We Are All Threatened

FullSizeRender (13)I’d bought this beautiful Tarte aux Fruits at La Provence in Orenco Station Friday and served it to a group of Smith graduates meeting at our house Monday evening. Now, I wake before dawn on Thursday to find a ready-made slide show of that evening on Facebook, and perhaps, by some powerful chance, a possible answer to a question that kept me awake part of the night.

First, I can explain. During the meeting of this diverse group of women, I had a chance as the eldest to describe briefly how similar what is happening in this country now feels to what was happening in Austria in the late thirties. And I could urge these women to resist, to speak out against white supremacy, against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in all their forms. Unjustified police use of force is just part of this. We are all threatened.FullSizeRender (16)

Next, yesterday noon, in another setting, a friend described to a group the experience her elementary school grand-daughter was having in the classroom: classmates were shouting “Heil Hitler,” and making anti-Jewish slurs, in the presence of teachers, who were condoning the behavior, doing nothing about it. A parent so far had had no response from the principal to whose attention she had brought the problem.

It may be that other children will be the most effective teachers of kindness and tolerance. Lower graders would respond best to a diverse group of upper graders who came into their classroom and sat down for a serious talk, with this message: the United States is a country where Christians and Jews and Muslims have a right to be free and not bullied, where we will protect everyone who is not trying to hurt someone else. If your parents are teaching you otherwise, it is up to us to help them understand a different way.

I acknowledge how difficult this seems and how possible it is that there are many who don’t want it to happen. But I will hold onto the image.

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Right After the Snow

img_1438Around the graves of five generations in our Strong family plot at Riverview Cemetery are these tiny Yellow Aconites. Their Latin name says that they come “right after the snow,” and sure enough they do. I love the way the Aconites bloom this early, and then disappear completely, their leaves melting away into nothing, so by late spring you wouldn’t know they’d been there.

One old tree fell in the windstorm last fall, and the other, grown to great age between the graves of Judge William and his wife Lucretia, is marked to keep an eye on. We hope they won’t have to take it down.img_1444

One of the sons of William and Lucretia wrote a book, Cathlamet on the Columbia, about growing up in the 1850’s. He was born after they arrived. They’d come around the Horn, losing one little boy to Yellow Fever on the way, the other one, Curtis, my great-grandfather who bought the land we live on now, surviving.

image8I came back from exploring the possibilities of classes at Oregon College of Art and Craft today, and realized that’s not what I need to do now. I have room here at home in my little studio up on the bank above the house. Hester and Tom, last time we were away for a good stretch of time, even cleaned it out and made it usable again. They removed squirrel nests, hauled out all those boxes of old camping equipment. We can heat it sufficiently. We can put in a vise I’ll need to finish the wood carving I started eight years ago, at a class at OCAC, in fact.

There are things I’ve made and finished, being used by my family and friends. This is a start. Photos, meals, table, dinner table, soap, garden veg, garden house, … to come ….knitted pieces, sewn pieces, cape, tie skirt, etc.

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