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.