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.