In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Poem by Patti Masterman




If birthdays didn't make you older

If alleys were blind,
If you could drive
me anywhere
near insanity's brink;
Or if time could march,
and the moon whisper
it's forgotten lines
in blue octopus ink.

If scarce winds could dance,
where soft rains kiss,
or the brave stars wink.
If my neurons were,
in that thinking circus
of blown-fuse circuits,
the weakest link.

If man is a parasite
sucks blood from earth,
grieves igneous oceans
that once gave birth;

If venial sin is always the lesser,
and time leaves us dead in the dust,
I'm bound to make you my
secret confessor,
for time never sleeps
in your rust.

-Patti Masterman

Friday, December 23, 2011

Poetry: Widow's Ring


She loves him...
She never shared his name with me
Asking seems forbidden
She still wears his ring
...She loves him

When I talk about my painful past
She says "We are so different"
Glancing at the ring of platinum
That loops infinitely 'round her finger

His memory is kept behind her lips
The light of his being
Sparks slightly through her eyes
When love is conferred

How wonderful to love
To love and be loved
I see her now as
The richest woman I know...

***

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Powder x2

Winter 2011 update: My brother, cousin and nephews have already been up to the mountain TWICE, me = 0.  My thoughts this morning are up on Baker. Such a great feeling when I finally "got it" and swooshed down the hill without falling!
I must return! 
*Happy skiing to you all*

New territory, new land, new trail with boundaries only set in my mind.
Possibilities endless.
Life is like skiing.

Learning to ski again is proving to be more of a challenge and more painful than I could of imagined. However, sometimes with great PAIN comes great REWARD.


Last time I went skiing I was a junior in High School and had no formal lessens. While visiting some family in Idaho, someone shouted out “Hey lets go skiing today” and off we went. It took us two hours to drive to Silver Mountain in Kellogg. Stepping out of the car and into that winter wonderland I felt pretty confident. I had just lettered in soccer, was on a touring softball team, I could roller skate and skateboard- this skiing stuff looked easy. Equipped with my big 80’s sweater, a cotton polo shirt underneath, rental gear and nothing even resembling Gortex, I was ready! The “adults” went on to the advanced slopes and left my brother and I to fend for ourselves on the bunny slopes. We were continually taunted by little ski brats as they zipped by us. One confronted my brother on his awkward looking technique, not realizing that those were the first two hours of his life on skis. “Well my parents aren't rich corporate bastards like yours, who can afford to take me skiing every year since I was two you little prick! Now f**k off!” …man I love my brother! By the end of the day we looked like we had been tortured by the Russian mafia- wet, cold and bloody! “Did you kids have fun?” Somehow through the frost bite, fiery darts shot out our eyes at our parents. “We thought you loved us! Now we’re not so sure”.

Fast Forward to 2010.
Moving to a new place located so close to Mt Baker, I had to learn- properly this time- how to ski! While getting ready, I discovered there are five different types of snow conditions for skiing and snowboarding:
Power is freshly fallen, untouched, soft snow. It is the perfect surface for controlling your speed, holding your edge and for landing in because it’s so soft.
Crud is the next phase of powder. As more and more skiers ride through the powder the snow piles up and becomes tracked out, creating uneven surfaces and slippery patches.
Crust is formed when the sun’s rays and the wind melt the top layer of power then the cold air makes it freeze into a harder icy surface. If the crust is soft you will punch through it making for a bumpy ride.
Slush happens when the air temperature becomes warmer than the freezing point.
Ice is the exact opposite of powder it’s hard & slippery. Its snow that has been melted and frozen again for a number of times creating a solid surface of icy compact snow.

Friends also offered up some advice:
“Don’t wear a scarf, it will pick up snow and be annoying all day. Plus its dangerous you could get it caught on something and hang yourself”
“Don’t wear a backpack, a kid was wearing a back pack while on the ski lift, got it caught on the chair, couldn't get off- was hanging like forty feet off the ground. He had to cut the strap to escape!”
“You’ll also need a helmet.”
“Why? I’m not snowboarding.”
“It’s not so much what you could hit; it’s more what will hit you.”
I joked it sounded like I need to carry a switch blade more than ski poles. When did it get so dangerous?
Finally my ski day arrived- a week before Christmas no less. Just that morning 12 inches a fresh snow had fallen; an early Christmas present! The day was full of enchantment and wonder. The instructors are so kind and helpful at Baker, and this time instead of taunting a close friend offered much needed encouragement. Thanks to a water proof/wind proof/falling down proof outfit this experience was much better than my first. Pain equaled great reward.

During lunchtime while watching the advanced skiers and snowboarders playing in the powder, I knew that could be me one day. Right now I live on chair 2 and the bunny slopes. Could I ever be good enough to go on a double diamond? I’ll do my finest. With the right equipment and attitude many things are possible. One day I’ll be out there shredding powder like the rest!

Wishing you all a brilliant New Year full of fresh, wonderful POWDER!
Make your mark this year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PAD: SOIL

Wow- the last day of Writers Digest Poem A Day challenge.  It was a challenge for me to pump out 30 poems in a month.  As an article and short story writer I was distracted by the length and quality of the poems I created.  The inner critic never sleeps...  Then I remembered that some poems are more about the emotion being expressed and the release that comes in writing it.  Take that you critic!  Art and exercise- or art IS exercise??  OooOoOOoooooo very deep!

Honestly, the best part about writing poems, I think, is having a place to share it.  Blogger is nice, but I have found sharing them in front of other poets at Open Mics to be very rewarding.  Fortunately for me I live in town that has at least three writers open mic groups.  Look for one in your town.  If there isn't one- start one!  Every night will be a treasure, trust me!
This poem "Soil" I shared at the Poetry Night open mic http://www.poetrynight.org/


Rock whispered to the Willow
All day soft words
lift in the breeze
moving the branches
that hang like hair

Tree
Moss covered mouth
lichen wraps the torso
grass grown 'bout the feet

Underneath worms dance
with potato bugs in black soil
-their ceiling
-the Rock's bottom

Rock
Sitting on a throne of
dark whispers
relating to the Earth
touching it constantly

If soil is wisdom,
Tree or Rock?
Which one knows more?
Which one is wiser?

The one that constantly seeks
wisdom & nourishment with its roots?
Or the one who with patience
will one day become the soil?

There is no this or that
Both will become soil again
There is only a rock that blows wisdom,
And a tree that moves in the wind...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Please Excuse Me...

So, it's the day after Thanksgiving and my gut is still feeling the hurt. The all day eating binge was uncalled for, unnecessary yet required for the full holiday experience.  If you're not in a food coma by 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, you've done something wrong!  The next morning I weighed myself. 
"SP- WHY did you do that?" you may ask.  Well, I don't know why but its done and I can't go back.  Perhaps it was curiousity, like when kids poke at dead animals with sticks. 

After keeping my weight in check for over 10 mths I discovered that 7 lbs have snuck up on me this last weigh in. WTH? I'm not happy about that at all!  There are, of course, plenty of excuses -two being the food and candy centered holidays October's Halloween and November's Thanksgiving. (It's too early to use Christmas)

Feeling all fat and a bit discouraged I went for a nice one hour walk this morning around my neighborhood. For whatever reason my mom's comments from yesterday when we were placing the ham in the cooker rolled through my mind. "Make sure you put the ham FAT SIDE up." The fat side. I felt like that ham, but I have more than one fat side. Lord help me.

I traveled down Cornwall to walk the track at the local high school.  Its a great track, wide, clean and five times around equals a mile. Simple. Easy. The sun was out. It was a beautiful Northwest winter day. So far no excuses could be found. However, as I approached the field I saw that the yard maintenance staff had place two bleachers and a large trampoline-thingy right on the track! Then I heard it- my inner dialog going at it:
First to speak up was "Evil SP": "How dumb! Someone has blocked the track in TWO places, now I can't take my walk! I'm going home!"
Then "Good SP" spoke up: "Suck it up and get ta walkin' you lazy a**!"

I stayed and walked, slightly upset that I couldn't just give up and go home... just slightly. Of course by the second lap I was already feeling better.  Exercise is good for me. Why was I looking for an excuse?

The web site "Fitness for Weight Loss" list the top five excuses for why we don't exercise:

1. There’s not enough time.
2. I don’t have enough energy.
3. I’m not motivated.
4. It’s too expensive.
5. I’m sick or injured.

Alright already, I'll walk and exercise! No excuses! Christmas is coming and THIS goose is not going to get fat... or should I say fatter. I can make time to exercise which will give me more energy and as I loose inches I'll get motivated, make more money and be less likely to get sick or injured.
It's in the bag!

http://www.fitnessforweightloss.com/

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Ham

Happy Thanksgiving all! 

Thanksgiving is all about the traditional turkey dinner, but this year we are serving up ham.  This is the third posting of the "Mom's Holiday Ham" story.  Hard to believe my "Madrona Grove" blog has been up so long! For that I am thankful.
Whether your ham is smoked, honey glazed, bone-in, and/or spiral cut-  I wish you all a great holiday! 
     ...and leave the ends ON!  ~SPL

*****
OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. ;)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Going Berserk!

Saturday morning and my eight year old nephew is getting ready for his indoor soccer game. With the help of his father he gets on his uniform, shin guards, socks and shoes. All suited up and he is ready for battle! Before they leave he gives me a quick tour of the few turf burns on his knees.
“I got this one when I fell right after I kicked a goal in” Oh my little soccer warrior.
“Hold on let me brush your hair before you go”
This brought up the question: why SHOULD I brush my hair BEFORE playing soccer? Good question.
“If I look crazy maybe it will scare ‘em” -Love this kid!

His enthusiasm to out psyche the other team, reminded me of research I was doing on the ancient Vikings, specifically the elite group of warriors called berserkers. Although their weapons were more serious than spiky bed hair, the goal was to intimidate the enemy with their crazed appearance.


The name bersekr may mean "bare-sark," as in "bare of shirt" and refer to the berserker's habit of going unarmored into battle. Ynglingasaga Saga records this tradition, saying of the warriors of Óðinn that "they went without coats of mail, and acted like mad dogs and wolves" (Snorri Sturluson. Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. trans. Lee M. Hollander. Austin: Univ.of Texas Press. 1964. p.10). Others have contended that the term should be read "bear-sark," and describes the animal-skin garb of the berserker. There are recorded accounts of berserkers being both shirtless and clothed in animal skins. In both cases witnesses claim that "no sword could pierce their skin" and they fought with "such madness and fury as if possessed!" Sword proof or not, a warrior who continued fighting while bearing mortal wounds would surely have been a terrifying opponent! The horrifying reputation of berserkers was so great, rumors spread that they were supernatural and given the gift of shape changing by Óðinn.

While I brushed this little berserker’s hair we talked about what it would be like to play soccer decked out in wolf fur; hot and messy. Don’t think you get much wicking ability with fur; let’s stick with a polyester blend. Berserker or not, this nephew was going to have his hair brushed. …just be one on the inside and slay them with your awesome soccer skills.

Monday, November 14, 2011

PAD: Gray Braided Gardener

Writers Digest Poem a Day challenge-- day 14

Seeds of joy
Toss from her fingertips
Green LIFE yawns awake
on the shady side of Nobles

Always in spring she is
Radiating beams of new LIFE
Kneading it into the earth
Everywhere she goes

LIFE follows her
or does she create it?
A goddess tramping through the desert
leaving behind her a forest

Friday, November 11, 2011

PAD: Playing with Sunlight

Happy 11-11-11!!
Writers Digest November "Poem A Day" challenge-  Day 11


Swimming in sunlight
thick with sounds:
voices, conversations
opinions, attitudes

Shadows stretch long
point west toward me
My soul strokes east
propelling this fish forward

What river have I fallen into?
Ocean, to river, to stream
following the scent of home
Where is my birthplace?

I say I was born
in the sunbeam itself
not the shadow
although conceived there

Baby's first sense is smell
when it begins to breathe air
New sense turns on
when sunlight strokes the face

...the smell of home imprinting on the mind.


***

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

PAD: Here

No prompt for me today.  Just a poem.  Day NINE

How long?
How will this last?
When will we say good bye?
Our quiet moments in a failing orbit

Rock
Turned to sand
How long does it take?
Mountains worked by wind, sun, rain, snow

Stop time
Please, stop it now
All things have an end
Real love will not spoil!

Infinity!
Let's stay here.  Just here.
Frozen in a moment
Chasing the sun so that it never sets

Monday, November 7, 2011

Multigenerational

Life is grand and ever changing.  My first year in Bellingham has been eventful and many personal goals have been reached.  One goal that still needs to get checked off the list: finding my own place. 



The high cost of everything has me living with my brother longer than I anticipated.  My brother was gracious enough to let me move in with him back in September 2010.  His house is nice and roomy with plenty of space for both of us and the visiting nephews that come by every other weekend.  Feeling optimistic I’ve kept my things in moving boxes all this time.  However, this summer my college student son returned to live with "me" to find work.  So now we are three. 

Then, this fall, my mom’s house sold.  After being on the market for over six months she worried that it would never sell.  When she did get a nibble things moved too quickly! Boom!  She had 30 days to find a place to live.  Her new home is all set up and ready to go …for February 2012!  Now we are four. Four people, three generations all in three bedroom/two bath home with a basement.  It happen as quick as a snap! 


Apparently, multi-generational homes have become a nationwide trend.  The high cost of living has many adult children moving back in with their parents.  The newspapers call them “Boomerang Kids”.  A recent article by National Public Radio states as jobs have disappeared and houses have been foreclosed on, many Americans are sharing space to save money. A new study by the Pew Research Center found the number of people in multi-generational households grew by 2.6 million between 2007 and 2008.   So what are we, a boomerang family?  My brother tells it like this:  everyone suddenly needed help and he was the only one with a lifeboat!  Well put. 

So for various reasons here we are.  Four people, (seven when the nephews are over), three generations, all under one roof.  So what's it like you ask?  We have issues much like the ones I remember as a kid growing up except EVERYONE is now an adult.  Its hard to keep track of whose turn it is it to do the dishes with our work schedules. We have to stagger shower time so we don’t run out of hot water, and the labeling of the food has started!  Sounds stressful.  At times it is.  The saving grace is that we don’t see each other very often. 

Space.  We need our personal space.  Space is a commodity.  We are saving money and expenses by being together but, guess what we don’t like it!  I’m starting to understand the reason why most families in America are spread out over the states.  I’ve family all over the place:  Aunts and Uncles in Minnesota, Maryland, Arizona and Hawaii, cousins in Texas, Oregon and Illinois.  Don’t get me wrong, we love each other, but from a distance.  Lets be honest, American’s in general love their independence –from each other! 


I understand now why people buy 5 acres and put their house in the middle- so they don’t have to share their fancy mustard with anyone.  It’s my mustard dammit!  I worked hard for it and I don’t want to share.  Living together at elbows length has reminded me how selfish I’ve become... over mustard.  Why?  This is a temporary moment in time that should be treasured, I keep telling myself.  Soon we will all be back in our own spaces and perhaps missing each other.  You know those short moments of having a conversation over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table.  Multi-generational living is all that, and a bag of chips! 

...Oh, um, that's MY bags of chips by the way... see my name there written in sharpie?







Friday, November 4, 2011

PAD: Life Hike

Day 4 of Writers Digest Poem A Day~
I will call it:  LIFE HIKE

Hiking a broken trail
beneath green branches
fanned out over me
blocking the sky
how close to life it feels

Hard walk atop embedded rocks
soles rub exposed roots
soil no longer covers 
sunlight filters through
spotlights on ancient ferns

Head turns right
an opening sits plumb
Door to a perspective
not yet known
Curiosity rules here

Veer towards new
step over a fallen tree
through ferns rib high
unexpected vista fills the frame

Another world
trails smooth and gentle
a river glides along
wide high blue open
...the easy way

Why have I stayed in the forest
stomping atop rocks that twist my ankles
when open fields were just off the path?





*For today’s prompt, write a poem about finding something unexpected.   Robert Lee Brewer
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/poetry-prompts/2011-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-4

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PAD: Moving Day Wish

PAD November 1st prompts:  Procrastination or Proactive

My coat needs a hook
My clothes need a dresser
My paintings need a wall
My shoes need a closet

Is there a cupboard for my food,
A refrigerator for my produce?
Is there a space for my music to fill,
A desk for me to write at?

I dream of a headboard
I dream of an area rug
I wish for new curtains
I wish for a proper coffeepot

Really,
All I need is a room warmed by love
A space lit by inspiration
Four walls and a door
Filled up by me


_______________________________________
Poem A Day idea & rules:
"...today just happens to be a Tuesday, which means two prompts! For those new to the PAD challenge, you can pick one of the two prompts or do both–if that’s how you roll. Also, you can share your poem(s) for today’s prompts in the comments attached to this specific post below. Click here for the complete guidelines. Don’t stress out; I’m pretty laid back about this whole poeming experience."
-Robert Lee Brewer

Friday, October 28, 2011

Poetry: Midnight Banshees


Midnight Banshees

Murder of crows
chase a raider owl
who clutches a black feathered
baby in it's claws

They howl behind the homes
racing down back streets
Caws want justice while
talons extinguish life!

The Race of the Midnight Banshees;
hunters compete with guardians
Foul eating foul
The fittest, the quickest
will feed-
only defeated by numbers




**Footnote:  for months I heard this strange screaming behind my home in the middle of the night.  The sound moving down the alleys, through the park and back~ too quick to be human.  A local bird lover told me it was crows chasing an owl.  The owls feed at night when the crows sleep, stealing the babies out of their nest.  Never have I heard such a horrific sound!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lead Belly

Here is one of my favorite stories about a classic blues artist. 
This is from my classic blues radio show, "Boosie's Playhouse" that airs/streams on KMRE 102.3, heard every Saturday night at 10p PST:
Lead Belly, the famous classic American Blues artist was born in 1888 as Huddie Ledbetter.  He reached the top of his blues career later in his life during the 1930's - 1940's. 
Lead spent much of his early adulthood in a Texas prison for homicide.  He got an early release after writing and singing a song for the State Governor. In 1925, he wrote a song asking Governor Pat Neff for a pardon. Neff, who had promised at his election never to pardon a prisoner, broke his promise and set Huddie Ledbetter free.

In 1930 Lead returned to prison, this time for assault with intent to kill.  Reputation and talent follow you everywhere, even through prison walls.  Good citizen or not his music was desired and according to a folk song collector for the Smithsonian, John A Lomax, needed to be documented.


Lead and Lomax recording in prison
 
In 1934 John and Lead Belly recorded for the Library of Congress the album now titled "Leadbelly's Last Sessions"  Excited for this opportunity Lead let loose!  He had a wonderful memory for music and folk stories.  He played and sang songs from the Tin Pan Alley, dance tunes, prison work songs, mule-skinner hollers, rag songs and the "Mean-Blues".  This jail bird did SING!  Accompanied by his 12-string guitar he sang all of these in his signature roof-ratting high baritone voice. 

His style of "Country Blues" or "Folk Blues" made him in a minor celebrity at the time.  Lomax arrange (another) early release for Lead.  Despite the segregation social pressures at the time these two, a white man from the northeast and a black man from the south, were determined to preserve musical history, together.  Lomax and Lead traveled all across the southern states collecting and recoding rare and traditional music.  Most of the folks they recorded were like Lead, too poor and unsure of how to get a recording contract.  Folks who had memorized stories and songs from their friends and family and passed them down verbally.  Songs and stories that were distinctly American but most Americans would never of heard one note if it wasn't for this unusual "power team":  Lomax with the equipment & cash, and Lead with the knowledge & connections. 

Lead Belly~  his temper landed him in jail twice, but his music, the music of his people, set him free -twice.  His biggest recorded hit "Good Night Irene" raised a revival for Folk Blues and influenced many.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Poetry: Wink


WINK

Morning sunlight, sun low
stretch shadows long,
twinkle through the branches
 that sway in the current,
bath me please

Stronger the light
Harsher the dark

Sun can not be everywhere
nature's landscape prevents it
God made or not

Crow flys by
nods its head
as if it remembers me

Your life so simple Crow
Please brood over my features
A wink when you fly by will let me know
They are fixed in your mind

The Sun may not always find me
Yet your wing's move you
amongst the penumbras
and  illumination
Your nod Crow brings me comfort,
for somewhere by someone
I am remembered...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Poetry: Guitar Man


Taps his foot to the music
Frayed boot heal wiggles against the floor
Fingers, as comfortable on frets
As his legs are in jeans

What does he sing?
What is that sound?
History weeping through
Oozing out of dry crevasses
Days in the sun created

Poems written on wrinkled paper
Songs sung to walls of fallen plaster
Large women clap approval
Hoping to take a piece home

Frequency broadcast to a crowd
Listening ears, watchful eyes
Curtains moving with the fan
Breeze blowing in the street noise
His howling is overruled

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Gift


About eight years ago someone gifted me a bottle of eau de parfum Chanel No. 5. I purchased a small bottle of it in my early twenties and quickly burned through it; it was my favorite fragrance. How wonderful to find this old friend again or perhaps it found me? With kids, a job, and a fluctuating income, purchasing a new bottle of expensive perfume was not on my grocery list for many years.


Chanel No. 5 has been on sale continuously since its conception in 1921. It is a world wide favorite of woman everywhere. It is expensive. Because it is so expensive, I use it only when necessary. I've owned the same bottle for almost eight years and still have ¾ of it left! It’s used for romantic dates, important meetings, ups and the like. Now I wouldn't want you to think I don’t get out much, but like I mentioned earlier it’s used ONLY when necessary! One spray and the fragrance stays with me most the day and makes me feel strong, feminine, classy and clean!


Perfume plays an interesting part in my life. I've only three –four different bottles of it at a time on my bathroom counter but each has a specific purpose. There are my light and fresh days when I just feel like a body spray, other days when a little fun Victoria Secret’s “Pink” is required, and then some days when I need, and I use that word accurately, I NEED to bring in the big guns; my Chanel.

Today, however, I surprised myself. Not going anywhere, sitting at home writing, doing some research, cleaning house, all in what I call my “ratty-tatties” ie: favorite ripped up jeans and an old sweatshirt; clothes I wouldn't even go grocery shopping in. After my shower this morning, I found myself reaching for that magical amber liquid, hopeful and with great expectations. Spraying some in front of me, walking through the mist, I felt like a knight putting on his armor. It’s become an old friend I thought as I reflected on the times I've used it. Thank you Coco for making such a fabulous elixir! Yes it is a THING, it doesn't give me love, but for a little while, less than a blink in the whole scheme of things… I am happy and smelling good!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Neighborhood Watch

This morning I decided to fore go the trip to the gym's treadmill and "tread" around my own neighborhood.  Last fall I measured a one mile loop through town, and walked it four times a week before I joined the gym.  Feeling nostalgic, without giving it anymore thought, I dressed for the walk. Slipping into my outdoor walking shoes for the first time in 3 months felt wonderfully familiar.  My toes quickly found their home and the frayed cuffs around the ankle reminded me of those winter walks in harsh weather.  Somehow it felt like putting on gloves more than shoes.

This September marks my first year in Bellingham.  It's been interesting to see how the area changes in each season.  Bellingham is a beautiful town.  I've enjoyed many wonderful scenes, fine enough to be painted on a dinner plate.  The weather and seasons clothing the landscape in each pattern that defines them.

I saw the town bathed in fall leaves, branches and trees blown into the street from winter storms, sidewalks caked with rippled frozen slush, puddles of water rushing into the drains from springs thaw.  The crocus are the first flower of the year marking the end of winter; brings hope to me every time I notice their purple petals.  Then the tulips show up, two months later, marking the edges of flower beds.  They stand so fancy as if saying "We bring the spring"; too much power for a flower.  I prefer the statement of the humbled crocus.  They surprise you popping up where they do, breaking through the snow under a tree line, around the steps, or snug beneath a rhododendron, staying for only 2 weeks, then away they go back into the ground.

Slowly over the course of the three summer months, homeowners start to make their way into their yards.   I can hear the sounds of lawn mowers, shovels hitting the dirt, and lawn-edgers as they grind in that crack between the grass and walkway.

This morning in August, my final month to view, proved good hunting in the area of natural events.  A summer storm is forming in the northwest corner of the sky, the dark clouds growing slowly.  I wonder if I should of brought a jacket?  Warm temperatures have the maple trees raining sticky sap onto the roads and sidewalks.  So thick in some spots my shoes make sticking sounds as I cross over them.  The sap leaves a mark like a raindrop tattoo on the cement.  Oh and the spiders are out!  Those common garden orb-weaving spiders are all over the place, constructing their webs across the walk ways, on the bushes and windows, any place their silk will stick too.  August is proving to be a sticky month!

The bees are also in full swing.  Saw two honey bees at different corners, walking.  A bee taking a walk?  I wondered if it was doing that honey dance they do to communicate to the other bees the direction and distance to the nearest nectar.  There were no other bees to be seen near the dancing ones.  Perhaps these two were young bees practicing their dance moves.  Good thing to practice, you wouldn't want to shake when you should have wiggled causing your friends to fly in the wrong direction- a place of no nectar.  No nectar...  an office building or perhaps a freeway full of violent windshield related bee deaths?  Practice little bee, practice.  I'll walk around you and let you practice. Spiders, bees, summer flowers making their final showing- all wonderful sights.

Taking the last steps of my walk up to the back door, I feel a little bead of sweat on the side of my forehead.  That is proof positive of a successful walk.  I sit and think on what I've seen as I pour myself some coffee.  Looking out the dinning room window, I notice it starting to rain.  ...perfect timing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vicarious Vacation

A year ago I was on my island enjoying the salty air.  Here's a blog of mine from summer 2010.  Wishing you all a good vacation season! ~Shannon

The phrase “summer job” leads most people to picture a student making pizzas or serving burgers during the long three months off from school. If you live on an island it has a completely different meaning to a whole other demographic. A summer job(s) here is what the working class or retired folks do to make some extra money. Storing up cash for the economically slow months riddled with higher heating bills and expensive gift giving holidays, people in small tourist towns act much like ants gathering up food for the long winter. Jumping on an opportunity to help a friend with their tree pruning business, or ironing sheets for the Bed n’ Breakfast down the street are good ways to supplement your income. Being opportunistic is apart of island living.

Since I’ve moved to the island I have been fortunate to have summer job(s) that fill the week. I say fortunate because since the winter of 2008 one out of ten people in Washington State are unemployed. This summer I’m averaging 90 hours a paycheck and as expected, I find it difficult to do anything BUT work.

Writing has been pushed to the side, so has cleaning the house, and appointments are being moved into September. Instead of working on articles or my book, I am writing only poetry. My poetry however has not been of posting quality, but rewarding just the same. I write about how much my body aches, the way the sun shines through the trees, and about how angry I was at the moon; the crazy ramblings of an overworked woman to be sure. I DO think about my story lines, usually in the morning. Something will set it off. I’ll see an object or hear a phrase that ignites my imagination; it’s another refreshing creative escape, even if it only last a couple of minutes or so.

Until September rolls around I’ll just live my vacation vicariously through the other tourist. As I shuttle around the grounds of the resort where I work I pass and interact with all types of tourist. Three skinny boys in their tweens, bundled up in towels, dripping wet returning from a long swim in the lake. Seemingly numb to walking barefoot on gravel road, their only focus being “What’s next?” Planning up all sorts of things to do, see and eat. My feet hurt watching them walk on the gravel, but their excitement was contagious. Another day a sleepy couple, still in their flannels, come in for coffee and share with me about their wonderful yesterday of sight seeing, the super pod of Orcas off shore, the kayaking, the hike. Just listening about their day tired me out! What a day!

Later that week I met up with a friend for coffee. She was as exhausted as I was but from friends and family visiting her. In one months time she had five visits, each time taking folks around the island, cooking, cleaning, and going out for dinner, seeing movies, then repeating it all over again with the next group. “It’s wears ya out having a good time” she joked. We both sat there exhausted and thankful for a peaceful cup and visit in a quiet house. I swear for a second our sighs were synchronized. We were rotationally at two different poles but, exhausted just the same.

Too much fun!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Poetry: Alarm

For about 12 years I spent two hours or more a day commuting to work, just sitting in traffic 10 hours a week, 40 hours a month!  This poem is a window into that "zombiefied" lifestyle, something I've been freed from for over three years.  How wonderful to have that time returned to me:



Watching the clock
waiting for time to
catch up with me:
Breakfast time.
Traffic time.
Working time.
Lunch time
More working time
Leaving time... finally here.

Time drags along
like a leashed cat
never taught to heel

Coming home late
the house dark
My kitchen smells like
the dinner missed

Opening a window
a breeze floats in
scent like rain on the black top,
dust and wet at the same moment

Pouring myself into bed
next to one already asleep
a new rhythm starts.

Breath bellows in and out
Fresh replacing exhausted
In a room absent of fluorescent

Moon glowing through
slits of blinds
patterns across the nightstand
where the alarm clock sits

Not a clock only
nor an alarm, but both.
It's red eyes watching
as I toggle its hated button

Alarm clock: sound and visual aide
that announces my next destination.
A location I've purchased no ticket for
but a price has been paid.

Eyelids close
Mind opens
Dreams dreamt,
too quick to absorb

ALARM!  ALARM!
Time races out of the gate!
I am the slow one now...
5 a.m. comes too early.

Quickly get on the carousel!
Around I go into another day,
following the sun,
while wishing for the moon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Poetry: Brick


I
Awake!
"Bay Street Brick
is what I am.
Over 100 years old
painted thirty-two times.

"Worn down, graffitied
Rain and wind
have tried their best to dissolve me,
none more effective than time


"This archaic building needs me no more!
It could still stand strong
with the absence of ONE.
The Builders that placed
me here did wrong"


II
"Bay Street Brick,
a vacation I  need!
Perhaps to be a part of
a patio in Costa Rica,
or the frame of a family's backyard BBQ?

"I could retire in a
garden wall with a view
of a timbered Tudor home.

"If I had legs to travel on,
or a mason to see my true potential
Hands to move me about the globe"


III
"You dream too loud!"
Scream the other bricks,
"Don't demean your position.
You are directly at a pressure point
holding up the wall

"If you left the strain would be too much.
This building would fall into the street-
the building that is US!

"Crushing passers-by,
the Builders that walk by us all hours
the Wise Ones that placed us"


IV
The Bay Street Brick
considers the words of his
brothers and sisters born of
the same mash

Gravity pressing all five sides
Painted face hidden behind
too many of other's... colors

"US is stronger than one" it says,
"Travel is only afforded
those with Legs of Men"

Brick becomes quiet, withdraws
Folds aways its vision of vacation
holds the building up another 100 years,
in sleep...

***

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Poetry: Reinhart’s Cup


A green cup
A handle for holding
Ridges? Simple decoration.
Held eight ounces easily
This was your Grandpa’s cup.
He loved that cup.

The coffee doesn’t taste right to me
Defected glaze, mother said,
Don’t try to drink from it.
I used it to hold my pens.

She removed the pens and scissors
That had been stabbed into place
She turns it upside down
A paper clip on the bottom shakes out
Here, you can have it,
If you want it.
Yes I do

Objects from loved ones
Transmit on a frequency
Like a radio to the past
Grandpa drank his black
Leaning against a tractor step
Two hours of work already put in
The sun not even half way to noon

A Minnesotan neighbor made the cup
Hand thrown with love
Fingers shaping the shell to life
I’ll take it, thank you
Better than a cup of any ol’ Joe.
Reinhart’s cup is welcomed here.



photo credit: http://www.fieldstonehilldesign.com/2011/03/object-hand-thrown-pottery-mugs.html

Monday, June 27, 2011

Memento Mori

Oh Death where is thy sting? Oh, and are you free for lunch?

No one wants to be friends with Death. Now its counterpart, Life, is very popular around town. Most people are familiar with Life and consider it their best friend. But Death is the odd one out. Death is not necessarily bad luck, misfortune or suffering. Death is death; the period at the end of the last sentence.

I was thinking about Death this last month as I watched a good friend of mine struggle over putting her dog down. Anyone who has had to make that decision would testify it’s an extremely difficult and emotional time. Pets usually get a dignified death. The owner finally acknowledges that their pet, who they love, is suffering beyond an acceptable amount and makes an appointment with their vet. Lucky dog. Most humans deal with death to the very end. No early release. We die when it’s our turn. Just like being born.

The phrase Memento Mori is Latin translated as "Remember your mortality”. An ancient Roman general made it popular, by having his servant whisper it in his ear during victory parades. The general wanted to be kept humble and reminded that Life is temporary. While being showcased down the streets of the city, citizens singing his praises today, Death could be waiting for him tomorrow, perhaps at the next battle. The phrase says enjoy Life while you have it, because you never know for how long it is yours. Is it ever ours to begin with? That’s another conversation entirely.

Life & Death: Two times in a humans life that must be the most spectacular and the very two that you never get to share with anyone!

Birth: different for everyone yet all leave the womb, the safety of Life’s cradle where all our pieces were knitted together. Pulled & pushed from that watery world into the world of air and our first breath of it. What if the baby exclaimed on arrival, “Did you guys see that? I just got born! Let me tell you all about it…” Never happens. Too young to talk, and when we can form words, we are too old to remember. Only through the deepest state of hypnosis could a person remember, and even that testimony would be questioned.

Death: The moment of dying is just as personal. I’m not talking about the pain or suffering that sometimes leads up to that moment, but the moment its self. …The body, stopping its internal motion, the spirit leaving a familiar form. That has to be incredible. Again- you’re not able to share it with anybody, any LIVING body that is.

Are these two moments our greatest hours?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Poetry: No Marrow



I watch you
Hoping around the twigs
Hanging upside down
From the tiniest sliver of wood

Light and carefree
Yet obviously well fed
Beautiful colors
Lovely song

“Be more like the birds
They don’t worry”, I think
How can I when my bones
Are not filled with air
But of heavy marrow?

Heavy with duty and plans
Weighed down with projects
Slighted by calendar dates
And numbers that don’t add up

My human flight drags by
Day to day, no bouncing here
But a determined searching
Looking for morsels to feed the spirit

Think like a bird-
I could be one-
Is it the state of mind that matters?
Or the transformation?

And when do the two become one?
Mind and matter
Flight and fancy
Living and alive

We are cousins little bird
As you hop around the maple
Barren of summer leaves
I watch and learn

My untamed past stirs in the blood
Reminding me of the origins
Forcing breath of life into
The marrow that weighs me down


***

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Poetry: Look



Look!
Straight on
Into another’s face
You see only what
They want you to see

Familiarity brings a
Corrected angle
Light deflecting
Mirror to mirror
Boucing ‘round

Just a shimmer
Of character
Form discoveries
Peter Pan’s shadow
It needs to be nailed down

Look again!
There you are
Just another
Every peek into the eyes
Moves me closer to an explanation

“When will I see more?”
“After” you jest
Patience is needed in this game
Light exposure brings focus
Not perfection



***

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Home

This month the assignment for Artistic License was to write about HOME. It is a challenging subject for me since I am currently living with my brother, with no clear home of my own. These types of assignments lead me down a thought path of questions such as: what is home, where is home, and is home defined by me, those that live in it or both? Instead of writing about the +14 different places I’ve lived over the years, I decided to go inward, or backwards, to a moment in my childhood that is ONE definition of home to me. Here it is:

Like a hermit crab, I carry my house around. Attached to my memory enduringly fixed to the mind’s eye reminiscent of a freckle on the iris.

Such a summer day it was, the kind you record every sound and smell.
Was I 12 or 13? Was it July or August? Was it closer to one o’clock or two?

My childhood home on 9th Street. The home was empty; the family out in town, at a game, in the garden. Me? Napping atop my bed spread. Drifting into the lazy summer day.

The window wide open, yellow curtains being caressed by a breeze. A lawn mower or two run in the background. Neighborhood kids on bikes shouting commands, dogs bark for no reason. …I’m in love.

For a moment in time, one that guards my heart in crisis, the peace was seen, heard and felt- and accepted. I owned that day. I return to that day many times as only memories will allow.

This is my home…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poetry: Droplet

All the rain is making me think about this poem from 2010:

Sitting with a warm cup
sipping down the chamomile
looking up in awe
at the droplets drop

Abstract cutouts of dark trees
create the stage
so I can view you
descending from a silvery cloud

What of that one drop?
Where were you born?
You came from the sky
riding on a morning storm

Where do you live?
You go into the earth
watering a tree
Do you live in the tree?

Where is your home?
In the river as it
slithers back into the ocean
Do you live in the river?

Evaporated by the suns warmth
shrinking you down to mist
floating up to heaven
Are you dying or going home?

Back to the cloud you go
rising up and reborn
only to fall again
when a rain drop you become

Where do you live rain drop?
in the cloud
in the tree
in the river
...in me.