Sunday, January 27, 2008

David Coyle, 1945-2007

Today my family is hosting a memorial of sorts for David Coyle. He was my sister's ex-husband, father to Mercedes and Seamus, surrogate father to Sean, and a perpetual thorn in all of our sides from time to time over the thirty-plus years I've known him. His energy and strength was legendary, and, when used for good works, were awesome gifts. If anyone had car trouble or appliances that refused to behave properly, he was your go-to guy. A natural clown, I remember him entertaining the kids with his goofy demeanor and Howdy Doody-like countenance, encouraging them to be daring and silly with him. He smoked too much, had a fondness for meat and potatoes in all forms, and had too close a relationship with drugs and alcohol than was good for him. It was a relationship that fueled an explosive and sometimes unpredictable temper. At the same time, there existed in him a tenderness for animals, kids, and the old or downtrodden.
Dave was a paradox; a guy who could fix practically anything that was broken, but ultimately couldn't deal with the demons that plagued him his whole life. All those contradictions aside, we'll miss him. He was, in the end, a good guy who enriched our lives in ways some of us didn't really understand until it was too late to let him know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

living green

Well, all the visitors have gone, and the sun is out once again (for a little while, at least). The sunlight brings out the bright colors that normally go almost unnoticed in the dreary and dim daylight of a northwest winter. Mosses and lichens and ferns are covering everything: lovely, soft, bright green pillows of moss cover a curving river rock wall, the sidewalk, the stairs, the trunks of the huge old trees that line the streets. Ferns are growing in the crooks of tree limbs above the sidewalks. It's like a little rainforest microclimate.

Speaking of trees, the tree trimmers are here as I'm writing this. Our huge old and beloved walnut tree is getting a pretty drastic, much needed shaping. A few weeks ago I noticed two huge limbs were split through...the next ice storm would almost surely cause them to come down on the porch roof or an unsuspecting pedestrian. I'm hoping the family of squirrels that lives in the tree aren't too freaked out. I know I would be if some crazy human attacked my nest with a chain saw.
Walking out on the porch to talk to the tree guy, I thought that the soft white stuff coming down was sawdust...then I realized that nobody was cutting anything. It's snowing!

Friday, January 4, 2008

happy holidaze

A belated Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year to everyone! It's a typical cold, windy, wet Oregon winter night, where it seems as if the wind and rain are blowing straight in through the window glass. (It doesn't help that my computer is next to the window with the air conditioner still in it from the summer. The stupid thing is too heavy for Dave and I to lift, and pretty much too big to store any where in the house at the moment.) So I'm sitting here with a glass of red, wearing my favorite Christmas present, handknit by my niece Mercedes...fingerless gloves are the best! Even the kitties are snuggled up together in the big chair next to the Christmas tree.
It's been busy couple of months here at Camp Cactus. First the run up and the preparation for the best holiday sale in the studio ever, then quite a few of the extended Russell clan made their way up to Portland for the holidays. Matt flew in from San Mateo a few days before Christmas, followed by my big sister Patty and niece Mercedes, who drove up from the Bay Area. It was really fun having them here. Mercedes is a mad knitting fool and gave Caitie and I some impromptu knitting lessons. We're managing to make a couple of easy scarves so far, but are not yet ready to make gloves - fingerless, or mittens!
On Christmas Eve we had a gathering of all the usual suspects for a traditional buffet of corn chowder, clam chowder, salmon cakes, clam cakes (an old Russell family fave), and tons of other munchies.