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.