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.