Sunday, June 30, 2013


License plate on an SUV.

The dark SUV waited next to us at the traffic light before we both turned left onto the 526 entrance ramp. When they pulled ahead as the ramp narrowed to a single lane, I read the message on their license plate. Considering the obnoxious and aggressively political stickers on other cars, I was impressed. The SATISFID driver veered right to travel south to Seattle. I wished them well.

We continued over the hill facing east. The Cascades stretched out before us like a century’s long dragon tail, the mountains’ peaks boasted white covering remnants above 12,000 feet.  The air was unusually clear and we could see the crevices and outcroppings normally hidden in blue grey haze this time of year. Blue sky bowled up and over the mountains accented by high, white cirrus clouds.

We smiled. Our conversation expressed satisfaction: We get to live here. We are healthy. We have the money to shop at Costco for our unusual family. Our car runs. We haven’t received any emergency phone calls. Etc. Here is our appreciation for the family who chose to publically express the unusual sentiment of contentment.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Everett is known as blue collar but has become an artsy town and every August the Schack Arts Center sponsors an art festival along the waterfront of Gardiner Bay.

Several years ago we were still learning senior care, dementia, joyful choices and all the rest that goes into enriching people’s lives at the end without killing ourselves. I walked into a booth of photographs by Kathy Williams and fell in love. My favorite is a series portraying the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington with intimacy yet variety of formidable terrain. I bought a card displaying “Phantom Trees.” Other frames show a hillside strewn with rocks that tumble down to a stream half-heartedly meandering somewhere. Above the stream is the stony path in my photo that first looks accessible, but at a curve is obliterated by the traveling rocks. In the distance on a hillock three and two conifers wait in the mist to see whether I challenge the path or turn back.

I have written essays, a story and poems while studying my small copy of “Phantom Trees.” They have been words I needed tell myself whether or not they are ever read by others.

The photograph is a rich metaphor of trouble that everyone I know has lived at least once during their lifetime. Challenges that either break us off at the ankle or bless us with renewed passion for the journey. From the looks of some of the boulders blocking the path I think I best leave the hiking to Kathy with her camera and work at the challenges in our home.

Today while visiting a dear friend in the hospital I saw displayed in a visitors’ area Kathleen’s large photo of the stream. It gave me assurance that my friend would survive this landslide in her journey and continue with renewed strength.