Friday’s Quick Picks: Poem/This Silenced House

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If this house could be what it has been
it would tell no lies, re-frame the life
that moved within leather, flame, silver, lace.
Doors shut in and breathe out laughter, cries;
floors hold echoing footsteps fresh or failed;
walls are thick with imprints of touch,
murmurs like charms against difficult fates.

Many things that could not be said
burrowed in like snakes, beetles, foxes,
sly and beautiful, disappearing from the
redolent air and revelations of light,
this house a ruin, abhorred, left for foraging.

Yet the aggrieved abode resists emptiness,
leans into harboring woods, birdsong, rain or ice,
holds out for useful salvaging or a last liberation.
For a visitor, an eye cast about its demise,
a lingering hand held into the darkness.

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Friday’s Passing Fancy: Call for Spring/Happiness

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He took the whole day off, declared it
expendable and he, a king (I, a queen),
time freed of bite, gone slack with ease.
We took roads beyond the bridges where
sins long past, weighted days and lean nights

dissolved inside blossoming light.
This is the way we want it to be,
hands dangling in shear of wind,
two hearts plumped with laughter,
a small mastery of life reinstated
on the marshy trail, that welcoming wood.

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Since the sun graced us with no precipitation in sight, we got our gear/snacks and my husband and I headed out on a day trip in Washington. We wanted to explore Salmon Creek Park. It’s a favorite spot of ours for a brisk or leisurely walk. Ordinarily we can continue 6-8 miles and we were up for the challenge. This time the creek was–not surprisingly–swollen and had overflowed its banks over winter. Earth was spongy and muddy, trails flooded in places. These are wetlands but knots of trees like it here, too. We had to forego dense forested acreage we love, as there was no dry way into it. Along the creek were signs of beavers having been hard at work, wood chips in nearly neat groupings. Some areas looked wane yet undaunted, but greenery is reasserting itself. Stones, birds, mossy sticks, roustabout water and aquamarine sky–all called to us. The early spring peepers’ songs were like bells jingling, bullfrogs like bass viols with excellent rhythm. Everywhere were people (and dogs) gathering and playing on and off the paths. It won’t be long before the weather will be finer, the rain more sporadic. Flowers and more leaves will burst in profusion. Spring will reign again.

Come along!

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Friday’s Quick Picks: Columbia River Sternwheeler Cruise

 

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I was looking though photo files today while recovering from oral surgery. I don’t have many words to offer but want to share a few happy moments. My family and I–various combinations of adult children as well as siblings (often with partners), and grandchildren –have several times enjoyed a sternwheeler cruise along Oregon’s famous Columbia River, right through the majestic Columbia Gorge. It’s a great way to get together with family or friends and the views never fail to satisfy.

I am so fortunate to live among outstanding rivers and mountains (and ocean to the west, high desert to the east) and hope to show you more lovely places as the weather moves from an unusual winter of icy cold to more temperate times again.Spring can’t be all that far away…we usually have flowers by now!

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the river trip!

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Notes From the Edges of Sleep and the Day After

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It was that fine velvety stillness which held my attention. No mechanical clangs or motors roaring, no ebullient voices ballooning in the darkness after bar closings. The crows had taken a hiatus, were asleep or perhaps frozen stiff on their perches after the evening’s steady snowfall. I peeked out the window once more: nothing but rapid accumulation of an almost florescent snow upon rooftops, fences, tree limbs, parked vehicles. A January night’s attire arrayed itself with grace. Nothing stirred amid the restful snow, or pounced on blowzy flakes as once my calico cat had zealously attempted.

But why was I thinking of feisty Mandy, she of snappish meows and fast claws, dead and gone for a decade? I didn’t miss her warmth at my blanketed feet since she hadn’t been allowed there due to ending up a nuisance, though I loved her. No, it was another sneaky thought from nowhere. I lay on my back, blankets pulled up to my chin. Why did I think of anything at this time of night? I ought to have been snoozing, traversing vaporous realms at the most or loosely tethered to a wakeful consciousness at the least.

It was way past two in the morning; I didn’t want to check again. I had had my usual herbal Sleepytime tea while watching some innocuous television, headed to bed to devour many pages of an engaging novel. Tried to think sleepy thoughts. Let the day’s work and play be put aside. Worries offered up to God as well as a few suggestions that might be helpful, then humble retractions and surrender once more.

Closed my eyes. Ignored familiar inroads of pain that crept from neck to shoulders to head to back. Visualized warmth and healing in each spot, fell toward restfulness. In thirty minutes: fully awake again. This time, heart skipping about as if deep darkness was the best time to change things up, do a little sidestep, try on a galloping jig and then a waltz. A long pause or two and a swing step. Be at ease, I counseled the muscle that drives this flesh, fuels this life.

But beyond the bed, the vibrant quietude of snow carried me first to blizzards of my Michigan childhood and youth. The snow houses, sledding, ice skating, tunneling into the depths, falling into sharp sweetness with a boisterous shout. All that force of beauty and opportunities for fun; the ways it shaped the flow and tenor of my life for sometimes five or six months of each year. It gave me fortitude, more room for imagination and pure happiness.

And I thought, too, of a time in the north country with my first husband, our children gallivanting in brilliant snowdrifts, the skittish and graceful deer living right alongside our lives. The wood stove tended all day and night to keep us warm enough. That last winter of complicated snowstorms and love, more snow and loss. As I tried to let sleep come, I greeted him somewhere, wherever he is since body failed. But why was this necessary to revisit? Because the snow is made of memories. A unique elegance, freedom; it smells and shimmers of wonder and sorrow.

Music came forward from somewhere far away inside my mind– kept awakening me with chords, clear and robust. Giant icicles used to shine at the windows of my parents’ home, the music house. That was then and this snow was now but they were superimposed as I lay there half-awake. Trees must have shivered, as just like childhood I felt their aliveness, my eyes closing tighter against seepage of sky through the blinds and that far away past. I hummed a melody almost recalled as it melded with a sudden wind. Chimes jangled on the balcony, sonorous, comforting.

Three forty-five a.m. I sighed, re-positioned, fluffed the pillows. Thought of Marc on the East coast after flying all day. Was he awake, too? Sleep is often more elusive in hotels. He would likely be at work already.

Wait, a few poetic lines floated across mind’s eye…the slight of a slivered moon left behind, a pale cascade of stars nudging my waking… I grabbed pen, slip of paper.

Flopped back down. My heart rat-a-tatted over and over– electrical messages, small circuitous interruptions. That prescience of shocking mortality. We are not only memories and dreamings. But I know to wait it out, breathe well. It was persistent, then passing as mercifully, I fell asleep for awhile.

That night was a winding road. Long, crammed with bits and pieces that entertained, annoyed, jolted, intrigued and even soothed as each moment leads to another unlike what is expected or needed.

I am not alone with such night voyaging. All who experience insomnia for any reason know how it goes: it starts to feel long and unreasonably temperamental, then to feel more like floating in ineffable space and finally it feels like nothing but weariness. That waiting for dawn. It can be survived if you are friendly with it, acknowledge it as a terribly stubborn guest, and behave as if it is not unexpected and not despised.

And I finally awakened to full light. Looked outside. The snow was more immense, lay in high mounds and cancelled grayness with its reflective light. A foot of it? (Fourteen inches in places, I heard later.) Where did all this come from (an Arctic front via Canada, likely) and why to this valley saturated with a cold rain each winter? This was our second real snow so far; it was by far the biggest. I got up but it was as if my body came forward first, my self came second while, in between, I wavered. Then, steadier on both feet, it was time to greet another day properly despite the specter of exhaustion after four hours of sleep.

The pain in my neck had dug in. My eyes burned with bleariness. A daughter asked to come by as she usually does, using our computer (hers being broken) to search for another job. I dressed, put on the teakettle and toasted a bagel. I had things to get done. And I longed to walk into the snow. Discomfort does not usually excuse me from a daily walk, though it can be tempting. It’s better life management to keep going. I find such good moments, an infusion of strength–and it’s a good work out. Fresh cold air was surely a perfect antidote to poor quality sleep and a tenacious soreness.

And so we did walk for over an hour, good daughter and I. We clomped about in our heavy boots and I took pictures. Neighbors and passersby were chatty; it was satisfying to compare pleasures (and inconveniences) of such a rare snowstorm. Contentment filled me during that hour.

But this is all I have to offer today. No philosophical musings or insightful anything. Just this bout with a trying companion, insomnia. A glimpse again at my resilient but touchy heart. A sharing of bounties from an energizing winter mosey. Pain lessened, heart rhythms more settled. I’m quite tired out. Happier.

Time to sleep again, I so hope, And for all who traverse that oddly mysterious landscape of stony nights when trying to snooze: I wish you good rest.

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Friday’s Quick Pick: Return to a True Love

cropped-victoria-trip-7-12-101.jpgVictoria, Victoria, how well and easily I am romanced by your exceptional character, your elegance and vibrancy never losing my attention…I find myself returning to those days and nights, to your intriguing vagaries, even your more pedestrian secrets that are revealed whenever I seek you out. It has been so long since I presented these eyes and ears, this heart and spirit to the enchantment of yours. When may we meet once more? 

Wait, I am not writing a romance novel, thrusting upon you a first overtly flowery paragraph. No, I am only daydreaming about another vacation on Vancouver Island and a stay in Victoria, its crown jewel. For today I am full of reminiscences and wonders of this small land parcel between the USA and Canada. I actually restrain myself from returning there in this blog so that readers need only put up with my praises and images once a year or so. But I find I can’t wait a few more months to share a spattering of pictures from five–or six?–trips to Victoria and all which thrives there. I can hardly post enough of the sights, but here is a teaser.

It is January, after all, and it’s remained simply too cold; my legs, hands and cheeks have barely thawed from an energetic afternoon walk. I must have relief and so I reach back to more temperate weather marked by color, movement and very good food (and chocolate). Some hear the siren call of the drowsy tropics or vast glittering ski slopes. I would happily settle for Victoria another visit, and if I manage not the actual flight from my chilled urban center, at least let me linger over past enticing moments. Some places just catch and hold you in a happy state. And, honestly, I have a thing about ferries…you may note there are a few shots of the rides.

Yes, Victoria, here I come–husband in tow.

Care to join me? (Click on bottom of photos for a pop up description and also to see full photo.)