Friday, September 30, 2005


I want to blog the letter I got today, and since Lorretta is effectively shut down until the new home scene can support a computer hook up, I thought this deserved mention:

She writes:
"...So here I am. I keep waking up in this house -- am starting to believe I live here. Yesterday I came home and played a little basketball with Adrian. It was so great to be doing this in our own driveway, shooting hoops above our own garage after I'd just come out our own back door into our own fenced backyard, rather than the driveway of some other house we were stalking -- wanting, not having -- like squatters, basketball playing squatters...."

I have always had such a strong sense of place, that when my friend is settled, I am settled for her. This is a home. And such a long time coming.

As for me, my house is not mine anymore. I signed the papers and the money is on the way. The realtor sent me a fruit basket from Harry and David, thinking the pears would remind me of home... and they did. So far away now, this girl that grew up in orchards, picking, packing, pruning, running from the lilting foreign voices of brown men, hidden in the trees on spike ladders, hands quick as birds, fluttering branch to branch, filling Mr. Peebler's canvas bags. Mr. Peebler, with leather skin and tobacco-stained chin, who drove his fucking tractor down the dirt road outside my bedroom window at five o'clock every morning, went to Klan meetings at the grange in the evening, and was always old, but died young. His daughters all went crazy. I'm sure he was guilty of something.

And now I am a Portland girl. It rained today, all day, and the commute was over two hours. It was comical, really, as I listened to the traffic reports, sitting in the clusterfuck of Dundee, knowing it would be a long slow road home.

But home I am. The weekend cometh.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Trying Times

Because I am a writer, it keeps mattering to me that I am not writing as much as I think I should. And around here, the potential is monumental. I mean, there's my honey, selling his wares out on the street, and along comes this girl, for the 4th or 5th time, looking for a cheap enough bike, and she has a digital camera in one hand and the hunchback walks by dressed pretty much like Elvis. And she starts snapping pictures and he starts posing, turning this way and that with his shopping cart full of rattling cans. And I wonder: to think that I might have missed all this but for throwing caution to the wind. What sheer bliss to the lazy imagination. I see these things and i jot them down here, but only here, and I wonder if the book I'm not writing will have a hunchback character. Or the bike girl. She skipped away, delighted to have found the 80$ Schwinn road bike.

Nicole's hair. That's what my weekend has been all about. Blonde and blonder. Cut and colored and bleached. She'd look great with a shaved head, and with all that bleach, that's about what happened.

Anyway, I'm trying to write. I am trying. And you know what they say: tryin' is dyin. Just write. So, we will be accountable to one another, my literate friend and I. This thought freezes my pen. But it will thaw with use, and I will finish the story one day.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

basketball dogs

Sid finally acted like a pitbull. I'm bummed. He charged a dog at the dog park. Unprovoked. No harm done, but because he looks like Satan when he's running at you, it unnerves people in a way a lab or shepherd does not. And labs are atrocious. Labs and shepherds are notoriously aggressive at our park, but Sid is Sid. He is so visible. So, I am sad, and will have to watch him closely and bring him when fewer other dogs are around.

On our way to the park there is a pitbull owner who is an idiot. He has two remaining puppies, spawn of a giant male, who are barely fenced in his backyard by a thin layer of hogwire. They pound the fence as we go by, and I know they'll come through it one bloody day and tear my legs out from under me. I have started walking on the other side of the street. Day before yesterday two basketballs were sitting in the corner where Dumb and Dumber used to lie in wait, and I was thinking maybe my fairy godmother had finally taken my side and turned them into something similar to pumpkins, but they were back the next day. Maybe they turn into basketballs at night. I don't claim to know.

It is a gray afternoon, almost evening.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

later same day

Sunday. I like to take trips and get back on Saturday so I have Sunday to myself. I'm sure I've said before how much I resent and despise Winco. I try to pronounce it Winko so it sounds more benign, but it is what it is: a big box store with no soul. I know that Freddies has no more soul, I know that Hagen and Zupan's and the shiny new yuppie store down on 20th and Division... New Seasons, that's it, I know they also are without soul, but they appear to be better. The prices are so much higher and I struggle with the ultimate good of where to shop and why I care. I am seduced by the shiny aisles of well polished merchandise. My favorite Winko moment so far: we are walking down the canned meat aisle (scary, eh?) and these two guys are handling small cans of tuna, the single-serving size cans, and one guy says to the other, "Hey, just like in prison!" The delight in his voice unnerved me. I am better than no one, though my tendency toward self congratulation really shines in the big W stores. I went grocery shopping today.

The house is as clean as I intend to make it today, and there are a few hours before the emmy's begin. I hope House gets something. I like that show. I liked it last year, anyway. I am a TV watcher, sue me. But, like most good programs, they took what was good about it last year (Dr. House's sarcasm), expanded it, and ruined the show. Hopefully just the first show is so over-the-top and we can return to the ordinary level of wit. We have to have dinner with a couple of friends who got married a year ago monday. They intend to eat the top of their cake today. AFter spaghetti. The cake was beautiful. It looked like it had been draped with white chocolate, but it was actually kind of a terrible, white chocolate-flavored taffy substance that had been sort of folded around the layers. It did not taste good. And I guess it was really expensive. I'd rather have a homemade cake that tasted great.

I don't want to go. They don't want to be married anymore already. She doesn't.

I do. My husband is out with his bicycles, trying to sell them in the waning sun of early autumn. He won't be able to do it much longer except on craigslist. You can see the bikes there if you want to.

I'm going to transplant daylilies.

bicycle trip

Marky went to an estate sale and bought us 4 bikes for 60.00: 2 old schwinns and 2 matched old peugeots. So we went to see him and to get the bikes. It was wonderful to get my hands on that kid, to hug him and tell him how much I miss him. I'd have driven down there to get 4 used shoes, that's how bad I wanted to see him. And I hate used shoes. that's one thing about garage sales-- Other people shoes and underwear. Why would you sell that? Although, I have to admit to taking a free new pair from a yard sale here on Clinton street. Almost new red tennis shoes. I guess it depends. If I want something, I can overlook most anything.

So, we got the bikes, loaded them up and off we went. I had cleaned my closets and donated the rest to Jolene, my friend down south, and gave away about 2000$ worth of stuff I haven't worn for the longest time. It is so hard to do. But I must make room. Not for more, but to be able to see what I have. Thus my favorite sign: You Can't Have Everything... Where Would You Put It? Truly.

I didn't get to see Lorretta, but she has a new house, and there has never been a woman more deserving of a yard than Lorretta. It is a sweet blue house on a quiet street and the yard is enviable. The potential is huge. My first of many bits of advice: have those boys pull the blackberries to the root and pour kerosene on them. (Not on the boys. And... Do not light the kerosene when finished.) I know this is probably terrible advice from an eco-standpoint. But so are blackberries. I think one of the oddest things I ever heard was the man who moved to the Rogue Valley and planted blackberries in his yard. Why, God, why??? You gotta stay on top of blackberries or they'll take your shit. They consume houses and roads. At the end of the human race blackberries and cockroaches will be the only living things. And I love blackberries. I make the best pie. No spices. Just berries and sugar and butter and flour and a tiny pinch of salt. So, lose the berries. I wanted to bring Lorretta a start of my yellow "Chicago Star" daylily, but our escape from the city was a bit dashed, and forgot at the last minute. I'll get it next time. I have high hopes for that home. It has been more than a long time coming in so many ways.

Let's see.... the trip. Sid rode in the front seat because we had to take my truck, so the front is covered in little white hairs. Stinky. We stayed at Marky's house and he was such a great host. He cleaned the house (and from the layers of dust elsewhere, not a frequent event), bought a stupid movie that wasn't available for rent: Hitchhiker's Guide... stupid. We had asked him to rent it and didnt' even watch it. He bought milk and cookies for me. Mom's favorite, he remembered. He forgot the part about diabetes. But it was so sweet of him to try to recreate our comfort, our home. I know he is uncomfortable with my new husband, even though he knows him a little, and trying so hard to make a good impression. That he wants to make a good impression impresses the shit outta me. He is doing so well, such a man now. So handsome and capable of doing life. He told fish stories, and they told fish stories, and it will take time for them to know each other. The men in my life. And for them to know and like each other is so important to me.

We headed out of town through Ruch, and ran into Bob and Patricia at the Fireman's Yard Sale. It was a clusterfuck of activity, donated crap, and rain. The early rain was welcome in the dustbowl of a southern Oregon September, but it did not bode well for sales: it poured. There were tents set up, but to little avail. Books were soaked, piles of baskets and cloth furniture dripping. I found a bowl. One. And off we went to the biker show at Provolt. Provolt used to be a narrow bridge in the road, but now it is a wide bridge, modern and sleek, and not nearly so beautiful or dangerous. The bikers were old, the bikes: okay. Nice, black, ordinary. And the cheap biker crap for sale was no different than ever. My least favorite T-shirt: "50,000 battered women and I'm still eating mine plain" Ah, bikers. So low on the food chain. They all looked alike: gray beards and handlebar moustaches, big bellies and bad taste. The old women in poorly fitting black leathers on a hot day. We looked better back in the day.

And it was north to Portland, gas 3.00 a gallon and Sid tired of the front seat and me tired of Sid. It is good to be home.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

disaster birthdays

I was watching the news, as I do, gasping from time to time at the boob who is in charge of the friggin' world, and I wonder what kind of party he intends to throw this year for the tragedy of 911. This should be a big day for him. I doubt he can recoup his image quite this quickly, an image which is body-bagged at this point. But I have no doubt that they'll spin out of the mire though. They're good at that.

I am so sick of political responses to human tragedy, for the irreparably slow response to the hurricane in the absence of political gain, or the perception of gain. I mean, if I was president, I think it would look good to give a shit. I wonder if we, sedated nation, will ever find a way to punish this administration. I am all about the assignation of blame, but not quite so quickly. When democrats start throwing shit balls before the rain stops, when they should be way down south in dixie humping bags of sand into the yawning gap of Lake Ponchartrain -- it makes me sad and certain that we have lost our way. Maybe we lost it a long long time ago. Maybe we haven't found it yet. Bush is an idiot. Yes. But while he golfs, the nation sleeps. Who is more to blame? I sit on high ground and do nothing but vote and feel the impotence of the despotic regime.

On the news last night was a child who's birthday falls on September 11th. Not 2001, but just the same, her parents are tortured, as people who have too much time on their hands can be, over whether or not to throw her a party on this dark day. She lives in NY, afterall.

Fuck that. Party on. There is more to life than the parade of tragedies. If this were to be the gold standard, think how many days would be omitted from the birthday calendar: Hiroshima, the sunami, the earthquake in India, or do we not weight those non-white tragedies with the same depth of concern.

It is a cool day in portland. I am delighted by the weather change. Victims of the hurricane have elected not to come here. I'm not sure why. Oregon City asked nervously whether they would be allowed to move freely in their community. White welcome mat, eh? And in the wake of it all, the Red Cross is marketing "to-go bags" little red totes with everything you need in the event of your own personal Katrina. I wonder if it includes mace for the rapists.

Monday, September 05, 2005

solitude we flew around Sauvie Island, 90 miles an hour, he stopped: 5 roses for 5 bucks, and we stuffed them in the knapsack, and now, in my living room, they are opening perfectly, the color of sunset, this Labor day-evening -- a sweet smelling reminder of my deep contentment in this life. I was reading, am reading, a book by Sue Miller. It is the one thing I have not completed this weekend that I intended to. The main character was accused of being boring because she settled for contentment. Clearly, she had not lived my life. Contentment is the highest form of praise I can assign to any moment, or series of moments. Absence of chaos. Bliss.

We ate breakfast out two mornings in a row.

We went for a bicycle ride Saturday morning, and this morning, but it was Saturday when we drove by the Road Kill Table. I spied it: a semi-mission style table, a weathered top (maybe a door nailed to the supports) that crumbled away with the slightest pressure. In my neighborhood, people just set stuff they don't want on the curb, and someone generally takes it away. My husband, hoping I'd forget about it, drove on past, but I could not forget it. That's how I know I want something: I keep thinking about it. So, we circled back around, made sure the owners were indeed letting the table go, and once again, I have a new treasure. We brought it home (I did) and Kurt made a new top for it. It is beautiful, and will be a perfect replacement for the too-frilly table I have used for about five years, that I HAD to have, that I searched far and wide and paid too much for at an antique store in Bandon. I am now rewarded with a free table. Buying wood for the top was not exactly free. Makes me glad I am not building a house.

We watched old movies: The Old Man and the Sea and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. I remembered The Old Man... as a better movie, Spencer Tracy a better actor. I didn't like the narration, and Hemingway's writing seemed (sue me) self-conscious and repetitious. We also watched Megalodon and Monster in Law, just to keep things even.

I'll never be published. I have sinned against literature.


I am resisting social obligations on this Labor Day. I don't think it is going to work. Resistance is futile. What's new?

My husband is in a white chocolate and pecan pancake coma on the couch and I am, after a crabcake benedict, feeling invigorated and accepting of diabetes as my lot in life. What a trooper, eh? Give me the inevitable, the unavoidable, and I will, upon pain of death, wander toward acceptance. Shit.

It is a beautiful weekend, and I am so fortunate to be alive, dry and with adequate housing. I hear that one of the abandoned (de-funded) schools is going to serve as housing for the people who have been displaced by the hurricane. I keep hoping this next thing, this next travesty, and the failure of big government to respond except for photo-ops, will result in impeachment. I mean, this is the south. This is his home. This should matter. I wonder. I will try to offer something to the people who land in Oregon, for however long.

We took down the pool and re-seeded the perfect circle in our back yard. I pounded stakes and strung caution tape around them in the hopes that Sid will take the hint. He is a little thick when it comes to relieving himself. Any ol' place will do.

In today's paper was a picture of a small parade down the main street of New Orleans. Now, that is heart.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Its that time of year. Pruning, edging, cutting back. It always feels destructive, and I like that feeling, but it is a time to be brave: they always come back better than they were.

I played hooky today. God that feels good. I drove over to SW Portland, a place I have been to but have never driven in, and found my way home. I purchased a perfectly brand new old set of matched Peugeot bikes. His and hers. Purchased in Paris some 20-30 years ago. I wonder what Peugeot means? They are beautiful, tires like razor-blades. Thin bikes. Road bikes. So fast you'll never need a kickstand bikes. I guess people with those bikes never stop because they never seem to have kickstands. What is that about? I mean, if the weight of a kickstand is going to break you, shit, do a few more push-ups, Lance. Anyway, I got the bikes cheap, and drove off to find a frame for my ship painting. I am having one made. It seems silly to spend 60.00 on a frame for a 5.00 road kill picture, but I love it. It is treasure.

Once home again, it was hard to get off the couch, but the Kaiser hospital commercials resonated in my mind: the couch is a carb the couch is a carb the couch is a carb. And I've always called it a vortex.

So I made some more coffee (which is also bad, but hell, you be perfect) and set off with the pruners. At a yard sale, we found a really tall, long handled limb-pruner which is really slick to use. Whoever figured that one out was smart. But today, I just needed the little ones. I cut back the Spanish lavendar, the roses, the slug-munched violets from springtime, and left the front bed with a bad haircut and two full bins of clippings. I still need to get to the lemon cucumbers and the roses out back. My hydrangea is blooming. It is my first. I've always loved them: single, ready-made bouquets, irridescent blue, more beautiful dry than fresh. And I guess that since I planted mine late, it is blooming late. I figured if it is a spring flowering plant and you plant it in the fall, it will bloom in the spring anyway; like fish -- they know what season it is. They don't get confused and spawn in the winter. But maybe I'm comparing apples and oranges. Probably. Everything seems a little too connected to me on the days I play hooky. The whole world makes sense.

So my flower is blooming. And it is all mine. There was a blossom on it when I planted it, but that was a hot-house flower. I can't take credit for it. I didn't kill it -- I can take credit for that.

So, it is Labor Day Weekend. We have nothing planned. That is, we PLAN TO DO NOTHING. We just want to yard sale, fix bikes, and make peach cobbler. (I am pretending not to be diabetic.) I want to read a whole book (Sue Miller, "The World Below"), put away my summer clothes, get out my sweaters, gather yard sale stuff for a weekend when other people aren't selling all their cool shit, and relax with my husband. ALONE.