Monday, January 25, 2010


asha is in town and because asia is in the midst of home revival, we were allowed a slumber party at my house last night. What joy to sleep in and spend the morning with my friend. I am sick, and home at my doctor's bidding, but still and all, it was a timely visit for us both, I think. The chatter was wonderful and welcome and so so missed. There is nothing like a good girl friend and lots of catching up to do. That she is a writer, and prods me to produce, is icing on the cake. We all need a push. I was invited to join a writing group, but you have to pay to be in it, and there is a leader or someone who is the identified "writer" and I can't imagine paying. That is, beyond the bzillion dollars for that oh-so-useful master's degree. There was that. We had a late breakfast at Cup&Saucer on Hawthorne. I had french toast. I'm sick. I can have whatever I want. After breakfast, asia arrived and took my friend away to babysit her adorable grandaughter Thea.

I always try to post something on Groundhog's Day. It has been an important event at different times in my life, when I needed a reason to celebrate in the middle of a long, gray winter. Today, the hog must have seen his shadow, although I was not in Nebraska or Kansas or wherever flatlander's find prairie dogs. I think that's what a ground hog is, isn't it?

Today, the view up and down Clinton Street was bright, my home embarrassingly unprepared for the legions of walker and bicyclists. My dogshit yard and naked chickenwire fencing stood unadorned, absent summer's tendrils of tomato and nasturtium, ripped from the sodden ground after freezing, seeds falling here and there, willing to endure winter's face-slap, that scolding time that ensures a certain reverence for days like this, even if the shadow promises another six weeks. We delight in these fickle days that remind us of times to come, times to prepare for. The liar days of winter, where the light is not warm, but reminiscent of it; where the dark comes too soon anyway.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Tonight, its dinner with Haley at the Barleymill Pub on Hawthorne and 21st. He's bringing me home a reuben. Sounds fine. I feel like I may live after all. Today I spent half the day in the Drs office and had a chest xray. I'm fine. Just sick, as usual.

It is Friday night and I want to rent movies. Instead, we went to a Hollywood Video store that is closing and bought 65.00 worth of old movies. Watching "The Morning After" with Jeff Bridges and Jane Fonda. Next, the Stones new documentary by Scorsesi and "Love in the Time of Cholera" and Little Miss Sunshine and Mystic Pizza. Then maybe I can find the strength to go back to work.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I was watching Rachel Ray make fish tacos after watching Paula the Southern Belle make five dishes out of cheese after watching four consecutive episodes of House Hunters International, and having decided a move to Bali was a great idea, I saw the mandatory mosquito nets and decided to stay put. After being sick this long, the mindnumbingness of daytime TV is evident. I am paralyzed, coughing fit after coughing fit, sick of the dogs, sick of myself.

I haven't worked since last thursday and couldn't if I had to. This is a bad one.

But I'll live. I always do.

Kurt is out, taking his children to dinner one by one. I think that is so nice. Each night he brings me something from wherever he ends up. Tonight he is taking Nicole to Authentic Thai on Division. They have the best shrimp salad rolls I've ever had. Or maybe its the best peanut sauce. My friend Cameron says to dilute the peanut butter with a coconut soda found only at asian markets to make good peanut sauce. So, if yours turns out anything like mine, a hint would be helpful.

With this much time on my hands, I sleep and shop online. Right now, I'm after a pair of red velvet flats by Blowfish. Wish me luck. Right now I could really use some Ruby Slippers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

weather and family

Well, "a little under the weather" has turned into a bit more like a hurricane. I am sick.Bronchitis again. But happily, it is the first time I have been sick since May, and with my track record, that is fabulous. I'll take it. One bad spell. I'm waiting it out, hoping my body and the various supplements will put up some kind of a fight. I'm rooting for the C and D combo.

Changing the subject -- back to Arcata and funerals and such...

My aunt who passed in November, I think I mentioned, was a genealogist, even before computer databases were easily accessed. She had populated with much of our family tree, both of her sides, her husband's side and my father's end of things. It is difficult to tell this story without some kind of a recap of who's who, and that will take a minute. Bear with me. I'll limit it to one side for now.

There were four Forster children: my mother, her sister (the one who just passed) and two brothers. Both uncles were interesting: one a Marxist, the other schizophrenic. The Marxist had one child, Darla, who I knew when she was tiny, but family fracturing being what it was in my family, I'd heard nothing from or about her since she was about four years old.

Well, one of the grandsons decided to pick up where my aunt, his grandmother, left off, and after the funeral, he took a bunch of information and entered it into the database at

So... a few weeks pass, and one of the cousins gets this email from Darla asking are we who she thinks we are. We are. So, long story long, she lives five minutes from me and we decided to get together for dinner.

So... good for the internet. Good for the mormons. (who run the database, I'm assuming.) She seems like family. We seem to have alot in common. She loves camping and she knows all the stories about her end of the famly and why things were the way they were and went the way they went, from a Marxian-schizo perspective. She knows, for instance, that my uncle stopped drinking port and started eating a little bit of dirt each day in penance to remember how much he loved god. This, clearly, was not the Marxist. Anyone listening to talk radio back in the sixties and seventies would have remembered him. He was an opinionated man.

It is always fascinating to me how truly fractured a close family can become, and even so, no matter the disconnect, how much family is still just family. Darla, (which is not her name, but in fairness, why would I drag her into this mess?) is a manic gardner and understands that there are many shades of not-quite-white, and the difference between purple and, say, periwinkle or cornflower. My husband kept saying at dinner, "She's just like you." We were both nervous, Darla and I, that we would have nothing in common, that our husbands would feel alienated from this happy little reunion. Turns out they both fish and were able to talk about that while we started catching up.

So, we shared old photographs (you know how I am about those things) and in among the bad Kodak shots was one of my grandmother sitting in the east-facing window with her dog on her lap and my mother's african violets sitting in the window. Seeing those small pots of flowers in a winding wrought-iron stand, a fixture of my childhood, was like reaching back forty-seven years in time. I could feel the velvet of their petals, hear my mother telling me they don't like to be touched. My grandmother, my favorite person in the whole of my life, was sitting in the corner just where I'd left her.

So we will try dinners, and camping, and maybe knitting the clan back together in a few odd places.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I am home from work today, feeling a little under the weather, a little happy to be home. Probably happier than I should be, but not going to work is exhilarating, even when it is legit.

My blog suffers from my busyness, my consumption with the need to make a living. I wish I was one of those women who could live simply to simply live, but I don't know how to not work. (Today being a notable exception...) and I don't know how to live on less. I live on more. and more. and more.

I have been thinking about my mother lately, about how hard she worked, and for so little. At one point she was a night-shift janitor at the Bear Creek bakery (Harry and David, now Jackson and Perkins), a huge warehouse factory orchard business in the Rogue Valley where everyone has worked at one time or another. I have. She swept their floors, washed gigantic and heavy pots and pans. She mopped -- three times every night: wet mop, damp mop, and dry mop. Its funny what you remember. She worked with a crazy person who thought a big black dog followed him everywhere, who had suffered more than one crib death in his family. She brought home tins of pineapple macadamia cake, and broken bits of fruitcake that we'd have for breakfast. She raised five children without benefit of welfare -- some of the "children" long beyond the age of maturity -- maturity being a somewhat ambiguous term in my family. I remember she saved anything left after bills very carefully and bought a dinette set: six chairs around a small, oval formica table with one leaf, upholstered in the latest mandarin orange and avocado green vinyl print. She was so proud of that little set, which I now know was a cheap thing, but it meant so much to her to make our house a home. Everything was mandarin and avocado, with chocolate brown accents, all of the wood pieces "antiqued" white with gold and avocado highlights. I think that was in the sixties. Yes. With Aretha playing in the background, one brother in VietNam, one passed out on the [avocado green] sofa and one playing quarterback for Medford, the best looking kid in school, my sister not yet on methadone.

As I go through my excess, attempting to put together a yard sale in the spring, and I continue to acquire more and more, I think of how hard she worked, and how little we had, and how much we appreciated small things.

Ah well, poverty follows me like a stray dog that just won't go home. Or is home.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

long winter IV

I have been to seven funerals in three months. Too many, even for the angel of death. I should show some caution throwing words like that around, but so often, in the winter, it seems true. I look forward to spring and the promise of new life and green where there is mud and blue to overtake the gray. I wrote a line in a book once that went like this: the season progressed in a continuum of rain, from mist to downpour, and Ruby forgot the color blue. I'm feeling a bit like Ruby just now, cleaning up dogshit that is mush. There is an art to it that I won't bore you with, but leave it at this: frozen is good.

We were driving down 82nd today, and there are trailer parks in among failing restaurants and seedy motels. The urban version of Bolder City. I loved Bolder City. I don't know if I've said so before, but its true. A forested trailer park on a river. There is life in all of these places, many better lived drunk, I'll admit, and I was, but I never want to live in another trailer. Drunk or sober.

This evening we are planning (I am planning and my husband is nodding) our summer vacation. "Do we have to take both dogs?" he asks, as if I'd leave Duffy behind. "Yes. We do." We will take them with us to Yosimite where they will be eaten by bears.

I watched the series on National Parks and want to see some of them. Our trip to Glacier was amazing, and the Ho Rainforest and the Northern Cascades, and the Redwoods, and Crater Lake. It seems very American, but I'm American. so.