Tuesday, December 30, 2008

requiem for a bad dad

Bishop died. He kept saying, "open the door" as his daughter sat bedside, singing him quietly into the next life. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. In the last months he had painted doors and churches and naked figures and yawning graves. He was a pompous and terrible guy, with an Irish tenor (is there such a thing?) when the rest of us were singing variations on "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" he'd bust out with "Danny Boy" or some obscure 50's lounge tune. He was conflicted, closeted and guilty.

When the struggle for breath was over, Bishop's daughter quietly took his paintings down from the wall, and flew back to New York, where her ability to forgive the unforgiveable will serve her well, no doubt.

What I have always loved about crazy people is that none of that matters anymore. They have come to die, and we stand with them, haphazard guides, just this side of the open door.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Backyard art in snow.

Let's see... most memorable moment of this holiday season: some guy on a bus bench in front of Freddy's eating a fillet of raw salmon, snow caked around him like a seal on an iceberg, holding the fish in both hands, flesh-tearing face in the middle of it, styrofoam packaging lying at his feet. It was impossible to know at a passing glance, whether it was hunger, mental illness or youthful posturing that I was looking at. Only in Portland. He was eating well, or expensively. Or expansively. Get those Omega 3's, boy.

Christmas was nice. I got an MP3 player and have over 300 songs on it already. I didn't think I'd like it, but now have my own infernal playlist to listen to in self defense of AC/DC. I'm pretty happy to be able to listen to that one Moby Grape cut I loved when I was sixteen. I have everything from the Simple Minds to Dan Hicks to the not very obscure Rolling Stones. I'm a little surprised at the amount of country music, and eighties music. I am anything but sophisticated. I love songs I can sing loud with in the car alone. I'm pretty good. OH. I forgot Quicksilver. Shit. Gotta get some of that.

I also got a set of camping knives that has eight blades that lock into a switchable handle and wrap all up into a canvas bag and stay in the camping gear until time to camp, and then, because I have a crappy memory, its like Christmas all over again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

traffic update

I made it a block and a half to the corner of 28th place and Division before I got stuck. Now I'm home. Another casualty of the Arctic Blast. Dammit.

Monday, December 22, 2008


As you can see, on Clinton Street we actually have snow angels.
It is so cold and the snow so deep and my responsibility for my crazy people hangs over me heavily as I await the midnight call that somebody can't make it in.
But I can.
I have a new car, and a warm home, and a husband who helps me move heaven and earth and snow to do what I will always think I have to do alone. It is such an adjustment, such unnatural adaptation, for me to accept his help. It is my job, my burden, my people. I lay in our bed at seven, trying to sleep early just in case and he comes in and asks, "Do you want me to warm up your car and scrape the foot and a half of snow and see if the chains work?"
You'd do that for me?
He'd do that for me.
I have carried the responsibility alone so many long winter nights, waiting by the phone, taxiing my staff to and from in heaps of Ashland snow, yellowed christmas lights glittering through the plaza as I drove the night shift to work and the evening shift home. For so many years I have been on call in the service of the insane.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

charlie brown tree.

I guess it isn't really fair to say I lack Christmas spirit, although the whole notion of decorating, preparation, making things just so-- has lost some of the zing, or I have. I am looking forward to December 26th --my favorite holiday-- and this is my tree to prove it. It was easy to put up, and will be just as easy to take down. Wrap the one red ball in tissue paper and call it Christmas past.

I don't so much think I've lost Christmas spirit as brought it into line with reality. I have held my family hostage to a myth for a long time, that the kids are still small, at home, and interested. They are grown, gone, and not. I'm sure this is just one more level of empty nest that I am adapting in my own messy way. The Charlie Brown tree is a symbol my intention to remember that holiness isn't about home decor. My beliefs pale in the shimmer of holiday possibilities: eight foot tall nylon inflated Santas on Harleys and black feather trees with black sequined bulbs. Aaarrgghh, as Charlie would say.

Give me one red ball.

In case you didn't know, or hadn't tuned into Portland TV stations where there is non-stop "Arctic Blast" coverage, we have just the tiniest bit of snow up here. It is dry, frozen on top like crunchy nut topping, and as slick as, well, ice. The city is at a standstill, Maxx stopped running, everything stopped, and only just three days until the big day. Very little shopping happening around here. We went for a walk in our neighborhood, then posted an extra set of chains on craigslist and delivered and installed them for a lady and her son. We do so many things, we do, while I sit in the truck and observe. I guess there are bad people who are offering chains for 150 bucks. I think its mean. Opportunistic. Tis the season.

My husband has a youtube going of janis doing summertime. Man. That chick could sing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Sick of sick. sick to death. sick sick sick.

One time me and Cooky spent an entire evening creating the perfect epitaph, rather, what we would have on our respective headstones. Hers was, "I told you I was sick." Mine was, "I got here as fast as I could." At the time I was strung out on speed so it was a little funny. My all time favorite is listed in a book of western graveyard art: "Here lies the man who stole my horse."

Anyway, I'm not dying, but I am really sick. I tried to go to work today, but no luck. And I can't really hang around the patients when I'm like this. They would die of what I have. It may be the actual flu, which people often mistakenly think is a lower-end deal -- diarrhea and such. In case you didn't know, the true flu is an upper respiratory infection, which I have, and which has settled down and had a nice big family in my lungs. I am doing my level best to cough them up, but anyone who has known me very long knows how bronchitis goes. It levels me.

As most of you know, the holiday season is upon us, and as compelling as shopping can be, I am entrapped in winter ice--or the fear of it-- given the endless coverage of weather paparazzi. Yesterday, as sick as I was, I tried to arrange to purchase chains for my car and it wasn't even snowing. But the thing is, the STORMTRACKERWEATHERMORONS won't shut up. They were on the air from 6:00 am until noon with a steady barrage of nonsense and no weather to go with it. No snow, no rain even. "Look! There's a flake." It was cold, I'll give them that, but it is, afterall, December. They are Chicken Little at his paranoid worst. O MY GOD MY GOD the sky is falling!!! Its going to snow on Sunday and never thaw out again until February!! Run for your lives!! Stock up on food and water!!. My favorite part this time was the weather girl-on-the-street, holding up the gloves she had just purchased. "I got these at Fred Meyer where they have sold over 28,000 pair in the past two days alone." Now let us review: it is a week before Christmas. What kills me (besides the flu) is people responding like sheep to the barest suggestion of foul weather. You can't find a parking place at Freddy's for the mass hysteria over potential weather. As if there wasn't a store on every corner that we could walk to if something actually happened. The parental guidance aspect of newscasting is unique to Portland as far as I can tell. "I like to keep my gloves in my car, Jason, as well as an extra blanket. Back to you in the newsroom." And always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.

They cut into the Young and the Restless for THAT?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

sick again

It seems like I have been sick for a hundred years. I have blown through an entire roll of toilet paper -- NOT charmin -- and an economy size box of Puffs, Vick's scented. One would think that would be enough, but no. I am full of snot.

I have a cold. It is common, and y'all know how I hate to be common. I've missed two consecutive days of work, something I usually love, but I am miserable. I've been laying in one place, blowing my nose, coughing up small animals, you get the picture. I want to get dressed and leave the house, but in addition to my deathly illness, the ice storm prevents any hope of escape. I am snowed in. We are snowed in.

We were so tired of TV that we played a game of Upwords last night. Upwords is okay but it isn't Scrabble. I am good at Scrabble. I know all of my 2 letter words and the Q words that don't need a U. Qat. See? Wanna play? Makes me miss Madonna. Not the real one, but my old friend, maybe exfriend, I can't remember where we left it... but she was a great Scrabble companion. When I was in chemo for Hep C, she could kick my ass, and took full advantage of my weakness. Who could blame her?

Survivor is OVER!!! I am so sad. But Bob the old physics teacher won, and deservedly. For those of you who have been instructed NOT to call me on Thursday nights, now you can call anytime. I love Survivor. I love it every time. Always in the beginning I am ambivalent, think maybe this time I won't watch, but I always get sucked in by the third episode. Sadly, we organize our lives around a reality show. THE reality show. The FIRST reality show. And I know it isn't really reality. I know I am manipulated. I don't care. We'll have to find something else to do. Maybe American Idol in January. O I hope not.

It seems like the biggest show of the coming season will be the innauguration of Obama. (spelling anyone?) I'm seeing more press about what Obama will wear than what he'll do. I'm tellin' ya -- watch daytime TV. It is mindnumbing. A great reason to have a job.

Well, I am coughing my guts out and need to lie down. Lay down? Lye down? Laid down? Layed down? I will never understand usage. Sleep. That's what I need. And a Zpack.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


When a person has dementia, so much is forgotton. On my list of most important things are not so much the wife's birthday or the children's faces or the sensation of thirst, but the awarenss of limitations, say for instance the ability to stand and walk without falling over.

As they come and go, it is always seductive to think the new one moving in as somehow easier to care for because they can walk. This is not always the case. Like I mentioned in an earlier post: it is winter, and as a group, they fail in the winter. All at the same time. It happened last winter, and the winter before. And it will happen again and again. The thing is, after the crop from last winter was finally in the ground, a whole new crop moved in, walking and talking, just not remembering. And as time passed, the whole crowd is essentially failing in many of the same ways at pretty much the same time.

As a community and an industry we have some clever strategies to deal with "fall risk" as it is euphemistically known. "Fall certainty" would be more like it. This may not be very interesting, but I am trying to tell you a story, and can only do it if you have a bit of background and theory.

So we have hourly checks. That is one way of dealing with people who don't know they can't walk. We check them hourly. The obvious problem with this practice is that they don't know when the hour is up, or that we are coming at all, or who we are when we get there for that matter. They get up when they have to pee, or hear a noise, or the urge strikes, which it often doesn't for hours at a time, a fact which is in our distinct favor. And when we do show up, they thank us and send us away, saying things like, "I'll let you know if I need some help." Which they won't because they don't. Know.

And then we have tag alarms. These devices, created by Satan, are magnets connected by string and clips that hook to the clothing and (hopefully) a stationary object such as a chair. When the person leans too far forward, the magnets separate, causing a screaming alarm that, in a perfect world, alerts the staff that the person is "on the move." Sadly, it is often just a scary noise letting us know Louise is on the floor again. And she said she'd let us know. Liar liar.

So, given winter, and brain failure, and the passage of time, eleven of sixteen of my people are at risk for falls. Six are on tag alarms. Three still have the presence of mind to use the "I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up" panic buttons around their necks.

These days, the unit sounds like an alarm factory, staff dashing one direction and then the other trying to determine where the sound is coming from, and like a baby's cry, they know each alarm. Apparently there are unique differences to each.

Anyway, I came to work on Thursday and found a note on my desk scrawled by one of my favorite guys, Robert. He sports his Obama button proudly and although he has no idea who Obama is, he knows he is a democrat and that something important happened in the election.

Robert had successfully made his way to my desk, found a flourescent green sharpie, and wrote on a napkin next to his tag alarm:

This for 1 cent.
See Rob Huey

He knows who he is.

Friday, December 05, 2008


I hardly know their names as the cyclic pattern of life and death plays out with seasonal predictability. Winter meets hospice and space is created for another nice lady who can't live at home anymore because the long fingers of Alzheimer's has closed her eyes and ears to all she has ever known.

Myrna moved in last night. I remember the faces of her three children and two grandchildren standing around my desk, guilty, lost, giving mother away to a stranger because in so many ways she has become a stranger. They bring her to my little community and hold their collective breath waiting for all hell to break loose as mom figures out she has been abandoned. One of them nervously laughs, they eldest, asking where is the nearest fire exit. One son says, "I can't watch this." I tell them they might be surprised. Nothing might happen at all.

So they wait, huddled around my desk as though around a campfire, while I walk down to her new apartment. I find Myrna standing with Susan, one of the staff. She says, "This is a nice hotel. I think I've been here before." Susan tells me she'll go ahead and stay a couple of days." She opens a cupboard. "My clothes are even in the closet."

"See? They thought of everything!" Susan says by way of comfort.

"How nice." Myrna says.

I returned to my desk. Her children were stunned. They asked, "So she agreed to stay for two days?"

I told them yes, and that we will do those two days over and over again for the next two years.

They ask when they can visit, thinking we might have a black-out policy like a treatment center. I tell them its her house. Come anytime. If the visits seem to set her back, we'll let you know.

This morning Myrna did set off the fire alarm thinking the hotel was on fire, but these are the details we'll work out. Together with the Portland Fire Department.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

black shoes

I have been looking for a pair of black boots or black shoes for five years. I ordered a pair of keens from Zappos, but they don't fit. Same thing last winter. Order-return, Order-return. Today is it. I am tired of looking, tired of deciding and undeciding, packing pairs of shoes around the store for twenty minutes only to set them down, in the wrong place (sin) on the way out the door. I want a pair of dressycasual possibly fur-lined bootshoes that go with levis or sequins not that I own sequins but you never know. I just want to be able to put on my black shoes and dance the blues.

I went to this shoe store in Tualatin called DSW and there were so many choices I couldn't do it. I keep telling myself I'll know it when I see it, but I think I've seen them all. I chose three pair and walked out empty-handed. So, wish me luck. I am indecisive.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I should ask my doctor for a bucket of antidepressants. I think the time has come.
Naw. I hate antidepressants -- feels like wearing a too-tight hat that you can't take off.

So we did the long run, down and back drive-by-Thanksgiving, all the while entertained by Kurt's Infernal Playlist. Let me just say we don't appreciate the same kind of music barely at all. It was a long ride. The day went as days tend to go when they feel completely beyond my control. I don't usually see myself as a control freak, but control freaks rarely do. If you've been keeping up, you'll know we did not go where we usually do which is way way out in the woods for a family style Thanksgiving with a neighborhood of hippies. Everybody brings food and it is friendly and easy and we go for long walks and nearly purchase property it is so lovely there and at some point, someone offers a prayer of gratitude.

Not this time. We were in foggy, dreary Medford in someone else's house. The food was terrible and the company was inconsistent. The women wouldn't put my sweet potatoes in the oven. I hate them.

Oh it was fine. What I want does not exist.

What do I want? I thought you'd never ask. My heart's desire would be to recreate the holidays of my early childhood. I know most people can't say that, but we were pretty whitebread happy. No money, but lots of love and no visible dysfunction. But then my father had the poor timing to die.

The holidays of my late childhood and early adulthood wents something like this:

Thanksgiving: There was a turkey, everybody got drunk and the cops came.
Christmas: There was a tree, everybody got drunk and the cops came.
Baby's first birthday: There was a cake, everybody got drunk and the cops came.

So, during this holiday season, I feel like a stranger in my life. This feeling is very strong just now, and I'm not quite sure how to overcome it. Thus, antidepressants. I seem to be between families -- not in this one, not in that-- and this harsh realization that I have been free-floating, trying to re-create my family using whichever random people were at hand: friends, in laws, outlaws, and finally, my own child who has been hostage to my need for holiday bliss his entire life. But not this year. This year, he declined. Nicely but certainly.

I should have stopped the dinner to say grace. I could have done something to bring some light into the long day, but I didn't.

Today I went to Walgreens and bought a ten dollar Charlie Brown Christmas Tree--an actual replica with one red ball. It is exactly what I am capable of this year. A drive-by Thanksgiving and a No-Frills Christmas. You're invited.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


As we prepare for the feast, as we bake pies, make cookies, make more pies, make yams, which is really only pie filling too, I look at the weather report and there are three special areas highlighted on the map of the northwest that bear mentioning as we consider travel tomorrow: around Puget Sound it will be windy, in the Columbia Gorge there will be wild weather of some magnitude, and in the Southlands, the region of my recent distant past, the land of my upbringing, our destination, there is a stagnant air advisory.

Yes. I'd imagine there is.

So, we're doing Drive By Thanksgiving to the land of stagnation. Home of the primal shrug. On the road at six, home by nine. Husband, wife, two kids and the dog in our shiny little mazda. And pie. Over the river and down I-5 to grandfather's house we go. Only not. One of the nicest things about holidays with my outlaws, the only nice thing in fact, has been the fact that they live off the grid in the midst of a beautiful forest along a deep green creek, with kerosene to light the way and wood fires to warm crisp mornings. But not this year. This year, for the sake of convenience, we are sentenced to dine at a step-daughter's house on the outskirts of Medford. In town. Arrgghh. In the Rogue Valley, one stays out of Medford unless absolutely necessary. One really should.

It'll be Thanksgiving either way. Here or there. Just another day.

I'm happy to have some time away from work. Frankie died. I think I can just say it outright. She's dead, she won't care. Her son won't read this. She was named after Frank James and was every bit as tough. She coulda kicked my ass if she wasn't 90, blind and in a wheelchair. She fired us every day. We'd hide around the corner, come back five minutes later and say we were somebody else. It usually worked. It sounds mean, I know, but it isn't. You do what you've gotta do.

This week was the long dreaded State Licensing Inspection. I passed. It is a relief to have it behind me and to get on with the day to day business of letting people die in peace. I am always so surprised when families, having just moved mom onto the unit, return a couple of weeks later to ask if she's busy doing things. Well, she is. She's busy dying. Its not easy, sitting around waiting for the reaper. I know it sounds awful, but this one new lady (she's so new she's still "the new lady." I haven't even made up a fake name for her yet.) Her husband just died. Just died. He really didn't expect to. I knew him. He was a great guy. He completely expected to take care of her through the end. But he got a get out of jail free card and now I've got her, and her family wonders if she's being social.

No. She's not being social. She's being devastated. She wants to go to heaven now to hang out with Herb for another 63 years. Not to Bingo. Sorry to disappoint.

I don't get mad at them. Not out loud. But these guys... oh man. They really don't see what's going on.

But its going on anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2008


My palm is feeling better since my Terrible Fall. It doesn't hurt to type.

I've become embedded in a small writing group, a thing I hate but end up pursuing because at least once a month I am comitted to producing something made of words.

I don't do well in groups generally. I don't do well when praise is part of the process. I fold up at phrases such as "you're such a good writer." They paralyze me. I grow cold and my fingers numb with expectation as I hammer out yet another spectacular paragraph (not HERE for chrissake. I mean my real writing, the stuff I worry over, edit, rewrite, rerererewrite. Not this shit. This is blogging, this is the vent that prohibits me from producing anything of substance. I blame my blog. I'll blame anything. Hold still and I'll blame you. Or decorate you. Depends on my mood.) It isn't that I don't think I'm a good writer. I do. I just find praise difficult and not at all the point. Criticise me. Help me out. Whip me. Beat me.

Geez I'm touchy.

Anyway, I'm in this group and we meet and I decided, after a few false starts, to write memoir style, a departure from the thinly-veiled autobiographical fiction I am known for. Fixion. I decide to take asha's advice for the twentyfirst time and write about my work. About Alzheimer's. About dead people.

I think I can I think I can.... Its always like this at first, chugging up the hill, gathering steam for the project, which, after four pages becomes the same fucking book I've been trying to write for ten years. Have, in fact, written. Nearly, in fact, published.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

winter begins

It is coming onto winter now, and this is when they begin to die. One by one the systems begin to fail, the lungs, the heart, the bowels. Something fails. Something that has gone on as long as it could, as long as anyone could expect, longer by far than in prairie times.

I don't know why I think prairie time was that long ago. I'm sure there are still prairies. And prairie time could be a time zone for all I know.

Anyway, we lost one on Saturday morning. Melba came and went without a peep. She carried a babydoll for comfort. What I will always remember about Melva is that her son loved her. He would come and talk to her, and he swore he understood her. She laughed once while we werer playing kazoos, and it was music to all of us. Unlike some who thrash and fight, and for whom death is hard hard work, Melba floated away quickly and quietly, deservedly peaceful.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

dog days

It probably isn't a great idea to take the dog for a walk in the dark. It probably is predictable that he would cross in front of me with his twelve food leather leash, hobble my feet like a salem witch and drop me like a stone. Yep. I shoulda seen it comin'. And yet I didn't. Now, he is laying at my feet like a good dog, my palms wrapped in gauze and tape, shoulders unuseable from the impact. I fell like a child on the playground, splayed like a five year old off the swing set. I just layed there and cried. Didn't even try to get up. My husband, who always thinks he should have been able to prevent these things, said, "When you fall, you fall like a tree." I told him it was because my feet were tied together. "Oh." he said, and helped me up. I was most worried about my new Eddie Bauer turtleneck. A good fitting turtleneck is hard to find.

Shit. So now I am laid up, tore up, sore and pissed. I am so clumsy. I always have been, but the older I get, the more severe the consequences.

So, anyway, back at the election: that was pretty fun. I'll be sure to get involved next time, although some of the zealots at Obama World on Division were a bit much. I'm a political junkie, but not a zealot. I'm happy with the outcome, and hope the whole race hysteria thing subsides in light of all of the other shit there is to do. I appreciate the role of comedians in bringing the election home. It was funny. Palin. Wow. That was one scary fifteen minutes of fame.

Monday, November 03, 2008

be concerned

I am. I feel as though I have clawed my way to the top of a deep dark well, slick walls, few hand-holds, moss and grit beneath my nails, and paint. Fuck painting. That's what I say.

It started innocently enough. I just wanted a nice clean coat of paint. Is that so much to ask? And a democratic president. Really, is it so much? So between stints at the phone bank at Obama's World on Division where Howard Dean was last night in person with all the dem high rollers, I painted. And painted. It is no surprise to me that the word begins with pain. Shit.

Recall that I charged into home despot and chose quickly my three shades of paint. Light olive, darker olive, and brick red. Well, it may sound good, but it looked awful. You may think it sounds awful. Well, you'd be right. You should have told me so. I may have listened to you. So I painted for days, and hated the red. Hated it. Again, I tried to tough it out. "Just live with it," my husband said in the same breath he told me it looked like a clown's kitchen. That snapped it. We know I can't live with it, don't we? I can't stand bad color. I HAD TO fix it.

So I did. My shoulders ache. My back is broken, but there is no red in my kitchen except for the antique metal cherries hanging thing next to the sink. So, now two weeks later, four if you count the bedroom, two months if you count the closet room, I am done painting. Finis. Finit. Fino. Fine.

It just shouldn't matter this much. I feel like I have Matching Disease. Some version of OCD wherein I can't relax until everything is just the right shade of ___________. You pick. I'm tired. And accessorizing, which didn't used to matter at all, is mandatory. I used to furnish my home from a goodwill box in the dark, and paint with old cans of any color mixed together, happy if I could fill the holes in the wall with newspaper, slather bondo over it, and make a real wall. At the end of one of my lives, I painted my corner grey. The corner where I sat all day and all night for five years. I painted as far as I could reach and left it at that. I threw an Indian blanket over the mattress on the floor and called it home. But then again, someone had to come and get me out of there before I died. The good ol' days seem so simple in the rear view mirror.

I'm taking a day off work so I can put the house back together. I hate every knicknack I own, and I own plenty, believe it. So I am in zen mode: black rocks in glass vases, thin reeds in off-white jars. The thought of clutter makes me cringe. I will not live in a clown's kitchen. I will not.

Go Obama! I did what I could.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

dr. szeto

I always think I know what's wrong with me. I always have a logical diagnosis in my mind when I walk in the office, and await simple confirmation. My doctor knows this and hates it about me. I'm going to attempt to relate our dialogue right here. You need to read his words in a stacatto asian dialect, high-pitched and loud, giving equal emphasis to each syllable with the occasional hand chop for effect. He yells at me. He always does this. I just laugh at him. He's little.

I recite my symptoms. I know them well. He says, hand in air, "I already know what you have!" (always an exclamation) "You have a sore throat but not a sore throat, right!" I nod. "You have dizziness, right! You have eyes all squinty all the time and a headache, right!" I nod. "You are so tired by noon and have no energy, right!" I tell him he is exactly right. "I know what this is!"

So tell me already.

"You have sinus infection! It is not bad enough to cry about or you would not have waited three weeks to see me! It is only bad enough to whine about, so you wait and now it is bad!"

I hang my head. Nod.

"And you no come to see me about your diabetes! Why is this!!"

And on and on and on. And he wonders why I never show up.

So, I didn't know I had a sinus infection and now I am taking these huge pills as big as a peanut in the shell and they make me sicker than the sinus problem. I belch like a logger, and five days into it, no help. Not really. I am sick of being sick. I am sick of taking antibiotics. I am sick of not having energy to do the things I need to do, like paint the kitchen.

Let's talk about that, shall we? It has, as always, turned into more of a project than originally intended. We will now replace the countertops, which is a great thing, but not as easy as just painting. Simplify simplify. Why is that so expensive? eh? I have removed the cabinet doors and the hardware. I have filled the holes with putty and broken-off toothpicks and white glue. I have sanded the residue. Next, I will strip the paint with a heat gun. This is new to me. I was prepared to buy caustic, flammable liquids to do the stripping, but my husband said, "Why don't you use a heat gun?" Well, I didn't know I could. But I can. So I will. The wonder of tools. Apparently you heat the paint, it bubbles and you scrape it off before it cools. I'm sure there will be a learning curve and small fires on my kitchen floor. Not to worry. I have an extinguisher and I don't like that floor anyway.

In finishing these projects, which were all begun five years ago, I find I have far too much stuff that I am not going to need. I knew that, but I've been hanging onto so many things because I really wasn't sure what I was going to do with this house, and making one home of two has been a process (see former yard sale entries related to selling his stuff.) Now that I'm on a roll, I'm going to have a Halloween yard sale. In the dark. You should come. I have great shit.

Monday, October 13, 2008

sick and sicker

I am sick. I am home. When I am not sick, it seems like staying home sick would be so much fun, but sick just takes the fun out of it. I've felt crappy for a couple of weeks while co-workers around me got really sick and stayed home. I was jealous, I'll admit it. I wanted to stay home sick and miss work. But this is no fun. It isn't like playing hooky. I might as well work. People tell me I'm in a stressful job. What is actually stressful about it is that I'd rather be at home doing anything else or nothing at all.

"Do what you love and the money will follow" is the high flying banner of the happily employed, the bliss-followers, the yoga teachers and bookstore and coffee shop workers. I don't know how to make a living writing, reading, watching Survivor and decorating my house. I don't get it. Its not so much that I hate my job, I'd just rather be home.

As a political junkie, I'm happy to sit and watch the stomach turning babble go around and around, knowing beyond doubt it could all turn on a dime and my guy could lose. It is impossible to predict the fickle public, willing to embrace Palin one minute and string her up the next. (Make no mistake, I'd string her up.) I appreciated the Guardian article. As my friend Kelly said, "Leave it to the UK to tell it like it is." But honestly, as exciting as it all is, I'll be relieved when its over and Obama is in office. But.... a country that elected Bush, not once but twice, cannot be trusted. The campaign cannot rest. There are no laurels.

So, I'm on the couch for awhile. Teapot on, Wild Sweet Orange for me. Join me?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

painting, chapter 288

I overestimated my ability to be okay with a quick color choice. I grabbed a nice shade of robin's egg blue for the bedroom, got it home, and as I put the first stroke on the wall I gasped. It was swimming pool turquoise. Now, I have a pretty well developed denial system, and ignored what I knew: I could never live in a house with a turquoise bedroom. A dark, swimming pool turquoise bedroom. I couldn't sleep let alone accessorize. So I painted the entire room telling myself over and over again: it'll be fine when it dries. Maybe the laws of physics won't apply and it will dry lighter instead of darker -- I can never remember how that goes -- inside paint dries darker, outside paint lighter. I forget. The point, however, is that it dried darker. Way freakin' darker. Turquoise like some old lady's knit pants. And when I say I painted the room, well, that's only half true. My husband, who ordinarily lets me do all the painting, helped. And liked the color. And said as much. So now, I have to overcome all sorts of misgivings as I meander inevitably toward what you all know is a foregone conclusion: I will buy more paint. I will paint the room again. We will sleep in the living room one more night. At least. And this is the only reason my honey got involved, I think. He wanted to get the room back together. So, three nights later, I'm still painting.

I went back to Home Despot and bought more robin's egg blue paint. This time, I had my swatch with me and took my sweet time, and got what I wanted in the first place. The moral of the story (or "the take home message" as they say in work conferences) is: you can't rush art. Or me.

So I brought home a gallon of Swan Sea and a quart of Aqua Breeze for the accent wall. Gotta have an accent wall. I rolled the walls, three of the four are just drywall and take paint easily. The fourth is a little more complicated: a panelled wall covered with stucco, primered, with one coat of dark turquoise paint. Almost black. I'm exaggerating now.

So I slap on the paint, and on the difficult wall, the paint begins to sag, actually to start slipping down the wall, stretch-marks in the wake of the landslide. I panic, try to drag it back up with a brush, it does not go well. I wait for it to dry, repaint it, and when all is said and done, it is fine, but a damn good think it was supposed to look distressed because it does.

I have to go now. Must paint the baseboards. No rest for the wicked.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

painting, chapter 287

Yes, I'm at it again. This morning my husband put a pergo floor in the bedroom. It was cheap ass fucking shit, according to him, and he cussed and fussed through it. It is very pretty, and much better than the linoleum from the thirties. I guess it isn't hardly wood, and sparks fly from the skillsaw blade when cutting the stuff. He cusses his way through all man projects. I have learned not so much to ignore him as to appreciate that he does these things at all, and like knowing your own baby's cry, I can tell when something has actually gone wrong. Mostly the yelling is for emphasis: I am man, see me work. I couldn't make a floor if my life depended on it, so I play a supporting role, reading my book, blogging, and handing him the hammer when requested. And sweeping. I always get that job.

Now that the floor is in, on with the robin's egg blue walls. I wonder if I'll like it for very long. The kitchen is next, but since our bed is in the living room and the dresser in the kitchen, I gotta finish one thing before I begin another. When we went to Lowe's, doing our part for the economy, I chose the kitchen paint in about two minutes. This is unheard of in my world. I usually carry around paint chips for weeks, then obsessively check them against other brands. But this time I just picked two shades of olive green and one terra cotta red, and off I went. I will pick out new drawer pulls which may take a year or two or I might get lucky and see what I like right away. I have a gift for choosing the most expensive item on the rack. Really. Its like radar. It works in almost any store.

Since this is not a political blog, only a blog by a writer who is interested in politics, I'll just say I'm glad I live in a world where Saturday Night Live actually holds sway over who becomes the leader of the free world. There is a certain symmetry in that, dontcha think?

One of my guys died on Friday. I feel bad about it. I did all I could, not to save him, but to make it easier, but it didn't work out that way. And even though nothing was my fault, I dislike being part of these things. I didn't know him well enough to write about him. He was in pain and his daughter thought she knew better. Sometimes it is just my role to get out of the way.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

no rest

McSame and Flailin' Palin could still win this thing. Keep the pressure on. The neocon machine is capable of anything. They have not begun to fight as dirty as they will in the next 30 days. Believe it.

my big fat greek food fest

Today was the Greek Festival on Glisan. We always go. We wait for this all year long and arrive like starving people. I've been eating sugar competitively and feeling the hangovers and thought the Greek Festival would be a fitting end to compulsivity. We'll see. I've tried other such tricks before and not been able to outwit my psyche or my appetite. Its tricky.

Showing uncharacteristic restraint, we started with meat and salad, mine a stick of soulvaki and a greek pasta salad, my sweetie's two gyros and an olive and cheese plate. Then, onto the spanikopita and finally, or almost finally, the loukapalousas. I made that up. I don't know what they're called: little dough lumps drenched with hot honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. Huge people wandering around with huge paper buckets full of them. Fat in, fat on. It was obscene. The soulvaki was excellent. Then onto the bakalava. Oh my god. That stuff can't be legal. I took two bites and gave the rest to Kurt. I also got some feta custard or something that wasn't very good. It's still in the fridge.

You can tour the sanctuary and look at the history of the greek orthodox community in portland, complete with costumes and diahramas depicting orthodox activities I don't understand, but similar to Catholicism, they seem to favor Mary.

Tonight we will go to our favorite blues bar and see Curtis Salgado. He's an okay local guy, from Eugene originally. Trail's End Saloon. There's a tunnel under the bar that goes all the way to the Willamette. Which isn't far because it is in Oregon City which is right on the river. We will listen to the music, maybe get up and dance off one or two of the luokapalousas.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I am so disappointed that the vice presidential debate wasn't a train wreck. I waited, stomach in knots, for Palin to dissolve into a puddle like the wicked witch of the west, but nothing happened. I think if the election goes to the republicans, it will be because Americans want a charismatic personality on the ticket. They want a movie star. They want to be entertained. Biden is not entertaining, Obama is not entertaining. Like Al Gore, they are so doggoned serious, wink wink. Golly gee whiz. It was like watching a beauty pageant contestant answer a question about world peace. Say it ain't so.

I should take Sid to that republican boot camp. They can train pitbulls.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

knee deep

All of this political shit is mother's milk to me. I love it. I can't turn it off, let alone tune it out. I may be whistling past the graveyard, but I am enjoying the shit out of seeing wall street twitch. I have no idea how it will eventually effect me. I don't really get the whole market thing. It seems like play money to me. People loan each other money that doesn't really exist and it goes back and forth and round and round, and now, those who played too close to the edge have fallen off. Well, that happens. I have a little bit of actual money, and a little bit of money in stocks, but not much. I'm not even thinking about that -- in fact I don't intend to look at it for several years, and if its there when I get older, fine. I'm not counting on it though.

And then I think, hey. The only people who are going to be really hurting are the ones who didn't have real money, who only had play money anyway, and who are going to now have to do without what they couldn't afford anyway. I'm not sure that is so bad. What would it look like if we didn't need a new car each year, new furniture when the old is out of season, clothes and clothes and clothes. What if we lived within our means? Revolutionary.

I think my point of view is fairly common. If the government wants my money to help out the banks and financial markets, I'm really not very willing to donate. If it wants some of my money to directly help actual people, that would be okay with me. Just not the suits. If I messed up my job so bad they had to close the doors, they would send me home with a final paycheck as small as legally possible. No bonus, no deals. Go home. If the system is actually broken, let's see for once what really happens. Or twice. There was that other depression. The great one. I wonder what was so great about it.

I really don't know shit.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


john mccain is unbearably full of shit.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I am the queen of Tomato Pie. Here's the recipe as best I remember it:

italian spices
salt + pepper
parmesan, shredded
feta, crumbled plain
sliced provolone, torn in 1" pieces (I used 5 slices total I think)

How to:

One frozen Marie Callander's pie crust. (I am not the queen of pie crust. Marie is.)
Thaw it for awhile.
shredded parmesan cheese
press some of the parmesan cheese into the bottom and sides of the crust. poke holes in the crust with a fork and bake at 425 for ten minutes.
Let cool.

slice several firm tomatoes and lay out to drain on paper towels for about 2 hours.
sprinkle tomatoes with salt, pepper, italian seasoning and basil. Fresh if you have it.
layer tomatoes with shredded parmesan, feta and torn 1" pieces of sliced provolone
more tomatoes, more cheese...
Fill the pie shell 'til rounded.

Topping: Mix together:
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. shredded parmesan
1/4 c. feta
chopped garlic - at least one large clove.

Spread topping over pie. Bake 35 minutes at 350. Let stand 1/2 hour to set before serving.

It is so much better the second day.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

rain and pain

I don't miss the heat, but I will miss the light. People were out driving with their lights on at midday. I felt like I had my sunglasses on. We've been out to see movies, in to see movies, (Burn After Reading; the Fall) both mediocre but worth a watch. Something to pass the time as the dog days of summer cool and liquify.

For those of you who have been reading along and are not among the very few to stumble by unannointed, my shoulder is hurting again, same shoulder, same thing. The surgeon said if it made bone spurs once, it could again. And so my body is manufacturing misery in ways I cannot interpersonally. This time of year as most do, like bears do, I draw in and don't want to go out. The projects that pressed so on my everyday every minute, now seem irrelevant and I could easily live with spotted turquoise linoleum were it not for Sid's feet.

I know that didn't make sense. Even I can string words together better than that. The thing is that the turquoise floor is in my bedroom, and when I am napping, Sid is tapping. Tap tap tapping while I'm napping Sid is tapping, ever tapping, tapping on my bedroom floor. Quoth the Raven, nevermore.

I wake up, having never slept, murderous, shoulder hurting. I need a throw rug, something to still the savage beast. The surgeons says don't sleep on that arm. Oh. Okay. Great Idea. I have little control over what I do when I'm awake, let alone asleep. I turn onto my left side like a muslim toward mecca. I just do. I guess I could line my bed with broken glass or something. I don't want to have surgery again. I really don't. I'll try accupuncture this time.

So the rain comes down, the tv is on, and I'm making tomato pie. I'm not sure about this project. I also want to make a peach cobbler. Fall brings it out in me.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

not very sunday

If I were to post this morning, I would have to cover the following subjects:
Obama headquarters
Asha's visit
Motorcycle riding
Things I am not doing
Bladder infections
Painting things blue
The beginning of fall
the backyard
bladder infections
But I have a floor full of people, and the fact is, I like to be alone in the morning. But I don't mind them, I just don't like the idea of weekends dedicated to anything but gathering my wits for another week of work among the dying. I'm going to a conference beginning tomorrow, and having coffee with my good friend Dan, my old boss. The conference is work, and social networking, which I am not very good at. I am not looking forward to it except that it sort of seems like two days off in addition to the weekend. There are workshops, all of which I could teach because I have been in the long term care industry for so many years. But I don't teach them. I've never written a proposal and taken the time to tell what I know. Remember: I don't care. I sit and listen and pass the time writing (note to self: bring paper) amused at the idealists who believe they will never grow old and die, who think that the next speaker will tell them some new thing to forestall death--something to make it seem like dying is living. This is how we market the industry: sign up for the good life! Pay five thousand dollars a month for Quality of Life in a Homelike Environment. Doesn't it sound great?

I am a cynic. Sue me. If I was to put a workshop together, what would I call it? Real Death and Dying: A Primer for the Idealist.

So, I will go to get my hair retouched this morning, come home, and continue to recover from possibly the worst bladder infection I have ever had. It came on so suddenly I had to practically run out of work and to the doc's. Big pain.

But, due to the miracle of modern medicine and a new pill that turns my pee blue instead of the usual pyridium orange, I am on the mend -- if a little woozy.

I got to spend a couple of hours yesterday with BOTH asia and asha. You should envy me. We sat in my beautiful backyard on probably one of the most perfect Portland afternoons we've had this year -- not too warm -- and covered most of the important topics. Including what the hell is asha thinking going on a three month backpacking trek in the rainy season where there are druglords and terrorists and wait -- that sounds like north portland! But I do worry about the globetrekkers and their minimalist ways. I envy the desire to leave the vortex of the sofa and explore something besides the internet or the nearest shopping opportunity.

So, as I sit on my sofa, cartoons in the background, I begin another Sunday morning on Clinton street.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

at work not at work

There is a new family on my horizon, and they are bringing Dad to stay with me. They are bringing him bit by bit, as though they can't bear to bring the whole man. And it isn't that they don't trust me, I think they do, but if his wife actually left him overnight, it would mean it was true, that life as she knew it is over, that she is alone, single in a giant house that he built. Heck, he built the road that runs in front of the house. He was a great man. He still is by my standards. Sailed to New Zealand when he was seventy. I took his big hands in mine, squatted down in front of him, and said, "Its gonna be okay." He looked right at me and said, "Its gotta be." And we were off.

His wife doesn't know what to do. She asks me for advice then changes the subject. She's good at that. But I don't know what to say to a woman who doesn't know how to be alone. I know how. I'm good at it. Its living with other people that trips me up. Her daughters try to convince her to start having fun, to go shopping, to the casino, kick up her heels for a change. But she tells me she knows she can't run from it forever, that slot machine pulls will only stay the inevitable for so long-- the inevitable fact that her husband is gone, and yet not gone. That he, the subject of better or worse, is worse even than that. That she cannot fulfill her end of the bargain. That's how she sees it. There should be a disclaimer in the wedding vows: unless s/he gets Alzheimer's.

I know we are a country of wimps. But this guy is six foot five, weights 280, and she is tiny. For her to have cared for him at home this long exceeds any vows I've ever made.

So I am thinking of them today, and I should be thinking of non-work things, but it is all too real sometimes, and when she wanted to take him home again, just once more to pretend this isn't all happening, that her husband of 63 years hasn't been abandoned to the care of strangers has he? I just nodded, and told her I understood. But truthfully, I cannot imagine leaving Kurt and walking away from him even if I knew beyond doubt that he wouldn't even know I was gone. I'd know.


I've never really understood how to get to that zen place, the quiet mind, transcendence. I'm not even sure how to spell it. But yesterday, picking blackberries, I had a moment, in fact moment after moment, where all that mattered was getting the next perfect berry without dragging the soft underside of my forearm across poison thorns. Three gallons later I feel compelled to share my expertise. It doesn't take much.

The pie was okay. It was actually a tart. I guess it tasted fine, but I had just made french onion soup and couldn't wait and ate my first bite too hot and the melted provolone on my tongue diminshed my abiltiy to taste ever-so-slightly. But pie is pie. And as my son was fond of saying throughout his teens: its all good.

So today I am having coffee with asia, grandkids for the afternoon, and working at Obama Headquarters in the evening. It is just around the block, literally, and were it not for this ultimate convenience, it is unlikely that I would get quite so directly involved. I mean, I may ask them if I could just have a line routed from my house. I'm that lazy. Walk two blocks? Don't they know who I am?

Seriously, I'll try this time. This race. Its that important. I'm not sold on Obama, but Michelle seems bright and she likes him. McCain seems to have lost his mind, not that I would have voted for him anyway. Sarah Palen? Okay. I guess she killed a reindeer and has spent time near Russia so qualifies for office. I'm sure she's a nice person, and I don't know much about all this, but it seems like political suicide to me. Which is fine--anything that lessens his chances. I can't imagine that the women of America will rally behind a soccer mom. And if they do... They won't, will they?

I do worry for Obama and the threat of assassination. I grew up in Southern Oregon where the KKK held meetings in the grange until I was in my early teens. I remember Bud Peebler driving his tractor through the orchards up to the grange hall. They didn't wear white caps, but they didn't have to. They were there and we knew it. There are many nameless citizens who would happily give up their lives to stop a black man from holding this office and be known for it. Still.

I hate to blog about politics, but I do love to watch 'em run for office. I may break my rules from time to time, especially if I end up spending much time in Obama Headquarters. I can tell you right now that the signs are awful and its a mess out front. Its a good thing I'm heading over there this evening. But like the sign on my office wall says:

"If things don't get better around here,
I'm going to have to ask you to stop helping me."
So there it is: blackberry meditation and political commentary all in one place. You can't beat that.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I am home. I usually go out saturday morning and it was so good to just stay home, get the house in order, start some laundry, fold clothes and eat some oatmeal. It feels much more like a weekend when I start the day this way, sleep in a little.

But the reason I stayed in be is because I didn't sleep because it seems like once again I am on the cusp of bladder despair. Cranberry pills to the rescue.

Just back from a tough morning of yard sales and berry picking. Complusory yard sale items: a Billy Bass and an Ab Lounge. I pointed this out to the man running the sale and he didn't get it or didn't like that I wasn't going to purchase either one.

Then on to pick berries. Urban berry picking is much different than country picking. Urban berries are often found in places where the homeless folks roam, and while I am not so very far removed from the memory of homelessness, I am not a city girl. I could never have survived the streets. So we look the area over and pick away. I think we got about three gallons today. The pies I made last week were the best yet.

My husband always reaches for the furthest berries, the good ones just beyond safety. Me? I stay in one spot until there are no more, and only go in as far as I absolutely have to. I risk my fingers, he risks his life. There seem to be more than one variety of berry, smaller or larger. In the end we wound up in some nice big berries with great flavor. I'll make pie tonight.

Mother in law is in a nursing home after a hip replacement, and I'll make her a nice tart and hope it improves her mood. She's not going with the flow. I tried to explain the nursing home experience to her, but there just isn't any explaining it. It's awful. She's pretty freaked out. But its where they send people after surgery for rehab. Her son, my husband, says things like, How's it goin in the rest home??? I don't think it is helping.

Anyway, I'll bake something for her.

Here's the recipe:
For the bottom crust I use Marie Callendar's frozen. They are so good. Then for the top I use Pillsbury rolled crusts, cut in strips to weave the basket top.

Berries enough to fill the pie pan and a bit more.
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp lemon juice
dabs of butter under the crust top.
a bit of salt.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then 350 until done.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

quick camp

We spent the night at Metzler Park, cooked hot dogs and beans over coals and nothing else. Except cantaloupe, and vinegar and sea salt chips, my new obsession. I needed to get out of the city after a long week of decorating. It was not a Martha Stewart camping trip, as it had been a Martha Stewart week, but I found a new bedspread for our room and a big tin-type of Multnomah Falls, which is one of my all time favorite places if all of the tourists would leave.

It is now the end of the week, Thursday, and I haven't finished this lousy post. It was a nice night out of the city, stars in the sky, cool in the morning, smoke in the air. After four days off, back to work wasn't quite suicidal, and really, the cast and crew are all good. Sometimes it seems like a little hospital, and I guess it is, but life coasts downhill predictably to the end.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


In the midst of 103 degrees I can feel it: the coming of fall. This final burst of heat, a valiant attempt to forestall autumn's arrival, is futile. Fall will come.

Each year I await the arrival of fall with open arms, black turtlenecks at the ready, levi's and boots waiting for their time. I complain about winter, and I complain about summer -- but fall and spring... mmm. I love those seasons. I'm not sure what it is that gives it away. The first chill morning? It doesn't even need to be cold. It is just different, as if the angle of the sun has passed its prime, waning toward winter and the long cold nap. I long for short days and cold mornings, the coming of big holidays in the warm grasp of my family

oh, wait.

I forgot who I'm related to.

Anyway, while I may indeed dread the holidays, I do love autumn. Believe it.

This weekend I only have one day off. I don't like that very much, but am taking a couple of days off next week to make a long weekend before the long weekend. I want to camp for a couple more nights, or at least go on a picnic. I have spent the not-quite-so-hot day in and out of my new closet, trying to get things arranged to my liking. It is a little less like Christmas than I had imagined, but probably because I only have on day off and don't like to rush through this. I guess there is no need to hurry. It is a small space, but it is mine, and comfortable and finally, I can unpack after nearly five years. Enough.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Let's review: I wasn't going to paint anything that perfect shade of not-quite-white again, was I? Dammit. I just couldn't figure it out, and had all of these partial buckets of leftover paint.What's a girl to do? But I did something absurd and bought blue drapes. Blue. I bought all I could fit in my basket, all they had on the shelf. I love freddy's. You can get anything there. I go to Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn, and all their stuff has black polka dots, and maybe I'm behind (likely) but I don't want those Go Mod things all over my house again. I did it in the, what? sixties? seventies? I was drunk. I don't remember. I think I was young, so, probably the sixties.

But I had to paint the surfaces or I couldnt' hang the curtains. If I can't hang the curtains I can't hide the shit. If I can't hide the shit, well, I think I've pretty well beaten to death the concept of keeping shit in view. So, the curtains are purely ornamental. Sue me. First, I slapped a layer of joint compound over an old panelled wall to make it look magically like stucco so I can pretend I'm in a new house in Mexico instead of an old house in Portland. It took all of my self restraint (of which I am in notoriously short supply) to let it dry overnight before painting it. And I think I should have washed the panelling first because when I rolled the paint, it pulled the stuff right off the wall, so I had to paint it with a brush, which I have a hundred of, because I always forget where they are and buy new ones. This dilemma of hiding things from myself doesn't only apply to clothes, you see.

So it was an okay day in work land and I came home a little early to work around the house. The painting is pretty much done, but it is also never done. I have miles to go before I am through. I didn't paint the ceiling the last time, and it is glaringly not done. But it is tough to paint the ceiling in an occupied room. I will probably learn not to see it. I'm good at that.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Long time no post. So much has happened since Bozo died it is hard to know where to begin. Every day something happens that I view through my own lens, and think, hey, what a great post this will make when I get home to my computer. But my mind leaks. Memory fails when the dishes and the job and the dog and watering the yard get in front of everything.

Nicole moved away, which left a pretty big space in the house, and made her father sad. But it is a normal sadness, the empty nest. I've been in my own empty nest, sitting alone at night with the loud and insistent unemployment of childlessness, wondering how they can possibly get along without you, but they do. Because Nicole doesn't speak to us, or at least to me, it is hard to know her reasons and motivations, but she wasn't happy here -- that much was clear. I think most kids want to leave. I know I did. Having lived with her for nearly five years, and loving her in that uncomfortable, incomplete, never quite enough but always too much, step-mother way, I still hope for her eventual happiness and comfort in her own life, as it unfolds under her feet one step at a time. It is hard to be young, and easier by far than being old, but still just the same, I am happy to have been on the periphery of her small life for awhile.

So, with Nicole gone, I have created a walk-in closet for my clothing. We live in a small Victorian with tiny rooms and now I have some hope of organization. I have been living on three floors for four years, and it has been challenging. Now, for those of you have have been following the bouncing ball, you will understand that this organization myth is merely a hope, and has as little chance of materializing as, say, the Easter Bunny. I have, however, moved beyond plastic. I am now intstalling things that require drywall and spackle. I am renovating. Oh, did I say I am renovating as though it involved effort on my part? That was a lie. My husband is renovating. He is renovative. So, I have a closet where there was a wall, and shelves and other furniture that will house, but not hide, my many many articles of clothing and accessories and getting-ready supplies, which is another industry and another story.

I mention 'not hiding' because I have learned that putting clothes in opaque drawers and boxes is like sending them to storage. Only the storage is in Europe. I never see them again. And because they are not visible, I forget which item (say, summer capri-length pants) is in which large plastic storage container, and there they sit, years on end. The upside of opaque boxes and drawers is that it is like Christmas when I open them, and for awhile I am releived of the oppressive need to shop because I am wearing all my old clothes that I had cleverly hidden from myself. I blame my job, because I have to look competent every day, and I interpret this to mean I can't wear the same thing twice. How this relates to competence I can't explain. Don't make me try.

I had a dream last night that I had, in my organizational efforts, discovered a whole 'nother room of clothing and had decided to have a yard sale. I had advertised it on craigslist and said something like, "I'm selling some really nice stuff so don't expect to pay a quarter for something that cost me 89 bucks," because as you may know, I think everything at a yard sale should cost a quarter. So, the morning of the yard sale came and I was having it inside my house (which makes it technically not a yard sale). I had this plan to only let three people in at a time to minimize theft -- first come first served and all which is the craigslist m.o. -- but as the doorbell rang, I realized I hadn't even sorted through the clothes yet, or priced anything, and this guy who was first in line (for MY clothes, what's that about???) said there were 147 cars lined up around the block and that I'd better get organized.

Fuck. I have too much shit.

And my husband got a HUGE new motorcycle.

We all handle empty nests in our own ways.

I decorate.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Bozo the Clown is dead.

I am not alone, I am certain, in admitting he made me a little nervous. Its not that I'm glad he's dead, or that I wished him any ill for being the embodiment of the scary clown, just thought that since I made a big deal about Captain Kangaroo, I should give Bozo his due.

Bozo was the seed of many a cruel remark: what a fucking bozo, etc. And the esoteric firesign theatre album, We're All Bozos On This Bus. Under the right pharmacological conditions, and during the early seventies, I enjoyed that album for a minute.

Anyway, that's that. What a clown.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

chewing glass

It is the last day of my 20th year. Tomorrow is 21. Legal. I sat in front of Mulligan's Bar and Grill on Hawthorne last night, considering the days, the years, that have passed. I do that on anniversaries. I sit in or around bars and remember things best forgotten.

This morning I took my scooter down to the meeting place, wind in my hair and all, listened, came home to make oatmeal with walnuts and green apples, wait for my husband to get home from a bike ride, and watch as my day unfolds under the rare Portland sun. I need to have another key made for my scooter and I must go to Freddy's to talk about glass shards in the frozen berries, then off for coffee with a writer in hopes of structuring my fucking book.

I know the part about glass was tucked in there as though just another moment in my always zen-like existence, but seriously. I've been eating broken glass for breakfast. It started last week.

Sunday morning, like any weekend morning, I made oatmeal with frozen blueberries. I prefer frozen to fresh. On weekdays it is yogurt and berries. I usually mix frozen cherries in with the blueberries for the sweet. So there I was, shovelling down the oatmeal when I discovered some broken glass in my mouth. I fished around in the bowl for more glass and finding only a couple of pieces, cautiously ate the rest of my breakfast. The next morning I dumped my yogurt and berries together and headed to work. At about 8:30, I open my pack and take out my breakfast, finding partway through it that again, I have glass in my mouth. Bummer. This time it feels kind of like I may have swallowed some and this concerns me. I fish around and find a little more, and toss the rest of my breakfast, sad and desperate, and eat some cold scrambled eggs. By this time, I'm guessing the blueberries are the culprit rather than the oatmeal, either that or Nicole is trying to murder me, which is entirely possible.

So, next day I open a brand new bag of frozen cherries, both to rule out the blueberries and the murder theory. I am certain it is not the cherries. NOT THE CHERRIES!!!. So I make my breakfast, go to work, sit down after the initial blur of physician's orders and employee complaints as well as one of my patients yelling, "Get away from me you sons of bitches and I don't mean daughters, either!" to eat my breakfast, and begin shovelling the cherries and yogurt down my throat with relative abandon, considering the events fo the past three days.

This raises some questions for me. And I would understand if it also raised some questions for you. Why? You may wonder, does she keep eating this food when she could die a ghastly death bleeding from the inside out?

Its a fair question.

Well, I really like cherries and I have a smallish but significant disability when it comes to, well, living in reality. My behavior would suggest that I believe the laws of physics don't apply to me, such as: glass cannot be digested safely. I don't believe this consciously, I am not an idiot, but my actions do not support my beliefs. I live outside of integrity when it comes to food. Now, I don't think that is such a big deal, really. I've been worse and lived.

So, yes. I'm certain you are hanging on by a thread here, wondering if there was glass in my cherries. Yes. Dammit. There were large shards, kind of flakes of glass, throughout my breakfast for now the fourth day in a row. So, I don't need a brick wall to fall on my head. Again, scrambled eggs.

I got on the phone and called Fred Meyer himself to explain to him that he has a small problem in the frozen food aisle. I saved the glass and the bag the cherries came in and am heading down there today to bring in the evidence, and report that should I, in any way, have gastrointestinal problems due to ingesting glass, Freddy is footin' the bill. Period.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

vacation part II

So there we were, all packed up and ready to head inland when my husband stepped on the clutch and nothing happened. Not one thing. Had we been on minimally level land, that would have been one thing, but we were about a mile down a spiraling 14% incline, towing a small but significant U-Haul trailer. Russian Gulch is about a mile north of Mendocino on Hwy 1. A beautiful campground surrounded by ferns and just the minutest bit of stinging nettle, which I managed to steer clear of, but my husband did not. Left up to me I would have unwittingly picked a bouquet to grace our table, but he was the first one out of the truck and into the campsite. I guess it stings--thus, the name.

We are such grown ups now that we have AAA.--Triple A for the unititiated. (I could refer you to previous posts about my 65 Dodge Polara with a plywood back seat and a starter that had to be beaten with a shovel each time I turned it off, but I'll leave that up to you. ) Ah, poverty, that fount of revisionist memory.

So this ranger shows up to see who the flakes are who have broken down in his campsite. He is clearly from Mendocino based on the tan and the 150.00 haircut. To be fair, he was very nice. Rangers are very nice, as a rule, aren't they? Have you noticed? For instance, this one came up to us while we were walking toward the beach to let Sid run around for awhile.
My husband says, cleverly, upon meeting the ranger, "Sid! Where is your six foot leash?"
The ranger says, in perfect tour guide inflection, "Say, Do you know where the Rite Aid is in Fort Bragg?"
I think, What the hell? Does he need bandaids or a prescription filled?
So my husband, knowing we are about 9 miles from Fort Bragg, says, "Sure." And he's thinking, like I am, that this guy needs directions to Rite Aid and has a medical problem of some kind.
The ranger says, "Good. Well, there's an off-leash dog park down toward the water from there." and goes on to explain the directions in minute detail.
We consider admitting to the ranger that Sid is usually on his leash and no one is around anyway, but don't. We just stand there like the guilty campers we are.
The ranger, remaining tour guide-positive, says, "I was just thinking you might want to know where an off leash park was located."
Well, we really didn't at all. We weren't thinking how nice it would be to drive nine miles to walk Sid, who can walk just fine on an empty beach.
Anyway, I was just wondering if all rangers are taught to deal with campers in positive language only. Maybe some campers are a tiny bit unstable and will flip out if a ranger was to, for instance, say something like: "Put your fucking pitbull on a leash, asshole," or something like that. I wonder if there is a ranger school for manners.

We met this other ranger in Jedediah Smith State Park where we camped early. In campgrounds now there is evening entertainment and actual gift shops. It was the first Ranger Talk of the season when we were there. It was called "The Bear Necessities" and talked about bear ettiquette, like not spreading jam on your child's face or something if you happen to run into a bear on the trail. It was for idiots and flat-landers I guess. The plan was to have this blazing bonfire (which I thought questionable in the redwoods) but the guy ranger couldn't build a fire. It took him forever. It was decorative, the way he built this tipi out of wood, but it wouldn't take off for the longest time. At the talk, the ranger-gal handed around this necklace of bear teeth and the next morning, as we checked out of our campsite, there was a note at the entrance that someone had pocketed it and the sign said, "It is MINE."

When we finally made it out of Russian Gulch, we were towed by AAA inland to Willitts. It is a 25 mile winding road and we were in a huge flatbed tow truck driven by Kevin who has three children who have turned out well because they do things together as a family and he married his high school sweetheart and drives the road like he has lived there all his life, which he has, almost without looking. I believe we made better time being towed by Kevin than we would have on our own.

Willetts isn't much. We were pretty much hostage to the auto repair shop, and several hundred dollars later, were on our way up 101 and toward home. I should report that Sid was really happy to finally make it to a hotel room with air conditioning and a bed he could call his own.

We drove straight through to Port Orford and spent the evening with my brother Doug and his wife Joyce. The curry was excellent. The company, even better. It was good to see them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

brother, first and last

I started out with three brothers and now I have one. The eldest, older by about 12 years than I, is the only one left. I could tell a million stories about Doug because he is someone about whom stories are told, and will be told long after he is gone, which won't be long if things keep on the way they are. I love my brothers, not any one the best, and went through life being never myself but always somebody's sister. They were all treacherously handsome and drawn, all but the youngest, to trouble. The youngest (and I think we'd all agree, the best) died first. His heart was like his father's, doomed to beat for only about 35 to 40 years. Doug's has been beating longer, and likely harder, and is beginning to wear down now. The middle boy, silenced his about five years ago with whiskey.

When I was eleven, Doug taught me to play poker so he could beat me out of my babysitting money and play pool at Foss's Pool Hall in Medford. He told me to fold on the only royal flush I've ever been dealt. Lore has it that he painted his Navy commander's face with deck paint and nearly joined the Mafia. I'd believe anything. I have believed anything. I like a story and am a liar, this much we know. I remember people bringing Doug home from long benders, leaning him up against our front door, knocking, then running away. We'd open the door and down would come Doug -- passed out cold. I remember (or I may just be repeating a story I heard a hundred times) my brother hanging out the back window of a station wagon, the old kind with the seat facing backward, bottle of tequila in hand, spinning out of our wide gravel driveway with a carload of Mexicans bound for Tijuana, and this during a time when cars full of Mexicans were something of a rarity. Now, to say it outloud, or rather in print, it sounds rather benign. At the time it was the height of subversion, of rebellion, something he was known for. My mother never gave up on him.

There have been many years of my life when I didn't know him. He captained his own fishing boats and fished the Southcoast of Oregon for the past 40 years or so. When he found out I was shooting heroin he walked into the bar and slugged me, not really very hard, but nearly knocked me off my barstool. I tried to explain to him that it wasn't that big a deal, but he knew better. He knew. When I needed to kick, I went to him and camped inland from his mooring, and felt safer leaving my boy with him on his boat when I was sick and had to drink. He knew that one too. And still does. He is not a gossip.

He finally found a woman who could live alongside him, not exactly a pirate's wife, but something like that, who can't get too far from saltwater without getting nervous. She is a weaver and she has saved him twice now from the foibles of a body that is nearing an early finish. .

What Doug and I have in common is walking away from the rest of the family -- he more than I -- to live lives unapproved of by the Christians. We, me and K, visited him on our way back from this past camping excursion, and I didn't know if my husband would like him, but they seemed to hit it off, and for maybe the first time since I got married, I felt like family all together. Kurt said, "You never told me your brother was a real fisherman." I said, "Oh. Well, he is." I forget to tell him things about my family. I often forget I have one. He is my family now. Our counselor thinks I'm not a great communicator.

I am sad for my brother's failing health. I work in an industry where it is impossible not to know what it means to have a stroke, even if they get you to the hospital in time to bust the clot. I am grateful that he and I have lived long enough into this life to sort of know one another, although I will always feel separate from him, which is not very different than how I always feel.

One of the most significant memories from my very early childhood, maybe even the earliest memory of all, was of being awakened before dawn to hear him saying goodbye to me. I was in the top bunk, and he hugged me and ruffled my curly blonde hair. He still calls me Jude. He was seventeen and leaving for the Navy. It was that or prison I guess. I never did know what he did wrong. Maybe I should ask him. I've always wondered. But I guess he, or my Dad, chose the Navy. As you can tell with the face painting incident mentioned above, it didn't go well. None of my brother's took to the military. Or the military to them, it seems. Rebels, one and all.

Friday, June 06, 2008

vacation: backwards, in two parts

I can't tell where I'm typing. But this is Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. It used to be the city dump and now is literally covered in beach glass. People gather it in five-gallon buckets, so there isn't as much as there used to be. According to K, used to be you could see old Model-T's sticking out of the sidehills where they had been dumped and rusted. They are no longer visible.

Now we are in the Avenue of the Giants, although this happened in reverse. I can never remember to load the pictures in reverse order so they come out front to back. Ah, well. Use your imaginations. The route was this: Portland to Eliot Creek for a night; Jed Smith for 3 nights; Russian Gulch (Mendocino) for two nights; Willitts for a night; Port Orford for a night and home. There is much story to fill these gaps, but because I am a crappy blogger (albiet a decent writer) you will have to wait for your bedtime stories until a little later, kiddies.

More and more trees. I don't know what to say about the redwoods. A cathedral. We drove through Stout Grove across the river from Jed Smith, but the sun hardly came out the whole time we were there, so these shots are all from the Avenue of the Giants, which is somewhere further south along the Eel River.

More and more. The place to the left is where I peed. Just in case you were hoping for some significance. I mark territory like a male dog with prostate problems.

More Avenue of the Giants. And more....

I'm not very good at making the right words go with the right pictures. To the left is a view looking up in the Avenue of the Giants.

Our setup. The trailer has all of our gear and we sleep in the truck. This is from the Avenue of the Giants in California somewhere. (if this photo doesn't post, it is our white ford truck. again, imagination....)

Me and a big tree

The lighthouse at Crescent City

This is a giant redwood on a trail in Jed Smith. The chunks cut into the sides were for platforms for fallers back in the day. Coulda been my uncle or cousins, redwood loggers all.

This is camp #22 in Jedidiah Smith State Park. it was a great camp that they rented us by mistake and we had to move to #12, which was okay, but not as great. Sid, the guard dog, protects us from bears.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Jed Smith to Russian Gulch at Mendocino. Very pretty. More later.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I am equipped to go camping. I am not as equipped as, say, asha and M. Lee, to trek about the unknown world with one spork and a napsack slung over one shoulder. Not like that. I am a campground camper. Not a trekker. I bring my stuff, a minimalistic version, decorate the redwoods as though that were possible or necessary, and sit there until I want to go home. I like sitting here. I like sitting there. Either is fine. I have my tent and my throw rugs so I don't drag dirt inside the tent. I have my shower bag and my bag of games with travel scrabble and dice and a cribbage board and cards; I finally caved and purchased blue speckle-ware plates. I found a full set of pots and pans at a yard sale for two bucks last year, so felt pretty good about buying 30$ worth of new stuff. I like having the camping gear all tucked away, year after year, so when we pull it out it is like christmas. Having a poor memory is delightful. And with perma-gear, there is less to put away when we get home.

This year, with my utter dependence on Silver Hills Squirrely Bread, I found a camp toaster for 1.93 at Walmart. I hate the W stores. But, as the impact of peak oil begins to affect me personally (ah, acceptance; ah, materialism gone awry; ah, shit) and the marauding zombie hoards begin to branch out from Winco and Walmart and Walgreens onto your front porch and mine, it makes a freakin' good case for camping gear and good locks for those gas caps. They (the zombies) were in rare form at Walmart yesterday. I really expected the biting to begin in earnest.

So I looked online for one of those fold-up kitchens, and, as with anything, you can take out a loan and get the top-o'-the-line, but I found the one I wanted for only 60 bucks. It's just a small aluminum set of folding shelves and a top rack for hanging utensils. Nothing burly like Coleman makes which is so cumbersome you may as well install an actual kitchen sink in the forest. I'm happy with my rubbermaid wash tub and tin pan. Some things are just right the way they are. Heaven knows I can haul water. I happen to know the exact weight of five gallons going uphill pregnant. But that, my friends, is another story for another day.

I have been reading this survivalist guide to packing your gear. This is a guy who is into the weight and volume of things. He's thinkin' about carrying his shit around. Not me. But there is a way to pack meat for the duration. He says you freeze it really good for a couple of days in the deepest part of the freezer, and then use in order: chicken first, then pork, then beef. That is the recommended order. I love to cook in the woods, so we will eat very well. I like to eat ribs and other barbaric things straight outta the fire. The first night, we will have blackened chicken breasts with whole green chilis and jack cheese ala clay's smokehouse. Yum.

We will prepare with rain gear and plenty of rope and tarps, and huddle beneath the redwoods for an early summer nap.

I hesitate to say I have enough, but I think I'm just about ready to go.

This post is
In memory of my brother Marc Dixon Kinney
Who returned from Viet Nam but never came home.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

over and done with

Yep, its all gone. I chickened out and didn't sell the blue bouncy chairs. As a woman was prepared to hand me 100.00, I choked and found new resolve to paint them. I'm pretty much over the whole shabby chic thing and they are most definitely shabby. But they are so comfortable, and at some point, function does over-ride form. Doesn't it? Besides, I wander through all of the aisles of all of the stores and there is brown on brown and taupe on beige every friggin place you look. I don't want no fucking menopause-beige lawn chairs. I'm done with beige. You can't make me. I'm keeping my antiques. They will be painted white or red. I'm in a pretty red mood these days. Seems most of my shoes are red. I bought a pair of red pants.

Who cares?

So, I made about 60 bucks. But the important thing is that I got rid of a bunch of stuff I don't love. Impusle buys. And I'm willing to take the hit to learn the lesson. I resolved to only keep the stuff I really really like. And you know me.... I do like my stuff. Remember the old adage:

You can't have everything -- where would you put it?

So, there you have it. I felt really good about pricing things low, and selling to people in my neighborhood who loved what they found. And in the end, the rest went to goodwill and the free chairs left on the street. It was sweet to see this little boy who wanted this idiotic black beanbag chair and ottoman that I HAD TO HAVE at one point. I was certain if I had this certain beanbag chair that I would write more. Well, not only is that a crock of shit, it was so uncomfortable. And because I had made such a thing about getting it, I had a hard time (me!) admitting what a waste of 20 bucks it was. So, I finally drug it down the thin stairs and put a 10$ price tag on it. This kid really wanted it, sat on it, hung out, but his mother wouldn't cough up the cash. When we put the free sign on it, he came back. When we left for dinner, he was camped out waiting for his mom to pick him up.

So, my load is a little lighter, and that always feels good. A trip to the redwoods on a light tank should be nice. I only want one thing: one of those camping kitchens. They're cool.

Friday, May 23, 2008

but before we go...

Gotta do the Yard Sale. I'm tossing things down the staircase, and if you recall, it is a bit narrow. One stuffed chair got stuck and in pushing it through I nearly followed and would have spent my redwood adventure on crutches. But I caught myself in the nick o time and am saved.

Anyway, I am looking forward to selling my shit for money. Please come and buy some. I'm selling the blue bouncy chairs, L. You know you want them. I'm over shabby-chic.

Ginormous Yard Sale. One day only.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

redwood bound

We are in the serious planning phase of our May/June vacation. We leave next wednesday and will be in the valley wed nite, then off to Jedediah Smith State Park in the heart of the Redwoods. A cathedral of trees nourished by the pristine Smith River which, by Mighty Columbia standards, barely qualifies as a creek. Its a beauty. Jade pools and dark overhangs of moss and rock and ferns and wild Rhodys and Azalea and Trillium and and and. I love that place. Haven't camped there since I was a girl and it was free.

We will take, along with everything we own, a propane heater because it is looking a little chilly there under the trees. Ah, more fires. More and more and more.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

fine dining

I have been looking and looking for a dining room set that will fit in my bay window. Oh such are my struggles. The trials and tribulations of judybluesky in the big city. So many choices and craigslist too. So I finally settled on a nice black set from good ol' Freddy's. I love Freddy's. You can get about anything there. So, I rearranged my junk, made a yard sale pile, and next week, if the blazing spring sun obliges, I'll sell all my shit that I don't want anymore. I may change my mind. I will, no doubt, many times over. My husband finds this behavior curious. He admittedly wouldn't change a thing, inside or out, until the house looks like the set of Psycho, stuffed mothers and all, but not me. I'm for a bi-annual clearing out. You should show up. It'll be a good one. I'm trying to think of a good name for it.

Cheap Crap
Spring Cleaning Extravaganza
The Best Yard Sale Ever
Multi-Family Yard Sale (a white lie)

But whatever the title, it'll be one day only. Period. I'm not one for dragging things out. Either they sell or they don't. And I am usually surprised at what doesn't sell. My treasures usually sit unnoticed and unappreciated until I run in the house to use the bathroom and return to find that my husband has sold my 50.00 crate and barrel oil and vinegar set for two bucks. Usually, you can count on things made of wood selling fairly well. I will not have a christmas table. I will not sell wax items that have been sitting in the sun. I will not purchase things at stores and resell them. I will sell my piles of large clothing. I will finally rid myself of my old primer-rust chairs and a bunch of other shit. I'll probably sell it all too cheap and, as my husband says, "...spend the year buying three thousand dollars of shit and selling it for twenty five bucks." Sounds good.

Ah well, its something to do on a Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

canby in the mist

So much for forecasters. I never trusted them anyway. I did hope, however, that I'd be able to shop for great plants in dry if not warm weather. Liars.

No worries, though. The Canby Master Gardner plants are there for the taking if you have PLENTY of money. They seemed a little pricey to me. I only spent about twenty bucks, so got off easy.

We bought a wagon (a Gorilla Dump Wagon) to make the trip. I had no intention of going without one. I looked on craigslist for a kiddie wagon cheap, but didn't get the one that was listed. So we went shopping late Friday night and found one at Freddy's. Its great. Too bad we really have no room for it. It is much better than a wheelbarrow, with four fat tires and a dump-able bed for less shoveling. So, K put it together for me and pulled it around the garden party. I do love my flowers.

This year we bought two pale coral bells, a maidenhair fern, three tomato plants and a black viney thing. Now, I can happily go to some other place and buy pony packs of lesser plants for filler.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Happy Anniversary to us! Four years. I feel more married this year than I have in the past. I was trying to explain that to my husband over sushi at Todai--nasty salty snow crab, no creme brulee for me--I just feel more like I think other [normal] people feel when they are married. I held my breath for the first two years. I couldn't believe my good fortune. I was afraid I would wake up and find, once again, that I don't get to keep what I have.

I went through life that way for the longest time. I was always sure that the gods would see that I had a wonderful life and eventually, send someone to tap me on the shoulder and say, "We know who you are and we saw what you did." And just like that, in a fingersnap, it would all be gone.

And it could have been, and could still be. But it isn't. And a fabulous life takes maintenance and cooperation and that hardest of all things, the word escapes me... it means to split the difference, to give and take, to... to... COMPROMISE. That's it. Ah. To willingly suspend the need to have it my way. Not my best thing. I spent so many years getting good at making people think it was their idea. Then, just moments later... their fault.

Naw. Not really. I'm not that mean.

Anyway, Happy Day. May Day May Day. Silver heart with wings for me, stargazers for him and a star in heaven.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

southland in the springtime

We went down to see Haley and her NW Youthcorps crew in the hills outside of Tiller yesterday. I don't think I've been up to South Umpqua Falls in 20 years. It is a little different, I think. I think the fish ladder is newish. We were looking at campsites for our upcoming vacation the first week of June.

Ah, vacation.

We were planning a trip to Yellowstone and finally got clear about our unwillingness to spend 600.00 on gas. What a pisser. But we did clarify our mission, eventually. I asked my husband what he wanted to do for a vacation, and he said, "Whatever you want, my love," which I must admit has a damn nice ring to it. But that was not the point. Then, he talked about spending time with his father, who isn't getting any younger either, and we agreed to camp in the southlands.

For me, it is agreeing to camp in the southlands again. Since he grew up in the backwoods of Southern Oregon/Northern California, camping is a foreign thing. Live in dirt on purpose? He's pretty new to it. And me, being the queen of camping, owner of all camping things, it is all a vacation is to me. There is nothing else. What do I want to do on vacation? Camp. What do I need? A book and a tree and a chair. That's it. And water tumbling by. And maybe ripe blackberries. That is it. Oh, and no eighties rock music blaring from bad car speakers. That's nice too. So I may be a tiny bit picky.

So, southbound we are. For those of you who know it, we will be at Hutton on Eliot Creek from May 29th until about June 2-3, something like that. C'mon up. Bring a chair and your own damn book. I'm re-reading the Thornbirds for the thousandth time. I love that story. Tortured catholics. Don't know why.

So we spent the day with Haley, who is a burly little thing, with her dreads and rag clothing stitched together with fur and carpet remnants, giant bones stretching her ears into skin hoops, carving trails where there were none, moving boulders from rockslides along the Rogue River. Children guiding children to learn the value of good hard work. I think it is okay. Go NWYC. They work harder than I ever could or have. Or would.

Today, I shopped early to get the Winko trip out of the way. I went to the one on 82nd, and let me tell you, 82nd is a scary place 'long about 7:30 on a Sunday morning. The humans that roll out from under bushes and parked cars and those tiny little hooker motels are a mess. As the sun comes out, so does everybody else.

Then we went yard-sailing, and found some unnecessary shit including a Frank Zappa CD . When we popped it in the CD player, a song came on and I knew the words to it. It was such a strange sensation to know the words to "Hot Rats." Clearly, I was in a coma for way too long. I do know about his logo and what it is. If I knew how to post drawings, I'd show you. If you know it, and can post drawings, WAIT! this is the age of the internet. It MUST be out there somewhere..... be right back... okay, here's the logo. Okay, well obviously it is at the front end of this post. So, return to beginning and look at it. Do you know what it is?
Well I do.

So, apparently I did have some interest in Frank Zappa. I know his children are called Moon Unit and Dweezel. Memory surprises me sometimes--the storage capability of my brain and the absence of recall. But once triggered, a cascade of useless trivia is momentarily available to me. And I make it available to you, my readers.

Anyway, we went for a walk as evening approached and saw a UPS guy walking his dog. We were going to follow him to see if he made only right turns but got bored and went home.