Wednesday, December 27, 2017

year end

No promises. I won't be better at anything, and I'll probably be worse. I re-read my resolutions from last year, and, barring the intention to "write it all down," I've kept most. I'm older by far than I ever expected to be.

This morning the sky in Yamhill was a watercolor, indescribably lovely, just out my back door. I am not working today or tomorrow. So I will un-decorate and let the dogs out and in and out and in again. I mop and vacuum, they muss it all up again. Sid is painfully arthritic now, but with his magic pill he still plays like a pup and pays later, and dearly, and spends a good deal of time on the memory foam bed we got him for Christmas. Sid Vicious, now in his 14th year. Duffy is eight and still the grumpy Alpha, Mac is one, the baby of the pack. He cries and tries to act like the other dogs but he is a funny, silly thing. Always the clown. It will probably be Sid's last year. He is such a good boy, mother to all.

Mark bought his first house this year. It is out in Central Point, a foreclosure, and he is excited to begin the work of transforming it. Built in 2004, 3 bedrooms 2 bath, nice floor plan. Huge lot with big outbuildings for his trucks and equipment. I am deeply proud of him and I hope he finally has a sense of it all finally being enough. He suffers from the man thing pretty badly -- incomplete without property, beliefs about success a barrier to contentment. Maybe he will relax a bit and enjoy his good life now.

My husband's children, two of them, bring joy to his life and mine. Nicole continues to cause him immeasurable pain. Of course, being who he is, the pain is what he focuses on rather than David and Haley, who love him, understand him, and stay in contact. The holidays are hard for him. Now that they are over, perhaps there will be some light in our home. My husband is a sun lover, and often measures his happiness by the minutes of light that increase from the solstice forward. Day before yesterday we had six more minutes in that day. As we all know, I am not nearly so discerning. If I wake up, it is a good day. If I've slept the night before, even better. My strategy has long been to have Christmas anyway, despite his molecular sadness, and it has rubbed off on him, my inexplicable joy, year upon year, to at least offset the depression. He does not share my faith, which is silly and a remnant of my childhood, but it is my faith, afterall. I can't shake it. Believe me, I've tried.

My year? I remain stunned by the political reality of this age. I keep thinking that somebody somewhere will do something. But they don't. Day after day I wake up to the stark reality of Hitler's Germany. I imagine ex-presidents riding in on horseback to save our day, our place in this world, our planet, but nothing happens. The secret meetings to impeach the monster we've loosed on this country in our full-bellied slumber go forward too slowly if at all. We have too many laws that protect the guilty and prohibit simple declarations of right and wrong. Our leaders are circumspect when they should be screaming. Democrats are so well-behaved I am ashamed to be one of them. I keep hearing of a march for impeachment, and I'd be there, but I can't find it online except in DC and I can't go there. Not in January. Probably not ever.

And what about me, you ask? I am older, now. My health is a reflection of my appetites. Not great. Oh, my appetites are great, but the long term effects of denial are cumulative. My feet hurt. I take pain medication rather than anti-psychotics and neuroleptics. At least I can still think. I think. I still work every day, and enjoy my job, although when I got sick in early December I began to consider retirement. But what would I do? What? (someone is whispering from some forgotten place just behind my right ear.) Wait....shhhh. Write? Art?

Okay. Write. Art.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

research monkey

As my health fails, as aging does what it does, I am introduced to medication after medication that will cure my ills. I've been through several -- several -- trials over the past three months. The most recent, Cymbalta, kicked my ass. I'm tired, exhausted, really. The intent is to treat diabetic neuropathy, screaming feet. There has to be a better way. Narcotics work, but like Keith Richards said, "you can't get anything that feels good anymore." Or something like that. I get it. As a hope-to-die dope fiend, I appreciate the risks. Shit.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

non-participation award

I went. I did the cruise. For me, it was something like five days of disco with food. The women I traveled with were nice. The boat was old and trashy-eighties, too bright and way too loud. But the ocean was still the ocean and I liked that part. They made towel animals for our room each day, elephants, bears, a reclining bunny, and a sloth hanging from the heat duct. Those were the best. That's what I took pictures of.

Our flight out of PDX to Long Beach was delayed three hours. I had to be nervous for three hours longer than anticipated, and believe me, anxiety is all about anticipation. By the time our flight arrived in LB, our "transfer," the guy who gets us from the airport to the boat, drove like Parnelli Jones to get us there. We had no adjustment time to wander around the boat. It was grab your shit and go. The safety lesson was a blur. All I know is that I was to find Muster Station B if for any reason the Inspiration became the Titanic.

So, the cruise. It was eat, find your way to the next deck, eat, find the next deck, eat, make an excuse to leave the drinking group to read, sleep. We went to Catalina on the first day. I didn't want to. This is not unusual for me. I don't want to do anything. There were all kinds of tour packages: para-sailing, deep sea fishing, segway tours. But as it turned out, we were allowed to just disembark (get off the boat) and wander around. This sounded more my speed. So we did, and as luck would have it, there was a Chihuly exhibit happening in the art gallery. One of the women, the eldest of us at 77, was the best. She made me go with her. It was, as is any Chihuly exhibit, breathtaking. I am enamored of the fragile baskets, these were ocean colors, turquoise to white, and full of transparent little bowls. I love bowls, and these -- oh so pretty. If I was wealthy, I'd use the biggest one as a salad bowl at a party. I wouldn't put it in the dishwasher, I'm not stupid, but they are bowls afterall. I see the utilitarian in art. Catalina was stunning. I'd go back. I loved the painted clay tiles and little side streets. Marilyn Monroe was from there, and Natalie Wood died out in the bay, washed up on shore. Not a safe place for gorgeous women. I felt safe enough.

So the second day was the same, only in Mexico. Again, we didn't want to disembark, but -- when in Rome -- only it was Ensenada. So we bailed off the boat, sheep in line for the fleecing. We took a bus from the port to the center of town where we were summarily dropped into another culture: dirt poor and hungry. Without a plan, it was almost immediately clear we needed one. We were standing mid-sidewalk and a woman walked up to us and pretty much said, "Hey ladies, you really oughta board this little bus right here and get off the street or they'll eat you for lunch." So we hopped in a van headed for "La Bufadora," a big blowhole. I sincerely wanted to launch into political commentary, but held back. You would have been proud of me. Immediately, a man with a guitar leaned into the still-open bus door singing my ringtone: La Bamba. We tipped him and took off. Lili was our tour guide. As we drove through Ensenada, it was clear that we were only seeing what they wanted us to see. The only paved roads were the ones the tourist buses traveled. Little children sat roadside while their parents begged. Lili told joke after joke at her country's expense, from the drinking age to the obvious thievery we would certainly encounter at La Bufadora. We did. I bought good vanilla, a cheap poncho and ate a pork taco. Pretty sure it was pork.

Day three was a day at sea. With disco music and food. My compadres drank. The cruise, to this non-drinker, seemed to be a lot about alcohol. I drank four Virgin Mary's. I love those. I never think of drinking them when I am home, but I should get some of that mix. I love tomato juice made that way. Lots of tabasco and lime. Yummy. Booze wrecks it. I read the latest John Grisham novel, which was crappy, but easy reading. Sometimes that's all I need: just some pages to turn. I did not get enough alone time to write. I was also not inspired to write and have no current project to work on. That is a lie. I have three. None of which I was inspired to work on. Writers who await inspiration are fools. You can quote me on that.

One of my co-sailors was Karen, a youngish mom from Carlton (just three miles from us.) She had Karaoke on her bucket list. I do not. However, always supportive, I joined our group of four willing singers. The two elder women sat it out and I think videoed it. The list of songs was endless. We settled on Can't Buy Me Love. Do I need to say, "by the Beatles?" If you don't know, you should. If you don't know, you can no longer read this blog. Anyway, it was really fun. Really. I'd do it again.

Day three was actually day four. We boarded on Monday, although late in the day. Our day at sea was Thursday. People seemed to be getting to know each other, drinking a lot, and I actually became familiar enough with our servers to recall a couple of names. Roberto was our cabin attendant, Mohamed, a server. Hector was a drink runner, I think. I had a hot stone massage by Ying, who literally begged me to purchase overpriced but lovely lotions. I didn't. I use Jergen's. I know it isn't the best. I don't care. Her massage was the best I've had. Ever. I had a mani-pedi with Winnie from Zimbabwe. They are currently unseating a dictator. When I asked how she felt about our current political idiot, she said, "you oughta see my country," and launched into a description of their political shit-show that almost -- almost -- made me not want to complain. 

On Friday, we got up and disembarked. They sang to us: Leaving on a Jet Plane. The men danced. Men of every country. Not many whites. Dancing fools all. I was surprised at the cruise demographics. I expected old and white. It was neither. Whites were definitely in the minority. And young couples were common. Young with kids. That surprised me a little.

We caught a ride to the airport from Long Beach to LAX, through LA. Palms and eucalyptus trees, homeless less-evident than Portland, but we didn't venture far from freeway to airport direct route. The PDX airport is much cooler, much more engaging than LAX. We had three hours to wait for our flight home, which was blessedly on time, and there just wasn't anything to do in the Alaska area.

It was so good to land on Oregon soil. Home was still far away. I had to take a detour into Portland to pick Mac up. He boarded with Jen, one of my co-workers. She said he did good "except for the past half hour," in which he apparently consumed a bunch of rabbit food. He puked all the way home and for the remainder of the evening. He is fine now, normal and playing, but his poop is green and leafy.

It is good to get away. It is better to come home. I love my life. I love my dogs. I adore my husband. I am Dorothy, clicking my heels to find my way home, wondering why I am ever-compelled to get away from it all. A classic chronic malcontent. I've heard that somewhere. I am grateful for my life, made all the fuller when shown in bright contrast -- contrast of Mexican poverty, of my own fear of the unfamiliar, of my tendency to isolate. Even if it isn't something I'd probably do again, I'm that much richer for getting on the plane. And the boat. And off the boat.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

sailing away

Tomorrow I am flying to Long Beach to board a big Carnival cruise ship bound for Mexico. This is not something I ever wanted to do, but when my friend asked me six months ago if I wanted to go on a cruise in November, I said sure. Now that it is November, I suddenly recall that I hate to fly and am deathly afraid of sharks. "Stay on the boat, then," say all the well-wishers. They haven't seen Jaws as many times as I have and just this week on the news there have been shark sightings all along the Oregon coast. I hope that means the Long Beach to Ensenada sharks have come north for Thanksgiving.

I have packed the shit out of things. You are sort of expected to dress nice for dinner. I have many nice clothes. You'll remember that I have to look like I know what I am doing most days of the week -- so clothing I have. But fitting them in a 20" carry-on is another thing. My dear friend of many years ago, Vivian, told me to roll your nice things in tissue paper and they won't wrinkle. So there you are: a free travel tip from judybluesky. the non-traveling blogger.

All I really want to do is read. This is just an opportunity to do that in a different place. And write. I'll be off grid, using dinosaur fingers and actual paper, but I think I can do it. No promises.

The cruise was cheap. Six women are going, and I am rooming with my friend Cathy. The weather will be fine. Not hot, which is fine with me. I just don't care: the theme of this blog in case you haven't been paying attention. I just want to get away from it all. It all being home, dogs, work, life. I want to eat food not cooked by my off of dishes not washed by me and sleep in a bed not made by me in a room not cleaned by me. With no phone or computer. I could have these things for an additional fee -- wifi and such -- but I just want to check out. As always, looking for a life in which I don't have to participate.

Monday, October 23, 2017

walnut day

It was supposed to rain all weekend. That may explain the frantic pace of yard work. I love yard work. I love dirt under my fingernails, sharp rose clippers, electric hedge trimmers. My Hedgehog is hardly a workhorse, but it works well for the things I need it for: Chaparral, the bee bushes, pink willow. Pruning back dead perennials gives me great satisfaction. On Sunday the rain still didn't come. I started on the walnuts. Barely out of my pajamas, I raked them away from the fence. Gently. The husks are nasty and full of black dye. Even in rubber-fingered garden gloves, it gets through. Each pull of the rake knocks a few more nuts loose from their black casings. Between the wind and squirrels, much of the work is done for me. Many nuts are loose and just need to be picked up. This is where I could use grandchildren. I'd give them a penny apiece and they'd make good money. By the end of the morning I had two five-gallon buckets full. Thousands of walnuts. I could bake a million Russian Teacakes, or tiny loaves of banana bread or chocolate chip cookies, which I wish I would make with only walnuts and no chocolate chips. I don't care for them, but I'm not sure if the dough would be as good without the contrast of the chocolate. But I, personally, have no grandchildren of my own. So back to the walnut harvest. Eventually I'd picked all of the free walnuts and separated away all of the giant leaves that fall from the walnut tree and was left with several smallish piles of still-in-the-husk walnuts. I figured I'd leave something for the squirrels to do. It is winter, after all.

I remember my walnut tree on 4th and Oak in Central Point. The walnuts that fell from the tree and bounced onto the porch were hazardous -- or the drinking was. Anyhow, I had many a sprained ankle. Took to wearing high-tops. Reeboks.

But I digress. I was sitting in my living room gazing out my side yard window and noticed the bark on the walnut tree was different on one side than the other. Upon closer investigation, the leaves were different on that part of the tree. English walnuts have big flat leaves. These were many small leaves along a common spine. Then, come harvest time, I found that the walnuts on one side were actually black walnuts -- a bitch to crack and pick.

Anyway. I got up this morning feeling like I'd done squats for about a hundred hours straight. I could barely move from one place to the next, getting up from sit to stand took real effort. I am getting old.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

burning moon

It is Sunday before eclipse Monday. The newsmaniacs are making the most of a natural event. Oregon is first to see the action, and traffic has reached epic proportions. Madras, a tiny little pile of dust in central Oregon is supposed to be the epicenter because it has the best chance of clear weather in the whole United States. 30,000 people are expected in a town of 3,000. A nightmare, to me. I don't like being around 3 people I don't know, let alone Burningman levels. But, it is a rare total eclipse, and we, luckily, are 5 miles from the path of totality. We will mosey to Poverty Bend road in the morning and stand there. That's the line. At Poverty Bend you get about 20 seconds of totality. For the next 70 miles south, totality will be increasingly visible. With the numbers of people expected, I think we'll ride as far south as we can to the middle, then stop. with hours to spare.

(So it is now the end of summer and I am writing about what we actually did. And I am writing this on a new silvery hp Pavilion laptop. and I love it and it works. I have not erased a single thing I didn't intend to.)

So, we jumped on the bike at 6:00 and arrived at Poverty Bend about five minutes later. Always one to get a jump on things, we made an early start. The eclipse began at 9:15 with Totality at 10:16 or something. Exactly. They know exactly when. And I've seen partial eclipses, but wowzer. This was something else entirely. So, being there so early, we decided to keep riding. There were very few on the road, and we thought we were being so smart. We made it to the Center of Totality at 6:45 with an anticipated 1 minute 58 seconds of full eclipse action, to happen in about 2 hours. We finally landed in Monmouth, Oregon, a tiny town with a nice little park, and stopped for coffee. There were lines around the corner at most places, but we found a little ice cream shoppe selling crappy coffee for a buck a cup. Perfect. Coffee a buck and stale muffin a buck. so we had a four dollar breakfast while everyone else was standing in line for the scalpers coffee at seven dollars a thimbleful. We sat in an empty parking lot with picnic tables with people from San Jose and Chicago and Monmouth. We had viewing glasses from Lowe's and a stack of purple glass Kurt had taped together for a partial eclipse years ago. We waited and waited as the sky darkened like Alaska in summertime. As the moon covered the sun, every spot of sunlight was crescent shaped: like trees with dappled light? The dapples were crescent shaped, same as the sun. Once Totality happens -- and it happens in an instant -- you take off your glasses and the corona is visible, the Umbra, I think. And we had 2 full minutes to consider this awesomeness before the sun passed beyond the moon, or the moon moved past the sun. Whatever. I'm so happy I was able to see it. Then we tried to go home. Reference the part earlier where I said we thought we were smart.

Well,we weren't. We thought we'd sneak away as soon as the event was over, not waiting for the entire eclipse to finish. Sneaky. But not. We slipped out of Monmouth with about 10,000 other smarties, and bottle-necked on the two-lane road home. On the bike. Sucking fumes. In the heat and leather, which didn't stay on long... three and a half hours later, workday shot -- yeah, I had planned to go to work at noon -- we got home and collapsed.

But we saw it. Totality. Totally.

Then Oregon burst into flames: Brookings, the Illinois River Valley, Middlefork to Joe Bar, almost jumped the river to G'ma's house. And up north, Cascade Falls, Stevenson, Multnomah Falls, Sisters, Bend. Heartbroke. Bob entertained and hosted, in that order, the Firefighters from Florida who kept his place from burning. He had newspaper and TV coverage calling him the Godfather of Joe Bar. During this time it was to be his 80th Birthday Bash. Madness and Mayhem at Joe Bar. But the fire kept the weak away. We are among them. I couldn't stand the thought of breathing that air.

During the fires we made a very quick trip to Santa Cruz. Felton, actually, a gorgeous little hamlet tucked away in a grove of redwoods I'd never seen before. An old man, a dulcimer builder, made a dulcimer for Kurt. His name was...... um........... I forget, but the company is Capritaurus. He was 81, in a funky little shop he'd been in since the hippie days, right next door to the Felton Bigfoot Museum, a life-long obsession of his brother's.

We also drove into San Jose to see Kurt's aunt and uncle. San Jose is ugly. The whole place was awful: thick trash littered the freeways, everything dry and crispy, ripe for fire. Driving south through the middle of California it was 118 degrees with no visual respite. We spent the first night in a Santa Cruz motel. I left my pillow. My perfect down pillow. Dammit. The second night we drove up Hiway One, which is not the coast until almost Eureka. We did drive through the Valley of the Giants, but air quality was poor even down that far. By the time we got to Oregon, it was smokey as night. We finally stopped driving at Gold Beach and spent the night in a throwback motel with a spiral staircase to the loft. I'm sure the view was nice but I couldn't breathe.

Back in the Untied States of America, untied is closer to the truth. We have come undone. Nazis are marching openly in the streets in the south, and in Portland to be frank. People are dying. The POS is firing anyone who doesn't agree with him. He is taunting North Korea openly and they are taking the bait. There have been three major hurricanes in the South and a big earthquake in Mexico with two strong aftershocks.

My only  question is: Where are the locusts? Raised by a Pentecostal woman, I cannot help but anticipate the second coming of Christ. I'm sure evangelicals are having a field day as we live out each chapter of Revelation in real time...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

vacation 2017

I used to jump up and down demanding my time. It's my time. I've earned it. I can go wherever I want and do whatever I want to do. I can sit in my bathrobe and write until midnight. I can and I will. This tirade, this tantrum, this is how I blow the first few days of my special time each year. Well not this time, boy. Not this year. This year, I'm just going to clean my house, paint if I find the right color, wash my damned windows and care for my many dogs. I'm not going to force myself to take a road trip to prove that I can. I'm not going to force us into a camping fiasco, however funly intended, without adequate planning.

I'm going to relax. I'm sure I can. I'm going to write. I'm sure i can do that too. I have a fucking master's degree in it. You'd think I'd churn out something worthwhile.something.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

cow [sic] tipping

Um. My life seems hard right now. I know compared to some it isn't. I fell over on the 4th of July. I just fell over and landed, unbuffered, on my right hip. Like this: I purchased a pair of extra wide cowboy boots because my feet are Birkenstocky and I am accustomed to wearing comfortable shoes. I never did train my feet to endure heels or pointed toes, thankfully. Torture. The cowboy boots are bad enough. So, I bought them for being on the motorcycle, because, sandals. We'd decided to take a run over to Garibaldi for the day, so I yanked on my new boots, jumped up and down in them and stuck an extra pair of sandals in the saddlebags just in case I couldn't take the restrictive boots. It was a fine day, and when it got time to head back, I, of course, opted for the sandals. It wasn't easy getting out of the cowboy boots, so I asked for help. Picture this: me leaned up against a minivan, Jenny pulling off the boots one by one. The first one was okay. The second? Well, she had to give an extra little tug and it tipped me just off center enough that I began to tip. You know that feeling when you've passed your center of gravity and there is no hope of recovery? Well, I do. My back slid along the minivan and I knew, in that slow motion sort of way, that nothing broke my fall except my hip. I heard a crunch. I thought bad thoughts. I just laid there for awhile, assessing my situation. Can I stand up? Is it broken? Is this fear or pain? So I went through the available range of motion, mine a tiny bit limited on a good day, and figured I was good to go. I hopped back on the bike and off we went. Nah. That's not what happened. I struggled up from the pavement, wandered around a little bit, then got back on the bike with a tiny bit of help. "If we get as far a Tillamook and it still hurts, I'm going to the ER and get an xray." So that's what happened. it still hurt, of course. Hurt worse, in fact, and we pulled in to the hospital and got a picture taken. So far so good. No fracture.

The ER doc wasn't thrilled to put me on a motorcycle to go home, but options were few, far from home on a holiday weekend. Well, it wasn't a weekend, I guess. it was Tuesday. So anyway, I made it home. I am alive.

This next part is personal. You don't even have to read it. I just wanted to record it as a day in my life so sue me. It is my blog, after all. So I am old and need repair. I'd decided to do something about it. Something like surgery. So I made an appointment weeks ago and today was the day for my consult. I was going to see the surgeon, have him check it out, chat it up and schedule surgery for August when I have some time off.

Imagine my surprise when he decides to do the procedure in the exam room this morning. I said something like, ".. but i dont' have much time and i have my little dog out in the car and you know how people are about dogs in cars and it isn't even hot i mean i treat him better than most people treat their children." So anyway, he jams his gloved hand and some scope thing and rubberbands where nothing wants to go and boom. I've had a procedure done. I make it to work and I am somewhat traumatized.

But I don't have a voice today. I woke up without a voice. So, broken hip, butt-reamed, laryngitis. I'm exhausted.

Saturday, July 01, 2017


Thursday marks 30 years of not drinking booze. It seems an over-reaction, sometimes, of an extended adolescence and some, very few really, matters of public record. The phrase "pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization" comes to mind. But still... 30 years? I joke. I'm so grateful I don't drink. I'm so grateful to have found my way out of that familial deathtrap. I was not alone then and am not alone now. Happy 30, HP.

Friday, June 30, 2017

mil rant

When I married Kurt, his mother came to stay with us. Same week. She stayed a month and a half after saying a week and a half. She came in the door, advance directive in hand, and asked me to sign it. I declined. I told her I'd be happy to offer her son support as she ages, but I am not signing up for the job. I already have one.

It may be because I deal with elders all day, and have for all my life, that she has always come as such a shock to me. She is vain and boycrazy and almost eighty. Her demands for attention have been unending, and Kurt is always willing to step up to do what she needs. Not good enough. She was mad at his/our kids because they don't act like debutantes. No thank you notes. Dreadlocks. Purposely ratty clothing. The other grandchildren, the children of her daughter who died, and their many-fathered children, are the objects of her affection. I love those kids too, I do, but our kids deserve a g'ma.

So thirteen years we have included her in every holiday, K fixing and moving and shifting and putting together whatever she buys. I cooked for her and cared for her after a surgery, but it became clear that surgeries were elective and I backed away from that form of support. She became snitty if she wasn't invited out every other week, but didn't invite us to her place. The usual crap. Years go by while she goes on cruise after trip after guided tour. Years.

Then, a couple months ago, mil begins acting funny. Like she is hiding something from us. Turns out she had been working with a realtor and was planning a move south. Like it was a secret. Like we'd try to stop her. Very long story short, she sold a perfectly nice condo, and over the course of many trips south, many reversals in decision, she tries to back out of the sale on her condo and cannot, and is now forced to -- no, chooses to -- purchase a crappy 80's mobile in a crappy trailer park. Okay. Not my monkey...

So, this week, after my husband has tried to understand what she is doing, not even why -- just what the fuck are you doing, mom -- she tells him she's rented a truck and her realtor is driving it down to Medford. Wierd, but... Then, mid-week, it becomes clear to my husband, her only surviving child, that she has no way to make this happen. Nobody to move her things, etc. nobody to load or unload. And she's clearly been throwing Kurt under the bus to all of her friends. And we didn't even get the memo about her moving.

So Kurt finally asks wtf? He tells her he'll drive the truck down for her, when does she need to be out. She says, "the 30th." He says, "July?" "No," she says. "June." Tomorrow. Jeezus. He can't move big stuff because of his recently replaced $60,000.00 not really bionic ankle, but he'll help. So she got some kids to help load stuff and off they went. Her friends at the 55+ condo place gathered around her to say, "so glad you get to be near family finally." I can't imagine how my husband felt.

So, he drove her down there, and he and his son and his sons helped her unload. Its a good thing she went to live near family. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

gong show blues

I'll admit it: I have some pretty fond memories of my misspent youth. The Gong Show is one. As my sweet husband says, "I loved getting up and turning on the Gong Show." Well, it started at noon, so that should tell you something. I don't know how long it played, it could have been one season or a decade -- time is a funny thing -- but acts such as "Having My Baby," a musical number sung by a guy in a dick suit with a condom on it; or Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, Fish Out of Water, and who can forget The Unknown Comic? These little vaudeville acts were funny. You didn't even have to be loaded, but it didn't hurt. And, to make it all work, in the center of the gong, was the master of ceremonies, the man with the shepherd's hook, the great part-time CIA assassin, Chuck Barris. I saw him at Wordstock a few years ago. It was inspiring to see him in person, and although I'm sad that he died, I'm glad he wasn't watching CBS last night.

As you may know, The Gong Show attempted a comeback. It may not have been on CBS. It doesn't matter. It was wrong. It was sick and sad and not funny at all and the winning act was part porn part carnival barker part drag queen vomiting bananas. It wasn't pleasant. It was the vaudevillian equivalent of Running Man. Entertainment gone awry. There is such a thing as too far. And just because it is allowable according to our rigorous FCC standards, does that mean its good? We still can't say shit on TV, but this is okay? And I fear there will be more episodes because people were laughing and it was billed as good summer fun. And Michael Myers as an aging Austin Powers version of Barris, in yet another attempt to resuscitate his career, was an affront to my hazy memories. Who's my cheeky monkey? Really?

You can't go home again. This we know.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

many little inconveniences

I wish I could make up my mind. This house, this endless series of brand new menopause beige walls, open concept, just isn't me. I don't dare start painting. I'd never stop. The last time I painted I had cancer and the color I picked was a bilious shade of green better used on the floor. A true reflection on my mental state. Terminal green. To say that I've lost faith in my sense of style is not accurate, but I can't imagine choosing something that I'd like for long. That's the thing: everyone -- well, not everyone -- says, hey, if you don't like it you can just paint it. Yeah. You go first.

You won't be surprised that this doesn't keep me from shopping. I just ordered a billion dollars worth of baby blue and dirt burlap brown linen bedding. I have yet to put it on the bed. I know if there's one thing that will make me paint its new bedding. Shit. But the thing is that in my new house all of the corners of the walls are rounded so when do you stop painting? Do you just keep going? Do you try to make a straight line on one side or the other? I'd go mad, especially with my pre-parkinsonian twitch. Jesus. Put me in a round room and tell me to stand in the corner. I'd try.

On to politics: I fear us demon-crats are going to ruin any real chance of impeachment by bald-faced zealousness. We're just too excited about it. Rabid dogs slathered in their own drool, rattling the gates of the kingdom, trying to act demure. Part of me says we deserve this -- the other part knows no one does.


Somebody from amazon sent me a nice set of headphones. A noise-cancelling, pop in your ear to look like you're not schizophrenic, new set of headphones. With it, in the same plastic package, was a little black handheld mirror. Why, I wondered, would someone combine headphones and a mirror as a gift? There was no return address. I hadn't ordered anything that I recalled. Then, I pulled the mirror out of the package and turned it over to the mirror side and voila, no mirror. It was just black leather on both sides. I turned it back and forth in wonder: an upholstered ping pong paddle? I picked up the plastic sleeve it came in. Black on one side, clear on the other. "Large Sex Paddle." Imagine my surprise. Imagine my husband's surprise. Now, special gifts that are added to internet purchases are not unusual, but they are typically based on a person's search habits. My search habits just do not run to the porny. They just don't. I don't. Given my druthers I'd be invisible. I definitely don't like being hit. Believe me, I know about being hit. I don't want any part of it. So, here sits the sex paddle, kind of just being on the entry table, daring me to throw it away or to keep it. Its just the kind of thing for a white elephant gift exchange. At work.

We've been working around the yard, keeping up with the jones' and I've discovered that the answer to all things yard is dark brown bark. It makes weeds look well groomed. At two bucks a bag, we've spent about a hunnerd. It will allegedly suppress, or at least hide, the horrible thorny weeds that are native to Yamhill.

I fired the maintenance guy. Turns out he is Danish. On his termination paper he wrote, "Jeg der krongen" which, roughly translated, means "I am the king." Okay. Well, I am the queen. Check and mate.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

spring at last spring at last thank god almighty its spring at last

It is time to wonder about the fungi that pester hollyhocks, why roses have blackspot why the yard is yellow. Rain. It is the answer to all the questions: why do you own so many black turtlenecks? Why are your legs so white? Why do you squint when you look up? Why so much vitamin D?


After the weather liars predicted rain all weekend, I was happily surprised at two days of sun and shine and scurried down to Wilco to buy another sixty bucks worth of posies. I love my flowers. I love seeing what happens when I pile a bunch in a container and wait for water and light to make magic. I know enough to keep most of them alive. I am happy to report that my Furnival's Daughter bloomed. (refer to previous post.) Harold Greer, the Rhodie King of the Willamette Valley, said he wasn't sure if it would. One did, one doesn't look like it will this first year.

We, my love and I, are married 13 years now. As I approach 64 and him 60, we are content and surprised to have survived the madness of two coinciding youths. Much like oncoming trains. I often wish we'd married sooner, what with wives and husbands in the interim, but we both know that it would have been a mess. Still, I have loved him forever. That he will love me when I'm 64 is a great comfort. And a thrill. Still...

There is a McKee Bridge Extravaganza on June 10th to celebrate 100 years of being a bridge. I grew   up under that bridge, watched the paddle wheel with awe, camped for months on end, learned to swim, got my worst sunburns, made bologna sandwiches in the sand while drinking 151. My son was born while we lived in a tiny trailer at McKee Bridge Trailer Park and I baptized his tiny feet in the January waters of the Applegate River that runs beneath the bridge and through my life in a cool green ribbon of memories both sweet and dangerous on its way to the sea.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

not yet

It is a quiet day in Yamhill, clouds hanging low in the morning sky, heaving with unspilled rain. The weather Nazis in Portland promise sun -- no, they promise warmth -- and are liars. It remains cold and May is tomorrow. Mayday. Our anniversary. 13. The number that dare not speak its name.

Yesterday we clammed at Longbeach, Washington. It is a damned long beach. 26 miles. An okay beach, but I know Seaside. I know, for example, that year to year there is a small shifting tidal creek that burrows a trench in the sand and makes for deeper water. At Longbeach, it caught me off-guard. I almost fell off the edge and into the surf. It wouldn't be the first time, but like I said, it isn't warm out. I'd heard tell of the huge razor clams from the Ilwaco and Longbeach area. To me, they seem pretty much like Oregon clams. I mean, they are clams. There just isn't that much variation. I was not impressed but I don't think the clams cared. Traffic was hideous. I guess Washington is conservative about how often they open the beaches for this sort of thing, and everyone from Oregon was up there, cramming their vehicles across that long bridge from Astoria to Washington, and the first stop across the border -- to pee, to get a day-license, was slammed. And only a single outhouse. Seriously. I stood in line: men, women and children ahead of me, and waited my turn. This is no longer easy for me.

Work is work. With my business office manager (BOM) off on maternity leave, I am responsible for portions of the work better left to the mathematically-inclined. I spent Friday afternoon trouble-shooting my first bank deposit with a machine that wouldn't recognize my computer. It doesn't make for interesting blogging, but bless the folks at our Home Office who have this stuff down. It isn't that I've never done payroll or deposits or paid bills -- just the supporting technology has changed a lot since I've done it all. I can add.

The dogs are outside and too quiet. Kurt is napping. All is well.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

and if that wasn't bad enough

Kurt took me out to dinner after the late afternoon cold sun broke through the gloom. We took the bike to Margaritas. We've given this new Mexican restaurant in Carlton three tries. Three. No more. This really has been a fool's day. Fajitas should not be made with bbq sauce. This is written down somewhere, I'm certain. My pal Nikki says it takes a certain kind of fuck it to ruin Mexican food.

side show

I'm not that nice of a person. We all know this. I am pretty nice to the people I love, but generally have disdain for the public. Except at work. At work I am good at people.

This morning, this Saturday, it was supposed to be a bit dreary in the morning, then, for the first time in a year, give way to a mostly sunny weekend. That's what they said. They promised, therefore I am entitled. I would work in the sun until my shoulders were pink, I'd have rings around my eyes from sunglasses, I'd be happy. And warm. Oh, and dry. I'd made a hair appointment to cover the wet part of the day, then was free to enjoy the remainder, playing in my yard.

I thought I'd run into Mac early, McMinnville, our "closest town of any size" to get some cheap wire fencing to keep the dogs out of the strawberry patch. Walmart has that sort of thing. So I got ready, drove into town before my hair appointment, and pulled into Walmart. I'm wearing my overalls and bogs for the gardening part of the day. The sunny part.

It seemed like everyone was moving in slow motion, limping like zombies, only doughy and white, dragging one foot or the other through the parking lot. Then, too suddenly, the neon lights of Walmarche, ablaze in the morning gloom. Greeting me as I entered was an exceptionally fat woman with green and purple hair sticking out in pigtails, wearing a neon-yellow Walmart safety vest. Beside her was a tiny midget with hair dyed as yellow as his own little tiny safety vest. The size contrast was impossible to ignore as the morning zombies milled around, flailing canes and carts and baskets and walkers. I know it is bad of me to be afraid of midgets, but there it is: part and parcel of my fragile psyche. 

I found the fencing, loaded more than I needed in the cart, and, head-down-not-making-eye-contact, made my way back through the store to the checkout. I was hurrying, I'll admit it. With side show clowns still watching the door, I rushed out the nearest exit. People were chasing me. I sped up, then heard some guy yelling at me. Apparently I'd left my 60.00 cashback at the register. I had to make my sheepish way back through the fat lady and her circus monkey, get my money and leave through the proper door. The midget called out as I left, "Goodbye, Sir." It took all of my self control not to tell him to fuck off. Really. All. ew.

I got to my hair appointment only to find I was an hour early. I cancelled. Fuck it. I want to go home. It is truly April Fool's Day. And the sun still hasn't come out. Not one single warm day this year and it is April. I am enraged. I am entitled. I am cold. I'd settle happily for a false spring.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


This is a rant.  And, spliced in with that is news. I got a new car. I like it a lot except the color. Red. I like black or white. But it was a bargain. She paid 34K and I'm paying 20. That 20K is a bargain in any language is unthinkable. It has 11,000 miles on it and she's done five oil changes. "They're free," she said. I'd be lucky to get two into my busy schedule.  I am trying a new antidepressant for anxiety. Sometimes I can't breathe. It seems important. I have stressors in my life. One is a puppy, and tonight, the other is a step-daughter who hates me.

I have written little about Nicole, knowing she reads this blog, but tonight it seems more important to express myself than protect her feelings. She is, among many things, bipolar (or borderline pd), so she requires more therapeutic ignoring than the ordinary person. I let things go. I have for thirteen years now. But last night, she actually reached out for help, acknowledging a recent suicide attempt and sincere plans to kill a step-person. Not me. Her mother's husband. I think they're married. When she reaches out to her father, via text, this manipulates my beloved into a froth, as it would any adoring parent. She dumps the text in his lap, and he into mine, and then she fails to respond for hours -- hours in which I'm sure he pictures her hanging from the rafters somewhere in SE Portland. I can't stand to see him suffer and I texted her my concern, and said that I was glad she'd reached out. What I got in return was so mean. She is so mean. She basically laid the entire failure of her life at my feet because I won't let her live with us, lay in the house, be fed, and like a lovely but moody African Violet, face due east and bloom once a year.

In her text, she said, "Maybe we could talk about how often I've been raped for a place to sleep," then, "Seriously Judy, take your worry and choke on it." I didn't have the heart to tell her I was worried about Kurt. And we could speak about the rapes, I guess, but I'd win. Hands down. If that was meant to shock me into guilt over her troubles, she's barking up the wrong tree. I know the stock in trade. In my case, like hers, I opted not to work, and I lived in a tree instead of paying my way, so the boys took it out in trade. It wasn't usually very fun for me and I'm sure it isn't fun for her, but she isn't the first girl to have a shitty life. Not my monkey not my circus.

I met the girls when they were 13 and 11. There is hardly a year separating them, but they couldn't be more different. Nicole has bipolar disease, more depressive than manic by far. She lays down for years at a time. I've tried to support her or her parents to apply for SSD, but no one will take the time. She hasn't held a job for more than a month in several years. She takes a job, any job, becomes employee of the month, realizes how stupid everyone else is, and walks away. She is the poster child for the saying, "You can't fix a broken mind with a broken mind." I've hooked her up with many counselors, many nice women, all of whom she blew off after an appointment, or sometimes two, before she discovered their idiocy. In her text to her dad she claimed to be living by "manipulating idiots for a place to stay." I think these are probably nice people. Nicole is a charming and lovely girl when she needs to be, and a smelly hermit that bites like a snake once she gets her foot in the door.

Kurt asked me not to hold her wrath against him... not to take her meanness out on him. I am grateful he finally understands how cruel she has been, and for how long. At Christmas, as I said in a previous post, Haley talked about how everyone is poor in this family. And I think I understood her to say how sad it is that Nicole "has to stay with strangers who just accept her the way she is and take care of her." But that is nonsense. Most of these relationships are with those "morons"and they last weeks at most. She's a nasty tempered couch surfer who is currently paying the bill the hard way. One family's only stipulation was that she shower and she wouldn't do that. I remember setting that limit.... didn't work for me either.

Ah, I'm ranted out. I'm too tired and too fucking old for this shit.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

puttin' packy down

"All the animals in the zoo are jumping up and down for you." This was the earworm of my ninth year, just after my father died and little Packy was born. We didn't have PETA then, or know about cattle prods or elephant's symptoms of depression. It was just a sweet happy thing in a sweet happy world.

I'm sure it wasn't. But Trump wasn't president.

I guess he had TB. I wonder if they kept him in a cold room with damp sheets. That's my favorite Van Morrison song: TB Sheets. After Brown Eyed Girl. Anyway, this is just a little vignette for the only elephant I ever knew.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

ground hog's day

I test drove my new car today. I'm buying it from a little old lady who decided to move to Canada. Not a bad idea. She has a red Mazda CX5 that may stand for cross country. Its like my little white one, only bigger. I'm not crazy about the red, but it has all the electronic stuff, like the bluetooth hookup so it feel like you're in the phone if you're driving.

I marched in the January 21st Women's March. We made history. I didn't have a pussy hat, just a big sign that said no.just plain no. It was cold and miserable and didn't result in impeachment, I am sad to say. I will continue to resist in my small way against this very bad person and his henchmen.

Mac is wild. Never try to housebreak a puppy in a blizzard. On the other hand, I saw my oncologist eating a hotdog at Costco. That gave me hope. Things may not be as bad as advertised. 

Saturday, January 07, 2017


While Mac chews contentedly beside me and snow falls outside, ice to follow, I am allowed a single moment of peace. I got a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for Christmas but it turns out they only cancel the noise outside my head, not inside, where the real problems are. And now I have Enya playing into both ears because it is the only thing I could find without thinking. It is respite from puppy from house from headspeak.

But I still know how to knead bread, like the motion of wave or rocking a child. My hands remember each turn of the dough as cinnamon, sugar and walnuts slip between long unpracticed fingers, slick with butter, twirling the giant roll into perfection. At other times I find it hard to think.

These days I see things through the shifting kaleidoscope of political surreality, the post-fact post-truth post-honor post-democracy we live in, awaiting the million woman march portland edition and in the meantime, try to remember that my life is what it is due to the resistance of other women who went before. Who fought monsters less fictional than the bad man. I cannot swallow this whole, this idiocy of pretending, and so I bake and my blood sugar skyrockets.

Sue me. I favor resistance. Sedition. Read this and come talk to me. Arrest me.

Work is a happy place to go many days of each week, but it does not pry my mind away from this trauma. Not for long. Life and death and life and death. It is new for each family and still the same to me. I talk of heaven because that is easier. I like heaven. It is a way to end a sad conversation on a happy note. Streets of gold. Okay. Sure thing. We have the noro-type virus making its way through the building just now, like a dark and shit-spewing specter, pointing its bony finger and culling the weak from the herd. And I think, and sometimes say when they pass, oh good. oh, good. Heaven.

Home is happy. But with all the happiness of new home and open sky and stars and birdsong, Kurt suffers from arthritis and this is hard for him, which makes me sad. He is such a man. He pushes through when he should rest. He eats badly to make it not true. He pretends not to care. I love him so much and cannot stand to see him suffer. He will suffer more before this is over. I know arthritis, not personally, but I have watched it inhabit and twist the bones of elders into shapes they don't recognize.

Over Christmas, I had a moment with Marky that was hard. It made me so aware of how easy our relationship has been all these adult years... but he was drunk and now that he is sober, he seems to have an opinion. While I have been happily inviting him to various holiday events, he has experienced each one with mounting anxiety, a gift I gave him, no doubt. Anxiety that we expect him to house us, to feed us -- which we have never suggested -- these thoughts live in his head alone. I have pretended that he was unaffected by my past his past my life his life. He hates the holidays he hates having random conversations with people he doesn't know or want to know. He can't stand being around drinking. Neither can I, I wanted to tell him, but couldn't get a word in. He raged at me in his rational way in my rational way, until he'd said all he had to say. If you want to do something, he said, call me. If you want to go crabbing or camping, call me. I said Okay.

Then it was Haley's turn, sweet, strong Haley not so strong. So hard for those girls. Nicole discovered her mother wrapped in a blanket on a street corner in portland, and I can imagine that. I remember coming home to my mother wrapped in a piece of carpet on my front porch. But it wasn't a city street. And maybe it was my sister. They've both been there. But Haley mourned the poverty of both of our famlies in a voice I hadn't heard from her -- that millenial voice full of entitlement and expectation -- other kids get everything paid for. Yes. But not in our families. "Everybody in this family is poor." Yes. And in saying that, the unspoken is: but not you. You guys have it so good. And I wanted to tell her my life, of living with a small child in a house floating on a slough with electric wires so bad that you couldn't touch the floor and the counter at the same time and had to step bed to sofa to get around. And step log round to log round to make it out to the little sinking house for sixty dollars a month. A rising tide floats all things. And we do have a nice life, like most, a fingersnap from poverty. White trash-ish. A generation from the Ozarks in my family and San Jose slums in his. I refuse to feel bad about being warm in the winter. I think kids need to work. Hard. I don't know anything else. If education comes, reach out. I'm still paying for mine. Will die paying.

So, the children are unhappy. We do what we can not to break them further.

Happy New Year. jblsky