Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I have furniture.

My great grandmother's furniture, my grandmother's furniture, my mother's furniture, and yes, even a little furniture of my own. It was not ever my ambition to inherit and have all the furniture in the houses of my childhood but nevertheless, I did inherit it and spend a great deal of time and effort caring for these beautiful pieces of the past. I don't think my mother and my grandmothers plotted against me by appointing me as their successor but I do think they all knew that I was the responsible one and their furniture would be safe with me. And their furniture was very, very important to them. The last thing my mother said to me in a coherent state was "I know I can count on you to take care of everything and everyone."

Such a legacy. It's full extent was revealed to me only several years ago. I had decided to have some hardwood flooring laid in the house and had to take the furniture out of several of the larger rooms. It all had to go. So I hauled it out to the very large front porch we have here at Bellemaison and stacked to the rafters, the second story rafters; pieces and pieces and pieces of wonderful, lovely well-appointed furniture piled high on the front porch.

And I don't want to neglect to say that I am grateful to come from women with such lovely taste and such lovely home-centric ambition. I am grateful. My eye has well-developed muscle that was built at the knee of my teachers--my mother and her mothers. But as I surveyed my luscious empty rooms stripped of all the mahogany, cherry and walnut, I realized I wanted to get organized once and for all and put the furniture back in an arrangement that made sense for me and how we live here in the hopes that it would be much easier for me to care for.

Obviously, some of it had to go. So I began to select and isolate pieces to give to my daughter, PDX Pup. I ended up with a well-filled corner of the front porch: end tables, chairs, music cabinets, lamps, just wonderful stuff that I had loved and They Before Me had loved that the Pup was now to love. And she would love these things! I was so tired that I did not realize until the next morning as I glanced back at the Pup Corner on my way out to my car what this assortment of well-crafted hardwood really meant; the Pup had come of age and was being called to claim her legacy: take care of everybody and everything. She had gotten her new job description and a mighty one it was at that as the Pup lived in a very small apartment at the time. I climbed into my car and rolled down the driveway realizing I was starting the cycle all over again, as many, many well-meaning mothers and parents have done since the beginning of time; passing on what they'd been given to the untired, unlined, fresh eyed future of the gene pool . Soon The Pup would have a mammoth conglomeration of household possessions spanning four generations, just like me, and soon she'd fret about keeping up with it all, just like me. And she was just a baby, barely old enough to live away from home. But come to think of it, I was younger than her when I got the same job description. How the times flies.

I worried about it all day at work. You want a different life for your children; you pick the good things about your own life and childhood and pass them on to your children. But then you find some really, really good new things that weren't in your childhood to give to your children so they will have a better childhood and a better life; you want only the very best of everything for your children and in the simplest of terms, you want your children to have a better life than you did. That's all. That's really all it is. They should have a better life than you. Once I came around to that simple ambition that lies in the heart of every mother, I knew what I had to do.

I went home and reorganized the front porch, grouping like-kind items. Chairs with chairs, lamps with lamps, tables with tables. The Pup Pile was no more. Then I placed an ad in the newspaper and began to clean and polish all this furniture for the last time. Then I sold every bit of it. All of the furniture that I had been in my family for so long. New people came to get this furniture and take it home to their families; they were thrilled to get this furniture and I knew it was going to a place where it would be loved, as it had been loved here.

I now had an empty home and it was time for me to make this home my very own, and write myself a brand new job description. So I began, filling my home with the things that had meaning for me. And I rewrote my will, too. Instructed my children to sell whatever furniture, art and possessions of mine they didn't want or need, with no guilt or responsibility; as I had loved and wanted each piece here and had a marvelous time with every bit of it, as they should with their own homes and their own possessions. It's only stuff and my ambition for my children is that they not be burdened by leftovers and remnants of my life that may serve to burden them instead of bless them. Now, then, and always it has been and it remains my intent to bless my children.

So I suppose you are a cold hearted person to sell you grandmother's dining room set. I still have my mother's dining room set, though . In storage. I'm not that brave nor that cold. I kept Mom's because of the memories of my Sunday job--pulling the dishes out of the hutch and and setting the table every Sunday after church. And on Saturdays, I dusted and polished the chairs. That maple furniture and I go back; we worked together for a long time. And after all is said and done, still I have the bedroom furniture of my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother and my childhood. It turns out that I'm not that enlightened after all.

But the light and grace in my life is not the dressing tables of the women who defined a very large part of me but the husband who tends this furniture in storage and hauls a miscellaneous piece here or there from time to time without complaint; the light and grace in my life is my daughter who pats my hand and says, don't worry; when the time comes, you'll know exactly what to do with all of it.

And these are the things that I will take with me and carry in my heart to where I go next. What I will leave, hopefully, is my belief that we all care for each other and our own self as well but that the care and responsibility for family doesn't rest with one person. We don't pile up the obligation for a family's legacy and give it to one person to handle. We all handle our own stuff. And try, each and every day, to make things better for whoever is up next, keeping only the good things and finding really good new things to add to what we leave behind.

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Well, as it happens from time to time, it was a glorious day here in The 'Kan EWA. We ventured up to Greenbluff in search of pumpkins, orange and white, for the fall pumpkin topiaries we build for the front door.

We've been going to Greenbluff for a long, long time and have seen a lot of little kids grow up between the yearly visits to the apple orchards and cabbage patches of Greenbluff, WA--their childhoods stitched together by these annual visits for pumpkins and tractor rides around the cherry and apricot trees. It's quite a Hollywood production up there at Greenbluff these days, with bouncy castle attractions and cornstalk mazes, gift shops, antique stores and hamburger places and barbecued beef sandwiches sold as take out the side of buildings built just for restaurant purposes. The Chows and I decided to bypass being annoyed with all the disco and stay on track and search for the real Greenbluff, where the apples are on the tree ripening at the moment, the peaches are on the ground overripe, the rhubarb is picked and spent and the pumpkins lay in wait for us, because they know we will come. They know we will come. And come we did; today.

We ended up at Eleven Acres, where they sell what they grow. So if they don't grow it, they don't sell it. We like that. Garlic, shallots, tomatoes red and green and Yukon golds all in boxes for your selection up by the cash register. Terrific little tool box deals that you take in the fields to pick beets and zucchini and cucumbers; apples and apricots if you don't want too many. They make honey-- wildflower, snowberry and alfalfa. And they have pumpkins! oh yeah, do they have pumpkins....

So we made the pilgrimage that is holy to us by now; we bought the pumpkins that are psychic gold to us; we stocked up on gorgeous potatoes, relics that we believe will reveal winter miracles; we surveyed the bare slopes of nearby Mt. Spokane and silently recalled the gloria of last year's snows. Kicked the dust of the gardens now going dormant for winter and faced south for another last feel of the sun warm on our face and hands. You can travel far and you can travel wide but surely some of the most holy of shrines on earth lay in your hip pocket, tucked in close, in your neighbor's ambitions and aspirations, rooted irrevocably in your youth and in the childhoods of those most dear to you.

Prayers and prayers and prayers; as far as you can see.

The 'Kan EWA

Friday, September 26, 2008

Best, Summer 2008

The Chows thought it would be a really nice idea to end the summer with a Best Of List, as we started the summer with just that. As you can imagine, defining the absolute best of a stellar, cosmic summer such as 2008 stirred alot of dialogue and discussion at Club Chow. But in the end, they said they could all agree on the best, because it was so very the best. I think I followed that. But anyway, here, in no particular order, is the Best of Summer 2008.

Car d'Lane

This is so much fun. Sherman Avenue. People wavin', drivin', groovin'. We loved them all, particularly Don Sausser's yellow van. The Chows note with sizzling accuracy that The General was Best of Show but the pink Cadillac that did the slow low crawl up Sherman Ave purring wasssup babygirrrl? made us stand up and howl. Best seen and be seen moment all summer.


Hundreds of writers and artists aren't lying; this is summertime Nirvana. A June Valhalla. A sublime, sensual experience on steroids. The Camarogue; Arles; the Papal Palace in Avignon; the markets; the lavendar; the panache; the starry, starry midnight skies. There is no adequate comment on Provence; only a deep yearning to go back. Again and again. Best of all the rest of summer.

Priest Lake

It's The Litugy of The Summertime to camp on the shores of Priest Lake in North Idaho. We would never miss church nor the Feast of The Dutch Oven. Just wouldn't be right. Besides, we wanna go to heaven. Best getaway of summer.


The roses were exceptional this year and surely the rainy, wet spring was the major contributing factor. Holy epsom salts, what a show!

Turkey Burgers

Yeah, yeah we ran out like everybody else and bought the chipotle tabasco and made Oprah's turkey burgers. Quite tasty at that. Best new recipe of summer.


The roses AND the huckleberries were exceptional this summer. Best birthrite and blessing of a North Idaho summer.


What I love about the Olympics is that you begin as an American dominatrix--the uber fan that races home from work, screams through the door as TiVo clicks on and never misses one moment of the action. You know every person on every team and sweat out and celebrate every American conquest. You brag at social events about the Americans and their pursuit of the elusive gold medal. But two weeks later you end up as a student of the universe, a spectator of things never seen before, a fan of performance and the will to endure and then excell. You cry through the closing ceremony and realize you know jack about sports or competition. You are utterly humbled. You swear there will never,ever be another Olympics like this one. You are exhausted. God, what a super-human effort. On your part. Best American Moment of Summer 2008.

Democratic National Convention

Oh yum. Obama's acceptance speech was much less a speech and much more a homily. It was a pretty, pretty thing. Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton stepped up in her fabulous orange pantsuit and settled, once and for all, who's The Man in the Democratic Party. And Mrs. Michelle Obama! Walking grace, elegance and IQ. Best glimpse all summer of what we really should want to be.

Trail of The Coeur d'Alenes

Again. And again. And yet again! What can I say about the most incredible recreational experience in all of Idaho? Just what can I say? Except get out there and do it if you haven't. Cretin. Best out of body summer experience.

In Plain Sight

We never missed Mary McCormack's new series on ET. It was awesome. First, it's in Albuquerque. Second, the supporting cast with Lesley Ann Warren and Cristian de la Fuente is second to none. Third, I love the girl herself. Keep reading. Best TV of the summer.

Boeing Boeing Boeing

Well, well, well. Mary McCormack. I originally became aware of her work on West Wing. Always thought she needed a hairdresser but it turns out that was part of her character on WW. On a stop over in New York this summer I buy tickets to the show that had the entire West End of London belly laughing and pointing. What you say, could make rude and obnoxious buffoons out of the British? 'Boeing, Boeing, Boeing'. A farce set in Paris about a bachelor, played by Bradley Whitford, also of West Wing, who is having an affair with three different stewardesses simultaneously. Mary McCormack plays the German stewardess, with a Fuhrer-like stance and a big Aryan nod to the SS and the Nazis. She was priceless! Dead perfect comedic timing and body language second to none. And the girl can roar. ROAR. Best performance of the summer and my vote for la Antonio, female lead in a comedy that is.

Sarah Palin

Governor Sarah Palin that is. Think what you want of the Republicans and their ticket this election year; I'd probably agree with you on most counts but what we absolutely should not disagree on is that the GOP successfully rebranded the Republican Party in a nanosecond when GSP's name went on the ballot. No longer the party of old white men, from Texas or Connecticut, the GOP now is young, vibrant, of child-bearing age, and capable of turning heads and setting tongues wagging. GSP single-handedly revitalized politics in the US of A and I'm sure, I am positive, that the best is yet to come. Stay tuned. Best Holy Chow moment of summer.

So there you have it. We just had the best time around here this summer...

The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So Long Summer

So. The end is near. What a run. Hot, hot weather; hazy, fiery sunsets; fabulous flowers, bumper crops of huckleberries. So many luxurious days lazing on the waters of the great state of North Idaho it felt like the summers of an earlier lifetime. I did things I that I haven't done for a long, long time--like canoe in Kidd Island Bay. I did things that were long overdue--like giving myself permission to let it be. I quit trying to express myself in words, instead letting the lens talk about where I was at. I even used prepositions at the end of sentences. It was such a great summer.

I love where I live. I am always so excited to run off somewhere that involves a passport but even more excited to come home. I love being an American. I love being from Idaho. And I love to drive to the grocery store; stroll downtown, watch the sunset in the Costco parking lot, go through Manito Park on the way to work. Listen to the sounds of functions and parties at the park on the way to the movies. I love the Centennial Trail, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, the Hiawatha Trail and the Prairie Trail. I love Medimont, Harrison, Enaville and Moscow. I love Huetter. I love Sherman Avenue. I love Silver Beach.

And everyday is such a gift. Every morning such a bouquet of sunbeams. Every afternoon so quietly, inexplicably special in the heavy summer air filled with bees and butterflies and the colors of leaves, flowers and sky, it's a bit of a problem to admit to or elaborate on how that makes me feel. Everyday. So I just don't say anything at all.

But now I offer thanks and call it all joy. Every precious second of all 93 days. Pure, unqualified joy.

The 'Kan EWA
The Rose Show of Bellemaison

The 'Kan EWA