Fighting under the weatheredness while wrapping gifts, must stay alert for The Last Jedi later on. Stopped by the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Wright Park – delightful experience- kind, chatty people, warmth, and plants galore! Highlights included a plethora of poinsettias and ginormous lemons and limes that greet you upon entering, hanging above from their oh so lovely tree. ♦
Faced the day anew from the vantage point of the couch this morning. I’ve been holed up in my room sick as a bog (yes, bog, those things are foul) in bed for much of the week. Sleeping, dreaming, a hibernation of restoration.
Wish I could say all those hours down and out at least went to the art of reading, but no. The last time I really got immersed in a story was well over a year ago with Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. Hmm, this photo visually recalls another. Yeah, the stack of books near my bed is outta control. Sometimes wish I had a second life where all I did was take in knowledge in every form that could then be USBed into my mind for this one.
Bringing old friends with me as I return to the land of food and sustenance today. Eggs, sourdough, marmalade, hot sauce. This is one of those live photos that captures a few seconds of sound and movement along with the image on an iPhone, and it’s really too bad that the frothing spitting sizzle of the browning butter crisping the edges of my eggs doesn’t translate to this page because, golly! A worthy little event to witness. And on the heels of nourishment? Audio visual needs met- finally gonna watch Hard Lovin’ Woman in a moment, a short documentary about Juliette Lewis. She’s crazy wonderful- her + a stage + all that manic energy = electric!
2016, I still love you, despite your harsh dealings with us, the people of this world. Defiantly declaring life is good, and will do so forever more. The camper on a ferry ride last year told me so.
Now, if I could just get a ton of snow for about three days straight past the point of this pretty frost nonsense. Thanks, 2017. ♦
Would ya look at that?
Glorious! That sunshine. It’s what greeted me upon entering the living room this morning and has inspired me to write, at last. The early part of this week was absolutely hellacious. I spent days in bed sicker than I’ve been since childhood with the flu. Tossed cookies left and right all day Sunday only to wake groggily at midnight to that movie Dead Calm playing (has the most beautiful score by the way) which set the stage for my dreams to follow as I tossed and turned waking midday Monday to the sorest sides ever from all that cookie tossing and a headache capable of splitting the Red Sea. Ai carumba! Energy returned early in the evening and I had just enough time to finish watching the latest episode of 24 on the ipod (watched all the past seasons through Netflix at the great urging of my sister) before the newest episode started. I awoke to “You’re sleeping?!” from Bean who came down to my room to discuss something big that had just happened- guess I’ll be seeing that on the ipod, too. Tuesday was one of those well-am-I-still-sick-or-not-kinda-days and I’m happy to report, that nope, I wasn’t! My sister was.
I’ve been meaning to write.
About the most spectacular Christmas season and how I didn’t want it to end.
How that feeling, that Christmas spirit that I wonder each year if it’ll arrive, and it has, save for one, was abundant this time around, arriving on Thanksgiving and ending only after each holiday decoration was packed away.
How there were many activities and outings, almost daily, and how cookie baking lasted until two in the morning and shopping was a cinch this time around, and how our much too tall tree bent right off the ceiling and back down to the floor in a dramatic swoop after a gross overestimate in vertical height, but mostly about the Pacific NW Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.”
How this was my year to finally, finally attend after many years of saying I would one day, and could’ve, too, except the key was that my dad had promised me tickets years ago, ten to be exact (years, not tickets), and that he would attend, a big deal because he’s quite the hermit at times.
How he called up and told Tina and me to reserve us all seats.
How a dilemma arose when we sat staring at the online seating chart, coded with little colored blobs to indicate sections on all spots, but one, the important one.
How the little yellow blob in front of the orange blob had no price listings and that happened to be right where we wanted to sit.
How to purchase tickets in the orange blob behind the yellow blob meant we were to be rows and rows back behind dozens and dozens of heads potentially obstructing the view of a ten year wait.
How I wanted to sit in the yellow blob!
About the huge internal victory dance when we arrived to find we were in the yellow blob!
How the heck that happened I don’t know, but thank you mislabeled online seating chart for your grace because front row smack in the center was divine!
How I don’t think I blinked the entire time.
About how the production’s fabulousness lies in the sets designed by Maurice Sendak, the celebrated children’s book author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are.
How no other city’s production would do.
How I was thrilled and touched and blessed to finally attend it with my hermit, I mean, dad.
Yes, I’ve been meaning to write.
About 2006, about the year’s highlights and lowlights, a wrap up of sorts:
About my favorite art exhibit.
How it was called Highlights from the American Folk Art Museum, but it’s like no folk art I’ve ever seen.
How the artist Henry Darger was a janitor by trade who in his off hours created his own imaginary world.
How he began his work at 19, continuing until his death at age 81, when his landlord discovered the accumulation of his work blanketing the room he’d rented for decades.
How he wrote a 15,000 page illustrated epic entitled, wait for it, The Story of the Vivian Girls, In What Is Known As the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. Whew!
How it’s the tale of seven little girls who attempt to rescue enslaved children from an army of adults, the Glandelininas, whom enslaved them.
How his work consisted of an incredulous amount of material, several diaries, a six-part weather journal, an eight volume autobiography, a sequel to the aforementioned mondo epic novel, several hundred nine foot long, double-sided scroll-like paintings, collages galore, five hundred pen and pencil sketches and studies, and thousands of media clippings, often of girls, most especially the little Coppertone girl, clouds, landscapes, plants, weather, war, and disasters.
How that sheer mass of material, that whole secret world fit in that room he rented.
How that handwritten novel, 15,000 pages, was absolutely amazing to view in person, I mean, imagining the time each page represented as he thought, planned, wrote, drew, painted, each and every one and then the accumulation of his touch on each of those pages, the sweat, the smearing, and tiny tears in the paper, amazing.
How the words “whimsical” and “sinister” begin to describe his work, and “obsessive” continues.
How this isn’t my favorite exhibit of the year because it’s pretty, or executed with immense skill, or contains my weakness, that being an arrangement of color to make my knees go weak.
About how it’s my favorite because it got me thinking.
How this man had such a need inside him to tell a story, that it wasn’t about the recognition of others, purely about that need to release what existed in him based on what he experienced in life.
How it’s a reminder that no one knows what another may live in their mind and in their home.
How it spoke to me about what lies in me as well, about the stories and art and work to be created, how it finds a way to express itself in one form or another, my clothing or my home or my cuisine, whether I consciously choose to give voice to it, or not.
About my favorite films | movies. (You drink coffee at a film and eat popcorn at a movie.)
About how this could so be a post in itself, so rather than even begin, I shall end with a list, the good, the bad, and the to-see list.
The World’s Fastest Indian
Akeelah & the Bee
Lady In the Water
Final Destination III
Notes On a Scandal
Stranger Than Fiction
The Last King of Scotland
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (love the first one!)
TO SEE LIST
The Science of Sleep
Lucky Number Slevin
The Dead Girl
My Super Ex-girlfriend
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (I wanna go fast!)
About my favorite song.
How about Til Kingdom Come by ColdPlay, Into the Ocean by Blue October, The Adventure by Angels & Airwaves and just about everything on the local jazz station, and I’m talkin’ the real jazz station, not that soft jazz, muzak bull puckey.
About my favorite book.
How I’m sorry to say, this year held not one standout book for me, I did read a few handfuls of ’em, though apparently, they were the wrong ones.
About my greatest struggle.
How I spent a better part of the year, okay, the whole darn thing, and then some, wrestling with myself, with the fear of moving forward on into what I’ve been working toward for so long now, have laid much of the groundwork for, and yet it’s got this precious, “fragile status” stamped on it because it’s taken so dang long in coming and because, the truth of it, it holds my heart, and I think writing it down here is the good swift kick in the bum I may need to push me over and on into it.
About my greatest triumph.
How it’s been such, what are the words, fun, a delight, and such a completely satisfying experience to reconnect with people from all different seasons of my life via, who-da-thunk it- MySpace!
How that makes it a triumph because I really didn’t think I’d make the connections again, but thought I’d like to, and it’s made life richer and fuller.
How there are still more out there I’d like to know again.
About my greatest hope.
How I have great hope for the full recovery of a friend of mine.
How the most nasty of turns were his for the taking about midway through last year and that has left him on dialysis.
How it happened to him, yet I’m the one still reeling to find one of the most energetic, hustling, bustling, moving, shaking kinda guys halted and slowed to a snail’s pace.
How I marvel at his upbeat, nothing-less-than-positive attitude and how I’ve known more than a few “poor me’s” who could take a lesson from him.
How a side effect of it all has been poor vision for him.
How I find I know how to communicate with someone who can see, but can’t hear, but to hear and not see is a challenge for me!
I really was gonna write.
About the year ahead.
How resolutions are such nasty buggers and I never make them, but how else am I ever gonna take time out to learn how to cook a rockin’ turkey for the holidays if it’s not by resolution?
About how I could nearly float with the joy I feel for the year ahead and about all the odds and ends I want to learn along the way like words beginning with “Q” for Scrabble, and five killer poems I can recite at the drop of a hat, and police codes, and all about volunteer vacations.
About so much more!
I was gonna write.
About the Oscars.
About how Helen Mirren was favored to win for her role in The Queen and how I had nothing to say about that other than &#%[email protected]!
How thankfully, Beyonce was not nominated for her Dreamgirls performance as was once rumored saving me the task of pitching a fit.
How Notes On a Scandal was a delicious piece of work due to Judi Dench’s smug, wry narration.
How the film’s a great reminder that any fun found in cheating on one’s spouse often comes all too quickly to the messiest of endings.
About how Penelope Cruz captured my heart with a song in Volver.
About how I suppose it really has much to do with the story being set in Spain and all that glorious, vibrant color, so easily swayed am I, by a little color.
How Jennifer Hudson was utterly fantastic in Dreamgirls, her, too, with a song.
How the song was delivered from the gut, all the pain, angst, need, want, desire, raw, bitter desperation of love and loss all wrought up and spewed forth in that song performance.
How it’d be lovely to see Abigail Breslin win as the bright, gleeful girl, Olive, in Little Miss Sunshine.
How much of her charm in that role was simply her being her in all her little girl glory.
How more than all the nominated movies combined, The Last King of Scotland made its impression on me, so much so, I must tell why another time.
How originally, I wasn’t looking forward to Dreamgirls and I could hardly believe all the hype surrounding it concerning its potential Oscar worthiness (Hudson song aside).
How then I saw Eddie do his thing.
How first I thought he might just be reaching into his bag of former SNL glory and pulling out an over the top impression of a musical performer on stage, but quickly thought differently.
How Norbit reared its ugly head all too soon!
How in Little Children, Jackie Earl Haley brought humanity to the role of a sex offender- a man who liked to expose himself- he was vulnerable and child-like, and it was a sad, sad thing to watch his compulsion and the consequences.
How Mark Wahlerg was even nominated in The Departed is beyond me, for the natural understated performance angle, maybe.
How I enjoy Ryan Gosling immensely and hope and expect to see him win one day, and in the meantime am thrilled he won a Spirit award, like the Oscars for indies, for his performance in Half Nelson.
How Little Miss Sunshine was a delight because it showed hurting, miserable people care enough in spite of themselves to help a family member, little girl Olive, reach her goal of winning a pageant.
How they ended up helping each other, too.
How the final scene may be a bit off-putting, but it’s so not the focus, it’s about the freedom and release and togetherness the family experiences.
How if anything should be of concern, it should be those plastic little girls cast as the other pageant contestants.
How I’d heard it called the little movie that could and I so wished it would!
How The Departed was aptly titled, I’ll give it that.
How I failed to see the greatness in Babel.
How I so looked forward to this film, expecting a film to follow in the steps of Crash in telling interconnected, individual stories with a deeper meaning to take away after having viewed it.
How I sat indifferent, almost put off, by the characters portrayed, not caring one iota for really even one of them as the movie rolled on.
How that’s just the state of mind the director intended for the audience.
How, rather than engage the audience’s hearts in caring for his characters, he wanted the audience in a state of agitation to reflect how the world often treats one another- like an annoying channel to be changed, out of sight, out of mind.
How it’s a brilliant idea, I appreciate the thinking-outside-of-the-box approach.
How personally, I prefer to be moved to action by being engaged to care.
About how Pan’s Labyrinth … oh my!
How what a tasty bit of terror was to be had in a brief but effective scene introducing us to the incredibly creepy, horrific, and oddly cute (?!) creature to be found tucked into one of the three tasks the main character of the film must accomplish.
How you must watch and see!
How everyone could do themselves a favor and learn a bit with The Last King of Scotland, feel a bit with Little Miss Sunshine, and dream a bit with Pan’s Labyrinth.
I was meaning to write.
About roadside etiquette.
About how we were driving up to Leavenworth for the weekend to celebrate my mom’s birthday only to break down on the side of the road just over the pass, but still tucked behind a momentous hill that kept the warm sun from shining down on us.
How when we were all sitting in my little car, people stopped to ask if we needed assistance on a regular basis.
How once we were without my little car due to a super-fast towing service and just a semi-fast rescue effort from the family, the three of us sat by our lonesomes perched in a row on three large rocks, while not a soul stopped to inquire of our needs, car after car drove by.
How maybe it had something to do with the dolly sitting behind us in the bare little tree.
How really, what else is there to do but break out the camera and take photos in such situations, hence said dolly in bare little tree?
How the fact that there even was a dolly accompanying three adult women on a trip into the mountains is an altogether different story best told by Bean.
Yes, I’ve been meaning to write. ♦
My grandpa has died.
I am sick about it. I keep thinking this hasn’t really happened. My thoughts go as follows, like a robot: This is me driving my car to my mom’s. This is me walking down the hallway. This is me trying to console someone over a loss I cannot fathom. I cannot say a word. I will just hold her. I will let her talk. I hope it is enough. This is me going through the motions of my Grandpa’s death. This is me empty.
I hate losing those I love. It hurts so bad that I’d gladly have my legs broken, my arms, my back, my neck, before my heart. The ache only fades with the passing of time. Too much time. It’s happened enough that I’m quite good at it by now. Knowing what has to be done in order to move forward. Doesn’t hurt any less, though. Wish it did. It was just his birthday. It was just Christmas Eve. Our times together at family gatherings, will never be the same. Grandpa was magic. He was the spice in our time together. He always had a joke going. And not those passe, little-old-man jokes that one feels obligated to politely laugh at. No! The wry, quick-witted jokes and the laugh-out-loud-belly-laugh-kinda jokes. There are no words I can write to capture him on the page … that will do him justice. No words to neatly sum him up in a convenient and thoughtful paragraph. He was much too big for that. Still, I will try. I will rattle on until I can’t any longer. I will miss the best conversations. The best stories. The best laugh. So smart. And no jokes about broccoli on my birthday this year …
My mom shared this little story with me. Apparently, my grandma had a small tree out in the front yard that she absolutely loved. Grandpa discovered that the tree was dying. So did my grandma. She began to pray for the tree to live. Grandpa could see that, that wasn’t gonna happen. So, he spray painted the tree. Green on the leaves. Brown on the branches. Grandma looked out at the tree from the window anyway, as it was, so she wouldn’t notice. She saw that the tree appeared to have revived itself, come back to life. It was a miracle! She called everyone she knew and praised God for healing her tree. Grandpa never told her. My uncle snuck over one afternoon and photographed the painted tree for black-mail purposes, he jokingly says.
I love gardening! Can’t keep a house plant alive worth a darn, but get me out with the actual earth, and I’m good to go. All because of my grandpa. Used to spend the weekends over at their place out in Spanaway as a kid sometimes. We’d get up at 6 a.m. and I’d accompany him out to his massive garden. I was none too excited the first time. He had lots to share, though. All sorts of interesting facts and knowledge. And he put me to work, too. Having me check on the lettuce, see how the carrots were coming along, lift up the leaves to see if the strawberries were ripe enough yet. One time, he told me about how he found gold in his garden. Yeah, suuuure … he pulled out a nugget from his pocket! Swore up and down he’d dug it up in the garden. I spent a little time digging myself. My cousin Chris, now 27, he spent HOURS and HOURS digging. Haha!
You know, I wanted to take him out driving. It was supposed to be his birthday present. I thought for months on what to get him. He always talked about wanting to drive. But he couldn’t because of being deemed legally blind. I saw no reason for that to stop him, though. I picked out a field along a stretch of road out in the boonies where we were to go after the holidays and we were gonna have at it. I never told him, though. Was just gonna pick him up. He’ll never know what I got him for his birthday now.
My grandpa had all sorts of toys in his room. A kid at heart. The best kind of man- able to take care of adult matters with integrity and follow through, responsibly, but still a big goofball who knows how to laugh and have fun and more importantly, share it. Bean and I have all sorts of toys, figurines, oddities, too. A good family trait, I think. My glove box, my trunk, my laundry shelf, my room, behind a pillow in the living room, fun lurks. Toys. Grandpa …
5 and 10lb bags of unshelled peanuts stacked sometimes shoulder high in two rows inside the pantry. There was a host of critters that literally lined up for my grandpa daily. Squirrels and crows. Sweet, chubby little cherub-like birdies. He had fruit trees galore in the backyard that drew them all and he would stand on the back porch stoop and they would wait in a row, coming up one by one as he doled out the peanuts. He was so cool! A sight to be seen, for sure. I’ve carried peanuts with me everywhere I’ve gone for over a year now because of him. In my purse, in my coat pocket, on the car dash. Last year, at work, Cliff even made these fantastic, hilarious drawings I still have all about Mr. Peanut all stemming from a peanut at my desk in the design team office.
My grandpa knew how to treat people. Never a jerk, always funny. He treated waiters with respect and courtesy. Always won them over with his humor. I was proud to sit with him when we went out.
I love pocket watches because of him. He was a watchmaker and repairman for many, many years. He worked in a little shop in the Tacoma Mall that is no longer there. He was thought so highly of that the owner of the mall asked him to manage the whole place at one time, but my grandpa turned him down. He said that he knew what he could and couldn’t handle and he figured that his temperament wasn’t of the sort that should be unleashed in a position overseeing people. I respect him for acknowledging that about himself. I am always told that when he returned from the war, he was different. That’s the kinda thing I hear often, in movies and books, but have yet to personally experience in anyone, actually see the before and after. I know of the damage his post-war behavior caused to my mother, and to his wife, more so than anyone. He mellowed in the last fifteen years, or so, and we were only left with the good in him. He learned that his behavior was a choice and I was so very proud of him.
Where I felt most safe … I remember when I three. Being held on his knee as he talked to me about the berries in the nearby berry patch. I had on a lavender dress with a little white pinafore and everytime I looked up at his face the sun was in my eyes so I could only see his silhouette. It was so warm out and I just wanted to take that little white pinafore off and go run around in the berry patch. I felt so safe with him there. It’s a moment that stands out as one of those defining ones. That berry patch. Shaded by trees and fenced in with chain-link fencing. There were so many bushes overgrown in there that any adult that went in had to hunch over at about half their height to get anywhere. I loved it! Being three, I was a short one, and could easily run through the maze of bushes, all around to the perimeters of the fencing, and because my grandpa was tall, he was extra slow in getting around so I could run and run, hide and hide, squealing and laughing when he finally did catch me. All along the ground were strawberry bushes and amongst all the bushes were great overgrown blackberry bushes. I still am not a fan of thorns to this day because of that place, the only drawback. Now I love to go pick blackberries along the bike trail down at the Kent Golf Course because it reminds me of when I was three and safe with my grandpa.
It happened now. He is gone NOW. He did not leave before his birthday. Before Christmas even. Or New Year’s. Those times are forever with us. I am so glad of that. My last memory with him was one of a hug and an “I love you” and fittingly so, a joke between us about who was to exit the house first and not slip on the ridiculously wet wood stairs. A joke. I am glad of that.
I collect last moments. I can remember in the past when a relationship has come to an end, I look back at our “lasts” together: the last hug, the last laugh, the last kiss, the last phone call, the last movie … never seems that I know that it was to be the last of anything. No, instead they are often just another moment on a random Tuesday afternoon, one in a long string of them. Well, I can remember all of those lasts for him as well, but my most favorite last was of our time in his garden months back, maybe towards the end of September, when he was showing me around the tomato section which turned into the flower section. A most wonderful of sections! Mums, the flowers were. Gorgeous heads of many, many perfectly curled petals stemming from the center in fuschia and white and yellow and red. He promptly took out his pocket knife and asked if I’d like a bouquet to take home. Yes, please! So, together, we made quite a little team in gathering one of the most memorable arrangements of flowers I’ve ever been lucky enough to own. Grandpa had his sight deteriorate over the last several years so that he could only see peripheral. If he looked at something straight on, say a person, he saw their outline, not their face or their actual body. He had laser surgery in October and I remember not knowing just what to say to encourage him when he shared that he was a bit afraid of the whole thing. Then, he told me that one of grandma’s church lady friends had called the house and had begun talking with him when she found that grandma wasn’t home. He found out that she had just had that surgery herself. And, that she was 92! So, when I heard that, I knew he had to know that if a little, 92 year old, sweetheart-of-a-woman could have this surgery, surely he, at a mere 80 could hack it. So, pre-surgery, cutting those lovely flowers, he’d have me guide him to the blossom and stem and then he’d snip! He was amazing! He could do more “blind” than most can with full sight. He bought a VW Beetle a few years back because he knew of my passion for them and then proceeded to re-upholster the whole interior and paint the exterior a scarlet red (Non-SuperBeetle 1974 Sun Red to be exact). I had stripped one down, re-upholstered and painted one the year before, and in him doing so, too, we had quite a lot to talk about! How cool is that?! To me, very.
Wedding dance. Dancing is a great thing! I don’t care if one looks the fool, or not, it must be done. And my grandpa understood this fact. At my cousin’s wedding last summer, he came up to me and asked me if I’d like to dance. Not my sister. Not my cousin. Not one of his three daughters. Me. I almost said no, for fear of looking the said fool, and then duh! Lightbulb! Who cares?! Bring on the foolery. I had the BEST time. He had absolutely no rhythm. He didn’t lead worth a dime. And he was the best partner I could have asked for. His passion and laughter and determination made it the absolute best. He probably got half that dance floor up and moving their bums. “If he can do it, we can,” I heard time and again. Heck, yeah! I only stopped dancing to take pictures of him dancing.
Writing is the only way to release all of this. I’ve tried talking and the anger comes. I was so surprised to find myself angry. See, it wasn’t pretty. It was an accident. He shouldn’t be gone! Somehow, I felt that if his body gave out, he’d had a heart attack or something, that it was okay. But, no. He was found face down on the floor in his room. After the autopsy, it was found that he’d tripped and fallen, knocked out on impact, asphyxiated in the pile of clothes he fell on. Was planning to wear. It wasn’t supposed to happen! He should still be here! His dad, my great grandpa Leo, lived to 96-years-old.
What I hate more than my pain, is the pain of my family. My uncle Lefty has lost a friend of more than 70 years. 70! I am just a small part of the whole that was him. A husband was lost. A father. A brother. A friend. A soldier. A man.
I love him. This aches.
The hurt will fade, but the missing, the missing will remain. ♦