A favorite place

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I had oral surgery last Thursday, gum grafting that I’d put off for a long time and finally had to have done. Nothing major, but it definitely has put me out of commission for a few days. Soft food diet (that gets old fast), no smiling, minimal talking or my mouth throbs, and cheeks like a chipmunk. But I’m glad to have it behind me, and feel grateful for Doug’s patient spirit as he deals with grumpy, hungry me. He’s been throwing together some pretty gourmet soft dishes for me, sweet guy that he is.

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Today we took a quick trip to one of my favorite places in town, Marbott’s Greenhouse and Nursery. We’ve spent far too much time and money at this place over the past few years, but we love getting our veggie garden going and love this family run business. Mr. Marbott is usually handling the cash register while his daughter and son help either at the front or in the greenhouses. They usually have a couple of other employees helping out as well, watering and assisting customers. Mr. Marbott is an older gentleman who usually wears suspenders and has so much spirit. While age may be limiting his ability to move around and do the heavy lifting at this point, he still manages to give orders from his perch up front. He always chats us up and has advice for how to handle certain vegetables we plant, love getting his insight. He has a twinkle in his eyes that I adore.

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Walking through the nursery is my kind of window shopping. We always wander through the room of citrus and indoor plants, the main greenhouses where most of the public hang out, out to the back near the train tracks where blueberries and other shrubs/trees can be found, and around to the more hidden greenhouses where plants not quite ready for the public usually hang out. The colors of the leaves and flowers are always so beautiful, little rows of rainbows, and the scents are intoxicating. I’m a sucker for the orange, lemon, and lime trees growing, and for the giant greenhouse of geraniums, one of my all-time favorite scents (Doug thinks it smells like burning rubber).

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Today we were only in the market for a few herbs, resisting the urge to buy veggies that aren’t cold resistant. While our weather today is hitting the mid-70’s, we’re still very much in the danger zone of cold nights and hail storms. So chives, chamomile, and tarragon are all that came home with us today. But we eyed the tomatoes for a future visit, and debated about planting more of the most delicious cauliflower I’ve ever grown/eaten (super snowball). Doug just finished a mini greenhouse to put on one of our veggie beds, so we may be brave and snag a few hot-weather plants before long, see how this little system works out.

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As we checked out, Mr. Marbott thanked us for coming, said it was good to see us, and said “you guys are still at it, I see!” Always a good sign when the owner of your local nursery remembers you and keeps an eye on your purchases, right? We promised we’d be back soon for more plants, as always, and off we went with our new herbs.

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small victories

Sometimes it’s the small victories, like making it past a date that holds tough memories. Daylight Saving was my sudden reminder that a year ago this past weekend I was sitting in the ER, terrified and trying to be hopeful. A year ago yesterday that hope was gone. And yet a year from then, now, I’m feeling mostly strong, fitting in time for adventures with the man I love, caring deeply for friends going through difficult times, feeling joy for friends experiencing success and exciting new starts, getting excited for a friend whose family is about to grow any day now (come on, baby, make your appearance!), making plans for a well overdue family trip, and trying to focus on how wonderfully full of love, beauty, and friendship my life is at this time. I’m incredibly lucky to have so much support from the people I love who are both near and far, this year would have been much more difficult without that. Here’s to the small victories in life.

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gratitude

Right now I’m struggling to keep balance in life again. Too busy at work, trying to cover more than my position, trying to recruit a new person, getting ready to train that person, the usual “keep all of the plates spinning” stuff that we all manage. Most of the time it doesn’t get to me. Today, I’m battling grumpiness and anxiety attacks as there just aren’t enough hours.

However, having lovely people both in our private lives and our work lives who remind us to take a step back and appreciate the good things is so helpful. And so I’m trying to remember to focus on gratitude each day now. Whether here, in a journal, verbally, in a sketchbook… it doesn’t really matter. Just focusing on it and realizing life is actually pretty fantastic is the point.

And so today I feel grateful for flocks of honking geese flying by my window at work each day (favorite sound since childhood), stormy afternoons with brilliant rainbows, a bread-baking boyfriend, gourmet-chocolate giving parents, wonderful friends, coffee, snuggling cats, and multi-colored leaves that cover the trees and ground this time of year. The stress will pass, the work will settle. The beauty is always there to be found and deserves some credit.

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Vanilla shake, fries, and stardust

The northern lights were supposed to brighten Oregon skies last week. The news channels excitedly reported on the best times to see them in the sky. Those lights seem to hold a certain amount of magic for almost everybody, holding a steady place on many bucket lists. Beautiful dancing colors in the sky, what’s not to like? The temptation of seeing them was hard to resist despite the chances being very slim, and the super moon promising to dampen any possible shots of light coming through on the horizon.

We decided at the last moment, after a fairly awful day, to make a trek out to Crown Point, stopping at Burgerville along the way for a shared vanilla shake and an order of fries. The cool sweetness and simply decadent flavor of vanilla mixed with the warm saltiness of the fries was intoxicating and addicting. The sky darkened as we started leaving the city behind, though there appeared to be a layer of smog. We debated about continuing, but decided to go for it.

Most of Portland also decided to go for it based on the long strings of cars parked far along the road towards Crown Point. We looked a bit skeptically at the bright lights across the Columbia River and decided to continue along the Historic Columbia River Highway, which forces you to drive slowly and wind through the hills. Beautiful during the day, but exhausting for poor Doug as we made the long trek to Rowena Point. The sky cleared more and more as we drove, tiny pinpoints of light showing through the cool darkness. We finally made it to the parking lot and pulled in to join a scattering of other Northern Lights hopefuls, quickly trying to turn off all car lights to avoid frustrating the others. We anxiously looked to the north.

The sky had a subtle glow along the horizon, nothing dramatic, but present. Doug assured me that was about what we would see. We took out his camera and started taking some long-exposures, which showed a slightly deeper glow, but still nothing dramatic. We continued to wait, hoping we might see something a bit more exciting.

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While the Northern Lights didn’t give a great show that night, the waning moon more than made up for it. An orange glow suddenly appeared above one of the hills. As it became apparent the moon was on the rise, a car filled with wild, excited children started howling to welcome the deflated globe. All attention shifted from the horizon to the rising moon as it lit the sky more and more each moment.

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We continued to take photos, of the moon, of the stars, of the horizon. The Milky Way stretched above our heads, a treat for a couple of city kids who don’t often see much more than the Big Dipper in the night skies. Millions and millions of tiny lights covering the sky.

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For a day full of heartbreak, bad news, and shattered hopes, that night helped ease those aches. The night sky above us, so large and yet so close and beautiful. That connection is about as close to religion as I get. The wonderfully wise Neil deGrasse Tyson puts it far more beautifully than I ever could:

“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.” 

A vanilla shake, fries, and stardust. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to you, little one. See you in the stars.

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Run and play, little Rabbit!

And she held the little Rabbit close in her arms and flew with him into the wood. 

It was light now, for the moon had risen. All the forest was beautiful, and the fronds of the bracken shone like frosted silver. In the open glade between the tree-trunks the wild rabbits danced with their shadows on the velvet grass, but when they saw the Fairy they all stopped dancing and stood around in a ring to stare at her. 

“I’ve brought you a new playfellow,” the Fairy said. “You must be very kind to him and teach him all he needs to know in Rabbit-land, for he is going to live with you for ever and ever!”

And she kissed the little Rabbit again and put him down on the grass. 

“Run and play, little Rabbit!” she said.

– The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

Cinnamon moved into our home and hearts on Easter day, April 20th, 2014. We had jokingly talked about adopting a rabbit, but until I saw photos of his sweet face pop up on Facebook as my friend Monique tried to re-home him (his old family no longer wanted him), we weren’t very serious. This guy pretty much chose us from afar.

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The night he arrived I was shocked at how big he was. I expected a dainty little rabbit to emerge from that box, and instead this handsome, slightly disapproving, big rabbit suddenly was inhabiting the pen in our living room. He looked at me, I looked at him, the cats looked at him and tried to swipe him through the wires out of curiosity. Our original plan was to keep him in an outdoor hutch. That lasted twenty seconds before we determined this guy would be a house rabbit. After some scepticism and confusion, he and the cats started settling into a routine quickly.
2 cinnamon squidWe called him Pepe le Peu for awhile, as he chased poor Squid around, totally enamored with her. Eventually he calmed down and she started seeking him out, napping when he napped, chomping on hay when he chomped on hay. When we still had the pen up we would often come home to find all three hanging out inside together. Needless to say, the pen didn’t last long. Cinnamon quickly became a free-range bun.
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9 cinnamon bedbug 2Eventually we had to ban him from the bedroom after his taste for electrical cords and Doug’s dress shirts became a bit difficult to control, but he was still happily able to sunbathe in the living room and nap on the second floor as he wished.
4 cinnamon bath5 cinnamon frog7 cinnabun tailAs we planned our garden, we planted excessive amounts of lettuce, parsley, and cilantro. For him. He was a glutton for fresh veggies.
6 cinnamon lettuceWe watched as his personality came out more each day. We laughed at his habit of finding a spot in the living room where he could hunker down and stare at us for hours. We loved his random bursts of energy and his “drive-bys,” quick hops up on the couch to say hello and possibly try to steal a treat or two. We blissed out when he was in an affectionate mood, letting us pet him until he’d flattened out into a bunny pancake on the floor. And my favorite, we loved watching him flop on his side to nap, munching on his paw until he fell asleep like a little kid sucking his thumb.
cinnamon thumbLooking back, it’s hard to believe he only lived with us for a bit over three months. It feels like he’s been with us for years. And we so hoped that he would be with us for many years to come.
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But life had other plans, and just as quickly and unexpectedly as he arrived, he was gone. It was heartbreaking saying goodbye to him last night at the ER vet clinic, knowing that he most likely wasn’t going to make it through the night. I’ve seen enough animals pass to know the signs. The breathing pattern, the disappearing color in their ears and lips, the eyes turning glassy, the slowing down. As I stroked his ears and nose, I could see his sweet spirit starting to leave. I talked to him for awhile, told him how strong he’d been, how loved he was, and also told him it was okay to go if he needed to. As out of it as he was, I could see him relax as he heard my voice and felt my hand. I tried to leave once but he shifted around, the most movement I’d seen all night. I stayed and talked more, and he relaxed again. I left shortly after so the techs could put him back on IV fluids, knowing it was very likely I would never see my little friend again. Two hours later I got the call that he had passed quickly and peacefully, shifting once in his cage, and gone before the vet even moved him from his blankets to the exam table. I’m grateful for that bit of peace and relief he had after days of struggling.

We miss Cinnamon so much it hurts. But we’re trying to focus on those lucky weeks we had to spend with him and spoil him rotten. He had an old soul, and it was a privilege to share space with him. I hope you’re off hopping with the wild rabbits, gorging on strawberries and hay, and sucking your paw while napping in the sun, Cinnabun. Your spirit deserves a happy home, thank you for sharing it with ours for a short bit.
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back to stories

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Shifting perspective, the reader/narrator a drifting spirit inhabiting each body in turn, taking on different personalities every few pages, shifting from external to internal, she to I, him to me. 

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Finally managing to fit some reading in again. Short novels from Peirene Press that are filled with gorgeous writing and skillful storytelling. Not quite at my “devour a couple of novels a week” level yet, but it’s a start. The novel I’m reading now is Mr. Darwin’s Gardener by Kristina Carlson. I struggled with the first couple of pages, unsure if I wanted to forge through, but then the magic of reading a few incredibly crafted but subtle sentences happened. The above were my quick thoughts this morning about her constantly changing perspective in the book. It’s disorienting and briefly frustrating, but wonderful once you fall into the rhythm of being a restless spirit of a reader/narrator.

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wordless friday

 

(an idea borrowed from other bloggers, self explanatory)

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