Saturday, December 03, 2016


To deal with my depression over the american tragedy, I bought a Scottie pup. His name is Mac. Mackie. He is very very cute, in an ugly sort of way. Scotties are odd looking dogs and they start out looking like grown dogs -- long nose, pointy ears. I couldn't resist. He is a doll, and like Duffy, I'm bringing him to work with me. So far so good.

So here's the thing: Like most of my peeps, I am reeling politically. As far as I'm concerned, it isn't over yet. The electoral college hasn't voted and he has not been inaugurated. As far as I know, there are recounts in process and trump is scheduled to appear in court on a child rape charge prior to the electoral college vote. The girl had dropped the case due to intimidation, but the judge decided it was worth a look-see. I'm just hoping something can happen to re-align the planets before December 19th, or at the very latest, January 19th. Pence is nearly as frightening.

My only hope, Obewan, is that someone will step forward and admit that the emperor has no clothes.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

weather, again

Well, it is autumn and the weather media is hard at it. If I was them, anything but trump would be a welcome topic. Rain comes with the season and the weathernazis are all over it. They're filling sandbags. Maybe it will be a repeat of the 1962 Columbus Day storm. I was young then. I had a brand new umbrella -- one with a golden flowered shade in the Victorian shape, a sharp spire in the center with a swooping skirt. It was perfect, and lasted about five minutes in the wind. It lifted me off of my fourth-graded feet and turned inside out. I was devastated. I remember black and white TV newsreels of buckling bridges. It may have been my imagination. You know how I am.

everything you know is wrong

In a Dickensonian dystopian disaster, trump won the election. I don't know what else to say. I came home tuesday night, made a lovely dinner, (Kurt had asked for something a little stuffy, rich and progressive., like Hillary) I bought a bottle of sparkling cider and sat down to watch Hillary take out the trash. I don't really remember eating. The sparkly is still in the fridge. Still.

I have many feelings, so far best articulated by Bill Moyers in an article titled, "The Death of America." I allowed myself to be lulled to sleep by talking heads who said he couldn't win. She had it in the bag. "How much crow can one pundit eat?" Good question. Now the nation is on fire.

I used to feel good about listening to NPR. I trusted their news sources. Now, days after this travesty, I have lost trust completely. The report today was that a trump presidency would be good and bad for the gun industry. Good, because he is a fan of the NRA, bad because gun sales are down because Hillary and Obama are no longer coming for our guns. What a shit show. All of the talking heads, and I mean from fox news to NPR, are picking at the scab that may never form, playing the same campaign promises over and over as though a record is skipping. Playing them like dire warnings that someone should have heard. Anyone. But they all, to a person, would not speak truth. They played a comedy show of their own making. And for what? Ratings. The spineless wordspinners just cranked out their silken horseshit, perfectly balanced, perfectly serious, as though they were both valid and competent candidates. And I sucked it up like mother's milk. I couldn't get enough. Trainwreck that it was, I couldn't look away, because I was certain how it ended. They said so. And now, as though they had warned us, they replay the entire campaign, byte by byte, as though they had taken it seriously from the beginning. As though his rambling threats had merit.

Truth is, or seems to be, that trump is the parrot of whichever person he last listened to. When he last listened to Obama, he thought parts of Obamacare were great and should remain in place. Now his transition team, the KKK, are keeping him isolated in trump tower so nobody else can confuse him before the takes office in January. Nobody but him can decide about the cabinet posts, and there will be a "big reveal" like I guess he had on his show, when he's good and ready. He's not allowed on Twitter. I wonder if he has any idea what he has signed up for.

Mexicans and all people of color are terrified, queer folk are flipping out, women are outraged or should be. I've gone through so many layers of grief I can't remember where I am. I am not aiming for acceptance. It is not my goal. In the beginning I felt bad for all of the regular folks who feel/felt no home in the democratic party -- and I still do. I am no elitist, but fear democrats have become the champion of "other" until there is no room for whatever is the opposite of other. In this I was thinking we needed the numbers and that inclusion would be a part of the fix. I guess white is the opposite of other. At any rate, I did not take into consideration that voter turnout had been crappy. That only about 50% turned out and that means that only 25% of the US is insane. Having redone the math, my argument now is that the democratic party needs to educate the youth vote. Maybe a Bernie-type candidate.

Enter: Jon Stewart 2020. I am not kidding. Not one bit.

Friday, September 09, 2016


I am on vacation. Poor me. I just got a manicure and pedicure. Poor me. I think there should be more, and funner. I think I shouldn't have to do housework or cook or breathe in and out when on vacation. I should camp. In a perfect spot for many days in a row and write perfect prose. It would be dirty and hard. Not the prose, the camping. Or maybe the prose. And I'd complain about that. And I wouldn't write anyway. We know that.

I am going to try to stop complaining. I am truly a chronic malcontent. So, I'm going to shut down the voices in my head who are not satisfied with my life. I've done the best I can. I do the work I want for money, I married the man I wanted, moved to the town I wanted in the house I wanted and have everything I want and am still not happy. Contentment eludes me. I'd never make a Buddhist. I could never meditate, my knees would hurt and I'd complain, and the bitter monkeys who live in my head and give me constant shit would chatter all at once and I'd never get the job done. Relaxation.

The Job.

You should see the view out my back window. It is different every day, every moment. But  what do I see? Tomatoes I need to pick. Until the sun sets and it is nearly impossible to see anything else. Ahh.

I'm glad I took enough time off to see myself. It takes time and distance. I feel like I have that view of Half Dome from Glacier Point. A certain perspective that comes when I take the time to make the walk uphill. That's the vacation view. Spend enough time alone to get sick of yourself. That.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


I want to stop procrastinating. Some. I can't stop everything at once. What would be left? My life has been based largely on waiting until just the right moment for one thing or another. Since moving to my brand new house, I've been so busy with landscaping and weeeeeding and more weeeeeeding that I've hardly had time to consider what to do once I get things in fair shape. This is rationale. I know it when I see it. I've been picking weeds until I have an actual waistline. So when I finally started looking around the house to see what I've been neglecting, the list was long.

I started with boxes and boxes of brand new clothes, shoes, boots, you name it -- that I'd ordered but didn't fit or I changed my mind or whatever. Some boxes had been sitting in my studio room for almost a year. You get a full year with Zappos. I love Zappos. So I repackaged each thing -- I know myself well enough to keep the return postage stickers -- and sent all the stuff back, probably $1000 worth of crap. 

Next thing: A couple of weeks ago I opened an old trunk that sits in the living room. It is crammed full of fabric, one of many similar bins. I pulled out one piece of striped cotton that I love, have loved now for about nine years, and took it out of the trunk. OUT of the trunk. Keeping the cloth visible exponentially increases the likelihood that I will make something out of it. It is helpful if I trip over it from time to time, bringing the project gently to mind. I've wanted to make pillow covers out of it. I have two large sitting pillows in my living room, covered with a cotton twill in two stained and noxious shades of olive green. When I bought them I meant to recover them. They were the right shape and nothing else. They have served as dog beds, small chairs, baby beds, props for reading late into the night, small girl beds when pushed together but that slide apart when slept upon.

I tripped over and stared at the fabric until today. Today, In got out my scissors -- the good ones -- threaded my sewing machine, changed the thread on the bobbin and everything. I haven't used the machine since we moved and long before. One of the spools of thread was mis-spooled. half the thread went one direction and half went the other. Imagine me trying to wind the bobbin with this stuff. When I finally figured out it was the thread that was wrong and not me, it was easy. Throw it away. I found another spool of black thread. I had four to choose from. This led to organizing the thread. Annie will understand this. I hadn't yet reorganzied the thread since The Move. Before, the wall of thread had been left up when the staircase was rebuilt at the clinton st. house (see previous post "white powder and fifty shades of pink"). Now, each little spool had to be cleaned of white powder still clinging like coke never did, the spool-holder washed off. As I was re-ordering the spools by color, I saw the similarity between thread and nailpolish. I have six spools of off-white-nude-not-pink thread, too.

Thread in order, I began laying out the fabric without a pattern. Its been a long time since I've used my machine, and I'd rather sew by hand. But I figured it out, and the pillows took about half an hour to make once I'd figured out the cut and fold part. The pillows are beautiful. Cowboy stripes.

So that's some

southland, greenland

I am back from five days in the camper with my sweetheart and our dogs. As predicted, in real life, not here, we were unable to obtain lodging on the coast for more than one night at a time on the coast. We are not planners, and these days, counter-intuitive as it may seem, to be a camper, one must be a planner. Now, you must jump online nine-months in advance, say, January one, and grab frantically for that choice spot, the one with the perfect view at sunset, competing with a bzillion other campers, and hope you get through. I like campground camping, just not on Labor Day Weekend. So, we didn't get a spot but for one night, then another for another single night, then we headed south, where we camp in the front/back yards of our relatives. Who live, as you know by now, off the grid.

But they all grow weed. And September is high time, pun intended, for near-harvest activities, and we learn this each year. Nobody has time to sit and chat. There are plants to water (by hand with buckets) and deals to be made. It is so odd, driving through the land where I misspent my youth, past fifteen-foot high fences with bright green bushes peeping over the tops, bursting with pollen, garden after garden of skunk smelling dank, selling like hotcakes on every street corner, billboards along I-5 encouraging off-road purchases: Need Marijuana? Next Exit. I can't absorb the rate of social change. A sure sign of aging.

But we finally made it a spot on the Applegate River, gated and private-ish, because my step-son is dating a sweet girl with a quarter mile of river frontage. It meant we didn't have to stay all the way upriver with the outlaws. We had the place to ourselves so we decided to have a party. It started innocently enough. By Monday, there was a crowd of family and near family, food and drink. I don't drink.

I did find time to sit on the river and read my book. It is that river, that water, that is home to me. And to my kin. My son came down from his garden to hang out the night before, but the crowd of Labor Day scared him off. Smart guy.

There were too many people and my father-out-law's wife is unpleasant. She arrives and expects. As a lifestyle. She expects. She waits. Her face is permafrost. She is never invited except by default. She brings out the assassin in me.

Tuesday morning we headed home, after buttoning up everything before nightfall on Monday. While I was still in bed, Kurt hooked up the trailer and as soon as I could get things arranged, we were off. It is good to be home. I have the remainder of the week to be on vacation, so need to find something to do that doesn't feel like homework.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

racism and whiteness

I always get confused about this, but feel the need to empty my mind onto paper in a weak attempt to articulate the conflict I feel about police murders, black folks, and I'll likely end up discussing trump. I'm sorry. Its hard not to.

I'm so white. I fear black people. Men. I am nervous and guilty in their presence and it is impossible to act naturally. I'm not in any way saying I dislike them. Not at all.

I enjoy unearned white privilege. I live in a white community. I work in a pretty white company. I hire people of color and do my best to pay all I can. I'm a good racist. You'd never know. But I don't see people first, I see color. I challenge you, my white audience, to see it differently.

As a lifelong criminal, or someone born to criminal thinking, I've never been a fan of the police, but I've known a bunch of really good cops who could have arrested me many many times and should have, but they knew I was a mom and they tried to help me instead. As you might imagine, I have many stories to support that statement.

I cannot imagine the fear a white man would experience approaching the window of a black man's car. I don't think white men should police black men. Its a set up for both. I heard the voice of the cop who shot that man in the car and he sounded horrified, terrified by what he had done. I felt so sad for him. His life is ruined. The other man's life is over. And all for a tail light?

If I am walking down the street, and I see a black man walking toward me, I am afraid. Given the history of my slave-owning ancestors, I am the last person who should be in fear. His family did not subjugate mine. But I cross the street.

I don't know how to see beyond gangster clothing. It is so like the lame argument that tries to justify rape by pointing to what she was wearing. If he'd looked whiter would it have gone differently?

I just feel awful. Every day more death and more atrocity. Some guy drove over a whole crowd of French people today. We haven't even buried the cops. I can't keep up.

I can't stand, when the world is at war in so many ways, that democrats focus on sexual politics, gender bending rights and wrongs. It is so upside down to worry about who you can fuck when the house is on fire. Maybe its just proximity to Portland, and trust me, I'm as pro-gay as any straight chick, but we have so much more to do before we can focus on personal politics. Sue me. But if Hillary is distracted by all of the various bandwagons that vie for her attention and demand equal time for luxury problems in the face of the demise of civilization, she'll lose the election and it will be their fault.

Still, Trump is a very bad idea. Very bad. The "Never Trump Movement" has a chance right now to offer republicans a chance to speak up and stop the nonsense. A chance to un-bind the votes. They could put their money where their mouth is and finally make it right. I want to expect more of them. I'm a country girl at heart, and I think I have a bead on conservative religious values and what the right objects to about us democrats and I think good country people would do better. I expect more of them even if I have left the flock far behind.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

one year in yamhill

 July 3. A milder day this year. It was 200 degrees last year. I'm pretty sure. It has been a good year. No regrets about the move. I love Yamhill.

When I am inside my house, there is little to do: everything is done.And it is perfect just the way it is. Doesn't mean I like it. Doesn't mean I accept that my walls will always be menopause beige. Its just that it is a new house and I am living in some contractor's decisions about which paint was on sale and what kind of granite to use for the counter tops. I understand these are luxury problems. I understand that in most cities rental housing is beyond reach, that there is an opiate problem and that donald trump is running for President of the United States. I know this and it scares me. But I'm accustomed to houses that are more project than not, where pounding a nail in the wall isn't cause for concern and painting is almost always a good idea. Not in this house. All of the corners are rounded so if I started painting I'd never be able to stop.

When I am outside of my nice house, there I have options. A learning curve. The soil is clay, mucky sticky anaerobic clay. When I plant things, and I do, I first dig a bigger hole than I need and fill it with good dirt, store-bought dirt. I remember when I was younger, in my early 30's?  I made this statement: "I'll never pay money for dirt or water." As you may remember, I wasn't at my best then, either economically, politically or philosophically. Not much foresight. I am still opposed to bottled water from an environmental perspective: like most folks, I have a jug somewhere I can fill for water and haul around with me, but still, the whole dehydration scare is a bit much. You'd think, by the availability of water bottles in any conceivable shape, neon color and size, that it was an outright dehydration calamity of epic proportion. It just isn't. I mean, if you are running because something is chasing you -- why else run? -- you might take some water with you, or if you are crossing the Mojave, sure, bring a little something to drink. But this must-have ethic about the damned water bottles is ridiculous. I was seduced into purchasing a block of cheap water bottles when I went on a road trip. It was awful. There had to be at least a million. Those terrible crunchy bottles were everywhere. The backseat of my car was filled with them and when I cleared out the trash six months later I was embarrassed to be seen dumping that much plastic. I know there are fish in the ocean accidentally hanging themselves on my trash.

What the fuck was I talking about, anyway?

Oh, the clay. Buying dirt. Okay, back on track.

So I have to fill each hole with new dirt or the plants choke and die in the clay soil. I may have mentioned there was a brick factory in Yamhill some years back but I have not been able to confirm it in wikipedia. The dirt in my yard, you could take a good scoop of it, put it on a potting wheel and throw a pot. It is that bad. So, planting is arduous on a good day, and in Yamhill, double that. But I have planted much, and kept up my weed war. We have the usual weeds, dandelions, etc. But mostly there are thistles. I have a tool I call my dandelion getter. It is actually called a Weed Hound. But it is awesome at pulling whole weeds -- flatweeds, you know the kind -- they spread out like a flat handprint and kill whatever lies beneath. So the Getter, it has little spikes that push down over the middle of the plant, grab the root well below the surface, and in one twist and pull motion, it pops out the whole thing. Its magic. I love it. It is the best tool ever created.

So, on to politics. The sheer humiliation of living in a country with a political party that would spawn donald trump and be so spineless as to allow his ascent to candidate-hood, is as embarrassing as any childhood dream of going to school without underwear. Admit it. You've had those dreams. I've been saying all along: don't be naive -- it can happen. We elected GW twice. Twice. That is beyond stupid. Wisely, Hillary is staying quiet and waiting for donald to hang himself like the fish on my plastic trash.

In all of this stupidity, what really stuns me is the accuracy of the frog in the pot of boiling water analogy. You're familiar with it, right? As a country, have we no mechanism for putting on the political brakes and saying, "Hold on. Let's just pause and reflect for a moment." Can't we make a new law that says, "If we get ourselves into a terrible, nation-crushing corner, can't we just call out "Ollie Ollie In Free" like we used to do in Hide and Seek? Can't we just agree that for these moments of soul-killing terror, we can just call it good. Just for the moment? We can return to the mad rules of modern life later, but for just right now, no harm no foul -- let's just call it like we see it. I cannot and will not believe we are so estranged from ourselves that we can't see our future world evaporating on one cold november day and be utterly powerless to stop it.

Okay. Let's just consider what might result if this man actually became the leader of the free world. Its like Rio and the Olympics and Zika and hideous water. So, we've seen the pictures of the babies and the un-flushed toilet they call a bay and yet the games will go on. What? We've gone too far to stop it? Are we really that hamstrung by our own rules that we can't change our collective mind? That would be supposing we have a mind to change. Can't somebody just stand in the middle of the town square for chrissake and yell, "The Emperor Has No Clothes."

Friday, June 24, 2016

circles and closure

A year ago today a nice lady died in the place where I work. It was really really hard. Hard on the caregivers, hard on her family, but hardest of all on her and her husband. He came almost every day. He loved her so much. She was beautiful and had beautiful daughters for whom beauty was a strongly held value. Or obsession. Its pretty hard to die of dementia, and they all do, and it is never, ever pretty. This part was hard for the daughters, that death took beauty. All of it. That death kicked beauty's ass. So they were mad at how things went, that we couldn't fix her hair and dress her in pink cashmere sweaters. Her husband, he just came, and stayed. Bedside. We talked a lot. I was with him all through the long walk. Every day. He'd ask me why we couldn't make it better. I'd shrug. I don't know. We just sometimes have to sit it out, and it takes forever and then its over and it seems like it went so fast and what he'd give for one more crappy day. "No not really," he'd say. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody." Then she died. Finally. And they left without saying goodbye. And that is where my story begins.

Her husband came by today and asked to speak to me. I was shocked. Hadn't seen him or anyone for a year. He said, "I had to do this." I nodded. Wasn't quite sure what he meant. "Its today. A year." Ah. I got it. She'd been gone a year today. He wanted closure. He hugged me. I said, "You have no idea how often I think of you." He talked about his girls still not being okay. Still mad. Again, I shrugged. "Their deal," I said. "Takes time."

So we chatted and I couldn't help thinking there was more. He finally sat up in his chair and said, "I have someone in my life. And you know her." I couldn't imagine who. Finally he told me. She is a wonderful woman who's husband also died of Alzheimer's with me, and they'd been in a support group together for a long time. "She's amazing!" he said. "I've never been so happy!" He told me they'd been on trips together and that they can talk about their spouses any time. That's how they know each other. They have that common tragic link. His daughters don't like it. They're afraid he'll forget their mother. "They lost their mother a year ago," I told him. "Your wife's been gone twenty years."

He said he thought he'd never live again. That he'd accepted his fate and his beloved would die a slow awful death and so would he -- with her. And he had. Almost.

So I asked if he wanted to walk through memory care again. He did. We entered the code that keeps my fragile little people safe, and stepped across the threshold, that thin line separating us and them. We walked around and he was looking for familiar faces, but they were all gone. All in heaven. And we made it to her old apartment, the tiny space where all of the terrible intimacy happened, where she beat the shit out of caregivers and screamed through hallucinations too horrible to describe. He read the name of the person who is living there now: Betty Davis. We both laughed. He said he'd become good friends with four of the people from the support group, but now when they get together every month, it isn't support group, its Happy Hour.

It meant so much that he stopped by. As professionals, we grieve differently, separately. If the family steps away and chooses to leave that part of life behind them, we don't go chasing after them, asking for closure, expressing our needs. We just don't. Occasionally, we get a second chance to say thank you. For entrusting your beloved to our care. For allowing us to share the journey. We never know where it will lead.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

clamfest 2016

Another day in Venice. You remember Venice, right? That precious little scrap of asphalt on the north end of Seaside, where the habitually retired arrive in rusted rolling cartons slung low with a lifetime of decisions, black plastic bags and colorful bins stuffed with life's leftovers. These men slip into Venice on thin rubber tires that go flat in a week with an exhausted pffffftttt, and stay for the rest of their lives. They pay by the week because hope says so. Because their ship will come in. Because they'll quit drinking. Because they just need time to change what they have spent a lifetime creating.

But we fit in, we civilized three (Nicole came along). We the rich, the vintage-trailer-by-choice crew. Now, we are not so shiny that they rob us, but they do wonder why we stay with them, using their showers that have used syringes and satin panties in the trash on the men's side, when we could stay at Circle Creek, or in upper-crusty Cannon Beach. We can't explain. It would take too long and nobody would listen.

I couldn't tell them about Bolder City with its ancient trailers like long rows of oxidized pink Pontiacs with bullet tail-lights, about how me and Lorretta sat in our 105 degree trailers all day waiting for Luke to rape Laura, and when General Hospital was over, bursting from our aluminum doors like steam from a kettle, running down the gravel driveway, across the road and into the river that had been there all along, all through days and days, the sweet green river, all the time wondering what our penance would be for trading our summer for the price of a soap opera.

At night, when the mosquitoes have calmed and there is no more color in the evening sky, I'd sing my son to sleep:

The owls and the crickets are singing together
The clouds have just taken the moon for a ride.
The last rain of summer is bending the heather
And soft as a feather I hear it outside.

Hush now, you hoot owls, and crickets be wary
The morning is hiding behind the next cloud.
Let the sounds of the evening be pleasant and airy
Let nothing be scary, let nothing be loud.

Goodnight Sweet Prince.

One of the perma-campers was John Quincy Adams from Pennsylvania. His story is that he came out here to help his daughter and she wasn't all that interested in help. So he pulled in, parked it, and a wind came up and plucked the lid right off his motorhome. This was on TV. Kurt saw it. One of the crackheads helped JQ pull a huge blue tarp over it. This made it dark inside the motorhome. JQ didn't complain, but anyway, the crackhead went ahead and cut squares out of the tarp so he could still have windows. There is a tiny chance that his handiwork may have compromised the integrity of the tarp, . So that's something, but it did lend a homespun ambience to his site which is consistent with the rest of the park. JQ wanted to go clamming with us, but his knees wouldn't stand the walk out to the water.

Speaking of homespun, a local artist painted each hook up (a 3x2x4 foot cement block) baby blue with scenes from "Finding Nemo." Ours was a dancing swordfish. Next to us was Nemo himself. On a few unfortunate blocks, the artist had taken a stab at original work: mermaids with lumpy tits, wide eyes, and yellow hair that was probably supposed to look like it was waving around under water, but in fact, looked like it was painted with a broom.

 So we got our clams, 130 over 3 days. Nicole provided a third limit. Kurt only took an extra 15, which, for him, was quite restrained. We clammed early, cleaned them methodically, and walked to see the sunset from our perch not 100 yards away. We made our way to Gearhardt for a milkshake and found Corinthian chimes at a swanky garden shop. I'll let you know if they arrive as a birthday gift...

A downside of this trip was how much stuff I forgot: Towels, coffee cups, eggs. I mean, things you can't live without very nicely. A trip into the Astoria Goodwill fixed us up. I found the best towels -- which will live in the house -- not the trailer. This is the problem. I'm not insane. I don't have Alzheimer's Disease -- not that I'd know if I did --  but when you have a trailer, you keep it stocked with shit. I hadn't used the thing for a year and forgot I'd taken in all of the cloth items to wash. I never brought them back to the trailer.

Now we are home. I am exhausted by what is now my job's focus: the arsonist. I can't remember what I've said, but a disgruntled employee went postal and tried to burn down the Assisted Living facility I operate. She is finally in jail. I keep my office blinds closed in the event her husband is sitting in the weeds across from the parking lot with a scope.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

duck derby

I'm sure everyone is wondering how the Rubber Duck Mosey and Pub Crawl went. Slowly. Very very slowly. We bought three ducks in Carlton last week, #236,237 & 238. Since we don't crawl around pubs anymore, it was kind of hard to get information.

"After the pub crawl, they throw the ducks in the water down at some guy's property."

Okay. So when does it start?

"I'm not sure. Let me ask Don."


"They're starting at the Ponderosa about ten."

Drinking. They start drinking at ten. 

Now, the Ponderosa isn't really called the Ponderosa. It's called "Trask Mountain Outpost" but we call it the Ponderosa because its easier and we could never remember the name and it looks like it should be called the Ponderosa.

"Then they're going to Lagos, then to Zippy's then to Carlton Corners, then Barrel 47."

Lagos is a Mexican restaurant where they'll have margaritas. Apparently they had Bloody Mary's at the Ponderosa. I'm guessing they'll drink at each place and be well-oiled by the time they put the ducks in the water. Five bars, five hours. We figured three o'clock should be about go time.


Finally, at 3:15 we left for Carlton. We drove into Wennerman Park and parked. Nobody in sight. Then, we noticed a small group of people standing on the bridge. Walking toward the bridge we found the remnants of the pub crawl gathered beside the river. It is a small river -- almost a creek. We wandered down the red mud path to the water's edge where about twenty people stood/sat/milled. A few half-racks of beer and a pint of CR were nestled beside lawnchairs and sheets of cardboard where the faithful waited. One guy had clearly won the pub crawl segment. Loud and obnoxious, he called attention to himself again and again. My favorite: "If a sheep is a ram, and a goose is a gander, and a donkey is an ass, why is a ram in the ass a goose?" He was in charge, maybe, and in any event, he was the designated duck-getter. His name was Spence.

The river looked like this: opaque mud-olive swirls, slow water, a small riffle just upstream. We were on the inside of an elbow of water, a swimming hole on warmer days, which, if you looked for evidence of high-water in the trees above us, it was clear this little creek got moving in a hard rain.

We looked upriver. We waited. Anything not-green was, in our hopeful minds, the beginning of the hoard of ducks that would at any moment round the corner and race toward home.

Not exactly.

Turns out, this was the inaugural duck run. This was the brainchild of the graduation party committee of the Yamhill-Carlton school district. They had the idea, but hadn't really fussed over the details. Details such as: how will we stop the ducks? At the last minute, someone had strung a boom of sorts across the river with a kayak and it floated in place, prepared to stop at least one duck. 

Never fear-- Spence was in charge.

I struck up a conversation with a chatty woman standing next to me. Jane. She seemed to know something. She told me they'd hammered out the details at Zippy's the night before. Hammered being the operative word. The topic of permitting had come up and concensus was, nah. It'll be fine. Sure thing. They had considered, she assured me, that the ducks might be waylaid in the brambles and bank-grass along the river. They'd bribed three young boys to follow the ducks downriver in their kayaks and knock the little ducks loose with their paddles to keep things moving. I'm not sure they understood their assignment.

We waited. Annie and Kurt and I. We stared upriver imagining hoards of little yellow duckies. To no avail. Spence insulted his neighbor's daughters, the neighbors ignored him, and the crowd grew. Jane bemoaned the wait, wondering where the whole thing had gone wrong, and assured us. "I know they ducks will get here eventually. I hope the kids make it down. Sure glad my kid's not one of 'em."

Yes, Jane. It will be great if the children make it.

Alarmed now about the kids and about to give up -- why is it always that way? -- we saw a tiny flash of neon orange come around the bend. The ducks weren't all yellow it turns out. They were every shade of neon. The kids arrived (thank you Jesus) in their kayaks. The little orange duck worked his way down stream and got stuck in the weeds. Then another flash of pink! And another orange! Pink and orange sprinted for first place and Orange won! At that moment, Spence dove in the icy water to retrieve the duck as though he was part lab, and halfway across the hole stood up to find the water was only about a foot deep. "Number 7!" he shouted.

They looked at the sign up board to see who'd won. "That guy's a dick," somebody muttered.

We had first and second place locked up, but what about third? The first orange duck was still hung up in the weeds and a little white one had settled into the grass on the opposite of the hole. How to do we determine third place?

The crowd yelled at the boys to gather the two ducks, kayak them up to the riffle and toss them in at the same time. The little ducks raced for the boom and the orange one got hung up in a little eddy, spinning in place as whitey took third.

And that was that. There were no more ducks. Three winners and one loser. Jane was chattering on about a duck recovery program, maybe fifty cents a pop for foundlings. That makes 296 ducks unaccounted for. I can't imagine that the DEQ isn't going to have an opinion about this. I love small towns.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

furnival's daughter

This rhododendron is called Furnival's Daughter. It is my very favorite. My husband went to an old farmhouse and talked to some old farm people and asked for permission to take some cuttings. It was that easy. I've been looking for this particular rhody for years, never finding one for sale -- it is an old one -- and now I have five potential plants sitting on my patio. I love them.

 Annie is coming to visit this weekend. I warned that there was nothing to do in Yamhill -- this is the enormous appeal of my town -- but I was wrong! It is the weekend of the Duck Derby. We are clogging up the occasionally scenic Yamhill River with rubber ducks and having a race. Mine is #347, I think. It isn't a very fast river, so it may be a bit of a wait. I'm not sure "race" is quite the right word. Mosey. The Great Yamhill-Carlton Rubber Duck Mosey. That sounds more like it.

The garden is in. It is early, too early in my estimation, and we had some discussion about that. But ever the immediate gratificationist, Kurt won and the plants are in. Yesterday we had ongoing radio and TV announcements of half-dollar sized hail alert seek cover inside and away from windows, and he came running from work to protect the homestead, but no rain fell, let alone hellfire and damnation. It has been 95 degrees this past week, and while I enjoyed the dirt of Utah, I have no interest in living in the desert as climate change makes northern Oregon into southern Oregon, quite literally. I moved from there on purpose, for love and rain and green.

So, politics. Since you asked. I'm all tied up in knots. I've had good friends railing at me about Bernie Sanders. And he does seem nice. But I'm just seriously in the camp of non-trump. I will support whichever democrat gets through the obstacle course. Of course I'm all for "people rising up." I was in the sixties for chrissake. I'll admit I wasn't exactly paying attention. But I really don't follow how exactly the people are going to do all of that. I read. I think I lack the idealism gene. I'm guessing Hillary will be the nominee, and that's okay. I wish I could be more excited for the first female president, but I'm not. And that is too bad. I'm just horrified that we have such a chasm in our nation that would allow the rise of someone so clearly dangerous, so monumentally creepy, to the highest office. I watch and listen for any tidbit of newsiness like a junkie. I am entertained. High cost, that.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Sorry. I've been busy.

I miss this blog. I miss writing. I resent facebook. I used to think it was cheating to write in this place, that it took energy away from "real" writing, but it is just about the only writing I do anymore. Work has become bigger than it should be, and a good road trip seems to be the cure for all that seriousness.

We started out for Bend, where my niece, Cassie, lives. After a good visit and great food -- she is a good cook like her mom was -- we headed for Utah. Not something I'd usually do. The whole southwest thing has never really appealed to me, but we were running out of National parks to visit and Utah has a bunch. Still, the arid dirt landscape didn't really get it and I extracted a promise from Kurt that if I agreed to the dirt run, we'd make our way back through green country.

We use an older map. This, in itself, is not advisable, but it has the major passages and freeways covered, so off we went. Besides, it has sentimental value: I've documented the past twelve years of vacations with various neon highlighters. I find my small enjoyments where I can.

So, we headed east, which feels like west the east-er you go. Barbed wire, republican candidate signs, although oddly and happily, I did not see one Trump sign. It makes me wonder who will  be voting for him if these folks aren't. Come to think of it, I saw few presidential signs at all, confirming how desolate the GOP really is.

Anyway, the first day after Bend was considered a pure driving day. Nothing much to see but juniper, sage and tumbleweeds, the landscape flattening with each mile, barren by the time we hit the salt flats at 110 mph. Did I mention we rented a Charger? And farmed out the dogs to a boarder? And ditched the trailer? Well, we did. We citifolked this road trip. Motels and bad food all the way. Utah is no culinary destination from my point of view.

I missed the dogs. When we made pit stops, it was reflex to reach for the back seat to let them out, to get them water, to let them poop. It was nice not to have to face the motel morning ritual of finding a proper spot to walk the boys. They are still in the process of forgiving us.

The first day we made it Price, Utah. Again, not a destination -- just a pit stop in paradise. We'd made it from Bend, Oregon, 60 miles past Salt Lake. Long day.

In the morning we took off for Moab and Arches Nat'l Park and Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods.

Entering the valley of the Colorado River, rock walls began to rise on either side of us until we had to crane our necks to see the sky. These cliffs, every shade of brick and rust in a thousand layers, looked like they had been painted by the hand of god.  The way the rock has flaked away left images, feather-like and graphic, that made me think of cave paintings. I baptized myself in the Colorado and began to maybe comprehend what all the fuss about southwestern art is about.

As we meandered through this canyon to Arches, it seemed like each new cliff was an Indian ribbon skirt floating on the dust below. I'd always found Mexican and American Indian art repetitive. But to see the origin of their mimicry, the constant flow of line and pattern, made sense to me at last. It must be like someone who has never seen the northwest: what the fuck is it with all these trees and salmon and shit?

We stayed in Tuba City the next night. Recall that I am not yet convinced of the relative beauty of the area. Tuba City is in the Navajo res, and the abject poverty is stark, unrelenting and unavoidable. Like good white folks, we tipped well and felt bad. Damn, it is hard to see that and return to an abundant life.

Arches was awesome. You can google it. This was a drive-by vacation. We didn't hike these canyons, we didn't take the guided tour. We just drove by, pulled over to take pictures, and moved on. I think one of the main reasons we went to Utah was so Kurt could stand in the place where Forest Gump stopped running. It is in Monument Valley. It is just what it looked like, only awesomer. I loved the explanations offered for the various geology: "There was a mile of stuff on top of salt, the salt degraded and left these deposits. Probably." Thank you.

Next morning, off to the Grand Canyon. It was awesome. This is a known fact. You can google some pictures. Mine are awful in comparison. We did a bit of walking around because you pretty much have to get out of the car to see anything. So we did. The north side was closed, so we skipped it.

Instead we followed our map. It is the kind with green dots for scenic routes and the location of walmarts in case you need to stay over night in their parking lots. So, we had done well following green dots so far. Kurt was all about the most direct route, but not me. I'm on vacation. I want to see stuff. So we took this one road somewhere between the grand canyon and maybe Kanab, Utah. It started out fine. There was a sign that, in hindsight, we should have paid more attention to. It said something like "5mph road ahead with switchbacks and 10% grade." So we proceded with initial caution, but the road was only a bit windier than the rest of the roads. We scoffed at their warnings. I drove. Probably forty miles into this particular road, we ran into another, similar sign. Then we came around the corner.

10% was conservative. 5mph? Not a chance. We stood at the edge of the cliff and calculated the distance to the barren desert below us -- a long, long way below us. A goat trail for brave goats zig-zagged down the face of the highest ribbon skirt of them all. With an easy forty miles in, there was no turning back. There was, of course, but we didn't. We took pictures and posted final videos to facebook. We crawled down a cliff that made Eastside Road on the Applegate River gorge seem like a freeway. No rail. No mercy. No nothin'.

We lived to see flat land again.

Onward and forward. We pulled off to have a sandwich and change our underwear near Fredonia, Arizona, maybe. When we got back on the road, we came upon a semi truck that had rolled. Just. The driver was wandering around with his pants down around his ankles and bleeding from his ears. We pulled over to help. Clearly he was in shock and we did what we could until an MD showed up and took over. I wonder if he made it. He was pretty banged up. I tried to keep him sitting or lying down, but he couldn't stay still. He was confused and in a lot of pain. His name was Steve.

That may have slowed us down a tiny bit. We then decided what the hell, go to one more park. Zion. It also was awesome. Maybe the most awesome, but we missed Bryce and Canyonlands and some others, so how do I know? It was pink. And overwhelmingly huge. Many rocks looked like Jabba the Hutt, but in a beautiful way. I'm certain this is where George Lucas got the inspiration for him.

We continued on to Vegas and saw my almost sister-in-law, Paula, and stayed at a shiny place for the night. Kurt wanted me to see the strip, I didn't, really, but when in Vegas.... So we drove through it, long and sparkly, and island of excess next door to the res. The only thing I really liked was the sculpture above the entrance to Harrah's. And the black pyramid -- that was surprising. We let a bellman carry our luggage up. We were that tired.

After Vegas was another driving day, really. All the way west to the Santa Monica pier. We dipped our feet in the water at Malibu and stared at the houses because with privatized beaches, the houses are side to side to side and you can't see the water. Same as Washington state. You know the ocean's out there, you just can't see it. So we took Hwy. 1 or 101, depending on where it went and what it was called, all the way to Morrow Bay where we spent the next night. Beautiful sunset on the beach, crab coctail and chiopino for dinner, and onward. The next night we spent near Mendocino in Fort Bragg at a crackhead Super 8 or 6 motel which I give a 2. The next day we drove, he drove, all the way home. 8amto 7pm, hellbent.

The dogs were so happy to see us. When I turned on the news, the byline read: "Trump leaves campaign trail. Says he has to run his business." It was too good to be true. It was Wolf Blitzer at his finest, getting a jump on the facts.