sometimes it's hard to let go of the past.  but letting go makes room for the future.  this is what i've been meditating on lately, as i go through my boxes of belongings, as i go through stuff to get rid of stuff.  it feels good to let go, sometimes.  but often it's hard, and it hurts.  i've even seen a friend clutch her stomach in pain to think of losing some thing.  but it's just a thing, and there are so many worthwhile things in this world; things to fill space, physical manifestations of human ingenuity and imagination, waiting right behind, waiting at the gates, waiting their turn to infiltrate your life.  

i've learned over time, this pain of loss, it's a temporary suffering that is followed by a release, a new kind of freedom, space where there was physical and emotional claustrophobia.  i know and i've seen: stuff can swallow you up. each object holds a potential memory, a feeling, and when you surround yourself with physical manifestations of memories, sometimes all you end up with is a cluttered mind and heart.  so lately, as boxes upon boxes have left the premises to be turned over by other hands, i've been meditating on space, and the freedoms letting go will grant me.

take this little stuffed bear for example.  seemingly insignificant.  he was in the fifty cent bin at a rummage sale on the patio of the old dairy farm house up the street.  james picked it up, gave it a good once-over. look at that face, i can't leave him here, he said, and brought it home.  adorned with an embroidered tag that says pooky, made in 1983, the bear was obviously loved well in it's lifetime.  it's smooshed face with too-close-together eyes looked like it had been snuggled and kissed and drooled upon by dogs and cats and babies alike.  this little guy had a story to tell, and james couldn't resist. he put down his fifty cents, brought him home to put in our toy chest, so kids who came to our place could play with him. 

when faythe came to the lucky d later that afternoon from her yard sale and saw pooky in our toy chest, she keyed right in on that little face.  that was mine when i was little she said.  but she decided to let go, to pass it on, say goodbye.  maybe it was hard.  i'm sure she was surprised to see it again, just a few hours later.  i'm so glad it's here.  this is the perfect place for it, she said. and i'm glad too.


orgies, etc.

today's post, or cry for help, rather, comes to you from sarah, my dad's lady friend, from their humble abode in ne portland:

Hi Jessie
I just wanted you to know that your dad is having a particularly bad weekend because of one thing, squirrels. He feels like the squirrels have take over his life. Yesterday, as he hot tubbed, he explained to me that a squirrel orgy took place above him, in the big tree. About 10 participants were involved, and the noise was atrocious. Limbs fell from the tree, the bird feeders shook feed, and it was mayhem all around. Now, Pat does have a loaded gun, yes, he hot tubs with it. It is a plastic small pellet gun, and he aims from the hot tub, shoots at them, and they move a foot away, a little closer to him. He can't see from the hot tub, because it is steamy, and because he wears no glasses, and he is sure the squirrels know he doesn't have his glasses on. Yesterday, about 2 pm, it was so quiet outside. I was inside, and from the stairs, I saw Pat asleep in the lounge chair out side. How sweet I though. I went out to sit near  him in the quiet, and found the loaded and cocked squirrel gun under his hand, finger in trigger, while he slept. Is this good for someone? 

Today, he saw how the squirrels are getting to the 8 dollar a gallon container of fancy bird food in the two  30.00 squirrel proof feeders. I am living with a background sound of Pop Pop Pop.......and I just stop, and breathe. It's Pat, , with his gun out there.  They hang from the feeders, which then lower themselves (hence...squirrel proof) but, the squirrels are smart enough to figure out, to simply hang there, and use their long and thin tongues to simply lick the food out as fast as they wish. Sorta like a  big squirrel.pixie stick.

Now, a new problem. The squirrels leave a lot of corn and other grain on the ground as they bounce all over the squirrel proof feeders. Scout and Amy eat the corn and grain. For the last 2 days, Scout is pooping corn poop all over the house. Corn poops everywhere. He is not even aware he is pooping....just almost solid corn and bird food coming out. It has been on the sofa today, on the floor, I stepped in it first thing this morning, our dog walk had 3 bags of corn poop to pick up. Amy won't sleep on any of the dog beds now, because Scout has corn pooped on them. SO, all of the bedding is being washed today.It's drying outside all over the back yard.

Pat took his bike to the Wild Bird Store earlier for a consult. He said there were other people in there with severe squirrel frustration,, but he did not offer any advice, as he considers himself a failure.. He was sent home with a different food, that the birds should be able to eat, but not the squirrels. However, this is further complicated by the fact that, as he learned in his squirrel  fucker consultation, that momma birds, teaching baby birds how to eat, show them how to JAB the food. Jabbing food from a feeder, ( yes it is happening as we speak) attracts the squirrels. This morning, as Pat spoke with his sister Linda on the phone, dogs were in the house, Kitty's time in the back yard. Broken and Timmy found Pat talking in the lounge chair, and of course, joined Pat. Timmy made bread on Pats stomach, and as the squirrels jumped from limb to limb knocking more expensive food from the feeders to the ground, for Scout to eat, Broken drooled huge droplets of drool on Pats shirt in love with the sound of Pat's voice, and could care less about the squirrels 8 feet from him. At this time, all of the gun ammo is gone. I  am sure  Pat will restock on his lunch hr tomorrow. Most people around us, are listening to some cool Fleetwood Mac, practicing some terrible  guitar song  in the yard, babies and pups happy and playing sounds all around...not our house. Pat has gone back in the yard, but before he went out there, he said like he had lost his manhood because of the squirrels. The had taken over his life, and he can't get it back He said his rank in life is 5th. In this order. Dogs, Cats, birds, squirrels, then Pat. Now I hear pounding metal.....???. I'll keep you posted.......love, Sarah


all in a day's work

not quite finished.  but almost.

the first half of today, i spent sorting and pairing lonely socks, foggy from last night's honky-tonk bonanza, remembering moments, snippets... a sea of Hawaiian shirts, a full dance card of waltzes tangos and spins, singing a gram parsons number with the band, passing the hat...and a late night dinner at home to polish it all off.  phew.  the second half of today, i spent working on this little lady.  

this painting is my first experiment with "open acrylics", which stay wet and workable longer than your typical acrylic paint because they have no drying agent.  it was lovely to not have the fumes of oil paint hovering around me as i worked, and even lovelier to clean my brushes in a jar of water, not solvent.  these paints don't have the pigment, depth, body or saturation of oil paint, but with a little finesse, i could still make them perform, a worthwhile compromise in the journey to eliminating the toxicity in my art-making.


beat it

okay then.  less talk, more action.


letting go

last night, in my dreams, i rescued a duck with diabetes that was passing out on a northeast portland sidewalk.  it was in my old neighborhood, on the side streets that are still so familiar to my memory i can conjure images of the rooflines, trees, alleys and fences.  in my dream, i was walking home and a group of youngsters with haircuts stood around a duck.  the duck was obviously in distress.  i glanced into their backyard, where a young bear with forlorn eyes was trapped in a cage.  i swooped the duck up, said i'll take care of this, and swiftly walked on before they could react.  the duck was comfortable in my arms, and burrowed its beak inward to sleep as i walked the rhythmic fifteen blocks home.  and that was my dream. but in real life, it too seems as if i am always rescuing something. in my current roster to date, james and i have rescued: a cormorant, a beaver, three skunks, a flickr, two ducks, a few cats, a dog, a rat family, and more.... not to mention: our most current recruit, paloma the pigeon.

but this morning, i knew that paloma was gone.  after four days of food, water, and rest, she had recovered from whatever brought her to me in the first place.  she was ready to find home, to find her covey, her partner... because pigeons mate for life, they say.  the way she flew last night, out towards the bay, confidently into the blinding sun, told me so.  and the way she brushed my head so close, as if to say goodbye, told me so.  so when i asked james this morning, just as i cracked my eyes open, is paloma there?, i wasn't surprised when he said no.  even still, i was saddened by the news.  i cried, because i had hoped she would stay forever.  because, in the wide world full of houses and backyards and freeways, she picked me.  but, as the saying goes, if you love someone set them free.  i guess i'm still learning how to let go.



i remember the day i found out: my parents sat me down, and said they had something important to tell me.  i was terrified: had someone died? it seemed serious.  and then they told me: your uncle is gay.  i was upset, but only because they kept it from me for so long, as if i wasn't mature enough to handle that information!  i wailed.   but other than that, i was like what's the big deal? but to some people, it was a big deal.  some people in the family thought that if their children hung out with a homosexual, it might in fact rub off on them.  this horrified me...not that it might rub off, but that people in my family could possibly hold so much closed-mindedness, resentment and bigotry in their hearts. luckily, my folks were open and accepting people, as was i.  to me, a twelve-year-old wishing she was eighteen, my uncle was the coolest guy on the planet.  i worshiped him completely, and the fact that he was gay only made him more awesome.  it also explained why he was so anomalous to the rest of the family:  too hip to be square, fashionable to a T, drop jaw handsome, sassy as a toy terrier, and smart as a whip; he was my dream uncle.  he exposed me to my first george michael, madonna, janet jackson, and lots of other fabulous music.  and frankly, i wished everyone was that cool.  and if being cool meant being gay, well then, i wished everyone was gay.  

today, i would like to congratulate the gay community for another victory towards political and social equality.   i'm sorry its taking so long, but justice will eventually come to pass.   finally, finally, finally, the rest of the world is starting to evolve.  


keep it together

some days, i just can't wake up.  i'm sleepwalking.  i drink as much black tea as the kettle can brew, but still, i go through the day at half-mast.  i have no oomph, no spring in my step, no motivation.  why? i don't know.  i feel tired, like i could sleep a lifetime. i feel sad, for no reason, or for every reason under the sun. i might just cry, yes, i probably will, cry about one of the many tragedies in my life, those thoughts and memories i file away in my head, file away in that giant file cabinet that i try to keep closed for a million good reasons.  days like these, i'm probably just dehydrated, i'll say.  i drag my feet to the kitchen. drink a few glasses of water, lay down on the bench in the backyard.  i'll watch the birds, let the sun hit my face, close my eyes.  i feel that i must slow down, slow down, slow to a near stop.  and then james, he comes to the rescue.  he takes me for a drive, through the sandstone forest that borders the ocean. and that blue blue ocean, it goes on forever. it is only then, when i take the time to breathe, breathe in the beauty around me, do i start to feel better.


hello again

this morning she was there.  i say she, but i don't really know for sure. i just have a feeling. so there she was, just like nothing had ever happened, even after flying away in the dusky evening light of solstice, spending the night away, away somewhere.  there's no way to know where.  had the campfire scared her away? we wondered.  but there she was in the early dawn, eating the food i'd left out, as white and beautiful and stoic as ever.  james and i both celebrated, because secretly we would love for our little farm family to grow.  and secretly, we like our animals more than most people.  so we celebrated, because we had won her over, if only for another day.  i built a nesting box from an old green-painted cabinet, brought it up on the highest wooden ladder i could find, and shaking, screwed it into the back side of our building, high high up as she watched from above, hoping there she could find refuge from the wind and the rain, clinging to life clammy-palmed precarious on that tall wooden ladder..



i kind of panicked when my little paloma blanco flew away.  i mean, i only had it for a day, but i was getting attached to seeing the bird, perched on the tip of the barn like the statue on a bow of a ship set to sea.  i took great pleasure in watching it eating my food, drinking my water...living with me.  yeah, i knew in my heart it might just be a fleeting friendship, a one night stand, a pit stop on the long road home.  and when it happened, when she flew, she stretched her wings, rustled them up a little bit, and then jumped.  la paloma swooped and circled, through the trees and power lines, higher and higher yet, then out of sight.  i tried not to cry, i was sad to see her go, proud to have been a rest stop for the weary and injured traveler.  but as the saying goes, if you love someone set them free.  i fear i may love too too much to make this an easy parting... but still, i try.  i went back to my business of chores: planting, painting, cooking and digging.  and before i knew it, i was pleasantly distracted from my loss, floating through the drifting currents of thought.  i looked up, just out of habit, just for good measure.  and the homing pigeon had returned...

...only to fly away again, hours later.  ah, such is life.  the  ups, the downs, the roundabouts.

happy solstice.



i was adopted by a pigeon today.  i guess these kinds of things happen to me.
it must have been thirsty.  it heard the sound of the hose as i re-filled the ducks' kiddie pool with clean water.  it flew over once, just a flash of white.  never seen a white bird here, except for seagulls, i thought, but it didn't really have the silhouette of a seagullcurious.  
and then it landed.  it was like an angel, the brightest of whites, stark against the tufts of grass and gravelly dirt of my backyard.  it hovered around the kiddie pool as the ducks splashed exuberantly.  they were obviously trying to scare it away.  but that pigeon was thirsty.  so it patiently pecked at the ground, waiting for a moment while the ducks were away.  i noticed a tag around its ankle...domestic.  it hopped on the edge, drank a few gulps, and was so eager to bathe that it stumbled into the water.  wings outstretched, it was in way too deep, and fumbled to get out. the bird hopped to the edge again, eyed me, drank a few more gulps, and then the ducks ran it off.  the ducks are very territorial, as it turns out.
the pigeon flew to roost in the lumber racks, and i could see the blackness of blood under its wing.  injured.  it took a long nap there, opening an eye to scope the surroundings every now and again.  i took a break from weeding morning glory, hurriedly grabbed seed and scattered it about the yard, knowing well that pigeons and doves love millet.   it watched me all the while, eventually flying back down to eat.  i policed the cats, with one near miss from chachie the huntress.  exasperated by the cats' tenacious stalking,  i eventually resorted to locking the felines inside.  you can live here, i said aloud, probably sounding a bit crazy in that dr. dolittle way. but i meant it.  i cooed in the way i know how, the way that doves and pigeons do, whoo-whoo-whoo, while the angelic white bird eyed me
its well known round these parts that this is the spot for birds to hang out, brandin said, smoking a cigarette leaning casually on the truck, amused by the sight of the pigeon.  they probably go and tell each other where the good spots are.  it's true, my backyard is like the old country buffet for birds, with millet, sunflower seeds, thistle, nectar and a birdbath..  the pigeon pecked around casually, and when chased off again by those persnickety ducks, seemed unscathed.  that white pigeon found a comfortable spot on the edge of the roof line to sit, and still hasn't left.


just enough

i want to say everything.  instead, i draw a blank.  today was long, white-grey drizzled, and filled with loveliness: an old friend, a slow walk to the river, little boys selling flowers on the side of the road, art making, good conversation, ducks jumping for worms out of our hands, 8mm film reels of families i never met.  maybe tomorrow i will surprise you with shining epiphanies and articulate revelations about the state of things.  but for today, i must rest in the idea that sometimes, silence is golden.  sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  and sometimes,  just sometimes, life overflows with too much goodness to even describe.



i awoke this morning to the sound of rain.  i had a premonition that my painting had washed away, washed down the storm drain into the slough and out to the ocean.  this is because last night i hadn't quite let the thing dry and was so excited by my idea to hang it on the telephone pole graffiti style that i just went straight to it.  i guess i'm just impulsive like that, not really thinking things through before execution.  and so when i went out this morning in the wet road, wearing my jammies and bare feet, the painting had in fact washed mostly away.  luckily, when you paint a painting every day, losing one to the elements is more of a romantic notion than a real blow.  i pried the canvas down with a cat's paw, examined the direction of the raindrops like hatch marks and how it had scraped the paint away in spots, leaving others, gathering at the bottom of the canvas in thick drips.  after letting it dry by the woodstove, i  proceded to paint it all over again, the same nest but different, a hummingbird nest that my little buddies wiley and nathan found in the street and kicked around until they realized what it was, then brought me as a gift.  so i repainted it, plus did another  painting of the same nest, on wood this time, for good measure.  these i will let dry thoroughly before hanging on telephone poles.  and for the next couple of weeks, if you see a lot of bird's nest paintings here, or up in edison, you'll know why.  i'm creating habitat.


something to remember

public art

me and museums, well, we don't always get along.  as soon as you start mixing politics with money with bureaucracy with art, in my mind, things are bound to go astray.  so i wasn't surprised by the intense surges of anxiety i felt tonight entering the whatcom museum for the "fate of the forest" show.  the exhibit was an open call, meaning anyone who was willing to pay $30 to become a museum member and wanted to put art in the show was indeed included.  and that included me and james.  

i wasn't sure what to expect, going in there, but with a call like "fate of the forest", i was sure i would see some answers...like answers to the stomach ache i feel every time a logging truck drives by with a stack of fresh kills, several times a day sometimes, logs for 2x4's for houses for families upon families.  the tree that takes a hundred years to grow takes but a moment to cut down.  so i was hoping, yes, for a glimpse of the kind of art that answers all the questions inside, like: who what when why and how......could we have decimated the world's great forests?  instead, i saw a room full of tree paintings.  trees...in pastel, in oil, in photography....trees everywhere.  and i knew suddenly, the fate of the forest was to be captured, forever as a memory, in art...so we'd have something to remember it by.


today, the hummingbirds buzzed me in the yard incessantly, as if to say, hey lady, i'm hungry!  these days, i know them: i can hear them buzzing, i have my ears tuned to them.  so i knew the exact moment when they emptied their feeder...and it all happened in one short day, with the help of some busily squawking hungry orioles.  luckily, i was prepared.  i grabbed the feeder from it's branch, under the watch of some hopeful onlookers.  went to the fridge.  a funnel and a mason jar full of prepared nectar later, the feeder was full.  i hung it in the tree, and got distracted by some weeding, relentless morning glory, climbing everything it could grab.  weeding away, i pulled hard and fell on my ass. sitting there, in the bushes, what ensued was a remarkable hummingbird battle.  as the birds vied for position, i held my breath, closing my eyes when their trysts came so close to my face i feared collision. i watched them, seven or so, closer than ever, closer than i'd ever been, miniscule feathers individually reflecting the sun, hearts beating, breathing hard, seeing their eyes seeing me, a moment of recognition.  it was awesome.



three drawings, passed around the table by: karie jane, miles, and myself

when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, sometimes it's hard to figure out who the hell is staring back at you. sometimes, it's an old friend, and sometimes, it's nobody you know, a foreigner, someone you haven't met yet.  sometimes, it catches you off guard.  but still, every day brings new opportunities to get to know that person better.


truly mild

restless in my art.  stuck in a rut.  need to get some things out of my system.  trying out different techniques and mediums.  baby steps leading to adventure!  acrylic on redwood chunk. 



driving east on highway twenty to the mountains, i watched the forest thicken and the trees change as the elevation increased.  soon we were high in the peaks of the cascades, surrounded by rock walls, melting snow drifts and waterfalls. my ears kept popping as heather and i talked incessantly, the way you talk on a long drive when there's still a'ways to go. we talked intimately, up and around life's challenges, dissecting them one by one.  and i have to say, through those car windows, that scenery changed me, those majestic mountains carved by water, water tumbling into the arid valley, that valley so carefully snuggled up against those rock walls, split in half by the hardest rushing and coldest green rapid river i had ever laid eyes upon.  how the wonders of nature transported me, and i could have just as well been in the swiss alps or the adirondacks, the french riviera, the himalayas or the andes.  it was just washington, and it was only a double overnight a couple of hours away from home...but the amazing scenery, a holy reminder of the beauty of life, plus the solid gold company of friends both old and new...well, it was out of the ordinary, just different enough for it to feel like a real vacation.  and as a result, i returned home a different girl. much better.


hi ho!

oona mae
24"x30", acrylic on canvas
private commission

headed out of town for the weekend on a ladies adventure to twisp! don't think i'll have computer access for a couple, so i'll get back with you on monday with all sorts of goodness from the weekend.  hope you don't miss me too much.


smaller than i remember

today, my dad drove me down memory lane.... through the back streets of mount vernon, and past each house i lived in as a kid.  looking at the yellow rambler that used to be slate black, that first house i ever lived in, just blocks from the hospital where my mom spat me out, i remembered the maple out front with the helicopter seeds that would spin to the ground.  "none of this was here before," dad said, nodding at development upon development... "these used to be two lane roads".  a man peered paranoid out the front door window, beckoning us to keep driving.   

we then drove upon the apartment he and my mom lived in before i was born, a neatly manicured brown ranch.  "there were really nice exposed beams inside," dad said, and i imagined what it was like, them all bright, young, optimistic, and just at the beginning of it all.  

we found my aunt jeannie and uncle pork's house, on manito drive.  i remembered walking those streets, past those houses, as a little kid.  back then the house was full of my teenage cousins, cigarette smokey haze with sparkly popcorn ceilings, outside was pork's green van with shag carpet, tim's dirtbikes, and jeannie's mustang in the garage.  the house was smaller than i remembered, everything was i guess....smaller than i remembered.  "memories are like that," dad said  "just snippets".   the house had been fixed up, long since auntie jeannie moved away and died, long since uncle pork went on to lose it all.  "oh, it looks beautiful.  jeannie would be so happy," dad said.  "but it makes me sad.  because this is where it all fell apart."

"all of this was strawberry fields," dad said as we drove further, "and our street was called trumpeter drive because the swans would flock by the thousands here in the winter."  i looked around at the houses built poorly, only ten years ago, slapped together like gingerbread houses without enough frosting, developed long after we left.  we drove past the hand painted sign, trumpeter court, and curved into the housing development. "it felt upscale, and we liked all the green space," dad said, as we twisted through the wide parkway roads dotted with trees down the middle, all sidewalks and landscaping utopic, set out to find our way to find the little roundabout cul-de-sac where my parents built their first house and i first learned to ride my bike. when we drove upon it, it froze my heart, so familiar and beautiful in the way i remembered.  a humble little place with wooden shakes...the house that built me, nestled in the tall trees, surrounded by good neighbors...herk & mona and their bike collection, the elder family and their two wild boys, the teacher with the lemon drops in a crystal jar....i remembered it all, vividly, every last thing....even the mud lot where we dug clay to make hearts, baked them and painted them.. i still have mine......my first memories, vivid as a picture on a screen...and my house, well, i guess it was smaller than i remember, but just as perfect.


useless/use less

james and i are collectors.  or rather, we are bottom feeders.  we take the castoffs, the refuse, the unrecyclables, the broken pieces, the discards....all in hope of making good on it some day.  because garbage is relative.  and trash is a state of mind.  and all of it needs to change, now, and on a global level.  so me and james, we collect.  we have barrels of foil balls, plastic caps, crushed cans, boxes upon boxes of fabric scraps and yellowed old newspapers, vintage magazines, toilet paper tubes and rolled up maps, all waiting for their moment to shine.  we have coffee table legs and broken rocking chairs and dismantled pieces of this and that.  and some day, these things will be art projects.  or maybe not.  but they wont end up in the landfill.  no, because that's our entire objective here at the lucky dumpster:  to use the useless.


carpe diem

there's a pill for everything.  there really is.  natural or synthesized, whether or not that pill does what it's supposed to is always a question.  placebo plays a big role in healing, insofar as mental health can drastically influence physical health.  but then there are always nature's mysteries, the big questions, the unanswerables, like why does someone get cancer?  what are the specific variables?  nobody really knows.  every body is different.  that's what makes the treatment and cure for cancer so elusive.  i know i've talked about this before.

in my short life, i have known way too many people with cancer.  young people, old people...some theories state that all people have it at some point.  the same probably goes for you.  it is the epidemic of our time, a modern-day  plague.  it has affected everyone i know in some form or another.  just this sunday, another family member passed away from cancer.  it is omnipresent.  and so a good portion of my life is spent trying not to be afraid, gently but militantly working towards optimum health through exercise, a clean diet and stress management.  this video on the effects of diet on cancer had me pretty optimistic.  but even the healthiest people in the world can get it.  my former naturopath, a gloriously radiant and healthful woman (who specialized in the physio-emotional effects of cancer on families of cancer patients)  was surprised to find a melanoma when she volunteered to have a mole biopsied during one of her classes at the college of natural medicine.  yup, if you're thinking what i'm thinking, i guess that means none of us are exempt.

the only reassurance i really have about disease in general is in the inevitable end result, death.  what i mean is, we all die.  for us to be terrified as a species of a process that is so inherently natural, so earthly and omnipresent, is quite ironic.  in fact, these days, i find it kind of hilarious.  like the gentle reminder my mom left behind for after she was gone, that plaque in the cabin outhouse that reads plainly, blatantly, unavoidably while you shit into a deep hole in the black earth: "don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out  alive anyways"...death is life.  and its beautiful, yes, it can be if you look at it the right way

so please, don't wait. live it up. because we're all gonna die.  and you never know which day might be your last.



i have a few regrets in life.  one of them is that i didn't learn everything i could from my mom before she died.  i didn't ask her enough questions about her life, and now, because of that, i couldn't write her autobiography.  i didn't write enough down, didn't listen closely enough, and now my memory doesn't serve to conjure all those precious things she taught me.  she was a master of scrimshaw, among other things, and these days, i regret not having her teach me how...because these are the things you can't learn in books.  these are the legacies lost.  it's hard, grasping at an idea, a memory, thin as the morning fog.... mom sitting at her roll-top wooden desk, me just one year old, her small brown specs, the bright light shining down on her hands, everything much bigger through the magnifier, scratching away at those little pieces of tusk, rubbing the ink in, buffing it out, again and again until a beautiful image was born.  i might be able to do it, i just might, i might some day try, but i want to ask her how, i want her to hold my hand.  i  want all those chances back.  but life doesn't always give you second chances.

i was lucky.  mom surrounded herself and me with powerfully creative women who taught me everything i could ever need to know about the powerful tools of craft.  through these women, i learned to sew, cook, and make.   these women, now in their eighties and nineties, outlived my mom, so fortunately, i can still call them for advice.  and that is why, after mom was gone, i asked norma to teach me basketry again. the first time, i was too young and distractible to care.   i never even finished my first project.  but this time, i watched, and learned... to make a true cedar spirit pouch, from a woman who learned from a legacy of northwest native weavers.... on her patio, drinking tea, she soaked the cedar, then peeling it delicately into uniform strips.. i watched her wrinkled fingers weave and twine deftly as she talked, as she reminisced and cried, cried for the loss of the ones she loved.


for what it's worth

good friends are like a tall drink of water after a hot day of working in the sun...urgently refreshing.  much needed.


the future

bright sunny day. even brighter ideas.



sure, there are a million reasons not to get a tattoo.  but for me, there is one reason to get a tattoo, and that one reason is reason enough for me:  you only live onceour bodies are only as precious as we make them, and they will turn to dust someday....so for the artist, it's hard to argue with the desire to embellish.  hell, i'd cover myself if i could afford it.  there is a rich history and global culture surrounding tattooing.  tattoos are like bumper stickers for the rites of passages and the passages of time, little mementos proving that even though life is fleeting, just a drop in a bucket really, and you can't take it with you....you can take it with you, in memory, in a tattoo.  i got my first tattoo when i was eighteen, right after my mother beat inflammatory breast cancer...against all odds.  the experience left a permanent mark on me, and so a commemorative tattoo seemed fitting.  i didn't stop there. looking back over my marks, i can remember all the major turning points in my life, each marked with a tattoo.  it's a way to reconcile with one's own demons, a way to put down the past in indelible ink, a way to say this is who i am and what i'm made of...and then move on.  so for me, it's not just decoration.



when you build a fence, you fence things in or you fence things out.  here at the ranch, we're doing a little bit of both.  we're fencing in the ducks, and we're fencing out that crazy crazy world... the town dogs who leave anonymous brown landmines, the cats who want to eat our ducks or fledgeling birds, the neighbors who can see right in our yard to everything we do, the anonymous visitors who think my yard is their park...or parking lot.  it's a new feeling of privacy, this enclosure that grows gently and slowly, made of slats all cut to different lengths like old teeth, sturdy posts, holes dug by hand and filled with concrete.  it is a fortress now, my fortress, and i feel genuinely less vulnerable.  and that's all it took.