Why does March rain surprise us?

IMG_20150427_172305014[1]Facebook, that nosy cousin you never asked to butt into your life, keeps popping up with memories of past posts I might want to share again. Sometimes they’re too embarrassing to share, but the practice got me curious about what I was writing here at Unleashed on other last Mondays in March. Turns out this month’s rainy weather is not unusual at all. Here is a quick trip through those past posts and a few updates. Enjoy.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2010/03/   “Simple gifts” Yep, it rains here in March. In 2017. we have had a horrid winter, with several episodes of snow and ice, but so far the wind has not been as bad as usual. My gutters are gunked up again. Rain is predicted for the next 10 days. But miracle of miracles, the blue hydrangea bushes that I was sure were dead are covered with new leaves. The robins are back, the skunk cabbage is blooming in Thiel Creek, and I saw my first trillium flowers yesterday.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2011/03/ “Thank You, I Think.” Oh, the yin and the yang of this one. I have two amaryllis plants now. Each has leaves about two feet tall. They rarely bloom, but when they do, the bright red flowers are spectacular. What really grabs me reading this is my ingratitude. Jill Baker, who gave me the plant in question, passed away last year. [link to that post]. I miss her music and her no-BS attitude. I also need to show more gratitude to the friends who threw me that surprise birthday party only three weeks before my husband died.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2012/03/ “I Missed the Big Oregon Coast Storm” Why is it that every March we can’t believe winter weather is still happening? Re-reading this post, I’m feeling less put-upon by the continuing rain, but I am tired of soggy shoes, and I’m itching for another trip to San Jose to see my dad. [Turns out I’m getting that trip sooner than I thought. See below.]

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2013/03/  “Hugging the Open Mic in Yachats” Dare I say that old singers don’t retire; they just take their guitars to song circles, jams and open mics in Yachats? Four years later, I am still doing song circles and open mics as well as my church music job. As for paid gigs, not so much. I no longer have the desire to play over loud crowds for a few dollars in tips.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2014/03/ “Lost an Earring, Found a New Beach Hangout” Gosh, I’m in a rut. I’m still playing music at church on Sunday mornings, going to Georgie’s with friends for lunch afterward, and shopping at the J.C. Market. I still have those earrings, and I still do not have pierced ears. I still park at Jumpoff Joe’s occasionally.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2015/03/ “The Dead Husband Thing.” Well, that hasn’t changed much. The other day at lunch, I overheard a woman about my age say “when my husband died . . . .” I wanted to run over and hug her. My people! The dead husband club. I know it sounds crass, but these days I feel like I need to tattoo it on my forehead: “Hey, my husband died and I still miss him. If you still have one, you have no idea how different my life is without a husband.” Okay, I need a bigger forehead for all that. It will be six years next month. Hard to believe. I sound so content in this 2015 post. I have not been feeling that way lately. Grief is like the tides. It ebbs and flows, but it doesn’t ever go away.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2016/03/ “Tucson Festival a Writer’s Dream” I loved last year’s trip to the Tucson Festival of Books and the nonfiction workshop that followed. I loved visiting Fred’s cousin Adrienne and her husband John. I loved the sunshine, the desert, and the new friends I made. I thought about that trip a lot as I was slogging through the rain while this year’s festival came and went without me. Tucson in 2018!

So we’re up to 2017. It’s still raining. The news is still full of President Donald Trump and his crew. Annie’s still sprawled on the love seat in front of the pellet stove. And I’m still in my bathrobe at 10:00 although I’ve been up for hours.

People ask if I’m still writing. If I’m still breathing, I’m still writing.

BREAKING NEWS: My father fell Saturday and broke his leg. I am heading to California to help him. No Wi-Fi at Dad’s house, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post here. Annie will be staying home with dog/house sitter Auntie Jo. Stay tuned. Follow me on Facebook.

Tucson Festival a Writer’s Dream

IMG_20160315_125049522

Books, books, book. Miles and miles of books. That was the Tucson Festival of Books, held at the University of Arizona campus March 12 and 13. Sun so bright we grabbed hand lotion and free visors at a dermatology booth. I never saw so many booths dedicated to books and authors. It was like a state fair that was all books instead of cows, quilts, corn dogs, and food processors. Oh, there were booths for community organizations and lots of food you could eat in a big tent where a woman with boots and a cowboy hat and frilly dress sang Patsy Cline songs and yodeled. But it was mostly books. Readings here, talks there, services for authors and books to buy everywhere. Nothing I’ve seen in Oregon is that big.

IMG_20160315_153659695_HDR
Workshop leaders David Gessner, Luis Alberto Urrea, Bryn Chancellor, Joshua Mohr, and Lynn Cullen

I was in Arizona last week because an essay I entered in a contest won me a place in the master’s workshop attached to the festival. Two full days of lectures, workshops and readings, of bonding with my little nonfiction group and our leader, author David Gessner. It was held in a place on campus called the Poetry Center. A poetry center? Yes. A whole library full of poetry books and books about poetry and poets, a breezeway where we ate the most delicious sandwiches at lunchtime, a comfortable auditorium where we heard readings and talks, and classrooms where we hashed over each others’ manuscripts.

The University of Arizona Poetry Center, housed in the Helen S. Schaefer Building, includes a rare book room, a children’s program called Poetry Joeys, a collection of recordings made by visiting poets, and a Poet’s Cottage where visiting writers can stay. The center hosts readings and lectures, poetry discussions, workshops, and more. When I walked into that place, I thought, “If I could work here, I would gladly live in Tucson.” I’m not moving, but wow. I found a place where everybody speaks my language.

Most people I meet don’t “get” poetry. If it doesn’t rhyme, it isn’t poetry, right? Read poetry for fun? Are you crazy? You’re a poet? What does that mean? Bookstores and libraries rarely allot more than a shelf or two to poetry, but there is so much more.

Why is my MFA in creative nonfiction if I’m so fond of poetry? I wrote poetry first, but a girl has to make a living. I think essays and poetry live on the same spectrum of storytelling. Some essays are poetic and some poems feel like little essays. They’re all magic to me.

IMG_20160316_121740352It wasn’t all words this trip. I was blessed to be able to stay at the home of my late husband’s cousin Adrienne and her husband John, both delightful people I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. They volunteer at the symphony store in the lobby at the Tucson Music Hall. The night I arrived, they took me with them. I helped sell CDs and music-related items such as earrings shaped like treble clefs and mugs, bags, scarfs, etc. We also got to hear the music, which included the Tucson Symphony and guest artists The Mambo Kings. Fun! The day after the workshop, Adrienne and I toured the marvelous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which was loaded with cactus, critters and kids on spring break. And in the warm evenings, we dined in the patio and had great talks.

Then it was time to come home. It was 80 degrees in Tucson. When the captain on the plane announced that it was 43 degrees in Portland, Oregon, people groaned. The Oregonians laughed. Back to hoodies and raincoats with new books to read while the rain pours down outside.