falling off (the wagon), part 1

hey folks, it's me.  i know, you haven't seen me in a while.  and maybe it's true: i've fallen off the wagon.  but i've still got a leg up on the damn thing.  i mean, i did make some paintings.  good ones.  but in a flurry of business, i hung them in a show and forgot to photograph them.  so for now, you'll just have to close your eyes, and imagine what they're like.   

let me explain further.

last week i went out of town, off the grid.  it was the four year anniversary of my momma's passing, and every year since i make a pilgrimage to the place where we spread her ashes, a cozy fishing cabin on a remote lake at the base of mt. st. helens.  there, i slow down, do what feels natural...breathe the cold mountain air,  watch the reflections in the lake, take walks, snap photos with real film in my heavy old camera, float around in the canoe.  there, i work on the place a little, work against nature's pull, rake the fallen winter's branches, hammer in a few shingles.  there, i work on paintings with the ghost of my mom, work until the light goes down and i can't tell one color from the next, just shades of brown.  at night, its blacker than coal, you can't see in front of you.   at night, james and i play card games by candlelight, sipping whiskey and laughing at the dogs, sleeping belly up.  when i go to the cabin, i reflect and reset, i slow down, my rhythm quieting to match circadian, the pulse of the trees. the forest soothes the ache and loneliness at those times i miss my mom the most, and for that reason now i know why she wanted her ashes spread there, of all places.

four days and three nights we spent, barely able to tear ourselves away from our hectic lives and animal feeding schedules to get there, not to mention daily maintenance on max the blind cat, who can't seem for the life of him to find the correct toilet to use, me trailing him daily with paper towels and a squirt bottle.  but we did it anyways, knowing it was risky: we made a break.  and on day four of our respite at the cabin, we were done, rested, reset and ready to head home. we headed up I-5, to Olympia to have an afternoon visit with grandma mickie.  It was, after all, her 87th birthday, and we had an envelope with 87 dollar bills to give her, one for each year of her life, just like she'd done for all the grandkids for as long as she could.

just off the exit was when it happened.  billowing smoke.  after about an hour of doing laps with the dogs in the cash and carry parking lot, james came out from beneath the van.  the water pump was shot.

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