on death & weather



What a spring and summer it was.  Being in a new (old) house had us working on so many projects, and I think we still will be for quite some time.  In May I found out I had colon cancer.  To make a long story short, it was caught early by colonoscopy (my first), in August I had surgery, and things are looking good now.  I'll be monitored every few months for five years and hopefully all will remain clear during that time.  If it's time for your colonoscopy, just do it.  I put it off for four years.  I had no symptoms, no medical issues, and I really was not worried.  If I had procrastinated another year, things probably wouldn't have turned out as well.  

I was texting with some friends over the weekend and we were talking about fear of death.  I didn't quite know how to say how I feel to them, but when the spectre of possible death suddenly felt all too real to me, my feelings were complex.  Do I want to die?  Definitely not.  But I can't help but feel that death is an experience, a bridge, to whatever next adventure lies ahead, so I'm not sure I would say I really fear death, at least not my own.  The fear of losing members of my family is very real and always has been.  But I'm fascinated by death and what may happen to us, our souls, our spirits, and where we really go from here.  Any fear around death is more about its consequences, about what I leave behind - my son without his mother, my twin without her twin - and the sadness of my whole family who have already lost so many.  I do also feel some guilt; I got cancer but came through it as I did, when others I know have suffered greatly (some for years) and/or lost their lives - people beloved far beyond just their families who have given to the world so much more than I ever have.  I feel unworthy.  Perhaps if we approached death as Buddhists do, we would all do better with it.  Death is inevitable, and contemplating and facing our impermanence can help us deal with aging and death in a realistic way and encourages us to live a meaningful, compassionate life.  See, complex feelings.

All of the above had me thinking a lot about a couple of dreams I had a couple of weeks before my diagnosis.  I typed out these dreams in a draft post the day after because they were so unusual, and reading over the draft again yesterday I realized I had forgotten some of the details of the dreams and it brought everything back so vividly.  Maybe I'll share those next time. 

Phew, I'll lighten up a bit now.  Thank you for staying with me. 

Autumn is here! Aside from the stunning changes happening outside, one of my favorite things about fall is the house always smelling of woodsmoke.  We've been having early morning fires almost every day, more often than at night because nighttime is for walking.  After dinner we like to bundle up with Pip and walk through the tree-lined streets past porches twinkling with lights to the park.  Walking all the way around the outer edge of the park and back home is about three miles, and it feels like such a good way to end the day.  I go for long walks in the mornings, too, but night walks are magical, senses attuned to the unseen.  

A few weekends ago I went to Portland to spend a couple of days with two online friends.  We stayed in a condo in Northwest, and we ate and talked and walked in the rain and shuffled through the cards and the thoughts they brought up.  I'm so glad I didn't let my social anxieties keep me from going.  I feel so lucky to call them friends.  

In the last two weeks we have celebrated T's 17th birthday and our 19th anniversary.  This season feels chock full of celebrations, of nature and of life (and death?).  We've moved into the freshly made-over dining hall out back, and have brought our rickety table that's been on the deck out front to the covered patio in the back.  I've been having breakfast there, no matter the weather, but dinners are usually in the dining hall now, unless it's around the fire pit.  Mushrooms are pushing through the earth, leaves are swirling in the wind, and, on the best days, rain is falling and it feels like everything is waking up and alive again.  Last night at dusk we went to the park by the river and took a muddy trail in the pouring rain.  As it got darker and the rain heavier, it felt as if I were floating above the trail with joy, out in the trees after dark in the glorious wild weather.  How are you enjoying fall?

slow notes:

⩥     This, from Center for Humans & Nature by Christi Belcourt.

⩥  Currently reading:  The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram.  I'm only a third a third of the way through this and am already a huge fan.  More here

(I want to take pictures for this space again and am dusting off my camera, but honestly, I hate lugging it around.  Does anyone out there know of any really good small cameras that are easy to use?

Until next time ~




Cow parsnip has come and gone. Queen Anne's Lace is suddenly everywhere in abundance.  Lawns are brown, potted flowers a bit leggy.  My kale grows tall under the warm sun, watered daily but rarely cut.  I've noticed the last two nights that it has been dark earlier, and this morning it was still dark just a bit past 5 when my husband got up to put the kettle on.  We're slowly turning with the wheel, feeling leggy.

For weeks some things were weighing on me that I couldn't shake enough to do much of anything, but as some knots have unraveled my spirits have lifted and I've gotten back to work on some projects I abandoned in May.  I abruptly stopped painting the house exterior and deck railings, but Thor has helped by picking up where I left off, and the entire front is painted a creamy white now, the railings a deep smoky brown.  It's a bit overwhelming, but I figure if we do a little bit every week, before the cold weather comes it *should* be done.  And it's so nice to work on a project with my son.  The red shed's exterior is now that same smoky brown, the interior that creamy white, with ochre window panes and shelves, and a new floor in place.  I wanted it to feel like a cabin in a dark forest, the ochre windowpanes like golden candlelight spilling out.  I love it.  

I bought a juicer back in May, and the slow and meditative process of choosing, cutting, and processing fruit and vegetables has become a favorite part of my day.  This is part of an effort to boost my body's defenses against cancer, as well as just being something I've always wanted to do.  Now it's habit, and that feels good.  

We got rid of our microwave a few months ago.  It's not that I think microwaves cause cancer (though I can't say I'm completely comfortable with them either).  We needed the counter space in our tiny kitchen, and I really enjoy the process of slowly stirring something on the stovetop or carefully watching it in the oven as it warms up.  Not everything needs to happen lickety-split.  Slowing down this way also makes me appreciate what I consume more, as I'm putting more time and care into it.  

slow notes: 

⩥  Last Sunday was World Listening Day.  I love the concept of acoustic ecology (touched on here), concerning the soundscapes of the earth, natural and human-made.  I often think of this in positive terms, as in paying attention to the sounds of the natural world, but I also worry about the effect of noise pollution on wildlife. 
⩥  I've just read Kerri Andrews' book Wanderers: A History of Women Walking.  I am a little bit obsessed with the idea of going on a walking trip.  As in, a trek through the Scottish highlands, along the coast of England, or through the forests of the Pacific Northwest.  Long gone for me are the days of wanting to be a runner.  I have always loved walking, as you can take in so much more of your surroundings.  The plants, trees, flowers, wildlife, houses, sounds, textures, and smells.  The sensory benefits are high, and that feels like it's good for my brain and my well being.  The NYT has this to say.  
⩥  Still in keeping with listening, this from Hakai Magazine's podcast, The Sound Aquatic.

Aside from being a dining room in general, the shed out back was also intended to become a special place for moon dinners.  Full moon, new moon.  Any reason to celebrate the moon.  I can't wait for these to commence.  I intended to get the interior set up today but we have decided to escape to the sea this afternoon.  Either way, we will raise a glass tomorrow night and think of all others basking in her glow.  

Until next time ~ L.

a quick catch-up


Hello.  I've been trying to write this post for a few weeks now but just never made the time to finish it.  I wanted it to be more eloquent and thoughtful, but my time is limited at the moment so forgive me this quickly-written note. 

Monday morning I drove through the Columbia River Gorge in 116 degree heat to my parents' house in eastern Washington.  My mom has been in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility for a couple of months now after having some issues (breaking her back among them), and my dad has decided to sell their house and move into an assisted living situation.  While I think this will be good for them, it's hard.  The last two days we've worked on dismantling their home, life as they have known it.  

In May with routine testing I received a diagnosis no one ever wants to get.  After CT, ultrasounds, and three biopsies with three different doctors, things are looking better than I could have hoped for in the beginning.  I have one more scan later this week, and then I hope to hear a firm plan of treatment.

In better news, late spring/the start of summer has been absolutely gorgeous.  Flowers everywhere.  We've made friends with a squirrel that likes to come up onto our front deck every day.  A couple of crows caw at my bedroom window in the morning and walk the front yard when I'm out watering.  A young woodpecker loves the gum tree in our front yard.  The Towhee that used to fling himself against the kitchen window has a family that lives in the camellia out back.  Every now and then I see or hear a raccoon along the back fence perimeter.  I love making these connections with the creatures that share our space/the world.    

I'm keeping this short today as a quick catch-up, but I hope to be back here soon, and next time I'll have some slow notes for you.  

I leave you with the song that has kept me going these last several weeks.  I've listened to it countless times and it never fails to soothe my anxious heart.  The Water, sung by Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling

"...the water sustains me without even trying..."

x - Lori



I had a few days to myself while my boys took a road trip to California last weekend and used them to work on a project I'd been wanting to tackle for some time.  I painted the bathroom including the vanity and built-in cabinets and drawers, put pulls on the vanity doors and drawers, took down the blinds that always got stuck / put up a rod and curtain, replaced the sink faucet, and replaced all the cabinet hinges.  I don't know how long the old faucet had been in place, but the four nuts holding it to the water lines were absolutely fused on and it took over three hours and much swearing to get them all off.  Frustrations aside, I love getting lost in a project like this.  It's nothing fancy, but I'm glad I persisted and that our little bathroom (our only bathroom) has been given a lift.  And it feels good to have done it all myself.

So many projects in process and still in mind for this new little place of ours.  I've gotten a small herb garden going, a greens bed, and miscellaneous plantings here and there, but the ice storm that brought down a large part of a neighbor's tree, and part of our own willow tree as well, have us dealing with big piles of branches and debris that we have moved up onto the back portion of the yard.  I had really hoped to use that area for shade planting, but I don't think that will happen this year.  I've been cutting up the smaller branches, but the bin only holds so much and at some point we are going to have to set aside what we want to keep and haul away the rest just to have the space back.  Along the side yard in the back is a row of sickly-looking arborvitae that we're going to take out.  It's one of the few places in the yard that gets sun and is prime planting real estate, so they were doomed even if they weren't sickly.    

The red shed/to-be dining hall has one coat of paint on inside, and I need to get cracking on that since the weather is just getting nicer and nicer now.  We also want to paint the exterior of the house and shed, and that will be a process unless we actually hire someone to do it, which I doubt we will.  

These are the things I love about spring.  The projects, the ideas swirling about, the days ending feeling bone and body tired from working outside - the very best kind of tired.  And the hummingbirds ... always the hummingbirds!

Evenings are for getting out - rambling along the Willamette River in different spots, walking the hills of our neighborhood to and from the park, or maybe sitting outside in the sun at a downtown spot for drinks.  This time of year feels so magical, as we unfurl our winter selves and start reaching for the sun in all the ways we can.

slow notes:  

⩥  This, from Laura Marling
⩥ This, about Gordon Hempton & silence, by Kathleen Dean Moore.   I'm fascinated by his work.  (Mentioned here last year.)
  This, from Haika Magazine
⩥  This, on Nan Shepherd's river from the BBC's Slow Radio.

book notes:  

I've given up trying to have a diverse reading list this year (not that I've ever had one, but I always have the intention).  For the most part, I always want to read nature-oriented books, preferably involving solitude.  Those by writers of Britain and Ireland, with their deep reverence for such things, really resonate with me, and I've started making my way through a very long to-read list, with a few random reads/listens in there, too.  I'm making time every day, several times a day, for quiet reading, even if for just a short time.  Somewhat related, did I mention we cancelled Netflix after 11 years?  

I listened to two audiobooks while working on my project, and I really loved them both: 


Until next time ~ keep reaching. 

by mlekoshi