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.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

tracy's last birthday

I am so sad. I am so so sad that I am losing my friend and yet, and yet, and yet, it was and still seems to be, a tough relationship for me. Tracy brought me to my first AA meeting, thus, saved my life. Nothing short of that. She carried a clear message and embodied that phrase, "Whenever anyone, anywhere, reaches out, I want the hand of AA always to be there." Tracy, though, across our 35 years, has been one of those female friends whose suns rise and set on the attentions of men. The remaining space, head and heart, for female relationships, is carried by those of us on the other end. I used to feel resentful that I had to carry the friendship alone. I got over it a long time ago, but as her diagnosis has landed and time is short, it surprises me that she still, in the face of death, is more concerned that her most recent lover dumped her. Ah well. I have tried, twice now, to be in her presence and get the shit said that I have a need to say. I want to thank her for saving this life, for showing me the way, for allowing me to stand on her shoulders. It seems, though, that I will not get to say these things unless it is in a letter. And maybe that is how it should be. At the same time as we are losing Tracy, Cooky is losing her shit. Last night was Tracy's last birthday party. It was a pretty big shindig at the Mark, the old hotel where I used to be a motel maid. My great claim to fame is that I made a bed, stood up too fast after making it, and nearly fell backward out the 9th floor window of the honeymoon suite. Anyway, Cooky is, naturally, devastated, and it seems to be exacerbating an advancing dementia. She is falling apart. So, for me and for Kurt, the party wasn't happy. It was hard. Tracy had the spotlight, that thing she most craves, and good for her. I am delighted that she takes such evident joy in a big party. Once again, there were a thousand people I knew but didn't know, and no opportunity for intimacy. I saw many people I love, and chatted and drank lemonade and there wasn't enough food to go around. Shona had to make an announcement. I did get a cream-puff. I eventually saw an old friend, of both Kurt and me. As we caught up, I left Kurt to chat with her. He began the story of Nicole, the one that rips his heart apart, the one in which I play the evil stepmother. "I have to choose between my wife and my daughter." That little bit of fiction finally came clear for me. I have said, and have no regret for saying, that I can no longer live with Nicole. It stresses me out to the point of illness.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


My work place, my "community" has been blessedly stable for the past two years. As time has passed in relative ease, my little gray-headed dominoes have been lining up, waiting for the first one to fall. He fell. I'll call him The Thinker. I loved him because he said I was the smartest person he'd ever met. How can you argue with that? He'd asked me, prior to making that statement, what plans we had as a company in the event "the big one" hit. On the West Coast, or Left if you're worried about language which I usually am but not in this case, "the big one" is an earthquake followed by a Tsunami. I told him that, in addition to a loosely held agreement with the Catholic Church next door which would likely be flattened as well, we had three days of water and dry food, plenty of flashlights, batteries and sleeping bags for staff who do not run out screaming to find their own children and do the noble thing: endure the end of the world together. After I told him that, I told him the truth. We'd do the best we could. If I was there, I wouldn't leave and if I wasn't there, that I'd get there if I could. But sincerely, we'd be on our own for a bit. The Thinker thought about all that. "Does it scare you?" I asked. He shook his balding head and smiled a crooked smile. "No. I think it scares some of them." He referred to his compatriots. I agreed. "I'm just looking forward to beachfront property." I picture the sea leaping across the coast range and coming to rest at the edge of my back yard, complete with soft sand and sculpted boulders. TT was a vocal democrat. He and his wife and tablemates built towers of white paper medicine cups and stuck hand-crafted American Flags glued to toothpicks in the top cup with "IMPEACH" written boldly across the little flag. The idea spread to the next table. It was a terrible mess. I loved him. But The Thinker had a stroke. When this happens, we send folks to the hospital. When it gets a little less dicey, the hospital sends them to what we loosely and erroneously call ad "skilled care facility." What we used to call nursing homes. They have changed little since I cut my teeth on the type of human care that would become my life's work. My life's work. When TT was ready to come home, or back, because it isn't home, is it? the nursing home gave us a call and we trotted out to see if he was ready by our standards. I don't know what I was expecting. What I found was my dignified and brilliant friend naked, in unimaginable pain, writhing in a bed stripped of sheets or blankets. Was he ready to come back? No. But we busted him out anyway. (Annie, remember Alvina? Another story for another day.)Anyhow, we got him back under our care, finally got his pain under control, and he was able to die in relative peace. I am stunned at our capacity as a nation to trade lives for money. His insurance is paying at minimum 850.00 a day for this absence of care. A. DAY. We couldn't, my wonderful nurse and me, find anybody who gave a shit enough to get him some pain meds. I can't stand it. So TT went to heaven -- that's what I call it. I don't care what you think. Then my Catholic lady went away. I'll just call her Mary - she'd love that. She had been living in my Assisted Living section for a couple of years and is really old and frail. Her beliefs are more important to her than most. I guess it is faith. I'm not Catholic and not a fan, so I'm never really clear about faith/belief. ... By way of backstory, the property of the AL borders the high school practice field. Each morning, Mary would call to me from her spot in front of the fireplace. "I'm dying," she'd say. "I know," I'd answer. "I get a vision every night," she'd grin. "A firey cross." I'd nod and smile. "Does it frighten you?" I'd ask. "Oh, no!" Her eyes crinkled merrily. I use that hackneyed phrase intentionally. Her eyes crinkled merrily. They actually did. "Oh, no! Its from God." Okay. So I'm thinking she's losing it. She tells me this same thing once or twice a week and I think, well, if it isn't frightening or uncomfortable, then I'm good with it. Until I talk with the evening shift women. "Its the lights on the practice field," they tell me. Turns out there is there is this huge bank of lights that comes on every evening and lights up the world. How sweet she thinks it is for her. When her son moved her away to a smaller and less expensive care home, my heart broke. Her greatest concern was whether her vision would transfer with her. That's two. Seven more are on hospice. It is winter in memory care.