Sunday, August 28, 2011
My aunt (of whom these children were born) was meticulous about every area of her life, her scrapbook a reflection of her genealogist-librarian mind. I will never be like that, and sometimes my personal unravelling is a source of unrest for me. We are the black sheep -- my immediates and I, but we are beloved -- there is never any doubt -- and as I spoke to one dying man who was hooked up to a power pack of some sort that was keeping him somewhat alive, our similarities and differences were in an odd balance. He hears that I am a writer. Yes, I admit. That's true. His family has a publishing company. Oh, my ears perk up, really? My husband whispers, this could be a good thing. I listen. The dying man says he is trained in theology and publishes theological books. Oh. Maybe his is not the publishing house for me. What kind of novel? he inevitably asks. Oh, darkish women's literary fiction. An autobiography? No, I tell him, although parts are emotionally true-ish. Ah. He knows what I mean. I wonder if he does. His face is gray and his feet are black. Whatever he knows, he needs to get it said and quick if anyone on this side of the veil is to hear it.
We ate burgers and potato salad and red velvet cake and went home, our names and photographs captured for ancestry.com and posterity. I guess photos are inaccessible as long as you are living. When a death date is entered, you become public domain.
Back at the office Rose is dying slowly. It is hard to explain to the living how hard it is to die, that dying is a process. Even you, my readers, will think I mean a spiritual process. I mean it is physical work. Something to attend to. Something to do. And your body knows just how to do this thing, this ending. It stops getting hungry and thirsty, it stops eating. If it is an indian back in the day it wanders away from the tribe where it can die unobstructed by the living and the loving. It is hard for families to stop feeding the dying. They think they are helping. But the person who is doing their level best to leave is sidetracked from the serious business of getting it over with, and made to digest another small container of yogurt or ensure, as though those small bites could somehow sidestep death. And they are so sweet, the dying are. They open little bird mouths and take another sip so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, making yet another detour on the way home. But we all make it home eventually.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
There. I've said my piece.
Today we (he) got up early and (he) made coffee and we went to pick blackberries. As I pick, I think of this post, this yearly pilgrimage to the vines, wearing a long sleeved shirt not becasue I shoot heroin, but to protect my lily-white arms. (ghosts of summers past) And real shoes. Even my bzillion dollar keens can't keep the thorns away. And my overalls, which are now museum-quality. I'll take a picture. I actually order upholstery samples online to patch them with. A thing of beauty, depending on the beholder.
So, I pick - and this summer it is all low hanging fruit, easy pickin' - thanks to the endless spring of Portland. We picked for 45 minutes and filled a five-gallon bucket. Now, two pies are in the smoker (what?) and 4 racks of berries in the freezer for pies to come. Enough left for a smoothie. Yum.
This isn't blackberry 101, but there is a trick to it. Like any fruit, if it doesn't want to come off the vine, it isn't ready. You have to respect that or you'll have a sour pie and use a ton of sugar. Ripe berries have a shine to them, a fullness. If they've lost the shine and are a bit dull, they are still great for jam or juice, but will fall apart in your hand. So I just pop those in my mouth and call them breakfast. Then come home and make a smoothie and call it breakfast too. Then an egg sandwich on sourdough, but I'm getting into a problem area.
So, Kurt made the pies and is trying out the smoker instead of heating up the house with the oven. I appreciate the heat consciousness, but am tentative in my support of the smoker.
Okay. I've been busily editing the f**king manuscript and am making real progress. I should be finished in time to send it to the publisher of my dreams. Back to work.
Oh, this might surprise you, but I want to put in a pitch for french manicures. I'm a gardener and I work in health care and my hands always look like crap. A french manicure is the fix for that. Just sayin'.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Mix all ingredients in order, stirring each time.
2 1/2 c. salad oil
7 oz. catsup
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. Chinese hot mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. apple cider vinegar
Blend until smooth
makes about a quart.
Store in refrigerator.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
I lived in a cabin of hand-peeled logs, built by John and Kenny Powers. That was what they did. They built log things: fences, houses, barns. My house was constructed of logs graduated in size from large at the bottom to small at the top. A half-loft had a notched pole to climb to sleep, and I did. A front porch, enclosed with a rail, all of peeled poles.
It was so beautiful. I hung snake grass and pressed leaves in the windows to rattle in the wind. These were my curtains. I had no close neighbors but John and Helen, and Topar when he was around.
But they're all gone now, Topar, Kenny, now John. And so many more.
Rest in peace.
Friday, August 05, 2011
Here he is in the Tetons. As you can see, he hogged the photograph.
We took off on Friday and spent the first night in our first RV park. These are strange places, in the event you find yourself wondering. We are campers, and we are country folk -- in a way -- but not like these people. They are very friendly and they make everything out of wood and rope and barbed wire and from the looks of things they worship cowboys and Jesus, in that order. My favorite sign: "I'm so confused I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse."
We pulled into the Mountain View Park in Baker City, Oregon at about 8:30 in the evening, hotter than blazes. A Lorretta Lynn or some country chick other than Patsy Cline, CD was playing on speakers loud enough to entertain the entire park, and it was skipping, and the woman at the counter, Barb, told us she hadn't had much luck using toothpaste to clean her CDs.
Really? No luck at all?
Yep, she nodded, "and that's such a good CD."
Not really. You should know by now how I exaggerate.
So, our destination at this point was Yellowstone. Well, not actually Yellowstone, but a spot beyond it, Shell Canyon, in the Bighorn mountains. It is a place Kurt passed through on his way to Sturgis and one he has tried to show me for years. And believe me, if you're hauling a big black bike, everybody asks if you're headed for Sturgis. We were not. I'm pretty sure I'd never go unless he bought me a sidecar. One with a/c and a pool. The thought of Sturgis irritates me. I love motorcycles but can't stand bikers. I speak from an informed point of view. I can't imagine standing six bikers deep to use one of sixty outhouses.
But I digress.
One of the education points of this vacation, and there were a few, was the unreliability of memory. Not just his, mine as well. He had blown through the prior trip at 90 mph, eyes forever on the center line until it turned to one long white stripe, on a mission to complete the male right of passage that is Sturgis. Turns out he missed some scenery along the way.
So many birds: swallows and wrens and hummingbirds darting in and out of juniper and
and then we went to the Tetons, but that's another story for another day.... In case you're wondering, I took the last photo. I'm not great at it.