The Images of Ashala

Archive for September, 2011

Do What You Love

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When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.
— Nancy Coey

_MG_2222 French Acrobats

_MG_2223 French Acrobats

Saturday during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, I came upon the epitomy of “Do what you love and the money will follow.”   It was in the form of La Loupiote Sailing Circus in the harbor in Sausalito, Ca.

French acrobats Franck Rabilier and his wife Delphine Lechifflart and their 2 children travel around the world on their 40-foot sailboat and subsidize their travels by giving acrobatic performances from their vessel, La Loupiote.  They have been traveling since 2004.  They use the rigging, mast, boom, other parts of their boat to perform aerial acrobatics.  They dangle from a long piece of white silk attached to the mast.

They did two 20-minute shows  — “The Navigators,” a Buster Keaton-influenced act about inept sailors, and “Between Wing and Island,” a love story.    I found them at the Klipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito.   About 100 people showed up for each of the free performances (donation requested).   It was just like the “old time” circus coming to town and passing the hat.

Franck went to circus school as a small child, but ended up becoming an engineer.  He met his wife, Delphine, while she was attending school in Paris.   In 1999, they started their own acrobatic/theatre company.  As time went on, they purchased a partially finished sailboat,  completed it four years later, and decided to combine their love of sailing with their acrobatics and take their show around the world.   Accompanying them on their travels is their 11-year-old daughter, Loeva,  and 3-year-old daughter, Ondja.   Loeva is home schooled, and the world is her classroom.

They have performed in hundred of harbors since setting sail from France 7 years ago.   From the Bay Area, they will sail to Los Angeles, San Diego, Mexico and then on to New Zealand and Australia.

It was a joy to watch a couple who  created a life for themselves by following their dreams and passions of art and travel and finding a way to fund it through sharing their art form with the world.

_MG_2212-2 French Acrobats

_MG_2239 Audience in Sausalito, CA

Scheduled Bay Area shows:

  • Sept 24 & 25: KKMI, Sausalito, 2 p.m. “The Sailors”; 4 p.m. “Between Wing and Islands”
  • Oct 1 & 2: Encinal YC, Alameda, 11 a.m. “The Sailors”; 1 p.m. “Between Wing and Islands”
  • Oct 8 & 9: Treasure Island YC, 3 p.m. “The Sailors”; 5 p.m. “Between Wing and Island”
  • Oct 14, 15, & 16: South Beach YC, S.F.

Target Practice and a Dead Bear

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Yesterday I went upriver on the Klamath.  It was a gorgeous day with perfect weather and some trees just starting to turn.    The enjoyment was dampened when lying on the river bank was a dead bear that had been shot.  I cannot understand why anyone would shoot an animal for the fun of it and just leave it to die.   Was this beautiful animal used for target practice?  It certainly was not used for food.   The only ones eating were the maggots covering its body.  According to the fishermen I was with, the day before there was a cub near the dead bear.  Has the callousness of this act left a cub motherless?  I do not know.  A few days before that, I watched as the sea lions were shot at close range with rifles.   What has this world come to?   Have we lost all appreciation for life?   Do we have to needlessly shoot another being for the sheer fun of it?  Yes, I understand that the the sea lions get in nets.  Yes, that can be dangerous to the fishermen.  Yes, they can damage expensive nets.  The problem  is that there were no nets out at the time and they were simply killing these creatures.

Dead Bear

Mama, the Klamath River Whale, Made a Difference in Someone’s Life

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I received an email last week and was granted permission to use it in my blog, but the writer requested I not include her name as some family members do not know the gentleman’s condition presently.   When I read this particular email, it touched me profoundly and wanted to share it.   I wonder how many people Mama touched that we will never know about.  The gentleman in the email was just driving down the highway when he saw Mama.  Here is the email I received:

“My younger brother and the love of his life went out west. After being gone for eighteen days, my brother Wayne told Lisa that the one thing he would love to do was go whale watching.  They realized it would take four more days of driving to go whale watching, so they decided to head home. As they crossed the bridge over Klamath River they noticed a crowd had gathered. They got out of their car to see what was going on. Much to their amazement there was the great whale in the river. My brother had recently learned he only has a few months to live because of esophagus and stomach cancer. As Wayne watched the whale he turned to Lisa with these words, “This whale is here for me!”

Lisa told us this story with tears in her eyes last evening.   Someone ask if she found out what happened to the whale.  She said I did not want to know. I looked on line to find out for myself and came upon your photos and stories. I can tell from your photos and words you have a kind and sensitive heart and thought you would like to hear my brother’s story of the Klamath River Whale.  It is going to be so hard to watch my brother die.
God bless you!”

_MG_7913-1 Mama, The Klamath River Whale, Blowing a Heart

What Happened to Mama, The Klamath River Whale?



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Many of my readers have asked what happened after Mama passed away and what was done with her body.  One blog reader wanted to know if she was just left in the river.  No, she was not. As crazy as the morning of her death was, everything fell into place as far as all involved working together to hasten her removal from the Klamath River and bury her after a Yurok prayer.

On Tuesday, August 16, 2011 she was lying dead in the Klamath River, her home of nearly 8 weeks.  After a short while, white sheets were placed over her body.    A huge backhoe was brought in and her body was moved to the other side of the river.  A huge swath was made in the tall willows by  heavy equipment that was brought in.  This area provided  a perfect place away from throngs of people to perform a private Yurok ceremony to send her off to the afterlife and, afterwards, a necropsy.  A necropsy can be defined as a postmortem examination of an animal.  It could take months for a final report.

I am still filled with sadness whenever I look across the river at the swath that has been made and where this gentle giant was laid to rest.


Excerpt taken from Jessica Cejnar/The Times-Standard
Posted: 08/24/2011 02:40:25 AM PDT:

“The scientists who conducted the post-mortem examination didn’t see evidence of broken bones or bruises, which might have been caused by a ship strike, said Jim Oswald, communications manager of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. The skin was showing effects of the whale’s long sojourn in fresh water, but scientists don’t really know what the animal’s condition was in the ocean, he said.

Getting the tissue samples analyzed could take months. Once scientists receive the results, there’s still no guarantee they’ll know the cause of death, Oswald said.

Looking at the tissues under a microscope can help scientists discover if the whale had a viral or bacterial infection. Examining

the heart muscle can determine if the whale had a heart attack, according to Sarah Wilkin, stranding coordinator with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

”One thing that’s common is parasites,” she said. “They can look at the tissue and actually see signs of a recent or historic infection that may not necessarily be what caused her death.”

_MG_0909 Deceased Mama, The Klamath River Whale, August 16, 2011

MG_1193 Preparing to Remove Mama from the Klamath River

Img 1124 - Preparing to Remove Mama from the Klamath River

_MG_1232 Mama Moved for Burial

_MG_0953 Mama, The Klamath River Whale

Excerpt from my earlier blog of August 17, 2011:

“Today was a very long and sad day as this beautiful being I had come to know and love has left us.  What her message was, we may never know.  Why she was here, we may never know.  There are so many things we don’t know and are not meant to know.  But what I do know is she was truly a “gentle” giant, a loving creature who charmed and mesmerized the throngs of  people, young and old, who came to watch her from atop the bridge, from the water, from the shoreline.

Mama, the gentle Klamath River Whale, we will so miss you and we thank you for gracing our lives with your presence.”

Mama, The Klamath River Whale, Featured in National Geographic

Mama, the Klamath River Whale, is still making headlines and her memory is being kept alive.   The image of Mama and Seth, the paddle boarder hoping to lead her back to the ocean, that has made its way all around the net was featured on National Geographic’s “Pictures We Love – Best of August.”  Over 7,100 people have “liked” it as of this posting.   See link below to view it:

_MG_0163A - Paddle Boarder Serenading Mama, the Klamath River Whale

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Mama’s Message: The World is Out of Balance

Here is an excerpt from an article from the Mail Tribune that is of interest in regard to the Indians’ impression of Mama in the River:

“The whale revived memories of a story told by late tribal member Fannie Flounder and recounted by anthropologist Theodora Kroeber in the book, “The Inland Whale.”

“She said when the whale is in the river, it means the world is out of balance … things aren’t the way they should be,” said Janet Wortman, a relative of Flounder and partner in the Requa Inn. “Fannie said you all need to get together and pray and dance and beat your feet on the ground and that will tilt the earth back the way it is supposed to be.”

The last time wayward whales made headlines in California was in 2007, when a mother humpback and her calf journeyed 90 miles up the Sacramento River. The two were followed by crowds for more than two weeks before swimming out to the Pacific Ocean at night.

O’Rourke said he agreed that the whale’s visit meant the world was out of balance, that ecosystems failing. He said the whale brought together state and federal agencies and the tribe in a way he has never seen.

“It is acts like this that are going to happen if we are going to stabilize the environment,” he said.”


If you have not seen it, Sierra Club posted an article on Mama.  Here is the link.    It went on Sierra Club Facebook with 100,000 followers, keeping Mama’s story and memory alive.   Today the same article was in Sierra Club Insider E-Newsletter that went out to 1 million people.   I have not seen it but will post  a link as soon as I do.

Due to the internet , Mama is still getting lots of ink and her story is being told.   This week one of my images of her will be on the National Geographic website.  I will post it as soon as it comes out.

There was an interesting article printed by the Two Rivers Tribune entitled “Awok Whale, Messenger Comes and Goes.  The link is:

_MG_9663 Whale Spout from Mama, the Klamath River Whale

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