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  • catherine stemper

Long Strange Trip

This is not news to anyone who has been through the last twelve months. Everything is strange. I am continually amazed by what the pandemic has effected. It has effected everything. I do not think I am being hyperbolic. When this began, I was overwhelmed with the amount of grief and suffering I foresaw. I lost both of my parents not too long ago, just long enough that I felt somewhat normal again. The grief of losing a loved one is life changing. One never recovers from it, ever. The grief and sorrow may change, soften, become a part of you, but it is never easy, kind, or forgotten.


When I think of the two and a half million families going through that trauma, it humbles me. My small mistakes and mis-steps are soothed with the fact that I am blessed with good health, a well matched husband, strong family bond. I recently made some mistakes that will effect my business for the next year. I missed important deadlines, then did not double check my work. I was crushed, such rookie flubs, I had no excuse. It is a shame, and I regret my mistakes. My loving husband insists it is the Pandemic Stress. Everyone I talk to is suffering from lack of sleep, or wild dreams, or general ennui. This time of year, even in the best of them, can be hard. It is winter, it is dark, cold, wet.


That was one of the reasons I loved doing the NW Flower & Garden Festival. The show made spring happen. The convention center in Seattle smelled of hyacinth and witch hazel. It would make me high. I was at that show a exactly year ago. I remember driving to Seattle, so excited about the show, but hearing of the first deaths in the U.S. attributed to the virus, and how fast the number was growing. I remember thinking "What am I doing?" When I got to the hotel, staff were wearing masks. Hand Sani stations were already dotting the lobby. The show was amazingly good, my best ever, like the world was coming to an end. Just a year ago.


Right now the sun is shining, and the sky is blue. The weather is going to be very mild in Portland this week. We had a mild and long wet season punctuated by a late, short, and brutal week of winter. I think March is arriving like a lamb this year. The Year of the Metal Ox has begun: do the work it takes, check your work and be thorough, be honest, and success will follow. I also want to add, take your happiness when you can. It is fleeting. Like Joni Mitchell says "Pleasure moves on too early and Trouble leaves too slow".


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