27 May 2008


There's a clear view of Mount Olympus out the back of my parents' home near Emigration Canyon above the Salt Lake valley. Ghosts inhabit my memories of Utah, and it is a Memorial Day weekend to honor them all. Honor to those who can be named: Michael, Robert, Francella, John, Pauly, Daisy, Grace, Dorothy, Craig, Mara, Linda, Art. Those who cannot be named have my prayers and my love.

Snow falls at my brother's house in Park City, and there is thunder and lightning at my sister's north along the Wasatch front. Back at home, there are tornado warnings and 3" of hail at Multnomah Falls in the Columbia Gorge. Rain across all things.

Through the Blue Mountains, a semi-truck jackknifes across the freeway ahead of us with the smell of burning rubber and brakes, and we turn off the engine and park in the lane until the emergency crews clear the road. Rain eases off, and all along the side of the roads, lupine, yarrow and wild daisies. True to their name, the mountains reflect the sky.

The Columbia River greets us over the flats beyond Pendleton and leads us the rest of the way. I love the skies and the rain and the thousand colors of gray as deep as the universe. I am not born in the Northwest, but it is my home. No matter where I roam.


09 May 2008

Doing Time in the Real World

Doing Time in the Real World is published on The Noneuclidean Cafe.

This story has made the rounds. It was accepted at another publication provided the language was edited out. After a few days of thought and a whirling email debate with my writing compadres, I withdrew the story. Another story was accepted in its place, and I renewed the submission process for Doing Time where it was accepted by the Noneuclidean Cafe.

The Winter issue was originally slated to be released in January, but real life stepped in for editor James Swingle and the issue was delayed. My thanks and respect to James for walking through his life experiences and pulling us together for this exciting double Winter/Spring issue.

Doing Time is one of my favorite stories. It speaks to something that weighs on my heart, of people overlooked or forgotten. Of despair and survival.

Perhaps there is a greater statement about failed systems and the cost of what constitutes success in bigger circles. But in the end, it is a personal story. Change begins with awareness and is carried forward by individual compassion when one person reaches out to another. The connection then lifts us all, one hand reaching forward, one hand always reaching back.

But that is just my experience.

Sherri H. Hoffman

20 April 2008

Wonky Weather

April 20 and there is snow on my tulips and violets.

There hasn't been so much weird weather like this since the first year I was here - 1995. That year there was ice on the Columbia River, a windstorm to rival some 1950-ish record, and snow. Then a flood that ultimately breached the Portland seawall and flooded the train station and the international airport. The city was cut off by mudslides in the Gorge and both north- and south-bound I-5.

I remember calling my parents from my basement apartment during a power outage just to reassure them that all was well. All my friends told me it was "unusual." I suppose it was, but for all I knew, winter was one chaotic natural disaster after another.

Five years ago, we had an ice storm that shut us in the house for 5 days. No work, no school, no groceries. We could get out in our 4-wheel drive but not safely. The little birds trying to land on the feeder in the back yard were slipping right off. The heating bill that month was over $1000.

This year, we got the tornado in February, snow in March, and hard frosts and snow in April.

It just proves we pitiable humans are not in charge. Thank goodness.