Sunday, October 28, 2007


I just came from a party and it isn't that I didn't know anyone -- I did. Its just that I didn't know anyone. Not really. Not in the way I like to know and be known. This is not even nearly the first time since moving that I have felt the absence of my friends so acutely, and I'm sure it won't be the last, but damn. it gets lonely up here without them.

A few weeks ago we were in Southern Oregon, and I realize I haven't even written anything about it, probably because it was such a profound experience. We went down for the yard sales, like we do each year, and all of my friends met us at the Mustard Seed Cafe, still the same after 40 years. My friends and the cafe. And we sat around, my husband and I, his father and his father's wife, kids and dogs and all, and Lorretta, Cookie, Tracy and Shona. Fast smart women who think on their feet and can keep up. Through my life, these women have been my friends. Before and after. Always.

And I know I don't make friends, my friends make me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

morning in gresham

I started a breakfast gathering for other Alzheimer's professionals and I show up extra early to get the room and hang out for an hour before they all show up. Numbers have dwindled, and the spark will likely sputter out after this meeting, but I am here and writing. Alzheimer's professionals. Sure we are. I watch the news, and see people die in all manner of catastrophe, and know there are worse things, and we all die of something.

This morning I awoke with a bladder infection. So cranberry juice for breakfast it is. And lunch. At the restaurant, I'm guessing the juice is about .001% actual cranberry.

But I digress. Letting the harp idea go had a surprisingly invigorating effect. I feel better about practicing my dusty strings (a brand name, for those of you who would accuse me of slack) I feel able to finish the holiday projects in front of me, beat nanowrimo to the finish line and remodel the upstairs.

Let's talk about the upstairs for a minute. You've seen the stairs.... if not, do some quick review in the posts about the garret. It is a neckbreaker, and probably the first thing that needs to be redone. I have too many clothes. I'll admit it right here. I'd take over the entire house if my husband hadn't gotten there before me. He has the downstairs for his guitars and all manner of manly (and to be fair, lots of mine) storage. He has the garage to himself. He lets be park my scooter in there. But my clothing. It is getting out of hand. When I was considering the $5500.00 harp purchase, one way I was considering paying for it was to stop shopping for a year. That might come close. I know it isn't much by some estimates, but for me, it isn't so much about the cost as the storage. I just don't have room. And if you know me, you know I wear a black turtleneck sweater and jeans. That's about it. some carhartt overalls if I'm cold. And my professional clothes in all possible sizes. I probably have three wardrobes for each season. I could outfit a small country. Maybe the Malibu refugees would like to have some nice linen pieces.

So, given the lack of storage in the bedroom and Nicole still occupying the only other room on the main floor, I have to use all three floors to store my stuff. I can't find anything, don't know what I own, and just keep buying more.

I will stop. What I really do need is a walk in closet. I'm making a good case here for a serious remodel. My garret would be a nice walk in. That would work for me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'm not getting the new harp. I am a baby harpist and have so much to learn on my little 26 string, like, if I practice every day I will improve. It was too much to think about, too great a committment, and I couldn't explain to the guy that if I spent over five thousand dollars on a harp, I would never play it.

I know myself. I am ridiculous.

So, on with the 26, and the song "Twilight and Mist" from Legends of the Fall. I can play that. And what more could I ask? It is why I got the harp in the first place.

Don't be disappointed. I'm not. I'm relieved. I didn't like the mother of pearl inlay. I didn't want to say so, because it is worth alot, but mother of pearl is made in japan jewelery box decoration in my mind. I want a plain, dark brown harp. Plain. Like me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I am making a scrapbook for my son. NO it isn't a fluffy little thing with stick-on hearts and flowers. It is sturdy and will need to be to keep the wild dogs at bay. It is chock full of memories, bursting at the seams, layers of yellow tape on some of the pictures I can't quite bear to part with.

Thank god for Kinko's.

I peer down these alleyways, hoping the landmines are fewer and farther apart, praying I won't step in the same holes, but remorse is strong and photographs DO lie, contrary to popular opinion. The happy Christmas mornings of nearly thirty years ago are beautiful seen through my son's wide almond eyes, but it was not a safe place, his childhood, and there are some pictures, him standing with a group of other children gathered around Santa, and his smile is tentative, uncertain, as though he is only playing at being a child, knowing there were more important things to attend to, and where is his mother and is his father still alive?

And the pictures, always of the father holding the son, proof of love, proof of presence, and he was not was not was not. And all my years in therapy melt away and I am an angry young mother whose eight year old son is still sitting on the porch on his sleeping bag long after dark waiting for a father who will not arrive.

And I prayed it. Not for my satisfaction but for his safety. Please God don't let him show up.

So it gets heavy in my heart and it will be good to release these pictures to his son, and he can separate truth from fantasy. And he can have his fantasies. His father is dead. I can offer him that much.

It is Sunday night, my husband playing his acoustic guitar, my fingers clicking a percussion to these blues.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


The last harp deal fell through, but in a good way. The nice lady in purple mumu and pantaloons whose husband had carved the harp for her twenty years ago, she went ahead and sold it to someone else who was in love with it. I wasn't. I liked it. It was really pretty, and really cheap, but imperfect, and the tone was not what I have been looking for. My teacher, now she has the harp I want. And the thing about opening the door to new harps, is that once opened, the universe always comes up with something. And if you're me, it is usually exactly what I want, and then I have to thank the universe and make a decision.

So, as I am looking at the husband-made harp, I look at the Nova site, and dream about the harp I really want, and decide to email the guy who makes them. Turns out he's in Coquille. Also turns out he's not making harps anymore. And on his site, it says something like, if you really want a harp, convince me to make you one. So, always up for a challenge, I tell him exactly what I want, and tell him I am from Coosbay, or at least my parents were, and that I know the difference between a river and a slough. So I figure this has to get his attention, being a coastal sort. So he emails me back, and says no, but he knows someone who is going to sell a Nova because she has arthritis and it is like new. So, I tell him, okay. I want it. Now this one, this one is really nice. It is a Cydarha (Not Siddhartha) Nova or something like that, a loose-strung 36 string harp that has a sound like you would not believe. Deep and resonant, and it gives me the lower octave I miss so much with my 26. But it is a butt-load of money, and I want it. And I believe I should, by rights, have a loose-strung harp.

So now, here I am, once again stuck in the middle of exactly what I asked for. I hope I buy it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

hilde and the new stove

We are finally getting a new stove. I love craigslist. We found a thousand dollar stove for 300 bucks. I say "finally" as though I've been waiting to get a stove that meets my high standards for home appliances. Nope. I've never had a good stove. I've always had stoves (ranges) that I didn't mind the oozing blackberry goo piling up in the bottom, smoking and starting on fire. I always had stoves that had some burners that worked and some that didn't, that sat at odd angles; ovens with tempermental temperatures. Hot in the front and hotter in the rear. Slanted, although it was often the floor that was off by an inch or so in either direction. So, getting a new stove is really a first for me.

So K calls to check it out.
"Do all the burners work?" he asks.
She assures him they do.
"And the oven?"
I'm baking bread in it now," she says.
I roll my eyes.
He makes arrangements to view the thing, and off we go.
"There is a picket fence," she says.

Of course there is.

So we get to the picket fence house with steam in the windows from the baking bread. I'm singing under my breath, "Our house is a very very very fine house."
And she answers the door.
Beautiful girl. Two beautiful children. Blonde boys. Brown baked bread on the countertop. "Smells good," I say.
"Yes," she says, and corrects one of the children in German. "We have a grinder."
I turn. Look at the grinder, the rows of glass jars full of grain.
"You grind your own grain?"

And it isn't that I am jealous, I couldn't be. I'm not even in the same domestic ballpark. She, it turns out, moved here from Germany yesterday, boxes everywhere, and she is grinding her own grain making her own fucking bread, homeschooling the next arian brotherhood with not a hair out of place.

I was never like that. Had I moved from Germany yesterday, I would still be in bed, eating bon bons that I'd had delivered, waiting for the cable to be hooked up.
The only leveling moment was when one of the boys toddled into the kitchen, his hand blue and his mouth dripping the same colored drool. "Oh, my" says Hilde, "Have you any children?"
I really wanted to say, "Yes, but I broke mine." But I just said yes, I raised one.
Then the wanted to know if ink was toxic. And this is where the gray area of life always eludes me. Scale of one to ten? Not too bad. Somewhere between white sugar and rat poison. "Ah, not really," I say. "He'll be fine."

And I believed it as I said it, but toxic, to a woman who grinds her own grain and bakes her own bread, is such a far cry from the toxicity of my life. Of my child's childhood.

Toxic indeed.

So, I guaranteed Toffler's safety, and made the deal on the stove. It will be two weeks until she gets her new one, but if we want it now, they'll be fine. They will chew raw grain for two weeks. But we didn't want to take Hilde's stove away from her and her children, so I'll be burning things on my old stove for another couple of weeks.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

root canal

My mouth hurts.

Turns out the molar was a wisdom tooth that had drifted. Drifted. Drifting teeth. I didn't know they could, but leave it to mine to be the ones to slip and slide. But apparently the roots were nearly horizontal, so the drilling just went on and on, and the numbing wasn't enough.

But enough about that.

A saturday morning, just the other side of yard sale season. It was foggy early, but is bright and blue and crisp now, the kind of day that brings to mind plaid pleated skirts and sharp new yellow pencils. One new outfit each for my sister and I. The leaves are turning all the great colors they are known for. I love the Raywood ash that turns olive and burgundy from bottom to top. I remember the flaming red maple on the corner of 4th and Rose Court in Medford. We used to drive up that crappy street in the midst of Medford's barrio just to see it.

And now it is Sunday. I am headed up into my garret to sort photographs. I am making a scrapbook for my son for Christmas. I had the idea about two weeks before Christmas last year, and thought I'd just throw one together, but the things you can get now to make really good, archive-able documents is remarkable. I think I'll pass on all the stickers, but the papers and page covers will make a nice gift.

It is one of the strange things about a late, if happy, marriage. I guess we'll have to wait to make a scrapbook. And as reluctant as I am to have my picture taken, it is likely to be a slim volume.

My tooth still hurts, two days later. I go back in Thursday for additional torture and expense. I have always resented the unavailability of dental work for poor folk. And now that I am well-insured, my opinion of the industry hasn't changed much. I do like our dentist, but he hurts me. The fact that I have "a" dentist, and that he remembers me and us and knows our lives, is odd. It was just always this place I went in an emergency and came out of with a handful of narcotics. Always the incentive NOT to brush.

Friday, October 12, 2007

harpy home

A big friday night at my house. There is a harp on craigslist and I think we will go out to look at it this evening. It is in a meditation community called anynanda or something like that.

Okay, just got back. Its a beauty. Tara The price is so low it is suspect. K says just buy it, and he doesn't say that very often. So, I am considering it. Handmade of black and english walnut. Very pretty. Very big. 36 string. A real harp. Makes mine look like training wheels, which it is, I suppose.

Today I was retrained, for the many-eth time, about CPR and first aid. It is disturbing when they change the rules on things like that, but they have. Instead of 2 breaths and 15 compressions, its 2 and 30. And they're thinking about dumping the 2 initial rescue breaths because allegedly you have air in your lungs at the time of the event that is more oxygen rich than the air you, the saver, would introduce. The guy was a firefighter from the tiny little town of Oakridge. He was full of himself, but entertaining. Overall, I find people who work in emergency medicine exhausting.

In the middle of the training, I had to return to my office for a family conference with the son of one of my favorite patients. Yes, I have favorites. Sue me. His mother is so confused. But she likes me. He, on the other hand, does not like me all that much.

My task, in this conference, was to convince him that signing his mother up to have CPR was not a great idea. And after completing the class, I was even clearer about my position on the matter.

Here's the thing: When you start CPR, the person is already dead. You are bringing them back to life. And it isn't that life on the unit isn't great, but it isn't great. And it is so long. And she is already 90-something. I mean really, what does he want from her?

I referred to CPR performed on an old woman as "a bone-crunching experience." Even that didn't sway him. Now, if there had been a religious reason, it still would have been difficult, but there wasn't. No evident or stated belief behind his decision, only inertia. Only, "Well, I think this is what the doctor wanted and she's the medical expert."

Oh. Good. An expert.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

just wondering

I was driving around Ladd's Addition the other day, which is the only thing you can do in Ladd's Addition: go around in circles. The first time I drove through it, I remember noticing the Chinese Baptist Church, and wondering, how would you ever know if they were speaking in tongues?

These are the things that go through my mind.

So, yeah. I'm pacing myself. Saving up the sheer force of my writing for Nanowrimo.

But what I know is, its all the same book. Over and over again. Like relatives who have stayed too long, the characters just will not go home.