Wednesday, December 31, 2014

new year's evening

I remember when I was nine years old, the year after my father died, when my brother Doug and his first wife, Pam, lived with us. They had a baby and named her Pieper. Watching Pam get ready for anything was a lesson in femininity, a thing I was in awe of, that was just around a sharp and dangerous corner in my own tom-boy life. On New Year's, she was an extravaganza. In 1963, she had designed and made a golden mini-dress: a long fitted bodice made of some sort of stretchy gold fabric (lamae?), drop-waisted with a brief satin ruffle of skirt and a gold ribbon and bow between. Putting on the dress was just raise your arms over your head and slide into it and it was perfect. The lingerie was white and shiny and smaller than mine even then. Makeup took another hour, Twiggy lashes painted like spiders on her porcelain face. We kept the baby with us and woke up at midnight to rattle pots and pans and wonder what my brother and his beautiful wife were doing.

I never had a dress like that. Once I had a long skirt made of a re-purposed quilted black satin bedspread, covered with roses, that I wore with a red flannel shirt and work boots. It was fun to dance in. Once I had a beaded shirt from the forties. I still have it hanging in my closet, the beads danced off it long ago.

Tonight, we walked over to Clay's Smokehouse on Division and had smoked prime rib with slaw, home fries and garlic sauce, collard greens and garlic bread. Yum. Its a half-block walk from home. It didn't feel like a night for the half-block walk the other direction to the food carts. We have our standards.

Our Christmas was quiet and calm with gifts exchanged and appreciated. It is cold in Portland this week, it will warm in a few days and the rains will come back to stay.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 26, 2014

the greening

Rain is beginning to fall and the air has changed from fine dust to bright ozone, that lightening green just before a storm, thick round clouds pregnant with autumn. I want to buy pencils and notebook paper and little packs of kleenex. And clothes. Lots and lots of clothes in little boy back to school sizes.

I know this post is out of sync. It should have been posted when it was written, in September, but I was drowning then. 


Last year at this time my hair had just fallen out. I was to spend the next six months -- seven, eight -- in frightening uncertainty balanced with unimaginable support. I had cancer.

Now I don't. And it isn't just about how life goes on, or, now I see life more clearly or live it more fully or understand mortality like an old friend. For me, the astonishing part is that I'm back. Just me. In the midst of the surgery-chemo-radiation-doctor's office-lab stabbing roller coaster, I believed life as I knew it was over, that I would self-identify as a sick person forever. And I don't.

I got my port taken out June 30th and began a new job on July 28th. It was too soon. My body wasn't ready, but I was so so so bored. In the final analysis, that's what cancer is: boring.

On this day, Christmas Day, Clinton St. is right where I left it, leaves replaced by mud. Kurt woke up before me as usual, like a little kid waiting to open his presents. I caved this year and bought him camo things. I have been a staunch adversary of hiding in plain sight as a fashion statement. I bought camo jammies and a camo blanket for my husband to wear during his upcoming recovery from his upcoming ankle replacement. In his words, they are going to cut off his foot and sew it back on. Not far off. He is afraid, and I am nervous for him.

Today, I opened gifts of massage and colored pencils and books in a quiet home filled with Christmas light. I love it when my life is like that. It is rare these days.

Dinner was awful. Next year, remind me that my husband doesn't know how to cook prime rib. It was raw. Again. And my brussel sprouts were perfect. Again. Kurt's son Dave came for dinner and it made me miss Mark all the more. I wish he was here and I wish he wasn't alone.

This is my quote for my year. It is by Leonard Cohen.I may have made some minor grammatical changes:

So, ring the bells that still can ring
Let go your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

thoughts on a dead queen's hive

I don't know if this guy Dave ever wrote that book. It was about the construction of the Applegate Dam in Southern Oregon, right about on the California border: my home. Upriver. He figured the desolation of the surrounding culture, loggers, hippies, ranchers, growers of green, would mean the end of something. He was right. I'm not sure who he meant to be the queen: the culture? the river? the city of Copper? the gold? But as we drove through the valley, bald eagle in the snag halfway up the has-been lake, guarding the vast emptiness laid waste by the Army Corps, it felt over.

Maybe its just winter, that time of wind-stripped trees and skies the color of unwashed sheets, stitches of birds darting across the horizon, off to warmer homes. But I couldn't get over the sense of waste as we passed homestead after homestead, good people getting back to the land in the forties and fifties, making lives for themselves in this rich valley, raising their children in relative safety. But ah, safety.

We, the children of these good people, the second generation who would carry on this good life, did not follow. Did not heed our upbringing, the lessons of our youth. Instead, we traipsed off to cities and back alleys and shooting galleries and killed ourselves for any kind of prosperity. Our own children scrabble up the sides of the holes we dug, in an effort to get out, but not to get back. They don't want to get back to nature. Nature kicked our asses. They want a tiny screen on which to live their muted lives, unseen, untouched. They don't even know that if you put a candle on the floor it will burn your house down. They just think the light is pretty.

So, I'm looking for the next generation, one that might still be entranced with the fog rising off the river, moss hanging in forgotten trees, who will build the next cabins, will save what is worth saving, and who will bring the Applegate Valley back to life.

Happy Thanksgiving. Sorry I haven't written. My computer is broken. Maybe Santa will bring me a new one.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

and the beat goes on......

In the morning I am Don Quixote, a three foot wide leaf rake in hand, slaying spiders and dismantling their finely spun condos in my path. It is late summer on Clinton Street and the baby garden spiders of April have once again become monsters in my path. Their alleged purpose is unclear to me.

Grass is turning crisp and brown, like walking on cookies. Portland has dried up and begs for rain.  I water to little avail. I can hear my fuchsias gasping as they drink. More more more, their pretty little ballerina dresses sagging in the oppressive heat. We've used up the green and Portland is turning to dust.

Ah, it is sprinkling as I type.... the first edge of damp moves in across the city desert.

Speaking of condos: fuck the urban planning league or whomever is responsible for wrecking my life. You know how much I love my neighborhood most all the time. I know its been a coon's age since I've blogged anything but cancer whining, but in my absence, while my head (and breasts) were turned, Division, the narrow, funky industrial zone of a street, dotted with coffee shops and the occasional thai food restaurant, has become, in the words of Sunset Magazine, some kind of urban mecca. The line for twenty dollar blackforestham and bleu cheese ice cream cones from Salt&Straw winds its way past my living room window. Gargantuan neon-orange or lime and gray condos rise from smallish lots once occupied by ordinary wooden houses. The urban leaguers seem to think none of the occupants of these multi-hipster dwellings, drive cars.  Maybe they don't, but there is nowhere to park in front of my house. Ever.

Since last week, a large food cart operation has sprung up half a block from my door, smoke wafting through the house from every imaginable cuisine. There is even a double-decker boutique dress shop. Jesus. It is exactly like living on NW23rd, for the shoppers in my readership who even bother to stop by anymore.

I can't let this post go by without noting the passing of Robin Williams. Shit. NanuNanu.

So, work. I can't yet articulate how I feel about being in charge of the wandering gentiles again. Mostly gentiles, I think. It's in Sherwood and very clannish everyone has the same shaped blue eyes kind of place. I am spending the weekend getting a more distant view of my responsibilities. It is impossible to work in the current level of disorganization, and is a physical illustration of the old managerial saying: When you're up to your ass in alligators it is difficult to remember that the primary objective was to drain the swamp.

That being said, I love it. I'm back, redux. The weekend receptionist is a sweet, lovely girl named Katrina. She is probably just nineteen and has worked there, like most of the staff, about five minutes. I asked her what I thought was a simple question: "Is it long distance to Woodburn?" she looked at me as though trying to determine how far away Woodburn is. I rephrased the question. "Do I need to dial 1 to reach this number in Woodburn?"

She smiled and said, "You know, its so strange. Some of these numbers work if you push a "one" first and some of them don't." She shrugged. "Wierd."

I am so old.

Friday, July 18, 2014


I am woman hear me roar. Two more clamming episodes. In June we did a one-day set, then last weekend, mid-July, three days of pain and clam guts. Now, I ask myselves, what exactly is it that I like about this sport? I do love the hunt, ankle deep in seawater, waves hitting me at the knee and nearly ass over teakettle, as my sainted mother would say. I keep thinking that clamming would be so much more fun if I could just get the water to hold still. But, christlike as I hope to be, I cannot yet calm the seas. My husband invited a co-worker out to learn how to clam and she was nice but her husband was reluctant to take advice in how to clean the clams. He said, "We've eaten clams before." Steamers? Not exactly the same. Razor clams are a special hell. So many moving parts. And the fukishima parasites were back. But, the take was good, the clams huge. I fried clams the last night and a nurse from the trailer next door rescued me with a set of tongs which I had forgotten. We have many many more to make chowder for a year.

Monday, June 30, 2014

road trip

I just returned home from my final surgery to remove the portal that the chemo drugs went through to make me sick and make me better. The procedure was painful, labor-breathing painful. Now I am numb. I also had the surgeon drain what we'd assumed was a seroma (an accumulation of fluid) but it was a hemotoma instead. It is still bleeding. I have a little advice. Most of you won't need it, but in this era of drive-by surgery I'm sure Amy Vanderbilt would agree with me: Don't wear white linen to day surgery. I bled all the way home. They kind of patched me up and sent my on my way. Driving. In traffic. I was shaking like a leaf and could barely get my breath.By the time I got home, my pure white eighty dollar linen top was drenched and the absorbent dressing, absorbed. But the hematoma is gone! My surgeon told me this is the rite of passage out from cancerland. I am happy to leave it.

We're just back from a roadtrip: Redwoods. Glass Beach. Mendocino. Time to get out of the house and drive through the deep green cathedral for miles and miles. It was Kurt's idea and I jumped at the chance. We took the easy way: car and motel rather than truck and trailer. Kurt and me, Nicole, Sid and Duffy, all in my car.

The first day we made it all the way to Garberville, the land of weed and little else. After picnic-ing our way south with a mediterranean lunch in the grove, Nicole and I wanted something light for dinner. Maybe a taco.

Behind the motel was a restaurant called Sicilio's. The sign out front advertised Pizza, Mexican, Seafood, Burgers, and Italian Food. Now, I know a restaurant that claims to do everything usually does nothing well. So, we went in, read the menu, and found no Seafood, no Mexican. It was pretty much pizza and burgers. I asked the waitress what was up about mexican food and she said, "Yeah, its pretty much false advertising." The prices seemed pretty high, so we passed and went on back to the room, then down to the complementary wine and cheese social, and settled for cheese squares and crackers for dinner. They had brie so I was okay. We had asked the waitress beforehand where we might find a good taco in town. She said, "Deb's has the best tacos. They're about five bucks but they're incredible. I don't know what spices they use but they are amazing. Go a couple miles down the road and blah, blah, blah."

The next evening we drove the two miles to find Deb's. The prices were incredibly high and we finally deduced that local income derived from weed had created an inflated economy. So I ordered the amazing taco. My husband, smarter than me, ordered a burger. When the remarkable taco arrived, I was stunned. It was a small, corn tortilla with a crumbled hamburger patty topped with chopped lettuce, tomato and cheese and a small cup of salsa. It had virtually no flavor at all. Except beef. It did taste like beef. I could only imagine that they don't get much of a Mexican influence in Garberville.

We couldn't pass through Fort Bragg without stopping at Glass Beach*. At first glance, all of  the beaches were completely empty of glass. We tried the final beach off to the left, access was limited, with rocks quite difficult to climb down, especially for me, having worn my evening gown for glass picking. I'm exaggerating -- it was a long summer dress. After the climb, I sat on the beach and picked to my heart's content. I have a nice collection to use in my encaustic work.

The final morning of our road trip, Nicole and I were heading down for breakfast. Two crackhead women were lingering around the door of the complementary breakfast room. As we approached, they put on their act. "Did you bring your key?" The other one looks horrified. "Damn! Do y'all have your key? We forgot ours." I let them in. Who am I to censor the hungry? They followed us in and made up plates to take back to their cronies parked out back.

We stopped in Mendocino, wandered on the headlands and in town. Bought white chocolate with fresh raspberries, and a bar of espresso bean dark chocolate for Kurt.

* In the 1800's, the early inhabitants of Fort Bragg threw their trash off the cliffs at the ocean's edge. Gotta love the white man. Over time. the churning of the surf created shards and bits of colored and clear glass that sparkle like gems when wet. Over the years, folks have scooped buckets of beach glass until the beaches are empty. Only one area remains, and picking is forbidden**.

** Sue me.


Friday, June 06, 2014

the skater and public nudity

Since this blog is really just the news from Clinton Street, I have to document the skating man. He must have moved here about six months ago. He looks kind of like a pudgy Elvis Costello, probably in his early thirties. He is nothing like the ordinary youngish Portland male: metrosexual, skinny jeans, striped t-shirt, perfectly messy hair, black hornrimmed glasses. The skater looks like someone from the fifties with a wad of curly dark hair on top of his head and whitewalls over his ears. He wears tall white socks and long shorts (not stylishly baggy) for skating, which he does all day every day. To be fair, which I rarely am, he skates a good part of most days. Back and forth in front of my house. Back and forth. Back and forth. And he signals to no one when he makes a turn, using hand signals as though in a car, sharp, Natzi-esque motions, executed so precisely that it makes me think he is in some sort of competition. Or is insane. He wears a blinking light on his ass.

This is how bored I am.

There is much more traffic on Clinton Street these days. Division St. -- one block north -- is under continuous construction and has become a tourist destination according to Sunset magazine. It has hundreds of high-end condos with no parking, four thousand bistros, and Salt & Straw, the best ice cream store in the universe two blocks from my front door. Seasalt and Caramel. Mmmmmmm. Since Division is so busily becoming fabulous, driver after driver opts out and yanks their car out of the construction to take Clinton St, fast and frustrated, past my house. The skating man is in peril. I saw someone try to run him down yesterday. I didn't know which way to hope.

Anyway, Its D Day. What a colossal mess that was. Thanks to all the guys who died and who lived to tell.

Next day: Naked Bike Ride in Portland. I guess this is happening the world over.There are probably places that don't think it is such a big deal. We had the Clinton Street contingent saddling up about a block from our porch, so we sat out front and waited for the firm bodied youngsters and were treated to all manner of breasts and genitalia. I suppose there are all kinds of bodies represented at the main starting line, but our neighborhood looks fairly fit.

The most notable quote of the evening, "Dude, this seat feels so weird up my ass."    Indeed.

I liked the beautiful boys with antique flowered doilies covering their business and one lovely girl with lacy black panties. Classy.

like any other day

My dogs are asleep, Nicole is in the attic, sleeping or applying for great jobs available to beautiful young women, Kurt is at work and I am getting well enough to be bored. I took down the drapes and washed them all hung them on a self-installed clothesline (dog run); shampooed the carpet so it smells more like us than the dogs for a minute; organized my closet and packed a b'zillion boxes for our upcoming yardsale. Be there!

I am hosting a brunch for the local women who have supported me through the little cancer blip on my screen (Nina, g/r and Asha, wish you could be here. Truly. Your support was and is so very appreciated.) I'm making two quiches, a baked praline french toast (screw gluten) and lots of fruity salads. And good coffee. Great coffee. Tea for the weaklings. And new linen placemats I got at a yardsale which will establish the blue and white Delft-ish theme which is very important to me. Gotta have a theme. And good linen. After all, I am Martha Stewart, criminal background and everything.

I need a job. The dogs are in danger of redecoration.

I don't think I'm getting the job I applied for. Shocking. I'm always surprised by rejection. I usually at least get an interview. But... the older I get...blahblahblah. It looks like they're hiring from within, which lessens the sting a bit. Am I ready to go back to work? How will I know? This job just came my way -- I hadn't started looking. So, I think I'll begin poking around to see what's out there.

My mother in law just had back surgery and I stayed with her the first night after surgery. She did not arrange to have help and knew she needed it. She did not ask me for help, but her failure to arrange help left her in a tight spot and her very elderly sister was going to fill in, "because nobody else will." (The sister can barely walk, falls at home, should be in assisted living, etc.) It forced my hand (emotional blackmail). I've been pretty clear that I'm not interested in being her caregiver as she ages and has various surgeries, etc. It is a slippery slope. I know I sound like a terrible person, but I've taken care of the elderly for a thousand years, including my mother which was my pleasure, but she allowed very little help. But this woman is not like the women in my family. She wants a servant. She is vain, desperately chasing the ever-disappearing tail of youth. Now, another elective surgery is coming up and I think we need to have "the talk." I am not going to empty her bedpan.

Why I bring this up, other than pure irritation, is because while she was in the hospital, a demented woman was roomed across the hall from her. I just fell in love. The staff were way out of their depth, behaviorally speaking. She had Capgras Syndrome- a paranoid symptom of Alzheimer's wherein the person thinks, for example, that her dead husband was there. A conversation may go like this:

Patient: My husband just left.
Nurse: I thought your husband had passed away?
Patient: No. Alot of people think that, but he's here.
Nurse: I don't see him.
Patient: Some people can't. But they have him in that phone. Hand it to me.
Nurse: (hands her the phone which she begins to dismantle.) Oh, no! (nurse tries to take the phone , calls for backup and sedating medication.) You can't do that. We'll need the phone. (power struggle ensues.)
Patient: (now very agitated, screaming) This is what they use (the phone). Now I know you're in on it...." and so on.

 How it might otherwise go:

Patient: My husband just left.
Nurse: Oh, okay. What are we having for dinner?

To make matters worse, she had a huge mirror over the sink which faced her bed, so when two staff came in, she saw four. When she saw herself in the mirror, she thought it was a visitor. She called them angels. I recommended they cover the mirror. But they didn't. I just went in and hung out with her. Listened and laughed and helped her hands find something else to do as she tried to dismantle the phone and nurse-call lines. By the time I left, she was tucked into bed, her poor little blue feet elevated for a change. She'd been up all night. I think I'd like to have a job as a sitter in hospitals to keep the crazy people calm. I could do that. You just have to learn how to be invisible.

That's my week. Today, I'll find the strength to take both dogs to the p-a-r-k. Shhhh. Don't say it outloud or they'll stare at me until I cave.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

clamfest 2014

Our anniversary celebration is always held on the weekend of the best spring clam tides on the Oregon Coast. This is our tenth and the clams this year are huge. A limit of 15, carried in my mesh sack, weighs three times as much as in previous years. Fukushima. I know. On the upside, the clams glow in the dark, so if you start clamming before sunrise, you. can do without a lantern.

I made reservations a bit late, as is my custom, and we ended up in Venice, an RV park turned crack 'hood. "Venice" because it is set along the tidal canal that wanders through Seaside. Word has it that Venice used to be one of those upscale mobile parks that only accepted newer mobile homes, must-have aluminum skirting in place, no vehicles-in-progress, no faded plastic flowers in plastic pots. Well, not anymore. Now, an old woman with COPD struggles to breathe through her memorized tourist script, including how to tell if the tide is going out or coming in. We know this, of course, but were afraid to interrupt her lest she run out of air completely and fall over. I believe that she is being taken advantage of. The drunkards and addicts run amok, all stopping by her place daily, which is next to our place. I hear snippets of conversations, "...yeah, it'll be here on the third," and "No, really. I'll be out by the end of the month...." For all I know she's selling meth.

I can't imagine, given the general entropy of Venice, that she gets many cash customers. These days, any remaining "permanent" trailers are in utter disrepair and have become rentals. The maintenance man is drunk, driving around in a front-end loader/backhoe that the crackheads refer to as his hovercraft. No one has pulled a weed in years and the blackberries have thus far consumed the Spanish-style wrought iron trellis, a set of concrete seagulls and the compulsory wooden sea captain with their persistent, thorny vines. Crackheads don't mind the ambience. All the better to hide in plain sight.

As with any three day tide set, the first days are the best, because the clam beds are being revealed -- this is the first real set since last year -- so the clams are plentiful. By day three, they were over-picked and a small storm had blown in. No self-respecting clam would put up with such a beating; they stayed under the sand. We had to work for our take on the final day, but came home with 74 clams.

It was all work for me. With my right breast still smoking from the radiation burns, it was all I could do to get through the hour of physical labor each morning. But I prevailed. I will not give up my life. Not yet. And good news! A possible job has come my way. It is something I think I would like, and does not involve death except to the extent that human beings are involved. I am not quite ready to work though, and I hope our time frames can co-exist and they will wait for me. Either way, all is well. I've done my part and the outcome is not mine to fret over.

A radical hailstorm followed us back from the coast and tore through my sweet little spring flowers. They will bounce back. We finally made it home (the hail stopped freeway traffic) and I fried a big batch of clams. Kurt's mom and Nicole joined us. Nicole is staying here these days and was such good company during the post-radiation inferno.

And that's the news from Clinton Street.

Friday, May 09, 2014


I am now in the surreal place of having completed cancer treatment. Eight months have passed with little participation from me except survival efforts. Important, to be sure. My breast is like an eight pound Judyroast that seems a bit on the well-done side. Pain is unignorable. I realize this is not a word, but it is my current experience. My MD said, "You are doing as expected given your anatomy." Read: more tissue = more trouble. The right breast, the one reduced by surgery, is now nearly twice the size of the left. The skin on skin truth of my anatomy offers many square inches of tenderness now occupied by searing, weeping flesh.


My arm is responding well to the compression garment and I am being fitted for a permanent sleeve. Being a chicken about tattoos, I'll decorate my sleeve instead.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

radiation, succulents and anniversaries

Down in the bowels of Providence hospital, beyond the bounds of cell service, we arrive, one after the other, for our daily dose of cell-killing rays. We sit and wait our turns. I've been showing up earlier to grab a cup of coffee with an older couple who like to chat. We all have our stories. She got to keep her hair, I didn't. I miss my hair most of all. It hasn't really started growing back yet. I hope it will. I have lymph edema in my right arm because the lymph fluid can't find its way back to my heart since the surgery. Instead, it leaks out my eyes and I bloat up like a whale. I have physical therapy appointments, radiation appointments, and any day without one is a gift. I want to sleep, but life calls me. I have a garden, after all.

Today the physical therapist said (of the edema), "Well, since this is something you'll have to manage for the rest of your life, blah blah blah." I pretty much stopped hearing at that point. "What?" I may have yelled. "The rest of my life?" "Yes," she said, very nicely, "It is incurable." Was anyone going to tell me this? I've had it for months. Now, turns out I have to wear an arm length ace bandage-ish thing, two of them on top of each other, to get the swelling down to the point where they can make a permanent one for me. f-o-r-e-v-e-r. What a bonus, eh? And now, in addition to breast-shrivelling radiation, I get a permanent elastic sleeve to wear. Even in the sun, which has been out for two consecutive days, only to slink back to wherever it goes when it isn't in Portland.

Next topic: For ten years we have been fighting a battle to maintain a spot of lawn in our backyard. Just a little bit. Ten by ten. And each year we begin anew, sod or seed, it doesn't matter. We plant, water, baby along the soft green fuzz, and enjoy it for the summer. But each year, the encroaching moss takes more than its fair share and gobbles up the grass. This year has been darker and wetter than usual, which, for Portland, is saying something. The interminable, dreary gray of day after day after day has invited a moss revival. We finally gave up. The moss won. I wasn't sure what I would do in the absence of grass, but decided on a rock and moss-like plant garden instead. As it happens, as soon as I made this decision, my cousin, who had just moved from inner Portland out to the Sandy River (their place is lovely -- their own state park complete with waterfalls and river frontage) she no longer had a need to landscape the place, so she gave me nine flat stones, each about the size of a very large coffee-table book each. No -- they're bigger. About two of those books side by side. Anyway, they are big. So now it is a design question. I've considered placing the stones in a circle; making a path to nowhere? Well, its too late for input. Time has passed, it is now two weeks later and the path is laid. I decided to be practical for once instead of purely ornamental. I made the path to correspond where I walk when I water. That way, all of the "steppable" plants I have planted (I think I got one of everything) won't get crushed and die when "stepped" on.

So, today is our 10th Wedding Anniversary, We took a long drive through the gorge and the waterfalls and around the base of Mt. Hood. I stole a big chunk of moss from one of the waterfall parks. Horsetail Falls. It was already on the pavement and sprouting ferns. Not exactly theft, but I'm still glad we weren't accosted by the tour bus of elders from "Friends of the Gorge."

Ten years of marriage and I am so happy. This past year has been a beautiful demonstration of our commitment to each other. He kisses my bald head and tells me I'm beautiful. Always marry a liar.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

news poetry

I am home daily, watching daytime TV instead of writing for my life. There is much to complain about, but I won't embarrass myself by outlining the shortcomings of Kelly Rippa or Ozzie Osbourne's wife. Its the news that drives me mad. Here's a tiny example: "She was released from prison after 28 years and her family released its joy." Do they need an editor? Is the news so pressing it has to go out for wholesale consumption before anyone can reel it back in for a literary check? Or, conversely, is the news so bland that journalistic poetry might save it? Might keep consumers from seeking straight talk on the web? I'm just wondering.

The other menace is the barrage of  pre-news questions posed by newscasters: "What did one family find in its closet that left claw marks on the front door? We'll let you know on our midnight newscast." Why do they do this? Do they really think their questions are so intriguing that we'll stay riveted to our 50" screens until the tell us it was a cat? Maybe they do. Maybe we will.

I feel better now.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Been down so long it looks like up to me. I think Bob Dylan said that. I am so near the end it feels like coasting. In three days my last chemo can have a week or two of my life then I'm having it back.

fait accompli

Chemo is over. I am feeling better every other day, climbing out of the abyss, clawing, grabbing, each handhold familiar as I transition into the light of spring. I'm so glad I planted bulbs two years ago. Daffodills are opening, the Daphne is amazing. I looked up in my Western Gardner book to see about pruning them. Most nursery plats are pruned after blooming or in fall, but "Daphne is Different." She needs to be pruned while still in bloom. So I found my pink pruning shears (clippers, really) put on my gloves and chopped off all the weird growth that happened over the cold snap of winter. My garden is otherwise a poster of neglect, the neighbor you don't want to have. Thank god for perrenials.

As this part of the process draws to a close, my old pal bladder infection arrives. Again and again, just to remind me that I am still human. It doesn't seem fair, but then, what is fair? So, I spent the morning offering urine samples to the uro gods to do with me what they will. I'm just tired of being sick and sick of being tired. Ah well. On to spring and radiation. I will ask somebody to clean my deck, find me a lawn chair and lay back and enjoy the sunrainsun that is Portland in the springtime.

I don't have cancer, though. That is good.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

long time gone, redux

I have two scarves and three hats on the floor next to my unmade bed. I have a thousand other scarves and hats on hangers and in lovely shopping bags in my closet room. I have a closet room. I have so many skeletons in my closet its no wonder I don't hang up my clothes.

I watch movies every day, Nina. Thank you. I pick up the phone when I'm feeling under it except for this one time when I was certain I had contracted an exacerbated form of dementia due to chemotherapy and then I didn't dare tell a soul. Not about that. God. I can't be trusted to cook eggs. Let's see. I only have one more chemo to go. Thank you Jesus. I'll just thank Jesus because I couldn't possibly name all the people who have sustained me through this calamity. I'm not sure its a calamity at all but I so rarely get a chance to use the word. I think synchronicity is more the truth in play.

"Judyfest Northwest" was stunningly beneficial. I think 6K at final count. Something like that. I'm still paying bills with it. And it was FUN which turned out to be at least as important as the money. The music was so good. An all girl Merle Haggard cover band called Gerle Haggard, and a jazz standards singer named Lura Griffiths of Women with Standards.

I brush my dog, I thaw food others have prepared to feed my husband so he can go to work to keep me in insurance. Alone I am a sinking ship. Maybe we all are.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Well, I will try to explain the non-blog entry titled: phone. I thought I was in the search bar and was looking for the post entitled "one good line" but knew only that it was about the purchase of a phone. Obvously, I was in the title line of a blank page. I will blame all errors of this nature on chemo-brain for the next, oh, year or so. If you want a good laugh, see "one good line."

Thursday, January 02, 2014

lazy river

For me, home will always be the Applegate River. I love Portland. I do. But I had to run away last week, make sure my mom-out-law was okay -- she's getting on in years -- and sit in one of her two recliners for four days. I called no one, visited none but my son and his aunts, her daughters. But when we were finally by ourselves, we did a Breaking Bad marathon. Hours and hours of non-stop episodes of meth drama. Rita, she's 83, is the one who got us started watching it years ago.

I kept saying things like, "Are you sure you don't want to go for a walk?"
"How about just one more," she'd say.

Two hours later we'd come up for air or a bowl of chicken soup or a bit of dark chocolate. Old women don't eat much, so we didn't occupy ourselves with food. I did have Duffy to contend with, so had to walk him from time to time.

Her place is exceptional. Acres of riverfront property, well cared for, with an enormous front yard guarded by fir trees and lilac, cattle in the acreages across the highway. You can hear them from the porch. Duffy did not get skunked this time around. The second evening we were there I opened the door to let him out, leash in hand (not on Duffy) and as soon as the cold evening air hit my nose it was fresh with skunk. He started to bolt, but hesitated (remembered?) and I caught him just in time.

It was good to get away and not sit in my home consumed with the third coming of chemo. I wanted to absorb the good days in the best place I know so far.