Noticing Magic Everywhere

Kate Comings' journal

1 Comment


The theme of this blog is noticing magic, and for me, one of the most magical things is the colored lights all over the city. I look forward to seeing them every December. The winter days are short; it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon, and the Christmas lights are a huge comfort when I have to walk the dogs in the dark. On nights like this I wander; if I see pretty lights on one street, I go that way, and then on to the next… and that’s how I discovered this one on NE Alameda — tiny lights twined through the tree branches, all over the front of the house, and trailing across the front yard lawn. It was so different, and utterly magical. IMG_2712

We’re having the wettest December on record, and though cold, the downpour and growing darkness made downtown Portland a magical sight; on days like this, I love living in the city. I was so enchanted, I missed my bus, just needing to wander around a bit more.


Starbucks at Pioneer Courthouse Square looked very cozy.


The giant fir tree was lovely.



1 Comment

Strange how a song can open up a whole package of memories…

It was 1982. My daughter and I were camping at Indian Mary Park outside Grant’s Pass, Oregon. Eithne was 9. She met another little girl there whose family was homeless. They’d camp as long as allowed and then move on to the next campground. It was a gorgeous day beside the Rogue River, but in the early evening, the inky black clouds of a fast-brewing storm loomed up on the horizon. Our little blue tent wasn’t waterproof, and I realized we’d better pack up. Frantic camp breaking ensued, and raindrops were splashing on the windshield by the time we got everything into the car.

I drove miles to the I-5 onramp and headed north. The heavy rain made it hard to see the freeway, especially after it got dark. I put on Dire Straits around the time lightning bolts lit up the sky. The incredible guitar and piano solo at the end of “Tunnel of Love” washed over me while thunder crashed and lightning bolts split the sky apart. I remember it every time I hear that song. Words like “epiphany” and “iconic” don’t even come close.

It got harder and harder to see the road. My little Datsun B-210’s windshield wipers were useless with rain slamming down and water splashing up from the flooded pavement. I took the first exit for Salem. I had no idea where I was going; I drove up and down streets in the pouring rain until I found a motel with a “vacancy” sign. It was after midnight.

The motel’s owner/clerk said he was from Nebraska, where they have lots of big storms, but this was the first time in over 20 years that he’d seen a storm like this in Oregon.

In our motel room, I was exhausted but still keyed up. I switched on the TV, and MTV came on. MTV was new. We didn’t have it yet where I lived, and I had never seen music videos before. When I was in university, I’d get movies in my head with songs like Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child.” MTV was just like the movies in my mind, and the first time I saw it was at that motel in Salem, Oregon, in the middle of the night. Falco blasted onto the screen with “Der Kommissar,” shades on, hair slicked back, running/dancing in front of a cop car. I was enthralled. I had never seen anything like it, and I watched most of the night.

Over 30 years have passed, and I haven’t seen another lightning storm like the one that summer night on the road.


Starting Over


A dark, cloudy day at Mt. Tabor Park. It’s about to rain.

It’s a blustery first day of autumn; time to start a new blog. My last post on my old blog was about my trip south in the dead of winter for what turned out to be my ailing, elderly mother’s last days. I went down again to help my sister go through our parents’ things and clear out the house–so much stuff! 

I wrote a lot; just not my blog. I finished another novel, tentatively called Hostages. Before my mom’s death, I was busy sending stuff out and working on my “platform,” but in the past months, getting my work out into the world wasn’t important to me. I only cared about the writing itself. Now I have to decide what to do with these books I’ve written; whether to self-publish or go the traditional route and query agents… Meanwhile, I’m revising and editing to make it my best work.

When I wasn’t writing, I took lots and lots of photographs. During the sad times, wandering around with a camera seemed to help more than anything else, even though I didn’t know anything about photography. It got me to notice things and kept me in the present moment. I just aimed the camera and pushed the shutter button. Doing it was what counted.

My sister, Carolyn, and I are in the middle of an online photography class at Flying Photo School, and for the first time, I’m learning about ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and a lot more about what goes into taking a photo–there’s so much new stuff to remember and take into account. Now, I have about the same percentage of photos that come out well, but I’ll keep practicing until the settings are as natural to me as breathing. It’s math, really–like learning long division, but unlike division, it’s fun!

In the woods, wooly bear caterpillars are all over the place, predicting a harsh winter. 


It was a steamy, muggy summer. Today I revel in the sound of wind in the trees and falling rain. The air smells of rain and chimney smoke. I’m looking forward to the fall colors.