Thankful Thursday: Royal De Luxe

Don't give in to nostalgia. For years it's been my mantra, reminding me that the past rarely glistens, but more often rusts, with time.

I don't wax about the past, and I don't understand the way in which mundane objects and events achieve cult status through the simple process of time. Your first car becomes a symbol of automotive achievement. A favorite childhood toy seeds a dusty adult collection. A young love turns into the one you let get away.

Clearly, I am not a sentimentalist, or a collector. In fact, I am the antithesis of a collector; I am a minimalist. I love vintage clothes and old jazz but I've not worked up a dedicated fixation. This week, however, I am feeling a fondness for the past.

On this Thankful Thursday I am thankful for the gift of a vintage typewriter, a 1950 Royal Quiet De Luxe (and that's no typo; De Luxe is two words, with caps). Though it needs a new ribbon and a bit of oil, the 61-year-old relic still clacks across the page.

I love type as a graphic element, and as a former reporter I appreciate the machine of my profession. When I was a kid, a friend of the family worked the presses at The Denver Post and took me on an insider's tour. I was wide-eyed with the massive production required to bring words to paper, and delighted when he let me take home scraps of the heavy lead type. A few months later, for my 10th birthday, my parents gave me a mimeograph machine, from which I churned out copies of my own newspaper.

After college, for my first paid writing gig, I wrote feature stories for the Durango Herald on my typewriter, albeit an electric. So, I'll admit, I've got a bit of nostalgia wrapped up in the early years of type and press.

Along with memories, this old-but-new-to-me typewriter gift carries emotional weight, too. It is a Valentine's present from my husband.

"He gets you," said a friend when I told her of the gift. She's right, he does. Today I am double thankful — for a vintage typewriter, and for being loved and understood.

Thankful Thursday. Joy expands and contracts in direct relation to our sense of gratitude. What are you thankful for today? A person, a place, a thing? A story, a song, a poem? Tell me, what makes your world expand?


Off the Page celebrates 5 years 

Join us for Off the Page, a celebration of poetry and prose on Friday, April 1 at 7pm in Yachats, on the central Oregon Coast.

The event takes place at the Overleaf Lodge Event Center, located at the north end of town, on Highway 101. Doors open and music starts at 6:30pm. The reading begins at 7pm. Admission is free and open to all ages.

Now in its fifth year, Off the Page is an encouraging celebration of creative expression. Pacific Northwest writers will share their work.

Featured writers include: Khlo Brateng, Brian Hanna, Holly Hughes, Drew Myron, Caitlin Nicholson, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Ann Staley, and singer/songwriter Richard Sharpless.

About the Writers

Khlo Brateng, of South Beach, is an actress, singer, musician and writer. A lover of music and the rhythms of language, she explores poetry, flash fiction and short stories in her chapbook Words Out Loud.

Brian Hanna, of Seal Rock, is an architect who emerged from retirement to design commercial and industrial structures throughout the U.S and Canada.  He is a member of Tuesdays, a weekly writing group, and a volunteer with Seashore Family Literacy’s Young Writers Group.

Holly J. Hughes is the editor of the award-winning anthology Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, and author of Boxing the Compass, a chapbook of poems. She spends summers working as a naturalist in Alaska and winters teaching writing at Edmonds Community College (near Seattle, Washington) where she co-directs the Convergence Writers Series.

Drew Myron, of Yachats, is the creator of Off the Page. With a belief that writing needs to crawl out of the journal and soar into the community, she created the annual event — now in its fiifth year — to showcase local writers and celebrate the power of creative expression.

Caitlin Nicholson, of Newport, has lived on the Oregon Coast nearly all of her 19 years. A graduate of Seashore Family Literacy’s Young Writers Group, she was once a writer of horror stories but poetry now has her heart: “It wasn't until I joined the writers group that I became interested in poetry. And since I started, I can't stop.”

In her first life, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, of Yachats, was a dancer/choreographer. In her second life, at 80, she is an interdisciplinary scholar and philosophy professor at the University of Oregon. She is the author of seven books, and editor of two. Her latest book, Putting Movement Into Your Life: A Beyond Fitness Primer is a lively, engaging tool to help transform everyday habits into vibrant fun.

Ann Staley, of Corvallis, is a poet who has taught for over 40 years, in five Oregon school districts, two community colleges, two public universities and two private ones. She likes nothing better than settling into a circle of strangers, opening her notebook and saying, "Let's do some freewriting for a few minutes before our Introductions. Write about whatever comes to mind. There is only Now followed by Now."


Lodging and event space generously provided by the Overleaf Lodge & Fireside Motel.


Thankful Thursday (on Friday)

I am thankful, I am. 

But also quiet and reclusive. Show up, I'm told. Be present. So, here, with a belated Thankful Thursday. I humbly offer a few people / places / things I am grateful for this week:

Butter toffee peanuts
• My go-to treat, second only to tapioca.

The enthusiasm of others
• Thanks to gentle encouragement, I am back in the throes of organizing Off the Page, an annual celebration of poetry & prose. This is the 5th year, and despite its success  — drawing audiences of 30 to 50 each year, in a town of just 600 people — I was about to give it up. I was tired and mopey. Orchestrating the event seemed too much work for too little reward. But just one person, who was interested and eager, changed my mind and put pep in my step. It's a cliche, but really, for the first time I actually believe this platitude: One person can make a difference.

• A friend has written a novel. It's the kind of really good book that left me honored to be among the first to read it. And, the author asked if she could include one of my poems. Her enthusiasm fueled my enthusiasm.  (I'll share more about this touching novel as it gets closer to publication.)

• The more I acknowledge gratitude, the more grateful I feel. That's the beauty of Thankful Thursday. When you name your gratitude, you realize how much more there is to name. I've been reluctant to show up for Thankful Thursday (hence the day late). While I'm an encourager of others, lately my cheers have lost their buoyant tune as I have retreated into winter's matte gray. But perseverance pays, it seems, as I am here and feeling more thankful than when I arrived! 

So, how about you? Are you feeling thankful today?



Reasons to hang on

Hey there, sunshine!

Yes, winter is gray and gloomy.
Yes, competition is fierce.
Yes, creating can bear periods of great ache . . . but light shines. In this darkness, a few reasons to hang on:

Lucille Broderson
In her 60s, she picks up a pen, takes a class, and begins to write. And now, at 94, Lucille Broderson publishes a poetry collection that has been hailed as a "magnificent achievement." But You're Wearing a Blue Shirt the Color of the Sky is not chocked with cute little-old-lady poems, but with deep, direct poems on aging, children, husbands, and more.

William Stafford
One of America's most prolific poets, William Stafford wrote more than 50 books in his 79 years — and his first book wasn’t published until he was 46. He kept a daily journal for 50 years, and composed nearly 22,000 poems, of which roughly 3,000 were published. He taught at Lewis and Clark College for 30 years, was Oregon’s Poet Laureate, and earned a National Book Award.

David Biespiel
Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces, by David Biespiel, comes with an all-inclusive invitation: "for writers, artists, musicians, dancers and anyone else who leads a creative life." The book is just $10 (much cheaper than therapy) and offers critical insights into the creative process. It's a quick, lifting read that left me feeling a little less blue, and a lot more eager, about my writing life. 



love & other searches

— Drew Myron
An erasure poem, also known as a blackout poem, crafted from Kipling: A Selection of His Stories and Poems.