Saturday, April 23, 2011

word week, day seven

I've been thinking about the power of words all week.
Words can envelop us in feelings of joy, hope, understanding, excitement, love, sympathy, empathy and kindness. They can also anger, upset, hurt, challenge, denigrate, disrupt, confuse and defeat us.  Words can slap us in the face or surround us in warmth, kill our desire or inspire our creativity.
A simple word lying on the page or resting in our brain doesn't have this power all by itself. A word must be used with intent for it to have power.

We choose the way we string together those words.
We choose the direction.
How we say things does matter.
What direction will you choose?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

word week, day five

(photo by Dave Brown)

We must look funny to Someone,
Tumbling through the universe locked in a death grip with
   our tiny ball Earth and ripping her busily to pieces,
   trailing a stinking film of gas and pieces of satellites
   and mushroom and dust clouds.

Think of her new.
An unspoiled country lying open in the sun.
Think of oceans of beauty,
   instead of scattered puddles,
   muddy and drying up.

What can make the heart ache more than a billboard?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

word week, day four

Portland is a literary town, and anyone who's spent even a few hours here can't help but notice that Portlanders love the written word. Powell's City of Books is a beloved institution, and even has a satellite store at the airport. The Multnomah County Library has for years had the distinction of having the highest circulation in the nation among libraries serving less than 1 million residents, and its materials are checked out at twice the rate of the national average.

So it's no surprise that we have what I think is a uniquely Northwest way of celebrating literature: Poetry Posts. These mostly handcrafted boxes range from elegantly designed masterpieces utilizing clear cedar, copper and stained glass, to the most humble works cobbled together from recycled materials, but they all share a common theme: poetry.

Here are a few of the posts around my neighborhood:
(click on images to zoom in)

 In Portland, poetry thrives in driveways,

  nestles amongst the vegetables,

 draws passers-by with the written word

and slows the pace of pedestrians. 

Not all poetry is verbal.

 This one has a solar-powered light on top.

This one is beautiful to look at as well as a pleasure to read what's posted inside.

April is National Poetry Month.


I rub my shoulder
against a doorframe’s wood,
getting the feel of this creature
felled and transformed.
My fingers curve to knead blood
toward a muscle’s hurt, lotion
into an elbow roughened by neglect.
Snubbing shoes, I let bare soles
reacquaint themselves
with the wear of pavement’s grit.
Clothes serve the modest task
of long, soft friction.

Bit by bit, night by day,
I grow smoother-grained,
ready for light. Let me be
a mirror in which something else
might catch a glimpse of itself—
the burnished stone beneath
a lifetime of water, flowing.

Oregon's Poet Laureate

Monday, April 18, 2011

word week, day two

“Be Impeccable With Your Word.
 Speak with integrity. 
Say only what you mean. 
Avoid using the word to speak against yourself 
or to gossip about others. 
Use the power of your word 
in the direction of truth and love."

Monday, April 11, 2011

momentary sighting of large yellow orb frightens oregonians

Pacific Northwesterners are a hardy people. Our mail carriers wear shorts in freezing rain, youngsters play soccer knee-deep in mud. We scorn umbrellas, Gore-Tex and fleece are acceptable attire at the opera and ballet, and our weather forecasters use 47 different descriptive adjectives for "rain".

We cope with the dark and wet and cold by drinking copious amounts of organic, fair-trade coffee in the morning followed by gallons of organic, local microwbrews and pinot noir at night.

Winter in Oregon is not for the faint of heart. As hardy as we are, this year's winter was particularly long and dark, causing rampant Vitamin D deficiencies, and possibly even an uptick in sales of self-tanning products. According to the National Weather Service, from  February 26th to April 7th —41 days!—we had no clear days. None. Nada. Zilch. It's enough to tempt even the diehards to head for points south. Or at least consider learning the basics of ark construction.

Even the Oregonian posted a front page story, with a 4 column-wide photo of the day the sun briefly returned to Portland, just under the story about an 11th-hour federal budget compromise being reached.
I won't say there was panic on the streets around here, but everyone I encountered seemed deliriously happy for some reason, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't over the budget.
Now that that scary-bright ball has again disappeared behind the cloud cover, people are acting normal again. And we've all gone back to our regular routines.



Saturday, April 9, 2011

window light

Every week, Carmi over at the blog Written Inc., hosts an exercise called Thematic Photographic. It's been awhile since I've participated, but this week's theme (No. 141) is titled "Windows", and it just so happens they are a favorite subject of mine.

Here are a couple of photos I took not too long ago at Timberline Lodge. Timberline is a beautiful old lodge built on the south slope of 11,000 foot Mt. Hood.   During the Great Depression,  President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the lodge built here in Oregon by the Works Progress Administration, so that hundreds of artisans and craftsmen (and craftswomen) would have work during one of the most difficult times in our country's modern history.

This writing desk and chair were hand carved from gorgeous, old-growth Douglas fir. The windows look out on the Palmer Snowfield, one of Mt. Hood's 12 glaciers.  

Here's one of my favorite portraits of Dave, standing next to a window at Timberline, with the light reflecting off the snow July.

The WPA was a phenomenally successful and ambitious experiment by Roosevelt's New Deal, and provided over 8 million jobs between 1935 and 1943.

Timberline remains an enduring legacy to a time when our government really was (in Lincoln's words) a government "of the people, by the people, for the people", a concept that seems to be lost on many of our elected representatives today.   Click here for more info on the lodge and the WPA.

Then pop on over to Thematic Photographic and check out Carmi's photos, then scroll down to the comments and check out the other contributors.