Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Married to amazement

Three very dear friends of mine have passed from this earth in the last few months, all younger than I and after long illnesses. News of the passing of other acquaintances is becoming a regular topic of conversation in my circles of friends. Each one leaves a hole in the fabric of my life, so that sometimes I feel I am unraveling. 

Not that I want to make their deaths all about me, you understand. 
It's just that sometimes I wonder, Why not me?
Maybe next time it will be me. Or the time after that. 
And I think that maybe I should live differently, with an eye to eternity, instead of today. And I want to give away money and be nicer to the annoying survey person on the phone or my husband when he irritates me or the person next to me in line at the supermarket, who reeks of cigarette smoke and is coughing all over me.

On Monday, on a whim, I started to clear out a big pile of newspaper and magazine articles that I have accumulated over the years. Home improvement, gardening, crafts, recipes, and all kinds of useful tips. Most of them were pre-internet, because nowadays a simple bookmark will do the trick. I feel a need to clear out the unimportant, so that when my girls have to decide what to keep and what to toss, they will only be greeted with beautiful and useful things. 

Somehow, it doesn't feel morbid, just another way of being prepared. 

The book club at our local library read poetry this month instead of fiction. I chose a collection of Mary Oliver's, remembering this poem that impressed me a few years ago. I only read the first few poems, but this one I love, particularly the line, "all my life I was a bride married to amazement."

That's how I want to be.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes 
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common 
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, 
tending, as all music does, toward silence,  

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, 
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

All that glitters is not gold

'Twas Jeff's birthday on Saturday, so we spent the weekend at his favourite place in the whole world. I know the next three photos are almost exactly the same, but if you look closely at the gong in the upper right corner of the photos, you can see how hard the wind was blowing. From inside the house, it's kind of comforting to hear the low-pitched vibration that the gong emits in high winds.

Last spring, we would remark to the locals on the terrific winds we were experiencing out at the Ranch, and they would say, "Oh, it's very unusual for this time of year," and we eventually decided that they were all in denial. So now, whenever gale force winds start up again (almost every day) Jeff is wont to say, "Yes, it's very unusual for this time of year," and we both crack up. 
We are easily amused.

I suggested a trip down to Bend, which is Central Oregon's shopping mecca. Jeff had requested a tie-tac for his birthday and I hadn't been able to find one. A nice lunch and a walk to the top of Pilot Butte were also on the agenda, not necessarily in that order.

The first time we saw Pilot Butte was in the mid-90's, when we chaperoned Bethany's band trip to Bend. It stuck in my memory, being such a pronounced bump on the otherwise flat landscape of the town. At that time, it was fairly isolated, but now it is surrounded by houses and businesses.

The wind was fierce and we thought that perhaps we wouldn't brave the steep mile to the top, but it was such a lovely clear day and lots of other people seemed to be doing it, so we did too. I had to wear my baseball cap backwards so that it didn't blow away and I looked like a real dork.

It doesn't look very high, and in fact it is only 500 feet above the surrounding land, but it is at almost a mile above sea level and I find it harder because of that.

Junipers are the prevailing timber. This must be an old one. The trunk has a lovely patina that only age can bestow.

The view from the top wasn't astounding, mostly buildings and mountains in the distance, but it was a fun little detour anyway.

We walked down the paved road instead of the rocky nature trail, given my tendency towards disaster on rocky downward trails.

We headed straightly to McGrath's Fish House, to fill our starving bellies. 
We both had a bowl of clam chowder and Jeff had a seafood platter.
He wasn't going to share, but he caved.
Those baby blues, right there is one of the first things I loved about him, way back when.

Mm-m. Cod, prawns, scallops and clams.

We were very full, but indulged in dessert anyway. Jeff had marionberry cobbler and I, a German Chocolate brownie with ice cream.  

We were disgustingly satiated and barely had enough energy to shop for a tie-tac, so it was lucky we found some at the second place we tried. Macy's, if you care.

There was a sign that said "40% off" on top of the stand upon which the tie-tacs resided. It wasn't perfectly clear if it applied to the jewelry or not, so when they rang up full price at the register, I pointed it out to the cashier. "Yes, it is a bit confusing," he said, and took off that 40%, which suited my little cheapskate self quite well.

Yesterday, this arrived in the mail from Annie's crew in North Carolina. I believe it is showcasing the artistic talents of three-year-old Elsie. 
Some things are priceless.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Signs of spring, with apologies to my friends in the east

It was such a glorious evening that Jeff and I took a stroll around the neighbourhoods.
I hereby declare March 23rd, 2014, to be the absolute best third day of spring in our town EVER.
So let it be written.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The hilarity continues

Look who turned up for the boys' sleepover in unintentionally coordinating outfits.

These boys love their Ducks.
And we love them.