Friday, May 30, 2014

The Infinitely Dimensional Map

     My tattered United States paper map is notable for the lurid green-inked loop of a line that connects the cities I had marked with orange, magenta or purple polka dots last fall.  Orange & magenta dots were for the cities of friends and family, purple ones for historical or architectural interests.  I wish though that I had an infinitely dimensional map that would show the elevations, the storms, the locals, the architecture, the passing of time, the change in my photographer’s eye, the muscles in my legs and the lilt of my heart.  The sky would have to be there too: the wide-open west and the scrunched up eastern sky viewed from the edges of treetops.  My smile too. 

     For all of you who have followed the blog with unwavering dedication or even tuned in on some erratic schedule, you are also on that infinitely dimensional map.  As I began writing the blog a dear friend said, “It’s funny how you can know someone for so many years and yet when you read something they have written, a whole new dimension to their personality emerges.”  It is even funnier when you yourself find a whole new personality in yourself.  I feel like my soul, my humor, my worth, and my world stretched like a rubbery map these past seven months.  Life just looks different from this end of the trip on the edge of the sea from the same sea where it started.

     Driving the windy roads of West Virginia I slowed to cross a narrow old lovely cement bridge.  A little gathering of people leaned over the railing in the middle of the bridge. I slowed even more wondering what they were watching, when a puff of white lifted from the hands of one man swirling in the breeze lifting up from the river. Then I noticed the clothes, the clutch of roses in the woman’s hand and the emotional faces.  Lucky man I thought.  I wonder if he fished this river.  He surely lived near it and loved it.  Within a few miles I passed a sign.  “Party!!!”  Up the hill a small yard was surrounded with balloons and banners, tables gaily arrayed and loaded, a child’s birthday.  On my paper map this bittersweet ending and this joyful beginning, both celebrations, happen in a dot of road line. 

      As I wandered with pup along the ocean in the past few days I began the trip again in my head.  If a dot of road line held significance, the square of each day on my calendar had been imprinted with images and scribbled with notes.  Faces, birds, stars, chilly temperatures, new friends, weary driving days, old buildings, little towns holding on, books, photo ops, and odd signs.  Some days the squares were black with images and ink.  The blog helped parse out the meaning of those days.  The photos helped frame what appeared worth noting.  “I’m traveling with you,” many of you said.  Thank you all for keeping company vicariously.  Your company was appreciated.  

     For all of you who are younger than I, don’t despair if life is not lining up just like you would wish.  You have time, so much time.  You can’t see any farther ahead on your mapped out life, than I can.  Take a few chances, be kind and expect kindness, be honest, love well, and be happy.  Slow down and listen.  Take your eyes off the map.  Look about.  Life is good.

    (More tales to follow... off the map.  See you there.)



Sunday, May 25, 2014

Quilting and Kite-Flying

    Quilting is a skill that I do not possess.  My childhood friend, Diana from California, has been a master quilter for many years.  This seascape quilted wallhanging was a gift from Diana when I visited her just a few weeks ago.  Heading to the beach to fly kites the other day introduced me to a quilter of another kind.  This was a newly sewn kite by a local Long Beach resident.

Quilt by Diane from Long Beach
     I have been coming to Long Beach, Washington for a number of years now.  Kites are in evidence on every visit.  There is a passionate community of kite flyers.  A few sew their own patterns.  Some kite designs are quilt-like, but the one above is a quilt for the sky.   

   Sewing and kite flying have a few skills in common.  One is being meticulous about details.  Keeping kite strings untangled and kite paraphernalia where you want it is essential, just as sewing rooms need to be well organized.  Rae is a master kite flyer.  His kite rig is evidence.  Dozens of kites, reels of string, stakes and repair materials are neatly stored in this tight space.

    Rae’s newest acquisition of kite flags required the addition of tall three-part poles which were stored on the top of the rig.  Rebar is hammered into the sand, a curving piece of pcv pipe is slipped onto a metal rod and the flag is drawn onto the rod.  The pcv section is then slipped over the rebar.

Rae lowering kite flag rods down from the rig.

The new flags!
    Once the stationary kites were in place, the choice of which kites to fly next came under consideration.  Rae has some huge kites, but the choice for the day was a matched set of sport or stunt kites.  

     Stunt kites are flown using two lines with one in each hand.  Elbows are supposed to be held close to the body.   Push and pull motions of the arms change the direction of the kites allowing the kite to whirl in circles, scream sideways or simply hang in the air at the top of the sky.  As Wikipedia says, “Novice or first time fliers may have difficulty flying a dual line kite.”  I can appreciate that last line!

    When the kite would do what you hoped there would be a fraction of a second of delight before you needed to pay attention again and make the next move. Rolling delight if all was going well.  You can't hear the laughter from me in these photos during near crashes or the joy of the kites screaming sideways!


    Many years ago Rae and his wife Peggy helped teach daughters, Molly and Rebekah, to fly kites.  At the time I had tendinitis of the elbow from nailing on a roof.  The pain lasted a long time and I wasn't sure that flying kites would ever become easier.  Yesterday was pleasing in that there was no pain in the elbows.

     Pup would race after kites, go off to hunt up potential picnic food or go visit dogs.  Once and awhile she would need a break.  We would find her resting in the truck or under it in a dip of cool sand.

     Long Beach wins again for best beach for kites.  Great day.