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2012 Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, United States
Leap Day
Another four years to go until what may be my favorite day of the year, which I learned this year is also known as Ladies’ Day or Sadie Hawkins’ Day. I know four people born on 29 February, and one planning to be married on that day.
Sick and tired...
...is a fruitful place indeed, a place where change begins. Said Rosa Parks, in one of my favorite quotations ever, “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” I believe a lot of us could stand to be that kind of tired a lot more often.
The price of joy
I think often of the women of Nicaragua, and how I learned from them that joy is not an emotion, but rather an act, a duty, a spiritual obligation. We can all afford the price of joy, but how many of us do?
Ball of string
David has been dead for more than six years now. I’m still not used to it, and I may never be. I don’t know that I would want to be. Within the last couple of weeks, perhaps on the anniversary of the day he died - I remember birthdays easily, dates of death not so easily - I picked up a half-finished project involving two wire coat hangers and two soft green balls of yarn. One of the balls of yarn leaped out of my grasp, fell to the floor, and rolled along the floor, unwinding and unwinding. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but something about that restless ball of yarn caught my attention. I figured it out this morning. Years ago, in the midst of one of my dark struggles, David told me that he would be my ball of string. I don’t recall any long conversation about Ariadne and Theseus and the Minotaur, but I have no doubt it was this he was speaking of, or that he chose it because I am a spinner and weaver, and that he remembered seeing me for the first time making an enormous piece of wool felt on a sidewalk with a bunch of grade-school kids. And for as long as he could be, even after our marriage ended, even after I began making choices he couldn’t begin to comprehend - and told me so - he was my ball of string. Every now and then, over the years, I am reminded of him - though practically everyone else he knew gets more visitations than I do, a situation of which I was envious until someone told me he probably knows I’m doing just fine - and now, thinking back to that lively, intrepid ball of yarn making its bid for freedom, I can’t help but think wistfully of my ball of string.

2011 Phsar Dey Hoy (Dusty Market), Siem Reap, Cambodia
Strings of beads
I don’t know how rosaries came up in conversation yesterday, but they did, and my contribution was that I make rosaries, though it has been a while. I had a sudden urge to take a break from the packing that has defined my life of late and make a rosary, but I thought I had no materials here. A couple of hours later, continuing to pack what I do have with me here, I came across a beaded bracelet that had come unstrung. I have never made a recycled rosary before, especially from the beads of a bracelet purchased at the ruin of an ancient temple, but it sounds like a fine idea.

2010 Kampot, Cambodia
The climb to the ghost-town resort at Bokor Hill Station was grueling, and would have required technical gear had it been any more vertical. Thanks to me and two other crabby stragglers, we were late to the top and had no time to stop on the way back down and see the Black Palace, King Sihanouk’s former summer lodging, long since abandoned. But we investigated all the ruins on the hilltop, on level ground, in delight.
It must have been a glorious place in its heyday, and by my reckoning it’s even better now. Apparently it had its chapter in the latest war, with the Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge holed up in the church and the casino, though I don’t remember which was where. There are supposed to be a few bullet holes, but I didn’t see any.
I am not sure what the first two buildings we saw were, and those were the two I didn’t get nearly enough of, as the group surged forward and we had to stay together. The casino and the hotel I got to know almost as well as I wanted, and the much smaller and more straightforward post office and church I explored to my heart’s delight.
Next time I want to see the Black Palace, and I think I want to spend a night up on top, especially if I can find someone to go with me, even more especially if any way up that hill besides the climb presents itself. Maybe a year or more from now the road currently under construction will be finished enough that the odd vehicle can make its way up there. The road-building project – which leads to the new-casino-and-hotel-building project at the top (I’d stay there for one night, in the cheapest room they have) – is a jaw-dropper. We observed it from the back of an old truck rattling over the potholed dirt. Most of the way down, we climbed out and took what our guide called “a short walk through the jungle” to a waiting van, thus outwitting the security checkpoint. They sure don’t want a lot of people up there, but that didn’t stop us.

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