30 November 2014

Icy in Seattle

We have a leaky downspout here in Seattle (must get that fixed ASAP!), which created an interesting ice sculpture in our Blue Bush (ceanothus) over the weekend.

(also: more Orcas picture here)

22 November 2014

Late November Pictures

Ian and I flew up to Orcas yesterday morning, 8:00am on Kenmore Air. In the summer, Kenmore Air flies a much more regular schedule than in the winter. They post a regular schedule year round, but they fly during daylight hours only, and only in winds up to around 20 knots, and never in fog, so, weather dependent. 

We had really been hoping for good weather, because we had planned two important bookend events this weekend: I had a piano lesson scheduled for 12:30pm on Orcas yesterday; and tomorrow evening we have tickets to see John Oliver perform at the Paramount in Seattle. 

Our anxiety at the cold, raw, November weather that began Wednesday last week was well-founded, although our fears were not borne out on our trip up yesterday. We were glad to be making a weekend of it, because in the afternoon yesterday the weather became un-flyable as predicted, and a man on our flight, bound for Friday Harbor--for a two-hour boat repair job for a client--was told he should either postpone his trip, or plan to stay the night. He chose to fly and stay the night, and this morning's flight back to the city must've been gorgeous. Things look okay for tomorrow afternoon's return, so we're hopeful that we'll be laughing until we cry by 8:00pm tomorrow night. 

We rented a car--the only chance we expect to have to do so here--and at least three friends offered us loaner cars when they saw our ride (not that it was bad, just that we were paying for it). But it was a diverting experience akin to Kenmore Air (where you show up 20 minutes before take-off, and carry your water and pocket knives onto the plane), because the car was left at the West Sound Marina, with the key on the driver's seat and my name on a Post-It on the window of the unlocked driver's door. Our contract was inside, with a request to sign it, and to fill the car in Eastsound (the only option on the island--the car took just over 1 gallon today, and we won't use all of that before tomorrow afternoon) before leaving it back at the marina. There were also two bottles of water, and two granola bars.  

We're staying at the Blue Heron, although as family this time, not as guests, and so we've been taking care of the fire in the fireplace insert, and we took the dog for a walk, and this morning we shared breakfast with a 95-year-old West Sound Resident who was avid to visit our house (there were two houses here with towers when she first moved to the community 61 years ago, and she kept saying "This is just great!" over and over during her tour of our home), then we gave someone else a tour, then we had a delicious lunch at Roses and a conversation with the owner (another West Sound resident), and then we checked our PO box, and then we visited the shop where I bought Ian's birthday ax and shared stories with the proprietor, and then we spent several minutes with an apple enthusiast who was selling his wares on a street in Eastsound ("And this one I found growing wild on the side of the road by the place with the gypsy caravan and I took a cutting and grafted it on"--a similar story was told of at least six of the dozen types he had in boxes, and "Oh, you don't need more than five apple trees, and you just graft 20 different varieties on!"), and then several more minutes buying yarn and chatting with a woman who lives on the road to the ferry, and who is on the way to being a friend as well. In all, we made our community rounds, delighted, and awed, that this is where we get to be. 

New pictures are posted!

21 November 2014

What I Learned from Gamma This Time

I've been bogged down in my writing for three weeks now, first by the aftermath of the procedure itself--it's always a more fun time during the procedure, I ruefully remember as the drugs wear off; and then by my inability to tell any of the things that happened that were so clear and poignant to me, but would've sounded like voodoo, or outright cuckoo, to some of you. My birthday post, which I felt was funny enough, in a deep indigo way, elicited, aside from two brave souls, crickets by way of response. I felt comforted by the image, of being protected in my life by my death. But perhaps that wasn't true of everyone.

I'm a storyteller, and I've been having problems writing the specifics about how I believed your visualization was assisting me in this latest journey through the Western Medical Industrial Complex. I was trying to use colorful language to dress up what were, at the root of it, just boring facts. This happened, and then this happened, and then this. Or just boring complete fabrications, depending on your views of the world and how it works.

The point is that the meaning, in this case, wasn't in the journey, but, instead, was in the destination. The point--and the meaning--is that you all helped me make a choice to live my life by a new set of standards, and in a new framework. Your friendship, and your willing responses to my request, and your faith in me--that gave me the courage to change my mind about how my world works.

I can't think of a better gift. 

Thank you.

10 November 2014

The Question to the Answer

(in wistful response to Douglas Adams, whom we lost too soon*)

On November 9th, 1972, at 4:10 PM Pacific Standard Time, in a delivery room at Group Health Hospital in Seattle, Washington, USA, a Death was born. There was nothing remarkable about this particular Death except to me: It was my Death.

I arrived slimy and huge and "uglier than hell," according to my dad.

"No! You were perfect! All ten fingers and all ten toes and MINE!" my mother would retort.

What no one ever noticed, in the joy of a first baby, was that as surely as the infant me coalesced into humanness, I arrived shrouded in my newly minted Death.

We all do--that is the way with mortality. At each Birth, a Death is born. And yet for most of us, we try to ignore that basic human fact. I, too, have pushed my Death aside; at least once quite literally, or so it seemed. But whether I've been feeling well or ill, for the last 15 years I've been haunted by thoughts of my Death.

I'm a Scorpio, and that's supposed to be our thing, and while my Death was born on November 9th, so was I, and this year my birthday fell at a time when Pluto and Mars and a full moon (death/rebirth, vigor/strength, and a spotlight on your soul) all came together, enhanced by the strongest sun spots in 25 years, and some conjunctions particular to my own birth chart.

Coupled with Amelia to open my mind, this was a potent energetic marinade. Two nights before my birthday, nonagenarian Spackle and I were out walking and I realized that the gift he will be leaving for Ian and me is that of our biggest loss. When he goes, we will be heartbroken. Without knowing Loss, you cannot know Life, Spackle seemed to say to me as I wept preemptively, following behind him as he limped around the perimeter of the dark lawn in front of our beach shack. He sniffed and sniffed, fully invested in his olfactory observations.

"Pluto Pup," I sniffled at Spackle as we went back inside to continue our fireside meditations.

When will I figure out how to get rid of this fear of dying? I thought despairingly. It's frustrating, draining, exhausting, boring even, to still be fearful, having learned from long experience that it does no good at all. None.

As I sat and watched the fire, willing it to burn the chaff out of my soul, I thought about being born, and how that event started the countdown to Death. I thought about the shroud we put around bodies for burial, an ancient tradition meant to cloak and protect the departed in the afterlife. I began to realize that the shroud of Death that we are born with is the opposite: its purpose is to protect the soul  and the spirit in Life.

Because the thing about your Death is this: it's yours, and yours alone. No one can take it from you. You won't die anyone else's death. The time of your end may or may not be preordained; you may or may not control it. Most people don't, but everyone has that option. Regardless, it's going to come when it's going to come. But here is the other thing: in the meantime, Death knows that your time here is limited, and Death wants you to revel in it! To feel--cleanly and without regret or fear or judgment--the exquisite range of human emotions.

When will I figure out how to get rid of this fear of dying? When will I truly Live?


Yes, of course, this dog grave for Pluto, Friend to the Whole World, is just across the drive from the little cabin in which I mulled the Question to the Answer of the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. 

*although, at his right time.

07 November 2014

More Pictures up Today

Delightful day, including lunch with a Seattle friend, and then a two-hour animated conversation with someone I'd only met over the internet dealing with permitting, and an island-made ice cream sandwich: chocolate cookie and salted caramel ice cream. Utterly delicious! Next time I'm getting peanut butter cookie and blackberry ice cream. Enjoy the shots!

06 November 2014

Latest Pictures from a Blustery November Day

So you can't really tell from the photos that the wind is whipping through here right now, but it is. And from where I'm sitting in the Dacha, it's quite noisy, with the corrugated plastic over the "kitchen" rattling and whistling like a flock of Banshees. Pretty exhilarating!

I've posted some more pictures, mostly of improbable framing (whoa! The Dacha just shuddered with that last gust!). I don't know if you've noticed, but I do caption a lot of these photos so you'll know what you're looking at, or which direction, or something like that.

Enjoy! It's quite the amazing thing!

01 November 2014

Latest Pictures: Complicated Roof!

Looking up in my tower office. That is one carefully constructed starburst!

All this beauty captured last week in an overnight, 24-hour trip. It's kind of unreal. Nope, it's VERY unreal :-).

As usual, the new pics are posted at the beginning of this album.