Saturday, October 29, 2011

Great Grandpa's Poems

This poem was written and self published by my great grandfather.  I remember this little room he talks about.  He lived there in my Grandfather's house in old age, with his pictures hung of my Great Grandmother and her ashes in his room.  Some might call that strange, but he kept them so that when he died they could be mixed together and spread out into the wind and in so doing return to the dust and earth together forever.  His poems bring tears to my eyes every time I read them, even when they aren't sad.  Such a brilliant and impassioned life he led.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

In the company of old friends

It's funny how old friends can sometimes just make you feel good.  It must be old home week around here because I have been doing a lot of visiting with old friends lately.  And I mean, the kind of friends that knew me before I could write my name. 

Today I took the kids to an apple cider press party.  The gal that invited us was a friend from Jr. High, who had married a boy I knew from Kindergarten.  I must admit that I am envious that they found each other and are so happy together.  They've known each other for years and years.  What could be more comforting than that?  We spent a few minutes laughing and chatting about riding the same kindergarten bus as kids and going to the same schools for all those years.  Those are the kind of memories I love.  I knew her from my pre-algebra class, and we had gym and science together.  Those were good days.  Awkward growing up years, and not so awkward.  Now we have kids and life marches onward.

My great grandfather married his high school sweetheart.  They were 16.  Until the day he died my grandpa loved her like she was his whole world.  She passed before him, and for the 8 years he lived after her, he wrote her love poems.  It's crazy how some people are so lucky to find that, to know how to cultivate that, to fight for it, and to live for it.  Sometimes that seems all too rare these days.

I went to visit my other grandpa in his apartment in an assisted living facility here in town not too long ago, and we often talk about my grandmother.  She is long dead, but we still reminisce about how perfect she was.  Nothing could match her.  He's remarried, going on eleven years now, to a lovely lady, but they are getting very elderly now and he may bury his second wife one of these days, bless her soul.  I love that guy, my gramps, such a tough old bird.  I keep pictures of him up on my refrigerator and a painting of his beloved Fairliner boat in my room.

Maybe someday I'll find that kind of love.  Maybe someplace in the company of old friends.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Jellyfish

Some days I just want to sit in a pool of self pity about my life and whine about how hard it is, but then I remember that it could be so much worse.  I have it so good.  My kids are big and healthy.  They are smart and tough.  Some people have disabled kids, or they can't even have kids at all.  I have a great job, and I get paid well for what I do.  Some people don't even have jobs.

But then sometimes I just wish I could change Dad's condition.  Sometimes I just wish that I could stop it, or I could prevent it from ever happening.  Or maybe I just wish that I could reverse the clock back a few years and take back some words said and some time unspent doing the things we should have done together.

Sometimes we are dealt a hand that we don't know how we can possibly handle.  But somehow we make it through.  We are a brilliant and strong people.  We bash on ourselves as Americans all the time, as if we don't face enough adversity.  But sometimes I think "life" itself, is adversity enough.  I don't have to live in a mud hut and truck baskets of water on my head all day long from the creek to know how to appreciate life.

It's painful to watch someone so gifted with their hands and mind not be able to use them so easily anymore.  Watching someone struggle to speak the words they know are there, somewhere...  watching them struggle to sign their name.  It's just an ache so deep it's hard to put into words.  Some days are good, some are bad.  Some days there are broken projects strewn about the garage in frustration, and some days it's all in order, just like it used to be, with every tool in its place.  Sometimes we sit and tell stories about the old days, ones we've told a hundred times, but we still laugh.  There is one in particular that always comes up.  Sometimes I think I see it in my dreams.  A beautiful moment and I will never forget it.

We had taken a three week boat trip up to Dick and Lorena's that year.  They were old friends of my grandparents and they had purchased property years earlier and built a house overlooking Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island, British Columbia.  I was about ten or eleven that summer. 

They had a dock they had nick-named the "Mickey Mouse."  It was all homemade floats that were a little too narrow, and they had been lashed together.  If you got the wrong rhythm going in your steps you could start it rocking so bad that it would tip you off into the water if you weren't careful.  Their beach was rocky and covered with starfish and barnacles that would start to stink if the tide was too low, as it often was in the summertime.

My uncle and cousins were there that year.  We had come up in our boat from Washington with Papa and Grammie, and they had driven up in their car.  It took them about three ferry rides to get there, because you had to island hop to Cortes.  It was beautiful and remote with miles of rocky beaches lined with madrona trees and beach grasses.  Now and then we would see a rare weasel or river otter sunning itself on the shore.  We thought nothing of the bald eagles soaring overhead, or the many nights of steamed clams and crab for dinner.

One day, we stood out on the Mickey Mouse and looked into the water and saw a huge swarm of jellyfish drifting in on the afternoon tide.  There were thousands.  They were all moon jellies, which don't sting, so my Dad suggested that we go for a swim.  Several of us jumped in the water, tickled by the thousands of milky white jellies.  We swam and swam, pushing them around, watching them beat in rhythm under the hot sun.  Suddenly, my Dad shouted, "Jellyfish fight!"  We all burst into screams and the beautiful jellies flew everywhere.  All I could hear was laughter and the "Slop! Slop! Slop!" sound of the jellies hitting the water.  We were all nearly drowning from laughter when I raised my arm to sling a huge jelly in my Dad's direction.  I had perfect aim.  The gelatinous projectile hit its target directly in the open mouth.  I heard a loud gurgle and a Yeach!  I felt myself going under and I gasped a quick breath.  My sides ached.  With a strong kick, I rose back up.  I was in convulsive laughter.  I flailed my way back to the Mickey Mouse.  My Dad was already there in hysterics.  He kept rinsing his mouth with the salty sea water to try to make the slime wash out.  I nearly drown before I was able to grab the dock and laugh some more. 

After that we called a truce.  We all pulled ourselves back onto the dock in the warm afternoon sunshine.  We dried off and got ready to go out and collect our crab pots for that night's dinner.  I still chuckle to myself sometimes when I think of the sound my Dad made as the huge jelly hit his tongue.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A death of the mind

The slowest and most painful death is the death of the mind. It was happening to Dad, but I couldn't help but feel like it was happening to me, to all of us.

As I stood there quietly watching him, I saw his hands widen and waiver for a moment unsure, as if they had an agenda of their own and he was wrestling with them. They often took over and destroyed whatever it was he wanted to do. The very extension of his own body betraying him. In a second he gained control again and got his hands around Ava's little body to lift her up into his lap. He fumbled with her blanket and shirt for a minute trying to get his hands free of them. She turned around and looked up at him with her big brown eyes and said, "Movie Papa." He nodded and said, "Yes, how 'bout some Spongebob?" I let out my breath and relaxed my shoulders. It hadn't been easy for him the last few months since we'd moved out. He was lonely without the kids around making noise and slamming doors and leaving shoes in the doorway. We filled up the space in the house so there wasn't any quiet moments for thinking about things too much. There was always a bustle and a purpose when we were there. We needed him.

Dad seemed to light up whenever Ava was around. He would scoop her up and walk her around the yard in the sunshine. She would point to things and babble and he would happily obey her every command. Sometimes she would toddle around the yard and kick the ball or jump on him as he sat in the shade in his lawn chair. These were good times. Days at the lake in the hot sun, hours in the backyard throwing the ball for the dog, it was a time of forgetting the inevitable.  I just prayed to God that she would remember him this way.  Remember him like this, the way he should be remembered.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


There's this beautiful poem about being lonely:


by Adrienne Rich

You're wondering if I'm lonely:
OK then, yes, I'm lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.

You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely

If I'm lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawns' first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep

If I'm lonely
it's with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it's neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning

For some reason it is speaking to me tonight and I feel like that little rowboat.  I am that woman driving across the country without stopping, mile after mile.  I am in a house wrapped in sleep at first light.

I'm not necessarily sad, just sort of lonely.  I've reached a point in my life where it's not easy to make friends anymore, and the ones I have, I've grown far away from.  It's hard to find something in common with married women, when I'm single.  It's hard to find something in common with stay-at-home moms, I work full time.  It's hard to find something in common with a lot of people around me right now for some reason and I think it's wearing on me.

Now I'm sounding quite morose.  Another blog to the universe, the cyber-space void where it's so vast that it makes it easy for your words to never be heard.  But maybe I like it that way.  No one to see my loneliness.  I can hide behind this cheery profile picture, looking sassy, and wishing I felt that way all the time.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The busy bee

The beauty of life never ceases to amaze me.  I only want to stop and stare at it in awe.  I love the tiny little worlds right beneath my feet and in front of my nose.  I never want to lose my sense of wonder at the earth and the little pieces of it right in my own backyard.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fish Park

This is a relatively new park in our town.  The local Lions club is currently adding an even larger boardwalk around the various little ponds and streams running through the park down to the larger salmon stream called "Dogfish Creek".  It's very quickly becoming my new favorite spot because it has so much to offer.  There are walking paths for dogs, the boardwalk, benches, beautiful scenery, and tons of bugs and birds and snakes and pollywogs for the kids to find.  I'm not a fan of the snakes, but at least they don't bite...  And believe it or not, this park is right in the middle of town.  Of course, it's not a large town, but it's still right in the middle of town...

 Reflections on the Pond

Lady bug, lady bug, fly away home. 

 strange roots...  maybe the tree is folding its hands...

 Silly girl

 oh little feet

And... the fish...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sol Duc 2

 one of the first river crossings...  badass...
 up a tree
 I'm a classy dame...  I know.  Does a Danielle poo in the woods?  Yes, yes she does.
 another crossing
this funny little old man was trying to take our picture and he kept cutting off our heads...  but hey, at least he got the waterfall in there...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ruled by the Green

I hate that my life revolves around money more now the poorer I am.  I think if I was rich, I wouldn't even think about money, or worry about it.  I would be responsible with it, but I don't think I would have any problem giving it away to charities or friends that needed a hand.  But I hate money.  I hate that it seems to rule my life.  I hate that I lie awake at night thinking about how I'm going to get more of it, how I'm going to just make ends meet.  I hate dreading going to the gas pump because I'm afraid that it will reject my debit card or just drain my account dry as it all gets pumped into my tank.  I hate that I walk through the grocery store and price out the cheapest brand of something that still tastes okay, just so I can get the most food to last two weeks for my measly hundred dollars or so.  I hate that I have to go to my parents house and use their washing machine and dryer, just so I don't have to pay for laundry that I can't afford anyways.  I am just tired of thinking about it all the time, all day.  Stretched to the max.  Everything I do... stretched thin.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


"Rain on the Tulips"
Danielle Coffey

This is just a scan of the black and white version, I may add some color later.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paul Cezanne

"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art."

"Charcoal Woman"
Danielle Coffey

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Into life a little rain must fall...

This was actually a pic I took last year, but it reminds me of Spring and the rain and all things alive and growing.  It does rain a lot in Washington, but after a while you get so used to it that you don't know what you would do without it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.

From the solemn gloom of the temple children run out to sit in the dust, God watches them play and forgets the Priest.

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.  Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.  Let me not look for allies in life's battlefield but to my own strength.  Let me not cave in.

When I stand before thee at the days end, thou shalt see my scars and know that I had my wounds and also my healing.

Death is not extinguishing the light, it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.

You can't cross the sea by merely standing and staring at the water.