Category Archives: Odd Thoughts

Happy Anniversary

IMG_1012

Happy anniversary Lefty—it’s been one year since you died. It’s been a year since we buried you under the new maple tree, and then the winter came and buried you again in all that snow. Dang, though, how the flowers bloomed there in the spring. This summer was hot—you would’ve hated it. I would’ve had to finally get you that haircut everyone was always asking about. I never did touch your hair, though. It was too perfect the way it was. Au naturale was how you rolled.

Your brother Duke moved in 4 blocks away. You could’ve partied together daily! But your buddy Riley, he died in the spring. Both of you gone too soon.

I miss going skating with you. I miss using you as a footrest. I miss catching all the love beams you were always sending my way—always watching me, constantly keeping your eye on things, forever making sure I was safe and more importantly that I wasn’t gonna leave you behind. I’m not going anywhere, boy, I’m right here.

IMG_0779

Lefty at the river. 

IMG_6590

Lefty at the fire lookout. 

IMG_5281

Lefty at the skatepark. 

IMG_5462

Lefty at the desert lake.

IMG_1323

 Lefty and me forever. 

99.2% Eclipse Of The Heart

FullSizeRender

The eclipse. THE ECLIPSE! Did you see it? How could you not. I did’t transport myself to the line of totality, although many friends did. The world, for now, is divided between dids and didn’ts. I don’t have totality FOMO, though, because I’m one of those people who takes crazy pleasure in the simple and everyday. The velvet down of our pup’s big ol’ bug-catcher ears. Sandwiches on sourdough. Golden hour in the backlit woods.

All the good things, all the time.

Anyway, Monday morning was just your average 99.2% eclipse of the sun, viewed from the park by our house, with friends, with neighbors, with coffee. A community gathering, of sorts, to worship the cosmos. In another lifetime, we woulda been Druids ’neath the Henge.

My favorite part, besides the deepest, softest quiet that descended on the city, was the ice-cold breeze that kicked up when the eclipse peaked. In the movies, a wind like this would portend strange doings afoot—a wicked change of fate, otherworldly powers. In real life, it was just a brief blackout of life-giving Ultraviolet rays. Simple science. Unless … ?

IMG_8017

Best Day Ever

IMG_7607

I believe in everyday fun, but hard work and purpose are at the heart of who I am. So when I tried to think about which, of all the great days from this summer, was the very greatest, one day kept coming back to me.

Three Rivers, Oregon. I woke up in the woods in a ’56 canned ham trailer. The dog was wedged in between our sleeping bags and the sunlight was everywhere. We ate thick bread with tomatoes, avocado and olive spread and drank our coffee black from the percolator, as we do. A dog walk to the Deschutes River revealed ghostly flyfisherman standing in quiet pools. The smell was dry dirt and pine sap. It was a very summer-in-the-mountains smell that I know from my wildchildhood in the Colorado high country.

IMG_7642

After the walk, we went to work on the property digging fence posts until the early afternoon. This involved the hauling of lumber, the gathering of water, the measuring, the digging of holes and the mixing of Quikcrete. One by one, we set the posts, and as the fence got longer, the pile of lumber got shorter. It was such a satisfying task out there in the hard, dry heat and made me feel so positively tired and good, the way sitting at my desk type type typing never does—although I love that too in a different way.

FullSizeRender

IMG_7636

After working, we went back to the river and swam for hours. The cold water and warm sun felt so great, even now I can feel that exhilaration of opposites. The local country folk floated by on large constellations of innertubes and cheers-ed their beers at us. It was the very definition of a summer day, and I’m gonna stick it in my cap of fine pure moments from summer and beyond. It’ll be there whenever I need it, forever, I reckon.

FullSizeRender 2

On another note, because—hey, this world is crazy (and how lucky am I to have had even one lovely summer day?)—I thought it was worth saying explicitly, like, out loud:

I do stand for love. I do stand against hate. I do stand against anyone who espouses supremacy over another human being. My grandparents fought the Nazis. My great grands emigrated from Poland to get away from the Nazis. In my work, in my family, and in my life, I’m intolerant of intolerance, and moving away from fear and paranoia is my default state. Thanks for reading. Thanks for being a member of the human race!

Go Skate Season

IMG_7455

Summer resolution: prioritize skateboarding. The less I do it, the less I feel like doing it. This is true of anything you love that takes effort but ultimately gives you a higher purpose. When I think about life, and especially life in the summertime, some of my best memories are of skating, sweating it out in the heat with my buds. Of course, these memories are all wrapped up in everything that makes skateboarding great. Hanging with friends and laughing. Being outside under the big, bright sky—sun showering down, a glimpse of cottonwood fluff on the breeze. Doing something active and fun, something that’s hard and you have to practice at, something that makes you fall down and get back up again in a way that lets you realize your own freedom and power.

Anyway, I leave you with some pics from the past week. Golden hour at the mini ramp. Burgers and buds at Canby. Go Skate Day hill bombs through the moments of daylight. This is the stuff that makes summer (and life) great.

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender 2

Puppy 2.0

FullSizeRender 4

By now you probably figure me insane. All I ever talk about is dogs and backyard mini ramps. And forest-bathing. (Ah, but aren’t those the good things in life?)

I thought I’d tell you the story of Piney. If you’re one of my people, then you already know Piney is my pup—Puppy 2.0, we call him. We adopted him from the Humane Society out in Hermiston. Roving farmland. Watermelon country. What happened was, I had a right-hand man named Lefty, and he died. I took some time, and then I got another puppy and called him Durango. He was a magical beast—part St. Bernard, part panda bear. I loved him impossibly much. And he died.

This is old news. The heartbreak that was Winter 2016.

FullSizeRender 2

What you may not know is that, no joke, ten days after Durango died, we went and adopted Piney. In the hush that falls between Christmas and New Years, we kicked solitarily around the house, did chores, put dog toys away in closets. But try as I might, I could not forget what needs forgetting. And so in between snowstorms, I made Mark drive me out to Eastern Oregon to pick up another puppy.

IMG_6715

To his credit, Mark said he thought it was too early. I joke with him now—”At least I beg you for puppies, instead of begging you to have babies like a normal girlfriend!”

I believe there’s no such thing as “too early” when it comes to providing shelter and love for a critter in need. I also believe I could’ve waited a little longer. With that said, every creature, humans and dogs included, is so damn different. No matter how long you wait, you will not get your old pal back. So F it. Bring on the puppies—and all the joy that comes with them.

FullSizeRender

Three months later, we’re just getting to know Piney still. He has a fierce streak about his food bowl. He pees with joy when he sees someone he truly loves. He sun bathes. He howls. He dawdles over dandelions. These are all revelations—Lefty did none of these things. What will Puppy 2.0 turn into?! Will he fetch? Will he swim? I can’t wait to see. Here’s to new friends (and never forgetting the old ones). Here to new adventures (and all those old, happy memories).

FullSizeRender 3

Homesteading, Part 1

FullSizeRender 3

I purchased a little land in Central Oregon, just a twirl down the road from the Deschutes River. As mentioned elsewhere, my plan was to build a cabin of dreams there. No undertaking works the way you think it ought to, though. It happens that the groundwater in this area is too close to the surface to build a regular old septic system—no, to install a tank for my cabin, I’d need to drop many Gs on a fancy sand filtration system.

The short of it: I’m priced out of building anything for now.

Who cares? Less work for me! I’ll be happy with a tidy fence and a modest camper trailer. We could put solar panels on the trailer. We could set up a wood burning stove. We could build a shed for a couple bikes. We could, we could, we could …

I spent this weekend backfilling the septic test pits. In other words, shoveling dirt into big holes. When was the last time you shoveled for a couple hours straight? Crikey! It nearly killed me. In life, I feel strong. But in shoveling, it’s clear that I’m a pathetic weakling. I’ve got the arms of a typist, a tinkerer, a delicate herb gardener.

No matter, though, because I also happen to love hard work. Mark and I shoveled and shoveled, while the sun warmed the earth and the Ponderosas kicked out that sweet perfume of the Northwest. We heard the rhythms of the neighborhood, we saw where the shadows fall. What can I say? We bonded with the place.

South Century Drive, we’ll be seeing you!

FullSizeRender

Spring Precipice

FullSizeRender

Guys, I’m always and forever in search of experiences with fun and meaning. Lately, they’ve been hard to find, though.

Where is all that joy we used to know?

For me, it both is and isn’t the weather. It’s the weather and the other stuff, like death, and like almost dying, and like being stuck in town—both literally (with snow and mudslides closing the passes) and figuratively (with a new puppy we must care-take instead of hopping a plane to Hawaii)—that have made this winter a winter to hibernate.

However, in a rare act of magnanimity this weekend, the sky got sunny over Beaverton skatepark on a Saturday who’s forecast had preambled rain showers, allowing me to do what I like, which is skateboarding, outside, in the sun, with friends. No small miracle.

IMG_6902

Then, on Sunday, we got up early and drove into the Gorge to skate more and climb a mountain, where we walked through glowy green fields, sun dappled, flower dappled, with silver river waters off in the distance.

It wasn’t the nicest weekend, as weekends go. But it was nicer than any in recent memory, juicing with enough of that second-tier happiness I needed to pull me back from the precipice—out there where I was teetering, close to becoming so grumpy, I’d be forever lost to the lands of Curmudgeon.

IMG_6946

Social Butterflies

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 4.11.30 PM

Borrowed the above pic from my pal Kristine.

It’s from Derek’s birthday party last Friday night. Twas proper 40th birthday party—everyone came out. Whiskey spilled. Dinosaur Jr played. Cake did what cake does, it got ferociously eaten!

To be around so many buds, from so many different times and places in my life, it was awesome, but overwhelming. I wanted to leave, I cannot tell a lie … But only for a minute! That feeling passed over me, just like a wave.

This winter has made me very reclusive. Everyone, I think?

To go from months of the quietest evenings ever spent cowering from the cold—or, alternately, mellow gatherings of 4-7 people—straight into a wild rager like this one was a wee difficult for my delicate social constitution. Nevertheless! I persevered, and talked to Molly about her Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and hugged Kelly and heard all about her terrible brush with death, and chatted with Jamie about his epic trip to Columbia, and so on …

All said and done, it was better-than-great to see everyone. Friendships are way more than the sum of their parts. And while we can all keep in touch passively (i.e. digitally), being in the same room with your friends doing that face-to-face QT is the best and only way to tap into the real, good stuff, the sustenance, the love. Friends! Where would any of us be without them?

Adventures In Meditation

IMG_6651

Until late December, I’d never meditated. I’d been a longtime supporter of mediative THINGS—walking, gardening, cooking. But, let’s be clear, meditative is not meditating.

Meditation is really hard! Have you tried it? Do you agree? It forces you to reckon with your total mess of a brain. As a child of the 80s, I went to swimming lessons and piano class—but no one ever taught me how to control my thoughts and emotions. This is a thing. A skill you can hone through hours and days and weeks of, just, sitting and focusing. Who would’ve thought, as you get older, that the secret to life is not in adding things—knowledge, skills, experience, friends—but rather in taking things away, stripping down existence to its very simplest form.

Anyway, I’m terrible at it. Like a tot with training wheels, I’m doing guided meditations that I’ve downloaded to my phone. My favorite  is the one where you simply sit and focus on the space between your thoughts. The SPACE! It’s expansive. On good days, I can rise right up into it. Eventually, perhaps when I’m all gray, perhaps when I’m living atop a Tibetan peak, I’ll be able to turn my mind on and off at will. Mind control. How cool.

Anyway, daily meditation is not glamorous. It’s another thing on the to-do list. Plus my knees always hurt after I sit there for a while. Still, the work is important—as necessary as eating and sleeping. And later, when the stress runs high and the world roils, I’ve got a surefire way to dial it all down.

This Time Last Year

FullSizeRender1

This time last year, it was a lot more like spring, remember?

There was a barely warm breeze on the loose, causing me to browse the nursery for seeds for my future veggie garden (all the while caught up in a kind of frenzy dreaming about the fresh salsas and salads I’d make when the warm months returned).

IMG_6478

There was a quick trip to Astoria to shake off the cobwebs. Despite my my longstanding grudge against the Oregon coast (too crowded in the summer, too gloomy in the winter, altogether too many windsock shops), I really liked the city’s ancient crumbling victorians and colossal freighters anchored in the inlet. I liked the melancholy place names—like Cape Disappointment, where all the ships crashed, even the one carrying supplies to build a new lighthouse. It’s all exceptionally Northwest!

IMG_6610

There was also a life-affirming first-ever backcountry trip to a fire lookout in Central Oregon. I’ve almost never felt happier than I did on that first night spent rolled up inside a sleeping bag on a tiny bed atop a towering mountain. This is because I was incredibly warm and comfortable, I was tired from wallowing 4 miles uphill in the deep snow with a heavy pack (an act that I would call mountaineering, but I know if I did real mountaineers would pat my head and say, “Hush”), I was among several people that I liked very much, and I was there in the cozy dark surrounded by 360 degrees of windows that held nothing but stars.

IMG_6590

Anyhow, in keeping with the New Year Vibrations of early Feb, I support getting 100% back to basics, getting 100% serious about clearing out clutter both mental and physical. This year, though, I don’t have the energy for renewal. With the short days and darkness of weather—and with death all around—I feel like I’m only now coming out of a deep, dark hole. My current energy stores are reserved, it seems, for just keepin’ on.

So hey, winter of 2017, I apologize. I’ll do better next year.

10431796_1553507348298278_1272901333_n