Saturday, June 30, 2007

twistin' by the pool

It's up!!! A brand new ten-footer complete with solar cover. Had I known what a solar cover is, I could have saved bubble wrap and taped it together in a ten foot circle. Or just bought two rolls of saran wrap and three rolls of tape. Either way, this is probably easier. It should be warm by the time it gets hot.


It is quiet this morning. I can hardly hear the birds outside. It was a good rain yesterday and the world is clean. My fingers will not work. I picked seven spent blossoms from my Chicago Star and laid them out, fifteen feet apart, and drove my scooter in a zigzag pattern through them to simulate the road cone test. I dumped my scooter over on its side. Not while I was riding it, but I parked it, put down the kickstand and walked away. I failed to account for the weight of the new pack and panniers attached to the back rack. It bent the rear brake lever and spilled a little gas, but all in all, no problems.

Sid is recovering from the raccoon attack. Those urban 'coons are tough mothers. As it happens, I was taking Sid to the vet and went across the street to Starbucks for a cuppa and the charming window girl asked,

"And what are you up to today?"

and I said, "Well, since you asked, I just dropped my dog at the vet because he tangled with a Clinton Street Raccoon."

and she said, "I am terrified of raccoons. In Kansas, one jumped out of a tree and landed on my head and attacked me."

I didn't know this much about raccoons, but apparently, they can get a little bit agitated. I thought they just ate nuts and berries but I was wrong wrong wrong.

So, the story, in case you didn't know, is that I was sitting on the porch, blogging my life away, and Sid launched in the general direction of the street. It is unusual for him to do stuff like that. Being evening, I wasn't sure what he was after, but soon realized it was a raccoon. Everyone started yelling at once. Even the neighbor boy who suggested that Sid's breeding was a menace--so that was fun. But the fight was on, and Sid lost. Got his little pitbull ass kicked. It was his first fight. Quite primitive, actually, but this raccoon lives under the house next door, and torments Sid every morning. So when Sid saw that guy sauntering across the street in plain view, he just went for it, to his immediate dismay.

Sid is now laying at my feet, an antibiotic keeping the bad germs at bay, and the world is awake.

I am going to figure out the camping trip. I have a list of things not to forget. I am a planner, at least in advance of anything. I do like my lists. We'll see, come leaving day (12 days!!) what I bring and what I don't.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I was enjoying my saturday morning here in America when I cruised over to the Language Barrier (to your left) and fell in a deep dark hole. Enjoying my morning now seems an atrocity, and there is a deafness in my home, and I can't help the man from Iraq but by my vote and I pay my taxes and I support this war and I don't know how not to. I am passive and can't even imagine what it would look like to do something against the neocon machine. At the end of the post I read apology after apology by other Americans and the hollow thud of our empty words typed gingerly between sips of latte and dainty bites of warm croissants made me sick.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Sid is an idiot.

hers and his

We drove over to Gwen's, she joined us on her BMW and away we went, out Johnson Creek. I felt like one of the big kids. But I had to be in before dark and I should wear better shoes. I think my strappy little pink balerina shoes won't quite get it. My tail light/brake light wasn't connected and K fixed it today so I'm good to go, but as a permit-only rider, I can't just take off by myself. I have to have adult supervision. Too little, too late, eh?

Monday, June 18, 2007


The approach to fraternity row. Actually, I have no idea who these people are. They are my neighbors, two blocks down. They cause no trouble and are a source of entertainment, especially now as the realtor decorates the porch next door with a single, pathetic fuschia basket in desperate need of water. It just won't make the sale.

the flower box

deep weeds

the cans, after trash day

the side yard

Sunday, June 17, 2007

my corner

I sat outside on my corner, in my neighborhood this morning, and had coffee with my friends. I think it is rare, to have an actual neighborhood and not one of those contrived stripmall-centered suburban bedroom communities. My street is tree-lined and old, with great old victorians, some nice arts-and-crafts places, and the occasional mental health supported housing unit. Three houses in a row are rentals, gone to college kids now, with yards much worse than Roy's (no url, sorry) and open trash cans brimming with refuse. They do not keep up with the rest of us. The center place of the three is now for sale. Walking by this afternoon on the way down to Clinton Street Video to return Apocalypto, a party was in full swing on Porch #3 and a real estate agent was on Porch #2 waiting for her mark to show up. You could watch the price drop as the would-be buyers arrived. Animal House, Portland style. Meet the neighbors: big beer and body art at 3:30 in the afternoon, clothing optional. Whoopee.

It is father's day. I have no father and am not one. Nothing to celebrate here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


A slight change of plans and I woke up staring at the Pacific Ocean, my husband already out chasing razor clams. Sid is whining because he didn't get to go. I, of course, am sitting here taking in the view. We had a fabulous dinner at a crappy cajun place with decent music and dollar store decorations. Who are THEY, and when did THEY set rules that Mardi Gras colors are purple, gold and green? Nasty. But the crawdad poppers were good and the Tchuapatoulis Chicken was comforting. Yum. Then a walk back to the Tradewinds Motel, overdecorated and cute as hell, for birthday cake and teensy tiny little buckets of haagen daz. For a dollar. Am I fool enough to think that I can get away with eating a smallish piece of cake and a teaspoon sized container of vanilla haagen daz, nectar of the gods, without consequence, without a downward spiral that will end up with me 20 lbs down the trail, grovelling at the feet of Jenny Craig or some other whip-wielding dietmaster? Perhaps. Today, I am glad it was a tiny container, and that I am capable of beginning a day on the coast with some sense of my limitations. Not my strong suit, limitations. But we know this.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Done. I am the owner of a silver green 150cc TN'G Milano. Yay. With a windshield and a back rack. I don't get it until next week and then I have to learn how to ride it. Details.


Yesterday, I was scheduled to travel to Enumclaw, Washington for work, to train someone else to do what I do. "But," I want to say to them, "I don't really do anything." But they think I do and keep giving me paychecks, which I cash. I am always a bit anxious that someone will come up behind me and expose me for the fraud I am certain I am. But so far, I'm pulling it off.

When I pulled into the driveway of the woman I was to drive with, she said, "My husband decided he's going to drive." Then appeared JD in the doorway, a sleepy-eyed 30 year old boy with curly black hair hanging in his eyes. "Okay." What choice did I have? And believe me... I have little fear riding with others. I get into a car and know beyond any doubt that I am at the mercy of the driver. My son's father cured me of both hope and any sense of control whatsoever. I learned back then that complaining or tensing up could bring far worse results. Now, it is instinctual to just shut up and get in the car. Live or die.

We jumped in the jeep, slammed the doors shut, and drove to the gas station for oil. I knew it was going to be an interesting trip. I was at the mercy of children. Old ones, but children.

I haven't had car trouble for years. Well, there was the clutch thing back in 03, but that was different. I have AAA for chrissake. I am OLD. (Older today) and I drive a new vehicle. The kids apologized for their vehicle, and I said I was no stranger to crappy cars. I told them about the '65 Dodge Polara with the plywood back seat that I had to open the hood and smack the started with a 2x4 every time I started it. I drove that thing for years and years. Then there was the 72 white station wagon that used a 2.5 gallon jug of oil each week and streamed blue smoke any time I let off the gas. People would pass me, waving and pointing behind me as though a slight mechanical problem was just developing. I'd just wave back. Or the Dodge Dart with the pushbutton transmission that my 2 year old son learned to use while his father was in the Jacksonville Tavern and the town cop pulled from the car just as it rolled into log-truck traffic. Ah, memories. I got a million of 'em.

So, off we went. Enumclaw, Buckley, Black Diamond. All little towns East of Olympia. We made it there and back.

We drove past the Gospodor Monument Park, and I was grateful to find this site with a fairly uninteresting story about the builder. It is a curiosity.

Its my birthday today so I'm going to buy a scooter and skip out of work early. In reverse order, and have dinner at Salvador Molly's. My favorite. Pirate food.

Monday, June 11, 2007

neighborhood on fire

The evening news came on, "breaking news, fire in electrical building 20th and SE Clinton." Oh boy.

So off we went, down the street 7 blocks to the 10 truck fire. It never actually burst into flames, which I was not-very-secretly waiting for. There was smoke rolling out from under the eaves and a hole hacked in the roof looked promising, but no go. They had gone inside and taken care of it.

Red's Electric is toast. Red's did our electrical, and we planned to use them again. Hope they'll be back.

To my husband's delight, I said, "Those electrical fires are harder to put out. "Its an electrical BUILDING," he answered smugly. "Not necessarily an electrical fire."

Oh. Fine. You're so smart.

It could have been.

The whole neighborhood was there. Now, SE is known for its personality, and there we all were, humans one and all, better attendance than the Rose Festival, waiting for the catastrophe.


I know I should be walking out the door to get to work, but I am busily searching for two things: my makeup mirror and the best price I can find on a scooter that will carry me uphill at about 35mph. I'm caving to gas prices and parking my truck on nice days. I hope I like driving it. I ride motorcycles regularly, on the back, but I only tried a 125 Yamaha one time and drove it into a tree. The learning curve seemed dangerous, even at 16, so I gave it up and hopped on the back of the first land-pirate's bike I saw.

But that's another story.

We are leaving mid-July for a two week road trip. We will head due East to the Bighorn mountains, then up through Montana and Idaho and into the Canadian Rockies. We have enough camping gear for 5 families, so sorting through it should be fodder for another yard sale next weekend. Be there!

My husband is the road trip kind... throw some shit in a sack and hit the trail. Me? Not really. I need to make lists and organize and shop. I need to know what I will be cooking for dinner under the vast Montana skies 6 days down the road as though there were no Safeways beyond the Portland city limits. So, I start early and pace myself so as not to be overwhelmed with last minute details like getting my hair bleached just that shade of road-kill blonde or where in the fuck is my black halter top? (Honey, you look fine) No, really, I need it. (You don't. You're fine. Let's go. You're a babe.) The truth is, I rarely change clothes once on the road. I am a good little traveller. I just like to shop in advance. Any excuse, you know.

I always think of JoAnne, who travelled around the world with one bag. One backpack. I've seen her house. She could never do that again.

We are going to rent a small pull-behind utility trailer for our gear so we don't have to unload the pickup every time we are going to sleep in the back. I don't really know how long we'll be gone. Hopefully back around the 20th to allow for some down-time before going back to work, which is where I should be going now.

So I go.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Riding the TriMet bus is always a lesson in humanity. I remember so clearly the first time I rode the bus after I moved to this city, and the problem with eye contact and the mentally ill, and the fact that no one but the mentally ill makes eye contact. So generally speaking, it is an isolating experience.

But not if you're riding the bus with Frank.

Stepping onto the bus, the air was full of whiskey, and one glance told me it was coming from the two men sitting near the front. We took the seat opposite them, then, the bus came to a halt. Turns out the Hawthorne drawbridge had to let the pirate ships go by. It is Rose Festival, after all. It took a long time for the tall ships to pass.

During the wait, one of the men stepped off the bus to smoke while waiting on the ships. This made Frank nervous. When he said, "Don't worry. We're not in-country," I knew his trouble. When the other man got back on the bus, Frank laid his head on the other's shoulder. "Don't worry, Frankie," he said. "I'll get you home."

When my brother Marc returned from Vietnam, he was alot like Frank. Well, that isn't entirely accurate, but he became like Frank after he poured years and years of whiskey over unextinguishable memories. Without whiskey, he thought people around him were speaking Vietnamese, and that made it tough to relax. A loud noise would drop him. He was permanently surrounded. He said it wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't been spit on when he got off the plane and bent to kiss the soil (tarmac). He was stereotypical of so many Vietnam vets, blaming Jane Fonda for his pain rather than the war.

He never came home, the boy who turned me onto Donovan and Cream, who told me he would never apologize for his vocabulary, who had a heart far too tender to endure war. Unlike many, he would not speak of the atrocities. He swallowed them whole and they festered. To the end of his life, dead-end job after dead-end job, he said that killing was the only thing he was ever really good at.

I remember one time toward the end, maybe 2003, he had fallen against the woodstove and hurt himself pretty bad. He was home alone because he'd been a bad Grandpa and let one of the grandbabies get into the razor blades. Just before anyone's wrists were slit, the family came home and chastised him for his lapse. Why they left the baby with Grandpa, a bottle of whiskey and a full script of morphine was curious to me, but who am I to criticize my family? I just moved 300 miles away from them so I wouldn't have to. So there he was, all busted up, drunk as he usually was, and I drove him to the ER. As we awaited medical attention--doled out to drunks in small, well considered doses --we began to reminisce, that maudlin type of back-looking that I am known for. Sue me... it's genetic.

At one point he asked me, "If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?"

"Ireland, I guess."

I always say that, although I don't know as I'd prefer Ireland to life on just about any inland river between the Oregon coast and the Willamette. But anyway, finding myself in a conversation, I said, "How 'bout you?"

He answered, "I've always wanted to go back to Vietnam. It is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I'd go right now if there wasn't a war going on."

Responding a little faster than I should have, I said, "Marc, that war's been over for thirty years."

He said nothing --just drew in a sharp breath as tears began rolling down his face. He just couldn't make sense of my words. He had been home for thirty years and for him, no time had passed.

Just like Frank.

Between Frank's expressions of concern over his buddy being off the bus and the Marine ethic to never leave a soldier behind, Frank kept saying, "You call it the Airforce. I call it the Chairforce."

Anyway... Thanks Frank. Thanks Marc. Thanks for the donation of your minds to a cause that is not yet satisfied.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Here I am with an hour to kill at a restaurant, having coffee, waiting for an eye appointment. I worked so long yesterday that I took some time to myself. Sue me. Fire me. Please. I had a headhunter call me looking for an administrator for another company. Nah. I think I'll hang out with the crazy people a while longer.

I really want some french fries. They have the best hand cut fries here. And if they are really hand cut, I'm impressed. It takes forever to cut good french fries. The best way to make fries: use unpeeled, cut, soaked in salty ice water, drained, fried, drained, and re-fried. Just in case you didn't know.

I will not have any french fries.

I am a week off sugar and feel pretty good. It is such poison for me. I am such an unbridled fan of poison. Almost any kind.

I hope the eye dr. doesn't tell me I need new glasses. I like my 12.99 Rite-Aid tortoise shell readers. They look right and I can lose pair after pair and still afford them. I have about 20 pairs of reading glasses. I keep three or four pair at bedside, three in my desk at work, one in my computer bag, two in my truck and two in my purse. This does not include the sunglasses. I don't use glass cases, so they are all trashed, and I can't be retrained at this point. So, PLEEEZ.... don't make me spend 400.00 on a pair of diamond cat-eye frames that I'll lose in 5 minutes just because I can't handle the pressure of ownership. I'll crack, I swear I will. Besides, with my attention span, it's like christmas every time I find a pair of the good ones I was sure I'd lost. For instance, I took my bike out for an airing the other day, and found my Blues Brothers sunglasses in the pouch. I was so happy. You can't find good Blues Brothers glasses anymore. They're too big or too little. Something.

Monday, June 04, 2007

on a clear day

She woke up thinking she was in Indiana. I said, "Well, that's tough to explain, because I'm in Portland and I'm sitting next to you." She laughed, unconvinced, looking for her cousin so they could get ready for a funeral. She didn't remember whose funeral.

It turned into an all day memory fest. Alsea found a notebook she had been recording the details of her life in, and found that her home had been sold and all of her belongings. She had known this at one time, of course, but with dementia, every day is a new day, with new possibilities for reliving pain and grief. It lasted all day. Alsea coming by my desk, asking about Indiana, and letting me know she'd recently lost her mind. Only just recently.

Then, she said, "I remember how it felt to jump off into the swimming pool. I wasn't young when I learned how to swim and I remember just how it felt to land in the water. I wish I could feel that again. It felt so good."

I'd have given just about anything for a pool about then.

Sunday, June 03, 2007



My Uncle Alan used to grow poppys in our front yard. They took up three quarters of the space and he would stand out in the middle sidewalk watering them for hours, it seemed, in the evenings. Alan's poppies were red and the circus tent centers fascinated me from the time I was small. I didn't know what was under the bigtop back then.... The tightrope.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

dead people's stuff

You've been to them, yard sales selling off everything that's left. Sometimes they're called estate sales, as though something of value besides the house remained, but rarely is anything left but evidence of a life. They should call them Life Sales. The accumulation of one person's life. What is disconcerting is that stuff is still in the drawers, the bread still in the toaster; and each one has the terrible Christmas corner, with faded plastic poinsettias and garish gold garlands, squared and flattened now from being boxed for a thousand years. I'm exaggerating, of course, but you can still smell the person, picture her making her little twin beds with the pale yellow chenile bedspreads-- the kind of beds Lucy and Desi slept in before they could show couples sleeping together on television -- White Shoulders perfume bedside with that bumpy dotted milk-glass bedside lamp with the ruffled shade. You can tell she hasn't been gone all that long. The hardest things for me are the boxes and boxes of photographs. I will burn all of mine before I die. If I remember. Note to self. I have this one picture, this great picture, of a girl holding a robin in her hand. I'm sure I've talked about it before, here in blogworld. I may be related to her, I don't know. I'll never know.

But there she is, with that bird just sitting in her hand and she looks neither pleased nor shocked, just aware that something extraordinary is being recorded. That she is unknown drives my need to make a photograph album and label everything. Everything. Tell the whole story. Make up what I don't know. Fil in the gaps, for posterity, and yard salers.

We drove and drove, yard sale to yard sale. From a living person sale I got these metal grid cubes that link together to make storage space. They are in primary colors, but I don't really care. If I had my way, they'd be black, but they're in the basement, so, who cares? Not me. I always think that more or different storage will make my life better, but it rarely changes anything. I just end up selling it all at my next yard sale. And in a neighborhood like this, I think the same shit just keeps cycling around and around. We live the same life in different houses here in SE Portland.

I sorted through my clothes some more and now I have a cube of turtlenecks, a cube of black t-shirts, a cube of levis -- you get the drift. I think I would do well in one of those lofts you see in the movies: one big room where you can see everything all the time at the same time. As it stands, if my belongings are in boxes (which they often are as I am prone to reorganization in various new storage devices) they may as well not exist. If I can't see them, they don't live in my memory for long. Thus the shopping and replacing. Seems my hard drive erases itself about every 8-10 hours, so when I open the storage boxes after six months, its like Christmas. I recall a psychological concept called Conservation of Mass (Psych 101). Like the child who plays peek-a-boo. Prior to mastering this concept, the child covers its face and believes she has disappeared. I'm a little like her. It transfers to most areas of my life.

We went on a motorcycle ride this evening. Up Germantown Road and back down 23rd to Music Millinium to find an old Youngbloods cd, High on a Ridgetop. I love She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride. Still caught up in the emotion of yardsaling at dead people's houses, many of the houses we passed, original country houses, embedded in fern and ivy, sat decomposing in the dank jungle of Portland's West side. The smell of decay was strong as we flew by these crumbling monuments to human occupation, reminding me that somebody started each one. Each home represents someone's big plan for permanence, back in the day when people built houses for themselves. To stay. To pass along. It is a big hive we have on this planet, and we seem to favor hillsides. Always standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. Whethter we are blocking their view or seeing even further I guess remains to be seen. We are the next and I wonder who will stand on my shoulders and take my place and what of the photographs?

cleaning house

I tore through my closet this morning, early, inspired by rage. I should get angry more often. I can be quite productive. I have way way way too many clothes and need just a few more: a long white linen shirt to go over camisoles and a light pair of just used overalls to cover a multitude of sins. Its time to have a yard sale.