Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Distilled to Beauty

Posted by julie on Thursday, 12 January 2017, 5:43

Yesterday, I found out that an author whose work inspires mine is dying of an inoperable brain tumor. While I’ve wondered if my headaches were due to something serious, his migraines have actually been caused by a brain tumor. For the past year, before I write, I’ve been reading a poem or essay of his—any poem or essay—as inspiration. His way of crafting words into moving pictures, of taking an apparently mundane moment and reminding me of its singular value, reminds me how much beauty is possible.

I wish I didn’t feel like cancer had just run ramshackle through last year. Three friends under 50 died of cancer in 2016. The 37-year-old runner. The 43-year-old artist. The 49-year-old dancer. One left a 2-year-old, one two teenagers. I suppose if I had to find the significance in all this—not really the point, but something positive—it would be that I know all three of them distilled their lives to places of beauty and love in their last months. Surrounded by friends, doing only what inspired them, they had figured out the essence of how they wanted to live.

Their lives and deaths are not lessons. As a human, though, struggling to find some meaning, I can find much. I can choose to live differently. I can spread as much love as I can—inviting others over, helping friends and family who are struggling. I can decide to just create—spending time making beautiful things. I can forgive—moving on from perceived past injustices. I can live as much as my friends did—finding and moving with their passions. Eventually, I hope to leave those I love with memories—sharing laughter, kindnesses, moments, saying “yes” to my children.

I can also leave the world more beautiful than I found it. In this time of political furor, it’s going to take a whole hell of a lot of beauty to overcome the ugliness that’s on the horizon. So, every day, I really have no choice but to do the small things. I must do the work. For my friends, for family, for myself, I must help to create something beautiful.

Finding the Sun

Posted by julie on Monday, 6 January 2014, 12:16

When folks live in Eugene, and Eugene looks like this:


then everyone in Eugene tries to escape the freezing fog. They climb mountains, they go to Hawai’i,  or at least they hit the coast. We hit the coast. And our friends were close to where we were headed, so we hung out with them, too!

And we bought wetsuits.

Wetsuit party

Wetsuit party


Bro, I got completely bowled in that pounder and ended up with a brainfreeze.


Umm, Dad, I have the whole ocean’s worth of salt in my eyes.


We also got at least a little exercise climbing the world’s largest dune (not really), then running down. Fun!



And, before dinner, a spectacular sunset:



If you’re curious about Chris’s whereabouts, he spent the day sitting and reading in the sun. So no action shots, but plenty of contentment.

Will Those Teeth Really Fit?

Posted by julie on Thursday, 17 January 2013, 9:46

Will all these enormous, grown-up teeth really fit into this little mouth? Sylvan’s fingers are blue from his forensic science Daring Boys Club. His eyes are bloodshot from skiing this weekend (I need to buy him larger goggles; his head is too big for kid-size ones. That big brain that reliably beats most grown-ups at chess has to fit somewhere.)

While Sylvan was losing his fifth tooth and picking an Army duck from the secretary’s supply for birthday and missing tooth kids, Leslie and I ventured up to Marys Peak, the highest mountain in Oregon’s Coast Range.

You probably won’t see much in this photo, other than the ocean of clouds covering the valley. That’s Mt. Jefferson to the left, and the Three Sisters to the right, at the horizon in the Cascades. Leslie researched the mirage we saw that distorted the mountains. It was a fata morgana. It made the mountains look STRANGE. We could see Rainier, St. Helens, and Adams up in Washington state. It was an amazingly crystalline day.

We’re above the clouds on a foggy, cold, dank Willamette Valley Day. Yay! I’ve now climbed two mountains of my 40 for the year. Yay! I’m with a fun, adventurous friend. Yay!

Leslie found this guy at the end of our hike. We’re not sure if he was there at the beginning. Yes, we saw more than one logging truck on the way up to the Marys Peak trailhead.

A jug of wine, a pizza, and … a book

Posted by jonesey on Wednesday, 25 July 2012, 17:12

Behold, Sylvan and his friend Olivia, hanging out after devouring the best pizza in Eugene at Hideaway Bakery’s weekly pizza night. Olivia just happened to have brought two books. Usually at this time of the evening, Sylvan is running around whacking things with sticks and mixing up dirt/mud/ice/flower/snake/snail/puppy-dog-tail concoctions in the alley behind the bakery. Olivia proved to be a civilizing influence, at least for fifteen or twenty minutes.

That's Sylvan's music teacher from kindergarten in the background. She plays the accordion, changes flat tires on cars by herself, runs trail ultramarathons, and knows Finnish folk songs. And teaches music to elementary school students.

4th of July Parade, Small Town, Oregon

Posted by julie on Monday, 9 July 2012, 23:44

The kids and I have created a tradition, the Creswell 4th of July parade. This year, we brought friends.

Mr. A joins the siblings for some T. Rex riding at Holt Park before the parade. Closely followed by morning sno-cones!

Please excuse the quality of the photos. I was trying to get the mules in the photo, but between dodging water balloons and kids standing in front of me, these photos are more of a dynamic process than a tidy result. But read the carriage; I think it's worth it.

Can I please drink this water balloon puddle? Never mind; it won't make me look any tougher, and that's really all I want these days.

If you head to the Creswell Parade, my suggestion is to leave early. We left town at about 9:20 this year, getting us into Creswell before 10 a.m. We easily parked north of the parade route and placed our chairs near the parade route’s end before heading to Holt Park for some playground action and brunch sno-cones (the kids’ll think you’ve lost your marbles, but it’s worth it; there are no lines before the parade). A fighter jet flew over at 10:30, followed by lots of local small planes right before the parade’s 11 a.m. start.

National Donut Day

Posted by julie on Friday, 1 June 2012, 23:38

Each year, ODOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation, plows through the snow to open up McKenzie Pass to summer traffic. For some short number of days after it’s completely plowed, the snow gates remain closed, making the Scenic Highway an RV-free paved path through the mountains—perfect for bicyclists.

My friend Leslie has been my biking companion every time I’ve made it to the summit from the west side (Chris and I tried it at least one year before the road was completely plowed, and, after slogging through some snow, we realized that we should turn around). Last time, Leslie and I looked at each other and said, “We could go farther, maybe all the way to Sisters. And there are donuts in Sisters…”

McKenzie Pass with North and Middle Sister—before the camera battery gave up and I took the rest of the day's photos with my phone (which I could do while riding, so it all worked out).

So, appropriately enough, on National Donut Day, as I later learned, Leslie and I biked to McKenzie Pass, then cruised 15 miles down the east side into Sisters for a donut and a coffee. We enjoyed our caffeine and calories in rocking chairs on the porch of the charmingly Western, surprisingly Christian Sisters Coffee Company (the donuts came from the not-to-miss Sisters Bakery, whose donuts are always superbly fresh and whose pies look tart and delicious).

Sisters, Oregon ponderosa pine forest. Who needs the Hipstamatic app when my phone takes photos that look like 1977?

After our quick “lunch,” we headed back uphill through the open, butterscotch and ceanothus-scented ponderosa pine forest that led to the higher, mixed coniferous forest before giving way to basalt and snow at the Pass.

That might be iced mocha in my water bottle

After some serious braking down the steep, west, roller coaster side, we re-entered the vine maple and Douglas fir of the wet side and found the van almost too soon. We didn’t hit any deer on the way down, unlike the man we talked to at the Pass who was helicoptered out of this ride a few years ago for doing just that (!).

Leslie didn’t know it earlier today, but she just instigated my longest day on a bike, 54 miles with 4000 feet of elevation gain. But who wouldn’t do that for donuts?

Happy Birthday to a fun friend!

Posted by jonesey on Saturday, 24 March 2012, 6:50

Elena says happy birthday to someone who loves to play in the snow with us!

Two happy girls

Spencer Butte and a Skate Party

Posted by julie on Sunday, 6 November 2011, 22:01

We got off to a slow start, but the day picked up, with a hike in the afternoon followed by an evening birthday party at Skateworld!

Our forest fairy.

When we started off on the Spencer Butte trail—a one-mile trail to the top of a mountain south of Eugene with fantastic views of the city—a forest fairy played a panflute somewhere in the woods above us. We never saw our musician (perhaps because, as Chris noted, when forest fairies stand still, they camouflage themselves as trees), but her notes wafting through the yellow leaves added a general magic to our hike. Elena searched for forest fairies in any likely hollowed log or hole in the ground on the way up.

Both kids reached the top with no (very little?) whining. I’ve been avoiding taking both kids up here alone, because I didn’t want to have a whiney melt-down (or deal with the kids having one), but they were both troopers. Skittles helped (four each on the way up, two on the way down).

Smiles and yogurt-covered raisins (or raisin-covered raisins, if you're Elena).

Mr. S looks so tall and thin in this photo. He took the slippery rocks like a pro. He naturally got low to better balance and slide if necessary. Time to take this one rock climbing.

After a quick hike down, which included a troll under a bridge (Sylvan the troll chasing some college girls [wouldn't you have thought I'd have at least another six years before that happened?]), a family of five hiking with seventeen dogs (okay, seven), and a feral chicken, it was on to Skateworld! Okay, Tecnu showers and then Skateworld!

Our addition to the 70s-themed potluck. This and tater tots. Did you know that Easy Cheese is actually mostly cheese? I didn't mean to disappoint you.

Yes, that's a My Little Unicorn with a disco ball atop Rachael's cake. And Jiffy Pop on the table.

Sylvan trying out the skates. Chris confident in his 70s shirt. Sylvan was actually way better on skates than he was last year. He was slow, but he didn't need a hand. He didn't skate long, but he tried it out. Kindergarten's changing this one, and all for the better!

Elena's frustrating game of air hockey. Did you know that air hockey's really hard when you can only reach eight inches onto the table?

Lots of skating fun! Rachael’s skate mix was superb, and included Stevie Wonder’s Superstitious, Summer Lovin’ from Grease, Barry Manilow’s Copacabana (which is somehow inexplicably linked to Carvel ice cream with rainbow sprinkles in my brain), the Gambler, and Take Me Home, Country Roads. Passing on roller skating to another generation! Sylvan’s going again on Friday with the other school-age children who don’t have school on account of my Mom’s birthday (don’t tell her it’s Veteran’s Day; she knows everything shuts down for her birthday).

Wild Wednesday: Can you guess where we were today?

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, 23:37

If you don’t already know where Leslie and I were headed today, can you figure it out?

Avalanche lilies

Mr. Marmot, hoping for a handout

We think this might be a nunatak of sorts

That's the second-biggest mountain we saw today

On the edge

There's the biggest mountain we saw today, five years nearly to the day after I spent the night on it

Thank goodness the wind took this guy in the right direction

The glissade chutes: fun!

Spunky pink partner

Sunny but not hot weather, lots of residual snow for glissading escapades, multiple blooming wildflowers, parasailunatics, fun company, and even a milkshake at Burgerville. Successful Wild Wednesday!




Four cuties sharing a nectarine at Mt. Pisgah

Posted by jonesey on Thursday, 23 June 2011, 11:21

It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Colton, Pearl, and Elena. We sit when we eat.


Elena abducted by aliens.

Max! And Pearl in her usual photographic state - blurry.

A patient Colton finally gets some. This is how we strengthen our immune systems.