Saturday, July 28, 2012

Au Revoir

I've flown off to another blog, The Patron Saint of Cheese, where I'll be writing about my life and travels in France and elsewhere as I study cheese while leading a dairy-free lifestyle, learning to make a living as a writer, photographing the world around me, and - as always - moving onward to the next adventure.

Won't you join me?

Shipshewana, Indiana (July)

The Shipshewana flea market is like a huge open-air Dollar Store, and if you want cheap socks or plastic kitchenware or dog toys or fake leather wallets or remaindered Sudoku books or t-shirts covered in sequins then head on over because you can buy them by the acre there. But you won't find any Amish handicrafts, just a few food vendors selling baked goods or preserves or hot fresh sweetcorn on or off the cob, though you will see many Amish women perusing the 88-cent flexible cutting boards from under their starched white bonnets, and suspendered Amish men walking between the booths while talking on their cell phones. I think I only found one booth where the vendor was selling something she'd made herself (and I bought both of the bags as gifts) - the other 99 percent of the booths were manned (or womanned) by non-Amish resellers. Other than the feed-sack bags, I bought The Greatest Fishing Tool Ever for John, and two used books for my travel reading, and then fled the burning sun to sit under the concession stand canopy in the breeze, reading and eating sweetcorn and drinking water and waiting for my tireless aunt and uncle to finish perusing the goods.

Zeh gleene Amish Buwe sinn mol in die Schtadt, eener iss nei in en Bar, noht waar er glei gematt.

Goodbye To All That

A not at all bitter leave-taking of Oregon. Bittersweet, though, and I found that I wasn't wanting to take pictures of people, or even of places sometimes. Because I wasn't (and am not) planning on returning to Oregon, I found it hard to keep the phrase "This is the last time that I will [do/see/experience] X ..." out of my head, and that was not a healthy place to be. So instead I focused on appreciating what I was doing and seeing and experiencing, and not on chronicling it all for later. But I will miss Portland at times, and eating sushi with Morgan ...

... and visiting Mom and John on the coast ...

... and watching the red moon rise over Mount Tabor in the warm summer evenings.

Friday, July 27, 2012

San Francisco, Sonoma, San Ramon (June)

Hic Puer Erit Aliquando Vir Doctus


Over the past year I have been getting rid of things, in anticipation of this move. I invited friends and family to take what they wanted, sold what I could, and gave the rest to Goodwill or church organizations. Things like clothes and even chickens (you didn't HAVE to take all of them, Mom ...) were easy to discard. Things like keepsakes from my grandparents were more difficult. With the help of Mom and Kate, I was able to sort through four boxes and thirty years of memories, and choose the ones I wanted to keep. They're in a half-full box up in Mom and John's attic right now, the photos and slides that show scenes from Alaska, Japan, France (the first time), England, Indiana, Oregon, and other places I've lived and traveled. The slides of family trips from my birth year onward (and some even before then), reviewed over the course of several days as I watched myself grow up, from a chubby-cheeked baby to a smiling toddler to a usually solemn-faced child to a shy teenager. Kate bounced through the later photos, grinning and curly-haired, with Ian following behind, usually dressed in a cape (and sometimes not much else, though if he reads this, it's a good thing I'm on the other side of the world, after saying that). And then there were the cards and letters.

When I was living in Japan, and later in Alaska, I wrote a lot of letters. This was back in the Jurassic, you see, before the internet. And Mom kept all or almost all of the ones I wrote to her, and somehow got the letters I'd written to my grandparents then as well. Those I kept. I didn't read them, but I will some day, and of course when I'm famous they'll be the foundation for several chapters of my autobiography. But my grandparents also kept the valentines and cards I sent to them dating back to the first scribbles and botched attempts at writing (usually annotated by a parent in explanation), and those I did not keep. Common sense, partly - who needs fourteen years of "I love you Grandma and Papa" cards? - but partly also a desire to get rid of some memories that were not so good, some of which I don't even consciously remember. We moved around a lot when I was young, after I'd spent several years mostly living with my grandparents, and apparently at first I really, really missed them and wanted to go back and live with them again. Possibly after home life got somewhat turbulent, and the first quarrels of an ongoing battle which would lead to my parents' eventual divorce started making me sad. There was one picture I drew in particular that I did not want to keep, of my father yelling and my mother crying and me standing there next to what was supposed to be a cat. It makes me sad now to think of that, and probably at least one of you will suggest that perhaps I should talk about it with a counselor. Don't get me wrong - there were lots of good memories brought back by those slides and cards and photos, too. I had a fairly happy childhood, all things considered.

However, I chose a rather more direct method of dealing with all of those memories, all of that baggage, all of the bits of my past that had been sitting in boxes for decades, which now having been seen and smiled (or sighed) over can pass out of my life for good, at least in their physical forms.

I burned them, and I cried.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bend And Breitenbush (May)

Let me just start by saying that I don't like this new Blogger interface, which they have in their infinite wisdom decided is better than the old one. There's a crapload of HTML in here now that I have to sort through and it annoys me. It's one reason why I haven't put anything on the blog for a while; the other reason is that I have been busy, confused, aimless, busy again, resolved and semiorganized, busy, and finally traveling. And I rather got out of the habit of documenting my life in words and pictures, and just floated along living it for a while. I floated over to Bend for a weekend with Kate in mid-May, though it was less of a vacation and more of a "doing what you'd be doing anyway (i.e. studying/working) but in a different place" type of weekend. We did go for a short walk through a forest of lava-killed trees and looked at stump holes, and snow on basalt, and the distant mountains, and naked dead wood revealing death throes in the form of twisted and gnarled rings.

And then we drove to Breitenbush, for a mini-and-early sister's weekend, but that was not as expected either, due to it being Mother's Day weekend and therefore packed with kids and men, and not quiet, and the spring floods had washed out the bridges at either end of the hiking trails, so we couldn't hike. But for every tree the storm brought down, another was springing up, and tiny woodland flowers dotted the mossy green along the path.

Someone had strung prayer flags along the bottom of the main bridge over the river, and a dozen violet-green swallows were perching on them in between swooping over the river for insects and darting up under the bridge to their nests.

We spent a timeless time just sitting by the river on the flat rocks warming in the sun, though we didn't even try to dip our feet into the glacial water, especially since it was running high and fast and dark green under a blanket of ice-white foam.

The obligatory happy feet picture.

I tried to capture the river on camera but was never quite fast enough. Kate tried again at another spot. I'll have to replay my mental video of the river this September, when I am not there in (naked) body, but will definitely be in spirit with my lovely, loveable, and beloved sister.