Thursday, May 7, 2015

Un Poco Triste

Sweet daughters in the park below their former home
This past weekend my Sweet Daughters and I spent our final day all together before the move to Mexico: tasty breakfast at a boutique bakery, round of miniature golf in the spring sunshine, improv comedy matinee show, ice cream cones, and, finally, a visit to the funky school-turned-art studio where Daughter 1 grew up and Daughter 2 was born--a place where our three lives were intimately connected for a decade.

It was a fun day except for the ending which left us feeling a little sad--this place of many memories is now overgrown or being slowly torn asunder.

Heavy equipment is digging through the overgrown garden;
piles of building materials are stacked and strewn around the
property. Some murals we don't remember remain below the
roof, on which pyramids once lit up to represent the Pleiades.
After nearly 30 years of sheltering poor people with artistic intentions, its residents have been evicted, the site has been reclaimed by the school district and is currently surrounded by a nearly quarter-mile long, chainlink rent-a-fence enclosing a deserted-looking worksite, completion date unknown.

It was a place of comfortable gardens, idiosyncratic rooms and installation-art hallways, huge stone busts of obscure scientists and poets, a heritage apple orchard, vast graffiti murals and bumpy relationships. Now, the colorful rooms are no longer visible. A wall of gray concrete blocks has replaced the generous many-paned windows of this early Baby Boom building.

"Non-significance" of existing use as
an art studio is the school district's
justification for its costly plan to turn
the building into a temporary school.
We walked along the perimeter looking, futilely, for a way past the high fence so we could explore and identify some remains. We read the Land Use billboard and Daughter 1 scoffed at the School District's justification for its takeover--"non-significance" of its previous use as art studios. Her attitude had been hardened by an us-versus-them struggle during our long tenancy.

For Daughter 2, this was not only the place where she was raised from infancy into childhood; it was also the site of her mom's workshop for nearly 20 years.

For me, this was where I acted--half the time or more--as their single parent. Il Teatro Pescatore was born here, and I'm equally as happy with the shipping crate bamboo cottage I built for my daughters, the flat rooftop sculpture that lit up every night to represent a cluster of stars, and the annual Halloween Haunted Hallway where we each posed, for the neighborhood, as staff member of a scarily demented school. All gone.

Part of all that has already been told, here or here, or is a longer story for another time, if at all. The memories will conflate and fade as we grow older, but the old school was a special place for the three of us, and many others.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Slender Foot

A Packing Stress-induced hallucination:

I look past our bed to the luggage and mostly clothes--all in an organized heap next to the wall, under the window, just now.

The corner of a bedsheet falls in a soft fold over the carpet. For an instant I mistake this shape for my wife's slender foot.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Overheard today on the sidewalk just past Main in our little town. They were two women of a certain age, one walking an old beagle.

     Beagle Woman: ...past tense--

     Other: You mean he's dead?

     BW: Blew his brains out.

Now that's something you want to distance yourself from.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tulip Magic Land

On the way down Dayton Street to the shore this afternoon, I stopped to take a picture of this tulip. A little further on, seeing it was low low tide, I went for a walk and run along the beach

A gray blustery day, the current strong with whitecaps out in the channel.

Playing Stick and Rock as usual.

According to my nature-loving spouse, looking into a tulip is like looking into a magic land.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Red Cod Island Village

Approaching the shore of this little
island, you could still see a pathway
created by removing rocks to allow the
large canoes to be more easily beached.
About forty years ago I was fortunate to be working for the U.S. Forest Service with an accomplished and adventurous kayaker. He invited me along on a trip in his two-man folding kayak to Canada's Queen Charlotte Islands, ancestral home of the Haida people.

The cutout at the top of the pole would
have held a grave box full of bones of a
deceased leader of this clan. The front
pole appears to be Raven, the back one--
They're the ones who lived in longhouses
fronted by these awesome totem poles, and who traveled across hundreds of miles of open water in thirty-foot long cedar canoes on slave raids.

Their abandoned villages are now a World Heritage Site, with no camping, visits limited to reservations, and then only if you have a native guide. Back in our day, however, all it took was the money to hire a float plane to drop us off fifty miles by sea from the nearest small town.

Possibly a wolf crest being aggressively colonized
by local salal. The area around the poles has been
cleared since we were there, but they are still
exposed to weather. Red Cedar is naturally rot
resistant, but its man-made aspects are slowly
 succumbing to nature.

Randy and I spent most of a week, just the two of us, camping on the beach at this site whose Haida name means "Red Cod Island Village". We knew it as Ninstints, the Anglicized name of its last powerful chief.

By 1880 the incidence of smallpox deaths had become so great that the village was abandoned.

I recently found these pictures in a box of memorabilia I was organizing. I took a digital photo of each picture and processed them in Adobe Lightroom using a preset I had created for its dramatic qualities.