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TheRagens Newsletter
July 1, 2004

Current Thoughts

July 4th is always a big deal. Not only do the kids scramble for candy at the Friday Harbor parade, but we always sit down as a family and read the Declaration of Independence out loud -- everyone taking their turn with a paragraph or two.  This year, it was an eye-opening experience as we were stunned to see so many parallels between the words in the Declaration and the behavior of our own government. Just think of the how some of the language in the Declaration might actually be descriptive of certain current events:

bulletHe has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
bulletHe has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
bulletFor Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
bulletFor protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
bulletFor cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
bulletFor depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
bulletFor transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
bulletHe has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
bulletHe is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Sure, our president says that he is merely protecting the American people but he is doing it at the risk of destroying our long-term credibility and our moral position around the globe. When coupled with the long-term devastation of the financial health of our country through the extensive deficits which have no end, even the deep-seated Republicans in our immediate family are hoping now that that we can say "Good bye, King George" in the fall.


In This Issue

bulletNew Wildlife Photos
bulletBookmarks - Booklists
bulletWine Tasting
bulletWeb Sites Worth Visiting


New Wildlife Photos

With the run through spring and the onset of summer, the last four months have resulted in some tremendous new photographs that I am super pleased with. The Bald Eagle, Waiting photo is probably one of the best pictures that I have ever taken. The subject is interesting, the focus is tack-sharp, the composition is strong, and the background is blurred appropriately so it's not a distraction to the subject. And, it required almost no optimization in Photoshop - just a bit of sharpening for added clarity. I've added a number of other photos as well.

bullet Bald Eagle, Waiting
bullet Bald Eagle Landing




Our recommendation for this month is an introspective book about the history of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic.

Featured Book

The Horizontal Everest: Extreme Journeys on Ellesmere Island
Jerry Kobalenko

I picked up this book on our last vacation and enjoyed it immensely. Ellesmere Island reaches to within 400 miles of the North Pole. The book starts by describing what makes visits to Ellesmere so extreme and gives the reader a chance to understand the landscape through Kobalenko's treks. Then, using the series of twenty or so treks that Kobalenko has made around the island, the book shifts gradually into a personal history of the exploration era of the early 1900s when Peary and Cook and other arctic explorers used Ellesmere as a base for their attempts to get to the North Pole or to discover new lands. Although sometimes oddly repetitive, the book became more captivating for me as it got deeper into the history.

This book won the 2002 Banff Mountain Festival Award for Best Adventure Travel book.


Wine Tasting and Vineyard Updates

In late March, as the winter chill started to recede, I again started to work on the vineyard with some of the routine maintenance that needs to be done. I pruned our vines so that the new growth would help our vines mature. Just as important, I replaced the three dead vines (well, two dead and one that was really sickly) of the 46 that I had planted a year ago. Surprisingly, the one that just hadn't shown growth above ground had actually established a really long, deep root and it probably would have done well this year. I also worked a bit of fish meal fertilizer into the ground for some incremental nutrients and checked the irrigation system even though we wouldn't need it until June. All was good to go.

In a bit of surprise, about a week or two into April, we saw 'bud break' as the dormant vines started to push out their leaves. This is almost a month earlier than usual in Seattle according to some of the other local vineyardists and, if I had planned to get good grapes this year, it would be a good sign. Anyway, as of July 4, all is going pretty well in the vineyard. For more details on this year's progress, check our detailed vineyard update as our story of Sunbreak Cellars continues to develop.

We also held the next wine tasting party and we got some good notes this time. Our theme was 'Anything with Sangiovese' -- with only a single ringer, we were a bit surprised with the results. My favorite wine of the last month was either the 2001 Tignanello from the wine tasting or a 1998 McCrea Cellars Orleans syrah - a rich fruit bomb.


Websites Worth Visiting

Nature Photography Directories
 - Nature Photography Top 100
 - Photography

This month, following the last newsletter, after wandering around a bit more on the web, I found a number of interesting new photography sites that have things in common with our site. I've added links to these websites from my photography links page but here they are again:

bulletJames Kay Photography
bulletGlacier Peak Photography
bulletSkyPix (Roger Edwards)


2004 Index Newsletter Index
bulletJanuary 2004
bulletMarch 2004
bulletMay 2004
bulletJuly 2004
bulletSeptember 2004
bulletNovember 2004


About TheRagens is a family website that highlights our family history in addition to wildlife and nature photos, wine tasting notes, favorite book lists, and other interests. We are happy to share this with you and you may pass on this newsletter to friends as long as you don't change the content. If you are receiving this newsletter from a friend, you may sign up to receive it by by email by visiting our registration page. If you wish to be removed from the distribution list, simply reply to this message and replace the words in the subject line with REMOVE. We keep an index of our back issues on our site.

Thank you!


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