Soapstone

Hello, Friends.

For the past five days, I’ve been here:

This charming cabin is the Soapstone Writer’s Residency, a little bit of heaven tucked into the forest on the Oregon Coast near Manzanita. Last sumer, my friend Kate Lebo suggested we apply for the residency together. I agreed that this was a fine idea,  then promptly forgot  about it. Forward to the due-date of the application and you’ll find me in Port Towsend visiting my brand-spanking-new Mother in Law and frantically scrapping together the application instead of sailing in a tiny, bright blue sailboat. Luckily, the sailing came later, after I rushed to the Port Townsend Post Office to find it closed (on a Saturday).  This sort of small town mischief must have blessed my near-tardy application, for here we are!

The cabin sits aside a Soapstone Creek, which looks more convincingly like a river this time of year.

The river is a substitute mother. This means that it is impossible to avoid writing about her, despite my best intentions. And that she sings me to sleep every night with a lovely lisp.  This morning a bald eagle flew right down the middle of the river, flaunting its majestic self while seeming completely unconcerned. I can only hope that I adopt a similar countenance after living with the river for 3 weeks, but after shouting “An Eagle! An EAGLE!!!” while pointing and hopping furiously up and down,  I realize more time might be necessary.

My studio and the main room/kitchen part of the cabin are heated solely by a wood stove named Queenie.

Contrary to her name, she is not standoffish, difficult, or demanding. In fact, she is perfectly accommodating, as far as wood stoves go.

In a past life, I lived in houses that were heated only by wood stoves, so being with Queenie makes me nostalgic for my 19 year old off-the-grid living self. Is there anything more satisfying than a good fire? Not many things, anyway. I adore waking up in the cold morning and stumbling down the stairs to feed Queenie. She’s a champ.

The only problem with this otherwise lovely place? The Ice Cube. No, I’m not referring to a rectangular object one breaks free from a tray in the freezer when making a smart cocktail for a deserving guest – rather, I’m talking about my writing studio, the tiny cube perched charmingly atop the cabin:

Here is where I admit to one of my many inconsistencies – I am terrified of heights. I’m the girl in junior high school who froze in place when attempting to make it to the top of the bleachers with my friends, causing the assembly to be delayed. Yet… I am fantastically obsessed with doing the things I love in high places. Sleeping? Give me a bed suspended by chains from a stories-high ceiling, please. Writing? A forest fire lookout cabin sounds perfect, thanks! So when Kate and I found out we had been accepted for a 3 week residency, I did not hesitate to claim the studio that must be accessed by three separate ladders.

The ladders? No problem. Facing one’s fears is a required part of making art, right? I faced, and climbed, and delighted at the beauty of my new cube studio.

It turns out heat does rise, but becomes stubborn when faced with small hatches that serve as an entryway to your fancy new writing studio.

Even Queenie can’t help heat the cube. There is a space heater, which is less efficient than it is loud. I’m still working out my issues with the cube, and am hoping we can come to some sort of agreeable arrangement. Until then, most of my writing is getting done with Queenie at my side. Fears are great to face as long as they don’t freeze your fingers in place.

With or without the cube, I’ve written four new poems, begun erasures for the winner of the Strangercrombie auction, and I’ve been working on the covers of new blank books for the shop. Here’s a hint for what I’ve created so far – just imagine handsome gray linen and these guys:

Oh, how I love Tawny Frogmouths!

I’ll update the blog with pictures of the new hand-embroidered Tawny Frogmouth cover soon – first I have to figure out how to take better pictures.

I’ll leave you with a couple of poems. Kate, always an encouraging friend, had just posted a poem at a cool new poetry site, and suggested I do the same.  I put up a part of my Seraph poem: here it is. Feel free to rate it generously so that I feel more popular!

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8 Responses to “Soapstone”

  1. Amy Baranski writes:

    Great blog Jennifer! I saw a Pileated Woodpecker in a park recently – you came to mind.

  2. Kate writes:

    Welcome to blogtown! Pretty soon I bet they’ll name a street after you.

  3. counsel writes:

    oh! i love tawny frogmouths too.

  4. Jennifer Borges Foster writes:

    You ladies are the greatest! Long live weird birds and good lasses.

  5. Tatyana writes:

    what a fun read! i thought the white tawny frogmouth was a stuffed animal. look forward to more of your ice cubian adventures with mother.

  6. heather writes:

    You are amazing and so inspiring to me! I am thrilled for you and excited for me because I get to enjoy your writing and adventures with this blog.

  7. gbiz writes:

    I love you! You are an inspiration!

  8. Beth - UberArt writes:

    What a great start to your blog! That retreat looks like such a cool place!

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