Saturday, October 26, 2013

All Good Things

I am dreaming over a pair of Privo MaryJanes in a shoe catalog. "Wait!" says my friend. "Let's check the Good Will bin first."

Privos? At Good Will? In my size? Nah.

Guess what's in my closet!

Hardly worn!
I lust after a very pricey mattelasse daybed cover and bedskirt at Pottery Barn. "Wait!" says my landlady. I have..." She runs out the door and comes back minutes later with a mattelasse cover and a deep, double ruffle bed skirt. "...these!" she finishes, out of breath.

The bedskirt has a mushroom ruffle trimmed with cream colored fringe that just matches the cover. Washed and pressed, my second-hand daybed and previously owned coverings look brand new.

An entire living room change for a fraction of the price of new.

"What? No photos with your blogpost?" bemoans a friend who lives far away. "My camera's broken," I tell her, "but I'm saving for a new one."

"Wait!" she says. "I have a second camera I never use. I'll package it up and send it to you." It arrives in the mail, still in its original packaging, brand new and unused until today!

A new, new camera!

I tell my neighbor I am headed off to pick apples at a local U-Pick place. "Wait!" she says. "There are more apples on my trees than I can use this year. Help yourself!"

I grab a basket and fill it in minutes. Four quarts of apple sauce and three bags of pie filling are in my freezer now. There's also a bowl of snacking apples.

The best for last.

All good things come to those who wait.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

In HIs Footsteps

Wobbly table gets a new life.
My father could never be accused of being a handyman. He did know which end of a nail to hit and he had a handsaw hanging in the garage for emergencies but he made no apologies for having little aptitude for building or repairing things. So, when my mother requested a small table she could use as a sink counter extension we thought Dad would head to the nearest furniture store and purchase one. Head out he did, but after a fruitless search for a table that was both tall enough and narrow enough for the allotted space, he announced to us children that he would have to make it himself. My brother, who was taking carpentry lessons from a neighbor, offered to help, but my father politely declined, saying he wanted the table to be a surprise for my mother. We had no doubt it would be.

 I followed him out to the taproom where his worktable stood. Beneath the large workspace, which was covered with boxes of things that hadn't found their way to proper storage, were a number of boards of varying lengths. Stored on the floor beneath them were cans of paint, some half-used, some unopened.
Dad sent me into the garage for the handsaw. When I returned he had a board trapped in a vice and was hammering another board to it. I watched, impressed, as he selected, measured and cut another. Catching my expression he said, "I took shop in high school. I know what I'm doing."

Hence I didn't worry at his perplexed look when it came to affixing the legs to the narrow frame he'd nailed together. He had, by chance (or from some previous, unfinished project), four long, straight pieces of wood that seemed the perfect shape for table legs. After fussing about with them for awhile, he had me hold each piece flush into its proper corner of the frame while he nailed them in. The result was a bit wobbly but serviceable, a word that dominated my father's vocabulary.

He dug about in the board pile until he found one that was bigger than the frame. With a steady hand he spread wood glue along the frame edges, set on the table top and clamped the whole thing together. "We'll paint it tomorrow," he told me. We draped the project with an old sheet he used for catching paint spills and went in to dinner.

After supper the next evening he jerked his head at me and winked. I scrambled after him into the workroom. Dad pried the lid off a can of blue paint first but there was a mere inch in the bottom of the can, thick with scum. A can of brown paint wasn't much better and the white paint was so old it was ochre clear through. "This," said my dad, holding up a new can of canary yellow paint, "will have to do."

I had my doubts that Mama would be delighted with a canary yellow table in our predominantly pastel kitchen but I held my tongue. Turning the table upside down, Dad let me help paint the legs. "Tomorrow, when they're dry," he told me, "we will put a coat on the top and it's done!"

If my mother wondered what we were doing out there, she never asked. If she'd peeked beneath the sheet and saw what my father was planning to surprise her with, she never said. The night after we applied the final coat of yellow paint, my father proudly bore the table into the kitchen, setting it down next to the sink. It was nearly the perfect height. A shim stuck behind one of the legs countered the general wobbliness, and the canary yellow paint brought what I hoped my mother would think of as a bit of sunshine to brighten up her work space.

She looked at my father with wide eyes. Her hands flew to her cheeks as she examined his craftsmanship. Then she turned to us and with undisguised pride said, "Just look what your father has made for me!" And, as she turned to the sink, "Ask and thou shalt receive," muttered sotto voce so only I heard.

That table stood by the sink until both of my parents passed away and my sister, who inherited the house, had the kitchen remodeled. At my request, she saved the table for me and it made its way to my Vermont log cabin where I painted it white, covered its top with serviceable red and white plaid contact paper and stuck it near my own sink. It followed me back to the house of my childhood when I returned to Massachusetts and again to the cottage when I moved here a dozen years ago.

Today it's again being painted, a soft white to blend with the decor in my living area. As I peeled the old contact paper from its top and sanded the chipped paint on the legs, revealing for the first time in years its original color, I remembered the table's beginnings. Like my father, I'm no handyman though I enjoy reclaiming old things for repurposing. People often say to me, "You are your mother's daughter," when I do something they think is particularly witty or clever. Today, replacing the lost shim and catching paint drips that slithered down over Dad's old paint drips, I realized I am my father's daughter, too.

Daybed with trundle replaces old sofa.

Friday, October 18, 2013

And So To Home

Morning saw us stowing our cooking gear for the last time. After a hike along the Obsidian Flow, 1.1 square miles of black glass rock and gray pumice left behind from an eruption roughly 12,000 years ago, we headed west toward Eugene and the way we'd come a week earlier.

Black glass obsidian and pumice as far as the eye could see.
I've hiked small bits of the Appalachian Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. Now I can make that same claim about the Pacific Crest Trail. We walked a wee portion of it on our way into the forest to view Charlton Lake, a secluded wilderness campground. This whole trip centered around sharing B's favorite places. It makes living so far from my boy a tad easier when I can place him in the surroundings he describes in letters and phone calls.

Pacific Crest Trail
Ponderosa Pine
The forest was quiet, our footfalls silenced by fallen needles. Ponderosa Pines soared into the early morning blue and sunlight slanted through their trunks, making the woods a cathedral of light and occasional birdsong. The lake itself was small and surrounded on all sides by forest and mountain peaks. It was the most peaceful of places, remote, isolated, uninhabited. I could have stayed there forever.

Remote and beautiful Charlton Lake
The road home took us past the site of the 2003 Davis Fire that consumed 21,000 acres. Ten years later the area is still one of vast devastation. Dead trees stand like sentinels guarding a wasteland.

After 10 years, the desolation is still palpable.
Just before our final descent we rounded a corner. This is how I will remember the trip, this enclosed view of forest and volcanic peak promising astounding treasures if one only dared look beyond. I doubt I would be hardy enough to have made the trip west that the pioneers braved but oh! how their hearts must have soared at such beauty before them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Yesterday, Tomorrow

My day started with a walk before breakfast. Almost all the songbirds have departed; the mornings belong now to the crow and the jay. Several crows rose in a black cloud from the field as I passed, yelling and scolding as they settled into the branches of a large oak. Overhead three geese winged their way into the sunrise. Their undersides turned silver in the light.

Across the pond the trees are changing their green dresses for brighter colors - red and orange and vibrant yellow. They stare at their own reflections in the water and dance when the wind blows. Chipmunks are busy in the underbrush. One races across the road in front of me, his cheeks bulging.

It is good to have a day with absolutely no responsibilities. I walked until my stomach made my thoughts turn to food, then retraced my steps. Once the breakfast dishes were cleared and the floor vacuumed, I gathered up the dozens of catalogs that had accumulated while I'd been on vacation and sat on the outdoor swing to peruse and dream.

An afternoon nap after lunch seemed a good idea so I stretched out in the sunshine and dozed. I ignored the weedy gardens, the unpainted radiators, the cupboards and fridge and windows in need of washing, and idled away the afternoon hours with a good book and another mug of tea.

The day ended much as it began. I took a walk. Along the way I set free a hundred milkweed seeds. The geese returned from their foray into the cornfields. This time the setting sun turned their bodies to gold.

The light leeched slowly from the sky until full dark hid even the closest landmarks. Now the moon rides silently amid the stars and my bed beckons.

Perhaps I shall repeat today tomorrow.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Travels Resumed

First glimpse of Crooked River
Down out of the Painted Hills we drove, following a curving road through towering cliffs of basalt. We turned a corner and there below us was our first glimpse of the Crooked River, 155 miles of twisty-turny water that eventually empties into the Deschutes River. We stopped to walk along the near shore. The river was speckled with fishermen in waders; the cliffs were speckled with rock wrens. The air was still and warm. Except for the occasional car or motorcycle, no sounds but the calling birds and the music of the water broke the sleepy silence.

Castle Rock looks like an imposing fortress.

Back in the van, we drove past rock outcroppings with names like Castle Rock and Chimney Rock, crossed the Bowman Dam built in 1956 for irrigation and flood control, and headed for  the Lava Cast Forest where we hoped to camp for the night.

6,000 years ago, the Newberry Volcano erupted, spewing lava through the forest that lay at its feet. The lava began to cool and harden before the trees had been completely burned, creating casts of stone where trees had stood. We walked the interpretive trail as the sun was setting. Never have I been in a place so quiet, so eerie.

Camping was no longer allowed there so we headed to LaPine State Forest where we found a place to spend the night. The next morning we headed for Paulina Lake, one of the two lakes formed in the Newberry Crater from 500,000 years of volcanic activity. Here we set up camp for an extended two day stay.

Paulina Lake
With a mug of steaming tea in one hand and a book in another, I settled into a camp chair while Bren went for a swim. He ducked under and came up sputtering. "Colder than I thought!" he exclaimed clambering out onto the rocks along the shore, and then, "Hey Mom! Come look!"

Imbedded fossils
 Imbedded in the long flat rocks were bones, fossils of some long dead animal. We walked along the shore looking for more. Little striped chipmunks scampered all around us, chittering and sending up puffs of dust on the hardscrabble path.

We eat well when we camp. Supper was a splendid soup made from leftover vegetables and grilled cheese sandwiches made over the fire in a square pie iron. We sat with mugs of tea and s'mores, watching the sun set over the lake. The air cooled, the birds called goodnight, and we slept the sleep of the just, knowing tomorrow would bring another adventure.

Sunset on Paulina Lake