Plenty

Turns out this summer has been a full one for me and most I know. “Full of what?” brings answers of shifts in obstacles, fresh blooms on bedraggled hopes, and careful mental planting around inert objects of non-affection.

As there’s been a rather relentless amount of stagnation or limbo around, we’re all a bit giddy that good news is suddenly traveling on a two-way street.

Does that explain why I want to grab a megaphone, a pom pom, and a pair of shoulders on which to clamber? Maybe. All I know is that with people close to me in better shape, I’m ready to cheer long and loudly for those still in need of a little positive change.

…we can wait for elemental forces to erode, rearrange, cover, or oxidize what’s in our midst—or we can try to find ways to realign, etch, augment, or otherwise alter pieces of our lives…

(top to bottom: Basalt and river rocks mingle with lush lichen at Oregon’s Elowah Falls; 700-year-old lava stone terraces mark a fraction of Kauai’s verdant Limahuli Garden; time brings an Oregon pioneer’s remains closer to a forest-y friend; founded by a Hungarian count in 1857, California’s historic Buena Vista vineyard still maintains its old-world feel)

Peapod

It’s officially summertime in my part of the PNW, and moods seem to be lightening along with the sky. And luckily for me, that seems to be the case across time zones.

With people looking for excuses to play—guilty as charged!—I’m getting lots of opportunities to laugh and relax while catching up with friends and family. In-person gatherings tend to get the glory, sure, but really: whether the sharing happens face-to-face or via an ever-broadening variety of disembodied routes, it’s all good.

Because spending time with a no-explanation-needed someone feeds everything Dorothy and trio sought in the Emerald City, and costs nothing to boot.

For me, being in sync with one or more humans brings joy in sickness and in health. During the warmer months it tops wiggling my toes in warm grass, triumphs over racing into a cold blast of water, and leaves sampling ice cream or fizzy cocktails firmly in the dust.

The only downside is that it makes me long for more of the same. Can you blame me for being greedy?

…of course it expands one’s horizons to live/work/play with people who are on different wavelengths, but is there anything better than being around those with whom we feel at home?…

(top to bottom: Basking in togetherness on a California dock; a darkened corner of a furniture maker’s studio shelters resting clamps; a pair of wooden shoes await a rustic paradise; an Oregon artist’s work uses one or more eyes to catch the crowd’s attention; standing out from the crowd at an Oregon street festival)

Fantastical

For the last few weeks I may as well have been trying to ice skate in a roller rink.

Contemplating alternatives to my rather disturbing effort-to-momentum ratio led me to Edward de Bono, who says:

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all. 

Given my scoreboard, I’ve reluctantly and temporarily decided to agree with him.

Does that mean I’m giving up hope that he or someone else will find a statistically viable third option? Never. Because surely there’s a way for me to have ideas by the bushelful while being always, indisputably right.

…thankfully, others’ creativity—no matter how humble or grand the execution—provides us with something tangible to ponder, critique, bask in, challenge, or admire no matter the current status of our own imaginative powers…

(top to bottom: “Washed Ashore,” a sculpture series by lead artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi + volunteers, repurposes plastic items washed upon Oregon shores; Claude Cormier’s “Blue Tree” challenges observers’ views of the natural world; an urban artist’s viewpoint is far from fenced in; “Poet and Muse,” by Niki de Saint Phalle, welcomes visitors to Balboa Park’s Mingei International Museum; a garage wall makes a bold statement)

Numeration

Any time a natural disaster hits—and this year the Pacific Rim has been struck with a vengeance—heartbreaking, intimate stories of survivors fill the lives of those who choose to listen.

But I dread the numbers more.

While the stories speak overtly of pain and suffering, the numbers are more detached. Their job is to detail with as much precision as possible the growing toll of deaths and injuries, of days without basic services, of homes and businesses lost, of gaps in local and international resources, of projected time and money to rebuild, restore, recover.

And they do their task well, those numbers do.

They create an understanding of scope and scale that can’t exist otherwise. They serve as markers for comparison, both for what has been and for what will come. And no matter their intent, they transform emotionless digits into a story that seems destined to sound one devastating note over and over again.

…I need a break from numbers that sit alongside tales of pain and devastation, so I’m taking a moment to appreciate the way they help us navigate, orient, declare, and achieve our missions…

(top to bottom: Labeling a fire hydrant with pertinent details; calling out a construction date in Astoria, Oregon; tagging a lamppost Lucky #7 on the Pismo Beach (CA) pier; helping an old VW bus get from here to there; serving as a touchpoint in Mt. Angel, Oregon)

Recombinant

Before it gets too far into almost-upon-us 2011, I’m hoping to process all the events that happened in 2010. Because damn if this hasn’t been a Blender Year for me and many I know. And while that can be twenty kinds of wonderful when one finally debuts as the ooooooh! slushy beverage of choice, it’s far from pleasant when one’s the ice.

Right now my life is at the Pawpaw Paradise stage, though, so I seriously just need to relax (okay, fine: TO CHILL) and enjoy—even if my still-huddled-in-dread transparent cubes can’t quite process the meaning of motionless blades.

[To truly stop worrying I may have to instigate a domestic and international news blackout, including a ban on celebrity gossip, but I’m sure the world can turn without my clenched-jaw awareness of its violence and tomfoolery.]

My holiday goal? Find lots of ways to build up my rather depleted emotional resiliency with things that make me truly deeply madly merry, both for my own sake and so I can better offer a hand/ear/shoulder to those more in need of strength than I.

Here’s hoping that the New Year will have plenty of happiness—and some extra-in-case-of-emergency—for us all!

…when things are going well but the odds are good that (more) shearing and smashing may occur down the line, it seems prudent to revel in successful cases of mutation and reassembly rather than wait with tensed muscles for the next hit…

(top to bottom: A homeowner’s front yard offers a burst of color on grey PNW days; stumbling into a clearing-turned-art gallery adds interest to a hike; detail of Deborah Butterfield’s bronze “Dance Horse,” cast to look like driftwood; patchwork’d but proud in a small Oregon town; an old farm tree lives to tell a tale; because the sight of plants in plumbing never gets old)