Little Boy Blue
August often found our family gathering at the Oregon coast. One year my siblings Silver Valley Girl and Raymond Pert joined my parents and myself for a visit to Yachats located on the central coast by Newport. We stayed at the Adobe hotel and Silver Valley Girl was also joined by her husband and daughter. The time we went on this trip the internet wasn’t readily available yet. I would rely on Best Places books, travel magazines, and word of mouth to assist in suggesting places to eat and tour.
My dad grew up as a meat and potato kind of guy. At that point in his life he wasn’t up for experimenting with “weird food”. I should have known that my breakfast restaurant choice would not go over well for the whole family as we took off for Newport to The Whale’s Tale.
In my research this restaurant had been given 5 stars and I had read things like “ the Whale’s Tale is yet another Newport tradition, considered a kind of shrine to 1960’s hippie restaurants” ( first red flag). “ You can’t beat its location on the waterfront or its cozily exaggerated maritime motif” (second red flag). “At Whale's Tale Restaurant along the bay front, specialties include Eden's Garden, a homemade poppyseed pancake topped with seasonal fruit, yogurt, sweetened coconut and sliced almonds. The Fisherman's Omelet features sautÈed mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and two cheeses, topped with local grilled oysters.” (third red flag). This restaurant is also known for its strong coffee often coined the Fogcutter’s blend. (fourth red flag).
The rest of us were excited even before we arrived at the restaurant. As we entered the dark, wood beam place we could smell the strong coffee brewing and were eager to study the menu. We were seated at a big round table right by the door and could enjoy the sights and smells of Newport Bay.
The menu was an eclectic ( I think Dad hated eclectic) mix of breakfast dishes that included the poppyseed pancakes, the omelet above and other items not usually found on the café menus Dad was used to ordering from.
Things began to go downhill when Dad drank his coffee. “ Why can’t you just get a plain cup of coffee instead of this weird stuff?” Next,as other patrons arrived and the doors were open often Dad made another classic statement. “ Geeeeez…..why does everything smell like fish here?” We all took deep breaths and didn’t dare look at one another knowing we were ready to explode into laughter. “ Let’s see Dad… Newport Bay, fishing, docks across the street, people carrying fish… that all connects to fish in our book,” one of my siblings replied.
Then came the ordering. Dad had this habit of mumbling when he placed an order. Half the time we couldn’t understand him, let alone a waitress. I don’t even remember what he ordered, but it wasn’t quite right. The waitress probably didn't understand him.With Dad you never knew what wasn’t quite right, but his silence and body language were clear signs.
The rest of us were adventurous. Poppyseed pancakes, vegetarian omelets, and other eclectic dishes were brought to the table. We asked for more of the great coffee and laughed and visited through the whole meal as Dad sat quiet. As we left the restaurant Dad gave us another one of his classic lines. “ Which one of you jugheads picked this restaurant? I couldn’t even get a good cup of coffee and everything tastes like fish. How can you ruin eggs over easy, bacon, and toast?”
As he walked off toward the car I took full responsibility. It was reassuring to know that the other six people in the group loved the place. I guess I thought since Dad was on vacation perhaps he would want to experience new foods and beverages. I should have read between the lines and watched for those red flags.
probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty
dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we
It's winter again: the sky's a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight
the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here,
and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street,
the bag breaking,
I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my
wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush:
This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter
to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss -- we want more and more
and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself
in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a
cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm
I am living, I remember you.
Wings connect me to birds. Today I returned to mountain bluebirds. I grew up in Kellogg, Idaho and because of the Bunker Hill Smelter I was surrounded by toxic pollution. I don’t remember seeing many birds in our yard. Maybe robins were there in the spring, but other bird sightings were rare. As a child I would study colored pictures of bird species in the encyclopedia. I never observed any of these birds light on a lilac bush or peck a hole in our tree at our house.
The state bird of Idaho is the mountain bluebird. When we learned Idaho facts in school I loved seeing pictures of the mountain bluebird. I felt proud to have such a beautiful choice as a representative as our state bird. When we colored the mountain bluebird sheets I wanted to find just the right shade of crayon for that state bird as I outlined and filled in the blue wings.
During those childhood years I never saw a mountain bluebird. I would check the trees in the spring, hoping that year our state bird would appear. It never happened. When I moved to the home I live in now in Washington state I was able to birdwatch each day and see many species that were a part of those pages in the encyclopedia I remembered as a child. We set up birdhouses the second year of living in the house. That spring we were introduced to mountain bluebirds. In a birdhouse made for our wedding garden, the bluebirds took up residence and built a nest.
The part I love about mountain bluebirds is that they mate for life. When the bluebirds returned the next year to the wedding garden, we had to believe they were the same “couple”. How fitting that these mates returned to that garden to make a nest and have babies again. We had something in common. Like the bluebirds, my husband and I have mated for life.
The pictures in the encyclopedia were accurate. The crayon I used to color the state bird was right. Mountain bluebirds have the most spectacular color on their wings. What a joy to have a couple take up residence at your house.
Driving west close to Blue Creek I spotted the mountains in the distance toward Idaho. This is one of the beautiful views in the inland empire.
With the beautiful plants and a water feature, this corner by our conference room provided a perfect place for a quiet moment of meditation.
This morning it was only fitting to do a short field trip for a coffee drink and breakfast treat. The three of us live in rural areas far away from a Starbucks. It was well worth the trip, even though our driver had to do a fancy U-Turn on Highway 2. We were glad she had a small car!
The sunlight pouring through this window caught the gorgeous colors of the mugs, cups and coffeemakers in the window display. Blending the companionship of friends, the aroma of the daily coffee special, and the taste of a pumpkin scone made for a perfect start to the day.
Fudge, fudge, tell the judge
Mama’s had a baby!
It’s a boy, full of joy,
Papa’s going crazy!
How many kisses did he give it?
There sat Mary (fill in your own) sweet as a rose,
Along came Johnny ( again, fill in your own) and kissed her on the nose.
How many kisses did she get?
Sam and Joan (fill in names) sitting in a tree
First came love, then came marriage,
Then came Joan with a baby carriage.
When you quietly close
the door to a room
the room is not finished.
It is resting. Temporarily.
Glad to be without
you for awhile.
Now it seeps back into itself,
unruffled and proud.
Outlines grow firmer.
When you return,
you might move the stack of books,
freshen the water in the vase.
I think you could keep doing this
forever. But the blue chair looks best
with the red pillow. So you might as well
leave it that way.
-Naomi Shihab Nye
all he would have to say is,
remember the time I came home
with a beard and Dad didn’t know me,
and we would all laugh,
Mom would say, just by your voice,
I knew your voice, and my sister
would say, the dog kept barking, and
I would say, that was the
summer I got a camera.
it pulls around us
like a drawstring, that time,
when we come together,
awkward and older,
our frayed conversations
trying to thread some memory
of each other,
one of us will only have to say,
remember the time you came home
from the bush with your beard,
and we were all easy again
with each other,
some will say how
Mom knew his voice, someone
will remember how the dog barked, I
will remember my new camera,
and we are a family again,
young and laughing on the front porch.
Memoir often focuses on common events that many families experience. This particular author uses simple images, repetition, and rhythm in describing the time when families are reunited.
This is a view from my classroom window. In early morning I can enjoy the quietness of the basketball courts before the students show up to play a little three-on-three before class. I can breathe in the fresh morning smell of grass and pine. I can feel the warmth of the early morning sun if I step out from the shadows. The quote above fits perfectly as I reflect on recent teaching days.We know our trees and have learned patience as we have learned and grown together in this room. Each of us has also learned persistence. As we wrap up the final days of our state testing tomorrow and Wednesday persistence has been something I have observed over and over as each class has done their testing.
Tomorrow as my students are bubbling in answers, I will gaze out the window and think of the grass which is as persistent as they are. Both need nourishment, sunshine, and water to thrive! The students also need some patience and encouragement. My classroom is in the "other building" away from the main school building. I feel blessed to have an older, larger classroom with windows and a view I can appreciate four seasons of the year.
Gold-plate goblets freckled
with tarnish, disconsolate
pajamas, infant shoes, curling
irons, somebody’s ancient
block flute, a candlestick grove,
bakelite coasters, egg poachers,
7 rubber sandals. Scruffy dolls
and accessories, board games
from whose battered boxes
children still look up with glee.
Two bald lamps, a basketball
and dumbbells, a toaster’s chrome
full of early leaves, and tilted
like a grimy satellite inside
a crate, a two-stroke engine.
Now at last admitted to my
neighbor’s back lawn, which
I’ve longed to cut across for years.
I see a tuft of grass and violets,
violets, growing, up in that
elm’s clavicle, a little island
world in the air, where the trunk
divides. I wouldn’t know how
to tell her of the delight I find
in this. But I think I’ll buy that
small stack of teaspoons, just
so I can linger, picking up this
language, whose every word has
finally toppled over in one case
or tense or mood. Everything as is.
- Robert Farnsworth
In the early days of traveling preachers, this spring bloom coincided with the first church services of the year as snow melted and roads again became passable - hence the name Serviceberry. My husband has always said "Sarvisberry". "Sarvis" is the Appalachian pronunciation of service. I didn't know what the plant was when I first moved here. I actually thought it was syringa, the state flower of Idaho (which I should have known doesn't bloom this early and is much more fragrant). Then I thought "Sarvisberry" and "Serviceberry" were two different plants which caused some confusion when we were doing plant identification on our property! He thought people that called them "Serviceberries" were making a mistake.
All confusion aside, they are a rare beauty in spring all over the country. Serviceberries are one of the top-rated wildlife landscape plants. They offer nesting space and plenty of food for the birds. Some think the fruit is quite tasty to humans as well and is often used in pies and preserves.The Native American food pemmican is flavored by serviceberry fruits in combination with fat and dried meats, and the stems are made into arrow shafts.
These shrubs have also become a popular domestic landscape plant. We have a few on our property, but they were native plants that I kept. These blossoms are much more beautiful left on the branch. When cut and placed in water that don't last long and make a bit of a mess as they drop their petals.
Serviceberry blossoms make any trip worthwhile this time of year. Just driving up and down the highway along Lake Roosevelt yesterday we were in awe of their springtime beauty.
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.
And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here
That's why we
Celebrate this day.
That's why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being." Victor Hugo
When JEJ and I were married nine years ago he mentioned frequently his love for deciduous trees. Because of jobs and other circumstances he had moved frequently in his adult live. At different homes he had planted a variety of trees, but never got to see them flourish into tall, rooted, mature trees. When he moved to our place he even transplanted his young trees. He couldn’t stand to leave them behind!
As we sat under a pine discussing future garden plans, he again spoke of his love for trees. That day we made up our minds to add those trees. I knew that JEJ was rooted in this place for many years. I wanted him to see trees that would transform sunny gardens into spots that would provide shade. In our planning we chose different types of maple trees so we could enjoy a spectrum of fall leaf colors. Other choices were mountain ash, locus, and fruit trees.
Our roots have been dug deeply in this place we call home. The trees have joined us and are thriving and maturing each year. We had dappled shade last summer and a gorgeous leaf display of color in the fall. We are eager to see what this gardening year brings.
A giant hand inside my chest
Stretches out and takes
My heart within its might grasp
And squeezes till it breaks.
A gentle hand inside my chest,
With mending tape and glue,
Patches up my heart until
It’s almost good as new.
I ought to know by now that
Broken hearts will heal again.
But while I wait for glue and tape,
- Shelby Allen
Falls from the wings of night." Longfellow
As another day is done in the country and just as the darkness falls, that is the time I reflect on the tasks that are always on a list to do. Spring brings busyness as roses begin to show life, bugs appear, weeds have proven once again that winter is their friend, and birds are building nests.
Outdoor Spring list:
Clean out the rabbit hutch and add the "cold manure" to the flower plants.
Replenish the dirt in the window boxes to enrich the soil mix.
Begin deciding if some roses are dead or alive, and if dead decide what will go in the spot.
Revisit the memorials for our dear, deceased dogs and see if the honor plants are thriving.
Put out garden decor that moved inside for winter.
When there was air, when you could
breathe any day if you liked, and if you
wanted to you could run, I used to
climb those hills back of town and
follow a gully so my eyes were at ground
level and could look out through grass as the
bent in their tensile way, and see snow
mountains follow along, the way distance goes.
Now I carry those days in a tiny box
wherever I go. I open the lid like this
and let the light glimpse and then glance away.
There is a sigh like my breath when I do this.
Some days I do this again and again.
1. You remember that when the ski resort was first built it was called Jackass Ski Bowl. You saw sweatshirts with a jackass and thought it was funny to say the town was discovered by a jackass. Then the resort was Silverhorn and now Silver Mountain.
2. You can find Vergobbi Gulch, Elizabeth Park, Montgomery Gulch, Little Italy, Sunset Heights, Wardner, Ross Ranch, Sunnyside, Rose Hill, Milo Creek, Haystack Peak, and Teddy Street.
3. When Kellogg had Crazy Days in July you and flocks of other women rifled through the tables at Patano’s Clothing Store to buy Jantzen sportswear at “crazy” prices.
4. You have watched a football game from Tony’s porch.
5. You remember raking leaves into the street in the fall, having your dad light them on fire, and carrying that smoky smell back into the house on your jacket.
6. You rode your bike to the new pool and didn’t have to remember your green bag number. They had brass pins you wore on your suit to help you remember. Later you could stop at the Circle K and get a treat for the way home.
7. You went to elementary school at the old Sunnyside School before the big smiley face guy with sunglasses moved to the roof when Dave Smith Motors bought the building.
8. You sledded down Chestnut Hill starting all the way at the top and flying down to Mission Avenue.
9. You grew up with the phrases “Lead Creek”, “Smelter Smoke”, and “Polio Pond.”
10. You ordered food to go at the Miner’s Hat, The Boat, and the S&R Drive In. At the S&R they put the burgers in a Wonder Bread cardboard bun holder with the fries in the bottom. At the Boat and the Miner’s Hat they brought your order on a tray that hooked to your car window. 11. You can remember the location of Sass Jewelry ( bonus points for both locations), Western Auto, Al’s Cleaners, Safeway, Blackwell Printing, The Rock Motel, the Shoe Box, Weber Bank, Donna’s, the original Greyhound Bus Depot, Pleasant Homes, and Kellogg Billiards.
12. You remember the old junior high at the corner of Division and Main before it was torn down and the students moved to the present location by the overpass. The kindergarten class was in the basement and the teachers could smoke upstairs in the lounge.
13. You bought penny candy at Walden’s, Swanson’s, Donnie’s, Pat’s Grocery, and Ben Franklin. It was cool to smoke candy cigarettes.
14.You remember the burning sensation in your throat every morning and some days the haze from the Smelter Smoke kept you from seeing much below the third floor of the high school.
15. You made a wish and threw pennies in Jacob’s Creek in the breezeway at Kellogg High School.
16. You remember the Rena Theater when the line coiled around the Superior Dairy for a Friday night showing of a Jerry Lewis movie.
18. You attended the Sunnyside School Chili Feed, the Oyster Feed at the United Church, the pasty feed at the Elks, and had Silver King PTA Sloppy Joes at Frontier Days.
19. You have marched, threw candy from a float, drove a car, sat on a horse, rode a bicycle or stood on the street at an Elk’s Round-Up Parade.
20. You are glad you live close enough now to drive down for the week-end so you can keep the memories of Kellogg fresh in your mind.
The tires on my bike are flat.
The sky is grouchy gray.
At least it sure feels like that
Since Hanna moved away.
Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes.
December’s come to stay.
They’ve taken back the Mays and Junes
Since Hanna moved away.
Flowers smell like halibut.
Velvet feels like hay.
Every handsome dog’s a mutt
Since Hanna moved away.
Nothing’s fun to laugh about.
Nothing’s fun to play.
They call me, but I won’t come out
Since Hanna moved away.
My second thought was how similar themes began to emerge in the collection of pictures. Many were taken from the same angle, or with the same type of lighting. I couldn't help but notice the numerous pictures of our cats and dogs as they observe the world through their eyes. The two pictures above are perfect examples. Shelby loves to observe through windows. In one picture she is watching our cat Iris basking in the sun. In the second one she is wondering why I have a silver thing over my face that flashes and why Isabelle is in and she is out.
The cats above are Sweet William, Lily, McDuff and Finnegan. They are the cats that observe a dog in "their domain" and seem a bit put out. They also observe any strange cat that comes close to the property. They never miss mice and bugs. They are a busy bunch.Here is Annie when she discovered a birdhouse yesterday that was making noise. She then observed that a swallow was building a nest in that birdhouse (The birdhouse is very high and safe). She was fascinated with the nest building project and watched intently in this position for quite awhile. Until I saw her in that position, I hadn't even notice the swallow.
I learn even more about my surroundings by observing my cats and dogs. They often notice things that would have gone right by me. Pets are a joy in our lives, especially when they are observant to the world in which they live.