A Tree by the Stream

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Stay tuned for upcoming freedom rant

There are things I've been wanting to say that are too big to say in a few words; I'm thinking them through. It's in what some other writer (if I could remember who I would give credit) calls the "composting" stage. I want to take a long view and have a historical perspective. I was going to use the subject as a speech topic, but decided it was too big and changed my topic. I'm going to block out time to get it written next week, and will be posting it, probably in a few sections. But it's along the lines of "is this what our freedom amounts to? The freedom to torture, to humiliate, to abuse?" and "if we are doing such things in the name of freedom, can we say that we are free at all?" Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 19, 2004


I had to walk home tonight and stopped for a while on the Allen Street bridge over the Cowlitz River. Usually if I stand still for more than ten seconds or so someone will lean out a car window and shout "Jump!" but tonight everyone going by was polite, even the sidewalk cyclists who shouted out cheerfully to let me know they were passing behind me, in case I stepped back suddenly.

Light like that makes me wish I could watercolor....deep blueblack under the bridge and against the dikes, deep greenblack at a bend in the river reflecting tall trees, cut by a streak of silver where the water ripples across a sand bar. In between, reflecting sky, bands of pink, peach, mauve, gold, turquoise, then sky blue shading down to black, all freckled with silver where the fish are striking. Swallows dart down to the surface. Water fast and slick and powerful. Sometimes there are seals here, following the smelt and salmon fifty miles or so upstream from the ocean, but not tonight.

To the left, south Kelso and a picturesque little brick railway station. To the right, west Kelso and the Hall of Justice, an ugly block of concrete topped with radio towers. (People speak of Kelso as if it were in thirds: north and south Kelso, both east of the river, and West Kelso, divided from the rest by the river.)

When I turn my back to the view, I get another one. I can see the river running down towards me--reflecting pink and lavender--cut by three bridges.

First the one I'm on, a big concrete arch with bronze statues at four corners pinning it to the earth (owl, two otters, two trout, two more trout). This bridge, for a while, was known locally as the new new bridge, replacing the old bridge. The old bridge was a steel drawbridge built in the 1920s.

The next bridge up, the Cowlitz Way bridge, was once known as the new bridge. It was built in the 1940s, one of those green girder steel bridges and people called it the new bridge for the next 50 or so years, because it was new compared to the old bridge. People used to give directions here like that: "Take the old bridge and go right at the first light." The bridges are only three blocks apart.

When people say to go across the new new bridge, everyone understands which bridge. But if they say the old bridge, they hesitate, then try to clarify it "I mean the old bridge that was the new bridge, the old new bridge." If they try to elaborate, they find themselves going in circles. Then they hesitate again and try again with a physical description or street name.

Beyond the newly-old bridge, in the misty pink distance, is the third bridge, a railway bridge, a pale straight line drawn across the river. I suppose it has a name, but since it never comes up in driving directions, it doesn't come up in conversation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"one word. so little time."

When you click the Go button on the oneword site, a new page will display one word, and a window that stays open for one minute. If the word inspires you to write, you have 60 seconds to write. Then it prompts you for id and email. (I use a junk email address from yahoo for this kind of thing--when too many spammers pick it up I will deactivate that address and open another.) Then you can read what everyone else that day wrote....the variety is sometimes surprising.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The family that blogs together....

DS11, aka Discreet, is begging for quality time.

"Want to blog with me?" I ask.

"Want to watch My Fair Lady with me?" he replies.

"Don't you know, the family that blogs together, stays together?" I ask. "How about we take out the trash together?"


We negotiate: I get 10 minutes undisturbed on the computer, he helps me in the kitchen for a few minutes, then we watch My Fair Lady.

"Don't we have any more movies that have Harrison Ford taking his shirt off?"


Gotta run. My time's up.