Obituary Addendum

Writing Della's obituary was really hard. How can one possibly encapsulate a woman like Della, much less with all the constraints (word count, readability, intended audience, history vs. heart, etc.) all the while in a state of such disorienting grief. I'm not displeased with the result, with much help from Deanna as well as a few choice phrases from others, but it hardly scratches the surface. With that in mind, I offer this addendum, some of the things I wanted to include but couldn't, about the woman I love.
  • Della worked at a La Conner retirement center, helping residents get to their appointments and planning fun activities to keep them engaged and happy. Throughout her adult life, this extra care for the elderly continued, organizing special opportunities for seniors to come to circus shows, performing at retirement centers, and more.
  • Soccer and Soo Bahk Do were a big big deal in her life. She often talked about how she felt her life went in 7 year cycles; 7 years when soccer was her life—breathing, sleeping, and eating soccer; then it was 7 years of Soo Bahk Do, again throwing herself wholly into it, achieving considerable success*. After 7 years of performing, she was seriously questioning whether to continue or if it was time to move on. She eventually found renewed passion and dedication through working with some amazing women and the ability to make a living, esp. from our Wren and Della gigs.
  • Della loved animals so much. In our house/petsitting tag team, she was the heart, loving on pets like they were her own. When travelling, she'd pour her heart into various street dogs and cats, cleaning, feeding, and petting them. I won't be able to see another tiny dog in my life without hearing her squees of glee echo in my ears. And it wasn't just pets: on all our travels, Della would also find so much joy in seeing animals of all sorts.
  • Before there was circus, there was dance. And although she performed with the Dirty Birds as well as belly dancing, she loved the act of dancing itself, for its freedom and for the communities it helped her form.
  • Della was a really good juggler, even by juggler standards (as opposed to performance juggling standards*). We passed 8 clubs, could run 7-club three count, and she would catch all the slop I would throw. Solo, she was getting 5 ball juggling down, a feat that takes determination and lots of practice. She made our juggling acts fun and successful through her personality and stage glow, but her juggling skill was truly noteworthy.
  • Many people know Della first as a performer, from her iconic chair dance and pig dance. From these thought-provoking, pants-peeingly funny Della creations to improv warm-up exercises and everything in between, she was a true performer. She made people smile, laugh, and think. She connected to audiences in a special way that left them feeling good and valued.
  • Della loved drawing as a kid and over the last couple years, she was enjoying so much rediscovering it. She made calendars, birthday cards, and most recently, My Animal ABC's: A Coloring Book!, a project that allowed her to connect with old friends and young friends alike. Let me know if you want a copy.
  • One word that maybe most embodied Della was "kind". But "kind" isn't strong enough a word for the good, caring, generous, friendly, considerate, positive person she was. And not only did she embody it in her actions, that feeling of kindness permeated her life. We didn't watch TV shows where people were mean to each other; she hated seeing such an influential platform set bad examples. She loved Mr. Rogers and his message of positivity. And you didn't want to get her started on Donald Trump or other politicians who were unapologetically unkind people. We talked a lot about what being kind meant and how to best practice it, finding that sometimes fine line between compassion and enabling. It influenced her performance style, showing respect to the audience. It was a part of everything she did.
  • Another competing word for most-embodying of Della was "fun". The girl knew how to have fun and to make fun. From planning ridiculousness to momentary punny word play to costumes, costumes, costumes, fun was at Della's core.
  • Did you know that Della sewed all of our juggling costumes? Fancy, professional looking costumes that always got compliments. And her pig suit? And tons of masks for people during this pandemic? And made super awesome juggle bags? And patched my shorts...a lot? Della was handy at a sewing machine and had an eye for creation.
  • In the obituary, we used the metaphor of light to describe Della and I can't get over how right that feel. Her happiness, caring, warmth, and radiance. It just doesn't feel like it can be overstated. My previous post talks about how she was the light in my life, and I know she was that to so many people.
  • Della was serious about her style of performance. She invested tons of time and money into taking clown* and physical theater classes, from Maine to Vancouver to Los Angeles and more with well-known names in the industry.
  • The accident that took Della's life was caused when the oncoming driver slid into our lane, striking our vehicle head on. The tires on his pickup were completely bald and alcohol was suspected to have been involved. Even though we were doing everything right (seatbelts, airbags, not speeding, staying in our lane), another driver's bad choices caused this tragedy. Please drive safely, for your lives and the lives of others.
  • Did you know Della kept a blog? It was mostly for documentary purposes, but there are some great pictures and stories. And did you know Della was a budding actress? Here's her resume. Other places to get more Della is on her instagram, our instagram, her youtube channel, her website, and our website.
Obituaries feel like a kind of message to the future about someone. I want the future to know how wonderful Della was. And while this silly blog post won't do that, maybe when someone goes looking for the obituary for Della Plaster in the future, they will also come across this post and get a little clearer picture than the newspaper's 353 words could give. And I hope they read this post and smile.
Saturday November 21 2020File under: Della

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The Light Has Gone Out of My Life


"The light has gone out of my life." These words from Teddy Roosevelt upon his life's great tragedy constantly run through my head, because I am at a lack of words of my own to describe how I feel losing Della, my partner, my light. The light has gone out of my life.

This article from the Bozeman paper covers the basics. (Archival screenshot here.)

Words are failing on so many fronts. All the wonderful and heartfelt outpouring of stories, remembrances, and praise for the amazing, caring, funny, thoughtful, joyful woman Della was hardly begins to convey her wonderful qualities. I am brought to tears throughout the day by tiny reminders of her beautiful smile, compassionate nature, and hilarious spirit.

Much has also been shared on the loss to the community, which is indeed great. A Bellingham Circus Guild show without Della won't be the same without her thought-provoking yet hilarious acts, her playful greeting of audiences, and infectious enthusiasm for the cast and crew backstage. A trip to the grocery store for the scores of people who knew and loved Della without the probability inevitably running into her and having their day made by a reminder of some shared history or joke will be noticeably missing. But words can't capture that loss either.

But most of all, I can't find words, much less wrap my head around, my loss: the loss of my partner, my heart, my soul, my light. My future without Della does not compute. I can't make sense of anything. It's like I'm missing a part of me that made me able to function, to feel. Anyone who has known me in the past 11 years knows this better than any words could encapsulate: Della was my light. And now she's gone. The light has gone out of my life.

In the days since the tragedy, I've tried many things to cope. One suggestion I got was to write. And while even now, I know my words are hardly coherent, then I was doing all I could to get my thoughts down. One attempt I made came out in the form "How Lucky I Was". I'll include it here as I don't know what else to do.

It was less than 12 hours from when I first met Della to when I got to hold her in my arms. The holding was more a matter of physical logistics, as we ended up crammed in a 1-man tent because of a goofy dare. But we stayed the whole night, cramped-snuggled together, her sleeping soundly as if she was oblivious to the magic building (she was always such a good sleeper), me not sleeping a wink because my heart and mind were so full of possibility. The next day, people we met asked if we were married because of how we were together. It was zero to partnership, just like that, the kind of magical creation story to match a magical relationship.

And it was a special relationship, if I do say so myself. We were partners in all the senses. We built a business together, a business that succeeded partially on the way we brought audiences into our relationship with us. We managed our crazy lives together, staying at this house or that, shuttling, sorting, and fixing a never-ending stream of circus props and costumes, always something new to decide on together and rarely a routine to guide us. We supported each other in our individual endeavors. We did so many fun and amazing things together. We were a part of each other to the core. And maybe this is the way a lot of relationships are. I hope so. If what I call special is what's par for the course, that means more people are as happy as I was. And I wish that for everyone

I was often reminded how lucky I was to have found Della. It was never meant in a "how does a schmo like you end up with a gem like her" overtly, but we all knew the truth in the unsaid. And I agree. How did I end up being so lucky: to find a beautiful, kind, fun woman who accepted who I am, who agreed to live in my mom's garage with me, who helped me become better in so many ways despite my stubborn nature, who accepted my [sometimes smothering] love of her gracefully. But miraculously, I did. I was so lucky, so lucky to have built a decade of amazing memories—of travels, shows, stupid jokes, heartfelt moments, incredible experiences, mundane shared trivialities, touches, insights, These memories will be with me even though she won't. And to have these memories, I do feel lucky.


This blog has always been a chronicle of my life, a way to share the ups and downs with the few friends and family that still bother to read. Well, Della's death is a down, a down that I don't imagine will ever be out-downed. It is deep and painful and disorienting. But I'm hoping that sharing it makes it slightly less deep, hurt slightly less. I guess I'm just really sad and don't know what else to do. Truly, the light has gone out of my life.


Tuesday November 3 2020File under: love

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The Real Food Show Video

Last year, I posted about the Real Food Show, the elementary assembly show that uses the fun and magic of the circus to teach about healthy eating and lifestyle. (If you want to know more, check out that post or visit www.therealfoodshow.org.)

Well, needless to say, Della and I aren't performing the Real Food Show (nor almost anything else) these days, so we've got a bit of time on our hands. And since a lot of schools are doing the whole virtual thing, at least for the time being, which we only imagine isn't easy on the parents, teachers, or students, we got an idea. We decided to record the Real Food Show and make it available for all for free as a video on youTube. That way, when a kiddo needs a break or a treat but still needs to log those educational hours, they can watch us juggle junk food, balance protein blocks, and ride unicycles, all the while learning about healthy eating in a fun, engaging way! Our hope is that the show will reach millions of little eyeballs spreading the important message of health while causing smiles on both kids', parents', and teachers' faces alike, so by all means, if you know someone who might find it helpful, please feel free to pass it along: http://www.tinyurl.com/realfoodshow

And since I know you, loyal BdW reader, want to see what all the health fuss is about, I'm proud to present the Real Food Show. Enjoy!


Monday September 28 2020File under: circus, food

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Money Map


Thanks to the time freed up by having all my work and adventures cancelled by quarantine, I've completed another long-overdue project! I've been dreaming and scheming of this money map for well over a decade. Every country I travel to*, I try to come home with one of each of the coins and bills under, say, $10. It's often the only souvenir I end up with. And over the past decade plus, I've built up quite a collection.

Before you ask, no, each country isn't made up only with coins from that country. I considered that, but logistically, it just doesn't make sense. Panama and Costa Rica together can only fit one small coin while Russia and China would have tons of repeat coins. It was hard enough deciding what to do with narrow land masses that were fractions of a coin wide. (Malay Peninsula, I'm sorry.)

It broke my heart to cut the paper money to make the shapes, but I consoled myself knowing that the money is either outdated, of so little value that it's no big deal, or that I won't likely return to the country to use to it*. Even so, there's well over the equivalent of $100 used which makes it maybe the most expensive piece of art I own.

This thing is not small, either. It is over 6 feet wide (obligatory artist with his creation shot for scale), partially to help deal with those pesky narrow land masses and small islands. And getting the coins to stick in place was a bear. I fully expect to awake to the plink plink of falling coins some night not too far off.

But overall, I'm inordinately pleased with how it turned out, and that I finally got around to completing a project that's been in my head for so long. Admiring at all the money while creating it and remembering the stories attached to each place was a great balance to the backache that came from being hunched over, gluing for hours at a time. Really, I don't think I could conceive of a piece of art better suited to my interest: travel and money. Sure, maybe I could throw in the equator made of gummi bears, but that's how you get ants.

What will the next long-overdue quarantine art project be? Check back in 5 months to find out!

P.S. If destroying money is illegal, I'm sorry. And I've got a lot of countries I better not show my face in again. Here's hoping the Governor of the Netherlands Antilles isn't an avid BdW reader.
Saturday September 5 2020File under: travel, misc

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This is 41

This week, I turned 41 years old. I celebrated the occasion with good food, a little adventure, and inevitable reflection. As to this last point, I thought I might record a bit of those reflections here so when age 81 rolls around (which I truly hope it does), I'll be able to look back and know what I was thinking (and see how not fat and not completely bald I once was.)

Notable occurances of this 41st trip around the sun were:
  • An wonderful trip to Indonesia etc. that, besides being a top notch adventure and thoroughly enjoyable time with my partner, also kept my number-of-countries-visited count higher than my age, a balance which I hope to maintain until I die.
  • The anticipated upward progress of our Wren and Della juggling brand was thoroughly twarted by COVID-19. The few gigs we've managed to get are sweet little birthday parties that do a lot to fill that place in my life for connecting with and making audiences smile but also remind me how much I like and miss my "job".
  • With the newly available time courtesy of the shutdown of basically all of my hobbies/jobs/interests, I re-learned how to run. While I can't quite yet say I enjoy it, I've impressed myself with both my stick-to-it-ive-ness and my progress—I'm doing 4 miles at a ~7:15 pace 3 times a week.* It also has kept me a fraction of a pound below 190, which I mention for data keeping's sake.
  • Regular albeit slow progress on a number of life goals: I continue to get an occasional crossword published*; I've racked up a couple more fun TV/film background extra appearances; I continue to apply for Jeopardy! at every opportunity with this year scoring my best yet on the qualifying test at ~39/50 (along with other random game show applications); maintaining good old Blog du Wren and its various data sets (sleeping around, jumping project, crossword resume, etc.)

What solar circumnavigation #42 has in store is more up in the air than ever before. I hope my custom tailored life stays pretty much the same, maybe just cranked up a tiny notch or two: slightly more adventurous adventures, slightly more successful successes, and slightly more noteable noteables. But we'll see what Dr. Fauci* has to say about that. But even if this life on pause continues until I'm 42, where I am at 41 is not a bad place to be paused: safe and comfortable home, wonderful partner, and diversions enough to keep things from getting too boring.

All in all, on the occasion of reflection, I'd say all is well: the reflection of my life I see makes me smile and what better birthday wish could a guy hope for?
Monday August 17 2020File under: misc

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Sleeping Around 2019-2020

I've always viewed the data collection project I call Sleeping Around as being a great way to quantitatively encapsulate my life. Where I spend my nights seems to summarize my life for any given period pretty well. And with 12 years of data, I can make comparisons and see trends that I might not otherwise be able to do. And, in 20 years from now, I can look back and see what my 2019-2020 Sleeping Around analysis said—in short, what a strange year.

Needless to say, COVID-19 and its accompanying quarantine is the reason this year's data is so different. Cancelled housesitting, cancelled travel, and cancelled gigs all make for a pretty bland data set. In the 12 years I've been keeping data, I've never spent more than twenty-odd nights in a row at home, with anything over a week being a rarity. This year, I've only slept away from the Outback three nights in 5 months, with a solid 3-month uninterrupted at home chunk in middle of all that.

Nights at home vs. housesitting

And while I know comparisons are basically moot, I'm a creature of habit, so here's a table of data:
# of housesitting houses6Even before COVID, housesitting was down a little. Being gone for 2 months in prime season didn't help either.
# of states (other than WA)2OR, OK (definitely lowest ever)
# of countries (other than US)3Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, which goes a long way towards keeping up on my '# of countries visited > my age' goal
Longest stretch at home99 daysI hope this a record that is not beaten for a long long time
Longest stretch away from home59Two months feels like real time away
# in car (/airplane/train)25Mostly in the van, but a couple plane/train nights
# in hotel/hostel50At an average price of $17


Other observations and thoughts:
  • It's nice seeing a few Boat Nights again! A sailboat, a ferry, and an exotic Klotok!
  • The absence of adventures that have become regular on my yearly calendar noticeably change the data (really missing Dude Camp, Crossword Tournament, fairs and festivals)
  • Will these numbers ever return to "normal"? While Della and I very much realize how lucky we are to have the living situation we do and it has been very nice as far as places to quarantine, I do hope the housesitting, travelling, and work adventures return soon!

This yearly recap always makes me nostalgic, contemplative, and excited for the future, this year maybe more than ever. And with so much around me different and upside down, it is nice to have the warm consoling arms of data to make things feel just a little bit normal.
Sunday August 2 2020File under: stats

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Sunday Universal Crossword By Me!

This past Sunday, you might have seen a crossword puzzle created by yours truly run in your local paper. Well, let's be honest, you probably didn't because 1) who gets papers anymore? 2) the Universal Sunday puzzle doesn't run in that many papers anyway, with the NYT and LAT being far more common and 3) even if you get the paper and your paper runs the Universal, you probably didn't look at the creator anyway. That's why I'm posting about it here...though the readership of BdW is probably about as high as the number of people that noticed that I wrote the puzzle, i.e. fewer than the number of skittles in a fun size pack. But I digress....

Having a crossword come out is always an exciting event for me. Even though this puzzle is my 35th published puzzle(!), I still get a twinge of excitement knowing that someone out there is cursing my name—I mean, enjoying my work. The Universal, besides having an editor that I really like working with, has some prestige and even ranks high enough to get reviewed. And, refreshingly, this one got a not bad review: "Pleasant theme and grid. Four stars."

Besides skimming the reviews, one of my publication-day routines is to try and find a copy of said puzzle. The published version always differs enough from my submitted version (mostly in the cluing) that I feel like I need to grab a copy for posterity (and to add to my resume). This hunt sometimes takes me to interesting places. This time around, before I drove up to Alger to grab a paper copy and after a thorough tour of medium-size town's newspaper websites*, I found myself buying a digital copy of the Scranton Times-Tribune for the above image. There went all my profit...

Crossword construction has been a great diversion for me as all of our juggling gigs have evaporated this Spring and Summer. I've made some puzzles that I think are pretty dang neat. And a few of them have been accepted for publication to boot! Stay tuned for more crossword action here on BdW.
Wednesday July 15 2020File under: crossword

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Minor Media Mentions - AMPulance Tour


In my continuing Minor Media Mentions series, Della and I made it to this week's Anacortes American! The article was about the recent event we did with the Anacortes Music Project where we went around to 6 different neighborhoods and did a short show (half circus, half music). The event went really well, and despite us being sorely out of performing shape*, we had a great time.

So far, 2020 is shaping up to be a pretty slow year for Della and me, juggling-wise. Almost all of our events have been cancelled or seriously scaled back. A few new gigs have trickled in (a birthday party here, a mini-celebration there), but all the biggies—festivals, library shows, fairs—are a no go. While it is hard to have the momentum of our career derailed, or at least put on hold, we know it could be worse. We're trying to use the downtime to stay practiced, rework acts, and even come up with a bit of new material. (Check out our instagram (@WrenAndDella) for the beginnings of our new chicken act!*)

In knowing 2020 is going to be so slow, it is nice to get this little nod from the local paper. And additionally, our good friend and AMAZING photographer Thadeus Hink, snapped some great shots!

Saturday June 20 2020File under: media, juggling

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Walking Every Trail in ACFL

We here in Anacortes are blessed with an amazing resource right out our back door. The Anacortes Community Forest Lands has over 50 miles of trails that offer an amazing range of vistas, terrain, and secluded little spots. I've been hiking these trails for going on 30 years and I had imagined, with all my wandering, I had probably covered them all. But with a need for a quarantine project, I decided I needed to do it up properly.

All it took was 19 hikes, spread out over about a month, averaging about 1.5 hours for me to systematically check off all the trails. I could have probably picked a more efficient route to knock them all off, though some backtracking couldn't be avoided. But hey, it's quarantine—what else was I going to do?

I was surprised to find a few trails I didn't recognize and also be reminded of a few favorite spots. But the greatest thing about the project was that it got me out of the house (in a time that it was much needed*). I got some exercise, I got to be surrounded by the calming beauty of nature, and I fully caught up on my all podcasts. The dozens of miles hiked (along with all the biking it took to get there) didn't, however, help shed those COVID-15, but so it goes.

Now that things are starting to open back up, I plan on turning me eyes to trails further afield, trails that I haven't hiked on umpteen times (yesterday, I hiked up to Cow Heaven and got to frolic in the snow!) But it's nice to know that I'll always have a wonderful trail right in my backyard the next time the need arises.


Saturday June 6 2020File under: Anacortes

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My Homemade Quilt

Last night, Della and I got to sleep under my homemade quilt for the first time. Ten-ish years in the making*, I'm super stoked to have it completed. It incorporates T-shirts from many different aspects of my life and I'm excited to have it as a usable treasure for the rest of my life!

Even now, writing this post, I can get lost in all the memories represented: Key Club, juggling festivals, Palmyra, my dad's cafe, high school dances, family reunions, college, travels, long-past musical obsessions, and so much more. I had been holding onto these shirts, not knowing what to do with them but not wanting to throw them away. It [very] eventually turned into this project and I'm so glad it did.

I am not a master at the sewing machine. I don't think this quilt will be winning any bees any time soon. With all that I learned during the process, a second attempt would be much quicker and better. Seam allowances, accurate cutting, and actual planning, things one may think are obvious, are now finally obvious to me. Enough notable shirts didn't make it into this version that a second project isn't out of the questions (though how many quilts does one need?). But even with its imperfections, this quilt keeps us warm and makes me smile so I'm pleased as punch.

I hesitate to call this a "quarantine project", as so much of the thought and work went into it before outside life went into hibernation. But I also am pleased that there will forever been this association between this project I hope to have until I die with this crazy time in history. It will help remind me what one can do with time and ideas and how to make the best out of any situation.

But in the end, I really just wanted to show you my quilt that I'm really proud of.

Friday May 29 2020File under: misc

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Recent Comments:
*Mark on Obituary Addendum
*Anneka on Obituary Addendum
*Jessica Lovejoy on The Light Has Gone Out of My Life
*Andrew on Obituary Addendum
*Paula on Obituary Addendum

Recent Content:
*Obituary Addendum
*The Light Has Gone Out of My Life
*The Real Food Show Video
*Money Map
*This is 41
*Sleeping Around 2019-2020
*Sunday Universal Crossword By Me!
*Minor Media Mentions - AMPulance Tour
*Walking Every Trail in ACFL
*My Homemade Quilt
*Best Extra-ing Ever - Three Busy Debras
*Ghostbusters Halloween Circus Act

Websites du Friends:
* Wren and Della
Della and my juggling website
* The Real Food Show
A circus-inspired elementary assembly show to teach kids about healthy eating
* Della Moustachella
Della's performance website
* The Fun Bags
Della and Sadye's Performance Troupe


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