Days, This Week

image1 (3)Tom with one old friend, from graduate school days. This couple lives in Gresham.

image2And here he is with another old colleague. We went by their house Saturday and found them home. At the ends of all these long lives, it does take doing, making the date, driving across the city. But somehow it’s the embellishment and reaffirmation of friendship in the face of governmental chaos that’s important now.

All our younger friends and the three generations image3growing above us (this is our great-granddaughter, Lily, organizing the ducks and the loon by our wood stove) can probably barely imagine how we feel, but they help make it all possible. And we are grateful!

We’re also excited to learn that Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin will air on PBS American Masters on August 2 at 9 p.m.

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Welcomed by Family and Friends


Friday, May 17 – We’re just coming in to Rochester NY, breakfasted, beds out of the way, “Some of these farmhouses are lovely, porches around them, all wood. Haven’t seen a single brick one,” says Tom. We were asleep all the way through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania where those would have been. We’ll be glad to be in bed in a Springfield motel tonight.

unnamed (46)Saturday, May 18 – First day. Picnic (tailgate) with son Dexter and Keri at Oxbow Marina in Northampton where his daughter Clara was playing in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The hills around were soft with new green and I asked Dex for that photo. We were right by a wood full of sensitive fern and the fiddleheads of wood fern, and at the other side of us were playing fields, tents, and hundreds of high school age men and women throwing Frisbees.

unnamed (44)Then they dropped us off for a nap, and grandson Griffin (red t-shirt, “Fund our Future”) picked us up at our motel and took us to their house, only a few minutes away, for supper. It’s lovely, sitting in the woods, with a beautiful (and weedless) garden. He and Heather have a sweet year-old corgi puppy, Leeloo. We had a warm summer evening, wonderful feeling.

Griffin is working as a carpenter, starts graduate school in September at UMass Amherst Labor Center. We’ll visit Heather’s HTWoodshop tomorrow.

unnamed (49)Sunday – We stopped at Heather’s shop on the way. Raining but then the sun came out. Such a good supper last night at Griffie and Heathers! Leeloo is of course sweet.

This was a stellar day, all together with Dexter and Keri, Griffin and Heather, Jewell, daughter of Tom’s brother Bill, and John, Bill’s youngest, and his wife, Beth. Complicated, I know.

Also there were Jewell’s daughter Zoe, and Jewell’s neighbor and friend, Lee Edelberg, the tall man some may not have met.IMG_2015


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Off We Go Again!

60354904_10213168951170709_289344202905485312_nWe’re heading east by train once again, visiting family and friends, and stopping in at the Smith College reunion next weekend – my 65th!

On Tuesday, May 14, we ate our supper coming up the Columbia Gorge, late sun slanted in under swirly clouds. When we drove up this way as newlyweds on the way east in 1954, Celilo Falls was still there. 

I’ve learned to order one instead of two and it was plenty. Box lunch since we don’t get the dining car till we join up in Spokane with our other half of the Empire Builder coming in from Seattle.

Here we are stopped just briefly at the west entrance to Glacier Park.

IMG_2919Tom is tucked in down below, and I’m glad to report getting into the top bunk was not hard. I didn’t realize how much the exercising, change in diet, of the last two months had been in preparation for this trip, but just now, going five cars forward and up and down the necessary stairs to the dining car for breakfast, I knew! I never could have done that with the weight and lack of muscle strength I had in February.


We do get tired by the end of a long day, and getting into my bunk, I sometimes think, “Are we crazy!?” But after a long night’s sleep, everything seems right again. We’re just going along the Erie Canal now, east of Rochester, looking forward to all the visits to come this week in that beautiful Connecticut River Valley we know so well.

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Saying Goodbye to My Sister, Liz

58373040_10219350002165196_5817300337895145472_oOn a day when it did not rain, and the air was soft, a group of us gathered on April 23rd at the cemetery to bury Liz’s ashes in earth that already holds many of our family members who have gone before. We sang and spoke and bid her goodbye. Tom had decided to wear his Cochran kilt in honor of Liz, and he looked dashing.

Friends Joan’s age came who had known our family since childhood. And it was good to be all together, even Dexter all the way from New York.

Julia and Hannah had taken the day off, Hannah carrying the unborn next generation.
Liz never did like taking walks, but several of the songs we sang are ones she sang with Joan, encouraging her while she walked to a restaurant, songs our parents sang to us in childhood.

As one of her caregivers wrote, “She was a lovely lady.”

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Liz Strong – Sept. 13, 1935 to March 19, 2019

IMG_4745My sister Liz died on March 19th in Pt. Townsend, WA, where she had been living since about 1969. She lived only some hours after a severe stroke. She was 83.

A memorial open house will be held for her at her home in Pt. Townsend on Saturday April 13th, and we will have a ceremony here in Portland when we bury her ashes at Riverview Cemetery on April 23rd.

Liz was beloved of many people. Everybody who knew her remembers her laughter and her wonderful sense of humor. She had a huge affection for family members and friends, for animals, and all the pets we’d ever had. And she understood, in a practical way, how the world works.

These recent pictures, taken during a visit by Tom and Jamie in February, give an idea of her. image1 (7)

Her nieces and nephews and grands- grew in their understanding of the many endearing qualities to be found in all “sorts and conditions” of people, as they interacted with Liz over the years.

This brings thanks to everyone who has sent messages of condolence, love, and understanding to us, Joan and Tom, and to our whole family.

Come See Our Show at RiverPlace

art river place logo

pic1This exhibit, which will change slightly from month to month, holds pieces of the work of two lifetimes.

It is designed to be enjoyed peacefully, sitting down to peruse a book, looking at the underside of a piece of sculpture to see how it was put together, looking at a wall of paintings, watercolors, thinking of your own journals, sketchbooks, treasures.

We plan to be there for the opening reception on Sunday, March 10 from 3-5 p.m., and the other Sunday afternoon gatherings on April 14 and May 12. We hope to see you on any of those days.


A Reflective Collection

While getting ready for an exhibit we’ll put up in the Community Room at River Place, we realized we needed to say something that viewers would read as they went in. The show will be up during March, April and May, hours and small events to be announced, since they’re not usual gallery hours. Here’s what we wrote:

This exhibit is more a “reflective collection” than an “art show.”

Tom and Joan’s lives have held the role “artist” in very different ways.

Tom began drawing and making things when he was very young.

His athletic skill and his teaching, in secondary schools and then for 30 years at Portland State University,  and his acting, defined his professional life. “Artist” and “poet” are still descriptions he feels fit him ill.

7In his 30’s, when he was teaching in Rhode Island, helping raise three children, coaching hockey, directing plays, teaching English to high school-aged boys, he began painting. “And I Will Make You Fishers of Men,” an oil framed by a lobster pot end, was one of his first paintings, and his first sale. (It was given back to the Buells when the person who bought it, grown old, downsized.)

He painted that and “Triptych” partly to take his mind off overwork.

Objects would gestate sometimes for months in Tom’s studio before they would one day fall into place in his imagination and become part of one of his works.

It was not till he retired in the early nineties that what had been called the shop began to be called the studio.  He doubled its size, then a few years later doubled it again, felt it legitimate to increase the number of power tools. He joined a co-op gallery, Gallery 114 in what is now known as the Pearl District.

In some cases, when a work is owned by someone else or is installed in the Buells’ woods and garden, you will find photographs.

jsb-watercolor-puebloJoan has always thought of herself as a “journal keeper,” likely to draw as an accompaniment to writing. It was in her 40’s that she began sketching, first her children, later scenes from home and travel.

She recalls thinking of herself as a musician, many of whose friends were “artists,” and beside singing, often with the guitar, she sang in choral groups, traveled to Europe with the Smith College Chamber Singers in 1952. Her ear for music helped her in language acquisition, so that she became fluent in French early in her life, and later added Spanish.

Teaching, in preschool, high school, and later in adult education, has pervaded her life.  During the 20 years she was involved in hospice work, teaching in another form remained a large part of what she accomplished.

So what you see here is an assortment of pieces that are a result of materials coming to hand, a collection of songs as much a creative endeavor as a painting or a piece of clothing. A free-hand cross stitch landscape resulted from a 6,000 mile car trip she and Tom took to Mexico. A skirt made of neckties came out of a bin of silk ties for sale in the late years of the Catlin Gabel Rummage Sale. A cloak made for Tom, after a pattern from a cloak of her own, was made from a blanket found in the Government Camp cabin they bought together with another couple, in the early 60’s.

Joan has found it hard to know how to respond to a person saying, when they see her drawing in her journal, “Oh, you’re an artist!”  Yes, she makes things. Yes, she’s taken some classes in drawing, box-making, book-making. Quilts, clothing, hat-making came when time or materials or both presented themselves. But the creative process feels as alive to her when she’s making a pie, or helping design a hospice, or sewing a quilt, as it does when she is painting.

More of our works can be found at

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