The first time I experienced a thunderstorm in PV, I thought that if thunder could kill I’d be dead. It literally shakes the windows and your bones. These storms are like nothing I’ve ever seen.
At night the sky lights up and the entire world is like daylight and all things are in sharp contrast. It truly is unbelievable.
And the rain, the sky opens up and sheets of rain come down as if you’re under a waterfall. Truly fantastic storms… and it’s hot. Temperatures are in the 90s and the 100s with 100% humidity. Truly spectacular.
The ocean turns brown and fills with jungle debris from torrents running out of the hills; all the dry gullies rush with water and floating garbage. The jungle creeks fill to overflowing and merge with the water filling the gutters in the streets. Then it’s over.
Everything is soaked, the strong sun comes out and the evaporation begins and within minutes everything dries out but the air. Then you’re left with 200% humidity and you’re soaked in sweat.
And that’s how it is in the rainy season in Vallarta.
I finally retired in October 2014. My sister, Kristi, had retired about a year before me. One day we met for coffee at an intimate cafe in Woodstock to celebrate.
We bought these cups as a symbol of our promise to be companions as we aged, to take trips together and maybe even one day to live together. Little did we know that within just two weeks, she would die in a terrible car accident.
Two days ago I was drinking coffee out of my cup and I thought about these promises we made to one another. I wondered if Kristi’s kids had found her cup amongst her things.
I sent them a message and in a short time, I got a message back from Sharon, her oldest daughter, with a photo of the cup saying that she drinks out of it often.
I cried for loss but also for gladness. A girl could not have had a better sister. My memories of her span 64 years, so they are many.
When she was only 3 years old, and I was only 5, I contracted polio, and for the rest of our time together, she did for me what I could not do for myself. She was my confidant. She was my buddy. She was my heart.
I miss her so. When I drink from her promise cup, my heart fills to overflowing. I’m so happy to know that my promise cup to her still exists.
Documentation only sometimes provides consensus and memory rarely provides consensus. Just spent a lovely evening with my siblings, Steve and Kristi. We shared the same family and the same events while growing up but if you had been listening in on our conversaition you would think that we lived in different worlds. Perception is always and only just that. Why are you a skeptic you ask, a post-modernist historian? Do you really have to ask? It’s the completely unreliable evidence of experience that convinces me of nothing.
Once upon a time, a tiny baby fox was born into the big world of a forested wilderness. Only a few days after she was born, she found herself so very alone. She knew not where her mother and father had gone. She was not yet old enough to find her own food nor did she know where to sleep or even how to find her lost family.
It was getting dark and she was very, very hungry and very, very cold because the snow had not yet melted on this side of the mountain. She did not know, though it was August, that the snow never did melt here in the deep shadows of the trees and the crevices of the great mountain. She did not know either that new snow would soon be on its way.
At first, she laid down to cry, and cry she did until she was so tired that she almost fell asleep, exhausted. But she was so little that even if her mommy was around, she would not have heard her. Her mommy by this time had gone very far away but the baby fox could not have known this.
When the baby fox stopped crying she became quite still. She began to listen to the sounds all around her. She could hear the babbling stream, the wind in the tops of the trees and many more sounds that both scared and intrigued her. Just beyond a fallen log and a tangle of branches and piles of leaves, in a not too distant tumble of rocks, she heard some soft mewling sounds that she thought was familiar. Maybe it was her mommy and daddy.
But, by nature, she was a cautious little fox, so she crept slowly over the log and sniffed the air and perked up her ears, the hair on her back stood on end and her tail stood out from her in a rigid line. But she was so cold and hungry and so alone that she moved closer not knowing the dangers in the forest. She did not know that she could easily become someone’s dinner. She moved as silently as she could from behind a giant tree, listening to the soft noises and feeling, even from her hiding place, some warmth. She could not resist her curious nature or how hungry and cold she was. She also could not know that she might not survive the cold night.
When she was close enough to see the other creatures, she didn’t know that they did not look like her. She didn’t even know what she looked like. Her mommy was gone before she could even see very well. She had just opened her eyes. But she did remember how her mommy felt so warm and how she smelled so sweet. These creatures smelled different but she could only think of how cold and lonely and hungry she was.
When the little family of four kits and a momma saw her, so tiny as she was, they let her climb among them, even letting her wiggle in beside the other babies, who were not much bigger than her. They shared their food of mice and voles as the daylight faded. Soon the baby fox was sound asleep, warm with a full belly, snuggled down in the cave of rocks lined with dead leaves and the soft sounds of the family sleeping.
The baby fox grew there and played there for some weeks. But soon, she was old enough to leave the safe haven of the den. The other babies had grown much bigger than her and she could no longer fight them for the food that their momma brought them. And besides, the momma was leaving them alone for longer and longer times.
Because she was a smart little fox, she learned to hunt and forage for food by watching her adopted brothers and sisters as they ran after their momma. She was also leaving the den, tumbling up and down the hills and running to the stream to hunt for fish and other small animals and had even slept under the stars for one night. She had learned to watch the skies for owls and hawks and to watch the trees and ground for other animals who were hunting for food. She sensed that she would serve well for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack for the many creatures of the forest. She even had been warned to stay away from the two-legged animals that wandered among them smelling of bitter iron and steel. She had seen many small animals stuck in horrible jaws where they writhed and cried until they slowly died in agony.
But she was as clever as any fox could be and her strongest desire was to find others who looked and smelled like her. She knew that without her adopted family, she would not have survived but she sensed that it was time to leave. She loved her foundling family but was found lately following the tracks of others with a scent like her own.
I went for drinks with friends last night at the Altabier Restaurant and Bar. I like going there, alot. I can ask for a pizza that suits my strange tastes.
First, I had a drink called the Cloven Hoof. I should have known better but it started out with a lovely smooth scotch and some other tantalizing ingredients. I tried sipping it but it lured me into slamming it. Down the hatch!
My second drink was an Old Fashioned. Four Roses bourbon, smooth and golden and heavy, laced with just enough ice in a crystal glass. It sparkled like a deep amber elixir with the Mosca cherry hiding half way down. Though I wanted to dive for the cherry, I sipped and chatted about death with my friends. The sky went black and the lights of the city came on and the voices in the bar grew louder, candles were glowing and flickering and time slipped by.
Todd talked candidly about his wife dying just a month or so ago. Noelle, remembering how her husband and she were driving cross country to move to Portland with their two cats, got in a terrible accident that killed her husband and the male kitty, while she and the female kitty survived, was drinking a strange concoction called, “Making Brandy Great Again”.
When I met Noelle, 15 years ago, the scar that slashed across her forehead and between her eyes was red and angry, still. Her scar now, is still clearly visible but “no longer angry nor red”, I commented. She’s tiny and her face is beautiful in the soft candlelight. For her second drink, she ordered the “Santa Muerte”. As we do, she slid the glass across the table for me to try. I immediately tasted the essence of a very old, Victorian house filled with stuffed antique furniture and gilded picture frames and China vases holding wilted roses. Todd took a sip and agreed that it aroused a sense of old stuffed chairs and sofas. Noelle called for a Manhattan, as she said, “I’m passing this on” and slid the drink back over to me.
There I was with my Old Fashioned to my right and my Santa Muerte to my left. By this time I was slowly sipping, enjoying both drinks and the company, immensely. I loved the mysterious Santa Muerte and the ever familiar Old Fashioned. They seemed to fit perfectly together. I was interjecting, into the conversation, stories of the soft passing of Mom and the violent parting of Kristi and Dad. Death hung in the air, as did the joy of sharing holiday gifts and spirits together.
Dolores dropped me off at my door and I drank a glass of bicarbonate of soda and fell into bed after tearing my clothes off. It was a fantastic night.
Kristi gave me this scarf for my birthday on September 13, 2014. It was a warm evening and we were sitting in the glow of the candles on my front porch with Steve and Dee and Dhillon. We were sipping on gin and tonics and laughing about everything. Kristi knew that I loved handmade things, so she had this made for me. I hugged her and kissed her and cried. Her birthday was coming up in five days and I hadn’t planned anything for her yet, but we were planning a trip to the beach and I would get her something then. Something that she would choose.
How lucky we were. She was retired and my retirement had started just two weeks before. We had plans galore and she didn’t know it but I was hoping that one day we would be two old women sharing a house together.
That night we didn’t know that we had only the next 30 days with her. She was suddenly swept out of our lives, forever. You can only imagine what this scarf means to me.
This morning as I bundled up to take Yum Yum out for a walk, my scarf was not on the shelf with my hats and gloves, so I grabbed one of Hannah’s, figuring that I had worn mine upstairs where I might have left it.
Yum Yum and I had traveled about nine blocks, and there was my scarf, lying in the grass, strewn with twigs and leaves. “What?? That’s my scarf.” I quickly picked it up, expecting it to be wet and dirty and at least smelling like a dog or two had left their territorial mark on it. But no, it smells sweet like a cold and fresh autumnal morning.
Ancel said there was a force field protecting it. Yum and I never walk the same way twice but this morning, we passed where my scarf lay waiting for me.
The night when souls wander freely is fast approaching. The sky is clear and in this chill morning I can even read the constellations. Lights in sickly orange and violet shine eerily from rustling bushes and the withered, brittle leaves falling sound like footsteps following stealthily close behind. A black cat steals silently across my path, but I am not startled; I look behind to see if I am still alone in the black stillness. My gaze reaches out for the lone street light still beyond my rapid shuffle through the dark street. Was the crack in the wall always there or is it opening just for me. Finally. .. the bus. “Good morning, how are you?” “Great”, I say, as if nothing happened.
If loving and being loved leads to the point of a mental breakdown, then let the breakdown commence.
There is nothing more lovely and wonderful than to love and to be loved. Yes, when a loved thing dies, no matter what the form it takes, be it human or animal, tree or rock, a work of art in the form of something to touch, smell, see, taste or hear be it physical or ethereal, there is nothing more transcendent than to have loved or have been loved by that thing.
Life is not worth living if we have not reached those heights of ecstacy or have not descended into the abyss of loss. Those wounds to our hearts and minds, where we have been rent asunder, is where the light gets in. This is the fount of our creativity.
Tears of salt, of our joy and our pain, give flavor to life… makes it savory and rich. It’s why we have something to give to another. Do not fear to love unto madness.
Let the breakdown commence and be glad that your feelings run so deep.
Tonight nature drove me nearly mad and speechless. Scott and I went to Rocky Butte so he could capture the sunset for a project he’s working on. We climbed the stone stairs to Joseph Hill Park. Lovers lay in the soft clover scented grass; some embraced, kissing on the surrounding rock walls. A man had set up his camera pointing east.
From Rocky Butte one has a near 360° view. I knew that the sunset would be spectacular but I did not know that the full moon would rise out of the south side of Mt. Hood as the earth turned. At 7:50 something, it’s ghostly paleness appeared.
I stood up from laying in the cool, green grass and was awe struck at its size, at the glory of it. I could not tear my eyes from it as it rose higher and higher, brightening as the sky darkened, as the sun, to the west, sunk behind the hills surrounding Portland.
Turning toward the sun, its brightness burned its image into my eyes, so when I turned to watch the moon again, its glow was superimposed on the eastern sky. I didn’t know whether to cry or shout out loud to the moon and the sun that I loved them.
These photos do not begin to tell the story I want to share. They were taken on an old ipad, so forgive their quality. Let your imagination soar but know that even then, unless you were there, you will not know what I know.