Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Thwart Thieves This Summer

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

 14main

Take steps before hitting the road on vacation

Setting off on a road trip can be an adventure—one you hope to talk about for years to come.

While not all road trips go off without a hitch, being mindful of those with bad intentions can protect you, your family and your belongings.

Becoming a victim of theft thwarts plans to relax and make the trip memorable for all the right reasons. Don’t be an easy mark: Safeguard your vehicle, identity and home, and enjoy the many things you set out to do this summer.

Vehicle Theft
Your vehicle is usually close by when you are on a road trip, so the idea that it could be stolen probably is not a concern—but it should be.

Think of how often your vehicle is unattended: at rest areas, convenience stores, historical sites or amusement parks.

If your vehicle is stolen, your vacation could be wrecked in an instant. And it is not just the vehicle itself. On a road trip, often your car is full of personal necessities that can lure thieves.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, auto theft peaks in the summer, with most vehicle thefts occurring in July and August.

“Wherever your car is parked—whether at a hotel, in a gas station parking lot or even at your own home—you need to take precautions, especially during warmer weather,” says Troy Sandberg, a security expert. “Leaving your windows cracked, even slightly, can be an invitation for theft.”

To avoid becoming a victim of vehicle theft this summer, he says to:

  • Identify possible threats. “There are a variety of items that are attractive to thieves: electronics, gas, metal and even the car itself,” says Sandberg. “Take a look at your car and note if any of the above are easily accessible.” Parts of a vehicle can be dissected and sold for scrap, including catalytic convertors and tires.
  • Secure your vehicle. Park in well-lit areas. Keep your windows rolled up and doors locked at all times when away from your vehicle. If you have an alarm system, use it, even if you plan to leave the vehicle unattended for only a short time.
  • Keep a watchful eye. If you plan to leave town without your vehicle, inform your neighbors or property management and ask them to report suspicious activity around your home and vehicle. Keep your belongings out of sight, and never leave your keys in your vehicle. “Any pedestrian traffic after dark should be treated with in-depth observation,” Sandberg says. “People walking in groups or less populated parts of a property can be a cause for concern.”

Home Theft
It is unnerving to know your home is vulnerable while you are away. According to Farmers Insurance, every 10 seconds an American home is burglarized—and you don’t need to be wealthy to tempt thieves.

Homes with high-tech electronics and jewelry are targets, but all modern conveniences can lure in robbers, including televisions, computers and cameras.

When away from home, Farmers Insurance says to take these precautions:

  • Suspend delivery or make sure mail and newspapers are picked up.
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed.
  • Ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway.
  • Put lights, TV and stereo on timers that turn on and off randomly.
  • Do not advertise your absence with notes or announcements on voicemail, email, Facebook or Twitter.
  • Turn off your telephone ringer.
  • Consider installing a motion detector on outside lights.

Identity Theft
According to the Javelin Strategy & Research 2016 Identity Fraud Report, identity fraud affected 13.1 million consumers in 2015, with $112 billion stolen in the past six years.

While many financial institutions and businesses protect customers when information has been compromised, consumers are still affected.

Becoming a victim of identity theft while on vacation—especially if far from home—can be traumatic.

To safeguard your identity when traveling, Kiplinger suggests:

Inform your credit card company of your travels, especially if you will be out of the country. Financial institutions are cracking down on unusual spending behaviors. Your account could be frozen if your company identifies spending activity outside your normal region.

If you receive an alert about suspicious activity on your cell phone, do not call the number provided or reply by text. This has become a common practice for thieves. Instead, call the number on the back of your credit card.

Rid your wallet of unneeded credit cards or other personal information, such as your Social Security card, and store them in a secure location. Only keep items in your wallet that you will need on vacation. Make copies of those items to use if your wallet is stolen.

Keep your hotel room clear of personal information when you are not there to keep an eye on it.

Be careful using your laptop, the hotel computer and ATMs, which can be rigged with devices that read your personal information.

Check accounts regularly to ensure you are the only one accessing them.

11 Outdoor Uses for a Bandana

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
20main

Fabric and color are two things to consider when shopping for an outdoors bandana. Generally, you want an eye-catching color, such as red or orange, since the bandana may be used as a marker or signal flag, and because it makes it harder to lose. Cotton is a good, all-around fabric choice, due to its light weight and comfort. Cotton also is very absorbent, which comes in handy when used as a drying cloth, cooling wrap or sweatband. Photo by Tarik Kizilkaya

Bandanas are a lightweight, versatile outdoor necessity. Not only can they make a fashion statement, they also have dozens of practical uses. Here are 11 of the most notable ones:

  • Head cover. Buff. Do-rag. Whatever you call it, a bandana can keep the sun off of your head and junk out of your hair.
  • Signal flag. Also great for marking things, such as trails, hazards or rally points.
    First-aid gear. Use as a bandage, tourniquet, sling or makeshift ice pack. It also works for binding a splint.
  • Cleaning cloth.
    A bandana offers hundreds of cleaning uses. Wash your face, wipe your gear, clean a wound, wash dishes, clean your glasses, blow your nose—you get the idea.
  • Coffee filter. Separate the grounds from coffee by pouring it through a bandana. Also, use it as a salad spinner, a pasta strainer or a water prefilter.
  • Sweatband. Cotton fabric works best. Roll it up and tie around your head to keep sweat out of your eyes. Bandanas also work great as wristbands to keep hands dry when using trekking poles.
  • Cooling wrap. A bandana soaked in water and tied around the neck provides a refreshing treat on a hot day.
  • Pot holder. Protect your hands from burns while handling hot pots or pans on a stove or over a campfire.
  • Face mask. Wear it over your nose and mouth to protect against wind, sun, smoke and dust.
  • Tinder. A dry, cotton bandana can be torn and “fuzzed” to create firestarter. Use this as a last resort, only if other fire-starting materials are not readily available.
  • Cordage. Use a bandana for binding things. For addi-tional length, tear it into strips and tie them together.

Sweat the Small Stuff
It’s easy to overlook the little things. They don’t take much time or effort—and don’t seem significant—but they can make a big difference.

What follows are three “little things” you might consider before heading out on your next fishing excursion.

Keep your hooks sticky sharp. It just takes a few minutes to sharpen them yourself or pick up new ones at the sporting goods store.

Spin on a fresh spool of line, especially if it has been months since you last replaced it.

Take along a thermometer. Water temperature is an important factor. An accurate read allows you to predict hatches, and find cooler water in summer and warmer water in colder weather.

Outdoor 101: Different Rope for Different Folks

  • General-purpose rope. Made of hemp, cotton, or other natural or synthetic material, it has limited strength, but can be used for lashing light loads, clotheslines and practicing knot tying. Its primary advantages are it is cheap and readily available.
  • Poly rope. This is a waterproof version of general-purpose rope. It is inexpensive, durable and floats, but it can be difficult to work with.
  • Marine rope. It is strong and weatherproof, which makes it ideal for rigging and mooring lines.

What Day is It?
June 4: National Trails Day
June 18: Go Fishing Day
June 18: Picnic Day
June 25: National Catfish Day

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

The Means to Fulfill a Mission

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
Heather Mehra-Pedersen (back row, center) poses with members of the Matsiko Orphan Choir while they visited the Talus Rock Retreat in August 2013. The children are from countries in Africa, Asia and South America.

Heather Mehra-Pedersen (back row, center) poses with members of the Matsiko Orphan Choir while they visited the Talus Rock Retreat in August 2013. The children are from countries in Africa, Asia and South America.

Heather Mehra-Pedersen weaves her way along a street crowded with vendors, beggars, rickshaws, cars and the occasional elephant. The smell of sweat, sewage and other unpleasant odors mingle with the rich aromas of spices and sizzling pans of street food.

As Heather glances at a child asking for change, the voice of an orphan from a past service trip echoes in her mind: “In America, do you dream in rainbows?”

“It does take your breath away,” says Heather. “Delhi should be one of the great wonders of the world in and of itself.”

This is Heather’s India. She has visited nine countries with the International Children’s Network Matsiko World Orphan Choir searching for orphaned or at-risk children in Asia, Africa and South America to participate in the U.S. World Orphan Choir tour. All proceeds earned on the tour support educational sponsorship, giving the children a chance to earn a university degree.

When Heather is not globetrotting for a cause, she owns and operates Talus Rock Retreat in Sandpoint, Idaho. It took Heather and her husband, Bruce, more than 28 years to purchase land, and design and build the retreat.

After the couple and their three children, Kipling, Rio and Selkirk, moved into Talus Rock in February 2008, their vision for the home quickly changed due to the recession.

“We originally built (the house) to serve those who serve others. Those who serve others don’t make very much money like teachers, soldiers, pastors, missionaries,” says Heather. “When the economy turned in 2008, we had a large infrastructure here so we used our biggest asset to hold during the economic downturn. Now we get to do tourism and service.”

The money earned from Talus Rock Retreat allows Heather and her family to serve in countries throughout Africa and Asia. Heather’s favorite is India.

“My father is from India. It feels like home to me and those kids feel like little brothers and sisters, and it looks like they could all be my kids,” Heather says, who is the international director of Asia for International Children’s Network. “I love the food and the challenge of traveling in India.”

Talus Rock Retreat has shaped the Pederson’s lives and allowed them the opportunity to contribute to a global mission. Heather enjoys the many connections she makes with her guests while stewarding her property, which hosts weddings and business retreats year-round. It offers many artfully crafted rooms, a large swimming and fishing pond, and it is located only a mile from downtown Sandpoint, with countless opportunities to explore the region.

The retreat house features many artifacts from the Pedersen’s travels. Small touches scattered throughout the house exhibit true attention to detail and craftsmanship.

Although Talus Rock Retreat is a chic, rustic get-a-way, Heather explains that their property does not reflect the character of her family.

“This really isn’t our skin,” says Heather about the family’s 8,300-square-foot retreat home. “We don’t have fancy cars, dripping jewelry. What we love to do is serve.”

While raising kids at the retreat has exposed them to people from all walks of life, the service trips give the Pedersen kids a global perspective.

“Our kids have grown up realizing what it’s like to not have running water, (to be) sick, uncomfortable,” says Heather. “We eat beetles. You eat whatever’s being served, sometimes you don’t eat.”

Last spring, Heather and her youngest son, Selkirk, completed a three-week tour for the ICN’s 2016 Matsiko World Orphan Choir tour. The trip took them on 14 different planes and through eight countries in 21 days.

Selkirk, 17, recalls one of his favorite moments was playing in the river with Filipino orphan children.

He has been on seven different service trips in his lifetime and enjoys exploring the countries, experiencing other cultures and meeting new people. These trips have enlightened him to the many advantages he has had growing up in America.

“I just think (traveling) kind of makes students my age aware of what’s happening in third world countries to broaden their perspective about how entitled and spoiled (they are) and be more grateful for the things they have,” says Selkirk.

Selkirk has a crowd funding campaign on gofundme.com to film orphans and at-risk children living in third world countries to raise awareness. He plans to study business and law with a minor in film in college.

“I want to continue to travel and film and be a voice for orphan children,” says Selkirk.

Talus Rock Retreat is the reason Heather joined ICN. In 2008, the World Orphan Choir U.S. tour visited Sandpoint, and eight of the tour’s teachers and choreographers needed a place to stay. In 2009, Heather and her daughter, Rio, went on their first trip to Uganda to help with auditioning and filming children for the upcoming 2010 U.S. tour.

Since the start of the orphan choir, nearly 4,000 children worldwide have had their education sponsored.

“You think you’re going over to bless, and you’re the one who comes back humbled and blessed,” says Heather.

For more information, visit www.talusrockretreat.com or call (208) 255-8458.

Snappers, Selfies and Photo Bombs

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
David LaBelle photo bombs filmmaker Ken Burns during a function at Kent State University. Photo by Bob Christy

David LaBelle photo bombs filmmaker Ken Burns during a function at Kent State University.
Photo by Bob Christy

There is a time and a place for everything. Most of us have heard this since childhood.

Photography is a powerful tool for capturing emotion and stirring hearts into action.

Just as the camera can bear witness and reveal the world’s harsh realities and injustices, this magic little box also can be a fun and wonderful toy for children who never grow up. In fact, at a time when it seems images of tragedy and terrorism dominate the news, it is more important than ever to make time to laugh and have fun with photography.

For the most part, photo-journalists are pranksters. More than once I have set down my camera or left it in my car only to find “unsavory” pictures made with it by fellow photographers.

For many photojournalists, humor is a way of coping with the painful things in life that we see and document.

Snappers
I am reminded of a group of very talented photographers in Kentucky who take the edge off photographing the hard news of the day by shooting fun snappers.

Until I taught at the University of Kentucky, I had never heard of snappers. But I soon found myself swept up in this entertaining game played by many of the state’s photographers.

Professionals paid to document people and events also were dedicated to capturing snappers—humorous photographs of fellow photographers, usually in awkward or embarrassing moments.

I soon learned each photographer was as dedicated to getting a funny shot of a colleague as they were of documenting the events they were paid to cover.

Photo-Bombing
Another relatively new term is photo-bombing—the art of jumping in the background of somebody’s picture uninvited.

Though prankster photographers have done this for years, this practice had no official name until cell phone cameras.

Since I had not tried photo-bombing anybody since the advent of digital photography, I decided to let my hair down, so to speak, and join in the fun during a university function. I asked a friend to get ready because I was going to photo bomb Ken Burns, the famous filmmaker.

Childish for sure, but it still makes me laugh when I look at the picture.

Photo Selfies
A relative to photo-bombing is the ever-popular selfie.

There are more selfies shot today than any other type of pictures. It seems no experience is complete without a selfie to validate it.

In a world that feels like it is growing crueler and more selfish by the year—and where it seems we have become overly sensitive and lost our sense of humor while trying to be politically-correct—having fun with selfies and photo bombs can be a nice diversion from reality.

Yes, there is a time and place for everything, including a time to put the camera away and truly be present in the experience.

But lest you be swallowed in the grief of the day, try having a little fun with your camera and yourself.

Love and laughter are strong medicine.

David LaBelledaveL_mug_2011 is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

A Strong Heart in Thin Air

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
Running with a view. Mount Everest looms behind Darryl Houghtelling as he competes in the Mount Everest Marathon November 30, 2015, in Nepal. The Condon, Oregon, runner finished first among American competitors and 30th overall. “There is really no way to prepare for that high elevation,” Darryl says. In addition to training runs, his preparation for the event included a month-long regimen of high-altitude trekking in the Cascades, including jaunts on 10,000-foot South Sister. Photo courtesy of Darryl Houghtelling

Running with a view. Mount Everest looms behind Darryl Houghtelling as he competes in the Mount Everest Marathon November 30, 2015, in Nepal. The Condon, Oregon, runner finished first among American competitors and 30th overall. “There is really no way to prepare for that high elevation,” Darryl says. In addition to training runs, his preparation for the event included a month-long regimen of high-altitude trekking in the Cascades, including jaunts on 10,000-foot South Sister.
Photo courtesy of Darryl Houghtelling

It was a crystal-clear November morning in Gorka Shep, Nepal, at 17,000 feet. After three weeks of acclimating to the thin air, an intrepid marathon runner from Condon, Oregon, Darryl Houghtelling, was ready for the 2015 Mount Everest Marathon.

After the first few miles, Darryl, 46, says he was wishing for a third lung.

“We 27 international runners followed the Nepalese runners, who were sprinting through the sand—in shorts, mind you—to our first 2 kilometers uphill through a boulder field.”

At mile 5, Darryl wandered onto the wrong trail up a ridge line.

“I thought people were cheering me on, but they were yelling at me to come back down to the correct path,” he says with a laugh.

Mile 13, at 11,500 feet, was a steep hill up to a monastery where Darryl’s group leader was waiting with a big piece of apple pie and Mars chocolate bars.

“The massive downhill from the monastery went on for 1.5 miles, and I had to be careful I didn’t plummet off a cliff or twist an ankle while dodging trekkers, porters and yaks,” Darryl says. “At the bottom of the hill, we crossed a long suspension bridge over a wild river gorge and then up a steep hill to mile 17.5 station, where I received a hug, mango juice and a granola bar and headed around the mountain toward Namche Bazaar with amazing views of the Himalayas along a cliff-ridden ancient trail.”

Darryl got lost again and ended up in an old woman’s backyard, then on a yak path well above the trail. It cost him a good 15 to 20 minutes.

“I discovered I was behind TK, the young American runner from Manhattan,” he says. “If I wanted to be the first American, I would have to get a move on up the hilly last 2 miles towards town and a final mile descent.

“I caught him with a kilometer to go and didn’t look back as I finished the most scenic and hardest marathon anyone could think of.”

Darryl took 30th overall and finished first of the three American runners.

A 1987 graduate of Dufur (Oregon) High School, Darryl was a state champ, and ran a 4-minute, 13-second mile.

“It’s hard to break 6 now,” he says. “In the marathon, I averaged 7.2 minutes a mile.”

In 1987, Darryl joined the Marines and served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91. After leaving the service, he gained 144 pounds while driving truck for a living. He underwent lap band surgery, lost 121 pounds the first year after the surgery and was inspired to get back into shape.

“I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.,” he says. “It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.”

In August 2014, Darryl was diagnosed with kidney cancer. After partial kidney removal, he is cancer free.

“When I was in the hospital, my wife got me a book called ‘Extreme Running,’” Darryl says. “I saw the Everest Marathon and thought it would be neat to do it. Cancer makes you think about what you want to do in life.”

Darryl flew from Seattle to Dubai, then over the North Pole to Kathmandu, Nepal.

“It’s crowded, poor, old,” Darryl says. “Even without the earthquake, everything is crumbling. It’s a lot different than Condon.”

They flew into Lukla, one of the deadliest airports in the world—there is a cliff on one side and a mountain on the other—in a 20-passenger plane.

“Then it was just a primitive trail, where you have to carry everything on your back,” Darryl says. “That is, unless you have your own yak. If you have your own yak, then you are in the big bucks.”

Before leaving for Nepal, Darryl trained on South Sisters Mountain, which is 10,000 feet at the summit.

“I was gone an entire month, trekking and getting in shape for race day,” he says.

Darryl ran the Boston Marathon last April, and now has his sights set on running a 7-day, 250-kilometer stage race in Pantagonia in the Andes Mountains in November 2017.

Darryl says hanging out and running with the Mount Everest group was an experience he will never forget.

“They all have such great stories,” he says. “They have run the European marathons, the Antarctic, the North Pole Marathon. Some have run the Wall of China Marathon and the Four Deserts Marathon, across the Sahara. Everyone swapped stories.”

One of the highlights of the trip was the day before the race, when Darryl summited 18,300-foot Mount Kalipathar with a Green Bay Packers pennant.

“Even though I was at 18,000 feet, I was looking up at Mount Everest, which is 11,000 feet higher,” he says. “It was incredible.”

Change Can Be a Good Thing

Monday, April 25th, 2016
There are as many ways to organize fishing gear as there are anglers. The important thing is to find a system that works best for you and use it. Generally, keep everything together, rather than storing gear throughout the house and garage. Use as many boxes and other storage containers as necessary. For fishing trips, where space often is limited, condense everything to one or two tackle boxes. Take only the essentials. Photo by iStock.com/panamsky

There are as many ways to organize fishing gear as there are anglers. The important thing is to find a system that works best for you and use it. Generally, keep everything together, rather than storing gear throughout the house and garage. Use as many boxes and other storage containers as necessary. For fishing trips, where space often is limited, condense everything to one or two tackle boxes. Take only the essentials. Photo by iStock.com/panamsky

Fishing is like anything else: If you keep doing it the same way, don’t expect a different result.

Let’s face it. We all fall victim to routine: fishing in the same places, using the same lures, doing the same things over and over.
Every once in a while, it’s beneficial to reassess how we do things and change it up when it makes sense.

Here are five tips that may offer a refreshing and rewarding change:

Reorganize your tackle box. Arrange it so you can find everything quickly. Also, remove ineffective and rarely used lures and other tackle.

Lighten up. That goes for rod, reel, line and sinker. Fishing with light gear can be more challenging, and many anglers consider it to be more satisfying as well.

Start anew. If you’re too attached to that banged up old reel or just making due with a rod that has seen its better days, take the plunge and replace it. Don’t skimp on quality. Invest in gear and tackle that will last, do its job and not fail you at a critical moment.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Have an open mind to new tackle and new techniques, and take the time to thoroughly test them in the field before adopting or rejecting them.

Go for a change of scenery. Fight the habit of driving to the same old, tried-and-true fishing holes. Take a risk and venture into the unknown. Sure, you may get skunked a time or two, but you also might find the next great sweet spot.

Fun Fish Facts

  • Catfish have 27,000 taste buds, nearly four times as many as humans.
  • The oldest fish hook is 16,000 to 23,000 years old. The hook was found in a limestone cave in East Timor in 2011. It was discovered among evidence suggesting humans were catching fish from the open ocean as many as 42,000 years ago.

’Tis the Season for Ticks
Late spring is prime time for ticks. Minimizing contact is the best way to reduce the odds of picking up one or more of these blood-sucking hitchhikers.

Wear long pants when you might come in contact with vegetation that may harbor ticks. Tuck in pant legs to keep ticks out.

For an added measure of protection, use an insect repellent containing DEET. This is effective against ticks as well as other insect pests. Be sure to spray the lower half of pant legs and shoes for maximum effect.

Outdoors 101: A Cool Head is Your No. 1 Emergency Tool
A sense of panic can set in when you suddenly find yourself lost, injured or in some other unpleasant predicament on the water or in the wild. When panic strikes, your ability to think clearly and assess your situation is severely impaired. The most important thing you can do is stay calm. Take time to breathe, clear your thoughts and try to keep panic at bay. Then you can begin to assess your situation rationally and take steps to deal with the situation.

What Holiday is It?
May: National Barbecue Month
May 8-14: National Wildflower Week
May 15-21: National Bike Week

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

In Touch With the Wild Side

Monday, April 25th, 2016
Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo owners Donny Miller and Debbie Dolittle Penwell of Tacoma, Washington, enjoy raising animals, and teaching children and adults about their handling and care.

Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo owners Donny Miller and Debbie Dolittle Penwell of Tacoma, Washington, enjoy raising animals, and teaching children and adults about their handling and care.

With a collection of animals from many parts of the world, the Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo in Tacoma, Washington, offers visitors a chance to interact with animals they may otherwise only see on TV.

The brainchild of Debbie Dolittle Penwell and Donny Miller, the petting zoo has been a resounding success in its first year.

“The neighborhood loves us,” says Debbie. “We get a lot of local business as well as from surrounding areas like Seattle, Olympia, Gig Harbor and other cities.”

With more than 50 animals in their menagerie, Debbie and Donny are always on the go. The actual number of animals varies, but the current lineup includes 14 goats and kids, six lambs, seven rabbits, one pig, six piglets, two wallabies, one wallaro, a zebu calf, a yak calf, one jersey calf, a noisy cockatiel, four budgies, three mini/banty chickens and a reindeer.

“We also have a mini donkey, a mini horse and ponies we bring in for rides,” Debbie says. “We chose the name of our first wallaby, Jozee Rooz, as the name of our business.”

She says the petting zoo is a great place to teach children how to respect animals, starting with gentle touching.

“We teach them to pet and brush the animals gently, and to not touch their faces,” she says. “If the animal moves away, don’t chase after them, just find another animal to pet. I also like to teach kids that none of us like strangers touching our faces, and the animals don’t either. Most of us like a good back rub or scratching, though.”

Debbie credits her mother for her love of animals.

“I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have animals in my life,” she says.

For more information about the Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo, call (253) 539-5011 or (877) 570-3346, or visit www.indoorpettingzoo.com.

Hooked on Carving Fish

Monday, April 25th, 2016
Franz Dutzler outlines details on a fish at his workshop. He uses black walnut and attention to detail to create natural-looking carvings of trout and other fish, such as those in the background of this photo.

Franz Dutzler outlines details on a fish at his workshop. He uses black walnut and attention to detail to create natural-looking carvings of trout and other fish, such as those in the background of this photo.

The details of the rainbow trout carving give it a lifelike look. The green and red colors of the fish shine, as if it is swimming through a pristine lake or river. The body is curved, as if moving.

The trout—enclosed in glass to protect its clean and natural look—is the creation of wood carver and painter Franz Dutzler. The 75-year-old artist’s work on hundreds of fish during the past few decades has earned him the title “The Trout Master.”

In his words, Franz has been “crazy about fish and fishing” since he was a kid in Austria.

After a short stint working at a railroad job and many years working as a chef, Franz became confident enough in his artwork to make it a full-time profession.

He combines the natural beauty of black walnut and attention to detail to create a natural medium for displaying wild trout, frogs and other aquatic animals in their habitats.

“Since I was a little kid, I’ve watched trout—swimming, chasing each other,” Franz says. “I’ve been fascinated by them. I just love the colors of the rainbow trout. There are some really neat colors—red, green, purple. All the spots on them are colorful. I was just intrigued by trout behavior.”

Franz began honing his carving skills while working as a chef at a resort in the Snowy Mountains in Australia and then at the Milford Hotel at Milford Sound, New Zealand. His first sculpture was made from butter, wire and wood.

In 1966, he and Launa, his wife of 50 years, married and soon immigrated to the U.S., settling in the Yakima, Washington, area. Franz worked as a chef in the Chinook Hotel and continued to carve butter and ice for table displays.

While there, he met a man who carved upland game birds out of wood and painted them. He encouraged Franz to carve, but something other than birds. Franz began carving fish as a hobby.

A skiing accident left him bedridden for a while, which gave him time to carve and to think about how he could improve his artistry. He began to study “Trout and Salmon of North America,” a thesis written by a fish biologist in Colorado.

“I studied that thesis to improve my knowledge of the fish,” Franz says.

And he continued to improve his wood-carving skills.

Once he was back on his feet and fishing, he put trout he caught in a clear plastic tank to study up close the fish’s mouth, fins and coloring. He took photos of the fish. In many cases, he released the fish back into the water where he had caught it.

“He went out and did his own research,” Launa says. “Carving and painting from a photo of a live fish, not a dead one, is why I think his carvings have so much life to them. He was happy with what he had at first, but obviously he has improved over time.”

Franz eventually was confident and proud enough of his work that he submitted his fish carvings to the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls, Oregon, then to an art show in Eugene, Oregon, and steadily to other shows.

When a man bought a whole table of Franz’s carvings at a Spokane show, the artist decided to go full time as a carver and painter.

Franz set up a workshop area at his La Pine, Oregon, home. He created more carvings of fish and took his artwork to more shows around the West.

He traded some of his artwork for trips to Alaska, where he was able to experience salmon fishing. His daughter hooked a 50-pound salmon on one of those trips, and Franz landed the fish. He then carved a replica of the fish. It sold for $7,000.

Another Franz creation—two steelhead in a 5-foot-long display—sold for $12,000.

Launa became her husband’s business manager, doing the bookwork and helping with sales created by the business’ website, www.thetroutmaster.com.

“I support him wholeheartedly,” she says. “I think he has a wonderful talent. A lot of people see his fish and think it’s taxidermy. His fish look so realistic, they think it’s real.”

While Franz has slowed down some in his shop and does not visit art shows anymore, he still takes orders from his website, and has fish carvings on display and for sale at The Wooden Jewell in Sunriver and at a few fishing lodges in Oregon and Idaho.

After living in the La Pine area for the past 25 years, the Dutzlers recently moved to Utah to be closer to their grown children and grandkids. Franz has a workshop at his new residence.

“It’s been a real blessing that Franz has been able to do something he loves and make a living at it,” Launa says. “Not many people get that opportunity. He’ll be carving until he dies.”

Value Added

Monday, April 25th, 2016
The addition of a bird to a static photo of a bridge is just enough spice to give the image some life. Photo by David LaBelle

The addition of a bird to a static photo of a bridge is just enough spice to give the image some life.
Photo by David LaBelle

“And that’s not all,” the excited voice in the advertisement squawks. “Act today and you’ll also receive …”

Hoping to entice buyers by sweetening the deal, the seller “adds value” to the package.

Like the bonus of a comb or carrying case, small details in your photo compositions can be the difference between an average photograph and one that evokes an emotional response, inviting viewers to return again and again.

A dark figure walking in the background, a flag awakening in a breeze, an unexpected shaft of light breaking through a bank of dark clouds, or small gestures like the tilting of a head or positioning of a hand can transform an ordinary picture into something special.

The difference between a good picture and a great picture is often found in the smallest of details.

Like spices seasoning a meal, accents should not overpower your primary subject. They must quietly enhance the visual flavor and add to the overall content of your main photographic dish. Too much seasoning can overwhelm the flavor of a meal, and too much random, unrelated clutter can ruin a photograph.

“See all corners of the frame” is the advice many photography teachers tell students learning composition. Be deliberate. Position every element where you want it before you press the shutter. None of this “I’ll crop it later stuff,” they grouse.

Composition is the stage you build in your viewfinder while waiting for a performance to begin. It is a deliberate act.

Documentary photography is about capturing fleeting moments. A fraction of an inch or a half-second can be the difference between a compelling image and an anemic record of a person, place or event. As photojournalists, we live in those half seconds. It is within these fleeting fragments of time stories are told: a face contorts, a head tilts, a bee unexpectedly lands on a nose.

Anticipating, patiently waiting for and recognizing the supportive accents that enrich a composition, is one of the traits separating craftsmen from “button-pushers.”

Most of us experience happy accidents—those lucky, unplanned things that happen in our viewfinders and make our pictures better. But most seasoned photographers don’t count on luck. They believe good things come to those ready for the unexpected.

Some photographers—those left alone in the woods too long—become prone to humming or chanting like monks, praying for a rainbow to appear or a string of geese to move across the sky of their vacant compositions. I have acted similarly.

Others try to “will” a deer or red fox to step out of a dark forest into golden, late afternoon light so their hairy coats will catch the day’s last rays and add magic to their chosen scene. They hope for karma from the photo-gods.

While we often work hard to clean up backgrounds, positioning our cameras to block or remove distracting elements, the smallest of accents—such as a bird flying through the frame—gives life or adds value to our images.

When we relax, open ourselves to the unexpected and recognize the wonder before us, magic often happens.

Make sure you always have a few frames left on your card, and keep your camera turned on and mounted on your tripod until it is too dark to see.

The ordinary may become extraordinary right before your eyes if you make yourself and your camera available.

 

David LaBelledaveL_mug_2011 is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

Wild Plants Appeal as Meals, Medicine

Monday, April 25th, 2016
Gloria Simeon, center, shares her knowledge of wild plants with students during a summer field lab in Quinhagak. Photo courtesy of University of Alaska

Gloria Simeon, center, shares her knowledge of wild plants with students during a summer field lab in Quinhagak.
Photo courtesy of University of Alaska

For generations, Alaska’s native elders have advised drinking a tea brewed from fresh tender spruce tree tips as a springtime tonic.

That advice and other knowledge about the state’s wild edible plants is being passed on through a popular ethnobotany class offered through the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“Students learn that spruce tea is rich in vitamin C,” says Rose Meier, assistant ethnobotany professor in Fairbanks.

She administers an ethnobotany certificate program offered through the Kuskokwim campus in Bethel.It is the first program of its kind in Alaska and one of a handful in the United States, says Rose, who facilitated its approval in 2009 in response to community interest.

Leah Walsh, a former student and ethnobotany program assistant, says she enrolled because she “sees a time when it will be of growing importance to again intimately know our water, know our food and know our medicine.”
Classes have become popular with non-degree-seeking students in Fairbanks.

“We have quite a few students with college and post-graduate degrees who are taking classes because they want to learn about wild plants and their edible and medicinal properties,” says Rose. “It’s also a way for them to connect with the vast natural world at our doorstep.”

Employees at UAF meet monthly to share experiences making teas, tinctures, cooking with native plants and using them medicinally.

The ethnobotany classes are taught via a telecommunications network, enabling students to learn in their homes from professors and elders.

One of the most popular plants in rural Alaska is the cloudberry or salmonberry, which produces plump orange, mildly tart fruit in July and August. In an online class manual, Katherine Hart, an elder in St. Mary’s, recalls how people stored the berries inside seal guts buried in pits. The berries were mixed with fish livers and seal oil, or with dried salmon eggs and seal oil. A traditional dish, uqumyak, was made with cloudberries mixed with snow.

Another elder, Modesta Myers of Pilot Station, told of suffering from a serious cough. Her mother boiled leaves from Labrador, a woody low shrub that grows on the tundra, and Artemisia in water in a covered pan until the tea was concentrated. She drank half a cup twice a day until she improved.

Rose says Artemisia, a plant in the sunflower family, and roseroot, a low-growing succulent, are two of the state’s most intriguing plants.

“They’re both considered a go-to plant to maintain health,” she says, noting some species of Artemisia have been studied for their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

Rose says the program does not advocate using plants as natural medicines, but provides information.

“We study how plants have been used both historically and today,” she says. “There are many powerful plants that should only be used by those who understand their medicinal properties.”

A highlight of the ethnobotany program includes a two-week summer field lab.

“Magic happens when you’re outdoors learning hands-on about the many ways that local plants have improved and continue to improve our lives,” Rose says.