Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This One's For Syd

This entry is for my friend Syd in her recent post she mentioned making a list of traits she was looking for in a partner but wasn't sure she was ready to do it. Above is just such a list, made by me in 2001. I don't know how or why love works but somehow writing these words on those bits of paper so long ago helped me to get clear about what I had been lacking and what I wanted in a partner. Mark is all these things and more, he's a perfect fit for me and I think I am a pretty good match for him. I used to think I had conjured Mark up, created him from wishes. I see now that getting what we need is possible in all aspects of our lives. We can choose what we want and we can make it happen but the first step is being able to visualize it in concrete terms. Make the list Syd, take the first step. A good relationship of your own creation is just down the road.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Walk of Life

It's hard for me not to sing the Dire Straits song "Walk of Life", I am not even sure what that song is about, baseball maybe but I like the refrain, "Do the walk of life". It's up beat and it describes well how I felt when I set out last Saturday. It was a perfect morning, the air was cool when I left at 5:30am, walking up out of my place to the road, the first of many roads I would encounter over the next five and a half hours. The sky was blue and clear and there was a single jet trail heading south above me, the vapor trail fanning out, dispersing into the atmosphere. I consciously slowed my speed from my normal get it done pace. I wanted to savor every step of this walk.

After an hour I arrived in my little town of Everson. It takes me about 7 minutes to drive this distance and it was hard not to see the obvious absurdity of this rather slow mode of transportation but after a short break I soldiered on. My route took me over the Nooksack River and along a sadly short section of the Bay to Baker Trail next to the Mission Rd between Everson and Strandell. I encountered an abandoned mountain bike which got me thinking about the events leading up to it's being left on it's side. I thouhgt maybe someone was in the bushes, perhaps living or merely relieving themselves, but there was no one to be seen and I put it down to mischief. I saw several shoelaces in the road posing as snakes, I saw no snakes. Another hour passed and I really had to pee. This is the worst part of walking the roads, there are no shops to go into and not enough woods either. I noted an abandoned house with overgrown shrubs and positioned myself for a quick whiz. I laughed about it for the next half an hour. I stopped in at a friends house and had a proper clean up, added to my water supply, took a tylenol and carried on. I had been walking for 2 and half hours at this point and it felt strange to be suddenly inside talking to people, my eyes had a hard time adjusting to the small space. On I went along the Central Road up a big hill, I passed a woman running, many cows and a grounded electric fence that snapped at me as I walked along it. I spotted a port-a-potty and made a mental note of it for the future. I bet it was grim inside, port-a-potties always are. I went west for awhile and then turned south again on the Noon Road. I passed the farm where my horse was born. The sun was shining on my left side, I turned my cap a little to shade my cheek. I passed a flat piece of leather with paws, once a possum. Small creatures scampered in the tall grass and I thought about being careful not to stumble into the deep ditches that line the roads. At the corner of Hemmi and Noon I emailed Mark. My left hip was starting to hurt. I kept going, it was about 9, but felt like noon. MT Baker and the Sisters followed me along, shining spectacularly in the sun.

I dropped down into a great curve on the Noon Rd, past a golf course and sat down in a little driveway to doctor my right index toe that seemed to have grown an inch in my runner. I drank more water and thought about taking notes but didn't. I pulled out one of my hard boiled eggs and got back to walking, peeling it as I went. A few cars passed by, but not many. I worried a little about being vulnerable but thought I could easily dissapear into the woods at the edge of the road if I heard one of these cars slow and then come back to trouble me. I had my rape whistle and my pepper spray. By the time I got to the Smith Road I realized my hip was really hurting too much and I felt unsure of the route I could take to get to Pearl's dads house. I emailed Mark again and suggested he look for me on the MT Baker HWY. I was 2 miles away and 4 hours into the walk.

I made it to the Highway and a little beyond before Mark caught up to me in the big red car. I hadn't anticipated how hard it would be to walk the last few miles on the edge of the highway. The shoulder is narrow and I tried to make my self small, keeping my elbows in and my head down. It was nerve wracking as I felt pretty wobbly after 5 hours of moving I focused on not stumbling.

I didn't make it to the Boundary Bay Brewery for a beer as originally envisioned. But, as Mark pointed out it was only 11am. We picked up Pearl and went and sat downtown, had a coffee and watched the world pass by. It felt good to sit still and collect my thoughts about what I had just accomplished.

There was a point during the walk where I just felt I could go on forever, step after step. Take one and then take one more and who knows where you might end up. We figured I had walked almost 18 miles which I felt quite pleased by.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Not Quite the Wandering Jew

Tomorrow is the big day. I am making my epic trek to Bellingham from my place in Everson. It's 20 miles so I am not quite the wandering Jew, my trek will end, hopefully at my desired destination and not a moment sooner. Why I am doing it? Good question. Because I can I suppose. Because I want to feel what it feels like to walk 20 miles. How long will it take? 7 hours maybe. I am leaving early. What do I hope to gain from it? I am not sure, we'll see I guess. I think the answer will be revealed to me as I walk, and I will report it back to you when I get home. What am I taking with me? Tylenol, water, Gatorade, nuts, raisins, salmon sandwiches and moleskin. People walk long distances for many reasons, survival, redemption, punishment. Earlier this year I was not in a good place and when I had begun to feel better this notion of walking the 20 miles to town struck me as a goal that might keep me on track for awhile, and it has. So off I will go to join the legions of long distance walkers, moving slowly across the landscape, feeling time and distance brush past me. Maybe it's the last symbolic act of shedding my past and walking into my future. See you on the flipside.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Heart the Interweb

So I am sitting here this morning in my office in Podunk Washington, the dog asleep on the couch. It's rainy, it's grey. I am designing some 4th O'July ads for the Bellingham Farmers Market that are due today. I like to leave things until the last moment. It heightens the excitement level in my life. In between designing the ads I am reading an interview by my friend Maria McLeod with Poet Lucia Parillo and I am struck by it. I stop and draft a quick poem to be refined later for a little series I am working on which I hope will mark the final chapter in a rather confounding period in my development. I go back to the ads and notice that an email has come in from Etsy. It is from a writer inquiring about one of my wrapping paper images. He is writing a Design reference book for Rockport publishers who I am coincidentally designing a book for at the moment. I call him up, we have a nice chat about letterpress, not being a designer he has just discovered it and all it's wonders. I hang up the phone and send off the ads and just feel really good about the world and how connected we all are.

The image for today is of a map of the US, maybe a nice embroidered one on a souvenir scarf and there are red ex's on Everson, Phoenix, Olympia, Sedro Woolley and Boston with red embroidered lines connecting them all. (Happy sigh).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Work Flow

Things are not moving as fast as they might here in the office now that school is out. I refuse to dump Pearl into daycamp, instead choosing to keep her home and share these nice slow summer days with her. My productivity slumps and I have to work like hell at the end of the week to catch up, but so be it. I did design this little poster in a hurry on Monday, the book I am working on is half done and will get sent off today, and I will finish the book cover comps I started on Monday with the help of my lovely neighbor Emily. She has graciously lent me all her blue ribbons to photograph for the background. Now if I could just get my website redesigned.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Random Access Memory

I am experiencing a wave of memory lately. I have been taking some longish walks in preparation for my big 20 mile walk to town. I walked for over 2 hours the other day and my mind really wanders in the process. I may have been approaching a hypoglycemic state but being a dedicated seeker of excitement I went with it. I had been walking for about an hour and forty five minutes, I was getting sweaty. I ran my hand into my t-shirt along my breast bone and I could feel the sweat. Suddenly, it was the early to mid-late-80s and I was back in LA in the basement of the Park Plaza Hotel at the MacArthur Park YMCA. I swam there with the old men from the neighborhood who never really seemed to get used to seeing a young, pale co-ed like myself in the pool. I also worked out there with a friend and looking back, I don't entirely remember the details of how this all transpired, but my friend Rebecca and I hooked up with a big black guy named Buddy who, offered to work us out. He was big enough that he could lift me up, his hands on my waist, to the chin-up bar where I would hang on, squirm a bit, pull myself up once and drop to the floor. My arms were always my weakest body part, pathetic for my size. Now in hindsight, who knows what weird fantasy we were fulfilling for this probable ex-con, 2 luscious redheads, but at the time it seemed innocent enough. He had a little routine he would run us through and when we would begin to sweat he would push us harder and proclaim " I see the holy water coming, there it is, the holy water". We began to refer to these work out sessions as "Buddy's Body Church". Time and memory are compressed and I have no idea how many of these sessions we actually had, but as this is my blog specifics need not enter into it. It was summer and we were under employed. My father was supporting me, I am not sure how Rebecca paid the rent on her small bungalow. When Buddy was nowhere to be found we would wander down 6th street in the relentless LA sun to Al's Diner at Rampart and eat a big breakfast, the obvious alternative to exercise. I think Buddy just dissappeared from the brethren of the Y and we got on with our studies when fall came.

I haven't thought about the past much for various reasons, too many other things on my mind, but walking around on these long pre-soltice evenings seems to open all these old pathways. I can see 6th street early in the morning as I walk past the tiny Guatamalan woman with her fleet of tiny children in tow, collecting cardboard, packing it on her back. Past Lim's Chinese Restaurant with it's grimy decor, I wonder where his small boys are now, 20 plus years later. Past the dank liquor store where I discovered the true difference between Sprite and 7-Up. Past long-armed Frankie, the ex-jockey who ran the parking lot behind the Park Plaza and gave us free Lucky Stikes to smoke and oaid for our specials at Lim's. This was my life. Car alarms going constantly and the whole scene sunbleached and barren, wide open as my future was in those days.

Walking these long north west county roads under the bright high overcast of June, my blood sugar lagging, I have been feeling that same open expanse of possibilty.

Charm and Good Looks

We wake Eddy up early on Fridays. He goes out on a bus to an adult daycare place where he mixes with other old codgers, he gets a bath while he is there too. Often when we wake him up he is a bit confused and often thinks he is dreaming. Today he said he was just lying there and while he was willing to accept where he was he had no recollection of what he had done to get here. I told him he had done it based on charm and good looks. He said he was willing to accept that too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

This Week In Design

Meant to post this poster last week but I was preoccupied with designing the matching newspaper insert and various other things. (Basically I am really grateful to have lots of work at the moment.) This piece was inspired by the Hatch Show Print exhibit and Sustainable Connections' Michelle Grandy. I saw the show a little bit ago in Seattle, all that "Live in Person" stuff really got to me. I had the big lino cut sun in my arsenal of images and added to it a bit. For some reason the original cut did not have a perfect circle at the center, what was I thinking. I was happy to get out my ancient compass, draw the circle and re-cut the little dahling. I like cutting lino blocks, it enables me to be super obsessive which I kind of dig. I go at it so hard sometimes it makes my hands ache. The concept for the poster was Michelle's idea, the Ring the Bell game one might find on a Fair midway. I have been a long time fan of anything remotely circus inspired. I always love Michelle's ideas, she has good eye and we work well together. I devised the copy to fit the concept. Devised the copy, I hesitate to say wrote. I often write a little headline for these pieces based on the direction I get, it all comes together seemingly out of the ether. I proofed the elements on the press and then scanned them. Am pretty pleased with the results.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ready for Summer

Summer officially kicks off for us on Saturday. In honor of the fine weather we have been having I have decorated the covered patio. This sheltered area becomes an extension to our otherwise minimal house. We cook, eat, read, work and play outside when the weather is fine. Nothing says summer to me more than a permanent party atmosphere so I feel strongly it is good to keep the fridge stocked with drinks and ice cubes and the patio decorated in a festive manner. This year I am using the decorations leftover from our wedding 5 years ago. Time flies when you're having fun but I hope the summer moves slowly. Anyone for a Mojito?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Big Baby

Yesterday Pearl had her 5th grade Moving On Ceremony. It was really touching. We are lucky to have been with such a nice group of kids. Today was my last school drop-off of the year and the last one at this school. Pearl wrote thank-you notes to all her teachers and some of the school staff and we went in a bit early and handed them out. I found myself getting emotional as she handed her letter off to her 2nd grade teacher, I had felt relieved when her kindergarten teacher was not in her classroom. That one we left on the desk. We made our way down the hall to the library and then onto her 4th grade classrooms. When we got into her classroom after giving a letter to her art teacher who we encountered in the hallway (a woman who has done an exceptional job and has been let go due to budget cuts), I found I could barely watch as Pearl's 5th grade teacher read the letter and gave her a little hug. I was tearing up, I had been since the second grade class. I really wanted to hug that woman but I did not want to get all emotional and messy so I fled. I fled past the receptionists who have met us every morning with warm enthusiastic smiles and drove home. I cried all the way. I am going to miss them and this part of Pearl's childhood.

Monday, June 8, 2009


It was a weird Monday today, everyone said so. I had a hard time focusing but found a little inspiration in nature. Walking the 150 feet between the house and my office I was aware of a vast humming. Deep within my kiwi vines were a zillion bees hard at work pollinating. I was reminded to stick to the task in front of me, and I did and I got quite a bit done.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Small Moments

Pearl is about to finish elementary school. Imagine many platitudes here about how fast it has gone, how startling it is to wake up and realize this tiny baby I brought home is now about to enter middle school. 6 years has seemingly dissolved into the past and here we are about to pass a major educational milestone.

When we were first entering the process of adopting I let go of any expectations that I had about how things would be, honestly it was the path of least resistance. I didn't want to deal with any dissapointments so I just opened up and let things happen. When Becky chose us to parent Pearl it was her doing not mine. I held out my arms and received this little bundle, took her home and got down to taking care of her. Without the encumbrance of genetic attachment I was free to watch Pearl emerge from babyhood into toddlerdom and onto childhood. Because she was not biologically mine I never looked at her and thought oh look she likes that because I liked that. She was herself and my job was to watch and see who she was and help her do a good job at being that person. She is an amazing person all on her own.

As she is entering middle school the kids have to choose an elective, Art, Band or Choir. Pearl has been in the 5th grade band and was taking piano lessons. She showed natural ability with both so when it came time to choose an elective and she chose Art I was a bit stunned. I thought perhaps she was doing it to placate her dad or me, not sure there. I suddenly felt strongly that I had to intervene. God no I thought not art, don't choose art. Art is hell. I know. When I look at my graduating class from design school, the practical approach to art, very few of my classmates even work in their field. Pearl's dad who is a talented artist by most accounts and has acheived some aclaim over the years struggles to this day with his career. Very few people have the chutspa to acheive anything in the world of art. Pearl dabbles with art but she shines where music is concerned. I explained all this to her dad, saying that we should keep her in band and teach her about art on the side, we have about a dozen combined years of art education under our belts and decades of experience between us, I think we could muster up a few lessons, perhaps get her painting some nice watercolor still lives. I have no musical ability, Pearl's dad has some but we have no formal training. Pearl is a natural performer, she can read music already, sings non-stop, and has the most beautiful long fingers with which to play whichever instrument she chooses. We filled out the form, Band as the first choice, Art second.

Then came the Middle School band concert awards night. Pearl has been playing with about 10 other kids in the 5th grade band. They have performed a few times and while they have their moments it often sounds like cats being stepped on. Well you can imagine my pleasure when I heard what an 8th grade band sounds like. The 7th graders performed Lonely Bull and even the 6th graders got jiggy with their pieces, coming on stage in dark glasses playing something that sounded like a kookoo clock gone wild. It was wonderful. In between the groups, members of the High School Band made impassioned pleas to the middle schoolers to stay in band as the High School needs them, I am sure many of them will. When it was the 5th graders turn they did well and at the end the whole group, about 80 kids in total were on stage playing 'Cardiff Castle". Pearl was up front and I could see her spring to attention as they played the piece, it was powerfull, all those musicians playing together and at the end and it screeched to a finish, Pearl looked at me and said that was so cool! She remarked that she had never played it so fast but that she had hit all the notes, the power of the group had pushed her along it seemed.

Today we went to replace her rental flute with a newer one and I asked her again how the performance experience had been. She raised her arms up and said she could feel the music inside her as they all played, coming up through her. I felt delighted for her. She is now looking forward to fall and to band and having that feeling again. When we got home she actually spontaneously practiced her flute for awhile.

I wish I had been more of a group participater as a youth and that my parents had maybe helped guide me a bit more, I might have ended up a chemist, who knows. I often feel very much at odds with the whole group thing, art is perfect for me, I don't fear being alone. Pearl on the other hand is enormously social and as a single child (for almost 11 years) she will benefit from working in a group. Plus when you are in a band you automatically belong, how great is that? I am really proud of her and so glad I get to be her mom. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for her.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Walking It Out

When I emerged from my depression earlier this spring I suddenly became interested in doing things again, making lists and setting goals. So far I have followed through on many things, I have made a skirt, a painting, just last night I cut out a linen dress I am going to make, hopefully later this week.

My biggest goal for the summer is to walk the 20 miles from my home in Everson to Bellingham. I have been reading this book called "The Lost Art of Walking" since the winter and it has captured my imagination. Throughout history people have walked for all kinds of reasons, from survival to spiritual discovery and often the two are closely related. People walked for sport and reward, for art and for salvation. I walk primarily to keep my body in shape, as a cure for the enormous amount of sitting I do in front of the computer. In addition to the positive effect the walking has on my keeping my ass from getting totally out of control it has an amazing effect on my soul. For me walking is a form of meditation a way to clear my head, release a few endorphins, connect with nature, watch the changing of the seasons on my stretch of road. In many ways the simple act of walking keeps me anchored to the earth, an active reminder that I am here, grounded.

Sometime around the summer solstice I will rise early and begin the trek to Bellingham. I am not sure of the route I will take, I am interested in the old railroad grade as it appears to be the most direct route to town but I am not sure how clear the right of way is. In the next few weeks I will be increasing my daily walks, building up the length and distance of my daily excursions. I walked about 8 miles a few weeks back and it took around 2 hours, hopefully I can cover the 20 mile distance in about 5-6 hours. My goal is not speed, just distance.

I heard a story once that our homo sapien bodies are designed to walk long distances, 20 miles or so per day. We were once hunter-gatherers covering great distances to find food to sustain ourselves. Obviously these days the distances we have to travel for survival have become truncated and softened. The distance from my couch to my fridge for example is not a rigorous journey and with not much effort I can get in the car and drive to the store for more sustenance if need be. It was this germ of information that first inspired me to take this journey and Jeffrey Nicholson's book sort of sealed the deal.

Some people walk to cure cancer, some have walked because god condemned them to travel the earth for all eternity. I am walking because I can and in a way I am celebrating the fact that I want to, I have no expectation of the journey I am just glad to be on it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Araya, Becky and Pearl

Just back from our trip to Eugene to visit Pearl's new baby birth-sister. It was good to see Becky in her now role as active momma. She is a bit nervous but totally doting and attentive to her little bundle. The baby is sweet and content to sleep under many watchful eyes. On Sunday after a busy family dinner Mark sat for about an hour just stroking the little angel and she seemed to enjoy the constant attention, cooing in her sleep and making little faces. It was a quick trip, a whirlwind really and we were back on the road in 24 hrs heading north again, hurtling home. Somewhere south of Seattle Pearl had a little meltdown as she often does after these visits. How strange it must be to visit this perfectly good home and family who clearly cherishes you only to leave them over and over again. I can't fix how she feels I just have to let her know that the sadness she feels in the transition between homes is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. I try not to over talk the experience, I don't want to minimize or maximize her experience. I do want to know the specifics of it, but for that I will have to wait until she is a bit older and has more perspective on her reality. When we got back home Pearl seemed more herself and while we waited for Mark to set up the TV to watch the video of the experience we had just had Pearl played in her room. I went in at one point and she was playing with her Polly Pockets dolls, she said Jasmine, (a mini Bratz doll) is trying to move in with the Polly Pockets and they are not being very nice to her. I kept moving and when it was time to watch the video she came out and said that everyone was all moved in and they were all getting along just fine. We snuggled on the couch to watch the video, me on her right, Mark on her left and when it was time for bed she said how good it felt to be back home in her own bed.
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