4.22.20 Towards the Earth
#EarthDay #memoriesat60 #gratitude
Today, thinking about the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, I remembered that I had copies of "Earthwards" somewhere and... I found them.
Steve and I embraced the environmentally conscious culture in Portland when we moved there, with our one year old son, in 1990 ... the curbside recycling of practically everything, the numerous environmental nonprofits and opportunities to celebrate the diverse regional ecosystems, the gorgeous mountains and waterways and ocean. When Earth Mercantile, which carried the broadest selected of cruelty-free, minimally-packaged, enviro-friendly products and resources in the area, opened within biking distance of our home, I proposed a barter with the owner. In exchange for store products, which I would not have been able to otherwise afford, I would start, edit and illustrate a newspaper that would create a platform for the mission and message of Portland's environmental organizations and events, action alerts, ballot measure details, and best use practices for things such as vermiculture, alternative energy, low V.O.C paints, water conservation and various products in the store. Interviewing folks and reading the submissions of local leaders was endlessly fascinating and a source for much hope.
Almost thirty years later (it is hard to believe it has been this long!), I have to admit that much of the information shared in the issues of "Earthwards" has yet to be implemented on a large enough scale to make the level of difference we imagined at that time, but ... those efforts continue to grow and build and, today particularly, is a time to celebrate the increasing elevation mindfulness and consciousness of all those who are grateful for and cherish our beautiful and bountiful Earth.
#memoriesat60 #missingcommunity #gratitude
One of my first friends, when my family moved to Hudson, Ohio in 1972, was Terry McNally. We pulled together our coins and purchased Record books in which we planned to record our twelve year old wisdom. It was my first journal and lasted through high school. Looking through it now, I see little in the way of original life hacks, but I do see I was heavily influenced by Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I included parenting advice for my future mothering (probably after a disagreement with my own mother), some of my melancholic teenage poetry, a list of boyfriends (real and desired), bullet-pointed memories (many of them encrypted in case my mother read my journal), and, the source of sweet flashbacks this cold, snowy Covid day - favorite songs and concerts I attended.
Northeast Ohio was blessed with Blossom Music Center (affordable tickets for enjoying performances under the stars), nearby Kent State, many other venues and was a destination for top bands. I could only get to a handful and remember almost losing my breath in the crush at the Coliseum during my unsuccessful effort to get tickets for, was it?, Led Zeppelin.
Most of my babysitting and other odd job money went to those concert tickets. Or... we created our own concert experiences by driving out across a hilly field to The Tree, hidden from the nearest road and passing cops, where we would share whatever alcohol we scavenged and turn up the radios on each of our cars. This was the location of many of the encrypted memories in my journal mentioned above. I remember a particularly loud playing of and singing to "Magic Man"...
I was at a loss to explain to my father the build up of mud and grass under the bumper of our low-slung Pacer after one of these nights, but I had heard of many of his own small-town high school exploits, so perhaps he figured he owed me a pass.
[Yes, even though I am right-handed, I went through a few years of experimental penmanship, depending on my mood... vertical, leftward leaning...!]
#memoriesat60 #missingcommunity #gratitude
With spring snow falling, I am drawn to the color and silliness in this collection of photos... We had this open, rambling house. We enjoyed cooking for others. Our daughter had an extensive dress up trunk. I had a collection of rhythm instruments... With my father's legendary hospitality as an example, we invited performance groups who had an extended stay in Billings over for a meal and some relaxing, fun time away from hotels. Thank you to Corby Skinner and the Alberta Bair Theater for these memories!
1998 WOFA from Guinea... My French was minimal, theirs was colloquial. Even body language was uncommon, but my research into Guinean foods paid off. At least the peanut soup and anything oval, such as almonds and the last minute hard boiled eggs, were a huge hit?!. The guys drummed. The women took turns dancing, lifting up their t-shirts and lapas. My young children were big-eyed and had interesting questions for us for days. One of the wonderful side-benefits of hosting such gatherings.
1998 Le Ballet Jazz de Montreal... Christene Meyers played piano for a karaoke of musicals.
2000 Diavolo from Los Angeles... I loved that the women placed Emma on our ottoman and danced around her.
2000 UMO Ensemble from Vashon Island... extra points for creative costuming
2000 Montreal Danse and the Drum Brothers - think hot tub and uninhibited Quebecois!
2001 DynamO Theater from Montreal. Their performance was called Mur-Mur (The Wall) and their athleticism was remarkable on the stage, in our pool and on our son's climbing wall.
2002 Toronto Dance Theater - kilt dancing?
2003 The Puentes Brothers from Cuba- such beautiful, seductive voices
And I know we had a flamenco troupe over, which were, surprisingly, less wild. There are so many more photos, but I wanted to protect the not-so-innocent
#memoriesat60 #missingcommunity #missingmountains #gratitude
Three years after leaving Portland and my women's circle, which met very two weeks to study, explore, celebrate and support each other, four of us gave ourselves four glorious days of reconnection along 40 miles of the wild and scenic Rogue River in Southern Oregon - an area only accessible by foot or boat and winding towards the Pacific.
The trail took us through sun drenched hillsides, curved into valleys trickling with springs and feathered with huge ferns, opened up to hot rocky faces, wove to and from the river banks and surprised us at just the right moments with cool pools or refreshing cascades where we could strip down and refresh our feet and sweaty bodies. The abundance of flora and fauna delighted us... the sublime Pacific mandrones exfoliating their outer skins in layers of shimmering smoked salmon and fresh pistachio, osprey, sugar pine, Douglas fir, king snakes, western fence lizards, salamanders, a black bear, deer, star thistle, buckwheat, scotch broom, manzanita, blackberry, bead lily, and poison oak, which we successfully avoided.
We met few other hikers and and reveled in the beauty and isolation that gifted us with time to delve more deeply into each others lives, as mothers of young children and adventurous women. I was so very grateful for my good boots, my comfortable pack, my strong legs and this time to nurture my soul in nature and the beautiful community of these friends.
The summer of 1983, after busting my brain at the University of Houston to graduate with one last semester, 21 credits and two senior theses, I was so thankful for the opportunity to go up to Longswamp, PA (one of those crossroad towns in the hills outside of Allentown) to help the family of Steve’s high school friend Tony renovate a 1700s house into a B&B. The rhythm of sanding, nailing, and painting allowed by brain to decompress. Elsa would cook us amazing meals with ingredients previously unfamiliar to me – fiddlehead ferns, feta cheese, chervil, lemon balm... After dinner, we would often find ourselves sprawled on couches, wending our way through their extensive vinyl collection. Sarah Vaughan’s soul penetrating voice and her songs stayed with me as I worked and I began to yearn to hear her recordings each evening.
Back in Houston, that next winter, I was employed, had found a CD of Sarah’s “How Long Has This Been Going On?”, was listening to it in my car almost daily, had heard that she was going to play at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston and had discovered the Eastern Airlines middle-of-the-night freight flights that let folks fly very reasonably. Since this was near Steve’s 25th birthday, I connived with Tony to fly him down for the weekend as a surprise to celebrate him and hear Sarah live. I was transfixed by her performance, her range, how she modulated her voice.
This magic has never dulled, though at some point I gave the CD a break. Her songs are in several of my playlists. When I hear “I’ve Got the World on a String” or “How Long Has This Been Going On?”, my mood is instantly lifted. They are certainly among the songs I sing loudly in my car with lots of head dancing (you may have seen me?) and this recording is helping me get through the home stay version of a desert island.
#memoriesat60 #missingcommunity #gratitude
When I moved to Billings in 1993, I was 8 months pregnant, missing my women's circle in Portland and desperate to make some connections here before I became more home bound with an infant. I was so very lucky, in two ways.
We had found a last minute child care/preschool spot for our 4-year old son at the Montessori School. When I reached out to its directress Nancy Jo (what an amazing human), she suggested I call one of the other mothers, Carolyn Ostby, to whom I am forever grateful for the ensuing outpouring of woman spirit. Carolyn reached out to one of her friends, Robin Taylor, who immediately responded that their circle wanted to come to our home, with their daughters, to provide comfort, encouragement and to do a belly casting. As soon as they arrived, I was enfolded into their warmth and friendliness. My heart is still warmed as I remember the looks of awe on the faces of the daughters as they placed plaster wrappings around my belly. They created an altar with that cast - a permanent recording of my glorious roundness - with things they brought with them, with their well wishes and with the necklace that my Portland women's circle had started for me - a kind of rosary made of beads given to me by them and sent to me by far flung family and friends. I wore this during labor, fingering each bead and remembering their love and support and that of these new women and girls in my life.
In our tiny cul-de-sac, lived two good-hearted women, Mary McCarvel Helgeson and Shelley McBride. Mary put together a baby shower with some of the wives of my husband's coworkers - again, women I didn't know well, but who responded with a beautiful generosity of spirit. Mary and Shelley, not only had boys with which our son could play, but were the best kind of neighbors and with them, we created a sweet, if rambunctious, life together... welcoming our new daughter - the only girl among the, now seven, neighbor kids - sharing holidays, making up celebrations, watching out for each other and our families.
I treasure those unexpected and touching gifts of community, these lovely beginnings of my life here in Montana. And ... I look forward to the end of the Covid-19 crisis, when such gatherings can start up again.
A place to decant my brain, to capture inspiration and share fresh insights. [Posts from 2015 onward]