with and without


Phone photos from the rainy coast last Friday.  Otter Rock, February 19, 2021.

The corkscrew willow in our back yard broke into four parts under the weight of the ice.

In front of our neighbor's house after the ice.

Well, the weekend I wrote of last turned much differently than I hoped.  Instead of snow, we got heavy ice and were without power for four days.  Trees came down in our back yard and throughout the city.  It was quite astonishing to drive around the next day and see how many trees and power lines had been brought down around town.  We were fortunate to have sustained only minor damage to our home, and that we were able to keep the edge off the cold with our fireplace.  Many were not so lucky, suffering significant damage, hardship without power and warmth and all that goes along with them ... and some are still without.  

Every morning my husband would get up around 4 and go downstairs to build a fire in the little camp stove in the fireplace down there, where he would warm up water in the teapot to make coffee in the french press.  We had a small charger that could charge several devices at once, so we were able to keep our phones going.  We would recharge everything in the car (a small generator we had failed) when we took outings to assess tree damage around town and see what areas had lights.  Going out in the car was also a way to stay warm for a little while, as was starting the clean-up process.  I spent one whole day gathering tree limbs in our yard and snapping them into equal length pieces, then neatly stacking them.  Therapeutic.  

My favorite part of the whole thing was that the teenager spent all his time with us.   The feeling of family togetherness was everything.

A friend commented that it makes you realize how unprepared you are in times like these, and that is so true.  Several years ago my husband got very into prepping for a disaster, most notably the overdue earthquake predicted for Cascadia.  He amassed dried and canned foods, batteries, flashlights, first-aid kits, water, filtration kits, and wood, among other things.  He made clear that if it struck when he was at work on the west side of Portland that he'd be doing everything he could to get home to us on the east side, but let us know what we could do in the event he couldn't get home for several days, or at all.  After two moves, our stock of things has all but disappeared, but the recent no-power situation has once again put such things at the forefront of his mind and I expect he will be building up our stores again soon.  (Some resources on how to prepare here and here.)

How accustomed we are to being entertained all the time.  After only four days without the distractions of computers and televisions, I saw a change in my son and felt a shift in me.  I'd like to cut my reliance on easy entertainment.  Not forsaking altogether, mind you (I love a good binge and a mindless scroll every now and then), but for the most part cutting out that which is not nourishing in any way.  Always a struggle for me.

Disaster and thoughts of disasters aside, it's been a good two weeks.  A few things that felt nourishing:

This story about treasure and trash.

This beautiful short film about solitude in winter (I would love to do this), which led me to the dreamy photographs and music of Alexandra de Steiguer, found on her website.  

This poem by Major Jackson. 

The moon has looked so big in the sky the last couple of nights.  I'm hoping to catch the full Snow Moon wax tomorrow night into Saturday morning.  Wishing you a lovely weekend ~

space & spring dreams


These pictures are from a magical hike about four weeks ago.  This was one of the more beautiful hikes we've done.  I found it in a book of day hikes on the Oregon Coast that my niece gave me, and I'm so glad we decided to check this one out.  The logging road there was long and a bit rough, but nothing we couldn't get through.  The suspension bridge gave me pause - I have nightmares about heights like that - but the views were breathtaking and I can't wait to go back and see what it's like in another season. 

I've been off Instagram for just over a month now.  I love it as a place of inspiration, with some truly good people that I admire and learn from, but space and separation has felt good.  It seems like a lot of individuality has been lost there, and I'm feeling weary of what others are doing and more interested in where my intuition will take me without all those voices.  I can't really say I'm off social media as I'm still on Goodreads and have rekindled a long-lost interest in Pinterest lately, if you consider those such.  They feel more like solitary, quiet distractions right now.  

As I write, rain has begun to splash against the window, and Pip is at my side as I watch little birds peck around on the deck just outside.  We're expecting some wintry weather in our area over the next few days.  We are slightly south of where the worst ("worst") of it is supposed to happen, but I am hoping for at least a little bit of snow.  My husband has split wood and stacked it inside next to the fireplace, I did a quick run for provisions this morning (tofu and red wine - what can I say), and I'm about to finish this book and start another.  So, whatever happens weather-wise, the weekend is looking good.  

One last bit of winter weather is more than welcome, but I'm starting to get some distant twinges of a longing for spring.  A few days ago I finally raked out the beds and found daffodils and snowdrops coming up underneath piles of sopping leaves.  There's a lot of mud happening all around right now, and I can't help dreaming of planting a garden.  We've had a lot of ideas about this yard that's new to us, but basically I just want a wild, rambling cottage-style garden with lots of edible and medicinal plants and flowers.  And tomatoes.  Always tomatoes.  (Also in my dreams, I'd love to find a nook to build a rustic little sauna.)

Wishing you a safe and cozy weekend.  Do some dreaming.   

take me away


I'm getting pretty bad about letting posts pile up in my draft folder. Here's one written a few weeks ago:  

Off to the forest, off to the sea.  With the events of late, anywhere that takes me away from a screen is a good place to be.  For days I watched, then checked and rechecked the news after the storming of the Capitol.  If you're shocked or didn't see this coming, I don't know where you've been the last five years.   

The last couple of days have brought us wind and rain, with flood alerts coming every few hours.  I don't want see damage done, but I really love stormy days.  Being out in it is thrilling, but being tucked inside our cozy house is pretty nice, too.  We've had a fire going nearly every day since mid October, and yesterday we had one going in the upstairs fireplace and in our tiny camp woodstove in the basement as well.  The glorious scent of woodsmoke curled into every corner.  

On a recent visit to the coast, we drove around looking at little beach houses.  We had a coastal getaway cottage years ago and have once again begun talking about the possibility of another one.  The next to last picture is one I think would be perfect (if only it were for sale).   

Also taking me away lately: 

Watch:  We received a free year of Apple TV and I just finished Dickinson, which is really fun.  I haven't been watching as much lately as I usually do,  but I hope to get lost in a series again soon (any recs?).  I did catch the first episode of PBS's All Creatures Great and Small and look forward to more of that.  I remember my mom loving James Herriot's books when I was growing up.   

Read:  I just finished Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest by Jack Nisbet.  Several of the chapters were about the part of the Pacific Northwest I'm from and that made it much more interesting to me than it would have been otherwise, I think.  It's part geology, part story/myth, part natural/cultural history.  Also just completed was The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen, about a family living on an island off the coast of Norway in the early 20th century.  The pace is very slow and it seems like not much happens for most of the book, but there are struggles, dreams, and inevitable change.  You really feel the isolation and remoteness, not just of the wondrously atmospheric landscape, but of spirit as well.  Just beautiful. 

Well, next week will be a doozy (Inauguration!), hopefully in a good way.  See you on the other side. 

by mlekoshi