Friday, September 11, 2020

fire, no ice

So there we were, gathering our belongings, getting the trailer all set, food planned, prepared, staged for four lovely, beachy days around the campfire. We'd scored four days at Beverly Beach, our favorite campsite on the coast. Its alot like the redwoods, only the big trees aren't redwoods. Reservations are rare these days unless you go online in january, early in the morning, like one a.m. But if you're me, january just isn't the time for camping plans. Imma flybytheseatofmypants kinda gal. So, Kurt got on his phone, went to the site and told me, "I'm gonna get us some days at BBeach." "No, you're not," I replied, always the supportive spouse. When he was successful, I didn't believe it. Saw the reciept--still didn't believe it. But it was true. We had reservations. Four days at the beach. Couldn't wait. So there we were. Were. Driving toward the coast, trailer in tow, happily ready to camp, sickeningly entitled to take a moment at the end of summer, covid notwithstanding, and enjoy our lives, the sky thickened, turning orange in the distance. It worsened. And worsened. And by the time we made it to Depot Bay I asked, "Do you think we've made an error in judgement, going camping right now? How bad are these fires, anyway? Where are they?" By the time we arrived at the campsite, the ranger told us we could stay and camp, but most folks were electing to take the refund and go on home. One look around the camp and it was evident nobody was having any fun, trying to breath and all. I tried to pretend it was fog. I love fog. But even my imagination, accustomed to denial and outright pretense, couldn't hang. After a very brief discussion, we left. We called Joyce in Port Orford thinking maybe we could continue south and camp down there. "Oh, god no! Don't come here. The smoke is worse,and its ninety degrees. Its this bad on Vashon Island on the sound. There's nowhere to go." Joyce's tone verged on anxiety and she is not an anxious woman. That's when the phone calls started coming in: Kurt's mom was evacuating her place in Phoenix. Fifteen foot flames as she made it out with her 83 year old life. The whole town was on fire. Talent, the tiny town between Ashland and Phoenix where I used to live, was on fire. I tried to get ahold of my son. He lives in a tinderbox at the base of Table Rock. As we reviewed maps, reality began to set in. I got a text from the always erudite Annie Garwood. "Did you go camping? I only ask because Oregon is on fire." It appears that somebody (there's an investigation and a body and a burned out car) at the north end of Ashland started the whole thing and a swift east wind blew it up the I-5 corridor like it was Marilyn Monroe's white dress. And just like that, my past was in flames. I personalize it because it feels that way. I lived the first fifty years of my life in that valley, and while I remember little of the years between 13 and 33, I still know that landscape by heart. Social media alternately blames antifa or the proud boys, neither of which is true, but an interesting topic for a future post. By the time we got home from the shortest camping trip ever, our facebook feeds were lit up like Christmas trees with posts from friends and family displaced by fire. I finally reached Marky and happily, not only was he fine, but fully prepared to evacuate with his dog Riley. It always surprises me when he knows how to do things. "Who raised you," I asked. "How do you know this shit?" And running to conspiracy theories as he does, it is his contention that scumbag bums (homeless folks) are setting these fires intentionally. Oddly, there may be some truth to that. A few, four so far I think, arsonists have been arrested. The fires did spread oddly and disparately. I was reminded of the fires in '87, when I was living in Central Point. End of summer, every evening when I drove home from the AA meeting, the Rogue Valley was literally ringed by fires, the smoldering sky hanging heavy above us, ashes to ashes. Now it is the entire west coast. It feels so apocalyptic. This is how deserts are made. Years of little rain, coupled with lightning, encouraged by wind. It feels like the physical outworking of my emotional/political/biological world. I am fried. We are toast. Expecting locusts any moment, now.

Monday, August 17, 2020

long time comin'

Today begins the Democratic National Convention. Nah. I don't want to talk about that. What has happened in our lives since the last post in January 2020 is Covid. But I don't want to talk about that either. Home life. We let Sid go to heaven. He wasn't having fun anymore. Its hard to tell with a very old dog who thinks he's still a puppy, but the time was right, and he leaves Duffy and Mac in his considerable wake. They missed him at first -- at least Duffy did. Mac doesn't think all that much, it seems. And fuck pitbulls except Sid. We walk to a small park near our house each evening, let the dogs poop, wear Mac out, and this one evening I went by myself. Most of Yamhill lets their dogs be off-leash in the park, as do we, but I'd leashed up my dogs and was exiting the park when a large pitt appeared. "That fucker came out of nowhere," to quote some movie. His owner, a woman, said something like "she's okay" so I kept walking and the dog looked at Duffy, cocked its head and charged. No time passed. I screamed, "NO!" and I like to believe that is why she stopped attacking for a moment as I yanked Duffy from the solidly clamped jaws of death. With Duffy's fluffiness, I didn't see any wounds until we got home. Truth be told, I was pretty traumatized--not thinking, just acting. Turns out he was pretty tore up. Six wounds, two requiring stitches. $120.00 later I'd like to find that chick. Sid was never like that. The only fight he ever got in was with an urban raccoon and he lost that one decisively. My garden is huge, and with Kurt working from home since March, it gets enough water to produce gallons of pickles, jam, tomato sauce, pesto and zuchinni. Okay. Now I'm ready to talk about the intersection of health, religion and politics. I live in Yamhill, Oregon, which is nowhere. My neighbors, almost without exception, are republicans, but good country folk. They really are, but they think Covid is a hoax and are proud of not wearing masks and they think trump is doing his best against great and unfair odds. My own son is a racist and right wing-nut. This disturbs me in ways that make me regret decisions I made to pay attention to my own spiritual/political/educational development to the evident exclusion of his. I got sober. I wasn't paying too much attention as I clawed my way out of the soul-claiming abyss of alcoholism and drug addiction. I want, badly, to say "sue me," right here, but that would be insincere and you know me. Always sincere. Ha. But I fear my internal focus left my son on the outside of things, philosophically speaking, although, he, too, finally stopped drinking. I remember when I was two or three years sober, some 30-odd years ago. I came home from a meeting and there was my then-eleven year old son, watching a baseball game. Life is good, I thought. How completely well-adjusted we are, I thought. He says to me, "Mom, I know who I want for my higher power." I answered, "Really? Who." Evidently he'd been listening during meetings where this was emphasized. He said, "Jose Canseco." The pitcher for some the Oakland A's or some shit. Yeah. So. Wow. I'm off the rails. So now my son is nearly a QAnon follower, although I think even he draws the line at lizard people. I blame Donald Trump, but I shouldn't. We democrats lost the last election because of individual, wish list (pretty little foot stamping demands) politics. You can't talk me out of this so don't try. I am a fairly conservative, which is to say old, democrat. I believe neo-liberalism has pretty much destroyed America, but am not in any hurry to succumb to the necessary reparations to get us where we need to be. And where is that? I thought you'd never ask. The notion that the market magically knows what is right and good and true, that given untrammelled opportunity and the demolition of government siderails, seatbelts and all that is holy, specially selected white men will make good decisions that benefit the many, has proven patently false. Trump and his bastard clan have driven the wheels off this idea and if you can appreciate any single thing about this boil on the ass of humanity, its that he's out in the open with it. All balls, no brains. But somebody's got brains. Believe that. Watchout. They have reanimated Frankenstein, dismantled America, and put nobody in charge because that, folks, is what Freedom looks like. Period. With our televised consent. So. Its all felt pretty far away in DC. I live in the country, Covid feels distant--though I take it seriously enough, I hope, to remain well, but now he's going too far. I'm a lifelong letter-writer and he's going after the Post Office. My Post Office. He's trying to privatize that sacred strong-hold of reliable communication, the US Mail. I'm sure there are worse things like Black Lives Matter, but this is on my ground. I'm a writer. Leave letters alone. I'm not getting into the BLM thing except to say the little shitheads in Portland who brought enough attention to our little blue state that trump sent the stormtroopers to town should be in jail. Not the black folks. Not the protesters. The anarchists. Blacks can and should do their thing. I don't pretend to know what the solution is to that longstanding problem. They will, however, have to pay the consequences for their actions. That's how it works and I think they know that. Its pretty messy right now, perhaps necessarily so, but people will die needless deaths. Again. Still, not my fight except as an ally, and that term morphs daily. Its hard to get it right. I'm a distant supporter out here in the sticks. The white kids who just want to blow shit up, who think they are promoting a progressive agenda, are not helping. I used to have sign over my desk. It said, "If things don't get better around here I'm going to have to ask you to stop helping me." I need it now. I know Biden/Harris is an imperfect ticket. I am OVER so-called Progressives (butt-hurt Bernie fans) stamping their little feet, again, because they didn't get their way, again. I think it will be a solid decade before a truly progressive agenda replaces neo-liberalism. and frankly, I don't know that progressives have the patience to wait for it. They can't seem to decide what's most important, who gets to go first, who's turn it is, why they have to wait a fucking minute for us old folks to die off so they can take the wheel now that there are no remaining tires on the vehicle. By that time, they'll be old, too, invested in a system that used to work, and just trying to protect thier social security like I am. Jaysus. Oh, yes. And Jesus. Really. Poor Jesus. I've always said that Christian's are a poor representation of Christ. They rally behind Dear Leader, the emperor with no clothes, as though the Holy Bible said, "Deify the chosen one, right or wrong, follow him off a cliff," rather than "Obey the law of the land." And off the cliff they go. Help them, baby Jesus. They know exactly what they do. Predictions: The election will happen on time. Joe Biden will win handily. dear leader will pitch a fit but will leave eventually and he will be tried and convicted of treason. His little alt right army of proud boys will start a brief civil war in which a few will die, and democrats will try, but fail, to make everything perfect, and color-coordinated, with one of each (red and yellow black and white they are precious in his sight) and three or four edgy LGBYQRSTUVWXYZ with blue hair and politically-oh-so-correct language that will be passe the moment it is uttered. ad nauseum. Gawd.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

sleep deprivaion and raccoons

So having three dogs is at least one too many. Sid is old, Duffy diabetic and Mac -- not the sharpest dog in the drawer. Sid, at 15 and a half is still able to make it through the night without having to go out to pee. Duffy, being diabetic, is too thirsty, thus, has to pee frequently and a lot. Mac just likes to be involved in any outing, asleep or awake. He has the best ears, so knows of any movements outside our walls and wakes everyone else up in case they don't know... I haven't slept through the night since I got Mac. Or since entering menopause which has been artificially extended by the anti-estrogen cancer medication I am required to take that is better than being dead but that's about it. I still get hot flashes and can't sleep. I blame the dogs but it is easily half the medication that is at fault. So there I am, sleeping like a baby. Its three o'clock and Mac begins to whine, or Duffy gives his telltale bark, something he doesn't do unless he's serious. Like a robot, as Kurt describes me, I hop out of bed and wobble to the back door, tripping over dog toys and man-clothes on the way. Kurt takes off his clothes on the way to bed like a sex scene in a bad movie. Anyhow, I make it to the door in one piece. Now, I've been letting these dogs out at night without incident for years. This time is different. This time, Mac and Duffy run straight to the corner of the yard, barking as though in hot pursuit of something that needs to be killed. And they won't come back. They won't come back even when I say, "treats!" in the sweetest voice ever. I worry a little bit about my neighbor's sleep, but to tell the truth, not all that much. Dogs bark. Deal. But tonight they keep up the cacophony for long enough that even I am embarrassed. So, I slip on my outdoor clogs, the ones with the tiniest bit of dogshit embedded in the tread, and pick my way through the yard, in the dark, to grab them by the collar and drag them back in the house. As I make it to the far side of the yard where they are pitching such a fit, under the walnut tree, I happen to look up because they are. There, in the crotch of the tree, is an enormous raccoon. Fat and mean. Staring down at me. Never ever turn your back on a raccoon. I stepped backward, gingerly, reaching to grab Duffy by the collar. Mac had taken the hint and ran to the house. Duffy wasn't coming easily. He doesn't understand the danger he is in. He doesn't know that a raccoon will tear his nose off his face and let him bleed out. I know this. I tried to locate and grab my disobedient dog without breaking eye contact with the raccoon. My neighbors are nice people and I don't think they've heard language like that from me before. I finally got hold of Duffy and drug him inside, throwing him the last few feet through the door. Which was open. I'm not that mean. Two nights later, when I began to let the dogs out, four raccoons fled up the tree. Four. I decided to leash them and take them to the opposite side of the yard to pee. They weren't happy about this, but I'm sure you understand by now that their happiness is not my concern. My concern is sleep. I am trying to figure out what is bringing them into our yard. It is a mystery, one I am intent on solving.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

retirement week four I think

Well, if I'm losing track of time I guess retirement is working.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

retirement, actually

I have to correct this missile of disinformation. After a moment of surprise which I mistakenly read as rage, Kurt has been monumentally kind and supportive during this surprisingly difficult transition. So. After managing the finances, what little there are, I'm working in my yard, watching Fixer Upper, writing, and making art. I am trying to get enough work done to get juried in to a local group of artists and have enough pieces to sell in the studio tour next fall. It is now two weeks into this thing, this retirement. My mood vacillates between delight and resentment. With social security and unemployment I will be fine. I'd be fine anyway. I know how to cook rice. Our home is ours, bills are small, student loan payments put off for now. I have enough wax to make art for centuries and can string words together in enjoyable ways if I choose. I don't think I've talked about my studio. Our new house, now four years old, has always been too nice to turn one of the rooms into a space to do encaustics. Fire and wax have been messy in my hands, so I'd been putting off any artistic endeavors in favor of a clean house. If you know me, you will know that to be a lie. I put little stock in a clean house. A cute house, now that is a priority, but clean? not really. I am the worst housekeeper I know. It drives Kurt mad, ocd as he is, and if you've been reading along, I don't care. So, one thing K is really good at is finding things for me to spend (my) money on. I happened to mention that I was dead serious about building some sort of structure to use as an art studio. I didn't care what it looked like (lie) meaning, I didn't need it to be fancy, was, in fact, more interested in a functionally funky structure. Rather than get himself into a honey-do situation, my darling husband began searching for sheds. Brilliant! I sincerely didn't expect it to go so well, but we ran into this little Amish-ish company that makes small-batch, artisan quality sheds. It was on. They just happened to have an 8x12 that was either a repo or the deal fell through--I don't know or care. The point is that it was precisely the design and siding choice that I wanted. Two windows and a four-foot barn door with lateral siding, not the vertical cheap T111 siding you usually see on those things. I didn't like the color, but do know how to paint. We made the deal. I wrote the check and they dropped it in the backyard a week and 15 minutes later. The only challenge so far is convincing the world that it is not a "she-shed." My first introduction to the she-shed concept was at our yard sale a couple of years ago. A large-ish, bleachy-fluffy woman bailed out of her car as her husband was slowing to a stop. She began stuffing her large floral bag with my girlish cast-offs, anything frilly, anything candle-ish. "For my she-shed," she shrilled. "Isn't it just a-DOR-able?" So. yeah. My studio is NOT a fucking she shed. It is a hot-wax-flinging-bead-strung-leather-strapped-wire-wrapped nightmare of sweet disorganization. There is no art supply I do not own. Yesterday, while hanging things up for me, Kurt broke my little hammer. Did I mention he was helping me? Did I meention I hadn't requested help? Anyhow, he thought a good place to find another one would be Harbor Freight. This place is like Michael's for guys. We found a little hammer and all kinds of other stuff. Over the 15-plus year life of this blog I may have mentioned that I own beads. I don't think I own them all, but easily most. They live in little boxes here and there and I move them with me from place to place. Several multi-compartmented plastic containers house the majority -- these containers were probably meant for fishing lures; then there are clever little boxes that, at the time of purchase, I was certain were the solution to my organization problem. Kind of like a new shade of lipstick. I realize I may have lost some readers with that last comment, but these are the chances an edgy writer takes. So there I was in Harbor Freight and right in front of me was a 40 compartment, stand-alone plastic box for only 14.99. The same thing at Michael's would cost you at least 500.00. Maybe not quite that, but seriously, it would be sixtyish. Anyhow, I bought it and have now spent the past two days reorganizing my beads and bead-related contraband. I have reduced my stash from a b'zillion disparate containers to three. That is success on a huge scale. It is also a lie. I probably have five. Still. Days such as these, days wasted in bead-sorting, put me in mind of a time back in the late seventies or early eighties when I was shooting speed for a living. I'd found myself holed up in Sweet Home for three days and nights without sleep, searching inch by inch through deep red-orange shag carpet for a single red bead. Which I never did find. Anyhow. Those days were a long life. So, we bought the sweet little hammer and a set of small screwdrivers, a mallet, sandpaper and a hand broom. Then we walked over to Goodwill where Kurt found another thing my money just had to have. One of the many things I love about this guy is how he sees things. I had mentioned needing a stand to hold my work-in-progress encaustic pieces while I finish the sides (most have a cradled edge one to two inches deep) while keeping my hands free of hot wax. I was thinking wood, nails/screws, etc. So he guides me down the kitchen gadget aisle in Goodwill and he points to this two foot tall, chrome, robotic looking thing with four arms and three levels and I cannot imagine what, for the love of the Sweet Baby Jesus, he sees in it. Then he touches it. It spins. I begin to step into his vision. Ten dollars later -- mine -- we stripped all the non-essential pieces from this magic little spinning robot and it is perfect. Perfect. A wide base, effortless spinning capability, exact height. I won't hold the fact that it is chrome against him. So, retirement. It happened a couple of years earlier than I expected, but I am so thrilled not to have to take care of the dying any more. 46 years all together. Now I feel like I can write that book. Here I go.

Monday, June 24, 2019

back in black

I've been asked to start writing again. By Lorretta. And others. They know me. They know I'm better when I empty my head from time to time. If you'd asked me last Saturday what my plans were, I would have included retirement among the first few. Others being, get those weeds pulled, make the bed. There is a meme going around facebook telling you at which intervals various housework tasks need to be accomplished. It includes cleaning the dishwasher. I wasn't aware of that. I thought it CLEANED. I do little in the way of housework. I am a decorator, not a maid. Ask anybody. I'm tired of working, but still like having something interesting to be in charge of. I just still don't like having anyone else in charge of me. So. A trip to the redwoods cleared my head and here I am, typing for the first time in years. Asha, Kristi, Annie, Jessica, Lorretta. Thanks for the pushes over time. I'd say, "after you," but why? I hope you find time to move your fingers across the keys. You each have so much to say. So spring vacation, now in a pop-up Chalet trailer -- the canned ham went the way of craigslist -- began on a warmish Saturday morning. Sunny, mild. The first good day in a long wet Yamhill spring. So why leave, you might ask. I don't know. The redwoods seem like church to me and I wanted that deep green feeling. The problem is, the vacation, scheduled months in advance, fell on easter weekend. I'm sure there are previous postings about easter weekends with my heathen in-laws so I won't belabor the history lesson. I married into a pack of wolves. They'd like it that I said that. Anyhow, there goes three days of a seven day vacation spent in the midst of people who don't much like me and I don't find much common ground with. I do own a calendar in case you were wondering. I could have planned differently but didn't see the designation as a holiday weekend. I don't think it hardly is anymore, but given my druthers, I'd get up early on easter sunday and consider god. It doesn't have to make sense. A sunrise service of my own suits me. We finally finished seeing family, and to be fair, I did get an hour with my son. It was great to see him. He is well and healthy and when I told him my bloodwork was wierd, he said, "We have to have dinner. I love you mom." So, all I have to do is threaten death and he'll find some time. I do love that kid and his ability to set family boundaries. And I got to see Rita for half an hour and Cooky for a few minutes. Two solid days with my mother in law does me no good whatsoever. Either one. Snakes. So we set off down I-5 to take the scenic Klamath River Highway to the coast. Highway 96, I think. It put me in mind of the land we set aside for reservations. Dry, scrubby. But as we got to the Seiad Valley, things began to green up a bit. The red bud tree grows wild alongside the road along that river. And as close as I've lived to the Klamath most of my life, I had no idea what a big river it is. Something between the Willamette and the Applegate, although not as pretty inland. I fell in love with Happy Camp and would go back, just to see what goes on that far from anywhere. No logging to speak of, so I'm not sure what the draw is. Didn't see any weed fences, so it didn't seem like cannabis culture either. I stopped to use the bathroom in an art cooperative in some tiny place. I've looked at a map but can't find it... I liked it there. Reminded me of Ruch in the old days. Simple. Making art, making life. Eventually, we found our way to Hoopa, where I have cousins and family stories. Gary Morris married the Hoopa princess, Maydean. Not a pretty woman, but kind. They had a child, called him Gary, and he took after his native roots and is a beautiful native man last I saw him at the funeral for his paternal grandmother. We eveetually landed at the funky little rv park we like in Trinidad, stayed a couple nights and went home. It was beautiful there, camping in the big trees, walking down to the boats. Cooking outside. The sun was up, the fog out until the day we were to leave. A goodbye fog.


I was retired today. Put out to pasture. There is the meme making its way through facebook that says, "those who say go big or go home have no idea how bad I want to go home." So, I am done working in senior living. For good, I think. And for the good of all, I think. It is changing, and I can't change with it. Not that much. I'm old school. And old. 66 just this month. I am tired of working. I want to make art and clean my house. I want to feel inspired and happy. I do, in fact, most days. Today is bittersweet. I'd rather have left on my own terms, but that is not to be. I want to drive to the Southlands to see my son. He asked me when I was going to stop. Kurt is mad at me for failing. Or for not flipping out about it. I can't really tell. He has only one setting and it looks like anger to me. Like it is happening to him. I have to fight for a bad day of my own. Today is it. A happily bad day.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

jury duty and tweakers

I was summoned for jury duty last summer. I finally had to do it this month. In Yamhill County the service commitment is for a month. I have to check in four times a week to see if my juror number is up. 78. It was. So I rescheduled all of my meetings. I am a very busy woman, you know. They called numbers one through ninety. I'd guess about fifty of us showed up. Of that 50, the first 18 were seated for voir dire. As a Grisham fan, I was thrilled at the opportunity to be in the room for this part. It was an all white jury for a black defendant. A black man accused of impersonating a police officer. In Yamhill County. Now, if you know my lilywhite neighborhood, you'd know, first, that a black officer would stand out like a sore thumb. It would be a fool's errand to try. So we have a fool at best. Guilty? I don't know. Maybe it was Halloween. Anyhow, I didn't get to the box. The judge empaneled his twelve from that group of eighteen. But there is hope yet! I still have to call in for the remainder of March. That was Thursday. Friday morning I woke up to find my work laptop had been stolen out of my(unlocked) car. Feckin' tweakers. It is a strange feeling to be robbed. I did the same thing when my whole truck was stolen several -- many -- years ago. I kept looking for it. As though I would somehow misplace a whole truck. Friday morning I kept opening each area of the vehicle, certain it must be there and I just missed it. It wasn't. I called work to see if it was in my office, if I'd forgotten it entirely. Nope. I finally gave in and called the Yamhill police. Andy and Barney. They told me the whole neighborhood had been hit. The thing is, there were four years of thinking on that machine. Four years of my brain. Was a time when I printed everything anyway -- didn't trust the magic of the computer to keep forever safe the nuggets that occasionally find their way to my fingers. Lots of work. I am crushed. Which I just now typed as cursed. Maybe.