Saturday, January 30, 2016

Eleven Photos (2015) + One (2016)

Sandy River, OR
Joseph, OR
Bonneville Sturgeon Ponds, OR
Biggest Sunflower in My Yard
Last Grape Harvest
Fall Tree on Mill Creek Road
Leaf in the Cabin's Spring-Fed Pond
Palouse Hills and Hay Stack, WA
Hwy. 26, WA
Chioggia Beets
Reflection of a Painting
Fingers in Honey
Today I was thinking about some wonderful photos that I never posted last year when I got so busy.  Hope that you enjoy these, especially that first one.  The dad was drinking his beer and the little boy was either rowing or fishing.  Summer at its best!  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Reappearance of a Cookie Jar

As a child, my mother’s cookie jar sat on the kitchen counter in our cement-block house in Reno, Nevada.  The jar wasn’t often full, but frequently enough for me to associate its curvaceous green shape and hand-painted flowers with chocolate chip cookies.  After my mom and dad passed away, the cookie jar came into my possession.  By then, the jar’s original lid had been broken and replaced with a dark and ugly wooden one. The replacement top gave the cookie jar a depressed appearance as if it was an old man who had found an ill-fitting hat on the street and wore it because it was all he had. I put the jar away.  Eventually, I located a matching lid, but by then our kitchen had been painted in hemlock green and the color clashed with the cookie jar.  I returned it to its cupboard.

Last week as I stored an infrequently used coffee maker up in a high cabinet, the cookie jar caught my attention.  I realized that its color would match the clock in my other kitchen.  Within a couple of hours, the jar had been moved to my cabin.  With the clock above it seeming to say time for cookies, the jar, looking as if it had changed into a Hawaiian shirt, appeared cheeky against the red wall.  

I’ve been thinking about those things (like cookie jars) and those people in my life that I have loved.  A good part of my years I ricocheted back and forth across the country.  I’d make friends and family ties, or acquire treasures.  And then, circumstances or chaos (often of my own making) would require another move or house or job and once again friends or family would become intermittent connections in the form of letters, rare phone calls or even rarer visits.  Possessions would be boxed, displayed and re-boxed. 

On occasion, I will use painting as a way to think about what I want to say in my writing.  I just finished painting the one above representing a timeline of my life and the friends and family I have known. 

When I traveled for seven months I visited people from every time period of my life.  For example, my high school friend Bob (actually we were also in kindergarten together) is one of those people who came back into my life.  He and his lovely wife, Kristin, visited last summer and gave me that green round clock that now calls out the hour of cookies.  In the painting above, Bob is represented as a friend from my Reno High School days (school colors: blue and gold).  The purple blue shape fans out at the top, representing the wide relationship that has occurred in the last couple of years.  Kristin is the white circle in the middle of his shape.     

I appreciate that cookie jars and humans have the capacity to sustain connections across time.  Sometimes their communication becoming a thin line of simply knowing that they exist and at other times being expressed in long holiday letters or cross-country visits.    

(Each yellow circle in my painting represents myself, as I grew bigger and older and, at times, wiser.)    

Some lives have ended, like Gary’s (purple for his high school color and for pancreatic cancer).  

As I move to the little cabin, I will leave some possessions behind, but the ones that I keep, like the cookie jar, will keep reminding me of where I came from and who was in my life at the time.      

For now, my clock is saying time for cookies.  I think that the first batch should be chocolate chip in remembrance of my mom.     

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Magazine Room at the Whitman College Library
On occasion, the room was deserted.  Even as a child I was acutely aware of rooms devoid of adults and chattering kids.  Those were the times when I could pull a book from the shelves, any book, sit on the floor and wander off into fairytale worlds.  Eventually, my mom would return from shopping and retrieve my sister and me from the tall wooden stacks in the pink stucco public library.  I would always carry home a small pile of books to read in the solitude of my home.

Whitman College students have not returned yet, so last week when I found myself only a block away, I made a small detour in my route. I crossed campus from the parking lot and entered the front door of the library, taking an immediate left into the light-filled magazine room.  When I worked nearby at the childcare center, I would catch myself making the promise that upon retirement, I would visit the library often.  I think about it, but haven’t yet gone as frequently as I would like to go.
One Section of the Magazine Rack at the Whitman Library
I appreciate paper clips, rocks, a cat’s purr, clean underwear and libraries.  Even busy libraries suit me.  I find it pleasing that in an era when it seemed that books might become passé new libraries are being built.  Stunning ones. 
Entrance to Montreal's Reserve Book Room
Art Exhibit in Montreal's Library
View from Seattle's Main Branch Library
Hallway in Seattle's Main Library 
In November, I was in Vancouver, Washington visiting a friend and had the opportunity to go to a new library.  On a Friday evening, every floor was humming with people.  The children’s area was packed- a great combination of play area with visually appealing displays of books.  It wasn’t the quiet room of my childhood library, but I think that I would have found books anyway.  The words up the lobby wall were inspiring enough.  I can imagine a small child looking up at those huge incomprehensible letters in code and wishing to be able to decipher them.   
Walla of Words- Looking Up to the Ceiling

The Whitman Library remained quiet my entire stay.  I left without a stack of books.  But in my head, my brain was still busy shelving new ideas, old words and gratitude for libraries. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Brass Outlets

I admire outlets, but not the highway shopping center outlets.  I admire round brass floor outlets.  When I first began noticing them, they were in lecture halls near podiums and then on occasion I would spot one in an architectural magazine – a detail in some gorgeously appointed room with vaulted ceilings and leather furniture.  I had begun coveting those shiny floor outlets just like most women had eyes for handbags or high heels.

When I realized that a floor outlet in the middle of my cabin floor would make it possible for me to position a lamp and have a plug for my computer, I requested such from the electrician.  I pictured an outlet cover of dull brown plastic to match the floor color.  I didn’t even consider a brass jewel box outlet.

The electricians arrived early one morning and began adding a number of new plugs.  The two guys, A.J. and Matt from S & S Electric, would pass by each other as they worked under the house, up in the attic or back and forth to their truck.   When I noticed that Matt had stopped in the living room and set a pile of tools near the blue masking tape marks on the floor, I stopped to watch a moment.  He reached for a plain square cardboard box, opened the lid and withdrew - a brass colored outlet.  Oh, my!  When I expressed surprise, he held it for me to see, as if he were a jeweler showing me a ring.  He said that he loved putting them in.  They were just so beautiful.


I stayed to watch as he drilled a hole.  The first layer revealed the green linoleum which had apparently for years graced these cabin floors.  As an amateur houser, I loved uncovering house history.  Linoleum was first developed to cover battleship decks but quickly became popular for use in land-bound structures.  I was a little sorry that the cabin's linoleum flooring had been covered, but I wasn't willing to pull-up the newer floor to find out if all of the linoleum looked as good as the sample circle.

I have been promising myself that this cabin would be where I write and read, not work.  In my other home of twenty years, I had ripped up carpets and linoleum glued to plywood.   Underneath were the original wooden floors -  unfortunately, painted with lead green paint!  Cautiously removing that paint took most of a summer.  Therefore, you see, I am leery of starting on another rip-apart project.   

After the electricians were done and packed and gone, I moved furniture to the cabin, bringing along an antique lamp with a yellow cord that I thought would be a nice counterpoint to the brass outlet.  I turned the tiny locking screw on the outlet cover, opened its lid and plugged in the lamp.  And, then, as I had been promising myself, I curled up to read.   

Friday, January 1, 2016

Begin Again

There is a child’s song in which there is a line “Begin again.”  For me, this first day of a new stretch of days is a nudge to begin again - posting, noting, blogging.   (“Blogging” is such an unfortunate choice for one of our new words.  It reminds me of “bloated” and “slogging”.  The creator of that word ought to begin again. I would have chosen something like “ruming” as in ruminating or “quilling” as in writing.)

I first began to blog with the intention of posting while I traveled - nothing grandiose - just photos, a sorting of thoughts and an exercise of beginning again after Gary’s passing.  What brought me to a halt this past fall in blogging was the serendipitous sighting of the cabin that I can now unlock, enter and call my own.  Preparations for my eventual moving into the cabin, which will become my primary residence, have kept me boomeranging back and forth up the canyon toting crowbars, paint cans and screwdrivers. I let in a multitude of plumbers and of electricians (more outlets for computers and cellphones).  My fingers were unavailable for tapping out posts, but inside I was noting that joy was rising and that posts were accumulating in my brain’s out file.

First as incoherent letters jumbled by grief and then by word, by image, by note the three letters of joy spelled itself into a multitude of configurations. Slow rising joy.  

In the mornings, on those occasions when I must set my alarm, I write “Up” for the event in my cellphone calendar.  “Get Up!”  “Go!”  Life, right now, is worth the command of “Up!”   

"Go", I say to myself.  Keep writing.  Life is good.

Slow joy is rising.

A View of Slow Rising Joy
On this New Year’s Day I wish for you, "Up, begin again. Have a joyful year!"