Gatherings and Migrations

It is just before dusk, in the middle of September….

A crowd is beginning to gather on the dry, grassy hill above the school. It is a warm night, and the crowd is startlingly diverse; people dressed in three piece suits, people wearing more tattoos than cloth, families, children, newborns, grandmas being assisted into a waiting camp chair, folks in wheelchairs, the family dog in all shapes and sizes.

There is a congenial buzz of excitement in the air. The picnicking begins, and menus include everything from pizza and doritos to kale chips and hummus. Some families have festive matching blankets and pillows, with state of the art beach chairs; others just sit on the hard ground and try not to slide down the steep slope onto the soccer field. (note to self: stiletto heels might be more practical than birkenstocks in this case)


Cameras are at the ready. All eyes are on the sky, and the old brick chimney. They hope to see the same sight they have been coming for years to see. It is action drama. It is airborne fractal ballet. It is the best kind of family entertainment–a beloved community event that happens every night in September.

What is it? Called ‘one of Portland‘s most spectacular natural events’ it is the annual nesting of Vaux’s Swifts in Chapman Park.

It is where humanity is at its best–when we gather as families and friends, to share a meal, a moment of wonder, a mutual awe of the natural world.

[Daily post challenge: interpret the theme humanity]


Mindless Amplitude


No home comforts here

just stuff nobody wants

a cup of coffee

so indifferently brewed

it can’t excite

a single neuron

See the lonely stretch

of strip mall

on a Sunday morning

where abandonment

is not wanton

And wanting

has been abandoned


Overload Alert from Daily Post….

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein
Do you agree?

Yes, Daily Post. I agree.

Trying to get caught up on the latest buzz, twitter and hype on the internet can feel like falling face first in a bowl of cheez whiz.


(Hipstamatic lens and film used: BlackKeys film, Watts lens)

‘A Day Late….


….and a dollar short’.
‘Handier ‘n a button on a shirt’.
‘Sure as shootin’.
‘Hail fellow!–Well met’.
‘…faster n’a duck on a june bug.’
“I feel like I’ve been chewed up and spit out.”
‘That ‘pyert me up quite considerable’.

I could go on, but these few should suffice. My hand me downs were very sparse in the heirloom and antique bequeathals, but rich in sayings, maxims, proverbs and witticisms.

My mother’s side of the family ‘hailed from’ (there’s another one) Tennessee, and a few generations before that–England and Scotland.

Grandpa Duncan; old raconteur and man of pithy expressions

Grandpa Duncan; old raconteur and man of pithy expressions

I live far from the South now, but it always fascinates me to be reading a book from the 18th century or so, a story from a writer on ‘the other side of the pond’, and realize that I have just read one of my grandma’s pert expressions. Or chanced upon an aphorism so beloved to my grandpa Duncan.

Oh, how words can travel on. They can become as much of a legacy as a crooked nose or a deft hand with pie crust.

I learned something about accreditation, though. When my mom would say one of these Southern gems, she would mostly do so with a rueful smile, and cap it off with ‘as Mamma used to say’. Later, as my mom grew old, that last part would be left off.

As I say now, before rattling off a Tennessee-ism as easy as pie, I always add: ‘as my mom used to say’. Eventually, that will be left off and it will only be:

Me and the over-arching zeitgeist of Southernism that links me to my past. A colorful past that’s as ‘plain as the nose on my face’, and the words on my tongue.

(My tardy and case-in-point response to yesterday’s daily challenge.)