Saturday, December 05, 2015

seasonal misgivings

Holiday update, or the blog equivalent of the family christmas letter:

I cheated and made reservations at the McMenamin's Oregon Hotel in McMinnville for Thanksgiving. See previous posts to understand that this may qualify for the eighth deadly sin. The food was traditionally soft and alternately sweet and savory and thus addictive. We invited Kurt's mother and Nicole came along. It was kind of fun, but I think I'll go back to cooking next year. The reason for the cheat was that nobody was going to be available, or able to show up, so it would just be the two of us and I couldn't see going to all the headache. Besides, who eats all the leftovers? Me. Layers of fat and salt topped with pumpkin pie and whipping cream. Roll me

Tomorrow we will attend the annual tree-lighting ceremony in Yamhill where the mayor will read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, or A Visit From St. Nick. The mayor. I can't wait.

I have been decorating the place I work for a week. I can't stop. Now I'm trying to decorate the house, and I can't figure it out. Open-concept living is interesting. There are fewer walls, thus fewer opportunities for hanging shit up. I manage. I shopped many many stores today and came home empty-handed. Either I've lost my touch, or I have all I need. I'm thinking the latter.

Wow. Just got word that Ted Nugent wants all gun owners to get out their guns and cleanse the world of liberal democrats. We are truly in a standoff in this country. I keep thinking, naw. There can't really be that many people who would kill us all for what they believe. Shit. I believe a good deal of what they believe from a garden-variety Christian perspective, but it comes out so different when I believe it.

Two mass shootings last week, and the talking heads are madly trying to identify one of them them as "terrorist" and thus somehow worse. I remember when mass shootings stunned me. I remember standing in the lobby of a crappy hotel when Columbine happened. I was in disbelief. Now I hear the news and I think, "shit." And cook dinner.

And Donald Trump is still actually running for president. That can't happen, right? Not in the real world, right? Maybe Ted Nugent could be his running mate.

I'm not suicidal, but I don't want to live in a world like that.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

pumpkin day brunch and politics

It is time again for politics, the choices slim, the candidates sadly alike, which means life will go on as usual for me. I suffer white liberal shame. It doesn't really matter what happens in the current election process: white life is good. I will vote, and I will vote against what I think is the greater of two monsters, but I understand that eventually, likely not in my lifetime, the smoke and mirrors of the USA will shatter and vanish and all of the abundance, ease and irresponsibility will degrade into a third-world existence. I saw Mad Max. All of them. From the safety of my vortex of a sofa.

I remember some freshman test-grading work that I did for my sociology professor and advisor, and reading this answer to this question:

"Please describe the differences between first and third world countries."

The answer was this, "Well, the first world is first, and not second. The third world is after that. It is neither first or second. It is third."

The penmanship was atrocious. But really, an oversimplification to be sure, but was she wrong?

My husband will carve his pumpkin today. It will be fabulous and mine will be ordinary. I've come to accept this. I'm going to do the Pope.

This morning I made a facebook special brunch that looked so simple online. All you do is: line muffin tins with hashbrowns, pre-bake, top with crumbled bacon, spinach, egg and cheese. Bake. Eat. What they don't show is this: re-hydrating the hashbrowns (45 min.) grating a bunch of cheese (15 min.), pick all of the baby spinach out of the salad mix (can't believe they left that out) and realize there is no bacon. None. (And on Sunday, in Yamhill, I wouldn't buy the bacon that may or may not be for sale.) Then wash all the damned bowls. By hand. Cheerios is easier.

In Yamhill, the field behind us is greening, rains are beginning and I'm making butternut apple soup for dinner. It has mango chutney in it. I'll post the recipe if isn't awful. 

Saturday, October 03, 2015


It gets dark in Yamhill. Not as dark as we'd like, but still, we see the stars. Many many more than Portland gets. Now that the arbor vitae (juniper) are gone, at night, there is a long stretch of blackness from our backyard to the highway. At night, I pretend we live on the edge of a lake and I can see the headlights of the cars that drive around the lake. When the wheat starts to grow -- or whatever it is they planted, the VanDuyck's who own the field -- there will be swishing and waves on my lake and I will lean back in my Adirondack like an Appalachian queen. Yep.

We made the mistake of going into Portland today, a semi-tradition for us, to the Greek Festival. Paper bowls of soulvake and loudema-somethings-- little balls of deep-fried dough soaked in honey, spanikopita and baklava. Too much honey for me. I couldn't finish but a bite of the baklava and tossed it -- a greek sin, I'm sure. We tried to make a quick getaway, but had to visit a sick friend in the hospital and Kurt left his phone so had to turn around and go back. Argh.

And, I had to get bras. New, smaller, shinier, foamier. What are these things? Do they hold their shape? Will they hold mine? Laundering tips? I had to get sized, thanks to Sylvia at Macy's, and I bought a handful of new ones. All my life I have been relegated to the beige white black of triple-D dom. Now, as I think I have mentioned, the choices are endless. I don't trust the mechanics as I have been accustomed to armor-like construction, but I no longer need support, just socially appropriate coverage.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

yamhill nights

Last Saturday night we were ready to head out for a motorcycle ride when our neighbor Jim showed up on a Gynormous backhoe. I hear from the bedroom, where I'm putting on real clothes, "Honey, we're not goin' anywhere." I walked out into the living room to see Kurt, Benny and Kevin wrapping chains around the arbor-vitae hedge that was impeding my sunset view and popping them out one by one, easy as pie. I didn't like the looks of it. Juniper, whatever it is. Nasty stuff, all overgrown and buggy. And now its gone. Just like that. Country folks who don't want pay. I offered pie, but everybody is diabetic and serious about it.

This Friday night it was the Yamhill Volunteer Firefighter's fundraiser with hot dogs and hamburgers; Saturday all the way to Carlton -- 3 miles-- for the Carlton Fire Spaghetti feed, only we went to the wrong place and had a banquet with the FFA at the Carlton Foreign Legion Hall. Pork, done right. Somebody's hog, I'm guessing. Piles of food. We live in carnivore heaven. All the same people were there. We're just part of the wallpaper now. Only we are democrats. On this I will not compromise. The notion that you can't be good country folk and be democrats is nonsense.

Donald Trump WTF?

Tonight is the Blood Moon Eclipse. We're going up into the hills to watch moonrise. It should be good. The weather is clear. We'll go up on top of Bald Peak and see what we can see.

Well, my boobs are holding together, knitting slowly. And separately. I don't want to give the impression that they are knitting together-together. ew. I am finally able to sleep at night without dread of another explosion. I believe I am out of the woods at last. What a process. Even my surgeon hadn't seen anything like it. But the radiation burns I suffered were intense. I think if she'd known the severity, she may not have gone ahead with the surgery and I wouldn't have my nice little boobettes and that would be sad.

Yesterday I spent the better part of the day tearing through my closet, my years and years of collections,  fabulous and expensive clothing that will never fit me again. Wide, wonderful things that kept my body secret for years and years. Now, I have room for my skeletons...

Monday, September 07, 2015


I suspect the sunsets are like this in big dirty cities, a bright orange dot of fire sliding down the smoky sky. I lost my view, completely obstructed by thick gray air. Even when the wind came up, the smoke held its ground. I can only imagine the Rogue Valley right now. I remember clearly whole months of smoke, each night a ring of fire encircling the valley, the sky brown as cocoa. There is a fire in Willemina, a tiny town to our north, I think. And Washington has lots of them, and the John Day fire is burning to the ground. This is late summer in Oregon. The newscasters seem startled and afraid, but those of us who have endured eons of lightening and dry grass are not surprised. Its probably worse due to climate change. Most weather related events are. Medford is now Death Valley and Portland is becoming Medford. Keep going north.

Well, they stitched me back together and it seems to be holding so far. I went back to work a week ago -- too soon, of course. These back to back surgeries seems to have kicked my ass. I am more than tired.


and again.... it is Monday, the last day of a four day weekend. Itook friday off, and half of thursday to be honest, to finally haul our little trailer to the coast for a long, relaxing stay. As we pulled out of Yamhill toward Carlton, it began to sprinkle. We didn't care. We have a trailer. I was desperately in need of a non-surgical time away from work. We reserved spots at Beverly Beach and landed right in the middle of a beautiful sunny day. We got set up, drove to Newport to check out the crabbing scene, and returned for a dinner of boiled hot dogs. Fire ban and all still in place, the entire northwest going up in flames. Then, as luck would have it, I was uncomfortable in the middle of the night, twisted just so and POP goes the tit. I just started crying, sat up, and Kurt tried to help me settle down. We performed frontier medicine with paper towels and ditch water -- not really, Annie -- but it wasn't under prime conditions  at 3:03 in the a.m. that he told me it wasn't nearly as bad as last time. Dehyssed. Shit. This time, it was only about an inch long, and not through all of the layers. My surgeon stitched many layers in the hopes it would seal.

Not so much. She was distressed, my surgeon, when I called her from the ER later the next/same morning... So much for the non-surgical weekend. I just kept camping. Screw it. It was too beautiful to leave. Three gorgeous days, whales spouting everywhere, sixteen crab. Garlic butter. Yep. Tasty.

So, now showing signs of infection, I'll see the doc day after tomorrow.

Monday, August 10, 2015

the much anticipated first post from Yamhill

While I have switched seats in blogland, they are still cheap and the sky is so so blue. I am no longer reporting from my bay window overlooking the wilds of Clinton street, but out my three living room windows that overlook the back porch from which I survey the rolling hills that make Yamhill. I don't know the reason for the name. A mystery to solve. We lived here -- my family did -- before I was born. There is a road called Kinney road, my maiden name, and I wonder who the road is for, if anyone I know or am related to. Another mystery to unravel. So it is a homecoming, of sorts. Not much happens here. By design. According to our neighbor, Jim, Yamhill doesn't want commerce.

As is typical of very small towns, everybody already knows we're from Portland. What they don't know is that we are really from Ruch which is not much different than Yamhill: a post office and Zippy's Pizza. Two big junk stores, one sells milk for five thousand dollars, so I guess it serves as the general store.There are no democrats, no hipsters and no organic food. Just space and space and space.



So, we moved, I got breast reconstruction, I'm almost healed and friday night, one of my new boobs blows up.

No, I didn't have silicone; those of you who know me know I have enough personal tissue to make three nice sets of tits, but I only made one and threw away the rest. The boobs are adorable. Cute little things that sit on my chest where boobs are allegedly supposed to begin life. Everything was going along fine. I went to bed Friday night, restless and painful, and oh, about 3 a.m., I felt the tiniest of tugs, a sharp pain -- nothing new -- and went back to sleep. By 5:30 when I woke up to get ready for a huge marketing event at work, a rare Saturday of work, I found myself lying in a puddle of blood. My blood. Soaked through two quilts, sheets and into the mattress. I was covered in blood. A serial killer novel of blood. Psycho.

I told my husband, "I think I have a bad problem."
He doesn't have the medical background that I do so was pretty much freaking out. While I was on the phone with my surgeon, he did laundry, bless his soul. It really saved the quilts.

So it was off to the ER where they checked me in and out. The surgeon says, "Well, this happens from time to time."

Ah. That helps. I'm common.

But this is what had happened: my right breast, the one that endured the lumpectomy and radiation and, oh yeah, cancer, the tissue in that breast is much slower to heal. The sutures, designed to dissolve, did what they were supposed to do, but the skin hadn't healed yet. My left breast is fine.

So, while my husband is howling that I should be in the  hospital (gaping wound, six inches long, deep, under my boob), I try to explain that the hospital is the last place I want to hang out while I await the next quilting session on my boobs. mrsa. enough said.

So I'll go in tomorrow morning and get put back together. Again. Again. In the meantime, wet dressings and a surgical bra that should be sold in the construction section at Home Depot keep me from falling apart. Whew.

I love our new house. I just wish I could unpack. Sheesh.

The work thing went fine. They don't even need me.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

not moving day

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go. Lalalalala.

It is not 1000 degrees today, the day on which we planned our big move -- scheduled the truck, turned off the wifi electric water garbage, you know. But it is a mild normal morning, the marine layer slowly lifting -- perfect for a move,  But no. We are to wait another week. The Portland weather geniuses are now predicting 1002 degrees next weekend. Moving on July 4th. My one hope is that, as usual, the weather drama queens are exaggerating and it will be a normal warm July day. Whine.

Packing continues. Box after box. Kurt pulled the stepping stones from the yard -- they were not included in the sale, a gift from my sweet cousin Vali. They will find a new home in Yamhill, in the deep green beautiful yard on Balm Street. Doesn't that sound nice? Balm Street?

I am so ready to be there. I will also miss my raspberries. I've been eating half a cup a day. So yummy! I will probably not miss the naked bike ride. Tonight was the big night. We saw three naked women is all. They seemed happy to be on display. I don't care.

It has been a big week in the socio-political arena. Historic Supreme Court decisions that may have positive long term effect. I am interested in the upcoming election, pissed that John Stewart is retiring, and anxiously await the parade of idiots fronting for the Right. From Marco Rubio to Donald Trump, they frighten me. I have lived long enough to know that anything can happen. If GW was elected twice, any. thing. can. happen. My concern is that if the Democrats -- if we -- stay focused on who's zooming who, and take our eye off the ball, they will slip in unnoticed and take the world apart.

It could happen, and I'm not so sure Hillary could outrun it.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

outta pdx

Hey, this blog is rated #9,743,500 on some scale. HA!

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches.

As sweet as it has been to observe life through the bay window of my 1909 house on Clinton Street, it is finally time to go. The food carts did it. Critical mass. Hipsters walking down my street, pointing at trees like its Disneyland, staring at us on the porch like we are a live primate exhibit. It isn't. We aren't. Go home. Nothing to look at here.

We put the house on the market and received a good offer. A great offer. With some back and forth, and letting the washer and dryer go with the house, (and the plants......) the realtor will be here in minutes to sign the acceptance paperwork. Nothing is certain. An inspection of this property could sink the ship, but the buyers are "motivated" and allegedly that is good. They will overlook things and there is much to overlook. But generally, the house works. As a house. Just not for us. In the waning years, cancer and ankle replacements making life different, three stories is two too many.

So, off to Yamhill, population 1049 at last count, with a decent breakfast cafe, an invisible Mexican restaurant, and Zippy's Pizza, where Wanda works. I happened into Zippy's because Kurt said they have a beautiful back bar. True enough. The woman at the bar asked where I was from and I said, "Maybe Yamhill." That got the conversation rolling, and, as it turns out, her husband's family home was on the site of our brand new house. "He lived there his whole life." They sold to a developer and built a plantation-style McMansion around the bend in a conspicuous corner of the tiny 10 house development. It seems Wanda is having a bit of trouble letting go the control of the neighborhood. "There is one thing," she said, after giving us a brief history of Yamhill, her covert manner giving up the probability of sweet gossip. "They're not allowed to park on the streets. They have a garage and a nice big driveway and I don't know why they don't use them." We are they. It begins.

So maybe she's the mayor. I don't know.

Now we are in a holding pattern. Not living here, not moving. Its hard to water the flowers. They're not mine anymore. Leaving them is like leaving babies.I hope I have a chance to teach the new girl which one is the daphne and that it needs to be pruned while it is in bloom; that the little rose in the back is a Cecil Brunner and is only really pretty for a minute, but the minute is worth all of the thorns and falling whitish petals. She needs to know that everything that comes up, comes up on purpose. Perennial. Intentional.

There is much about Clinton Street that I will miss: Clay's Smokehouse, K&F coffee, NoHo's and the sock monkey collection at Dot's. The Clinton Street Movie Store. Best in Portland. I'll miss tall bikes, naked bike riders and tattoos, dog shit bags in rainbow colors, Powell's books and Presents of Mind at Christmas and birthdays; the view out my bedroom window.

I'll tell you what I'm not going to miss: Salt and Straw and their million dollar ice cream in flavors like Poutine (cheese curds, fries and brown gravy... mmmmm), and Kimchee. Kimchee flavored ice cream. Nasty. And I won't miss the traffic flying down skinny streets at mach nine, or the entitled hipsters too cool to look up when crossing the street; or bicyclists who blow through stop signs and just won't obey the rules to death. I just want to live in the country again. With country folks. I know I know. They're mostly republican and its an election year-eve. I know I'll get my country-ass kicked for having a go-Hilary sign in my yard. If I decide on Hilary. Meh.

I am packing, finally. As i pack, I find yard-saleables. Yesterday, Saturday, we sold out.I sold all of the odd bits of shelving I won't need in the BRAND NEW HOUSE. Its like I won it on a game show. I have no idea how to hang a picture. How do you pound in the first nail? Do you use nails?  There is a place for everything. I have so many little cabinets for this and that because in this house, built before we needed sixteen different kinds of soap and forty kinds of skin care and hair products, there was no room for my life. Now, I have a whole room for them, with a drawer for each thing. And two sinks in the bathroom. Two sinks and fifty drawers and a walk-in closet bigger than most bedrooms I've had. Sincerely. Much bigger. I could rent it out. Maybe I will.

Today, a goodwill run and preparing for another week of work. My commute will become a winding stroll through wine country rather than a bumper to bumper competition to get across the railroad tracks, the Ross Island Bridge, down I-5, through Tigard all the way to Sherwood. I am happy. I have loved Portland. I am ready to love Yamhill.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


There is an old man who lives in my place -- there are many old men, but one in particular -- he's a cowboy. He cares how his steak is prepared. He knows beef. And rocks. He walks like there is still a horse under him. He has a story and I need to get it from him while I can. I agreed to follow him out to the home he and his wife are leaving, the life they are leaving, so he can give us his piano. It is electronic, but that isn't the story.

The house is purple, frilly like his wife who was born in the original house. We entered through the maze of stairway ramps leading to the back door. He shut off the alarm and let me in. I'm sure that at some point his wife was a good housekeeper, but the way it is with these old people, people with children who have moved here and there, hither and yon, who aren't around to help because they live in Texas, when the old people get sick or have a stroke, life is suddenly vacated and begun again in another place. That's how this house was -- vacated mid-life. Life interrupted. Two sets of dishes covered the dining room table end to end, collections of Kachina dolls, and mobiles, and carved frogs and cut rock and cut glass and books covered every available surface. Every. So many things. A life. And in the living room, blocking our way to the piano, was a wide old rocker, mission style. Solid. I commented on the chair. "It belonged to my grandfather. Built in Portland in 1905 or thereabouts." I asked him what he was going to do with it. "I guess I'll just let it go with the place," he said. I couldn't stand it. "The kids don't want it and we got no room for it."

Stupid kids.

Anyway, he begins to tell me that the house just sold and his neighbors were buying it. He said they were good people. "But you can't just leave that chair," I said. "You can't." But there was nothing he could do. "Its not very comfortable," he said."they're making a home for battered women here, the neighbors are. They raised their grandkids. Had to. The kids were off into it bad. Drugs."

So the chair will rock the babies. I can live with that.

Monday, April 27, 2015

coast run

I had to get out of town. Had to. I've been working for months!

I wanted to drive all the way down to Port Orford to see my sister in law. I wanted to visit the town where my brother died and see the art life, studio life, they live (she lives, he lived.) Joyce is getting ready for a one-woman show in Coos County. She is miraculous. My husband couldn't see the point of driving that far just to have a conversation that could be had on the phone. But seeing Joyce is an act of self love. She embodies joy and well-traveled sorrow and when I am with her, I remember who I am.

And to be fair, so many of my kin are dead it is good to see a live Kinney here and there, in-law or out.

As we made our way south, Haley called. As fortune would have it, she had the weekend off, and was to land in Port Orford at 7 a.m. Now how random is that? So suddenly, Kurt has every reason to want to be that far south. We found a room -- not hard in Port Awful, worst weather on the coast --by a friend of my brother's, so we got the pet deposit waived, met Haley and Steena, her lovely New York friend who also runs Northwest Youth Corps work crews, for breakfast at Hook'd. Clever name, right? It was awful. Awwful I just wanted biscuits and gravy. I don't know about you, but if I want biscuits and gravy, or any other certain thing, and what I end up with is terrible, I'm out searching for good b&g like a crackhead until I get what I want. These were singularly the worst b&g I've ever eaten. Alltime. And the thing was, the old, chatty waitress who was younger than me but old to be so chatty like she was trying to provide local color for the entire town. putting on the old fishwife act like she could nail it. From my point of view, there is no type for that unless you knew Paula Lindbladt in Bunkerhill whose husband died at sea -- or jumped if you ask me-- but anyway this waitress says "we really went over the top with our biscuits today, oh boy!" So my expectations (hook'd as I was) were high. And promptly shattered. Had I been paying for breakfast, I wouldn't have. We took off early and headed north the way we came.

On up 101, outside Lincoln City at a roadside perma-sale, we pulled over to look at the glassware -- I like bowls -- and Julie Rose was there. She is grandmother to Kurt's daughters. I'd heard much about her: bipolar, insane, violent, chased my husband around with a butcher knife.. blah blah.I've considered it. She seemed like kind of a crusty old gal, and to be fair, making your way alone on the coast for many years would wear on any person, mental illness notwithstanding... But we met, said our hellos and goodbyes, bought a bowl and made it to Seaside same day.

We drove 101 North through Garibaldi, watching as the ocean ripped alongside us, thick, muscular waves, now blue now green now gray, undulating, strong and dangerous on their way to the open sea, to the treacherous bar at Tillamook Bay. Along the bayside were small docks and piers -- fishermen's tinkertoys -- and I wondered how they'd stood the pull of time and tide.

Once in Seaside we rented a hostel. How bad could it be?

Have you ever stayed in a hostel? I had not, but was so exhausted that I didn't care nearly as much as my husband. The dog's loved it. They love motel-life. Its always hard to get them back in the truck the next day. But it was small, cell-ish, spartan. No TV. That impressed me. And the guy, the silver painted mime-guy who juggles down at the Salmon St. fountain? He was staying there, all silvery from working the Seaside boardwalk all day long. It was interesting and had benches along the little river that flows through Seaside, kind of a tidal river, don't know the name. The bed was terrible but maybe better than the one in Port O, which was like sleeping on a twin bed with a giant  marsh-mallow topper to make it seem like a queen.

We (he) awoke early next morning to clam our way home. The dogs were unwilling to get in the truck but we prevailed. The take was good, easy. I didn't know how Kurt's leg would hold up, but he is doing so well. So we had limits of medium sized clams within half an hour and home we headed, breakfasting at Camp 18. Oh man. I love that place. Great b&g. Kurt ordered a 6.50 cinnamon roll that I had to help him with.

 It was good to get out of town, just the two of us, as we near the time that Nicole is to move out of our attic and embark upon her own life. The cord is strong between her and her father and it is a painful rupture that I alternately welcome and fear. I hope our marriage can withstand her.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

white powder and fifty shades of pink

Its now twice that white powder has nearly ruined my life. The first was more expensive in so many ways than this last. The people I had to deal with were worse: pounding on my door in the middle of the night wanting that one thing: more. And more. And, I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a half a gram today. Remember Wimpy? Only his MORE was hamburgers. And then more became taking back the kid's Christmas tricycle or the vacuum cleaner.


But this time.

So, we've needed to remake the  stairwell in the middle of our house for a long time (see the post: garret.) They were 18" wide and steeper than the back of God's head, as my old logger friend Darryl Buoy used to say. So in March, this sometimes friend of my husband's who tried to chop his wife's head off with an ax in Alaska -- it kind of sounds better, at least more culturally sound, if it happened in Alaska -- came by our house and told us he was out of work. So, to keep the domestic bliss (of course they got back together) in some kind of hellish equilibrium, he asked if there was anything that needed doing around our house. I said, have him do the stairs. He's a carpenter, right? How bad could it be? And the thing is, he gave us a great price. 3,000 for a job that was last bid at 15K.

Yes. Please.

As he began the job, I'd come home after work each day to sawing and pounding and grunting followed by, "How d'ya like me now, bitch." But there was no one in with him. No bitches. Not a bitch in sight. But Troy was big and friendly -- well, except for that incident in Alaska -- and able to do the demo work and framing. He cleaned up after himself during those days. Eventually it came down to the finish work. This requires a different skill set. A finer touch. As Siri David used to say, "You can't fix a rose with a hammer." He was referring to the tender soul of an addict, and he was right. But Troy, with hammers for hands, was a blunt tool himself. So rather than finish carpentry, he just slapped on a whole lot of mud. Pots and pots of plaster. He'd say things like, "Judy can finish it up with her artsy stucco." I am Martha Stewart, after all. No pressure.

So it finally came time to sand down the plaster and create those invisible transitions where lath and plaster meets drywall. Now Elizabeth, the little German woman who owned the house before us, who destroyed the Victorian built-ins: the glass cabinetry and crown molding, the indoor gingerbread, she had, in her zeal to modernize, installed a wall covering -- I hesitate to call it wallpaper. It is more like wall-cloth. I am unclear as to its ultimate function. It surpasses ornamental: this stuff may actually hold the house up. So this mighty wall covering which defies both paint and scissor, has the texture of a rubberized bamboo mat, and when removed, brings the lath with it, has now become more liability than asset. Mud won't stick to it. Troy's solution? More mud.

I'm not sure what the ratio of mud to sand is. i.e. how much powder is generated per square foot of mud, say, half an inch thick? And, what is the strategy for keeping it from infiltrating every single thing in the entire house, bar none. (Not true -- we kept the bedroom door closed, thank God.) It seemed lighter than air. It will ruin a HEPA filter in no time. Kurt tried to explain to Troy something about putting a fan on a box and aiming the fan out the open window, but he either didn't understand or didn't agree. We discussed tarps and plastic sheeting. I'm certain of it. Troy didn't wear a mask -- this seems important. I walk through the house and can't breath. I cannot imagine how caked his brain is.

So, I've spent the last three weekends cleaning white powder out of every shoe, every stack of paper, every electrical component, every single book we own. I have done so with damp rags,, furniture polish and an air compressor. I tried working top to bottom: starting with the ceilings -- my dust mop wrapped in a damp flour sack dishtowel and wiping down every inch of ceiling and every inch of wall, only to find that each footfall raised a small cloud of pure white flake, like Charlie Brown's Pigpen. I've used the ShopVac until it is full and my Dyson until it is done. Toast. I am traumatized.

Now it is time to paint, and my husband, ever the bargain shopper, has checked every Fred Meyer Scratch and Dent for mis-tinted cans of paint but all he can find is pink. Every freakin' shade of pink you can think of. He finally found a really good can of Miller paint, off-white, semi-gloss. Perfect. That gave us this great idea.... I'd go in and buy a gallon of paint, tinted to the off-white we need, Then, return it and say it was the wrong color. Then Kurt would circle back and buy the same can at a tenth of the price. Slick, right? (We really wouldn't do this.)

So we go to Freddy's to buy stair paint, good, high gloss, and again, can after can of pink paint in the return section. We told the kid at the paint counter our brilliant plan and he told us that the reason there is so much pink paint is that people actually DO what we were joking about. And Freddy's has it all figured out. Any paint that is returned as a mis-tint, they throw in a little red pigment and voila! Pink paint.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

why I don't write

Like anyone cares.

In December, my computer died a slow death. I took it to my usual computer shop. "It's the charger." They know more than I do. "Okay," I say, and hand them money for a slick new charger with every style of plug I'll never need. I took the computer home and it died in exactly the same way . I took it back. "Its the battery." Their voices calm and assured. "Okay," I say, and  hand them more money for a new Norton subscription and a battery. I took the computer home and it died. It is now early February. I'm not kidding. So I, slow learner, take it back, third trip. "It's the motherboard." This spoken in hushed tones: final, eulogyical. That probably isn't a word. So this means I have to buy another computer. So I hand them some more money and they sell me this piece of crap Lenovo with a keyboard that is so sensitive that I can't use it. CANNOT. So I take it back and by now they hate me. And I secretly hate them but have to be nice so they'll keep helping me. I used to have a sign on my desk at work that said, "If things don't get better around here I'm going to have to ask you to stop helping me." So. So I take it back again because Cliff, the tek wizard who has been robbing me for three months, can make my computer less sensitive. The way he says it is as though he is creating a special slow-witted computer just for me because I am so sensitive. Fine. Just make it so that every time I hover over the mouse pad it doesn't erase every word I've typed. "Okay," I said, "but I reserve the right to decide this isn't the computer for me."

It is working fine now.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I am taking a day off. Two, actually. I can't tell what is wrong with me and won't take the time to list my symptoms, but let it be known that I am tired of medicine. Tired to death of pills. There is a new one on my growing list and I don't want to take it and I don't think I will. I know what ails me: an appetite bigger than I am. I hate diets. I hate dieters. I hate plans for living that are "not diets." I hate new ideas about food like paleo and gluten free and all the other shit that makes fat women act special at food events. As my terrible doctors keep saying: Eat less, move more. I hate simple solutions to complex problems. I like quick fixes and immediate gratification. There..Jesus.

My house is torn to bits. I have no home. We have stairs emerging from the ceiling, now, and a proper way to move items between floors. I think we finally actually, almost have a two story house with a basement. More to decorate, which would seem like bliss if I felt better. So, I am not at home at home.Clearly, this is destabilizing for me.

It is spring already, and this also concerns me. I know the foolhardiness of a false spring and planting early. I've murdered my fair share of tiny baby flowers. But this year, this evidence of climate change year, has had a false spring so long that the first day of spring is coming Saturday. I think it was less a false spring than a non-winter. My daphne is done, in fact, we're getting a second bloom; the bulbs are up and confused, the lilac is holding out for the right date, I think. She is the wiser of my perrenials.

My husband has nearly survived his time off and the surgery. He does more than he should, but he also seems more and more like the guy I married. It is good to see glimpses of him.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

blonde and back again

I've been gray since August. When I had a little white mohawk, I grew fond of it, but it curled and fluffed into old lady gray with bits of white. At work I made funny jokes like, "when my hair grew back in after cancer it didn't have any bleach on it." So Ifinalllllly made an appointment with my stylist. Truthfully, she is my neighbor, and she walked past my house last weekend and I yelled from my porch, "Bleach my hair." I arrived at the salon. In salon-speak, which I never have understood, she explained that any real color will accentuate the spots of scalp not yet filled in by hair. Oh. Okay. So I asked in non salon language, "Can't I just have what I used to have?" The short answer was yes. But what I'd meant was blonde. Brightwhiteblonde. What she heard was: the color that lives under the gray. My natural color.

Make sense so far?

So, I leaned back, closed my eyes and waited for the magic to happen.

Or not. Turns out what lives beneath the old lady gray is a dark steely blonde, kind of like dishwater from cleaning camping pans. So, what I ended up with was an exact duplication of my darkest hair woven in between the gray. Steel blonde. She did a really nice job. She lives next door. Had I mentioned that?

So, after a rough night's sleep, I got up, drove to Target and bought a box of platinum dye for the absolute maximum lift. I got home, begged Nicole to help me -- this is her area, making people not feel like shit after stupid mistakes -- and she counseled me through the process. Midway, I had to take out the trash and who should be coming down her stairs? My sweet neighbor, Emily. I always thought her name was Abilene. Another story . Beings I was in a corner and visible, I was honest. "I couldn't hang with the dark ." She was so nice. "I would have done that for you." I assured her I knew that. I knew I got what I'd asked for. Only I'd asked in the wrong language.

My husband, who I now hate, says I look like a q-tip. I think I look better than gray. I just couldn't have gray hair. Not yet. If I'd come out looking like Asha, that would be one thing, but she's had white hair since she was five or something ridiculous.

So, my hair is blonde again. I will say that much. Exquisitely so. Now, instead of highlights, I need lowlights, but according to the specialists, I can't have them until tomorrow at the earliest. I'm learning the language of vanity.

Monday, January 19, 2015

flu season

It hit today. Over the weekend, really. They've been heading out to the hospital like a flock of startled birds. We care for them, and about them, and still the sickness visits us each winter, claiming the old and unaware, the good and the better. We feed them banana popsicles and chamomile tea, we let them stay in bed like I did when I was young and had high fevers, thrashing in my bed, clawing the sheets like I was being chased by a bear. We get them boxes of tamiflu and hope it is magic and all its cracked up to be, but we know and they know that this is the thinning of the herd. This is life. Its what happens. They all go to heaven. I'm certain of it.

The staff get masks and vitamin C and disposable yellow paper gowns and hand cleanser with glitter in it, pink and purple bottles they argue over at shift report. They are so good to come and to stay, considering the certainty of exposure.

This is the hardest time. 

Thursday, January 01, 2015


Its not that I have a lot to say. This blog has never been about that. It is mostly a document of the mundane in carefully chosen words. I do love to stack words like beads on a string and sometimes I forget to make a knot and they slide on one end and off, the other, jumbled and meaningless. But now, with my next new job leaving me some space in which to consider my days, the things I see and how I see them, I feel more time to write. I don't necessarily have more time, I just feel it like an old chair that has been waiting for me all along.

This is my new year's resolution, to find time. I think you can only find time if you slow down. It hides in busyness and routine. If you are patient, it will bring you ripe oranges and chamomile tea and light a candle to read by. When you hang out with time you can do anything you want to, but be careful not to look away or time will slip by unnoticed and you will think you never had any at all. I don't think you can save time. Just try to spend it wisely. Its really all we have.