Wednesday, January 27, 2010

why we write

There's nothing like writing regularly at a minor blog to convince oneself that one has not much worth writing (nor skills, nor reason to continue even).  That one is, in fact, headed the wrong way in the paper bag and not showing much promise of escape.  The Muse gives up in disgust.  The Anti-Muse snickers triumphantly.

Not that the Anti-Muse needs much evidentiary material to work from. The creative ingenuity of Auntie Anti's discouragement & paralysis campaign never ceases to amaze me.  Everything is evidence of reasons not to write anything.

And so a month that was supposed to be dedicated to revising has rolled past without my even opening the files - for fear that I'll find only sawdust and cobwebs. And also because, with Fritz's parents moving out here, it's been easier to spend the waking hours buying towels and mattresses, choosing curtains, cleaning the apartment's bathroom, stocking the pantry for them.  (Just pat me on the head and say, Good girl.  Good girl.)

Except it's not good.  Not good to let myself get all twisted up like I do when I don't write my real writing.

I would like to be writing to satisfy a demanding and breathlessly awaiting public. 

That is, on the days I would like to be writing.  Most days lately I think I would rather go back to work full-time so that I had an excuse to not try to write.

And then -

YoungSon has been writing a poem.  He brings it to me to edit. 

Its pace is full of grace, its scales soft as lace,
Its dark blue eyes have no lies even deep beneath them

He brings it not for applause.  When I say, "I like it.  About a dragon, right?" - he says, "But does everything work?"  The crucial question.  And that sizzle of recognition rises up my spine.  So I tell him which parts work best, which parts are weaker.

He goes back to work.  He is not offended but pleased to have areas for more work pointed out.  He works over his poem for two days.  "You know what's so great about writing?"  he asks me the second day, printing out the latest version.


"I started out with four lines and now it's like . . . (he counts lines) . . . 16!  Sixteen lines!"
Its lair could be hidden any where deep
Within the mountains yet nowhere to be found
"How hard is it to write a children's book?"  he asks.

"It probably depends.  Sometimes it's probably easier than others.  Sometimes it's harder."

"Because some of them are not very long."

"No.  Some of them aren't," I agree.

"Because," he smiles a half-embarrassed, half-proud smile, "you know when I sometimes get a nightmare and and can't wake up and want to run around the house?"


"Well, I know where that place is that I go."

"Do you?"

"Yeah, and it doesn't  sound like it would be a nightmare.  Some people wouldn't think it's even scary.  It's just a grassy place in the middle of the trees by a big rock."

"What happens there?"

"Nothing happens."

"It's just scary?"

He nods, looking over the poem he's just lifted from the printer.

"Well," I say, "maybe you should write a story there in that place."

"What!" he glances up with dark blue eyes, "in the place of Despair?" He snorts with surprise, at the audacity of the idea.  But is also strangely pleased.  Taken with the idea -- that did, after all, originate with him.

"Why not?  That would be a good place to make a story."

"No," he shakes himself, "I don't think so."

"Okay," I say.


But when I come back late in the evening he offers me a staple-bound book with two poems now, including a re-polished and extended dragon poem:
They used to be so mild but now they're gone and wild
They move by wing, they are king and they always will be
There is but one in all the worlds it is quite vicious and perhaps malicious
but it is our only hope to summon back the dragons wild though they are

and two new stories, one of a boy who saddles a dragon and flies all over the town, the other entitled in large bold font: THE WAR OF MAYHEM THE DESPAIRING AND ZARHAN THE HOPEFUL

A grassy place with non-stop trees with boulders towering above where all the brutes of all the world hide.  There's hags and boars, giants, vultures all the destructive kind and they all shall die soon hopefully if we're fortunate.  'Cause there soon is going to be a war between brutes and the people under rule of good king Zarhan.  They're dressing in their armor ready for a battle.  Ready for an ambush from the other side.  Well, king Zarhan was smart enough to know that the brutes would have the advantage if his soldiers did an ambush.  For the brutes knew battle better than king Zarhan, they had come up with it, they're the reason there is such a thing.  But then there was a frightful yell THE BRUTES ARE COMING, ADVANCE O' ARMY OF GOOD KING ZARHAN!  Then seconds later it was yells and metal against metal and the soft thwing of arrows released from bows then the people saw king Zarhan slay the horrible king Mayhem who fell onto the ground and whispered his last words "I never thought we'd be enemies for we are brothers now I see the truth."  Then the people of good king Zarhan got a feeling of victory and got so determined they fought right through the fearful brutes.  But they would never cease even if there was an army against one brute.  But eventually the brutes could see they were hopeless and did something never done before by them and they that day surrendered so they could still survive.  They then became the servants of good king Zarhan to always pay off their debt.

Because you would never want to kill off all your brutes.  We need our brutes and dragons, wild though they are.

And still we need them tamed, willing to be servants to the good king.

And that's why we write.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Bedtime Story for Bicycles

Once upon a time there was a Bicycle who believed the road could be shared: cars and bikes together.

The Car didn't think. The Car was bigger and louder and faster. It didn't have to think.

And the people fell in love with the Car. It was so shiny.

The people so adored the shiny Car that soon Bicycle was left behind, squeezed to the side.  "Oh, that's just for children," said the people. 

Meanwhile the people began to worship the strange idols of the Car . . .

. . . and to believe that what the Car told them was true.

Soon the Car had conquered mountains and marshes and all levels of government. Car believed it had it made.

In the shade.

And the Car smiled.

But something was missing. The Car looked around - something was certainly missing - was it time to adopt a pet?

Still the Car felt unsettled.

Sometimes the Car would suddenly burst into tears for no reason.

The Car could not shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong. Car began to worry that there was a plot afoot . . .

. . . (or even awheel) to jostle Car from its place of pre-eminence.

Car's sleep began to fill with bad dreams of a world where cars were left undriven and the briars grew up over them until they disappeared . . .

. . . and all their places of resort were abandoned and fell into ruins.

"Why can't we just live as brothers?" demanded the Car of the Bicycle one day as the latter went spinning past.

"We'll have to see about that," said Bicycle. On its way up to the top of the hill.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reading among Readers

 Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer

For every year since 1991 I've kept a list of my personal Best Books of the Year

Why, of all the things I started and forgot, have I continued this particular list-making?  Why have I wanted to remember from year to year what I have read?  A history of my mental development?  A record of my changing obsessions?  A celebration of literary freedom once teachers and professors and class requirements no longer directed my reading?

This is Your Brain on Music: the science of a human obsession by Daniel J. Levitin

I was trying to remember today what I was thinking when I first began jotting down that list?  Was I afraid I would quit reading? That my mind would turn to mush and advertising jingles? Was I feeling ambitious and self-improving? I think the first list was put together because a friend who had moved far away asked me what I'd read recently that was worth reading.  But why keep it up all these years, year after year? 

And now that I've been keeping up, I feel convinced in the secret marrow of my bones that it would be sacreligious to stop.  Or at least, like tempting fate.  When I was young I tried to teach myself Braille so that when I was old and blind (like the grandmother in Heidi - my blindness always a foregone conclusion in my young mind) - but with Braille I would still be able to read.  Use it or lose it - maybe that's the reason for the list?  A small celebration that mortality hasn't caught me yet.

So,  I give you:  the 2009 Best of the Books list - a hodgepodge and smattering of mostly light novels and largely anecdotal nonfictions.  Nothing life-changing - except maybe Marilynne Robison's Gilead and Suzanne Haik-Vantoura's Musique de la Bible révélée. 

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

For awhile I was keeping a running list of the children's favorite reads - but that has gone by the wayside.  They'll have to do their own record-keeping. 

Tonight, YoungSon brought me Kipling's Jungle Book so I could read to him "that one story about the animal with reflexes so quick you can't see it."  He meant "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" and once he'd opened to it I read about half and was so sleepy and drifting off mid-sentence that he took over, reading with the energy and fluency of a dyed-in-the-wool liber-addict.  Yes, I know it will be such an advantage to him as he goes through school, but - ? 

But truly what do we lose by substituting linear marks in black&white for  3-dimensional experience?

Are we losing a wider perspective as we lose touch with our bodies?   As we take in life only through our eyes?  As more and more the only thing moving are our eyes flicking back and forth, accompanied only by small movements of our hands?

And actually, I've read a book about that, too, years past.  Two, to be exact:
I do wonder sometimes what it would be like to live in a world with no writing, no reading. 

Where the inhabitants read clouds and the flight of geese - real things.  Don't always have to interpose a screen of black&white between themselves and actuality. Who speak face to face to each other.  Whose stories are sounds and not sights.
But I know I could never live there, dependent as I am on dreaming other people's dreams after them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

apples and oranges

I was curious a while back, waiting for our order at a Chinese restaurant, reading over the year of the Rat, year of the Tiger, trying to figure out where and who we all were.  Idly curious I was.  And discovered another reason I am glad my life is not bound by astrological manipulations. 

I.e., my husband and I would never have been allowed to marry.

"Ox is patient, methodical person while the Horse is a fast, spontaneous person. The Ox may not like it when the Horse keeps taking off in different directions. The Horse in turn may find the Ox to be very rooted to be of any action." [sic]

(Fritz, are you very rooted to be of any action?)

I'm still a sceptic. 

I can see that words like "very stable and reliable,"  "day after day," "without a complaint," "stick at a task longer than anyone else," "meticulous," "systematic," and "prefer to stick with the known rather than the unknowns" all apply surprisingly well to Fritz.  But I still can't quite believe that every single one of the babies lined up in their little bassinets in front of the maternity window on either side of baby Fritz and not only that day but every day that year from county to county all over the face of the land and even leaping over all oceans to include every child born within that particular 12-month window of time all over the world have grown up to be equally stable, hardworking, reliable.   

And if they were/are, why isn't the world in much better shape than it is today?

And don't tell me it's because of those irresponsible Horses and the rapscallion Rats who are apparently our "preferred mates."

Really, am I ____ ?
  • "aggressive" (surely never),
  • "ambitious" (only as necessary),
  • "quick-witted" (I only wish), 
  • "intelligent"  (okay, but who wouldn't admit to same?)
But I have yet to "become the center of attention in parties"  for any reason at all - let alone because of my "passion to dress up, blend in with the 'a la mode' and yet very stunningly stand-out" - not to say I wouldn't like to, but the mechanics of all that blending and stunningly standing out is and has been always beyond my ken.

Fritz may agree that I am "very stubborn when they don't get what they want" and "can flare up a temper" (which makes it sound as if I had a few extra tempers to spare), but would he really say that I am "too cunningly focused on what they want and this can become their weakness when fitting in on a team," or that I am "singularly focused on what they want to achieve in life that they may not bend over backwards for the good of the team"?

Nonsense!  (mostly nonsense! okay, sometimes. maybe. but I have clinical back-ache from all the bending backwards I do.  Yes, I do!

I'll show you the note from my doctor. 

If I can find it.)

I am indeed "quite healthy and love outdoors and adventures" but so is and does Fritz.  And Eldest.  And Middlest.  And YoungSon.  Who are all other animals. 

I'm still a sceptic.  Especially when they say things like ~

Ox and Horse :

This match is not good.

There is a clash of values. The ox is stable but a bore to the horse as horse attention spell is short. The ox sees the horse as disorganized and unreliable. This results in both parties not communicating to each other.

We communicate.  Only too well sometimes.

My "attention spell" spans long moments of time.  Regularly.

Fritz boring?  How very unkind of them to say so.

Some zodiacal gurus hold out hope for the success of our union - if we dilute the mix a bit:

For this match to work, find a peaceful home where you can welcome others.

Others are rather more blunt and much less optimistic:

Unfortunately you will part.

And of course they are right.  We will part.  We part every morning. 

But we always come back together again every evening. 

Remember the part about "stick at a task longer than anyone else"?  Remember that part about "very stubborn"? 

And if Fritz prefers the known to the unknown I at least have wit enough to know how lucky I am.

There was a thing  floating around awhile back about how wonderful sisters are - how your gal friends are there when love waxes and wanes and when men don't do what they're supposed to.  It was smarmy in the usual style.

I thought then what I think now.   (We of the Horse are stubborn that way.)  And will say again as I said then:
I love my sisters (and daughters and mother and women friends), but I haven't noticed that as a whole "sisters" are any more reliable than the Men who "don't do what they're supposed to do." And it is Fritz who has now lived with me the most closely for the longest time and has been the most trustworthily there--not necessarily cheering me on from the rim always and not always waiting with open arms.
Rarely intervening in my behalf.
But there in the bad valley with me, pulling his end of the load.
It's true, love has waxed and waned--just like the moon, but just like the moon always somewhere in the sky--working steadily across my sky through the days as well as the nights.
It has been women friends who have sometimes let me down and shrugged me off. Who of them has ever intervened on my behalf?
There has at times been distance--mostly in miles and available time and attention--between my sisters and mother and me. But Fritz has always been present and close. Even if irritatingly so sometimes.
We've burdened each other and rasped on each other and wearied each other's hearts. But I've always known where he is. And it's never been far.
There is a sweetness between sisters and other women friends that has been one of the delights of my life. But it's Fritz who stands there and suffers beside me, who descends and arises with me, bewildered often but dependably loyal.
What else is a mainstay? He isn't all I need to make my life worthwhile, but in the last 20 years he has been contributing more actively and regularly to the worth of my life than any other.
That's why I'm stubbornly sceptical of any suggestion that we aren't destined for success. 

And Fritz says he's not going anywhere.

And the kids -  well, here's what they think about the whole "parting" thing ~

But we'll let the zodiacal experts have the last word:
Love and romance for the Horse happens only with a truly compatible partner.  Because they are intense and forceful they can be pretty hard to tame.

Therefore: compatible.

It's that simple.  

If I'm a Horse, I've been tamed.


Friday, January 8, 2010

How to Horribilize Any Holiday: an annual report

the 9 Essential Keys
click on the pics below to see them full-size

January 6th - the real 12th day of Christmas - has come and gone and the holiday season is truly over.  After all these years of directing and managing the holiday celebrations I thought I'd pass along what I've learned about really making it a truly memorable time of year . . .

  1. Never lose sight of the enormity of it all. Don’t let yourself forget for a moment that this is her LAST Christmas at home (or his first, or your first together . . . ). You must, must, must remember at all times that everything must be fairy-tale perfect – anything less equals total failure and you might just as well never have even begun.  HOW'D WE DO?  B- Pretty consistent awareness of the looming changes up ahead.  Too many points deducted for the times you forgot to be anxious about making a memorable holiday and just enjoyed each other.  But that snit on the afternoon of Christmas Eve?  - fantastic!

  2. Overindulge. You must see that every rich savory and super-sugared fatty morsel you can lay your hands on makes it past your teeth and down into your gullet. Don't miss any opportunity to drink and eat everything and anything at all.  Ignore feelings of satiety. If you must avoid some food, see that you choose to miss regular meals.  Choose processed grains as often as you can and plenty of saturated fats.  Turn up your nose at anything green except mint ice cream.  And don't forget that high-fructose corn syrup! HOW'D WE DO?  C or  A Terribly inconsistent  - swinging from gloppily gorgeous indulgence to abysmally green and leafy.  Work on this! Extra points for every regular dinnertime missed and for every bag of chocolate chips purchased. (And the gingerbreading! - not only the house is unbalanced in that picture!)

  3. Don't sleep.  An important rule not just for adults, but children also.  Everyone in the family should stay up until their eyes glaze over or the speech becomes slurred. This will ensure a consistent buzzing of  irritation  throughout the season, not to mention fuddled forgetfulness and resulting schedule mess-ups, all of which will have a magnifying effect on #1.  Take advantage of the usual over-scheduling and over-involvement that can be found everywhere at this time of year.  HOW'D WE DO?  Well done. 

  4. Avoid all open-air exercise.  Keep yourself wrapped up in layers and blankets and try not to move.  At all.  If you do slip up and find yourself physically exerting - do stay inside well-heated buildings and/or cars.  Remember: If it's not in the seventies you don't want to be out in it.  Try to keep breathing in and out the same air over and over for as long as you can as you watch all the TV you can fit in.  HOW'D WE DO?  D Needs serious improvement.  Hopping on the bike to dash over for pomegranates, frozen peas, vanilla yogurt and a pound of butter with the sister-in-law did us no favors.  This score would have been an F except for the number of movies watched, books read, and the days the morning walk went by the wayside - and only thanks to charity points given because the swimming, basketballing, and riding the bike-trainer were all indoors.  Serious point deductions for every time kids went for walks with friends and you wiped out all chance of a D+ by going out in the snow to throw snowballs at the first opportunity.  Very, very disappointing.

  5. Spend money you don't have.  It is terribly important that you spend money -  lots and lots of money on gifts, decorations and all the goodies you need for over-indulgence.  When choosing gifts look for things that are likely to break or that require the spending of more money.  If you make gifts, make sure the cost in materials alone is far greater than you spent last year.  HOW'D WE DO?  D+/C- Again, only those bags of chocolate chips saved you.  Especially sad was to see YoungSon choose from out of his treasured rock collection one lovely rock that reminded him of each family member, and wrap it up in gold paper with notes like: "I think this rock is pretty and I think you are too."  Soppy!

  6. Reinvent the wheel.  No one wants to see the same decorations on the tree or to get the same kinds of gifts year after year.  Not only will the new purchases help in achieving #5, but will increase the rush and bustle so necessary to this time of year.  Always remember that if something has worked in the past, it's time to try something new.  The last thing you want is a sense of tradition to build up.  HOW'D WE DO?  D And I had such hopes for you!  Especially egregious was Middlest making a tin of No-Bake cookies for her dad for the nth year in a row.  This may have won you points in #2 but hardly enough to make up for the tradition factor.  And whoever decorated the jade plant again - not to mention the pretzel garland from how long ago? - cost your team a bundle.  At least there were fewer Christmas carols sung together thanks to the overscheduling of #3, but overall a very unsatisfactory performance.

  7. Keep busy with the surface bustle so that you never have to dive deeper. What is the reason for these celebrations anyway?  It's not enough to merely focus on the tinsel and the big red bows, you also have to look for time-consuming activities that will keep the eternal things at bay (which is why keys #1-6 are so very, very important).  Especially dangerous are any traditions that encourage stillness or reverence.  HOW'D WE DO?  C Despite a discouraging focus on that 12 Days before Christmas idea with the little daily packages of small reminders (1 votive candle, 2 jingle bells, 3 heart erasers, 4 Hershey hugs, etc.) and accompanying scriptures foretelling the coming of Christ, the strong performance in the overscheduling department worked to your advantage.  Score would have been much higher if the usual quiet Christmas Eve sitting around as a family with singing and candles and reading from Luke, etc., etc. had been steered clear of.

  8. Remember it's all about you and the stuff you get.  Build up huge expectations so that reality has something to fall short of.  And then point out everything that is less than wonderful about people's singing, gifts you receive, gifts you don't receive.  Tear through the gift-opening without pausing to think about the very peripheral people who provided them.  Ban thank-you cards.  HOW'D WE DO?  F Really, it was almost as bad as the year the girls asked for "chapstick and a surprise."  And adding stamps to the usual habit of thank you cards in the Santa stocking meant that thank-yous were in the mail Christmas afternoon - no points at all.

  9. And if all else fails -  blame it on Obama.  Or the environmentalists. Or listen to hours and hours of political radio talk show.  Where they do it for you. This will improve any day, not just holidays.  HOW'D WE DO? ? (Score still pending the grading of final papers . . . )

Overall, a far from horrible holiday - better luck next year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Port of Morrow

And it is a new year.  Wholly new for me, as my birthday turns with the year's.  Standing here at the pinnacle of another year, at the port of tomorrow, I feel this tug to cast my eyes around - looking back over the Past

  • to revel, say, in life accomplishments (a short revel)
  • to ruminate (longer) over the ways I am a disappointment to certain entities,
or more progressively, turning forward toward the Future - though that would  entail
  • borrowed trouble
  • plans for ambitious self-improvement.
Evading either of these twin evils (Past/Future), a sensible creature would focus on the Now.  Gratitude, for example, for

  • small and ordinary beauties (yes, even in Home Depot parking lots)
  • and for the deeper, underlying pleasures and securities.
If I were a sensible creature.

And if the Now I were living in were not made up of

  • sleeping (or not) on the floor in an overheated house.
  • tricky interpersonal negotiations while packing up Fritz's parents to move them out to live near us.
  • long and anxious days driving through ice and snow that become day after day driving through ice and snow when the weather blocks our way and we are reduced to creeping to a standstill approaching mountain passes and finally breaking our journey halfway (though even an insensible cretin ought to have been able to sustain a week's worth of delight just in the 120 year-old Geiser Grand Hotel out on the high plains of Baker City, Oregon, and the cut-rate accomodation they gave us both coming and going).

But live in the Now I cannot this week.  Failing the Now, however, let us consider the Never.

Wrapping plates and bagging up opened boxes of tapioca, tucking cans of creamed corn and Vienna sausages into large plastic totes, hefting buckets of Henry's (the tarry matter with which leaking roofs are repaired) this birthday weekend, I entertained myself imagining fantastic and impossible gifts I will never receive (and would possibly not know what to do with, if I did).  The only rule forbids anything Worthy, viz. :
  • world peace
  • an end to hunger
  • personal enlightenment
  • faith, hope, nor charity
though those all would be fantastic and to some degree or another more impossible than they should be.  Also questionable are the potentially Useful:
  • a well-trained - also enthusiastic - and widely competent staff.
  • a language-immersion course from which I would emerge fluent in the five languages of my choice (Italian, Chinese, Hindi, Magyar, Hopi?)
and Desirables I'm not yet ready to admit are Impossible:
  • a truly versatile and endlessly appropriate, mix & match wardrobe of a dozen, or better half a dozen, essential and elegant pieces.
  • a vintage bike discovered in some shed with a frame big enough for a Long Meg like me and not just for dainty darlings like Eldest.

We shall also discount the merely Impossibly Expensive:

  • a month walking the prehistoric droveways of England (the Ridgeway passing through the  Avebury stone circle and beside the Uffington white horse, rounded out with the Thames Path, the Cotswolds WayOffa's Dyke Path . . . ), staying in inns and cottages older than the U.S. Constitution.
  • the original oil of "Fool's Confession" by Brian Kershisnik (which is a picture of my soul as I have written elsewhere).
No, these fantastical gifts must be both impossibly delightful and delightfully impossible:
  • the lost, or more likely never recorded, paper trail of the actual life of a medieval woman - who had a near-death experience and then retired to ponder over it living the rest of her life as a hermit in the wall of a stone church - ideally this paper trail would include chatty letters exchanged with her one essential other and weekly lists that her one or two allotted servants trotted off with on the morning of market day.

  • a six-month tour of Southeast Asian dance traditions, under the guidance of a handful of well-spoken, congenial experts, with accompanying film crew.
  • a silken tent and all its furniture - cot, chair, etagere -  of elegant design and curious workmanship, collapsible, retractable, and finely finished.
  • an old-fashioned canal boat, red and black with plenty of gilding, everything snugly fitted, the tiny porcelain sink with shiny fittings, the gleaming mahogany woodwork that opens out into a writing desk or encloses a cunning cupboard, sumptuous and spare at the same time.
  • a brightly painted gypsy wagon with decorated wheels and a good gray horse to pull it and a feather bed and gaudy quilts and tiny tin stove inside.
  • a day spent with my two grandmothers (both now deceased) on a roadtrip, playing cards cross-country at the table of the motor home, stopping at  every whim - peach orchard, puppet museum, paddleboats on a small lake, summer concerts under the stars.
Standing at the window of the Geiser Grand on our last morning, with no more battery power in my camera, I was going to include on my list a camera with endless batteries and memory.  Then I could get this last great shot of the mist and the snowy mountainside behind a townscape we used to call turn-of-the-century before the century turned once more - the tallest building painted over the faded red brick with an Art Nouveau script: Antler's Hotel ~ absolutely modern, and the buildings below rechristened as
coffee house with its glowing party-colored neon sign and J. Tabor Jewelers with tasteful greenstone square tiles above the door and a discreetly lettered When in hot water, apply ice.  Huge red bows of velvet ribbon adorn the top of telephone poles and at intervals along the wires looped up over the snowy road.

But as always happens when I have been taking pictures, and then can't - I see more and more vividly than I ever could either with camera in hand or when not in photo-mode:
  • the rhythm of wet-blackened fence-posts
  • red berries/ crabapples? thick on a roadside tree encrusted in shining ice
  • rosy bare branches of the willows, golden orange branches, frosted at the tips
  • two hawks resting in the top of them
  • above yellow-blond cattails punching up out of the snow
  • a great flock of small waterbirds clustered thickly in a snaky curve that marks the ice-edge of a half-frozen pond
  • meandering deer tracks marked out in white snow in the brush on the steep flank beside us as we go over the mountain pass

What we lack is sometimes better than what we have.  And besides, replacing batteries is easy - not worth wasting a wish on.

And then, "What's the - Port of Morrow?" Son reads the highway sign. 

In front of us, the road and the river rejoin - our home river - water that will be flowing past our town tomorrow.  We look out over cargo cranes and ocean-going barges though we're still 250 miles inland.

Around the next curve will be the ranks of white windmills on either side of the Gorge.  Bare branches red and orange rising from a slender sand bar reflected in the water. 

Silhouette of heron on lone rock rising out of the river.

The Now improves appreciably as a barge pushes its load past us, towards the Port of Morrow which lies behind us already, leaving a herringbone wake as wide as the river.

Mist covers the tops of the cliffs on either side of the gorge, but through hazy gaps: windmills like bone-white archangels just come down from heaven.

Somewhere between Never and Whatever Comes Next.

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