Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Back to the notion of a feudal lord....

I approached the Talent exit with some foreboding, some expectation of unwelcome emotion sneaking up on me. I am so glad to have moved that I experience a certain sense of guilt over my lack of regret. (I'll always find the dark side of happiness.) I loved that house, that kitchen I designed by and for myself with not-quite-white tile countertops, open cupboards and twig drawer pulls. I expected to feel like I was returning home, rather than visiting my property, and that the sense of abandonment would be overwhelming. Tracy had warned me that the photinia hedge was thirty feet high, but as I pulled into the driveway, it wasn't. It was high, but manageable, and the guy who lives there fully capable and willing to take care of it. It is part of the contract. They live there, my tenants. They live there like I did, with mountains of stuff. They are there to stay, for at least a couple more years. They aren't just camping out, waiting for the garbage bags to pile up so high that they have to move. I've done that before. Replaced by trash. Forced out.

So be it. It was my first house. But not my only house. When I left, I was going home.


I am posting this here, hoping those who don't email might read and know how much I appreciate them:

I received an email from my sister in law that inspired me to acknowledge my women friends at this time of year. Thanks Julie, this will not do your letter justice, but here I go....

As my life has changed so dramatically over these past couple of years and I am three hundred miles away from everything and everyone I have ever known (except my husband, who, it seems, I have always known) I have missed little and regretted nothing. I miss my son most of all, but lingering in the corners of my busy busy mind, among the cobwebs and misplaced ideas and unwritten books, are my friends. The women. The sisters, buddies, in-laws, nieces, cousins, coworkers and path-mates.

Julie spoke of the impossibility of naming, at this time in life, (halfway already, can you believe it?) a "best" friend. You are all the best. I am blessed to count so many among those who have been willing to put up with me over the years.... and, having lived in one place for so long, I have the great advantage of having people who know me, who I have allowed to know me, for a long, long time. Not everyone has that. You have seen me through this life, drunk and sober, rich and poor, single and married and all that lies between. You have watched my foot-stomping resistance to change--always for the better... eventually. Many times, you had to believe for me, to push me, to see my little sanctuary in Talent as a beautiful prison, empty without someone to share it with. But that sanctuary had to be built -- and torn down in its own time. Creating it allowed me that time that so many women are denied, to come to know who I am, alone. But Lorretta said it best (as she so often does) "...its like learning to play an instrument from a book. You can't hear the notes. Eventually you gotta get out there."

I wish all of you just some of the happiness and depth of experience I have known. I wish the next year would open your heart like ripe fruit, that you will take the time to see who you are, at you most essential. I have spent a great deal of time and money to know what Dorothy knew at the end of the journey: that it was always right here. And the shopping was fun along the way, but my life today, my sweet and simple life, needs little decoration. It is whole.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

merry christmas

Bably blue topaz ring with diamonds, empty book, spa day at Dosha, Curious George Jack in the box. That's my haul so far. Nice.

I'd like to make this a serious end-of-the-year implosion, but I'm not there yet. I'm happy. I have so much, and so many. I'm making an apple pie, waiting to put the turkey in. I'll include a recipe for something eventually. We did the thing: got up and opened gifts. We leave tomorrow for parts south to see my son and check on my property down there. The hot water heater blew up last week, so need to see what's going on with the tenants. The tenants. Makes me feel like a feudal lord. Fitting for christmas.

Happy Birthday Jesus. An unpopular diety in my world. May you not get lost in the ribbon and paper.

Monday, December 13, 2004


I have these moments. I record them here, in the relative safety of obscurity, friends and strangers reading my mind, or what's on it. And I think I end up looking like a sentimental moron, a bleeding heart, which I may be, but not today. I called my son, once the love of my life, and he didn't give me enough attention, so now I'm mad. Mad about Christmas and all the memories I carry alone. Alone. He tells me he is golfing. "We don't golf," I tell him. "People like us don't golf." It's funny. It's like when my friend Madonna told me I should buy a house. I said, "I'm a renter" as though it was a social category. I thought there were two kinds of people: people who own property and people who rent from them. I didn't know you could move from one social strata to another. And, I maintain, golf is reserved for the upper crust, of whom, I maintain, we are not. The Big Book described them when they said, "...that impeccable coat of tan one sees upon the well-to-do." I don't know what page that's on. The leisure time, plaid pants crowd, the flat chested women and short haired men, the days at the club. My son, MY SON, knows how much an annual membership is at the Rogue Valley Country Club. Well, he is white, and could, I suppose, get in. But once they knew his name, his father's name, I guess my fear is that they'd reject him. Now that's codependency at its finest. Kurt Vonnegut said it in Cat's Cradle: there are two kinds of people in the world. People you know and people you don't know. We'll, the people I know don't golf.

So he plays golf now, my little boy who hid in the cracks of some junkies attic while bullets blazed downstairs. Does this mean he's overcome the tragedy of his upbringing? I put too much emphasis on the past. I know. I know. But I was there. And sometimes, I want him to look backward in horror like I do instead of blythely skipping through his good life, drunk as a dog.

I said, "Isn't golf kind of an expensive sport?"
"I make quite a bit of money, Mom." he said.

Pay me.

So, he's doing okay, golfing the winter away, and I'm in a puddle up here in happily married land, missing my baby. He's not a baby anymore. He's golfing. He's a golfer. I guess there are worse things. He could be in therapy and tell the stories of his life. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a God who lets the stories die with me, and he can not know what happened to us for so long, and he will have a happy life.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

shiny things

We got the tree today. A noble fir, 7 feet tall, for money. We thought about taking the girls up in the woods to murder a tree, but decided not to. Haley was horrified. "you were going to make us cut down a tree?" she said, as though it were hunting. Killing. Perhaps there is hope in the young. I didn't point out that the one we will purchase was killed. But the argument against sneaking up on trees is so hard, and its Christmas, and I'm lazy. So, we bagged a 7 footer down on Powell and 42nd, from the boyscouts, and drug it home to decorate. It is pretty. It was interesting, the blending of the ornaments.... I don't know if I've felt quite that married yet. His and mine. Ours and ours, and then I found Marky's football. And the little wooden horse he hung when he was two and I have a picture of it, standing in the light of the little christmas tree in that house on 4th and Oak in Jacksonville, that house of so many tragedies, so many troubles. And I shed a tear for all that is now behind me. I miss my son, but what I miss is gone. I miss that little boy who hid under the covers with me, silent and hoping, trying to disappear. I miss the 7 year old who hadn't lost the magic yet, who questioned me, saying, "Tyler doesn't believe in Santa Claus, Mom. Isn't that stupid?" and I had to say yes, but he was on the cusp of knowing. And the 15 year old-- I said I'd never miss him, but I do-- that christmas morning when he had actually bought me a gift, the first time he thought to get me something on his own since he was a child. It was the first CD by Joan Osborne and he played the cut "what if God was one of us?"
really loud, and I pulled his new snowboard out from under the sofa, the used white sofa, in the last house I ever rented. And now I am here, in this house that is my home, with this man who is my husband, these girls who move around me curiously, watching, waiting for me to go and leave things the way they were. K put up lights outside. He thinks its hokie, but I think they are beautiful. So far, we are the only lights on the block. I think he is secretly proud.

The tree is beautiful.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

slices of pie life

Well shit. Just lost my whole post. Was talking about pie, and the holidays and all. I baked two pumpkin, a lemon meringue and a huge NY cheesecake which beat out a Costco one by a mile. The taste-test was patently unfair, I'll admit, but my crust is the best:
graham cracker crumbs
brown sugar
real butter
That's it. Use reasonable portions of each. Better than any I've had. I do love pie, and just can't quite NOT eat it until its gone. So my belly is full and I slept in. Carb hangover. Nicole is on the couch and we are lazy today. K went to work early and is doing half a saturday to suck all the leaves off the streets of Hillsboro. Next weekend is the toy run and the Kershaw knife show. Big Weekend. Anything to wear my jacket. I guess I could wear it any time, but it seems excessive. Weighs a ton.
The day was okay (Thanksgiving) and as much as I loved being away from the tensions I always experienced within my family, I missed Marky. We called him and told him that no matter what, next year we would all be together. He assured us he'd have his license by then and would come up here. We had lots of people over, some wanted, some unwanted, but you gotta feed 'em. Tom cooked the turkey. I'll give up his recipe. He'll never know. I doubt he can read. And for the unwanted: I just pictured them as Indians and it was like the first Thanksgiving all over again.
Tom's Turkey
Weber BBQ: get the coals going.
one turkey: 12-16 lbs.
Sit the bird, legs up, in a disposable foil roaster
cover legs with foil
Fill roaster 1/2 full of water
Squirt lemon and lime juice in the body of the bird. (I think he squirted at least half of each little plastic thingy. So, I think probably 1/4 cup of each.)
Tent the bird well
Cover and Wait. Our 15 pounder took 3.5 hours.
Tom says you can use the remaining liquid for gravy. I didn't. I wish I had. My gravy was shit.
There are so many stories I could relate about the holidays. Several for each. My top contenders for Thanksgiving are:
1. The Damn Ham
By now, following this blog, you've gotta know a little about my family, such as, any event was cause for dark and ongoing celebration. The police showed up about half the time to quell our spirits-- all in vain. Eventually however, our spirits, and some of our lives, were quelled.
Anyway, this Thanksgiving wasn't long after I got sober. And in my family, electing not to drink was an act of such disloyalty as to ostracize me for years. Looking back, it is more likely that I ostracized myself out of fear-- fear of the power of family to pull me back, vortex-like, to the center: a bottle of cheap whiskey and a mason jar of water.
So, there we were, me (about three years along) and my son, 12 or so. We had been invited to my brother's home in Gold Hill. I asked, like you do upon being invited, "what can I bring?" "Nothing." came the reply. It was a hollow sound, and the permafrost of my sisterinlaw's mood, the neverending anger at my drunken brother, crawled through the phone line like a snake. "nothing." Hissssss.
So, I made devilled eggs. When in doubt: cook.
I dressed up. This may have been my first and maybe greatest mistake. I was excited to be alive and sober back then. (Oh, hell. I still am.) But it was so new to have clean clothes. To have clean levis that had never belonged to anyone else. I wore a pink blouse. I don't think I ever wore it again. Pink satiny fabric with swiss dots. My skin crawls now.... I know now that being in my family was largely about disappearing. Don't stand out. Don't get noticed. Its why I wear black and little else. Blend. God forbid. (God, don't you love these glimpses into my psyche? Isn't it fascinating?) Anywho..... There we were. All dressed up and nowhere to go. Trapped in Gold Hill with a family who, upon arrival at about 11:00 was already engaged in the favorite family game: "Guess What I'm Mad At." Its that game where you don't get to know the rules until you break them. And they really had a head start on the party favors.
So, in we walked with our shiny pink, squeaky clean lives and a plate of devilled eggs. I could hear cupboards slamming in the offing, my sister in law, no doubt, expressing her dissatisfaction with her lot in life, knowing she could have done better. Its hard to sit down and go throught the pleasantries at times like this. Harder still to brave the kitchen door and face the dragon, but for the sake of the story....
I placed the eggs on the kitchen counter, and pushed through the door to ask the question women are supposed to ask: "Is there anything I can do?" (Pay for three years of therapy?) As you might imagine, there was nothing I could do. In the first place, we were having HAM, a travesty, a departure from tradition, which, in my mother's view, was just further evidence of wrongdoing by my brother's wife, who she despised. My mother, long banished from the kitchen by this daughter in law, sat seething on the sofa with the rest of them. The whole room seethed like ocean waves, resentment writhing below the surface, kept in place only by the thinnest of social norms which were even then being slowly eroded by the booze.
Dismissed, I joined the rest of the family in the living room where all sat in silence. Eventually, my sister in law came out of the kitchen with a small saucepan of steaming corn. (Another demerit from my mother: "The only vegetable that woman ever cooks is corn! Can't she serve anything green?) Now, ordinarily (or rather, in the past) we had done things like: iron a tablecloth, set the table, get some flowers for a centerpiece.... but such is the progression of alcoholism, holiday customs tumbling like dominoes in the wake of the death march.
She set the hot pan of corn on the bare wood table.
We all glanced at one another, waiting, waiting. We are good at waiting. Soon, the main dish arrived. My sister in law burst through the swinging doors into the dining room with a huge ham impaled on a huge meat fork, supported only by her oven glove and slammed it down in the middle of the (bare, wood) table. "There." she cried, and bolted from the room in tears, swinging doors swinging off the hinges.
Most of us hesitated, but not my nephew. Not Tyler. He stood up from the row of spectators and walked to the table, plunged his fingers into the side of the ham, came back with a fistful and started eating. Just another dinner at home.
STORY # 2: What Did You Do For Thanksgiving?
I'm tending bar on Friday night, the day after Thanksgiving. A guy walks up to me. I say, "Hey, what did you do for Thanksgiving?" He says, "Spent it with you."

Thursday, November 25, 2004


It's not that I liked being the boss during my former life, its just that I didn't have to do so much when it was up to me. I am lazy, after all. Nowadays, I kind of tow the line for a really nice person who is in charge of me. If you don't know me, really, really, know me, I'm a little hard to be in charge of. Its not an ego thing so much as it is a matter of attention, or more precisely, inattention. Remember: I don't care. And now, in this job, I have a buttload of shit to do all the time. ALL the time. Not a moment passes that life doesn't hang in the balance for some little gray headed elder who is counting on me. Now, those guys... I do care about them. But the rules? Not so much. I attend to what I care about. So, I'm adjusting to life in real time, life in the nursing home. Seeing the humanity of it all. We admitted a poet the other day. Nobody really knows this but me. And when someone says they are a poet, its potluck: you never know what you'll get. But she is a good poet. She let me read one of hers, a beach at sunset thing. And while it was ordinary, there were some nice images and I could feel the wind in my hair. I told her so, and honored her poet-ness. We shared, commiserated actually, the rarity of gifted folks like ourselves, and I moved on to the next new one, coccooned in the electric bed of old age, hair no longer coiffed, reduced to the lcd of what it is to be an old woman. skin and hair. Those things we cherish too late and too little. The things that do not keep.

Monday, November 22, 2004

on my own again

First, I decorated the office. Then, I could work. I hung the usual wall hanging where I can see it, colors that soothe me, soft textures that remind me of home. I began the uncertain task of organizing. I can't begin to explain why it doesn't work for me. Well, I'll try. You know the whole thing about short term memory. Well, I don't know if it was all the drugs and staying awake from 1976 until 1987, but somewhere along the line, I lost whatever thing it is that enables filing. For instance, one day I'll file an employee accident report under A for accident. The next day, I look under R for report, then E for employee, then the mindfuck of it all is that everything is a report and its all about employees and then I think screw it, I'll file everything by the first letter of the first word unless its "The" and then I won't have to remember one word, but then I forget I decided that and it all starts over. Then, I make one giant E file and try to put everything about Employees under THAT tab, and then I realize there are too many employee-related things, that, in fact, all things are about employees, and I'm screwed again and have only an E file and no others, and then what to I do with the bazillion color-coded file folder with contrasting plastic tabs??? WHAT???? Then I try to go by topic, but once you start splitting hairs, there is no end to that shit and there's not enough tabs in the world to sort it out and there is only one piece of paper in each four-dollar folder. And the old learning kicks in and the memory of some driven bitch in a red suit and cropped hair is standing in front of a too hot/too cold/too big conference room in the basement of the Windmill Inn with burgundy tablecloths folded into fans and pitchers of ice water and she says: if you only have one piece of paper, you don't need to file it. Oh, great. Its like making an outline: if you have a A you have to have a B. Well I never do. I always end up with A I a i .... you get the drift. So, I don't know how in the hell I'm going to organize this office. What I ended up doing the last job was hiring someone who hadn't spent the better part of the seventies and eighties in a coma. And the sixties. Let's, at the very least, be honest.


Well, Sid is growing like a little weed. He tears the shit out of anything red. He loves to play. He can sit and is learning to lay down. Sort of. He's pretty manic right now. More fun than I've had in years. We take him to the dog park and he just gets rolled by the big dogs. He runs up to me, hides in my shadow, then takes off again. He helps me understand love. He comes into the room and finds me, first with his eyes, then launches himself through the air in my general direction. Once we've made contact, he can do anything. Once he knows I am here, or there, as the case may be, he can run with the big dogs or lay in his favorite spot next to the heater and be away from me. But first, he has to know he is loved. I helps me see who my son is, and why it took him so long to go away from me. But he has. Finally. He is a good man, and all the better for the love he can be certain of. He knows who he is. He runs with the big dogs. I miss him so much.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Monkey See

It was Monday today. I know it was Monday all the world around, but it really hasn't been Monday in my world for a long time. And even over the past week as I went the distance back to work, it was new, and a little fun. Now it is just Monday, and I am expected to perform like a trained monkey. I am trained. The 23 year old who is training me is so pleased when I get it right, when thirty years of training (do the math) perform their alchemy and I know stuff. Stuff she didn't even think to tell me. Its magic.

She is very good at her job. She is the best there is. Ever was. She is so good, no one can take her place. And she has made certain that is not a secret.

I remember being the best there ever was. I remember making it my business to be better. I remember Mable Butts and her bedside table full of mints; and Cleve Walker, a drunk who got caught and landed in a nursing home, and when confronted by the resident zealot, said, "if people in heaven are like you, I don't wanna go." I remember Eudora Hood and her poem, "Those Golden Years Are Really Tarnished Brass." I was the best for them and to them. No one could do what I did. No one could do what it is paid people do for old people, which is to live their lives for them, like I did. I won prizes for it. I got employee of the month. Of the fucking century.

Then I quit my job. And I didn't even try to tell them how someone could take my place. I'd spent years convincing them no one could. They believed me. I forgot to tell them I wasn't staying. I forgot to tell them I mostly didn't even want to be there, would rather have been at the bar. That's how good I was. Liar Liar pants on fire....

Sunday, November 14, 2004


Well, it finally happened. My laziness caught up with me. It seems so innocuous while its happening. I make coffee in a french press almost every morning. Sometimes I use the drip pot, but usually we prefer the thick, high powered muck of caffiene, water just squeezed past, black as a bible. But the thing is this: there is no filter -- no tidy paper to catch the grounds in, to package them up like a soggy christmas gift and toss away neatly in the trash. So, in the morning fog, my own personal fog, it just seems too hard to take a spatula and scrape the grounds into the trash, or harder yet, the compost bin outside in the cold back yard. So sometimes, some very foggy mornings, I take a risk and rinse them down the sink. They usually go. Its intermittent reinforcement at its best. Sometimes its a little sketchy, a little lag time passes, but then the water goes on down the pipes to wherever water goes, and I am still free. No one knows.

Well, they do now. I am so busted. To my credit, I admitted it right off. "Honey," I said, "I plugged the drain with coffee ground. I know you'll be mad. But I fixed it." He asked, like any man would, "Why do you do that?" and I told him that was not a conversation we were going to have. Just leave it that it won't happen again. He did, bless him. He stormed around a bit. I said, "what can I do to help?" He said, "whatever I tell you to do." So, I was a guilty servant. Then, in the midst of my nearly overwhelming guilt, he makes a phone call and says, "Yeah, between coffee grounds, grease and the chew I spit down the drain all day..." and I was released. Released. It was his fault as much as mine, which I, of course, was quick to point out. I didn't belabor the point, but it did get me off the cross.

He got it fixed. I love men. Have I said that? I love their willingness to climb up on the roof and stick that nasty old snake down drains of unknowable destination and drag muck out with bare hands as I stand gagging in the background.

One of the nice things about plumbing problems is that I got to clean out under the kitchen sink.

So, life goes on here in my new world. I can't imagine living anywhere else.

late pumpkins

Just another day in paradise. I forgot to mention our pumpkins. We downloaded patterns from carvingpumpkins.com, the kind of patterns that are not carved all the way through the flesh. K carved one of Frankenstein and one of Gollum. They got lots of attention from the passing parents with kiddies and my favorite was when I asked one woman to guess who they were and she said, "John Kerry and Ghandi." Well, close. I don't know about you, but carving a Ghandi pumpkin seems somehow wrong.

But that was then. This is now. Still sick, still working at the new job. My head is clearer but I miss my mind.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Sunday morning

All the girls were here last night and the Rocky Horror thing is becoming a weekly event. The sisters aren't speaking to each other, so they each bring a friend they are speaking to, and it goes fairly smoothly. So, it is a quiet morning, kids laying everywhere, forcing us to have breakfast at the kitchen table for a change. I slept in. I have been so sick, and am on the last dose of antibiotics now. I hope it passes soon. I have the kind of head cold that is alot like having one of those sand windows in your head, you know, the layers of colored silicone that shift like thick water trappepd between thin panes? The sludge moves with changes in elevation, like, if I bend over to pick up a towel, I stand up and spin for a minute. It isn't a bad or unfamiliar feeling. When I was a very young child I liked to spin around and around until I fell down. The whirlies, we called it. And just so you know, if you have children who truly enjoy the whirlies... its a bad sign. Its sort of the same feeling as when you mix wine with, say, tequila, and do that for awhile then lay your head on the pillow (or the floor, depending on your level of organization or where you find yourself landing for the night, or day) and the whirlies begin. Typically a precursor to puking in my experience.

Wow. what was that about?

Anyway, back to my head cold: it's kind of like breathing through a straw in a thick milkshake, there just isn't any air exchange.

Anyway, I'm sure there is alot to write about, but I really can't think right now. I am over the election. The hopelessness in the wake of all that is considerable, and I don't want encouragement or hope for the next guy. This is America. The land of the mediocre, home of the mundane. Maybe Prozac? It is depressing.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


I hear the four horsemen of the apocolypse are resigning: Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Powell and Dopey. I barely wonder or care. Honestly, I'm having a hard time caring enough even to watch the Daily Show. I think I'll just turn off my brain, erase my education and become a moral republican. I could use the morality, honestly, and that education really hasn't been all that beneficial. Maybe they would reverse my student loan debt. That would be nice. Then, I could ease into the last half of my life slowly and without the uneasiness that comes with knowing how truly dangerous this country has become. I consider how my day to day life is relatively unaffected, and how innocuous the religious right is. It is the analogy of the frog in boiling water. I'm sure I've told you that one. The story goes like this: you toss a frog in a pot of boiling water, he jumps out. Put a frog in his own pond water and heat it to boiling and he'll stay there and die. The water is boiling.

I got a Wilson (Castaway) volleyball for my 6 month anniversary. I love it.

Monday, November 01, 2004


He called. George W. He called me. It was chilling to hear his voice over my phone assuring me he had the enthusiasm to go the distance. He refers to himselves as "BushCheney", as though it were one person. And it is, I suppose, as much as anything. It is a multi-headed beast for certain. Cut off one head and two more pop up. I don't know if Good Ol' JK can bring it to its knees, and if he does, what net effect that will have.

Well, the first day of work was fine. I am an employee again, not a boss. I have to show up and I accrue time-off slowly, like in the old days, not the 4 weeks a year of my recent past. I will adjust. Not running the world has its down-side fer shure. But the trade off is there. For me. I can leave work at work. I don't care. And now, it can be not only the theme of this blog, but the theme of my life. I was interviewed by about ten women and two men. One of the men was a blind priest. He has a working dog that we don't get to acknowlege as a pet unless he is off his harness. The priest, Frank? Fred? was asking why we didn't have donuts at the meeting. The maintenance guy said maybe we did. How would he know? So, there is hope. Its a pretty seriousl outfit, and I will adjust to the solemnity of a nursing home as opposed to my life in a nuthouse. As always, grist for the mill.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


We went out last night. First to a program function (which always makes me want to drink) and then on to a real bar. The costumes out and about ranged from the traditional witch to a whoopee cushion. My favorite was a really really skinny girl, a genuine Nazi Atrocity, dressed in a black body suit that was painted with glow in the dark bones. This girl had no boobs, nothing to get in the way of the shape of the suit, and she could dance like crazy. Her face was so well done. She looked alot like the dancing Grateful Dead skeletons. Ragged top hat and all. But at the program function, what is always so entertaining to me is the way the sluts dress like sluts, the bitches like witches, and so on. It is so revealing.

Friday, October 29, 2004

down time II

Well, a. has been called by General Wesley Clark. I got Ed Begley Junior. Wasn't he in Arachnophobia? I answered at least 10 calls yesterday. Less today. Good for them. It drives me crazy, but all in all, for an important cause. I voted yesterday. I've made sure all the people in my immediate sphere of influence are voting.

Oh... I got the job! Yay!! The good one. I start monday and can complain from then on out.

So, anyway, isn't it interesting that Osama is talking again so close to election day. What does it all mean. Conspiracy theory tells me that the Neocons put him up to it. He talks down Bush so it will seem like a Democratic trick and turn votes to Bush. All to convince those few still on the fence. Who are the undecided? What was the question? The answer, for now, is Kerry.

Anyway, I'm employed and hopefully will be able to rediscover my sense of humor when this virus vacates its unwilling host.


See someone. See someone cough. See someone try to sleep it off like a viral hangover. I have too much to do to be sick like this. I cannot be clever in interviews with a head full of sludge. I want a gun. I want to be sharp and clever and back in the saddle again. I am sick and I am tired. And I just want to say, to all the heroes who go to work sick, who shake my hand and wish me well, and complain and carry the world on their shoulders like no one else can: fuck you. fuck you and your whole army of nasty little pathogens that have invaded my world and won't go home. Oh... and yeah: get well.

Monday, October 25, 2004

time passages

I wonder if I'll ever get a job. Really. It is the dead heat of the job hunt that has me twisted up inside. I remind myself that I have a job, really, soon, March.... but it isn't March. It is October. And funds are dribbling through my fingers. The interviews are going very well. Actually, I did get a job. A really crappy job for less than half of what I'm used to. And I know humility. I've done my time. Trust me on this. And I'm happy to do an easy job for that amount of money. But not this. This is a really hard job. A 40-hour salary job that averages 60 hours a week. I know myself better than that. And they don't use computers. I'd be going to work for LUDDITES!!! That wouldn't be any fun at all. I'm not even sure my dinosaur fingers can make letters anymore. So, I've pretty much talked myself out of it. I'm going to Bi-Mart or Freddy's and get a seasonal job.

What I will agree to during an interview startles me. I almost laugh. Sure, I say. No problem.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I've been busy wiping up after my new puppy. Sid. Sid-not-very-Vicious. He's ten weeks old and cute as puppies need to be to prevent you from throwing them off the porch and into traffic. He's smart, so far, and hits the paper most of the time. He follows me around like a newborn duck, eyes glazed over in that depth of admiration I expect from strangers on the street. He looks like the "His Master's Voice" dog --white with brown ears, head cocked to one side like some people do when I say things outloud.

So, that's what I've been up to. And filling out applications. I gotta tell ya.... sometimes I wish (not really) I worked at Wendy's. I wish I was qualified to do something that had a simple application. Can you speak? Do you have eyes? One good arm? You're in. I am so qualified it would make you sick. My excessive experience has netted me exactly nothing in the way of a job, but it sure is impressive to write about. By the time I finish an application, bleary-eyed and carpal-tunneled, I think, shit... I'd hire me.

I have two interviews tomorrow. Hope springs eternal.

Gotta get the puppy inside. He's training me.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


In Southern Oregon, I never locked my doors. I tell you this by way of preliminary defense, so you won't jump to the immediate (if eventual) conclusion that I am an idiot.

Also, to give credit where credit is due, my sweet man asked me didn't I think it would be a good idea to gas-up before the last fumes escaped. Honey. He said Honey. So I said, No, I'll decide. I've got the whole world in my hands.

Enough of a set up? Can you guess what happens?

I left the comfort of my vortex to meet Shawna at the Nooner for her birthday. 7 years. I thought I'd leave a little early, get her a card, you know the drill. So, I whisk out the door at 11:30, and as soon as the door clicked behind me with all of the finality of Fort Knox, it occurred to me that I didn't have my keys. There is no way back in. I've determined that already. I'm not going cat burglar on it. NO second story work for me. To my credit, I looked great this time: black turtleneck, good levis, no coffee stains. And I thought, okay. Well, I have money and a vehicle. No problem. I always carry an extra truck key. Good girl scout. Maybe I'll just drive around after the meeting, run some errands, then drive out to Hillsboro to get hubby after work. No problem.

But the vehicle was out of gas. Remember?

I think: okay. No problem. (this thinking precedes many problems for me...) I can make it to the gas station, and still make it on time. I won't be able to get her the card, but oh well. So, I drive to the gas station and pull up to the pump. Mobil -- 205.9 a gallon, but I don't have time to drive to the belmont arco where its 189 or so. So, I drag out a ten dollar bill as the woman comes to my window. "Key." she says. Its pretty simple. But the thing is, I'm just not used to the whole fear factor thing about living in a city. Although with the relative value of gas.... My husband bought me a locking gas cap when I started coming up here regularly. Before he was my husband. Well, you can guess that I didn't have an extra gas key. Shit. I ask her if she can pick the lock. She works at a gas station, she might have some skills. Me? I've been clean too long. I don't remember how to do anything wrong anymore. She tells me she can break the lock. I consider it, but drive away instead. I'm going to creep home to see if Nicole will show up for lunch. Sometimes she does. Sometimes she has a housekey.

I approach our house and see her walking up the street. Thank you Jesus. I walk to meet her. "please tell me you have a key." she doesn't, of course. But she knows where one is, and its only 40 blocks from here. I drive her to her mother's house, breathing fumes all the while, and back again. Whew. We get into the house, I get my keys, take her keys, feed her banana cake (god, i've been baking cakes like betty crocker) and grab hubby's keys to HIS truck. (Mine is bone dry, remember.) And we hop in the white truck and I drop her back at school, a block away, like a good step-mommy. I'm half an hour late, but I make it. I make it. Later in the day I take a gas can and start out for the gas station. What I don't remember is rush hour. If you live in a city, it is something to keep in mind. a real phenomenon. very inconvenient when you're trying like mad to sneak to the nearest gas station.

It was stop and go traffic all the way up Division, but I made it.... and I didn't hear much about I told you so from honey about the gas. I know it would have been a better story if I'd run out, but not for me. After work, I rode to the esplanade to meet K after work, and I said, (a teensy bit defensive) "Okay okay, you were right." And he said, "No, you could say I was right, but in your heart, you'd know I wasn't. You didn't run out of gas." But the point was not whether or not I ran out of gas, its that I had every opportunity to fill the tank and did not. And the degree of stress over the lockout was compounded monumentally by my own stubborness.

But all actions are born somewhere. Its funny. The closer I get to poverty, the more I act like I used to. Coasting on fumes, putting in two dollars at a time, this is a life I know by heart. It is a luxury to fill up the tank. I've been fortunate for a long time, but I remember looking for quarters between the couch pillows like it was yesterday.

I've been beating the cosmic streets in search of gainful employment. Without the old-time face to face, its tough to really experience the full effect of rejection. But I'm getting closer.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

In the pink and out again

I'm going stir crazy. For four months it was fine to not have a job. It is no longer fine. I want a job. A bookstore or coffee kiosk would be fine. Just something to do. So, I'm painting the bathroom. I know me and boredom. A dangerous combination. And danger... ah....mother's milk. So, off I go to the paint store for another gallon of not-quite-white as I like to call it. I'm painting it all. I'm painting the vinyl wallboard around the tub. HEY I'll paint the tub!!! I'll paint a mural on the underside of the tub which is currently lime green. Any ideas? I'm wide open. It used to be a mystery to me why old people (Elizabeth, the former owner of the house, old german lady) have such abysmal taste (lime green tub, pepto bismol pink room). Or had, in Elizabeth's case. It took me years of nursing home work and eight hour days of not exactly critical observation to figure it out: they are blind. They can't see the fucking colors, so they choose the garish ones. It's all they can see. Otherwise it's all gray. I'm still working on answering the question of why so many "plant" plastic flowers in their yards. I'll let you know what I come up with. Although if I am on the right track, I think its because they don't care. Like me.

My husband says he'll miss the pink. I'll save him a corner.

Satan and Boy Robin

Wow. Cheney is Satan, huh? Permafrost. Erudite iceman. I don't know who won or lost, but they sparred. That much is for certain. Americans have been lulled into believing -- no -- it is more likely the result of the continuous terrorizing, awfulizing, catastrophizing, on the part of this mis-administration that has desensitized the populace and led them to consider the 2 party system defunct, impotent at best. And I'd rather have more like 10 parties (you know how I love parties) but for now, two is alot more than we've got.

Bumper sticker de jour: Let's Not Elect Him This Year Either.

And Boy Robin (can't you just see him in the cape, saying: Holy Halliburton Batman!") did get his nose rubbed in it some, but I do think the Halliburton comments pissed Cheney off. He did fine. Shit, I wouldn't want to go up against that guy. He's mean. Wouldn't it have been great if Cheney stood up like he did in the Senate, metal chair barking against the linoleum, and told Edwards to get fucked? Man. I'd love to have seen that.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

faith and science

Took a daytrip up to Mt. St. Helens today. It was a beautiful ride. I'm glad we took the bike because if anything bad happened, we could have slipped past the clusterfuck of onlookers racing from showers of falling magma. There were all kinds of people up there. Carloads of brave and stupid souls (like us) waiting for the big event. The geologists speak, like GWB, with such certainty. But I wonder at the random universe, and how much is unknown compared to what is known. I mean, we could have been blown off the map in a cataclysmic geologic event heretofore unforseeable. And the news would have read: Unpredictable eruption Takes out motorists up to 10 miles away.

Everyone is an expert at these things. Everyone has a fact to share, like:
"The eruption at Mt. Mazama was 39 times the 1980 St. Helens eruption," and,
"...see that rock up there? the one that looks like a snaggletooth? It wasn't there an hour ago,"
and, "the ash cloud was moving at 300 mph, so you couldn't outrun it if it happened, "
and, "the force of the explosion was 47 times the energy of an atom bomb."

Really. That's pretty big. Anyway, how would he know? Just because that guy had badge hanging from his neck that read something like: US Department of Defense, Non-uniformed Division, gave him no credibility in my book. Especially when, in the background, I continued to listen to him drone on to anyone who could hear: "The difference between necromancers and magicians is...." Jeez... Shut the fuck up. Just another nutbag with a homemade badge.

There was an actual scientist up there with a huge telescope in the back of his truck. I'm sure there were many others, but this guy had some real information.

We passed through the ominous shadow of the Hanford (?) nuclear plant twice. That was creepy. I think it is dead now. I don't know. I know some guy who had to have tests done becuase he lived nearby. Silkwood.

It is now Tuesday. The mountain has blown off steam twice. The media is frantic in the absence of human suffering. I thank a. for her posts relative to geologic time. We raced a red cadillac home and lost. He passed us going 100 like we were standing still.

Friday, October 01, 2004


Mt. St. Helens erupted once today. It wasn't a big deal, and I think the media morons are so disappointed no one slipped in molten lava, rolling downhill at mach speed headed for metropolis... no wait, that's another story. It blew, and like so many other things, it reminds me of another time and another place, but dimly...

I don't remember the first eruption. If it was between the years of 1980 and 1984, I was outrunning somebody, baby in tow, probably during my first escape to Coosbay. My face, bruised and swollen, was its own little catastrophe. I slept in my car, in a park, drinking wine and trying to keep track of the baby. I woke up in the middle of a family reunion, my own, and didn't know a soul. Some of the nice ladies looked at me and tried to see the resemblance to my mother, but it was a stretch on that day. I do look like her. But what I remember most clearly, is the pain of having the nice girls french braid my hair. My head was so sore. And when I walked into the restroom in the park, a pretty blonde woman came into the bathroom behind me. There was a wood moth hanging out near the base coving, under the barnwood panelling, as they will. They are beautiful, if you like that kind of thing. I pointed it out. She screamed, then looked up at me and screamed again, saying, "Oh my God. There are so many terrible things."

Boy Howdy.

I'm sorry to keep telling these stories.

But the point is the not remembering. I think I was the only person my age in Apollo 13 who didn't know how it ended. I leaned over to whisper in the ear of the man I was with. "Do they make it?" I asked.

They do. They make it back. It's amazing.

post debate anxiety

It is so clear to me that this election has almost nothing to do with the issues, with thinking. The spin is so pronounced, so effective, that all the bush administration has to do is to say, "We won," and that's what the news whores spout. Reminds me of Patrick Stewart as the Star Trek captain saying: "Make it so." People are such sheep.

Say it ain't so.

I watched the debate, of course, but it was torture. I imagine being one of those on the fence (I have an active imagination) and what my response would be if I felt the current president had any credibility. If, last night, the question was raised whether he would do another preemptive strike, and he said, "golly gee whiz I hope not" and this morning a battleship sets [figurative] sail for Korea, am i missing something? I am so paranoid that I can see the following: Bush gets back from the debate, says, "Fuck that anti-nuculer asshole, heh, heh, heh.... I'll show him." and sends a boat to straighten out Korea before talking to anyone. Its Beavis and Butthead. And I want to write a letter to Jim Lehrer, telling him not to coach the president like he did.... "Hey, Psssst, GW, he used the T word again. He said "truth" you gonna let that get by ya???"

I am venting. I am St. Helen.

On a more positive note, I loved what Kerry did with the set-up question about character. The "certainty" answer. It was well put and did not belabor the obvious or give moderator (or the audience) the blood they were looking for. He made some nice direct hits, but I don't know who listens, really. They just wait for the spin to tell them what they think.

I am not a saint, really.

On a more/less volcanic note: How serious is this? In a news era where they warn about rain in springtime and snow in winter, what am I supposed to think? What if the mountain blows and I don't have a Y2K-sized stash of tuna and peanut butter? All I know for sure is that I'll need to wash my truck or it will be coated with cement. It is so hard to know what to take seriously. I guess I should get some masks and water stashed for the eventual catastrophe. But in geologic time, what does 70% mean?

Thursday, September 30, 2004


I miss my son. I asked him how his drinking was going. "...coming right along," he said. We both laughed. No way to get in front of that train. I know where it goes, and how fast, and how much scenery I missed along the way.

He's alright.

He's the only one I miss. I bought him some Jelly Belly's and am putting together a care package like a. does. I'm slow, though. He may get it by Christmas, if I don't eat the jelly beans first.

daytime TV

Its really early and I'm vascillating between going to Eastside Sunrise and sitting on my widening ass and writing this damn blog. Damned. Whatever. I don't know the appropriate usage here. Again, in the throes of unemployment, I am watching too much daytime TV. And here's the thing: I think Dr. Phil is blowing it. I think he's taking his one shot at fame and taking it just the teensiest bit too seriously. He's basically a good therapist, I think. I like the way he generally declines the dark recesses of the past and tries to get to what is going on right now, which, I think, undoes some of the victimology created by Oprah and her ilk, who would lay all blame at the feet of whomever did 'em wrong and never think about the poor victim holding the bottle/spoon as it were. Anyway, shit. Its way to early for this. But this week, he had Cher on the show, and yesterday, the Bush's. George and Susie or Barbara or Laura or whatever her name is. Parents of the fucking year. Had he interviewed Cher on his own, that would have been one thing, but he drug his wide-eyed little wife up on stage with him in that single-handed effort he is making to save the nuclear family, his cute little wife who maintains she's had no work done, but who's face is stretching like a nylon mask across her bone structure, looking so great at 50. Now, I don't hold it against her, just the lying. And she doesn't seem like a liar, but again, I digress. So he has his wife up there, interviewing Cher as though they were lifelong best friends. Same with George and Laura. The folksy, down-home interview style has got to go. It is not his strength. And Cher, who I love, have always loved, may be alot of things, but brilliant? No. Deep? Not so much. And there was the good Dr. Phil sucking up to Hollywood in a way I hadn't seen so far. Bringing Cher on as the epitome of single (well, occasionally) motherhood was so far off I was surprised, and the sucking up. Jeez. I liked watching Dr. Phil, but now that he has taken on The Family, that decomposing but universal institution, as though his TV show has the power to effect some kind of lasting change, is noble, but silly. And the wife and kids, by sheer proximity, do not have any talent at all. He's got his son authoring books to teens, his wife selling collagen boosting creams (that's a lie, she did a show last year talking about the products she uses... just prior to the face lift, I think.) Anyhow, its the Dr. Phil Show, not Dr. Phil and all his relatives Show.

I need a job.

I'll just go to Eastside. Screw it.

Monday, September 27, 2004


Okay. I think I can do a running commentary of my weekend. I started out with a bang Saturday morning by locking myself out of the house. K is in Hillsboro, so no help there. Fortunately, I had packed some things the night before because I knew I'd have to ride the Maxx out there and leave for the coast from Hillsboro, and didn't want to carry shit on the train. Fortunately, yes, but not enough. I'd jumped ou tof bed early and threw on my old paint shirt, good levis, and flannel clogs thinking I'd change when I got back from the Pharmacy. In case you don't know, I change clothes ten times a day, so it was hard for me to look like shit for a long time in public. My hair was thrashed, my ego bruised. The homeless people downtown were sidling up next to me like I belonged. There was a time I did, I'll admit it, but not lately.

But I'm getting ahead of myself....

After cussing and stomping and looking at the upstairs window like the laws of physics don't apply to me, as though gravity does not hold sway in my world and there is some remote possibility that I could find a way back into the fucking Fort Knox of my home, I found some measure of acceptance and wandered down to K&F for a fix. [Coffee. Don't freak out.] It is humorous to me -- pathetic, really-- to say "...I found a measure of acceptance." What else is there? Acceptance is the end of the line. It is the last house on the fucking block.

Anyway, there I was, sipping coffee as I walked toward the Division bus stop, an hour or more ahead of schedule. But the timing god's were with me. I hopped on the bus, considering a short shopping trip downtown at Ross's or something to change my paint shirt before getting on the Maxx. As I sat on the bus imagining the quick purchase of another black turtleneck, an SUV pulled right out in front of the bus and we smashed into it full-on. I was thrown into the rack of Trimet brochures and hit my head and shoulder, but no biggie. Everyone seemed fine as we rocked to a stop. No one injured. Until.... a mentally ill person (man? woman? hard to tell.... shaved head, unremarkable features, lotas jewelery though) started rocking and crying and holding her neck. My first thought was not, "Is she okay?" but, "Why didn't I think of that?" Some things just never go away. I determined, in a subtle but experience-based analysis, that she was a borderline, and this was perfect. It wasn't until the driver (young, inexperienced, female) started handing out cards for us to give her our names, that the homeless guy across the aisle said, "hey, me too..." The driver just nodded, seeing the whole thing unfold before her eyes. Another bus came along and took us all away. Some to the hospital, me to the Maxx line.

As I waited for the Maxx, (now I'm right on schedule -- no longer early) I noticed a peculiar advertisement on the train, a big painted mural along one side. It said:

Nod off in Portland, wake up in Europe.

I've never nodded off in Portland. Now, Central Point, Jacksonville, that's another story. Lots of times in Coosbay, as far south as San Jose, Seattle to the North, but never Portland. And, for the record, I hope I never do.

Anyway, no time to shop for a new shirt and there I was... one of many, coffee stains running down my Levi's. No socks.

We made it to the coast okay, got a nice room with a view for a change, and I spent the next day wandering around the Oregon Coast Aquarium . The link is not to the aquarium, which should be easy to access, but to a photograph of the most remarkable creature there, imho.

Well, K got his 2 halibut after a day of near misses, and if I hear one more person say, "That's why its called fishin', not catchin'," I'll puke. I'm no tourist. I live here.

So, I'm home, unemployed and just bagged up about 35 pounds of halibut to freeze. Lotsa fish. Asia, call me if you want some.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


There is no better time to write than when the dishes need to be done and the layers of dust that drifted in and will not drift out blanket every surface of my home. There is no more creative space than that created by avoidance. My own disturbed version of nirvana. And there is so much to do.... we are leaving for Newport in a minute, three hours really, and I need to run up to Riteaid and get K a seasick patch. He's going after more halibut--those great flat fish that cover the bottom of the sea some thirty miles out, all in a little cluster like there wasn't plenty of ocean bottom to go around. I remember going to the beach with Debra one time. She had a red something.... firebird? corvette? something flashy that she really thought made up for other physical shortcomings. (Now, if you're thinking my red truck serves a similar purpose, you'd be wrong. I'm going on record to say this: I wanted a white one.) So there we were, in Brookings, a sand wind blowing us down the beach. No one else was around. A perfectly good day for girl talk. We tossed down our blanket under the shelter of one of the many big rocks and leaned back to enjoy the sun. Not five minutes later, just as the gossip was getting good, a couple walked clear across the vacant sand, past miles of similar rock and flapped their blanket down right next to ours. Touching it, actually. Debra, in a rare moment, turned to them and said: "Big beach, eh?"

Anyway, we'll spend the night in some sleazy motel and he'll leave in the morning and I'm going shopping. With out much money anymore, but that's okay. I used to take five bucks and try to find the best candleholder I could.

Last night the lama told us about swallows gathering before they head south to Capistrano or wherever it is they go. Some woman had asked the monks to come to a cornfield to watch the gathering, and when they got there, several swallows were perched along some of the telephone lines, but not many, and my lama was disappointed. He thought she had exaggerated. Thought she'd called it wrong. This was no natural wonder at all. They waited, then the swallows began to come from all over. An estimated quarter million began to swarm above the cornfield, and as the sun went down behind them, behind the world, they swirled in the reddening sky, dipping and turning in that way they have, and as the light faded, they settled to sleep in the cornfield. It was worth waiting for.

I wonder how it is that monks get invited to watch the swallows-- that people think of the monks that way -- that they would take time out of their vespers to wait for a gathering of birds and I wouldn't.

I can't control my memories anymore.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Two women are walking on opposite sides of a river.
One calls out to the other, "How do I get to the other side?"
Then comes the reply... "You're on the other side."


I knew that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

the job hunt and salmon quiche

It is on in earnest now, the search for gainful employment. It surprises me, and should not, that no one here knows how wonderful I am. The height of self-involvement. The thing is, I have a great job. Just not yet. And between now and spring, well, that's alot of days, alot of house payments, and a thin holiday season. So, I need to find a big job for a short time.

We want to go to Hawaii. No -- I think we are going to go to Hawaii. And pretty soon. So, I'd better stop with the sugar and break out the yoga ball more than one day in a row. I'll fill out applications and tell them I can work any days except for the ones I'm in Hawaii. That should go over big. Yeah. I've spent the past eleven YEARS interviewing and hiring people, and the greatest fun is when they write: "any shift, any day" on the app, then during the first week of employement, ask for a month off to go to Tahiti, a trip for which they have non-refundable tickets, that they are certain they told you about during the interview, and besides, they really can't work weekends, and blah, blah, blah. And I am applying for a job in human resources. Glutton for punishment.

My honey is fishing tonight: the other woman, the water, the Mighty Columbia. Can't fight her -- wouldn't win. The call of the wild loon is strong, he told me once. And I've seen them, out on the island. But just now, the fish are hanging out on the Washington side of the river. Don't ask me why. And also, don't ask me how they know. Fishermen. They know everything. Just ask Greg. And the difference between going fishing with me and going fishing with Greg is this: I may have tits, but Greg has a boat. And the only way an Oregon fisherman can fish on the Washington side is in a boat. Or have some damned tall waders and good balance.

So I'm making salmon quiche.

Pie Crust.
(I use storebought. Line a pie pan with the crust and press shredded parmesan into it.)
Bake 8 min. on 425.

Turn oven down to 350

1/4 c. onion (diced small, saute until clear in 1 Tbsp. butter)
1/4 c. red pepper (diced small, saute briefly when onion almost done)

2 c. salmon (baked, leftover, whatever) break up and place on baked crust.
sprinkle onion/red pepper mixture over salmon
4 oz. cream cheese (cut little pieces, place over salmon)
1+ c. shredded swiss cheese (spread over...)
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese(same ...)

Combine and mix well:
4 eggs
1+1/2 c. half-half or cream

Pour over salmon/cheese layers
Bake 40-45 min. at 350 or until puffy and golden. Let cool 15 min. before serving.

Or, cover with foil and refrigerate until they get back with more damn fish.
Such is the life of a fisherman's wife.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Sometimes being a step mom isn't all bad. The girls brought more girls over this weekend and a total of five made for a Maybelline kinda evening. They planned to attend the Clinton Street Rocky Horror show at midnight on Saturday, this time in costume. It is amazing what a year will do to a 14-15 year old mind/body. Last year, or was it just 6 months ago... they looked like boys. This time they were so beautiful, so vulnerable. I was able to contribute with a black tophat, a feather boa and lotsa eyeliner. The girls: a waitress with fishnets; a tophatted, dreadlocked princess; a surprising Rita Hayworth lookalike once the levis and backpack were gone and the makeup and slinky black slip-dress on; one in checkerboard tights, this one, a girl so thin, so very thin, so obsessed with Motrin it reminded me of obsessions to come-- who looked like a claymation character from The Nightmare Before Christmas and I remembered my husband asking me if someone used the towel laying next to the dryer to puke in... a bulemic in the house....; and finally, one so non-committal, so not willing to show her allegiance to black or any other color, refuing to admit she cared at all what she looked like, who reminded me of me. My parting words were: "Stick together. I trust your judgment, but there are other people out there who you can't control. Remember who you are."

As if they know.

And this is where the rubber meets the road for me. I was 14-15 once. I swear to God I was innocent. And innocence, like heroin, just doesn't keep when left out in the open air. It is so tough to love and protect something so fleeting. What I know is that at 14 I was interested in one thing only, well, two: Speed and Boone's Farm Apple Wine. I'd settle for Vivarin and Gallo Burgundy, and did more times than I'd like to admit, but my singleness of purpose was absolute. (is that redundant?) I'd rob Woodland Heights Market while I babysat for the owner and fill the trunk of my mother's pink and white Plymouth Plaza with cheap wine. Anyway, I ended up in jail at 14, and was really onto something big.

Their father was so frightened. They are good kids, who, slowly but surely, are getting away.

I'm so done with company. I want a weekend to do nothing. In a motel. With room-service.

Besides five girls and four visitors from the southland, we went to a wedding, complete with a mile high cake that looked like it was frosted with layers of pleated satin. It wasn't, of course. But we thought it was layers of white chocolate, which it was not. It was some sort of taffy, which really didn't go with cake at all, and was all the more disappointing for the wait. The sheer number of photo-ops made me grateful for our simple ceremony. The bride was pretty, the groom pretty too. Who knows whether it will work. She loves him, he seems better for it. It is tough not to see what I see. As for us... I married the only man I would ever consider marrying. We couldn't not get married. It was the only next thing to do. He kept asking and I finally heard him. I don't even care if it works out in the long run. It was an emotionally necessary marriage. I had to know life married to this particular man. I didn't want to get married. I didn't want to move. I still think it was probably a terrible idea. But it was the only idea left. Love is such a funny thing. So unavoidable. And who am I to say they don't have what we do. I love my life. I have had the best life of anybody I can think of. Who can say that? I spent enough time alone to endure the reality of spending the rest of my life with another person.

Friday, September 17, 2004


I got up at 9:15. For me, that is either a sign of relaxation or depression, I'm not quite sure which. It feels like I lose half a day getting started this late. I made some coffee, strong and cold now, for my honey when he got up, then fell back to sleep on the sofa. The vortex is still there and it will get me if I'm not careful.

I started painting the bathroom yesterday. The built-in medicine cabinet, the woodwork around it. White. Off-white. Used to be a person could purchase a can of off-white paint. It isn't so simple anymore. There is a broad range of off-whites, yellow based, blue based, and as usual, I don't care. Not about that. I understand the difference, but the bathroom is so bad, so demolished, that any old paint is better than the current dishwater- gray. Not grey. GRAY. Like "the-old-gray-mare-she-ain't-what-she-used-to-be" gray. Pepto-bismol pink walls and ancient gray trim. Nice woodwork, though. Gotta give it that. So I will paint and paint and paint, and eventually, tear down the walls, or cover them with some water resistant panelling-type product from Lowe's or Home Despot for 49.99 a sheet. I want Cape Cod wainscoating. I shoulda been a Kennedy.

Home improvement, its my life. My husband gets so scared when I start in. He says, "What are you doing," and I say, "Improving your life, honey." His jaws lock and he plays his guitar louder. He thanks me later. Always. And in such nice ways.

I miss you Lorretta. Just for the books. I got the baby back/front pack for Hannah. I know the blog isn't the place for this.

Well, we have the girls this weekend, and company besides. Nocean and her boyfriend and their kids will be here Saturday. And a wedding to go to. Life is good. At least it isn't dear mother in law. She is back home, and is a sweetheart. Asia and I were talking about the lack of anonymity, the up and downside of a blog. We are exhibitionists, we writers... ah, admit it. I censor myself in the event my disparaging remarks will come back to haunt me. Anne Lamott said once that you can write whatever you want about the dead.

So, about my ex-husband....

Nah. Not that interesting anymore. I didn't kill him.

I have to, want to, am going to, sell my truck. A collective, "ahh, nooooo..." should arise from those who know how much I have loved that shiny red F-150. I've put more miles on it than I should have in the few short years I've had it. Honey-miles. The product of a long-distance relationship. High mileage. Low value. I'm putting it in the paper with my bike and hoping for someone who will love it like I have.

Speaking of honey miles.... my husband just called and asked me to clean out his closet and take everything I disapprove of to Goodwill before he sees it and then he'll never know what hit him. What I disapprove of.... who me? Disapprove???? WHAT A SET-UP!! Oh, wait... there's a purple shirt.... oh, god, a satin vest..... yeah.... I'm going for it.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


She died recently, and I wanted to comment on her life before it is too long past and my comments irrelevant. I went to see her in 1975 or so, maybe 1976. She was just beginning then, beginning to be heard in nursing home land, which is where I spent eight hours of most days: four of them sobering up, the next four planning the next ambush on my sanity. She did a three day seminar which I was allowed to attend. What I remember is when she asked the crowd (nurses, nurses aides, some physicians) "What is it that you think when you walk into the room of a terminal patient? What is your real, gut level thought?" The answers ranged from the predictable "compassion" to the nearly brave "fear." She allowed the responses, then said, "Don't you really think, 'Don't die on me'?" I was with her all the way.

She influenced my experience of the dying and for that I am grateful. What I learned from her directly, beyond the stages of grief, is that there is no right or wrong way to die or to respond to dying. And she didn't believe, like many think, in euthanaisa. She maintained that love is the answer. A hopeful position to be sure. And for the unloved? Institutionalized love. Well, in my experience, that's hard to come by. And so my position on euthanizing human beings is alot like my other positions. I don't care so much about that. It happens all the time, in hospitals, in nursing homes, where professionals do the "slow walk" away from a person taking the final breaths. There are tacit agreements, as there should be, between physician and patient, that when the time comes, the time comes. The agreement that allowing death is not stopping life. It isn't front page news. And legislating something so personal, as we would with other personal matters, is questionable.

There. Bye bye Liz.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


We went there last night. A crack whore offered to watch the truck for us as the rest of the junkies on the street corner skulked in the shadows. It's insured, I thought. This has not always been the case. The meeting was reminiscent of my humble beginnings, now so long long ago. Smoke hanging like drapes from the ceiling, a slow mottled stain dripping down the windows, adding to the anonymity of it all. They don't hold hands. They don't do the "Hi, someone" greeting. They read from the book. They acknowlege up front that most of what is said is shit.

I didn't used to care. I didn't used to be so well.

Point is, was a time I didn't notice the difference between smoke filled rooms of sick people, people whose sickness still showed, maybe always would, because of the nearness to, the similarity to, the bars in which I was so accustomed to spending my time. Like Elm St. in Medford, Scully's is no further removed from any day room in any mental hospital than the Jubilee Club was on a busy night back in the day. Now, I spend a good deal of my time in well tended rooms with well tended people who have learned to dress well, hide the soul-sickness which is our shared disease. We are so well.

We are better. Many of us are. I am.

I am struggling to stay with them, to feel like one of many, neither above or below. Even. Even is hard for me. The lack of contrast is confusing and I forget who I am, why I am there.

Last night a woman at Scully's said the thing I needed to hear. "You can see it in the birds," she said. "Big ones, long wings floating on the air, soaring around like it was so easy. And the little ones," she continued, painting another layer of chrome nail polish produced from the many distractions in her basket of toys, her purse, her portable home that was nearly unpacked beside her, "the little ones flap so hard. They really have to work to stay up there, when all they really have to do is relax and float on the breeze."

I have a wonderful life, but I've been busily flapping lately.

Monday, September 13, 2004

bikes and more bikes

I overslept. Luxury of the unemployed. I've been hunting for jobs online, I've been through the paper, the Sunday Oregonian, a tome of pulp, looking for just the right job. I have a job, but not just yet, and the time between will get thin without some kind of income.

We went out to shoot pool Saturday night, our first night alone in so so so long. The bikers were out, the Dead Baby bikers, of Seattle, and C.H.U.N.K. 666 of SE Portland. I've been seeing their bikes around the neighborhood, tremendous bastardizations of bicycles, stretched and stacked frames... unimaginable. I do like their motto (to the warmongers) No, YOU calm down.

Anyway, I'd wondered where the bikes came from, and now I know.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


I have my home to myself. Ourselves. We are home. And the funny thing is I guess it took this event-- this longitudinal fucking study of my ability to endure company-- to make me feel at home. I don't think I've ever felt more HERE than I do at this moment. But, as moments will be, fickle, fleeting and finicky, it, like all things, must pass.

I miss George Harrison. I never knew him personally, but he was my favorite Beatle. I always liked knowing he was on the same planet at the same time as me.

Wow! Now I have time, no job and a new book. That sounds like heaven to me. It may be. It is a mystery book, not a literary masterpiece, but a piece of escapist tripe that I am happy to lay back and read. I should be so lucky to write one.

Oh, that's right. I did.

Well, I guess it is the awareness of the time I have that fills it with possibility. I have had time all along. As much or little as anyone. But my head has been so full of adjustment, so preoccupied with territory and how to move about in my new life, that I've been relatively paralyzed. But take it away from me with 40 days and 40 nights of mother-in-law, and suddenly, I'm missing something. I had a life. I'm certain of it. It must be around here somewhere.

I don't know what to wear. Here, it is cold until about noon, then really warm. I'm dying to wear turtlenecks, and do, but I choke come 70 degrees or more. Muggy. Balmy. Or, as we used to say in the high school days when we said so much and did so little: Ball me weather. Ah. Those weren't the days at all.

I'm rambling. I have nothing to say and will prove it.

Two of my very best girlfriends called (and emailed) me today. God, I love those women. Kelly and Lorretta. I miss them. I knew I would, I just didn't realize when I left that they are not replaceable. Well, I may have realized it then, but lost it. I am not making new friends at any alarming rate. And I really want to let myself down off the cross about all that. I think I have blathered on before about how I see attachment at this point in my life. The mid point. I have friends, and we have been through some big shit together. Big shit. Our shit. And the bonds that were forged are strong. We have survived time, and in some cases, distance. And now, the distance is mine, and the friendships continue to be strong. I don't believe that this is the time in life when girlfriends are made. And my conclusion, this morning, this fickle, fleeting moment, is that -- (oh shit its gone already) OH, I remember... It isn't that I'm lonely, I am not. I am hounded by expectations of connection, and what it would be to be like in a new place. I thought I would see people I wanted to connect to, and then, decide when to connect. But I haven't. And the places I go are full of people. And I was wrong.

Boy oh boy.

Friday, September 10, 2004

friday friday

She leaves tomorrow. She doesn't get it that when I'm sitting here, doing this, I don't want to talk.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


I could sit here another year, another series of days (ah... too many years and not enough days) without writing down the things I see. I could continue to pretend that happiness is a barrier to creativity, that only the Hemingways -- drunk and maudlin-- have the ear and voice of the muse. But I have so little to compare this to, so little sense of where normal will be when I become accustomed to loving so much, to feeling so abandoned to this thing, so lost in it-- and at the same time, found. I wonder where my feet will be when I near whatever ground is left-- when morning at Sauvie's Island, cold mist rising from big water slapping slapping sand, waiting for the bell to ring, him obsessed with fishing, me obsessed with him, just happy to be along for the ride-- when that ground rises to meet me. I must must must figure out how to keep the pen moving in the presence of contentment and suspension of all known things. To create still the fiction of my soul, to allow the words to come through-- even when I know he's looking.

Such is the pressure of an audience.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

dead heading

Not the grateful ones. The yard. Its getting near time. I chopped down the tomato trees today, small unfinshed orbs rotting on the vines. I weeded the roses one last time and cut them back just a little. The squirrels are scurrying about with their walnuts, storing them in the camelia and the rain gutters, leaving them in the middle of the street to be shot like a bullet at unwary coffee drinkers from beneath the tire of a passing bicyclist. Whew.

Well, I pretty much hate my bike. I'm learning, though. I know now that I want gears, and now I have learned another important thing: the weight of the bike matters. Big Bertha. Sigh if you must, you know-it-alls. Sigh with the weight of knowing all along what I just learned: cute isn't everything. Be proud of your wealth of information. I still maintain I have the corner on useless trivia. Did you know, for example, that if you fold layers of tissue paper in with your clothes when packing, that they won't be wrinkled when you get where you're going? Well, they won't. And now you know what I know. I'll sell the Bertha at a tidy profit because it is cute, and some shallow-but-nice person will likely come along and be waylaid by its good looks. You wait. But I may keep it for a Hawthorne Cruiser because cute may not be everything, but have you been to Hawthorne? Everybody's posing. And I may want two bikes. One for looks and one for speed. Because if I've proven anything, its that not only am I shallow, I am materialistic.

Have I mentioned how hard it is for me to send birthday cards? To my right>>> right there>>> is a calendar with birthdays scheduled to pop up and remind me of special dates. Right now there are four. Have you priced cards? Good ones can cost five bucks. I should really start making them. I'm good at it. But in my family, I'm known for Christmas presents at Easter and I think, now that I'm married, why break tradition? Why be prompt and appropriate? They'll start expecting good behavior and I can't have that. I had to purchase a card for my husband's father yesterday. My father-in-law. My father-out-law. It had to be on time. Today, I had lunch with my MIL's sisters. Yes, she is still with us. Until Saturday morning.

I bought brush cleaner, disposable palettes and a new oil brush. I'm beginning a painting for the house. That should be something to discuss. I try to learn how to take digital pictures and load them in here, then you can see it in process. I'm thinking of a collage-like thing, with metal, letters and words woven into it. And my favorite photograph of a woman holding a bird in her hand, illustrating the age-old point: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


A four day weekend. We rafted the Clackamas yesterday. It is a slow float. A slow float to China. So many people in the group we floated with had innertubes. They looked so cold. Between us: the girls, their friend and us, we had three rafts. Its a little sillly, the way those things are marketed. For instance, ours is a five-man Sevylor. They'd have to be five pretty damned small men. Five midgets (dwarves, little people... what is proper these days?) would be hard-pressed to make it work. Then again, we are prone to reclining. Prone to being supine. Get it? I barely got wet, which is good because it was fucking cold. Fucking cold. Fucking hot. You can't please me. Fucking medium.

Today I will meet with some little girl who is having some of the same troubles adjusting to her new life in portland and needing to do some of the same things with some of the same people as me. She is the daughter of an old friend and is having trouble fitting in. So we will be misfits together at my office-- the coffee shop down the street. Just when I was getting ready to bag it.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Rock Time

I am so unemployed. I really need to finish up that application and get it in the mail.... I've become one of many, a statistic, a ne'er-do-well. I'm sure the spelling is incorrect. You know how we ne'er-do-wells are.

We'll have a houseful this weekend: the girls plus one, the grandkids and their daddy. So, six extra by my count. My my my... as Lorretta says, my life has changed. And all for the better, as long as I can find time to jot down a few of my skittering thoughts from time to time. I'm back to time off with pay so will have more writing time for now.

We will raft the Clackamas River this weekend. Start with a hearty breakfast of thin, salty ham and runny eggs at Denny's, all topped with a thick layer of cornstarch gravy flavored with the tiniest bit of sausage. And the ambience.... orange and yellow vinyl at last glance, slick seats, tuck and roll, with background music from the, what? Fifties? Is that when, like, Elvis and those guys were happening? It was before my rock time.

We do measure things in rock time. I remember first being aware of music when I was eight and Ricky Nelson was happening. Travellin' Man. I remember thinking that having a girl in every port was disturbing when stirred in with my sunday school lessons. I was later to opt for the former. Not that I have a girl in every port -- lets not get that started -- but I did live in Charleston and made my way through a good percentage of the fishermen. Don't tell. I was one helluva girl in one sort-of port. There was a marina. There were boats. I made my little splash, got arrested and came home, tail between my legs, needles in my arm.

But back to rock time. The mean girls, who are markedly better just now (I think it is the company they keep. This one little snot they hang out with is nothing but trouble. Too cool to be anywhere or do anything. Which, as I recall from direct personal memory, is paralyzing....) Anyway... rock time. They are all into knowing all the words of Beatle songs. They hooked up the record player and played "I am the Walrus" backwards to hear "Paul is dead, miss him, miss him, miss him," which, as I recall, when played forward is something like: "Mblissm blissm blissm, habat sonnat chu chu." Its funny what you remember. I was a beatle officianado, to the extent a child without money can be. I was the first in my gradeschool to know about them. My older brother Marc brought home a small newsletter that I conscripted and carried in my science book and shared with my comrades. It was a big day for me. In that same classroom I heard on the radio that Jackie Kennedy was doing her nails. I remember thinking "who cares?" (This may have been the original sin, the first seed of my ambivalence, my sweet apathy. But, seriously, who does care?) And in that same classroom I heard that Kennedy was shot.

Did everyone watch our president-select last night? I hate to say it, but I'll bet he gets re-elected. He dishes up that American soup, nice and warm, so easy to swallow they forget there is poison in the broth. Religion truly is the opiate of the masses. He's a fucking despot. Like my husband said, he' s not talking about US policy, he's presenting his own credo. And so many are with him in that. We want to do something. My husband wants it to be something violent, but that's him. All I can think of is to put a sign in my yard. The religious overtones were way more than overtones last night, and the arrogance with which he drove 'em home was palpable.


Rock time. So, the kids wear skater shirts and download Beatle lyrics. I don't know what the eras have been for you. It all runs together for me. I loved Dave Barry's book Dave Barry turns 50. It visited many of the same stops and with a clarity I don't have access to. For some, like Barry, life has rings like a tree, clear and distinct. I am a tree without rings. Well, not to be so dramatic... I may have three: childhood, before, after. The childhood one is evenly distributed throughout. So little is clear. See??? Look ma! No rings.

I have a diamond ring. Inside, it says: My heart to K, always. In his, it says the same. Then, because he was so impressed by Gollum, he had engraved, "the precious." So it winds up looking like I am "the precious." I can see some future archaeologist digging up our bones as our dust mingles, and thinking how precious I was. I guess there are worse things. There really are.

Okay, well, that' s my weekend coming up. At 10:00 Asia and I will sip coffee that is too strong for me, but will give me the impetus to survive another Winco experience. I am a wife.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Now there's a word for ya. Invested with full power. Kinda like the current administration. It is staggering, the power of religion when mixed with large sums of money. Lulls 'em right to sleep. Wynken, Blynken and fucking NOD.

I used to nod.

But seriously, I've been trying NOT to watch the GOB Convention. It makes me sick at my stomach-- the absence of critical thought. My coffee friend at deconstructionist has some pointed commentary that is worth a read.

I am not an environmentally protective person, and was comforted by her willingness to salt slugs, but I know I am in the wrong. I know there is a connection between the GOB and the rape of the world, but I am too self-interested to change my evil ways. I barely recycle, but/and I vote. I am defensive. I kill mice. Sue me.

I am asleep.

I've been away. Actually. Emotionally. It is too early in a marriage for a 45 day mother in law visit. We are fine. Wonderful. But I am not the hostess with the mostess. I love my life, but have the uncanny ability to think I am alone in it, or have some choice over my companions on this new part of the trail. I really don't. I never did. And the computer is in the living room and I have no time, no headspace for this really really necessary part of my world. If I don't write, I'm so cranky. So maybe if I get it out here, I'll calm down and get to what I really want to talk about which has so little bearing and everything to do with world events.

Its the little things. The devil is in the details. So is God. (So often in the same place at the same time, unlike Bush and Cheney.)

I was driving through Hillsboro yesterday on my way home from work, which, to digress, is kind of like driving through Weezer, Idaho on my way home from work (both geographically and ideologically) but anyway, there I was, and I saw a sign on a house:
Psychic Readings:
The top four American Concerns. What an unbelievable crock of shit. Freedom hangs in the balance and these are the big four.
I wished for a big black paintbrush to add "Republicans" to the list. I wanted TIME to walk in and ask what precisely she (an assumption, probably correct) proposed to psychically do about depression. I mean, you can trick some of the people some of the time, but you can't trick me. OH, WAIT! Better than half the country is asleep. Tricked.
I forget.
Well, back in my world, it is quiet. I have had three days alone with my person of preference (I defy the notion of choice, never had it) and the healing is good. MIL will be back Sunday but I am trying to focus on the hours between now and then rather than Sunday until the 13th.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

rained out

...and just as I was complaining about predictable weather. We got rained out of our campsite last Saturday night. That's not entirely true. It rained. That is true. We stuck it out in the relative comfort of our canopied truck on a futon layered over a blow up mattress. Cozy. We were planning to leave Sunday anyway, but the storm was a near-surprise. I mean, the gathering clouds were a giveaway, but still, I'd been out there since early Thursday afternoon, out of touch with information technology. I wandered over to the camp host and asked if she knew what the weather would be like on Labor Day Weekend. She looked at me like I was crazy. "That's two weeks from now," she said. "Yeah," I countered, muttering "weather.com" under my breath as I walked away. There's just no pleasing me.


It is no longer early. I was hoping to get some time alone, some quiet, all-to-myself time in this new life in a house of company and children and Kill Bill II, but the computer wouldn't come on. I won't go into detail about my sweetie's role in this tragedy, but trust me, its all his fault. By the time I got it to come up, an hour had passed and I had lost the thread, the inspiration, call it what you will, the fucking muse was pouting and giving up exactly nothing in the way of creative thought. Well fuck her. I'm writing anyway. I never believed in muses. She's the goddamned tooth fairy. Who needs her and her caprice anyway? I'm the writer, goddamn it. And I'll take ten minutes of your precious time to prove it. You can leave your quarters under my pillow.

Come back little Sheba.

I think the Hood to Coast Relay starts today. Run Asia and Annette, Run!!! Subsequent depression be damned. It evades me though -- the notion of depression settling in because you eventually must stop running. The thought of running, unless avidly pursued by someone more dangerous than my stepdaughters.... now that is depressing. But seriously, you go girls! I make light of what I cannot/will not/do not do.

We got a couple of new toys: a miniature cross bow and mouse glue pads. I hope their uses are never combined into some hideous anti-rodent sport hunting. If you've never seen mouse glue pads, they are unique and effective. A little mean-spirited, and those of you with a penchant for tenderness needn't read on, but they work where the usual trap does not. We've been through all manner of poison and humane traps, but the glue thing quite literally stops them in their tracks. I don't like the whining, peeping death part. I don't. But I also just threw away about five bucks worth of shelled walnuts and sliced almonds. Does that justify death? Well, I think it does. In the balance of geologic time, what's a few mice between friends? I don't think I'm making a dent in the mouse population or threatening the future of rodents as a species. I'm just cleaning up my corner, preserving the illusion of human superiority. They were probably here before me and will be here long after I'm gone. Like fleas on a dog, the earth will shake us off and only the rodents and cockroaches will remain, but damnit, I'm taking a few of the little bastards with me on my way out, and using the crossbow seems excessive at this point.

Ah. I've missed my blog.

I read The Case Against George W. Bush by Ron Reagan (Esquire), by visiting the ashabot. It was an erudite indictment, and I loved the distinction between liberals and rationalists. Any thinking person must, by now, acknowlege the fundamental dishonesty of the current administration. President Clinton, speaking on The Daily Show, said something like, "When people think, Democrats win." And I know liberals are not the only thinking people. I don't know that I'm a liberal, but I will align myself with rationalists. I think, therefore I'm pissed.

I was sitting on my porch yesterday and one of the tightrope walking squirrels joined me. Seems she has a nest in the camelia tree. She scurried through the rain with nuts and berries to store for the coming winter. Now, those of you who are actually paying attention to this rant will ask the obvious question: Did I use a squirrel glue pad to stop her? Did I break out the cross bow and pin her to the porch? I did not. But then, she wasn't so rude as to come in the house and steal nuts out of my basket. She settled for what was outside, on the ground. And she has a fuzzy tail.

I know I should use glass jars. I know. This is an old house.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

the high priestess of springwater

Its my new title. We're gonna buy the town when we get enough money: a general store and a church. I thought he could be the preacher, but he's too busy being the devil right now, so I'm going to run the church and he can have the store.

We camped at Metzler this weekend and brought the bikes. It was a little last minute, and the girls came along plus one, but it was a good, long weekend. The only thing I mind about camping is what it does to my feet. You'd think I'd wear shoes. Jesus.

Can you believe that someone stole Munch's Scream? I had a mousepad with that print on it. The Krakatoa eruption in Indonesia is said to be responsible for the red sky. Well, tempera or not, I hope somebody finds it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Camp Sites in the Greater Northwest

Today I drove to Estacada to check out sites for a possible camping trip this weekend. I've described what I want in earlier entries: cool and green. Big shade. I used to be against all human improvements, was a luddite, but with age comes laziness and sedentia (a precursor to dementia, I'm certain) and I'm all for picnic tables, fire pits and flush toilets. Showers.... not so much. I can dip in the river and feel clean enough to get by.

Then, after work, we had received some tips on possible camp sites out past Vernonia. I'd put in a link to Vernonia here, but I'm not sure what it would show. I think it might be a scene from Deliverance. So, being naturally inquisitive, we ventured out in search of Big Eddy Park on the Nehalem River. If you've ever been to Bolder City, Oregon, the only difference is that Big Eddy sits right on the banks of the Nehalem. And so do the campers. Campers may be too transient a term for the occupants of Big Eddy. They looked camped out in the most sincere sense of the word. Perma-camp. And it was one of those campgrounds with little underbrush to distinguish one site from another. It was just pretty much a cluster-fuck of broke down Winnebagos, sagging tents and the ever-popular blue tarp. This raises a question for me. Why blue? Why are all those goddamned tarps that godawful bright blue? Do they think it blends? Do they think you throw the shimmering blue tarp over, say, the woodpile or the children, and suddenly think the landscape has altered to include an unexpected fragment of low sky? I don't get it. I have some, but they bother me. I guess they could be made out of camouflage fabric, and I know some are, but I guess the risk there is that you'd cover, say, the children, and lose them.

Oh god.

Anyway, Big Eddy didn't get it, so we continue the search for the perfect campsite.

addendum/revision: Just made reservations for Labor Day weekend at Metzler Park. Big shade. Yay.

Monday, August 16, 2004


They can come slowly or all at once. They can be of the white light or educational variety. Light bulb moments--the kind that change the way I see the world, or the way I think the world sees me. And, at times like these, I feel like I've been away for a long, long time. As though I am coming to out of a dense fog and can see a thing more clearly than before.

It is good to be here, to be aware of who and how I am at this moment in time. To know that I am, right here and right now, where I belong.

I think.

monday monday

Not to worry. She's alright, my MIL. We're getting along just fine. There is nothing like a common enemy to galvanize a new relationship: the mean girls. Damn. Those kids are tough. Gotta love 'em, though. Its the only hope of redemption.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Only dead fish go with the flow

I thought it deserved title billing. I have nothing else to say about that.

What I want to talk about is weather. I liked it better when there was more mystery to the forecast. That is a recurrent theme here, not as prevalent as apathy, but a second to be sure: demystification as my own personal tragedy. I liked it when the weatherman wasn't so cocksure, didn't know, for instance, within a single degree of certainty, what would happen. I like getting caught in the rain, or being surprised by a too-hot day. I like weather that sneaks up on you. I guess I should live on the gulf coast of Florida, although they too have weather men sitting on their beaten shores, cameras poised for every breath of wind. I should be grateful, I guess, that we don't name our weather and have to consider gender and the pc-ness of hurricane women. I'm a hurricane and damned proud of it. Well, I used to be a contender.

Anyway, I liked having to pack for a day in the insincere, or maybe capricious, no... indecisive might be the perfect word... northwest. (As inappropriate as it is, I enjoy assigning human characteristics to non-human stuff. Reification? I think that's the word.) I liked having to carry a sweater because maybe, just maybe, a cloud might come by and relieve the monstrous heat. I liked layering, even though it made me look fatter. Now, weatherguys are obsolete. They could post the weather on the rolling marquee at the bottom of the TV screen and stop standing in front of a photorealistic map and saying stupid shit, like, "Well, the expected high is 120 but we might see 122. Tomorrow, Portland residents can look for some relief as a cooling trend will give us a high of 118." Nowadays, there's even a screen that tells you what the temperature will be at 6,10, 2, 8 and midnight. That's no fun. Where is the surprise of a sweetly cool Saturday morning, sitting outside for breakfast and getting caught in a sprinkle of summer rain if you know its coming. You can act surprised and like you wish you hadn't straightened your hair, but fuck it. You knew it was coming. Admit it.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


It doesn't help that over the phone she is telling her friends she'll stay until the first part of September. The first part, if I do the math, ends on September 15th. My mother in law is here, visiting, I thought, for a week. I'm certain she said a week. I would remember that, because I like her, but she makes me nervous. We are in an unnatural pause in our marriage, a hovering of sorts, as I learn how to be related to someone else.

I do not call her Mom.

My mother was devout. Had we lived in the Ozarks (is Meford in the Ozarks?) she would have been considered a zealot, a snake-handling faith-healer. Mom was a cheerleader, a rally girl from North Bend. She hated cats, heights and the coast. She took in strays and could dance the Charleston but couldn't change a light bulb for fear of electricity. I don't think she expected it to catch on quite like it has. She had faith in Jesus and the curative power of vinegar and raised five children on 200 dollars a month. Wild children. Bad children. She never expected my father to die, which he did, too too soon. And once he was gone, she didn't expect to live so long. She taught me how to pack and move. We lived in four houses on the same street. She wore her poverty like a ragged crown. Insisted on it. There were times she lived in a car and refused gifts--considered them evidence of worldliness -- the greatest sin.

This woman in my house, this new mother, is modern. I don't get it. There are no soft edges. No comfort. No lap for bouncing the grandkids. I doubt she knows all the nursery rhymes or the names of flowers. She has an IRA and a will that is on our coffee table. She is very organized. She rarely moves.