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.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


To maintain my right to bitch, I kind of have to dedicate one post-- one lonesome, provincial post-- to this historical election. Having worked for and with government agencies (local, state, county, but not federal) I am not much for conspiracies. I think they are too complex and the need for clear communication beyond governmental ablity. That being said, if I WERE a conspiracy theorist, which I am not, I would say that the Republican Party is nicely positioned to win in November. We are running a well-liked white man against an idealistic black youngster idolized by our attention-fractured youth, and an old white woman who nobody likes very much but they can't really remember why. I don't think there could be a more perfect duo to feed the huddled masses longing to be whatever huddled masses long to be.

I'm tired. I'm tired and just a tiny bit negative about the notion of electablitiy, which has been (imho) discussed/diluted to innoculate the public against giving it any credence, when, in fact, it is seriously the point. I don't believe that the American People, in the privacy of the voting booth, elect a black man to the highest office in the land. And I know this is not a rare and special insight. It is a common thought, often stated. Is it a "sad commentary about middle America"? Yes. I think it probably is. But no less true. And Hillary, who asha refers to as "neocon lite" is not my idea of a dream candidate, and I don't know that it matters all that much. I don't know that she'd do much better than Obama in a general election, but better is better. As much as I'd love to throw my considerable weight behind the fresh new guy, I don't think it wise. As truly as it is time for a change, it is also time for prudence and caution. We cannot afford to lose. And the assumption that "anyone is better than GWB" is naive and ignores history. We said that last time and lost.

Monday, April 21, 2008

katerina's purse

Katerina has a port wine stain covering the left side of her face that she used to cover with theatrical makeup. That was when Johnny was alive. In her purse are two copies of the same cherry chocolate cake recipe, a AAA card she holds up proudly. Twenty five years, she says, like it was an award. Maybe it is. She finds a small snap purse that opens to be a sewing kit. She looks at the buttons stuck to a length of tape, and tries to fit the tiny scissors back in the pocket but her crooked fingers can't help her anymore. "I sewed these buttons," she says. "Well, not these buttons." Then she unfolds a small piece of notebook paper. "My list," she says. A grocery list? I ask. She looks at me, serious. "Cosmetics." Then she pulls out a photograph of three people sitting on a sofa, the fat man in the middle with his great arms around a younger Katerina and some man. "Oh, there's Frank!" she exclaims as though he had just walked into the room. "He's dead." She smiles up at me, matter of factly. She has no idea who I am. You don't live to be ninety and not gain some familiarity with death. "Frank drank more than he should have," she said. I nodded. Who is this man? I asked. She held the snapshot in both hands and squinted through glasses that could have used cleaning. "That's my Johnny."

She remembered the names of all of the plants on her narrow sill, an african violet, tulips, roses (they were actually carnations, but from her vantage point, I gave her credit) and a lily. She asked me if I would care for the violet. I told her my mother used to raise them and all I knew is that they needed an east facing window, which it is in.

She is new to me, Katerina, and I hope she lives long enough to recognize me. I am senseless to wish these things, memory being what it is in my world.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

come saturday morning snow

Once again, the Northwest Stormtrackers missed. The sun is streaming in my window and I know it isn't 70 degrees, but it is a blindingly beautiful morning on Clinton street. Maybe in Hood River they lost some apples, but I don't know. It was unseasonably cold, as promised, but no precip.

Loretta is at the coast by herself. I remember the first time I went anywhere alone after raising kids and being coupled. It was a constant challenge to grant myself permission to move about the planet freely. I got good at it after awhile.

Today was "date night/day". No children, no grandchildren, no mothers in law, we went out to breakfast, went to see 88 Minutes (Al Pacino movie) then out for a steak dinner at Saylers. We wanted to try Ringside downtown, but they wanted about 40 bucks for a steak. Seemed like too much money even for date night. So, I ate about half my stuff and came on home to a sugar free ice cream bar. I remember Asia's Thai friend who almost ate that 72 oz. steak a couple years back (eat the whole thing and its free -- don't and its 50 bucks.) Well, I saw the steak. Its still there. People still try, but only on weeknights. I think K would have gone for it otherwise. Anything for free food.

Hey, turns out me and the Pope have something in common. Looks like we both wear red shoes. His are Italian leather and mine are Keens, but still, its something.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I am planting things again in the hopes that the sun hasn't forgotten us completely. I have been biding my time, waiting for that Gardener's Mecca: the Canby Master Gardner Fair in the first week of May. I had been biding my time, that is, until the sun made a fair showing on Saturday and I went to Freddy's for just a very, very few plants. Just a few dozen. My husband, attempting to be caustic and unfair, laughed as I, in his words, replaced all the things that didn't make it from last year. I tried to explain that annuals don't make it, aren't expected to make it. Just color for the springtime. So there.

I planted tons of lobelia and verbena, columbine (which will be back next year just you wait and see) and a bunch of succulents along the side of the deck, mother hen and her chicks, stuff like that. Spineless cactus. Leave no dirt un-planted, I say.

It has been a long, wordless winter in my world. I seem to be running out. I keep saying they will come back to me like I am Capistrano, and some evenings and some early mornings I hear them clattering at the windows, asking to be let in out of the rain, but I won't do it. I won't.

Not yet.