Archive for Oregon

Trinkets, Stones and Bones

Posted in Duke's Stories, poems with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2015 by dukex

What is the value of a dirty Cat-eye marble or a half melted toy army man? If you think Zero$$$ you could be right. Unless of course these items had a story projected on them by the one who possesses them. Their value may increase depending on where they are found or who owned them in the past. There is no shortage of trinkets, stones or bones so they can’t be more valued because of their rarity. Yet as family and friends we are compelled to collect such items and  pile them in delicate and loving arraignments along road-sides across America.

When I was walking in the early spring I came across this  sacred monument and was moved by its simple reverence.

074A sad memorial to the loss of children along the shore-line at the mouth of the Columbia river.


078Faces of toys and trusted friends that in the past had a comforting smile stitched on them, now were faded and drawn down by years of rain.  To me these object represented extreme expense and were placed here by broken hearts and trembling hands. Here lies what was once a Dollar store toy to help a restless child make it to the next stop on a day of errands now stands guard over a Geo-location that staged an event which, for someone, changed the world.

I’ve been paying more attention to such places lately and now see them more often.  Many are just a blur on the side of the road  where they denote a spot where at once, time stood still and trails ended. Some are kept fresh like a celebrity grave-site and others fade rapidly. Few grow and expand into more.044While I was speeding along traveling for an out-of-town job, something caught my eye. Brakes were activated and some gravel did spray. Looking out my window I could see what looked like a parade of colorful flags blowing back and forth, waving me to come closer. When my feet hit the gravel I noticed some coins mixed in and reached down to collect them, thinking it was my lucky day,  I poked the coins into my pocket with my other change. I then climbed the small grade through the scrub brush and empty beer bottles.045I was halted at the gate by a centennial that look me up and down before my entrance was granted. I was thrilled with its many trinkets and I started to see things that to someone, were once objects of great personal value.

048Somehow this seemed to be more than a one-time memorial. This area is part of the great Yakima Nation. But now suffers the installment of a paved highway and speed limit signs that stoically holler their commands. 055

001I’m not sure how much time I stood there and gazed at all the trinkets, stones and bones?  I did notice more coins on the ground and as I bent to pick them up something spoke to my soul. I realized this is not a place where one comes and takes things, no it’s a place where things must be brought and left. I was genuinely moved and before I slipped through the barbed wire I reached into my pocket and pulled out all the money I had and tossed it back. In doing so I felt I had added to the validity of the place and moment. I hope this is more than a Native American marker and now belongs to all who seek it’s offerings. I considered asking the local people  what this place is about, but I don’t think I really want to. I know what it means to me and think of it often, imagining fanciful reasons that had led to its establishment.

Today I was reminded of this place again. It happened when I was traveling through my old home town, The Dalles Oregon. When passing, I often like to drive through my old neighborhood. This time I had remembered that my brother Darrel suggested I stop and visit our old family friend and babysitter. Her name is Francis Lee and she had two boys. Bobby and Jimmy Lee. Jimmy Lee was Darrel’s best friend when we still lived there. Bobby and Jimmy both died way to young (Jimmy at age 19 passed due to complications of  Muscular Dystrophy). Francis is a longtime widow and still lives in the same home.  Because of Muscular Dystrophy Jimmy wore leg braces for a time and then was bound to a wheelchair. As kids we would take Jimmy into the back lot and spend hours setting up toy army men and wage battles with the carpenter ants as if they were an alien race from outer space.

Visiting was pleasant and I asked her about her new kitchen and if the laundry room was still downstairs. She said yes and joked about how she throws the dirty clothes down to the bottom of the stairs, when the pile builds up to a load she goes down and picks them up to be washed. She told me how she has a garden now in the back lot and she spends a good deal of time there during the growing season, and then she said something that pulled at my heart and clarified my thoughts on how seemingly unimportant objects can be a marker for the life of a loved one.

She said,”Every so often when I’m out in the garden turning the soil…  …a marble or an army man will pop up.”

Once cheep toys to be trodden under foot, now trinkets of peace and comfort.

I didn’t ask to see the jar of her precious trinkets, but I knew she had it…

We hugged and I took her picture.    Francis

Coming Soon:  “The Tree of Dash”




Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2009 by dukex
The Aquarium

The Aquarium

“9 Blakely Way.”  That was the address of our home back in 1957;  the year I was born.  No NW, SW or Southeast just, “9 Blakely Way.”  We lived in a small housing project built from the 30’s to the 40’s which was on the outskirts of The Dalles Oregon.  It was a time of paper boys and the milkman, yes and Service Stations with .25 cent a gallon gas.  Common; was Mom charging groceries on a tab at the market and Dad working a couple of nights a week cleaning up the butcher shop to pay the bill.

Our home phone number was 6-9414; that’s right, just 5 digits, no area codes or mandatory prefixes.  Looking back I can honestly say it was a simpler time.  I was born the last of six children and I admit I was a bit of a momma’s boy.  All of the others had a time when they were the baby, but it only lasted until the next uninvited child came along, but me, I didn’t have that problem.  No one came after me…

This meant I spent a lot of time hanging with my Mother and her other stay at home mom friends.  I was a curious sort in my pre-school years and would ask questions like,” Do trees have blood?”

I learned at a young age that there were treasures to be had if a boy would keep his eyes peeled and on the ground.  It happened when I was walking the neighborhood.  Something shiny caught my eye. It was a glorious silver dollar. It filled my hand out to the very edges of its span.  It was embossed with stunning detail.  Man it was beautiful.   I wanted to keep it for ever!  goonies-022

Until later that day, when the older kid two doors down informed me that I could have his Nestles Chocolate can full of marbles in exchange for my object of delight; the silver dollar. I jumped at the deal and made it home to show my mom what great glassy jewels I had leveraged for a mere dollar.  In the early 60’s a person could get a lot for a dollar and my mother being a sharp girl, pointed this out. She further instructed me to return the treasures and get the coin back. I did so reluctantly.

Upon returning home she loaded me into the car and we went to the market where I was unleashed on the candy section. I could truly see the wisdom in her actions and the events of that day only added to my awe of her position of greatness and knowledge of life.


Remembering this; from then on, when traveling by foot I always kept one eye on the ground. You never know what you might find. In my travels however the treasures seamed to be few and far between. Oh sure there were plenty of sticks, rocks and lizards to be had and I did revel in shinier, more magic ones.  Sometimes my attention would be drawn to a particular stick or rock. I would pick them up and after surmising that they were of no particular worth and not possessing any magical powers.  I would drop them back to the ground.

As I walked away I imagined the object pleading with me not to just leave them there. The stick would reason with me that by picking it up I had gotten it’s hopes up.  Perhaps it had dreamed of coming home with me, maybe even finding a nice cozy place in my room on the headboard of my bed or in a dresser drawer.

Needless to say I was an easy mark and often fell pray to their pleadings. This also translated into a personal theory that objects may very well have feelings, perhaps objects could dream, long for a “Someday;”  What if they could feel disappointment and pain like me?  What if that rock I just tossed into the creek couldn’t swim?  Maybe it was laying next to its Mother rock and because of me it may never see her again? This could get very complicated. What about my reckless shuffle across the field?  Did I disrupt the lives of many a happy object?  You’ve got to get a grip here Dukie!goonies-026

OK, so let me think? Maybe objects do have feelings and maybe they don’t, I’m not sure. Many objects did seem to speak to me in their own way. But maybe that was just the imagination of a goofy little boy; who by the way sported an endless bad haircut?

Well at any rate I do know this; by looking at this world which is so bejeweled with endless objects of interest and delight; having an appreciation and reverence for that which was left here by the hand of God or fashioned by mankind, a person could develop a peculiar kinship with “Things.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of the guys whose a slave to his car or boat (I wish I had a boat). I don’t spend hours polishing and waxing anything. In fact it’s just the opposite; I need to take better care of the things I have. Instead of being enslaved by the objects of my life, I like to think of myself as their Master. Maybe even the Lord of what I possess, heh… maybe even, like… the lord of my things. That’s it! I am “The Lord of My Things. No wait, try this. “Lord of the Things”. I like it!  I am “Lord of the Things”. More like a “Junk Whisperer,” really.goonies-041

I want to believe the past few years of my artistic endeavors have reflected my close relationship with the objects of this realm. Thus far I have found it to be a natural and rewarding approach.

Have you listened…?  Then heard the whisper…?  If so you know what I’m talking about.