memories may appear brighter in hindsight

2023 is out the door. Gone. 

Laid before me is the ominous task of making a resolve for 2024. The mind immediately ticks off a list of how the year before failed me. Or how I (gasp) failed myself. What an odd ritual to try to wipe the slate clean and start over every New Year. 

The stories we tell ourselves about the past year might be more important than dreams for the next. I would like to give 2023 a second chance. A reframe. A nod to the sweet feeling after the lesson learned and the hurdle lept. Let the moments of joy shine so bright that the surly stuff fades to distant memory. Not exactly revisionist history. More a practice of selective memory. 

2023 shall be remembered as the year of . . . . .

The end of radiation and the end of throat cancer.

Breakfasts at Gravy on Mississippi. The soft but hearty biscuits and gravy went down easy for Dad after radiation treatments. The best plate was served after he rang the bell at his final appointment. 

NA Beer Tastings. A daily drinking habit (thank you Covid) was resolutely broken in 2023. Exploring the bevy of choices in alcohol free microbrews eased the transition. My energy and clarity enjoyed the Monday-Thursday happier healthy hours with a cold Athletic, Lagunitas, or Crux in hand. Cheers to more of the same in 2024.

Bundling up for winter patio season.

Rosie Pub Count Hits 100. Our commitment to finding dog-friendly patios continued to be impressive and ridiculous fun. Rosie turned two in 2023 and reached her 100th unique brew pub before her birthday. An odd juxtaposition with cutting back on the alcohol that somehow worked out just fine. The willingness to bundle up and endure chilly weather helped. We were also assisted by towns like Boise where netting five pubs in 24 hours was easy. I enjoyed the heck out of exploring new places, beers, and food with my best friends. Brian, Rosie, and I are far from done. 

The Macks at Mississippi. The band’s first headliner at the coolest Portland venue was executed masterfully. The Macks leveled up. Yes, they did. Everyone in the place felt it. I danced. I hollered. I beamed my goofy smile at Ben and Joe for an hour. I grabbed each of my boys for a sweaty snap shot afterward to remember one of the biggest nights of their music journey (so far).

The beginnings of a cozy herb and tea garden

The Art in Gardening (part one). It was a year to see the garden with new eyes. A canvas to paint with more intention. I tend to see in macro. The little details. But I stepped back for a wider view. Paths were revealed and opportunities for better flow became obvious.

Landscaping this property will never be finished. 20 years into it, the once simple pasture has changed dramatically. But I can see this land has many evolutions ahead. Gardening is a constant commitment to change and growth.

So I sat many evenings in my new baby herb garden. Warmed myself by the chiminea. Imagined how glorious the chamomile and lavender will smell next summer. Daydreamed about the apricot blooms of the Bathsheba rose cascading over its trellis in a few years. And planned for what should bridge the gap between the two spaces. Chef’s kiss to me and the garden. May we both get better and better with age. 

One of my first pressed flower pieces.

The Art in Gardening (part two). Pressing flowers caught fire in my soul this year. I foraged for colors and textures with a mind full of questions. Learning something new lights me up. Illumination indeed. It was clear quickly that one flower press would not be enough.

I amassed a very satisfying collection. Brian asked – after building the fifth flower press – if I had a plan for the delicate specimens. I had ideas. But I waited awhile to take the next step. It felt like all the flower ladies needed to be at the party before we could dance. And summer time is best spent outside.

The desire to hole up in my studio (aka Sam’s deserted bedroom) was all consuming once the weather turned. Rosie sat impatiently by my side snatching flowers. She learned quickly that mom was not okay with her snack choice. I learned that artists need fresh air puppy breaks, too.

Oregon: Parts Unknown. Our annual road trip was full of fun stories and stunning scenery in Eastern Oregon. I do hope to hold one particular evening in vivid memory. We camped on the Alvord desert playa. It was just us and the dust. Rosie raced across the cracked earth for tennis balls. We dreamily watched a puffy white cloud hover motionless above our heads. It turned flamingo pink then flaming orange. When the moon shone a spotlight on the playa, I danced. And danced. And danced like no one was watching. I swear I could feel the moon beams on my face. Transcendent.

The “Big Tree” tattoo

50’s Style and a Tattoo. It was a year when my reflection in the mirror felt true. Authentically me. My hair and clothes fit my quirky sense of style. I got my first ink. My kids were totally tired of me talking about tattoos. Ben and Joe have a few…times 10. For Mother’s Day they decided it was my turn and sent me to Joanne at See Forever Tattoo.

I chose a silhouette of the “Big Tree” that stoically stands watch over my property. Joanne added three small birds flying away together. Why? Because we olds think tattoos need to be symbolic. They don’t. But that tree is home and will always be the nest for my tree baby birds. And now, even if I move someday, the tree will be with me forever. 

Sand Dollar Secrets. Joy was found on Gearhart beach in March. My childhood dream of finding a whole sand dollar was realized. Times a gazillion. I remember grinning and even skipping and twirling a little along the beach. I collected a prized pocketful. When I brought them home I discovered the doves they held inside. A treasure memory.

All four of my guys strumming on Thanksgiving

Homecomings. My boys continuing to come home for our handful of events and holidays. Each visit turns me into a puddle of gratitude. What a privilege to have the three living where it’s only a longish drive for hug.

A family dinner is not like it was before. It’s maybe better. The boys are friends now. Comfortable with themselves and each other. Kind and thoughtful. Full of music. All three eventually with guitars in their hands.

The boys (Brian too!) played a few songs for my in-laws on Thanksgiving. Roger couldn’t stop smiling and taking video. Which meant I couldn’t stop smiling. Nobody told me adult kids would still be bringing tears to my eyes when they leave the house – every dang time. 

Pool Party Dancing. Every year has a soundtrack. Songs that wormhole me to a certain place and time. My 2023 playlist will take me back to bouncing all around Brian’s fiftieth birthday pool table – night after night after night. And also bouncing on dusty terrain in our FJ62 on a road trip that ended at a Boy Genius concert in Bend. It was the year of The National and the discovery of First Aid Kit. It was The Macks’ Dajiban on repeat and Joe dropping Hazy is My Memory

Friends. So many delightful moments. Book Club paraded a birthday cake to me complete with singing. The girls later splurged on a personal chef for our December “meeting.” My Crazy Oregon Cabin Kerfuffle (COCK) gals shared giggles and our usual raunchy humor. I declared my rooster Russell Crow our mascot. We whispered nervously as raccoons stalked us from trees by the bathroom. We circled my fake candles instead of campfire. Garden Club sang the Twelve Days of Christmas together. When was the last time I sang like that? Middle school? We won an unplanned trivia night at Cooper Mountain Ale Works with the Wienceks. The Wagners’ infamous shenanigans resumed with balloons and dirty drawings and a signature Nipple Pucker cocktail. Elsie’s wedding was actually a friends reunion all for me – don’t tell Elsie. And I will not forget my not-so-stealthy, tipsy swipe of a bridesmaid bouquet to press the flowers. The tricky roses complied and my first pressed flower art piece was a gift for the beautiful bride.

Goodbye 2023. I see both you and myself better now. I resolve to carry the best of us into the New Year.

Writer. Photographer. Future Master Gardener. Artsy miid-life mama planting seeds for the second half.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *