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Memoir Monday 4

beach

On my beach 2013

Part 2

Nature Heals: A Non-Scientific Study

A 5-year, blinded by multiple deaths of loved ones, study.

After Paul died (Aug 2009) I spent my few waking hours out on the back deck of our home. From my lofty vantage point, I soaked up the panorama of our own overgrown lawn and gardens and the wild acreage surrounding them. Beyond all the love and support of our circle of family and friends, nature itself helped bring me back to life. In Memoir Monday 3 I wrote about my experiences with nature immediately after Paul’s death. If you missed it, you can catch up here: Memoir Monday 3  http://wp.me/p3i5jo-wA

 

When our home and property was stripped in the name of “estate business” and I no longer felt the essence of Paul within those walls, I ran away to the beach. I’ve told that part of the story before. Once again, nature brought me back to life.

Excerpts from the beach cave, February-March 2010:

I think about the cool agates I found earlier in the day and the beautiful sunset I watched from the beach. Ahhh, this is the life.

The beach was a comedy of errors today, with lots of treasures found. It started out cloudy with sun breaks, and yes, very windy. I had on my layers, rolled up the cuffs of my pants, grabbed a wad of tissues for the runny nose, and was off. Just yesterday I figured out to roll up my pants, instead of having them drag in the sand and soak me to my calves. All vestiges of vanity were left in the truck; I looked ridiculous, with a smile. I found 2 awesome pieces of driftwood right off the bat. Along with a half-dollar sized yellow agate, I seemed to be on a rock hunt today. So many beauties, mostly green, but I got some interesting layered ones and a big maroon rock with white streaks in it.

Weekends get busy here, and I usually don’t go down to the beach if there are tons of people, but I just needed to today. They were all wimpy tourists, and pretty soon I had the whole stretch practically to myself. A couple of women were griping about “slim pickings today”. I’m not sure what they were looking for, maybe twenty-dollar bills? I was finding a little of everything, including a teeny tiny sand dollar. You know me; I was having a freaking blast. Kid in a candy store kind of fun. Like that. Pretty soon I look up and I am alone on the entire beach, some dark clouds are hanging over me, but I keep doing what I do. I sneak down to the get a peak at the good stuff when the tide goes out, grab a shell or rock, and then race back to safety when the waves come back to try and get me. This is good good exercise. I also laugh at myself a lot and thank the waves and the ocean when they bring me a goody—out loud. You know, just being my own crazy self.

In the middle of my dance with the waves a little hail started falling. I look up to judge how far away my truck is (a long way) and keep on hunting. It has briefly hailed on me the last several days, no big deal. Next the rain came, in seconds it was pouring. No, I didn’t bring a damn umbrella down to the beach. I have a perfectly good hood on my coat…that was soaked through and dripping in my eyes within minutes. Of course, as it goes when you hang out with Murphy, the wind kicked up. The big meaty front parts of my legs are numb from wind and ice cold rain. My hands are now too wet, but I attempt to put my gloves on, no such luck, I shove them back in my pockets. With all this water from the ocean, water from the sky, well, now I have to pee so bad I’m almost in tears. By the way, I am STILL looking at the goodies on the sand, and even picking up a few. I am a diehard. The rain stopped by the time I wearily climbed the huge sandy bank and reached the bathrooms. Standing under the eaves of the building is about 7 wimpy tourists. I said, “You chickens!” One smarmy lady replied, “No, we just know when to come in out of the rain.”

So, I finally figured out to roll up my pant legs, but it is a moot point, since I am soaked from top to toes anyway. GRRRR. Now, fully warm (I finally changed my propane tank), I’m gonna curl up with a hot cup of coffee and my library books about agates, shells, seaweed, whales and other beach-living necessities. Home schooling at its best! (The common sense is supposed to come naturally.) Huh.

Each death that followed over the course of the next several years, plunged me back into darkness. Nature revived me again and again. I am held gently in the arms of solitude and nature. So many times I had no words to express my feelings of pain, guilt and loss. Instead, I’d reach for my camera to witness, record and share every angle of beauty that I could find.

My heart was lifted by this witnessing and sharing, and I felt like I could breathe again, that I could take the next step towards living.

And you responded with kind words about what you saw and enjoyed in my photos and words. You got it. These responses also helped/help bring me back to life.

Witnessing and photographing nature and other amazing and wondrous things is my sedative, my meditation, my prayer. I am reminded that, through all the pain of grief, beauty, joy and wonder still exists for me to witness and share.

Peace,

Patti


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Memoir Monday 3

Wild Yellow Flag Iris with ivy-covered ghost cabin in background. Phall Photo 2014

Wild Yellow Flag Iris with ivy-covered ghost cabin in background. Phall Photo 2014

Nature Heals: A Non-Scientific Study, Part 1

A 5-year, blinded by multiple deaths of loved ones, study.

After Paul died (Aug 2009) I spent my few waking hours out on the back deck of our home. From my lofty vantage point, I soaked up the panorama of our own overgrown lawn and gardens and the wild acreage surrounding them. Beyond all the love and support of our circle of family and friends, nature itself helped bring me back to life.

Excerpts from my first few emails in late August to early September 2009 to our family and friends:

I’m watching the deer on the hill & the chickadees are singing their evening lullaby. There are many things I should be doing, but I will probably go back to bed. I did finally turn the soaker hoses off…after 3 days!

I woke up to a longggg, LOUD roll of thunder this morn. The pounding rain on the roof woke me several times last night, still pouring now. Bring on the ARK!

Oliver (my cat) is curled up next to me on the porch swing, dreaming of the good old days when he could get around better and we still had Paul and Jake (our dog) with us. I know what Oliver’s dreaming, cause that’s what I’m dreaming…

Earlier I described a gloomy, rainy day. Now, however, the sun has come out, the rain stopped, and a mist rises from the grassy field on the hill. I’ve been watching a fledgling red-tail hawk learn to fly. He’s resting on a high, thick fir tree branch, his wings drooping at his sides. Trying to balance his heavy wings, he follows the branch towards the center of the big tree; I think it is siesta time.
A light breeze just came from the south and swept away all of the dark clouds, leaving some bright white ones on the horizon, pushing the others to the north. The porch chimes are singing and one of the ducks on the pond is yakking. People, this is amazing! I’m listening to all sorts of birds singing about the sun coming out after nature’s shower.
I keep wanting to turn around and knock on the window to get Paul to come out and see these wonders; he never failed to show his enthusiasm for my discoveries. He never told me to wait a minute. He would put down whatever he was doing and mosey on out to see what I had found. He usually grabbed the camera too. Now, that makes me cry–how could we lose someone that special?
 
Pretty crazy weather day. That same breeze just filled the sky with more dark clouds and I’ll be damned if it isn’t raining again! Yesterday I finally planted the thyme, moss, and ornamental grass that have been sitting by the side of the house in their original store pots since May. I salvaged most of them and planted them in a big round bowl-shaped pot and sat it in the tall pot with dead things in it on the back porch. Another new rose bloomed in the temp perennial garden. This one is a large, fluffy pink one. I cut it yesterday and added it to a vase with a pink and light lavender gladiola. Collected and stored seeds from a cool Canterbury bell-like flower yesterday; one was light lavender, the other a deep purple. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more dry spells to collect more seeds, she says, as it pours buckets of rain on her garden… “What wild hopes lie here.” author unk.
Part 2, excerpts from beach cave notes and conclusion of my tongue-in-cheek “study” will be posted on June 23rd.

Thank you,

Patti

 

The Memoir Monday feature will be posted every other Monday.


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A-Z April Challenge; M is for Midway Meanderings

We are midway through the A-Z April Challenge and I thought we could meander through some Packwood, WA photos that I never got posted here. My muse is a little jealous, so She requested that I offer a tidbit of the mermaid story, right in line with the M today. If you don’t believe in magic wands and mermaids and such, just enjoy the photos.

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The names and some details are real, some of the story is from my real imagination. This is just a sample of the story, so some elements are missing…

The Mermaid and The Magic Wands

Grani-at-the-beach called Nola and Cora yesterday and asked them to come to the beach to help her solve a mystery. It seems that their adult friend, Mermaid Carol (who owns a really cool deli close to the beach) had given Grani some beautiful magic wands to give to Cora and Nola, but then Grani lost them. Well, that’s the mystery part, because she didn’t actually lose them, they just disappeared! Grani was taking her beach walk looking for ocean treasures, right after she had been to see Mermaid Carol. Oh, and her deli happens to have a big beautiful mermaid and dolphins painted on the pretty blue outside walls! Just so you are clear about it, Mermaid Carol is not really a mermaid, it’s just what we call her because of her deli.

Grani had been totally focused on her agates for almost an hour and had a pocketful of them, when she decided to head home for lunch. She went to grab the wands and her backpack, but the wands were gone! She looked all around the boulder, and even checked the boulders around it. There had been no other beach combers on her part of the beach that afternoon. Grani was stumped!  

A few days later, Grani was still sad and trying to think of a way to find the magic wands. She’d been back to the beach every day, once at high tide, and once at low tide. Grani didn’t even look for ocean treasures! That’s huge; Grani never steps onto a beach without bringing home some little thing. She frantically searched for hours at a time, all the way up and down the beach. She was glad no one was around to hear her grumbling to herself about what a rotten Grani she was, and how could she have lost Nola and Cora’s magic wands!? 

The next morning Mermaid Carol called Grani to ask her to come to the deli for a few minutes,

“There’s something Surfer Dustin wants to show you.”

Grani was still sad, but she got dressed and went to The Mermaid; maybe Mermaid Carol and her other friends there would cheer her up. Surfer Dustin probably had a great agate to show her and that would make her smile again.

Grani opened the bag and pulled out a beautiful light blue bottle. It looked like it had been beaten by the sand and waves for many years. It wasn’t an antique though, since it had a screw-top cap. She held it up to the sun and could see something inside,

“What is it, Dustin?”

“Just open it, it’s not gonna bite you!”

Now Grani was so curious that she couldn’t wait; she unscrewed the cap, tipped the bottle and gave it a gentle shake. Surfer Dustin reached over and took the bottle and the cap, while Grani uncurled the paper. It was a rolled up piece of newspaper with black writing on it. The writing looks like a young child wrote it with charcoal. Weird. What it said was even stranger, but it made Grani’s heart sing!

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

 

Nora, the mermaid, couldn’t wait to tell her mama about the fun she had today. On second thought, mama doesn’t like me taking any chances by being on the beach near humans; they have not always been nice to our kind. Mama and daddy say it’s because they don’t understand us and that makes them afraid of us. They say that humans are sometimes mean when they are afraid. 

Plus there was the little problem with the treasure she had found that day; a little problem that could get her into big trouble. Nora decides to talk it over with her Granz before she tells her parents. Maybe Granz will understand what she did about the treasure. Her Granz always finds a way to help her deal with hard stuff, plus she is a very silly Granz and makes Nora laugh. It was a long swim home and when Nora saw Granz sitting on the rock outcrop beside her ocean cave, she immediately swam toward her and fell into her arms.

After telling her Granz the whole story about her day, she felt better and worse. She knew that she would have to tell her parents and promise not to go near the beach again. But she needed to find a way to make sure the lady found the stars. Granz solved the problem,

“If you make a solemn promise to stay close to home, I will go see if the stars are gone tomorrow.”

“Oh, Granz, thank you thank you thank you, and I DO promise!”

“Now scoot off and go tell your parents what you did wrong, and keep it simple girlie. Make your super promise to them and see what they say. And NO POUTING, no matter what they say!”

Every day Nora waited to hear that the stars on sticks were gone, but by the third day Granz came back with bad news again. To make matters worse, Granz overheard the lady talking angrily to herself while she searched for the stars on sticks. Granz was a GOOD detective and she found out things about the lady that Nora didn’t even know. Like that she was called Grani. That she had two young granddaughters with names that sounded like Nora’s own name!

“Yes, the human Grani was talking to herself and said, “what a rotten Grani she was, and how could she have lost Cora and Nola’s real magic wands.’”

Nora just had to think of a way for that poor human Grani to find the stars, especially since they were really truly magic! Her and Granz talked and talked and finally came up with a plan. It wasn’t a perfect plan, and there were risks, but they both felt so bad now that they agreed on it.

The next morning Granz & Nora swam out to the end of the jetty to look through Nora’s stash of ocean treasures. They crawled into a small cave of black jetty boulders and soon found what they needed. Granz knew how important this was to Nora, so she sat back and let her do the work, only helping a little with the spelling. It took some time, but soon Nora held up the piece of old newspaper. The note was written with a piece of charcoal from a beach fire made long ago. The note was simple,

“Dear Human Grani,

I’m so sorry for taking the magic wands! So sorry! Please bring Nola and Cora to the beach where you left the stars. Bring them to the boulder when the sun is straight over your head, in two days.

Sorry again,

Nora, the mermaid (with help from her Granz)”

 

Granz thought the note was just right so she helped Nora role it tight and put it inside a pretty blue bottle.

To be continued…when published! 🙂

Patti Hall 2014

Hey, I hope you find time to check out some of the other A-Z April Challenge blogs here:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2014.html


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Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch

Wynochee 173 Wynochee 175

It looked like a miracle. The contrast of bright green new growth, caught in winter’s first shock of frozen air, thrilled the nature lover and the photographer in me. The plants were only a few feet apart, but the frost dealt with them very differently. I so wanted to touch the velvety layer of frost on the first plant, as well as the plant with all its leaves meticulously outlined in crystal spikes. Of course, I didn’t.  I took these photos 2 days ago near the Wynoochee River in the Olympic National Forest in Western Washington.

The prompt, “Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?Photographers, artists, poets: show us TEXTURE.” http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/daily-prompt-textures/

When I first read this prompt, funny bittersweet memories about touch and texture came to mind. My late husband had the most wonderful sense of play. It was quite a surprise for us to learn that we both loved to touch things while shopping…you know; soft blankets on the store shelves, throw pillows with soft fuzzy covers, and smooth satin or furry slippers.

At first, a person with this inclination does their feeling on the sly; what will people think if they see you rubbing the corner of a comforter on your cheek? It wasn’t long before we discovered our mutual secret, and made almost a game out of it. Who can find the softest material on an otherwise boring shopping errand? Even if we were just running in to get some paint or something for the office, one of us (usually me) would make a bee-line to a display of a potentially soft item.

We were quite discerning too, not just any soft thing would do, and we booed when something looked really soft, but just didn’t meet our standards. If it was good we’d pass it to the other one, “Oh, feel this one, it’s softer than that red one…” That usually started us on a roll of comparing softness, from one department to another. What did we come in for?

I admit, my addiction was worse than his, but we both loved all the new textures coming out. We’d still try to do our feeling on the sly, and sometimes pretend shock when we saw the other one sinking their fingers into a plush throw pillow. “Weirdo,” he or I would whisper. That would cause a round of laughter between us. Shopping was always fun with Paul, because we made it fun. Together, we had a knack for that.

After losing Paul to leukemia 4 years ago, it’s nice to be able to share some stories of our strange fun with others. And I see you rolling your eyes, but I bet you have some strange couple-only habits. Right? Go ahead, we’d love to hear them (the PG ones!).

Peace Out,

Patti

For more photos from my Wynoochee trip, visit my photo blog here http://wp.me/p3J4Ab-7o


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Book Review: Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

 

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
Dog Songs
by Mary Oliver

Patti Hall‘s review

Sep 22, 13
Recommended for: Lovers of dogs, pets, poetry and nature.
Read from September 20 to 22, 2013, read count: 2

I won an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Dog Songs through a Goodreads and publisher book giveaway.

One of my best friends turned me on to Mary Oliver several years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. Mary’s poetry is clear, concise and loving to the small things in this world that many of the rest of us simply overlook. If there is any uncertainty in her writing, it is about something that she notices and then questions. Otherwise, you will find no ambiguity in her words.

About Dog Songs? You are going to love it! Mary’s new book begins with a puppy, of course, and then we learn all the things that she (and most of us) love about dogs. She says that the thing these furry friends have that we humans just don’t, their secret ingredient, if you will, is steadfastness.

There are so many places in this book that I smiled, laughed and teared-up. While Mary shows the many nuances of these animals, she also shines light and love on their connection to our own species. She adds word to word, sentence to sentence, to offer up another poem that shows our bonds; dog to human, bound in pure love.

Mary doesn’t hide reality under the rug either. Dogs aren’t always that cute, they have gross and annoying habits, and they (sadly) have relatively short life-spans. While you read, please notice the way Mary touches her dogs. It is subtle, but do you feel the reverence?

It’s all here, in this little white book. The beautiful pen and ink illustrations by John Burgoyne are as clear and concise as Mary’s words. There’s nothing overly sweet, silly or gushy in her words, yet the dog songs may make you feel that way.

I am surrounded by gushy dog-lovers. Almost every person in my circle is a gushy dog-lover. I am not. I am a plant-animal-bug-tree-sky-water-lover. And not gushy at all. I do hear all of their songs though.