Sunday, December 06, 2009


Well, the Charlie Brown tree is out of the box and on the table -- the best I can do with Sid and Duffy tearing through the house playing tug of war. Sid doesn't wholey understand the game. He has spent five years sitting in front of us, waiting for us to throw the ball, toss the frisbee, hold one end of the rope. Now, with Duffy a more than willing participant, he is confused and territorial -- his goal to have the thing, then, once had, whip it into shreds and destroy it. Suffice it to say I've spent my wages on pull toys. More and more he allows a little play before consuming the thing. And Duffy has mastered the art of being a lower and slower dog: hiding under furniture. Drives Sid crazy.

At any rate, Christmas time is here. It doesn't feel like it yet, distracted as we have been by Nicole's accident, dogs and jobs and funerals. I should make a post about Nicole's trauma. On the 20th of November, she was hit in a crosswalk as a pedestrian by an 88 year old man. She's okay, but took quite a hit and will have a scar down the side of her face to remember the day. She was right and he was wrong, and insured, so she should benefit if carrying a facial scar on a beautiful face can be compensated.

So, happy thanksgiving, merry christmas and happy new year. There. Cards are on the way.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


One of the worst things I do in this blog is generalize. My cousin Jimmy (always Jimmy, never Jim and certainly not James) said the broad strokes were basically right. My caveat is always that I am not a writer but a liar, and so keep myself off the inevitable hook of accurate historians (not Jimmy, he was great about reading my account of his family's history and mine.) Anne Lamott says she is careful what she writes about the living. As people pass, they fall under the pen, which we all know, is mightier than the pencil.

I am in Arcata tonight, attending the funeral of my aunt tomorrow, spending the days and the evenings with cousins I haven't seen since the last funeral. I look at thier children, some named for those gone before, everyone looking more than a little bit alike. I am the only one from my shrinking clan who is present this evening. Allegedly, my brother will be here tomorrow. I hope so. We say things like: We've got to stop meeting like this. But this is how we meet, we 50 somethings. This is the social calendar of an aging family. And I wonder if the younger among us understand what a family we were, what spectacular people preceded us in death, how blessed those of us left behind are to have been a part of this whole.

I talk alot about the differences between my side and their side of the family, but what I usually forget to mention is that it never mattered. For instance, when my cousin Gary showed up and I told him I had moved to Portand and he said, "That bastion of liberalism." I just said, "Yeah, buddy!" and we both laughed. What is true is that I have no idea the politics beyond those who make it my business.

On a different note, Duffy is learning to poop while leashed. He isn't very happy about ithe indignity of it all, but as I was about to give in and let him off-leash, four fat raccoons slipped under the fence and stood drooling, still as stone, awaiting a single moment of inattention and a late night snack. Duffy, a ratter by trade, was thrilled to see them, and wanted to attack. I'd always heard that terriers are big dogs in a little dog's body, but didn't realize what that level of fearlessness would look like in action. He does not seem to think taking on four adult size raccoons is imbalanced.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

east meets westie

The therapy llama is Smokey. Duffy was impressed.
Raising a puppy on a dementia unit (a "memory care community" for the faint of heart) has its plusses and minuses. My spelling may be called into question in that last bit. Anyway, Duffy can hardly be to blame for all of the, shall we say, leavings, here and there. Today, for instance, somebody pooped in the tea room and somebody peed in one of the trash cans. We didn't know about the latter until Duffy had rooted around in it and came out smelling like some old bum's jockey shorts. Bums may not wear jockey shorts but I'm sure you get my drift. So I grabbed Duffy, stuck him in the sink and washed him with quarternary disinfectant. Nah, not really, but I did use good soap. Not baby soap. Not for THAT smell.

So being a puppy is relatively easy. You can blame the little round wet spots on Nate and nobody is the wiser.

The dogs are blissfully asleep, Duffy has learned to sit and that fact alone gives me hope for the future. He can learn.

My aunt died and I'll be making a pilgrimage to Arcata soon, me and the pup, back to one of the places of my youth, rich with time-twisted memories, to the place where my father died. I'm not sure if I've told the story or not, but I'll go ahead and spill it here.

My aunt was married to a logger. His name was Earl and he used to throw us up in the air, scaring the crap out of my mother. He drove to work on the old Oregon Mountain Road to and from Arcata through the Smith River Canyon during the days when they were logging the redwoods. Bad. I know. Anyway, one June morning before the crack of dawn, he drove off the skinny little road and plummeted to his death, leaving behind my aunt and seven children.

My father was between jobs at that time, so he and my mother and us five children moved to Arcata so my father could run his business (the Shadow Lodge in Trinidad). This was in the days before welfare and that's what families did. We were a close family, spent summers camping together, all that. So, we got Earl buried and my dad began working at the lodge. Mid July, my father laid down to read the newspaper and never woke up, leaving my mother and her five, and my aunt and her seven children to fend for themselves.

Twelve children and no welfare. I don't know how they got through the next months, but they did. Eventually, it was clear that there were too many people in one space and we moved back to Portland, I think, to be with my grandmother while my mother grieved my father. I think what really happened was that my aunt moved on, went to school, sold the business, made good financial decisions; my mother cried until she found whiskey some five years later, then her problems took a backseat to alcoholism.

The house in Arcata was an old, Spanish style stucco castle, with inlaid tiles, near Humboldt State, a block from downtown Arcata, heart of the Emerald Triangle. I spent a summer there when I was thirteen, I think. My aunt was an intellectual. A republican intellectual, which must be harder, don't you think? She travelled far and wide to follow genealogical threads of the Morris and Forster clans. And now she is gone, the last of the Forster children, at 91.

People who want to live forever haven't taken the time, I think, to talk to very many 91-year- olds. I have never met one that wanted it to go on indefinitely.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Duffy is nearly four months old now, and I am able to employ my hands in things other than taking him out to pee, cleaning up pee, picking up poop, or monitoring dog-dog combat. They are getting along fine, the pup and the pit, for those of you who worry. Duffy is alpha and Sid is basically gay, so it works.

I don't know if I wrote about it or not, but vacation a couple of years ago brought us through Arcata on our way south to Mendicino. My favorite aunt lives there, lived there, and when we visited it was clear that dementia had done its handiwork on a once-fine mind. She was a brilliant woman, a genealogist with an attitude, racist about phone voices "Can I get someone who speaks English, please?", and politically just to the right of Atilla the Hun. This last according to her right wing children. My family swung far left, artists and alkies all.

So, my aunt was placed in a dementia unit, much like mine, I suppose, and her house recently sold. Her children, much more organized than my clan, cleared out her house and brought me some photographs and documents they thought I'd like to have, and because I am currently the most responsible person in my family still living (I know, scary) they thought I'd be a good steward for the family treasures.

I exaggerate. There was no treasure. But there were letters, which are treasures to me. Letters from my mother to her sister.

I know I've characterized my mother as a madwoman in these pages. I know. And to be fair, she was. But she was my mom, so I get to say that stuff, just like my son is the only one who can say it about me. And he's welcome to say what he will.

The letters are precious, and reveal a hopeful if not an optimistic woman, badgered by poverty she could never see her way out of, even when the opportunity presented itself. They tell of job after job, hovel after hovel, where she scratched out a life lived without money for stamps or long distance or gas money or dental care. Of a belief in the goodness of her children even when anyone could see we were pure shit.

Once about twenty years ago I did a sort of life review, a sort of therapeutic retrospective, and found that by the time I was 33 I had moved 48 times that I could remember.

Let's just say I know how to pack.

So reading my mother's letters was like watching a movie of my late childhood, and the years after I left home, too early, where the comments about me are scarce but hopeful.

Time to take Duffy out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

beauty and the beastie

Thea meets Duffy.
Duffy, one ear up, one trying.

Duffy, once again
Thea swinging under Duffy-power

Wow. Motherhood is demanding. Sorry. I think I can take my eyes off the little darling long enough to post something. I'm referring, of course, to Duffy. Thea only came over for a little while. Duffy is staying forever.
He is the devil. Sid is full of holes, my carpet in dire need of shampooing. I am learning the inestimable value of the dreaded crate. God bless the crate. It has saved Duffy's life and my sanity.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Duffy only looks innocent.

Westie 1, Pitbull 0.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Duffy was born July 20th. He's a West Highland White Terrier. He is so much fun. Sid even thinks so, if he could just keep him from winding in and out of his legs.

Friday, September 11, 2009

flying the seat of our pants. It is a travel style I am accustomed to, road tripping, planless, mapless, questless. And it used to be fine. It still is, I suppose, but we are getting a little old to be past our bedtime and not knowing where bed is.

We were scheduled, by many, to be in Southern Oregon for the Jacksonville yard sales this weekend. We do it every year. But last night we got home from work, checked the weather report and simultaneously said nooooooooooooooooo. Not 102 in Medford. Not again. Sid would be in the back of the truck, and that just wouldn't work. I nearly killed him the last time we were down there. So, adults that we are, we changed our minds. It has been our custom for several years to have breakfast at the Mustard Seed in Jacksonville, a crappy little hole in the wall with outdoor seating for family and friends. We'll do it again next year, weather permitting.

Instead we went crabbing in Netarts, where someone has grafittied an R over the N, and a d over the last t. So, we were in Retards all day friday, crabbing our brains out, frying in the reflection off the water. It was a beautiful day, but I am baked. Seriously. We crabbed with fishing pole butterfly traps. I can't explain it, except to say that crabs are tough to pull up when they dig into the sand.

When the bait was finally gone (chicken legs and delectable Willamette-beneath-the--Burnside-Bridge catfish) we headed south to Pacific City to find lodging. Well, much like Joseph, when we were working without a net a couple of weeks ago, there was an international wake boarding or jet ski competition and not a single room in the whole area. So we made it down to Lincoln City and the Sea Echo motel. As we began to fill the ice bucket, we found a syringe in it.

"How thoughtful," my husband said. "They thought of everything!"

"Damned diabetics," I countered. "Always leaving their equipment laying around for the children to play with."

So, with some trepidation, I look forward to some aloe lotion and a good night's sleep. The Pakistanis are having pizza two doors down, and the ocean laps against the shore too far away for me to hear, but I'm too tired to care.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


One of the very few things I've missed about the Rogue Valley since moving to Portland is the Britt Festival. Britt and my son. And my girlfriends.

Not only did I move far away from Jacksonville, but my hookup for tickets doesn't even work for Britt anymore, so it would have been pay as you go had I stayed, which I wouldn't have. Anyway, I bought tickets to see Bonnie Raitt at McMennamin's Edgefield, not knowing what the venue was like. Happily, it was just like Britt. Outdoors, sloping grass, blankets and boozing yuppies.

We were pretty much on time. The tickets said 5:00. We figured it was an early concert so all of us aging boomers could be in bed by nine. But it was only the gates that opened at 5:00. Being a first-timer, I didn't realize it was really almost completely like Britt, even in the not-so-great ways. Like the line. And line-sitting behavior. I'm not sure how much space I've taken up in this little diary discussing line behavior and my attitudes about it, but really, there are certain types, and they can be irritating. And concert behavior. That too. Anyway, as we approached the venue, it was clear we would be standing in line. Way way way back in line. Bucking up, we trekked past the people who had been sitting all day, earning their places, wishing we had known. But we have these pesky jobs. So there wasn't much we could have done except the Britt-inspired idea of paying someone to sit in line for us.

No need.

I heard someone shout, "Judy!" I just kept walking because I am invisible. No one knows me. I'm a stranger here. "Judy," the voice called again. I turned. "Hey, its Bob." I said. And it was. This guy we hardly know, who hardly knows us, knew my name. "We can't take cuts," I said, taking cuts. It was blatant. Sue me.

We got a great place right on the cusp of the lawn with a great view of the stage for "The BonTag Roulet," a Louisiana inspired tour with Taj Mahal. He seemed less like I remembered. It was only when he sang with Bonnie that he became again the old Mississippi blues man.

At concernts, I often notice drunk people. I sometimes envy them, but this evening, a woman who seemed to be having more fun than I've ever had, came tripping back from the outhouses with a two-foot long tail of toilet paper hanging from beneath her skirt. Laughing it off, she shouted to the crowd, "I'll never wipe again." A nice image.

So we tossed out our blankie and my low chair and got all set up. It was McMennamins, so the food was bound to be good. You can't bring in your own picnic like at Britt, so we had pulled-pork sandwiches with coleslaw. Yum. And two dollar water. God that pisses me off. We spent six bucks on water and that is the one thing you CAN bring in. Next time.

So, we sat down in our perfect place, on a school night, under the rising full moon, the audience a sea of gray hair, and like good white people, did not get up to dance until the bitter end. It was also like Britt in that if you DO get up off your lily-white ass and move, some dried-up schoolteacher behind you will tell you to stay seated so she can see. She will explain to you ad nauseum the decorum of open air seating. Amy-fucking-Vanderbilt. She was there. I saw her in action, Eddie Bauer long-shorts, waving her pointy little finger in Liz's face. Liz could have kicked her ass easy, but it just wasn't an ass-kicking kinda deal. Which begs the question: was there ever? Or were we just out there kicking ass for no reason?

I should clarify that I never specifically kicked anyone's ass. That I remember.

But come the bitter end, we danced and danced and danced. Listening to Bonnie sing "Angel from Montgomery" right there. Oh boy. That was a spiritual experience for me. She didn't do "Love Me Like a Man," but you can't have everything, can you?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

quilt update

Not to be outdone, I went to Fabric Depot and bought two rotary cutters, two plastic grids and a self-healing cutting mat. I am a real quilter.

Friday, August 28, 2009

the quilt

Without going into agonizing detail, I am working on a quilt. Its a work thing. The finished quilt square will be 8 feet by 8 feet and will be part of the Alzheimer's Quilt to Remember. Like the AIDS quilt, only not.

So, I've gone to great effort to design this quilt, to purchase the fabric at Fabric Depot on the first day of their 40% off sale when every seamstress in the metro area shows up to stock up. I spent hours selecting fabric, another hour standing in line. I solicited photographs of Jan, the woman we are honoring in the quilt, a woman who has lived with the disease for probably 15 years, has been in a locked unit for eight, has been bed-bound three of the eight.

Tough woman. Tougher disease.

So, I get my husband to make digital photos of the originals of Jan as a baby, a child, a beautiful young woman, a bride, a wife... and print them, magically, from my computer right onto fabric squares.

Now, it is time to cut the fabric.

This is all happening at an assisted living facility, old women with fading eyes and shaking hands cutting fabric and trying to follow a pattern, saying things like, "This is old hat to me." and "Where's the line? I can't see it." I kept telling them, "Hey, no big deal. If it isn't perfect, we'll sew different sized seams and it will all come out in the wash." Me and Jan's daughter marked the lines on the fabric and the old women did the cutting. I was working without a net, as usual, nervous about letting the project get away from me, cutting the fabric badly, having to find more, or god help me, different stuff if they wrecked it.

But they didn't. They did great. Just great. That is, until the REAL quilters arrived. Real quilters, equipped with rotary cutters and transparent plastic grid-sheets. My handmade, tape edged templates were no longer enough.

I started hearing things like, "Some of these squares are a quarter-inch off!" It made me nervous. We kept on cutting, thanking the old women, encouraging them, telling them its fine, don't worry. The real quilters kept complaining about our inaccuracy, finally saying, "Its the markers, not the cutters." And the final blow, "You're honoring your mother with this quilt, I'd think you'd want straight squares."

We were the markers. It was our fault. We had ruined the project. We had dishonored Jan.

Not really.

No, the real quilters stayed on and straightened every single edge of every single square. I was impressed. I did not even mention medication or OCD. Not even once. I thanked them profusely and know they will hang with me to the end of the project, because that's what real quilters do.


A white dove settled on the air conditioning unit outside my office all morning yesterday. It was so beautiful, pure white with a black tail. I wonder where she went? I wonder what it means?

Sunday, August 23, 2009


We been drivin' for days.

We took off Friday night for Weiser to watch Haley graduate from a Northwest Youth Corps back country session for the fifth or sixth time. We stayed the first night in Baker City at a crappy motel and left early for Weiser. This time the ceremony was outside in the blazing eastern sun near Mann Creek Reservoir. I've always wanted to see Weiser, home of the fiddle championships. It isn't much, an old Idaho town, old houses, no money for paint.

I also love Weezer's song Island in the Sun.... we'll never feel bad anymore. hip hip.

The drive over was pretty much how the drive is from Portland to LaGrande: beautiful at first as we drove through the gorge, then fascinating as we approached The Nothing--that great flat quilt of parched land rolling out beyond the turn in the river where the Mighty Columbia heads for the ocean at Umatilla or Hermiston or something and leaves Oregon to die of thirst. From then, well, staying awake was the task. New wind farms have sprouted up along either side of 84, strange plantations, the Washington windmills visible only from Oregon and vice versa. They are cartoonishly large, with generators the size of a schoolbus sitting atop towers well over two hundred feet tall. Occasionally we came upon one visible from the road, shockingly white against the perfect blue sky, propellers twirling slowly in a steady wind in a 154 foot swath. It was hard not to stare.

Once we were done in Weiser, we headed for Caldwell Idaho to visit my neice. They have a lovely small farm on the outskirts. Idaho looked like I expected Idaho to look. I've seen the panhandle, but never south. Rural. White. Republican. Cassie explained all that to me in advance. But being from Southern Oregon, and lily white, I would have been right at home.

After visiting Cassie and Mike, we took off for northeastern Oregon, home of the beautiful Wallowa Valley, which seems a generous reward for enduring The Nothing. We passed through part of Hell's Canyon and into the green green grass of Joseph at sunset. Because this was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants road trip, no advance reservations were made and there was a big ol' bike rally in Joseph and no lodging in the entire county except Minam. We'd heard it was a Bates Motel, so we drove all the way back to LaGrande to get a room.

So, we came back home along the Washington side, stopping only at the pretend Stonehenge which is actually a WWII monument with an inscription on the sacrificial altar that read something like, "blah blah blah...and the fire of patriotism that only death can quench." What -- really? Only death? Not even an Original Reed's Ginger Brew?

And what does stonehenge have to do with WWII?

And now my husband, doomsayer that he is, is looking at video clips of windmills exploding in flames and coming apart in a stiff wind. Geez. It is good to be home.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

on blackberries

After two days of blackberry picking, netting probably five gallons of berries, enough for five gallon-size freezer bags, ten jars of freezer jam and two gigantic blackberry milkshakes, I have a few observations to share.

Is blackberry picking a lost art? Where are the blackberry pickers? In this economy, its a no-brainer. In Southern Oregon, where people still realize that berries actually grow out of the actual ground, there are people lining the roads in 110 degree weather, boards underarm, going to their favorite spots.

Seriously. You pay five bucks for a teaspoon of blackberries at Freddy's - and I'll admit, they're fat and pretty and you don't have to change clothes to get them and you're typically not wounded in the process unless you cut in line or use the parking lot of the 39th and Hawthorne location, but really, why NOT pick blackberries? They're free. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before, but I knew a guy once who planted blackberries in his front yard. Now that is begging for trouble if you ask me. Hand in hand with cockroaches, blackberries will suvive human occupation. I've seen them consume houses, cars, neighborhoods.

And there is significant difference between country picking and city picking. If you see previous posts, you'll learn about the first time I picked blackberries in Portland. It was an event. I got lost in Oaks Bottom. It is my husband's second fondest wish to have blackberry pie for his birthday and I didn't know where to look. The next year, I took my husband with me, and it was a little scary down in there with homeless folks that were napping or dead, but the berries were great. Then, we found this place way down at the far end of front street in the industrial district way out toward Linnton and it was good, some evidence of homeless folks, but not like being trapped in Oaks Bottom in the damp and dark. So we went back there this year and they'd mowed or poisoned all the berries and they were gone, and the people were gone, too. This year we picked out in Hillsboro along a forgotton road, kind of a perverse Lover's Lane/slash/city dump, with old sofas and porn magazines. Nasty. But the berries were great and easy picking what with my knee injury and being like standing on a pegleg pitching headlong into the briars.

I miss picking berries on the Applegate River. I miss knowing the places of fat berries near water. Berries that are firm and juicy and don't fall apart in your hand. I miss the winding road, the sound of larks and sandpipers protecting their nests along the beach, flat stones perfect for skipping; the low August river rolling warm over tumbled rocks; the absence of fear and imbalance.


You do have to know what to look for. For instance, there is a gloss to berries, and if the gloss is gone, the berry is over-ripe. And fatter is not always better. And there is an art to just picking. My husband tends to look up and over the tops of the bushes, to places he could never reach if he was seven feet tall, always in search of the perfect spot. Me? I just pick along the road, slowly, deliberately, going after low berries and the forgotten ones at waist level. You should not have to pull on them, but to gently roll them off the vine and into your hand. And don't get greedy. Don't drop a handful trying to fit just one more into your palm. Put them in the bucket. And don't set the bucket on uneven ground. Trust me on this. I use a cut out milk jug that has less chance of spilling.

There are a couple of things to bring: a board, a long sleeved shirt and wet rags. The board is to lay down and walk into deeper berries (once you've exhausted all the low berries.) The wet rag, well, take my word for it --when you're done picking, you'll know what to do with it. The shirt, for protection. But I think you can go faster if you don't wear a shirt and are careful. The shirt hangs up on the thorns and impedes the whole process. I don't mean shirtless for god's sake. Just sleeveless. And brave.

So, if you want some pie, say so. I have enough to make a few.

Friday, August 07, 2009

posting blues

Well, you'll have to take my word for it. My garden is luscious. It is bursting with squash and tomatoes and peppers and peas and cucumbers and lilies and pansies and nasturtium and morninglory and sunflowers and these red things that asia knows the name of and my veggie table is full of free food, but the photo posting thing won't work so you'll just have to wait.

thanks for waiting.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


In my former life, in my former town, I knew how to have a picnic. I'd hop in the truck, grab some cheese and crackers and reed's ginger brew, original, and head up the river. I knew the good places where nobody knows, private land, deep green holes like bathwater in August. But I don't know these rivers. I can't find a private place for a picnic. Now, it is my mission to figure this out. I don't want to go too far and I don't want to hang out with the throbbing metropolis. I just want to have a picnic. Period.

Today I drove out to Oxbow Park in Gresham. I'm not sure, but I think it was the Sandy River. It was alright. I found a nice table overlooking the river and read for awhile. I don't know, right now, if you can achieve privacy here in the big city. But on a scale of 1 to 10, I'm giving Oxbow Park a lukewarm 6 for a couple of reasons: number one: it is my first graded park and I wouldn't feel right giving it high marks when there is nothing to compare it with. I won't even consider Lewis and Clark or Blue Lake Park or Dabney Park which were packed with young drunk people who couldn't drive well and the grass is brown. And two: you can't even bring your dog. And truthfully, I don't care if you can't bring your dog, I care that I can't bring my dog. My dog is at least entertaining and not mean.

So there you have it: Park #1 Oxbow a rating of 6 on the picnicable scale.

My knee is better, for those of you keeping up. Torn meniscus. No dancing.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

heat wave

The pool is up. Isn't it blue?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


For those of you who have been so kind and supportive during this plague of a year, I am here to report that it isn't quite over. I know I know: think positive.

So there I was, thinking positive, accompanying my husband on a birthday ride down to Todai, the asian buffet, where he gets a free birthday dinner and I get to pay a fortune for mine. I was getting off the motorcycle, still thinking positive, and made the little hop I usually do when climbing off the back of the bike. I'd done the same thing just this morning. But something went wrong. I heard a tear and a snap, kind of a ripping sound accompanied by severe pain and screaming -- well, it was actually yelling and pissing my pants. Now, I love my new white pants which I should not have been motorcycle riding in anyway, and was more concerned with needing to rinse them out and what will people think? but my attention was quickly and brutally yanked from vanity to pain.

"Not good," I said. "This is very very bad." I think I kept saying this because my husband sort of kept looking at me. I suppose I was in shock. So, I asked him to get off the bike (the passenger always gets off first and then the driver) so I could throw my good leg around and get off the bike. I made it and off we gimped into Todai, my loving husband offering to walk something like quasimoto so I wouldn't feel alone. I couldn't eat, really. I finally know what it takes to make me lose my appetite. And they were out of vanilla soft serve and hardly had any creme brulee so whatever.

As we left, I had to take three flights of escalators down -- up hadn't been so bad -- and that was terrifying. I couldn't commit easily. The little stairs seemed to be going at mach speed and I had to choose one. Just one to put my one good leg on. And if I put my weight on the handrails, they'd jerk me forward. Jeez.

So, finally I made it down. I could see out on street level some homeless people begging on the street. One of them, I thought it was a young boy, had a cane. "Hey, let's knock over that kid and take his cane," I said, altruistically. When we got through the double doors, I saw it was a woman. She asked us for money. My husband said, "Let us use your cane to get across the street and I will." So Sharon Moore, aka "Little Mama" let me use her cane and her shoulder, which was about 4 feet high. She went on and on about helping each other and I couldn't disagree. She saved my ass tonight and he gave her some money.

So, I managed to get back on the motorcycle and made it home, off the bike, up the stairs and into my house where I am happy to be at last. I will find out what is wrong on wednesday when I see the orthopedist if I live that long. Think positive.

So, there you have it. The update from the sickroom. Although to be more precise, I am not sick. I feel terrific thanks to vitamin D, my knee is just really really painful right now. I know now what people mean when they say "I blew out my knee." That is exactly what it feels like.

Friday, July 24, 2009

brother, interrupted

My eldest brother told me that in the early days of television he and the next eldest brother would sit in front of this test pattern for hours waiting for programs to start. "Once the show came on, we were lost." All of my life I remember him watching TV, keeping it on for noise, for company. I remember complaining about how he kept it on all the time almost no matter what kind of crap was playing, sleeping through days and days of tv. I didn't know about the test pattern. I wasn't there yet.

I started out with three brothers. I was the first girl born after them, all in a row, and I'll admit, I wasn't much of a girl - that frilly stuff was left to my sister. I was a tomboy, my formative years spent in tree houses, walking along moss-lined ditches fishing for muskrats, jumping from haylofts and chasing errant cows that wandered into the endless field that was our backyard.

I admired my brothers, each one different: the architect, the vietnam vet and the fisherman. Only the fisherman remains.... A stroke nearly took him last year but he survived it. Most of him, anyway. He is/was/will always be a fisherman, a storyteller, a notorious drunk, a politico, a basket weaver and a painter.

He and his wife and the other artists from Port Orford have a show at the Jacobs Gallery at the Hult Center in Eugene. We drove down to see the show last night.

When I crossed the entry to the gallery, he did not recognize me. This is the first time in my life that this has happened with a family member. I deal with this every day at work and just now it seems a curse that I know what it means, what is required of me now, that I introduce myself to my brother as though it was the most normal thing in the world. Now, he knew me, of course, once I got closer, but it was unnerving just the same, all the more for my experience. I sat down next to him, claiming my territory, my family. I wanted to wring the old stories out of him-- me the scribe, him the teller-- as though they were so many grains of sand slipping through my fingers. I wanted him to talk and talk and talk and regale us all with tales of the sea, of pulling out of Astoria in a fifty-foot steel-hulled boat in dense fog, radar beeping so wildly he thought it was broken, and when the fog lifted, finding himself surrounded with hundreds of small boats in the middle of some kind of regatta day, and the boats wouldn'tcouldn'tdidn't get out of his way. I wanted to hear the one about the last tuna trip of the season when he almost didn't make it back in. I wanted to hear stories of my father because he's the only one who knows these things now, he is the only one with the memories of my family. And he is beginning not so much to forget as to stop talking. He was so quiet. So so quiet. I have tried to write down as much as I could, as I can, but there is so much, and I am so much younger than him.

These moments of transition, of sinking awareness that we are all little more than that box of photographs at a yard sale who nobody knows, unkept memories, unrecorded history. I am torn between becoming a genealologist and knowing this didn't save my aunt from forgetting when I visited her and she walked me around her dining room that had not changed in fifty years and we looked at the pictures on the walls, her life's work, and she said, "I used to know these people."

In the punctuated equilibrium that is my life, seeing Doug not see me was a moment of some weight. These times come, and for a short time I am acutely aware of my mortality, of the passage of time, the transient nature of it all. My brother has settled with characteristic grace into his new incarnation largely due to his remarkable wife who seems to float through life without judgment or expectation. The heaviness of the moment will pass, and I will return to my day to day passage, forgetting that I, too, am temporary.

Life is good.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I don't know why I call them these silly names. But I called her Lulabelle to her face. She passed today at about noon. It was pretty calm and quiet and her sister came to sit with her. She called me her pet. She loved my husband and said she would steal him from me if she had the chance. He came by on his motorcycle once, at her request, and she was smitten. She referred to herself as a bigshot, a successful business woman who never married, never had children. She was tall, thin as a communion wafer, and she loved pills -- never had any trouble getting her to take her meds.

I say these things, tongue in cheek, but Lou was my friend. I'll miss her. I'll miss talking to her about work, about home, about her life and mine. She had lost her memory but not her mind. big difference.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

glory 602

I plant the flowers, he takes the pictures. This one is spectacular. Spent backyard time with a a &t. There's nothing like girlfriends.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Maybe I'll just start numbering them.

I am painting the honor table and looking forward to coffee with the a's tomorrow. two a's and a little t.

I really need to finish the table because the zuchinni is happening and we can't possibly eat it all. People walk by all day with comments such as, "Lovely harvest." Things like that. I'm from the country. People used to say stuff more like, "Whaddya gonna do with all that shit?" Farm lingo. Good ol' country folk. This urban gardening will have its own language, I'm sure. Everyone is thrilled that I will singlehandedly feed the homeless with six squash and two tomatoes and a few spiny cucumbers, but what can I tell them? I don't want people out in my yard, thus, the table. Isn't it pretty? It isn't quite done yet, but tomorrow...

Friday, July 17, 2009

600th post

Bluesky celebrates 600 posts since its inception in january of 2004. So, five and a half years, that's, let's see, about 110 posts per year on average.

What I can and do celebrate is doing something continuously, like keeping the same phone number or address. My 600th post is further evidence of stability, something I both seek and detest. I tolerate the absence of chaos like a skinless animal in hot sun. I know it is a nasty image, but this is how I'm feeling this morning. I see homeless people wandering my street and think they have it made. When I moved every six months or so-- no notice, outstanding bills-- life was so difficult, but I knew what to do. I knew how to do poverty with flourish. But this nice life? Ah, retrospection. Everything looks better in the rearview mirror. Remember those station wagons with the seat facing backward? I liked sitting there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

garden update

Yellow lily along the center of the house.
Squash and sunflowers
Green tomatoes
One fine pink lily, the photograph nearly as impressive as the flower.

Thought I'd post some midsummer pictures of the urban garden. We are dining from it each evening: squash and lettuce, jalapenos and peas. I made basil oil today by blanching the basil and drying it, then blending it with olive oil and freezing for use in soups and sauces. Yummy. I'm working on the honor table, as asha calls it. It will be a thing of beauty, strapped to the raywood ash tree in front of my house in the event someone doesn't fully grasp the concept of honor. Heaven knows it eludes me from time to time.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

alaskan food

Okay, so I've included a shot of The intersection of the Seward Highway and the road to Soldotna; downtown Homer; Kurt's dad on the boat; overlooking Cook Inlet; Kurt with the big(gest) fish; a Russian Orthodox church in Ninilchik.
So, with a freezer full of halibut and salmon, our choices are unlimited. Unafraid of failure, we take chances. He takes chances. Grilled halibut and salmon with currants and lemon pepper.

Wow. The halibut was amazing. The salmon was good, but the steak a bit too thick to cook properly on the grill. But the halibut, and veggies from our garden and brown rice..mmmmmmmmmmmmm. It was a very very good dinner. Rice and fish, fish and rice.

We eat well.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Why is it, on the hottest day of the year when my husband is in Alaska, the AC breaks down? Why? AC is entirely too important to me. I don't think I'll die of the heat like Sid almost did in the back of my car in southern oregon last week. Not really, but he was pretty hot and mad at me the rest of the way home. I thought I'd killed him, but turns out he had eated a bunch of dry grass when hanging out on the Applegate and it had failed to make it through the pipe and he finally puked it up two days later, a bale of straw on my living room rug. I'm saving it for Kurt, for when he gets back from Alaska with two halibut and a 48 lb king salmon. Whoopee!

It was my honest intention to stay home tomorrow, on the Fourth of July, to be cool. I hate being hot--me with the vitamin D deficiency. So, invited as most people are to various picnics and potlucks, now I don't know what to do. I guess I'll have to find coolness elsewhere.

So, I'm bring salad wherever I go because I have to use up my lettuce which is taking over everything, although I can't really figure out if the spinach is working out right or not. As I've mentioned, the spinach knows what to do. I picked my first two zuchinni today, and will use it in a marinara-based ragu of hot sausage, peppers, purple onion, italian green beans and my little zuchinni. I will bring left overs and salad wherever I go.

Because I am an urban gardener, I am going to set up a vegetable stand for people walking by. Colleen Russell, an old spiritual advisor of mine, used to have a can for money and an on-your-honor policy which I don't think would do as well here as it did in Talent, Oregon. But who's to say. I don't really care (theme) and will have an abundance of food, so am happy to contribute to the wellbeing of my neighbors and passers by. I will paint a small table in cheerful Mexican colors leftover from my garret and put out a can with a $? on it and see what happens. I don't picture it filling up.

I need to confess that yesterday I at two pounds of cherries and I feel like the church lady in The Witches of Eastwick. I may die.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

west east south and north

In that order. East to the coast, westward home, south to the Rogue Valley and North back home. Husband in Alaska, I am fending for myself. So far I have made coffee and eaten nothing, this first day back home.

I am working on an old manuscript for the bzillionth time and have nearly finished the first red ink go-through. Then a retyping of the whole thing. It has been sitting for six years, and I think I can be more objective for this revision. Its funny... when this thing was nearly published, I was so sure I was finished with it. Now, it feels so bland and immature. I'm so relieved it didn't go out in the current state. I couldn't see it for what it was -- couldn't see those [many] places where I had written well rather than told the story. I can do both, I am certain. An education in writing kills the gift if there is one -- at minimum buries it beneath cleverness and flattery in my case. Say what you mean, mean what you say.

So, if my blog seems thin these days, it is because I am actually writing. Imagine that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Depot Bay
The dock at Waldport and row of seagulls

We camp, therefore we are.

The evolution of my camping experience, like other parts of my life, has much to do with poverty. I have camped-out on porches--screened and unscreened, beside railroad tracks, next to rivers, lakes, oceans (ocean. one.) I have camped-out alongside creeks in many areas of Oregon while on the run from one bad act or another. This was not actual camping. This was avoiding responsibility, adulthood and inevitable consequences.
Growing up, my father dropped us off for the summer at McKee Bridge park and would visit each weekend and we camped the summer away in 110 degree Southern Oregon weather, renting painted orange innertubes that I was allergic to, but floated on anyway, covered with the beachtowel of the season, trying to keep my rash at bay. I learned to swim there, at McKee Bridge, when my schizophrenic uncle threw me out in the middle of the river thinking I knew how. I didn't know then that this would mimic my life to come. Was I afraid? I was. Did it stop me? It did not. I was neither brave nor courageous. I simply didn't die, and this has been my barometer. Set your standards low, I say. Nobody dies, its a good day.

So, the first legitimate camping had to wait until I had a job, because it isn't really camping unless you are on vacation, right? I mean, otherwise its just being homeless. Am I wrong? So when I was finally gainfully employed long enough to be paid to not be there for a week, I went camping. I knew nothing else. Its what you do. Its what we did, therefore.... So all I had was a car with a plywood backseat (see previous posts) and we had to camp in that. I don't remember the first year I actually had a tent, but I couldn't stand up in it, I know that. I cooked over an open fire using pots and pans from home and spent hours scrubbing the black off them when I got home.

The next evolution was the coleman stove. I never did like the pump up stove. I've never liked or trusted white gas. I knew too many hippies who didn't get it, who would blow up the camp and never be able to boil water on the damned things. Having learned early how to build a good fire and stack rocks to level the grill, I pretty much cooked that way, even when we had a coleman stove. Besides, wood was free and I could afford matches.
Next came a tent I could stand up in. Still, the bed was on the floor and year by year, getting up in the morning became progressively more difficult. From there: marriage and the combining of assets. Now, we have every conceiveable real-camping item: good tent, camper shell on back of truck for the bed, a small folding kitchen stand, folding tables, permanent camping-only pots and pans -- you know, the blue spatterware, and a two-burner propane stove. This year, a Mr. Heater was added to the mix. This little gem is a stand alone propane burner that blows hot air in under the pop up gazebo with a net enclosure. Did I mention the pop-up gazebo or the trailer we have to rent to haul all the shit? Ah, camping. The simple life. Back to nature. Turns out the only thing that got trapped in the net enclosure was me. With the bugs.

So there we were, in Beverly Beach, more of a Californian campground than I am accustomed to. Very organized. A nice campsite right on the ocean, and because it is right on the ocean, it is also right on 101. I didn't care (theme of blog). In fact, as I made the long trek to the bathrooms each morning (and hourly thereafter) and watched the little old ladies strolled by as I stood at my little camp kitchen doing dishes outside, I began looking at the smaller travel trailers, envy in my heart. Unfortunately, we don't have room to park anything permanent.

I've figured it out, the transition from tent camping to rolling home. It isn't only increasing financial capacity, it is physiological: as the female bladder gives way, the need for a self-contained camping unit increases. Men? They will piss on trees as long as they can walk upright, but women? We are condemned to the long walk -- the long cold rainy walk at five in the morning.
I'm thinking: rentals.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Daytrippers, that's us. We (he) drove up yesterday morning and had a ridiculously expensive and so-so lunch at the Crabpot, but it is what I wanted to do, so I did it. They bring a huge pot of boiled seafood, red potato and corn and dump it on butcher paper and give you a crab fork and a mallot and off you go. Barbaric.

My husband said next time, we'll walk over to Clay's and have them dump my salmon platter right on the table. That way, we'll save money and gas and the food will be better. But they did give us a huge piece of mud pie for my birthday.

Then, we walked straight up the five flights of stairs without stopping to Pike's Place and after I was hospitalized for cardiac pain (no, not really, but I did begin to get a sense of the "elephant sitting on your chest" that you hear so much about) we strolled on down to the market and looked around.
The guy driving the rainbow school bus was allegedly out to save souls, ranting about how you marry some person you don't even know and you go to church on Sunday and you still don't know anything about that person and how he just wanted "someone who's 100%." So, truthfully, I'm not sure he wasn't just going to extreme lengths to find a date.
The peppers were gorgeous, and paper cones full of sweetpeas and flowers and flowers and thousands of people crushing through narrow markets of perfect produce. We would have taken the ferry to Vashon Island like we did on vacation, but Sid was home alone.

It was a beautiful day in Seattle. See?

Friday, June 12, 2009

not sick

A blogger outage on my birthday??? Arrgghh.

Well, I'm not sick. I guess that's the good news. I haven't felt sick for two or three weeks now. I can hardly remember being sick, although I called asia and when I told her I wasn't working today, her first question was, "You're not sick again are you?" A reasonable assumption. Long freaking winterspring.

Nope, I'm fine. My garden is growing, I'm out supporting the economy for all I'm worth which is more than it used to be, and all is well with the world. I say these things when I'm not working. I was listening to some guy on NPR talking about how much he hated working and he's an actor making 35K a week for a sitcom and two lines and he doesnt' wanna. Doesn't, like me, wanna do anything. She asked him (Terri Gross. I can't stand her interview style. Gross.) Anyway, she asks him, "What is it then you'd rather be doing? Sitting home all day watching TV?" And his answer was, "No. I just would rather shoot heroin." Now this is a guy I understand. If there was only enough.

Anyway, not to wax darkly, but it WAS something to do on a sunny windy rainy snowy day.

So, the sun is sort of out. It is my birthweek and I want to go to Seattle for my birthday dinner. I want to go the the crabpot where they just dump out a bunch of boiled seafood on butcher paper and hand you a bib. Cave style.

Then, time for camping. We will start out at the coast and depending on the weather, move camp as desired. We pretty much have it down to a science. I own everything camping related. Today I bought a screen liner for our QuikShade. We can keep the bugs out ala West Nile. Swine, Westnile, Birdflu. Jeez. Its a dangerous world, and that isn't even talking about the maniacs. But given recent trends, the age group that should live in mortal fear is the fetal to seven range.

That was bad.

Well, Lula broke another hip. That's two. That's it. Still she wants to get up and go. You can't keep her still, but I will try. One more time.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


My husband caught a catfish out of the Willamette and we had it for dinner.

There. That seems like a complete post. Bring on the digestive advice. I'll be sitting here glowing in the dark. It is a tiny bit scary, but damn good eatin'.

I only get one day off this weekend. This makes me cranky.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Maybe its because asia had her little baby. Maybe I'm just a sucker. If there's one born every minute then there's no reason it wouldn't be me. So there I was at Walmarche, shopping for toothpaste and shampoo for all my little people, unsuspecting. I saw a sign that said, "Free Kittens." Now, I don't like cats. I don't hate them, but I don't love them and they try to sit on my paper when I write or read, so right there is a problem.

So I walk up to this guy, this crackhead who clearly hasn't done his part to spay and neuter, and they are so damn cute. I think, hey, we just had to put the cat down, good ol' Charlie who was allegedly twenty years old and he might have been. He used to belong to Rosetta but she died and we just kept him. I guess he got kidney cancer and last week we had to put him down.

Now it isn't like the resident's missed Charlie. They don't know who they are let alone miss Rosetta's cat, so that isn't the reason. I looked at the kittens, chose the cutest one, a female, and they crackhead says, "Nope, not that one. She's taken." So fine, I think. Dodged a bullet. I went inside Walmarche and shopped.

When I came out, I walk back by the box of kitties and they guy says, "Hey, they didn't take her." So I strolled over and there she was, a tabby with four little white boots. What could I do? So I said okay. But now I have to put my shopping in the car and go back in for food and shit. Fifty bucks later I came back with a bed and food and litter and a sifting litter box for little Bootsie, we'll call her.

I picked her up and she cried. I couldn't take her away from her brother, so I took him too. Two. Two tiny little adorable kittens. Two eventual fucking cats.

You should have seen Lula. She wrinkled up her nose and kissed them like anybody would.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


When it rains, it pours. Just as I was revelling in having asha in the same town as me on the eve of her granddaughter's birth, Cooky and Tracy rolled into town from Montana. They had been visiting a neice in a twelve story house with six hundred bedrooms and three entire apartments, a former minister's wife. The minister is former. In heaven she thinks, and is still holding the town together with both hands leaving nothing for herself.

It was almost like having all of my friends in one place again, except lorretta, and she will come one day, or so she says. But there is still nothing like girlfriends. Nothing like talking until you fall off to sleep, like a slumber party only without the boys. Well, one boy. Mine.

I still haven't seen asha, but believe she is actualy here and will appear at some point. I have seen that sweet little baby girl, though. Oh it made me want to be a grandma so bad that I called my son. Nothing happening there.

Ah well, in good time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

yard sale review

I don't like estate sales. This much we know. I don't like perma sales or close-out merchandise pretending to be yard sales. But today was a good day.

I got a book about Collette, a woman who has, like Anais Nin, always fascinated me. European. I also found two odd shaped old-school terra cotta pots; an antique metal, hang over the side of our clawfoot tub, soap holder; and three crappy novels that I will read because I'll read anything almost and these were three for a quarter and you know how I feel about prices at yard sales. Once I start a book I have to finish, eventually. Even Nora Roberts, I'm embarrassed to admit. But these are murder-most-foul, and that keeps me turning the pages.

I don't like the sales that are obviously the girlfriend's stuff. One sale today was a college lit major with buckets of high-minded literature and one book on men by Dave Barry, so we bought that one. My favorite is "Dave Barry Turns 50." I remember reading it out loud to Joanne while we were driving down the freeway home from visiting the nuthouse in Salem and it was raining so hard she needed something to keep her from completely freaking out.

So, I got my way for the couple of hours that my husband didn't fish today. Then, I came home and had a coughing fit so bad I puked and now my legs hurt from the pressure. My lungs will blow up one day, just you wait.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Okay, look--here's my theory: I suffer from vitamin D deficiency. I can't figure anything else out. My doctor is too stupid to figure it out and won't refer me, so I'm getting some backdoor advice. One month to the day after my April 11th bout, I went under again. These lost weeks are running into lost seasons. I'm tired. I'm confused. I'm concerned.

So, I started looking at where I live now, in the darkish northland, in the perpetual gray of Portland, and began looking at the literature on old people who are now being prescribed mega-doses (50,000 iu/wk) for depression, immune deficiency, ongoing flu-like symptoms, fall risk, etc etc etc and I thought, hey. I'm indoors all day with old people. I'm old people almost. I'm old enough. I get the mailers from aarp for crying out loud. So, this nurse starts talking about D and how new research is showing how depleted we are in the NW and then, just as we are talking about it, an email pops up from this health nut scientologist friend of mine, and its about D and I think: hey. Synchronicity. You don't have to hit me over the head with a brick.

So I bought some good, high-dose vitamin D. All of the antibiotics aren't working very well.

I'm sick of being sick. I'm sick of talking about being sick and I'm betting you're sick of reading about my being sick. sickening.

You have my apologies. I'll stop soon. I got this card for my ex once that said, "Remember all the trouble I've caused you?" you open it up and inside it said, "I'm almost done."

So, I'm almost done. I'm done.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

lula interrupted

Lula fell. This happens. They don't recognize furniture as obstacles, see shadows as holes, glare as solid objects. So her fragile long leg cracked at the hip and now they've fixed that, but not her, and she's in a cage. Like a fly in a web, scrambling at the edges, trying to find her way home. Again. I crawled part way in the cage and stroked her hair until she fell asleep.

I think I can't do this anymore. I think I should never do anything else. I think I've seen too much and then I imagine I haven't even seen the tip of the iceburg.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

yard evolution

In some order: row of veggie pots; bowl of bulbs; sunset azalea just opening; back porch and pots.

good ol' warren

Warren Goines, hanging in the lobby of Francis Xavier Restaurant, Gresham Oregon.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


And more pots, and then.... half the yard is gone. It went like this: Hey, this really gets good sun. What if we just dug up the grass another three feet behind the flowers... and now, a veggie garden in the front yard! Hooray!

So off to market for more plant starts: more basil, more green peppers, lemon cukes, regular cukes, zuchinni, pole beans, yellow zuchinni and one thai pepper, in honor of Ashland. Sid even got some of his shit space back. How great is that?


Sitting in my place, sun streams into the living room, blinding me as I type. I will not complain. It could be months before I see it again. I keep planting things, assuming they will grow in the gray light of Portland's spring.

People ask, when my shopping cart is full of starts: jalapeno and green peppers, four kinds of tomato, lemon cucumbers and sixpacks of lobelia, pansy and petunia; if I am some kind of professional gardener and what is the secret to growing things. They don't have a green thumb, they claim. I tell them all they need is water--the seeds know what to do.

But that's the trick: follow through. Not my strong suit. But I do love spring, and each year I promise that come the blistering afternoons of July, I won't abandon my posies and peppers for the cool of my airconditioned life. I will water. I will.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I'm taking over the sidewalk in front of the house. Apparently you have to get the city's blessing if you make raised beds, so I'm just doing lotsa pots. My honey asked if I was concerned that people walking by would take the veggies. I hope they do. I can never eat them all. I just like to grow shit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

random universe

So there I was, having breakfast at Francis Xavier in Gresham with a group of professional women. In the entry they always have paintings by local artists. Today, there was a 6x6 foot painting of an old man's face. At first glance, I thought it might be Jerry Garcia only with all white hair, but looking closer I thought, hey! That looks like my old buddy Warren. I looked down at the title and it read: Warren Goines.

I didn't know what to say to my colleagues. It was a little too random for strangers, and really, how do you explain that the madman on the wall is an old acquaintence, really he is. They think I'm crazy enough as it is.

Rosi Oldenburg was the artist. I called her. If you want to see it, Francis Xavier is at the corner of 181st and Halsey in Portland/Gresham. I guess she's taking him to Ashland for the fourth of July if you want to see him there.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

clamfest 09

Kurt and Sid walk down the beach in search of the elusive Razor Clam.

After a long day of clamming we went out to a crappy Italian dinner with bad service and small portions. A Taste of Tuscany is right. Then, out to see Sunshine Cleaning. I didn't figure Seaside for a large moviegoing community, but we actually had the entire theatre to ourselves. I could speak out loud and we danced through the credits to "Spirit in the Sky" by somebody from Portland, I forget who.

A walk around the promenade, the dead town, overbuilt for the money times, seemed to hold its breath in dread of a bleak summer season, hoodlums on streetcorners, waiting for opportunity instead of inspiration.
This is the morning rush of clammers.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Fabulous Sea Captain Art in our motel room.
We are in Seaside, catching clams and celebrating five years of marriage. Five years. I am so proud of us. We have beat the odds, sticking together through the learning curve and now, settling into a comfy groove. I'm sure there is much more to come. I was talking to the wife of one of my patients and when I told her of our anniversary, she said to her husband, "They don't even know what its about yet." And I'm sure she's right. She's been married 63 years. All I know is that I married the right guy after all those many years.

We are moving a bit slower this morning after an evening of harvesting 30 clams and cleaning them one by one. My knees feel like I imagine an eighty year old's feels. Sid is even injured by unlimited exercise. Unlike me, he doesn't know when to stop. Kurt says he has the heart of a hummingbird and will burn himself out early.

Later same morning: my hands are raw from digging barehanded in freezing surf, wind whipping my hoodie ties in my face. I skillfully captured my limit and headed up to the motel which overlooks the beach and the parking lot of mad clammers. They began arriving at 5:30 this morning. I know this because we were up, as usual. Guys in camo, which begs the question: who are they hiding from?

75 clams, 8:00 am

We have cleaned 75 freakin' clams between yesterday and today, and Kurt is cleaning ten more. We took more than our fair share. Everyone does. Does that make it right? No, but you can come over for clam chowder any time.

This evening, Saturday, we went down for more, but it was raining and nasty and there was a mentally ill guy following us around with a turquoise PVC clam gun, kicking over the plugs of sand pulled with great effort by me not by him. It was irritating because I am not at work and I believe I do my time with crazy people all week. Poor me.

So, we did laundry at the laundramat which was predictably reminiscent of days gone by at many other laundramats in Ruch and Central Point and Coosbay and Red Bluff and Jacksonville next to the Jubilee Club which always made for a confusing folding stage because by then I was usually hammered. And the machines used to cost a dime. But at least I finally washed my double-sized Coleman sleeping bag even if it did cost five bucks.

And, we took a drive down to Wheeler where I would happily live out my life staring out over the marshland.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Full sun all day at long, long last. We rode bikes up to Hawthorne to get coffee and a paper, then home to plant more stuff, a quick nap, and now, coasting into the afternoon. Ah, Sunday blessed Sunday. No wonder God wanted it all to himself.

Yesterday I was looking for my cell phone--not very hard because I hate my cell phone, but found that I feel pretty disconnected without it. I couldn't find it anywhere and when I called, it went straight to voice mail--a very bad sign. I was almost anxious while driving to asia's baby shower. I mean, what if something bad or unforseen happened and I needed help? I couldn't, for example, speak to another human being and request their assistance, right? I couldn't walk up to someone's front door and knock, unannounced, and say, "May I please use your phone? I seem to be in a jam." They would never let me in the house because I could be a stalker lunatic ax murderer child eater. I could be. However, I managed to get through the day without incident and decided several times that I don't need a cell phone, but by the time I left the shower (which was nice and the food was most excellent and I won baby gift bingo --who made that pizza?) I knew it would be ludicrous to live without one. Its like a car, once you have one, there's just no going back. I had to find my phone.

When I arrived at home, I was drawn to the back yard and my many as-yet-unplanted-plants, and there it was, not quite floating in about an inch of water in one of the starter boxes. I vaguely remembered tucking it in among the plants as I carried tray after tray from the car to the house the day before. Needless to say (and yet I say it) it was not only dead, but dissolving--the batterly leaking blue shit like fly guts, tiny metal parts decomposing in my hand. So that was that. I decided to truck on up to the AT&T store which is never closed and buy me a new red phone. My own hotline.

Now, you could find the search bar and type in "one good line" and find the story of how I acquired the present/previous phone. Its pretty funny. Anyway, I arrived at the store and there were probably ten unoccupied employees glomming onto me for my business.

Recall that I am very easy to sell things to. First of all, I like to spend money, have some to spare, and don't care all that much about anything. So, the guy didn't have to work nearly as hard as he did. Even so, it started out badly.

He says, "Oh, I see you're not an authorized user on this account."
"Yes I am," I countered.
"Actually you're not," he returned, smiling.
" too." I hate it when they say "actually" as though I am not living in reality. Pshaw.
Smiling still, indulging my obvious sense of entitlement which is rooted in years of history, he said, "You're just a user. The laws have changed. Now you have to be an authorized user. And you're not."

I'm just a user. Right.

"So call my husband," I suggested, ever so succinctly.
"He has to call 611 from his cell phone himself," he said.
"Well," I began, "Funny thing is, I don't seem to have a phone right now which is pretty much why I'm here so why don't you go ahead and call my fucking husband please. That way, He'll know he has to call 611 to authorize me. Otherwise, I'd have to drive out to Sauvie Island where he is salmon fishing, and that would delay this pending deal indefinitely. You do work on commission, right?"

I didn't really say fuck.

So, I bought a phone and an ear thing, which is called a blue tooth although I can't imagine why. It looks nothing like a tooth, but comes with its own little sticky pieces of wallpaper and I can customize it with leopard or splatted paint or six other slick little things that will roll up and fall in my ear when they get old. Why someone would need to customize something half an inch wide and an inch long, I don't know. I also don't know how to use one, and I'm sure if you know how, it makes talking on a cell phone while driving ever so much safer. But for me, the techno-impaired, its just one more fucking thing. But the phone has a HUGE display when you're dialing which was a quick sell for this blind woman. If I can see it, I'll take it. I don't care how tiny and sexy a cell phone is if I can't see shit.

Time for a motorcycle ride.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Sun is up early, which, in Portland, usually waits until noonish. Like lazy garage-sailors, they don't really get going until around ten. So an 8:00 showing is impressive, bodes well for the day. I will drop smoked salmon off for a potluck, off to a baby shower, then back to my garden for an evening at home and hopefully fresh salmon for dinner.

Husband tried to hang, to do the potluck-as-a-couple thing, but the call of the wild loon is strong in him, and he had to hit the beach one more time before fishing on the Columbia is over for this spring season. It will open again, later, but the run has been good for him -- 3 Chinook so far-- and he wants two more to equal his record in a spring season. I just want dinner.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Spring is here. You can see it from out my front door. The orange runucculus is so beautiful. I'll try to get a picture of it loaded just for you. The camelia tree hangs heavy with flat pink blooms that will carpet the narrow sidewalk and be smashed into slick mush within a week. If I rake the petals daily, this won't happen, but you'll have to remember that maintenance never was my strong suit. Planting? Absolutely. I'm a great starter.

So far I've planted:
burgundy sunflowers
morning glory
yellow clover
crystal palace lobelia
a red shamrock-looking plant
creeping charlie
small cascading petunia
25 fuschia
lemon cucumber
yellow crookneck squash

...and my yard is tiny. I'm claiming eminent domain and taking over the sidewalk. No one will care, so long as a stroller and a wagon can pass in front of my house.

I am feeling better today. I have learned to value the days that I feel strong and healthy, and today was one.

The sun is streaming through the bay window, green and gold through the rhody, the sky beyond it bruised and brooding. Maybe it has rained for the last time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

posies for msb

I'm not much good at placing the photographs yet. I guess you'll have to just enjoy the pictures and try to follow the bouncing ball. Barb, these are for you.

There is nothing like the center of a poppy. When I was growing up, after my father died we lived with my Grandmother and my Uncle Alan. He was off by a few degrees and took great pleasure in his poppies. I was always fascinated by the circus-tent centers, knowing nothing of heroin at the time. Tissue blossoms of deep red, half of our front yard was knee deep in them. He'd stand out in the yard every evening, the hose spraying a fine mist, and he'd rock back and forth, back and forth, for an hour at a time. I admired his ability to be still.
When I found pink poppies, I was instantly charmed. I'm not usually a fan of pink, but this shade is perfect.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

springtime in the northland

I couldn't wait. Sue me. Last week it was fuschia saturday at Freddy's and I got 24 fuschias for six pots. Then, I toured the beds around my unloved yard, determined to fill all of the empty spots for a riot of spring color. I bought
Trailing Lobelia
blue Columbine
Day lilies
yellow clover
two kinds of trailing purple stuff
and there are still places for tons of stuff.

Sick or not, I planted. Last year I held my breath waiting for the Canby Master Gardner's Faire and ended up disappointed. Anything called a "Faire" is usually overrated. But they do have some fun stuff, and I'll go again, dragging my husband along for the heavy lifting, but I'm mostly looking for an Azalea for the front yard. I spent some time cutting back ferns in the rose beds. I think they do best with a good haircut just as the new fronds are unfurling their fuzzy little coils. I broke off two lilies I didnt' see. I need permanent markers for those guys, little sticks reminding me that something is being born again, just beneath the autumn detrius. They are so fragile.

Speaking of fragile... I am so fucking sick. I'm nearly through the zpack and still ill. Still very ill. Still as ill as I've been in months, and for those of you who follow this bouncing ball, I've been damn sick.

I tried visualizing wellness and abundance and all that, and I haven't abandoned the hope that positive thought has a role, but damn. I'm exhausted.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. We are staying home because I am sick. I don't get to see my son because I am sick. I miss Easter Baskets and hiding the eggs and always having one that never gets found until the heat of summer gives it away.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Like everyone else, I am happy to see the sun --happy to put my sunglasses on to drive, happy to press nasturtium seeds into the soil with my bare hands, happy to barbeque pork chops on the deck. It is Sunday, after all.

Sunday, which by rights, should be a lazy day at home. But I worked today. I was the manager of the day or MOD, a corporate decision that we should take turns hanging around on weekends to make sure everybody is in uniform instead of the weekend comefuckme clothes. So, I earned my keep. And now, my viable public, you have proof that I am capable of taking turns. And they said it couldn't be done.............. I am just happy to have a job. I've done worse things for money, you know.

But I do remember when the only control I had in my small life was not wearing the fucking uniform. It was all I could do about anything.

And my life is still small, but I live comfortably in it. Its all one uniform or another. I told them I'd love to wear a uniform just so I wouldn't have to shop for thousands of dollars worth of shit and still have nothing to wear.

Be careful what you ask for.

I've been connecting with folks on Facebook. I had to, and there are alot of people there, but the threads confuse me. I'm not sure where I am in it, or who can see it. I think I like email better, and blogging the best. There's none of that pesky back and forth. Just me blabbering away. What is the sound of one hand typing? I'm just not clever enough to keep up.

I've decided not to tell anyone I have a cold. I am into visualizing perfect health and may be just the teensiest bit nearsighted. I am dripping on the keyboards, coughing, running a fever of 101 and there it is: the negative. I live in perfect health I live in perfect health I live in perfect health.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


She follows me around, pushes my hair out of my face, certain I am the other half of her, the part she has lost, her memory. She clings and frets and tidies up the place -- our place now -- tsk tsk tsking over the mess. She doesn't know what all those other people are doing here.

Each morning it is like this, as this new little chick imprints on the first kind face of the day and follows it until sleep breaks the spell and everything is new again and she must find, once again, all she has lost.

I have a note behind my desk posted on the file cabinet. It says, "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?" Lula kept reading it, and finally, yesterday, she got it. She smiled and the words that came out were nonsense, but I could see it in her eyes. Kindred. And common ground appeared between us, fleeting and ethereal, disappearing as quickly as it had come. But in that single moment she knew who she was.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Okay. So we're going to Alaska instead of Maine. It is, first and foremost, remarkable to me that I have this dilemma. Maine? Alaska? Alaska? Maine? Oh the luxury problems of my perfect life.

At any rate, we've settled on Alaska because I love Alaska and have never seen the southern part and my husband can kill something there. We could probably get a lobster in Maine, but in Alaska, ther are fish. Big Alaskan king salmon and halibut. I will also fish and send them home in great frozen crates to a freezer that I am emptying out as fast as I can.

So he books us for this cabin slash charter boat thing, four nights, three days of fishing and there it is. Done deal. Then... drumroll....

Our sweet little cabin is across Cook Inlet from Mt. Redoubt. We can sit on our porch and watch


Now I'm as open minded as any neurotic, but don't you think its ever so slightly, just maybe a tiny bit, ABSURD to think: Oh, it probably won't blow while we're sitting in the boat in the shadow of the mountain. Chances are we'll get out alive. Here's the view from the porch>

I've voiced my concerns, and truth be told, the volcano is just kind of puffing away today. But I'm not as brave as I used to be.

Am I?