My family gathered in my new home to celebrate my 79th birthday, and we had a wonderful time. Flora, Han’s wife who is a native of China, cooked for us, and the food was unlike any Chinese I’ve ever had. She was the hit of the party. We ate, and ate, and visited, and laughed and really enjoyed one another’s company. We had cupcakes from Ida’s in Bend. My cup cake had one candle on it. It took me two tries to blow it out. What’s up with that?
It was a particularly joyful day for me. My birthday fell on Sunday January 28th, 2018, and on Saturday January 27th I unpacked the last of my boxes completing a 24 month run of legal stresses, showing (35 times) and selling the Skyliner home, extensive storm damage to the Skyliner house, house hunting, four moves, and days and days of lifting boxes, unpacking, organizing and dumping old stuff. I’m so thankful for my son Terry’s faithful support, physically, financially, and emotionally, through this journey, and I’m grateful that at ages 77,78, and now 79 I actually had the strength to do so much. Whew! But, now it’s done, and I’m in a very cute 1100 square foot house on the South end of Bend. It’s nestled on a half acre of gardens with paths leading to little sitting areas and an abundance of beautiful statuary – and “yard work galore.” I’ve seen the yard in bloom, but now its doormat but ready to explode into life as Spring nears. Many surprises ahead. I do know there are roses in my garden, a slightly rare phenomenon in Central Oregon. Lavender, apple trees, many berries, and tons of flowers are on their way.
I’m so very grateful for my family and for the joys we share. And to all who extended birthday wishes to me, thanks you. I love you all.
Around 8:23 AM today, Dec. 21, the Sun begins its long journey toward longer days. Nevertheless, today will be the shortest day of the year, a traditional time of turning within, rest, and contemplation.
Yesterday Isabella and I explored a different walking trail. We drove just west of Bend up Century Drive, turned off on the road to Benham Falls and ended up at Slough Camp. From Slough Camp’s parking lot we headed on foot towards Benham Falls, about 2.5 miles. I hadn’t been up in this area for ages. It brought back a fun/funny memory. In The 60’s when I was attending COCC my folks sent me $70. a month for rent, food, gas, etc. One memorable month I out-spent the month by two weeks and had only a dime to last until next payday. No problem, well not really. For food I, every day, fished the Deschutes and lived on the catch of the day – trout. I ate fried trout, baked trout, boiled trout, and fried trout again. The dime I had bought me two lemons from the market on Franklin St. just two blocks from my apartment. Bend was so compact and easy back then. Anyway, Slough Camp was one of my fishing spots and it felt good to be back, although I’m happy to hike and not fish.
Isabella found a place where she could get to the river for a drink without tromping through brush and river grasses. She took off over a little embankment that looked almost straight down to me. I questioned her ability to get herself out of that hole, but she did it, eventually. I let her rest a bit, me too, before we carried on. It was such a beautiful, quiet Fall day, and I’m grateful for every minute of it.
Another beautiful Fall day in Central Oregon. Isabella and I headed out to do a little exploring, nothing dangerous or even very adventurous, but I though we’d try some new trails. After all the years I’ve lived in Bend, I have not spent much time roaming around Phil’s Trail Head, so I don’t really know the lay of the land. In fact, a few years ago, I did get quite lost, twice in one year.
Here’s my excuse, for getting lost that is. We left one bright sunny morning from the parking lot and headed west on Kent’s trail. After walking several miles I noticed was getting a little tired and decided to head back to the car. Not wanting to see the same scenery twice in one day, I headed south, I thought, with good intentions of catching Phil’s trail which was, logically, “right over there.” Ha! Not only was it not “right over there,” but the clouds rolled in and, directionally speaking, and I was sunk. Galumphing over pine needles, cones and various other beautiful objects that make up the forest floor, I wasn’t even able to decide what was up hill (Skinner’s or maybe Eugene) or down hill (Bend or maybe LaPine).
Somewhere in a science or physiology class I had learned that humans have a small deposit of lead or another metal material that sits just above the bridge of the nose in the lower part of the forehead. It was believed that that piece of metal worked as a internal compass assisting us in the general navigation of life. Well, guess what? I didn’t get one of those. Knowing there had to be a trail somewhere fairly close, I carried on. At least an hour later, alas the hallucinations began. Just ahead, I came upon signs of life. There it was, the Galveston/14th street turn circle with the Big Red Chicken sitting right in front of me. Something wasn’t right though. Things were all distorted. The chicken before me had shrunk. Must be Galveston’s baby, the Little Red Chicken. At closer range it was still a Little Red Chicken. I touched it. “What are you doing out here, Little Chicken,” I ask it? Are you real?
About then a bicyclist came around yon corner. Thank God. He was real and a normal man size. He stopped, as did the others behind him. Pulling myself together mustering the most sane voice I could come up with I ask if “they” knew where the parking lot was. Pointing down the trail, the same direction their bikes were headed, one guy said, “That way.” “I knew that,” I smiled. “Um, how far?” About an hour on foot. They must have checked out my leg length, or lack there, of when they came up with my ETA.
That was one long day. Oh, did I mention the part where I’d left my water in the car? How smart is that? Several months later, when I was smarter, I repeated the same scenario. I’ll spare myself the details. I hadn’t really thought of those “lost years” until yesterday, in full sun, including shadows and all the directional cues necessary to activate my internal compass, after walking longer than I thought my return trip to the car would take, and on a well used trail, a sinking feeling re-emerged. Really? No, I am not lost. Just keep going. I did. That was good advise, as soon I came to a surprise, to me, art installation pictured below. I know a biscillion Bend-its and tourist have passed this place a biscillion times…and know it’s less than a mile to the PTH parking lot. Please don’t make fun of me. OK? So I’m old-er. I do this kind of stuff.
As for art, I’m proud of the place I live in and the many opportunities that are available to display art throughout our town…and forests. The “Little Red Chicken” was a fantastic surprise, right out there in the woods all by its little red self. And the tinkling of the cog wheels moving in the breeze, well, I found that installation a simple and telling display of the hearts of the folks who maintain Phil’s trials and the bike clubs who are a strong presence…ie, the Skyliner’s Road update. May “ART” prevail. Some say it will save the world.
All around the country side and in the city I see the fullness and fruition of summer’s dream. Sunflowers. Short ones, medium size and tall massive forests of happy faces bounce in the breeze seemingly celebrating their very existence. I want to learn how to let them to grow in my garden, when I get a garden, but for now I’ll simply paint another pretty posy hoping I can do justice to its essence. Essence is key in my art and allows my imagination to rule.
There are special days in each year that carve memories, not all real great but most aregreat and worth celebrating. My favorites are Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Solstices, Equinoxes, and on and on. But, every year the real winner in my book is that awaited day that usually comes sometime in the Fall, after the rains have come, the temperature drops, we’re socked in for a couple of days – and then the clouds lift. Bam! There on the horizon the most stunning gift of nature looms. Brilliant, white with snow, and beautiful beyond thought are the four mountains that seem to keep watch over the foothills and towns below.
After the long hard winter and a lingering spring, summer has finally arrived. The first of the fruit crops are showing up in outdoor stands and markets all over Bend. I didn’t notice the normal influx of strawberries this year, but the cherries are abundant stacked mostly in the open trunks and back seats of cars dotting parking lots sporting little hand made signs reading, “Cherries 4 Sale” or “Cheries for Sale” or CHERRIES for SALE. Maybe they’ve come from Madras or the Valley.
Hans, my youngest son, and his wife Flora are paddle boarding on Elk Lake today, and tomorrow they will ski Mt. Bachelor. For the first time in years, on this 4th of July weekend, the mountains are still hidden under a heavy blanket of snow. The lakes and the streams are full, of very cold water, and running at a swift pace, just as in times past. In the early 1960’s the US Olympic ski team trained on the glaciers of Mt. Bachelor during the summer. They stayed at Elk Lake Lodge where I worked for several years. It was fun to get to know them.
Terry, Renee, Ellie and Jade are enjoying a few days in the Wallowa’s. Those mountains are stunning, and the little town of Joseph nestled in the foothills of those wild peaks is so peaceful and welcoming…and a long ways from anything.
My youngest step son Matt and his nineteen year old son Jacob paid a surprise visit this week. They have just left after two wonderful days together. The three of us talked non-stop. Last night we sat by the fire circle on my back deck and kept the neighbors awake chatting until almost midnight. Matt is an anesthesiologist in DC and, accompanied by his son, was headed to Korea for a year’s military assignment. He and Jacob missed their flight in Seattle which gave them about three days to spend as they wished, so I got the call Thursday saying that they would be here Friday. We haven’t seen one another for seventeen years. We picked up right where we left off as if only a day had passed. This visit was a 100% blessing for the three of us.
The weekend will find me back up in the mountains escaping the thundering of speeding cars roaring at high speeds by my new house. Somedays I think the noise is not too bad. Other days I just want to run away and go back home. As we know, there’s no place to run, and there’s no turning back. I remember a sprawling cherry tree that grew on the bank above Burnside Ave. in Portland. It seemed very happy and healthy in the midst of heavy traffic and noise much louder than I deal with.
So, MOTS, (moral of the story) is, be a cherry, grow lots of leaves, sparkle in the sun and celebrate life no matter what.