Wednesday, December 27, 2017

year end

No promises. I won't be better at anything, and I'll probably be worse. I re-read my resolutions from last year, and, barring the intention to "write it all down," I've kept most. I'm older by far than I ever expected to be.

This morning the sky in Yamhill was a watercolor, indescribably lovely, just out my back door. I am not working today or tomorrow. So I will un-decorate and let the dogs out and in and out and in again. I mop and vacuum, they muss it all up again. Sid is painfully arthritic now, but with his magic pill he still plays like a pup and pays later, and dearly, and spends a good deal of time on the memory foam bed we got him for Christmas. Sid Vicious, now in his 14th year. Duffy is eight and still the grumpy Alpha, Mac is one, the baby of the pack. He cries and tries to act like the other dogs but he is a funny, silly thing. Always the clown. It will probably be Sid's last year. He is such a good boy, mother to all.

Mark bought his first house this year. It is out in Central Point, a foreclosure, and he is excited to begin the work of transforming it. Built in 2004, 3 bedrooms 2 bath, nice floor plan. Huge lot with big outbuildings for his trucks and equipment. I am deeply proud of him and I hope he finally has a sense of it all finally being enough. He suffers from the man thing pretty badly -- incomplete without property, beliefs about success a barrier to contentment. Maybe he will relax a bit and enjoy his good life now.

My husband's children, two of them, bring joy to his life and mine. Nicole continues to cause him immeasurable pain. Of course, being who he is, the pain is what he focuses on rather than David and Haley, who love him, understand him, and stay in contact. The holidays are hard for him. Now that they are over, perhaps there will be some light in our home. My husband is a sun lover, and often measures his happiness by the minutes of light that increase from the solstice forward. Day before yesterday we had six more minutes in that day. As we all know, I am not nearly so discerning. If I wake up, it is a good day. If I've slept the night before, even better. My strategy has long been to have Christmas anyway, despite his molecular sadness, and it has rubbed off on him, my inexplicable joy, year upon year, to at least offset the depression. He does not share my faith, which is silly and a remnant of my childhood, but it is my faith, afterall. I can't shake it. Believe me, I've tried.

My year? I remain stunned by the political reality of this age. I keep thinking that somebody somewhere will do something. But they don't. Day after day I wake up to the stark reality of Hitler's Germany. I imagine ex-presidents riding in on horseback to save our day, our place in this world, our planet, but nothing happens. The secret meetings to impeach the monster we've loosed on this country in our full-bellied slumber go forward too slowly if at all. We have too many laws that protect the guilty and prohibit simple declarations of right and wrong. Our leaders are circumspect when they should be screaming. Democrats are so well-behaved I am ashamed to be one of them. I keep hearing of a march for impeachment, and I'd be there, but I can't find it online except in DC and I can't go there. Not in January. Probably not ever.

And what about me, you ask? I am older, now. My health is a reflection of my appetites. Not great. Oh, my appetites are great, but the long term effects of denial are cumulative. My feet hurt. I take pain medication rather than anti-psychotics and neuroleptics. At least I can still think. I think. I still work every day, and enjoy my job, although when I got sick in early December I began to consider retirement. But what would I do? What? (someone is whispering from some forgotten place just behind my right ear.) Wait....shhhh. Write? Art?

Okay. Write. Art.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

research monkey

As my health fails, as aging does what it does, I am introduced to medication after medication that will cure my ills. I've been through several -- several -- trials over the past three months. The most recent, Cymbalta, kicked my ass. I'm tired, exhausted, really. The intent is to treat diabetic neuropathy, screaming feet. There has to be a better way. Narcotics work, but like Keith Richards said, "you can't get anything that feels good anymore." Or something like that. I get it. As a hope-to-die dope fiend, I appreciate the risks. Shit.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

non-participation award

I went. I did the cruise. For me, it was something like five days of disco with food. The women I traveled with were nice. The boat was old and trashy-eighties, too bright and way too loud. But the ocean was still the ocean and I liked that part. They made towel animals for our room each day, elephants, bears, a reclining bunny, and a sloth hanging from the heat duct. Those were the best. That's what I took pictures of.

Our flight out of PDX to Long Beach was delayed three hours. I had to be nervous for three hours longer than anticipated, and believe me, anxiety is all about anticipation. By the time our flight arrived in LB, our "transfer," the guy who gets us from the airport to the boat, drove like Parnelli Jones to get us there. We had no adjustment time to wander around the boat. It was grab your shit and go. The safety lesson was a blur. All I know is that I was to find Muster Station B if for any reason the Inspiration became the Titanic.

So, the cruise. It was eat, find your way to the next deck, eat, find the next deck, eat, make an excuse to leave the drinking group to read, sleep. We went to Catalina on the first day. I didn't want to. This is not unusual for me. I don't want to do anything. There were all kinds of tour packages: para-sailing, deep sea fishing, segway tours. But as it turned out, we were allowed to just disembark (get off the boat) and wander around. This sounded more my speed. So we did, and as luck would have it, there was a Chihuly exhibit happening in the art gallery. One of the women, the eldest of us at 77, was the best. She made me go with her. It was, as is any Chihuly exhibit, breathtaking. I am enamored of the fragile baskets, these were ocean colors, turquoise to white, and full of transparent little bowls. I love bowls, and these -- oh so pretty. If I was wealthy, I'd use the biggest one as a salad bowl at a party. I wouldn't put it in the dishwasher, I'm not stupid, but they are bowls afterall. I see the utilitarian in art. Catalina was stunning. I'd go back. I loved the painted clay tiles and little side streets. Marilyn Monroe was from there, and Natalie Wood died out in the bay, washed up on shore. Not a safe place for gorgeous women. I felt safe enough.

So the second day was the same, only in Mexico. Again, we didn't want to disembark, but -- when in Rome -- only it was Ensenada. So we bailed off the boat, sheep in line for the fleecing. We took a bus from the port to the center of town where we were summarily dropped into another culture: dirt poor and hungry. Without a plan, it was almost immediately clear we needed one. We were standing mid-sidewalk and a woman walked up to us and pretty much said, "Hey ladies, you really oughta board this little bus right here and get off the street or they'll eat you for lunch." So we hopped in a van headed for "La Bufadora," a big blowhole. I sincerely wanted to launch into political commentary, but held back. You would have been proud of me. Immediately, a man with a guitar leaned into the still-open bus door singing my ringtone: La Bamba. We tipped him and took off. Lili was our tour guide. As we drove through Ensenada, it was clear that we were only seeing what they wanted us to see. The only paved roads were the ones the tourist buses traveled. Little children sat roadside while their parents begged. Lili told joke after joke at her country's expense, from the drinking age to the obvious thievery we would certainly encounter at La Bufadora. We did. I bought good vanilla, a cheap poncho and ate a pork taco. Pretty sure it was pork.

Day three was a day at sea. With disco music and food. My compadres drank. The cruise, to this non-drinker, seemed to be a lot about alcohol. I drank four Virgin Mary's. I love those. I never think of drinking them when I am home, but I should get some of that mix. I love tomato juice made that way. Lots of tabasco and lime. Yummy. Booze wrecks it. I read the latest John Grisham novel, which was crappy, but easy reading. Sometimes that's all I need: just some pages to turn. I did not get enough alone time to write. I was also not inspired to write and have no current project to work on. That is a lie. I have three. None of which I was inspired to work on. Writers who await inspiration are fools. You can quote me on that.

One of my co-sailors was Karen, a youngish mom from Carlton (just three miles from us.) She had Karaoke on her bucket list. I do not. However, always supportive, I joined our group of four willing singers. The two elder women sat it out and I think videoed it. The list of songs was endless. We settled on Can't Buy Me Love. Do I need to say, "by the Beatles?" If you don't know, you should. If you don't know, you can no longer read this blog. Anyway, it was really fun. Really. I'd do it again.

Day three was actually day four. We boarded on Monday, although late in the day. Our day at sea was Thursday. People seemed to be getting to know each other, drinking a lot, and I actually became familiar enough with our servers to recall a couple of names. Roberto was our cabin attendant, Mohamed, a server. Hector was a drink runner, I think. I had a hot stone massage by Ying, who literally begged me to purchase overpriced but lovely lotions. I didn't. I use Jergen's. I know it isn't the best. I don't care. Her massage was the best I've had. Ever. I had a mani-pedi with Winnie from Zimbabwe. They are currently unseating a dictator. When I asked how she felt about our current political idiot, she said, "you oughta see my country," and launched into a description of their political shit-show that almost -- almost -- made me not want to complain. 

On Friday, we got up and disembarked. They sang to us: Leaving on a Jet Plane. The men danced. Men of every country. Not many whites. Dancing fools all. I was surprised at the cruise demographics. I expected old and white. It was neither. Whites were definitely in the minority. And young couples were common. Young with kids. That surprised me a little.

We caught a ride to the airport from Long Beach to LAX, through LA. Palms and eucalyptus trees, homeless less-evident than Portland, but we didn't venture far from freeway to airport direct route. The PDX airport is much cooler, much more engaging than LAX. We had three hours to wait for our flight home, which was blessedly on time, and there just wasn't anything to do in the Alaska area.

It was so good to land on Oregon soil. Home was still far away. I had to take a detour into Portland to pick Mac up. He boarded with Jen, one of my co-workers. She said he did good "except for the past half hour," in which he apparently consumed a bunch of rabbit food. He puked all the way home and for the remainder of the evening. He is fine now, normal and playing, but his poop is green and leafy.

It is good to get away. It is better to come home. I love my life. I love my dogs. I adore my husband. I am Dorothy, clicking my heels to find my way home, wondering why I am ever-compelled to get away from it all. A classic chronic malcontent. I've heard that somewhere. I am grateful for my life, made all the fuller when shown in bright contrast -- contrast of Mexican poverty, of my own fear of the unfamiliar, of my tendency to isolate. Even if it isn't something I'd probably do again, I'm that much richer for getting on the plane. And the boat. And off the boat.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

sailing away

Tomorrow I am flying to Long Beach to board a big Carnival cruise ship bound for Mexico. This is not something I ever wanted to do, but when my friend asked me six months ago if I wanted to go on a cruise in November, I said sure. Now that it is November, I suddenly recall that I hate to fly and am deathly afraid of sharks. "Stay on the boat, then," say all the well-wishers. They haven't seen Jaws as many times as I have and just this week on the news there have been shark sightings all along the Oregon coast. I hope that means the Long Beach to Ensenada sharks have come north for Thanksgiving.

I have packed the shit out of things. You are sort of expected to dress nice for dinner. I have many nice clothes. You'll remember that I have to look like I know what I am doing most days of the week -- so clothing I have. But fitting them in a 20" carry-on is another thing. My dear friend of many years ago, Vivian, told me to roll your nice things in tissue paper and they won't wrinkle. So there you are: a free travel tip from judybluesky. the non-traveling blogger.

All I really want to do is read. This is just an opportunity to do that in a different place. And write. I'll be off grid, using dinosaur fingers and actual paper, but I think I can do it. No promises.

The cruise was cheap. Six women are going, and I am rooming with my friend Cathy. The weather will be fine. Not hot, which is fine with me. I just don't care: the theme of this blog in case you haven't been paying attention. I just want to get away from it all. It all being home, dogs, work, life. I want to eat food not cooked by my off of dishes not washed by me and sleep in a bed not made by me in a room not cleaned by me. With no phone or computer. I could have these things for an additional fee -- wifi and such -- but I just want to check out. As always, looking for a life in which I don't have to participate.

Monday, October 23, 2017

walnut day

It was supposed to rain all weekend. That may explain the frantic pace of yard work. I love yard work. I love dirt under my fingernails, sharp rose clippers, electric hedge trimmers. My Hedgehog is hardly a workhorse, but it works well for the things I need it for: Chaparral, the bee bushes, pink willow. Pruning back dead perennials gives me great satisfaction. On Sunday the rain still didn't come. I started on the walnuts. Barely out of my pajamas, I raked them away from the fence. Gently. The husks are nasty and full of black dye. Even in rubber-fingered garden gloves, it gets through. Each pull of the rake knocks a few more nuts loose from their black casings. Between the wind and squirrels, much of the work is done for me. Many nuts are loose and just need to be picked up. This is where I could use grandchildren. I'd give them a penny apiece and they'd make good money. By the end of the morning I had two five-gallon buckets full. Thousands of walnuts. I could bake a million Russian Teacakes, or tiny loaves of banana bread or chocolate chip cookies, which I wish I would make with only walnuts and no chocolate chips. I don't care for them, but I'm not sure if the dough would be as good without the contrast of the chocolate. But I, personally, have no grandchildren of my own. So back to the walnut harvest. Eventually I'd picked all of the free walnuts and separated away all of the giant leaves that fall from the walnut tree and was left with several smallish piles of still-in-the-husk walnuts. I figured I'd leave something for the squirrels to do. It is winter, after all.

I remember my walnut tree on 4th and Oak in Central Point. The walnuts that fell from the tree and bounced onto the porch were hazardous -- or the drinking was. Anyhow, I had many a sprained ankle. Took to wearing high-tops. Reeboks.

But I digress. I was sitting in my living room gazing out my side yard window and noticed the bark on the walnut tree was different on one side than the other. Upon closer investigation, the leaves were different on that part of the tree. English walnuts have big flat leaves. These were many small leaves along a common spine. Then, come harvest time, I found that the walnuts on one side were actually black walnuts -- a bitch to crack and pick.

Anyway. I got up this morning feeling like I'd done squats for about a hundred hours straight. I could barely move from one place to the next, getting up from sit to stand took real effort. I am getting old.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

burning moon

It is Sunday before eclipse Monday. The newsmaniacs are making the most of a natural event. Oregon is first to see the action, and traffic has reached epic proportions. Madras, a tiny little pile of dust in central Oregon is supposed to be the epicenter because it has the best chance of clear weather in the whole United States. 30,000 people are expected in a town of 3,000. A nightmare, to me. I don't like being around 3 people I don't know, let alone Burningman levels. But, it is a rare total eclipse, and we, luckily, are 5 miles from the path of totality. We will mosey to Poverty Bend road in the morning and stand there. That's the line. At Poverty Bend you get about 20 seconds of totality. For the next 70 miles south, totality will be increasingly visible. With the numbers of people expected, I think we'll ride as far south as we can to the middle, then stop. with hours to spare.

(So it is now the end of summer and I am writing about what we actually did. And I am writing this on a new silvery hp Pavilion laptop. and I love it and it works. I have not erased a single thing I didn't intend to.)

So, we jumped on the bike at 6:00 and arrived at Poverty Bend about five minutes later. Always one to get a jump on things, we made an early start. The eclipse began at 9:15 with Totality at 10:16 or something. Exactly. They know exactly when. And I've seen partial eclipses, but wowzer. This was something else entirely. So, being there so early, we decided to keep riding. There were very few on the road, and we thought we were being so smart. We made it to the Center of Totality at 6:45 with an anticipated 1 minute 58 seconds of full eclipse action, to happen in about 2 hours. We finally landed in Monmouth, Oregon, a tiny town with a nice little park, and stopped for coffee. There were lines around the corner at most places, but we found a little ice cream shoppe selling crappy coffee for a buck a cup. Perfect. Coffee a buck and stale muffin a buck. so we had a four dollar breakfast while everyone else was standing in line for the scalpers coffee at seven dollars a thimbleful. We sat in an empty parking lot with picnic tables with people from San Jose and Chicago and Monmouth. We had viewing glasses from Lowe's and a stack of purple glass Kurt had taped together for a partial eclipse years ago. We waited and waited as the sky darkened like Alaska in summertime. As the moon covered the sun, every spot of sunlight was crescent shaped: like trees with dappled light? The dapples were crescent shaped, same as the sun. Once Totality happens -- and it happens in an instant -- you take off your glasses and the corona is visible, the Umbra, I think. And we had 2 full minutes to consider this awesomeness before the sun passed beyond the moon, or the moon moved past the sun. Whatever. I'm so happy I was able to see it. Then we tried to go home. Reference the part earlier where I said we thought we were smart.

Well,we weren't. We thought we'd sneak away as soon as the event was over, not waiting for the entire eclipse to finish. Sneaky. But not. We slipped out of Monmouth with about 10,000 other smarties, and bottle-necked on the two-lane road home. On the bike. Sucking fumes. In the heat and leather, which didn't stay on long... three and a half hours later, workday shot -- yeah, I had planned to go to work at noon -- we got home and collapsed.

But we saw it. Totality. Totally.

Then Oregon burst into flames: Brookings, the Illinois River Valley, Middlefork to Joe Bar, almost jumped the river to G'ma's house. And up north, Cascade Falls, Stevenson, Multnomah Falls, Sisters, Bend. Heartbroke. Bob entertained and hosted, in that order, the Firefighters from Florida who kept his place from burning. He had newspaper and TV coverage calling him the Godfather of Joe Bar. During this time it was to be his 80th Birthday Bash. Madness and Mayhem at Joe Bar. But the fire kept the weak away. We are among them. I couldn't stand the thought of breathing that air.

During the fires we made a very quick trip to Santa Cruz. Felton, actually, a gorgeous little hamlet tucked away in a grove of redwoods I'd never seen before. An old man, a dulcimer builder, made a dulcimer for Kurt. His name was...... um........... I forget, but the company is Capritaurus. He was 81, in a funky little shop he'd been in since the hippie days, right next door to the Felton Bigfoot Museum, a life-long obsession of his brother's.

We also drove into San Jose to see Kurt's aunt and uncle. San Jose is ugly. The whole place was awful: thick trash littered the freeways, everything dry and crispy, ripe for fire. Driving south through the middle of California it was 118 degrees with no visual respite. We spent the first night in a Santa Cruz motel. I left my pillow. My perfect down pillow. Dammit. The second night we drove up Hiway One, which is not the coast until almost Eureka. We did drive through the Valley of the Giants, but air quality was poor even down that far. By the time we got to Oregon, it was smokey as night. We finally stopped driving at Gold Beach and spent the night in a throwback motel with a spiral staircase to the loft. I'm sure the view was nice but I couldn't breathe.

Back in the Untied States of America, untied is closer to the truth. We have come undone. Nazis are marching openly in the streets in the south, and in Portland to be frank. People are dying. The POS is firing anyone who doesn't agree with him. He is taunting North Korea openly and they are taking the bait. There have been three major hurricanes in the South and a big earthquake in Mexico with two strong aftershocks.

My only  question is: Where are the locusts? Raised by a Pentecostal woman, I cannot help but anticipate the second coming of Christ. I'm sure evangelicals are having a field day as we live out each chapter of Revelation in real time...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

vacation 2017

I used to jump up and down demanding my time. It's my time. I've earned it. I can go wherever I want and do whatever I want to do. I can sit in my bathrobe and write until midnight. I can and I will. This tirade, this tantrum, this is how I blow the first few days of my special time each year. Well not this time, boy. Not this year. This year, I'm just going to clean my house, paint if I find the right color, wash my damned windows and care for my many dogs. I'm not going to force myself to take a road trip to prove that I can. I'm not going to force us into a camping fiasco, however funly intended, without adequate planning.

I'm going to relax. I'm sure I can. I'm going to write. I'm sure i can do that too. I have a fucking master's degree in it. You'd think I'd churn out something worthwhile.something.