and Tia Fuller on alto sax; Adrian Cunningham and Alex Dugdale on tenor sax; Gary Smulyan on baritone sax; Brad Allison, Terell Stafford, Sean Jones, Jay Thomas, Andy Omdahl on trumpet; Wycliffe Gordon, David Marriott, Dan Marcus on trombone; Greg Schroder on bass trombone, Dan Balmer on guitar, Bill Cunliffe on piano, Chuck Deardorf on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums.  I swear, Matt Wilson looked like something straight out of Mad Men!  Needless to say, they were awesome.

After the Saturday afternoon concert we had some free time, so we went looking for dinner.  We first drove down to the Port Townsend Marina.  Beautiful!

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Saturday night’s concert was just wonderful.  The first act featured someone who I had never heard of before, Hubert Laws, whose instrument is the flute!  You don’t often think of the flute as a jazz instrument, but Mr. Laws is a past master.  Aside from the fact that the flute can get overpowered by louder instruments, the program was very fun, and Hubert Laws is a great musician.  The last act featured a tribute to Louis Armstrong, led by Wycliffe Gordon on his trombone.  All the musicians were really playing out, and we all felt that we had been really “jazzed-up” by the end of the evening.

As usual, we arose late on Sunday for the drive and ferry ride home.  Here are some of the things we saw on the way out of town to the ferry in Kingston.

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The Fort Worden Military Cemetery in just outside the gates.  That is a cannon way over on the edge of the enclosure.

Closer to town, we drove by this old building, being devoured by the vegetation, and I just had to get its picture.

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Most of my readers and followers know my political orientation.  This sign, which we saw all over town, shows the orientation of most of the town.  Opposite from mine.

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Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

Here are a couple of photos taken from the bluff just outside the east gate of the old fort.

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That’s the old officers’ quarters, which are now vacation rentals.

We got to Kingston around 4:00PM, and got in the ferry line.  I went hunting with my camera, and this is what I found.

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The newly-legal industry is doing their “good citizen” activity.  Sigh…

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Yes, even expensive Italian sports cars take the ferry.

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The Norwegian Pearl, starting its journey to Alaska from Seattle.  Three cruise lines ply that route, and it’s prime tourist season.

Once on the ferry, I got this one.  Beautiful sailboat, in a brisk wind.  She’s the Mata Hari.

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All in all, a wonderful weekend.

Some thoughts on the King County (WA) Ballot Proposition 1, “Sales tax for Cultural Access Program”

Some thoughts on the King County (WA) Ballot Proposition 1, “Sales tax for Cultural Access Program”

Here is the text of the ballot measure on the primary ballot in King County, Washington, that includes Seattle and surrounding suburbs.

King County
Proposition No. 1
Sales Tax for Cultural Access Program

The King County Council passed Ordinance No. 18513 to establish and fund a cultural access program. The program would expand access to arts, science, and heritage programming throughout King County. The program would include cultural education in schools and transportation to cultural venues for public school students. The program would also provide funding for cultural organizations to expand programming, including to serve diverse and underserved populations. The cultural access program, including administrative costs, would be funded by a county sales tax increase of one-tenth of one percent for seven years beginning January 1, 2018.  [Emphasis mine]

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Last night, and at a concert last week, the Marketing Manager of the Seattle Chamber Music Festival urged us in the audience to vote in favor of this addition to the Sales Tax in King County.  Being a Cultural Organization, the Seattle Chamber Music Society would get some funding from the sales taxes.  Vote King County a higher sales tax, so we may have some of those funds.

Here are some of my thoughts and questions about this ballot measure.

  1.  King County is the most liberal political unit in the state of Washington.  The residents of King County, and Seattle, rarely saw a tax they didn’t like.  The city of Seattle has numerous times voted to tax its property owners additionally for schools, the homeless, family programs, transportation,  ad infinitum.
  2. The liberals who live in King County are always bemoaning the “regressive” taxation scheme in Washington State, whose Constitution forbids an income tax, and its reliance on sales taxes, which disproportionately fall on the “poor”, “low-income” portion of the population. {An aside–the Seattle City Council has just voted unanimously to institute an income tax on its wealthiest citizens, knowing full well that this is illegal and will be held up by lawsuits from day one}
  3. The Sales Tax in Seattle has already broken the 10% level, and is approaching 10% everywhere else.
  4. If this measure passes, everyone in King County will be paying an extra $.01 in sales taxes on everything they buy.  Yes, those poor, underserved community members will also be paying that extra sales tax on everything they buy, in order that they may have “improved access”, whatever that means, to “cultural programs”.  There is no way to exempt the low-income from paying this additional sales tax.
  5. The money collected from this additional regressive sales tax, will cover “administrative costs”, as stated in the ballot measure above.  Did anyone opine on what percentage of the money collected will go for administration?  Administration includes the costs of collecting the money, allocating it to a special account, deciding which organizations will receive money, and deciding how much will go to each organization.  Employees will have to be hired (and paid, and provided with benefits including pension), to develop an application form and procedure, and then to evaluate the applications as they are received, to decide how the money collected will be spent.
  6. What happens when the cost of living in King County rises by the amount of this additional sales tax on everything you buy?  Might the increase in the cost of a new car discourage someone from buying a new car in King County?  The surrounding counties of Pierce, Snohomish, and Kittitas will not be raising their sales taxes, so a certain amount of purchases of expensive items might go to another county.  Those low-income residents of King County might have to defer purchases into the future, or not buy at all, since their income would not rise to cover the additional expense.  It has been shown that those who advocate for higher taxes rarely take into account the behavior changes that happen when someone experiences an increase in their cost of living.
  7. Who decides which cultural and heritage organizations will receive money from these new “access” funds?  Do faceless bureaucrats in Seattle decide how to allocate this money?  Do they solicit input from the arts community?  Do they give money to organizations whom they know and patronize themselves?  Do they favor the “charity of the month”, like the Gay Pride organization, or the Seattle Symphony?  Do they give money to the ACT Theater, which promotes liberal causes and puts on productions which take gratuitous slaps at a president they don’t like?  Will they be funding the “Resistance”?  Will they solicit input from ALL the people who will be paying higher taxes for the next seven years?
  8. What do they actually mean by “Access”?  Is there an implication that access is now denied to some of the “underserved” population?  Do they know who the underserved are?  How do they determine who is underserved?  And exactly who makes that determination?  What do they mean by “diverse”?  People of color, people of oppressed ethnic groups, people of sexual minorities?

My guess is that those promoting this new tax have not given any consideration to many of my points above, especially the one about our regressive tax system here in Washington State.  They think that everyone will just happily pay more for everything they buy, knowing that those underserved, low-income populations will benefit from their largesse.  It will make the relatively wealthy residents of Seattle feel good, knowing that they are helping those underserved populations get a dose of “culture” that they are being denied now.  Starting in the late 1960s, cultural programs in the Seattle Public Schools were reduced, in order to pay for busing students across the city for desegregation.  These days, the Seattle Public Schools have all sorts of programs devoted to sex-education, environmental education, and “white-privilege” education; and their dropout rates are much higher than they were in the 1960s.  Also, these days 40% of the schools budgets go for administration, eating up funds that could be spent on art and music in the schools.

It will be interesting to see how the residents of King County vote on this new sales tax proposal.  I do not live in King County, so I don’t get to vote on this measure.  But if it passes, I will do my best to spend as little as possible in King County.  See, people DO change their behavior in response to economic incentives.

Celebrate our Beautiful Country

Celebrate our Beautiful Country

Every day, I give thanks to have been born in the Greatest Country on God’s Green Earth.  Our country is one of the most beautiful on Earth, with terrain ranging from blazing hot deserts, to grassy prairies, to high snow-capped mountains, to chains of beautiful blue lakes.  The American people are the most generous in the world, voluntarily supporting thousands of charities in the US and doling out the largest share of ANY country, of aid to needy folks in foreign nations.  The Left in the US likes to portray everyone other than themselves as racist, sexist, bigoted (fill in the blank)-phobes, who are only out for themselves, literally taking food from the mouths of needy babies everywhere.  But we’re not.  So, herewith, is a celebration of the beauty of the United States of America, and its people.

Deception Pass, looking East

Western Washington, this is Deception Pass, looking East from the (scary) Deception Pass Bridge.  That’s Mount Baker in the distance.  You can see why Washington’s nickname is the Evergreen State.

Taken from the Washington State Ferry that goes from Anacortes, Wa to Sydney, British Columbia
Taken from the Washington State Ferry that goes from Anacortes, Wa to Sydney, British Columbia

Boats in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, in the Straits of Juan de Fuca (separating the US from Canada).  Millions of families in Washington own boats, from simple rowboats and small motorboats to huge yachts, and sailboats.  Puget Sound is crowded with boats on any sunny summer day.  I know a rabbi who has seven children, and his big extravagance was a motor boat, on which he and his family traveled whenever they could get away.

Diablo Lake from Overlook on Highway 20

This is Diablo Lake, in the North Cascades.  It’s about a one-hour drive there from our house, and we love to go on a day trip when the weather is nice.  Out of view is Diablo Dam, which provides hydroelectric power to the Greater Seattle area.  I have always marveled at the ingenuity it took for people to design and build a hydroelectric dam.

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And the people.  This is a crowd of accordionists, at the Gazebo in Leavenworth, Washington, at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.  Players ranging in age from 7 to 77, playing music for the sheer joy of it.  And there is as much variety in the accordions as in the players.

Potholes Reservoir, Eastern Washington-site of ancient flood
Potholes Reservoir, Eastern Washington-site of ancient flood

The Eastern part of Washington State is much drier than the Western part, its landscape showing the effects of receding glaciers, and ancient floods.  Millions of years ago, this was a giant waterfall.  Nature sculpts for us to admire.

 

Prickly Pear and Agave under a tree
Prickly Pear and Agave under a tree

Even in the harshest desert climates, plants grow, and feed birds, insects, and other small animals.  This is the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

IMG_1674There are places where people like to gather, to place their bets, and to just marvel at the beauty and power of thoroughbred horses.  The Sport of Kings, indeed.  Emerald Downs, near Tacoma, Washington.

Grand Canyon, South Rim
Grand Canyon, South Rim

Of course, a celebration of America would not be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon.  Think about it.  Through millions of years, the Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon.  Remarkable what running water, and time, can accomplish.

Tahoe Shoreline
Tahoe Shoreline

Beautiful, blue, Lake Tahoe.

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And friends, from all over this country, meeting for the first time on the shore of Lake Tahoe.  Ricochet Meetup.

Central Hall, Hillsdale College

A true National Treasure, Hillsdale College in Michigan.  Teaching Truth, Defending Liberty, since 1844.

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Another National Treasure.  Saint Joseph’s Polish Catholic Church, Camden, New Jersey.  Celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2012.  Polish-language Mass is still celebrated here daily, by the Polish priest.  The parishioners and former parishioners at Saint Joe’s have supported it, and kept it maintained in all its glory for a very long time.

Everett Symphony on stage at Carnegie Hall
Everett Symphony on stage at Carnegie Hall

Proof that even amateurs can make it to Carnegie Hall.  We went in the summer of 2006, and played Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony.  You can spot me right in front of the tympani.

 

In front of "enemy lines", July 4, 2006 in Albany, NY
In front of “enemy lines”, July 4, 2006 in Albany, NY

I just couldn’t let this opportunity get away.   Me, in my Rush Limbaugh Club G’itmo t-shirt, in front of the Democratic Party booth, Fourth of July in Albany, New York.  Sometimes, if you search on RushBabe on Google, this picture appears!

Cape May

From Sea to Shining Sea.  The Atlantic Ocean at Cape May, New Jersey.

Celebrating the Magnificence of the United States of America and its people.

Weekly Photo Challenge…Harmony…My Heritage in Pictures, and Music

In 2007, my husband and I went to Israel with Michael Medved and his family (he is based and broadcasts from KTTH 770 Radio in Seattle).  One morning, I took a solitary walk to the Old City in Jerusalem, and visited the Western (Wailing) Wall, the remaining remnant of the Second Temple.  Jews come here to mourn the loss of the Temple, and pray for its restoration.  Many worshippers write their prayers on tiny slips of paper and insert them between the stones, to speak for them after they have left the area.  I felt the wailing, and the prayers, and the anguish of my people-tears came to my eyes.  I placed my hand on the wall to feel its power, and took a picture with my camera.  This is a constant reminder of my visit, and my heritage.  Harmony-connected to the reminder of the 2,500-year history of my people.

My hand on Wailing Wall

This picture has a sound-track, too.  I have always loved this “round”, Don McLean singing “Babylon”.  Words from Psalm 137.

This is a bigger picture of the Wall, and the worshippers.

People pray at the most powerful symbol of enduring Judiasm.
People pray at the most powerful symbol of enduring Judiasm.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/harmony/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic!

I am the most optimistic when I am playing or listening to music.  It is a true gift to be able to play an instrument, and it’s really difficult to be depressed or anxious while playing with your group.  Or listening to your husband’s group!  Here are a couple of pictures from our trip to Midsummer Musical Retreat, an adult music camp, in 2011.

The Whole Sax Ensemble
The Whole Sax Ensemble

That’s my husband, second from right (above).

Hello Cellos!
Hello Cellos!

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