Rushing through my day I find few places to sit and rest, gather myself, collect my thoughts. There is one place, a secret place, I found that I’d like to share with you.
Somewhere on the college campus between room 120 and the math lab is a restroom. Restrooms are common and not much of a secret but I found something secret inside this restroom between room 120 and the math lab: a spider’s home.
This humble home is positioned perfectly on the floor between the tiled wall and the stainless steel footing of the stall frame. The janitor’s mop has yet to find it. For the last five weeks I have noticed that this spider is busy. Some days the nest is messy with potato bug carcass and hair, other times it’s clean, quietly waiting for dinner to drop by. Today I discovered another spider, dead and dry, it’s juices enjoyed, all curled up at the top of the flossy web, left out to hang like a flag of victory. Now it’s getting interesting…
I’d like to offer up that this barbaric scene of the spider world is natures version of the television series. Time will not allow me to binge-watch this adventure. Binge-watching is when you watch a whole season(s) of a show back to back until your brain turns to mush. The last time I did this was with AMC’s “The Walking Dead” seasons 1-4 in 3 days. I was almost zombie material by the end of that binge. Pun intended.
So here is this little frame of nature, inside a tiled room, the spider is just living—doing it’s thing. Everyday that space, that three inch bit of real estate, looks a little different. Although I have yet to see the spider, I can guess how it’s day is going based on the condition of it’s web. I always take a quick look when I can. Today, after five weeks of spying, I asked myself “Why?” (I’m slow like that)
I thought about the time birds built a nest under my roof and I listened to the sound of the babys growing stronger, tweeting louder, until they left. I thought about my flower garden in Port Orchard and watching different flowers and bushes changed throughout the seasons. I remembered years of watching a neighbors slow progress repairing their “fixer-upper” home, until I could no longer see the old house it use to be. I thought about my children and nephews growing, needing new shoes, needing hair cuts, growing up, changing.
I like progress. I like to watch things grow. It is the best show to watch.
Kevin and Matthew are at it again with a new set of poetic shenanigans sure to cause buried members of the English lexicon to roll in their graves (whatever that means). Joined by Bellingham poetry stalwarts Shannon Laws, Joe Nolting, and CJ Prince be prepared for a night of poesy so mind-bendingly grand, so soul-shakingly shaking it may just inspire you to quit your day job and pursue a hermetic life of poetic penury…not that you should come with any expectations or anything…
$10 recommended donation.
Will be held in the Mt. Baker Theatre Encore Room.
Proceeds will benefit the Whatcom Juvenile Justice Creative Writing Project which leads writing workshops with kids in the juvenile justice system. JJCWP affirms that all youth have a unique voice that deserves to be shared with the community…
A year a ago this month I worked for two weeks as a whole fish processor on the docks of Bellingham. I am SO thankful to NOT work there this year. Lessons learned covered in fish slime, fish blood and fish sperm are lessons well remembered. Join me in my suffering from this 2013 reblog:
Spawning Coho Salmon are one of the most attractive fish. This is a BIG fish with an average length of 28 inches, occasionally reaching 36 pounds. This fish is currently “in season” at the processing plants on the docks of Bellingham Bay. I know this first hand because I am a fish flinger.
Coho’s Looking for Love
The Coho pre-spawning colors are silver with some black dots on the back. When the hormones activate and send the fish into “spawn mode”, it transforms into a monster fish! Vibrant shades of pink, burgundy, neon green and black grow over the silver scales. The males mouth jets out, teeth blaring like an old ladys stubborn poodle. The females grow eggs, 2500-3000, on either side of their organs in sacks that start just under the jaw and run down the length of their bodies. These fish are ready to get it…
This year I’m behind in submissions. A writer-friend shared his ambitious goal of 100 submissions a year. I’ve submitted less than five, so far, but the year has three months left in it, so there’s hope.
Last week I received some good news:
Thank-you so much for your poetry submission to Clover.
We are pleased(!) to accept “Ink Stained Hands” and “Rest”
for the December edition of Clover, A Literary Rag.
From their web page, “Clover, A Literary Rag originates from the Independent Writers’ Studio in Bellingham, Washington (2010). The print journal publishes poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction.
Its beautiful cover tells the tale: Clover is all about content. Award winning poets and writers like David Lee and Paul Hunter join new voices. About half of our content comes from the Northwest and the rest from the imaginations of writers in Canada and throughout the States–Ireland, too!
Clover is a biannual publication with open submissions”*
Please visit their web site to submit a poem or story, subscribe to the magazine, or just check out what’s happening at IWS:
Read me the paper Uncle
Loud enough to hear in the kitchen
Touch it for me, turn those pages.
Aunties and I are cooking the dinner
hands must be kept clean.
But in your place by the fire
the beige recliner squeaks
on the back-beat of your rocking,
toes slide in and out of slippers
leather stretched out and soft
as a first basemen’s glove
Calloused hands turn each inky page
of the Sunday review
headlines shout at us
while we chop onions
Deer fold in fields of grass
Bird tucks a beak under wing
Cat sleeps on the porch
while in the yard, Dog dreams
of hunting them all.
For a moment
for a few hours, eyes close
enjoying slumber of the mind
Where were you when—? I was living in Port Orchard, commuting to Seattle via ferry on September 11, 2001. Here is my story:
This story was originally written in 2011. Please see my author notes at the end of the article.
Tuesday morning arrived like any other September morning in my little, sleepy town of Port Orchard, Washington. Located on the Sinclair Inlet, the town is known for a rich fishing history and its role in the famous Mosquito Fleet of Puget Sound. From 1851 to the 1950’s, smaller passenger and freight boats connected business and people via the waterways of Puget Sound, before the conception of a state-run ferry system. The old vessel the “Carlisle II” is one of the survivors. Built in 1917, she proudly takes walking travelers from the dock at Port Orchard across to the Washington State ferry dock in Bremerton, about a 12 minute crossing.
The “Carlisle II” was my floating connection to a good paying job in Seattle. From 2000-2002, I commuted from Port Orchard to my office on Mercer Street with a cable advertising company. It was a great location to work at; close to the main production houses, just a short walk to the Space Needle, good restaurants and the best foamy latte you could find. Two boats and a bus, talking 45 minutes to cross on the passenger only ferry, or 60 minutes if I was on the auto ferry. The passenger ferry is faster and holds about 150 people. Once docked on the Seattle side, just a quick walk two blocks east was needed to reach a bus stop on 1 st Avenue that carried me the rest of way, in the perfect time for a 9 a.m. start. I became a pro at working the three modes of transportation to fit any fluctuation in my schedule, i.e. running late, a half day, leaving early for a doctor’s appointment, etc. However, on that particular Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the boats seemed to move agonizingly slow as if sailing through mud. It was a voyage into the mind and spirit. The return journey, back to Bremerton, would take home the same bodies as before but the landscape of our minds, that which we identify as being American would be all-together different.
Being the first one up in a family of four comes with responsibilities. My morning duty was to get dressed and head downstairs to start the coffee and breakfast. Often I would turn on the early morning news to catch the weather and headlines. When my husband came down for his cup that is where he found me, sitting in front of the television watching CNN. Right around 5:45 our time, a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. The event was being broadcast on every major channel. He grabbed a cup and sat next to me.
At the time it seemed that it was simply a horrific accident. We talked about it back and forth, “Wow, look at all that smoke.” “All those people…” “Could you imagine being in the OTHER tower looking at all that?” We were dumbfounded. It put a lump in your throat, but still it was “over-there” in New York. Just a plane crash. It’s amazing how things can change in 20 minutes.
We talked over the commentators who were interviewing experts asking the big questions, “How could a plane just accidentally crash into a building like this?” One expert mentioned it could have been a mechanical error or perhaps the sun was in the pilot’s eyes. At 6:03 a.m. the second plane hit. We saw it LIVE. My husband stood up and shouted, “A second plane just hit!”
“No it’s just a replay of the first plane hitting.” I replied.
“No I’m telling you, a second plane just hit the other building—LOOK!”
New flames were emanating out from the south tower. We looked and waited for the person speaking to confirm it, but the newscaster did not yet recognize what we had witnessed! The wings and landing gear on the news helicopters and airplanes were in the way, preventing a clear view of both towers, causing me to subconsciously toss my arms to the left, “Get out of the way! Turn your plane around to get a better shot!” Frustrated, I changed the channel to get some answers elsewhere.
Within five minutes of the second plane hitting, Fox News called it a “suicide terrorist attack”, and NBC, “something deliberate.” TWO planes HAD hit the towers! A cold silence fell over our living room. What the hell was going on? The kids were just waking up and heading downstairs for breakfast. My son asked, “What happened?” For a brief moment the four of us just stared at each other. As parents, we were speechless, but knew we had to tell our 3rd and 5th grader the truth: terrorist have just attacked America!
Then something strange happened to me, which to this day I cannot explain; I just fell into the motions of Tuesday. It was 6:20 and I had to catch my foot ferry to Bremerton. I did what the clock told me to do. Trusting my husband to comfort the kids, I put on my commuting socks and tennis shoes then drove a mile down the curvy unlit road to the waterfront.
The old Carlisle so lovingly restored sitting at the end of the dock talked to me; “I’ve made it through two World Wars and I’m still floating. Everything will be OK”, but I did not listen. Hopping onto the boat, I headed right for the cabin to find a seat, instead of the stern, viewing Port Orchard’s hill of classic homes and evergreen filled ravines as the sunrise slowly lit it up, as I normally would. I sat in silence, along with four other passengers, our ears filled with the sound of the boat’s engine as it navigated across the inlet. My eyes fixed on a vacant part of the wooden bench in front of me. It was hard to tell by their quiet demeanor if they were in shock by the events that just unfolded or if they had not yet been made aware. Judging by the sleepy atmosphere that normally enveloped the boat, I believed the latter. I didn’t want to say anything, perhaps I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t tell them what had happen. It was nice just for a moment to believe, that it was Monday morning and everything was normal again.
As we approached the Bremerton dock I stepped outside for some air. Our little boat passed by the mouth of the 450 foot long, jumbo class, triple deck auto ferry. This early in the morning the groaning sounds of cars loading onto her made it easy to imagine the ship as a basking shark ready to suck us in like plankton. Feeling myself being drawn into the gaping mouth, I sat up and fixed my coat so as to collect myself.
Once in line for the passenger ferry to Seattle, I could hear conversations about the event all around. Meeting up with two ferry friends, we started to collect stories from each other. Susan, a regular passenger ferry commuter who worked in the I.T. Department at a hospital downtown, had a cell phone with a news headlines service; it was a newer service at the time and not many people had it. When she shouted out an update, those immediately around us would hush to listen. While we waited on that cold dock for the boat to load she shouted out,
“All domestic flights in the continental United states have been grounded!”
As we loaded onto the ferry, I noticed it was about half full. “Perhaps some are home watching the news,” I thought, not wondering why I was going to work. Those on the boat sat a little closer to each other than normal. Susan and two other gentlemen with different news services talked and compared notes, trying to put together a time-line. The rest of us at the table just sat in silence, absorbing every bit of details communicated, just trying to make sense of it all.
“The first tower was hit by a 747.”
“No, I don’t think so, I heard 767.”
“Oh my God, the South Tower has collapsed!”, one of the men said reading it off his phone.
With a quick look around the large cabin, I saw many of those faces I commuted with five days a week, for over 18 months. Anger, fear and confusion seemed to be the main emotions. We were all different people who worked at different places: retail stores, hospitals, high-rise, Safeco Field. People in suits, dresses, jeans, overalls and workout clothes huddled together in groups collecting data and adding commentary. The group on the ferry, that morning, that Tuesday morning, was a slice of Americana, traveling towards a common destination. It seemed we were searching for courage to get through the next half hour. When the boat docked, more disturbing news traveled throughout the cabin.
“A plane has crashed into the Pentagon!”
“The North Tower has collapsed!”
I wanted so desperately to get off the boat and to my office. Working at a cable advertising company almost every office has a television in it. I wanted to see everything, collect information and try to figure out what was happening. Would Seattle’s tallest building, the Columbia tower, be a target? It was over 900 feet high, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River when it was built in 1985. As we walked off onto the dock into the heart of Pioneer Square, that black tower dominated my sight and thoughts. I tried to visualize a plane hitting it, wondering what the people on the streets of New York were going through. It was painful to imagine.
Continuing to the bus stop, the ferry commuters spreading out into all directions, Susan and I stayed together catching the 1st Avenue bus. On the bus she read the headline, “A plane has crashed in a field in Pennsylvania; possibly connected to the others.”
About ten minutes later, exiting at Mercer, I raced into the office to get more updates. It would only take me seven minutes to get from the bus to my floor. “Would there be another place crash by the time I get to my desk?” I wondered.
Being on a ferry the day of 9/11 was a unique situation, a permanent mark in my memory following the old adage, “where were you when…?” Where was I? I was with my ferry friends sailing through dark, unfamiliar waters wondering like the rest of America, what was around the foggy bend.
*Author’s note: this blog was originally written in 2011. Months after the planes hit, new information started to come out, and continues to come out, about that day; information that makes me question everything. However, this is not a political blog. I do not know the truth, nor will I profess to know it. Writing about that day helps me to process. I was a zombie that whole week; completely numb. This is my story about 9/11, and that’s all it is. Tuesday September 11th 2001 is a day that opened minds and stabbed many hearts. -S.P. Laws
Carla Shafer, friend and host to Bellingham’s Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, and I have been invited to read poems at this event.
Last year I was moved by the presentation of Rabindranath Tagore’s life, (b. 7 May 1861 – d. 7 August 1941). The festival is a colorful gathering of true Tagore followers. A real treasure for the NW.
“…sobriquet Gurudev,δ[›]was a Bengalipolymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”, he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal.”
A poem by Rabindranath Tagore
I want to give you something, my child, for we are drifting in the stream of the world. Our lives will be carried apart, and our love forgotten. But I am not so foolish as to hope that I could buy your heart with my gifts. Young is your life, your path long, and you drink the love we bring you at one draught and turn and run away from us. You have your play and your playmates. What harm is there if you have no time or thought for us! We, indeed, have leisure enough in old age to count the days that are past, to cherish in our hearts what our hands have lost for ever. The river runs swift with a song, breaking through all barriers. But the mountain stays and remembers, and follows her with his love.
Click the title or the photo to get to the page in a snap
It took a few days to get it properly formatted, but it’s up and ready for purchase. Excited to be able to offer my first book on Amazon. Hoping to reach new readers.
Please consider a copy as a gift for a friend, or as an addition to your poetic library; I fit nicely between Keats and Oliver. *wink* -SPL
POETRY: Shannon P. Laws, 2013 Mayor Arts Award winner, takes us on a stroll through the mind, heart and the mystery of dreams in her debut collection. Her poems, like a fine picnic laid out on a blanket in the shade of her beloved Madrona, reveal treasures that hide in everyday living. This majestic tree, native to her home on San Juan Island, has a skin like bark, alive to the touch. They act as a sentry on her journey through ancient emotions and primal urges that stir within.
Times are tough. Not for everyone all the time. There is a proverb that claims it rains on the just and unjust alike. Most proverbs reference a farmer’s point of view, so I believe “rain” is a good thing, it’s what you want, it’s pennies from heaven.
At times when very little rain comes my way, I like to dream. I dream big. Hard work pays off, I retire, can afford a nice house. Nice by MY standards, of course, because it’s my dream.
One of my dreams goes like this: I see myself in a large house, with a flower garden. My family is there, my two cats and one friendly, soft-eared black Spaniel, or King Charles (can’t decide) is resting near me as I dead-head the Geranium and Petunias planted along the bed’s border. The sun is shining and there is a cool breeze. Birds play in the branches. Dinner will be ready soon; there is laughter, music and great fragrance of a home cooked meal. All kind of art hangs my on walls, interesting, exciting pieces collected from my world travels. Shoes gather around the front door, as the house fills, comfortably, with friends, family, smiles and laughter.
I’m saying “Thank You” and “I love you” sharing the riches of my hard work with those I love. —Hard work? Yes. Unless I win the lotto, this dream can only come true by working hard, working smarter, hopefully doing something that I love.
And so when times are down, I look and see what is for sale on-line. I search the Windermere Real Estate map, zoom to a favorite neighborhood, select price “highest to lowest”, then “Enter”. The house-porn party has started!
I look for a four to six bedroom, with an art studio, den, and a place for a pool table, modern kitchen and baths, a REAL laundry room, closet space galore, and at least one large fireplace, stacked rock, river rock or granite preferred. I need room enough for my son, daughter, mother, my brother and his family to visit, a bed for everyone! A house with a water or mountain view, a fenced yard, among a nice “walking” neighborhood, near a grocery store, quick access to the main roads and a park. That’s all I want. Simple. The perfect house.
I wonder sometimes if my need to view million dollar homes at 3 in the morning is bad; if it gives me false hope. If I set the bar too high.
The average cost for a home in my city is around $267,000, estimated median household income in 2012: $41,718*. Dreaming of owning a million dollar plus home is reaching for the sky! So, is it bad for me to look? Bad to dream? I don’t think so.
Let me share a story with you.
Back in the early 00’s I worked for the largest cable company in Western Washington. Comcast Cable has customers in the millions, from Blaine to Gray’s Harbor, North Bend to Forks. One of the ideas they were playing with was home-specific advertising.
This is a common concept for internet advertising today, 12 years later. To see user-specific advertising in action compare the ads on your Facebook page with that of a friend, son or daughter, or your mother. They WILL be different.
For cable television it’s a bit different. Cable boxes have the capacity to not only deliver the package you paid for, but to retrieve information. All the buttons you push turn into data, it is collected and analyzed. Cable and satellite companies, unlike their broadcasting cousins, know exactly how many boxes watch what channel, what show, when and where. So with this data, for a brief time, experiments were done on box or home specific advertising.
Based on your personal data it is determined that you could afford a Mercedes Benz, local Mercedes Benz lots would send their ads to your cable box, inserted onto the channels you watch, potentially saving MB money by targeting the “right kind” of client.
If your credit card data showed that you ordered pizza delivery more than average, then pizza advertisements for companies near you that deliver, would appear on your TV.
Advertising that reacts to your current habits and buying abilities within the parameters of your demographic. Boring.
Sitting in the beta results meeting, I remember thinking that box-specific advertising was wrong. It was wrong to deny people a “Goldilocks” experience; finding out whats too small, too big or just right for them.
What It Really Means
Dreams are not a demographic, they are more like a fingerprint. A hungry person, on a tight budget, might dream about food, but what do they really need? A Marie Callender Pot Pie? NO! (Well, maybe, those are good!) That person may need a nicer car that starts every morning, to help get a job that pays better, but dreams of going to school to get a better job, a better life.
How much influence does the media have on our dreams? Should we use things as rewards?
Is material attainment symbolic of the journey?
What are YOUR dreams?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” ~Jesse Owens
“All [people] dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous [people], for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” ~T. E. Lawrence