Changes Afoot

You may notice some changes happening here soon. A new project is emerging, and some of the things I’ve written here will be moved there. If you’ve commented on a recent post that has disappeared, that’s what’s happening.

If you want to know more about the new project, email me (breathingmoss AT gmail DOT com). Notification will be selective and may be delayed.

I will continue to write here, sporadically, as always.

Elbows and Knees

This is what it felt like in my earliest imagination, I told her.

It’s not like fluffy clouds in a perpetually blue sky. It’s churning and dynamic. Sunshine and calm are earned after a difficult season of tempest.

Or to put it another way, it’s like a salad made with underwashed lettuce — still refreshing and healthful, but not without grit sliding between our teeth.

A decade ago, I coated my vision of Marriage&Partnership&Commitment with the hazy brush strokes of romanticism and inebriation and cultural expectation, even when the culture was counter-culture and the expectation was anti-traditional.

In the past, I tried to elbow lovers into this space we now share. I tried to corral the Partners Prior into being The One (even while decrying the notion of One, thinking myself SoEvolved as an embracer of nonmonogamy, nonexclusivity).

All that paradox, it eventually wore my rhetoric thin and hollow and even I couldn’t take myself seriously anymore.

And now, with you, I am smashing the paint pots with which I coated those Marriage/Partnership/Commitment visions. The broken bits grind under bare toes and puddles seep into the garden, and what blooms and blossoms and eventually bolts and dies away is the cycle of loving with you, fighting with you, growing with you, finding a space that is wiser, finding a me that knows she does not know, and embraces not-knowing with a quiet acceptance.

On my not-quite-broken knee I bow, tasting the grit and the sunshine, extending my elbows to make more room for what is unknown, but imagined.


As always, I have plenty to say but neither the time nor inclination to spell it out for you all here. The drafts pile like drifts. At first they are pretty, evidence of an event or thought to share, but soon they turn dingy and outdated and become a frustrating reminder of what wasn’t said, in the moment, and how those moments pass by, unrecorded.

Enough on my angst.

For now, I’ll link up to this post, a prime example of why I never skip Sweet Juniper in my blog readings. Go. Read this post now. You may not bother to come back, and that would be understandable.

* * *

It’s been two years since I first told you about Jesse and ruminated about him the next day. It’s been eighteen months since we exchanged names.   It’s been well over a year since I’ve seen him. I think about him often. I wonder if he’s dead or sick or maybe he is in a warm place, instead of leaning against a guardrail with his crutches, exposed.

This morning, as I drove on empty streets to my open-on-an-important-holiday office, I gave some fruit leather to the guy who has taken Jesse’s place on the Glisan Street offramp.  Last week it was a woman in an old-world dress and headscarf and whose sign said she was 77 years old. The week before that, it was a young woman, her darting eyes betraying her newness at that sign-holding gig.

Anymore, I don’t care if I hold up traffic to give the sign-holder something. Romanticism and guilt aside, my heart aches and my stomach turns. I wonder if I will ever grow accustomed to seeing them.

Music in the House

We call him Brother, the dear man who owns Camp France. He lives upstairs; we live downstairs. We are family, we are community.

Walking our neighborhood in the evenings, TW and I listen to the wind, the rainwater flowing in seasonal streams through ravines between streets, the frogs, the country-like quiet. When I drive home, turning off the major thoroughfare, passing Leach Botanical Gardens, crossing Johnson Creek, climbing the north face of Mount Scott to our forested hillside home, I send gratitude that Brother invited me to share his home when I contemplated moving to Portland three years ago.

Last night Brother joined us for a garden-laden dinner, followed by connection and conversation. And then, as I cleared the table and plunged my hands in soapy water to do the dishes, TW and Brother made music. I love to clean the kitchen to their accompaniment. Household chores are so much more pleasant with live music quivering the air, vibrating my cells, lifting my spirit.

One song they played was especially apt, and has been with me all day. I saw Warren Haynes back in 2003, playing with Allman Brothers at Red Rocks. My friends and I passed around the backstage pass I was gifted, sharing the Love. And Love is exactly what it is, music from Mister Haynes. Love is exactly what it is.

Soulshine (Warren Haynes / Allman Brothers)

When you can’t find the light,
That got you through the cloudy days,
When the stars ain’t shinin’ bright,
You feel like you’ve lost you’re way,
When those candle lights of home,
Burn so very far away,
Well you got to let your soul shine,
Just like my daddy used to say.

He used to say soulshine,
It’s better than sunshine,
It’s better than moonshine,
Damn sure better than rain.
Hey now people don’t mind,
We all get this way sometime,
Got to let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

I grew up thinkin’ that I had it made,
Gonna make it on my own.
Life can take the strongest man,
Make him feel so alone.
Now and then I feel a cold wind,
Blowin’ through my achin’ bones,
I think back to what my daddy said,
He said “Boy, in the darkness before the dawn”;

Let your soul shine,
It’s better than sunshine,
It’s better than moonshine,
Damn sure better than rain.
Yeah now people don’t mind,
We all get this way sometimes,
Gotta let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

Sometimes a man can feel this emptiness,
Like a woman has robbed him of his very soul.
A woman too, God knows, she can feel like this.
And when your world seems cold, you got to let your spirit take control.

Let your soul shine,
It’s better than sunshine,
It’s better than moonshine,
Damn sure better than rain.
Lord now people don’t mind,
We all get this way sometimes,
Gotta let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

Oh, it’s better than sunshine,
It’s better than moonshine,
Damn sure better than rain.
Yeah now people don’t mind,
We all get this way sometimes,
Gotta let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.


My intention is to re-mind myself of (and to re-find) stillness.

I do this by actively peeling back layers of distraction and habit and also by allowing what I don’t need to naturally dissolve and fade away.

In moments of letting it be, rather than orchestrating an outcome or path or rules of behavior, the lessons and joy seem to flow.

The choice to surrender is what I’m making mental and physical space for in my life.


Twin Rocks is the place I go to gaze at the horizon, to walk barefoot for miles, to get sand in my clothes from beach-yoga.

On Saturday the 10th, I was walking alone on the beach. For quad strengthening, I’ve taken up backwards-walking. I’d inspect my intended route at the surfline, making sure there were no dead crabs, and then walk backwards for sixty paces or so, before checking again.

That’s how I found the glasses. I stepped on them, walking backwards, where the Pacific meets land.

beach glasses

Maybe someone’s glasses fell out of a pocket while walking their dog.

Those are bifocals. Bifocals are worn. Bifocals don’t live in pockets.

Remember the Coast Guard helicopters circling Twin Rocks yesterday? They were looking for someone.

I plucked them from the sand. For twenty-five years I’ve worn corrective lenses. Glasses are intimate, personal.

What if these belong to the missing person?

Back at my room, before a deputy was dispatched for reports and retrieval, I checked Coast Guard updates.

62-year-old fisherman missing from Nehalem Bay, his twelve-foot boat found capsized two miles offshore.

I asked to be notified if the glasses were linked to the missing fisherman. I just wanted to know. After a week, I called the Tillamook Sheriff to follow up.

They told me that the frames match, but the prescription was slightly off.

Was it an old pair of glasses in his fishing box, maybe?

There was not a definitive identification linking the glasses to the man whose obituary haunts me. His wife couldn’t say for sure they were his, I was told.

For me, knowing whether or not those glasses belonged to the man lost at sea is not the point. Yes, I’d rather know, but I will probably never know. The question lingers, trailing off, like a whistle in the wind.

Intimate artifacts remain, after we are gone. We are leaving breadcrumbs for others to find, to consider, to mull over.

Yesterday was the two-year anniversary marking my grandfather’s death. The things he left behind remain with me.

Life may be fleeting, but it persists.


The more time I spend on the Oregon coast, the better. I find things, lose things, and settle things. On our last trip, for the Libra birthdays, I found things.

I found a new sister.

I found conviction regarding TW’s and my wedding ceremony to be held in 2011.

I found something in the surf.

More later, especially about that last one. It’s a story that is still tilting my reality, and sorting it out before posting seems prudent.