Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Spokane Visit

With Grandma, Ginny, Dad by suzipaw
With Grandma, Ginny, Dad, a photo by suzipaw on Flickr.
It was a weekend well spent, which meant it went by too quickly.

Coordinating the visit with Dad and Ginny worked out great. We all converged in Spokane at a similar time on Saturday, so they picked me up at the airport and we went directly to Grandma's new digs at Harbor Crest. It's a much larger place than where she stayed in Wilbur, and I think it's really good. She has a much larger apartment, many more activities, the people, both staff and residents, quite friendly. It also seems to be set up for more visitors, which is nice. I think the only issue is the high ceilings, which make it a little harder to hear.

After a little time with Grandma, we made our way downtown to the Hotel Ruby, which we all agreed to describe as "funky." A good price, European styled in many ways, young staff, arty aspects all did their best to veneer the crumbling motel roots. It was very busy that first night and the voices of, um, exuberant people mingled with the trains rumbling regularly east and west just behind the hotel.

I rose early-ish Sunday morning and enjoyed wandering around downtown Spokane far more than I expected, mostly because of the architecture. Mod mostly glass apartment buildings from the '70s punctuated the brick and granite merchant buildings and religious edifices from the late 1800s, sprinkled with a few not-so-historic skyscrapers. The repurposed Steam Plant was an interesting place to dine, which we did the night we arrived. I was very glad to see the riverfront area in good shape, the Riverfront Park (home to Expo '74) prospering and well maintained, sprouting with art, and the homeless/drifters in manageable proportion. And then there was the train still running through town several times a day. We chose not to splurge and stay at the lovely Hotel Davenport, but I had coffee there one morning and we had a most pleasant dinner there Sunday night.

One of my favorite art pieces was a place near the Monroe Street bridge, a sort of overlook paved with a granite spiral engraved with the Sherman Alexie poem, "The Place Where Ghosts of Salmon Jump." It's a version of the Indian story of how Spokane Falls were created: Coyote was angry because the Coeur d'Alene chief refused to give him a wife in exchange for salmon, so he broke the Spokane River with his paw. The resulting falls kept the salmon from running upstream, depriving the Coeur d'Alenes.

Coyote was alone and angry because he could not find love.
No, Coyote was alone and angry because he demanded love.
Demanded a wife from the Spokane, the Coeur d'Alene, the Palouse.
All those tribes camped on the edge of the Spokane River, and he received only laughter.

Coyote rose up with his powerful and senseless magic and smashed a Paw across the water which broke the river bottom in two, which created rain which lasted for forty days and nights, and which created Spokane Falls, the place where salmon traveled more suddenly than Coyote dreamed, that place where salmon swam larger than any white man imagined.

But Coyote I know you broke the river because of love.
I saw you catch salmon on the falls after you had created them.
I know you slept all fat and happy beside the river, and pretended it was all done by your design.

Coyote, you're a liar and I don't trust you. I never have.
But I do trust all those stories the Grandmothers told me.
They said the falls were built because of your unrequited love, and I can understand that rage Coyote. We can all understand.

But look at the falls now and tell me what you see.
Look at the falls now if you can see beyond all the concrete the white man has built there.

Look at all of this and tell me that concrete ever equals love, Coyote.
These white men don't always love their own mothers, so how could they love this river which gave birth to a thousand lifetimes of salmon?

How could they love these falls which have fallen further, which sit dry and quiet as a graveyard now.

These falls are that place where ghosts of salmon jump, where ghosts of women mourn their children who will never find their way back home.

Where I stand now and search for any kind of love, where I sing softly under my breath, alone and angry.

Later in the morning we met up with Grandma's sister Barbara for Sunday brunch at Harbor Crest, which was pleasant and tasty. While they drove to Walmart in search of a new seat cushion for Grandma, I hung out and we talked and had our usual review of photos and family news. I so appreciate spending time with her.

I briefly returned to the park Sunday afternoon to ride the carousel. While there I was able to collect two of my three traditional souvenirs: a stretched penny and a floaty pen for M. I also consulted Zoltar, who admonished me to always cleave to the best and to what is right. Zoltar, thou art wise!

On Monday morning we had coffee and shopping at Atticus, then a few more hours with Grandma. I had lunch with her, then headed off to the airport with a chatty cabbie. I'm looking forward to my next trip up in the spring, especially now that I feel more comfortable with the lay of the land. Next time, I'm doing the tram over the falls!

I uploaded a small photo set.


I did experience one very minor irritation, a sign of our society going to hell in a handbasket: while luncheoning contentedly on too-cheesy pizza at Sea-Tac between flights on the way up, gazing at the runway and contemplating the visit before me, a man asked to join my table. I consented and he sat down, opening his laptop…blocking my view of the runway. I immediately felt shifty eyed, having to look around him in order to enjoy my view. He asked a few inane questions. I started feeling very uncomfortable and a little angry--I suspected him of being purposely passive-aggressive. Then he pulled out his phone and started a business call! I packed up my pizza and left, thinking that that was his goal all along, rehearsing my unspoken line telling him his rudeness changed my mind and asking him to leave. Next time! I had to go buy some cute socks in the gift shop to soothe my nerves.


At 8:34 AM, October 03, 2012, Blogger Brenda said...

Wonderful photos, wonderful visit, and coyote poem.


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