Sunday, December 31, 2006


The walls are uniformly un-uniform. I slapped joint compound here and there, just so, and I really like the effect. At this moment, I am not able to load the pictures, but I will when I get off the couch and onto the pc. We are watching Sunday Morning. Even they are showing almost all of the hanging video of Saddam. It is so Salem witch trials, so exhibitionistic. The internet videos on the big channels who damn internet videos.

Today we drove out to the river so Sid could run. Sauvie's Island... it is a magical place for me, for us. A perfect place to spend the last day of the year.

This is Sid on Sauvie's Island.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

blessed saturday

Today I will paint. I will. I will choose turquoise and cobalt and rust, with a red door, and not for reasons of eastern belief, (or southern... isn't fung shui Californian?) but because I have red paint that needs to get used. I have many cans of paint that I will pour together to make a primer coat, but not the red or it will all become pink. My sweetie tells me I can stir some joint compound into it to create texture. But I don't think I want uniformity. I may just slap some on to create the ambience of war-torn Germany, my personal favorite. I do love shabby. Why then, when it is already so shabby, don't I just leave it alone.

MY GOD. Haven't you been listening? I am Martha fucking Stewart and I leave NOTHING alone. If YOU hold still I will decorate you.

I love this laptop.

Why is it the next shiny thing that always holds my attention. My life, as compared to my life say.... 12 years ago.... is perfect. I have a life I never would have dreamed possible. And of my life 10 years before that?? My life is unimaginably rich. I did not have the language to hope for my life as it is today. And yet it is that I am on a steady quest for improvement, for change. For the next shiny object within, or just beyond, my reach. I am on my sofa, married to the love of my life, the actual love of my whole life, and we are living where I've always wanted to live, in a house I love in a neighborhood I would choose over any, and I am typing on my laptop, wirelessly connected to the internet, on my blog, and I don't have to work until Tuesday. And still I want to make that fucking little upstairs room different. Stasis as death. I think that is it. If I stopped decorating, what would happen? My husband shakes his head and says, I thought you were going to use the room for storage. But there I am, online, looking for rugs and pillows and mexican vases and rusted wall hangings and more and more and more and I realize there is no end to it. More as a lifestyle.

I remember living in Jacksonville in a little house that was 60 dollars a month and we didn't pay it. And the landlord was Marcel Poudois, and he was letting the house, like he let everything, become one with the blackberries. If you don't know my position that blackberries will eventually take over the world, you do now. So there we were, me and my baby and his mean mean father, and when he threw me through the wall I just decorated the hole. It was shaped like me, like in a cartoon only not so funny. I exaggerate. I didn't go all the way through the wall, just the sheetrock. The studs stopped me. So I painted the wall baby blue. I was really all about blue for a long long time. And I thought blue was as good as it got for color. Blue, purple and black. Bruise colors. But if you know bruises like I know bruises, you'll agree that they are red at first, and at the end they fade to green and yellow. Full spectrum bruising.

Memories. I suppose it is poverty that drives my need to beautify my world. The memory of poverty that I will never really escape, never outrun. Or it is much more simple than that. I am American, thus, excessive.

Anyway, I wonder about that house. I could never get the grass to grow in the front yard and Marcel would never let me plow under the blackberries.

I am sad about Saddam Hussein. That guy never had a chance. We are so brutal. They are so brutal. It is so brutal here in this small world.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Here it is. What I have to get used to is this giant cursor. I will fix it. It is a large black box and I can't tell where I am. I am lying on the sofa, reclining, my natural position.

I have no access to photographs at this time, but I love the feel of the keyboard and it is so quiet. Type type type.

It is my father's birthday. He would have been 87 I think. He died young, when I was eight and they didn't know what to do about bad hearts. The thing was, his heart was so good. I remember that part. I was blondie to him, and he called me by my middle name, not when he was mad at me, but because he picked it and I think he liked it. He was happy. A sailor and a hoodlum who married my cheerleader mom and became a father of five. Happy birthday, Daddy.

I kind of like this cursor. Maybe I won't be so quick to dispense with anything new.

There is nothing I can do but type to justify the expenditure. I am hoping the inspiration will follow. We installed wireless, and it is magic. I am online and not hooked to anything. I don't understand it. When buying this thing, we kept asking about the router. "But what if it isn't wireless? What if it doesn't work?" But it does. As you see.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

rock paper garret

Before shots (taken with our new digital camera):

I wanted to enter these pictures in a certain order, but it doesn't seem like I'm savvy enough to get it done right. The picture of the white door and green wall is looking out of the garret into the attic, toward the back yard.

The picture to the left, I think, is a view of the right side of the garret. The window looks over Clinton Street.

This is the left side, same window.

This is the door heading up the stairs to the garret.

These are the stairs. Now you know the exact width of my ass, plus some wiggle room

Christmas rocks. These are called earth crystals, but are really basalt spikes. They are drilled in the bottom with a piece of rebar to stake them into the ground. The tallest is over 3 feet. I love them. They were first on my Christmas list.

This is the new garden rock. We had one made for the outlaws as well. It is carved in Applegate Jade, a beautiful rock native to the Applegate Valley, where both of us misspent our youth (s).

Okay. I did it. Now, I'll look at the blog and see how it came out. I agree, this is much better than the old blogger where you just had text to work with.

Well, clearly there are some problems. Anyway, a good Christmas, overall, and I will now go upstairs and begin the work. I'm thinking Mexican colors, kinda Frieda Kahloesque. NO menopause beige.I ordered my laptop today.

I rock.

Monday, December 25, 2006


All is unwrapped and the demystification complete. I got rocks. Wonderful, beautiful rocks. Large ones for my yard and small ones for my ears. I got a huge flannel robe. Maybe too big, but that's what I wanted. We now have a Wii. My husband already threw his back out bowling or batting or swinging a golf club or something. It isn't his.

I had a long talk with my son. Longest of our lives, perhaps. He is loved, and he loves. He is so like me in his need for privacy within a relationship. He said he was as happy alone for three days as he is at a party, and yet he loves this girl. I apologized for the genetics. I know it is mine. It is good to be loved, and a difficult thing to allow. I know. I allow it. Day after day. I don't think it is related to self-esteem so much. Not the way I used to. I just think we are cautious.

He talked to me about my nephews and meth and crack cocaine and all of that. Apparently it is still not all that lucrative to sell coke. He told me of a suicide attempt by one of the boys and a one day stint in the mental ward. Like that would help. And the theft of time from their children. And the family disease keeps on keepin' on. I know my son remembers his childhood and my absence and all we didn't have. So, I wrote a long Christmas letter to my nephews this morning, telling them what little I can about our family's religious beliefs and its relationship to addiction. It is a letter of hope, and of experience, and maybe a little strength. But it is only a letter. And they will do what they will do. We have a particularly virulent strain in my family. Deadly.

So, I will plant my rocks, and my herb garden, and my sporty new baby blue jacket my son sent me, along with a framed picture of him in a raft on the Deschutes River. And I am so proud of him, given who we are, to get up every morning and do it again. He is the greatest gift of my life.

Merry Christmas to all who read this. I am grateful for this day, and any other.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


All is calm, all is bright. I would show you pictures, but again, something has changed and I can't figure it out. There are tree and house pictures, and upstairs room and firelight. And I can't find them.

Haley just walked on my back and it feels better. I've been cooking all day, again, and it gets tiresome. I want to get some year end writing done, but really, all I want to do is lie down and sleep. There was deep fried turkey with all the trimmings, apple pie, chocolate pecan pie, pumpkin roll, a mince tart that was so good. I hadn't made mincemeat in so long, and I forgot how much I like it. It is old food, antique food, real Christmas food. I cooked cranberries and dried apricots, dressing with walnuts and cranberries, sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter, pineapple and pecans, green beans and fried onions, and no salad at all. None. All heart attack food.

I am happy to be home. Not loving the season, but understanding, once again, my place in the world. And to the extent that I choose things, I chose this. I jumped in the river that was headed this direction and was carried away with the rest of the rubble. The customs are different here, the religion strange, but I am here, and I bring what I can with me.

My son sent me a package and it arrived Friday. A Christmas miracle. I couldn't get it THAT together until I was, oh, 45 or so. I would be proud of him, but know that really, it is just evidence of a woman in his life. We do organize.

I have spent time in the places that keep me spinning upright, and I am feeling fairly level this holy night.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

creme puffs

I love those little things. I love the squish of just-thawed whipping cream through puff pastry, bite size, bite after bite. My mother made creme puffs about once a year. They were remarkably good. It is one of those pot-luck things that shows up on the table, and I can't stop going back for more. They don't hit me for about 45 minutes, and then I am sick. Gwen, if you read this, you took the high road and I wish I'd been on it with you. Me? I was aiming for moderation, a concept that has always eluded me. In every category, but especially creme puffs. They, as a food group, are so tied to childhood deprivation, of having three older brothers who always got more, and first, and this is the nature of my eating disorder: that boys deserve and girls do not. So when it is a room full of women, the allowance is overwhelming.

But as the recently deceased Peter Boyle would say: Stay out of my psychosis.

I'm full. And home. And now it is decorated inside and out. He hung the outside lights. We're ready.

Friday, December 15, 2006

friday night

The tree is up and the lights are on it. I have tackled the boxes and drug them down the stairs. The stairs that are exactly as wide as my ass. I'm sure I've mentioned that before. So, it is about *that much* narrower than the plastic bins. (Hold your fingers almost together. Picture it. Work with me.) Now, it is wide enough to bring the boxes down WITHOUT lids, but what is a box without a lid? But that is precisely what has to happen before I can get the fragile shit out of the attic. It didn't go so well with the lights. They tumbled down the stairs without me. And still work.

After the meltdown last weekend, I trotted up the stairs to the room Nicole hated. It is a garret to be sure, but I looked at it and saw nothing but possibility. I will take some before pictures so y'all can watch the process. I am a writer, I should have a garrett. Is that the right word? An attic room? Wait. I'll check.

Okay. Here it is:
/ˈgærɪt/ Pronunciation[gar-it] –noun: an attic, usually a small, wretched one.

So, there you have it. It IS a small, wretched room. But it has a great window that, like this one, looks down on Clinton Street. My view of the world. And when I get my laptop, it will be perfect. It is perfect now, but for paint, rugs, art and a chair that will fold up and fit up the stairway, then fold out into something Cleopatra might have enjoyed.

Today, the Dicken's Carollers came to entertain. 4 acapella singers who transformed a ninety-something audience into children for an hour. The beauty of Alzheimer's: mine sang along.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Sunday bloody sunday. I've moved out of the women's room and now am in the basement with all my shit in boxes. Not fun but necessary for now. I am displaced and missing my old house where everything was all about me, but I do not miss where it was or all that did not go with it. Sanctuary is a funny thing. It is portable, but something hard to find in a family, and too much of anything is too much, even sanctuary. And we know that too much was always my strong suit.

And it is Christmas, and I miss my son.

And it is not so much my son that I miss as it is his childhood, and the Christmas morning when he was 14 and got me that Joan Osborne CD and we played it full blast and he knew I'd love that one sappy song. And I still like it. Or the one when I gave him the sock monkey. Or even a couple of years ago when I surprised him with an Xbox. I love Christmas. I've decided to give him a scrapbook this year. I've been hanging onto pictures of his father for years. I found his scrapbook when he died, and didn't want to give it to Marky quite yet. He was only 15 when his father died, and although I danced on his grave, his son, obviously, did not. And it has been a long 12 years now and Marky is older, and wiser, and less illegal, I think. Less inclined to land in jail than he was there for awhile. So, I've been going through the photographs and trying to figure out how to tell him the story of our life, and their life, and all the inbetweens of those years, and who his grandparents were, and and and... And like other attempts to explain, it is easiest for me to go by place: when this happened, we lived _______ (yale creek, jacksonville, red bluff, coosbay, eastside, north bend, ruch, central point, ashland, talent, on my brother's porch, behind the railroad tracks in gold hill...) And what I know for sure is that whatever story it tells will me mine (like this rant). So, beneath the picture of the campground up on Salt Creek, the caption should probably not be: "this is the place where your father stabbed me." It is an emotional undertaking, and letting go of anything related to my personal terrorist has always been difficult for me. I spent years outrunning him, literally, and then years living up to him and even more living it down. It is so much of who I am. Was. Who I was. It is who I was and maybe if I keep repeating that over and over again, my subconscious will hear it and change the way I view the world. But for now, it drags me back into that place of review -- not regret -- I do not regret that shit.

So, on with the project. And on with the holiday.

Friday, December 08, 2006

moving day

We have been storing Nicole in the attic for about 6 months and she's finally getting tired of it. You can tell by the way she leaves little piles of crap at the foot of the stairs. Little piles full of sharp things to step on. We finally got the hint. It is, after all, December. We are trying to find a way to co-exist with a messy teenage girl in a Victorian house. The thing is, I have way way too much shit. Way. I have more clothes than I will ever wear, more art supplies than I will ever use, more baskets, more fabric, more paper and scraps of precious words-- strung together in moments of impulse and imagination-- that may never find each other, that may not even be related, but will someday, dammit, be a book.

Or not.

I hate writing groups. I hate the fact that I keep going around in this circle. But what the hell. Its my circle. I know where it goes. Around. I have, we all know, been in worse circles.

So, the computer is repaired, the keyboard is sticky and needs to be replaced. But it works, and the new monitor is nice and crispy.

We decorated the unit for Christmas. It is all red and sparkly. I tried for a serene winter blue, but the old folks said it was drab. Boring. They like red and green. So, red and fucking green it is. It is actually very nice. At home, we are negotiating the tree deal. My husband says it is his turn to pick out the tree. I said "Why would you think you get a turn? Its not a turn thing." And he didn't like that. But I know him and his frugal ways. He'll drag home something on Christmas Eve from the Safeway parking lot that has been run over a couple of times and never was much to look at in the first place and bring it home and decorate it with devil horns and other Halloween stuff. And I know there's no such thing as an ugly Christmas tree. I've seen the Charlie Brown special. But I want full creative control and I am not going to get it. Marriage. It has its pitfalls. Its all that pesky thinking about the other person and letting them have a vote that I keep forgetting about. Ah well.

I started a special lunch and dinner group on the unit. So many have died, and we grieved, and had hospice grief support come in to help us buck up and do what we do, and in the middle of it all, four women needed some place safe to live. They are all walking and talking and crazy as loons. So I said, hey. Let's have them all sit together at the same table, away from the others who no longer come up for social air, and let them have a tea party, day after day. And the conversation goes something like this: (it doesn't matter what their names are).

When I was eighteen, I was sent to China to be a companion to my spoiled cousin.
Oh? I'm norwegian, you know.
I don't really belong here. There was a mistake.
Oh! That is so funny! (breaks into christmas song in a high soprano)
Oh, you like to sing.
Oh, do I?
She's always singing.
You know my son will be bringing my things here any time now. I should be going home.
When I was in China, I was a companion for my spoiled cousin. She had the same name as me.

And that is how it goes. Every day.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Computer has been dead and is now alive. We're back. I still want a laptop, but this is good.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I've been to the southlands again. That energy sucking monument to past lives. No. It wasn't all like that, but I'm one of those types, let's call me a chronic malcontent, who sees the brimming cup half empty.

We had a great time, mostly. But I get to thinking, and then, shit. There I am again. Back in the toilet.

It was good to see my son. He is strong and good and seems mostly happy. Still a bit too interested in barstools for my comfort, but since when was my comfort in his top-ten? He still has the same girl, which for my family, is a marker of something-- maturity may be too large a word-- but still, she's hanging in there.

I took pictures, but don't know how to put them on disk or disc. whatever. And I will try to find a way to post them.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

three moons over clinton street

My honey called. "Go outside. There is a 12 foot moon in the middle of Clinton Street down by K&F." Well, I could hardly argue. "Okay," I said. And by the time I was out the door, there were three moons. Three brilliant white moons floating in the middle of the intersection of Clinton and 26th. I thought it was the "Teahouse of the August Moon Trifecta," only in November and at a coffee house. "Coffeehouse of the November Moons." Doesn't have that Suzi Quan ring to it. (Wasn't Suzi Quan that asian chick who was in every WWII movie? Kwan? Whatever.)

So, I hitched up Sid and out the door we went to investigate.

Now, I love my imagination. It is much more fun than real life. And I knew this. I knew that if I stayed in my yard, or in the street in front of my house, they would remain magic. It would continue to be a mystery. Demystification has always broken my heart. I love to believe things that are, well, ridiculous. I cling to faith. I harbor childhood beliefs well into middle age. But I walked anyway, leash in hand, Sid pulling me through piles of slippery leaves. I kept pausing, knowing that soon enough, I would know what the globes were... would know they were, in fact, not moons at all. Eventually, I could see from my three block distance that there was equipment in the street. As my hopes of a lunar tri-clipse were dashed, I became willing then to imagine a movie set. Something fabulous. Something with Jack Nicholsen and Jessica Lange. Something to tell the grandkids.

Upon closer inspection, the orbs were huge white nylon balloons used to light the set. But... the set of what?

Road cones blocked the road at 27th. I stood obediently back, staring, hoping for a glimpse of greatness. With this much light it had to be a huge star. A guy approached me, guarding the road cones like they were his, daring me to ask the obvious question:

What's goin' on?

Nissan commercial.

Nissan commercial? Is Jack Nicholsen in it?


Hm. Okay. Can I walk down and look?


So, me and Sid wandered down the block and watched some guy and some girl do the flirt-at-a-stop sign- worn out bit.

I walked home, preferring the three moons of my imagination.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Saturday morning after death week. I don't know if Gerry is still breathing, but when I left yesterday, he looked close. That makes six people back to back, and their absence fills the pale yellow halls. I conduct tours for families who seek the comfort of locked doors, of ever-present staff who become family as faces blur and relationships mean nothing beyond this moment, this *snap* of time. And new ones move in, and we are to know them and love them and care for them in the vacancy left by Ralph and Bill and Gerry and Laura and Millie and Psyche and the whiplash of this mandate is heavy this morning. This mourning.

But the sun was out for a minute. I opened the curtains and saw blue sky.

People walking outside, we are heading for a garage sale in Newberg that will net us more crap to store and walk around. The weather nazi's are predicting a windstorm, so I suggested my husband blow all of the leaves into the street out front and wait for nature to take care of biz. But in my experience, nature will not bag the leaves.

I am happy about the election. I have been driving around with a bumper sticker that says "regime change begins at home" for SIX years. I am optimistic, but not overly so. I suspect they are basically the same, but still, there has never been a dictatorship here. Not like this one. It feels good for a minute.

Addendum: Like most catastrophic events, the wind barely made a showing.

Friday, November 03, 2006

long night

They are dying, most of them. Like flies in August, the buzzing is louder, the elliptical flight slower by the day. We measure it in blood and breath, the thready pulse, the rapid heart, the shallow rattle, the cataract of time that turns blue eyes to milk. I forget this part, this autumn balancing of the census. It almost seems that they die to ease the holiday season for the ones they love. It is probably just pneumonia, but it is so much nicer to consider them mannered and contrite for all the trouble they have been. Besides, they make room for all of the families who have one more good Thanksgiving at Mom's before they finally buckle to the demands of dementia, the great leveller, the irreversible vanishing act that is Alzheimer's Disease, when she puts her best dress over her nightgown, uses toothpaste for hand lotion and Pine Sol for salad dressing.

I took Sid with me to do Stupid Pet Tricks today. He is so impressive. Best frisbee dog ever.


It is difficult enough to crawl out here on this cyber limb, willing to post shit just to keep the words going, without all of you sawing madly behind me in an aborted attempt at encouragement.

Then I think.... oh well--it is probably the higher road to consider my own defects than to expound on the shortcomings of others.

And you know me, I always take the high road.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Occasionally, just occasionally, I get to see my friends. A rare treat, and the one thing besides my son that I miss. It has been two and a half years since I left my life and started again, at my age, an audacious life. a. did it too, in the wild horse hills of nevada. Some say I reinvented myself. Could be. Could be that I just finally became more like myself.

It is early monday, and I have to find Beaverton. It is so hard to find for me. It hides just the other side of some hill. My husband says, "you have to go over the hill," and in Jacksonville, I knew that it meant Bellinger or J'ville Hill. In Ashland, it meant the Siskiyous or Greensprings. Here, I don't know the names of the hills, and don't do well with the numbered freeways. They all seem pretty much the same. And Beaverton seems to go on forever kind of like a long strip-mall. Often, after thinking I am lost, I find that I was there all along, and yet not quite there yet. I have little reason to go to Beaverton. But will give myself an hour to do it.

Gotta go.

Good to see you guys.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I guess it was inevitable. Its not that I don't like people, it really isn't, but I hit the same wall again and again: it really is all about that pesky writing. It really is all about picking up the goddamed pen and dragging it, kicking and screaming, across the page. And if it kicked and screamed from time to time, that would be okay, but I am in the doldrums. Fuck Stephen King and 300 pages a day. He's nuts. And rich. Rich from writing, which, it was pointed out to me on the first day of writing 101: if you're here for the money, go home. It was instead very Rilkean: write only if you must. Only if you will die of it otherwise. And there you have it. My curse.

Once again, I have joined something, and once in, I can't find the way out. I will likely go again -- the writer's group I have been blathering on about -- but I won't want to, and it is not what I was looking for. What I was and now again AM looking for does not exist in any real form. What I seek is the perfect balance of talent and competition, the perfect blend of compassion and brutality. Not. They were all newbies, uninitiated, wannnabees, and perfectly nice people, but they are not of my ilk. This is not a statement of unadulterated hubris-- it is a fact. One is a mild mannered fantasy writer, taking her first class in fiction writing; one is a soccer mom who wants to write children's stories for her child and stories from her own childhood for her parents for christmas; one is a man who says he has no experience and yet quotes major writers with ease and seems to want to talk about writing more than he wants to write.

And these are fine things, fine people, but they are not me. And I hate that. And, I am glad to be me. These people, they embrace the JOY of writing. What is that? Joy? I have joy. I have it here somewhere, I know I do. But in relation to the written word? Not so much. I am looking for suffering souls, near committment, who will write, who do, in fact, write, and who write well. These guys embrace education, which, if you've been listening you will know fucked up my writing bigtime.

I'm bitter. I am alone in a city.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


After two and one half years in Portland, I have finally managed to gather a writing group together. I've been communicating on a message board for Willamette Writers, and we seem to have a common thread. I am exhilarated by the prospect of having something at the very least to write toward. I am naturally competitive and a show-off, so it should serve as at least that kind of inspiration. I have my first draft of "Doc" to take for show and tell, and a copy of another first chapter I like, and hopefully something will get off the ground. Don't ask me why writers need to congregate. It makes no sense. It is a solitary avocation, but it is only in the reflection (inflection) of someone else's voice that I hear the trash or treasure of my work. I don't believe every critical comment anymore. I used to be crushed and stop for weeks. But education does that to a person. Inurring. Is that a word? I became inured to their criticism. Accustomed. You get the drift. At any rate, I am a little nervous to meet new people and will make every effort not to neutralize them with my laser mind before I even meet them. Truth is, there are more bad writers than good, and it often takes some picking through the chaff to get to the wheat of it all. I don't really care (as is my custom) and am just happy to have somewhere to show up with my little pencil and paper. I miss a.

Both girls are here this morning and the clouds hover above our house. I am going to make ghosts today, I think. We got pumpkins yesterday. They never participate in the carving. K is excellent at carving those kind that don't go all the way through. Me? I'm pretty good at smiley faces.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

house maid

It is saturday morning on Clinton Street and the sky is gray, leaves yellowing to match the house across the street. The pavement is still dry, and I am content. On my way home Thursday, black clouds had gathered like gossips, fat bellies hanging expectantly above my neighborhood, ripe with rain. But there has been little drizzle and we wait. There are still yard sales. It is still warm enough that I am not shopping for a coat. I vascilate between wanting a navy blue carrhart unlined barn jacket and a trench coat. Both which I probably have somewhere, but am too lazy to look.

We had a guy come out to give an estimate on the upstairs. I don't remember if I've talked about the stairs.... exactly as wide as my ass, about twice as steep as stairs should be, rising from the middle of the house to the unfinished attic. It will be a project to get them turned around and the attic turned into a master suite for us, but worth it. Space... He can't start until after the holidays, which would be best because I don't want things torn up at Christmas. Its hard enough.

The house is clean, laundry in process, and I'm just going to hang out here today and pretend I don't have a job to go to. I guess I will never accept the fact that I was not born to royalty and will never have a maid. Every maid I've ever had raided my medicine cabinet and stole my linens. My maid. One. Sherry. Sherry liked Sherry. She overwatered my plants and my wood floor warped. Blame. It was when I was I-5-ing it back and forth from HIS house, my love, my long distance sweetie pie. And now I am here. And it is OUR house.

K is helping people move today -- a friend who's mother had dual aneurisms and is now out of commission. A woman my age. Scary what the future could hold. John Mellencamp is 55 today. He reminds me of an era of my life. The eastside era. Coosbay. Lindblad's. My life is separated into several different eras.... There are so many. With characters enough to fill a novel each.

Greekfest on Belmont!! woohoo. I'm there.

Friday, October 06, 2006

friday into saturday

There's no place like home. I have clicked my Ruby slippers together and here I am. We have no plans for the weekend, and it is my mission to keep it that way. If I make it to Winko, that will be the only big outing for me.

I guess it is the changing weather, the cooling of the earth, that pulls me into myself. I love autumn. or

It could be the new blood pressure medication. I really got yelled at this week. My doctor, a Chinese man who never works on the thirteenth of any month, tells me in broken English: you must take care of your heart and your kidneys. You may feel fine now, (I do) but it won't last. Fine. Nothing lasts anyway. But I filled the prescriptions and I am taking them. I am a little woozy if I stand up fast, but that is to be expected. Plus, me and woozy go way back. I used to spin and spin in circles out in my front yard until I tipped over and would spin and spin some more. I loved spinning. It was a bad sign. Then I found spinning in a bottle, oh, and spin the bottle. But that's another story.

I take care of, let's call her Ella. It isn't her name. Her daughter's name isn't Margaret Victoria either, but we'll call her that. MV for short. So every night, MV shows up to heal her mother who is 95 and not in need of much. Certainly not healing, but the daughter finds great purpose in hovering and feeding and clucking and cooing and referring to herself in the third person which drives me fucking mad. She sings to her mother at the top of her lungs. And she has furnished Ella's room with more rose and burgundy flowered fabric than I've seen since the mid eighties. Moving her mother has become increasingly difficult, and MV insists that her mother can stand and walk and dance and of course no one sees this but her because after all, she's a healer. And we just don't know what we're doing. We worker bees. We lowly serfs. And now I have, in my wisdom, insisted she provide a mechanical lift to haul Ella's considerable ass in and out of bed. Bless Ella. It isn't her fault. But wait! It could be her fault. She IS the mother after all, and if you've ever been a mother, you know by now that it is mostly all your fault. Ask my son.

So I ordered the lift and Ella will be hydraulically suspended as we swing her from one place to the next, and MV can sing her heart out, but the girls won't break their backs.

It is such hard work.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

french toast

In an effort to preserve my sense of myself as a nice human being, I made french toast this morning, with big fat heavy bread, vanilla and cinnamon, and a selection of homemade jams and honey and syrup to dredge it in. I made the breakfast in memory of Mira, one of the girl's friends, who always seems to spend the night and wake up on a morning when I feel domestic--or at least nice. She is always grateful, and asked last time, "Do you do this every morning?"

Betty Crocker I am not. I never wanted to be. Still don't.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

silver sands

Just got back from the coast. Started out at Rockaway, then travelled, I think south, to many other places. I get so confused because first of all, I think Tillamook is north of Seaside, and it isn't. I think Seaside is kind of by Newport, and it isn't. You could give me a map and then I'd have two and I'd still think this. So, its always an adventure driving with me and I am happy to drive if you'll just wake up for all the turns. I did none of the driving this time, so no unintended detours.

We had no itinerary, so it was relaxing. K wanted to fish some and crab some, and we did, but got skunked again. We keep just hitting it wrong. Wrong for us, good for the crab, and came home empty handed but for the oysters he bought near Toledo near the back of Yaquina Bay.

First night we stayed at the Silver Sands motel in Rockaway. We decided not to spend a butt load of money, so first tried "the Getaway" which looked like a two story version of Bolder City (see previous posts) and we figured it would be cheeeep, but it was not cheap at all, and we moved on to a nicer and cheaper place up the road. The beach was good and Sid caught his frisbee.

We got up the next morning and after taking a poll of locals, decided on the Pancake house rather than the Cow Bell for breakfast. With Josie the roller-derby queen for a waitress, how could we go wrong? It was fine. Eggs are eggs, afterall.

Next we hit the road, like I said, heading generally south, to crab in Garibaldi, look at places new to me, and some to him: Netarts, Oceanside, Pacific City, buncha other ones; stopping at yard sales on the way. The only thing I bought was a blue and white seersucker blazer to cut up for my yoyo quilt. I did have a very long conversation with M'wa Pig from Garibaldi about her son's suicide. When someone in a shop begins a conversation, with a patron, about a funeral, you know they need to talk. So, now I know that, among other things, she is 71, weatlhy, and dresses up like a pig for Garibaldi days and Halloween in a bodysuit that has six teats and pink tights. I saw the photographs. You'll just have to use your imagination.

We ended up driving all the way to Waldport, one of our favorites for crabbing, but no dice, and stayed last night in the Alsea Motel. which did not have a view, but it also did not have bedbugs or scabies and that is the best I can say.

We waited for low tide to put in the crab rings, and walked out on the pier, baited them with nasty shit and tossed 'em off the dock. They just sat there, corks suspended in maybe two feet of water. It was eerie. Low tide. Most definitely. Now, I don't know how deep it usually is, and I don't know if they usually dredge that bay -- probably -- but geez. It was shallow. The BAY was shallow. Now, I've lived on the coast, I know the habits of water. I understand low and minus-tides. But this was fricking real estate. When the tide came in, it still wasn't in. It was as though the tide went out and kept on going. Like somebody pulled the plug. I'm sure there's and explanation, and I'm sure its scary.

So we got up this morning and came on home. Looking off the Alsea Bay bridge, again at low tide, it was frightening to see the expanse of green mud. We took back roads in from Newport.

Head back in the sand.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I saw the best all time bumper sticker today: Nature Bats Last. Although, I hear we may shoot a bunch of crap up into the atmosphere to delay the inevitable damage of global warming. It reminds me of the fish biologists, who think they know what fish want, who cleaned the rivers so they'd have a straight shot to the sea, only to learn the tree-tangled rivers were fish neighborhoods. Now, the fish have new houses, trees tethered in place with block and tackle, cable and cement. It takes alot more energy to sink a tree than you might think. Anyway, it always makes me nervous to discuss matters of environmental consequence, because I don't know shit.

I am happy to have my truck back. I have been very nervous driving. That moment of inattention rattled me. My fault. Consequence. I don't like it.

Survivor begins tonight. They're playing the race card. I hope I don't care about that. I hope it is just another few weeks of human stew. Un-Live entertainment. Conflict staged for our enjoyment. Utterly Roman.

So, this is the garage sale window from Jacksonville. We got two. It isn't great, but I'll bet someone on craigslist will pay more than I did for it.

My truck. Before AND after. It looked nice before I wrecked it, and it looks nice again. You can picture the inbetween. The nice part is that the passenger side door had been keyed and it is nice and shiny red again.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


We were in the valley again last weekend, to celebrate Bob's birthday. It is an odd crowd up there on Elliott Creek. First word was "there's going to be a huge party." So we were back and forth about that idea.... to party or not to party.... and the remnants of the partiers, the last men standing, the ghosts, aren't much good anymore. They have false teeth and bedtimes. But, finally it was a go. Then, word came that the party was off. By that time, we were on the road and not turning back. We don't need no steenking party... We tried to get out of town right after work on Friday, but Haley was late, then we had to find a suitable birthday present. We'd tried a rocking chair a couple Christmasses ago -- that went over like a lead balloon -- and a gift card last year -- another miss. We were beginning to think we'd lost the touch, then Haley said he broke his fish finder. So it was onto GI Joe's for a new one, and then, hell, dinner in eugene, then spend the night at Marky's in Gold Hill. Jacksonville was having the whole town yard sale, so we decided to find them (Bob and wife) because rumor had it they'd be in town. So, long story short, we didn't find them -- they found Haley. There's not many Haley's in the Rogue Valley. So, from there it was a great weekend. Stayed in the cabin, jumped in the freezing water, slept in, didn't hear 80's rock for days.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Friday, September 08, 2006


As my fingers begin drumming out my life in this worthless diatribe, this anemic thrust at recording a forgettable life, the internal editor begins the tsk tsk tsking of its job. Don't write that. Stop. Hesitate. And in my world, she who hesitates is lost.

In equal measure, I love my husband's daughters and I am sick to death of living with teenagers. I was sick of them long before my son left home, and that was years ago. I long for a vacant saturday morning, no bodies to step over, nobody beating me to the computer so I can outrun conscious thought and get my thoughts down before the fucking editor wakes up. Light sleeper, that. When I try to explain how I feel, it sounds perfectly awful. I sound like some Oprah-fied I-need-my-own-space woman, and that isn't who I am. What I need does not exist, except in my own creation. What I suppose I need is to remodel the upstairs into a master suite where we can get up naked and I can sit in an easy chair and write on my brand new laptop.

Of course, I don't have a brand new laptop.


Writing, as we all whine, is such an isolating avocation. It requires privacy and extended periods of silence. I don't get that around here, and there are so many reasons I could make it different. Take a pen and use it. But I don't. This is my tablet. This is my desk. This is the record. For the record.

And nobody has to care about this but me.

Changing the subject now...

I am self-centered. And beyond that, I am self-contained. I know I've said this before, but I've taken it to new heights. When I wrecked my truck, I saw it through, start to finish, and made sure the old lady I hit was taken care of. I rented my own rental car, and drove it. Shiny. When my husband asked me if it was covered by my insurance, I said no. He said why don't you drive my truck? I said, well, I hadn't really considered it. He said, You never ask for help. But its worse than that. It literally does not occur to me to ask. I have been the only reliable person in my life for so long that help is just not something that I understand. It isn't that I feel weak or helpless or anything like that. I just don't get it.

So, I took the car back. 330.00 later. and I am driving the big white truck. Our truck. Our trucks. Our. Our. Our. I wonder if that will ever sink in.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

saturday morning XXVIII

The giant pile of dirt has been spread across the backyard and I think seed is to follow. It just kind of disappeared -- well, not without great effort on my husband's part -- and the pool is down, and it is looking more and more like a yard again than an okie playground. Its nice to have the space back.

Doc is dying. The girls tell me, this holiday weekend, that he is resting comfortably, but I know what that means. His wife is sitting bedside, waiting.

In an heroic effort of proactivity, I forced my husband to drive me to Waldo Lake yesterday. It wasn't all kicking and screaming and OH, by the way, I drove in my rented Pontiac Grande Prix. Yep, I wrecked my truck. Again. Again. In the briefest moment of inattention, I pulled out in front of an 80 year old woman. She's okay, and I am fine, but the vehicles are not. "Crash" does it onomonopoetic justice. My bad. I know you're not supposed to admit fault, but Stevie Wonder could have seen it was all me. So, off to the body shop, again.

So we drove the silver bullet to the top of the cascades. Pretty up there. I am bound and determined to see all of the available campsites in my corner of the northwest so I can pick THE one, reserve it, and not make the same mistake again (refer to previous post). That camping fiasco was traumatic... but I learned alot about myself. However, I would much rather have enjoyed myself and learned not one damned thing, but such is life.

Waldo lake was anticlimactic. It is nice, but fill it with people on a Labor Day weekend, and the mystery dissipates like so many fumes. Anyway, up the road a-piece is Odell Lake. Bigger and I think better. The search for a perfect campsite was, while not ridiculed -- smirked at by my husband. He said, smiling that unavoidable smile, I can't believe you have to look at campsites for next year already. I explained, or tried to, that I just needed hope. I just needed to see that there are still quiet places in the world where death metal for breakfast isn't the norm. And there are.

I liked Odell. Trapper's Creek campsite. Forest service run. There is a shitty resort not far from there, but Trapper's Creek looks good. Big sites, lots of huge trees. For me, the first consideration is beauty and quiet. (I think I've made my point about that...) And K said he wanted to be able to run the boat full throttle and pull the kids on an innertube if he wanted to and of course if they agreed to it. This was new information for me. Good to know... So, now we need to find a place where both are possible. Odell Lake met both requirements. Big trees, huge lake with boats, fishing and pulling people around; and quiet. But, like all USFS campgrounds, it is first come first served, which makes me nervous. I want what I want. Toddler property rules.

So, I am still looking.

It is Labor Day now (this post has taken some time to finish) we took the boat out today. but first, we did the requisite fall cleanup. We have kicked Sid out of the backyard. With the pool put away for another year, the beautiful paver 10x10 exposed, the remaining yard was pure dogshit. And smelled like it. Sitting on the deck was no longer enjoyable. And Sid, being the social animal he is, would crap for you any time you wanted to sit outside in his yard. I am happy to report that he has the side yard to defile while we re-seed the yard. I'm hoping to bar him from the backyard for good.

In front, I had planted a eucalyptus tree in the flower bed, thinking it would be a nice little shrubbish thing, but that sucker is huge. They weren't kidding when they said "tree". But then, why would they be? But anyway, I moved it to the end of the front retaining bed, and hope it will not blow out the cement wall. It grew 4 feet in a year. I had no idea-- I just liked the leaves.

Well, the walkways are edged, swept and de-mossed, leaving them about 8" wider. Perennials are cut back, dry patches watered and seeded, and the hanging baskets are still awaiting demolition. They are still in bloom, but I'm watching them closely. My husband thinks I'm brutal. I murdered three unsuspecting Hostas and an azalea this morning and I have my eye on a fern that isn't doing well. Its botannical euthanasia, in my view. They wouldn't want to live like that --all brown and crumbly. I'm helping.

So, back to work tomorrow.

My yoyo quilt is coming right along.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

tuesday tuesday

The final day of my vacation.... and if camping wasn't fun enough, I am going to the dentist this morning.

I'll probably enjoy it more.

Monday, August 28, 2006

by monday

I rant, therefore I am.

There is this place where I go to fix what is wrong with me, or at minimum, keep the wolves at bay. It isn't that I don't like the wolves, just that I understand their intent. It never changes. They live in my head. They talk to me. In the immortal words of somebody, there is no confusion about why people who kill themselves shoot themselves in the head. It is where the problem lies.

Ah well. Another day.

I hated the camping trip. I feel ripped off. Duped. I wasn't, of course. Again, my fine mind leading the way down a dark alley. What I want to say is that I had NOTHING in common with those people. But I do. A fundamental thing. The wolves.

We were given the camp space because a girl I know was too pregnant to camp this year. It is an old campout, 17th annual, and it is impossible to get a space. I had seen the spot a couple of years ago, and coveted it (problem begins) but I didn't really see it for what it was. I saw what I wanted to see, and, using toddler rules of conduct (I want it therefore its mine) I assumed a great many things, such as, everyone camps like we do. It is a huge campsite, huge, and in other areas of the camp, it is relatively quiet, but our site was situated smack in the middle of 80's rockers. Tesla for breakfast. Non-stop. It was like being in hell. I'm sure I'm paying for something. Judgment, no doubt. I always do.

But there we were, in the middle. The freebie was irresistable. Couldn't pass it up. Yeah, we got a permanent spot at CANACO. I still don't know what CANACO means. I just wanted to be in the middle where the big kids are. I just didn't know the middle of what. Plus, there were way too many people out there. WAY too many. Globs of people flocking together to outrun those damned wolves. )And I wish I didn't have to be so obtuse, but print is print.) The difference, I think, is that the reason we were there, primarily, was to camp. The reason the others were there was about the fucking wolves. Not us. We didn't care so much about that. We just wanted a free campsite. And we got one.

And not that we couldn't afford one. Bummer. Now, I'm sure that some people view camping as a time to blast stereo's and scream and yell into the night. We aren't like that. We are quiet. We were just reading, and making yoyo's for my quilt, Nicole making a loom-knitted scarf, and cooking, and picking berries for cobbler, and catching crawdads, and my honey made me a hanging spice rack out of macrame. Knotted rope. See previous post. And we went up a day early, so really, did have one day of real camping before the hordes showed up.

And the way they looked (let me say what I really mean)... does it really matter that they have no sense of style? Should it? NO. Does it? YEEESSSS. Do these women not see their bellies hanging over their passe-low jeans. Do they not have mirrors? Would you tattoo that? NO. Would you decorate it? I, personally, would not. I try to tell myself that these women are better off being less self-conscious than me, that celebrating big fat hangin' bellies is a step forward for womankind, but these crackheads looked like shit. Period. I am embarrassed to be seen among them. So why was I? Why didn't I leave?

I don't know. I guess because it kept getting nice for a minute, quiet. I tried to look at the similarities rather than the differences. I tried to be one of many. And am. I know that. But also, there is a place for me, and I need to understand that it is not a social one. I called a. and she set me straight about that.

Next year we will go to Waldo Lake.

I'm sure there will be idiots there, and bad campers, but I won't be expected to socialize with them.

fuckin' wolves.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

camp aerosmith

Really, its all in how you look at things. Half empty/half full. It was a half full camping trip. My expectations unmet, as it goes with expectations. It was a beautiful place, with way too many people who did not share my camping ethic. And by now you must know that my camp ethic is well-honed. We do not brush our teeth and rinse our dishes where we get water; we do not blare the top 40 of 80's rock at 8:00 in the morning.

God was not there.

I did not see God there.

I was probably not looking very hard.

Here's some pictures:




the spice rack


Thursday, August 24, 2006

the wait

I am waiting, we are waiting, we have waited. We have two truckloads of shit, enough to stock GI Joes. We finally spent some money on shelving for downstairs and I went through the camping gear, sorted it, and now I know what to put on craigslist and what to leave out on the sidewalk for the rest of the scavengers of SE Portland.

We are waiting for my kid, who is halfway up I-5. I don't usually wait for him. It doesn't usually pay off. He isn't very reliable. I'm not sure where he gets that. His girlfriend knows how to get across the Ross Island Bridge, and I can guide them in from there.

We are headed for camp. I baked a german chocolate cake and brought books to read and fabric to make yoyo quilt squares, my new obsession. It should last a day or so. I lack the attention span to be qualify for OCD, (and am too self-centered to be co-dependent. My ailment is more common.) But I hope to make one anyway. It may take the rest of my life.

I heard from Anne today, a voice from down south. Makes me miss what used to be, but my life is transformed, and it was about time. Like most distant connections, it was bad news that prompted the call, but still good to hear her voice and know that what we share is unchanged by time or distance.

So, its off to Estacada, setting up the tents, wearing a sweatshirt for the first time in months, and shoes; reading my crappy murder mysteries, sewing yoyos and cooking meat over a blazing fire. Camping is a carniverous activity, and I worried that Nic wouldn't have enough, but we have bread and cheese and garden burgers, so she's good. We have babyback ribs, steaks and burgers.

Sid should have fun. He's so neurotic. He won't eat or shit until we get home. He'll be frantic to play frisbee and chase birds and squirrels. He thinks he can catch birds. He thinks airplanes are birds and chaseable. He has that childlike misunderstanding of the possible. Conservation of mass, I think it is called. Lack of perspective. If he can see it, he should be able to reach it. If he can't see it, it isn't there. Convenient, really. Wish I had that.

Alright. I'm outta here. Back Sunday. j

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I am on actual vacation for a week. It seems soon, but I did want to get some camping in before the end of summer. I am planning like I do, the perfect trip, which will not be perfect and still, my hope is to lose track of time, read a couple of books, write down some words, and enjoy the company of my family. My son will be up tomorrow, and I can't wait to see him. He is my joy, and utterly unreliable, as joy can be. But I hope he shows up and I get to meet the girlfriend.

There is a pack of killer raccoons in Seattle. Reminds me of that movie they shot up there, The Ring II, with the killer deer. You just couldn't convince me. Bambi gone bad.

Well, I am avoiding work. I need to go through the camping gear, make sure the tent poles are there, finish the laundry, do the food shopping, pack up and be ready to go, then pick up husband, go get firewood, come home and water everything. But first, a nap. Afterall, I AM on vacation.

Monday, August 21, 2006

pre encampsia

I am getting ready to go camping. We are upgrading our equipment. Now, the thing is, we already have enough camping gear for three families -- enough tents to sleep the army. But that's okay, I like stuff. I have alot of it. Among the gear are two, maybe three, white gas stoves, Coleman's or something. But, like most aging hippies, we are lazy, and kind of past the stage where we're willing fill the gas can, pour the gas from the can through the crappy, too-small funnel and into the gas tank, and once filled, to scrape that little leather thingy, screw it down tight but not too-tight, pump our arms off while keeping that little metal arm up (or was it down?) and then stand back and light it, willing to relinquish arm and facial hair, and still, even with all that effort, knowing there is little real chance that the flame will be even, or ever be that perfect blue that indicates success by Coleman standards. And even then, if you do get a flame, it only lasts until the stew is almost done, potatoes still too hard, but never long enough to cook a pot of beans.

JOke: There was this hippie that jumped out of an airplane with a parachute. He couldn't remember which cord to pull. As he was free-falling, he passed another hippie flying upwards through the air. He said, "Hey, do you know anything about parachutes?" and the other hippie said, "No. Do you know anything about Coleman stoves?"

So anyway, danger aside, there are so many reasons I am happy to have evolved beyond Coleman stoves and be the proud owner of a two burner, free-standing (non-tabletop model) propane stove complete with baking dome and grill. Whee.

And that's not all. I got marshmallow sticks. Metal ones. Which, my husband was quick to point out, would never hold marshmallows, and were probably meant for hot dogs. So be it. Hot dogs it is. And we got a clicker lighter, like crack-heads use, and camp chairs.

In SE Portland, and maybe in other parts of the world too, but in my neighborhood for sure, if you want to get rid of something, you put it on craigslist or put it on the street. We went for a walk the other night and passed a perfectly good queen sized piece of four inch foam. Sweet. We balanced it on our heads like rice baskets and off we went. I sewed sheets together to cover it and we have a new bed.

I chatter along, but I really cannot express all that is in my heart for my good friend Patrick. I will just say that there truly are no words for a sadness that big. To say that he is in my prayers is true, that this tragedy has moved me to prayer is true. And my prayer is that he will find peace in time, which seems absurd.

It was a weekend of bad news, and I am getting ready to go camping. It is always difficult to embrace life in the face of unjust death and suffering.

Friday, August 18, 2006

doc II

I am working at night. I am physically working, actually doing something besides making paper move from one end of my desk to another. I tuck them in. There is nothing sweeter than a goodnight kiss from an eighty-four year old woman who thinks you are her mother. And Doc, he smiles, a rarity, and laughs to himself and an unseen audience. He says to them "Hey, wouldn't it be great if we could get God and Jesus here? Wouldn't it?" I become the audience, say yes. "Yes, that would be great," I smile back. He looks startled that I am actually there, that he used his outloud voice, that I had heard it. He laughed again, shrugged and said, "Yeah," and was gone again. Back inside.

It is quiet here. And I am back inside.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


He touches everything and I don't think he sees anything now. He keeps his eyes closed because it is easier that way. He is thinking. He is thinking as hard as he can, and what comes out is "little league" and "court papers" and "we only have 7 out of 19" and "Depoe Bay." And just as suddenly, he says, "I love her with all my heart." And I know he is speaking about his wife.

She comes every day. Every single day. And in the tradition of wellness, in the tradition of Oprah and Phil and all the people who would not face down this deathless end, she is told to "take care of herself," and "start living." And she tries. But you can hear it in her voice, when she's away at the beach with the girls for the first time, that living isn't what it used to be.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

week's end

My husband is either a.) holding the camera and taking the picture; or b.) the little old lady he had take his picture wasn't a very good shot and cut off his head.

taken from the marquam bridge this morning during the bridge pedal. A big community bike thing in Portland. Nice shot.

Me? I got a new sewing machine. My first new one. A Kenmore. Nothing fancy. As long as it can go forward and back up, all's well. Then I looked for a cabinet on craigslist and found a good one. Now, to sew all that fabric that's been piling up for years and years...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

sid vicious turns two

We got Sid when he was 8 weeks old after being adopted for two weeks by idiots that let their children feed him garbage. He was thin and sickly and unpaid-for:

This is the most handsome picture of Sid I could find.

This is a very cute picture of Sid.

We fed him and loved him and paid for him, and today he is the fastest frisbee dog in the park, and, if you turn your head to one side, he is upright.

Happy Birthday Sid

Monday, August 07, 2006


"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm."

But still, there are enough storms to hold my interest.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I saw my cousin yesterday for the first time in many years. My cousin who rescued me from my own personal terrorist back in 1980 when I was running for my life. She "took us in." I'm sure people still do that. My son and I showed up and stayed for a long time. It was the bottom of my life. It became the bottom of hers.

Linda owned a beautiful little split level home on the coast. She worked, had a car, the love and respect of her family and a german shepherd named Heidi. Her house was impeccable. I learned much of the little I know about keeping house from her. I think I was 26. Maybe 27. When I got there, I was nearly unrecognizable from the bruising. My head was so sore I couldn't brush my hair. She and some other women french-braided it for me. We drank: blackberry daquiris, tequila and lime, you know, fun stuff, recreational drinking. High end alcoholism. Then one day I said, "hey, lookit this," with a needle and spoon in my hand, and she was off and running. And the house and the car and the dignity followed it its wake. She lost everything. HOmeless, penniless, ostracized from her family with children she loves but never expected to have.

She blames me. Enough of it is true.

So, I saw her yesterday and she is dying. Kidney and liver in failure, just like she is. She is an old woman now. Not just like me, 50-something and still ticking, but OLD. She was a snapshot of the ravages of time. NO, that's not fair. Time alone is not that cruel. But hand in hand with Vodka and orange juice, her ass is kicked. She stopped drinking after the stroke four years ago, but there is so little left.

I'm trying to figure out if I should post this. It is my blog, I can write what I want, but really, what is fair? Anne Lamott says to be careful with the (barely)living.

It is a beautiful day in my beautiful life. I live it carefully, and gratefully, and know it should have been me.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I moved four of six ferns, I think. One for sure that has to still go. And other stuff. I am learning what goes where, what does well where. Ferns don't like to be touched. If you pass to close to them, they turn brown and wither. So I planted them along a walkway that Sid doesn't use. And I finally took a proactive step other than fencing to keep him out of the flower beds. I've read books on creating dog-friendly yards -- dogscapes -- but it would be like living on the moon. I like ferns and hydrangeas and roses and lavendar and stargazer lillies and and and... and he doesn't care about any of that. I don't want to poison him, and won't, and I don't want to spray pet-be-gone all over the place. That can't be good. So I compromised and took a lesson from my elders. Rose thorns. Elizabeth, the old German lady that used to own this house, kept cats out of her flower beds by placing rose clippings -- foot long pieces of thorny branches -- here and there on the ground. Mean, huh. And I've been against it all this time. But really, it seems the least invasive means of keeping him to his space, shrinking as it is. I know I'm going to hear it from a. I know it. I'm sorry. She is a much better person that me. Much. But we take him for runs all the time, and he won't shit anywhere but the back yard. He's as neurotic as we are. Oh, I'm feeling bad about this.

Well, I must pick blackberries and make jam. On with the domesticity.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

ships passing

When we drove back from southern oregon, all I could think, in the disappointment of not seeing my son, was very Dorothy-like: there's no place like home there's no place like home there's no place like home. I clicked my ruby-sneakers together time and again. And I am here.

I miss my son. He has a new girlfriend, Lisa, and I fear that they will have babies and I will never see them. I fear that he will lack the ability, like me, of attachment. That he will always see the distance between himself and others more clearly than the places they touch. He is like me that way. Cautious, untrusting. In a book I wrote, I said, "knowing her was like passing too close to barbed wire." I am barbed. I am less attached. I am here. I am not there. I am no beacon, I do not radiate. I reject pedestals. I get along.

But today is Saturday morning on Clinton street, and I have been gifted this other life, this new try at humanity and connection. Today I will work in my many gardens.

I talked to Gwen on Thursday -- she occasionally reminds me what day it is and I go to this place where women congregate and for an hour and a half I feel part of something -- and she pointed out the obvious: I'm not very social. It is true. But it is good to sit among women and their screaming children and soak up similarity for a change. It is other-worldly, like being on a new planet where I don't know the rules and don't have the costume.

Self pity.

Today I will move six ferns to places where they can thrive and Sid won't piss on them. I will move the hydrangea out from under that succulent plant that is taking over, I will move the stargazer bulbs to the back of the garden so they are safe, and dig out, once and for all, the weeds. I knew weeds in southern Oregon. I don't know them here. Some are beautiful, and in the near-rainforest of this area, will consume my flowers and house if allowed. Like Marcel's blackberries. They consumed his garage. Swallowed it whole. Today I will pick blackberries and make freezer jam.

We have summarily decreased, by thirds, Sid's yard. He has 1/3, we have 2/3: one third deck, one third pool, one third dog shit. I love my husband. He picks it up three times as often now.

Sid shits.

We got this accordion at a yard sale. Put in on craigslist and a Russian called to buy it. See? I told you there's Russians around here. It is a beautiful, Italian-made "Rolo." After some investigation, we learned that it is a student model, and worth a couple hundred. I was sure it was the Strativarius of Accordions, but it isn't. Just a shiny red thing. He could have been Hungarian, or Polkan. I'm not sure.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Windless cyclone. I am bored and older. That is all.

It is too early and I have neglected this thing, this blog, this way I say what I need to. Today I am feeling censored, the internal editor is loud, and threatening, and calling me common, and you know how I hate to be common. I am one of many. I am not all that special. I follow a path. It is what keeps me alive.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


these socks are missing.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

extreme weather

I am forever complaining about the ever-vigilant Portland weather media.
"OH MY GODDDDDDDDD! Its going to be above 70!!!!!!!!!" and
"OH MY GODDDDDDD! Its going to be below 70!!!!!!!!!!!!

Extreme heat warnings have consumed the newshours for over a week. Since moving to Portland, I HAVE, admittedly, missed my A/C, and HAVE begged that we get something to offset the 90 and above days. But Kurt wouldn't do it, until now. He had his reasons, mostly based in a little too much first hand information about how thieves view a window A/C unit... (give it a push and crawl on in...) but 105 for three days was enough of a threat I guess. As usual, of course, it didn't happen. It did get to 102, I think, on one day, and it was bizarrely muggy Friday night. The house never did cool off and I think I finally got a taste of what it must be like to live down south (way down south in the land of cotton.) and all that was missing was the big bugs you hear about. I hate bugs. Anyway, after a debate about the cost of three nights on the coast and the price of gas, and that would have been fine but the traffic to and from is absurd in the midst of a Portland weather exodus, we opted for an air conditioner. Then, it was about finding one. Not so easy. Home Despot laughed in our faces. Lowes wasn't much better. We finally found one at Sears. But then, the big one we wanted couldn't be supported by the 1910 wiring in our house, so we opted for a smaller one. And it WORKS!!! It is so nice in here. Electric consumption be damned.

So again, I live in the lap of luxury.

Haley just returned from an unauthorized hitchhiking trip to San Francisco. At 15, we were panicked, and intercepted her in Arcata, put her on a Greyhound bus and got her home. She is here now, and fine, in her beyond thunderdome attire. This just doesn't seem like a teenage phase. It seems like this is probably who Haley is. She prefers the company of vagabonds and dogs, and places like Takelma, with its burned out trailers and RVs and open air cooking, and I can't fault her for it. I love that she views the world so openly, and is so trusting. I hope nothing ever happens to dull her enthusiasm. I am a skeptic of the highest order. It is easy to say, about my significant history of hitchhiking, that it was a different world back then. But it wasn't. There were bad people then, as now, and good ones, and a vagabond culture of which I was family for a long long time. I didn't die from it, and I hope Haley survives her inquisitiveness and rejection of higher culture (if indeed we are higher....) If the oil runs out, as many say it will, we may all have to learn to live around a campfire. She may be the future.

clinton street fair

One thing that has happened since I have been lax at blogging is that I get all these long e-letters from my friends, complaining that I am not blogging. Thanks for the letters. It is incentive not to blog, but I do want to catch up.

Today is the Clinton and Division Streets Fair. We went. Actually we walked down the street to get a cup of coffee and it was nearly time for the parade, so we waited, called Haley to bring down the camera, and this is what we saw:

the crowd

motorbikes in a circle

the alzheimer's ride

We didn't get a picture of the drum band that was first in the parade, or the flame flag twirlers. The pictures are all taken looking down Clinton Street. You can see the Clinton Street Theatre where we saw Rocky Horror, where they show it every Saturday night and have forever. Our house is three blocks up the street.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

baby shower

When I was laid up with my shoulder surgery, I agreed -- no, I volunteered -- to do the baby shower games. On Vicodin, it sounded like fun. On vicodin and without a job, it seemed reasonable. But in the doing, it was no different than running activities in a nursing home. I'm sure I've talked about that. Remind me to write about the time we went to the petting zoo. Or the time we tried to have a carnival in the nursing home parking lot and back yard, complete with a dunk tank and cotton candy machine. I'm sure there are worse things than making cotton candy in the dead heat of august in Southern Oregon after being awake for five days straight, maybe you know of something, but for me, it is near the top of the list of things not to do again.

So, yes. I arranged the baby shower games. But here's the thing: acts that are motivated by guilt instead of generosity just don't work. (Not to mention the vicodin) and guilt was definitely driving the bus. The girl who is having the baby is not my type, but her husband is my husband's friend. And I felt some responsibility to her. Wrongly. But once I was in, I couldn't figure out how to get out.

We played the stupid pin game. We played a diaper game. We played a paint the onesie game.

I hated it. It made me feel like a stranger.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


My head is mud. I am out of coffee. I am meeting asia at 10 down the street, so will wait to get my fix until then. I ground up about 10 beans, whirrrrred them around until they were dust and put them in a single cup dripper. I am desperate. I am hooked. I like drinking coffee in my pajamas on my deck. I NEED to be able to do that. Poor planning. It reminds me of scraping seeds and stems to get a headache, or crawling around on the floor after a chunk of (you fill in the drug) and shooting whatever I found. Yep, those were the days.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Today is the 4th of July. We took the boat out, put in at Willamette Park and drove over to Sellwood to see some friends. That was boring. Then we took the boat up to Oregon City along a stretch of river I hadn't seen before. I love to look at the homes along the water. I love the houseboats, each one a work of art. The Ross Island houseboats have one that is like a nautilus shell, wood and copper with lots of windows. I like to pick out the original homes along the river, among the McMansions, the little shingled cottages and river houses that preceeded the conspicuous consumption of these days. The houses are side by side now, each worth millions, I'm sure, each with a deck and a boat house and a long floating ramp meant to weather even the 100 year floods. I wonder. On the Willamette, 100 years passes fairly frequently. I was living in Portland in the flood of '64. I was in the 5th grade, Mrs. Jones' class. I had a peach colored umbrella that blew inside out in the wind and acutally lifted me off my feet. I remember newsreels of one of the bridges over the river that buckled and swayed and collapsed with cars on it. I could be making that up, but I think it is true. I remember bringing a scrap of newspaper to school that year. It was about the Beatles. I was the first person in my school to know about them. Even then I was tragically hip. We moved to Portland when my father died. Actually, I think we were visiting, and just stayed after we found out he was gone.

The other day I drove by the house I lived in when my father died. I'd tried to find it before, but I guess I went down 66th place rather than 66th. It is in felony flats. Was even then. I was surprised it was still standing. It is a tiny hovel, with narrow stairs and burgundy flowered linoluem and I could see my bedroom window that overlooked my uncle's huge garden of poppies. He had the whole yard planted in them, towering red tissue-paper thin flowers with circus tent seedpods in the centers. Even then there was the occasional pale flower, a gray or white throwback, that caught my eye. Its no wonder I loved heroin. I recall him standing in the yard in his overalls, a great fat man, watering those poppies each evening. When I water my yard, I recall his patience, and try to give my flowers as much attention. He lost his mind, finally, and went about watering even the flowers on wallpaper, which caused some problems in the family. I guess he was probably mentally ill -- schizophrenic, best guess, and had a big heart. I think I've said before that he rode his bicycle up and down the west coast in the final years of his life, finally coming to rest on a boat in San Francisco Bay where he died alone on Christmas Eve. The yard is different now, and the big field next door where we built a fort beneath a huge cedar tree is gone, of course, and the big lilac is gone. There used to be a narrow cement walkway that cut through the middle of the poppies from front gate to front door. My brother rode his skateboard down it too fast, put out his arms to stop himself and broke both of his wrists. Mrs. Wallace lived next door. She was 80 and could do handstands. And did. Every holiday she brought over a fake can of peanut brittle that was actually full of spring-loaded snakes. The first time it scared the shit out of me, but then I was on to her and had to fake it.

I remember the day the phone call came about my father. I don't recall crying, which doesn't surprise me. I remember confusion and disbelief. He was a good man. A happy man. He would have liked my husband.

I suppose we will wander down to watch the fireworks along the East Bank Esplanade. I just hope I don't have to stand near the very scary statue of Vera Katz. If anyone makes a bronze statue of me, I hope they use a picture of me when I was five. I was much cuter then.

Here's a shot of Sid on the patio. Is it a patio? Is that what we call it?

The blues festival wraps up today. Each year we bring the requisite cans of bad food and a couple dollars down there and brave the throng. The thongs. Actually, it is a rather gray crowd, all of the age-resisting boomers who continue to defy fashion but not time. We take the bike down and park easily, which is the hardest part, really. And each year I yearn to be among the boat people, listening to the blues from the water's edge. This year we did it. We put in at a strange little ramp up river, cruised by the fabulous Ross Island and Sellwood houseboats, and finally wound our way cautiously, paddles in hand, through the yachts and speedboats. Front row seats. The sound was good, but alas and as usual, I had to pee.... When sitting up on the lawn the day before, I had noticed an outhouse floating among the boats, so my darling husband, keeper of my comfort, said it was no trouble. He's great that way. So once again, we threaded the gauntlet, bobbing and weaving, until the yellow plastic oasis was in sight. We pulled up alongside the dock, hopped out and peed. My husband decided to jump in the water to cool off and suggested I do the same. I just really wanted to splash a little and not get my hair wet (I can't stand women who don't get their hair wet) but it didn't quite work out in my favor. I slid in, and under, and couldn't get out. My shoulder, you see, isn't quite what it used to be, and heaving my bod out of deep water just isn't something I can do. So, Kurt tries to help me, and as he is helping me, yells, "the boat!!!" which, as you might imaging, is floating away. So he dives in to save the boat and I am left to save myself for awhile. He rescues the boat, ties it to the dock and by that time, I have located the big rope tethering the dock to the anchor. I stand on it as best I can, and he pulls me up enough to get a grip and haul myself out. It matters what you wear in these situations, and my wardrobe malfunctioned in a big way.

It was the second time that day that I flashed Portland. That same morning we rode our bikes to Sellwood park and I was wearing one of my favorite short sarongs tied around my upper half. Turns out it flaps in the breeze of a downhill bike ride. I was horrified, but I'll never see those people again. I've managed to survive worse shame in my life.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

summer cold

I'm sick. I remember one night in a bar, in the Jubilee Club to be precise, when Cooky and I sat around thinking of epitaphs. It seemed like an appropriate activity given our suicidal lifestyle. Hers was going to read, "I told you I was sick." My favorite epitaph was written by a cowboy in the very old west. It read, "Here lies the man that stole my horse."

I don't think I'm facing imminent death, but I am sick of being sick. Last week I was puking, this week it is a summer cold. It sounds so innocuous-- "summer cold"--all mint-julepy and sweet. A minor inconvenience at most-- maybe a moment or two napping in the porch swing will clear it up. Not this. I can't swallow, can't speak, can't think. It is invading my ears. My head is full of mud and it is hovering at the base of my throat, threatening to invade my lungs. And that scares me. My lungs are so weak from years of bronchitis. I am so susceptible. I am beginning to cough.

On to nicer subjects.

This is my husband spreading sand where he is about to lay pavers for a pool pad in the back yard. Every year we put up the pool and kill the grass. We decided to make it more pool friendly. Its either this or A/C.

The stones we chose are called Roman Dominion. Sounds serious. They look like an old roman road and are just about as easy to build.

mountain of dirt, or, if you wish, free sod. U Haul.

So, it is 100 degrees in Portland and the newscasters are on it. Extreme weather alerts. I love Portland.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I started puking at midnight on the 14th as if in celebration. I puked through my entire special day. I haven't puked that much since I was a child. Buckets of bile. As a failed bulemic, it was kind of exciting, but overall, not that much fun. I did lose eight pounds. It is now, I think, the 17th, and I have missed two days of my life. The symptoms went south yesterday and another day devoted to rest and repair. Whew. It is not the norovirus, just in case you were wondering.

I am some better now.

For my birthday I got a diamond band to go with my wedding ring, which is really an engagement solitaire. We wanted it to look more like a traditional set, so added this band. It is sparkly. I love it. And a card covered with pink roses that said, "Beautiful as always" and I know he wrote it while I slept, puke in my hair and on my breath as he kissed me goodbye. Its good to have a husband.

My ailment is from working in a place with old people who catch everything, and young women with children who bring in bugs by the b'zillions and can't afford to stay home sick. A bad combination. Add to that, I always get sick at a new job. I think there are new bugs at each place, and I need to develop immunity to them. It takes time, and one hard hit at least. This was a doozy. But it is not bronchial, which is a huge relief. That scares me.

Time to wash my hair and try to leave the house for the first time in days. There are garage sales waiting.

Back now... got a bike in Boring. And strawberries. A flat for 15 bucks. I'll make freezer jam today or tomorrow. They are pretty good, but I think needed a little more sun to up the sugar content. So, I'll up the sugar content my own self.

OH! Big news. My son called and told me my house is gone. My first house in Talent. As I suspected, the bitch I sold it to was just a schill for a developer. Scooped it up and tore it down. My kitchen. My tile countertops. My sweet little cottage. I'll always think of it as Spencer's house, I think. His yard. His deck. His grave. I should have taken my mother's Peace rose, and the big hunk of rose quartz that Marky got for me. I should have taken more pictures. Ah, should have. What words.

Truth is, I didn't want anyone else to live in it. It was my house and now it is gone. I guess it is actually pushed to the back of the property awaiting demolition. Oh, well. I knew they were trying to put a road through from Talent Avenue to the highway, and that they'd go through Totem Pole trailer park to do it, and my property was one of the only things standing in the way. They would have forced me out sooner or later anyway. Progress. Sprawl. I'll never forget the view, or sitting on my deck of a spring morning, drinking cinnamon-laced coffee, listening to the meadowlark in the sycamore trees and petting my old dog. I thought I'd be there forever. I never thought I'd be here.

But, here I am.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


This is my window. Isn't it pretty??

Saturday, June 03, 2006

dropping betty

Last night the pager went off. I was riding on the back of our motorcycle in downtown traffic. It is the kickoff of Rose Festival week and everyone was beating feet to see the fireworks, or trying to get out of the city to avoid traffic, which creates traffic. Its endless. There are a lot of cars, and you just gotta get your best zen goin' and sit it out. I learned this commuting 3 hours a day to McMinnville. Do not rush hour. I listen to the drone of public radio and occasionally hear something of worth. Mostly I listen to the syntax of OPB reporters who say rad-i-O (emphasis on the third syllable) rather than RAD-i-o. Like most people do. They are so very very "this-is-Chris-tian-Fo-den-ven-sil" Everyone has an accent, accentutated, and I always love to listen to the social elite reporting oppression.

So there I was, in traffic, pipes rattling as we progressed light to light, and the pager went off. It is loud, thankfully, and I called in to find out what was up. "We dropped Betty." "Oh," I say. "Well, this happens." If you are uninitiated, humans are slippery when wet, and from time to time, they just get away from you. I don't want to live so long that someone has to bathe me, but if I do, I hope I understand. But the girls.... they work so hard, and care so much, so much more than is useful or productive, and get so attached. And dropping a whole person on the floor is astonishing. Whoosh, and there they go. And they are so breakable. Betty didn't break though, just a little tear on her paper skin. And Betty doesn't have the disadvantage of memory any longer, so it was over as soon as it began, for her.

We had dinner at Dan and Louis Oyster Bar. It was good to be downtown among the lights and noise and throng of humanity.

Monday, May 29, 2006

decoration day

A long weekend of nothing. I love nothing. I'm good at it, have had plenty of practice. I am meeting with an editor friend this morning and hope to uncover the origins of my writing discontent. She may not know this, but I am. I know it was always good to connect with other writers before and she is one. Just published another book on fiction writing. Due to my near-death-experience, which we will heretofore refer to as my NDE, I am invigorized, as those things are prone to get you. I am common.

But alive.

I hate writing about writing, but here goes.

I live in a house with other people and cannon find sustained time or space. It is not their fault--as much as it would delight me if the problem were that simple. It is logistic. It takes me four pages of crap before I even begin to hit my stride, as these pages prove beyond doubt, and that takes time, and they use the computer. So, do I get my own computer? A simple fix, but the house is small and the same troubles apply. Do I learn to write in the basement? Its coming along -- kind of an open and more inviting space -- do I write amid the camping gear to the sounds of the tumbling dryer? Which reminds me, I need to put the clothes in the dryer.

And a. will say, "Fuck the clothes. Write." and she is absolutely correct. I will. But I am a better housekeeper than I used to be, and it is not as easy to fuck it all off. I have witnesses, remember?

So I am writing. And the good and the bad thing about a blog is that it does maintain the flow-- does hold that energy. But it is also like a steam vent for a volcano. It never really blows because of the continual release. Not that my productivity ever reached volcanic levels... but the metaphor is the thing.

I can't seem to get next to a storyline. They all seem idiotic. And I am a fiction writer. I am also a poet, but poetry, while rich, is a vent. Do I write about all of the crazy people I've cared for? One? Do I travel back down one of the dark alleys I've been down and illuminate the rubble for the sake of posterity? Do I -- gasp -- make something up? I've said many times, I'm not a writer, I'm a liar.

So, my coffee is ready: french press with tons of cream and it is Memorial Day.

Used to be that Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. At the nursing home a bus would come to take people out to the cemeteries, bouquets of picked or purchased flowers, some with flags, some not so patriotic, just remembered. I don't think it was about memorializing only the war dead. It was celebratory. It was the reason for family plots. Nowadays you'd have to have to spend days finding the various cemeteries my family is buried in. My father is in Coosbay, brother and mother in Eagle Point, one brother floating eternally down the Applegate River where we played as children. He wanted to be sprinkled in the Rogue River, but my mother was afraid of the undertows. I didn't have the heart to point out that he wouldn't drown. A mother shouldn't have to bury her children.

Decoration Day. It was a nobler time and I'm not sure why. Maybe because it was before the Gong Show and the end of civilization as we know it.