Later I found out that her name was Diamond and she wasn't a figment of my imagination, but a former actor who lived up the street at Rose Villa.
When I got back to Milwaukie (20 minutes south of Portland) I was so happy to be in my woodsy little cabin again, so quiet and remote. Okay, not that remote and not so cabin-y, and not exactly in the woods, but surrounded by tall firs, overlooking the Willamette River. I heated up the take-out, put on the music, looked at the work I’d done the week before as part of my 10-day retreat. Nothing great, but I'd started working again, which is something, better than nothing. Although, don’t mean to downplay nothing. Nothing has its place. Old age has its place. Death has its place.
Speaking about death, one of the first things I did when I got to Portland was buy a copy of Dante’s Inferno, which describes the 9 circles of Hell. Limbo, the first circle, I'd come to learn, was the worst kind of hell— being unsettled, undecided, not knowing what you wanted, being torn hither and thither, repeated a thousand times over, was hell. As Jews we don’t believe in Hell, but I believe in Limbo, and Limbo is Hell.
pasted up at Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, OR
(A little bit about Lone Fir Cemetery: it's one of Portland's oldest cemetery's; Westward pioneers, Eastern European immigrants and Chinese workers, who came to Oregon to do the most dangerous jobs, are all interred there. A totally volunteer core keeps the cemetery going and raises money for it's upkeep. It's a beautiful place to walk, and the next day after pasting up the rat, Janet and I strolled slowly among the headstones.)
Not that I plan to imitate him, or could, but in my own fashion I set out to sketch some circles of hell, which I hope to later work on as wood cuts. Here are a few from the week:
Geryon and wild dogs
Thanks to Martha Banyas and Michael Hoeye for the incredible space and time I was given at Far Lookout retreat. They've created a very special place, a gift to artists and writers.
Thanks to Janet and Chris for being such gracious hosts, and Susan for tour of Astoria!
And thanks especially to Bill and LeBrie for being my partners in crime. Couldn't have done it without you!