Someone wickedly wonderful this way came — and left much too soon

(Each May, as I welcome the special piece of Americana that is our town’s annual Rhododendron Festival, it also reminds me of saying goodbye to a best friend. As a tribute to him and the impact our friendship had — and continues to have — on my life, I post this every year when I see the first pieces of the Ferris wheel come together…)

This view from our office's back door for five days each year is always bittersweet.

This view from our office’s back door for five days each year is always bittersweet.

As I walked to work this morning, the sun was still resting below distant Badger Mountain. The streets were quiet and the air was still as I made my way along the sidewalk, past the carnival that claims the visitors parking lot across from our home each year. Last night it was alive with the sounds of oiled metal grinding behind colorful facades — rocket ships, dragons and race cars — as carnival-goers screamed and laughed in rhythmic cycles throughout the evening.

But this morning, the neon lights are out. The colorful merry-go-round is draped in blue tarps. There are no screams or laughter. Only the occasional murmur of snoring from inside the narrow carnie sleeping quarters stacked side by side on tractor trailer beds. I cut through the carnival, stepping over a braid of thick electrical cables that eventually spread like veins through the park, bringing life to thrill rides, snack shacks and carnival barker microphones.

Each year, I make this walk to work through the Davis Carnival.

And each year, I think of my friend — and the memory of a warm, terrible spring evening that occurred this same night more than a decade ago… Continue reading

Spring never officially started until I got a handshake from Shiloh

This is the only thing I will be posting today, in tribute to a wonderful young man who was tragically taken from the world early this morning. After this, I will be shutting down my devices for the day and avoiding my social media sites. But before I did, I wanted to share my thoughts with you about a young man named Shiloh Sundstrom…

imageThe four years I covered Shiloh Sundstrom during his time as a Mapleton High School athlete remain among my favorites in my 16 years at Siuslaw News.

Not because he was a particularly extraordinary athlete. But because he was most definitely an extraordinary person.

The kind that makes you feel good just to be near him because he not only carried positive energy and warmth with him, but shared it with everyone he came into contact with.

Even after Shiloh graduated and moved on to Oregon State University, his seasonal returns to Bowerman Field to assist his dad, longtime Sailors’ track coach Johnny Sundstrom, remained something I looked forward to. It was my opportunity to be in his energetic and positive presence while catching up on what he’d been doing. I discovered early on that, much like talking with his father, it was impossible not to smile while talking with this young man.  Continue reading

A wickedly wonderful friend this way came — and left much too soon

This view from our office's back door for five days each year is always bittersweet.

This view from our office’s back door for five days each year is always bittersweet.

As I walked to work this morning, the sun was still resting below distant Badger Mountain. The streets were quiet and the air was still as I made my way along the sidewalk, past the carnival that claims the visitors parking lot across from our home each year. Last night it was alive with the sounds of oiled metal grinding behind colorful facades — rocketships, dragons and race cars — as carnival-goers screamed and laughed in rhythmic cycles throughout the evening.

But this morning, the neon lights are out. The colorful merry-go-round is drapped in blue tarps. There are no screams or laughter. Only the occasional murmur of snoring from inside the narrow carnie sleeping quarters stacked side by side on tractor trailor beds. I cut through the carnival, stepping over a braid of thick electrical cables that eventually spread like veins through the park, bringing life to thrill rides, snack shacks and carnival barker microphones.

Each year, I make this walk to work through the Davis Carnival.

And each year, I think of my friend — and the memory of a warm, terrible spring evening that occured this same night more than a decade ago… Continue reading

Finding your muse: She’s always the last place you look

image When you consider that there were nine Muses in Greek mythology, you’d think finding yours would be pretty easy. In fact, I’m looking for mine right now. The Muses, as you probably know, were all extraordinarily beautiful women (remember, philosophers were all men back then), with names like Fallopia, Urethra, Tetracycline, Chlamydia, Herpes, etc., and were the daughters of mighty Zeus and the goddess of personified memory… uh, whose name escapes me. Each muse served as inspiration for different art forms, such as literature, oration, sculpture, music, Reuben sandwiches, and others.

I realize that last paragraph probably guaranteed that my muse is now hovering over our unsuspecting copy editor who, at this moment, is jotting down an outline for the next blockbuster literary franchise. But that’s OK! I like our copy editor. If she achieves fame and fortune with the help of my angry muse, I will be happy for her. I won’t buy her damned book, but I’ll be happy for her. Continue reading