Friday, July 15, 2022


July 15, 2022


I was deep in the forest on Vancouver Island on a journey to Port Alberni to catch the MV Lady Rose, a working diesel coastal boat servicing small lumberyards, fish camps and delivering and picking up kayakers.  We stopped briefly several miles before Port Alberni to see the old growth forest at Cathedral Grove, such a rarity these days. There are so few old growth forests left in North America that it is a real treat to see one.

The day was sunny and the path onto the grove was a blanket of moss, the Douglas fir and cedar trees are magnificent, the biggest trees are 800 years old and 250’ tall.  I stood in awe, thinking about these earth’s creatures standing tall and bold against buffeting winds and winter storms. They had been spared from the huge saws of loggers cutting away at their bases.  I was physically drawn to one of the tallest and thickest tree and tried to put my arms around it as an acknowledgement of its survival.  Could I hear a heart beat?  Could I feel a pulsating of its life force?  Might have.  But its girth is so big that it would take more than 20 of us to circle its trunk.
The grove was magical and a calming influence in a hectic world.  Hopefully they will remain here another 800 years if we respect our poor earth.

When we arrived in Port Alberni and boarded the Lady Rose we were transpired again deeper in to the wonderment of Mother Nature.  As we chugged along we counted many eagles perching in the tall trees lining the shores.  I was fascinated to watch the ship crew off load equipment in small lumber camps.  They seemed so remote and far away from civilization.  Several kayakers had their boats lowered into the water and we watched them paddle away, envious of the adventures they will have ahead of them. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Recent Prompt March 15th

The city is a forest of concrete, brick, steel and glass. Not a welcoming site for visitors wanting to see the great Pacific Northwest. 

When I take the bus up to Capital Hill I am amazed at the amount of construction going on, old signposts are disappearing from the cityscape.  One-story shops are being leveled to make way for yet another high-rise condominium project.  Familiar neighborhoods are transforming into urban blocks, worker bees heading out to Amazon, Face Book, Microsoft and dozens of smaller tech companies. I see the young faces walking on their way to work and wonder if any of them ever get out and away from our concrete forest into the real forests just minutes away from the city, to get a sample of real life.

There is nothing like taking a picnic and driving up to the Skykomish River and finding a flat rock next to it to spread out a feast and just sit and listen to the songs of the river, feeling the wind and watching birds dart in to find food. Although it can be rough in a few places it is still a gentle river working its way down to the Sound. It is a teacher of tranquility and an anchor of relevance and perspective.  Just thinking about it makes me want to pack a lunch jump in my car and head out to highway 2, but it is very cold out there right now and I am hunkered down weathering the temperature, but also the virus scare we are like little mice hold up in our nests until some great emperor of our country or state tells us it is safe to come out. Or are we sheep?

The streets are vacant, shops are closed and grocery stores down on their inventory.  Schools are closed, performances cancelled, athletic events postponed. It is like a huge governor has slowed everything down to a very slow walk actually giving us time to reflect.  The frenetic pace of tech companies madly trying to out do one another, corner part of the market, make a lot of money has tricked young people into intellectual whirling dervishes mesmerized into a complicated dance will have to learn to slow their pace.  At least I hope so.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Is Autumn Approaching?

This is the first time I have felt a chill in the air, a sleepy haze settles around the trees, too many leaves, dried up and brown, blanket the grass. The sky light fades way too early in the day.  I reach for a sweater to keep warm.  I grab a wool blanket and a good book to brace me for the coming fall that is inevitable. 

Last night I curled up in my down comforter and surrounded myself with piles of pillows to ward off the cool dampness.

Usually I love the fall, with its trees dressed in ochre, yellow, red and orange, a time of transformation.  A time to stack cut wood in the shed in preparation for fires at night for cheer and warmth.

Then I have to check the larders.  Are there canned fruits for winter, tins of beans, tuna fish and bags of rice and flour?  A January pie made of canned peaches can remind me of summers past, like fading friendships not detailed memories but a brief moment of freedom as the smell of peaches baking gives me hope.

We will no longer deal with 90° days, sweltering under the sun, and drinking iced tea by the glassfuls. Shorts and t-shirts are folded and packed away and fleece jackets come to the front of the closet for easy access.

The sun comes up later and drops way too soon into the horizon. Are moles, rabbits and squirrels holding up in burrows as defense against rain and snow? Somehow snuggling up with a sleuth of bears sounds comforting.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

RobertaSue and karaoke

Blame it on the full moon but I can honestly contribute it in large part to RobertaSue who has a few cylinders short of an engine most of the time.  At times she gets her Mad Hatter hat on, you know the black bulbous one with the pink ribbon, and bright orange curly hair and goes bar hopping downtown dressed in her Rita Hayworth gown, the orange one with white lace cascading from her shoulders down to the V-neck.  That girl has no shame when it comes to her attempts to sing karaoke at Flattery’s on Saturday night.  She signs up for at least six numbers including the Peggy Lee renditions of "Fever" and "Is that all There is?" and then moving on to "What’s Love Got to do with it?" trying desperately trying to imitate Tina Turner.

I used to be embarrassed by her saloon singing antics but I got used to it after a while once I learned she was not the only person making a fool of herself.  But surprisingly she attracted quite a following of folks who found her an usual local folk hero and Flattery’s would get standing room only when RobertaSue was being featured.

Mistakenly she got it into her head that she was really good and started bragging about the crowds she would draw.  It annoyed me a bit that she thought she was talented in that direction. In truth she is a good school librarian and the kids loved her but her aspirations were higher, madly searching for a glamorous life which in reality was rather a staid quiet existence.  I guess I shouldn’t hold it against her.  What is the harm in dressing up in a ridiculous costume and traipsing around to the local watering hole to belt out a few favorite tunes?  After all it only happens once a month on a full moon. 

And come to think of it I have to give her credit, she loves music, can’t carry a tune but it brings her extreme happiness to entertain the audiences who come see her.  Better to let her live with that illusion.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Old Photos

Once in a blue moon I will open a box of old photographs stored on the top shelf of the clothes closet. 
It is awkward to get down and it is stuffed with packets of 4x6’s from the years before computers and it is at times fun and bittersweet to see what I was up to.  I am surprised that my hair was raven colored and I was much thinner than I am now.  There are trips to the mountain to visit friends who had a wonderful cabin in an old mining town, trips to California to go on painting encounters and wonderful sojourns to Italy, France, Africa and Asia.

There I am standing in front of a temple in the sweltering heat of Thailand, then a shot of the most handsome male I ever met, a 70- foot reclining gold deity all stretched out for one and all to admire.  There I am on a small Vietnamese boat on Hai Phong Bay hardly aware that there was an awful war with these people not too long ago.  

I am hiking with our guide in the desert highlands of Madagascar and I remember that I suffered heat stroke that evening.  I didn’t have water on the hike into Monkey Valley and I was so thirsty that I drank unfiltered water from a stream. I was exhausted, no appetite, nauseated, and vomited outside the dining hall that evening.

There are photos of friends long gone, others who just drifted away with job changes and moving to another state, photos of people who betrayed their loyalty and I get a sinking feeling when at I look at them.

I think maybe it is best not to disturb that box filled with history. Should I dump it or just let it molder away in darkness?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Run Away Watermelon

Seattle is very fussy about its trash.  We have containers for recycling, one for composting and one for garbage. In the alley behind my condo complex, our dumpsters are not all together so one has to separate materials to go into three different containers in three different locations.  

I had a bag of trash in one hand ready for the garbage and another bag with a whole personal watermelon which had staged its last days in my vegetable crisper ready to add to compost.  I had put it in a bio bag which is a little slick.  Our alley is slightly canted and runs downhill towards the Sound. I placed the bio bag of watermelon down on the concrete while I put the garbage in the dumpster but as I was doing it the watermelon started to roll.  

At first I tried to grab it, then it started to gain speed, my sandals were not meant for running so I moved quickly to try to get ahead of the racing watermelon to stop it with my foot but the melon simply bounced over my foot and took off speeding.  I raced along side it to try to move it towards our neighbor building but it was focused on blazing ahead at greater speed.  Realizing I could possibly fall down and knock myself out or fracture an arm I gave myself one more try and was able finally to stop it with one frantic effort it before it bounced into the street.

It was a scene from an Abbot and Costello movie.  I had hoped someone else had observed it and I am still laughing about it.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Mice in the Pantry

The mice behaved as if they owned the joint, and they took over our cool pantry in our cottage at the beach.  They even had the nerve to chomp a hole in a whole watermelon and eat their way to the center, just the center, and leave the rest.  

Mother was always setting traps hoping to catch the little buggers and all they did was to leave their “calling cards” scattered on the floor or counter tops where they would be seen.  Our beach cottage, by today’s standards would not meet code, as it was built on post and beam, with no insulation, and lots of places for the beach mice to take refuge in a storm.

Sometimes during the night we would hear the WHAP of a mousetrap and cheer into the darkness. Mother had the mortician’s duty and dispatched the trap and unlucky mouse to the garbage container outside in the morning.

On our daily walks to the beach we would carry a gunnysack and gather beach bark which we would use in our fireplace and wood stove in the kitchen.  It was easier to carry bark as they came in chunks and we filled the sack and dragged it back to the cottage to put in the wood box next to the fireplace.  A beach bark fire was the best one to roast marshmallows on and would burn slowly but give off good heat in the living room.

We did not have a refrigerator but an icebox and the iceman would come twice a week and deliver blocks to our front door.  Ham, the meat operator, had a refrigerated truck and would sell all kinds of meat. He was a butcher and a skilled one at that.  My sister and I knew that one shelf in Ham's truck he kept candy bars so we would walk out to Ham’s truck with our mother to make her purchases and then we would each get a chilled Mounds or Almond Joy.  

Once a week Tony the Italian vegetable vender would drive into the oyster shell lane and ring his bell. The women of the beach compound would come running out of their houses to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

Things were simple in those days, but we kids loved the life at the beach and looked forward to it each summer- mice and all.