Monthly Archives: March 2017

Demented Elf

My Old Man loved my Mom and she loved him. It showed. That it showed was instructive, and I believe that their love for one another may be what makes me think of them both often. Sometimes I dream of them, and distant joys and pains are resurrected by the crafty old Sandman’s mysterious impulse.

Philip and Florence, many years before I was around.

I like to look at pictures of them from long ago and imagine their lives before I was around. And I like to look at pictures of them from their healthy adult years, before they were brought low by ill health and infirmity. Like this one:

My Old Man at my current age. U.S. Passport photo – dignified and full of hope.

Several people have said how much I look like my Dad. I suppose that’s right, but in photographs my Dad always looks dignified — even in pictures from when he was a little kid or a very young man, there is a confidence and a sense that he felt he was at the exact right place at the exact right time. The cast of dignity is especially clear in photos of him from adulthood, say, when he was around my current age. At 51 he had three grown daughters and a 13 year-old son.

What the elf? Me sipping rum at 51, my current age. (Friend, Rich, observing.)

In photographs, I clearly don’t always look dignified. As a matter of ice-cold fact, in photographs I often look like a deranged, if somewhat tallish, elf.

Typical pic of me at 50. Deranged.

I have been thinking of my old man especially often – most especially about the fact that over half my time on earth has been spent without him physically in it. Lately I have also wondered if, when he was 51, he thought much of his own father. I have been reflecting on Dad’s appetite for music, and how that influenced me. If I didn’t inherit his sense of being at the right place at the right time, or what I regard as his photogenic quality, at least I got that hunger and thirst for music.

I have been thinking about his taste in music. It ran toward big band, ragtime, and Dixieland jazz on the lively side, and on the more contemplative side, toward traditional- and folk music, and some American jazz from the late-1950s and the 1960s. He liked big choral music and orchestral music. He liked Sinatra and Crosby. As I have noted more than once on this page, he liked to sing and was not afraid to range in the land of the sentimental.

He could definitely have got behind this simple and sincere new number from Mac DeMarco, and you should, too. It is beautiful and I love it.

My Old Man by Mac DeMarco from This Old Dog (due May 2017 Captured Tracks).

Mac DeMarco

Song For My Father by The Horace Silver Quintet (1965 Blue Note).

Horace Silver

Swinging On A Star and Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral by Bing Crosby from Going My Way (1944).

Wish you were here.

Candid shot of Phil – dignified at age 19 in 1946.

17 March 2017

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First Snowshoe at Tamanawas Falls

C writes about her  first snowshoe hike with Andy on Mt.Hood March 4, 2017 (with a small preamble).

Cold Creek Springs which ran along the trail most of the way.

The Tamanawas Falls stats:

Total Distance:  3.80 mi

Trailhead Elev.: 3,020 feet

Net Elev. Gain: 500 feet

Trail type: There-and-back

Trail condition: snow packed with light snow falling

Did we finish:  Are you joking?  That last part was steep.  Next time. Read on if you would like.

Preamble: I moved home in 2014. I had been gone for over 40 years but home is Oregon, it is in my DNA.  I hugged the ground in the backyard of our beach house not long after I returned and it was the closest I have ever come to a spiritual revelation. And not two days later my dearest childhood friend, whom I had not seen in 40 years, crossed that same backyard brave and tall with arms extended. “I’ve been wondering when you would come home,” she said and we held on in silent tribute to our lost days.

Then not too much later, as if her duty was complete, my long-lost friend disappeared into the mountains and Ponderosa pine forests of central Oregon with a neighborhood boy from our youth. I felt duped, hadn’t we just crushed the missing years between us in our long embrace? It took a while for a gentle realization to spread through me, I liken it to seeing a play with a cute trick, one in which the audience has been led to believe one thing (e.g.; I was the center of the story) when all along there had been other plots in flight (in this instance, the Cindy and Steve intrigue).

That was nostalgic romance (or nonsense) on my part.  The real story is Cindy and Steve had a story all along.  I simply had not been there to witness it.  When I stepped back onto home stage I was oddly surprised to find all the stories I had been a part of as a young girl had continued without me and I was no longer a central player. (Foolish, yea? Well I was 45 when I could finally admit that I just might not live forever.  So chalk it all up to being a slow learner.).

I should have known that I could not artlessly reappear and somehow intuit and maneuver back into plot lines decades old.  And with that realization taken root, there is a new part of me that houses a melancholy acceptance of having missed being a  part of countless arcs that were snatched away from me when we moved to the Midwest.  This is what Don DeLillo has to say about that:

“It is possible to be homesick for a place even when you are there.”

― from White Noise

The one thing that has remained unchanged is my connection to the land. There is so much joy in that familiar: the sound of splashing streams, the smell of the ocean air, the pine-scented wind, the white-grey fogged mornings, and the majestic rise of Mt. Hood over the city that has always been my home.

Mt. Hood seen from Washington Park in Portland.

It is because of this enduring relationship with the land that walking over it, and even under it, (try a hike through a lava tube sometime) has become essential in reconnecting with home and with myself and with Andy in what is a new world for him.

For my birthday, Andy splurged on snowshoe equipment even though the recreational snob who worked at REI urged us to try rental equipment first. “Fuck him,” Andy said in a tone as kindly as those words would allow and then shelled out a pile of money on equipment we weren’t quite sure how to use.

People will tell you that snowshoeing is just like walking and they are mostly right. You can buy/rent equipment, watch a YouTube video or two, and then hit the snowy trails.  You may not be as fast as some of the more experienced, but you won’t look the fool either.

The Hike

On our second day of snowshoeing Andy and I went to the Tamanawas Falls trail on Mount Hood’s east side.  The woman who worked the lodge where  we overnighted assured us this was a beautiful and a relatively easy snowshoe hike through old-growth forests. The trail is a gradual incline to the falls and we passed  easily under Douglas fir,  cedar and hemlock wearing fresh snow.  We crossed a few bridges (gracelessly) and were kept company by the  Cold Spring Creek which was running fat and fast.

Cooper Spur Lodge. Built in the 1880s. We stayed the night, ate the food, and drank and drank the drinks. Could this have contributed to our failed assent? Perhaps.

It was silly beautiful in a way I had never experienced Mt. Hood before.  It also  felt a little dangerous – Andy and I were sure the big boom we heard was an avalanche somewhere and from that point I kept a rum eye up the mountain –but if pressed I couldn’t say what we would need to do to protect ourselves if one roared our way.   We didn’t see a lot of people on the trail but those who passed, well they were a happy lot-bright greetings, genuine big smiles, glad to take multiple stops for weed, wine, and selfies.

Along the trail.

I loved the new connection to Hood in the winter and the new experience with Andy. It was a beautiful day with light snow falling on our mountain in our state and on our way home we made plans to return again and again.

Andy and a snow packed bridge over the creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                 

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