Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Tale of Vasataté

Hail, hail, the king of the seas, the great god Vasataté, God of Oceans! Today is His holy day and He is divine! . . . Well, aren't They all?

5zzn-Savanna Island Bird

When the grand and magnificent Vasataté was born, His father Korutuzho, God of Agriculture and King of the Gods, wanted to swallow Him whole so Vasataté would not be a threat to His reign. Vasataté’s mother Rana, Goddess of Clouds, however, saved Vasataté before Her husband could eat Him, replacing the infant Vasataté with a colt, explaining to Korutuzho that She had given birth to the horse. Korutuzho believed Her, for this sort of thing happens amongst the gods since They are not human. Even though He was quite fond of horses, Korutuzho swallowed the colt, satisfied.

Meanwhile, Vasataté took the place of the colt in its herd, to be raised by the horses on the open plain. He learned the ways of the horses and grew up strong. Thanks to His competitive nature, Vasataté taught the horses how to race. Transforming Himself into a colt, He would race against them all. At first, Vasataté easily triumphed, but the horses learned how to run faster and soon the herd’s dominant stallion beat Him. Vasataté, His face red with anger, struck the ground with His hooves. For miles around, the earth shook. Tree toppled, houses collapsed, gaping chasms opened in the bedrock.

The herd stood in stunned astonishment, staring at the foal god. Further afield, other gods took notice -- more specifically, Vasataté’s father, Korutuzho. The King of the Gods swept down upon the herd, knowing that an unknown god was among them. Vasataté remained in colt form, however, and Korutuzho did not wish to harm innocent horses. Thus the King of the Gods could do nothing but frown and stare at the herd: Korutuzho could not tell friend from foal.

Another god Who had felt the earthquake was Vasataté’s brother Sozho, High God of Air. Like Vasataté, Sozho had been hidden by Their mother, Rana, so Korutuzho wouldn’t eat Him like He had Their three siblings. When Sozho realized -- thanks to Rana -- that One of His brothers had also escaped Korutuzho’s maw, He hid in a cloud and snuck over the herd and His father. When Korutuzho finally stalked away, frustrated, Sozho descended to talk to Vasataté.

Vasataté recognized that Sozho meant no harm, so He revealed Himself by transformed back to His usual, muscular shape with a ruddy complexion and a flowing, white beard. Sozho pressed for His aid in rescuing Their siblings from Korutuzho’s belly and then overthrowing Korutuzho from His throne. Considering Their father’s actions thus far, the only good Vasataté could find was Korutuzho’s treatment of horses in general. Other than that, Their father was a bad king and a bad god. He agreed to assist Sozho.

Thus the two brother gods marched into Korutuzho’s throne room, slit open His belly, rescued Their siblings, and sent Korutuzho running for the hills. Since the dethroning had been Sozho’s idea, Vasataté let Him become the new King of the Gods. But since Sozho had needed Vasataté’s help, They divided the rule of the universe amongst all five siblings. Vasataté drew the first lot, receiving the oceans. He immediately headed for His new kingdom, letting the others sort out the remainder of the world.

To Vasataté, the sea was wild and new, and yet strangely reminiscent of the flat plains upon which He had previously lived. He called His horse friends to Him and granted them fish tails so they could join Him upon the ocean. In a chariot hitched to a team of these new sea-horses, Vasataté ventured from one end of the ocean to the other, observing His kingdom.

Fishes and whales swam alongside His chariot. Dolphins frolicked in His bow wave, welcoming Him and the horses to the sea. Vasataté spoke kindly to all the sea animals, glad for their hospitality. As He traveled, Vasataté enjoyed the varied states of the water, from calm sheets of green glass to churning black storms, and learned to control these qualities.

While riding His chariot over the water, Vasataté happened across a group of sea demigoddesses dancing atop the waves. One of the demigoddesses had such beauty and grace that Vasataté fell in love immediately and decided that He had to make Her His wife. Her name was Rénavahalasíhí and much to Vasataté’s chagrin, She had pledged Herself to virginity for all time. When Vasataté approached and made His intentions known, Rénavahalasíhí swam away as fast as She could.

Vasataté steered His sea-horses to chase, but the other demigoddesses blocked His path, holding His chariot back. The lovely Rénavahalasíhí disappeared over the horizon. The smitten Vasataté relented to the demigoddesses and headed the opposite direction so He could think. Stroking His long, white beard, Vasataté decided He needed an intermediary. He called the King of the Dolphins to Him and explained the situation. The King of the Dolphins agreed to do Vasataté’s bidding, for He was the ruler of the ocean, and so the dolphin swam after Rénavahalasíhí.

At the far end of the ocean, the dolphin king found the sea demigoddess and told Her of the goodness of Vasataté’s heart, His true love for Her, and the power He wielded as the King of the Oceans. Since it is difficult for anyone, much more so for a demigoddess of the sea, to ignore a dolphin’s cheerfulness, Rénavahalasíhí’s heart melted. She agreed to wed Vasataté, giving up Her virginity.

And so the two married in a grand ceremony upon the ocean blue. All of Vasataté’s siblings and Their families attended, as did Rénavahalasíhí’s demigoddess friends. Life was wonderful for the newlyweds: They played amongst the waves, They created new islands far out at sea, They started an underwater brewery that makes divine ales and lagers, and They had many children. For many years, They delighted in each other’s company.

Eventually, though, Rénavahalasíhí began to lose Her charms. Vasataté’s eyes began to wander. One day, He looked upon His sister Nuvíní, High Goddess of Earth, in a new light. Vasataté was overcome by lust for Her full-figured, strong body. Nuvíní noticed this attention as was taken aback, for They were both married, She to Sozho and He to Rénavahalasíhí. Attempting to hide from Vasataté, Nuvíní transformed Herself into a mare and disappeared amongst a huge herd of horses.

Vasataté chuckled as He watched Her do this, for She had been inside Korutuzho’s belly when He had lived with horses; She did not know of His equine knowledge. Racing across the plain, Vasataté transformed into a stallion, pure black and twenty-five hands high. As He approached the herd, He easily spotted Nuvíní by Her godlike stance. The earth goddess saw Him coming, however, and started galloping away. Snorting a laugh, for He had invented horse racing, Vasataté chased after Her.

Quickly He overtook Her, hardly a challenge at all. Nuvíní conceded His victory and They mated. Almost twelve months later, for They had been horses, Nuvíní gave birth to a colt named Séraírané, Who could speak the language of the gods and had a mane of green. Séraírané also had human feet on His right legs, so He could run faster than any horse or man alive. Séraírané has spent His life assisting heroes and leading in battles. Nuvíní also birthed a nymph named Tésavustí, Who took to the seas to live with the other demigoddesses.

When Vasataté returned to those very same seas, which were His home, He was confronted by His wife, Rénavahalasíhí. Her pure and beautiful face was twisted with rage: Vasataté had cheated on Her! With an open hand, Rénavahalasíhí struck at Her husband, again and again. The oceans boiled around Her; the skies swirled with storms. Vasataté took Her blows and struck back as well. She was not nearly the lovely demigoddess He had married. She had turned into a nagging hag! With His anger, the ground shook, the seas raged, the winds howled, and all the oceans were caught in a maelstrom of divine conflict.

Days, fourdays, months, and years went by, and Their fight did not abate. The oceans were impassable; all trade and exploration ground to a halt. In one port city, the sailors banded together to buy a horse for Vasataté, hoping to appease His anger and make Him remember the good parts of life. The sailors brought the horse down to the ocean shore, where the waves crashed against the rocks. Despite being knocked around by the pounding seawater, the stalwart sailors guided the horse into the sea, whereupon they held it under the waves until Vasataté took it.

The oceans calmed. The storm finally passed. Vasataté and Rénavahalasíhí accepted Their differences while acknowledging Their undying love for each other. To this day, the ocean god and His wife still argue occasionally, but an appropriate gift will calm Them down, helping Vasataté remember His days with the horses and the sea-horses and the first time He saw Rénavahalasíhí upon the glorious green waves.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ceder Butt (Cedar Butte)

Chunlin and I took a short hike up Cedar Butte today, but the weather gods didn't cooperate fully. Hívuítoví gave us some rain for starters, Vítí chipped in a few ice pellets, and Rana kept Her clouds draped over the surrounding mountains. Hence, no great views.

Not that Cedar Butte (or Ceder Butt, as the survey monument from 1937 says) would have great views without the clouds. We went there because we hadn't been before and it was less busy than Rattlesnake Ledge, across the way.

You start with a mile on the John Wayne Trail, leaving from the more-or-less abandoned town site of Cedar Falls.
1 - Cedar Falls Railroad Sign
It's a railroad sign, you see, only fancier.

Near the top, there's a brief glimpse of Rattlesnake Lake.
2 - Rattlesnake Lake

The trail made Chunlin happy.
3 - Chunlin

As I said, Ceder Butt:
4 - Ceder Butt 1937

The top of the hill has a bench. . . and that's about it.
7 - Cedar Butte Chunlin

Cedar Butte has a good view of Mailbox Peak, but I couldn't get a good photo through the clouds and trees. You'll have to go see for yourself.

But read up on the Boxley Blowout first.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Donuts Are Good for You

I always go for the donut with chopped peanuts on top because nuts are good for you. It's all about being healthy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Want to Go for a Drive?

From WSDOT: "Thurs. April 23 - Breaking news: We're opening the highway at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 24, a week early."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hwy 20 Snow

Alas, the WSDOT crews on the North Cascades Highway are less than three miles apart, but I don't think they'll get the huge stack of snow between them cleared this week. Thanks to real-world obligations kicking into gear May 1, I don't think I'll be able to drive Highway 20 till Memorial Day weekend at the soonest.

As I said, alas.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Go Texas!

Today's San Jacinto Day, celebrating the whupping of the Mexican army by the good ol' boys of Texas, way back in 1836. Yee-haw!

Houston retreated from the Mexican army for days, until on April 21, Santa Anna had the Texians cornered between Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River.

Here's the moment of attack, from the oft-true Wikipedia:

The Texan army moved quickly and silently across the high-grass plain, and then, when they were only a few dozen yards away, charged Santa Anna's camp shouting "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Goliad!," only stopping a few yards from the Mexicans to open fire. The Texans achieved complete surprise. It was a bold attack in broad daylight but its success can be attributed in good part to Santa Anna's failure to post guards during the army's siesta. Santa Anna's army primarily consisted of professional soldiers, but they were trained to fight in ranks, exchanging volleys with their opponents. The Mexicans were ill-prepared and unarmed at the time of the sudden attack. Most were asleep with their soldaderas, some were out gathering wood and the cavalrymen were riding bareback fetching water. General Manuel Fernández Castrillón desperately tried to mount a semblance of an organized resistance, but was soon shot down and killed. His panicked men and women fled, and Santa Anna's defensive line quickly collapsed.

Sneak attack in broad daylight! What will those Texans think of next?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Olney Pass

I needed to get out hiking this weekend, so I dragged Chunlin up the Sultan Basin Road with the intention of climbing Blue Mountain. Supposedly you have 360° views from up there, on a suuny day. As today was sunny, more or less, I thought that would be perfect.

Alas, 'twas not to be. The county (or the PUD) had thrown up "Road Closed" barriers just after mile 10. I had wanted to start hiking at Olney Pass, at mile 12.8.

We weighed our options and decided to hike up to Olney Pass, since that was about the mileage and elevation gain we were planning to walk today, anyhow. Hopefully we'd have some views from the north side of the pass.

The road started up steep from 1100', with the pavement ending quickly. About halfway to the pass (around 1800' elevation), we hit snow. But it wasn't too bad. Some trucks who had driven around the barriers had carved us some walking aisles.
1 - Sultan Basin Road Mile 12

Around 2000' elevation, the dirt paths turned into slushy snow trenches.
6 - Snow Trench

We made it to Olney Pass awhile thereafter, but no views awaited us. Chunlin was distraught.
5 - Chunlin Olney Pass

Deciding against a mile-long trudge through the snow for a possible viewpoint overlooking Spada Reservoir, we headed for home. Another successful hike!

By the way, Sultan Basin Road is a very fun road to drive, but it has a high carsickness potential for passengers.

The Tale of Rakazhazhíní

It's time to take a deep breath and relax. Today's the Holy Day of Rakazhazhíní, Goddess of Clean Air!

Ah, it's good to be outside, isn't it?


Long ago, when gods were few and human beings nonexistent, Rakazhazhíní and Her father Néhété, God of Smoke and Darkness, began a cycle which lasts till this day. Taking turns rising from the Underworld, They passed each other at the splendid bronze gates every dawn and dusk. Each morning, Rakazhazhíní emerged to pull back the mists of darkness that shrouded the world, letting the light from Sorosotuzho, God of the Atmosphere, shine down upon all. Each evening, Rakazhazhíní returned to the Underworld to rest, letting Néhété rise to encompass the world once again with His darkness. It is thus that Rakazhazhíní is the Giver of Day.

During one of Her nightly respites, Rakazhazhíní gave birth first to Rékaré, God of Rock, and then Rana, Goddess of Clouds. When She rose the next morning, Rakazhazhíní placed Her children as They belonged: Rana floating above and Rékaré solidly below. Sorosotuzho’s light filtered so pleasantly through Rana’s clouds and radiated so marvelously off Rékaré’s rocks; Rakazhazhíní was quite proud of Her children.

Much to Rakazhazhíní’s chagrin, though, Rana started drifting down toward Her brother. Rakazhazhíní stepped underneath and lifted Rana back to the sky, but as soon as She let go, Rana moved toward Rékaré yet again. Rakazhazhíní knew something was amiss. Her children were not behaving properly.

She stepped back and let Them drift together, watching intently. Quickly, Rana and Rékaré were locked in an embrace and it became obvious to Rakazhazhíní that the two were in love. Thus, Their attraction.

Rakazhazhíní pulled Her children apart and placed Them back as They should be. Admonitions would be useless, She knew, for love has no ears. Instead Rakazhazhíní would be forced to forever stand between the two lovers, holding Them separate. And thus Rakazhazhíní rules the air that we breathe, forever between the earth and the sky.

Since She could no longer leave to the Underworld, Rakazhazhíní was forced to remain standing day and night, letting Néhété pull His shroud of darkness over Her as well. Every morning, however, She urged Him away and let the light shine forth.

Years later, Rana of the clouds married Korutuzho, God of Agriculture and King of the Gods, and so Rakazhazhíní did not need to always stand between Rana and Rékaré. Korutuzho was certainly help in that regard. Soon after Their marriage, Rana gave birth to numerous gods and goddesses, including Sozho, High God of Air. After numerous years, Sozho became King of the Gods in His father’s stead and still rules the universe to this day.

Despite Sozho being married to Nuvíní, High Goddess of Earth, Sozho and Rakazhazhíní were quite attracted to One another. They attempted to control Their urges, but eventually gave in to temptation. To avoid Nuvíní’s suspicion and jealous anger, Sozho and Rakazhazhíní transformed Themselves into quail and met in a distant land, whereupon They enjoyed each other’s company. They then parted ways, Their cravings satisfied.

At first, Rakazhazhíní thought They had successfully evaded Nuvíní’s notice. Once Rakazhazhíní proved to be with child, however, the suspicions began to swirl. No one could satisfactorily locate Sozho’s whereabouts at the time of conception. Furthermore, it soon became apparent that Rakazhazhíní was carrying twins; Sozho had sired twins before.

Nuvíní confronted Rakazhazhíní as She stood separating the rock and clouds. Shaking a wicked finger in the air goddess’s face, Nuvíní demanded to know who the father was. Before allowing Rakazhazhíní to reply, the earth goddess further insisted that She already knew the father was Sozho.

In a most pacifying tone, Rakazhazhíní refused to name the father. She would not lie, but She also could not tell the truth. If She admitted Her affair with Nuvíní’s husband, the earth goddess would wreak great vengeance upon Her and Her children. If Rakazhazhíní held Her tongue, perhaps Nuvíní would cool off and move to other concerns.

Nuvíní eventually gave up trying to pull the name from Rakazhazhíní, announcing that She knew the answer anyhow. As punishment for Rakazhazhíní’s act, Nuvíní called upon Her earth to never let Rakazhazhíní’s children be born upon the soil nor rock. No hill, valley, plain, nor plateau could be the birthplace for Her children. Neither the mainland nor any island would allow Rakazhazhíní to give birth. No boat that wished to return to shore could be the birthplace, either.

Stunned by this pronouncement, Rakazhazhíní watched Nuvíní stalk away. How could She ever give birth with all those restrictions? Where would She go? Would She be forced to remain pregnant forever?

For many months, Rakazhazhíní stood at Her post, not sure where to go. Sozho could not help Her without incurring more of Nuvíní’s wrath, so the air goddess was alone. Before too long, Rakazhazhíní was overly pregnant to a point where She had to do something. And so She began wandering the world, searching for a birthplace for Her children. Behind Her, the clouds descended to the rocks, blanketing the world in fog.

Wherever She went, Rakazhazhíní was shunned by the very land. Oftentimes, She was also shunned by the people upon the land. In the nation of Rasíkío, Rakazhazhíní stopped at a pond for a drink of the clear, clean water. She was quite thirsty from Her travels and travails, and thus needed to drink. The peasants of Rasíkío, however, worshipped Nuvíní. When they saw what Rakazhazhíní was about to do, they hastily stirred the bottom of the pond with long sticks. The mud from the pond bottom rose to fill the entire volume of water, rendering it undrinkable.

Rakazhazhíní, nearly dying of thirst, promptly turned the peasants of Rasíkío into frogs. If they liked muddy water so much, they could live forever in the wet gunk. Furthermore, it was not as if She could make Nuvíní any angrier at Her. Rakazhazhíní then proceeded to the next lake and drank Her fill.

While at that lake, a pack of wolves descended from the forest to surround Rakazhazhíní. At first She was alarmed, but it soon became apparent that they sensed Her trouble and were there to assist Her. They brought Her food to eat; they guarded Her while She slept and traveled; and they occasionally nudged Her in certain directions when She wasn’t sure which way next to try.

By this method, the wolves led Rakazhazhíní to a port town where She heard talk of an island floating out at sea. The island was named Tíusu and it was not attached to the earth in any manner. Thus, Nuvíní had no hold on it. Rakazhazhíní could give birth!

With the wolves’ permission, Rakazhazhíní transformed the pack into a flock of swans, whereupon they carried Her across the sea to the island of Tíusu. She stepped upon the shore and was amazed by the wild beauty of the island: soaring cliffs, untamed forests, towering waterfalls with shimmering rainbows. She sighed in contentment; it was the perfect place to bring Her new children into the world.

The other goddesses had been told of Rakazhazhíní’s travel to the island of Tíusu. Many of Them -- Nuvíní excluded -- arrived at the island to witness the births. Kérasa the Eldest, High Goddess of Water, stood sternly upon the shore. Kara, Goddess of Soil, disobeyed the command of Her high goddess, Nuvíní, for Kara had dreamed great import for these twins, and also awaited the new child-gods’ arrival. Sívorí, Goddess of Stars and Rakazhazhíní’s mother, alighted from the heavens to behold the birth of Her new, powerful grandchildren. Ríhíví, Goddess of Poisonous Water and Mother to the Gods, waited patiently to assist Rakazhazhíní with Her labor, despite Their natural enmity. Younger goddesses gathered around, as well, not wishing to miss this great birth to the King of the Gods.

Shortly after landing upon Tíusu, Rakazhazhíní entered labor. With the other goddesses’ help, She gave birth to a strong and beautiful goddess, Tarénara, Who became Goddess of Hunting and Lady of the Moon. After a miniscule break, Rakazhazhíní started labor again. With assistance from Tarénara, She then gave birth to a powerful, dazzling god, Píríuso, Who became God of the Sun. Rakazhazhíní sank back into Her mother’s arms and admired Her new children, for They were potent, impressive, and worthy of everyone’s admiration.

As the flock of swans circled the floating island of Tíusu, the various goddesses departed to tell the world of the magnificent new children of Sozho and Rakazhazhíní. Sozho immediately gave the sun to His new child, Píríuso, for Píríuso was as golden and radiant as the solar orb. Nuvíní, for Her part, recognized the skill and determination of Tarénara and refused to let a grudge fall from mother to daughter, so She granted the moon to Tarénara.

Rakazhazhíní was the last to leave Tíusu, saying goodbye to the swan-wolves who had helped Her so much. She returned to Her post, holding the clouds aloft, and thought lovingly for all Her children. She stands there to this very day, bringing Her calming influence to all. So long as you take the time to breathe deeply of Her sweet air, you too will feel the blessing of the Giver of the Day, the Hidden One, Rakazhazhíní.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tulip Cactus

2 - Cactus Tulip

Remind me again. What month is it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution


Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Curses! What were they thinking??

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What a Wonderful Day for Yardwork!

I filled our 96-gallon yardwaste bin. That's how I know I'm done working in the yard and it's time to take photos.

Yellow Blue White
Our neighbor's bush. It's yellow. Other than that, I don't know what it is.

Cherry Blossom Sky
Our weeping cherry tree is finally beginning to bloom. Which means its just about time for the last snowstorm of the year, right?

Rose Leaves
Despite looking quite dead a month ago, all the roses are leafing quite nicely right now. Some are red, some are green. What's up with that?

Garden Owl

Friday, April 10, 2009

Orange vs. Grey

Don'tcha just hate it when you mean to grab an orange spice tea bag but open an Earl Grey by mistake?

Clearing Highway 20

The snow-clearing WSDOT crews on the North Cascades Highway are now only eight miles apart, but the eastern crew has some avalanches two miles behind them. Does that mean they're technically ten miles apart?

The western crew is almost to Rainy Pass, the Skagit/Chelan county line. The eastern crew is still a few miles shy of Washington Pass, the Okanogan/Chelan county line. Chelan County is still completely buried in snow. . .

At this pace, they just might be done before the April 25th weekend, so long as there's no more avalanches or snowstorms. Last week, for instance, they had to stop because it snowed further south and they needed to use the equipment to clear Stevens Pass. Priorities, priorities.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Arbor Day

Today's Arbor Day here in Washington, so be sure to go out and chop down a western hemlock for yourself, all right? It's the state tree, after all!

And if you feel guilty afterwards, be sure to plant three seedlings. You can cut them down in fifty years or so. Won't that be worth looking forward to?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


For the first time ever, I picked the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Champion correctly!

Yay, me!

And no, I didn't bet any money on it. Just trying to predict the future and rooting for the teams is enough for me.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Kerry Park, a Couple Years Later

The sun came out, so to Queen Anne we went.

1 - Queen Anne Tree

3 - Queen Anne Branch

6 - Queen Anne Flowering Trees

To Kerry Park, the site of our wedding. Many happy people about. I gave Chunlin a kiss where we exchanged vows and rings.

7 - Seattle Kerry Park

10 - Chunlin Kerry Park

11 - Mark Kerry Park

Remember the good, forget the bad, and you'll be a happy person, too!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Flags I Own

Kingdom of Naraka: The flag of my personal kingdom. My mother gave me a custom-made 3'x5' of this flag around 2002.

United States of America: I received a 3'x5' of this flag as a gift upon earning my Eagle Scout rank in 1993. My flag flew over the Capitol Building in Washington City, for what I've always assumed was but a few minutes.

Cascadia: The Pacific Northwest -- independent, not really; independently minded, often. My sister gave me a 3'x5' of this flag for my 40th birthday.

Washington State: My home state, evergreen. Chunlin gave me a 3'x5' of this flag in 2008.

New Mexico: The state of my birth, which thankfully has one of the best state flags in the union. My parents gave me a 3'x5' around 2003.

Texas: Where I went to college and the best state of them all, yee-hah! Chunlin gave me a 3'x5' in 2008.

Hawaii: A nice place to visit and a distinctive flag. Chunlin gave me a 3'x5' in 2009.

Ohio: I'd never been there till a couple months ago, but it's the only non-rectangular state flag, thus worth having. My parents gave me a 3'x5' in 2004.

New York City: I lived and worked there for a year between college senior and fifth years. At the time, I didn't like it very much, but my memory is better at keeping the good bits and forgetting the bad bits, so now I think of it fondly. Chunlin gave me a 3'x5' in 2008.

Bunker Hill Flag: The erroneous historical flag that supposedly was carried by the colonials at the Battle of Bunker Hill. I tried to purchase a flag when I visited Bunker Hill (near Boston) in 1998, but none were for sale. My parents gave me a 3'x5' that Christmas.

Gadsden Flag: Another historical revolutionary flag, but this one actually was flown back then. The "don't tread on me" sentiment was directed at the (British) government; it's a sentiment I feel like telling our (American) government. I bought a 2'x3' in 2008.

Confederate States of America: The first version of the first Confederate flag, from when only seven state had seceded. This is the Stars and Bars. My parents gave me a 3'x5' in 2010 from their trip to South Carolina, with a certificate that my flag flew over Fort Sumter on April 13, 2008, during the 147th anniversary of that first battle.

Seattle Sounders: The local soccer team. Chunlin bought me a 3'x5' of this flag for my birthday in 2013. A flag seller had set up shop in a neighborhood parking lot. Chunlin had me choose a flag. I couldn't decided between this Sounders flag and the Cascadia flag, but Chunlin greatly preferred the Sounders flag.

British Columbia: Our neighbor to the north. I've always appreciated this heraldic flag. When Chunlin and I were in Victoria in 2008, I bought a 3'x5' of this flag. At the store, I considered buying a Vancouver Island Colony flag, but it wasn't nearly as good a design -- plus it was twice as expensive.

Nova Scotia: For some reason, I am both intrigued and amused by this province. I can't explain it; I have no connection to there. My parents gave me a 3'x5' of this flag in 2004.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: The very first flag that I bought (discounting little flags on sticks). I got a 2'x3' when I was in London in 1993.

Scotland royal banner: I've never been there, but I'm part Scottish. Clan Logan! Chunlin gave me a 3'x5' in 2009.

Wales: I've never been there, but I like the flag. In fact, this is the first flag I asked for when I wanted a flag just for its look. My parents gave me a 2'x3' in 1993.

Cornwall: My parents bought me a 2'x3' of this flag when they were in Cornwall in 2005 or so. For some reason, they were surprised when I recognized it instantly!

Denmark: My sister has been there, but not I. I wanted this flag as a show of support while Muslims around the world were burning Danish flags in response to the Mohammed cartoons. My parents gave me a 3'x5' in 2006, I believe.

Luxembourg civil ensign: Not the national flag of Luxembourg, which looks suspiciously like the Netherlands flag, but one which is flown by Luxembourg-registered ships, so no one mistakes them for Netherlands ships. The stripes and lion are from the grand duke's coat of arms. Apparently the Luxembourgers are using this flag more and more at sporting events, too, for the same reason. My parents gave me a 3'x5' in 2003 or so.

East Germany: I bought a 2'x3' of this flag at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin in 1993, over three years after reunification. It's retro-chic!

Bavaria: Only state authorities are supposed to use the flag with the coat of arms, but apparently there's quite a few common variants like this, used by Bavarian citizens. The size of the lozenges is not proscribed, by the way, so my flag has fewer than this one. My parents gave me a 3'x5' of this lovely flag in 2004.

Venice: This old city has a vast variety of flags similar to this. The ones I saw flying in Venice were like this one, but the red stripes on the right were cut separate, with more red overall than yellow, and the lion's square is a horizontal rectangle. The 3'x5' I bought there in 2005 is like the one in the photo, which wasn't flown quite so much.

Slovenia: I visited Slovenia in 2005 and searched Ljubljana for a store that sold flags, but to no avail. Chunlin bought me a 3'x5' in 2009.

Montenegro: When they separated from Serbia, disolving the final remnants of Yugoslavia, Montenegro ditched their Serbian look-alike tricolor for this lovely flag. I wanted to go there in 2005, but I messed up on the ferry schedule in Greece, thus I didn't have enough time. My parents gave me a 3'x5' in 2006, I think.

Greece: In Athens in 2005, I bought a 3'x5' of this flag, careful to choose the one that was manufactured the best. I think I annoyed the saleswoman.

Belarus old flag: This was the new flag of Belarus when I was in Minsk in 1993, just after the Soviet Union disintegrated. I bought a 2'x3'. My, weren't those optimistic days! A few years later, Belarus reverted to their soviet-era flag, minus the hammer and sickle. It's no longer an optimistic place.

Kazakhstan: This was one of the pretty flags brought forth by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. So pretty, in fact, that I had my parents buy me a 2'x3' of this flag in 1997 or so. I like turquoise.

Bhutan: An eastern dragon to counterpoint Wales's western dragon. My parents gave me a 2'x3' of this flag in 1996 or so.

Sri Lanka: I've never been there and have no intentions of visiting, but . . . cool flag! Chunlin bought me a 2'x3' in 2009.

China: Chunlin's native land. She gave me a 2'x3' flag in 2006, our first Christmas together.

China's imperial dragon: The flag of the emperors of China, before that whole republic thing. In 2011, my brother-in-law got a 2'x3' flag for me in China, then shipped it to Chunlin's ex-husband (who lives in China now), who brought it to us in his luggage when he next visted Seattle. This is an unusual flag since it's only printed on one side and the edges aren't stitched. Chinese craftsmanship at its finest...

Papua New Guinea: A well-designed flag for this (half-)island nation. I bought a 2'x3' of this flag in 2008.

Fiji: Not the most unique flag around, but we were there. I bought a 2'x3' flag in the Nadi airport in 2007, while we waited for our flight to New Zealand.

New Zealand silver fern: It's not the national flag, but it sure gets waved a lot at sporting events. The silver fern is a national emblem of New Zealand, right alongside the kiwi. I bought a 2'x3' in 2007 while there -- at the Auckland airport, I believe.

And that's the lot of them!