March 10. 1975
Monday morning and the dawn sky is as blue as the wings of a butterfly. My song sparrow is singing joy in the morning, but there’s light frost on the cars. Have the grapefruit sectioned for the boys and the animals fed. Now must scramble eggs for French toast. And call my lazy sons one more time. My feathered songster is a veritable star and sings the most complicated routines with ease.
March 13, 1975
Think the new bank loan is squared away after all, so will have to go with Pete about 9 a.m. tomorrow to sign the papers. Then we can pay the damn taxes up to date!
Last night Sherri called, wondering if I’d heard the latest news flash—which I hadn’t. [clipping pasted on this page] This item in today’s paper explains what late reports revealed last night. Two children were found shot to death in a remote part of McIver Park; each shot 3 times but no trace of their mother. I had a case of the ‘willies’ reading this because I’d hiked in McIver Sunday and the report said the children had been dead about 3 days! I wonder if my thoughts and uneasiness that day were dim ESP blips, especially as I recalled the man I saw walking through the brush. These events cast a shadow on that fair piece of land, though don’t believe it was anywhere too near my favorite haunts. Doubly glad for Nushka and the fact he is rarely out of my sight during our hikes.
Theories abound, as the mother had taken the children from their father for a day’s outing and sometimes, horrible as it is, parents will murder their own children in order to punish their spouses. Of course, there’s also the rumor that a nut case could have disposed of all three.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s a sad, uncomfortable feeling. On the brighter side, a “brand new” fossil was discovered in Texas. [news clipping pasted on the page]
“The flying creature has been dubbed the Texas pterosaur and is the largest flying creature now known. The fossil remains indicate the creature which lived more than 60 million years ago had a wingspan of 15.5 meters or 51 feet, larger than the 38 foot wingspan of an F4 fighter jet and about double that of the largest such creatures (known) up to now.” [article by Brian Sullivan]
Very exciting! Perhaps there will be new discoveries to fill in the evoluntionary gaps between Leakey’s prehistoric humans and other branches of our species.
Later in the day: “It’s not a matter of risking failure; it’s giving triumph a chance.” H. Wheldon on Bill Moyer’s Journal—Channel 10. Isn’t that a marvelous way to see that old dichotomy freshly?!

March 15, 1975
Persistent rain today. Very gray. The search continues for the mother of the dead children at McIver. And yet daffodils and crocus are splashes of pure gold. Peach trees burst with pink popcorn blossoms, and I see that the sweet young braids of the weeping willows are green and graceful again. Spring goes on despite human tragedy.
Thus I gaze upon my winter aconite. Their tiny yellow blossoms are opening, and I must soon take a hand with Nushka to keep the villain from making mischief with my plants. I am in constant anxiety that he will lie down on the burgeoning tips of my peonies and break them off!
March 17, 1975
St. Patrick’s Day, Begorra, and another week socked in with rain. Such a hunger to write today—to stay home and listen to the talk of wind in the trees. I’m drenched with the kind of feeling I had when writing Volunteer—Oh, damn work!!
Later: At home, sitting by the kitchen heater watching rain scrub down so hard the world seems wrapped in a gray veil. Smoke puffs rising from the chimney add to the blue-gray exterior.
March 19, 1975
“Heredity deals the cards, and environment plays the hand.”
March 21, 1975
If ‘one swallow does not a summer make’, will the date on a calendar suffice for spring? Gray with the promise of continued rain marks this equinox.
March 22, 1975
Have been glancing over an old, incomplete manuscript, “The Fall of the Year” and am both appalled and encouraged. The writing in so much of it, especially the earliest pages, is so trite and immature that I wonder how I considered it worth adding to, but the fact that I so clearly see its flaws surely indicates an improvement of some sort. Can I ever progress so far beyond my present state that TCH and even VFG will be embarrassing to revisit? An exhilarating thought on the one hand, though I wince at the potential damage to Volunteer. Oh, God, how I wish I could begin my new novel now!
*TCH: The Carriage House, my first novel, unpublished
*VFG: Volunteer for Glory, my second novel, published, still in print

Published in: on January 27, 2019 at 1:02 pm  Comments (4)  


March 2, 1975
March coming in, half lion and half lamb. Sunshine in bright bursts while fluffy sheep clouds and wind roar, playing through the tree tops. I would love to feel energetic enough to go to the woods. But if I do, I’ll be too tired to start the week at Hook, so better lay low. I’ve got to get over this damn virus that drags on even when the acute stage is past.
But I can see all the fresh grass and new branched leaves in my mind, and smell the wet damp scent of growth beginning. But I must change the boys’ bed linen. Guess I’ll bake a Bundt cake for tonight’s dessert.
Just remembered I promised Dad I’d write today. He called last night so I’m committed. He’s as full of blandishments as an April morning in Ireland! So, must do as promised.
Have slept in gloriously for two mornings! What luxury. But bad dreams. Meeting evil forces and false religions, having to challenge and counter-challenge the enemy. Not so much frightening as exhausting.
Must get at those beds now! And dress. Write Dad, bake, and start dinner. It’s already 2 p.m. Oh damn! And we have daffodils in bloom!
March 3, 1975
A wet gray morning and the last thing I want to do is go to work. But Duty calls. Why, oh why is Duty so often unattractive? Guess it is too often at variance with one’s personal needs or desires. Was it Emerson who said he ‘envied not the beast of the field in any clime’ or something similar? Well, I wouldn’t seriously change places, but those ‘beasts’ have something most humans lack—the right to sleep when sleepy, eat when hungry, and play when playful. We humans are ever at odds with ourselves. We work when we’re tired or sick—go to bed when we want to stay up, and remain in occupations any self-respecting animal would have abandoned when boredom or pain first struck. Now I must finish that letter to Dad, hurry through the chores and get to work. If I didn’t have these three days off, I think I’d drop dead.
The bridal wreath has tiny leaves of pale green, and the crocus are purple, white and yellow.
March 4, `975
A song sparrow is singing outside in the pale blue morning. PJ plays with Nush while waiting for the school bus and Joey hovers by the heater until he’s called.
Another upsetting day yesterday with Pete. Money trouble as usual and misunderstandings. [I won’t describe them here]
I hope today will be better and so on—if only we can reach a place where these financial crises are past. Well, had best get to work. Another day and hopefully a few more dollars.
March 5, 1975
Another blue dawn after fog, but a golden half-moon hangs over the black-lined trees. The song sparrows are warbling, and Nush barks.
Later: starting breakfast for Pete and me…nine o’clock advances on running feet. I have goosebumps even though I’m by the heater. Fog drifts in and out. The sun has now chased the moon down or at least out of sight. I can see frost on the ground. Water-color blue skies make me want to stay home. Then I could wash the windows and clean house and maybe do some poking in the yard. Picked a bouquet of daffodils and Lenten roses for the table yesterday. So lovely. I now believe in Spring!
March 6, 1975
Dental appointment at 10 this morning! Shaking in my boots—hope my most fantastic fears are unfounded.
Played a little tennis after dinner with Joe, but not much. Rotten headache.
Clear today but still nippy.
Have to record a quote from Ted Mahar’s column in the paper. “Whether a diary is interesting, of course, depends on one or both of two things: who wrote it and what they did and saw. If the writer is an intelligent, witty or insightful person, unspectacular events can seem interesting. Even a dull writer can be worth reading if, say, he or she watched the Sack of Rome or arrival of the millennium.”
I’d better be one of the three mentioned, or this journal is doomed to be an exercise in trivia.
Well, off to the wars!

Published in: on January 20, 2019 at 11:01 am  Comments (5)  


Marching on with March 1975
Exhausted but with a nice sense of virtue. Cleaned house thoroughly and it rewards me with the shining, well-cared-for glow of a loved child. Stew is stewing and the only things left to do are folding towels and baking apple pies for Margret and Diana’s visit tomorrow.
A Strauss record is spinning romantic waltzes, and I find myself succumbing to a pleasurable melancholia like the ones suffered in adolescence. Ah, the pain of unrequited love! In those far off teen days I prayed for romance—I, whose outstanding mental characteristic is a need to analyze and understand. No, I longed then to be submerged in that delightful frenzy called romantic love. No crudities, please—only strong, despairing passion. Does everyone experience such infatuations? The melting desire called up by the curve of a mouth, the vulnerable nape of the beloved’s neck—a look of laughter or weariness.
I tell myself I’m glad to be done with such nonsense. But sitting by the fire I let Strauss revive old feelings. Me, 37 years old, and still susceptible to dreams. And stubborn fantasy colors my exquisite ball gown, as a handsome stranger whirls me around the dance floor. There is magic in his ardent eyes and smiling lips.
Of course, there would be danger in this scenario, a tragedy, for after all, our affair would be the stuff of Romeo and Juliet, Heloise and Abelard!
How silly that sounds now. But at 17, the future glimmered with possibilities. Here there is no future. Only the present that extends to the grave. Still, the naivete of these dreams does not dim them. Bright as the first snow, piercing as the cry of the first robin, they remain, jeweled as the dew drops in the heart of a rose.
Such is the power of first love, the feeling that one is part of something larger than oneself. Perhaps it also explains the core of sadness in all love—because, like the rose, its glory will fade.
So I muse that realists may be the fortunate ones. Do they not see life clearly, without undue expectation? Able to accept what comes to them, they are not easily dashed by life’s offerings. “Well,” they may ask the dejected romantic, “what did you expect?”
Yet I wouldn’t trade the heights for that pedestrian path. No, even though I plummet again and again, like Icarus into the sea. I’ll regrow my singed wings, because I fully expect to love again and go soaring upward to touch the sun!
Later: My romantic fit over, I look at the clock. One. Pete and the boys are taking off, leaving the coast clear for girl talk. Glad he didn’t back out at the last minute—but at least I feel more like the house might be half mine—equal rights and all. Paige just came home, whipping into the driveway like Mario Andretti, the race car driver!

March 9, 1975
Sitting atop a huge eroded stump overlooking the ruffled shirt of the green-blue Clackamas River. Nush and I came down to River Mill Dam in the pick-up this afternoon. The partially sunny day was too potent to resist but I didn’t want to squander my returning energy walking down River Road. As it was, I’m glad we didn’t, for we saw a lot of people and their dogs congregating about the newly occupied, but still tumble-down cabins. Where went the solitary lane of seven years ago?
Still, the shore here is the same. I see the “writing rock” from my perch and remember how Paige and I pushed Chip into the river from it. He thought we were wretches and wouldn’t come near us for most of the return hike.
As I thought about this, I noticed a crackling in the brush. Nush looks inquiringly in that direction. I catch a glimpse of a man rather aimlessly walking back toward the cabin trail. Nush growls warningly, and I place my hand on his collar. I shouldn’t feel so possessive about this little patch of wilderness, but I do—it’s where I can feel alone.
Above a white mountain of cloud, the sky is intensely blue, and the sound of running water is musical, rather like thin silver bracelets softly clashing together. We’ll go back up into the park and head for the Preserve area.
Later: In a grassy little inlet on a deer path. An owl flew lazily off to another tree as we approached, and I can still see him if I stand up. Blue gorse flowers bloom in the feathery green-gold moss at my feet. The Oregon Grape is studded with tightly curled blossom buds, while the leaves are polished as though with wax. Glancing up, I see that the sun has dropped a little closer toward the horizon, and clouds with bellies full of rain are gathering, driven by a westerly wind. Time to head for home.

Published in: on January 13, 2019 at 10:30 am  Comments (5)  

Glorious Snow 1948

Winter Memories….
Excerpted from January 25, 1974
The year is hurrying by again, cut into snippets by weekends and chores. Whatever happens to one’s perspective of time? When I was a child, summer stretched before me like an ocean, vast and uncharted. I swam in faith, like Columbus. Eventually, of course, the warm land of summer would give way to rain and wind, rubber boots, and school bells.
But there was always Christmas, when the Sears catalog people might bring riches to our doorstep. Or failing that, unknown aunts and uncles, ancient relatives forgotten or believed dead, would clog the mail with packages for our delight. This could be the year!
Of course, it wasn’t, as such expectations are dashed by the iron boot of reason. But there was one magical season. Not Christmas, but New Year’s.
It began on a cold, dark day when I accompanied my father and stepmother to a New Year’s Eve party. The bells rang at midnight, and everyone ran outside, banging pans, and blowing whistles. I didn’t join them but searched the sky.
“Don’t be silly,” my father said as I explained myself. “It isn’t going to snow.”
“Yes, it is. It is! See, there’s one! There’s more! Oh, yes! It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” I spun around, arms outstretched in welcome.
And snow it did. It was 1948, the year of the Big Snow! In fact, it snowed so much Daddy was barely able to drive me home to Mama. All through the valley, schools were closed! How wonderful! An extra two weeks of vacation. My neighborhood pals and I were delirious with joy. Snow forts were constructed and snow balls stockpiled for red-cheeked combat. We ran and slid on the tracks left by automobiles. Those who owned sleds generously shared with the less fortunate.
We scorned plowed roads for travel, opting instead to lurch in and out of huge snowdrifts that were at least 4 feet deep. It took us an hour to go two blocks—red-faced, breathless with laughter, and the effort of pulling each other out of holes. But we triumphed, picking up Nature’s gauntlet while older folks, who’d forgotten what life was all about, grumbled, and walked on scraped, flat sidewalks.
We played at night, racing over the white fairyland, making snow angels, creeping about woodpiles transformed into mountains—drunk with laughter and running. Each night, to the last child, we prayed for more snow. We couldn’t get enough of it!
But, inevitably, the thaw came. A gloomy drip of eaves marked the change, sending icicles and spirits plummeting. Adults wore superior smiles, remarking that the bad spell was done, the cold snap over! Things would get back to normal. Ha Ha, you kids will go back to school.
We lay in our beds, somberly viewing the future. Once again we would be confined to the classroom, tied to dull arithmetic and sleepy geography. Desperate prayers wafted heavenward, promising good behavior. And lo, in the morning the world was encased in a glittering glass coffin. Trees groaned and split, branches crashed fracturing the icy sheathing below. The sun sent splinters of light and color into the dullest eye, penetrating even the adult mind with a sense of wonder.
Electrical wires were transformed into ropes of crystal. Walking was hazardous but not to be avoided. Our boots made jagged trails that crushed the snow beneath. One could have made a case for monsters roaming through the neighborhood. The ice held for two days, but at last our resolution grew weak. Ice was not as pleasant as snow—it might not be so bad to go back to school and play jacks and jump rope—and escape to the Saturday matinees on weekends. Spring would bring baseball, croquet and roller skating—along with biking for rich kids who had wheels. So, as the ice melted, our wills weakened. It was the news that school might be extended at the end of the year that broke us completely. We gave up. Our wonderland was reduced to winter’s familiar gray rains. But satisfaction still lingers as I recall that wonderful season.
Here in my kitchen, I wonder. Where did they all go? Those dreams and memories that sped away into unknown galaxies? Ah. The day’s half gone, and an inner dragon bites my conscience. Yes, I must get busy. But someday, I’ll reclaim the jeweled nights and golden days that filled my childhood imagination, and go sailing through time just like Christopher Columbus!

Published in: on January 6, 2019 at 11:47 am  Comments (4)