Wind Work

To be is too much work.

I crave the wild and wistful wind;

Some days my edginess creeps

in so far — there’s nothing

for it but to go out and let

the wind do its work:

soul building

grace restoring

dust clearing.

The stronger the wind, the longer

I linger. I lean on its breath.

Then, when the world again is

still and the creatures return

to industry, I feel myself moving

through and through the trees;

around and down the river,

into open meadow green and

I am as free and wild again

as the zephyrous wind.


The Color of Your Heart

(Written for my art students at Howard Street Charter School, 2012)

The color of your heart is deep and wide–

It gathers all around me

And fills my days with laughter rich

And teaches me to be

More colorful myself, spilling all

My deepest hues

(Those I tend to hide inside)

Instead of showing them, like you.

Together we can paint the world to

Create a masterpiece

Of love and harmony and then

Our world can be at peace.


My First Year in School

“When I was six and in the first grade I went to Jefferson School. It was located where the elementary school is now. The first floor was elementary and the second floor was high school. In the basement were our rest rooms. One noon I was late to leave the rest room. The bell sounded and I couldn’t get the door open because it was stuck or locked. I could not get out. I never came to class so the teacher sent someone to look for me. They couldn’t get the door open either and I was so embarrassed. Two big boys from the upper class came down and took out the window. One jumped in and lifted me up to the other boy outside the window.

“My most embarrassing moment.”

–Louise Looney Cox


Happenings of Earl Days At Old Dever School, Dist. No. 20

“My first teacher was Rebecca Crooks (Hoefer), a very sweet lady till the day we were marching into school in a double line and Bertha Skelton (Barnes) suddenly vaulted right over Eva Hooper’s head. Frank Asche was sent back of the school yard for a hazel and Rebecca went into action.

“Another teacher was Elmer Nash who boarded with Joe Jones family. He would watch Mr. Jones set pies in her pantry window to cool and when no one was looking he’d steal a pie, then watch Mary Jones punish her kids, Fred, Frank, Nellie and Myrtle.

“When Ada Cowls was teacher, Bill Hoefer often visited the school. Youngsters were not supposed to know why he was so interested in school. One day when Bill was visiting, the Asche twins (Freda and Lena), Jake Gilmour, Nelson Gilmour, Wayne Kelly and Della Asche marched up to the platform and sang: Can she bake a cherry pie Billy Boy? Blonde Ada was scarlet and furious.

“The Gilmour boys and Wayne Kelly usually teamed up together. One day as teacher sat down, she leaped straight up, demanding to know who put the needle in her chair. Three boys stood up to take the blame. Jake was asked to come forward and put the phonograph needle in the cane bottom chair exactly as it was placed for the teacher. ‘Now Jake you sit down,’ he was told. He carefully sat forward and slid back into the chair pushing the needle as he sat. She next tried to shake Jake but he was as large as she and so very limp, she could do nothing.

“There were no modern play things. A Flying Dutchman was always fun. This was a pole fastened on top of a stump with a spike or wood pin. The big boys would run around at top speed while all who could would hang on. The little kids eager to get in on the fun would run in while the log was in motion and get knocked down. One Monday we viewed the sad remains of our Flying Dutchman. Mrs. Jones and Fred had gone to school on Saturday with axes and chopped stump and pole into bits. After that we had to be satisfied with a teeter board through the old rail fence.

“All attractions were not at school. As we walked by Ed Chambers on wash day we used to stop and watch the big old Angora goat doing the family washing. To make Luella’s wash day easier Ed built an incline for the goat to walk up. This turned a pulley fastened to the washing machine. When he got tired he would brace his feet, some one would have to get him started from the rear. The washing would proceed until his next rest.

“One of Dever’s present Grandmothers loved to steal the boys bicycles and ride west. One day three boys waylaid her; in a fence corner they proceeded to pants-guard on her. This would be fine in modern overall attire, but in those days the girls all wore dresses.

–Della Ede

In The Unraveling

Thread that binds us

is impossibly strong;

we are more closely knit

than we can fathom

(even if we do try

to deny this often).


Seams sometimes split;

some places need

more mending and tender

care. In mending, time

has a strengthening way

of altering the original.


Sometimes in the unraveling

we find and follow

the thread that binds us;

it’s then we see how

strong we are and what

we have been together.

Post-It Note

I’m in my 7th month working at a job I really enjoy: selling jewelry and stringing pearls for Olufson Designs, a jewelry store in downtown Corvallis. This gig began as a part time job working at their silver shop on Madison Avenue in the front retail shop of the TOBY POMEROY company (where the BEST jewelry is created by Brandon, Brandon, Hank, Toby and Les). Just before I started work, I was told that Les’ dog Tawny had recently died. “Oh,” said, “I’ll paint her portrait for you.”

In my efforts to tidy up at the shop, I found an old wooden platform that would make a perfect canvas for an Australian Shepherd named Tawny! For Les’ birthday I finished the painting. Overall I was happy with the results: I included a bird (Les, his wife and his 3 year old are avid bird watchers) and Les’ favorite strand of pearls from the Olufson’s Jewelry store). Most importantly, I was able to include the “snaggle tooth” that Les’ sister Elisa insisted be in there! It sounded like Tawny’s most recognizable feature. Les kept the painting in his work office where he at first said it made him feel sad, but now makes him smile.

Just yesterday, Les passed on one of the best stories I’ve heard in a long time; one that makes my heart melt to a warm liquid consistency.

As I was putting my son to bed, he had some Post-It notes and he asked, “Papa, what are these yellow papers for?” I told him they were made for people to write things on that they wanted to remember. His son replied, “I want to remember Tawny Pup.” So he drew a picture of a dog with a big tooth and we posted it to his bedroom wall.

Then Les told me the best news! He and his son were in the work office together when his son noticed the painting of Tawny.

“I miss my Tawny Pup,” he said as he reached over to touch the snaggle tooth.

He recognized his dog in my painting! It makes me ridiculously happy to know that what I painted can convince a three year old that it is his former dog, and maybe bring back some sweet memories of his beloved canine family member. Knowing that Tawny (as a visual image) won’t fade away in the early memory of this boy is what really matters to me. It’s what my work as an artist is about.

Baritone Ukulele


It’s time for me to tell this story–about the broken baritone ukelele, Buddy the Australian Shepherd and the artisan acoustic instrument shop on 2nd Street in Corvallis.

Just about one year ago, when I was wandering the streets of Corvallis looking for dogs to befriend, short of funds and a job, I found myself on 2nd Street. Since I had never before entered Troubador Music I decided to go in that day. The small container garden out front, mixed with the mysterious and thrilling wood and rosin smells coming from inside as I opened the door, immediately welcomed me.

Imagine a working violin shop: beautiful, well-loved instruments hung above the front counter at about head-height, a large open space which doubled as a showroom and intimate venue for evening concerts, musical sounds in the form of ‘plucks’ and ‘thumps’ coming from a back work room. That is Troubadour Music.

Since I was considering selling my hard-earned Blue Lion Mountain Dulcimer (I’d been playing Mountain Dulcimer for more than 20 years) I decided to ask about their consignment policy. Selling it would pay my living expenses for one month.

I had a lovely talk with Kent (the owner) and the kind sales associate; both gracious and helpful.

Then I had a sweet interaction with Buddy, the elderly Australian Shepherd lying on the floor at our feet. When I stood though, a catastrophe occurred. The baritone ukulele hanging above the counter met my up-coming head and bounced to the cement floor. Many emotions bounced across Kent’s face. He told me it was beyond repair due to the broken inner body. I couldn’t stop from calculating how long it was going to take me to pay for this instrument, especially since I was already having trouble paying for just my rent. Of course I was crying.

“Wait,” Kent said thoughtfully, “you were giving love to my dog when this happened. I don’t want you worry about this. In the bigger scheme of things, love is more important than money or this instrument.”We went on to talk for nearly an hour about potential jobs, including teaching English at the nearest Community College (where Kent sometimes teaches poetry).

I left that day exhausted by the event. I spent much of the following year thinking about this baritone¬†ukulele but my energy¬†was spent looking and trying work that suited me. I didn’t come any closer to paying for that instrument and it weighed heavily on me. My dulcimer hadn’t ended up selling, so I kept it at home with me and played it occasionally but found little joy in it since my chronic pain interfered with the playing.

My walks still took me past Troubadour Music and I frequently saw Kent and Buddy enjoying breaks outside together. Each time I’d cringe inside and remember the feeling of that ukelele hitting the concrete floor. Two weeks ago I formulated a plan: I’d leave my dulcimer as a gift for Kent. He’d be able to sell it eventually or use it himself. I set aside the perfect time and dropped it off. Tears came a little as I reminded the sales associate about that earlier baritone ukelele falling day. She told me that Kent wasn’t there, but that maybe I should reconsider. I didn’t need to pay for the broken instrument. But I was insistent and I left my name and phone number and a note explaining the gift.

Later the same day, Kent called to thank me. He invited my dog Pearl and I to visit he and Buddy at the shop any time. We have since met on the sidewalk near Toubadour Music and Pearl and Buddy instantly appreciated each other. Kent reached in his pocket, found two small treats, one for Buddy and one for Pearl. Before giving them to each dog, he kissed the treats (a trick known to increase the value of the food).

Now my walks down 2nd Street are more pleasant again. When I think of that baritone ukulele hitting the cement, I don’t feel like crying anymore.