“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The Easter Newsletter, Then Chapter 9 of Your Story Matters


There is a restaurant…this must have the correct inflection. There is a restaurant in San Diego that makes the best crab sandwich.

 It’s a simple sandwich. Here it is: Begin with two slices of great sourdough bread, slather liberally with tartar sauce, add crab fresh from its shell. Done. Period.

 Iced tea and lemon slices finish off the perfect meal. 

 Okay, this is Easter—I’ll tell you about the first part of the day in a minute, but I’m stuck on the sandwich. 

 After dropping my grandson off from the jaunt we had just taken, I drove to the fish market to get fish and chips for my grandson, clam chowder for Neil, and I decided to try a for a crab sandwich. (I’ve attempted to at that establishment before, but they didn’t know what I was talking about.)

 “Do you have sourdough bread? I asked the girl taking my order. 

 “Yes,” she said.

 “Could you make a crab sandwich for me? 


 “Oh, you have them?!”

  “They’re made with crab cakes,”

 “Oh, no. I just want fresh crab, not toasted bread, plain.” (They had tartar sauce in dispensers.)

Well, we have,” she motioned with her hands, “a sort of loaf.”

 Not just fresh crab?” (It’s in the display case.)

 No, that stumped her.

 “Okay I said I’ll take a crab cocktail.”

 I thought, I’m going to beat this, and when I picked up the hot portion of the meal, where the fish and chips were dispersed, I asked the cook if he had sourdough bread?

 “Sure,” he said.

 “Could I have a slice?”

 “Oh, I couldn’t do that.”

 I felt like a bag lady who just asked for a handout, but I had just dropped 40 bucks into the card slider gizmo where we pay for most things now.

 Instead, I drove down the street and bought a baguette—it wasn’t sourdough, but since I wanted the fish and chips hot when I got home, I didn’t drive farther.

 At home I put together a sandwich on baguette slices, but it wasn’t my dream sandwich.

 Guess I’ll have to drive to San Diego or just make my own damn sandwich to my specifications.

 Maybe I need to hear the barking of sea lions to make it authentic.

 That was our Easter feast.


 Before that lunch, my Grandson and I went to Church—not a regular occurrence in our household, but he wanted to try a Christian Church, so we went together. 

 God wasn’t there. He was visiting someplace else. 

 The choir sang with their noses in a hymnal, many songs, not old gospel favorites either. 

The minister, for some reason, gave a shout-out to nonbinary people. Okay, so you’re progressive, but it seemed inappropriate for an Easter Sunday celebration.

 That annoyed my grandson, who said he could have honored many others.

 Neither of us got any intellectual meat to chew on. It was all gristle. Usually, even with the most boring of sermons, there is something of value. This tells me if you don’t get anything of value from me here on this site, give it up.

 I left the church with David Pomeranz’s song running through my head. I’m used to services closing by standing, holding hands, singing Pomeranze’s song, It’s in every one of us…open up both your eyes.” Those people had one eye closed and the other half asleep.

My grandson and I had fun driving home, though, because we agreed with each other’s evaluation of the service—no philosophical arguments. We began on the same page. It was the best failure that ended successfully.

We’ll have to work our way down the list of churches. 

I wonder where God was this morning. Oh, I brought Him/She/ It in with me. I just didn’t feel connected. But then maybe God, the Great Spirit of the Mountains, Rivers and Valleys was out hiking. It’s a gorgeous day.

This is posted from Substack.The Newsletter is always free. a Subscription will bring it into your ebox. 

Please go to https://joycedavis.substack.com


Here comes the Excerpt from Your Story Matters






They say a writer writes about their obsessions; growing up, I was obsessed with horses. I loved horses. I drew horses, made horses for my paper dolls, prayed, and wished for a horse. And when our school assignment was, "What would I do with a million dollars?" I put "A horse" first on my list. Second, a saddle and bridle. The summer I was 12, we had moved away from the Oaks, as my folks bought 32 acres; half was in orchards—cherries, peaches, and apricots. The other half was wild and hilly. Close by the house were a couple of apple trees: one Bing cherry tree—the big black-eating species of cherries—and a pie cherry tree producing tart cherries for baking.

 Our front yard sported a peach tree. When in season, it often produced my breakfast of fresh peach slices. I  added cream from Sandy, our cow.

Then, there was the crab apple tree that stopped traffic when it was in blossom. We sold the fruit to a co-op where the peaches went to be canned, and the cherries became Maraschino cherries. 

 I have never tasted an apricot or a peach as delicious as ours.

Mom pruned the trees so they could be picked from the ground and thinned the fruit until those apricots were almost as large as a baseball.

 Occasionally, I visited the Oaks and would get to ride King. 

 An auction yard existed across the back pasture where the Oaks kept their animals. The road from the auction house wound through a residential area, but it put the two within walking distance.

 On one particular Saturday, I was surprised to see my mother walking up their drive, smiling like she had a secret—which she had. What in the world…Behind her, Mike led a beautiful 5-year-old golden gelding named Boots. "Make friends with him," he said and handed the reins to me. 

 It was more than friendship that happened that day.

 How I loved that horse. That first day, Lois and her sister rode their horses partway to our house, about ten miles from theirs. We rode up that long Cherry Heights hill. Halfway up the hill, they determined Boots was trustworthy and left him and me to ourselves.  

Boots was a perfect horse, neck reined, could turn on a dime, and could run at least 24 miles an hour. I knew he could run at least that fast and on a slight incline, for one day, my uncle clocked us as he was driving up our hill, and I was racing Boots alongside the road to meet him at the house. 

Being with Boots, my buddy, friend, and companion for many years, made me think horses are gentle, agreeable, and perfect partners. Later, I found that not all horses are as pleasant or agreeable as Boots, like people. 

 No matter the quiver in his hind quarters, Silver would hike with us as Boots and I traveled the countryside. 

On Sunday mornings, Mike would deliver a few newspapers on our hill as a favor to his mother. She had a paper route servicing another area, but on Sunday mornings, she delivered the Sunday papers on our hill. I mentioned that Mike worked the graveyard shift, 11 pm to 7 am. He worked at the Round House, where The Union Pacific Railroad engines could turn around and where he maintained them. So, as a favor to his mother, and coming home after 7 am, it was easy for him to deliver the last few papers for his mother.

 One particular Sunday morning, he awakened me and asked if I would take Books and deliver the last few papers up the hill from us. He didn't know if the car would make it, as it had snowed about a foot and a half during the night. 

 I bundled up, tucked the last few rolled-up newspapers into my jacket, went out for Boots behind our shed, and jumped on his warm bare back. He was as frisky and excited as I was, doing a little dance as we ventured into the pristine snow.

There is a particular sound, a squeaky scrunch, as snow compresses beneath footfalls. The air glistened and snapped. Minute ice crystals sparkled in the sunlight and pinged my face like rock salt. Boots pranced like a charger, and we were the first to mark an otherwise perfect blanket of white. 

 Come spring, Boots, and I touched heaven again.

 I had ridden Boots further than usual, down a road leading to another road where I came to a gate. 

The gate was not locked, so I opened it and almost lost my horse when he saw the open expanse of flat ground before him. We were in a springtime prairie where water had collected in low areas, creating ponds and watering wildflowers that dotted the grasses.A group of ducks startled by our arrival sprang from the water and fluttered into the air. After the barren winter and the landscape around our house that was home to scrub oak, poison oak, and straw-colored grasses most of the year, to my eyes, this was heaven. 

We were standing on a packed dirt road that ran through that area. I didn't know how far that road ran, but we took advantage of it. Boots liked to run—a quarter horse has a lot of Thoroughbred (a breed, not meaning a purebred) mixed into their lineage, so maybe that was it. 


We tore down the road until I felt he would run right out from beneath me, so I turned him in a circle and gradually shortened the circle until he slowed, and I felt in control again. 

We investigated the area, and when I saw Silver leap into the air, run a short distance, and jump again, I rode over to see what had caused such bizarre behavior. A huge King snake was stretched out in the grass, and a few feet away, another. We left the snakes and eventually went home. 

 I returned to my secret prairie several times but never caught it in the condition I found that first day. It was such a moment when you stopped alongside the road, stripped off your pantyhose, waded in a mountain stream fresh off an ice flow, and felt alive.

Such are the moments that take our breath away.

Later, I found that my flat prairie was a mesa. If you ride far enough to the north, the prairie will end at a cliff, and below it will be the valley holding the town of The Dalles and the Columbia River.

If you drive through the Columbia River Gorge until you come to The Dalles and look to the South, you will see a cliff. At the top of that cliff are shallow caves called Eagle's Caves. If you climbed to the top of the caves, you would see the backside of my prairie.

If you stand on that prairie, you will see little but grass, a mile or more of it, and the only sound you will hear is the wind rushing past your ears, and you will feel as the natives did when they came upon such a scene: that the earth, the mountains, the rivers, and the rains are home of The Great Spirit, and there for you to take from and give back to.

To be Continued to Chapter 10  "C-R-A-C-K"