Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines Day 2014

                                              Just Another Valentines Day

            February 14, 2014.  Another day to worship LOVE.  To see if cupid's arrow has flown straight to our heart.   According to some study:  68% of Americans are happy in their relationships and the rest are seeking a loving relationship--(I wonder if they excluded all of the people in divorce court) What joy can love bring?  What sorrow can love bring!  I walk into every store and I see the plague.  People hanging around jeweler's cases, seeking the perfect diamond that says the perfect pitched, "I love you."  A cold rock can say I love you?  Can a silly balloon say I love you?  Can a bottle of Cristal say I love you better than a kiss you really connect with?  Is it only one day of the year that you can bring flowers home to your darling?
           I remember the year I sent 5 dozen roses to my lover at work because we had been married 5 years.  Does excess equate to love?  What is the difference between the excess of infatuation and true love.  What is in-love vs. in-lust.  Have you felt the madness--when you cannot stop touching, cannot leave your hands off of your lover.  Cannot stop repeating their name.  Cannot get their face out of your mind. Cannot sleep. They call this "love sick."  "Doctor, Doctor give me the cure."  Ever had a bad case of loving?

           True love as the song goes is very hard to find.  What is true love and how is it different than the national day of consumptive love and moving right on to mothers day and fathers day love.  Did I forget any other days to consume for the sake of the economy?  But maybe it is the one day you do not forget. Can you make it more than one day?  Or if you are like me,  you write love poems to your lover, of course.  Until she begs you to stop.  It is like the sour dough starter that you left on the stove and it erupts like a Vesuvius lava flow because you forgot it was there.  Oh, the sticky mess of love poems.  Silly love.  How many ways can you say, "I love you."  How foolish (like a fool) can you be.  How far can you debase yourself?  How far can you let your ego dissolve; until you are one in body & soul with your lover?  I believe love can make you a better person.  Can stretch you to be better.  Love can help one to see that the person that accepts you in all of your flaws and faults is unconditionally loving you--that they are like confessional magic that forgives accepts and loves. Say your hail Marys or is that Mari-ekes?  That their affirmation of you helps you to love bigger and look in the mirror and love yourself.  And with this secure love, you can spread it to all of your human intercourse--no pun intended.
                                                                 Takes you to another dimension that jelly roll.  Let's go!


Salt and scented sometimes

Trumps soap and squeaky  clean

Sweat and the musky smell are part

Of ordinary unscheduled days

When time has turned  to dark

You must not let this chance go

Without kissing her

Going to that place

Where tectonic plates collide

The wild earth quake ride

Tides rising and sweeping you away

Into another tomorrow today

                                                              This poem is dedicated to R&P who also love too much

Is It Love or Codependence

All my thoughts are microdots

When Im not close to you

All my bodysoul  screams out why

  Gone  where is my blue sky

So when I cant find you

Im lost  don’t have one clue

Please  give me a Garmin with GPS

So I can find you and not be a mess

All my dreams are nightmares

Gone your love  how it scares

You give me piece and everything good

You are my breath  my manna food

Sometimes when you are young, you feel invincible

What kind of fool walks in a forest in a windstorm
With his lover in armed protective karma
The wind blows us all knowledge
It is gone with foggy breath
Do not fear life or death

More stuff  from cleaning up the lava flow

Marieke Kemper
Marieke 51

Like a picture by a stream

Beauty was standing

I had to tell myself to look not stare

Wonder if the water frothing by

Would really take my twig raft to the sea

If  you were the  riding close one

The person that haunts my sailing dream

Hoping you are both the same

Please tell me your name

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Fabulous Durkee Girls--Part II

          The Fabulous Durkee Girls Part II

         Virginia (Durkee) Richards.  Big sister to Dorothy (Durkee) Harris.  You already know about how different these sisters were to each other but were bonded by blood and love.  Let's count the differences:
          Virginia could start anything from cuttings            Dorothy layered starts
          V was a realist that did not attend Church            D was an every Sunday Episcopalian
          V was very Fox Republican                                D not so right
          V was physically an oak                                      D was a willow
          V gardened on a hillside                                      D gardened on the flat
          V taught &  counseled at a high school                 D taught sewing arts at Clark College
          V did not want a funeral service                           D filled the celebrating church
          V was peanut butter                                            D was the oil
          V was a named Rhododendron                            D was a named Dogwood
          V was a tea-totaller                                             D would take a tetch of Johnny Black
          V was computer literate                                       D refused to use computers
          Virginia introduced  Dorothy to her future husband through her husband to be (Leverett).  Lev was  wiry & little of stature physically. As a man he cast a giant shadow:  flew bombers in WWII, retired a colonel in the air force reserves,  worked for the Oregonian newspaper as a reporter and had many scoops, wrote 3 books, went to tennis camp in Hawaii well into his 90's, mowed his own lawn with a hand-pushed reel mower, and he and Virginia could really cut the rug way into their 90's.
           As I sit here at the computer February 7, 2014, Marieke and I have experienced a power outage which froze up our pipes/well?  V & D lived in an era that was introduced to electricity.  Can you picture living without lights--fire up the candles, it's dark--no t.v., oven, stove, reading lights, no computer, no well water, no electric heat...  We got a taste this week and it's fun until you have to flush the crapper( for those of you who do not know this little piece of  etymology:  "crapper, taking a crap,going to the John" came from the gentleman who perfected the toilet, Thomas Crapper, although it was actually invented by John Harrington.  The good part, I don't have to do the dishes; the bad they are stacking up and we don't have many left.  Thank God (god) for paper plates and our wood stove.  Still the problem of water--Virginia and Dorothy had a spring which headed on their parents property--lucky them.
           Their father Mr. Durkee sent both of his only two children to Willamette University in Salem.  This was in hard times so I know that they worked for the school president.  Mr. Durkee sent these girls to university when women were chattel.  I wonder if he emphasized education for his girls because he was  an educator.  A thumbnail sketch of their father:

The works of R.S. Durkee in Clark County were many and varied.He was a state representative , educator and county superintendent of schools , farmer and community leader.Durkee was a founder of the modern-day Clark County Fair , an active Grange member , served 10 years as president of the board of the Canners Cooperative and was on the board of the Clark County Cattlemen's Association and the Nut Growers Cooperative.He worked to bring electricity to Battle_Ground and to create Lewisville Park , for the expansion of Vancouver Memorial Hosptal and sat on the board of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library.Durkee is cited as having once said , If you want something done , give it to a busy person.

Tuke's Mt. gift of the Durkee Sisters to Clark Co. in perpetuity                                                                   
               One can see from the portrait of their father that the two offspring were born to serve and give back to the community.  Not only did Virginia and Dorothy become teachers but they gave their home place in Battle Ground (34 acres on Tukes mountain) as a park to the people of Clark County.  Really something when they could have made $$$$$$ by developing it.
              Virginia was imbued with this generosity.  She gave in thousands of small ways.  Measure a person by how they treat ordinary people.  She gave a job to all of my children. Grant, Ty, Alisa, Noel all worked for her in her garden and she let our  grandchildren Star, Caitie, and Maymay play there too.  She supported our family in every way from baby showers to never missing a jazz/rock party.  This is the mind of the Durkee sisters at 80 years +:  We had a shuttle at one of our parties and I asked Gin why they didn't take it to the top of the hill..  She said, "We thought that was for the old people."  She always had a coke or root beer waiting in a cooler if she wasn't home.  Her cookies were the real thing down to the correct spatula press in her out of this world peanut butter cookies.  Much wisdom was imparted to all during break time or visits.  Perhaps, it was only natural, since she was a school counselor in her days at Hudson Bay Hi.     ( Marieke went to see her as a student--interesting how our webs cross and re-cross each other).
              She was always an intellectual staying on top of all current, salient topics.  She had a computer long before her contemporaries and sneered at snail mail.  She was always trying to get Deedee, her sis, to use one.  Her e-mail address was giniadr.  Hence, why I called her Gin.  She was way ahead of the curve on vitamin D.    She was a political junkie and had Fox news on incessantly to my visiting chagrin--she couldn't convince the left out of me though she tried rightly.  I'll always wonder if she voted for Kennedy in '60(difinitely not according to her niece Katie who watched the returns with the family).  She was the first to tell me why the male maturity gene does not kick in until about 25.  Wished I would have known that then.  That old, "If I knew then, what I know now" syndrome.
              She suffered many trials in her life. They did not make her stop living or believing in this world.  It was a pragmatic lesson to us all to keep going and make the best out of what we cannot change.  She did not go to church yet she supported  the good works of Dorothy's church financially.  I can only say that she was a saint that didn't go to church.
              On a lighter note, she was an avid, avant-garde-ner.  She always had the newest varieties or hottest new thing.  A huge hosta collection--she turned me on to Sum and Substance and other newbies.  She was the first to have Crocosmia 'Lucifer'--a devilish red.  Every year she started hundreds of chrysanthemums and shared what she didn't plant.  She had great advice about "too diligent weeding":  You never know when you might pull out something interesting or a new variety.  She had an extensive Rhododendron collection and knew all of the hybridizers--had one named after her--'Virginia Richards'.  Her indomitable spirit was amazing.  She had severe osteoporosis doubled over half way to the ground.  Her affliction suffered no complaint and did not stop her from pulling herself along, planting her dizzy lizzies or weeding.  For me that was the greatest example-- that as I grow closer to the ground (on this side of)--I hope I too will not give up but with my last strength I will drag myself along the ground planting with my last shovel bang and nary a whimper.

                                                  Here is a poem she inspired me to write:

                                                  Gin and I Ponder

                                        Time has been well spent
                                        Did you want to repeat 
                                        What you said
                                        Only a little
                                        Was it worth saying at all
                                        Did you believe it was
                                        A joke then but
                                        Now it makes 

                                        Only the truth

                                        There was someone else who believed
                                        Not like a crowded church parking lot
                                        Promises of  pie and ice cream
                                        Feasting in one of many mansions
                                        Like rows of Japanese maple clones all waiting
                                        To be worshipped like Emperor One in fall color
                                        She said the words I have been thinking
                                        For a long time maybe 90 years she said
                                        What’s the matter with going to sleep
                                        We have no promises of  smiling reuniting
                                        Memories only that become the recorded word
                                        Of every man’s brain joined with Gaia
                                        Saying I have not crushed  hummingbird dreams
                                         I have built compost and planted spring colors too
                                         I am happy to go to sleep each night
                                        As long as I was aware the day before
                                        And the day before that
                                        And if I fell asleep while it was light
                                        Forgive me
                                        Wasn’t this enough

Make it enough!        Our annual hegira for apricots and picnic at Maryhill Winery


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Fabulous Durkee Girls--Part 1


        In future blogs you will see many heavy to happy topics in poem, but you will also see heroes and  villains--my ex.  People  I celebrate in poems as having been inspirational to my life and the outlooks they shared by their life 's testament.

        Little sister, Dorothy, and big sister, Virginia, were like Adam's peanut butter.  You know the one where the oil separates out and you have to stir it up.  That is how I saw them:  Peanut Butter and Oil.  Totally opposite but stir them up and they belonged to each other.  Totally inspirational and yummy to know.  Religious/Episcopalian D and Agnostic/perhaps atheist V.  Oh, but they loved each other.  They both lived to garden.   Dorothy had a dogwood (a natural hybrid of Cornus nuttali and C.florida) she found in her garden named after her.  Virginia had a rhododendron named after her:  'R.Virginia Richards' though she argued it should have been named after her husband, Leverett, who had interviewed  a rhododendron breeder instead of being named after her.  Also, she complained her Rhodi was famous for being the first that scientists isolated the killer fungus###.    Giniadr embraced her e-mail handle and the latest technology as much as little sis hung on to"snail mail" and making wine and quilts for her grandchildren.

                                                      PART I THE  DOROTHY STORY

           I liked to call her Harris because that was the name she took when she married her husband who was one of the people that caught polio after WWII.  Mr. Harris was handicapped from his illness and permanently on crutches like another client of mine Harry Russell.  It is interesting to me that though they both had this disability; they never acted like they needed special treatment from society.  Instead they did not act like society owed them anything and they did not let their impairment stop them from doing anything. Always they would be out working whether it was dead-heading rhodis on a walker or planting their garden on their knees.  Harry R. even played golf on crutches and had his own consulting business for years.  Mr. Harris, was one of the head engineers that built the gorge roads.  His office close to Maryhill was in a converted service station among the Gunkel peach orchards (google: peach beach campground).

            He was a bit of a character and there was a perpetual fog of Camel smoke in their home until the day he died.  He once told me, a garden guru when I was in my twenties, how to start grapes and he gave me some of their cuttings.  He said "Mark them well so that you know the top from the bottom.  Then stick the top into the soil."  I diligently followed his instructions and every one of the cuttings grew.  It was not until 30 years later that the realization that he was making fun of the punk who knew it all. You could even lay them sideways and they would grow.  He had a laugh from the grave and I am much more humble and and now admit I know nothing.  He loved to play with dynamite--it was easier than digging holes for their apples and pear trees.

            You ask, " I thought this was Dorothy's story."   He was sewn into the fabric of Dorothy's life from the day they met.  She was up in a fruit tree when Virginia's then future husband was with his best friend Jay Harris.  I would have loved to hear their exchanges.  "Is it a nut in the tree?"   They read to each other every night with a glass of homemade wine they had made together--heady things like Lewis and Clark's journal.    I called her the "little ole winemaker". She was an inspiration to our now carboy madness.  Her basement was full of carboys with air locks and aged bottles of blackberry (a desert wine that rivaled the best black muskat) or Oregon grape that was dry and so good.  Can you imagine picking 20 pounds of pioneer grapes for a 5 gallon carboy.  She gave us many of her recipes.  Many Friday nights after work were done next door at Harris's. We would sip these and her favorite scotch.

How do you have a crush on someone your grandmothers age?  Easy.  I would watch her from next door going back and forth with her little honda tiller preparing her garden.  Watch her garden rich with compost she made burgeon.  Whose rich?  The spoiled control freak I worked for or the one who loved the earth and shared all she had?  Anyway, I ached to have a help-mate like her. Good things do come true.   Voila, I found my darling, Marieke, a very important footnote in this story.

It was she and her sister, Virginia, who turned us on to Peach Beach.  This was the same place that her husband, Jay, had an office in the old service station down a winding road from Oregon's Stonehedge, which was the headquarters for the building of  highway 14 with all of it's tunnels. ( I assume this was where Jay became fond of dynamite)  The Gunkel orchard in Maryhill,  with peaches and apricots (they had to be Tiltons) and Sam Hill's wonderful Museum of Rodins and history was discovered.  Every year we would make the hegira with Dorothy and Virginia to pay homage to sun-ripened apricots and peaches.

We would all split up and u-pick.  Dorothy, in her nineties would be to the top of an orchard ladder immediately.  Marieke always the worrier would stick close to D. but would finally come over to me and say you catch her if she falls.  After the truck was full and the poundage paid for, we would head to the top of the hill to the Maryhill Winery.  There we would brouse the wines and invariabley pick their fine Sangiovese (Chianti).  Pop the cork and lay out our picnic feast.  D would always bring fried chicken and her homemade dills.  After our repast we would head back the Washington gorge side.  In no time, Dorothy, who had talked all the way up, would be fast asleep.  Then it would be Gin's turn to talk and the miles would roll by the mighty Columbia.

The sadness of how today's culture & wisdom is lost from the elders was not true with Dorothy.  How many people learned from Dorothy.  Wow, my mom took sewing classes from Dorothy at Clark College. Dorothy was one of the few women of her time that went 4 years to college.  She advanced studied in Paris and made all of her and her daughters' own clothes.  I would have loved to have one of the vests she made lined with lamb wool.  All of her grandchildren had a beautiful handmade quilt.  It is interesting that the inspiration she gave to all rubbed off on everyone.  She would have loved to live long enough to see her grandson and wife have this business:  Perfectly natural  Hand made soap made for all, but heavenly for us gardeners.

I worked next door to her garden for 30 + years.  She never ceased to amaze me.  I was honored to be by her bedside when she slipped off of her mortal coil.  She always shared her garden and she is alive in our garden  today.  When we walk down our paths, we say," Hello Harris, you're looking fine today.  Perhaps that is one more lesson she gave:  Share your wealth.  And finally, she was the muse for these poems.

              This poem was written in the Baja soaking in the sunset, sipping on a bottle of Harris’s black berry elixir, and cooking on her # 9 iron skillet--all things she gave us for our trip.


Thank you Harris little old wine maker
We sip to you
Two chairs on the Baja beach
A bottle of  your Marion berry champagne
The waves lapping on the sea of Cortez shore
Quiet--evidence of footsteps left in sand
Now only pelicans and porpoise play not too loud
In the last tie-dyed colors of light
This is vacation and you are with us

And she always will be with us.  DeeDee is the name her sis, Virginia called her.  She was just like the chickadee.  Flitting and singing.

                           Chick-a Dee-Dee

I hear you in the trees
You cannot let me forget your song
I remember when you were
Battleground Plum Princess in the days
When people celebrated
The flowering of the Italian plum orchards
They crowned you in this spring rite
Begging to the brown earth to come alive
Praying to all of the gods
That the dryers would be full come fall

There you were
Witness to the death
Twelve foot wide giants riding to the mills
Only stump platforms for your playhouse
You respected those who lived  on this ground
Long years ago--legends were learned
All for the good of Clark county
Your father’s mountain home will be a park
Where my grandchildren will discover
Wild flowers still grow

Remember a skipping girl
Passing the fruit trees down the lane
Grazing on whatever loaded branches were in season
If you couldn’t reach on tip-toes
You would have to climb
Tom girl still in the tree
When the love of your life
Asked you to come down
“Is this a nut tree?”

All the stories told
Repeated like some Indian legends
We could never be bored
Finishing your stories for you
Friday nights live
A glass of wine from the cellar
The same grape pioneers fermented
Now the bottle is empty
We grieve  for a glass and your smile
You are still alive
As the passing of your lemon cake recipe
And the grafts of your Dorothy dogwood