Monday, July 30, 2007

gone in 60 minutes

I finally dropped the price of my living room furniture on craigslist from what I think it is worth to what someone might actually be willing to pay, and they did. Immediately. Some guy from Hillsboro swooped in and got it within an hour of posting. As he was loading it into his truck, I said something insipid like, "Enjoy" and he said, "Oh, I'm just putting it in the kid's playroom."

What? My fabulous mission oak set? First of all, their poor little heads will crack on the arms.

Oh well, they're not my kids.

So, it is gone. My first set of really great furniture. It was a watermark moment for me, to sit on things no one else had used.

In a different time, I would have gladly given my last and only twenty bucks for them in the shape they're in, Sid-scented and everything. I loved this stuff. I used it up. Today, (and yesterday, and for the forseeable future) as I am trying to pick out throw pillows to go with the new leather set -- which is driving me insane at this moment, because now I want to rip out our carpet and redecorate completely -- I don't want to go too formal because I really would have to redecorate, and I'm sick of the early garage sale look my house always seems to have.... so I'm thinking awning stripe. Red and brown to go with the leather. Maybe a western flavor. So yesterday, as I'm buying these really fancy pillows with white embroidery and black wool which I will now have to return because they are all wrong, I told the girl at Cost Plus how I shed a tear as the guy walked off with my stuff. She looked at me funny and said, "Yeah, you just kind of want something new once in awhile." It was then I knew we had led different lives.

Here is a list of the sofas and chairs I remember, and as usual, liar that I am, I'll make up a few just to offset memory loss:

Oversized, long and white, a precursor to civilization. When I saw it at a yard sale, I had high hopes that I had come far enough, domestically speaking, to handle white. I was a bit premature, as I recall. Just ever so slightly.

The Pit. This was a selection of pieces, you know, that burgundy velour that everyone had. But most everyone had the whole pit. I just had the leftovers, the corner wedges and hassocks that rolled sideways on those little gold ball feet if you looked at them. And for the pieces I didn't have, I filled in with twin bed mattresses and box springs covered with Mexican blankets. Mexican blankets cover many sins.

Green Brocade: This was my nod to the 50's. I was in a pretty steep learning curve about home decorating at that point. Pink, green and cream. Very girly. Lotsa tulips.

The Red Wine Chair. I know I've written about that one before. The one Cooky and I vied for. My story is that she already had great over-stuffed blue velvet furniture and I called dibs anyway. There it was, sitting out in front of the Central Point Goodwill Box as we pulled up to steal a wheelchair for a nursing home patient. I'm sure her story would be very different, and if she would set up a blog, which isn't all that hard, she could tell you all about it.

Okay, there are many many more. But those are the few stand out in my memory. Its late and am too tired to lie.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

another yard sale day

We did it again. A long day spend peddling our trash as treasure to our neighbors. I really should have had the camera out, because let me tell you, SE Portland is ripe with freaks. Bursting. It was the day of the Clinton/Division Street Fair, and a pretty good day to have a yard sale, but our crap just wasn't moving. Ended up taking most of it to goodwilly.

I made about fifty bucks, K about one fifty. Not enough money to sit in the sun all day. Although it is good to be out and a part of the neighborhood. Still trying to sell my furniture before the new leather set arrives on Wednesday. Wednesday. That's four days. Shit.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

morning after shoes

in situ

One thing is certain: Every picture tells a story. If you enlarge the photograph, you will see the stonework. It is much more interesting, I'm certain, than the story behind these shoes, which have been out front for, oh, 36 hours now. Most of the freegans in the neighborhood have passed them by, I presume, out of respect for drunkeness and excess.

Is freegan a Portland-only term? I think it refers to vegans who will break the severity of their diets only for free food, but the term has been extended to mean scavengers who pick up all the free shit left on Portland sidewalks with the intent to be re-used.

What does it all mean?

My neighbor collects sparkly dancing shoes.
She got tired of walking uphill in heels.
She got tired of walking downhill in heels.
It is a very small yard sale.

Monday, July 23, 2007

the road to the sun

I don't think either one of us would have taken it if we knew. The Road to the Sun is a two lane road (for thin cars) and we were in a pickup towing a trailer. The road is, in the immortal words of Daryl Bouie, "Steeper than the back of God's head." Logger colloquialisms... whaddyagonnado? Anyhow, there we were, driving through Glacier National Park, happy to be in America, when the road narrowed and the sides dropped away leaving a tiny, maybe twelve inch rock wall between us and the yawning glacial abyss. Was it beautiful? Well, yes, I have to admit it was spectacular, and were there a place to turn around I would have and I'd never have seen it, but there was no getting out.

So, photographer that I am, I closed my eyes, stuck my arm out the window and snapped. I got a couple that were okay, and I'm lying, of course. There were plenty of pull-outs, but us with the trailer and all. There was a length limit of 21 feet, which we exceeded by about nine feet. But they didn't say anything at the entrance, and we figured that since we were two pieces that bent at the hitch, the rules didn't apply to us. (see previous post regarding the criminal mind.) So on we went, until we were at the summit and a cop pulled us over for a too-long vehicle. So, essentially, within three days we had been thrown out of a country and a National Park.

We were not willing to turn and go back, so on we went down Highway 2, and that is when we gave up the notion of making it all the way to the Bighorn Mountains.

It was so hot. How hot was it? 104 most of the time. 90 at night. I'd brought gloves and hats. We didn't even use a sleeping bag the whole time we were gone and the only reason we used a sheet was for mosquitos and common decency, which my husband, country boy that he is, has little.

Sid was in the back of the truck, under the canopy, dying. We channeled a/c back for him and kept it liveable, but it wasn't good, and we came to the conclusion that the Cascades were the coolest place we'd been so far.

Washington Pass, summit 5500 feet or so

The overlook at Washington Pass.

So, we backtracked through Montana, Idaho and across WAshington back to Colonial Creek on the Skagit River at Lake Diablo and spent a few days there. The lake, like the river, is turquoise. It was bliss.

Next stop: Indians.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Let me be the first out here in blogland to congratulate Asia and Clark on their very recent nuptials. We just got home, full and happy. It was a beautiful wedding, the sunflowers spectacular and the weather mild and perfect. I didn't take any pictures, though. You'll have to wait for those from someone else.

It made us want to have a real wedding, something a little more substantial than our eight-person event, counting the judge. But our families never act that well when gathered in one place. It always used to turn into a shoot out of some kind and I can't see any reason why that would be different today just because most of the troublemakers are dead. There are enough of their progeny remaining to shake things up.

Really, it was probably the nicest wedding I've ever been to.

from sea to shining sea

Beyond the initial rejection, we had a great time. In retrospect, even the denial at the border seemed more money-maker than moral judgement. We ended the border day early, a little worn out from the drama, and stayed in a pristine camp along the Skagit River in Washington at Rockport. In our truck and trailer we camped alongside 50,000 dollar campers and retirees from Whidbey Island. It was a good camp, though, and nice to listen to the river.

There were yuppie trails to wander in: flat pathways mowed in meadowland along the river. My kinda hiking. The Skagit River is turquoise and opaque, almost milky, from glacial flour -- minerals that run off the cascade glaciers in such proportion that they color the river.

The next day we made up for lost time and drove to Montana. The thing I like best about Montana is the way they mark death by car crash.

Other than Glacier Park, which was spectacular, and I'll post pictures when I get them sorted out (I am a crappy photographer) I found Montana in serious need of a bottle bill or a conscience. It was a mess. And so hot. And more heat to come.

We were on our way out of Glacier Park when we decided to turn back West to escape the heat wave. It was a disappointment for K who really wanted to show me the Big Horn Mountains, but the heat just wouldn't permit it, not with Sid under the canopy. So, we headed West on Hwy. 2 instead of East, and back to the Cascades. Home. Green. Happy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

part II: crime and punishment

So there we were, off on day one of our fabulous summer vacation. Originally, our plans had been to head due east for Yellowstone, but in light of the heatwave, we went north to escape it. The plan was to make it to Glacier Park in Canada and camp somewhere around there and tour the Canadian Rockies. That was the plan.

Our first day was spent driving back and forth from the potluck funeral in Myrtle Point, Oregon. No one officiated and it was a good time, got to see cousins from the civilized side of my family. My cousin Linda was eventually sent down the Coquille River at the old campsite at Powers by the people who loved her.

We made it back to Portland by 6:30 or so with the intent to stay home for the night and leave in the morning, but decided to hit the road and try to make it past Seattle the first night. We got as far as Everett before we both collapsed and parked in an RV lot the first night, which was really just a parking lot, and we had to squeeze into the overflow area. We peed in the dark, went to bed, and slept like dead people. Waking up next to a rotting RV with moss for windows and more dirt than tin was not exactly what I had envisioned about camping in Washington, but it was better than crashing on I-5. And it was free. So, we jumped in the cab, let Sid out to pee, and we were off to the Canadian border. Yippee! We found breakfast, good coffee and wifi to check the exchange rate and fruits you can’t bring in. Nectarines. Damn. So far, as supplies go, all I’d forgotten was mustard and carrots, so that was good for me. There will be more. I forget at least one ingredient for each thing I plan to cook but that’s okay because I have money and there is always a store.

We landed in Bellingham at about 8:00 am, stayed for a couple of hours, then north again. By 10:30 we were at the border. We expected Sid to be a problem, but he wasn’t. In fact, they fed him dog biscuits and played with him while they detained us and searched our vehicles. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It’s always the questions that trip me up. Us. Trip us up. First of all, the girl in the booth asked a million questions. For some reason (which we were told later was because we were pulling a small U-Haul trailer and most people don’t take U-Haul trailers camping) we were told to pull into the lot and go inside to the immigration desk. If you’ve never been to the border, it is a land unto itself. I’d been in situations before where my rights were suspended and I was detained, but I usually had some idea why it was happening. I didn’t like it then and I really didn’t like it now. I’ve been guilty and I’ve been innocent. Both are uncomfortable. So, when we were asked to step out of our vehicle and away from our dog and all of our belongings, we did as they asked, believing it was just a formality – like maybe they check every seventh truck or something.

At the immigration desk, which was much like visiting someone in jail, they asked even more questions, then the same questions in different ways. It was seeming more and more like interrogation or an MMPI. Then, they took our I.D. and walked away. One of the questions was, “Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime?” I never seem to get that one right. I mean, who hasn’t? Really. Who has not, at some point in time, been cuffed and jailed? Everyone I know has. I guess you might not be surprised to learn that many people have not. So we, like good criminals, said, “Nah, not really.” And this somewhat ambiguous answer is based on so many things. The internal dialogue was something like, "no, we’ve never, like, murdered anyone or robbed a bank" (although I did rob Jack’s Drive Up) but I didn't get caught for that and that’s nothing compared to real criminals. So the answer, for me, is relative. But those border guards just don’t split hairs. It’s yes or no. Did you or did you not get arrested. Well, okay. If you mean EVER ever, then yes, I guess there was a time or two when we had just the teensiest bit of trouble. Big deal. Its not like we’re Bonny and Clyde or something. And the truth is, neither one of us really remembered (until a little later) much that happened twenty or thirty years ago anyway. But none of that was said out loud and the answer remained: "Nah. We’re good."

It is so difficult to have a criminal mind. It has such a hard time finding fault with itself.

So, they came back and said to my husband, “Please step through the door that has no windows.” An ominous request in lesser places. We looked at each other and away he went. I waited and waited and began to get nervous. They said nothing. Finally they let him out and he tells me we’ve been rejected. We don’t get to go camping in Canada. The whole story about stealing the lead in 1978 came out under the stress of interrogation. “How much was it worth?” they asked. “I don’t know, but I can tell you what I got for it,” he said with that boyish grin that made me marry him. So on it went.

So, they searched the truck and trailer anyway, even though we were going home. And they kept us apart in case we tried to get the story straight, and wouldn’t give us back our I.D. and detained us for about two hours. But the punch line was, “But you can buy a 10 day pass for 200.00.” Hmmm. Maybe, we’re thinking… maybe we'll just pay and stay. Then they say, “But we keep the nectarines.”

Fuck you. Fuck Canada. I love my nectarines.

Finally, completely demoralized, we were allowed to leave Canada. Which wasn’t the end of it, because we had to give our rejection slip to the US Customs, which created yet another scene.

I decided it was a Kodak Moment and took some pictures at the border, which turns out to be a terrorist act and they nearly took my camera away from me and told me to delete the pictures which I said okay and clearly did not. See below.

So, on we went, touring the US, where we are wanted. Well, not wanted in that sense.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

crime and punishment

Apparently, when my husband was twenty, he was arrested for stealing lead out of an old field. Oh, and convicted, and he served his period of probation without event or jail time and paid his debt to society. But that's the thing... this society. Not, apparently, the Canadian society. So....

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

ready, set

Time to finish. I've packed already. I've sewn clothes I want to wear. I've gathered up our belongings and done everything but go through the camping gear, which is the larger task in front of me. I have to thaw meat and make something for the potluck funeral. I don't know what, because like the rest of the world, it is freaking hot and using the oven is absurd. So it will be a bbq special. I'll think of something. Pork-something covered with bbq sauce. That's it. Who will complain?

So, its south to Coos County, of Coos County Jail fame, then back to Portland to pick up our gear and head on up into Canada through Idaho and Montana. We will camp some and motel some. We should hit some rain and some big heat. We may make it as far as Lake Louise. I'd like that. Sitting on the vortex of my sofa which I put on craigslist but no one will buy -- it doesn't feel like vacation yet, but it will in the morning. I am very ready.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I've been through the Rockie Mountains once.... well, twice: there and back. I was eighteen and coming off a year long post-religious coversion high. It must have been the altitude, but once the other side of those mountains, which we crossed in the night, I was able to cut some of the ties that bind. Blessed be the ties that bind... what does that mean?

I was raised by a pentecostal mother. For those of you who don't know what that means, I will say more. For those of you who do... nuff said. The mandate for evidence is strong in that arm of Christianity: speaking in tongues, being "slain" in the spirit (the rolling part of holy rolling) and overall rejection of anything that might be considered worldly. Temporal. Secular. Books. When my son was five or nine (time collapses) I sent him to church one Sunday morning with his Grandmother (Whether to save his soul, mine, or to get him out from underfoot is unclear some 20 years later) and when he returned, he said, "Gramma fell down in church, but that's okay--God made her." The expectation for me to align myself with the family religion was strong. And I aimed to please as a lifestyle back then. So there I was, ripe for the picking.

Why am I talking about this shit?

Because the last time I crossed the Rockies, I was under the influence of an almost cultish arm of Christianity.

Now, I remain faithful to many of those tenets. I do. I like Jesus and always have. But the behavioral piece always eluded me. So many don'ts. Never was there a religion with more things not to do every day, or it may have appeared that way to me because I was doing so many of them on a daily basis. A better person may have looked at my list and nodded, saying, "Well, of course. This makes perfect sense. Any sane person would never..." fill in the blank.

But, as you may have extracted from these pearls over the years, sanity is overrated.

So there we were in the rockies: me and a couple of sinners, two kids and two dogs in a 73 Impala, trying to cross Lolo Pass in a blizzard. Not just a snowstorm -- a blizzard: snow piling up at a visible rate and us without chains or brains. I was praying, as I was prone to do back then, when God sent a snowplow driver. Einstein said that the proof of God's existence is not miracles, but the absence of miracles. I agree. That guy was just working at his job: a night snow plow driver in the rockie mountains. A lonely post, for certain.

We were hippies, myself, at that discreet point in time, a non-sinning hippie, but we all had that look. The snowplow driver, in Montana in 1971, wasn't a fan. But we did have the kids and dogs for added value, and eventually he came back with some gas. Did I mention that we ran out of gas cresting the summit? Well, we did. Big planners, hippies.

So, he saved us. God in an old orange jumpsuit with a fur hood. We rolled into Lolo Montana at 4:00 a.m. and at his encouragement, kept on rolling. It wasn't until Minnesota (Carly Simon singing "I've Got to Have You" from the radio of that Impala, me in the backseat, big Minnesota starry night out in some beet field) that I fell off the wagon (jumped, more like it) and rolled to the curb, where I remained for the ensuing 17 years.

So I wonder what our trip will be like. This whole story was really just about wondering if our road trip will be a spiritual experience. Raised in the Pentecostal faith, I have (perhaps until this moment) viewed that trip as the beginning of the end. The original backslide, from which I have since been sliding. Belief is difficult. I have the beliefs that were given to me. I have tried to outrun them, but they remain embedded.

It is saturday morning and we are going to rent a U-haul trailer, I guess, to tow all of our gear so we can sleep in the back of the truck. I will spend the weekend sorting and packing and preparing for the unpreparable: a road trip. Was a time I threw my laundry in a garbage bag, grabbed my leather jacket and stuck my thumb out. Life is so complicated with money.

Friday, July 06, 2007

friday before

Leaving on vacation is impossible. There is so much that can't live without me in this heat. I can't imagine leaving this place in the care of my step-daughter, so will beg you all, out in the blogosphere, to come by and water my flowers while I am away. The hose is on the side of the house and don't forget the fuchsia baskets on the front porch. Thanks.

If they all died, what difference would it make, really? We are going to the Rockies. There will be more 50 cent fuchsias next year, with free dirt. This year some joker must have switched out all of the markers in the little two-inch fuchsia pots because none of the flowers are the colors we expected except the marshmallow white ones. Funny.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


This year I missed the "hoods", the best local strawberries, so didn't get to make my favorite jam. We still have a bunch of raspberry and blackberry leftover from last year. So I bought apricots and cherries and a few raspberries and made 16 jars of jam: eight cherry, and eight apricot-raspberry, which is outstanding. The cherry is bland. It was an experiment, and like anything with cherries, more effort than not. I'm learning to adjust the amount of sugar based on the tartness of the fruit. I'll bet pie cherries would make great jam. Bings, not so much.

It is Independence day, and our freedom seems artificial, the price too high for comfort. As a nation, we are whistling past the graveyard, keeping the spooks at bay with the memory of what we once were. It is a thin cloth, which they will see though any day now and they will take us apart with little effort because we are weak and self-indulgent. They are probably already here, but perhaps, with luck, they will forget their God, become enamored of slack, and lose the drive to conquer.

Probly not.

Okay. On a lighter note (it is so easy to turn away from these things) we rode bikes this morning, my love and I, and stopped for coffee (see above) at a funky new coffee shop further down the street. We rode the Springwater Corridor to Sellwood, which isn't very far, but as far as I can go with effort.

It is good to not be at work. With two admissions back to back, it was a busy week. But the mean girls are gone at last, and life is returning to some form of happy on the unit. There was laughter and dancing and walks in the garden. As the days slowed and afternoon naps were over, they began the evening's wander. And because I am not usually there in the evening, they gravitated to the humanity of my office, little zombie hordes in search of normal. The new lady picks up rocks outside, "For a path," she says. Heaven knows she needs one. And in the last place they moved her out of, she had hundreds of pounds of small stones, collected day after day until she did have enough to build a pathway. Her daugher had to get a wagon to haul them out, load after load. I hope I'm like that one day. Rock collector to the end. My sister Peggy used to gather rocks. She brought them home, little red-headed handfuls, certain they had value beyond her small dreams. My sister is strung out on methadone and I haven't seen her in years and years now. I could, but don't. Too hard. Too many dead siblings for me.

And on that note, my cousin Linda died friday. She drank too much for too long and it got the better of her. When we were on the run, my son and I, from his father, we landed in Coosbay at one point, and she took us in and we lived with her for a long time. I don't remember how long, or when exactly. Most of those memories are in a file long lost to time and over-indulgence, but I know that I owed a debt of gratitude to her that I was unable to repay.

We leave for our vacation in 7 days. We will begin it with a potluck funeral at the coast. A potluck funeral. Sounds good to me.