It wasn’t that many decades ago that athletes living behind the iron curtain would risk their lives to defect to the U.S. in order to find the freedom of expression that is the right of every American. And now the movement in this country seems to be moving towards stifling the voices of our own athletes legitimate protests. How did we get here?
The sun resembled a slice of molten pink grapefruit this morning, partially obscured by the green lace of fir and cedar branches on the eastern edge of the yard. It made for an interesting composition framed by the wide expanse of clerestory windows over the bed. Sunrise in Western Washington isn’t usually such a spectacle. Sunsets are generally the thing here. A lot of things haven’t been “usual” in these parts lately.
And there was a thin bank of white clouds higher up in the murky sky, with a ribbon edge of bright magenta, which gave them the appearance of thunder heads against the pale backdrop of milky sky.
And last night the moon rose red-orange with gray features in relief, another spectacle.
And I remember waking up numerous times to the smell of smoke.
And as the day wore on in between, the light remained yellow and refracted, and splashed itself through the bedroom window and across the floor in unexpected golden rectangles.
And in spite of all the haze and the ash in the air distorting the sun’s light, the heat rose quickly and peaked above ninety degrees for what felt like the hundredth day and humidity made even the weakest physical efforts produce sticky sweat and unreasonable fatigue.
And there was a coating of white ash on the car and on the black landscape fabric in the unfinished back yard.
And the vegetables at the farmer’s market were wilting.
And the sunset tonight as I walked through the thick unhealthy air was odd– the sky still hazy pale gray, the sun cranberry red, but flat and dull, with no iridescence, making it look like a paper collage of a sunset sky and not the real thing.
And The Columbia River Gorge is on fire.
And the Multnomah Falls Lodge is threatened.
And people in the area are being evacuated from their homes, given fifteen minutes to get out of harms way.
And this is just one fire of seventy five burning in the western United States.
And the entire summer has been mysterious and surly and unforgiving, and sometimes it feels like the Gods have replaced our blue planet with a set from the twilight zone, or like we’ve been living in a model experiment for the green house gas effect.
And these are the observations of just one person.
And this is not a test.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
The longer I live the more I realize how much I don’t know. For people like me who are always trying to understand things, not knowing that I know something but thinking that I might is frustrating.
I like knowing stuff. Which is hard, because I forget so much. That’s where it get’s dangerous, because I don’t know that I know something, so I start thinking that I might know it, but do I really know it?
If I knew it and forgot it did I ever really know it? Ya know what I mean?
Here are some random things I don’t know, but I think I might know, or might have known, which still seems to put them firmly in the unknown category, but that never stopped Donald Trump from telling us what he knows, and he got to be the POTUS so I’m not gonna let it stop me either:
*I don’t know if horses have shoe sizes. But I think I might know that they do.
I know they wear shoes, at least the well dressed ones do. And they must have different sized feet. So they must have shoe sizes.
But I don’t know if they have different size shoes. As a matter of fact, I don’t know much about them at all, because I no longer ride them. Horses did not respect me.
I think they knew that they made me nervous–those big chesty animals, with such big teeth, (and feet). I’m assuming they didn’t trust me because of my nervousness. Maybe I talked too much for them. Maybe I sweated and they could smell it. Maybe I was lousy in the saddle. When I was around horses I kind of acted like a Woody Allen character around a big chesty woman.
I’m guessing, because of course I don’t know, that draft horses–Shires and Clydesdales and such, wear large shoes, and petite horses, like Icelandics and slender Arabians, wear small shoes.
Perhaps I should google it and then I will know, because the internet knows all, sees all and tells all. And it’s 100% accurate. Then again I probably won’t because I really don’t care, I’m just trying to come up with some nonsense for a blog post, the way the White House is always coming up with some nonsense for a press briefing.
Speaking of big-footed critters:
*I don’t know if Big Foot exists. But I think I might know that he doesn’t.
I consider myself a bit of an expert on this because I live in Big Foot country. According to local legend, Sasquatch lives here and has even been known to bed up with lonely loggers’ wives from time to time and produce illegitimate Baby Big Foots. We know this to be true because of course you can believe what you read while standing in line at the IGA check out counter.
The town I reside in was even considering opening a Big Foot museum at one time. Like a lot of depressed towns, we need a hook to convince travelers to exit the Interstate and drive the three miles to our down town area. Never mind that once they get here dining options are sparse, and their only lodging option is the creepy haunted hostel right next to the noisy railroad crossing. But hey, while staying at this fine establishment, you can actually sit on the couch where the owner’s grandmother died. Really. You can’t make this shit up.
I think I know, though, that Big Foot does not exist. All the time I’ve spent in the woods I have never seen one. And I have spent far too many nights sleeping in a flimsy tent in the big Northwest woods and never been approached by that hairy he-man once. (Could it be my breath?)
I don’t know for sure but I suspect (or think I know but I’m trying not to be redundant) that Big Foot is a figment of mushroom eating Northwest hippy hikers and Mad Dog 20/20 alcoholic logger hallucinations.
I could be wrong. If I am, I’ll let you know. Or better yet, I’ll let the Star know, and you can read about me as you wait in line someday at Walmart.
*I don’t know what I did with my glasses, most of the time when they are not on my face, and sometimes, even when they are. But sometimes I think I know where they are.
I think I know that I put them by the bathroom sink when I washed my face. Until I walk back into the bathroom and know that I did not.
I think I know that I put them on the bedside table when I got in bed, until it’s dark and I’m feeling around for them so I can see when I go into the bathroom. When I’m done feeling around, and have wiped up the toppled water glass, I know that I did not. I just thought I knew I did.
I think I know that I put them on the computer desk when I closed the laptop last, until I walk over to it, (in the dark so I don’t wake up the old man), on my way to the bathroom. Then I realize that I’ll never know that I put them there without feeling around again and knocking shit over and swearing and waking him up, swearing, so I never really know until morning whether I knew that I put them there or I just thought that I knew that I put them there.
Are you having a hard time following this? Yeah, me too.
The problem is I never know where I put them (my glasses, try to keep up), until I find them. Then I know that, Oh! I put them on the kitchen island. Thank God I know where I put them. I might have chopped off a finger.
Right now I think I know that my glasses are on my face because:
I know that I can read this screen.
I know that I can see the keyboard.
I know that those two things are impossible without my glasses.
Sometimes I think I might be going blind, but I don’t know for sure because sometimes, like now, I can see almost perfectly, and other times, I see only blurs. It all depends on where I put those damn glasses. I have to go now so I can stop typing and feel for my glasses on my face. I’m pretty sure they are there, but hey, I never really know. I just think I might know.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
In the morning the street lamps are still on past 6 with their long, dinosaur necks and pink/peach, lit-up heads. I set my alarm for 3 AM but got up before it went off, sailed past Tacoma and Olympia around 4, and it never was so easy on the 5. Got to the ranger station […]
A while back, someone on a conservative friends FB page made a comment about Left Coast snowflakes that made me realize, I qualify as a snowflake.
Snowflakes are COOL!
Snowflakes are beautiful.
Snowflakes are unique.
Snowflakes are complex structures.
Snowflakes are symmetrical and asymmetrical formations, so no, they are not all the same.
Snowflakes final forms are determined by the paths they take and the atmosphere they move through as they travel from the clouds.
Snowflakes are the raw material of snow balls, which carry a powerful sting, like a slap in the face, when necessary.
But of course, snowflakes are primarily associated with happy things, like Christmas, snow men, sledding, skiing and ice skating, to name a few.
Snowflakes are the stuff that dreams are made of.
Snowflakes make lots of people happy.
The appearance of snowflakes often signify a happy outcome in books, films and songs.
Snowflakes in large accumulations are known as snow storms.
Snow storms muffle loud noise, slow down fast moving objects, and encourage people to stop and contemplate things.
Snow storms kick ass. They can stop eighteen wheel trucks dead in their tracks. They can shut down an interstate. Or entire cities. Even whole states. No one wants to get caught out in a snow storm unprepared.
Throw a little wind into the mix and you have a blizzard. Blizzards are a bitch. Some are deadly.
So while one snowflake on it’s own may not have a lot going for it, a mass of snowflakes of singular mind, are a formidable and powerful force to reckon with.
I wouldn’t mess with a committed, cohesive band of snowflakes. You could get iced.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
For more on snowflakes, visit Snowflake Science on the web.
George Santayana is credited with the quote: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Of course this is true. If it were not so, the first war would have been the last. Nor would there be facisim. Or Nazi’s. Who would repeat such atrocities if they had remembrance of the original sins?
When I look at the faces of those who marched in Charlottesville, under the swatiskas, the Confederate flags and other banners of hatred and indifference, I see young men. They are at an age that should be filled with promise, not debilitating anger. I must question why.
What have these youth been taught about the traditions of tragedy they seem so eager to repeat? Why here, in America, in the 21st Century, would they seek to re-enact the worst moments of history?
What aspects of slavery, war, and genocide don’t they understand? Why don’t they grasp the gravity of the ideologies they seem to have adapted? Who are their heroes and why?
Who are their teachers, their mentors, their leaders? How and where did they grow up?What kind of environment foments this level of fear, denial and hatred? What is it about equality and diversity that so threatens their sensibilities that they feel they must take up arms and march through the streets against those ideals?
These are questions we need to ask ourselves at this moment in history, not as a political exercise, but as a moral imperative. This is the time for America to rise up and slay the beast, before it tears us apart. It’s not the time to be polite, silent, or disengaged for the sake of one’s own peace of mind. Not now. Now is the time to educate.
How do you teach those who are too young to remember, the truth about such things?
Can we load them all up on buses, drive them to the nearest airport and send them off to the concentration camps for a first hand look at the relics of Hitler’s final solution? Make them sit among the piles of shoes, glasses, and other personal effects from those who died there to make it more real? Can we lock them behind the gates, under the watchful eyes of the armed guard towers and surrounded by electrified barbed wire to recreate the horror for them? Fire up the furnaces so they feel the heat, force them to breath the ashes of their loved ones? Take everything they own, starve them and make them work until they drop into shallow graves onto piles of rotting corpses, the remains of their family, friends and relatives?
Can we steal them from their homeland, wrap them in chains and load them up on boats, in fetid sweltering quarters, with insufficient water, rotten food and no sanitation, and ship them off to foreign lands? Can we sell them to the highest bidder, enslave them and their offspring for 245 years and force them to work in unforgiving conditions for the benefit of those who bought them? Can we make them non-persons? Can we discriminate against them when they finally find themselves free men? Can we make them sit at the back of the bus, bar them from eating in our establishments or using our facilities, or keep them from attending certain schools or voting in our elections? When they protest, can we spray them with fire hoses and sic the dogs on them, and beat them with clubs? Can we hurl vial insults at their little girls on their first day of school? Can we subject them to these indignities, and more, in the hopes that they might understand the struggles of those who have endured them previously?
These are, of course, rhetorical questions. But why should we need to even consider them? All of the atrocities mentioned above have been documented, adjudicated, proven. Shared in first hand accounts. Attested to by eye witnesses. Captured on film and in written record. We know these truths to be self evident. Denial of these truths doesn’t make them less true.
The reality of hatred is out there. Anyone can learn about it and be taught to understand it’s consequences. Anyone can teach truth to their progeny. Everyone should. Our youth cannot be allowed to forget the end results of hatred, bigotry and racism. America at this moment needs to be reminded. Because the cost of forgetting is not something we want to consider.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
Excerpts from The Whispering Leaves of the Hiroshima Ginkgo Trees by Ariel Dorfman: On Aug. 6, 1945, a 14-year-old schoolboy named Akihiro Takahashi was knocked unconscious by a deafening roar and a flash of blinding light. When he awoke, he found that he had been thrown many yards by the detonation of the atom bomb dropped on […]
Those readers who are convinced that North Korean missiles are now, even as we speak, headed this way, have no need to continue reading this blog post. If you truly believe you have mere moments left, you certainly don’t want to spend them wallowing in Life in the Boomer Lane’s depleted mental universe. Please come up […]
A few days ago I posted a little essay about the ice cream truck that frequents our neighborhood. We really like the fact that we have an ice cream truck that comes around, especially since lately we have been out working in the ninety plus degree heat for several hours a day. He generally comes about the time we are wrapping up for the night, covered in dirt, sweat and an astonishing variety of live bugs and dead plant material that rivals anything the dog picks up on his daily walks.
Yesterday I came home from the grocery store with two packages of Klondike Bars. They were buy one, get one free at Safeway. When I opened the freezer drawer to deposit them in the deep freeze, I noticed a couple of bars in there from the ice cream truck. Must have shown up early that day. According to the old man, he drove right down our driveway, (it’s a pretty long driveway), to the shop. We laughed about how we’ve got him trained well.
Today ended up being another sweltering day. I was out in the green house tying up the beans and tomatoes when I heard the ice cream man headed our way. The sound was so faint at first, you had to strain your ears to hear him, but it got progressively louder as he approached our end of the street, and then it got really loud, because he was in our driveway again! So I kind of hid in the green house because I felt weird that we weren’t going to be buying any ice cream from him, and here he was, at our door again. Luckily I was in the end of the green house blocked from view by the shed. It felt really strange hiding from the ice cream man. Something about the carnival ride like music, the simmering heat in the air, the guilt I felt, like I had done something terribly wrong, bringing home those Klondike Bars. It was almost like a Stephen King novel:
The truck stops in the driveway, I know because I hear the music, and the volume is constant, so no, he’s not leaving. I hear the creak of the door, and the ice cream man getting out, feet crunching on the gravel. He’s coming this way! Only now he’s an evil clown with a jack in the box, turning the crank to make the music keep playing as he approaches the green house, the one I’m peeking out of at him. I scurry to the other end and try to open the door, but of course, it’s stuck. My fault. Should have trimmed the thick grass and weeds growing out there weeks ago.
The music box is getting louder as he rounds the corner of the house and proceeds towards the open door of the green house. Can I make it out before he catches me and beats me to death with the ice pick dangling from a chain on his belt? I bolt for the door, and just as I step on the threshold, I scream. I’m face to face with the evil clown/ice cream man with the jack in the box (that surely contains the rotting corpse head of the real ice cream man who will pop out like alien and eat my brains the moment he stops cranking), when the old man casually steps out on the back deck in his boxers and tells the guy that his wife came home with Klondike Bars yesterday, so I guess we won’t be needing any coconut bars tonight. He stands there in his boxers, clueless.
The evil clown ice cream man imposter looks at me, malice squeezing out of his eyes like oily sweat on the brow of a spaghetti western cowboy on the outskirts of the desert somewhere in…Italy??? He walks away, slowly-ever so slowly, cranking on that box so as not to reveal the dead mans head inside to the old man standing there in his underwear looking down on him from the deck. He gets in the truck and drives away like a fox creeping away from the hen-house. I sigh and fall to the floor of the greenhouse. I scream again! Damn, that black weed-block fabric is hot! The old man shakes his head and gives me that “WTF?” look and steps back into the cool, air-conditioned house. All I can do is cry a few bitter tears, which I immediately lick off my salty lips with greedy slurps.
Did that really just happen? How can the old man be so oblivious to the fact that we are being stalked by a murdering evil clown/imposter ice cream man, who I suspect will be back tomorrow, another 90º plus scorcher according to the weather lady on Fox News Thirteen.
I cast myself on my knees, (ouch!) and pray for rain, a cool breeze, a day time high below 75º, a husband that pays attention– anything to keep that bastard evil clown away. Then I pick myself up off the floor of the steamy green house and go inside, where the old man is eating a Klondike Bar and watching the news. He remarks that tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter. I might be mistaken, maybe it is the heat, but I swear he’s fighting a tight-lipped evil clown grin as he says it.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
Over the years we’ve brought you a handful of video essays about the relationship between visual and cinematic art, how directors will borrow from famous paintings and sculptures in their framing, but never before have we brought you such an essay that focuses exclusively on the influence of one artist. Thanks to editor Ignacio Montalvo, […]