Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE


I have written about Cabela's before:  https://myviewfromhere-donna.blogspot.com/2012/08/make-my-day.html.  It was a sort of tongue in cheek piece about the store being "gun central" in a rapidly growing retail center alongside the interstate.  I had never set foot in the place before I wrote that post, nor since, until last week.  My son had asked for camping gear for Christmas and mentioned Cabela's, so I thought, "A-ha!  Gift card!"  So one sunny morning I pulled my Suburu Outback into the parking lot along with the idling pick-up trucks already there.  I stood in line at the front door of Cabela's, smiling and nodding to the mostly burly men also waiting for them to open.  I was curiously excited about going inside.


Once through the doors I decided to search first for the yoga section, looking for a new mat and a meditation cushion.  They apparently don't carry those items. (Ha! Ha!  Just kidding!)   What they DO carry is everything for the "outdoorsman".  Or woman -- I saw a stack of pink camo shirts that read "Women Hunt Too!"  I'm not sure what pink critter they are hunting, but I guess they do.


The store is huge and chock-o-block full of clothing and gear for hunting, fishing, camping, shooting, or competing in the Hunger Games.  I wandered around sort like a sheltered kid in Disneyland, amazed that such a place exists and that my life is so far afield of it.  At times I was actually grinning, all by myself, at the sights I beheld:  camo clothing that could outfit an Army; archery equipment that Katniss would swoon over; fishing poles and nets and lures and line and bobs that would fool even the smartest trout; rifles, shotguns, handguns...I don't know, an extensive "gun section" I guess.
 I only glimpsed it from afar.  I still have a stomach-churning aversion to firearms of any kind (and had to spend a moment picturing the young man who had bought a rifle at this very store to kill his ex-girlfriend and others last summer.)  I turned quickly from that section to the mountain and aquarium exhibit of live fish and taxidermied majestic animals standing forever still but representing all their species still roaming free -- for now.  In fact the entire store is an advertisement for the many animals that can be (and were) killed to create the outdoorsy decor throughout.

I tried on a very stylish hat on my way to the check-out stand.    Several guys stopped in their tracks, perhaps not sure what they were seeing.  I'm glad they were unarmed.

So, Cabela's....I doubt I'll be back any time soon.  But I didn't hate it.  It is a very inviting space for folks who need what they have to sell.  Along with the Gift Card, I actually did buy two long-sleeved t-shirts for myself.  (NOT camo.)  I considered them souvenirs from my field trip to the great outdoors-ish-y Cabela's.  Still in the market for a yoga mat, though.

At least, that's the view from here...©


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

CREATE: ART SAVES LIVES

I'm in one of my favorite places in all the world. (Well, I've only been to a teeny fraction of the world -- that which doesn't involve transatlantic flight, so there's that...but still a favorite place!)  I'm looking out the window on a quintessential Northwest scene with the sun breaking through to shine in warming my shoulder and I am content and happy and feeling deep, deep gratitude for my life.

Every year Hub and I come here for a three-day getaway to celebrate my December birthday and the holidays.  This town, Pt. Townsend, Washington, (Google it -- charming and historic) holds so many memories for us, even though the shops and restaurants change little from year to year and the gorgeous scenery not at all, thankfully.  It's been documented that Hub and I are creatures of habit and return again and again to familiar places we love.  We are "settlers" more than "explorers", I guess.  We have often talked of moving here and I still have a longing to do that and would in a heartbeat but for our sons and their families, especially the grandkids, and our friends who we see frequently and love like family.  A 2-1/2 hour drive-ferry crossing-drive from our current home would make being wth all of them an occasional event, not a multi-day of the week one.  We are tethered to where we live by love and commitment and gratitude.  We won't leave now.  But we come here annually for sure and often more frequently since summers here are glorious as well.

These three days have been a respite from the bustle of holiday prep at home and from the to-do lists that seem always to grow longer and never completed.  At home I wake up full of "gotta get going" energy with things to do, places to go, people to see competing for my time.  Here, in true vacation fashion, I wake up soaking in the creative energy that permeates the air here.  I wake up eager to stroll across the street to a waterfront coffee shop for my first cup, then to the waterfront restaurant on the other end of town that is our favorite for breakfast, then wandering in and out of boutiques and bookstores, home decor, garden, and toy shops.   We might stroll up the hill to "Uptown" to visit a cool grocery there where they sell the best cookies!  We go to the tea shop that has a comfy seating area where we plan our evening -- which of our favorite dinner places to hit before a movie at The Rose -- an old-fashioned movie theater in town.  If the weather is nice, not too windy, we might take a beach walk (and since Hub is reading this, I acknowledge that the weather doesn't hold him back and he just returned from a multi-mile walk while I hung out drinking coffee, so really HE'S the walker, not me, but there is always the possibility I might...)

One thing I haven't left behind is my FB newsfeed and I admit it's been a bummer to follow the ongoing debacle that is the political situation in our country.  I am more dejected and bereft with every Administration appointment and ridiculous Tweet from the minority-president-elect. (Hillary won 2.5 million more votes that he, so he's the "minority-president" forever after in my mind.)   What is happening is surreal -- his Cabinet appointments are gazillionaire business cronies or washed up politicians with no experience for the job.  They have vast conflicts of interest in every position.  It's a joke but it's not funny.  I've talked to so many friends who are still feeling their lives to be off-balance, and I am among them.  I feel like I'm just holding on to my own life, but what's happening around me threatens to pull me out of my reality at every turn.  People say they are going through the motions of their lives, trying to find islands of peace and hope, while also being buffeted by despair and outrage.  It's a schizophrenic experience.

Yesterday, at the coffee shop, I was inspired to write a "rhyming poem", something I never do unless I "hear" music that might apply to it.  I sent it off to two collaborators -- excellent musicians and great friends who have put my words to music and may end up on a couple of CDs one day soon (YAY!).   It was one of those moments where I looked out at Puget Sound and watched the ferry glide by, after having read news of Aleppo, Exxon, Standing Rock and an op ed by Charles Blow in the NYT (he's been a voice that speaks to me) about finding love and justice in the midst of terror and destruction -- of cities and of institutions.  The words floated into my head and out through my fingers on the keyboard organically, without thought or much editing.  I love when the Muse just takes over almost against my will.  The song lyrics I've written (few and far between) are almost always like that -- with the musicians doing the hard work of finding melodies to go with them.  I loved being in a creative groove, because I think art is necessary in a world gone awry.

I once bought a bumper sticker in this town in a shop that featured Native American Art.  It read: Art Saves Lives.  I put it on our old van and it traveled with us for many, many years -- inspiring me and maybe others who sat behind us in traffic, who knows?  Humans have the urge to create.  Find your special place, get quiet, indulge in pleasures that relax, and then do your art.  Whatever that is.  Sing, dance, paint, write, knit, sew, build, weld, cook, tell a joke.  BE.

The world needs us refreshed and ready to save lives, the earth, the future.

At least, that's the view from here....©


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

NOT THE REAL THING

Sad.  Disappointed. Resigned.  No, I'm not still talking about the election (at least not in this post), I'm talking about purchasing our first artificial Christmas tree in our 44-year marriage.  We are Christmas tree traditionalists and we have scorned and mocked those who years ago "went artificial".  Nope!  We'd never!

Well...we did.

For 30 years we have gone to the same Christmas tree farm in the country to cut our own tree.  The farm was a 40-acre wood owned by a retired couple who grew the trees as a labor of love, enjoying the outdoors together and tending their crop of Nobles and Fraser Firs.  It was our family tradition to go the Saturday after Thanksgiving to tromp over wet or snowy or frozen ground to find "just the right tree". We usually ended up with the first one we saw closest to the truck, but we had to explore far and wide to be sure there were no others better.  After it was cut and hauled back to the truck, we made our way to the outdoor shelter where the owners had a roaring fire going and a kettle of hot cider ready to pour.  We'd sip our cider sitting on cedar logs while Hub paid for the tree -- $20.00 for any tree of any size.  We first went there when Son One was a year old.  Last year was our last trip, with both of our sons now grown with us and a daughter-in-law and two granddaughters in tow.  The owners told us then that it would be their last year.  They are in declining health (although still remarkably agile for being 90-someting!) and their children and grandchildren were not interested in opening the property for tree sales.  We assume one day it will all be sold to a developer and new houses will stand where the trees once grew; such is the way of progress.

Hub and I loved the family tradition of going there, but the "hassle-factor" of a real tree was also real. We said for the past number of years that when the tree farm closed, we wouldn't hunt for another (hating the commercialized "all-the-trees-in-straight-rows with a Santa and a mini-train and gift shop" type of tree farm that is so common.)  We said, "Maybe it will be time to get an artificial tree at some point."

So that's what we did this year.  A plastic tree in a box.  Hub bought it at Costco, brought it home and had it up in about 15 minutes, with LED lights pre-installed that you can set to being all white, all colors, or alternating between the two.   As the parts clicked into each other and the branches fell into perfect alignment, my heart started to sink.  This is NOT what a Christmas tree should do, look like, or smell like (nothing.)  I felt a big letdown and was very sad and started to complain....

Then Hub reminded me of his 44 years of Christmas tree experiences -- driving to the farm, finding a tree, cutting it down, hauling it to the truck, securing it either on top or in the bed; driving home and unloading it into a bucket of water on the patio, a week or so later retrieving it from the bucket that sometimes was frozen solid, so thawing it first; then carrying it up to the back deck and sawing the trunk off to the appropriate height, wrestling it into the house and through three rooms to the living room; setting it in the stand, getting it straight and positioned to best aesthetic effect; stringing the lights that only rarely cooperated by having weathered the attic still functioning -- full strings burned out for no reason, half strings lit, some lit, then going out once they were on the tree; shopping for and spending a fortune on guaranteed-to-stay-lit LED lights that I complained about to no end because I found them intense and "dead", not sparkly like tree lights should be; then putting water in the tree stand base, usually spilling it on the floor and having to wipe up the spills...then asking me daily if I remembered to water the tree (most of the time I did; not always.)  I joined in during the hanging of the ornaments and the daily pleasure of enjoying the magic of smelling a real tree in my house.  I guess I had the easier end of the 'real tree' deal.

So, this year we have a fake tree.  Son Two sent me a video on Facebook about the environmental damage of manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of plastic trees compared to real ones, which only made me feel worse (thanks, kid) considering our concern for climate change, but here we are anyway with a plastic tree in the living room.

Our choice of a real tree was often met with a quizzical expression by friends who found it to be rather strange to choose a tree with so many big spaces and goofy branches, but we loved our old Nobles and Frasers that allowed lots of room for our dangly ornaments collected over the years reflecting the interests and travels of each family member for that year.  Now there is no "dangling" space.   This tree is perfectly (traditionally) shaped and lit.  I've cut way back on my old ornaments and replaced them with others I can just shove in between the branches and let them rest there.  I use a remote control to switch the lighting between all white and colors, depending on my mood.  There is no spilled water on our newly refinished wood floors.

And here's the thing: I have a whole forest of fir trees on our property where I can cut greens for the mantel and table top.  I have a live holly tree to cut sprigs for decorating homemade swags. I will get some evergreen scent in my home.   Family will gather.  We will reminisce about the old tree farm.  Our sons will not love our tree (they found real ones at other places for their homes), but they will love us and all the rest of our traditions that are still firmly in place.  Christmas will happen.

And Hub will be happy when the tree comes down in three sections and back in the box instead of a messy haul-out through the house, down the stairs,  and a long drag to the brush pile at the back of our property.  And we won't have to vacuum up stray, stuck in the carpet, needles for weeks.

O!  Plastic Christmas Tree!  How lovely are thy branches....


At least, that's the view from here...