Category Archives: Memories

Leonard Nimoy (aka Spock)

I have been surprisingly weepy since learning of Leonard Nimoy’s death. 

The first notice I got was a text from my son: 😦

Then I looked at Twitter. And have been looking at the Internet & clicking on links off and on since them.

So. Many. Feels. And I’m surprised by this.

Although, digging in to it, I guess it’s really not that surprising. 

I was born in December 1966, so there has never been a day in my life that Star Trek and Spock (and Kirk, Scotty, Bones, Uhuru, Sulu, Chekov, Nurse Chapel, etc.) have not existed. Of course, by the time I was old enough to watch it, it was already in syndication. I honestly don’t know when I first saw it, but I have memories of specific episodes that feel very old, as in I was a child when I watched them. Plus, there were some boys in elementary school – first, second, or third grade — who liked to chase girls (me) and use the Vulcan nerve pinch on us (me). I’m thinking of you, Clinton. ಠ_ಠ

We didn’t have a TV from the time I was 8 until I was 16, so I missed a lot. Anything I saw was piecemeal at friends, at grandparents. But still Star Trek was there. And I have since seen every episode of every series (except animated) and all of the movies — and all more than once. One of my brothers even had a Tribble toy at one point. I have enjoyed each and every piece of the Star Trek universe as each new addition plays clear homage to what has come before. And I’m sure I will enjoy what comes next, hoping and dreaming that someday our reality will catch up with the vision…

But back to Spock. Who was alien. But not. Intelligent but somewhat awkward when it came to interpersonal relationships. Who clearly felt things deeply but worked hard to keep those feelings under control and hidden. Who valued reason and logic and responsibility and honesty and loyalty and was fascinated by the universe around him — the people, places, and things.

Other than the facts that I was a young female and he was a grown male, I could relate to, sympathize and empathize with Spock. That was me I saw on TV. I knew what it was like to feel that I wasn’t really part of the group, to not understand why people were saying and doing certain things. Why they needed to pick on me. But, like Spock, I could react with cool detachment and move on.

I’m not so different today, just more aware and accepting of my differentness — and of others.

I was never going to be the daring and dashing Captain Kirk. But I could be Spock — equally heroic in his own reserved way.

And now, while Spock will live on, the amazing man who made him so real for so many of us is gone. It leaves a hole, an emptiness.

I wish I could say I was familiar with all Leonard Nimoy’s work, but until the past few days I didn’t know just how much he’d done — TV, movies, stage, acting, directing, singing, writing, poetry, photography… I knew about Fringe and thrilled to see him as William Bell. And his distinctive voice on The Big Bang Theory. I have lots to go look for and watch…

And beyond all the above, he was clearly a wonderful and caring human being.

As Spock or as himself, Leonard Nimoy  is and always shall be an inspiration for me.

Live Long and Prosper, and Boldly Go.

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W is for….

Wandering.

I have a small pillow in my room with “Not all who wander are lost” embroidered on it.

I had forgotten until it was mentioned by another blogger that it comes from a poem in The Lord of the Rings (although to be fair, it’s been many many years since I’ve read the books). The poem is “All That is Gold Does Not Glitter”

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

While planning things out is never really a bad idea, sometimes going with the flow, wandering, can make for a much better experience. Or at least a more interesting one.

I’ve mentioned before how we did a lot of road trips when I was growing up. It wasn’t unusual for us to hop in the car on a Sunday and just drive. Sometimes we went to places we knew but sometimes we’d decide to turn left* instead of right, discovering new things in the process — an abandoned mining town; roadside graves from late 1800s to early 1900s; a naturally carbonated spring; a field of trillium in full bloom; waterfalls; and more.

To this day I occasionally still like to get in the car and just go, exploring the area. Last weekend my daughter and I did just that, discovering how quickly our area goes from suburban to small town to single-lane dirt road rural. (Thank goodness for GPS, smart phones & the Internet.) We saw horses and cows, big houses and small, woods and open fields. We found a cemetery, in use for well over a hundred years, with clusters of multiple stones for multiple generations of the same family from a century ago to within the past few years.

Some of our more questionable wandering from my youth — driving up the canyon while the river was flooding to see how bad it was up there, and driving down out of our protected valley to see how bad the ash fall from Mt. St. Helens was heading out of the mountains towards the Basin (it was bad, main roads were blocked by the police, but Dad told us he knew back ways we could take – but we didn’t as the ash was falling thick and fast in heavy flakes). We were however smart enough to stay put until told to evacuate during a major forest fire.

I think part of wandering is being smart enough to know when not to and when to turn around. But it’d be a shame to let the possible risks of wandering keep you from the adventure.

O is for…

Oceans.

Ever since I was a small child, I have had an abiding fascination with the ocean. I even went to uni to study fisheries biology, including marine mammalogy. And up until the past decade, I never lived more than a few hours away from the ocean, specifically the Pacific.

My childhood was in the East Bay area of California. We often went to San Fransisco, to the bay and the beach. It was my first introduction to the sea.Visiting Marineland/Africa USA further introduced me to a variety of sea life.

When I was about 8, my mother’s parents rented a boat, motorized, and we cruised around Puget Sound, through the San Juan’s, and up to Vancouver (or Victoria – I was young, memories have blurred). During that trip we ate fresh caught crabs, explored multiple islands, watched the tide rise and fall around us as we anchored in coves, saw a submarine go by (very close to us), saw the currents form a debris path on the surface, and I got to go out in a rowboat – sometimes with others and sometimes by myself. It was such a memorable experience, that even now, just recalling it makes me smile.

When I was 11 we moved to the mountains in Washington State. No longer as close to the ocean as we used to be, we were still just a few hours from Puget Sound. We spent plenty of time at the Sound. Des Plaines Salt Water Park was a favorite place to visit, especially during low tide, when if you stepped just right, something under the sand (clams?) would squirt, and we’d stick fingers in anemones to feel them close around us. The Seattle Waterfront was another favorite — the aquarium, Pike Place Market, Myrtle Edwards Park, waiting at the Ferry Terminal to take a ferry to one of the many islands (Vashon – where my great-uncle lived; Bainbridge Island – where one of my uncle’s lived for a while). Or maybe we’d go down to Tacoma, visiting the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and then walking along the beach in the park. Or taking the Tacoma Narrows Bridge over towards Gig Harbor, but then turning south to go visit my mom’s best friend who lived on Fox Island.

When I was in high school, twice I went to an art camp held over on the Olympic Peninsula, in Fort Worden State Park. The fastest way to get there was to drive up to Mukilteo, take the ferry to Whidbey Island, drive to the other end of the island, get on another ferry and take it across to Port Townsend. One of these trips was made in a storm. It was pouring so much on Whidbey that it wasn’t even certain the ferry to Port Townsend would still be running. We made it on to the last one, the Rhod0dendron (or as we referred to it, the Chrod0dendron because it was old and grody and cruddy). Side note: I just looked it up and they only just retired her in 2012! The amount of clanging and groaning the ferry made on that stormy crossing… It sounded like she could go down at any minute. It was actually more comfortable upstairs and outside than in one of the passenger rooms. But I loved the storminess of the crossing. And during my time at the art camp, I escaped down the beach as often as I could.

After high school graduation, we took a family trip to the San Juan Islands. I could have stayed so much longer than just a week. Unfortunately, I never saw any orcas while we were there. I loved the way the trees grew down as close to the water’s edge as possible and the deep turquoise-green of the water. And then we spent a week on the northern Oregon coast, with its fantastic haystack formations.

A couple years later and I was back in Seattle for university. Again spending as much time at the waterfront as I could. An uncle had moved to Alki Point and a boyfriend’s family lived in West Seattle so I spent time there, looking out over the water, watching submarines go by (mostly at the boyfriend’s). I studied Fisheries Biology, going out on boats for lab work, going back up to the San Juan’s for more lab work (where I got to hold just hatched itty bitty baby octopuses, watching their chromatophores pulsing and changing color — talk about adorably cute). Those years at the university were pretty wonderful.

My first real job after college was as an observer on fishing vessels in Southern California. I was living in a coastal town, working out on the water in all kinds of weather, eventually moving just 1-1/2 blocks from the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. I was there for almost 10 years — it’s where I met my husband and all three of our children were born. I used to love walking along the cliffs, looking out over the ocean, especially at sunset. When the two oldest kids were old enough, I’d take them to the tidepools (when it was still free) and we’d look at anemones, sea stars, sea hares, hermit crabs, tiny fish, tiny crabs, snails… And we’d usually find a few shells to bring home.

And then we moved inland, all the way to Illinois. I only got close to oceans (or seas) on vacations — to California, Washington, Oregon, Wales, cruising the Mediterranean, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico. I crave these trips, to stick my toes into the ocean, to try to dodge the waves, watching the tide rise and fall; the pelicans, gulls and other birds; the surfers; the open vistas to the horizon; and if I’m really lucky, a variety of marine mammals.

We’re a little closer now, 4 – 5 hours from either Atlantic or Gulf, but we’ve only made the trip once. Any time the topic of vacation is brought up, I always respond with “beach”. Someday, hopefully, I’ll be living within walking distance again.

Sorry this is so long. If you made it all the way down here, thank you 🙂

Great Outdoors

If you’ve looked at my Instagram feed or read some of my other posts, you’ve probably figured out that the Great Outdoors, nature, is very important to me. Spending time outside, in nature, observing, walking, just being, has always soothed and renewed me.

Some of my earliest memories are of lying in the grass in our backyard when I was only 3 or 4. I liked to pick the blades of grass and a chew on the ends. As I grew, my range grew too. On my grandparent’s ranch I could roam freely, so I did, throwing stones into the ponds, picking wildflowers, climbing stacks of hay bales, climbing the hills to stare off into the distance, watching hawks and prairie dogs, and more. During recess at school, I’d go sit in the grass, looking for pretty stones or four-leaf clovers, watching water striders and other bugs in and around puddles.

For several years, in one yard, my father planted a large garden and many fruit trees. We all helped some to care for it, but it was mostly my father’s ‘baby’. There were artichokes, cucumbers, onions, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, apples, cherries, grapes, pomegranates, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, and others that so many years later I can’t remember. I do remember Dad making pickles with the cucumbers.

When we moved to Washington, at first we lived in town. Less than a year later we moved a few miles out of town, onto two acres along a river. I spent many hours sitting by the river or wandering in nearby woods. I watched otters and fish in the river; eagles and hawks overhead; deer, bears, elk, weasels, beavers, coyotes, skunks. And so many others. Caddis fly larvae in the river were always interesting. We think  there were cougars in the mountains surrounding our little valley based on screams heard at night — not human. The bears — we always knew when they were feeding down at the river because the dogs would go crazy. We even had one run along side us in the river once, while we were rafting. For a while we had horses — deer would come and visit with them, then visit our vegetable garden for a snack.

I love storms. The winds are invigorating. The lightning and thundering exciting. In Washington, our front door faced north and the back door, south. There were nights when we could go back and forth from front to back watching two separate storms at opposite ends of the valley. More than once we called in suspected lightning fires. When I was in high school, I attended an art camp on the Olympic peninsula. The most common way to get there was by ferry, as to drive would take several hours. One of the trips was during a storm, so bad that our run was the last of the day. The ferry rocked violently, spray flying high over the bow, various things clanking and clanging. Where did I spend most of the crossing? Outside, of course, in the wind and the rain.

I went off to college, first in Idaho then back to Washington. Then California, Indiana, Illinois, and now Georgia. Always I found places to be outside — parks, gardens, paths. Always I noticed what was around me, near and far — mountains, clouds, rivers, streams, ocean, beaches, cliffs; sun, moon, stars; wind, rain, snow; the flora and fauna. All of it. Already, here, I’ve wandered paths, found two nature areas, and look forward to visiting a third. Now that it’s spring, every day I wander our yard, looking for buds and blooms, animals, birds, and insects.

If I go more than a couple of days without time outside, I feel it — a restlessness, a sense of something missing.

 

C is for….

Calla lilies. California. Cats. Children. Curiosity. Crafts. Cross stitch. Confusion…. And some many other things that start with C.

That’s the problem with an A to Z challenge — what to pick for each day’s letter.

Calla lilies — my favorite flower. In all the colors. I have a small pot of pink and purple and white ones on my bedside table. When we lived in California, they grew abundantly in the yard without any tending.

Carnations — another favorite flowers, especially when they have a heavy scent. I love their spiciness.

Cats — I looooooove cats. I’d probably be a crazy cat lady if I thought I could get away with it. I see all the cats at the shelters and with the rescues and I want to save them all. We’ve always had cats. When I was young, it was an orange tabby named Kitzel. Then I had my own brown and grey tabby named Peek-a-boo. My brother had one of her babies, Smokey, a grey tabby. And their was Kaiser, a long haired tortie we rescued who eventually went feral, coming back occasionally to visit. When I met my husband, I had Caleb, a beautiful black domestic short hair. Now we have Charlie – a long haired flame point with blue eyes, and Caesar – a seal point mitted Ragdoll.

I also love wild cats — jaguars, leopards, ocelots, African wildcat, lynx, bobcat, mountain lion, all the various wildcats around the globe. Did you know there’s a Scottish wildcat? Forest wildcat? Steppe wildcat? European wildcat? Usually when people talk about wild cats, we tend to think of the big ones, but there are still a lot of wild smaller ones. Our housecats are most likely descendents of the African wildcat. And did you know that despite centuries of domestication, our housecats are not very different from their wild ancestors since their breeding has not been as rigorously controlled as has dog breeding?

And I love that my MacGillavray ancestry is part of Clan Chattan, with the motto “Touch not the cat” and a wildcat on the badge.

Crafts — Throughout the years, I’ve tried many different crafts — my grandmother taught me to knit when I was 12; I taught myself embroidery and crochet and cross stitch; drawing; painting. I don’t do too much with them know. When I was working full time, with my long commute, there just wasn’t the time to keep up with any of it. But in the past, I had knitted myself a sweater; baby blankets for my two oldest children; scarves for all three of my children; blanket squares. I’ve crocheted doilies and snowflakes and granny squares. I’ve cross stitched and/or embroidered pillows, wall hangings, pictures, and ornaments. Recently I’ve thought about digging things out and starting some new projects — I’d like to learn how to knit socks and mittens and hand warmers. I’d like to paint and draw more, improve my skills. Of course, first I’d have to find all my supplies, still boxed up and in the store room since our move.

California — I’ve lived 20 years in California, although it’s now been 12 years since I last did. I lived in Northern California, the East Bay area of San Francisco from the age of 2 years to 11-1/2. We lived in the same town my father grew up in, where grand parents and great grandparents had lived, and his family all still lived there. My grandparents had a ranch with cattle and horses. I spent many hours wandering the acres on foot and horseback. I even went to the same elementary school my father had attended and had one of the same teachers. When I was 11-1/2 we moved to Washington, but frequently went back to California for visits.

I moved back after graduating from university, in the early 1990s, for a job in the greater LA area. I lived in a harbor town, worked with fishermen on their boats, got to spend time along the coast both north and south of LA. It’s where I met my husband and all three of our children were born. Most of our time there, we lived less than two blocks from the ocean, on the seaside of a hill where it was only unbearably hot when the Santa Anas were blowing. I loved to walk along the cliffs, well protected from falling by a secure concrete barrier or other fencing (otherwise, I’d have never gone close as I have a horrible fear of falling). The sunsets were often glorious, out beyond the Channel Islands. The crash of the waves, the swelling of the tides, the waving of the kelp beds…. I loved it there. I used to take the two oldest down to the tidal pools where we’d catch hermit crabs, and find sea stars and sea hares, crabs and snails and tiny fish. We’d stick our fingers in anemones to feel them squeeze shut around us then search for sea shells to bring home. Sometimes, if we were really lucky, we’d see dolphins or sea lions or seals.

But our growing family required we move and we couldn’t afford anything in that area, so we moved to Orange County, near Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. It wasn’t as nice as being by the sea, but we liked being so close to Disneyland that we could easily go whenever we wanted, and sometimes just stay outside the park at night to watch the fireworks.

However, that lasted less than a year before circumstances led us to move east, to Illinois.

But California is part of us. We go back every few years. And I still have family there to visit, up north.

Pipes and Drums

I saw a Tweet mentioning bagpipes and it took me back in time, over 20 years ago to a performance by a pipe and drum corps.

I can’t be certain, but my memory wants to say it was the Black Watch from Scotland. It was a performance at the Seattle Center. My then boyfriend took me. I don’t remember why or how he’d gotten tickets. But he knew I’d like it so he took me.

It was incredible.

One lone bagpipe can be good, can be moving. But a whole corps, with multiple pipes and multiple drums, with everyone in kilts and full regalia…. Absolutely breathtaking. There were rousing military marches; mournful songs of grief and pain; lilting tunes of happiness. A pipe solo of “Amazing Grace”. And of course “Scotland the Brave”.

I wish I could remember more.

One thing I do remember is that the Washington State Secretary of State Ralph Munro was in attendance. As the highest ranking official guest, they asked his permission to begin and to end. He joked a bit about letting them leave, knowing the audience was enjoying the show.

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