I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer hits the Pacific Northwest

I like the shadow as much as the toes
I took this picture to show my sister what's left of the pedicure I got when I visited her in February. Just at the tip of my big toes, there's a little bit of chipped "purple rain" polish. I also liked the shadow play in the picture. I was sitting at the bus stop when I spied my toes and actually sent this one to her while I waited for the bus. I know that people do that all the time these days with their smartphones, but it was a first for me.

How technology has changed my world! When I realize that only a short time ago, I didn't walk around with a computer in my pocket, I couldn't ever imagine that something like Facebook would become so important to me. Through it, I keep track of goings-on with family and friends, and people I haven't seen in years still feel present in my life.

I had been keeping track of my niece Trish, my brother Buz's daughter, through Facebook, and I knew that she had recently separated from her husband and was at loose ends. I read her posts with interest as she made arrangements to fix up a van and travel across the country to Seattle. She is providing moral support to a friend who lives there; the friend's mother is very ill with cancer and not expected to live much longer. I got to be with my own mother when she grew sick, but this young mother is only 47, and while it's never easy to lose a loved one, it's especially awful when it happens at such a young age. At least I was an adult when Mama died. I know how much harder it was for my twenty-years-younger sister Fia to deal with it. And Mama lived a very full life, even if she only made it to 69.

Anyway, Trish was born and raised in Texas and moved to the East Coast with her husband and attended college. She has become a very talented artist and creates wonderful portraits of family pets. I've also watched her progress through Facebook as she put pictures up to share, and I was amazed, simply amazed, at the likenesses she is able to create. It's hard to understand just what it is in any portrait that makes the expression and features so unique, and the ability to capture and preserve such a moment is worth a great deal. And now I've gotten a chance to know her much better.

Trish's mother stayed with me in Boulder while she was pregnant with her, and I remember getting to know my brother's wife a little. They didn't stay married for long, and when Trish was born her mother had already moved back to Texas. Most of my family members are in that state, which is not a place I particularly like. It gets too hot in the summer, and there are no real mountains anywhere. Not to mention that Texas politics are not very easy for me to deal with. I've chosen to live in progressive communities and find Bellingham to be very much to my liking. Texas is a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. So when Trish decided last week to come and visit me in Bellingham, I looked forward very much to showing her what I like about my chosen home.

Over the years, I never had a chance to spend much time with her, one on one. When she was growing up, Buz only got to be with her on weekends, and it didn't happen often that I would be around when Trish was. But gradually I watched her grow up and become a very unique person. The last time, before this weekend, that I spent any time with her, she was in Texas for Thanksgiving. We were both staying with Buz and Phyllis (Buz's wonderful life partner), and I met Matt, Trish's husband, for the first time. What I remember most is being a little intimidated by the extensive tattoos both Matt and Trish sported. Trish only had a few back then, but Matt was decorated from neck to toe. It's such a different approach to one's body than I have, and it took some getting used to.

Now Trish has many very large tattoos, and before long I had forgotten about them. I didn't realize, until I would notice how people look at her, that they must give one a completely different relationship with strangers. I remembered how intimidated I was when I saw Matt's years ago, but if your loved one has tattoos, before very long you just don't see them any more. It was a bit like she was wearing a unique shirt, and I'd sit and admire it now and then, since the art is quite distinctive. She told me the meaning behind them and I realized that, just like always, the younger generation finds a way to be particularly unique and different from previous generations. These days tattoos and body piercings are everywhere. The world has come a long ways from the pierced earlobes that I thought were racy when I got mine done.

As we spent two full days together, I would sometimes get a flashback to those long-ago days when I was around Trish's mother. They have the same laugh, and I would be transported back more than three decades, thinking of Boulder in the sunshine, riding bikes and trying to get the pregnant mother to eat better and smoke less. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, smoking was everywhere, and I realize now how much I've grown accustomed to not being exposed to cigarette smoke. I realized with a jolt that her mother was actually smoking inside my house during those days! It was a different time, indeed.

We've gone through a couple of weeks of warmer-than-normal weather here in Bellingham, and for a few nights I even had some difficulty getting cool enough to sleep well. Those sandals in the picture are only worn around here for a few weeks during July and August, and then it's back to my more normal tennis shoes. Makes them last a long time when you don't use them much. I know some people are very accustomed to sandals, but for me it's like being in an alternate universe, having a chance to walk around with no socks like that. Feels good, though, I have to say.

Yesterday was our first day in weeks with a little rain, and of course it would happen on a Saturday, when I took Trish to the Farmers' Market. We didn't mind, though, walking around in a light rain, which has become much more familiar to me than days of unremitting sunshine. While my garden loves it, I was glad to have a respite from having to water. It looks like today will be much less rainy, and I'm hoping it won't interfere with my travel down to Snohomish. I've got a dear friend here in Bellingham who wants to celebrate her 65th birthday with a tandem skydive, and I've agreed to go with her and jump out at the same time. I did the same thing with Jonelle last year, which you can read about here, if you're interested. I'll climb outside the airplane and watch as she and her tandem instructor leave so that I can let go when they exit, and if all goes well, I'll land before her and get a picture of their landing.

It's been a very good week since we last visited, and everything is as usual here this morning. My tea is gone, my partner is still sleeping, and the birds, especially the crows, are making their usual racket. Since I've started feeding cats and now crows, I think they might be waiting for me to put out their breakfast. Cheeky birds, those crows. I like them, and they recognize me, I know they do. Take care of yourself between now and next Sunday, and enjoy your own little spot on our beautiful blue planet, until we meet again.


Anonymous said...

My niece has tattoos of a gun, hand grenade, and bullets on her shoulders and neck, and I wonder if they are hindering her ability to find work as a nurse. I don't have any and I don't think I ever will. Just too conservative, I guess.

Rian said...

I too use Facebook on occasion to keep track of friends and family. Doesn't seem the place to write other things as I do in my blog, but convenient for occasional jaunts.

As for tattoos, I really don't mind a few tasteful ones here and there on someone's wrist or ankle... but covering one's body doesn't appeal to me. But heck, I don't even like the moles I was born with or the other dark (age)spots that have begun to appear.

Sounds like you and Trish had a good visit and time to reminisce.

Linda Reeder said...

This has been a wonderful, busy week for me, and today we begin the slow down, get back to normal kind of routine, still busy, but not so many time demands.
I smiled at your first occasion to send an instant photo, of your feet! I am so hooked on my smart phone, and i am Facebooking all the time now, as you have probably already noticed. :-)
Tattoos are still not much of a happening thing here in my extended family, and that makes me happy. It is hard not to judge a book by it's cover, and we olders have a different idea of the whole tattoo scene than many of today's young people.
It's cloudy this morning, so I don't know if your jump is happening today. Hopefully it can be rescheduled if not.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You really should re do your polish! I had to laugh..if I did my toes no doubt the polish would have to wear off too!

You sound content with your world...I hope you get that photo of your friend:)

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Your post today sounds happy and curious and open to new things. And there's that jumping out of planes thing, PLUS taking photos. Have a great day and great week.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, It’s really neat to be relaxing on a Sunday and open up Eye on the Edge to see what the latest is in your interesting write-up on life. This time I especially enjoyed your comments on tattoos and Texas! :-) Tattoos are difficult for me to appreciate. I truly wish I could sit down and have a long talk with a really smart, tattooed, young person to try to understand their take on the whole thing. I try hard not to discriminate against these folks, but for some reason I see it as a form of rebellion, and a kind of in-your-face sort of thing. You know Seattle, and probably Capitol Hill (near my neighborhood) and there is quite a lot of that kind of thing here. Some of it is quite a bit worse than tattoos! It’s interesting to read your take on tattoos after spending that time with Trish. It helps me continue to refine my thoughts on the matter. Now, Texas! … Ha ha … I agree with you completely on this one … I grew up down there, loved it, and it has a lot going for it … but to go back … and LIVE there … not if I can possibly avoid it. The main reason is it’s too d**n hot in the summer, and, secondarily, like yourself, I just can’t buy their politics. Interesting to me … I see some respected sources predicting that Texas will become a Blue state soon … mostly due to the increase in Hispanics. Won’t that be a change!?! Well, thanks again for keeping an eye on John’s Island and your kind comments there. John

Arkansas Patti said...

Tattoos really are a young person(anyone under 50) thing but I really enjoy looking at them and sometimes trying to figure them out. Usually they mean something quite personal to the wearer.
Recently I saw a young girl with bare arms. The backside of her arms were tattooed to look like large angle wings. Pretty if strange.
So glad you got to spend such quality time with her and got reacquainted.
Hope you have good weather for your jump.

Red said...

The smoking thing has really changed. Teachers were great smokers. When I quit, I found I had to hang my coat in my classroom as I couldn't stand the smell.
We don't see our nieces and nephews enough to make meaningful relationships. Some of my nieces and nephews and a few cousins I have never seen.

Retired English Teacher said...

I had to laugh at your pedicure. I have been more lax about getting pedicures this year than I ever have. Right now, my nails are sans polish. This is usually unheard of in my world.

Tattoos are a generational thing, I think. I am not a fan of them, but my children all have at least one.

I'm glad you got to spend time with your niece and get to know her better. Have a great week.

Linda Myers said...

Tattoos. This younger generation! My older son has a "sleeve" and I think it makes him look like a gangster. But he was recently hired as a nurse at a hospital, so it must be me.

I loved yesterday and today when I didn't have to water. I have actually strained my shoulder muscles holding the hose for the half hour it takes. I need a smaller garden!

Meryl Baer said...

I sport a similar pedicure all winter!…I do a double take when I see a man or woman with tattoos up and down their arms, legs, and body, still not used to it - I guess it is a generational thing…Good to hear you are having such a wonderful summer.

Rita said...

What wonderful memories of mother and now daughter. It looked like you had such a great time.

Another birthday tandem! I hope you get pictures!

Crows definitely recognize you. I watched a special on PBS and they even will teach their young which people to avoid. Fascinating creatures! They obviously recognize good folk, too. ;)

Carol E. said...

I stumbled across your blog today, by following a friend of a friend's blog. I already like your blog, having read only one entry. I just came back from a wonderful week in your area. I love it there!! Soak it all up for me, too, please. Wish I could move to beautiful Washington!